36th Parliament, 1st Session

L137 - Wed 11 Dec 1996 / Mer 11 Déc 1996


















































The House met at 1330.




Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): Day after day for the last several months we have been hearing horror stories about how the Tory government has mishandled the family support plan. We continue to be shocked by the seriousness of these stories and by the sheer numbers of women and children whose lives are being seriously affected by the Attorney General's mismanagement of this very important program.

Today I bring to the Attorney General's attention the terrible plight of Jacynthe Leroux, a woman who has had custody of her son for the last six months but cannot get the family support plan to stop deducting half her paycheque every week to pay child support that she no longer owes. To add insult to injury, the court-approved order to stop garnishment of her paycheque has been lost three times by the family support plan office. In the meantime, her salary continues to be garnished, and Christmas is only days away. This woman is trying to support herself and her child on half her normal paycheque because of this government's continued mismanagement of the family support plan.

Rest assured that we will be pursuing this issue in the House next week and that questions to the minister will be forthcoming if this terrible mess is not cleared up immediately.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): This Conservative government's workfare program is a disaster, and the sooner the Minister of Community and Social Services admits that, the better off we'll all be.

Let's take a look at a workfare project in the Premier's own riding of Nipissing. The North Bay office for workfare is apparently a new resource centre designed to help people look for work. Six positions for resource centre assistants were posted. These placements involve 17 hours of work weekly. The problem is, however, that there's nothing new about this resource centre. It was already operating in that community under the sponsorship of a non-profit organization called Low Income People Involvement of Nipissing. That organization administered a pilot project called Windows of Opportunity and that program and the staff involved assisted people trying to get off social assistance and back to work.

The Conservatives issued layoff notices to the 11 unionized staff in the Windows project in August. Then the postings for replacement staff occurred. Then the staff being laid off were asked to train the six new workfare participants. That's absolutely contrary to workfare criteria, which state that placements are not allowed for two years in a position where a unionized worker had done the job. Worse than that, 12 people who had full-time work are now being relieved and the government is using exactly the same project as a workfare tool.

The new centre is using all the equipment that used to be used under the Windows project, and even the job bank. The only difference is that the lack of experienced people will mean that people will not get the help they need to get back to work.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): At a recent Huron County Federation of Agriculture meeting I was presented with a report on the impact of agriculture on the economy of Huron county.

Production by Huron county is very significant to the nation's agricultural sector. Huron county produces more farm-gate receipts than five provinces. This is very significant considering that the population of the county is only 55,000 people: $436 million in farm-gate sales, of which it is estimated $318 million is captured by the local economy. It is estimated that in 1996, 4,600 jobs existed in the agriculture sector and a further estimated 6,300 were tied indirectly to the agriculture sector in Huron county through expenditures by agriculture-related businesses. The total impact of agriculture on the labour force in Huron county is estimated to be between 10,000 and 13,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

Further, the value of agriculture for Huron county in terms of sales generated is estimated at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion for sales generated within the county alone. Adding in the sales generated outside Huron county, we can add another $2 billion to $3 billion in sales. Clearly there is a significant impact on the Huron county economy.

I would like to commend the hardworking agricultural community in my riding for their dedication to the industry and their tremendous accomplishments.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): The member for St Catharines and I have risen many times on questions and statements in our opposition to the government's ill-conceived idea of the privatization of the LCBO.

I rise today to commend the Ontario Liquor Boards Employees' Union on a report they released to the public this morning entitled Home Grown Solutions. Accompanying this report were 69,000 petitions from Ontarians opposed to privatization of the LCBO. This report marks a major step forward by the employees of the LCBO as they seek to improve the current system in order to achieve a modern, efficient and entrepreneurial alcohol distribution system for Ontario.

Briefly, the report outlines four steps for modernization and evolution of the LCBO in regard to hours of operation, Sunday service, mini-stores and kiosks. The employees put together this report by listening to the people who really matter: the customers of the LCBO. I believe we are seeing a great transformation at all levels of the LCBO and I strongly believe it is the consumer who will be the clear winner.

I encourage the minister to once and for all rule out privatization of the LCBO and to act on these initiatives in order to create an even better LCBO and relieve the anxiety of some 5,000 employees.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I want to direct my statement today to the Solicitor General and the minister responsible for native affairs.

Last week I met with Deputy Grand Chief Stan Louttit and chief negotiator Bill Nothing of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, who are very concerned about the suspension of the Canada-Ontario-NAN negotiations on policing. The primary goal of the agreement, which was signed in 1994 under the previous NDP government, was the establishment of an aboriginal police service to provide effective, efficient and culturally appropriate policing to the people in the Nishnawbe-Aski area. This process is an important step towards self-government. The first phase of the agreement expired last September and the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation wishes to proceed with the negotiation of phase 2.

This government has suspended the negotiations. The Nishnawbe-Aski Nation is writing to you and you are not responding. They made an appointment with the Deputy Solicitor General and she cancelled. I'm urging this government to take its responsibilities and to meet and negotiate in good faith with the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation to find a solution to this crucial issue before it gets way out of hand and we end up seeing the clock turned back 10 or 15 years. It's important they get to the negotiating table and negotiate in good faith for a policing agreement for the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today as the member for Scarborough Centre in order to inform the members of a small business breakfast held this past Monday morning in my riding. This small business breakfast hosted by LeisureWorld brought together some 50 members of the small business community who came to hear the Honourable William Saunderson, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, and Joe Spina, parliamentary assistant for small business, deliver the message on the success of small business in Ontario.

I'd also like the rest of my colleagues to know that these entrepreneurs have a definite connection to my riding of Scarborough Centre. Some live in the riding, some travel to work in the riding, some live and work in the riding, but the bottom line is that each and every one of their cash registers resides in my riding and that is why I felt it so necessary that these small business owners have the opportunity to hear the good news that Minister Saunderson had to deliver about the thousands of new jobs coming to our province.

These are the people who take the risks to open their stores and businesses each and every morning, who put in the long hours, who pay taxes, who create jobs and are truly the engine of Ontario's economy.

After the meeting, one of the small business owners came up to me and said, "I knew your government was doing the right things, but I didn't know the news was this good." It is reaction and comments like this that make me proud to be part of a government that keeps its word, not just for the sake of keeping its word but because it's the right thing to do for Ontario.

Many thanks to Sharon Steele and the staff at LeisureWorld, Scarborough who made the small business breakfast such a great success.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My statement is directed to the Attorney General and it concerns the family support plan.

Minister, last week your colleague the minister responsible for women's issues made a visit to the Kenora area. During a press interview with the Kenora Daily Miner and News, the minister was asked about the closing of the family support plan regional offices in favour of a 1-800 telephone number out of Toronto. Let me quote from the article. This is what the minister had to say:

"`I'm absolutely appalled about the way that was handled,' minister in charge of women's issues, Dianne Cunningham, said during a luncheon in Kenora. `No one expected we'd have these transition period difficulties.'"

Now that we have your colleague the minister responsible for women's issues apologizing for your incompetence, women and children throughout the province want to know, will you finally do the same?

Let me continue to quote the minister responsible for women's issues, who had a lot to say about the Attorney General's incompetence. "`There are absolutely no excuses for it,' the minister said, referring to the Attorney General's bungling of the family support plan. The minister continued by stating that `the government is embarrassed about it and we should be.'" Again, "the government is embarrassed about it and we should be."

Attorney General, members on this side of the House agree with your colleague the minister responsible for women's issues that the mess you created is an embarrassment to your government. We call upon you to apologize to the women and children of this province.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to take a moment today, since it may be my last chance before the holidays in this forum, to wish all of my constituents in Sault Ste Marie a happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas and healthy and prosperous new year.

Sault Ste Marie is a wonderful community of people who care and share. The many efforts being made right now to make sure people have a holiday time with food and presents and as much good cheer and happiness as is possible is evident through the efforts of the Christmas Cheer, the Salvation Army, the soup kitchen and church groups and other community groups. We have a very healthy history of responding to major challenges in an honest and forthright and courageous way. Evidence of that is the presence of the Group Health Centre and the continued viability and successful existence of Algoma Steel, St Marys Paper and the Algoma Central Railway.

We are under stress at the moment from both outside and within, but we will rise to the occasion with courage and compassion, and together, as we have in the past, be better and stronger because we have done it together.

On behalf of my community, I wish all of you, and all who call Ontario home, the blessings of this season of light and birth and renewal.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): It gives me pleasure today to inform the House on how our government's economic agenda has helped the city of Brampton.

Since taking office last year our government has taken numerous steps to turn this province around and provide hope and jobs and opportunity. From the reduction of personal income taxes to the implementation of Bill 7, to eliminating the employer health tax for small business and the elimination of over 1,000 needless regulations, all our efforts have proved fruitful for the city of Brampton.

The proof is in the numbers. In 1996 alone, our city has seen a total plant expansion of over a million square feet, an increase in total employment of 6.9%, a rise in residential construction values by 78.3%, a rise in commercial and industrial construction values by 32.9% and 35.3% respectively, an increase in housing resale activity by 31.5% and a 71.1% increase in our housing starts from just one year ago.

Our government's actions over the past year have helped complement the great work that our city is doing, so much so that in 1997 our city is expecting another 235 businesses to start, the creation of 2,500 more housing units and the unemployment rate dropping from 9.2% to 8.4%.

Don't let the opposition critics, negative economic doomsayers, tell you a different story. This government's initiative --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much. It's time for oral questions.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, it would be nice to have oral question period, but we don't have any ministers.

The Speaker: Order, member for St Catharines. It's not often I agree with that point, but there is only one minister here.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I think we should have a recess if the government is not here to answer questions.

The Speaker: I understand what you're saying. Quite possibly they were caught with how rapidly we got through routine proceedings.


The Speaker: The clock hasn't started. Member for St Catharines, you have a point of order?

Mr Bradley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have the Premier's itinerary here today. It shows him at question period at 1:30, Wednesday, December 11. Unless some unfortunate accident has happened to him, I'm wondering why he wouldn't be here on a very important day to answer questions in this House.

The Speaker: They are all important days, to the member for St Catharines. I have no control over the Premier's schedule, nor anyone else's in this Legislature. I think we can now begin question period.

Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We've just been informed the Premier is not going to be here.

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. Time for oral questions.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I have a question for the Deputy Premier in the Premier's absence. I want to return to a matter of the utmost gravity relating to a senior staffer in the Ministry of Health releasing highly confidential information in an effort to discredit a private citizen.

Deputy Premier, yesterday when I expressed concern that there was lots of time for the minister's office to be searched and cleaned so damaging evidence could be removed or destroyed, the Premier said, and he offered us assurance, that the offices had been sealed. Keeping in mind that the former minister and his staff first knew there was trouble on Thursday, can you tell me when those offices were sealed and by whom?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): To the leader of the official opposition, I believe that the acting Minister of Health has that information.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): The security provisions of the Ministry of Health call for all confidential information to be secured, and that's precisely what has happened over the weekend. In the case of the office of the individual in question, over the weekend information in his office was boxed and secured.

Mr McGuinty: Let's look at it this way: They knew there was trouble on Thursday, the minister didn't resign until Monday afternoon, the privacy commissioner wasn't called until Monday afternoon, so that leaves plenty of time, plenty of time, for damaging evidence to be tampered with.

What we did is, we checked the security records. We checked the logs. They show that at least 10 people attended in the executive offices of the Ministry of Health on Saturday. Included at that time were the minister's executive assistant, the deputy minister, image consultant Jan Dymond and at least three outsiders who needed special letters to access the building. Can you tell me, Minister, exactly what those people were doing in the ministry's executive offices on Saturday?

Hon David Johnson: It's not unusual for staff to be working on the weekend. Indeed, I suspect that just about every ministry would have staff working on the weekend.

Secondly, I'd like to say that there is no hint here that any information, any confidential information pertaining to this situation, was shredded or destroyed or otherwise disposed of. What I will reiterate is that the information from the office of the individual in question was boxed and secured on the weekend and remains secured.


Mr McGuinty: I'm not sure what kind of a securing process took place, but we have at least 10 people going into and out of those offices during the course of the weekend. Yesterday the Premier told us those offices had been sealed. We now know plenty of people had access to them before they were sealed. The minister's executive assistant, the deputy minister, a Tory image consultant and three outsiders, at the very least, were in those offices.

In fairness, we don't know if evidence was tampered with, but that's not the issue. The issue is: Can you provide us with every assurance -- I'm not sure how you can do that now that we know 10 people have been there -- but how can you tell us, how can you assure us unequivocally that no evidence was ever tampered with?

Hon David Johnson: I will simply reiterate to the leader of the official opposition that I have been assured that the information in the office of the individual in question was boxed on the weekend and was secured.

Again, if there are any allegations, if anybody has any evidence of any wrongdoing in the sense of shredding of information, I for one would like to hear it, and I'm sure that the privacy commissioner would like to hear it. This government, I believe at a very early opportunity, has called in the privacy commissioner, an individual who has great experience in terms of dealing with information, confidential information, private information, and has background and experience in this regard. Frankly, I'm most anxious that he get on with his investigation. I understand that he's begun that now, and we're looking to get to the bottom of this matter.

Mr McGuinty: The way to get to the bottom of this is through an all-party legislative committee.

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

Mr McGuinty: My second question is for the Deputy Premier. Yesterday I asked the Premier very directly to release the minister's office log of all requests they'd made for OHIP information and all of OHIP's corresponding documentation. He indicated to me that would be fine. That information can be accessed and Xeroxed in a matter of minutes. Do you have that information for us now?

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the official opposition, I don't have details concerning that but I believe that the acting Minister of Health may.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): You said yes yesterday.

Hon David Johnson: I'm sorry, Mr Speaker, in the hurly-burly here I didn't quite catch the initial part of the question.


Hon David Johnson: Again I would say that is why the privacy commissioner was asked to come in and to deal with this as soon as possible. I will say that yesterday, in the absence of the privacy commissioner, I discussed this matter with the assistant privacy commissioner. I assured her that this government would give the utmost and fullest cooperation in this matter. I would say to the member opposite that any log or any information that the privacy commissioner thinks is important, we'd be happy, to the degree that it's available --

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr McGuinty: Yesterday the Premier assured me of his cooperation and provided me with that information. It's unfortunate that we're not receiving the same kind of cooperation today. We kind of expected this, as you might expect.

We called OHIP to find out how they deal with requests from the minister's office for confidential information. We were told that this information was available and that the appropriate person would call us back promptly. We received no such call.

Your government has had nearly a week to look into this very serious matter, so I ask you, Minister: Why don't you tell us what the process is with respect to requests for confidential information in your office?

Hon David Johnson: I'm sure the Ministry of Health is more than cooperative in terms of information that it has a request for. My understanding is that if the privacy commissioner is desirous of any information, we'll be more than happy to provide whatever we have in that regard. But in terms of providing information beyond that, there has to be a request, and the request has to meet the parameters of the freedom of information act. This ministry is not able to give out information that it's restricted from giving because of the freedom of information act.

Mr McGuinty: Either the minister doesn't know the answer, which I find astonishing, because I think one of the first things you'd want to do when you get this job is find out what the heck went wrong and what's in place to ensure that it doesn't happen again -- all I'm asking about is the protocol. What rules are in place governing the request of confidential information from OHIP? You should know that answer, Minister. Rules are surely in place. I'm only asking you to tell us about those rules, not whether they were broken.

The problem we face is that there are only three people who directly have knowledge of this: Brett James, and we can't ask him questions; Jim Wilson, and he's resigned, so we can't ask questions of him; and the Premier, and he's not here, so we can't ask questions of him.

Minister, once again, what rules are in place right now governing the disclosure of confidential OHIP information?

Hon David Johnson: I have to refer back to the fact that the privacy commissioner is there to do a job. We've asked him to come in and look at this whole matter. I think this item will be dealt with in the fullness of his study. He will look at this matter to see what rules, if any, have been bent and he will get to the bottom of this. I have assured his office of every cooperation from this government.

The Speaker: New question. Leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Deputy Premier. We spoke to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Tom Wright. He confirmed the issues we have raised. He said he does not have the authority to go beyond the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, that he cannot subpoena witnesses, that he cannot order people to give evidence under oath and that he cannot subpoena records, logs or notebooks. He said that in order to go beyond his own act and have the investigative powers he needs, you would have to pass an order in council appointing him as head of a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act.

To the Deputy Premier, you can remedy the problem you've got here. The privacy commissioner acknowledges that he does not have the authority he needs, the legal tools he needs. But he has pointed out that if you will appoint him under an order in council, under the Public Inquiries Act, he will have those powers of subpoena. Will you do that, Deputy Premier?

Hon Mr Eves: I'd be more than happy to take the matter up with the privacy commissioner. You are telling me second hand, if you will, of a conversation that you had with the Information and Privacy Commissioner. I can tell you that his response to the secretary of cabinet on December 10 was:

"I wish to advise that we will be commencing such an investigation immediately. We will proceed as expeditiously as possible to provide recommendations to the Ministry of Health in accordance with their mandate and the provisions of the freedom of information and privacy act. In my role as an officer of the assembly, I wish to advise you that my report will be tabled in the Legislature and thereby made available to all members of the Legislative Assembly and to any interested members of the public."

I can further go on to say, to the leader of the third party, as I indicated in this House two days ago, that if in fact the Information and Privacy Commissioner feels that he does not have the tools or powers necessary to conduct what he thinks is a proper investigation, then he will so advise the government, and we will take the appropriate steps then.


Mr Hampton: I want to quote from section 38 of the Health Insurance Act. It says, "The general manager and each person engaged in the administration of this act and the regulations shall preserve secrecy with respect to all matters that come to his or her knowledge in the course of his or her employment or duties pertaining to insured persons and any insured services rendered and the payments made therefor, and shall not communicate any such matters to any other person except as otherwise provided in this act," and there is no proviso in the act for an exception based on political expediency.

I would put it to you that just reading this section of the act it's clear there has been a breach of this section of the act, the Health Insurance Act, by Mr James. All I'm saying is, it's clear we're not dealing with the privacy act; we're dealing with the Health Insurance Act, section 38. All we're asking you is, if the privacy commissioner acknowledges this, will you give him the powers to subpoena, the powers to subpoena records, logbooks, notebooks? Will you give him the power to examine --

The Speaker: Thank you. Deputy Premier.

Hon Mr Eves: The leader of the third party goes pretty far with a lot of conjecture, assumption of fact and speculation as to what Mr James knew or didn't know and what he said or didn't say. This is purely conjecture and speculation on his part. I have every confidence that if the Information and Privacy Commissioner thinks that he is in any way hindered from his duties in conducting a proper investigation and getting to the bottom of this matter, he will so notify the government and apprise it of that, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that he has that authority.

Mr Hampton: Here's the conundrum we have: Two members of the opposition go to a government office and they take a video camera with them so that the public can see what is going on. Right away this government calls the police. They call the police in because they say they want to protect the security of records.

Here we have a case where, on the face of it, the Health Insurance Act has been breached. The confidentiality provisions of the Health Insurance Act have been breached, and this government doesn't want to give the privacy commissioner the authority to subpoena. They don't want to give the privacy commissioner the authority to examine under oath. They don't want to give the privacy commissioner the power to subpoena records, notebooks, logbooks. What a contrast. What an incredible contrast.

I say to you again, Deputy Premier, all you have to do is to pass an order in council giving the privacy commissioner the authority of an inquiry. Then he will have the subpoena powers and he will have the powers to examine under oath. If you want to get to the bottom of this, that's all you have to do. Why won't you do it?

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the third party, first of all, I think you should stick to fact, not speculation on what you wish the facts were or hope they will be or might be. Second of all, to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing to indicate that anyone in the former minister's office requested any confidential information, including the minister.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): How did he get it then?

Hon Mr Eves: We don't know that he had it, I say to the member for Algoma. That's exactly the point.


The Speaker: Order. Minister.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): The minister's out of control back there.

The Speaker: If that's out of control, this place would be empty.


The Speaker: Order, please. Deputy Premier.

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the third party, the circumstances in this case are quite similar to a former Minister of Health in your government. On that particular occasion she chose to resign, and I think she did so very appropriately, for remarks that she, not a staff member, had made. In that particular case your government felt it was quite appropriate and quite proper to refer that matter to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and he subsequently reported back to the Legislative Assembly. You were quite happy with that when you were a member of that cabinet that made that decision.

The fact that he is an expert in these matters --

The Speaker: Thank you. New question. Leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: My question is to the Minister of Labour. I'd just say this is incredible. The government says it wants to have an investigation but it won't give the investigatory powers that are needed in order to hold the investigation.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): To the Minister of Labour: My question concerns the allegations of cabinet involvement in a political purge of vice-chairs of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. As the minister knows, these allegations form part of the contempt case against Management Board Chair Dave Johnson.

The board recently ruled that none of its members can hear the case because all of the vice-chairs have their own personal knowledge of whether these allegations against the Chair of Management Board are true. To let matters stand, there would amount to a coverup of this whole matter in which the Chair of Management Board was quoted threatening the labour board with retaliation if the government doesn't like the rulings.

I want to ask the minister, what steps will you take to allow a full hearing of these allegations that have been brought against the Chair of Management Board?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): To the leader opposite: Obviously, I'm not able to speak to that situation at the present time.

Mr Hampton: Let me proceed, Speaker, because that was essentially a non-answer.

The situation is serious, Minister. The vice-chair of the labour board who was originally going to hear the Dave Johnson case said in his ruling that he and all other vice-chairs were provided with information about how the decision was made about which four vice-chairs at the labour board would be fired. As it happens, we know from other sources that the labour board sent to the Premier's office and the labour minister's office a list of vice-chairs who might be fired. In return, the chair of the labour board was given political input, telling him which vice-chairs must be kept and which could be axed. This led to unprecedented orders in council from cabinet in October of this year firing four labour board vice-chairs whose three-year appointments had not expired.

Minister, only a fully independent investigation could get to the bottom of this political involvement in the labour board purge. What steps will you take to make sure there is an independent investigation of the Chair of Management Board and his bullying of the labour board?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As I tried to indicate in my response to your first question, as this is still a matter which is under litigation, I am not in a position to make any further comment at the present time.

Mr Hampton: That's precisely the issue. The labour board has said they can't rule because they know about the shenanigans involving the Chair of Management Board. So they've asked you to name a respected labour board chair or vice-chair from outside Ontario to hear the contempt case against Dave Johnson. The labour board is paralysed by this scandal. You have to do something.

Let me read from an affidavit of Roman Stoykewych. He says that the labour board chair, Rick MacDowell, had identified a group of vice-chairs substantially larger than four in number and that a list of such vice-chairs was forwarded to the Premier's office and to the minister's office for review. Mr MacDowell said that he subsequently received instructions that one of the named persons should not be removed from the board and that the chair was otherwise free to choose from the list which four vice-chairs would be removed.

This is very clearly a case of involvement by the labour minister's office and the Premier's office in a political purge of the labour board. We have seen in the health minister's office what this government is capable of. Will you support an independent inquiry into this case, Minister?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I am aware of the ruling. I am aware of the situation. However, I would indicate to you again that since this is the subject of litigation, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment at this time.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Health. A few moments ago, I asked the minister if he had some understanding, if he could tell us what the rules are governing the request for and release of confidential OHIP information. It became perfectly clear that he does not have any understanding of what those rules might be. This, of course, is incredible, given the Martel affair and now the Wilson affair, the fact that two short days ago the Minister of Health stood up in this House and indicated that he was resigning because there had been a release of confidential OHIP information.

I want to give the Minister of Health another opportunity now to tell us what those rules are governing the release of and the obtaining of confidential OHIP information.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I think it's well known that if any member of a minister's staff requests the information, they must go through the deputy minister, and the deputy minister must ascertain if the request is in the public interest before it's released. I think that's well known by --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): The minister has to be informed. Add that.

Hon David Johnson: The minister has to be informed. The deputy minister has to indicate whether it's in the public interest. I have been assured by the deputy that there has been no such request made in this regard.

Mr McGuinty: As I understand it then, the only way that Brett James could have got this information was to have made a request -- someone would have had to make a request through the deputy minister. Furthermore, that request would have to have been characterized as being in the public interest.

Are you telling me now that the reason Brett James had that information was because he followed those channels, since that's the only way we can get hold of that, that somehow a request had been through the deputy minister and this had been characterized as being in the greater public interest?

Hon David Johnson: I'm saying no such thing to the Leader of the Opposition. The request was with regard to the policy. I think it's a policy that's fairly well known, and the policy simply states that if confidential billing information is to be released, the deputy minister has to have the request and the deputy minister has to determine whether it's in the public interest or not to release this information, and the deputy minister has indicated that no such request has been made.

We don't know in this case. If the member opposite has some specific information or is making a specific allegation about specific information, then that would be helpful rather than just fishing, I guess. That would be helpful. I'm sure that the privacy commissioner would love to know that information. We'd be very happy to obtain that information, and I would say to the member opposite, please reveal his information.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the Minister of Health. Minister, I think in regard to the question that the Leader of the Opposition has just asked, we could all be helped if you would in fact give us a document called the security policy manual.

Yesterday our staff phoned the Ministry of Health and asked for a copy of that particular document, because it's obviously clear that something hasn't been followed in government policy. My staff requested the manual. Interestingly enough, the ministry officials in Mowat Block knew nothing about the manual. The ministry officials then contacted people in Kingston so that they could, as they said, track it down. Then the staff indicated to our staff that they had faxed to them the 80-page manual, to the Mowat Block, and then they told us we couldn't have access to it unless we filed a freedom of information request.

Minister, if the public is to believe that this is going to be a clear investigation and that the public is going to have access to information, why are your ministry officials putting roadblocks in front of members --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Health.

Hon David Johnson: To the member opposite, this request is being reviewed. However, bear in mind that we're talking about a security manual with a limited audience. There are only certain people who have access to this document, to this security manual, because the security manual controls the computer system, controls the data files. It is very relevant and is a secure document with regard to all of these features. I think you would feel it would be very unwise of the staff to release this to a broader audience when the contents of the security manual may be used to breach security procedures, to put in jeopardy the very information we're so concerned about, and legitimately so.

Mr Cooke: When I spoke to the deputy minister a couple of hours ago, we had a discussion about those particular concerns. The suggestion I made, which I think is -- dare I use the phrase -- a fairly commonsense suggestion, would be that those particular sections be blacked out and the relevant sections of the manual be released to members of the opposition.

Is the minister telling us today that he will in fact make that document available and release it publicly so that people can begin to understand what went wrong and why confidential information was used politically to try to smear a doctor?

Hon David Johnson: Again, there is a situation here of a judge and jury etc. Bear in mind we have a process in place. We have a privacy commissioner who is looking into all aspects of this, and I would suggest that all members of this House may want to see what the results of his investigation are.

Directly to the question the member is interested in, the member's request is being reviewed with an eye to the suggestion he's put forward, and I will endeavour to contact the member opposite to see whether or not that's possible. That may be a possibility. We may be able to black out certain sections that would breach security, and propel the member's request. I'll get back to him on that.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. First, I'd like to congratulate the minister on a very successful grand opening of Casino Niagara this past weekend. Many of my own constituents were in attendance. I'm very pleased to say that over 3,000 jobs have been created in the area, throughout the peninsula, not only in Niagara Falls but Fort Erie, Port Colborne and Wainfleet as well.

My question pertains to a question a number of my constituents have asked me, namely, Mike Sansano and Les Tapolczai who have written to me. The question to the minister is, can he tell the House what is behind the thinking on banning the games of dice in casinos?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): In response to the question from the member for Niagara South, I would just like to say that what is behind the thinking is a little bit of a history lesson. If I might indulge the House for just a minute to tell you that King Richard II banned dice games back in about 1380 in England. He ruled that it was bad form for his archers to be gambling with dice rather than practising archery.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, order. Minister.

Hon Mr Saunderson: Mr Speaker, I'll just go on with this. Last week it was a suggested lesson in political democracy of Buzz Hargrove. I'd like to complete the history lesson if I could. In 1553 King Henry VIII gave the law his royal proclamation. In the 1920s the federal government in Ottawa outlawed all dice games. Now Canada remains the only industrialized country that does not allow dice games, because of federal government legislation.


Mr Hudak: In addition to Casino Niagara, Casino Windsor is on the border of the United States. I understand that Michigan is moving in the direction of --


Mr Hudak: Thank you. I appreciate that. I understand that Michigan is moving towards casinos in Detroit and New York state as well. They've been looking in that direction. My question as a supplementary to the minister is: What effect does a ban, a prohibition, on dice games have on the success of casinos on the border in Ontario?

Hon Mr Saunderson: In regard to the supplementary question from the member for Niagara South, first of all we have found, and been told, that when US gamblers are considering where to go in the future, they will go where dice games are allowed, and that will hurt the revenue for Ontario's taxpayers and would reduce the economic benefit we're obtaining from the casinos. We feel that dice gambling is necessary to help our border cities compete with future casinos that will be built in those areas. Therefore I intend to pursue correcting this situation by working with the Attorney General, Mr Harnick, and the federal justice minister, Mr Rock, to amend the relevant federal government legislation.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Health. We are all concerned about the possible destruction of evidence. We know that Mr Brett James had access to confidential information. We know that the files of this former staff member of Premier Harris, now working for the Minister of Health, you've indicated, have been secured and sealed. We're also worried about other files in the Ministry of Health offices. Can you assure the House that the minister's office has been similarly secured and that there's no access to that office?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): The former Minister of Health was here yesterday. I can assure the member opposite that since his departure that office has been locked.

Interjection: Monday.

Hon David Johnson: Monday. Since Monday that office has been locked.

Again there are a certain number of assumptions the member is speculating on with regard to confidential information. To the degree that the opposition indicates this is a fact when they don't know that as a fact, when they don't know what sort of confidential information was available, I think we should reiterate that the privacy commissioner will do a thorough study, a thorough investigation into that matter. We have assured, I have assured personally, the utmost cooperation of this government to get to the bottom of it. We want to get to the bottom of this situation. We want to make sure that confidential information is treated with the utmost respect.

Mr Phillips: Let's be very clear. Mr Brett James could not have been clearer in reporting to the Globe and Mail reporter. When asked where he got the information, "Was it from the OHIP files?" he said yes. We now know this: For him to get access to those OHIP files, the minister had to have known that he was applying for it. We now know he had that information, according to Mr Brett James and the reporter. So there is only one conclusion you can reach if you follow that to its logical conclusion: Mr Brett James, a trusted adviser who formerly worked for Premier Harris himself, obviously with a good deal of confidence from the Premier, the only way he could have got that information was by applying to OHIP, and OHIP can only provide that if the minister agreed to it. What other conclusion can we reach then, but that the Minister of Health had to have known that the information was provided to Mr Brett James? What other possible explanation is there for that?

Hon David Johnson: I think there's a due process. This is the country that we live in, a democratic country with due process. We do not play judge and jury and executioner at the same time.

If the member opposite has information which he would like to divulge, specific information, I'm sure the privacy commissioner would be happy to have it. If the member opposite wants to play judge, jury and executioner, that's his right, I suppose. But I think most people in the province of Ontario would say, "Get on with the investigation," and that's exactly what we're calling for. We've called the privacy commissioner to do the investigation. I personally have talked to the assistant privacy commissioner in the absence of the privacy commissioner and I'm assured utmost support, utmost cooperation. I would hope we would allow that process to take place and get to the bottom of this matter.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Health. Public confidence in our health care system depends on the public being assured that their health care records are secure and indeed are confidential. Would the minister agree that it was reported in the press that the assistant to the former minister telephoned a reporter, indicated information about Dr Hughes's billings, and indicated that that information would have to come from OHIP records?

Since the minister has said he wants to get on with the investigation, if he agrees with that, does he also agree that medical information is protected under a number of statutes: the Health Insurance Act, the Public Hospitals Act, the Independent Health Facilities Act and the Ontario Drug Benefit Act? If he agrees with that, why is the government attempting to limit the investigation of Mr James's actions to a contravention of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?

Hon David Johnson: This government, by contrast to some previous governments, has taken immediate action. I think it's to the credit of the former Minister of Health that he took immediate action. The individual involved took immediate action. The government has called in the privacy commissioner for immediate action. We have expressed our fullest cooperation to the privacy commissioner.

I believe, frankly, that everyone in this House -- and I haven't heard anything to the contrary -- has confidence in the privacy commissioner. I would hope we'd have the confidence to the level that if the privacy commissioner felt in any regard that the powers which he has limited his ability, that there were any impediments to his investigation, he would step forward and he would tell the members of this House: "I have done what I can do. Now I recommend that further actions be taken." I can tell you that if he does that, this government will respond accordingly.

Mr Wildman: We have every confidence in Mr Wright's integrity and ability as well. We also have every confidence in what he told us this morning, that he does not have the mandate to investigate these other statutes and any contravention of those statutes.

Keeping that in mind, why is this government, whose minister says they want to have an investigation, they want to get to the bottom of this, not prepared to give an order in council expanding the mandate of the privacy commissioner so that there is a public inquiry held by the privacy commissioner to find out how it was that billings information could be obtained by the minister's office staff, and this information would have to be collated with other billings to determine if Dr Hughes was the top biller --

The Speaker: Put the question.

Mr Wildman: Why is it that the minister is not prepared to approve, to recommend to his cabinet, an OIC to expand Mr Wright's mandate so that he can properly investigate all of these acts?


Hon David Johnson: The importance of the confidentiality of billing information, the importance of the protection of confidential information of our citizens in general, whether it's medical information or whatever type of information, is of utmost importance to this government, and this government has initiated studies and steps to ensure, particularly in the health area, that this information be protected.

Having said that, if the privacy commissioner comes forward and officially says to us, through the proper channels, either that he needs more authority or that there should be some other kind of investigation or that he's impeded in any way in terms of his investigation, then I can tell you that this government is most anxious to hear that message and to act accordingly. But in the first instance, we the government feel, and I think the members of the House should feel, that the privacy commissioner, with his experience in this field, would be the right individual to start the study.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Like he, I campaigned on the Mike Harris Task Force on Rural Economic Development, and I'm proud to say that we as a government can take credit for a long list of accomplishments which will benefit rural Ontario.

But there's one commitment that we have not yet kept, and that is the one on page 10 of the task force report, which reads as follows:

"A Mike Harris government will introduce amendments to the Farm Practices Protection Act" -- more commonly known as the right-to-farm bill -- "to ensure that farmers retain the ability to operate without fear of nuisance lawsuits. We will work with all major farm organizations to produce amendments which will be fair and reasonable."

Could the minister tell me when he intends to keep that commitment?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank the honourable member for Oxford for his question. It's a very important item and one that is going to come before this House in the near future. Having been involved in the agrifood industry for as long as I have, I know that it's important for farmers to be able to produce food without being challenged in some nuisance court cases. We have to protect farmers and their ability to do what they do best, which is producing food to satisfy the needs of 11 million Ontarians and indeed to feed the world. This will be coming forth in the near future.

Mr Hardeman: As the minister is probably well aware, the agrifood industry has been asking for such changes to the act for some time. Specifically, they would like to see the act broadened beyond noise, odour and dust to include, among other things, smoke, light and vibrations. They'd like to see an appeal mechanism for restrictive bylaws and guidelines or standards on what constitutes a normal farm practice. Could the minister tell us how he intends to ensure that these concerns are addressed?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: We intend to consult extensively the agrifood industry, the food producers of the province. Over the next two months, the parliamentary assistants to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the member for Lambton and the member for Hastings-Peterborough, will be travelling the province listening to the concerns of the food producers and what sort of legislation they want to see in place.

We also invite all of the different commodity groups, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian farmers, the l'Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association. We want to receive all of the information that they have in order to make sure that this new legislation will protect farming and food production.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Health. I have been listening very carefully this afternoon to your several answers and those of the Deputy Premier on the Brett James-Jim Wilson affair. I want to come back to the basic issue. We have last Saturday's Globe and Mail, in which a senior political aide to the then Minister of Health, Mr Brett James, tells the Globe and Mail two things. On his own volition, Brett James late last week phoned the Globe and Mail reporter and said, first, "I want to tell you that Dr Hughes, the Peterborough cardiologist, is the number one OHIP biller in the province," and second, "I, Brett James, senior political aide to the Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, believe that information to have come from OHIP files."

The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health tell the House today, "We have no reason to believe there was any sensitive or confidential information out there." Well, if Brett James didn't get that information where he said he got it and it wasn't of the kind he said it was, where in hell did he get it?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): That's precisely why we stepped in at the first opportunity and asked the privacy commissioner to come forward and look at this matter. I guess the government could have undertaken its own internal reviews, could have stalled, but this government decided to take action. This government said, "What we need is to look into this matter to determine what confidential information that shouldn't have been available was available, if any, and how it was used," etc, all of these questions; to appoint a third party, a third party who's respected, a third party who has experience in dealing with information: the privacy commissioner. That's precisely what the government did at the first opportunity. I, for one, hope, and this government hopes, that the privacy commissioner is able to get on with it, get to the bottom of this and answer all the questions.

Mr Conway: I am more interested in what your government did last week, and what your government did last week is the following: A senior political aide to the Minister of Health picked up the phone, called the Globe and Mail and said: "I've got news for you. I can tell you that Dr Hughes is the number one biller to OHIP in the province, and I believe that information came from OHIP files."

Have you any reason to believe, Minister of Health, that last week Brett James was lying, that Jane Coutts got it all wrong in the Saturday paper, that Jim Wilson was hallucinating, that these protocols you brag about this week were nowhere in place or in force? Where did Brett James get that information, which information he set out to use in a premeditated way, in a prejudicial and smear-like way against an innocent Ontario doctor?

Hon David Johnson: First of all, was information used entirely inappropriately? According to the press reports, no question about it, and the Premier stood in his place yesterday and said precisely that. As a result, the individual involved resigned immediately, the Minister of Health has taken the honourable route and has resigned, and as a result, this government has asked the privacy commissioner to stand in.

We can play judge, jury, executioner, we can make up the facts, we can speculate, we can look into the crystal ball, we can say how did this happen or how did that happen. Why don't we let the privacy commissioner, an individual who is experienced in these matters, do his job? Why don't we let him investigate? Why don't we let him report back to us and get to the bottom of this situation?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Brett James told you one minute after you asked him, and you won't tell the truth.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Scarborough-Agincourt, you have to withdraw that.

Mr Phillips: I withdraw.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister of Health, in our conversations with the privacy commissioner, he has acknowledged to us that he has only limited powers under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. He has acknowledged that he does not have the power to subpoena witnesses, he does not have the power to order evidence under oath, he does not have the power to subpoena records, logs or notebooks. He also acknowledges he has no powers under the Health Insurance Act, the Public Hospitals Act, the Independent Health Facilities Act, the Ontario Drug Benefit Act, and we believe these pieces of legislation were in fact the laws that were breached.

I want to confirm with you: Did I hear you say earlier today that if the Information and Privacy Commissioner asks you for an order in council appointing him to a public inquiry, with the power to subpoena evidence, with the power to subpoena the presence of people, with the power to take evidence under oath and with the power to subpoena logbooks, notebooks etc, did I hear you say that if he asks for those things you will in fact ask for such an order in council to be granted?

Hon David Johnson: First of all, the leader of the third party indicates, "We have evidence of this, we have evidence of that" etc. I'm not so sure what evidence we have. That's what this whole investigation is about. Has the privacy commissioner indicated that he's unable to do this investigation? Has the privacy commissioner said he's unwilling, that he's impeded in any way? I think we should let the privacy commissioner do his job.

What I've indicated is, if the privacy commissioner comes forward and indicates that, for whatever reason, he is unable or impeded in doing his job, then I can assure you this government will take whatever steps are possible and necessary to get to the bottom of this situation.

Mr Hampton: I heard a lot of mumbo-jumbo but I didn't hear the key words. If the privacy commissioner comes forward and asks you for an appointment under the Public Inquiries Act, asks you for the power to subpoena the presence of people, the power to subpoena notebooks, logbooks and records, asks you for the power to take evidence under oath and asks you for the power to conduct his work not only under the privacy act but also with respect to the Health Insurance Act, the Public Hospitals Act, the Independent Health Facilities Act, the Ontario Drug Benefit Act, if he asks you for those powers, yes or no, will you immediately grant him those powers under the Public Inquiries Act so that he can do his job?

Hon David Johnson: Again, to put this in context, there has been no such request or communication from the privacy commissioner. The privacy commissioner has certainly not expressed any impediment to his job, any restriction on his job --

Mr Hampton: Coverup, coverup, coverup. That's exactly what it is, a coverup.

Hon David Johnson: Over the shouting and the bullying from the leader of the opposition party --

Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: If I said something that offends the Minister of Health, I'll say it again: coverup.


The Speaker: Member for London North, it's not unparliamentary to say "coverup."

Hon David Johnson: It may not be unparliamentary but it shows an extreme lack of confidence in the privacy commissioner. I will say that I do not share that lack of confidence.

Mr Hampton: No, we want him to do his job.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's not the privacy commissioner who is covering anything up.

The Speaker: Order. We're going to get to the answer on this one.


Hon David Johnson: I'll reiterate what I said previously. There may be different ways of dealing with this if the privacy commissioner feels that he is unable to deal with it, and that's a big if, because I think he will be able to deal with it. There may be the legislative committee route, for example. I assure you that this government wishes to have all of the questions answered on this issue and we will take the appropriate steps if the commissioner comes forward and suggests that he is unable to complete the investigation.

The Speaker: New question. The member for Timiskaming.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question for the Minister of Health. I would like to ask him, since he has been minister for --


The Speaker: Order. Just a minute. Members on the government side, I called twice. The member didn't stand. The member for Timiskaming was up, and I called on the member for Timiskaming.


The Speaker: I don't want to hear any more. He wasn't up. You can continue to point all you want, Minister of Citizenship and Culture. I looked twice, because he was up previously and I knew it was that member, and he didn't get up. The member for Timiskaming.

Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I have a question to the Minister of Health. You've been Minister of Health now, along with your other --

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's extremely difficult to hear in the back row here of the rump of the PC Party with the noise and the yelling and the caterwauling that's going on.


The Speaker: You know, there are some people who may applaud the fact that it's noisy in here but, to the member for London North, it's difficult sometimes to hear the questions from both sides of the House heckling. I appreciate the fact you're a great distance away. I called it twice as loudly as I could and I knew you were next up because you stood earlier. I understood you couldn't hear me. I could only call it as loudly as I did twice. I'm trying to maintain order. Today was particularly difficult. The member for Timiskaming.

Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I have a question to the Minister of Health. You have been the acting Minister of Health now for about 48 hours, and I would take it in the normal course of events you would meet with your new staff. I was wondering if you could assure us today in the House that you have asked and have assurances from your new staff, or any existing political staff that you may have inherited from the previous minister, that they have never been in possession of similar confidential OHIP information last week or have that information with them this week.

Hon David Johnson: I have discussed this matter in general with the staff. There are policies and procedures with regard to confidential information. I have been assured that all of the staff are aware of the rules and procedures and requirements of ministry staff procedures and they have obeyed those procedures.




Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing order 96(a), the House will meet in the morning of Thursday, December 12, 1996, from 10 am till 12 noon for the consideration of government business with routine proceedings to commence at 1:30 pm.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Our concern with this motion is that subsequent to discussions about this motion being dealt with, we have had another motion that has been forthcoming from the government, and that motion indeed has dealt with the sitting of the House next week and the sitting of the House in January. While this, without that motion, would seem to be a very sensible motion because this has happened in previous years and I think we in opposition and in government have seen this motion and there seems to have been a consensus developed on this motion, what has happened subsequent to this motion being considered by the three House leaders has been a new motion from the government, one that would indeed call upon members of this Legislature to deal with government legislation next week, which is something that we in the opposition have been prepared to do. It has been the position of the opposition as well that we are prepared to sit in January. In fact, we anticipated this. I remember the Minister of Labour and I had a brief discussion about the fact that we anticipated the House would be sitting in January.

So what's happened subsequent to this particular motion, and I find that most unfortunate, is that the government seems to have changed its position from wanting to extend this session of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario into 1997 -- this being the fall session of 1996 -- to a new position which is commencing the new session, or the spring session, of the Legislature on January 13. This makes us apprehensive then to proceed with a motion of this kind.

We were hoping that upon reflection and upon seeing the amendment that the official opposition has submitted on a previous motion, the motion we dealt with last night, the government would be saying they would agree with that particular amendment and we could proceed expeditiously with a number of pieces of legislation. What's happened instead is that the government has now said it intends to continue on in January, but with a new session.

As we've expressed on many occasions, we think it's a good idea to deal with matters left over from the fall session in January and in February, but what we are concerned about is that it be the start of a new spring session. So all of the consensus that develops around this kind of legislation begins to evaporate, as you would understand -- I know you have been in this position in opposition -- when we see the government moving in another direction.

I was hoping today and I still hope today that we would see the government in a position to indicate to the opposition that they are prepared to accept an amendment, an amendment which says we shall continue the fall session, or perhaps another amendment that might be presented by the New Democratic Party, because they have given an indication that they would be presenting an amendment as well. So the business of this House tends to be somewhat chaotic when we get into these circumstances.

The Speaker: Order. I ask the members who are involved in meetings and discussions to take them to the west and east lobbies. It's very difficult to hear these points that are being made by the member for St Catharines. That includes this crowd back here as well, if you could also take this meeting outside, please. Thank you very much.

Mr Bradley: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It's important that members of the House hear the points of view that are being expressed on this motion that Mr Johnson, the government House leader, has moved.

As I say, I think the problem is that this looked like a good idea earlier in the week. Earlier this week this looked like a very good idea, and perhaps it will be a good idea, but what we are concerned about is that subsequent to this happening, and the minister smiles over there, we have seen a motion come in from the government which says the government wants to start a spring session on January 13 and that the House is going to sit next week. So we begin to wonder why it would be necessary then to do this, if that's the case, if the House is going to sit next week in any event, and we're delighted to see that happen. If the House is coming back on January 13 to deal with legislation which we would hope would be from the fall session, then one has to wonder why we are in a position of forgoing the private members' hour on Thursday morning.

I'm not ruling this out, however, because I know at this time of year the House leaders and whips are able to come to some agreements. The member who is the chief government whip smiles. He knows this to be the case. He knows how reasonable people can be in circumstances of this kind, and I know that the government wishes to expedite its legislation. I understand that.

We have some important legislation at present on the docket to be dealt with by this House and on a Thursday morning this would have provided for an additional two hours to deal with legislation. I think, for instance, of the Boxing Day legislation, which I personally am opposed to but it has already passed second reading and simply requires third reading. I think of Bill 84, in which we are engaging in a full and frank debate. I think of Bill 57, which is reaching its somewhat final stages. I think of Bill 52, which has to be dealt with appropriately. There are a number of pieces of legislation that I understand the government wishes to proceed with, and I certainly am not one who wants to see important legislation that has developed somewhat of a consensus not proceeding.

I'm concerned now that the government has a new agenda, an agenda which it hasn't really announced, and that agenda is an agenda which wants the government to introduce new legislation. It wants the government to get around the rule, that rule being that in the final eight sitting days of the Ontario Legislature, the government cannot introduce new bills to be discussed for second and third reading. It can introduce those bills to put them on the docket; it cannot proceed with those bills for second and third reading.

I see that the government will now be bringing in further legislation. It probably wants to have what they would call a prolonged spring session so that there will be an intersession that is relatively brief and the government can wrap up all of its controversial legislation before the summer, instead of having it go through the proper stages of this House whereby we would likely see the final stages of major, comprehensive bills which might be contentious in this House in the fall of 1997.

I know what the government's agenda is. I know why the government wishes to proceed in this direction. I shouldn't say I know; I speculate that is the government's intention. That is why I'm looking for some guidance from the government in this case on why it would be that this is a relevant resolution now. Perhaps it isn't, perhaps it is.

I'm prepared to be somewhat flexible on this; I'm hoping we would see some flexibility on the part of the government. My friend from St Catharines-Brock would know that indeed the opposition is prepared to be cooperative when there's legislation before the House that has developed a consensus. The member for Lanark-Renfrew is here and he has some considerable experience. He's watched this evolve. He would know, as I know, that when the government brings in a bit of surprise -- baseball would call it a sweeping curve ball coming in -- that makes us think a little bit that perhaps what we tried to agree to last week is coming unravelled.


I will be interested in what the government House leader has to say, because I know he's a fairminded individual to deal with on these matters, and I'll be interested in hearing what the third party has to say on this resolution so that we can determine whether this motion should be dealt with this afternoon.

As I say, a lot of good can come of an additional session. I am delighted to be here in the Legislature next week. Most of my constituents would expect that we would be here dealing in some detail with important legislation. I know that government members would want the opposition to carefully scrutinize the legislation and perhaps bring to the attention of the Premier and members of the cabinet some of the concerns that even backbenchers or those outside the cabinet have about legislation, just as we were able to do with video lottery terminals, which the government intends to put in every bar and every restaurant on every street in every neighbourhood in Ontario. Today, of course, we heard a member floating the idea of crap games being held in casinos, where they're throwing the dice down. That's where you really see the hard-core gambling taking place.

Anyway, I see the government moving in that direction. So you know why we're apprehensive. The government House leader knows why we're apprehensive when we see this kind of agenda unfolding. Far be it for me to look at motives that the government might have, but I suspect what the government is all about today is wanting to deal with its resolution, wanting to sweep it through the House even though it's had so little debate, so little consideration. No doubt the government would like to ram that resolution through the House.

We in the opposition know how little debate it has had and how little real consideration, and we are therefore concerned that the government will simply stampede everything. Even members of the government caucus are concerned, and I know there are some who are concerned, about the pace at which the government is moving, how drastically the government is moving, how it's not consulting appropriately with individuals, how it's not looking at the impact of its legislation. I know there are people on the government benches, because I know there are some good folks on those benches, who have those concerns. We in the opposition want to help you out.

We are very pleased to try to help out members on the government benches who I know, particularly when there's a vacancy in the cabinet, will not want to dissent too much from what the Premier wants, because what you find is a number of rather interesting speeches that are forthcoming from members when they think there is going to be a cabinet shuffle, as apparently there must be as a result of the resignation of the Minister of Health as a result of what we in the opposition perceive to be a smear campaign being conducted.

All of this is relevant to this motion -- all of this. The Speaker knows it. I see the Speaker nodding. He knows that this is the case. I know some of the members of the opposition agree with this.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I didn't see him nod.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): He was nodding off, Jim.

Mr Bradley: The member for Nepean is nodding off, he says, at this time. I know the hours have been late, but I can't believe that the member for Nepean would be nodding off at this time of day. I assure his constituents that he is not. I want to assure them of that in case some of them happen to be watching.

Mr Baird: Correct the record, Jim. I am not. Be honourable, Jim.

Mr Bradley: I did. Naturally I said the member is not nodding off. I said that for your constituents. That's twice I've said it now, so he can send both Hansards back to anyone who phones his office or writes a letter to him.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): They will never get Hansard.

Mr Bradley: That's another question we have to look at, the fact that they can't get Hansard any more, so that is a problem. As of January 1, the average ordinary person out there who had a subscription to Hansard can no longer get that. They must now own -- and perhaps you do, Mr Speaker; I don't -- a sophisticated computer that's on the Internet if they are to get Hansard.

Mr Froese: They will never get Hansard; 200 people --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for St Catharines-Brock, would you please refrain from heckling. It's a bit too much noise. I can't hear.

Mr Bradley: I'm trying to speak as loudly as I can because there has been a din on the other side while I've been speaking. The member for St Catharines-Brock, however, was not rudely interrupting at all. He was merely trying to call to my attention some important items.

We have to know how bills go through this House, I think, if we are to know whether this resolution is applicable.

First of all we have a bill that is introduced for first reading. There isn't a debate in first reading; it's just introduced. Normally there's not a vote, although on certain contentious issues you have seen a vote on first reading.

Then we have second reading, which is a pretty comprehensive debate. A second reading debate takes a little longer because we debate the bill in principle, and the Speaker on that occasion, whoever happens to be in the chair, exercises good judgement to allow latitude at that time for the purpose of canvassing all the issues related to that bill. That's an important part because that's where the public begins to see what is happening, begins to understand the implications of a bill, particularly a bill the government is trying to rush through, such as the bill on video lottery terminals, which they finally passed.

Then we have, ordinarily, committee of the whole House. That's where amendments can be made, often brought by the government itself. That is followed, subsequently, by public hearings or perhaps they take place before that. There were people, for instance, who had something to say about a number of issues. I think of Bill 26, last year at this time. We forced the government to have hearings in January, where we went around the province with committees and heard from people. As a result the government brought forward a large number -- over 100, I think -- of amendments to that piece of legislation. That's why we need that significant intersession: to have those hearings, to have the ideas come forward for the government and for the opposition and perhaps incorporate them into legislation.

Then we have third reading. Sometimes third reading is very quick. Sometimes we proceed in a very rapid fashion because it's a non-contentious bill, it has a consensus developed around it, it's one the opposition parties agree with and that the public would find beneficial. That is third reading.

Sometimes that doesn't happen because the opposition feels, on third reading, that there are compelling reasons why the government should not proceed with that bill. That's usually when the government has ignored many thoughts, good ideas, that have been forthcoming from the general public. As all of us know, not all good ideas in Ontario originate or reside in the provincial Parliament -- that will not surprise the people in St Catharines or other communities -- so we have those hearings and hope those ideas are ultimately reflected in the legislation the government finally brings forward. When it doesn't reflect them, we find a more significant third reading debate.

Members must know, and this is again related to this, that in the last eight days of a session in June or December, that is, at the end of the fall or spring session, the government is not entitled to introduce new legislation to be debated for second and third reading. They can introduce it but they can't have second and third reading.

My good friend who is now the Minister of Finance, the former government House leader, former House leader of the Conservative Party in opposition, made a compelling argument. Just as I was persuaded by his arguments on video lottery terminals and how they were bad for the province and by his speeches on other forms of gambling, I was persuaded when he said, "Listen, if there's one problem we encounter in this House we have to deal with, it is the problem of government bringing in major legislation right at the end of a session and wanting to deal with it rapidly and not have the kinds of hearings and debate that we deem to be appropriate," and that is where our concern arises.


The motion itself is rather innocuous. This is not a tricky motion. The government is not trying to trick anybody with this. The government is not trying to fool anybody with this. This is a very innocuous motion and ordinarily wouldn't even be debated. At this time of year you find there are debates that arise on motions of this kind.

Mr Baird: Why?

Mr Bradley: The member for Nepean asks why, and there is a reason why. It's because the government brought in a motion subsequent to this. I know the House leader and whip for the New Democratic Party and for the Liberal Party are both perturbed by one word in that motion and that is the word "spring," "new spring session." If you take out the word "new" and take out the word "spring," that would be fine, or if the government wished to prorogue, it could do that. If the government wishes to prorogue, that is, end a session, have a new speech from the throne and away it goes, we could understand that. They're entitled to do that, and we'd be prepared to debate the legislation that comes forward.

My friend the member for Wellington, who has been in this House a long time, I know would probably -- I shouldn't say, "I know" -- I speculate would probably, were he sitting on this side, express the same concerns that I am expressing about a spring session that would commence on January 13. He'd be wondering what would be the hurry with legislation that requires a lot of thought.

The member for Grey-Owen Sound, who is here this afternoon -- he wants me to say that so he can send the Hansard back to his constituents -- and he is here this afternoon, and that member would know --

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): He is here every day. He is dedicated.

Mr Bradley: Well, he might well be that, and now Mr Beaubien will get in Hansard as well; he's here this afternoon. They are many times.

What I am saying is, I think the member for Lambton and the member for Grey-Owen Sound are the kind of members who must be worried at the pace at which this government is moving.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Not fast enough.

Mr Bradley: The former judge of the Ontario Court says in fact --

Mr Baird: Ottawa-Rideau.

Mr Bradley: The member for Ottawa-Rideau says that it's not moving fast enough. Well, I think he should go down to Sarnia and Lambton and tell the people who are having their hospitals closed whether the government's moving quickly enough or not. I suspect in St Catharines, as in Sarnia and Lambton, those members might not agree with the member for Ottawa-Rideau, the former judge, who says the government isn't moving quickly enough, because we believe that the government is moving too quickly, and I suspect many members of the government believe that too. The member for Ottawa-Rideau will wonder if the government is moving too quickly when they close the Ottawa Civic Hospital or other hospitals in his community. Then perhaps he will say the government should be pausing a little, taking a little more time to assess the implications of its legislation.

Mr Guzzo: Which ones does Mr McGuinty want closed? They are all in his riding.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Ottawa-Rideau, order, please.

Mr Bradley: He's interjecting. I don't know what the interjection is about other than to say he seems to now be worried about the hospitals in Ottawa, and I don't blame him. I worry about them too. That's why I'm trying to ensure that all of the legislation gets a proper hearing, that we don't move too quickly with these drastic programs that are changing the face of Ontario, an Ontario that Conservative governments in years gone by have built, and Liberal and NDP governments and people with no affiliation have built upon, something we can be proud of.

Remember Premier Davis used to stand in this House and say Ontario was the best province in which to live. He always said, and his ministers always said, we have the best health care system anywhere in the world here in Ontario. We used to have that, and we want to maintain that, but unfortunately the government is swinging the axe. They've taken $38 million away from hospitals in the Niagara region.

People I hear from in the Niagara region say, "How could you allow the government to pass this other resolution it has to start the spring session in January?" when we know that it really wants to proceed with a lot of very radical, rash and revolutionary changes that are changing the world of Ted Arnott or Eleanor Caplan or Ben Grandmaître or anybody else in this House. I say that as individuals rather than as politicians, because otherwise I would have to name their ridings of Wellington and Oriole and Ottawa East, and I did not want to get into that.

My friend the Minister of Agriculture is here this afternoon.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): What's his riding?

Mr Bradley: His riding is a long riding, so in the interest of time I will not list all of the parts of his riding. But I want to tell you, he is concerned in his heart of hearts, I'm sure, about how quickly the government is moving in some areas. In some areas he probably agrees the government should be moving quickly, and the opposition may agree. But he's a cautious person. He was part of the Davis government and he knew how Premier Davis thought about these matters. His predecessor, Osie Villeneuve, was also a very cautious individual and, I might add, a Montreal Expos fan at the same time. He was a very, very cautious individual. I'm sure that both of these people, in their heart of hearts, believe the government should take the two words "new" and "spring" out of its other resolution. So a resolution like this would go through quickly: With the nod of a head, with the wink of an eye, a resolution such as this would go through if that were indeed the case.

I know my friends in the New Democratic Party would agree with that if indeed they accepted the amendment, which I think is a reasonable one. There are two amendments to choose from. If they were to accept one of them, I think the House would proceed and you'd see a lot of cooperation. You would see a lot of progress next week as we sit next week in this Legislature. When we got into the new session, we'd see an invigorated Legislature, members from all sides back and ready to tackle the major issues of the day and ensure that there's appropriate debate.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): We endorse that, Jim.

Mr Bradley: I know the New Democratic Party is onside on that, and I suspect many of the non-cabinet people in the government, maybe even some in the cabinet, would agree with that as well.

We in the opposition are trying to do you a favour. I know you think we're not. We're trying to do you a favour. We're trying to help out the government House leader. We're trying to help out government backbenchers, who don't always get a chance to publicly air their concerns. They get a chance behind the closed doors of caucus, and I'm sure they are putting forward their views vociferously in those circumstances, but they don't get a chance to do it in this House. My friend from Dufferin-Peel, for instance, who is a parliamentary assistant and may not want to stand in this House to express disagreement with his government, is going to be looking to those of us in the opposition to express those views.

I think many of the people sitting on the other side are probably saying, "Why doesn't the Premier simply give instruction to the government House leader to remove the word "new" and the word "spring" and simply have an extension or accept one of the amendments? I think we'd move forward in an expeditious manner with a lot of legislation, because I'm eager to get at that legislation. But what was happening was we saw that the government was going to be doing an end run around established practice, around a practice that the member for Parry Sound thought was an important practice.

I want to say to the government House leader, to the government, we might well be prepared to move forward with this particular resolution. We might well be able to accept this resolution. We simply wanted to let you know how we felt about things in general before we got to that particular resolution.

I appreciate that the government members have listened and perhaps had a chance to think about the amendments that have been proposed by the two opposition parties that would allow us to move in an expeditious manner and a comprehensive manner dealing with the legislation that I know the government House leader is eager to have pass this House. I think if he saw those words removed, he saw a change and there wasn't a new spring session, it would be like a lifting of a burden on his back as he would see cooperation of a kind he dreams about in his most wonderful dreams. I look forward to that kind of cooperation and consensus-building in this House.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to enter this debate because I think it's important that we clarify the situation as it stands in this House at this time, coming close to the December break for Christmas and the new year.

The Speaker will know that I spoke on another motion last night in this House, which dealt with the ordering of the government's business, and I made it very clear that this caucus, as members of the Legislature, is prepared to sit next week and even to return in the winter, to come back in January, to deal with a very long list of government legislation that the government House leader, a chap who is a hardworking and amiable person to deal with, has said the government must have before it finishes the session. That is a very long list.

I won't reiterate what I said yesterday, last evening, on this motion, but I will say this: We are prepared to deal with the government's business. We are prepared to debate at third reading a long list of legislation that the government has said must be passed for third reading and to deal with other matters which are already on the order paper for second reading and have not yet been called by the government for debate.

As I said yesterday, the government finds itself in a position very similar to many other governments, where we're reaching the end of the session and there is still a large list of bills that have not been dealt with and that the government wishes to have dealt with. We have a situation where the government is talking about extending the hours of debate, and that's what this motion is about. This motion basically says that notwithstanding standing order 96(a), the House will meet this Thursday morning, tomorrow morning, for two hours to consider government business rather than dealing with private members' business, which is what we would normally be dealing with on a Thursday morning.

In the discussions among House leaders, we made it clear that we were prepared to consider this kind of suggestion in the context of the government looking for more time to deal with the long list of bills that are before the House that have not yet been passed. However, the discussion was in context, and the context of that was how the government could expand the hours in order to deal with the legislation that's currently on the order paper, recognizing that the rules clearly state that the government cannot introduce new legislation for debate at second and third reading in the last eight session days and that that rule also applies to any extension of the hours beyond the normal adjournment date. That was the context of the discussion.

We understood that the government had a long list of legislation that needed to be dealt with and that the government wanted to extend the hours and to find more time to deal with that legislation. We were prepared to accommodate that on the understanding that the government was going to be adhering to the rules of the House. So we made it clear that we were prepared to sit next week and we were prepared to sit in January and February. The member for Grey-Owen Sound is nodding over there. I know he is prepared to serve his constituents in this place over the winter, and we are prepared to do that as well.

But then, when we saw the motion that was moved by the government, there was a kicker in the motion. The motion didn't do what we understood the government intended to do; that was, to extend the hours of debate, to give more days for the government to deal with the matters that are on the order paper. Rather, it stated that we would be doing that next week, up to December 19, but then when we meet in January we were all going to be under the collective illusion that spring had arrived and that we would be commencing a spring session.

Now I'm not sure what the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs would have to say about this. I don't know how this will affect spring planting for the farm community in this province, but I think he would find very few farmers who are going to be out on the land in the late part of January in Ontario, no matter if we're even dealing with the very southern parts of the province like Essex county. I doubt very much that we would see farmers out on the land at that time of year.

So we had some difficulty with defining January 13 as the beginning of spring. Some people out there who might be watching this debate might wonder why it is that we're concerned about the word "spring." Well, I think I should explain that and why I think it's a kicker in the motion.

If the government can in fact designate it as a new session, that is the spring session, then the government gets around the rule that prevents them from debating new legislation at second and third reading. The government really isn't looking at extending the hours so that it can deal with the list of legislation that is already on the order paper. In fact, the government wants carte blanche to come back and introduce all sorts of new legislation that we might deal with.

Now we're prepared to come back, and frankly we might even consider coming back to deal with the two initiatives the Premier stated last week must be dealt with, even though they haven't been introduced, as the rules require them to be introduced, prior to the last eight session days, if the motion clearly stated that. But it doesn't.

My colleague the member for Fort York might have something to suggest on that when we get to that part of the debate, whenever we might get to that; however, I can't see how we would be willing to accommodate the government when they've got this little twist in their motion. We came out of our discussions saying, "Okay, we're prepared to extend debate. We're prepared to extend the sittings for another week prior to Christmas and we're prepared to come back in the winter," knowing that it's winter, not pretending that it's spring, and actually continuing the work of the fall session.

That's why I said I thought we should accept the amendment proposed by the official opposition, which would say that this would be an extension of the fall session. There is a very long list of legislation that the government has said they want passed. If they really want to pass that and they want to come back in the winter to do it, fine.

As I've said, we might even be prepared to introduce another amendment that might make it possible for other matters, specific matters, to be dealt with in the winter. But we are not prepared to cooperate if the government is determined to circumvent a very clear rule, because I, like the member for St Catharines, was very persuaded by the arguments made in 1992 by the now finance minister, the then House leader for the third party, the member for Parry Sound, when he said very clearly that the rules needed to be tightened up, that it was unfair to the members of the assembly, and particularly the members of the official opposition and the third party, for the government to stockpile legislation to the last part of the session -- that was the term the member for Parry Sound used -- stockpile controversial legislation until the last part of the session, to be introduced at that time without proper notice to the official opposition and to the third party, without proper consultation and without proper time for consideration and debate.


The member for Parry Sound has been in this House about the same length of time as the member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: Four years less.

Mr Wildman: He has been here a long time. He hasn't been here as long as I have, but I think he knows as much or more about the rules of the House than I might and he knows what he's talking about when he says that it's not fair and not a proper approach to introduce new legislation in the last eight sessional days for debate and passage. He's quite right. He was also right when he said there was a loophole in the rules that needed to be closed and in 1992 he was in favour of the closure of that loophole.

I can only conclude that the government House leader wasn't able to talk to the member for Parry Sound about this motion, because if he talked to the member for Parry Sound about this motion, I'm sure the finance minister would have said to him: "Look, wait a minute here. You're doing exactly what I argued against in 1992. We shouldn't be doing that. That's not a proper way to do things. We are bringing in controversial new pieces of legislation at the very end of the session and you're calling the session in January the spring session so you can avoid the rule that prevents us from debating that at second and third readings," the very rule that the table officers came to call "the Ernie Eves rule" in this House.

I'm sure that the table officers don't mind me pointing out that that was the term they used for that rule, because everyone knew that that rule was brought in at the behest of the member for Parry Sound, that the member for Parry Sound was the person who designed the rule. He said there was a loophole that needed to be closed, and he believed that by changing the rule the way we now have it he had closed the loophole. So it came to be called, for those who are interested in the arcane rules of this place, who get into lively discussions about whether you can do this or that or the other in this House, as "the Ernie Eves rule."

I can't believe that the member for Parry Sound, if he'd been consulted on this, would agree to a stratagem by the government to circumvent the very rule that is called "the Ernie Eves rule." I know that the member for Kingston and The Islands has as much regard as I do for the Minister of Finance. We may have political differences, but we know that he would not allow his colleague knowingly to circumvent a rule that he had proposed for this House.

The private members of this Legislature, the members of the opposition, are quite prepared to accommodate the government if the government finds itself in a difficulty because it can't manage the order of the House particularly well. We are prepared to accommodate and we would even be prepared to accept this motion that has been proposed for tomorrow morning. But we would only be prepared to accept it if we understood that the government was adhering to the rule that has the appellation "the Ernie Eves rule" in this House.

I know that some members of the governing party, the members of the back bench, must get very frustrated in dealing with the way things work around here. The Legislature, as long as I've been here, for over 20 years, has always worked on the basis of some kinds of give and take. The government wants something, it has an agenda it feels it has been elected to carry out, it has a mandate to implement. Some of their agenda may in fact raise concerns among members of the opposition; they have different views. Some of the pieces of legislation that are going to be introduced will generate considerable and perhaps sometimes vehement disagreements and lengthy debate.

Essentially what happens is the government House leader meets with the House leaders for the opposition and says: "Okay, which pieces of legislation are going to be controversial? How much time are you going to need? How long is it going to take to debate it?" The opposition House leaders usually say: "What's your agenda? What do you need? What do you want? How many bills? Which bills do you need passed? If you need us to accommodate you in that area, are you prepared to accommodate us in other areas?"

The problem we've had this fall session -- it is the fall session -- has been that for the last two or three months we've been asking the government House leader: "What's the agenda? What do you need? What bills do you want to proceed with, which bills are not high priority?" In that process, only one government bill in the whole long list has been dropped as a priority -- only one. Essentially what the government has been saying is, "We want it all." Well, the government has a mandate, I recognize that, but it doesn't have a mandate to get all of the legislation through when there's enough legislation to cover two sessions, not one.

I've heard some members of the government back bench say, "The opposition debated Bill 75 at great length." That was the bill dealing with video display lottery terminals, VLTs. That's true. There was considerable lengthy debate in this House about that because it's a very controversial proposal. There are people on all sides of the House who have very strong views for and against the approval of these machines in our communities.

I remember when I was serving as a member of government when there was discussion in our caucus and in cabinet about whether we should move to approve casinos in this province, and that was very controversial. There were some members of caucus who said, "No, we just can't support this."


Mr Wildman: No, a couple of them voted against casinos, but interestingly enough, at the time we had that debate, one of the proposals that was brought to us as a government was that we have VLTs as well as casinos in Ontario. The cabinet had considerable debate about this because the same arguments were brought to our government as the same officials have brought to your government. They were saying, "There are all these illegal ones." One way to deal with that, if you can't beat the mob by stopping them from having these illegal operations, is to replace them and just operate them yourself, as a government. We talked about the problems of addiction and the numbers of people who seem to be attracted to these kinds of machines and the allure of instant gratification, of instant wins, and we decided not to have VLTs in communities across the province. We said no.

So it was hardly surprising that when your government decided to bring this matter before the House it would generate considerable controversy and debate, recognizing that it might have been smart on the part of the government not to call the legislation and to call other pieces of legislation for debate if they wanted them passed, to get that other work done. But the government chose to say, "We're not going to deal with other pieces of legislation till we get this one through and you guys shouldn't be prolonging the debate on VLTs." In my view that was a mistake on the part of the government.


So the government now finds itself in a fix, and that fix is that it's got a long list of legislation it wants to deal with. It wants to deal with it tomorrow morning instead of private members' legislation and it wants to deal with it next week and in January. If that was all it wanted, the opposition would accommodate the government. We like to have the House sit. It's in our interests as representatives of the people of Ontario to have the House sitting. We like question period. We like to have question period. So it's certainly in our interest to have more question periods.

Mr Baird: If we have good questions.

Mr Wildman: Well, the quality of questions is judged by the public.

Mr Bradley: The Premier obviously doesn't like it. He wasn't here today.

Mr Wildman: One wag has suggested the Premier doesn't like questions and that's why he wasn't present, but I know it's against the rules to refer to the presence or absence of a member, so I won't repeat that.

The point is there is very little time in the schedule of the House that is set aside to deal with private members' business, both backbench government members and backbench members of the opposition. Most of the time is taken up by question period, routine proceedings and debates on government legislation. There is very little time. The only time that is specifically set aside for private members' legislation, when private members can bring forward proposals that are important to them and to their constituents, is on Thursday morning, for two hours, between 10 and noon. So it is quite a thing for private members to say, "Okay, we'll give up that very small amount for one week to accommodate the government, which has a long list of government legislation to get through."

We were prepared to do that, but we were prepared to do it in the context that the government was going to be sitting next week, which we agreed with, and in January, to deal with the order paper matters that are already there. When we suddenly saw the motion as presented that said it was spring in January, that we wouldn't just be dealing with the order paper materials now, we would be dealing not only with legislation that has just been introduced in the last eight days but hasn't even been introduced yet -- we haven't seen it yet.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Dictatorship.

Mr Wildman: Exactly.

The problem the government has is that it should have had this material, this legislation ready for first reading a couple of weeks ago.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): We just got Crombie's report last week.

Mr Wildman: It wasn't the opposition that set the schedule for Mr Crombie.

Mr Pouliot: Get your ducks in order.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The ducks are over there.

Mr Wildman: Well, if it walks like a duck --

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma, just direct your remarks to the Speaker.

Mr Wildman: Speaker, I would never suggest that anyone who is a member of this House is a duck, but if it walks like -- all I'm trying to say is that we are prepared to accommodate the government. The government's got itself into a fix. The government's in a mess in terms of its schedule, its order of business. We understand this. It happens to lots of governments. I've seen it happen to Conservative governments, I've seen it happen to the Liberal government, I've seen it happen with the NDP government, and now it's happening again. It happens quite often.

In the time that I've been here I think there have only been a couple of years I can recall where we actually finished early before Christmas. I remember one year when the Liberals were in government we sat between Christmas and New Year. I remember sitting here on December 27 debating the public business. I suppose now that we've brought in the St Stephen's Day bill, the Boxing Day bill, if the government wished to bring forward a motion, we could sit on December 26. But of course under that legislation only the members of the staff who would want to come would have to come.


The Deputy Speaker: Order, order. Address your remarks to the Chair. It would be easier.

Mr Wildman: I was just trying to provoke some discussion and some consideration of other options the government might have for dealing with -- I want to make clear, Speaker, that I am not suggesting the government bring in a motion that we sit between Christmas and New Year, I'm not suggesting that, but we will accommodate the government. We will even consider giving up private members' hour. Even though there's very little time for private members' business in this place, very little time for private members to bring forward issues that are of concern to them and their constituents, we'd be prepared to do that. We'd be prepared to sit next week. We're going to, and we're quite happy to do that. We'd be prepared to sit in January and February. We'd be happy to do that.

Standing here, looking across the way and seeing the member for S-D-G & East Grenville -- you've reminded me -- I can tell you I'd be happy to sit here on Groundhog Day.

Mrs Boyd: It's a Sunday.

Mr Wildman: It's a Sunday. Then I won't be willing to sit on Groundhog Day, I'm sorry.

I think we should order the business. The government must adhere to the rules of the House. The government cannot pretend that spring starts in January. The government cannot bring in new legislation in the last eight session days and expect it to be debated during the extension. We are prepared to deal with the long list of matters that are up for third reading and the few that are there for second reading on the order paper -- some of them are very controversial, some of them are less so -- but we are not prepared to countenance a situation where the government intentionally circumvents the rules. We are not prepared to cooperate in that kind of process.

The rules are there, as the member for Parry Sound has said, for a very good reason: to properly serve the public and protect the rights of the opposition and the rights of each member of the House. The member for Parry Sound is quite correct. He thought we had plugged the loophole. The government apparently thinks it's found another one.

I think that's unfortunate, because it then calls into question the sincerity of the member for Parry Sound in 1992, and I think he's a very sincere person. I think he was stating clearly that it is inappropriate to be introducing new pieces of legislation in the last eight session days without proper notice for the opposition, without proper public input, so they can be debated for second and third reading. That's what the member for Parry Sound said in 1992. I'm persuaded he was accurate and correct. I believe that remains to be the case.

The government can resolve this very simply: Accept the opposition amendment or the amendment we are going to put forth. The government doesn't even have to do that. The government can simply take out the reference to "spring" in the motion. If the government removes the reference to "spring in January," we can order the business to deal with what's on the order paper.

The choices are fair and clear, and I've tried to make them as clear as possible. Private members have certain rights here, but private members are prepared to accommodate the government if the government adheres to the rules.

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

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I wish to move adjournment of this debate.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Wellington has moved the adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1550 to 1620.

The Speaker: The member for Wellington has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please stand and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56, the nays are 28.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the provincial government is planning to make significant changes to the delivery and governance of education in this province; and

"Whereas we as parents believe that school councils should play an important role in education, with clearly defined responsibilities limited to their particular school communities; and

"Whereas we as ratepayers are extremely disturbed that consideration is being given to abolish school boards and eliminate decision-making by locally elected representatives;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the present structure of school boards within the province of Ontario continue to have a major role in governance of schools to deal with broad policies as advocates for the students in their community, to provide cost-efficient educational services and to be directly accountable to the parents and local ratepayers."

I'm pleased to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Mike Harris Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control;

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995 or in the Common Sense Revolution document;

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system;

"Whereas the government has consulted with special interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations representing the 3.5 million tenants in Ontario;

"Whereas although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed incomes will suffer particular hardship if rent controls are abolished; and

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province."


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Hamilton West.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Thank you, Mr Speaker, I wasn't sure you could see me over that.

I have a petition which reads:

"Whereas the parents of the Corpus Christi school community in the Hamilton-Wentworth separate school board have signed this petition in order that we may impress upon you how desperately we are in need of our previously approved addition; and

"Whereas the conditions that our children are having to endure are deplorable and are not conducive to a positive learning environment;

"We implore you to expedite the funding for our addition in a responsible and timely manner."

I'd like to give this to Matthew Campbell, the page from Hamilton West, to take to the Clerk. Thank you.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai ici une pétition qui me revient du village de Curran.

«À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que l'hôpital Montfort offre des services essentiels dans la région d'Ottawa-Carleton et Prescott et Russell ;

«Attendu que la population francophone et anglophone a besoin de soins de qualité ;

«Nous, soussignés, adressons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario la pétition suivante :

«Que la Commission sur la restructuration des services hospitaliers prenne en considération le caractère unique de l'hôpital Montfort dans la région d'Ottawa et des services particuliers qu'il offre la communauté francophone.»

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a petition here from 69,000 Ontario citizens, and it's in the proper form, so I do not expect to get it sent back to me by the table. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario" -- the Tories -- "is considering the privatization of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario;

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

"That the Liquor Control Board of Ontario remain a crown corporation because we fear that the privatization of that organization will lead to increases in crime, drunk driving, alcohol abuse and its health costs as well as loss of control over availability to minors and quality of product."

I've signed my name to this petition along with the other 69,000 Ontario citizens, and I'm proud to do so.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the administration of Families Against Deadbeats, Renate Diorio, Heinz Paul and Danielle McIsaac, are in total support of Bill 82, presented by the Honourable Charles Harnick to the Legislative Assembly on October 2, 1996, outlining the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, to replace the Family Support Plan Act, 1992;

"Whereas the changes will relieve the taxpayers of Ontario and provide proper enforcement required to collect and administer child support payments and orders;

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

"We support and agree with all of the changes outlined in the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, as set forth by the Honourable Charles Harnick as Bill 82, and urge the Legislature to pass this bill into law as soon as possible."

I support this petition and have signed it.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I'm forwarding the enclosed petition on behalf of the students and families of St Timothy school.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Education promised that cuts to education would not hurt the classroom;

"Whereas the cuts to eduction have resulted in many of our very young children being housed in inadequate, poorly ventilated portables;

"Whereas the children who are housed in portable classrooms that occupy crowded school yards are educationally at risk and their safety is in jeopardy;

"Whereas the current moratorium on capital expenditure makes it impossible for some school boards to provide safe, comfortable learning environments for our children, thus adversely affecting the quality of their education;

"Whereas the government of Ontario has proposed that $250 million be spent on building a superjail while withholding funds for necessary school construction;

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

"Remove the freeze on capital expenditure to ensure that our children are educated in buildings appropriate to and conducive of learning, comfort and safety."

I add my support to this important petition.



M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac Nipigon) : Pétition à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario, au premier ministre, Mike Harris, au ministre du Logement, Al Leach, et aux députés de l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que le gouvernement conservateur de Mike Harris prévoit démanteler le système actuel de contrôle des loyers ;

«Attendu que Mike Harris et le Parti conservateur n'ont pas mentionné le démantèlement des contrôles des loyers durant la compagne électorale de 1995 ou dans leur document intitulé La Révolution du bon sens ;

«Attendu que de nombreux candidats conservateurs dans des circonscriptions avec de fortes concentrations de locataires ont fait campagne durant les élections de 1995 en promettant de protéger le système actuel de contrôle des loyers ;

«Attendu que le gouvernement a consulté des groupes d'intérêt représentant les propriétaires et les promoteurs, tout en éliminant le financement accordé aux organismes représentant les quelque 3 500 000 de locataires dans notre province, en Ontario ;

«Attendu que, même si tous les locataires vont être atteints,les personnes âgées et les personnes à revenu fixe vont subir d'avantage des conséquences dévastatrices si le contrôle des loyers est aboli ;

«Attendu que l'élimination du contrôle des loyers va entraîner la montée en flèche des loyers en Ontario et aussi à ses causes ;

«Nous, soussignés, exhortons l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario à mettre fin à l'attaque systématique et délibéré contre les 3 500 000 de locataires dans la province de l'Ontario.»

J'y ai ajouté ma signature.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): On a daily basis I receive a number of calls in the constituency in Durham East asking me to stand up and support issues of importance to them. Today it's my pleasure to present a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas the results of the recent Environics Research poll showed that 57% of Ontarians oppose the funding of OHIP to abortions in Ontario;

"Whereas abortion is not a medically necessary procedure;

"Whereas the funding for abortion comes from the taxpayers of Ontario;

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

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to remove abortion as a service or procedure covered under the provincial health insurance plan."

I am pleased to affix my name to this petition.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"The government of Ontario is implementing tax cuts that will benefit well-off people while at the same time they have cut incomes to the poor. Forty-six per cent of Ontario families make less than $35,000 a year but will get only 7.3% of the benefits of the proposed tax cuts. Families with total incomes over $95,000 a year make up only 9.2% of all Ontario families, but they will get 33% of the benefits. In these tough times it is unconscionable that the poor will go hungry while the wealthy are given more.

"We, the undersigned, request that the Legislature of Ontario not approve any further tax cuts until the causes of poverty and unemployment in Ontario are dealt with effectively and until the province's debt and deficit are paid down."

I am pleased to sign my name to that petition.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have petitions that were signed by 253 constituents in the town of Atikokan in my constituency. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly and the Premier:

"Because we care about public education and opportunities for Ontario's students, we urge you to stop the cuts to education and to ensure full funding for quality education programs, to invest in future success by fully supporting early childhood programs, to maintain a broad range of courses and programs for all students through to high school graduation, to maintain full services for students at risk, to invest in Ontario's economy by maintaining day school programs for adult students."

As I said, this is signed by 253 residents from my constituency, and I affix my signature in support.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here which bears the signatures of 48 people, including those of Phil Willette and Lisa Martin, who happen to be good friends of mine and who I know personally to be of unequalled commitment to their community.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd be really interested in hearing the petition, though.

Mr Parker: It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned residents of East York, are in favour of the borough of East York remaining as a separate municipality."

This is a petition which is being circulated by the borough of East York. It is not in fact in the form that's appropriate for submission to this Legislature, but in respect to the sentiment expressed here, I want to register it here this afternoon.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have another petition on the Barrhaven high schools, which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the community of Barrhaven lacks any secondary schools to educate the large number of students living in this area;

"Whereas Barrhaven is the most rapidly growing community in Ottawa-Carleton;

"Whereas the National Capital Commission's greenbelt severs the community of Barrhaven from Nepean, forcing many students to take potentially dangerous, unsupervised, hour-long trips on public transportation in order to travel to school;

"Whereas Nepean's high schools are significantly overcrowded;

"Whereas both the Carleton Board of Education and the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board have undertaken significant cost-saving measures to help reduce the construction costs of these high schools;

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

"We strongly urge the Minister of Education to recognize the unique educational needs of Nepean and provide the funding required to build both of the proposed high schools for Barrhaven."

I've affixed my own signature thereto.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it states:

"Whereas TVOntario has been providing Ontarians of all ages with high-quality educational programs and services delivered through television and other media for 25 years;

"Whereas TVOntario provides universal access to educational broadcasting in the most effective way possible;

"Whereas TVOntario provides essential broadcast services to communities in northern Ontario;

"Whereas TVOntario has an extensive community-based advisory network spanning the province;

"Whereas TVOntario is committed to increasing net self-generated revenues by 15% every year;

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

"To formally commit to the province's continued support of TVOntario as a publicly owned, educational network."

This has been signed by 15 constituents in my riding, and I sign in support of it as well.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons; and

"Whereas we welcome real gun control and support those portions of Bill C-68 which provide tougher penalties for the criminal use of firearms, new offences related to firearm smuggling and trafficking and a ban on paramilitary weapons; and

"Whereas existing laws requiring the registration of handguns have done little to reduce the number of crimes committed with handguns or lower the volume of handguns smuggled into Canada; and

"Whereas the national gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will result in a massive misallocation of the limited resources available to law enforcement agencies, with no practical effect on the traffic of illegal firearms or the use of guns by violent criminals; and

"Whereas the gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will take police officers off the streets and involve them in bureaucracy rather than fighting crime, and will make the task of real gun control more difficult and dangerous for police officers;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the province of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to repeal from Bill C-68 those provisions for a compulsory registration of all firearms."

I support this petition and have signed it.



Mr Martiniuk from the standing committee on the administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:

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

Bill 82, An Act to establish the Family Responsibility Office, protect the interests of children and spouses through the strict enforcement of support orders while offering flexibility to responsible payors and make consequential amendments to certain statutes / Projet de loi 82, Loi créant le Bureau des obligations familiales, visant à protéger les intérêts des enfants et des conjoints grâce à l'exécution rigoureuse des ordonnances alimentaires tout en offrant une certaine souplesse aux payeurs responsables, et apportant des modifications corrélatives à des lois.

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

Shall Bill 82 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.


Mr Smith 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 without amendment:

Bill Pr68, An Act respecting the Huronia Airport Commission.

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

Bill Pr31, An Act respecting the City of Brampton;

Bill Pr76, An Act respecting the Windsor Utilities Commission and the supply of heat energy within the Corporation of the City of Windsor, the title of which is amended to read An Act respecting the Windsor Utilities Commission and the supply of heat energy within the City of Windsor.

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


Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 28th report.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Pursuant to standing order 106(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.


Mr Parker from the standing committee on the Ombudsman presented the committee's first report, 1996.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr John L. Parker (York East): No, thank you very much.


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

Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

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

Shall Bill 86 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.

Introduction of bills.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): I move that leave be given to introduce a bill entitled An Act to improve community safety by amending the Change of Name Act, the Ministry of Correctional Services Act and the Police Services Act.

The Speaker: It's not here. I'll have to take it another time.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This may or may not be helpful. I'm going to ask for consent for a 15-minute or a 10-minute recess --

Interjections: Fifteen minutes.

Mr Bradley: A 15-minute recess so that discussions can take place about the business of the House.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines is seeking unanimous consent for a 15-minute recess. Agreed.

The House recessed from 1643 to 1658.


Mr Bradley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to ask you, if I may for a moment, while the government House leader is consulting, about a matter I drew to your attention that is increasingly difficult for others, the Hansard problem, whether you have been able to determine any resolution to the problem that people will not be able to get Hansard in the printed form, in one of these forms.

A large number of people in Ontario like getting Hansard, reading through it, reading what the Speaker has to say in his rulings, looking at a number of matters of interest to them. The problem is that they are unable to do so unless they own a computer and are on the Internet. Our concern, as members of the opposition, is that people should be aware of what is in Hansard, and a lot of people don't own a computer. I don't own a computer, for instance.


Mr Bradley: I've had a suggestion from the member for Burlington South, but I don't own a computer and some others may not. I am concerned that people who have an acute, comprehensive interest in what goes on in this Legislature, who are on the list to receive this document, have been unable to obtain it as a result of, apparently, a decision which has been made, and the Speaker may well be aware of that decision.

I know that you would be concerned, as a defender of the rights of members, that our constituents would have the opportunity to read in Hansard what happens in the House, including the questions, and you know how important question period is; including statements, which are exceedingly important; and including the various speeches that are made in the House. Even some of the interjections are of interest to people.

If we have this, I think people would be able to better judge what happens in this assembly, and perhaps another member may wish to intervene in this regard.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On the same issue, I'd like to agree with the member for St Catharines. I hope that you would rule on this, Mr Speaker, and help us out, because I think there are a lot of people who want to hear especially the member for St Catharines, because he has a lot to say, and I'm sure it would benefit him, but a lot of us too. Our people across Ontario would like to see what some of their members have said in the House, and this may have been taken away from us. I hope you'll be able to look into this and help the members because this is one of the only chances we get, especially in rural Ontario. I hope you've got a ruling, Mr Speaker, but if you don't, I hope you get one.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I also share the concerns expressed by the member for St Catharines, but I have another issue that's of great concern to me: A little earlier in this meeting, pages in this chamber -- I think of one particularly, Marty Fox from the riding of High Park-Swansea, was required to carry very heavy parcels forward to the table. I want to be assured, Mr Speaker, that this has done no mischief to him or to any other pages. Can the Speaker so assure me?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Yes. To deal with the points of order, the Hansard point of order, I think we are dealing with that, and to the members for Grey-Owen Sound and St Catharines, I'll investigate it as quickly as I can and report back to you individually.

To the member for High Park-Swansea, I can only hope that no mischief happened to Marty, but I will inquire about his good health.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion to continue the meeting of the House commencing Monday, December 16, 1996.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Mr Speaker, I understand there was some discussion, and we have an understanding with the government House leader that I would be moving adjournment of the debate. I move that adjournment.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Fort York has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

That's a tough one, but I think the ayes have that. There'll be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1704 to 1734.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Will the members please take their seats. Order.

The member for Fort York has moved the adjournment of the debate.

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

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 0; the nays are 75.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Mr Marchese: I'm happy again to resume the debate on the motion presented by Mr Johnson, the member for Don Mills, and happy to speak to the amendment to that main motion, which was that the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after "1997" in the fourth line of the motion and replacing them with the words "which date resumes the fall session period of 1996." That's the amendment I'm speaking to. I have to say it makes some sense, because what it tries to --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. There's too much noise. I can't hear. We'll wait.


The Deputy Speaker: We'll just wait.

Mr Marchese: It's an unruly crowd today.

What the amendment tries to do to the motion is to restore some natural order, because the original motion, which talks about that it stand adjourned until Monday, January 13, 1997, which date commences the spring sessional period, is a problematic one because it contradicts natural law. It isn't in fact a spring sessional period. What the amendment to the main motion does is restore the natural period of life, as it should. That's why the amendment was put forth.

But we have some other major concerns about what this government wants to do. What they want to do, of course, is come back and deal with educational governance and municipal governance, and that, to us, is a problem. What we have seen in education already is that they have destabilized the educational system. Through their announcements and pronouncements, they have demoralized the teachers, they have sent trustees into a tizzy and have befuddled all of the parents with what they have already pronounced. So, we've got a problem to deal with, and the announcements they're about to make or want to deal with in January are going to further compound and confound trustees, parents, teachers and the whole of Ontario in fact.

We are very concerned about those changes that they want to speak to, and we are concerned about the municipal governance change, because it is one of the biggest things that this government is about to engage in, which is going to change municipal governance a great deal. It is a proposal of great proportion, it will affect all of us in very serious ways, so we're very worried about that.

We'd like to be able to focus the discussion, obviously, in January, if they're going to force us back, on those issues so that we have plenty of time to talk about that. Our worry, of course, is that they would like to stockpile a whole lot of things into that session that wouldn't simply deal with municipal and educational governance but could deal in fact with many other things. The public deserves to be able to have adequate time to deal with educational reform of this magnitude and to deal with municipal governance changes of this magnitude. So we want time, the public demands that kind of time, and if you confound it with yet many other things, I think it is a problem. That's what we're trying to sort out today and what we're going to be trying to sort out for the next short while. So we've got a lot to talk about.


There's a referendum question that we've been trying to sort out. Our leader has asked Minister Leach and the Premier, "Will you hold a referendum on the issue of municipal governance structure changes?" and they said no to that. Mr Leach said: "Oh, that's a very complicated issue. We don't want to deal with a complicated issue with a referendum question that simply deals with a yes or no." I understand that. That's why we have expressed concerns about referenda. But why is it that these Tory members want to have it both ways? They want to be able to have referenda on their issues and reject referenda on others, so that if it doesn't suit them, they can say: "Oh no, this referendum question is simply too complicated to deal with. We need time. We need reflection. So on this we have to simply say: Referendum, no."

But you're about to change a municipal governance structure that is of great enormity and importance to many people within the metropolitan area, and the GTA, I would add. We have on our hands a big, big problem to deal with, and so we need the government members on the other side to reflect on this and we don't have much time. The government and Mr Johnson need to come up with something because we don't have a whole lot of time to deal with this, and unless we come up with some clarity soon, I'm going to have to move an amendment.

It appears that we don't have an agreement on this, Mr Speaker, so I am prepared to move an amendment to the amendment. I would move to replace the January 13 date with March 17 as the more appropriate date to deal with this issue.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Fort York, your amendment is not in order. I'll just have to ask for further debate.

Mr Marchese: Why?

The Deputy Speaker: For the simple reason that the amendment amends the motion and not the amendment of Mr Conway. Therefore it is not in order. I will ask for further debate.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: How many more seconds does the member have on the clock?

The Deputy Speaker: A minute and five seconds, I'm informed by the table.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On behalf of my colleague Mr Conway, I would like to withdraw the amendment of the Liberal Party.

The Deputy Speaker: Do we have consent? No.

Let me explain what's happening. The only person who can withdraw the amendment of Mr Conway is Mr Conway himself unless I have unanimous consent to allow the member for St Catharines to withdraw the amendment. Do I have that consent?


The Deputy Speaker: I hear yes and no. Do I have consent? No. Further debate?

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You asked for unanimous consent, yes or no, and some members weren't even in their chairs. How can they be saying yes and no out of their seats?

The Deputy Speaker: I'm not in a position to determine where these people are seated. I heard no. It could have come from anywhere. I heard a no, so therefore it's no.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, I move an amendment to the amendment. It reads "which is in keeping with the Premier's stated intent."

The Deputy Speaker: Okay, I'll try to understand the writing.


The member for Fort York has moved an amendment to Mr Conway's amendment and it reads as follows: "on the amendment, which is in keeping with the Premier's stated intent."

Further debate on the motion? Forty-five seconds, go ahead.

Mr Marchese: The amendment attempts to give us an opportunity to speak to the issues that they wanted to speak to, that is, educational reform and the educational governance issue and the municipal governance issue, which was their stated intent. That's what they wanted to talk to and that is why they wanted to bring us back on January 13, and we are very happy with that intent and we want to come back to speak to those issues. It is for that reason that we have added that wording.

I move that the question be now put on the amendment.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Marchese moves that the question be now put on the amendment. I will consult with the Clerk.

The member for Fort York, you cannot move a motion on an amendment, so therefore it is out of order.

Further debate? The member for Dufferin-Peel.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The purpose of this resolution, of course, is to proceed with the various bills that this government requires to reduce the size and the cost of government in the province of Ontario. The motion is a motion for the extended and early 1997 sitting motion. I believe we'll all agree it's of a routine nature. The motion was distributed and discussed, as I understand it, at last week's House leaders' meeting.

Mr Wildman: No, it wasn't.

Mr Tilson: Well, you say it wasn't; I understand from our House leader it certainly was. The government House leader has had numerous discussions, to the member opposite, with his counterparts --

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): There was not.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. No, that doesn't work.

Mr Martin: Get your arguments straight.

The Deputy Speaker: No. He has the floor, please.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Dufferin-Peel.

Mr Tilson: I will be factual and the fact is that the government House leader has had numerous discussions with his counterparts in the official opposition and the third party about the parliamentary calendar and this has gone on for a number of weeks.

On December 4, through a statement to the Legislature, the Premier announced that the House would meet beginning January 13, 1997, to consider several critical pieces of the Who Does What legislation, and that is the gist of where this government is going.

This is legislation which will reduce the size and the cost of government in Ontario and lead to savings for the taxpayers of this province. The period of January through to the end of March when the House normally does not meet will be utilized to debate and to hold public hearings and to finalize changes and to achieve these objectives.

The Premier in his statement has asked all members to lend their support and cooperation for this special and very important reason and --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Do not change the rules.

Mr Tilson: I'll tell you that on the government side we certainly have been pleased with the responses and signs of cooperation from all sides of the House with respect to these proposals. The leader of the third party stated, and this is a direct quotation from Mr Hampton in Hansard: "We welcome a special session of the Legislature."

We are certainly not the first government to ask members to spend a greater portion of their time in the Legislature. The New Democratic government passed motions, notwithstanding the standing order which sets out the parliamentary calendar on three separate occasions.

Standing order 6(a) sets out the parliamentary calendar. In the spring the House meets the Monday following the March break to the fourth Thursday in June.

Mr Gerretsen: We know that.

Mr Tilson: The House meets in the fall from the fourth Monday in September to the second Thursday in December. The calendar also provides for a week's break during the sessional period. The member's a new member, and I thought I'd tell him this so he knows for sure.

The standing order came into effect October 9, 1989, and the New Democratic government amended the standing order June 29, 1992, to shorten the sitting time in December from the third Thursday to the second Thursday. So the first part of the motion merely enables what has been traditional in the period from 1989 to 1992, to sit the third week of December. There's nothing unusual about what we are proposing in this period of time.

Obviously, when you look at what we are trying to do, all of the various pieces of legislation that have been introduced at this time and require further debate to accomplish the needs that I believe all of us will agree on, to reduce the size of government in Ontario and hence to reduce taxes in Ontario, we believe that this is achievable and will require this time to do all of these various things.

As I've already mentioned, the New Democratic government passed a motion, notwithstanding standing order 6(a), on three separate occasions. The first was on June 30, 1992. The NDP moved a motion, notwithstanding standing order 6(a), adjourning the House until July 6, 1992.

Mr Cooke, the member for Windsor-Riverside, who was the then New Democratic House leader, had explained that the government had several pieces of must-have legislation that they wanted to pass before the fall session.


On July 22, 1992, the New Democratic government moved a motion to adjourn the House until September 28, 1992. Closure was introduced by the then Treasurer, Mr Laughren, after three hours and 45 minutes of debate the next day.

These pieces of legislation -- and I'm going to indicate some of the pieces of legislation -- require further debate and further time in this House.

Bill 57 is the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, 1996. We had hoped to debate that bill today, but obviously through much of the debate that's been going on, we may have difficulty reaching that, which sits awaiting third reading. This bill provides maximum return for the tax dollar through improvements to the approvals process with regard to certificates of approval, winding down the business of the Environmental Compensation Corp, repealing the Ontario Waste Management Corp and granting the province the authority to recover administrative costs for some specific services.

Finally, there's Bill 61, which is the Government Process Simplification Act. This was introduced by Mr Harnick, the Attorney General, and is awaiting third reading. This bill enacts procedural changes to the Assessment Review Board and the Public Guardian and Trustee Office, making more efficient use of hearings, improving accessibility and promoting better customer service. It increases the public guardian and trustee's flexibility to make decisions around the sale of property belonging to persons who have to die intestate. It also makes it easier for beneficiaries of similar states to receive deceased clients' property from the public guardian and trustee without going through the expense of getting letters probate through the courts.

Bill 63 is another piece of legislation that requires debate. It's the Government Process Simplification Act, which has been introduced by the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. It awaits third reading as well. This bill streamlines three of the agencies' business operations and improves board accountability. It gives the board of Science North the responsibility for determining the remuneration of the CEO, director and staff; the board of the Ontario Heritage Foundation the right to have a volunteer board and reduce the minimum size of its board from 21 to 12; and the boards of Science North and the McMichael the authorization to appoint CEOs without the minister's approval.

Bill 64 is the Government Process Simplification Act. The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations introduced this piece of legislation, and it too is awaiting third reading. This legislation eliminates redundant procedures and reduces regulations that are unnecessary, a burden to business. It removes references to regional ministry offices in signage, repair orders and invoices. The regulation power concerning size, form and style of signs is eliminated from the Motor Vehicle Repair Act; the regulation-making power requiring registered motor vehicle dealers to be bonded; for the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, the registration requirement for itinerant sellers.

Bill 65 was introduced by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. It is the Government Process Simplification Act and is awaiting third reading. This bill eliminates the red tape in the operation of some of the tourism agencies and in the regulation of tourist establishments. It establishes the government process and improves efficiency by changing the process for setting fees and prescribing forms by regulations.

Those are just some of the bills on which the government requires further debate.

On June 23, 1993, the New Democratic government moved a motion notwithstanding standing order 6(a) to extend the meeting of the House commencing June 28, 1993. The then government House leader, Brian Charlton, claimed the opposition had been uncooperative in negotiations and, to use his words, "that simply is an opposition which isn't prepared to be reasonable and responsible in the legislative process." Closure was introduced by the member for Windsor-Riverside, Mr Cooke, the New Democratic House leader, after four hours and 20 minutes of debate. The House sat until September 27, 1993.

The New Democratic government again moved a motion notwithstanding standing order 6(a) on June 23, 1994, to adjourn the House until October 31, 1994. This is a particularly interesting situation, as the New Democratic government wanted to do precisely the opposite of what our government is trying to do today, which was to have the House sit for far less time than prescribed under the standing orders.

We on this side of the House in the Conservative government believe that the time has come to move on. We now, excluding the time that we've spent today, have sat more than seven hours debating this motion, so I therefore move that the question be put.

The Deputy Speaker: I will take a 10-minute recess.

The House recessed from 1807 to 1816.

The Deputy Speaker: Take your seats. Mr Tilson has moved that the question be now put.

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1817 to 1848.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. Mr Tilson has moved that the question be now put.

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

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing. Take your seats.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 54, the nays are 25.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. I declare the motion carried.

Mr Johnson has moved government notice of motion number 13. Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye".

All those opposed will please say "nay".

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1850 to 1920.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order. Would members take their seats, please. The member for Mississauga South, please take your seat.

Mr Johnson has moved government motion number 13. All those in favour of the motion please rise one at a time.


Arnott, Ted

Harris, Michael D.

Pettit, Trevor

Baird, John R.

Hodgson, Chris

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Hudak, Tim

Ross, Lillian

Beaubien, Marcel

Jackson, Cameron

Sampson, Rob

Chudleigh, Ted

Johns, Helen

Shea, Derwyn

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Johnson, David

Smith, Bruce

Elliott, Brenda

Jordan, W. Leo

Snobelen, John

Eves, Ernie L.

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Fisher, Barbara

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Fox, Gary

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

Froese, Tom

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tsubouchi, David H.

Galt, Doug

Murdoch, Bill

Turnbull, David

Grimmett, Bill

Newman, Dan

Vankoughnet, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

O'Toole, John

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Hardeman, Ernie

Palladini, Al

Wood, Bob

Harnick, Charles

Parker, John L.


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to the motion please rise one at a time.


Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Phillips, Gerry

Conway, Sean G.

Hoy, Pat

Pupatello, Sandra

Crozier, Bruce

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ramsay, David

Grandmaître, Bernard

Miclash, Frank


The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, under the rules you must vote.


The Acting Speaker: Mr Bradley, the member for St Catharines, under the rules, you must vote. I have to tell you that if you don't vote, you will be named.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): Mr Bradley.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): Mr Bradley, nay.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.


Bisson, Gilles

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Boyd, Marion

Martel, Shelley

Wood, Len

Christopherson, David

Martin, Tony


Kormos, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles


Clerk of the House: The ayes are 50; the nays are 22.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.


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

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

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): If members are leaving, would you please do so or take your seats so that we can have the beginning of the debate on Bill 57. Thank you.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Today I'm pleased to introduce for third reading the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act. The act, known as Bill 57, received first reading in June and has since been through second reading and the standing committee on resources development. I thank all honourable members who have taken part in the discussions on Bill 57. This bill can only get better as it is put to the test over many months and years in the future.

Here we have an example of a process that leads to solid results, in this case a stronger piece of legislation to protect human health and the environment. We're trying to do away, through the approvals reform, with the processes that do not contribute to environmental protection. In the past, unfortunately, we've been looking too much at the process and not at the end result. What is important are the end result and the protection of the environment, as you are very much aware.

Bill 57 also helps the Ontario government to meet its commitment to (1) save the taxpayers' money; (2) simplify government; (3) improve accountability; (4) protect our priorities; and (5) improve our customer services.

Before going on I want to underline one very important point in this bill: Approvals reform does not compromise environmental protection in any way; it strengthens it by allowing the ministry to focus on priority issues, and the environment will indeed be protected.

The same point can be made about all the reforms being undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and Energy. We are working to weed out all the regulations and policies that prevent us from meeting our mandate to protect the environment and ensure that Ontario's energy needs are met.

Bill 57 proposes to do four significant things:

(1) It will introduce standardized approvals as a way, in many instances, to make the environmental approvals process more clear and efficient.

(2) Bill 57 will close the Environmental Compensation Corp and get the ministry out of the compensation business, a place it should never have gotten into in the first place.

(3) The bill will repeal the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act.

(4) The bill will give the Ministry of Environment and Energy greater ability to charge fees to recover costs for certain services that it provides.

I'd now like to take a closer look at each of these four proposals.

Under the existing legislation a certificate of approval is required for any activity that might result in discharges into the natural environment -- that's any activity and any discharge. Currently we require a certificate of approval for restaurant fans, as one example.

If you read the present legislation in great detail you would interpret that things like bathroom fans and fans for livestock barns would also require a certificate of approval. Facetiously, I've often wondered, when people go outside to smoke, with the kind of pollution they're releasing into the environment, maybe they should also have a certificate of approval. In the past all these things have been overlooked by the ministry. However, if the legislation were interpreted to its fullest, maybe those would be some things we should be doing.

In effect, what we've really been doing with each certificate of approval has been a customized regulation for each one of these projects, and in the past we've often been criticized as a ministry for not having a level playing field when we customize each project. We believe that a standardized approval can effectively be applied in many instances. This type of approval would only be applied to activities that have predictable environmental effects and that can be controlled by consistent conditions.

Regulations would be developed that are specific to these types of activities. Some of the opposition may be encouraged by this legislation, as more regulations will be developed than were there previously.

The amendments maintain the ministry's authority to set conditions and rules to ensure the projects do not harm the environment. This is a more efficient, timely and cost-effective way to do business and eliminates unnecessary red tape by ensuring that the regulatory wheel is not reinvented in each individual case. We don't have the resources or the time to reinvent this wheel on a constant basis, as has been occurring in the past.

When Bill 57 becomes law, industry, businesses, institutions and municipalities will have more flexibility to meet the standards in innovative ways.

Again the point must be made that the same tough environmental standards that applied in the past continue to apply today, and will do so even more effectively in the future. We will have the same tools to require compliance with these standards.

A second aspect of Bill 57 involves winding up the Environmental Compensation Corp. Over the past decade the operational cost to run the Environmental Compensation Corp amounted to more than four times as much as the compensation that it provided. This is not the best use of taxpayers' dollars.

During that same time our experience with the spills bill has shown us overwhelmingly that the majority of Ontario businesses are willing to take responsibility for cleaning up their spills. The court system will remain the avenue for pursuing the rest. It is time for the government to get out of the business of providing spills compensation.

Winding up the corporation will in no way affect the important environmental safeguards that protect the public from the consequences of spilled materials. Owners and controllers of spilled substances remain responsible for reporting, cleanups, restoration and compensation. The Ontario law in this area remains clear and unchanged.

This brings me to the third aspect of Bill 57: the repeal of the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act. This is a formality that closes the book on the Ontario Waste Management Corp, which ceased to operate in October 1995. I'm sure that everyone here is aware of its history. Suffice it to say that the corporation spent some 15 years and $145 million, only to fail in its efforts to solve Ontario's hazardous waste management problems.

I should add that despite the repeal, Ontario has one of the best hazardous waste tracking systems in the world, and we're the only jurisdiction in North America that tracks liquid hazardous waste. At the same time, we're stressing the preventive approach, to prevent the generation and use of toxic chemicals rather than waiting until the horse is out of the barn, so to speak.

The final aspect of Bill 57 is a provision that allows our ministry to recover some of the administrative costs of the programs and services we deliver. The ministry currently has the authority to charge fees for various services, including certificates of approval, examinations, licences and permits. Bill 57 consolidates these authorities and allows the ministry further flexibility to recover costs from the specific recipients of our services.

The ministry will introduce fees to recover the costs of providing services such as generator registration and waste manifests. The fees will help ensure that those who use the services also pay for them.

As well, the fees will assist the ministry's effort to recover some of its administrative costs, consistent with our business plan and the government's corporate direction in this regard.

The Minister of Environment and Energy and I, as the parliamentary assistant, are committed to ensuring that Ontario's high standards of environmental protection are maintained and, wherever possible, improved upon.

I am confident that Bill 57 meets this goal while allowing the ministry to become more efficient and effective in its effort to protect the environment and ensure that Ontario's energy needs are met.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It is my intention to debate this for an hour and a half this evening and deal with a number of issues that are related to this piece of legislation and the context in which this legislation is introduced to the House and beyond.

I want to, first of all, recall Conservative critics in the field of the environment who were assiduous in watching that other governments would not cut their budgets for the Ministry of Environment and would ensure that the environment had appropriate staff and resources.

This bill is introduced in the context of the government having significantly and substantially reduced the budget of the Ministry of Environment. If you're serious about dealing with environmental issues, if you're serious about the government showing leadership in meeting the environmental challenges that face this province, then you can't be lopping $200,000 and $300,000 from the budget of the Ministry of Environment and closing laboratories and firing staff and reducing resources and still expect to do the same job, because you can't do it.

There may be some areas of government where you can -- none come to mind at this time -- where it's easier to reduce resources and staff and still be able to do the job. Those are perhaps areas which lend themselves to computerization and automation. As much as I think some of those steps are backward, they are easier in some ministries than in others.

Essentially, if the government were interested in the environment, it wouldn't be reducing the budget of the Ministry of Environment. In fact, it would be maintaining and expanding that budget where necessary to meet the needs of the environment in our province.

We deal with this bill in the context of the government's agenda of deregulation, cost cutting, and support for the private sector as a priority above all others. There are areas where the private sector can play, I think, a significant role. This usually is not one of them. The reason I say this is that we want to ensure that somebody who's entirely objective, somebody who is not subjective, has an opinion to offer and a role to carry out in the regulation of those who are involved in activities which could be of detriment to the environment.

We must also consider this bill in the context of the environmental agenda, or anti-environmental agenda, of this government. We have cuts to the ministry budget, the closure of regional laboratories, and we find out that the private sector costs more than they anticipated, in fact more than when the ministry was running certain of its labs, such as in Thunder Bay. The ministry reaction, of course, is to test water fewer times, even though the auditor has recognized this as a problem area.

There was a time when the news media were very interested in the environment and you could count on the lead story on the 6 o'clock news of television or perhaps radio to carry an environmental story, an environmental issue, an environmental happening. You could often count on the front pages of the newspaper to contain significant environmental articles. You could count on magazines to run features on environmental degradation and needs. I lament the fact that today that is not the case, which allows the government to be either lazy or compliant with those who would pollute the province.


When I look at the fact that there's less testing of water in the province I become concerned. Because of all the chemicals out there, because the government is no longer keeping its eye on polluters as it did in the past because the ministry simply does not have the resources now to do so, the chances of the water becoming contaminated are greater.

I remember a major issue that arose with NDMA in the water. If you even mention that today you get blank looks from the government benches because the government attitude today is, "If you don't look for it, you won't find a problem." In fact, testing of water would find that in many municipalities NDMA would be found in the drinking water. I suspect that tests done for dioxin and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, you name it, are fewer, and as a result the chances of water becoming contaminated are greater.

The answer isn't simply to go to bottled water -- although I'm not here this evening to knock bottled water -- because the testing of bottled water is sometimes not as stringent as some people might think. It requires a determination on the part of the government that it's going to protect our water supply. The Provincial Auditor said in his report that the government wasn't doing a good enough job on this and should increase its activities. Instead, we'll see a decrease in those activities.

I can't remember, as well, hearing of the discharge report that used to be an annual event that people looked forward to. If it has been released, it certainly didn't get any coverage, and that's most unfortunate because that is a measure of any progress being made in terms of the diminishing of the number of persistent toxic substances making their way into our waterways. Of course we have concerns about soil and air as well, but these discharges are directly into our waterways.

The auditor clearly indicated a concern with the ministry's effectiveness in monitoring and enforcing standards in the areas of air and water pollution and the management of hazardous wastes and other hazardous materials. Now, even with problems identified, the threat of more budget cuts -- the ministry staff, by the way, has already been cut by one third -- means there's less enforcement of environmental regulations by the ministry because we won't have the staff to do the monitoring or follow through on enforcement. Therefore, as with water testing, the government appears to be ready to reduce regulations that have to be enforced in the air field.

You can have all the regulations you want, you can establish all the standards you want, but if you don't have the will and the resources to enforce those standards, they're simply not worth the paper they're written on.

The deregulation that we see in this bill is consistent. Land Use Planning and Protection Act changes, you will recall, brought about a situation where planning decisions now, and I quote, "have regard for" provincial policies instead of "be consistent with" them. This allows for far more flexibility to ignore provincial policies, far less capacity for the government to enforce its own policies and much less environmental protection.

So there is a major difference. People will say, "Well, it's only words," but when I was on the committee that dealt with the changes to the Planning Act, one of the positions I took very firmly, when that bill was before this House, was that "be consistent with" provincial policies was a much stronger and more meaningful statement. "Have regard for," in my view, is weaker and means that the government is not as interested in having these planning policies consistent with environmental thoughts and regulations and policies. You won't see it immediately, but you will see it down the line when the problems creep up.

Years ago in the ministry the attitude dictated by government many years ago was that if you don't go looking for problems, you won't find them. Essentially the ministry was the ministry of defence. Whenever a problem was discovered by someone outside, the government went into a defensive mode, tried to defend, deflect, ignore and play down the environmental problems.

In 1985 the new government of David Peterson decided it would take a different approach: that it would look for environmental problems and try to find out what they were and address them, that it would not try to cover up circumstances that exist but rather put them out there for the public to see and for public policy to be developed around that.

That was a major change in the ministry. Many of the hardworking employees of the Ministry of Environment, people very dedicated to improving the environment, to protecting the environment, welcomed that new approach of not being the ministry of defence but rather going on the offensive to try to meet the environmental obligations the province had to the people of Ontario.

But we see the staff cuts, and I know that in each of the regional offices you simply cannot do the job with fewer people. The government can say it can and the government can say, "Well, you know, today those companies that used to pollute don't pollute any more." Don't believe it for a moment. The best and fairest way to deal with those who would dare to break environmental rules is to have very strong legislation, strong laws, strong regulations on the books and tough enforcement of those laws.

That's why, back in the late 1980s, we established what was called the investigations and enforcement branch of the Ministry of the Environment. That was to be totally independent of the abatement branch, because the abatement branch was to deal with problems that polluters were having, that polluting companies would have, that polluting municipalities might have, and to try to help them correct them. The enforcement branch, on the other hand, was there to investigate and enforce the laws of the province. They were not highly regarded by many companies they visited because they were very tough on those companies. They laid a lot of charges; they demanded a lot of improvements.

In about 1986, I think it was December, the government passed new laws which drastically increased penalties for violation of legislation and regulations in this province, and this was positive. For the first time those who were in violation of Ontario laws could actually go to jail for the most serious offences, and there would be fines available of up to $1 million a day for those environmental offences. Those were for the most significant, serious offences, and there were other very tough penalties for varying offences depending on their severity and their seriousness.

That was a good step forward, and the investigations and enforcement branch was increased in number. The whole ministry was vigilant of problems that existed. Those that had been polluting companies in the past started to change their ways, some of their own volition because they felt it was good public relations and because they had a conscience and felt an obligation, but many because of the tough laws and enforcement that got the attention of polluters and changed many of them around.

The people of this province appreciated that very much because they saw definite action to improve the environment. The companies that had already spent the money, put in the resources, trained their staff and established policies of an environmental nature supported that strong law and that strong enforcement approach because they had nothing to fear. They were complying with the laws of this province. They felt that their competitors who might try to avoid these laws, who might try to break these laws to gain a competitive economic advantage, would be held back from doing so by these strong laws and the strong enforcement.

Unfortunately that is changing today. In fact, I noticed in the newspaper that the government was even going to court in a situation where a company was in violation of provincial regulations and the government was bailing them out. The investigations and enforcement branch had a lot of charges brought against people, a lot of investigations that were commenced and were successful, and I want to compliment the people in the investigations and enforcement branch and the people in the legal department of the Ministry of the Environment for those successful prosecutions, not because we wanted a long list of people who had been prosecuted so you could wave the list and say, "Isn't this success?" but rather because it sent a message to those who would dare to violate our pollution laws in this province, our environmental laws, that they would be dealt with severely if they were in violation of legislation and regulations and policies in Ontario.


We will find that there's not the staff to do so or to follow through on the enforcement after the Provincial Auditor recognizes problems and tells the government to investigate further. I mentioned that this deregulation is consistent with the Land Use Planning and Protection Act changes. I think as a result of those changes we're going to see much more agricultural land lost in this province, many more conservation treasures sold off; the conservation authority is desperate to get funds, so it's prepared to sell off lands that would otherwise be a treasure for the people.

And it's all short-term. Yes, there's a profit, and I know some of my friends on the opposite side will say: "You're just against profit. Don't you realize this will create jobs? Don't you realize this will be good for the economy?" In some instances, it will be good in the short run. But it's much more important to look at the future as well as the present. It's much more important to look well into the future, the future for children and grandchildren of people in this assembly, the future for people not only within our own jurisdiction but other jurisdictions.

When I see agricultural land disappearing at the rate it is, good agricultural land, I know we're in some problem in the future. Yes, we can be more productive now, sometimes to the detriment of the environment because we must use pesticides or herbicides which make us more productive; therefore, the challenge there is to do so without causing damage to the environment. We can do a lot of things to make ourselves more productive on less land, but eventually, with the world population expanding, we're going to need that land. We've been privileged enough to have that land in our possession as Ontarians, as Canadians. I think we have an obligation in this world to be producers not only for ourselves but for others.

I remind members of the assembly and the public of this province that there isn't all that much agricultural land. We don't have a favourable climate for growing a lot of agricultural products in the great masses of our country. The United States has that advantage. The United States has better weather conditions and better climatic conditions in most of the United States for growing various products. We don't have that in Canada. We have a relatively narrow strip of land.

First of all, the soil must be good soil, must be arable land. The second combination is that there must be favourable climatic conditions. A good example of that is the Niagara region where we have great climatic conditions. We have on average 27 more growing days, that is, frost-free days, at the bottom end of the escarpment than we do above the escarpment. Also, we have some special soils in the Niagara region, not in every spot, but in many places in the Niagara region, for the growing of products. And what do we want to do? We have people who want to put huge developments on many of these agricultural lands. I lament that. It's not good long-term planning.

I think we have an obligation to our farmers in this province. There are some members of the farming community in this Legislature. It is not their obligation to, at great loss to themselves, provide product for the rest of us. That's why I think we have an obligation through our policies to encourage farming and to encourage farmers. When I hear people being critical of particular tax measures favourable to the farming community, I am prepared to defend the farming community and their right to those particular tax measures, because they are doing us a favour.

There are only two ways in which you allow a farmer to be viable: One is to pay a fair price for the product to the farmer, or the second is to provide a subsidy or other supportive measures. Canadians have consistently shown a reluctance, as do many people in North America, to pay what the farmer would consider to be a fair price for a product, particularly when we have competition as a result of international agreements and the free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, so I never begrudge and will never begrudge that kind of special support to the farming community in Ontario.

But in return, we have a right to ensure that we have a lot of agricultural land, and not only agricultural land but rural land, which gives some of us a bit of peace of mind. In the Niagara region, one of the attractions is the amount of rural land. As I've said on many occasions in this House, what makes me extremely sad is driving along the Queen Elizabeth Way and seeing warehouse after warehouse after warehouse right along the Queen Elizabeth Way. It used to be simply through Mississauga, but then through Oakville and then through Burlington and into Stoney Creek and now it's into Grimsby. That used to be such nice land; I know some of the members here have visited. You could look at that land as you went along and it was a real attraction to people.

What are they doing in Grimsby today? They're building houses for people who work in Toronto and in Hamilton. If somebody tomorrow came to Grimsby and said, "We're going to put a Toyota plant or a General Motors plant or a Ford or a Chrysler plant in Grimsby and we will need the housing for that purpose," I would lament the loss of that agricultural land, but I would at least understand that there was a demand for it. But when we simply have communities providing land so that people who work somewhere miles and miles away can live there, I don't know if that's a productive use of that agricultural land.

By the way, I want to pay a compliment to the Minister of Environment and Energy. All too often in the House, when you're in opposition you tend to focus on what you think the government is doing wrong. I guess that's the nature of the job. But I want to compliment the Minister of Environment and the cabinet of Ontario for turning down a development on the tablelands of the escarpment, a development called Twenty Valley Estates, which was outside the urban area of the town of Lincoln. I must second-guess, but I don't think it was wise of the town of Lincoln or the regional municipality of Niagara, if they both approved it, to approve it. It really took a decision of the minister, and he received representations from all kinds of people, particularly farmers around that area and people who were concerned about the new agriwine business, agricultural tourism, I guess you'd call it, that agritourism business.

The member for St Catharines-Brock and I have talked to many people about that. In years gone by we've been to some forums, some events where we've talked about its future. We've also talked about how we can best promote the product in the Niagara region. For instance, Mr Froese, the member for St Catharines-Brock's family has been involved in the agricultural business for a long time and has been highly successful. But that hasn't just happened. It's been a lot of hard work, it's been a lot of dedication, it's been a lot of knowhow, and he sees around him many people who are working the land. I want to see people like that stay on that land. I want to see succeeding generations of Froeses on that particular land and other people on that land working it and I hope making a viable living out of it, because I think it's essential and I think it's nice.

We in the Niagara region have seen a new industry growing which each government has encouraged and the present government is encouraging as well, and that is the agritourism business. We have cottage wineries and larger wineries establishing themselves, growing the grapes right there, in many cases -- sometimes they're blended with imported grapes, but growing the grapes -- and having a situation where the people from Toronto and other areas, the United States, can come in and go right to the winery and choose the product, may have a winery tour, might even be able to go out into the vineyard. We've been highly successful.


I want to tell you that one of the real successes in this province has been the success of the grape and wine industry, and that wasn't easy. There was a lot of criticism from people who are very fiscally responsible -- and I understand that -- of the Liberal government when it provided some $90 million in assistance in the grape adjustment program. It was a big expenditure, but I thought it was a good investment because it allowed rationalization, it allowed for people to do a better job in that business. As a result, the NDP government was supportive of that, and I know the present government really wants to promote that industry as well.

But you can't do it if you remove the agricultural land. You can't do it if you're going to pave that land over. You can't do it if you're looking for the quick fix or the quick dollar. Yes, you'll say there are jobs, and yes, there are jobs in the construction of those developments. I appreciate that industry and I know it's important.

I know I'm in conflict with the views of some others, and I always respect the view of others, but I look at a development called Niagara on the Green in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It makes absolutely no sense to me at all. This land is land which is reserved not for farming -- I wish it were -- but has been designated as special land for premium industry or very specialized industry, industries of the future. I think that's good. I hope Niagara-on-the-Lake would do well with that. I hope Niagara-on-the-Lake would have those industries, high-tech industries, prestige industries, coming there.

Instead there's been a decision made to have big-box stores. Why on earth we need more big-box stores along the Queen Elizabeth Way I'll never know, and subdivisions way out in the middle of -- I won't say "nowhere," but way away from other places. I think Niagara-on-the-Lake would be much better off, and I wouldn't begrudge it and I hope everybody in the Niagara region would hope that Niagara-on-the-Lake would be able to attract to that industrial park prestige industries. What's good for the Niagara region as a whole is indeed good for the community I represent. That's why I don't begrudge that.

I simply think a wrong decision has been made in, first of all, placing the campus of Niagara College out there. I support the need for funding for Niagara College; the member for St Catharines-Brock has been enthusiastic about this. It was announced by Premier Rae previously and confirmed by the present administration that there would be funding for Niagara College, and I'm extremely supportive of that. I think it has a big role to play in education. I don't agree with its location, again way out away from a centre. If it's going to be the St Catharines campus, I wish it would be in downtown St Catharines. If it were going to be a Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, I wish it would be somewhere in a built-up area of Niagara-on-the-Lake. If it's a Niagara Falls campus, I hope it would be there.

We have a decision that's made, for instance, on big-box stores. I'm not saying we can dictate the market -- please don't get me wrong -- but there are a lot of smaller stores in our downtown area and in established plazas within urban boundaries that are going to lose business. This isn't going to be new business; there are only so many dollars out there. People are either going to shop in one place or they're going to go out to the big-box store out on the highway. I'm cheering for the people inside our communities, often family businesses, often people who have been there for years, and I think it would be better to have good planning principles that would do that.

That's why I worry when I see the government having moved from a policy which says they must now simply "have regard for" provincial policies instead of being consistent with them.

I think there's a big future for agriculture. I think it's underestimated. It annoys me when I see a crisis build, when you see a problem with a major industry -- I understand and I'm supportive of trying to maintain that major industry, but it was interesting to see that when Algoma Steel in Sault Ste Marie was about to go down, the government stepped in and helped it out, and I applauded that. But the same thing's happening in the agricultural area and I don't see a lot of people running to help those in agriculture; they'll have to fend for themselves. If it's good for major industries or major businesses in urban communities, why isn't good for helping out those in the agricultural business? I think there's a lot of future for that.

I've seen changes as well to the Environmental Assessment Act. Again, I don't want to be archaic enough to suggest that there isn't a need for some changes. I think you have to look at the process. Many of the people who've been involved in the process said, "If you didn't have the lawyers and consultants involved in it, it would go much more quickly." Sometimes you're going to need lawyers and consultants, and you may need a hearing panel that compels all of the representatives to focus on the genuine issues and not get off on peripheral issues. I understand that the process was not perfect, but I'm leery of the government making the changes it's making because I feel those changes are going to be detrimental to the environment in the long run.

You took powers away from the Environmental Assessment Board and gave considerable discretionary powers to the minister. That's always dangerous because the minister is subject to political influence. I don't say that in a sinister sense. I say that in that the minister can have people who live in a community make representations, perhaps people who say they have supported a particular government, depending on what the government happens to be, and who might say, "You should give us special consideration."

When you have the laws there, when you have the Environmental Assessment Board, which is totally impartial, making those decisions, it's far better than politicians making those decisions, though I understand that ultimately the appeal process to cabinet perhaps is reasonable, because it may totally conflict with government policy.

The minister now has sole discretion over the terms of reference of an environmental assessment hearing and complete authority to exempt projects from an environmental assessment or overturn Environmental Assessment Board decisions. This power used to be held by the cabinet; now it belongs to the minister alone. If you have a minister who is very pro-environment, I guess I have less concern about that, but I think those are the kinds of decisions that should go to cabinet as a whole. I think the Minister of Environment has an obligation to make a compelling case for a decision if that minister agrees with it, but there are others within the cabinet who may have views as well that may be helpful in formulating a final decision on an appeal to cabinet. So I think that was perhaps a step backwards.

Bill 76 also introduced new minimum standards for landfill sites and soil cleanup. There's much concern that these standards would become an excuse to exempt many more projects from environmental assessment hearings. When people saw Bill 57, the bill we're dealing with now, with its power for exempting environmentally sensitive projects from meeting certificates of approval, the concern became much greater. In other words, it's compounded. It's not an isolated case; it is a consistent pattern of the government deregulating in the field of the environment.

There are also concerns that standards would be province-wide, with no recognition of unique water or soil conditions in different areas. That's a concern which came up again with Bill 57, which is based on the whole idea of standardized approvals.

When you go back to the concerns over Bill 76 and you look at what is contained in Bill 57, you can see that they're closely related. They're companion pieces, if you will. This one, Bill 57, follows directly from the other and is very much related to it. It's the combination that really worries us.

I mention unique soil conditions because soil conditions are different in different parts of the province. In areas where you have heavy clay soil, as compared to very porous soils, obviously you may wish to look at something in a different light. We have a big problem over septic tank systems, and I know there are those out there who are annoyed when the Ministry of Environment says, "You cannot have this project with septic tanks." In the short run you make people happy by allowing them, because they always say: "Those people in the Ministry of Environment in Toronto don't know what they're talking about. I know through common sense that we can have septic systems." It's attractive, and I suppose many rural members of all political persuasions will make that case to the Minister of Environment. But ultimately, when they foul their own water, they come back to the Ministry of Environment to find the solution. It's much more difficult to remediate than it is to prevent pollution problems in the first place.


Before going on to address the specific issues of Bill 57, I want to complete the catalogue of this government's attack on environmental protection. I want to look at how the government is dismantling environmental protections that have been built over the years, just as those who have been involved in health care, education or family support services feel heartsick at the destruction that this government is bringing to those areas, undoing years of work, all in the name of efficiencies that are really about finding dollars to pay for a tax cut, pleasing business friends and abandoning the responsibilities of government for the wellbeing of its citizens.

I don't say all business friends because I myself know many people in the business community who want to see strong environmental protection, who recognize that sometimes it can be an inconvenience, as many people recognize, all of us recognize, but recognize that in the total picture it's important to have those environmental protections.

You've disbanded the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee. I know that looks good when you say to people, "We've gotten rid of more people who were employed by the government or contracted by the government to carry out certain responsibilities." The Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee usually had three good people on it. When a minister had difficulty in deciding whether to designate a project or not -- it was perhaps borderline in terms of whether it might be designated or not -- the minister had the authority to require the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee to go out and investigate and to make recommendations.

Very often, those recommendations were that there wasn't a full Environmental Assessment Board hearing needed, or even a very detailed full environmental assessment. They might have suggested some conditions that might be placed on the approval of such a project and done a job admirably. They were looked upon as a fair group. I can recall the people who were on during my term as minister and I found them all to be balanced, intelligent, bright, perceptive people who weren't all on one or the other side of an issue. I lament the fact that this government has disbanded the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee.

Perhaps the heart of the program to deal with what I would call direct discharges, perhaps even indirect discharges, to waterways in this province, is the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement. There was a committee called the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement Advisory Committee and it was involved in joint development of regulations in the very area of water pollution that the auditor is concerned about. It was a unique and effective approach, and it's been abandoned.

On that committee were some strong environmentalists, some very capable scientists and some people who were there from various industry sectors. They fought the battles at the table. They made recommendations that ultimately developed a consensus on what should be found in a regulation. This was a good approach, and in fact I was challenged by those in the industrial sector to deal with it in a different way than I started out with. We started out by developing the regulations and then bouncing them off, or getting a reaction from, the industries which were affected. They came to me and said: "We've got a better way. Why don't you put us at the table, helping to write those regulations? Because if we do so, we will be able to tell you a more effective way perhaps of doing what you want done."

I thought that made a lot of sense. There were a few people in the environmental community who were apprehensive about that to begin with, who said: "These are the polluters today. Why would you let them at the table?" But these were people who also wanted to find solutions and they were people with a lot of knowhow -- a lot of scientific knowhow, a lot of legal knowhow -- who had ways of being able to improve the environment, protect the environment and not cost the company as much money perhaps, or it could do it in a more practical way. This government has abandoned that committee and therefore abandoned the MISA program to a very large extent.

You have disbanded the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards. It's ironic, as this government is moving to a standardized approval process, that it doesn't want to consult or have advice on standards. What the government is moving to now, as I say, is that you're going to have standards that apply across the province under this bill. But if you are in that position of having standards being developed right across the province instead of individually on projects, it seems to me you want to have an environmental standards advisory committee; that would be exceedingly important to have. If you abandon that, you can go to the business community and say, "Look, we've got another obligation, perhaps a red tape group out of your way," but I'm not convinced that in the long run you've made an improvement.

You've disbanded the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy. The whole focus of the Round Table on Environment and Economy -- that was a committee, by the way -- was making the concept of sustainable development a reality. Business and environmentalists together, I emphasize; there was consultation and there would be economic benefit.

A lot of people say you can't have economic benefit and environmental benefit at the same time. That's nonsense. You can. A good example of that, probably, was the very onerous regulation placed on Inco, International Nickel, in Sudbury. It was the largest single source of sulphur dioxide pollution, sulphur dioxide which produced acid rain, in all of North America. Whenever we Canadians would go south of the border to try to encourage Americans to cut back their emissions in their coal-fired plants and from other sources, they would point to Inco and say: "You have the largest source by far in North America. What are you doing about it?"

So in 1985 the government came forward with a regulation which required Inco to reduce by a minimum of two thirds the amount of sulphur dioxide produced at that plant. Similar regulations were placed on Falconbridge, located in the Sudbury area, on the sintering plant of Algoma Steel in Wawa and on Ontario Hydro.

What was important about that was that Inco initially resisted it. We were told our regulation was far too ambitious, that Inco did not have the technical and scientific knowhow to meet these obligations and anyway didn't have the money to do so. But the company was compelled to report every six months on its progress, something which, I was told by one of the vice-presidents -- now deceased, by the way, but a very good person -- was an important component of that regulation because it compelled the company to show progress every six months.

At the end of the three-year period provided for developing a strategy -- that was a very reasonable period; nobody was asking them to do it the next day -- they came forward with a press conference here in Toronto. "Inco" was outlined in green. The president or spokespersons for the company sat in on the press conference and said: "We are International Nickel. We are Inco in Sudbury. We have developed the technical and scientific knowhow to meet the obligation placed upon us through a regulation by the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario and we are prepared to spend $500 million to do so."

Where it comes into the picture of the environment and the economy was that they went on to announce that in one aspect of the change they'd be making they would make a 19% profit, and on the other aspect a 6% profit. What they did was modernize and make better the operation in Sudbury while at the same time cutting back by at least 67% the sulphur dioxide emissions in that city.

The Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy, then, brought together people from industry, perhaps part of the polluting groups in our province in years gone by, environmentalists, people from municipalities, people from the government, and they were developing policies which could be followed in government to ensure that the environment was protected. Unfortunately, the government has decided to abandon the Round Table on Environment and Economy.


In addition, the government has ended the green communities program. They can't even see the potential for economic leadership in a key area of industrial development. It's as if anything with an environmental connotation is something this government wants to get rid of. It didn't notice that this was an industrial development program; in other words, there were industries to be developed there. Ontario can be highly successful and on the leading edge of developing environmental industries/technologies knowhow, and it can help within communities themselves. Again, there's a short-term cost, but in the long run there's a genuine saving to communities and a betterment of the quality of life. But in its anxiousness to please certain people out there who didn't like the environmental regime existing in this province, that too was abandoned.

You've cut conservation authority funding by 70% and MNR by 50% and no one is left to be concerned with the preservation of natural resources. Conservation authorities -- and some members here have been members of conservation authorities or they've been on local councils that had members on those authorities -- were there to protect the natural environment, to keep something that all of us could enjoy, urban people, rural people, people in semi-rural or semi-urban areas. When you cut their funding, they can't carry out the responsibilities as well as they could in the past and, as I mentioned earlier, they end up having to sell off, to dispose of, land which is environmentally desirable for the whole community because they need the funds.

Yes, you are able to cut that expenditure and, yes, that gives you more room to give a tax cut, to develop your tax scheme, but at what price? What price are we paying so we can say we're giving a tax cut? I know how popular it is. I suspect if I went down my street and knocked on the doors -- and I live in a very middle-class neighbourhood, I'd say; people who work in industries in our area would be the majority of people on my street -- if I knocked on those doors and said, "Would you like a 30% cut in your provincial income tax?" I think a lot of people would say yes. But if you spent some time with them and say, "Here are the consequences of that," some may still say yes, but I suspect a lot of them might change their minds if they knew the depth of the cuts coming in services to which we've all become accustomed, services which in many cases were first developed by a Progressive Conservative government in this province, a Progressive Conservative government which I think could be proud of those services provided.

I know a lot of Conservatives who have been enthusiastic about conservation authorities in years gone by, and when a Liberal government and then an NDP government were in power, they wanted to ensure that the necessary funding and resources were there for these individuals to carry out projects to the benefit of all. But you've severely cut the funding. I don't know if you can use the word "emasculated" in 1996; maybe "emaciated" would be a better word. You've emaciated many of these conservation authorities.

You have Bill 57 now adding to the list of what's happened. I know we have had some detailed study of this bill, it's had some committee study, and third reading is not normally the place where you go through the individual provisions of a bill. Though I think you can speak to them, you don't normally go through that. But I always look at it in the context of overall government policy and see how it fits.

The Niagara River is very important to all of us. I know there are people who will think it's only important to the people who reside adjacent to it -- they may know it's a drinking water source for some, a recreational water source for many -- but I remind you that the waters of the Niagara River flow into Lake Ontario, which is a water source, recreational and drinking water source, for millions of people in Canada and in the United States.

There has been a genuine problem with the Niagara River. There are direct discharges going into that river, and they're a problem, but there are many indirect discharges, or non-point sources, largely seepage from old toxic waste dumps on the American side of the river.

If we look at the problems of the Niagara River and ask, "Who's caused it?" the Americans were probably responsible today for 90% of the problem and Canadians about 10% of the problem. In 1987, I think it was, 1986 or 1987, an agreement was signed between Canada and the United States, Ontario and New York state to address the problems of the contamination in the Niagara River, and it was pretty instructive of how agreements come about. The government of Canada, represented by Prime Minister Mulroney, the government of Ontario, represented by Premier Peterson, New York state, represented by Governor Cuomo, and the United States by President Reagan would have its representatives sign an agreement to clean up the river.

I remember when I became minister looking at the agreement and its provisions. While it might have made people feel good to sign that, to show some quick progress by having a photo opportunity where the four representatives sat down to sign, I looked at it and said it wasn't really worth the paper it was written on because there were no specific provisions in it. It was a nice statement, a general objective of cleaning up the river, but it made no provision for extensive monitoring to measure progress in the cleanup or to identify major problems; it had no specific timetable for reducing those contaminants; it had no percentage decrease that would be the objective; it did not have as its goal the virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances into that waterway and no meaningful reference to the excavation of the toxic waste sites on the American side.

As a result, and I was considered to be obstinate and stupid about it, we did not sign it. People left the table. The Americans couldn't believe we would demand this; the federal government was very edgy because they wanted to have some kind of agreement they could sign; New York state was prepared to agree to it because they felt it was the best they could get; and Ontario was the holdout. It was interesting that there seemed to be no progress -- a little bit of discussion between officials -- and then out of the blue, the Americans phoned us, New York state phoned us. They listed the conditions I just mentioned now: the virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances from the Niagara River; a meaningful reference to the excavation of toxic waste sites on the American side; provision for extensive monitoring to measure progress and identify problems; a specific timetable for the reduction of contaminants; and a specific percentage goal for the reduction, which was 50% within a period of 10 years, I thought a modest but strong enough condition and a meetable condition. The Americans phoned up and said: "By the way, those are the five conditions? We're now prepared to meet them and we will see you in Toronto and sign the agreement." What that points out is that our American friends have never appreciated weakness; they've always appreciated strength. Fairness, yes, but strength as well.


I compare that to an agreement, that is now either being signed or about to be signed, over the Niagara River that I consider to be virtually meaningless because it does not have those kinds of provisions in it. You have to have the content, you have to have the specifics so that the public and governments and environmentalists and simply interested citizens can measure that progress. If you don't do that, you're abandoning the environment.

If you put sufficient pressure on the Americans, they'll do it. If you bring the federal government along with you, they will come along with you, because they don't want to be seen to be easy on these as well, no matter what political stripe the federal government happens to be. You have to have the resources, you have to have the staff, and Ontario devoted a lot of staff and a lot of resources to the cleanup of the Niagara River, not simply doing what we had to do on our side -- and we did have to do some things on our side -- but also keeping the feet of the Americans to the fire so that they would comply with their obligations. You have to have the resources to do so, and the ministry is reducing those resources.

Also, since I mentioned the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Honourable Norm Sterling, previously and complimented him on denying the proposed Twenty Valley Estates development, I want to compliment him as well on being one of the architects of the Niagara Escarpment itself; in other words, the escarpment plan and the Niagara Escarpment Commission. There are people in this province who don't like the Niagara Escarpment Commission. There are people who would like to see it abandoned. There are people who would like to see it dismantled and its responsibilities turned over to individual municipalities to ensure that the plan is adhered to.

But I would submit to this Legislature that the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Niagara Escarpment plan, first initiated by the government of William Davis with the support of the two opposition parties, with Norm Sterling, the member for Carleton, as the minister -- I think he was called the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development at the time -- that was a progressive move. It would be a shame if the government were to move away from that, because it's something that each political party that has been involved with can take some pride in.

But the most pride must always go to those who first initiated it. The member for Dufferin-Peel is here this evening. He has been a consistently strong supporter of the Niagara Escarpment and has been one who has helped to resist unfair attacks on it. He's a very practical person and doesn't necessarily agree with everything that the escarpment commission does or the results of the hearing officers' hearings, but he recognizes, as a former environment critic for the Conservative Party and as a member whose riding takes in part of the Niagara Escarpment, just how important it is, just what a gem it is for all of us to enjoy, declared by the United Nations as a world biosphere.

I want to again compliment, as I have so often in the past, the present Minister of Environment and Energy for the role he played, in the 1970s and early 1980s, in the establishment of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the protection of Niagara Escarpment lands, because I think that's something upon which we can develop a pretty good consensus in this province.

Where we must be vigilant, those of us who wish to protect that escarpment land, is in the appointments to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, for if you appoint to a commission whose obligation, whose responsibility is to protect a unique piece of land like the Niagara Escarpment, if you appoint to that body people whose objectives are entirely different or entirely the opposite, then you have done no favour to the escarpment. You may have bent to those who are putting pressure on you, but you have done no favours. I'm counting upon my friend the minister to ensure that those appointments reflect that protection that is needed for the escarpment.

The issue of air has come up as well. The minister has made reference to the possibility of dealing with automobile emissions. That's a good objective; I support the minister in his desire to see that happen. There is on the books, waiting to be implemented, something called a clean air program. It was developed in 1990. It was a program that took some time to develop. It developed from about 1987 to 1990. It was announced in 1990 and it has never been implemented. I'm not here to be critical of anybody for not doing so. I simply say that a lot of the work has been done by our ministry and those who advise our ministry on how we might deal with air emissions, because as difficult as it is for the environment to have direct water discharges into the waterways of this province -- in other words, from industries or municipalities or indirect discharges coming from the land; they're called non-point sources -- the contaminants coming from the air and falling into our waterways are equally important. Some of those contaminants emanate from inside Ontario; some of them emanate from outside our province. In Ontario, we have an obligation to address the production of those contaminants and the problem they cause.

We also have an obligation to put pressure on others, particularly in the United States, to do the same, because their contaminants fall on the province of Ontario and our waterways as well. I remember having to go into court dealing with the Detroit incinerator. The city of Detroit was going to build a huge incinerator -- did build it, by the way -- and was going to use electrostatic precipitators instead of what we call scrubber baghouse technology to deal with the emissions from that particular plant. Ontario decided to go to court over this. It was expensive. Some considered it to be meddlesome, some considered us to be hypocritical because they said Ontario has problems, but we had an obligation to the people of southwestern Ontario to be involved in that court case. Members of this House will find amusing the fact that I had to appear in a courtroom in Detroit after I was minister. I remember that when I was Minister of the Environment my answers weren't always as precise and concise as members of the opposition would have hoped for, to put it mildly. A minister, as you may have noticed, really doesn't have to answer questions in this House.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): They always do, though.

Mr Bradley: They try -- we've all tried, those who have been ministers -- but they're not always precise.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): A difficult one to handle.

Mr Bradley: Exactly. The judge reprimanded me on a number of occasions for not answering questions and directed me to answer the question that counsel had placed.

Hon Mr Jackson: He was an elected judge.

Mr Bradley: Right, she was an elected judge. She instructed that I do so and I found that somewhat different.

The point I make is that Ontario was taking some initiative, through our own lawyers and lawyers we had hired in the United States, and we were being meddlesome because there were consequences of those emissions for people residing in Ontario. Eventually, the Americans lost the court case and were forced to put on the scrubber baghouse technology. I wish they had done it in the first place, but our initiative in Ontario helped to bring that about. We didn't persuade them, but we certainly drew attention to the problem and brought about a solution.

There are a lot of air quality problems that need to be addressed. I happen to think that in British Columbia the government is dealing with problems in the Lower Mainland where there are some significant pollution problems dealing with mobile emissions -- that is, automobiles and other vehicles -- and other emissions. I think we can do that in Ontario. The government is going to get some flak for that if they decide to proceed, but they won't get flak over here. They will get support if they move in that direction because it is important and we've seen some progress. To be fair, we've seen significant progress in reducing automobile emissions through pollution abatement equipment that's been put on vehicles.


That doesn't come without a cost. Nothing of quality in our lives comes without some cost, and our vehicles may cost more because of that, but again I think Ontarians particularly are prepared to pay that additional cost. I'm not saying they're standing and cheering; they're prepared to pay that additional cost in order to have that quality of life. I suspect that's something that all of us, regardless of our political affiliation, feel strongly about in this House.

We have dump sites that are a problem forever, I must say. Because incinerators and dump sites, both methods of disposal, are difficult to site, difficult to operate, difficult to keep in perpetual care, it's important that we divert as much garbage, if you will, away from them as possible. We do that first of all by reducing the amount of garbage we produce, and that can be done. We do it by recycling as much as we can, and we have an excellent recycling program in this province. Many communities are proud of their programs; many businesses are now involved in some pretty interesting programs.

I remember the mayor of Mississauga, Mrs McCallion, being very proud attending -- I think it was on the border of probably Brampton and Mississauga; it was in Peel region at least -- an operation that was dealing with wood recycling. All we did before was either burn it or throw it away. Many people in the construction business today are reusing these products, are recycling these products very successfully. Some of you who have served at the local level remember some of the innovative ideas either you had as councillors or your staff had. They seemed to be small ideas at the time, but combined they made a significant difference.

So we certainly have to reduce and we have to recycle. I also believe that reuse is good: reuse, reduce, recycle. Those three are all important components. There used to be a fourth that really meant burn. If we can avoid burning as much as possible, that's useful. It can't always be avoided. Again, the member for Dufferin-Peel is here. You have an incinerator in Peel region. When it was approved, it had some 31 conditions placed on it. It doesn't by any means take all of the garbage from that area, but it had 31 conditions placed on it. I suspect if you had to have an incinerator, it's one of the better ones you're going to find anywhere in North America.

I want to say there's no benign way of dealing with garbage. My friends in the farming community I talk to say, "I wish you people in the urban centres would quit dumping your garbage on our land." We try to avoid that. But farmers also can be impacted by emissions from the burning of garbage. The burning of garbage also produces an ash, the fly ash and the bottom ash. The fly ash, which doesn't make it to the bottom, often is toxic. The other problem with incinerators is that they tend to discourage people from using ways of diverting. In other words, it's great to have cardboard and garbage and so on for an incinerator, so there's a bit of a discouragement there when an incinerator exists.

I want to be fair enough to say there's no easy way. Again, my friends from the Halton and Peel area would know how difficult it's been to site landfill sites. They're really hard to site because there are a lot of problems with them. Even the best of technology cannot guarantee there won't be problems. We've tried as a society to deal with those. I think a stringent process is necessary before the siting takes place, and as I say, diversion is necessary.

Pesticides: a great problem. Sometimes the pressure comes from farmers saying: "You must grant us the use of certain pesticides. Our American friends have them and we don't." It's really hard for a government to resist that because it does place our farmers at a competitive disadvantage at least for a short period of time or a medium-term period of time, and you're always going to wrestle with that problem. But often pesticides are detrimental to farmers themselves. There are people who have worked with them years ago, when we didn't know as much about pesticides and how to protect ourselves from them, who have had health problems. So we've improved our ways of dealing with them, and that's positive.

Now when you spray a yard, we have some signage that's necessary. I know that's onerous. I remember getting a letter from a person who was in the department of recreation in some city in Ontario. I won't mention the city; I don't want to embarrass the person. The letter came and it said, "We really appreciate what you're doing and we need all these environmental issues." It was very complimentary about the government's aggressive program in the environment for the first two paragraphs. In those letters I always look for the word "but," and I found the word "but." It said, "But do you realize you're going to cost the city" -- whatever that city was -- "$50,000 more through the way you're going to force us to deal with pesticides"? I think it was worth it to protect the waterways, to protect the soil, to protect animals, to protect some plant life, to protect human beings in that community.

That's why I become concerned when I see the government moving in a different direction, catering to people who have always hated the Ministry of the Environment, and there are many people out there who have; I must say that. I used to go to some places and they would say, "The Gestapo has been here." What they really meant was the investigation and enforcement branch of the Ministry of the Environment. That's a very uncomplimentary term to use, and they didn't really mean it as strongly as that, but they would say that because they did not like that group coming to the plant. But you've got to have that, because if you don't, you won't protect the environment.

Look at what the government has done in terms of removing from the Hydro board of directors some people I would call environmentalists. I don't expect that the government, if it had 15 people on the board of directors of Ontario Hydro, would put 15 environmentalists on it. I don't expect that. It's unrealistic. It may not even be good to have that many people of that ilk on the board. But I think you make a mistake when you remove those who are there. There should be a representation, perhaps a significant representation, of the environmental community or at least people with an environmental conscience on the board of Ontario Hydro, because it has the potential to cause environmental problems in our province.

I see that you now permit contaminated soil to be used as cover at landfills. Again, a difficult issue, not an easy issue. "What is `contaminated'?" is always the question that is asked. I think you have to proceed with caution when you do that.

You've exempted the Ministry of Finance from the Environmental Bill of Rights. I must confess that I never thought the Environmental Bill of Rights would have a major impact in Ontario. I thought it would make people feel good. As a minister, I never brought in an Environmental Bill of Rights. My friend Bud Wildman, who was the minister, eventually developed one. It was significantly watered down from earlier proposals, but he brought in a bill of rights. In fact, I have it personally signed by him. I was at an auction here at the Parliament Building about two years ago where the members of the press gallery have an auction with the proceeds going to the United Way, and one of the items was an Environmental Bill of Rights signed by Bud Wildman, Minister of the Environment. I have that in my constituency office. People may find it odd that I would do that, with another minister's name and another party's name, but it was one component. What's the problem with that? The problem is that you have exempted the Ministry of Finance from obligations under the Environmental Bill of Rights.


It reminded me of a major debate that took place within the Peterson cabinet over major laws that would apply to polluters. I thought one of the more significant changes to the legislation was one which removed the words, "This act does not apply to the crown." "Crown," as those of us in this House know, means the government. Previous to that, the tough penalties contained in legislation did not apply to the government. But I thought the government had as much an obligation as anybody in the private sector to live up to environmental laws. If we couldn't live up to our own environmental laws, we made a much weaker case imposing the same laws on others. So when I see the Ministry of Finance being exempted from the provisions of the Environmental Bill of Rights, I consider that to be a step backward rather than forward.

You have terminated public environmental education grants. Part of the way you deal with the environment, not the only way, is through education, schools particularly. Those of you who have children or grandchildren in the schools or who visit the schools will know of the enthusiasm of teachers and students for improving the environment. Some of the material they have is material which has been produced over the years by the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario, which has been very helpful to those people.

When you end the grants for those purposes, you tend to diminish a program which is very beneficial because it's developing new attitudes in children at a formative age, at an age when they can be easily influenced, at an age when they're forming their own opinions and their own habits. We're seeing a new generation. Many adults would say to me, "You should see how my kids tell me I can't do something." As adults, we would be putting something in the garbage and the youngster would say, "No, that doesn't go in the garbage. That goes in the composter in the backyard," or in the recycling bin. It's a minor thing. Of itself, it perhaps doesn't make a big difference. The cumulative effect and the educational effect are very positive because they develop a new attitude, a different attitude toward this.

You have as well, I think, cut out or cut back -- one of the two -- grants to universities for research in the field of the environment. Again, some of the best research done in the world has been done here in Ontario in universities and colleges and in the private sector, and we can be proud of that. We've exported that knowhow, we've exported the products, and I think it was a good program because it paid dividends. It brought more money back to the government in the long run and improved the environment and therefore saved a lot of money that might be spent on remedial projects. So I think it's ill-advised and shortsighted to cut those programs out. Perhaps you have to be more careful; perhaps you have to be more selective. I don't say you don't have to, because that's necessary facing the fiscal responsibilities and the fiscal situation that you do. I don't object to that at all, but I don't think it was wise to eliminate the programs as a whole.

You have terminated urban and rural beaches cleanup and restoration programs. I think one of the potential success stories in many of our communities is the restoration of public beaches. In St Catharines we have had our beaches closed a lot of the year. My friend from Niagara-on-the-Lake could tell me how often the beach in Niagara-on-the-Lake would be closed; it's quite a nice beach down there. A lot of money started to be spent on the separation of storm and sanitary sewers, on retention tanks which allowed rainwater to settle, to be caught first of all and not flow all at once into waterways. There were significant improvements and expansions taking place in regard to sewage treatment plants -- or pollution treatment plants, as we call them -- in our various municipalities.

That had a positive impact. Everybody knew it wouldn't happen overnight, but once in a while now in Toronto, in St Catharines and in other areas the beaches are open. They're not open all the time. When there's a major storm there's still a problem, when there's a shock to the ecosystem there's a problem, but at least we're seeing some significant improvement and people are again beginning to enjoy recreational waters that they enjoyed in the past, because not everybody has a pool at home. Some people can't afford it. Some people would actually prefer to go out into the outdoors, to a public beach. I see that there have been significant cutbacks there.

One of the other areas I want to caution members about is the privatization of significant segments of the Ministry of Environment. The Ontario Clean Water Agency, as the NDP established it, became an independent agency of the Ministry of Environment. I never did agree with that. There were people within the Peterson government who recommended that happen and I was successful in preventing that from happening at the time. I remember it was a proposal. It wasn't a malicious one, but it was one I didn't feel was in the long-term benefit of Ontario and its people.

The NDP chose to take it out of the Ministry of Environment and make it an independent clean water agency. Now the government is proposing to privatize the system of the provision of water and sewage treatment. I don't think that can be successful when the Ministry of Environment is cutting its abatement staff, research staff and enforcement staff.

The experience in Britain has not been a successful one. Margaret Thatcher wanted to take off the books as much government expenditure as possible, and there was an ideology which said that the private sector will always do better than the public sector in various areas.

Hon Mr Jackson: Frank McKenna was the first.

Mr Bradley: Frank McKenna was another. Someone, a friend of mine in New Brunswick, said, "The best Conservative Premier New Brunswick has ever had." I don't know if that's true or not. I hope Mr McKenna isn't watching this on satellite TV, but if he is, then he has not much to do as Premier of the province.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): Maybe he could read it in his Hansard subscription.

Mr Bradley: What I might say to the member for York East is that he's correct. One never knows what is going to come from members of various political parties.

I think privatization is not good, because I don't think you are going to get the water produced for drinking purposes and treated for discharge purposes at as low a rate as you're going to when it's in the public sector, and I don't think you can ensure the quality of that water as well as when it's in the public sector. The clean water agency can do that. You need a lot of testing, you need a lot of supervision, you need a lot of enforcement, you need a lot of abatement and you need a lot of prevention of contamination getting into sewer systems and, of course, into water production systems.

The minister stood in the House the other day and said to the leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Ottawa South, Dalton McGuinty, that the government wasn't privatizing. I've been in the House since 1977 with my friend from Carleton, and he knows how to answer a question without answering a question.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Norm's working too hard; I think he needs a rest.

Mr Bradley: He may need a rest, but his answer suggested that there wasn't privatization. But when you turn it back to municipalities -- and these are largely smaller municipalities that don't have the wherewithal to produce water themselves or to treat sewage themselves -- they're going to end up turning to private companies to do it. The Ontario government used to do that through the Ministry of Environment and then through the Ontario Clean Water Agency. I hope that members of the government caucus will caution the government not to, on an ideological basis, with an obsession for getting every expenditure off the books, abandon those municipalities to private water suppliers and private water treaters.

I notice as well that you have proposed reducing wetlands areas to which strict development restrictions apply. Wetlands are so important to our urban municipalities. We have a lot of subdivisions in urban municipalities. We have a lot of commercial and some industrial development. All of those are considered to be appropriately placed within urban boundaries and are to be expected in an area designated for urban development.

But what makes urban development tolerable, what makes urban areas more livable, what provides us with a higher quality of life, are wetlands areas which allow wildlife right within an urban municipality. Even in Niagara-on-the-Lake Dr Lemon has developed a method of treating sewage using swamps or wetlands, and some significant research has gone on in that area. They provide us with environmental areas, they provide wildlife, they provide a lot of positives for our community. Yet, under your Planning Act changes, you have proposed reducing wetlands areas to which strict development restrictions must apply.

You're now permitting the sale of environmentally sensitive lands protected by conservation authorities. Previously, they were prohibited from selling because it was considered to be in the public interest to maintain that land. Now, through your drastic reduction in funding to them, you are compelling them to get into the retail business, retailing that land which should be kept for others. I know it's nice for estate development. I know of someone who has a lot of money and who wants to build a home on it. It can be very nice. But this is something that has been enjoyed by all the people of the community and that should be retained by all the people of the community.

You have also removed legislated restrictions on the development of public lands. I've touched on that to a large extent, but again, they aren't making land any more. Was it Will Rogers who said that, who one time said, "They're not making land any more," so it was good to retain it? It's either Will Rogers or Norm Sterling, one of the two. That's true and that's why it's important to use our present land as well as possible.

Municipal people will know that you have terminated household hazardous waste programs. That's unfortunate. There's probably a more efficient way than some communities have developed to deal with household hazardous wastes. The easy thing to do is to dump them down the drain, throw them in the backyard, put them in the garbage, dig a hole somewhere and put them in. But municipalities, with the encouragement of the Ministry of Environment, had developed programs where you or I could go with our old paint cans or some old pesticides or other toxic substances, take them on a household hazardous waste day and have them appropriately disposed of by a company expert in the field.

Then we moved to a different technique, I think even more effective. We had a permanent depot so people could do that. It's probably difficult to do, having a company pick it up -- not impossible, but more difficult to do -- but we had those.

The government sends the wrong signal when it discontinues its funding of those programs. Municipalities now, because of a very significant reduction in grants from the provincial government, have to look carefully at how they're going to spend their dollars and meet all their obligations, so some are abandoning this program or cutting it back considerably. Again, in the long run we pay for that through the costs of remedial environmental work.

Bill 57, I believe, is not a step in the right direction but rather part of a pattern of moving in the wrong direction. I believe it will have a detrimental effect overall on the environment on this province, and on third reading I am calling upon the government to not proceed with third reading of this bill but to bring it back for further consideration and amendment.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to begin by commending the member for St Catharines for his comments here this evening. Having been a member at a time when he was Minister of the Environment and having watched him on more than one occasion avoid answering questions directly, I would have liked to have been in Detroit to see a female judge try and force him to do just that, because we didn't have much luck when we were on this side and when he was over there.

Having said that, I appreciate that the member made clear the context in which we are debating Bill 57 tonight. That context is that this government has decided that to help finance its tax cut to help the rich and famous, it is going to cut huge numbers of staff and make huge cuts in ministry budgets. That is exactly what is happening at the Ministry of Environment now. We have already seen this government cut some $200 million from the operating budget of the Ministry of Environment and Energy; we have seen 750 staff given pink slips and motioned out the door.

It's no wonder that the government is looking for the ways and means to try and offload its responsibility on to industries by allowing industries to self-regulate or self-police or self-monitor or whatever else it can do to avoid MOEE inspectors going into those plants. It's no wonder that the government is looking for any numbers of ways and means to cut permitting, to cut approvals, to cut certificates of approval, because all those things require staff, and you folks don't have the staff any more because you've been too busy ushering them out the door.

If the government is truly convinced that all it's doing in this bill is in fact cutting some red tape, is in fact making it easier for business to operate, I have to ask the government why it is that in this same bill they protect themselves from all liability. Only a government that is afraid and worried about the possible consequences to the environment would put, in an environmental bill, a protection for itself against liability. I think you're going to have huge and significant environmental problems and this bill goes a long way to making sure that happens.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I'm always amazed that my colleague and friend the member for St Catharines can stand up and talk for an hour and a half.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): It's easy.

Mr Froese: Yes, it's easy for him, no doubt about it. But really, I don't know what the point was that he was making. Maybe it's the lateness of the hour or him being here till midnight last night. I'm not sure.

One thing I know is that he talked about my family and what great farmers they were, and he's absolutely right. He talked about the tender fruit industry and the grape and wine industry, the environmental issues on those points, and also the Niagara Escarpment and the environmental issues surrounding that. He talked about our minister, the Honourable Norm Sterling, and his concerns about the environment, and how much he appreciates -- he praised the minister for what he was doing. I completely agree with that.

Where we differ is that he believes that in order to save the environment, we need to put more resources, more money, into the whole issue. But things have changed and improved. It's a credit to both governments from the other side of the House and a credit to the industry and individuals in the community. The environment is an issue we're all concerned about, but what we have to do is revisit what we're doing and what we're spending and be more efficient, not just throw money at the problem. We have to look at different ways to do it. Part of this bill speaks about that.


In the Environmental Compensation Corp, for instance, the average compensation paid out was $69,000 over its 10-year life to only 89 applicants, and it cost the taxpayers $3 million. That's not really being responsible with taxpayers' dollars.

The law is clear and unchanged and the environmental safeguards remain in place. That's what Bill 57 does.

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I'd like to comment on some of the remarks the member for St Catharines made. He touched a bit on the Ministry of Natural Resources. In our area they made a regional office, and many of the inspectors who live in my riding have to travel all the way to that regional office to pick up their pickup trucks and what they need and then travel right back to where we live and do their inspections and everything else that goes along with it as part of their day's work, and then travel back to the regional office to take the truck back and then return home. It's a big issue in our area. Some of my constituents speak to me about it on a daily basis and think that's very unfair, all the time they're wasting on the road when they should be doing their work.

The other thing is the conservation authorities, of which I have been a member for many, many years. They did a lot of good projects in our area, but now they're downsized so much the municipalities are striving to see how they can pick up the slack in the things they used to do. They know they're not going to have the money because the government is cutting way back on the revenue to the municipalities.

The other thing that I was pleased my colleague mentioned in agriculture is the big issue of pesticides. Other countries are using pesticides that it's illegal to use in Ontario, and it's putting the farmers at a great disadvantage.

I could go on and on. There is a number of other things, but thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): It's a pleasure to rise and compliment my colleague from St Catharines on his hour-and-a-half dissection, and I think a very good one, of what this government is up to and what it means exactly to the environment and to the people of Ontario. I might say, those facts are quite contrary to the statements and words you hear from the government; their words never match up with the actions they're doing. A good opportunity, such as we've had this evening, to hear from a former environment minister is an important way of educating the public in what's really going on.

I want to mention this. During his tenure as environment minister I was an alderman on Hamilton city council and found myself, much to my chagrin as a dyed-in-the-wool New Democrat, complimenting him as the environment minister; never doing enough or moving fast enough in the areas I cared about, but certainly moving in the right direction. I think he made an important contribution to the agenda in this province that says we are not going to rape the environment and deprive future generations of a decent environment so we can make a quick buck today. I think that's part of what the member for St Catharines was conveying this evening.

When we hear of a third of the budget in the Ministry of Environment cut, $200 million, and 750 staff cut, and regulation after regulation gone -- not awful, mean, evil red tape, as the government likes to call all regulations, but important protection for the environment -- as we see that decimated to make way for their corporate pals to move in willy-nilly and make a fast buck at the expense of the future, it's enough to make anyone sit down and cry, truly weep over what we're about to lose because you're in here paying back your political debts and paying for it with our environment.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to respond.

Mr Bradley: Thank you to the members for Sudbury East, St Catharines-Brock, Cornwall and Hamilton Centre for their input; all had important things to say.

The member for Sudbury East underlined the fact that the tax cut the government is embarking upon is costly, not only in that they have to borrow $5 billion a year to finance it, but also because of the greater-than-anticipated cuts in ministries such as the Ministry of Environment. That's a price we pay in the quality of life.

The member for St Catharines-Brock underlined, appropriately I think, the importance of the agricultural community and the amenities we have in our area, and also the importance of trying to do a job as efficiently as possible while doing it effectively. I don't think anybody would quarrel with that. Our quarrel is that the government is moving too drastically, too quickly, and in the Ministry of Environment removing too many resources for the ministry to be able to do its job appropriately.

The member for Cornwall points out another very important problem; that is, where a lot of offices are closed down, people who work for various ministries such as the Ministry of Environment or the Ministry of Natural Resources spend a lot of their time travelling rather than spending the time directly on the job, as they would like to do. That's a consequence, again, of very substantial cuts in funding. He also mentioned the fact that municipalities have fewer resources to carry out their responsibilities.

The member for Hamilton Centre represents an industrial city. He recognizes fully the impact of pollution on his community. As an alderman, as they were called in Hamilton at that time, he among others was putting appropriate pressure on the Ministry of Environment to undertake activities that would be environmentally beneficial to Hamilton and other communities.

I appreciate those remarks from members of the House. I look forward to further debate on this legislation.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I once again stand tonight -- I hope the member for Northumberland will be back soon, because I suppose there is still an opportunity that this bill might be withdrawn and changed.

Mr Galt: I'll be here for your last 85 minutes.

Ms Churley: I hope you'll be back soon.

I feel quite upset about what is happening with environmental protection in this province under this government and I've risen in the House on many occasions to speak about why. What I hear back from the government, if they bother to listen at all, is: "Oh, it's just opposition rhetoric. We're actually doing more with less. We're cutting red tape. We're going to take the money we save from cutting red tape and put it into real environmental protection. Successive governments before us didn't know how to protect the environment. They used regulation and inspectors and compliance officers to protect the environment." There's something wrong with that, according to this government.

They look so foolish standing in this House, the Premier, the Minister of Environment, standing in this House and saying: "We're doing more with less. We're protecting the environment. Don't worry." It seems the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, who was an environment minister, the former member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ruth Grier, and the former environment minister from Algoma, Bud Wildman, didn't know what they were doing. They just tried to regulate and tried to keep an eye on things and prosecute and make sure the ministry was properly funded, that there were enough inspectors and enough compliance officers.


In my time in the NDP government, for a short time I was parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment before I became the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I should tell you I did something at the ministry I'm very proud of. One of the first things I looked at when I went into that ministry, because of my interest in protecting the environment -- I believe all ministries should be involved in protecting the environment. I asked what issues were there that I could get my hands on and improve, and I'm almost scared to tell these guys this, because maybe they haven't discovered it yet and that's why it's been left alone. I am proud to say that I brought in, under our government -- and Mr John Swaigen who is an expert in this field and has written a book about it could correct me if I'm wrong -- the strongest regulation we have to protect our drinking water from leaking underground storage tanks. All members would know about leaking underground storage tanks because in the 1950s in particular there were hundreds of those things put in without proper double walls and they're leaking all over the place. Those still remain to be cleaned up, but I'm proud to say that our government brought in the toughest regulations around, which hadn't been done before.

What we found when we were in government was that despite all the regulations this government says we don't need any more, despite the number of staff we had that this government is systematically laying off -- some world-renowned experts in their field, like the expert in acid rain. I was ashamed when this government laid this man off, threw him out like a piece of garbage, because we were so proud to have him there. Believe me, our acid rain problems are far from over. He's gone, along with a host of others, about a third from the ministry.

What we found when we came into government and when I was at that ministry was that we needed more resources. I know from my own community, from the litany of environmental problems we had in the industrial south end of the riding -- what got me into politics in the first place was fighting some of this -- that we needed more resources. Of course, we went through the worst recession since the 1930s. As everybody knows, we did some downsizing ourselves, and it was very difficult to do. But I can tell you, at a time when I wanted to see more resources at the Ministry of Environment -- and I think we do need to improve some and change some of the outdated regulations, throw them out, get rid of them, update them, no problem. I've always said that. In fact, in many areas our party had begun to do that. But you know what the big difference was? We consulted with environmentalists and community groups. We did consult with them and we consulted with industry.

I know it's tough. It is really hard to sit down at a table and discuss these issues, particularly when you have people on absolute opposite ends of where they think we should go. You've got on one hand industry wanting as few rules as possible to make as much money as possible, and you've got on the other side environmentalists and community groups who are concerned about the health of their children, concerned about species preservation, concerned about the air we breathe, the water we drink and wanting to make sure that environmental safeguards were in place to protect their health and the environment for future generations. You have two sides, you sit down and it's really tough trying to find the compromises, trying to find the best route to take, and sometimes, as my friend from St Catharines said earlier tonight, you have to take sides.

What this government is doing, absolutely, completely, from day one, is taking the side of industry. By now, as the critic for environment and energy, I have been through several bills that impact on environmental protection in this province. I went through the Planning Act. Many people may think the Planning Act has nothing to do with the environment. I can assure you it does. It was a major component of our environmental protection legislation throughout the term of our government.

And boy, did we consult. We sent John Sewell and three other members of a panel, including Toby Vigod, an environmental lawyer who had worked for years at CELA, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, and a municipal rep. We made sure that all interests were represented. I can't remember, but I believe it was three years that we had people out there with our own government legislative hearings, plus the John Sewell commission went out to almost every little town across the province and consulted with people.

At the end of the day, yes, there were some compromises made in that bill that I wasn't happy with as an environmentalist, and I know there are some areas where environmentalists wanted it to be stronger. Overall it was a compromise but there were some really good things in there. Most people said they could live with it, although as soon as this government came into power, it was interesting: Many municipalities that said they could live with it suddenly couldn't live with it because they saw their opportunity to have it dismantled. But there was a huge amount of environmental protection within that planning bill which has been wiped out, gone.

One of the aspects was urban sprawl, which is of particular interest again now. I'm glad the member for Dovercourt is here because he is our critic on the GTA. Here we are in the process of having a lot of trial balloons out there as to what's going to happen with the city of Toronto and York and East York and Scarborough. Who have I left out here?

Interjection: Etobicoke.

Ms Churley: Etobicoke. We don't know yet, because one day the Minister of Municipal Affairs is saying one thing, then the Premier is saying another thing. The Harris government doesn't know whether it's coming or going on this, but we do know that we're concerned about urban sprawl for a lot of reasons. We can't be giving developers carte blanche to go out there and just build, build, build over farm land. The interesting thing about that is that it costs taxpayers way more money at the end of the road.

This all ties in with development charges as well, because that's being changed. As we know. Hazel McCallion and others are very upset about that.

Mr Conway: Hazel upset?

Ms Churley: Hazel is extremely upset with the Harris government, much to our surprise. This government, the Harris government, had to go pretty far to get Hazel. She was always upset with us, with the NDP.

Mr Conway: I think Hazel's upset with most.

Ms Churley: Well, we didn't expect she was going to get too upset with the Tory government but, boy, is she upset. We have seen Hazel mad.

Mr Conway: I'll be back shortly.

Ms Churley: I'm glad the member for Renfrew North is coming back. Thank you.

What we have here is a situation where the Planning Act has been completely gutted. In fact, once again, as with all of the bills that I've seen coming from this government, it not only wipes out new legislation which the NDP brought in, but it reaches way back into not just what the Liberals brought in but it reaches back into and touches and rips out legislation that the former Bill Davis government brought in. This is really regressive stuff.

This is not about protecting the environment, and I believe the member for Wellington -- I'm going to single him out -- knows that. Perhaps he will speak later. I believe any intelligent member who really wants to know what's going on in terms of environmental protection in this province, if they read the stuff and listen to the critics out there, they will know we've got a very big problem.

What we have here are a number of bills, and I mentioned the Planning Act. I'm talking about all of these things, in case you need to know, because this Bill 57 tonight cannot be dealt with in isolation. Believe me, there are some huge problems with it which I've talked about before and will again tonight, but on its own, perhaps reluctantly lived with, within the context of all the other deregulation and cuts that have been made and more to come, we know this bill is devastating within that context. I am setting the table here so you will see, you will get a picture of how this Bill 57, this particular bill, yet again another deregulation bill brought in by the Harris government, fits into the whole environmental deregulation picture.

We have the Planning Act, which guts environmental protection. I don't know if anybody whatsoever is paying attention to this because there is so much of the big stuff that's going on.


There is a group out there that put out a -- let me see, it came out Monday, December 9 -- who are really worried about energy efficiency deregulation. Did you know about that over there? I don't think many people know about it. How can they hear? I don't know if it's strategy or accidental that you've got your government coming through with the big stuff -- education cuts, health cuts, municipal changes -- that so many little things going on get hidden. But this is very serious stuff.

This is a press release put out by a group that says: "Energy efficiency deregulation to cost new home buyers $15,000." Now, we're talking about money. Here you have a government that is telling municipalities that they can no longer decide themselves on development charges because they want to keep prices down for new home buyers. Right. Well, I would say that developers are going to make more money. I don't have any evidence it's going to be passed on to home buyers.

But here we have evidence that the energy efficiency deregulation under the building code -- how many people here know? Do you know? Does the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment and Energy know about the deregulation under the building code? No. He's laughing as usual when I talk about these things. He's supposed to be the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment and Energy. I'll bet he doesn't have a clue because it's not in his ministry.

I want to tell the parliamentary assistant tonight that he should talk, if he cares about the environment, to his pal Al, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that pal Al, about what's happening to the building code, because not only is it going to interfere with energy efficiency --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. We don't refer to "his pal Al."

Ms Churley: We don't?

The Deputy Speaker: No. I think you know the member. You especially would know better than others.

Ms Churley: I will certainly withdraw it.

The Deputy Speaker: I ask you to refer to the member for St George-St David -- rather, the Minister of Transportation.

Ms Churley: Or the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The Deputy Speaker: That's right.

Ms Churley: It's not a mistake. I don't think anybody's ever been called on that in the House before, but I accept the Speaker's ruling.


Ms Churley: I certainly haven't.

I suggest that you talk to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about what is happening to the building code, because energy efficiency is being wiped out and it's going to cost -- you should at least care about that -- homeowners another $15,000. That is because all of the safeguards on energy conservation within the building code are being wiped out.

The government is planning to turn its back on 20 years -- here we go again -- of steady progress in building energy performance standards by returning to the insulation requirements of the building code from the 1970s. We have learned so much since the 1970s about how important insulation is in homes with regard to proper energy conservation. As well, there are reductions in the requirement for heating and air handling systems.

The code changes are being organized around four principles in a document entitled, get this, Back to Basics. There are 650 changes proposed. Many of them are routine, but the most controversial out of all of those is the reduction in energy standards which is hidden in these 650 changes. They are proposing to reduce insulation requirements, and instead introduce an energy performance labelling system. The argument is, get this, that consumers will be allowed to choose how much insulation they need.

I can tell you from personal experience -- I just sold my bigger house and I'm now living in a little hovel that I had to get renovated. My mortgage is going to go way down, which is good, but if my contractor come to me and said, "Ms Churley, what kind of insulation would you like in your basement and how much would you like?" I wouldn't have a clue.


Ms Churley: You wouldn't have clue either, would you? They're laughing over there again. They support this. Can you believe it? It's an anti-consumer thing. How many people do you know -- you can laugh at me if I admit I wouldn't know how much insulation makes sense in terms of energy efficiency in my basement, but don't you laugh at those ordinary people out there. I am sick of it. I am absolutely sick of your behaviour when you laugh at consumers. These people are going to be stuck once again with having to figure out their own insulation requirements for their basement. That is ridiculous. And you know what? The builders are going to be wanting to save as much money as possible. Are they going to advise them to get the best, energy-efficient insulation? No.

It's a joke to those people. Either it's a joke or they have no understanding of the kind of pain they're inflicting on the people of this province. Why are they doing it? To finance their stupid tax cut that is going to mainly benefit the rich in this province. They can sit over there and laugh all they want, because one day people are going to get what's going on right now.

I'm talking about the building code tonight. I've got a stack of little, tiny bills that people don't even know about. But you know what? They're going to find out. Polls show that people want protection of the environment in this province, and they're going to demand it.

The Canadian Council of Churches the other day, a very powerful group in Canada, had a press conference here. It was on Canada's position on climate change. They spoke from a moral and ethical point of view about what climate change is doing to life on this planet and what it can do. Is this government listening? No. They're just in this for the short term. Let's get that tax cut through now. Let's not worry about environmental protection now. Let somebody else worry about that down the road. As long as we can say three or four years from now that, boy, we gave you your 30% tax cut, who cares if your grandkids are going to be putting up with the weather changes that are happening that are going to have devastating impacts on them? Who cares? Not they, because they've got a tax cut promise to worry about. Who cares about the rest of it?

There was an ad, people may have seen it, in the Globe and Mail today. The David Suzuki Foundation -- I'm sure these guys laugh at David Suzuki as well. There was an ad in the Globe and Mail today, the David Suzuki Foundation: Canada Breaking Promise to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. It goes on to talk about provincial governments as well. Now, they didn't single out this government, but I'm sure they had this government in mind. They say: "Despite the government's attempt to put a happy face on all of this, the voluntary program hasn't worked." That's the direction this government is moving in terms of environmental protection in this province. Why? Because that's what business wants and they don't want to have to enforce or make rules any more. It's just: "These are basically good people. Don't worry, they'll do it."

"Far from making progress" -- I'm reading from the document again -- "on reducing greenhouse gases, Canada is actually losing ground. Rather than going down, greenhouse gas emissions in this country are actually going up."


Okay, listen to this. This is why I talked about energy efficiency in the building code and the Planning Act that's being gutted by this province: "Citing reports from the Royal Society of Canada and the intergovernmental panel on climate change, which represents the world's leading scientists and economists, the foundation is urging Canada's environment ministers in their meeting tomorrow to redefine their greenhouse gas emission policies based on the following findings: Energy efficiency improvements" -- and I would like the parliamentary assistant to hear this -- "of 10% to 30% can be achieved in most countries, including Canada, at zero net cost and could spur economic growth.

"Without new government policies such as energy efficient standards, building retrofit programs, reduced subsidies for fossil fuels and incentives for using efficient new technologies, these improvements will not occur. The longer it takes for government to introduce these policies, the more opportunities will be lost and the more costly the change will become. `At this point there is very grave danger that Canada's energy and environment ministers will continue on their current paths," says Fulton. `Rather than face the failure and develop a realistic action plan to reduce greenhouse emissions, we believe they may try to manipulate the numbers and attempt to declare meaningful progress while there has been virtually none.'"

The issue of energy conservation is an important one, not just to those of us who represent people in Ontario but across the continent. This is a global issue that is taken very seriously by respected scientists. I don't think there's a respected scientist out there who any longer says that the evidence isn't there that these greenhouse emissions are causing serious problems on a global level with weather changes that are literally going to devastate life on this planet. That's pretty serious.

I know it's tomorrow. It's not today. It's not next year. It's not four years from now when the government can run on a platform of, "Hey, you've got your tax cut." We won't feel that much of a difference by then. It's not going to be on the top of people's lists. It's going to be on my grandson's list. He's just turned three. I worry about him. I do. It may seem silly. He's three years old. When he's my age -- well, let's face it -- I guess I'm not going to be here. I might. I'm pretty feisty; if anybody will hang in, I might be here. But I'm worried about him and I expect that there are people here who have small children and grandchildren, and you'll say you care and you think about them. If you do, take a look at the effects. Take a really good look.

Mr Galt: Whatever you say, Granny.

Ms Churley: The parliamentary assistant just said to me, jovially, "Whatever you say, Granny," laughing. Mr Speaker, I'm getting a little tired of that kind of response to what I have to say in this House. I'm getting really tired of it. If the parliamentary assistant wants to laugh at these kinds of issues or if he wants to laugh at me -- he's still laughing -- I just don't understand the attitude. I've said this before: The parliamentary assistant may think I'm funny. He doesn't take me seriously. I know that. He has demonstrated that consistently for over a year. I'm used to it. I can take it. No problem. But what I do demand from the parliamentary assistant, and I demand it now again, is that he respect the kinds of issues that I'm talking about, that he respect the environmentalists who are out there, whom he also laughs at, makes fun of -- I've seen it happen in this House -- and at least demonstrate that he thinks that I and they have something important to say and that it's even possible he could learn something.

I know that's not going to happen, but I wanted to point out that as long as I stand in the House and talk about these issues and we have a parliamentary assistant for the Ministry of Environment who yells out to me something -- what was it he said about Granny? -- in a disrespectful tone --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Stupid as well.

Ms Churley: Yes, stupid as well. I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. It reminds me, it takes me back to the kind of sexism that exists in this House. You know what? I'm going to start talking about it, Mr Speaker, because I've had it. I have had it with the level of sexism that exists in this House. We had the member for Brampton North a few weeks ago when I was on my feet in this House -- yes, I'm five feet tall, I admit it, and weigh about 100 pounds. I'm a woman and I have a soft voice. But I do my homework and I know my stuff and I have as much right to be in this House as those members, those men sitting over there in their blue suits day after day, half of them laughing at what I have to say. I see the same thing happen daily with the member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have too much respect for the member for Riverdale for her to be unhappy about a comment that she thought was directed at her. The member for Lambton and I were discussing our ages, at which point I admitted to my age and the member for Northumberland, behind me, said "Granny."

Ms Churley: This is not true. He was looking right at me, Margaret. I know he was speaking --

The Deputy Speaker: You know, look at my age. Let's have a nice debate, let's have a quiet debate and let's aim at the topic. Let's discuss the topic.

Ms Churley: You are missing the point, absolutely missing the point. Mr Speaker, this is the topic. I'm discussing something that needs to be discussed in this House within the context of comments that have been made to me, and it's going to come out because I've had enough of it. As I was saying, I see those kinds of derogatory, laughing responses happening to me and to the member for Windsor-Sandwich frequently; I don't know, perhaps with other women as well.

I just want to say, in closing on this part, that I am sick of it. When the member for Brampton North tells me I should go home and take care of my own kids when I'm in the middle of doing my job here at the Legislature, talking to the Premier, responding to the fact that he's bringing in cold cereals when a breakfast club in my riding which serves hot meals to some of the poorest children in Canada is going to be closed down, I'm in the middle of that and a member of this government, a male member of the Harris government tells me I should go home and take care of my own kids -- I'm hearing time and time again those kinds of comments. They can think them, they can feel them, there's nothing I can do about that, but I just want them to be on notice tonight that I'm not putting up with it any more -- I hope that is clear -- and I don't think any of the other women are either.

Coming back to the bill, I was talking about the building code. I'm hoping the parliamentary assistant can discuss it, because I think he didn't know about it. To be fair to him, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt tonight and suggest to him that he didn't know about it and that he should go and talk to the Minister of Municipal Affairs about what's in that bill and the impact it's going to have on energy efficiency in this province. It's got to be stopped; it's got to be stopped now. He should talk to the Minister of Environment as well, his boss. He should go talk to him because he's going to be at this conference tomorrow.

Does the Minister of Environment know this is happening? I would like to think not. I would like to think that if he knew about it, the minister would go tomorrow and say: "We're not going to do this. We're going to improve the building code. We're going to make it more efficient." That's what I am hoping, that we'll put back the things that we took out from the Planning Act, the energy efficiency components, because everything they're doing with energy efficiency goes against the grain of what world experts say about the need to bring in these programs to promote energy efficiency. It makes sense. It doesn't cost money; in fact, there's a payback at the end of the time. It creates jobs. It's a wonderful opportunity to invest in environmental industry, which is big and under threat by this government.

I would like the parliamentary assistant to take a look at that, talk to the Minister of Environment, talk to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and see if an announcement could be made tomorrow or maybe, as a result of the meeting tomorrow, on Monday, so that we could be a little bit proud of our minister tomorrow, that he could go forward -- I don't know, that sounds a little weird to say we're proud of him -- to put something back that he took away. What we'd like to see him do is announce not only that he's going to put these things back but he's going to actually bring in some new regulation to bring down the levels of greenhouse gases in Ontario.


The other thing that I have a major concern about in terms of Bill 57 and Bill 76 and all of these environmental bills, and I brought it up in the House in my member's statement two days ago, is who this government is meeting with. I'm sure the parliamentary assistant will say, "Oh, I've met with all of these people." I know that he did; they told me about their meetings with the parliamentary assistant. They found him to be a pleasant fellow, they enjoyed the meetings, but they didn't really get any commitments or information, anything of interest out of those meetings. They knew it was PR, that the Minister of Environment was under pressure to meet with environmentalists, so what did he do? He gets his good friend Dr Galt -- I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to say that; we forget sometimes -- the member for Northumberland --

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): You're actually talking about him in a complimentary tone? Do you know something about him we don't?

Ms Churley: Let me tell you, he can be a friendly, pleasant sort of person. He's got his faults, which I outlined earlier tonight. He's got a lot to learn, and maybe he learned a little bit tonight, or maybe not, but yes, we've travelled together on committee from time to time and he can be a pleasant, nice person.

My friend the member for Welland-Thorold is not liking me saying this nice stuff about the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment here. He's really unhappy with this.

But the environmental groups -- no, it's true -- who said they met with you, found you a pleasant person to talk to. What's wrong with that? But they didn't get any new information or learn anything. At the end of the day --


Ms Churley: Yes. As my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold said, "Well, what does that get us?" Anyway, people are glad that he met with them, but the minister isn't meeting with them. These people want to meet with the minister.

I have here some letters. Mr Rick Lindgren, whom many of you have heard about, and I know the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment is very familiar with Mr Lindgren, is counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association, and CELA and CIELAP and those organizations always do a very in-depth analysis of any new government bills. They have been doing that for years and years under all governments, and they have been critical of our government from time to time as well. The former environment minister from St Catharines will tell you very much the same thing.

They do very good work. You may not always agree with it, and I know this government, the Harris government, doesn't agree with anything they say, but I think they deserve the respect -- I come back to that word again -- the respect from the government that other governments from all three parties have given them before. With this government, the Harris government, they are not given that respect, and they're not given the time of day with the minister.

I have right here a letter that Mr Lindgren wrote -- I'm just trying to get these in order, because there are several of them -- to the standing committee on social development, the hearings on Bill 57, this very bill we're talking about today. He says:

"Dear Minister

"It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday at the standing committee hearings on Bill 57.

"In response to Ms Churley's questioning, you undertook to meet with CELA representatives to discuss your ministry's recent environmental initiatives. We were pleased to hear you make this commitment and would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience, preferably within the next few weeks. Please instruct your staff to contact me to arrange a mutually convenient date for this meeting.

"We look forward to your reply.

"Yours truly,

"Richard D. Lindgren


"Canadian Environmental Law Association."

That was written on October 17. It was written in response to an event which took place -- just a minute here. This one's dated October 17. At the committee meeting just a day before that, on October 16, the Minister of Environment actually came to the committee to give us his overview of the bill.

This letter I'm about to read now was written on December 3, 1996. Oh, I have to read you Mr Sterling's letter back to Mr Lindgren before I read that one. I can't find it, so I'm going to come back to that in a minute. Well, I don't even need to read it, because -- oh, here it is: November 15.

"Dear Mr Lindgren

"I am writing in response to your September 17, 1996, letter regarding Bill 76 and to acknowledge receipt of a copy of your executive summary." In this letter -- I'm going to skip some of it -- he says: "My schedule is heavily booked and my commitments will not permit me the time to meet with CELA representatives. I can assure you that I listened to your presentation at the standing committee, and while I appreciated your comments and have considered your arguments, I believe the amendments proposed in Bill 76..." blah, blah, blah. "I appreciate your bringing CELA's comments to my attention."

That was one rejection from the Minister of Environment.

In the December 3 letter, again from Mr Lindgren to the minister, he says:

"Dear Mr Sterling

"This is to acknowledge your letter dated November 15.

"Your letter states that your schedule is heavily booked and that you will not be able to meet with CELA representatives. While we understand that you have numerous commitments as minister, we also note that you expressly committed on the record to meet with CELA representatives about your government's environmental initiatives. Indeed, the attached excerpt from the October 16, 1996, Hansard includes the following exchange between you and Ms Marilyn Churley after I concluded my presentation on Bill 57.

"`Ms Churley: Perhaps I can use this opportunity to ask...if the minister would commit to set up a meeting with Mr Lindgren while we're both here today.'

"`Hon Mr Sterling: I don't arrange my meetings, but I will make every attempt to meet with every group. I will certainly do that.'

"`Ms Churley: Well, I can't get a commitment for you today.'" That's to Mr Lindgren.

"`Hon Mr Sterling: CELA is a significant player in this business. I will be meeting with them some time in the future.'

"Accordingly, I am writing once again to request that you honour your commitment by meeting with CELA at your earliest convenience."

There are several more of these letters that have been bouncing back and forth. The upshot is that the Minister of Environment has never responded to the first letter written by Mr Lindgren asking for a meeting. Then he responds to a later letter that says, "I want to meet with you specifically on a particular bill." The minister responds to that one and says, leaving aside the first letter that asked for a meeting in general, "I don't need to meet with you." There's no comment about: "But I do know you'd like to meet with me about other subjects, other issues. I'm busy now, but sometime in the new year." It was very clear: no meeting. Not now, not ever. We're not going to meet with you.


The interesting thing is that apparently the Minister of Environment made a mistake because he wasn't at the standing committee, according to Mr Lindgren, and could never have heard the comments on Bill 76 that the Minister of Environment said he listened very closely to. So he must have gotten that deregulation bill mixed up with yet another deregulation bill.

But I read these letters in particular because Mr Lindgren, for one, is upset. Mr Lindgren is a very intelligent, very bright young lawyer who works not for a lot of money, I want to assure right here and now the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment. The environmental lawyers and policymakers I know who work for organizations like CELA, CIELAP, the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund, those kinds of organizations, do not make a lot of money, as has been suggested possibly by members of the opposition, and I saw the Premier on TV as well once suggesting that there's something in this for lawyers. Admittedly, there are some lawyers in big firms who make a lot of money in environmental assessments and other avenues; they do in all kinds of other fields as well. Why single out the environment? If you want to stop lawyers from making lots of money, boy, there are a lot of other areas that you can make some regulatory changes to and change legislation to cut lawyers out.

But this government specifically takes on environmental lawyers, and on the whole these people don't make a lot of money. Mr Lindgren doesn't. He's very, very knowledgable and extremely committed to environmental protection, has a lot of good advice to offer this government, and they don't listen. They do not listen to a word he says. To add insult to injury, the minister won't meet with him. I thought I had a commitment. I used the opportunity within that committee meeting to get that commitment, and then he sends a letter saying: "No, I'm not going to meet with you; I don't need to meet with you. I listened to your comments with great interest. Amendments have been made. I don't need to meet with you any more." Nothing about a meeting to talk about further issues.

So, Mr Speaker -- Madam Speaker. I'm very grateful to my colleague from Mississauga South, if you'll let me go off topic just for a minute here, who is taking the chair for me so that I can continue with my speech tonight. I do want to thank the present Speaker for doing that.

The other issue in the context of the overall cuts and deregulation happening under this government to environmental protection is Temagami. There hasn't been a whole lot of talk about Temagami in the House, again I think partly because there are so many other issues going on that people are kind of swamped. I know I've been, as has my colleague the critic for natural resources. We'd both like to ask some questions, both to the Minister of Environment and to the Minister of Natural Resources, about what the heck is going on in Temagami right now, because we have all kinds of information that suggests the law is being broken by the ministry and perhaps by the minister.

Yet again today there was another press conference, and again I would urge the Minister of Environment and the parliamentary assistant to pay attention to what's going on in other ministries, because so much of what happens in other ministries impacts on the environment. That is why we as a government put steps in place, which still had a long way to go -- it was baby steps, the beginning, needed to grow, a lot to learn -- to have coordination between ministries to talk about impacts on the environment and make sure all the ministries coordinated that. That's been stopped, of course; there's none of that any more. But I'd like the Minister of Environment and the parliamentary assistant to be aware of what's going on in Temagami.

There was a group today which held a press conference suggesting that under the Environmental Bill of Rights they're looking at having the ministry at least, and maybe the minister, charged with breaking the law, because there's yet again another road, we found out today, being built on land where these people say it's illegal to do so without going through an environmental assessment. They're just going ahead and doing it. You can say what you like about Temagami and your position on it. There are many disagreements in this House on all three sides from time to time on the kind of logging rules in place in Temagami, but I would expect we all agree, and I would think the members of the government would agree, that the ministry, the government, should not be breaking the law at the very least.

As you know, Madam Speaker, our government worked for years with first nations and local people and environmentalists and representatives from all points of view on the Temagami issue. It's very tough. There are a lot of different viewpoints. But we were trying to build an approach that would protect the precious old-growth forest. We came up with an approach that not everybody bought into totally, I can guarantee that, but that at least everybody had a say in, and we came up with a plan.

Successive governments of Ontario -- not only our government -- have worked hard and have spent millions of dollars to resolve these very difficult concerns and to avoid the kind of conflicts which the Harris Conservatives are now aggravating there. What's happened is that the Minister of Natural Resources responded to the 39 recommendations of the comprehensive planning council last June and the government spin doctors have tried to claim that all the recommendations were adopted, either without changes or with minor changes. We know that isn't so.

Many of the recommendations supposedly accepted haven't been implemented. I think one of the most important ones which hasn't been implemented is that the comprehensive planning council said there must be a land use plan and specified the necessary elements. But the Harris government went ahead with logging old-growth pine in the Owain Lake area. The ministry has actually closed its Temagami office and clearly has no intention, we know by now, of implementing a land use plan for the area during the past six-month logging season.

I would say that at the very least, and I would expect this government would go along with this too, until the land use plan has been written and approved and published and implemented, there shouldn't be logging of the old-growth pine ecosystems in Temagami. I think -- talk about common sense -- sustainable logging is important to everybody, not just the tree-huggers from the south. I know lots of people in the north think we don't understand. Okay, acceptable. There are issues around that, and although I don't agree with them all, I understand the mindset. But I know also that sustainable logging is important to loggers and it's important to people involved in the ecotourism business. I know jobs are important too, but I know these people would want a guarantee that the kind of logging that's being implemented is sustainable. Clearly, given what's going on now, that is not the case. There are scientists who say that less than 1% of the original red and white pine forest remains, and half of that 1% is on a remaining scrap in the Temagami area. So I would like government members as well to ask the Minister of Natural Resources what's going on there.

There have been several accusations now from various environmental groups that the law has been broken. We see this consistently. We're seeing it now with the health minister, who has had to resign. There are indications that all kinds of laws have been broken there. What does the government do but appoint a commissioner, the privacy commissioner, who can't really dig out the facts and find out just what laws were broken, who broke them and what the implications are of that.


It seems okay for members of this government and ministries to go ahead and break laws. Who cares in this government? I would like to say to the members that people do care, that ordinary people out there do care. They expect their government to, at the very least, not break the law. They may not agree, not everybody, as we well know, agrees with Tory policy, but I think most people would expect the government to uphold the law.

Mr Speaker -- Madam Speaker. I'm sorry. We do get into this habit. Now I understand when I'm in the chair and so many people say, "Mr Speaker," and of course it's because there's only one woman deputy speaker, so three out of four times, it's a man in the chair. We should all start saying, "Speaker," and then we wouldn't have that problem. I'm going to try to start doing that right now, Speaker.

On Bill 57, which we're debating tonight, I've gone through before in this House and in committee my very serious concerns with the bill. I listened very carefully to the parliamentary assistant tonight when he gave his remarks, and he said the very same things that he said when the bill was first introduced. He said the very same things when the bill went to committee, and I suppose he will continue to say the very same things. He hasn't learned a thing or he hasn't listened to a word which has been said to him by tens of people -- I lost count -- who came forward expressing concerns about this bill.

He brought up tonight three main components of Bill 57. What I find really interesting is that he, the Minister of Environment, the previous Minister of Environment and the Premier, when asked, like to give very benign-sounding examples of the standardized approvals component, what I refer to as the permit-by-rule or cookbook approach.

They say: "People have to come and get a certificate of approval to put a fan in, a livestock fan or a restaurant fan? That's stupid. Why should they, every time they want to put in a fan, come and a get a permit?" He's right. There's no problem with that. I did have a problem with the Premier, when asked, also trying to give benign examples, saying, "Well, if there's an oil spill on a floor in a garage, they have to report it." In my view, that's something that does have to be recorded every time it happens. A single litre of used motor oil can contaminate a million litres of water. That information was given to us by the Recycling Council of Ontario recently.

It may sound silly that if people in garages spill a little bit of oil, they have to report it. I think there's very good reason. It's a toxic substance. It goes into our sewers. It contaminates our water. As the parliamentary assistant said earlier tonight, we need to prevent, as much as possible, hazardous waste going into our landfills, our water, our air.

So, that's one that didn't even work as a benign use that shouldn't have to have a certificate of approval every time. But there are some that I agree, "Okay, let's take a look at these," but the problem is that the parliamentary assistant says these will be standardized approvals for uses with only predictable environmental effects. Well, we don't know that, because the minister won't tell us what these are going to be.

I asked the previous minister's staff, I asked the minister, the press asked the minister, we've asked the new minister, we've asked the parliamentary assistant, time and time again. They say: "Oh, don't worry about it. Trust us. You can be assured that they'll be only those with predictable environmental effects." But we don't know what it is.

The way the bill is written right now -- and they refuse to amend it -- it could be anything. It could be incinerations, it could be landfills, it could be anything. Why not amend that if they really mean it? Why not give us the list of what industries with predictable environmental effects if they're so sure that's all it's going to be? Why won't they do that?

They won't tell us what it is. They say, "That'll come later in regulation." That's very scary when we have wording in new legislation that literally allows anything to come in under this permit-by-rule or standardized approval. As I've explained before, for people who don't understand, it's like a cookbook: You look up the recipe, and if you fit into that recipe, you don't have to get a certificate of approval.

The previous minister said it could be paint shops, restaurants, maybe dry cleaners. Well, dry cleaners use a lot of very toxic chemicals. We don't know what else. That's all we've been told as examples so far. Well, okay, livestock fans we got added tonight, restaurant fans, fine. But they only give us the benign examples.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Margaret Marland): The member for Riverdale has the floor, and I would like to suggest to honourable members that if you wish to visit with each other, you might do it in the chairs adjacent to each other rather than across rows and across the floor of the House. It is becoming increasingly difficult to hear the member for Riverdale. Thank you. Proceed with the debate.

Ms Churley: Thank you, Speaker, for that. I may be losing my voice as well, but I won't, don't worry.

We haven't had any response to date, and we didn't get it tonight. We just can't get more examples. We'd like the complete list; yes, more can be added. But as it is now, we don't know what we're getting into, and that is very scary and very worrisome.

I want to speak as well about the ECC, the Environmental Compensation Corp, which is the payor of last resort. We had examples of this. We had people come to the committee -- and I talked about this before; I meant to bring their letter tonight to read it -- whose livelihood was wiped out because they bought a hog farm and there were spills in the water supply on their land. They came to our leader, who was then the Minister of Natural Resources, and they were given this option of the ECC, but they were told they had to go through all of the processes first, including the courts.

This really is the payor of last resort. The ironic thing is that the government says we don't need it because they don't pay out much money, that it costs more to run it than they pay out. I would say that's a good reason for keeping it. I would say revamp it, find a way to fold it into the ministry somehow, but don't get rid of it; they're doing their job. They really are the payor of last resort.

There are people who get stuck in very serious situations, innocent people, who could lose their life savings, their land, everything, after going through the system. When you have an owner who disappears or goes bankrupt, those people are stuck forever. They will get no compensation. They're now on their own, and if the court system can't help them, that's it, they are wiped out.

I don't understand at all why they're getting rid of this except, once again, to save a few million dollars to help finance their tax cut. They're desperate. They are again doing something that's going to hurt innocent people. A program that works really well: no argument that it wastes money, because I know they can't find one situation where money was inappropriately paid out. What happens with this? They get punished for doing a good job. I was hoping very much that the government would accept my amendment on that. But they wouldn't do it, for whatever reason.

I want to talk about the Ontario Waste Management Corp. We supported the government ending it. Its mandate is over, but they're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What our government did was to put in as its new mandate hazardous waste programs, to coordinate and pull together all the hazardous waste programs within this province. Well, they're gone now. What the government did was get up and crow about, "We've wiped out the Ontario Waste Management Corp." Fine, we all agree there's no need for it. But, once again, they also threw out all the valuable programs that went with it, with no replacement.

When I hear the parliamentary assistant, as I did again tonight, talking about, "Oh, well, the idea is to try to prevent it from happening in the first place," there's an amazing lack of detail. There are no hazardous waste programs any more. They've gone. Household hazardous waste programs, help to municipalities, all kinds, they're gone, and industrial hazardous waste reduction and reuse programs, gone.


The other thing that the parliamentary assistant keeps bringing up is the new fee structure. I have no problem with charging fees for the work, recovering costs essentially, but that's not all that this does. It brings in tons of new user fees. That's what's happening here. That's what's going on. Community groups and environmental groups, those in our community, back home in our ridings, which may need some information, maps, other information from the government, they're now going to be charged, and we don't how much; it's not within the bill.

There's great concern and fear that people are going to have to be -- ordinary citizens groups, which have lost intervenor funding because the intervenor funding act ended and this government didn't replace it. It didn't cost the government a cent, actually; it was paid for by industry. They did not replace it, there's no intervenor funding any more, and now the government is going to start charging groups for all kinds of information that they used to get for free. I don't think that's fair. It doesn't make sense. It's once again this government going after innocent people in their communities. Why? Because they need the money for the tax cut.

Earlier, the parliamentary assistant talked about what this government is doing. How did he put it? The regulatory wheel, that they don't want to reinvent the regulatory wheel, that what they are doing is cutting red tape and that they're going to do more with less. I can tell you that nobody believes that, nobody. The government has got to understand that it's got to start coming clean with people about what it's doing, because when they stand up and say, "We're actually doing a better job of protecting the environment," they're saying, "We've cut a third of the staff, we've cut out $200 million, but don't worry, we're cutting so much red tape that our resources are now better used and we're doing a better job of protecting the environment."

We have seen bill after bill after bill that systematically is cutting regulation, deregulating across the board throughout all of the ministries within this government. This bill is another example of the Tories letting corporate polluters write their own rules.

Speaker, I know you'd be very interested in this, and I expect you're following some of the things that are happening. I know that you would be concerned if you accepted my viewpoint on this and if you accepted the viewpoint of environmentalists in your community, whom I know you've helped at times on various issues, and they know in certain circumstances they've gone to you and you've been very supportive. There's an expectation, Speaker, that you will continue to give that support. They'd like to think and I'd like to think that at least behind closed doors you speak up for the environment. I know from having been in government that there are times when it's difficult. You don't speak out necessarily in public but there are things you can do behind closed doors.

Believe me, what the Harris government is doing is absolutely devastating to environmental protection in this province. A bunch of people, hundreds of people -- it turned out to be a very cold, snowy day -- came to see the Minister of Environment. It was a couple of weeks ago. They went to the ministry because the minister won't meet with them. They entitled their flyer, "Come Clean, Keep It Green." They came out and they invited the minister and said: "Minister, you won't see us so we're coming to you. Will you come out and speak to us? Will you come out so we can tell you our concerns?" The minister said no, he wouldn't. As usual, he had a scheduling problem. He couldn't make it to that meeting.

Once again you have to ask, who is the minister meeting with if he isn't meeting with environmentalists? We know he has a heavy schedule. I know he has briefings. I remember what it's like to be a minister; there are a lot of briefings. I also know there are a lot of meetings. Who is the minister meeting with? The environmentalists say he's not meeting with them.

We look at the way bills are written and we begin to get an idea of just who this minister is meeting with. Some of the bills could be written, in some cases, by the industry. Of all the changes that environmentalists ask for, not one is picked up by this government, looked at seriously and bills amended to reflect the concerns of environmentalists. So who is the Minister of Environment meeting with?

When the government members protest and say, "We're only cutting red tape," I know they think I'm speaking a lot of nonsense, that it's opposition rhetoric. That is not the case. This is about far more than cutting red tape. This has cut already deep into the muscle. The environmental protection mechanisms within our province are severely under stress now and it's going to get worse. We can't be safe with a government that has cut the very stuffing out of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, that's clear-cutting our environmental laws almost on a daily basis. This is a government, the Harris government, that has already told mining companies that they don't have to get approval of mine closure plans from the ministry any more. We're not safe with a government that has gutted the Environmental Assessment Act, the Planning Act, the building code, and has more regulations out there that I know the minister has been reviewing. Almost every aspect of environmental protection is being gutted by this government.

The other issue that I want to explore briefly -- and I've talked about all of this before but it didn't make any difference in the final outcome of the bill. This is really interesting, Speaker, and I think you'd be interested in this. The government is exempting itself from any liability that may arise from this deregulation. If I recall correctly, the government also did that in the infamous omnibus bill, Bill 26. I can't remember if it was health; I think there are a number of areas where the government is already done this, changed regulation, deregulated and then made itself exempt from any kind of liability that could arise from the deregulation.

Why is it saying, "We won't be responsible for the consequences of our actions"? If the government is so sure, as it says all the time, "This is making things better; we are just getting rid of unnecessary regulation; don't worry, our environment will be better protected" -- why won't it put its money where its mouth is? Why are they not letting the poor citizens who suffer because of some kind of negligence that is no fault of their own get some justice through the courts?


There it is in the new section of this bill, that the Harris government is deregulating, changing regulations. At the same time, however, they say: "In case something goes wrong, we're not liable. You can't take us to court." I find that very alarming, particularly in the context that the intervenor funding is gone in one area. It's harder for people to participate in environmental assessments.

We have the situation now where the Environmental Compensation Corp, the payor of last resort, is gone. Now we see that there are changes in regulation. I say deregulation; the government says it's just getting rid of unnecessary regulation. Whatever you call it, although it is deregulation, you would think the government could stand behind its own conviction that we hear time after time, the mantra, and say, "Yes, we're doing a good job of protecting the environment, and we can be held liable if a spill happens and you can't get the culprit," which happens.

It's all very well for the parliamentary assistant to stand here tonight, which he did, and say, "The owner should be responsible." Yes, we all agree. That's the way it is now. If there is any kind of environmental disaster or problem, if there's a spill, the situation right now is that of course the owner is responsible. Unfortunately you have really good, responsible companies out there, you also have the less responsible ones and you have the fly-by-nighters. Terrible things happen to people. With the compensation fund gone and now with the government very explicitly saying in this bill that the government can't be liable, what happens to the poor citizens in your riding who come to you, they've had a devastating spill on their land and they're going to be wiped out?

Picture this: An ordinary family who've worked hard all their lives. They buy a piece of land. They set up a hog farm -- like the people who came to see us -- and they put everything they own into it. Somebody comes along and there's a spill. There's no compensation fund and the government isn't liable in any way. Their savings are wiped out. Everything's gone. The company has disappeared, say, and can't be found, let alone bankrupt. What are those citizens to do? The Harris government is saying to them: "Sorry, that's life. Sometimes people are unlucky, and you got unlucky. You've had a bad thing happen to you. Too bad. Try to start all over again." There's nothing there for those people to fall back on.

Do you, Speaker, want to go out in your community and tell your constituents, when something like this happens -- and I can guarantee it is going to happen. It's been happening to date, and I can guarantee with the deregulation and the lack of inspectors and people to enforce the law, to enforce compliance out there, because the government is firing them all -- that's not a joke. They are being fired. They're being let go.

I see the member for Algoma is here now, who was the Minister of Environment, a good Minister of Environment who did a really good job under very difficult circumstances at times. He knows what I'm talking about. He knows when I say that no matter how hard we try, no matter how good the law is, no matter how many people we have out there inspecting and trying to enforce the law, these things happen and innocent people get stuck. That is why in a civilized, democratic society we have laws there to protect those innocent citizens. That's what this is all about.

This government is just ripping it out from under them. This is terrifying stuff. It is saying to citizens: "You're on your own. If a spill happens on your property and you go through all the normal channels, that's it, you're stuck." Furthermore, if it happens as a result of the government's deregulation, this bill, they can't even go to court. Not only is the payor of last resort, the compensation corporation, gone, and other circumstances, but if something happens to these people under this bill, they can't even go to court. That's what is going on here.

I've just touched on a few things about this bill tonight because I've gone over it and over it on committee and in this House. Tonight I talked a bit about the issues within the bill and I talked about the overall context under which this bill is falling. I talked about just a few -- I barely scratched the surface tonight -- of the deregulations and the cuts that have already taken place. As the critic for the environment, I've watched them all happen rather helplessly.

I know that not a lot of members in this chamber are paying a whole lot of attention to the environment. I know that. I know people are very busy with day-to-day issues, issues like the family support plan, where kids now, today, are getting hurt; where hospitals now, today, are being closed down; where tomorrow we may not have a city of Toronto any more; amalgamation of boards of education; things that are going to hit. Parents are very concerned about what's going to happen to the kids in the schools right here and now. There are so many day-to-day issues that are just hitting people now in the face, that are taking up their time and their energy.

I know that's true of members in the House I guess on all sides. Not a lot of people are paying a whole lot of attention to what's going on in the Ministry of Environment. I know my colleagues are. I know they don't know everything that's happening. In fact, I don't know everything that's happening. I try to know, but there's so much happening in secret, behind closed doors, that I and environmentalists and communities don't know half of what's happening. Even the Environmental Commissioner put out a report recently, a special report to the Legislature, expressing concerns about the fact that this government continues to change environmental regulation behind closed doors, in secret, and is basically breaking the law because it's not putting it on the environmental registry.

This was a real slap on the wrist. It was supposed to be a wake-up call to the government, but they don't care. In particular they don't care because they think nobody's paying attention. They think all they have to do is stand up there and say: "Don't worry. Don't listen to anything environmentalists are saying. Don't listen to what the member for Riverdale is saying or the member for St Catharines. They don't know what they're talking about. We know. We're the first people ever in the history of the government of Ontario who understand what needs to be done to protect the environment. Why should we listen to anybody else? Don't worry, people. We're doing more with less. We're protecting the environment even better than before."


They think they're going to get away with that. I think to some extent right now they are, because of what I said. It's not on top of the media's minds these days. I know that better than most people. It's certainly not on the top of most of the members within this Legislature, and it's not on the top of the minds, I would say, of the majority of people right now. But polls continue to show over and over again that people want their governments to protect the environment and, overall, people think governments are protecting the environment. They haven't quite figured it out yet, and partly it's because it's not getting a lot of media so the government is getting away with it. But I can assure the members that as soon as the media starts paying more attention and it starts becoming more of an issue out there and people become aware of just how far this government is going in terms of environmental protection and deregulation and cuts, the same thing will happen as happened in the United States.

This document which I have here, the Common Sense Revolution -- yes, I keep a copy in my desk which I refer to from time to time. I looked high and low; the environment is not mentioned once in there. They don't make any promises about improving the environment, they don't make any promises about tearing apart environmental protection. It just wasn't even important enough to mention in their Common Sense Revolution.

I find that in itself interesting, but I think they're underestimating the interest and concern that people in Ontario have about protection of the environment, because they know that protection of the environment and our human health are so connected. We now know that carcinogens in different chemicals in our environment, the ones that build up in our bodies, the persistent toxic chemicals, including some chlorines, cause cancer. What did this government do? One of the things they're suggesting doing as part of their deregulation document -- and not the one we're talking about tonight; another one that we haven't even dealt with yet. The former Minister of Environment will remember this. I don't know if it happened when Ruth Grier -- I guess I can call her by name now in here -- brought in the zero-discharge regs --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): For AOX.

Ms Churley: -- for AOX for the pulp and paper industry. The member for Algoma was the Minister of Natural Resources at that time. He's had a very interesting career, this person from Algoma.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Lots to go still.

Ms Churley: Lots to go still, we hope. But we brought that in and the industry started investing, got innovative, because there's a high demand now for chlorine-free paper.

Mr Wildman: E.B. Eddy is going to be at zero.

Ms Churley: I was just told by the former Minister of Environment that E.B. Eddy is going to be at zero. Would they be there if we hadn't brought this in? I don't know. But this government is suggesting that should be removed. Why, when we know that chlorine and other persistent toxins cause cancer? Breast cancer is one of the leading cancers in women in the western world, and we know that only a small percentage comes from genetic and biological reasons. There's a big mystery as to why --

Mr Wildman: Also birth defects.

Ms Churley: Yes, that's coming in the next three minutes. We know that these toxic chemicals are causing breast cancer and other cancers. We also know now, and what is even more frightening -- I don't know if it's more frightening, but if you're faced with cancer in your own life I guess that's the most frightening, terrible thing that can happen. But in terms of the longer view, life on this planet -- I talked about climate change and greenhouse gases earlier -- there's evidence now that these persistent toxic chemicals are actually causing birth defects that are interfering with our very reproductive system and our immune system. This has interesting and frightening implications for the long-term viability of our species on this planet. It really does.

There's still a lot of research to be done, and what does this government do? The Harris government pays no attention to that whatsoever. Here we had a very small part of what needs to be done happening and they even wiped that out. It doesn't make sense.

I'm going to end now, and I suppose nothing has changed. I hope a few people have been enlightened a bit and have more knowledge about some of the things the government is doing to environmental protection in this province. It is very serious. It is not just opposition rhetoric. In fact, there's no opposition rhetoric in what I'm saying. I speak the truth. I speak of what I know is happening. I'm extremely alarmed, and so are those environmentalists and community groups out there that this government is not listening to. I say to the government tonight that I know this bill is going to pass, but I also want to put the government on notice --

Mr Wildman: Not for a while.

Ms Churley: "Not for a while," says our esteemed House leader, his career at the moment. It is going to pass. But I want the government to know that the fight has just begun, and the wheels are starting to fall off over there. I can assure you that while the NDP leads the fight on hospital closures and health care cuts and education cuts and all the other stuff that's going on, we will be at the forefront and fighting this government all the way on environmental protection in this province.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mr Galt: Thanks to the member for her hour-and-a-half presentation. Maybe I found it entertaining on occasion, maybe I smiled, and if that upset her, my apologies for smiling and concentrating on what she had to say.

I heard both the Liberal members and the NDP talking about saving a little money in the ministry. I'm sorry, but the spend-and-borrow, the status quo of what's been going on over the last 10 years, just isn't going to fly any more. There are other ways of accomplishing things than simply throwing more money at them, and sitting there with interest at $8.7 billion this year is just not satisfactory.

We noticed over the last few years, with all the tax increases your government brought in, that you consistently took in less revenue, so that didn't work, did it? Maybe giving back and leaving some tax money in people's pockets will work. Give us a chance to see where to go. But certainly the status quo didn't work, and you know it didn't work. It just kept burying us further and further into the hole.

We talked about predictable and controllable effects on the environment, and yes, that's how the regulations will be written once we get this bill through. It makes as lot of sense to put through standardized approvals for those particular purposes.

I noticed that you mentioned that the government doesn't care. I recognize that your government did care: What you cared about was companies making a profit. Individuals out there actually having some money in their pockets? You didn't want that to happen. You wanted to take it all away, tax the companies, tax the industry so they couldn't possibly have a profit. You cared, and I can appreciate that you did. It's most unfortunate that this was the status we went through over the last five to 10 years.

Mr Kormos: Tell us about your debt, Doug, the $130 billion.


The Acting Speaker: To the members who have just come into the House -- the member for Hamilton Centre and Welland-Thorold, and the member for Algoma, who has been sitting quietly in the House -- the noise in the House has suddenly been elevated. We've been having quite a peaceful debate here, and I would suggest to you that --


The Acting Speaker: I would suggest to the member for Welland-Thorold that he take regard to the standing orders, which do not permit interjections. We will continue. Further questions and comments?


Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I want to apologize. I was provoked.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I just wanted to respond to the member for Riverdale. She spoke passionately to the government about the need to listen and to hear what other people have to say and to take into account other points of view. She may not remember this, but when she speaks of that, she speaks truly from experience. I recall when she was a minister meeting with her on a number of occasions on issues that were of import to my community, and I would think the government would do well to listen to that kind of message and be open to hear what groups have to say about their bills.

Environmental protection is important. Environmental protection means a great deal not only to us but to the future of this great province, and if we fail today to protect the environment we have, if we undermine our ability to protect that environment, we not only harm ourselves but we harm the future.

I think of the decisions in the past that I feel were tremendously ahead of their time that have preserved such sanctuaries as Algonquin Park and many other places. It would be my view that the government would do well to listen to the words of the member for Riverdale and listen to people and listen to the words of members like the member for St Catharines and the member for Algoma, all of whom have worked hard and, although we have differed politically from time to time on these issues, have stood firm and strong for the protection of our environment. I would hope this government respects that tradition in this province. I would hope this government understands the importance of that and puts aside the cheap rhetoric around the last 10 years. Those years are gone. They're past. We're talking about today and we're talking about tomorrow.

You ought to be talking about tomorrow and you ought to be talking about today. We ought to be dealing with environmental law and regulation in a meaningful and substantive way and we ought to be involving all the people of this province in that debate, because truly it's an extremely important issue.

Ms Martel: I want to commend my colleague from Riverdale, who is a tremendous advocate on behalf of the environment, always has been since the first time I met her, and always will be. She demonstrated that here again tonight.

Let's get right to it: The reason we're dealing with this bill, which deregulates environmental control, is because the government is interested in paying back its corporate friends who are more interested in making a buck than they are about protecting the environment. That's why we're here this evening. That's why we're dealing with this bill. Let's get serious.

This is an effort to make sure that all their friends who contributed to the Tory campaign don't have to go and get any approvals, don't have to get certificates of approval, can self-monitor, can self-police, can look after themselves, can cut corners every step of the way in order to make a fast buck at the expense of the Ontario environment and at the expense of people living in Ontario's communities. This is what this is all about.

It's also about a government which is more interested in financing a tax cut so its rich friends can get even richer than it is in ensuring there are staff left in the Ministry of Environment and Energy to try and monitor what's happening in the province. This Conservative government has already thrown 750 people from the Ministry of Environment and Energy out the door. That's how much you care about the work they did on behalf of protecting the environment.

You've already cut $200 million from the budget of the Ministry of Environment and Energy. You couldn't care less about protecting the environment. That's not in the Common Sense Revolution. That's not part of your agenda. All you're worried about is cutting and cutting and cutting so you can take that money that used to go to environmental protection and put it to finance the tax cut so that the people who helped finance your campaign can get even more money. That's what this is all about.

Mr Parker: I'm most impressed with the demonstration that we've just been witness to from across the floor here tonight. It's been a very quiet evening pretty much until now. The member for Riverdale did wax eloquent and give us a few diatribes over the course of her 90-minute monologue, but by and large it was a fairly quiet and measured presentation that we were witness to. But just recently her backup band has brought a bit of life into the proceedings this evening.

Mr Wildman: You don't like the enthusiasm?

Mr Parker: I don't know quite what it is; maybe something in the water they've been drinking tonight. I don't know. But the performance we received from our honourable friend from Riverdale was, in all other respects, a pretty much typical NDP diatribe: Blame the Harris government for all of the predicaments of today's world, including all of the problems of pollution, all of the problems of tooth decay and just about everything except blaming the Harris government for the losing streak that the Leafs are suffering right now.

The thesis is a typical one. We're accustomed to it; we hear it a lot. It's basically this: If you care about things, if you care deeply, then you spend a lot of money and you pass a lot of regulations. That's a measure of how much you care. If you don't care, then you try to balance budgets, you try to focus on the issues, you try to get at the heart of the matter and you try to do it all in an affordable way so that we have a future to pass on to our children. That's the basic NDP thesis.

Mr Wildman: Why are you borrowing all this money for the tax cut?

Mr Kormos: Tell us about your balanced budget; tell us about your deficit.

Mr Parker: And if you really, really care, then of course you yell a lot --

The Acting Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Parker: -- because that's a measure of how much you care. The more you care, the more you yell; the more you yell, the more you care. It's a pretty easy thesis. They've been spinning it for a long time and that's what we've been witness to tonight.

Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. It was a very good demonstration.

The Acting Speaker: I'm going to warn the member for Welland-Thorold because we cannot have people shouting in this chamber to the degree that I, as Speaker, cannot hear the person who has the floor at the time. Thank you.

The member for Riverdale in response.

Ms Churley: First of all to the member for Northumberland, I can't even respond to that nonsense. I mean, talking about throwing more money at it. We're talking about protecting the environment and all he can talk about is government deficits. This government is borrowing money -- how much is it?

Mr Kormos: Twenty-two billion dollars.

Ms Churley: -- to put in the pockets of rich people. One of the top bank managers in Canada is going to make $1.4 million out of borrowed money that this government is going to -- at least our government borrowed money to help vulnerable people and to put people back to work. That's what our deficit is all about.

Fine, you like to go on and on about the deficit we created. It was about helping people get through the worst recession we witnessed in this province since the 1930s. You are borrowing money to put in the pockets of rich people. Face it. There's a reason why we had a deficit, and we would have paid it off a year before you did. You're borrowing money to give to the rich people. It is incredibly absurd to do that.

To the member for York East, I want to say that I was not talking about tooth decay tonight. I was talking about women dying of breast cancer. Do they listen to a thing? I'm talking about people dying of cancer; I'm talking about birth defects. This is not about tooth decay and it's not NDP rhetoric. This is what is happening to our environment, period.

To the member for Windsor-Walkerville, I appreciate your remarks. I don't have the time to get into them, but I appreciate that you recognize the importance of protection of the environment. And the member for Sudbury East, what can I say? Great speech.

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

Hon Mr Jackson: I believe we have unanimous consent to revert to motions.

The Acting Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.



Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): I move that, notwithstanding order 96(a), the House will not meet to consider private members' business on Thursday morning, December 12, 1996.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Margaret Marland): All in favour of that motion? The motion is carried.



Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I want to make a few remarks with respect to this bill. It has been interesting hearing the debate for the last several hours and the responses to the various speakers. I believe that all members of the House, particularly the member for St Catharines, who was one of the speakers for the Liberal Party, and the member for Riverdale, who is the critic for the NDP, all those speakers generally are concerned about the environment of this province.

But I must say what disturbs me, particularly from the New Democratic caucus, it's as if they've got the monopoly on feeling badly about the environment. I must start off my comments by reminding them -- because their party scared the heck out of the people in my riding, specifically in the town of Caledon. It was because of their goofy policies with respect to Bill 143 and the Interim Waste Authority that they almost put this province on the brink of disaster as far as environmental policies with the disposal of waste.

The member for Riverdale has commented how the Minister of Environment, Mr Sterling, never meets with people. I can remind her that Mrs Grier, the Minister of Environment during the IWA days, never met with the people of my riding. We tried and tried and tried to set up meetings with Mrs Grier, the NDP Minister of Environment and, for whatever reason, she refused to meet with them. The whole policy, starting from day one with the setting of 57 sites around this province, particularly in the greater Toronto area, scared the heck out of people. They just picked, for whatever reason, 57 sites under Bill 143.

Then the Interim Waste Authority -- I will never forget those days, and that was the idea of the NDP government. They created the Interim Waste Authority and they said, "It's the authority making all of these decisions, picking these dump sites around the province of Ontario," even though the entire appointments were made by the New Democratic government. Of course the thousands and thousands --

Mr Wildman: It sounds like what you're doing on restructuring.

Mr Tilson: The former Minister of the Environment for the NDP is going at me as well. I've got to remind you --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Algoma, come to order.

Mr Tilson: I know you don't like thinking about the debt of this province, but when you're reminding yourself about Bill 143 and the Interim Waste Authority, remember the cost of the lawyers and the consultants.


Mr Tilson: I may have the wrong number, but I can certainly remember the Interim Waste Authority and the havoc that that put on the people of this province.

Now your philosophy was, "We must be responsible for our own waste in our particular area and you're not allowed to transport waste to other areas." Well, we philosophically disagreed with that and that policy is now changed. Now municipalities can make their own decisions in this province and you can look at all alternatives as long as they're environmentally sound. You can look at energy from waste. You can look at composting. You can look at landfilling. You can look at whatever type of disposal of waste is considered, whereas the New Democratic caucus relied on one choice and that was putting it in superdumps around this province.

Although I believe that the member for Riverdale in particular, who is the New Democratic critic, genuinely is concerned about the environment of this province, what I am very offended about is when she starts saying that other members of this House, other members on this side simply have no responsibility with respect to the environment in Ontario.

I recall particularly all members of the opposition who have spoken -- there was Mr Bradley specifically, the member for St Catharines, Mrs Churley, the member for Riverdale -- have talked about the cutbacks. Is there no other way of doing things? It's got to the point where everything we do in this province, whether it's with respect to the environment or consumer and commercial relations or justice, the only answer is to spend money. There are other ways of doing things. I guess the former government, the New Democratic government, said, "No, there's only one way you've got to do it. You've got to have regulations and you've got to have bureaucrats who look after the regulations and look after the environment of the province." That's an alternative, but the question is: Do we have the resources in this province to do all of those things? Do we have the economy to do all of those things that you want done in this province? You tried it and it didn't work. It simply didn't work.

One of the items with respect to Bill 57 proposes improvements to the approval process with regard to certificates of approval. The bill proposes more workable procedures for activities that have had consistently predictable and controllable -- I think those are the words used -- effects on the environment. If you want to do anything now with respect to any sort of commercial activity in this province, whether it's constructing a restaurant or constructing anything, you have to get a certificate of approval. That certificate of approval is required for each and every project. It may well be that there are other ways of doing things. That was the policy we've gone through. Can we afford to do that? I suppose you're going to come back and say, "Can we afford not to do that?

The problem is that we've run out of money. We certainly need to protect the environment. We're concerned about the air. We're concerned about pollution. We're concerned about water. We have to try and protect our natural resources. We have to stop people from getting these terrible diseases that are caused by all of these things. We have to look at other ways of doing things. We can't continue any more to say simply that every project that is proceeded with must get a certificate of approval.

The proposal that is coming forth in this bill requires a new system, and that is the establishment of standardized regulations, so that when you want to do something such as the construction of a restaurant or the items that are put forward in a restaurant, these regulations tell you exactly what's required. If you meet those regulations on those activities that are predictable and controllable and are defined as predictable and controllable, then you don't need to go through this very complicated and expensive process of getting a certificate of approval.

This form of approval demands individual intensive scrutiny of every aspect of a proposal. It involves considerable cost. You've got to hire people -- you've got to hire consultants, you've got to hire experts -- to determine all these things when you may not need them. You can say that we've got to do this for everything. I don't believe that. I believe that there are some things where, if you know exactly what is required and you set that out and someone wants to follow those plans, why do you have to spend all of that money and all of that time and all of those resources to do those sorts of things? This has caused an unbelievable amount of cost and time to everyone involved. That includes the province, municipalities, industry and the public. In some cases, the cost and time are justified, there's no question about that, and in other cases they're not. It is those cases where they're not where we believe that this change that's being put forward under Bill 57 is required.

Perhaps we could talk about some of the items that may have been mentioned by previous speakers, by the parliamentary assistant and the Minister of Environment. Minor modifications; in other words, standardized approval regulations, items that could fall under this category where you don't have to go to the cost and expense of getting a certificate of approval. That would involve minor alterations to existing approved facilities and equipment that will not result in changes to the approved emission discharges. It could be used with respect to combustion equipment used in providing heating processes or for comfort processes. The size of the unit would be limited, and the only emissions are the products of combustion. There are others that we could talk about: the items used to sterilize hospital equipment, watermains, sanitary sewers and stormwater.


If these activities are controllable and are predictable, why are we making the municipalities, why are we making the province, why are we making industry go through this tremendous expense and time to do these things when, if you lay it all out, if they don't meet those requirements then they can't do it and if they meet those requirements they can do it? In other words, those predicted times.

I believe that's when we start talking about the cutting back of waste and the cutting back of cost. Yes, we're concerned about those things. Members in the opposition will say, "Oh, you're just trying to provide tax cuts to your wealthy friends." You've got to look at other ways of doing things, and if you don't look at other ways of doing things, then we're going to keep spending money as if it's going out of style. I know that every member in this House is concerned with respect to the environment and I believe that all three governments have been concerned, although obviously, having sat from 1990 during the NDP reign and looking at what it almost did to my riding, I don't have too much sympathy with some of its policies.

Ontario certainly has been a leader in Ontario, Canada and other parts of the world with respect to its environmental policies. All three governments can take credit for that with respect to its environmental protection legislation. In 1976, Ontario was the first Canadian province to introduce environmental assessment legislation. Since then other jurisdictions in this country have followed our lead. The fact: Ontario has had an outstanding track record for its commitment to protecting the quality of air, water and other resources. We've earned that record by passing effective legislation, by putting in place laws that are relevant, tough and fair.

Protecting the environment is one of our government's highest priorities. We believe that the province's environmental protection legislation must be efficient, effective and workable, and I emphasize those words -- efficient, effective and workable -- because I don't believe that it has been in the past, with the hoops people are required to perform simply to do things where, if they knew what they had to do in the first place, they'd do them or they wouldn't do them. As it stands now, many of our procedures and protocols have proliferated to the extent that they no longer work well together towards the desired result of protecting the environment. We're going to fix this. We need to have more rationalized and clear and efficient means of achieving that result.

That brings us to Bill 57. Bill 57 represents an important step in this process. The bill is designed to accomplish, as has been stated in the past, and I'd like to reiterate those things, four main objectives.

First, as I've indicated, Bill 57 will make the environmental approvals process more efficient by getting rid of the unnecessary duplication and red tape and the considerable cost that's involved. You talk on the other side about how we didn't talk about these things in the Common Sense Revolution. We did talk about: How are we going to do things differently, more efficiently, with less red tape? How are you going to get into business and protect the environment at the same time, but do it more efficiently and in a less costly manner? We believe that Bill 57 goes a long way to accomplishing that commitment. This bill achieves this improvement in efficiency without in any way compromising the high standards of environmental protection that are currently in place.

The second objective of Bill 57 contains provisions to close a government agency, the Environmental Compensation Corp. We are getting out of the compensation business.

Third, Bill 57 repeals the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act. This formally closes the book on the OWMC, which has not been in operation since October 1995.

Finally, the fourth objective of Bill 57 consolidates the Minister of Environment and Energy's ability to charge user fees on some of the services it provides, to recover the administrative costs of providing them.

I know the members of the opposition say they don't like user fees. Again, if you don't look at other ways of doing this, there are things on which perhaps user fees shouldn't be charged, but there are certainly many in which, if you're going to do business in Ontario, it's a cost of doing business. Certainly that issue of recovering the administrative costs of protecting the environment should be looked at by this government, and that's what we intend to do.

As I mentioned, one of Bill 57's most important provisions will improve the efficiency of the Ontario certificate of approval process. This bill will provide a process with clear, precise rules so that we will all understand in which direction we're going and that the changes we are proposing will only affect those activities that have predictable environmental effects. There will be no changes to the other process. It's only those processes that have predictable environmental activity.

Under the terms of the existing provincial legislation as indicated, the law we have now, a certificate of approval is required for any activity that might result in any emissions or discharge into the natural environment, any activity at all and any discharge. So technically we could require a certificate for venting public washrooms or, as the minister has stated in his previous comments, for hot dog vendors.

Under the existing law every new restaurant opened in the province must apply for a certificate of approval when it installs a ventilating fan, believe it or not -- a ventilating fan. Water treatment plants need a new certificate to replace a broken pump should it not be identical to the original pump. That's how mad our society has got when we require all these things just to do business in Ontario.

Yes, we have an obligation to protect the environment, but you don't go to the extreme where it precludes the improvement of business, it stops jobs in this province. You surely don't need a certificate of approval for the installation of a ventilating fan, although certainly water treatment plants need a new certificate to replace a broken pump should it not be identical to the original pump.

These applications involve great costs for the proponents while ministry staff are required to review each application, and that's why we've gradually built up all this ministry staff to review each of those applications where we don't believe, and I think if you thought about it long enough you wouldn't believe, we need those types of things and, in turn, we don't need that ministry staff to do those needless and very expensive things.

So to standardize approvals proposed in Bill 57, regulations can be developed specific to the activities that they regulate, and this means that certain classes of activities, people or things will not be subject to the certificate of approval process.

The amendments would also enable that the ministry set conditions or rules to ensure that all aspects of a project are covered off in terms of their potential to adversely affect the environment. We need effective environmental legislation in this province and to keep it effective we need to amend it when it's faulty or when it ceases to make any sense, and that's what we're doing now. The existing rules and regulations cease to make any sense and we're going to change that.

After 20 years of experience with the environmental assessment process, for example, we know there are many activities with predictable environmental effects, and that these effects are relatively easy to mitigate. We know that. We've had 20 years of experience doing these sorts of things. So for those types of activities, Ontario developed the class environmental assessment process which now accounts for something like 90% of all environmental assessment projects that we handle each year. Class EAs have streamlined the approval process for a wide range of activities and at the same time have ensured consistent protection for Ontario's environment.


Bill 57 brings the same kind of efficiency with the same high level of environmental protection to the process involved in obtaining a certificate of approval. Instead of spending considerable time and effort, in effect creating a customized regulation for each individual instance -- and that's what we've been doing, creating a regulation for each individual instance -- a standardized approval can be effectively applied in many of those instances, and that's what Bill 57 is going to do.

We get hung up in government, and all governments have done that -- Conservative, NDP and Liberal. We've all got hung up on these processes. I believe we must focus on results, and Bill 57 does just that by streamlining the certificate of approval process for certain activities, saving time and money for industry, businesses and municipalities while maintaining the same standards of environmental protection. That's what it's all about: protecting the environment.

Mr Wildman: That is silly; just plain silly.

Mr Tilson: You say it's silly. It's not silly. Why would you do all these things, make people go through all these hoops, when you don't have to? Why would you do that? The former Minister of the Environment is silly.

This new mechanism will be used with common classes of activities with consistent and predictable parameters that we can identify. In the debate during second reading of this bill, we heard some of the members express the view that it's part of a government plan for environmental deregulation. That was said by the member for Riverdale. She says that this is just a plan for environmental deregulation. That, I would suggest, is a specious and misleading argument, and I would like to talk a little bit about that in the few moments I have left.

Minister of Environment Mr Sterling has set the standards in this piece of legislation to ensure that they are being met. Governments aren't in the business to prescribe in minute detail exactly how the requirements should be met. Governments shouldn't be in the business of micromanagement, and that's what we've been in for the last decade.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Tell your Minister of Health that. Let's talk to your ex-Minister of Health. Talk about micromanagement, 23,000 doctors one by one by one.

Mr Tilson: We have been in the business of micromanagement. Your government started it, these guys continued it on, and we can't afford to do that any more, particularly when it's needless, so I suggest you take a long, hard look at the complicated process that you started.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Knock if off.

Mr Tilson: Good advice, Mr Speaker.

For activities with predictable environmental effects, Bill 57 delivers a more straightforward approval process with rules that are clear, more efficient and effective. The new process doesn't in any way alter Ontario's existing standards of environmental protection. The environment, we submit, will be protected.

Regulations will be developed for those classes of activities that qualify for the new process and those regulations will be developed with full consultation. Other activities will continue to be subject to the existing process, so the environment will continue to be protected.

I could get into other areas of the bill, but with the time allowed for me I simply do not have that time. I'll leave that for other speakers to participate in this bill. I'm grateful to be allowed the opportunity to speak to this bill at this particular time and I would ask that when the members suddenly realize, particularly in the opposition, what this bill is going to do, they give their full support to the government with respect to this bill.

The Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Wildman: I listened with interest to my friend from Dufferin-Peel. I know of his interest in these matters, but he repeated, as with a mantra, that we can have deregulation -- he didn't use that term but that's what he meant -- and at the same time we can have as effective environmental control.

It's interesting that just recently we've heard from the scientific community that the temperatures in the Mackenzie delta have increased by one degree or perhaps two degrees Celsius in the last number of years. That might not sound like very much but it means, in that part of the world, in the great north of our country, that large expanses of permafrost are being turned into soup because they are melting, substantially changing the ecosystem in that part of the world.

Some might say, "What has this got to do with regulation in Ontario?" It's directly related to the populated areas of the southern part of our country and other parts of North America. The fact is that we are burning microcarbons at a rate that is contributing significantly to global warming and we are seeing a significant detrimental effect on the ecosystems of our globe, and this member says that our government was only interested in regulation. He doesn't understand --

The Speaker: Thank you very much. Minister of Environment.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Tomorrow morning I'm going to meet with environment and energy ministers from across Canada to talk about some of the issues that are being discussed in the Legislature tonight. I say to the former Minister of Environment, who just made some remarks about the lack of concern on this side with regard to the environment of the province, that Ontario is trying to meet the emission standards we had in this province and in this country and in this world in 1990. That is the world mandate for all of us.

When we took power there was an expectation that Ontario would be some 8% to 10% above our emissions in 1990. Through actions we have taken in this province, which we are going to continue to take, we now estimate that we are within 1.2% of our emissions of 1990, and that with some more actions we expect to drop that below the 1% level.

Whereas in some of the other provinces, British Columbia, Saskatchewan -- which quite coincidentally are New Democrat controlled -- they are increasing their emissions, which are going up in percentage and are adding to the problem we have across this country in that the overall emissions for Canada are going up instead of down to the 1990 levels, we in Ontario are trying to do our part, and we hope the other provinces will do as well.

Mme Pupatello : Je suis très heureuse d'être ici dans la Chambre ce soir pour entendre le discours sur le projet de loi 57. Je suis heureuse aussi que le ministre lui-même est ici dans la Chambre pour écouter le discours.

Je veux dire une chose, qu'il n'y a qu'une raison qui va conduire les changements dans le ministère de l'Environnement : la réduction d'impôts pour tous les électeurs de l'Ontario. Pour cette seule raison vous devez faire des coupures aussi grandes dans le ministère de l'Environnement également : une réduction de 50 personnes dans le ministère -- la seule raison.

I look forward to future debates in the next minute or so where I might continue that discussion.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Speaker, it's been a long time in this place since I've heard a speech with such a ludicrous argument. I find it hard to accept that the member for Dufferin-Peel actually believes what he is saying.

We have developed in this province and in this country over the years regulations in response to some major calamities, major disasters, spills of various sorts that have happened. People have gathered around to decide what it is they could do to either improve or stop that from happening again. Then we got to be a bit more progressive in that, so we sat down together -- industry, government, communities and environmentalists -- to see what we could put in place that would prevent in the future accidents of the sort that we've seen happen in the past. That's what we have tried to do over the years, I think ever so intelligently and progressively, in places like Ontario and in Canada.

This government, in its quest to attract to Ontario the many resource-based industries in particular out there that are crawling around the world looking for places to set up business, that have minimal regulations and minimum standards to meet -- you're not suggesting for a second, are you, that that's the kind of industry we want to come to Ontario and set up and to mine or take advantage of the resources that we have to offer? I hope not. If that's what you're proposing, then you're just going to turn Ontario into another Third World jurisdiction where the future doesn't matter, where the environment and the resources that we have don't matter and where people don't matter. That disappoints me.

The Speaker: Response.

Mr Tilson: I'm simply amazed at the comments, particularly of the last member, the member for Sault Ste Marie, some of the comments that he's talking about. I don't understand why he would not support a bill that's trying to rid the system of duplication. Of course we want to protect the environment. Of course you want to protect the environment. We all want to protect the environment. For you to stand there and say that we don't want to protect the environment is just unbelievable. We want to do that. Mr Sterling, the Minister of Environment, is here in the House and that's exactly what he's trying to do with his bill. He's trying to rid the system of some of the duplication and regulations that aren't needed.

Some of these systems have been tried for years. You know what's required to do certain things. To have a certificate of approval required for a ventilating fan, I think even you would admit that's not required. So why would you make people go through that awful expense and time and effort, whether you're a business or whether you're government, to obtain that when you don't need it? You set out the requirements, and if you can't meet those requirements, you can't have your ventilating fan. Why not just do that? Why make people spend all this money and effort?

That's what Mr Sterling, the Minister of Environment, is trying to do, and with that, he will obtain the resources, because there are all kinds of things that governments in the past decade in particular have ignored or haven't followed through. You need many resources to assist in those particular areas. Mr Sterling is going to save on that duplication and waste and he's going to direct it to areas where it's needed to protect the environment of this province. I congratulate him for bringing this bill forward.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Pupatello: I am pleased to speak on Bill 57, which is an environmental approvals act concerning the Ministry of Environment. I'm especially pleased too to have the minister himself here to listen to the concerns of the people we represent in Her Majesty's loyal opposition.

Je veux dire dès le début que c'est une loi très symbolique de l'attitude du gouvernement à l'égard de l'environnement. Je vois aussi dans les sondages que les priorités de la population de l'Ontario n'occupent pas une très haute place aujourd'hui comparé à il y a cinq ans, mais c'est la responsabilité du gouvernement d'aujourd'hui de garder l'environnement pour nous et aussi pour l'avenir --

M. Bradley: Mais oui.

Mme Pupatello : -- pour les enfants, pour l'avenir.

M. Bradley: Mais oui. I agree with you.

Mrs Pupatello: You have to understand that our member for St Catharines is being very encouraging in this other language, so I appreciate his intervention, and he completely threw me off my script there.

Ce projet de loi 57 est symbolique d'une attitude qui est très mauvaise pour toute la population de l'Ontario. Je m'excuse d'avoir ri pour un moment. C'est un sujet très important non seulement pour les personnes qui le savent déjà mais pour toute la population, pour ceux qui ont dit il y a cinq ans, «Oui, l'environnement est très important.»

Aujourd'hui, parce que l'économie est peut-être un peu bas, parce qu'il y a une grande inquiétude pour trouver du travail, nous voyons dans les sondages que l'environnement n'a pas une place très haute ; peut-être occupe-t-il la cinquième ou sixième place dans les priorités des électeurs de la province. En même temps, c'est la responsabilité du gouvernement conservateur d'aujourd'hui de garder l'environnement.

I would like to say that the one thing that is driving this minister and that is driving this government to seek -- Mr Speaker, you're making it very difficult for me.

Mr Wettlaufer: He would have had to really speak French.

Mrs Pupatello: Or perhaps our member for St Catharines would like to continue.

In any event, I must say that there is one thing that is driving the cuts to the Ministry of Environment, and that is the tax cut. As we said earlier, it is the one thing that is driving the agenda regardless of the bill and regardless of the ministry we are talking about. The level of cuts that the ministry has sustained and will continue to sustain will total, in 1997, 50%. That means the minister simply will not have the personnel to follow through on the level of regulation they had, so it seems quite palatable to them to change the law and to change the requirements that companies and industry must follow, because they don't even have the personnel to follow them through. In fact, in some of the areas under the Minister of Environment, he will have one inspector for the entire province, hardly sufficient, in particular when we're looking at industries that can have potentially major detrimental impacts on the environment.

So I find it particularly interesting to listen to the member for Dufferin-Peel, because he likes to speak the line of the government that Bill 57 is simply streamlining. If it were truly streamlining, you wouldn't find opposition members opposed to that, because all of us have had experience of a bureaucracy that can be improved and of acts that were so old when they were first initiated that they must be updated. If that were the case, if it were simply a matter of streamlining, why then two weeks ago tomorrow did the minister fail to participate in a demonstration rally that was held outside his office where you had several environmental groups come --

Hon Mr Sterling: Too cold.

Mrs Pupatello: The minister says it was cold. I'm sorry it was cold. It was snowing, but I was there. You seem to be made of much tougher stuff, but I could be wrong. In any event, you should have come.

Hon Mr Sterling: Actually, I was down here.

Mrs Pupatello: You were down here?

Hon Mr Sterling: No, no. They invited me the day before.

Mrs Pupatello: No, the reality is, Minister, you chose not to come to the rally, not to speak to people who are truly interested in the environment. These are people who dedicate many, many hours of their volunteer time to express their interests and their views to a minister who decides to turn a deaf ear, who decides to say, "The tax cut is more important than my ministry," who offers up his ministry as a sacrificial lamb to his Premier on his knees to say: "Here, take 50% of my ministry. Find the reductions in government by taking 50% of my ministry. We can afford it. It is not a priority of a Conservative government." That is in fact what the minister has done and it is clear: By the year 1997 you will have lost 50% of your ministry.


The unfortunate thing is I have met the people who work and live and breathe, quite frankly, for the minister and in the bureaucracy of the ministry. These are people who have dedicated their studies and who have dedicated their working career so far to the protection of the environment. The difficulty for them is that all of a sudden we had an election on June 8, 1995, and after that election all of a sudden they simply weren't appreciated. Here we have very hardworking women and men who have dedicated years of civil service to the protection of the environment and all of a sudden they realize they're faced with individuals in charge who simply are not interested that they've been doing a good job. Unfortunately this has been a continuing attitude in many ministries.

We've certainly seen that effect in the area of health. I was particularly struck by the chosen words of the member for Dufferin-Peel tonight when he said previous governments selected to micromanage the government. Nothing struck me as quite so ironic as that: micromanage. Let's have a look at the ex-Minister of Health's record. Was what he did since his installation as minister not micromanaging when he decided to rip up the contract with the Ontario Medical Association, which acted as spokesperson for the doctors in Ontario, and when he also chose to deal directly with 23,000 doctors -- specialists, family practitioners -- in exchange for that? You don't call that micromanaging? That is the epitome of micromanaging. Not only that, he wasn't doing well at it either. In fact he still hasn't settled the deal. Now, at the most convenient time, he chooses to leave his post, and now we have a minister who's the Chair of Management Board, who seems to be sitting on two chairs.

I remember well a story my father always told me: "Be careful not to sit on too many chairs because you'll end up on the floor." That is my fear. The one thing we can hardly afford to land on the floor with is health. The minister is looking with some shock. What could this have to do with Bill 57? He might suggest that I'm digressing, but it's highly relevant.

I'd like to suggest to the Minister of Health that he take a look -- in fact I think I'm going to take particular attention and send you a copy of a study. It's actually the final draft copy. Minister, it's called Improving Community Health: The Draft Final Report of the Community Rationalization and Enhancement Project. In this report the district health council has outlined significant concerns in the area of health in the county of Essex. They started with a description of the health profile of the county:

"From 1991-95, Windsor-Essex county population, estimated in 1991" was at a certain level. "The proportion of single-parent families was slightly higher than that of the province. The proportion of institutionalized seniors has declined....

"There is a substantial number of low-income people in Windsor-Essex county. Relatively higher unemployment among youth is a significant issue.

"Fewer Windsor-Essex county residents feel a high sense of wellbeing compared to the province as a whole." Perhaps the minister is beginning to see the connection here. "A lower literacy rate has significant implications for employment opportunities and associated negative health outcomes, as well as for how health programs and services are delivered."

If I may asterisk the next point for the minister: "Air quality, water quality and levels of UV radiation pose significant potential risks to Windsor-Essex county residents. Air quality in particular is of concern in comparison with other parts of the province. In addition, the relative lack of green space may have a significant effect."

Minister, if I may suggest the link between your ministry and the protectionist stand that your ministry should be taking and its relevance to the health of Ontario residents, if I may tell you a significant concern of the community leaders in the area of health in my county, one of them is air quality: "Water quality and levels of UV radiation pose significant potential risks to Windsor-Essex county residents. Air quality in particular is of concern in comparison with other parts of the province. In addition, the relative lack of green space may have a significant effect." Health is highly relevant to the environment, and if you haven't known that perhaps you haven't been in your ministry long enough.

I'd like to tell the House a story of an incident that happened in my community several years ago; more than a decade now. At that time I was a very young girl. I was a very young girl when the Liberals were in government here in Ontario, and I read about these things in the newspaper.

Mr Bradley: You were 13 at the time.

Mrs Pupatello: I was about 13. I was a little older than 13. Nevertheless, I do have an interesting story for you. If you're familiar with where I come from at all, the city of Windsor banks on the Detroit River. Across the Detroit River is the city of Detroit and in the middle is a little island called Zug Island -- île de Zug -- and on Zug Island is an incinerator. All of us who grew up in the city of Windsor knew that at that time Windsor had some significant issues concerning air quality. You could see the smoke stacks, blue and black, that came over. Depending on which way the wind blew, it would come over and we could smell it where we lived in Windsor. This was Detroit and it was a Detroit industry, but nevertheless, it had a significant impact in Windsor. Depending on the temperature, on the humidity, on the smog level, everything the incinerator pushed out had a significant impact on our quality of life.

At that time, our city councillors, our mayors were up in arms; not only that, the residents were. There used to be stories about waking up in the morning and finding things: film on your car from the obvious air pollution that would drift over from Detroit.

Mrs Marland: I can get that from St Lawrence Cement.

Mrs Pupatello: Well, St Lawrence Cement certainly wasn't there. We're talking about Zug Island here.

The relevance of the story is that thankfully we had a change in government in Ontario, and after 1985 we finally had a Liberal Minister of the Environment who was truly interested in concerns for air pollution. When he heard what was happening in Windsor, he was extremely concerned. Let's remember, back then we had a mayor in the city of Detroit and his name was Mayor Coleman Young. He was there for about 25 years, a great big guy who was known for having a pretty tough reputation. He used to drive around in a black limo with two bodyguards and the bodyguards had pistols under each arm. It was really out of a movie.

Our Minister of the Environment in Ontario was well aware of what was going on in that incinerator, that there were things happening on that island that would never happen in Ontario under a Liberal environment minister. But it was happening in Detroit and Detroit was another country.

What did happen was that in fact the Liberal Minister of the Environment paid a secret visit to the city of Windsor, in the stealth of the night. It was under great secrecy, this veil. In fact, he met the mayor of the city of Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young, and they met at the Alan Manor -- at that time it was Maison Girardeau -- on the west side, on Mill Street. It's been renovated now and turned into a wonderful training facility for young students who are learning to cook and doing apprenticeship programs there. At that time it was a very well-known Turkish restaurant. They met in the dark of the night.

Again, our minister showed up, and of course, being the ever-jovial type he is, he had an assistant from the ministry, but no great fanfare. But the mayor of Detroit showed up in his black limo with his two big bodyguards with the pistols under their coats, and they sat and had a chat. If you knew the Liberal Minister of the Environment, you knew he could carry on a conversation with the best of them. They talked about the Red Wings and the Pistons and they talked about hockey and football and the conversation was going along swimmingly. Then over dessert -- I would imagine it was dessert -- they finally decided to discuss why they called the secret meeting. Suddenly the Minister of the Environment under a Liberal government said: "That incinerator needs scrubbers. You're killing the people who live in my province." The mayor from Detroit was ballistic. He was apoplectic about it. "No guy from Windsor, no guy from the city of Toronto is going to come down and tell me how to run my city." That was his response.


Mr Froese: He's from St Catharines.

Mrs Pupatello: That's right. Well, he wouldn't have known he was from St Catharines. In any event, no one is going to tell this Detroit mayor how to run his business in Detroit.

Mr Duncan: He used a few other adjectives.

Mrs Pupatello: He did. In fact, expletives added, because he was actually quite a colourful character. You could imagine how our minister was going to maintain himself under those circumstances. The end result was that our minister said very simply, "If you don't do it, we will see you in court," and never before had a Liberal minister, or a minister in the history of the Ontario Legislature, had the nerve to take on Mayor Coleman Young and any other big city mayor that didn't have the attitude of protecting the environment. It took the courage of a Liberal minister to do that.

Let me tell you that when you grew up in the city of Windsor, you could watch the marked change in the quality of the environment, in the quality of the air and in the quality of the water. What I do know is at that time I might have been reading about it in the newspapers and, as I said, I was quite young at the time. In any event, years later I came into this House and realized that our current House leader, the member for St Catharines, was that Liberal minister at that time and now I can hear the inside story about what really happened during that event. All I knew as a resident of Windsor was that the air was markedly improved and that the water was markedly improved.

Our industries in our community have realized their responsibility and they are very devoted members of a green community today. Windsor is a far different place than it was 20 years ago or 10 years ago. All you need to do is come to see us. We have the most wonderful parkland. We have the most wonderful riverfront. In fact, close to our riverfront we have the Great Lakes Institute, right in the heart of my riding, which, by the way, should have been a federal-provincial project.

But again, when the Great Lakes Institute -- and for those who want more information, that is an institute that does research for the world. It does research for industry, it does research for Third World countries, it does research for green technologies, and any of us who follow what the trend line is in companies of the future, those are the green industries, and that kind of research is happening right in my riding at the Great Lakes Institute, thanks to the vision of the people at the University of Windsor and of Herb Gray at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. But no thanks, I'll tell you, to this Ontario government because the first statement that was presented by this government in your first November in office was to cut $3 million that was dedicated to purchase the London building to renovate it because it had been donated by a private sector, by London Life, and they just about killed the project. If it wasn't for the innovation of the leaders in my community and the doctors who are running that project, it would have been long gone.

So I say to the minister tonight, I wish you had the courage that our minister had in 1985. I wish you had the courage today to stand up and say: "Yes, our government is about cost-cutting. Yes, our government is about giving a tax cut." But, for heaven's sake, when you present Bill 57, don't do it on the pretence of streamlining. Don't do it on the pretence of your doing something good for the companies. Just tell it like it is. Have the nerve to say it like it is. Just tell the truth and say, "I need to cut 50% of my ministry because I'm going to fund the almighty tax cut." That's what you should have the nerve to say, but you don't have the courage.

That is the greatest disappointment I've had since my tenure here in these last 16 months, that you have created a façade, this government has. It has been a great disappointment. You have created a façade that everything you do is somehow in the interests of better efficiency. The ex-health minister is not going to sit in this House now and talk to me about better efficiency. When we look at what he has done to my community in Essex county, it is a disgrace that any minister of the crown be allowed to behave the way he has. He should have gotten the boot a long time ago for what he did to my community.

You want to talk about health: We received calls this week because, all of a sudden, the specialists are tired. This big incident, or this big leakage, the only reason he has gone is because somebody found out. It's not as if the minister hadn't known this before. I would guarantee that. The reality is, he was found out. He had taken information he shouldn't have had and no one chose at any time to speak about the validity of the doctors, the neurosurgeons, who took their time to come to Queen's Park and hold a press conference that day.

One of those doctors was Dr Anita North, and she comes from Windsor. She came to one of the events I had hosted in my community and when she arrived at the door we said: "What are you doing here? You can hardly have the time for this kind of event." She said: "I have to. I have to talk to you about what's going on." This was last fall in my community, because that's how long it's been going on. It's been going on longer than that.

Even Dr Anita North, who usually sleeps at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital -- there are only two neurologists in my community, so they barely get time to sleep; one or the other is always on call. There is the longest list in the world for people who require surgery and any kind of neuro work at all, and yet she was at this press conference. She took the time, let alone to have a press conference but to make the trip to Toronto to do so, which for her, given her commitment to her job, I can tell you was extreme. She was that dedicated to make such a point and make such an impression on government to say, "What you're doing is wrong."


Mrs Pupatello: You're wishing I was finished.

All of this week in my constituency office we've had a change in the tone of calls that we're facing in regard to health issues. I have a suspicion that is happening to members opposite as well. There was always great concern and there was always a lot of compassion for our doctors because our doctors have always been under extreme pressure in Essex county, but this week people are becoming angry, and today we had our first act of violence in my city against the doctors. People were throwing rocks. While that may not seem serious to you, that is actually a significant change and it tells us that it's time to stop this nonsense. It's time to get down to the table and finish it.

I don't want to hear platitudes out of this government any more. I don't want to have to stand up in the House every day and talk about this long list of pregnant women in my office who still do not have good obstetrical care. Some don't have an obstetrician at all. Some -- nine of them now -- have already gone across to the United States. And you, the people who want to issue this massive tax cut, are the same gang that is supportive of costing five to six times more for health care in the United States than right here in our home province. That is just absurd.

Mr Bradley: And they're trying to close hospitals in St Catharines.

Mrs Pupatello: We should speak about the closure of hospitals in St Catharines. There are members opposite who are having a terrible time right now with health issues in their community. Let me tell you, it's off the rails, and all of this is driven by the tax cut. If we think

of the 50% cut in the Ministry of Health, this is just the beginning.

What we saw a couple of weeks ago was the Minister of Finance, with great fanfare, announce absolutely nothing when he was supposed to introduce some kind of a budget. The reality is the government is looking for $3-billion more to cut and they don't know where.

The people are starting to realize that perhaps the government doesn't know what it's doing and that the answers and the governing of the province is not as simple as just little adages and throwing out little sayings and proverbs and "simple is better." Now you're in the chair to govern and you're having a little bit of difficulty doing it; hence the announcement that was an announcement of absolutely nothing. Two weeks ago the Minister of Finance was embarrassed when he had to go before the reporters and say: "Why don't I have anything new to announce? We don't quite know what we're doing over here." That was the answer.


Mrs Pupatello: Absolutely. I'm hoping that some of you find this a little bit amusing. I can tell you I don't. We've got some significant concerns here that you ought to appreciate.


Mr Bradley: The judge is out of order.

Mrs Pupatello: Yes, the judge. I believe you're from Ottawa-Rideau. You think you'd know better.

The Speaker: Order. Government members, quite a few of you aren't in your seats. I'd prefer you didn't heckle. It's a very short time to the end. It would make it a lot easier to get through.

Mrs Pupatello: The member for Ottawa-Rideau, let me tell you, when that health restructuring commission is finished with your city, you won't be sitting across from me and laughing any more because you will see exactly what happened in the city of Sudbury, in the city of Thunder Bay, and it's going to roll right through the city of Ottawa. We'll see how smart you are that day. Let me tell you that when you come from my city and after you have been --

The Speaker: Point of order.


The Speaker: Member for Ottawa-Rideau, hold it. I haven't even recognized you. Point of order, member for Ottawa-Rideau.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Not to worry, Dalton's got everything under control.

The Speaker: I can make a ruling quickly. That was not a point of order. Go ahead, member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mrs Pupatello: Maybe the people in this House spent a little too much time at the press gallery party that you're finding things a little more funny tonight than you ordinarily do. But let me tell you that when we break for this Christmas session and you --

The Speaker: Order. It being 12 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 2400.