36th Parliament, 1st Session

L147 - Mon 20 Jan 1997 / Lun 20 Jan 1997





















































The House met at 1331.




Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Last Thursday on Highway 401 near my home a transport truck lost a part, which bounced into the path of a vehicle. The car is a write-off and the driver was taken to the hospital with three broken fingers.

In the midst of the media storm created by government inaction on truck safety, followed by several serious accidents over the Christmas break, the Premier personally promised to do whatever it takes to get unsafe trucks off the road. This is not a problem which only occurs in the GTA or the Golden Horseshoe; it happened on Thursday near Merlin, Ontario.

The government is so busy restructuring the face of Ontario, making mega-announcements, spending mega-dollars on advertising and dumping mega-responsibilities on to municipalities that it doesn't have the time to solve the road safety problems and protect innocent drivers.

This is another example of the government's rhetoric on safety: In the past five years 10 children have died in school bus accidents because of inadequate laws.

My private member's bill will protect children riding school buses. However, as with truck safety, the government is ignoring the real actions necessary for school bus safety by stalling and refusing to schedule my bill in the standing committee on resources development, which currently has no other business before it. I call on the Premier to protect Ontario school children by immediately calling Bill 78 to the standing committee on resources development.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Last Friday MPPs were sent more information from the Attorney General, pretending that things are under control at the family support plan. Nothing could be further from the truth. The memo asked MPPs to encourage constituents to contact the program directly in order to discuss their case with a client service associate.

At 10:10 this morning my assistant dialled 1-800-267-4330, as instructed. The phone rang busy and the line went dead on two attempts. She then called the automated information system for payment information for a client. She dialled 1-800-267-7263, as instructed. The message said that if she wanted to speak to an operator directly, to call the same line that went dead this morning. The message then advised clients to enter "1" for payment information, "2" for enforcement information, and then it said, "If you have any new information, for example, regarding the support payor's place of employment, please write to the regional office where your case is registered," the same regional offices that were closed by this minister in mid-August.

The memo did not include 1-800-830-4353. This is the number to call for information on compensation if you've incurred additional costs as a result of late payments. While the Attorney General had to give me the number last week in response to a question, it was not given to MPPs in the package last Friday because the minister doesn't want clients to have it, because he doesn't want to pay them.

The crisis at the family support plan continues, and the minister's incompetence in dealing with the changes continues too.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I rise with a plea of support for a community in my riding that is in a state of emergency.

On January 8 the town of Durham was forced to evacuate many residents and businesses after ice blocked the Saugeen River and flooded the town. Two hundred and fifty residents, or 10% of the population, were displaced from their homes, many of whom will be unable to return home until spring or summer.

Thank you to my colleague the honourable Dianne Cunningham for travelling to Durham last week. Local officials were grateful to have a member of cabinet witness the situation first hand. Both the minister and I were overwhelmed by the flood damage, and despite snow and subzero temperatures, the volunteer effort has been exceptional. My personal thanks to these individuals.

Today the flooding is under control but the battle is far from over. The time and money required to rebuild will be massive, and many homeowners do not have insurance. Unlike a tornado, flooding is not a standardized insurance hazard, thus many will suffer a large financial burden. This morning I learned that estimates show personal property damage in excess of $1 million. This far exceeds local relief abilities.

As a result the council of the town has requested aid under the Ontario disaster relief assistance program. I support this request and I am confident our government will see fit to match local effort. Also, the Ontario municipal support grant allows the minister to make a grant or loan to a municipality in circumstances beyond its control and of an unusual nature. I believe the town of Durham warrants such consideration.

Finally, there is much work to be done. Donations to the relief fund are being accepted at many locations.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I rise today to introduce the members of this House to one of my constituents, who is with us in the gallery today. A Thunder Bay resident, Veronica Manuel has fought for years to keep her severely disabled son Dylan at home. Through all the challenges that Dylan faces daily, he has one very special champion: his mother.

Veronica's message to all members of this House is that despite her love for her son and her desire to keep him at home, this government's cuts and cruel policies have set up the system so that she will fail.

At the request of the Liberal caucus, the social development committee will begin hearings today that will provide an opportunity for groups and individuals from across the province to bring their belief in the importance of disability services to Queen's Park.

These hearings are pretty much the only way we can bring forward the significant damage this government has caused through its cuts since taking office 18 months ago. It's becoming abundantly clear that many of their cuts, ranging from user fees for the Ontario drug benefit plan to the recent complete dumping of services like Wheel-Trans and Handi-Transit in Thunder Bay to municipalities, will have a dramatic effect on persons with disabilities.

I want to take the opportunity also to recognize some of the Thunder Bay groups that provide services to persons with disabilities but couldn't be with us today. The Lakehead Association for Community Living, the Organization for the Multi-Disabled, PACE, PUSH Northwest, the Independent Living Centre, the Handicapped Action Group and the George Jeffrey Treatment Centre all provide invaluable service to the Thunder Bay community.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I am today calling on the Harris government to immediately call a coroner's inquest into the deaths of two workers at Dofasco's bayfront steel mill. Two employees of Auburn Industrial Services, a maintenance company contracted for the past six years by Dofasco, died last Friday while performing maintenance work on a tank used to treat molten steel. It is suspected that the two men, one from Hamilton and the other from Burlington, suffocated because of too little oxygen in the tank.

This accident raises grave safety concerns, and the Harris government must immediately call an inquest to get to the bottom of the matter before any more workers are killed. How do other workers and their families know it won't be them next time?

The United Steelworkers of America, Local 4153, which represented the two workers, is also calling for a coroner's inquest. This accident needs a thorough investigation that includes the full participation of the United Steelworkers of America.

I conclude by offering the condolences of my colleagues in the New Democratic caucus to the families and friends of those workers who were injured in the line of their work.



Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): Today the world pauses to remember and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr, and reflect on the ideals for which he struggled and for which he died.

As minister of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr King was catapulted into international prominence as the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. He founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to spearhead non-violent mass demonstrations against racism. Dr King's campaigns were instrumental in the passage of the US Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and 1968.

As a result of his activism, Dr King lived in constant danger. His home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed and he was jailed 30 times. Despite all this, Dr Martin Luther King Jr remained true to his code of non-violence.

After delivering his greatest prophetic sermon at Washington Cathedral on March 31, 1968, Dr King was brutally murdered by an assassin's bullet four days later. A non-violent activist, he died a violent death.

Today Martin Luther King Jr is acclaimed by the world as a martyr, a prophet and patron saint of the human rights movement. Like the biblical Elijah, he went to the mountaintop where, like Moses, he had seen the promised land, and he knew that one day he and all people would be free at last.

I am extremely proud to have personally marched in support of Dr King.

I invite all members of the House to join me in the Martinsday celebrations, organized by the Toronto Martinsday committee, taking place throughout Toronto. May the person and the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Last week the government managed to fire off many, many announcements -- mega-announcements. The reality is that last week's announcements were about dumping costs on to Ontario's cities and towns. City leaders and town leaders have yet to realize the dramatic impact that the dumping of these costs is going to have, but so far they're putting on a brave face. Hardly could we expect that city and county leaders would at this point dare to stand up against a Harris government, seeing as anyone who does that to this heavy-handed group faces regular penalties that it's prepared to dole out to anyone opposed to its agenda.

The real facts are these: The Harris government is dumping huge costs on to cities, towns and counties across Ontario, dumping costs of seniors' homes, roads, buses, welfare, child care, and the list goes on. Whom are they dumping them on? Residential taxpayers. Let's make no mistake about what last week's announcements were about: dumping on to residential taxpayers.

City leaders will be hard-pressed not to raise taxes. Their choices become one of two: They either raise taxes or they cut service. This brings us back to the depression-plagued 1930s. The province had to take back these services. Why? Because Ontario towns couldn't afford them. They were going bankrupt.

Last week's announcement --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.

Interjection: Is that okay?

The Speaker: No, that's not actually.


The Speaker: It may be an announcement, but you can't accuse the government of --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): You cut her off, so it's not in Hansard.

The Speaker: Yes, I cut her off; it's not in Hansard. It doesn't matter; I heard the member for Windsor-Sandwich. I don't know if you know, member for Windsor-Sandwich: You can't accuse the government of perpetrating the big lie.

Interjection: She said the announcements were.

The Speaker: Announcement or not, it's still an accusation. It's out of order.



Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Last week, I received a petition signed by more than 200 students of the Marathon High School in the riding of Lake Nipigon. Truly, this petition is a sad reflection of the current state of education in the province of Ontario. The students state emphatically that the government's cuts are having a negative impact on everyone at the school. They describe outdated textbooks, defective science equipment, inadequate supplies and a poorly heated high school. Last week, the thermometer plunged to a wind chill factor of minus 60. They voice their frustration at this government's indifference to the large student-teacher ratio and the overcrowding of students in small, stuffy classrooms. They do not depict conditions conducive to good learning order.

The culmination of this pent-up frustration will no doubt lead to the inferior education of students, and yet they will be expected to compete and lead this province into the future. These students are eager to face these challenges. They must have a solid education if they are to be well equipped to defend and cope with society in the future. I join the students from the Marathon High School and demand that this government stop the cuts immediately.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): Many constituents are contacting me every day to congratulate this government for its commitment to remove $5.4 billion from the property tax bill and bring in greater accountability and move local services to local governments.

One of the criticisms levelled at this government by the hysterical opposition is that our education reforms will make the public school less democratically accountable. Rory Leishman, of the London Free Press, has this to say about that:

"That's nonsense. Ontario's publicly funded school boards and their bureaucracies could hardly be less accountable than they are already.... It has long been evident that Ontario's publicly funded schools have become intolerably expensive, inefficient and unaccountable to the public. Last year, the Harris government slashed both spending and taxes, only to have 70% of school boards increase their residential taxes once again." He calls what my colleague the Minister of Education and Training is doing "sound reform."

In addition to being out of touch with fiscal reality, as they have been for the past 10 years, the opposition parties are out of touch with what taxpayers and parents want for their children when it comes to education. They should stop blindly defending vested interests and start acting responsibly on behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm sure the members will want to know that in the opposition members' gallery today is, from the previous Legislature, the member for Wentworth North, Mr Don Abel. Welcome very much.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The dust has settled somewhat since mega-week, Minister, and I think it's become clear to all of us that what you did last week was that you lit the fuse on a bomb that's going to cause a property tax explosion right across this province. At the end of the day, last week's announcements meant one thing and one thing alone: Residential property taxpayers are going to be left holding the bag when you saddle them with your decision to dump $1 billion in new costs on their shoulders.

After a week of announcements that were deliberately designed to confuse, but didn't have their effect, will you today come clean and admit that your dumping is going to lead to property tax increases right across Ontario?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the Leader of the Opposition, it is quite the contrary. The announcements we made last week are going to lead to better government. They're going to lead to more consistent decisions. Taking $5.4 billion off the property tax is going to give significant room for municipalities to implement the programs they've been asked to look after. I am sure they can do that, and I'm quite confident that if they do it with the expertise they have within their municipalities, they will be able to reduce taxes.

Mr McGuinty: That's not what people are saying out there, Minister. That's not what people are saying out there. You're not hearing them.

We've done the numbers, we've done the calculations, and they clearly show we're looking at an additional $1 billion in costs that property taxpayers across the province are going to have to pick up. That's even after working in your bail-out fund. You're still over $1 billion short. That's $1 billion in new property taxes.

Take the people of Hamilton. They're going to be $61 million short -- that's $61 million in new property taxes. My community, Ottawa, will be $80 million short -- that's 184 bucks a year in new property tax increases for the average homeowner in the Ottawa area.

Minister, how can you justify dumping over $1 billion in new costs on the backs of hardworking, decent, law-abiding property taxpayers right across the province?

Hon Mr Leach: The Leader of the Opposition says they've developed the numbers. Well, right away I have some suspicion as to the credibility of those numbers. We said last week that we were going to take about $6.4 billion off the property tax and that we would expect the municipalities to be able to absorb a like, equal amount.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Could you speak up, please?

Hon Mr Leach: I'd love to speak out if I could, Sandra, believe me.

We looked at this to be a wash if the municipalities could be able to absorb -- and we're quite confident they can -- through efficiencies any differences that may occur from one municipality to another. There's no doubt that some municipalities are going to be ahead of the game and some municipalities are going to be slightly behind the game, but we're sure that with the fund we've set up to help them, it will all work out as a wash in the end.

Mr McGuinty: I want to say again to the minister, this is not the case of a wash. If the minister has not done the calculations, we have. We're talking about one billion new dollars in additional costs that are going to have to be borne by property taxpayers. The figures are right there in black and white.

My colleague from Ottawa-Vanier was able to speak with four mayors in the Ottawa-Carleton area and they told him quite clearly that, if anything, property taxes were going to go up, not down. It's not just the people in larger cities either who are going to see their property taxes rise: The people in the riding of Prescott-Russell are also going to see the effects of your property tax explosion. You've short-changed them in Prescott-Russell by $23 million.

Minister, stop pretending this is a fair shake. This is not an even swap, it's not a wash. Call it what it is, please: Call it the largest dumping of services on the property taxes this province has ever seen.

Hon Mr Leach: I don't know where they came up with their $1-billion number. It must be from the same people who calculated their days-of-protest crowd.

We have said and we continue to repeat that there are some municipalities whose funding is going to be less than they would like and there are some municipalities that are going to be ahead of the game. That is why we set aside $1 billion of our restructuring fund to assist those municipalities that may require help in this process. It's just for that purpose. We know there are some municipalities, whether they're the municipalities that the member opposite has mentioned or not, I do not know at this point in time, but if there are municipalities that require help, that help will be there.

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

Mr McGuinty: My next question is to the same minister. With respect to that new $1 billion, let's be straight about that: That's a fraud. What we're really talking about here is the same old municipal support grant. It's the same darn thing. You've just given it a new name. There's no new money there.

The second question: If you want to talk about studies, let's home in on some studies here. You've got at least three impact studies on the neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood effects of your property tax changes. Last week we asked the Minister of Finance to release those studies so residential property taxpayers could figure out exactly what the implications of AVA were going to mean to them. He refused.

Minister, why are you keeping those studies, which we know you have, private? Why are you keeping them secret? What do those studies show that makes you so afraid to release them to us?

Hon Mr Leach: I personally don't have any house-by-house impact studies. I think everybody knows, including the opposition, that the numbers for the new assessment system, AVA, were developed by taking the 1992 market value assessment numbers which were published widely across Metropolitan Toronto -- as a matter of fact, it was the reason that Metropolitan Toronto's assessment process went down the tubes by at least $100 million a year. What we did is we took those numbers, factored them up to 1995 and said, "This would be the approximate impact on our neighbourhood study."

The city of Toronto has those numbers, the city of Scarborough has those numbers, the city of North York has those numbers; everybody has those numbers. The only people who probably don't have them are the members of the opposition, and I'm sure that if they looked in their files, they would probably find them.

Mr McGuinty: This is incredible. What we're talking about here is the most significant change in property tax assessment in the history of this province and there have been no impact studies done.

Let's move on to another area where I hope you did some studies. I assume you wouldn't be turning over new responsibilities to our municipalities without first knowing the community-by-community impacts that are going to be felt. Surely you've got to have some idea of the costs that will be incurred by each municipality as a result of your dumping on them. So I'm going to ask you to release that information, as distinct from any AVA studies. Tell us exactly what those studies show. Tell us -- show us -- how your dumping can lead to anything but a property tax explosion right across Ontario.

Hon Mr Leach: I find it strange that the Leader of the Opposition could stand up just two minutes ago and say that they've done all the numbers -- he was quoting municipality-by-municipality numbers -- and then say he doesn't have any information. Where did he get this number? Obviously the information is available to the opposition, or this individual wouldn't be able to produce numbers such as that. Of course, it may be that they're just making them up; I don't know. From the sounds of it, they could well be.

We have said on a number of occasions that some municipalities are going to be slightly ahead as a result of the transfer of responsibilities and some are going to be behind. That's why we're setting up that $1-billion fund.

Mr McGuinty: The only reliable information that's been put forward in this House is our figures. We're not afraid to show these. They're right here in black and white and they clearly show that property taxpayers in Ontario are looking at an additional $1 billion in taxes. Those are the only numbers that are on the table. If you disagree with ours, then put up yours. It's as simple as that.

Since you refuse to release your information, we can only consume our facts, and our facts say you shortchange Ontario taxpayers by $1 billion. Again, for the record, Hamilton-Wentworth, $60 million in new taxes; Ottawa-Carleton, $80 million; Prescott and Russell, $23 million; Metro Toronto, over $378 million short.

Minister, let me see if I've got this straight. Either you have no idea what the costs of your dumping are going to be, or you know exactly what those are and you are refusing to release them. Which is it?

Hon Mr Leach: Again, we're going around this question. We know that we're putting about $6.4 billion on the municipalities. We know that we are taking roughly the same amount off and that --

The Speaker: Order. I can't hear the minister's response. It's just a general din, I think, about the hall here. If I could get some order from all the members, I'd appreciate it. Thank you. Go ahead.

Hon Mr Leach: Just to state it again, we know that by taking $5.4 billion off the property taxes, municipalities are going to have that large window of opportunity to deal with the programs we've asked them to be responsible for; that, along with the $1 billion in additional funding that's going to be made available to those municipalities that need it. I'm sure that all of them will be quite well off when we're finished.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Let's cut right through the baloney. There is no additional $1 billion. You used to have a municipal support grant. You've wiped that out. It came to close to $1 billion. You're now calling it this transition fund. So there's no extra money here. You take away money with the left hand that you say you're giving with the right hand. But when you cut through it, I think the mayors of all the cities in Toronto and Metro Chair Tonks are right, that in terms of Metropolitan Toronto you're going to push down an additional $388 million on to property taxpayers. That's how much you're offloading.

Why don't you just come out and admit it now, Minister? Why don't you admit that Metro taxpayers from across Metro Toronto are going to have to pay for your tax scheme for the wealthy? Why don't you just admit it, be honest about it? Everybody knows it.

Hon Mr Leach: To deal specifically with Metropolitan Toronto, we're taking about $1.3 billion off the property tax by removing education from it. We're asking them to assume a like amount.

The $384 million that has been quoted in the newspaper has some questions about it. I'm not conceding that number is correct, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it is correct. The new city of Toronto is going to have a budget of roughly $7 billion. If anybody can't cut or reduce expenditures by 4%, 5% or 6% out of $7 billion, they shouldn't bother running for election.


The Speaker: Order. Hold on. The member for Oriole. Thank you.

Hon Mr Leach: I hope they'll recall I didn't concede the number was correct, but I'm saying that if it was in that neighbourhood, every government ministry has dealt with cuts of 10%, 20% and 30% from their operating budgets. Any municipality that can't absorb a 4% reduction in spending -- they shouldn't run again.


Mr Hampton: I think the minister just let the cat out of the bag inadvertently. What this is all about is putting health care costs down on municipalities, putting social assistance costs down on municipalities and then saying to municipalities: "You cut. You do the dirty work so the Conservative government can give its wealthy friends a big tax break." That's exactly what it's all about and you just let the cat out of the bag.

The Metro chairman is very forthcoming with his figures. He shows exactly where they're coming from. He shows exactly where this is going to mount up. He shows that over time the health care costs are going to go through the roof. If you doubt their figures, let's see your figures. If you're the government of Ontario and you're so sure all this is going to work, then let's see your figures that give some proof this is going to work without having to cut health care, without having to cut all those other services that have made Toronto a good community to live in. Let's see your numbers.

Hon Mr Leach: To deal with the numbers for Metropolitan Toronto, I saw the list of numbers, the same numbers the leader of the third party got from his research people at the Globe and Mail. The number of $389 million I believe was shown as the cost of social housing. It is shown as a number that is going to be resolutely taken care of at one single point in time. We were very clear to indicate that the cost of social housing, for example, would be phased in over two or three years. A number of the figures quoted there are 1996 numbers, I assume. We have to remember that the cost of education was increasing and continues to increase at about 5% a year. Based just on that number, there will be a $60-million reduction to the municipalities next year and another $60-plus million the year after that; in the next two or three years the savings from education alone will solve that difference.

Mr Hampton: This minister wants to say, "This is what's going to be saved from education." Let's look at what you've pushed down. You've handed Metro Toronto and every other municipality in this province a ticking time bomb in terms of health care costs. In the case of Metro Toronto, there are 50% more seniors per capita in Metro Toronto than elsewhere in the province. In other words, the long-term health care costs are going to go up even faster than education would have gone up.

Let's look at the number of people who need social assistance. They're higher per capita. In other words, that number is going to go up.

Let's look at the social housing numbers. In fact, there's a greater percentage here in Metro Toronto than elsewhere. Those numbers are going to go up.

Look, Minister, everybody else can add. Everybody else looks at the figures, looks at the projections, and knows that what you're doing is pushing down health care, social assistance and housing, and you're going to force municipalities to cut all those things. Why don't you come clean and admit it? Everybody else can see it.

Hon Mr Leach: I don't know where the leader of the third party has been over the last several years, but since this party came into power, welfare costs are declining. They've gone down. That's that one.

Our calculations are that the costs of social services will continue to decline over the next several years. The cost of education would have continued to climb. Social services are continuing to go down. The municipalities are going to end up with about the same amount of financial responsibility as they have now.

The Speaker: New question.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Back to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The municipal affairs minister will know that every government in the western world is worried about the costs of long-term health care. In fact, the Davis government back in 1983-84 started looking at long-term care. What you've tried to do is to push that down on to municipalities. You've tried to push all of those future costs on to municipalities, knowing they'll have to cut health care.

I want you to give people a guarantee today. I want you to give people in Metro Toronto and elsewhere a guarantee that municipalities will not have to cut health care because you forced these very expensive costs on to them.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'm going to refer that question to the Minister of Health.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): Not too popular again, Mr Speaker.

Far from reducing long-term care and far from having a poorer service, the objective in terms of working with municipalities, in terms of having a partnership with municipalities on a 50-50 basis, is that this will allow for the integration of long-term care, that this will result in a greater coordination of long-term care. It is my prediction that we will see a better quality of service and that we will see services tailored to municipalities.

Mr Hampton: Even the chair of the government's health care restructuring committee doesn't agree with that. The chair of the health care restructuring committee has clearly said this is not going to work; it's not going to provide for integration.

I want to go back to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Minister, you've appointed three trustees. This is how a government at the Metropolitan Toronto level gets run by you now: You appoint trustees. In order that we can get some real answers and some real figures, we think these trustees should be answering questions from the press, but you've put a gag order on them. You've told these trustees they are not to talk to the press. It's called accountability, Minister. We can't get any answers from you, so why don't you allow these appointed trustees to at least answer some questions of the press so there can at least be some accountability, some answers to the chaos you're trying to create?

Hon David Johnson: This is a question clearly posed to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and I will ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs to deal with it.

Hon Mr Leach: I read that story in the Toronto Star as well about a gag order being put on the trustees. I have no idea where it came from. It's blatantly untrue. The trustees are free to speak to anyone at any time, anywhere. The only issue that has been of some concern is that the city of Scarborough has launched a legal action against the validity of the trustees, and all members of my ministry and government and the trustees were advised to approach that question with caution. But any other question on any other subject that they're dealing with, they are at liberty to speak to whomever they think it appropriate to speak to.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): That's at least of some help, and we will see how that plays out in terms of, at least while Bill 103 is being debated, the trustees' not being shut out from the public and not being shut out from the media.

There are other aspects of the bill that we have been raising in this House with you as well, particularly around the timing of this bill. I want to again ask you today, will you ensure that the democratic process will be allowed to unfold in such a way that you will not ram through the bill before the referendum takes place in Metropolitan Toronto? Will you ensure that there is ample time for this bill to be debated in committee and that the debate is set up in such a way that you will not try to ram the bill through before the referendum takes place?

Hon Mr Leach: The member opposite has indicated that he wants the public to be heard on this issue. So do we want the public to be heard, and that's why we're asking the opposition parties to assist us in getting this bill through the House as quickly as we can, so that it can go to committee hearings where people will have the opportunity to make deputations, provide input, give whatever criticisms they feel are appropriate. That's the kind of democratic action we would like to see. We want to see this bill get to committee so that the people of this area can have a chance to have their input.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and it has to do with the impact that the moves will have on what historically has been the finest urban area in North America. I would say to you, I don't believe your numbers. You are telling what I regard as -- if I can use this, Mr Speaker -- the big lie in the report.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I appreciate the fact you consulted me, and no, you can't use that. I ask you to withdraw it.

Mr Phillips: I think the public should be very aware. The government has said that it has a $1-billion fund, but what you've neglected to tell people is that you have cut out completely $666 million of another fund, so what we're talking about is $335 million, not $1 billion, and that will have a devastating impact on community after community. The question has to do with Metropolitan Toronto because I think you are going to destroy Metro Toronto.

Firstly, you have added hundreds of millions of dollars of extra cost. Your fund will not come close to covering the cost. You have eliminated something called the business occupancy tax, which is over 15% of the revenue. You could not have made a decision of this magnitude without having the numbers before you. My question is very clearly this: Will you agree today to release the impact on Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Again, the numbers that the opposition has put forward indicate something in the neighbourhood of $300 million. When the new city of Toronto is set up, it will have a budget of roughly $7 billion. We're asking the municipalities to work with us. We have an opportunity when we set up that new city to set best-practice standards that we're convinced will save substantial amounts of money, certainly far more than 4% or 5% of their operating budget.

Mr Phillips: What I just heard you say is that you expect that property taxes in Metropolitan Toronto could go up by as much as 10%. If you are suggesting that the increased cost you have loaded on to the municipality is $280 million or $290 million, that for the residential taxpayer is an increase of over 10%.

It is extremely important for the property taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto to see your numbers. Will you agree today to release the study that indicates that you have support for a conclusion you have already reached that there are substantial savings and we won't see a 10% increase in property tax in Metropolitan Toronto? Will you release those numbers today?

Hon Mr Leach: We released that report some time ago. It was the KPMG report that indicated that with the establishment of a single city there would be a saving of roughly $865 million --


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: They indicated they would save $865 million over three years and $300 million every year thereafter. That's net of the implementation costs. That report is out for the opposition to use.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): My question is to the same minister, that of municipal affairs. Minister, last week, yourself and other colleagues in your government were boldly saying to the people of Ontario that they can expect a tax decrease in the order of some 10%. Al Tonks says that with an inventory of 100,000 social housing units, it would be an impossible situation. Mel Lastman, who stood to benefit, said, "If we are forced to pay 50% of welfare as well as child care, we will go broke." Terry Mundell, chair of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, says, "We can no longer protect property taxpayers."

Minister, are you saying that three years down the line property taxpayers of the province of Ontario can expect to pay 10% less than what they're paying today?

Hon Mr Leach: To repeat, with the municipalities being relieved of $5.4 billion off the property tax, an amount that's growing by 5% a year, by assuming costs of programs that in some cases are reducing, as the Minister of Finance said last week and I concur with him, if the municipalities are prudent in their application of being relieved of that heavy burden on the property tax, it's quite within the realm of possibility that they could reduce taxes by as much as 10%, yes.

Mr Pouliot: Minister, please stop dancing. This is bad opium you sell through your numbers. First you say that taxes will not go up because of efficiencies at the municipal level, and then you say taxes will go down by 10% because of the same efficiencies. That's double counting. You can't have it eight different ways. Minister, come clean. You don't know what you're talking about. We have our own calculation that proves that what you're saying and what you're hoping for while you keep your toes and your fingers crossed is that if you take today's trend and compound it for three to four years, taxes would have been so much, and then what you do is you conveniently duck 10% of what it would have been. This is very thinly veiled. This is a charade that does not even convince children. People don't believe their taxes will go down. They believe you're dumping on them with more responsibilities and more taxes. Come clean and tell the truth, Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: The member opposite said that we said there wouldn't be any tax increases. That's absolutely correct. And then we said there's a possibility that if the municipalities apply good processes and work efficiently with the programs they've been asked to be responsible for, they should be able to reduce taxes. I don't see anything inconsistent with those two statements whatsoever.



Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, in a recent article in the Toronto Star, it reported reductions of air monitoring stations in Brampton, Markham and Mississauga. I would like the minister to please comment on the validity of what was reported and clarify the ministry's position regarding Ontario's air quality.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Thank you very much, because I consider this a serious matter because of not only the factual incorrectness of the article but also the inference that it made.

The article incorrectly claims that air pollution monitoring no longer exists in Markham and Brampton. Number one, there has never been permanent air pollution index quality monitoring in Markham. Number two, there is a site in Stouffville which not only is operating but also recently has been upgraded to state-of-the-art monitoring for ozone. In Brampton, there are four monitoring sites which remain at the Brampton Brick site. While the article claims that there is only one station in Mississauga, there are in fact seven stations in Mississauga. As well, there is also an extensive air study being conducted by Petro-Canada in Clarkson, thanks in great part to the member for Mississauga South. As the Minister of Environment, I want to ensure that air quality is at the top of our priority list.

Mr Spina: In addition to the permanent air monitoring sites, what other initiatives is the ministry undertaking to protect air quality across the province?

Hon Mr Sterling: I think it's important to note that in addition to the permanent air quality monitoring stations, we have as well mobile emergency response capability; we have air monitoring mobile units as well to go across the province to measure the air quality in different areas.

We are also focusing for the first time in 20 years, because of the lack of previous governments' concern over air quality, on the setting of standards, as pointed out by the Provincial Auditor of this province. We have also indicated that we are examining very seriously a vehicle inspection maintenance program to deal with vehicle emissions. We are moving more aggressively with regard to air quality in this province than any previous government has ever done.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Chairman of Management Board. I was just reviewing the Hansards of some of the questions that your friends Ernie Eves and Mike Harris, when they were in opposition, asked about "blatant" government advertising. You were labelling the NDP advertising as that.

Today, when you are spending over $2 million of hard-earned taxpayers' dollars on self-serving government propaganda at a time when you are cutting essential services and closing hospitals in this province, how can you possibly justify the expenditure of well over $2 million on self-serving, partisan government propaganda?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I would assume that when the Premier and the Minister of Finance were concerned about blatant advertising, they may have been thinking of some $22.3 million spent in 1990-91 by the government of the day, of which the member opposite was a representative. I know the member opposite is concerned that the government in 1990-91 spent $22.3 million on advertising through the ministries, and I will assure the member opposite that this government will spend considerably less money than that $22.3 million.

Mr Bradley: Every time the taxpayers of this province turn on their television sets and see one of your self-serving government ads or open a newspaper or listen to the radio and hear or see this government propaganda, they should know that their hard-earned tax dollars are going to this despite the fact that you characterize yourself as a penny-pinching government that watches tax dollars.

The people of Ontario are also interested in fairness. At a time when an important debate is taking place, you are abusing your government position to spend all of this money to put forward a case which is clear government propaganda.

Minister, will you do the right thing? Will you today order the withdrawal of all these blatant propaganda ads and return to the people of this province some $2.350 million of their dollars that you are spending to further your own case?

Hon David Johnson: Notwithstanding the fact that previous governments, both NDP and Liberal, have spent considerably more on advertising than this government will spend, it is a good question. This government is leading by example and this government believes that the members of the government --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Government members, order. Minister?

Hon David Johnson: The people of Ontario have every right to know that this government is leading by example. We have reduced the number of MPPs from 130 to 103. We have reduced the compensation of the members of this Legislature. We have, as the first government, I think, ever in the history of government, actually spent our own party money, some $800,000, on advertising. We did not put that to the taxpayers of Ontario to pay and we are reducing the costs of government so that all the people in the economy will benefit.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. You will know that in 1989 Rizzo Shoes in Brantford went bankrupt, putting over 800 workers out of work. The previous government fought on behalf of those workers, these non-union workers, for six years through the courts to get them the termination pay they're entitled to.

In the summer of 1995, just a couple of months after you took power, you very quietly abandoned this claim and abandoned these workers. One of them is here today, Mr Creador, and he's listening very carefully to your answers. When you abandoned that claim, the Canadian Labour Congress stepped in because of the importance and provided the funding to hire lawyers to continue that case in front of the Supreme Court. Last month, in what must be a major embarrassment for you and your ministry, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled they would allow the appeal and waive the time lines.

Minister, my question to you is this: Will you today admit your mistake, apologize to Mr Creador and the other workers there and announce that you'll rejoin this case and fight for those workers like you should have been doing in the first place?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As the member knows, we are taking many actions on behalf of workers in this province, and I would simply indicate to you that since this issue is currently before the courts, I am obviously not in a position to make any further comments about the specifics of this case.

Mr Christopherson: What a joke of an answer, because this is about your abandoning these workers. It's not about the case. What we want to know today and what the workers have a right to know is, why did you abandon them? Why did you leave them high and dry? In fact, you didn't even tell them; you didn't notify them that you were dropping it. You notified no one. Why didn't you do that? Apologize to those workers. Don't hide behind some flim-flam argument about the merits of the case. Announce today that in light of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, you will stand up and fight for those workers like you ought to have been doing from the beginning. Announce that today, Minister.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I simply indicate to you once again that we are doing and taking many reforms on behalf of workers in this province and already we've seen some new job opportunities for workers.

I think I need to remind you of the fact that there was a change made under Bill 7. Bill 7 clarified and strengthened the right of employees under the Employment Standards Act to claim termination and severance pay in situations where their employers had become insolvent.



Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is for the Attorney General. I understand that at the end of last year the new director of the special investigations unit, André Marin, concluded a very serious investigation into a motor vehicle accident in my part of the province. This investigation was completed in just 30 days. Could the minister inform the House what time lines the taxpayers of Ontario can expect in the very large number of cases before the special investigations unit? After years of long delays in similar investigations, the public in my part of the province welcomes the speedy result of this investigation. Could the minister inform the House of the timetable for other investigations?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I thank the member for Nepean for the question. Since the government appointed André Marin as the permanent director of the SIU at the end of September, the unit has made significant strides in its performance. I have received 86 reports in just over the last 70 working days.

As you're aware, the unit is responsible for handling very sensitive investigations. The new director has been attacking the caseload on two fronts: first, by reducing the number of outstanding cases, and second, by instituting new internal policies that streamline the investigative procedures and processes, allowing for a high quality of investigation to be completed within 30 days.

Mr Baird: Given that in the past some special investigations unit investigations have taken up to two years to complete, could the Attorney General update the House on the current status of the total SIU caseload?

Hon Mr Harnick: When I first became the Attorney General, decisions within the SIU could often take up two years. I'm pleased to report that the SIU no longer has a backlog situation with respect to the current caseload. As of January 13, 1997, the total number of active cases in the unit was 17. I'm pleased by the progress Mr Marin has made in completing cases. Providing decisions quickly will help restore the confidence of communities across Ontario in the SIU.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. We've been hearing for the last week or so the rhetoric coming out of your government regarding the impact of this massive mega-dumping that you're putting on to municipalities across Ontario. Reality is going to set in. Municipalities are starting to see very clearly the impact your dumping is having on them.

In Hamilton-Wentworth, the latest figures we have are that your additional costs to the taxpayers of my region -- and the numbers will actually go up -- are now $69 million. That equals an almost 25% tax increase, 25% more in municipal taxes. You sit there and smirk. I'll show you the numbers in a second, because it is reality because of what you have done.

You have talked about the fund. You have talked about the $1 billion. Very simply, can you guarantee today to the residents of Hamilton-Wentworth that you will cover every single cent in additional costs as a result of your municipal dumping on the region?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I don't know whether the numbers the member has quoted take into consideration the vast amount we're taking off the education tax. I assume they do. I don't think any municipality where we're asking them to deliver certain hard services such as transit or parks is anywhere near a 45% increase in property taxes. As we've said earlier, we're quite confident that if the municipalities, with the window that's open to them with the reduction of $5.4 billion off the education tax, implement the services we're now asking them to provide, they will in fact be able to reduce taxes.

Mr Agostino: You've not opened the window, Minister. You've blown the roof off the house; you're going to blow the roof off municipalities across this province. You've talked about a fair shake. Well, this is a shakedown. You're shaking down municipal taxpayers to benefit your tax cut.

Minister, I have an invoice for you of $69 million that you owe to the people of Hamilton-Wentworth --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Hamilton East, you're out of order. Would you like to continue?

Mr Agostino: Minister, it's very simple: Your government, which is a master of deception, has deceived the people of Ontario. You will not deceive the people of --

The Speaker: Order. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: Thank you, Mr Speaker. With all the rhetoric that was going on over there --

Mr Agostino: -- $69 million.

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton East, I'm warning you to come to order.


The Speaker: I am not arguing with you. Come to order.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Sixty-nine million.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, you're not helping. I appreciate the thought, though. Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Hon Mr Leach: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. He rambled on there at such length I don't think he ever did get around to a question. We can only repeat that the municipalities are going to be in a far better position to deal with property taxes after the changes we make than they were before.

I think everybody recognizes that the one growing cost every municipality was faced with was the increasing cost of education. With that program off their backs, being able to deal with the programs that we've asked them to look at, we're quite confident that the municipalities will not have to increase taxes.

There may be some municipalities where these programs have more of an effect than others, and that's why we've set up the $1-billion fund: to look after them. We'll ensure and we're quite confident that no municipality in this province will be unduly affected by the changes we've introduced.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Solicitor General. Last week you cancelled the bail programs throughout this province, supposedly on the grounds of financial constraints. It's important that you understand that all sectors of the justice system -- police, judges, crowns, defence bar, justices of the peace, all parts of the justice system -- are criticizing this decision and disagree with the cancellation of this program.

Dr Gail Kellough, who is associate professor at York University, is conducting research into the bail program funded by the Ontario government, and she wrote you a letter dated September 20, 1995, in which she stated:

"While such costs may appear significant in the short run, they are substantially less so than either costs incurred by unnecessary pre-trial detention, the costs of correctional beds, of supervised transportation to and from courts, for correctional intake processing, the cost of hiring duty counsel, the cost of income to the local tax base," and she goes on.

Minister, you obviously decided to ignore her research --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, member for London Centre. Minister?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): This is not an easy decision to come to with respect to this program. We don't disagree with the principles of bail supervision, but part of the process that we undertook upon assuming office was to review all of the core services provided by individual ministries.

The program that has been conducted through the Ministry of Correctional Services for a number of years is not a mandated program. In fact, when we took a look at all of the implications with respect to this program, we relied to some degree on a study conducted by the previous government, the NDP government, in 1992. One of the major thrusts of this program when it was instituted in 1980 was theoretically to relieve pressure on the corrections system in Ontario. In fact, the 1992 study indicated quite clearly that it was having no measurable or meaningful impact on the remand population in our institutions.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, that's just a ridiculous comment for you to be making. Neil Webster, the director of the Toronto bail program, who's in the members' gallery today, says that it costs the Toronto bail program $4.05 a day to supervise a person out on bail as opposed to approximately $120 a day for someone in jail.

The Toronto bail program has conducted a survey of judges and justices of the peace and the majority of those said they wouldn't release people without the bail program. Therefore, what you're doing is adding to the total overall costs and you are endangering the public safety, because these people will not be supervised when they are out on bail and that is a very serious matter.

We know of very serious crimes that may be committed by people who are not in jail, and that's exactly why the judges and justices of the peace will say they won't take a chance. They will keep people in jail, and it will cost many, many times more to keep the 1,500 people who are currently on bail province-wide in the jails.

Why are you doing this? It makes no sense: no economic sense and no social sense.

Hon Mr Runciman: The cost argument is really not a comparison of apples and apples. With respect to the cost savings and our costs of incarceration, we really are not going to achieve the kinds of savings that this member and others perhaps are suggesting unless we, for example, close down an entire unit of a corrections institution. By taking someone out of a bed, we do not achieve the kinds of savings the member is suggesting.

The fact is as well that approximately 37% of the participants are already supervised in the community justice system, a significant duplication. I get back to the crux of this matter, that we're talking about people who have not yet been through the justice system, have not been found guilty of an offence and should not in any way, shape or form be the responsibility of the corrections ministry.



Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Further to our discussions a week ago, when we discussed that your ministry was transferring provincial highways back to the municipalities, the minister announced that his responsibility for 72.1 kilometres of King's Highway was transferred to the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Local engineers estimated the cost to bring the highway up to today's standard at $15 million. After negotiations with the councils and your ministry, the terms with your ministry were negotiated by your Ottawa staff at $8.471 million in five payments. However, after the agreement was submitted to the Kingston staff, the offer stood at $5.061 million. How could this offer have been changed?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I don't know the exact particulars of the highway deal that was initially made or the renegotiation, but I really want to say that this government is going to treat every municipality the same, and it's going to be fair and consistent.

Mr Cleary: I don't think you have quite answered my question. This is a long section of highway that runs through three municipalities. As part of your election platform, the government correctly stated that there was only one taxpayer. I ask you to play fair with those local taxpayers in our municipalities. Will you at least go back to the agreement negotiated with your Ottawa staff? How could this change have happened like that?

Hon Mr Palladini: Like I said earlier, I believe this government will be fair and consistent and treat every municipality the same. There are clearly highways that no longer serve a purpose as provincial highways, so therefore we must turn these things over to the municipalities. If there is a disagreement as to the funds that the government is allowing the municipality, as the member is saying, in refurbishing the roads, according to the local engineer who has put that project together, we'll take a look at it. Again, I want to say to the member this government will be fair and very consistent and treat every municipality, when it comes to highway transfers, exactly the same.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Natural Resources. In April, in response to a question I asked regarding the 15% export tax on Ontario softwood lumber, your colleague Mr Saunderson said, "Jobs, we feel, will be gained because of the excellent climate we are creating in this province to create jobs and encourage business."

Minister, let me tell you what the reality is. Small sawmills in Ignace, Red Lake and across northern Ontario will be forced to close, and large mills will have to cut production this year due to the tax blows delivered by the federal and provincial governments last fall.

The mills' quotas have been reduced by 15% to 20%. Quotas for new entrants have been cut even deeper. "The Spruce Falls mill received such a minuscule amount, it's not even worth mentioning," says the president of Tembec, "and if the quota is not adjusted properly, there will be major repercussions. Ontario got a raw deal compared to other provinces. The Ontario market is going to be flooded and prices are going to collapse."

Minister, why did you not stand up for Ontario at the cabinet and during the negotiations on the agreement?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): It's not very often that I agree with the opposition, in that this was a tax that the federal agreement has the legal right to impose and it is an agreement that they entered into with the United States. Ontario never supported it. We told that to the federal government and to other provincial leaders. We have tried to make the best of a bad situation and we have stood up for Ontario's rights.

Mr Len Wood: We know that you stand up for your colleagues on Bay Street. What we want to know is, are you going to stand up for jobs for workers in northern Ontario communities who are at risk as a result of you failing to stand up for them, for jobs for the sawmill workers in Ignace and the woodland workers in Kapuskasing for whom a whole way of making a livelihood has been put at risk? Are you going to stand up and speak for these workers who are at risk of losing their jobs?

Hon Mr Hodgson: We have been standing up for the working people in this province for a year and a half, to try to reduce the debt and the burden that has been placed upon all working people.

The federal government, as the opposition know --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Nepean, come to order. Thank you.

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I was mentioning, the federal government has the legal right to do this. Ontario never supported it, and we spoke to that. We have said that they have to implement the quota, and they are going about implementing it.

Ontario has elected 98 out of 99 MPs of the federal government. They have the legal right to do it. The third party knows that and they are trying to mislead the public into saying this is an Ontario issue. It's not. We have, for northern Ontario, reinstated the heritage fund. We are also trying to work with forest industry products companies to diversify our markets, and that has been well received.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Recent changes --


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

Mr Grimmett: Recent Who Does What changes, Minister, have indicated that the municipal governments will be responsible for inspections of septic systems, particularly the part VIII inspections which have traditionally been done by your ministry. I've had numerous questions from constituents in my riding about this, and I'd like you to assure the people in my riding that the municipalities in my riding will have the capacity to carry on these part VIII inspections of septic systems.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): This is an important question, particularly for rural Ontario. We are planning to put municipalities in charge of inspecting and approving this particular kind of sewage treatment in the rural areas. We believe, however, it's necessary for the inspectors to be properly certified and taught how these particular systems should be put in and that the installer should be certified as well.

We believe that by devolving this on the municipalities, they can recoup their costs, they can provide a more timely service, and with the proper certification and teaching of how this should be done, we can have improved systems across the province, and I think it's a win-win situation for all.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on a point of privilege: It's in relation to the point of privilege I raised regarding government advertising last week. I have a further submission. I'm awaiting with some anticipation your ruling, but I want to refer you to the statement made in this House on January 13 by the Honourable Al Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on Who Does What.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I need to hear this point of privilege. If you have a meeting, I suggest that if you could take it outside, I'd appreciate it.

Mr Wildman: Thank you, Speaker. I'm referring to the statement by the minister in the House in which he outlines in very general terms the agenda for the government that was being introduced last week. He states in it, "We simply don't need every layer of government we have now or the cumbersome bureaucracies supporting them." Further on he says, "We believe our decisions will" -- that is, the decisions --


The Speaker: Look, I can't hear the point of order. If you have a meeting, go outside and take up the meeting, please. Thank you. Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: Thank you, Speaker. Further on, the minister says, "We believe our decisions" -- that is, the decisions related to the legislation that was being introduced last week -- "will result in simpler, smaller, more accountable and less costly government at both the provincial and municipal levels."

The very same day that the minister made that statement in the House, his ministry issued a press release which I have submitted to you, dated January 13, 1997. The press release is entitled "Ads to Explain Plans for Better, Less Costly Government." In that news release it states, "The advertisements will tell people how the government is untangling the bureaucracy that drives up the cost of government services." Then there's a quote from the minister saying, "That's why we're making government smaller, simpler and less expensive."

I submit to you, Speaker, that the wording in the press release explaining the reasons for the advertisements is almost word for word the wording in the minister's statement. That is the point, that the advertisements are directly related to the legislation the minister was introducing in his statement and referring to in his statement, and we now have a situation where the government is advertising as if -- actions have been taken by the government as if legislation has indeed been passed when it has only been introduced at first reading. As I submitted to you in my point of privilege last week, based on the decisions and the statements made by Speaker Fraser in the House of Commons and Speaker Warner in this Legislative Assembly, those two Speakers criticized governments for doing just that.

The Speaker: Again, I'll take it as notice and I'll report back. As far as the reporting out on that point of privilege, I think I could say fairly safely that I will be coming to the House some time this week with a decision, hopefully by as early as Wednesday.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I move that Mr Danford and Mr Cleary exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business and that the House will commence at 11 am on Thursday, January 23, to discuss ballot item number 57 only.

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


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I move that the following substitutions be made to the membership of the standing committees:

On the standing committee on estimates, Mr McLean be substituted for Mrs Elliott; on the standing committee on general government, Mrs Munro be substituted for Mr Carroll; on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, Mr Rollins be substituted for Mr Arnott; on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, Mrs Marland be substituted for Mr Clement; on the standing committee on the Ombudsman, Mr Murdoch be substituted for Mr Galt and Mr O'Toole be substituted for Mrs Marland; on the standing committee on public accounts, Mr Shea be substituted for Mr Gilchrist; on the standing committee on regulations and private bills, Mr Gilchrist be substituted for Mr Shea, Mr Arnott be substituted for Mr Rollins, and Mrs Ross be substituted for Mr O'Toole; on the standing committee on resources development, Mrs Elliott be substituted for Mr Gilchrist, Mr O'Toole be substituted for Mr Carroll, and Mr Galt be substituted for Mr Murdoch; on the standing committee on social development, Mr Carroll be substituted for Mrs Ross.

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



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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by 17 citizens who live in the riding of Sudbury East. I agree with them and I have affixed my signature to it.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I don't believe I will overstate matters by indicating that today is a pivotal day in the history of the town of Dundas, which has a population of 20,000 and is nestled in the riding of Wentworth North. This year, Dundas either turns 150 years old or becomes extinct forever. Today there are 150 residents, in fact closer to 200, in the galleries on both sides of you and in front of you who have come to the Legislature to be heard and to present me with a petition and to present the House with a petition. What's significant about the petition is that it bears approximately 9,000 signatures.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Wentworth North, I appreciate this, but this is petitions. I need to hear your petition.

Mr Skarica: It is as follows:

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

"We object to the recently proposed supercity model for restructuring local government within Hamilton-Wentworth.

"Specifically we oppose any model which would dissolve the town of Dundas.

"We insist that any model for local government reform guarantee full citizen input and support prior to its implementation."

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You're supporting it, aren't you, Tony?

Mr Skarica: In response to the opposition, I indeed support it and have signed the petition. I am one of 9,000 people who have signed it out of a population of 16,000 voters.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): "Whereas pay equity must remain a separate, proactive law with a distinct and properly funded commission and tribunal;

"Whereas unions must stay as equal partners in the pay equity process;

"Whereas the poorest-paid women in the public sector deserve pay equity. You took it away through the omnibus Bill 26;

"Whereas there is a need to restore funding to PEALS -- Pay Equity Advocacy and Legal Services. Women fighting for their rights under the law must be supported;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to commit to supporting pay equity legislation."

This petition is signed and supported by a large number of citizens across the province, and I have affixed my signature.


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

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe that helping reduce crime and abuse in our communities is our responsibility as employees of the Ministry of Correctional Services, as professionals in related fields and as concerned citizens;

"That closing institutions which provide specialized services to women and treatment to men does not achieve that goal;

"That physical, emotional and sexual abuse is often transmitted from one generation to the next, with tremendous cost to society;

"That treatment aimed at breaking that cycle must include the abuser so that another generation of children is not raised with the same destructive lessons;

"That," as Mr Ross Virgo has stated, "the Ontario Correctional Institute is a therapeutic community known around the world for their techniques;

"That research statistics support anecdotal evidence that we are effective in changing abusive behaviour;

"That a therapeutic community cannot exist in a superprison....

"Save victims and money by keeping what works open."

This is signed by 16 residents of the province of Ontario, and I have affixed my signature to it.



Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): I present, on behalf of 136 voters from my riding of Halton Centre, a petition to end the spring bear hunt.

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear hunting activities."

I support the petition and I affix my name.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition to present to the Legislature of Ontario on behalf of residents of my riding, and I'd like to read it as follows:

"Whereas the Harris government is proposing tremendous changes to education services in Ontario;

"Whereas the government's obsession with the fiscal bottom line will result in a reduction of the quality of education services for our children;

"Whereas inclusive and open consultation on education reform has not taken place;

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

"That the government of Ontario reconsider its direction in terms of education policy and that they halt any further changes to the education system until a thorough and inclusive review has taken place."

I too concur with the petitioners and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I have a petition from the students at St Mary's Secondary School in Cobourg, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"Youth unemployment is over double the national adult average, nearly 20%. We, as youths and potential employees, feel that this is unacceptable. We strongly urge that the provincial government take further steps immediately to ensure better prospects for youth employment in the future."


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): My petition is from various citizens of Metropolitan Toronto. It reads as follows:

"Whereas bigger government is not better and the Mike Harris government has no right to dictate a megacity upon the citizens of Metro Toronto;

"Whereas the megacity is being imposed upon 2.3 million citizens in Metro Toronto without giving people a voice in the future of their cities and neighbourhoods;

"Whereas the megacity could lead to mega-property tax increases, mega-user fees and mega-cuts in services;

"Whereas the Tories never proposed abolishing local government in favour of bigger government during the election campaign;

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

"To give the 2.3 million people in Metro Toronto a say in the future of their cities and stop the imposition of a megacity."

I affix my signature.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here which bears the signatures of some 26 Toronto-area residents, including that of Dr Foster Smith of 14 William Morgan Drive, that reads in summary as follows:

"We, the undersigned, petition that whereas there continue to exist over 30,000 nuclear weapons on the earth; and

"Whereas the continuing existence of nuclear weapons poses a threat to the health and survival of human civilization and the global environment; and

"Whereas the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, has said that the most safe, sure and swift way to deal with the threat of nuclear arms is to do away with them in every regard; and

"Whereas Canada and all state parties to the 1969 United Nations Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons reaffirmed their commitment to undertake to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament;

"Therefore your petitioners pray and request that the Parliament of Ontario support the immediate initiation and conclusion, by the year 2000, of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons."


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition in response to Bill 84 sent in to me from some Thunder Bay firefighters.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is unfair;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is discriminatory;

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 requires extensive changes;

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

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

I am pleased to sign my name to that petition.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas we believe that provincial interest in public libraries in Ontario is fundamental to the rights of all Ontarians;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to maintain the provincial interest in public libraries by ensuring the continuance of the following:

"(1) grants to ensure that all Ontarians have equalized access to library materials and services;

"(2) coordination of resource-sharing programs such as interlibrary loan and Internet access;

"(3) policy to ensure the future of the network of Ontario public libraries;

"(4) provincial assistance directly to libraries at the service level, for example, through Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service-North;

"(5) legislation that maintains the autonomy of public library boards."

This is signed by different people from throughout my riding.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My petition is to the government of Ontario.

"Since the Hotel Dieu Hospital has played and continues to play a vital role in the delivery of health care services in St Catharines and the Niagara region;

"Since Hotel Dieu has modified its role over the years as part of a rationalization of medical services in St Catharines and has assumed the position of a regional health care facility in such areas as kidney dialysis and oncology;

"Since the Niagara region is experiencing underfunding in the health care field and requires more medical services and not fewer services;

"Since Niagara residents are required at present to travel outside of the Niagara region to receive many specialized services that could be provided in city hospitals and thereby not require local patients to make difficult and inconvenient trips down our highways to other centres;

"Since the Niagara hospital restructuring committee used a Toronto consulting firm to develop its recommendations and was forced to take into account a cut of $40 million in funding for Niagara hospitals when carrying out its study;

"Since the population of the Niagara region is older than that in most areas of the province and more elderly people tend to require more hospital services;

"We, the undersigned, request that the government of Ontario keep the election commitment of Premier Mike Harris not to close hospitals in our province, and we call upon the Premier to reject any recommendations to close Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines."

I affix my signature to this petition as I am in full agreement with its contents.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): On behalf of the residents of my riding, I wish to submit a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas we, the undersigned, are residents of Cochrane North;

"We are very concerned about the severe road conditions in the area, specifically on Highway 11 between Smooth Rock Falls and Kapuskasing. This part of the road is extremely dangerous during wintertime. We are asking the government to take the necessary measures to ensure our safety on our roads."

I support this petition and I affix my signature to it.


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): I have a petition related to cooperative housing which I wish to present to the Legislature.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): This is addressed to the Legislature of Ontario from residents of my community and I wish to read it to the Chair.

"Whereas the Harris government's proposal to create a megacity bureaucracy will result in less responsive municipal government;

"Whereas the residents of North York are satisfied with the level of service afforded by their local government;

"Whereas the proposed changes will create a giant bureaucracy that will reduce service and eliminate responsive local government;

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

"That the Harris government withdraw its proposal for a megacity and that they work with the local municipal council to reform the system within the framework which currently exists. We want to save our city -- North York."

It is signed. I will sign it myself.



Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West.

"Being a firm supporter of the public school system and the Protestant faith;

"We, the undersigned, hereby petition the government of Ontario to reinstate the Lord's Prayer in the public school system of Ontario."



Mr Sterling moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 107, An Act to enact the Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act, 1997 and to amend other acts with respect to water and sewage / Projet de loi 107, Loi visant à édicter la Loi de 1997 sur le transfert des installations d'eau et d'égout aux municipalités et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui a trait à l'eau et aux eaux d'égout.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): This bill does two things. The bill sets up the legislative framework to transfer the ownership of 25% of the sewage and water plants to the rightful owners: the municipalities from across this province. The second part of the bill deals with the approval of septic systems in rural parts of Ontario and sets up the legislative framework to transfer this responsibility to local municipalities in order to provide that service.


Mr Harnick moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 108, An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration / Projet de loi 108, Loi traitant des poursuites concernant certaines infractions provinciales, réduisant le double emploi et simplifiant l'administration.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Ms Mushinski moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 109, An Act to amend the Public Libraries Act to put authority, responsibility and accountability for providing and effectively managing local library services at the local level / Projet de loi 109, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les bibliothèques publiques de façon à situer à l'échelon local les pouvoirs, la responsabilité et l'obligation de rendre compte concernant la fourniture et la gestion efficace des services locaux de bibliothèque.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Mr Hampton moved opposition day motion number 1:

Whereas the government of Ontario has introduced Bill 103, An Act respecting the City of Toronto, which will affect municipal representation and public services for every citizen in Metropolitan Toronto; and

Whereas the mayors of municipalities within Metropolitan Toronto have decided to conduct a public referendum on the province's legislation, to ensure that the voice of all citizens is heard; and

Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has expressed concern that the question on any referendum ballot might be subject to manipulation, in order to affect the outcome;

Therefore, this House demands that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing meet with the mayors of Metropolitan Toronto's municipalities to draft a referendum question which fairly and accurately describes the government's proposal for an amalgamated city of Toronto; and further, that the Legislative Assembly respect the results of the referendum.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I would ask for consent that the member for Beaches-Woodbine can kick off the debate for us.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Agreed? Agreed.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm glad to have an opportunity to spend a bit of time in this House talking about the importance of democracy in the province of Ontario and particularly with respect to this government's treatment of Metro Toronto, the citizens of Metro Toronto and the local governments of Metro Toronto.

Our opposition day motion that we put forward is one that we feel is very necessary to have debated in this House and to have the responses of the three political parties on the record in this House, because I tell you, it has been very difficult -- in fact, it's been near impossible -- to get any kind of a commitment from this Conservative government with respect to the process of dealing with Bill 103, which most people refer to as the megacity bill, that being the legislation proposed by the government which will amalgamate all the cities within Metro Toronto into one megacity, one supercity.

You know that this is an issue that is very controversial. There have been many controversial issues brought forward by this government, and most often we hear from this government -- part of their mantra, in fact -- "Everyone knew we were going to do this. It was set out in the Common Sense Revolution. Our commitment was clear. It was debated during the election and the people of the province made a decision when they elected this government."

One could argue with that point in a number of areas where they've raised that as their defence. But very clearly with respect to this -- I was going to say "new initiative" -- abomination they're doing in Metro Toronto, nothing could be further from the truth. If one were to have followed the debate during the election campaign, one would very clearly remember the now Premier of this province, the then leader of the third party, saying that what he was committed to was the elimination of Metro government, an upper tier of government, and moving towards what we all suspected would be coming forward in the Golden report, some form of GTA governance.

I remind members of the House, I remind my colleagues that through the discussions and the reports and the studies, the questions that were being examined arose because of the problems of the day. The problems of the day which exist today are problems of the economic region. They're problems of property tax equity across the economic region; they're problems of coordination of transportation services across the economic region; they're problems of coordination of services that relate to development initiatives, like sewer and water systems, across the economic region; they're problems of economic development across the economic region.

I keep using that phrase, "the economic region," because of course you will know that the economic region is the greater Toronto area, the GTA; that is, cities within Metro, the Metropolitan Toronto region, and what is often referred to as the 905 belt, but including regions of Mississauga and Peel, the cities of Brampton and Vaughan, out into the Durhams. That whole area is part of the greater Toronto area economic region.

I come back to something that has just been confounding since this government has taken this 180-degree turn from what the Premier, then leader of the third party, said during the election campaign. I come back to this problem: If the problems are of the economic region, how can the solution be just Metro Toronto? It can't. I put it to you that it can't.


In our government that was moving ahead, that was committed to moving quickly on the Golden report, you will recall, Madam Speaker, they shortened the time frame for the Golden commission to do its work and there was work left undone as a result of that shortened time frame. I think that was unfortunate, but the government said it was because it wanted to move quickly.

They got Golden, and what did they do? They then appointed Burnham to go out and try to get a different answer because their political colleagues in parts of the 905 region didn't like the Golden solution. Then after the second report came down, they appointed yet a third commission, the Who Does What panel, to look at all these issues. None of them has come to the conclusion the government is now proceeding with and implementing, not any of the reports and studies.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs is wont to repeat over and over again that this has been studied to death. In fact, in the most recent times, the studies that have examined the economic region and how to bring health, wealth and wellbeing to the economic region, not one of those studies, considered studies, not one of those reports, considered reports, has recommended the abolishment of local governments. Most of them, with respect to the cities, have said, "If you want to make this work, you need to have strong cities; you need to have cities that are close to the people in their neighbourhoods; you need to have cities that are revitalized and that can deal with neighbourhood issues, that can deal with the delivery of the services at that level, as well as a broader coordination of economic interests across the region." We know the government's solution does not do that; in fact it's quite the opposite.

Today the focus of the motion that's before the House is one that deals with democratic process, because not only has this government changed its position 180 degrees from what the Premier said during the election campaign, not only is it proceeding with a policy that is not referred to, mentioned or spoken about in the Common Sense Revolution, which is what they hold up every other time they want a defence for what they're doing -- they don't want to listen to people -- not only is there no reference, no base, no history to this, and not only did it come out of the blue in August or September of last year as supposedly just a thought, an idea, a dream, a twinkle in the eye of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, but now we see legislation in the House in that short a period of time. Madam Speaker, you'll know, having been a former cabinet minister, that things don't move that quickly through the bureaucracy, that these plans had to be in place being churned away while all the supposed consultation through the Who Does What process was under way. Not only all that, but we have a policy that virtually every single municipal government, city government that is affected has opposed, and through polling a majority of residents in each of those cities; therefore, a majority of residents in Metropolitan Toronto oppose the direction this government is imposing, is forcing on the area of Metropolitan Toronto.

The natural response from people in a democratic society is to say: "Listen, we want to have our say. We want to have some input into this process." That grass-roots uprising, reflected through the democratically elected city councils, has been given an expression through a decision by those cities to pursue a referendum vote on the question, "Do you want your city to be amalgamated, along with the other cities in Metro Toronto, into one megacity?" That's a reasonable question.

But perhaps the Minister of Municipal Affairs thinks that question isn't well worded. If that were the problem, one would think some discussion between the minister and the mayors might resolve that problem. The mayors have offered that over the course of the last two months as they were moving towards the development of such a question. The minister has steadfastly refused to sit down and have a discussion with the mayors about what the question should be, and yet hides behind an accusation that whatever question they put forward will be a loaded question, will be a biased question, couldn't possibly give a clear answer to such a complex problem, hides behind that as a defence of why he sees no need for the government of Ontario to listen to the democratic expression of the people of Metro Toronto, as will be provided through this referendum vote.

I don't think that's good enough in a democracy. I'll tell you very honestly, I'm a sceptic about the tool of referenda. I think they have to be used very carefully. I know the government, through discussions in one of the standing committees, has been proposing the introduction of legislation to allow for referenda in the province. How ironic. Here's a government that's promoting this as a mechanism of grass-roots democracy, yet when the real opportunity is here before them, they do everything they can to discredit the process, to discredit those who would come forward with a question, to discredit essentially the democratic expression of the people of Metro Toronto. They say, "It doesn't matter what you say; we're not going to listen to you." I don't know how people can stand for that.

I don't think it matters whether you support the concept of the megacity or you're opposed to the concept of the megacity. When there is such controversy, when there is such social change happening at such a rapid pace, when people are concerned and the majority of people, as far as we know, through the expressions of polling, have opposed this, how can the government simply say, "We're not going to do anything to facilitate a testing of public opinion on this, our major platform in this area of municipal reform in Metro Toronto"? How can they say that the tool they propose to be a democratic tool, a referendum -- in this case referenda, a number across the cities -- is not an appropriate tool? How can they hide behind a defence that the question will be biased when they refuse to sit down and help shape the question?

Our motion is directed towards this. We're asking that the Minister of Municipal Affairs sit down with the mayors of the cities and work together to develop a question that is appropriate in his mind to test the opinion of the citizens: a very democratic request and a very democratic procedure that should be followed by a government that purports to support grass-roots, local, citizen-initiated referenda.

The government speaks often in response to this by saying, "Let's get it out to committee and let's hear from people," and raises concerns that the opposition is stalling letting it get out to committee. Fair enough. The New Democratic Party is in fact stalling at this point in time, but with very good reason: because we've had no commitment from the government with respect to how long those hearings are going to be, with respect to how many people will be heard. We know that 500 to 600 people have applied already and the notice hasn't even gone out for committee hearings yet. We've had no commitment from the government that people who want to be heard will be heard or that there will be every effort to facilitate that.

We've had no commitment from the government that they don't intend to ram this through on third reading before the results of the referenda are known. How can you claim to be democratic? You know that a citizens' vote is coming up and we can't even get a commitment from you that third reading won't be passed until after we know what the democratic wish of the citizens of Toronto and Etobicoke and Scarborough and York and East York and North York is.

I understand if you say you're not going to pay any attention to it. I think that's foolish, but you are the provincial government; you are the government of the day. You can make that decision. But to say you're not even going to allow the results of that democratic expression to be known before you take your final decision -- how can anyone view that as serious consultation, as a serious democratic process? How can anyone view it other than as a government that wants to ram this through and undermine the efforts of the cities to have a referendum, a government that doesn't want those results to mean anything, in fact doesn't want the vote to take place, and so is committed to ramming it through?

We have had two days of debate on this bill under the rules of the House. So far that's actually been a total of about an hour and 30 minutes of debate. Under the rules of this House, when there are three days of debate -- it doesn't matter how long we spend on it in that particular day -- the government is in a position to move what's called a time allocation motion. I'm not going to get into all the picayune detail about this, but what it means is the government can bring forward a motion at that time and not before then that says: "This is when second reading will be over. This is how long there'll be for hearings. This is when third reading will take place. This is when the vote will take place," all set out.


Normally that would be open to discussion with the parties. But this government has not given any commitment, has not given any indication that they will talk to us about whether or not that vote on third reading should be delayed until after the referendum.

We've made our case. The government House leader has gone away and simply said: "I'll take it under advisement." That was four days ago. We have still heard nothing back. So if you wonder why, on Thursday, for example, the New Democratic Party, through use of legitimate points of order, stopped the government from being able to call that bill for a third day of reading, I'll tell you, very simply: Because after that, you would have been within your rights under the standing orders to introduce this time allocation motion.

And you know what? We believe there should be some discussion about the process. We believe there should be some commitment about the public hearings and the number of people who will be heard and there should be some commitment about the timing of the third reading vote.

And you know what else? Each day we understand a little bit more about the mega-announcements that the government has made. You know, it has taken several days since Tuesday's downloading of social services and child care and long-term care and housing and transportation, sewer and water etc on to the municipalities; it has taken through until this weekend, until today, to start to actually get a sense of what the costs are to the citizens of Metro Toronto. We know now it's about $380 million more cost to Metro Toronto. That means it necessitates a mega-tax increase to pay for the mega-dumping of services.

We need to have public examination, we need to have a full review of the facts and we need some time to have the facts come to the forefront, because this government has rammed through announcement after announcement, has confused all the issues, has muddled it all together, has made it very difficult.

The efforts of the New Democratic Party caucus are to ensure that there is time before this goes out to committee for people to have a full sense of what the government is in fact doing, to ensure there are adequate public hearings so that people can be heard and to ensure that that third reading debate does not occur until after the referendum and the democratic expression of the people of Metro Toronto is known.

That, we believe, is both democratic and reasonable. For that reason we've brought forward this motion and for that reason we will watch with great interest to see how the supposed democrats across the floor, the ones who support referenda, will vote on our motion today.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It is a pleasure to speak and participate in the debate today on the opposition day motion by Mr Hampton regarding a referendum on the new amalgamated city of Toronto.

The opposition seems to raise the issue of referendums when it's convenient, that is, when it's an issue that they themselves are not in favour of. The opposition parties, both the Liberals and NDP, and their members continually say that they are the defenders of democracy, today the saviours of democracy, if you listen to them, that they are the only ones who are listening to the people of this province, that they are the ones who have a monopoly on the ability to consult and listen to their constituents. Well, they don't.

Where was the leader of the third party during the last government? Was he advocating a referendum on every piece of legislation that the government of the day was bringing forward? Was he advocating a referendum on each and every one of the 33 tax hikes that his government brought forward? Was he advocating a referendum to ask the people of Ontario if they wanted to see the debt of the province increase by $50 billion? No, he wasn't.

In fact, in 1992 when the member for York Mills, David Turnbull, presented a private member's bill entitled the Provincial Public Consultation Act, every single NDP member who even bothered to show up for the vote voted against that bill -- the supposed democrats we hear today. So I say to the leader of the third party, you and your party are not the great defenders of democracy that you portray yourselves to be.

I represent a riding within the city of Scarborough. The city of Scarborough has decided to have a ballot that can be mailed, faxed, e-mailed or dropped at local city buildings in order to poll the citizens of Scarborough on their thoughts on the amalgamation of seven municipal governments into one.

What will the question be? What safeguards will be in place to ensure that only those who are eligible to vote in a municipal election will be the ones voting in that referendum? Will it truly be a secret ballot? Some have told me that a signature will be required on the ballot. If this indeed is the case, then it is simply not democracy when there's not a vote by secret ballot. Will the decision be considered if it's a 50% majority, a 60% majority, or is it 66%? Will it require a certain percentage of eligible voters to vote? Will it be decisive if only 10% of voters even bother to vote?

There are various ways of gauging the views of our constituents on any issue, and this issue is no different. We can look at the number of letters we receive, the number of phone calls and the discussions we have with our constituents not only in our offices but within the community, including town hall meetings. More people have contacted my office regarding fur trapping in my riding than regarding amalgamation of the city of Scarborough within a new, amalgamated city of Toronto.

Those opposed to amalgamation will lead us to believe that all neighbourhood communities will suddenly disappear on January 1, 1998. Those opposed will lead us to believe that local representation is going to be lost and local input in decision-making is going to be lost on January 1, 1998.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What are you afraid of?

The Acting Speaker: Member for Algoma, come to order.

Mr Newman: This is not going to happen. You see, I can turn to history to show and actually prove that this will not happen.

My community of Scarborough has a rich history as a municipality that has evolved and changed over time. It has not always been a city as some may lead us to believe. Present-day Scarborough was first inhabited by aboriginal peoples in approximately 1250.

Mr Wildman: They did things by consensus.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Algoma, come to order.

Mr Newman: In 1796 the first Scarborough land patent was granted by the crown, thus opening the township to settlement. In 1850 Scarborough was incorporated as a self-governing municipality with a population of 3,821 people. In 1967, our country's centennial, Scarborough township became a borough, and in 1983 Scarborough became a city.

In Scarborough we celebrated our bicentennial in 1996, but it was 200 years of Scarborough not as a city, not as a borough, not as a township but as a settlement. I am confident that in the year 2096 there will be a wonderful tricentennial celebration in Scarborough. But throughout all the changes in Scarborough, from township to borough to city, there has never been a referendum conducted on any of these changes.

We in Scarborough know what a great place Scarborough is to live in, but where would we be today if that township of 3,821 people had stayed as a township? We wouldn't have the wonderful community that we enjoy today had the visionaries of the past not been progressive in bringing about much-needed reform. We wouldn't have the community we have today unless change had been made in the past. In Scarborough we've had 171 years of Scarborough as a township, 16 years of Scarborough as a borough and only 13 years of Scarborough as a city.

I see Bill 103 taking the people of Scarborough into the future to be part of a single, unified city where taxpayers pay less tax and see barriers to growth and investment removed and jobs created. I see Scarborough and its citizens having real input, greater input into the democratic process through community councils and neighbourhood committees.

Throughout the transformation of Scarborough from township to city the communities that make up Scarborough have remained. Look at atlases from 50, 60, 70 years ago and you will see the communities of L'Amaroux, Malvern, Agincourt, Woburn, Highland Creek, West Hill, Wexford and Birch Cliff; and in my riding of Scarborough Centre, Bendale, Scarborough Village, Scarborough Junction, Cliffside, Cliffcrest and Cedarbrae, just to name a few.

These communities have survived. All these communities and neighbourhoods have survived the transformation from township to borough to city, and I believe they will continue to thrive under a unified city of Scarborough. Why? Because it's people who make communities, not artificial boundaries created by pieces of legislation. They do not make communities.

I will not be supporting this resolution. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate today on Mr Hampton's resolution.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It's a great pleasure to support this resolution by the third party. I think the third party is trying to emphasize the point that no matter how many times the government makes excuses for why referenda should not be held on March 3, the fundamental issue here is that they're afraid of what the people of Scarborough, the people of East York, the people of Toronto, York, Etobicoke and North York will say. They know that most of them do not accept this complete change in direction of this government. Traditionally, people who advocated referenda said they were needed because if a government changed course and a government didn't have a mandate, a referendum would have a very valuable role to play, and this is a perfect example of a government changing course.

As you know, in the election and prior to June 1995, this government categorically stated in the Trimmer report that it was going to support, enforce and encourage local government. They said categorically they were going to replace Metro and keep Scarborough and the other five municipalities. Now this government has changed course.

Also, the other thing this government has changed course on is referenda. The now Premier, when he was Leader of the Opposition, called for referenda on everything from casinos on down. They were advocates of direct democracy. Now, when the most fundamental change is being made in the history of this province in terms of local government and how it impacts on 2.5 million people in Toronto, they are all of a sudden no longer supporting referenda.

Whose purpose does it serve now to change course? Now is the time for the people to have a say, a direct say. This government is advocating even wider referenda in the future, so if that's the government position before the election and after this megacity bill, you notice there is the gap right now. Before the election, they said, "Yes, we want referenda," and in the future they want referenda, but now when the future of the metropolitan area of Toronto is at stake, they say no. That is what is most upsetting to the people of Metropolitan Toronto. They do not believe this government when they say there are all kinds of excuses and they mention all the complications. This government is saying we need to have voting by phone, voting by e-mail, voting by mail, so why would they oppose it now when they are recommending it in legislation as in Bill 86 where they are advocating wider use of voting?

The trouble is this government is not listening. The Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs have said: "We don't care whether you have a referendum. We won't listen." If that isn't an affront to basic democracy, what is, when they say categorically that they won't listen to a referendum that the people in each one of the six cities have said they want? What is the harm in having those referenda? Why not wait until the people have a say? They might get some good ideas. They might find out how costly this megacity is going to be. I think today we're beginning to realize, through the smokescreen of propaganda, that this megacity bill is also part of this mega-dumping of social services, unheard of in the western world, on municipal property taxpayers. If there was ever a time for the residents to have a say, it is now, because not only are they getting a megacity, they're getting a mega-dumping of provincial responsibility on to the property taxpayers of Scarborough, Etobicoke, East York.

I certainly think there was no mention of mega-dumping of welfare on to property taxpayers during the election campaign of 1995. Not one MPP, I'm sure, ran on that platform of dumping.

Here's what they're going to dump on Metro: $290 million in general welfare assistance that wasn't there before and now the people of Scarborough will have to pay for, and family benefits. These are income maintenance programs. They don't do this anywhere in the civilized world, they don't dump income maintenance programs on the local taxpayer, because those are the same people who may be out of work or on welfare, so you get a double whammy. You lose your job. You're on welfare. What happens? Welfare rates go up; your taxes go up. That is why in most civilized countries they don't do it.

But here there's been a dramatic shift by this government, a dramatic ideological shift to the extreme right, in offloading this type of maintenance program, and they say to the people of Scarborough and East York and North York, "Oh, you do not have the right to have a say on this dramatic shift." If there's anything as fundamental as this -- there's never been this fundamental change in Ontario. It's a radical, extremist change in direction, unheard of in this province, even unheard of in New Jersey, in Michigan.

This is a dramatic shift and why you need a referendum, because when a government makes a dramatic shift in direction, the people should have a right to be heard. That's why a lot of people who at one time thought, "Well, this is just about changing political boundaries and about city halls," know now that this megacity revolution, this mega-revolution is about fundamental structural changes in this province, in how we take care of our poor, our children.

Health care: Incredible. They are telling the people in Scarborough, "You have no say in the fact that the provincial government is going to dump health care on to the property tax." That's what megacity means. You get the megacity and you get the dumping of health care on to the property tax.

Long-term care: $200 million in Metro dumped on to the property taxpayers. If that isn't a fundamental change -- and it's a very shrewd dumping, a very shrewd swap. The government is taking on education and saying, "Oh, we're going to pay for education," but it knows education is controllable. It knows the demographics; in other words, fewer and fewer young people are going to be going through the blip. But this government also knows that he population is aging, so where are the pressures going to be? They're going to be on programs like long-term care, which has gone up a couple of hundred per cent in the last 10 years, a 200% increase at least in long-term-care costs. That's what they're putting on the property tax bill.

You've got welfare, and we went through the welfare explosion in Metro in 1989-90 when the recession hit. At that time in Metro we paid for only 20% of GWA, and that recession manipulated our whole budgetary process at Metro. We had to cut from transit, child care, economic development, transportation, because we had to help people who were losing their jobs. We went through hell trying to manage that welfare explosion in 1989-90, and that was 20%. This government is now going to put 50% of GWA and FBA -- family benefits allowance -- on to property taxes. This is going to be an explosion that is going to rip apart cities and communities across Ontario.

I can imagine the single-industry towns; in Windsor, if Chrysler goes into a slump. What would happen to Sudbury? What's going to happen to Toronto if there's a slump again like there was in 1989-90?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Bankruptcy.

Mr Colle: There will be bankruptcies. There will be a return of the 1930s. That is why you will see today even acknowledged conservatives saying: "This megacity stuff is madness. People should stop and have a say in this." This is so dramatic even conservatives are standing up and saying: "This is utter nonsense coming from the Harrisites. Utter nonsense."

You've got Mr Bech-Hansen, who's from the board of trade, where the minister made his announcement about that megacity. This conservative economist says, "If the government is absolutely determined to do this, then it must establish a greater Toronto authority to collect the shared taxes or else we're in great risk of turning Metro on to a downward spiral."

Another noted conservative, Metro Councillor Gordon Chong, says, "I can't believe any political party would try to tear the guts of Metro." "We are the guts of the greater Toronto area, and that's the problem," said Mr Chong, a conservative.


It's impossible for taxpayers to be able to absorb this. It's impossible for taxpayers to be able to absorb this megacity. That's why taxpayers should have a say: because there's been a fundamental shift. Even Ralph Klein looks like a boy scout compared to the Harrisites. That is what is happening. If there was ever a time for the people of Ontario to stand up and say, "We have a right to be heard," it is now. Whether they believe in the megacity being good or bad, the megacity now is attached with this dumping, this dramatic reversal.

Another thing that is being dumped on the taxpayers with the megacity: The Metro chairman calls the dumping of subsidized housing a recipe for disaster, because property taxpayers have enough on their plate with all these other things that have been put on their plate. In fact, of the newly amalgamated city's responsibility for social housing Chairman Tonks says, "It's a New York-like recipe for disaster." We're looking to have to pick up over 100,000 units that were built from the 1950s to the 1980s. We don't have the capacity to maintain and update that kind of inventory. There are over 100,000 units, and again, a lot of them were built in the 1950s and 1960s. They need major renovations.

As you know, this government was going to sell off public housing. Now they've done a very shrewd thing: They've dumped it on the municipalities, so the municipalities will have what choice, especially when many of these buildings need major reinvestment in plumbing, infrastructure, parking garage maintenance, electrical work? These buildings are a ticking tax time bomb for the people of Metropolitan Toronto. Where are they going to get the money from the property tax to pay for all these buildings that have to be rehabilitated, on top of the long-term care, on top of the welfare and family benefits recipients who need help?

Then on top of that we've got the dumping of public transit costs on the municipal taxpayer. There is no city in the world of a major nature that puts 100% of operating costs on the property taxpayer.

It's extremely cynical. Somehow they say, "Well, we'll take education off," but what they've put on are the big-ticket items that are uncontrollable, that in most civilized countries the provincial or state or federal government pays for. In Toronto, in this new mega-mad city they're creating, they're going to do what they've done nowhere else in the world, in Canada or the United States. Show me a city in the world that has 100% financing of public transit from the property tax. It doesn't exist.

There are two alternatives with this megacity. That's why people want a say: because their investment in their homes, in their businesses is at stake. I think a lot of people are starting to see through the mega-smokescreen. They're starting to see through it. Through the smokescreen they see the dumping of essentially provincial responsibilities on the backs of property taxpayers, who may be seniors, who may be disabled, who may be out of work. They are going to be asked to support income-maintenance programs. You can't do it on the property tax. It's the most regressive of things to do. If there is ever a time when people in East York, in Toronto, in York should have a say, it is now.

Paul Pagnuelo from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a friend of the Harrisites, says about Premier Harris and Mr Leach, "Either he should hold a binding referendum to seek the approval of Metro Toronto residents for his election policy reversal or he should do what he said he would if ever he broke an election promise, and that is resign."

This is the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is not intimidated by the Harrisites. He says it as it is. He says Harris and Minister Leach should resign because they broke a pre-election promise on referenda and on this reversal. How much clearer or more unequivocal could you get than Paul Pagnuelo saying, "You promised referenda and you promised to resign if you broke a promise"? The megacity was not a promise, and he's broken that promise because in the Trimmer report they said they would strengthen local government.

It's interesting that in Ottawa they are not shoving the megacity down the throats of people; they're going to give them three more years. There's no amalgamation in Ottawa till the year 2000. The people of Metropolitan Toronto are saying: "Is there a different type of democracy here in Toronto than there is for the people of Ottawa? Don't we pay the same taxes? How come we've only got three weeks to decide here in Toronto about the future of our city and in Ottawa they've got till the year 2000?"

As you know, the most critical thing is that Toronto is the economic engine, the cultural and social boiling milieu for economic activity and prosperity. In other words, it's where people can earn a living; they add to the prosperity of the province and they add to the prosperity of all Canadians. Yet this government sees fit to say: "Full steam ahead. We don't care what you say. We're going to ram this legislation through. We're not going to give you a say. Even if you have a say, we're not going to listen to you."

What an affront to basic democracy. How fundamentally contrary to the democratic principles that go back to the Magna Carta. I'll read to you from the Magna Carta, Mr Speaker. I know you're a long-time appreciator of history. In the Magna Carta in 1215 it said: "And the city of London is to have all its ancient liberties and free customs both by land and water. Furthermore, we will grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns and ports shall have all liberties and free customs." This is going back to 1215, that it was always the case where the rights of citizens and cities were recognized.

In this case here this government has said, "We do not recognize or want to hear from you." On the most fundamental change ever seen in Metropolitan Toronto, ever seen in this province, this government is denying people, is denying the taxpayers. The taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto over the last decades have poured millions and billions into the provincial coffers, yet when their future is being changed, they are told, "We don't want to hear from you; we're going to dictate to you." Simple as that.

Mr Speaker, if you lived in Toronto and the government told you, "We don't want to hear from you; we're going to dictate to you," what would your response be? Would you sit there and take it? I'll tell you, a lot of citizens are not taking it. They're not going to let this government ram this most ludicrous program of devolution, of dumping on to the city that is signalled as the best city in the world to live in. I can imagine if this was some poorer city that's run down and has had tough times, but Toronto is the most economically, culturally, socially viable city probably in the world. Even Fortune magazine recognizes that.

How in heck would they come to the conclusion that this city has to be demolished by this government, by the Harrisites? Why do they have to bomb this city? That's what people are starting to say all over Metro. This is like unleashing a bomb on the city of Metropolitan Toronto. For what motive?

It makes no economic sense because, as you know, Wendell Cox, the famous Tory consultant on government downsizing, says this type of megacity amalgamation will cost 20% to 100% more for the taxpayer. Andrew Sancton, the most recognized government restructuring expert out of the University of Western Ontario, said unequivocally that the megacity proposal is utter madness and is going to drive cost up. Yet this government will not give the people a voice.

I applaud the third party for putting this forward, because for a lot of people this city of Toronto is not just politicians or boundaries, it is not just streets, it is made up of people who have contributed to a quality of life that is recognized worldwide. This city has been a gateway to people from all over the world. It has been a very successful experiment in people working and thriving and succeeding economically, socially and politically, and the people in Metropolitan Toronto are saying, "We want a part of this future and a say in our future, how this city changes."

They are so insulted and so disgusted that this government won't even listen. That is what's most terrifying. They can't believe that this government categorically turns its back on them and says, "We won't listen." That is what is most disturbing and gut-wrenching. That's why tonight at Metropolitan United Church, at the corner of Church and Queen streets, right next to St Michael's Hospital, there will be over a thousand people who will stand up to this government and say they will not go down without a fight. They're not going to lie down to the dictates of the Harrisites.


They're going to rally with their local groups, their school groups, their church groups, with their ratepayer groups, with their city halls and they are going to stand up and say: "We pay taxes; we are citizens. You will not dictate to us, because this country and this province and this city deserve better. We have the right to have a say." That's why this resolution should be supported.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm very happy to have the opportunity to speak to the motion presented by our leader. This is an issue of great importance to the people of Metropolitan Toronto -- and Ontario, because what happens in Toronto and Metro affects not just Ontario but the whole economy of all of Canada.

Many people in Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto are upset at the treatment they are getting from the people of the 905 region, and many of them are angry. They're angry that Mike Harris would use the democratic process for those who are outside of the Metro borders, helping them out with a facilitator to determine for themselves how they might want to amalgamate or how they should amalgamate, but in Metropolitan Toronto he has exercised the power of omnipotence to say to them, "This is what we're going to do to you and for you." He has decided for Metro what is good for it. He has abrogated all democratic rights for us here in Metropolitan toronto because he believes -- Mr Leach and Mr Harris and all the others believe -- that we don't need to have a democratic voice here in Metropolitan Toronto.

So people are angry. They don't like the fact that the 905 region gets democracy and we got demagoguery here in Metropolitan Toronto. We want the same democracy that everybody else is looking for and deserves, quite rightfully, so as we see these discussions, as people get to see the different treatment they're getting, there is growing anger. That's why we see countless people coming to the meetings in downtown Toronto. They are angry at what this government is doing. They want to be consulted. That's why all the cities in Metropolitan Toronto are having a referendum, and they're having a referendum that is based on the rules that they have already passed with Bill 86.

Bill 86 permits referenda and it allows people to vote by phone, or even to vote by Internet. Some of us raise questions about how they're going to control that, but on the other hand this government has passed Bill 86 and the referendum that we're about to have here in Metropolitan Toronto reflects the spirit of that legislation. We see people like the member for Scarborough Centre very worried about how that referendum is going to be held, yet at the same time, they passed Bill 86 and very shortly they want to pass another bill on referenda, with similar rules. So it appears in great contrast to what they want versus what they say and how they say it.

But this government, and it's typical of its contradictions, is not afraid to contradict itself. In fact, I often see ministers dissemble without flinching an eye, without blinking the eye as well. They do it with a straight face. They even laugh with a straight face. I don't know how they do that, but they do.

On hearings this government says, "Let us hurry into these hearings because we want to hear from the public." I have to tell you this: If this government wants to hear from the public in the way they heard tenants respond to their tenant protection package, God bless us all, because I have to tell you, the members of that committee, including M. Leach, did not listen to one word the tenants and organizations that came to defend tenants had said. Imagine: four weeks of hearings on the so-called tenant protection package and they didn't listen at all to what people had to say.

When we gathered together as a group to discuss how we were going to deal with what we had heard, the committee said, "We don't want to discuss it." Imagine. Preposterous, a committee sitting together to discuss how we were going to deal with what we heard and they say: "We don't want to discuss it. We are just going to pass what we heard on to M. Leach." What is the purpose of having MPPs if they're not going to do their job?

They say with a great sense of spirit, "Oh, we need to get on with the hearings because we want to hear from the people of Metropolitan Toronto what they have to say about our megacity proposal." I tell you, if they're going to listen to the Metro folks in the same way they listened to tenants, we are in trouble, because they clearly don't listen and don't want to listen.

Beyond that, people want a referendum to be heard because they know this government is not listening. That's why they want the referendum. It is the only tool they've got to get this government to listen. Municipal politicians know that this government is not going to listen to them, but they will be forced to listen to the public in the event that the referendum does not support what this government does.

This government is afraid of that referendum tool. That is why you've heard a number of MPPs and the minister say, "Oh, it's too complicated a question," and some other members say: "Oh, it's too confusing a question. We want to avoid all of that," and they're about to get into passing legislation that deals with these very things. They're afraid to listen to the public, and that's why they don't want to have this referendum. That's why they want to pass this legislation before the referendum.

But if they do that, hell will break out in this place, and not just in this place but all over Metropolitan Toronto, and the effects of that will spill over into your wonderful area of support, the 905. We urge people to be very careful because democracy is growing in Ontario in ways that you will not like, in ways that you Tory-Reform politicians will not like, so you'd best pay heed.

You did not promise this in your agenda, your famous revolutionary agenda, but you're going ahead. Not only did your minister not promise this, your Minister Leach promised to get rid of the Metro government and keep local governments. That's what your minister said.


Mr Marchese: Those Reform-minded politicians to the left of me are babbling out in response to what I'm saying.

Your Premier said he wasn't going to eliminate, obliterate your city-states, your city governments in Metropolitan Toronto, and what does he do? He does the opposite. What kinds of things is this government doing, and are we to trust what this government is doing?

Beyond all this is a megacity that nobody seems to support, that all evidence speaks against. This government wants to forge ahead with something around which there's very little support. But we will see the cost of democracy, the cost of access and the cost of participation. People will feel the effects of that.

In fact, the reason why people are going to those meetings held every Monday is because they're afraid of losing that democracy they cherish, their ability to participate in their local community, and they know they will disappear in a mega-government. They're afraid of the bomb you've just unleashed on Metropolitan Toronto. I can just picture Mike Harris and his soldiers getting up every morning and saying, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." They have dumped the biggest bomb on Metropolitan Toronto and we're dealing with that.


They have fixed the property tax issue by eliminating education. Why have they done that to then replace it with an equivalent amount of money on the other side by dumping welfare on property tax owners, by dumping long-term care, housing that's aging and needs immediate repair, actual value assessment that's going to burden people in Metropolitan Toronto? Thirty per cent of people in Metropolitan Toronto are going to get a tax increase as a result of actual value assessment without any support from this government.

It is depressing what this government is doing. People are angry and people feel the hurt of that napalm that you have unleashed on Metropolitan Toronto and they're fighting back. They're fighting back because they don't like the fact that they're going to be taxed heavily as municipalities. The property tax owners are going to have a greater burden for these services that quite properly shouldn't belong there. They belong properly in the hands of a province that has taxing measures that a municipality does not. All I can urge the public that's listening is to, in the words of Dylan Thomas, "rage, rage against" the policies of this government -- rage against the policies of this government -- and I support those words.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It's my pleasure to rise to speak against the motion put forward by the leader of the third party and to comment briefly, because we certainly want to leave time for other members on the government side to comment as well on exactly how flawed the premise is behind this motion itself.

First off, the suggestion that there is any kind of common approach being taken by the six cities is flawed at the outset. They can't agree on the format, they can't agree on the question. They have changed their attitude almost weekly and we have seen anything but a genuine referendum. What we are seeing is nothing more than a $2.5-million public opinion poll. There is no legitimacy, there is no scientific merit behind what is being proposed by the mayors.

The bottom line is that, if you cut below a handful of politicians who are clearly speaking from a position of trying to maintain the status quo, you see that there is absolutely no support, no support whatsoever for the profligacy and the wastefulness that's being demonstrated by these high-handed and outrageous attempts to waste our tax dollars.

The real process, as every members in this House knows, on how bills before this chamber are debated involves making representations to the MPPs directly and appearing at committee hearings. Now our government committed at the outset that there would be lots of time given to committee hearings, and they will take place. The people who have something constructive to say will have the opportunity to come and speak their piece here at Queen's Park. But more important -- and I would expect that my opposition colleagues have the same open-door policy -- every one of the 30 members in the Toronto area is more than happy to hear at first hand whatever kind of position our constituents may take on this issue.

I'd like to share with my colleagues opposite exactly what that has been, what my experience has been in Scarborough East. We have yet to hit three dozen people who have called, written or faxed to our office any kind of commentary, and half of those have been positive. Further, not one person, not one of the 94,000 people in Scarborough East has called to ask to meet me on constituency day, not one. When you get beyond the faxes that come from the 392 exchange, which happens to be Metro Hall and Toronto city hall, I think you can see exactly where the true inspiration behind this call for a so-called referendum is coming. Those are the people who want to maintain the status quo.

One of the scariest things for those of us trying to engage in what we think is useful debate in this chamber is the absolute inability we have on this side to pin down the opposition on any given day. Mr Speaker, as you are well aware, late last year we had a number of committee hearings in this building dealing with the issue of referenda, and indeed it was very enlightening to hear the position taken by both parties opposite at that time. Let me just give you a couple of quotes.

From Sandra Pupatello, the Liberal MPP for Windsor Sandwich: "In effect, you have already got your mandate by the population of Ontario. Now the Conservative government today, and hopefully different later, you have the difficult job of making the decisions on behalf of your regional disparities that are accounted for" -- I'm sure you'll indulge grammatical errors -- "geographical disparities that are accounted for in your very makeup as representatives. That becomes your difficult task, not to be offloaded through a very simple yes/no question through the method of referendum."

Better than that, though, a quote that embraces both opposition parties in the Hamilton Spectator:

"Hamilton East Liberal MPP Dominic Agostino and Hamilton Centre MPP David Christopherson," from the third party, "said referendums are not useful in sorting our municipal restructuring." It will be interesting to see exactly how those two members vote when the vote comes up at 6 o'clock today.

The member for Hamilton East went on to say: "The danger is that you could end up where you govern by referendum all the time. That becomes costly and time-consuming."

But the quotes don't end in those committee hearings. The member who spoke on behalf of the official opposition, the member for Oakwood, a few years ago was not a member in this chamber; he was himself a municipal politician, and I'm sure regrets the fact the Toronto Star has a really good archive, because the member for Oakwood said, "York and East York are the poor cousins in Metro's six-member family and should amalgamate for their mutual benefit."

"Mike Colle...said yesterday an organization he's chairman of, Reform York, has been trying to raise the issue of amalgamation for the past eight months." In fact the member, as a councillor in York, put the question to his council and he was soundly rebuffed. But his best quote was, "Colle thinks the borough should be disbanded, `because we find our taxes are the highest in Metro and our services, if not the worst, are among the worst in Metro.'" Indeed.

If you go back into history a little further, at the first New Democratic Party municipal nominating convention -- we've heard some talk that the whole issue involving the amalgamation of Metro will somehow bring party politics into the municipal scene. I could refer you to any number of pamphlets put out by the members opposite promoting the fact they were the NDP candidates running for Toronto council and the NDP candidates running for the school board. They brought partisan politics to city elections, nothing that's going on in this bill.

At that first New Democratic Party municipal nominating convention, "The policy paper urging amalgamation of the city and the boroughs argues that there would be more equality of services and taxes across the whole Metro area and lead to many savings for the people." I guess that was their belief then, and they suggest somehow it's appropriate for them to go 180 degrees opposite and stand up and flail their hands and suggest that somehow a new position is worthy of meriting their support now.

As you're well aware, all three major Toronto newspapers have come out in support of our position against referenda. The Toronto Star said, "There's something decidedly wrong about lame-duck councils, who won't be around to face the voters' judgement again, squandering fistfuls of money on a consultation that won't mean a thing."

And the Globe and Mail said it very well: "The Harris government has the constitutional power, the public responsibility and the political mandate to act. A referendum on the issue is not called for."

I could go on and on with the quotes from the lips of the very members opposite, in committee and outside this building, suggesting that referendum is not the way to the go, but let's get back to the very issue at the heart of the motion here today, the suggestion that somehow, despite the fact that we have said that the process within this government is very open and accessible, that there will be public hearings, that the members are entertaining any submissions made by their constituents, we spend these millions of dollars, estimated as high as $7 million by one of the mayors, on a full-fledged referendum campaign.


Mr Colle: You spent $8 million on the ad campaign.

Mr Gilchrist: Let me just say something in response to the member for Oakwood: Maybe you could get your numbers straight; $8 million was what was spent by the party for all advertising all last year, which is less than the third party spent from April to July in the run-up to the provincial election. There has been no spending done so far. The $800,000 is being spent by the PC Party right now. You might want to revisit those numbers before you misspeak yourself in this chamber.

With the fact that there is no common approach, the fact that what is being proposed out there is so fundamentally flawed, it is a travesty even to refer to it as a referendum. A referendum, anywhere in the world where it is part of the democratic process, involves the representation by individuals, not politicians squeezed in the middle who are concerned about their own jobs; it involves a set percentage, in most jurisdictions 10% to 15%, who would sign a petition to submit to the government, challenging it to put a question forward.

We haven't seen that kind of process. Instead, we have six governments that are stacking the question and stacking the deck by funding only the anti, by funding only one side of the debate. For anyone opposite to suggest that that's democratic is the height of hypocrisy. If they were even funding both sides of the issue, perhaps it would be fair, perhaps it would be appropriate to suggest.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Excuse me. There's too much talking. Each party gets the opportunity to debate and we'll all want to hear. I wish you would take the opportunity of using it in your turn. The member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I'd like to think we accord some level of decorum to the other side when they're up, but we'll just speak a little louder if that's what needs to be done to make sure that the real story is getting out there.

Just to continue that point, I would challenge the members opposite to get their municipal friends, who are so bound and determined to fund the anti side, to take the democratic step of instead sharing that money honestly with the groups that are in favour, the groups that support the cost savings and the efficiencies and the new and innovative ways we'll be able to deliver better services at lower costs to the people all across Metro. I challenge them to level the playing field. But they won't do that. They won't do that because they want to make sure that only one side of this issue is heard.

Let me just speak very briefly to one example; namely, in my home community of Scarborough. The bottom line is that Scarborough has now suggested that it will mail two ballots to every household. It doesn't matter how many voters are in that household; there will be two ballots. Which means that if there is one person in that household, they clearly have an advantage; if there are four people, I guess the decision will have to be made who gets to vote and who doesn't.

Forget the premise behind everything else in our democracy of a secret ballot; in order to be received, you have to sign your name, and it will stay on the public record how you voted. This is a travesty, an absolute travesty.

But it goes further than that. Their only control will be to refer to the voters' list as a ballot comes in. However, I mentioned a second ago that a single-person household will get two ballots. If, for example, as one of the newspapers correctly pointed out, as the reporter in the Scarborough Mirror observed last week, you find out that your neighbour is opposed and you support, what will happen if you send a second ballot with his or her name on it? Will the clerk disqualify both ballots they're to receive, the fraudulent one and the legitimate one? There are no controls whatsoever.

Mr Colle: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: How dare he accuse the taxpayers of Scarborough of engaging in fradulent practices? That is not acceptable. That is an affront to every citizen --


The Acting Speaker: I remind the member for Oakwood, there are two --


The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I guess what the member is referring to is some of the issues that have gone on in his town of York in recent years. That fact of the matter is that I referred to an article in the Scarborough Mirror.

Mr Colle: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The contempt that this member has shown for his own citizens of Scarborough and my citizens of York is not acceptable. It is an affront to all those citizens and to this Legislature that a member of this Parliament could stand up and accuse the citizens of York and the citizens of Scarborough of engaging in fradulent election practices. I think you as Speaker should stand up and ask him to withdraw that defamatory accusation. That is uncalled for.


The Acting Speaker: Most times I am a reasonable person, and most times I have a great deal of patience and respect and so on. I am losing it very quickly, and I thought I should explain that to you.

Particularly to the member for Oakwood, I would like to explain that that is not a point of privilege. I would ask the member for Scarborough East to continue.

Mr Gilchrist: Let me just make it very clear, because back in the lofty reaches of the back row over there, perhaps the member did not hear me clearly. I was referring to a comment made by the reporter in the Scarborough Mirror, who, by the way, is opposed to the unification of the cities. He posited the suggestion that anyone in Scarborough --

Mr Colle: And you're reinforcing it.

Mr Gilchrist: He posited it as a point of illustrating this is not a referendum; this is not a fair test of the voters' opinion; this is not an honest campaign. This is a seriously flawed --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Steve, is that what you believe?

Mr Gilchrist: I will not withdraw a reference to what has been quoted in the Scarborough Mirror.

The Acting Speaker: I want to warn the member for Oakwood and the member for Sudbury East to come to order and to stay to order, please.

Mr Gilchrist: I know the member opposite is very sensitive about the fact that when he votes, presumably, if he votes, in favour of this motion, he is going totally contrary to everything that is recorded in all the annals of the various newspapers on his personal position on referendum and on amalgamations.

The bottom line is that the whole premise that we are debating here today is so utterly flawed. There is no suggestion out there at all, and not one mayor, not one council has maintained that a fair and honest test that would involve all of the normal scrutiny that is involved in elections and in normal referendums where they occur around the world -- not one of the councils has seen fit to embrace that idea and to spend the funds necessary to do that. Instead, while continuing to throw up the smokescreen, the impression that there is some kind of accountability attached to the process they are now advocating, the bottom line is that to save face, they are still going to spend $2.5 million. They are still going to waste taxpayers' money that could better go to policing or any of the other services delivered across this city. The bottom line is that this is nothing more than saving face and maintaining the status quo.

This is not a referendum. It is an offence to even use that term. It is an opinion poll. It's a survey. It has no more scientific validity -- no one has even defined the terms of reference. If 10% of the people respond and 5.1% are opposed to this, does that mean that the 94.9% who don't cast their vote in opposition are truly against this, or does it mean that if they are not even worked up enough to return the ballot or to make the phone-in submission, as North York is advocating -- doesn't that tell you that really the people are supporting this bill, that they're not worked up enough to even spend that amount of time?


The fact of the matter is, based on the submissions that are coming to our office, based on the only two surveys done in Scarborough so far -- by the way, at no cost to the taxpayers in one case; at minimal cost because it was attached as part of a mailing that was going out anyway by a Metro councillor -- one survey showed 74% of all the members of the chamber of commerce were in support. The other survey to 31,000 households, every household in the councillor's ward, which basically overlaps my riding 100%, showed 83% approval, 83% response, without wasting $2.5 million.

That's at the root of all of this. As we look for new and innovative ways of delivering services, as we look for ways to put dollars into services and not into bureaucracy, not into politicians' pockets, we're looking to downsize all of those extraneous expenses and put our dollars where they matter the most: into quality education, into policing our streets, into all the services that the people in this province desperately want to see.

I will be voting against this motion. I will be voting against this resolution precisely because of the hypocrisy, precisely because this is nothing more than a way of delaying what should be going on in this chamber right now if they really cared about this bill. If they really cared to bring forward the views of their constituents, they would be standing here today, as they would have stood here on Thursday and Wednesday and Tuesday of last week, and articulating those views. Rather than playing stunts, rather than motions to adjourn and other frivolous procedural filibusters at a cost of $1,000 a minute in this chamber, we would have genuinely heard what their points of view are.

Instead, this way they get off the hook. All they have to say is: "We don't agree with what the government is doing. We don't have our own opinions on how you save money. We don't have our own opinions on how you can improve service delivery in Metro. We don't have any opinions on how you can cut bureaucracy and duplication and waste. All we say is that what you're doing is wrong. Don't ask us what the alternative is."

The people of this province repudiated that sort of fence-sitting back on June 8, 1995. I am proud that we have finally had the courage to come forward with this, the final step in the evolution of Metro Toronto, clearly called for in the Common Sense Revolution, clearly part of the mandate our government had when we were elected and formed a majority back in 1995. I'm proud that this is one more commitment we've honoured. I'm proud to support this bill and I am proud that our government will be the first one that guarantees to end the duplication, the overlap, and to chart a course for all of the new city of Toronto that will guarantee its status as a world-class city for decades to come.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add a few comments to this particular resolution this afternoon, which I intend to support because I believe it's a sensible resolution. It calls together the provincial government and the local municipal governments to craft a question which is mutually accepted: not one which one side believes is important, or the other side, but one where they actually get together and agree upon it. I understand the concern of people on either side of an issue when they feel that perhaps a referendum or a question of some kind can be worded in a specific way to elicit a specific answer. I think this is quite conciliatory. I don't think this is a bulldozing resolution at all.

What I'm hearing from the people of this province is that this government is moving far too quickly and far too drastically and not assessing the consequences of its actions. I suspect many members of the government caucus share that view. However, the government is run from outside the caucus. It's run even from outside the cabinet, because really it is driven by right-wing ideologues who have imposed upon the government their points of view.

When I look at the member for Wellington, and I have watched him over the years in this House, I hardly believe that he would be a disciple of Tom Long and others who have imported their Republican Party ideas from the United States and imposed them. I know his predecessor Jack Johnson, a good friend of mine and a very capable and long-serving member of this Legislature, must shake in his boots when he sees the results of the revolution that is going on from outside the Tory caucus.

Having said that, when a government is making a drastic change of this kind, the onus is on the government to prove that its legislation is in fact good for the people of Metropolitan Toronto or the people of Ontario. I think the advantage of a very extensive debate on this, several days long, and a lot of public hearings and a lot of coverage by the news media is that we can have that kind of canvassing of the issues. If at the end of the day the government view prevails, then it prevails, and in a democracy we accept that.

But I don't think the government has proved its point in this case. There are people out there who believe that bigger is always better and always more efficient. When you talk to economists who have analysed this carefully, particularly in the municipal field, many of them will tell you that is not the case.

Dr Joseph Kushner of Brock University did a study -- it was either for a taxation magazine in Canada or for Municipal World; I can't recall which one it was -- that clearly demonstrated that there are not economies of scale every time a government proposes that you move from a number of municipalities to one municipality. I think that might well be the case in this instance.

People of other municipalities in Ontario are going to be quite concerned when they see the strength of Metropolitan Toronto, that is, one huge megacity which really has probably the power of a province, because in terms of population it is larger than many of the provinces in this country. But what is concerning me as well is that the government has done this all in the context of sowing confusion out there in the population. Last week they made a plethora of announcements of very complicated matters in this Legislature and outside this Legislature.

If you want to understand what it's all about, the government will now embark upon an advertising campaign paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario. I am looking for all the penny-pinchers on the government benches, those who are so concerned about the unnecessary expenditure of tax dollars, to now go to the Premier, to the Minister of Finance, to the Chairman of Management Board, and say, "We want you to withdraw these ads."

You're going to spend $650,000 on ads for the Ministry of Health, $650,000 on ads for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, $650,000 for ads for the Ministry of Education and Training, and already $400,000 on a pamphlet put out even before the bill was introduced, I think, by the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

In years gone by, Mr Eves, my friend from Parry Sound, and Mr Harris, my friend from North Bay, were both individuals who rightfully chastised other governments when they were engaging in what these gentlemen thought were propaganda ads. Clearly, any objective observer who looks at the ads on television, in the newspapers and hears the ones on the radio cannot help but understand that this government is squandering $2.3 million on self-serving, blatantly partisan Conservative propaganda paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario. Every time one of those ads comes on television during the hockey game, during the news or whenever, taxpayers in this province should be ringing up a cash register, should know that money is being taken out of their pockets to serve the purpose of this government.

This is not only a matter of dollars and cents -- that's extremely important -- but it's also a matter of fairness. In a democracy, it's important that we have both sides able to present their views in the same fashion. That is why during an election campaign there are limits on the amount of money that can be spent by political parties and individual candidates.


That's good legislation. In fact, I believe that legislation was brought in by the Conservative government of William Davis with the support of the two opposition parties. It's good legislation, but what you see now is unfairness, what you see is the government using -- I might say abusing -- its position of power to squander millions of dollars on what can only be characterized as self-serving, partisan government ads.

I think there are many members in the government caucus who probably privately agree with what I've just had to say. Why is the government engaging in it? Well, the ads themselves -- I'm as concerned as you must be, Mr Speaker, that the government started out with $800,000 worth of ads with the Premier in a hockey rink or somewhere, and he's reading from a teleprompter and the teleprompter says how nice things are going to be in Ontario and what a good fellow Mr Harris is and what a good party his party is.

But do you know what I'm afraid of? I'm afraid that the Conservative Party might have -- I don't know this to be true -- got a good deal on those ads, a better price than usual, because the same or an associated company was doing the other government ads. With the knowledge they were going to be getting all this government business, there would be those out there who would suspect that perhaps the Conservative Party got a better deal. I don't know that to be the case. I think that's worthy of further investigation.

I'm concerned, as I know you are, Mr Speaker, as an individual who represents a constituency, that while all this is going on this government is closing hospitals. On Wednesday night of this week at 7 o'clock at Club Roma in St Catharines, the friends of the Hotel Dieu Hospital will be gathering. Anybody in the community is allowed to go to support Hotel Dieu Hospital, and the people concerned about West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby, Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, Port Colborne hospital and Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital, all of which will be either closed or radically changed in a proposed report of a commission which based its report on the fact that this government is robbing the people of the Niagara Peninsula of $44 million in hospital funding.

I'm concerned in the context of what's going on with the megacity bill that that issue in going to be lost in the minds of many in the news media.

I believe that we in the opposition have been reasonable in what we've asked for. Let me be clear about what we have asked for and have not received from the government. I wrote a letter to the Honourable David Johnson, government House leader, which I will read in concluding my remarks today because it represents the position our party has taken on this issue and it represents the position I took at the last House leaders' meeting last Thursday.

"Dear Minister:

"As you are aware from the discussions which took place at the meeting of House leaders on the morning of Thursday, January 16, members of the Liberal caucus have requested that extensive debate and public input be permitted when dealing with Bill 103, the bill dealing with the proposed amalgamation of the six municipalities contained within Metro Toronto into one megacity.

"It is our recommendation that the maximum number of groups, organizations and individuals be heard on this issue during public hearings and that these hearings be held not only within the confines of the legislative precinct at Queen's Park, but also at the municipal council chambers or a suitable alternative location within each of the municipalities affected -- East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Toronto and York.

"In addition to this, the Liberal caucus believes that Bill 103 should not proceed to the stage of final consideration until such time as the public consultation initiated by each of these municipalities is completed and the results tabulated.

"The unwillingness of the government to agree to these recommendations last week is of great concern to members of the Liberal caucus.

It is understandable, surely, that the opposition parties are extremely reluctant to proceed with consideration of the bill until these matters have been resolved. It is my hope that you will be able to provide a favourable response to our recommendations at the very earliest opportunity.

"I look forward to hearing from you on these matters today."

It is signed my myself in my capacity as the House leader of the Liberal Party. I think it's a reasonable position, just as I think this particular resolution is reasonable. It's a conciliatory resolution, which will simply have the government of Ontario and the local municipalities within Metropolitan Toronto get together, craft a mutually acceptable question and way of consulting the people so that there are no questions after it's all over.

I believe that should proceed and that the government should not proceed with the final consideration of this legislation until such time as the result of the consultation of those referenda and other ways of consulting have been tabulated and publicized for the people of this province.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): It gives me pleasure today to have a few minutes to speak to this bill. As members may be aware, I spent last week in Newfoundland visiting my father, who has been ill, and I'm happy to say is recovering, and while I was there I tried to keep a close eye on news from Toronto, a little bit hard to get in Newfoundland from time to time. I was able to tune in every other day and get the Globe, albeit a bit late, and follow some of the developments in what was dubbed, I believe, as mega-week or mega-announcement week or something like that in Toronto.

Interjection: Mega-dump week.

Ms Churley: Mega-dump week, exactly. I must say I got depressed and I got very angry, which I still feel. But I want the members opposite to know, the government members, the members of the Harris Conservatives, that I'm more angry than depressed, and particularly members like the member for Scarborough East, whom I listened to closely in his rant about what he called the hypocrisy of the opposition, that what I hear is fear. What I hear is a man, a member of this House who knows that the majority of members ultimately, if not now, are going to support the opposition on this. I believe that he doth protest too much and I'd like to say to the member for Scarborough East and the member for York East -- by the way, I'll be going to a meeting in his riding tonight. I've been invited and maybe I'll see him there. As you know, part of East York will become part of my riding in the next election. People who know that phone me from time to time and if they don't feel represented by their own member they give me a call. I will be attending a meeting here in Toronto as well.

These are citizens' meetings. These are citizens who believe that their own members have blinders on and are not listening to the reality for the taxpayers, the citizens of Metro Toronto. They are not fools. They do not listen to that hogwash, that justification we hear daily from the minister and some of the members from the Metro region, trying to justify why they are doing this to Metro. When I hear members like the member for Scarborough East stand up and say what they're doing here is arranging things, restructuring, so to quote, "Put our dollars into things that matter most to Ontarians, like health care, education etc," we know what's really going on and so do the citizens of Metro.

We know that this, from day one, had a lot to do with getting more money to put in the coffers of this government's pocket so they can give rich people a tax cut. Unfortunately it all comes around to that. When we see this government desperately looking for ways to find money, we know what it's all about: to put money into the richest people's pockets in our province. We know that's what this is all about.

When members stand up and say, "Oh, we've got all three major newspapers in Toronto supporting us," may I point out to those members that, God knows, the editorial section writers in all three papers, particularly two, the Star and the Globe and Mail, very often differ from columnists and writers within their papers. If they will look closely -- I assume they're only reading what they want to read, and that is the editorial positions of those papers -- they will see that many knowledgeable, respected journalists are not at all supporting this move, that they have done their research and that they are telling this government, the Harris Tory government, the same thing the opposition and thousands of citizens across Metro are trying to tell them. "We don't believe you," is what they're saying.


From my experience over the last couple of months of going to citizens' meetings and talking to people in my riding and others about this, there are some people who were saying, "Well, megacity, we don't know what it means; maybe it is a good idea if it saves money," and that kind of thing. But these announcements of last week, especially -- a good example of what happened is when Mayor Lastman and Alan Tonks, the chair of Metro, finally had to come out and say, "Oh, gee, they betrayed us." They have to come forward and defend and protect and take care of their own constituents. They know they can't get away any more with trying to justify this terrible, anti-democratic move by the Harris Tory government. Everybody seems to know that now except these members.

When I was a minister in the NDP government, sometimes we'd be in difficult situations -- I see the member for St Catharines paying attention to this; he has been a cabinet minister too -- every now and then somebody, some minister, will come forward with a bright idea to solve a problem and you look at it and think: "Gee, this is really going to hurt my constituents. I don't think they've done a very good job -- the minister and perhaps P and P, the policy and priorities committee -- of really researching this and talking about it and finding out how it's really going to affect people."

We had example after example, particularly in Metro Toronto, when our government indeed was looking at a way to restructure the taxation system across Metro because we all knew reforms had to be made. We did have a bill in the House to make some changes, but those of us from Metro -- and I see my colleague the member for Dovercourt, who was a minister in that same government, and myself and the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the member for Fort York. We're all here now --

Mr Bradley: Ah, the good old days.

Ms Churley: "Ah, the good old days," says the member for St Catharines. Yes, those were the good old days, because at least we would go out and speak to people. We fought. When we found out that moves that could be passed by our government were actually going to hurt our constituents and down the road weren't even going to really solve the problem, we went out and we had massive public hearings. We went out and we did our research and we were able to come back, having done our homework, and say, "This is wrong," and prove to our own government members and the minister responsible that it was the wrong thing to do. We defended and worked with and helped our constituents, which is what we're here to do.

I would say to the members from the Metro area today, particularly the backbenchers, to listen to what we're saying and to listen to what their constituents are saying, not to what Mike Harris is saying and not to -- I don't know what is going through the head of the Minister for Municipal Affairs. I just don't know what he's thinking, because there is no evidence that any of this stuff is going to work. On the contrary, the evidence says it isn't going to work.

We have a situation here now in Toronto, in my riding of Riverdale, where my constituents are scared to death that their municipal taxes are going to go way up -- and we know they are, all the studies show they are -- and their public services are going to decline, poor people are going to be poorer, and yes, the rich will get richer and they won't have to worry about these things.

I say shame on this government. Shame on the members from the Metro area who are not listening to the people from my constituency and their constituency. I would urge them today, if they have true common sense and they are truly representing their constituents, to stop making excuses: "Oh, it's hypocrisy over there. Why should we do that? There used to be all of these things, and they say one thing and mean something else."

They are the government now and people are not believing what they're saying. They are not fools. I recommend to them today to stand up, be real men -- I guess there are a few women around here today too -- support your constituents and support this resolution today. They laugh, but we'll see who laughs last on this one.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Mr Speaker, thank you very much for your brief indulgence. I would like to make some specific comments about Bill 103 and the proposed resolution by the third-party opposition leader about referenda today, and to point out some of the refrains we have heard in the past few months and over the last year from the opposition benches when it comes to the question, where are the jobs? That was their refrain last spring and last winter: Where are the jobs?

We know, ladies and gentlemen, that the jobs are inherent in this particular proposal, Bill 103. How? Let's start with the whole property tax issue in Metropolitan Toronto when it comes to its complete non-competitiveness vis-à-vis other international cities throughout the world. Statistics Canada studies over the years have shown that in terms of the property tax proportion of gross national product, Canada is the world leader in the highest property tax: 4.1% of GNP is related to the high property taxes, going right down to Germany at 1.1%. Even the United States only has a GNP of 3.3%.

How does this link to job creation? It's quite evident that when you look at the assessment base in Metropolitan Toronto and you understand how taxes are distributed across the various Metro municipalities, to use a cliché, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that generally in the suburban cities we have been paying higher taxes for many years -- the last 30 at least -- substantially higher taxes than the folks in the city of Toronto. Now the cat has come home to get its bell on. As part of the whole package of restructuring, we have proposed through the finance ministry and this government that we are going to go to a fair, actual value property assessment system. And what do we hear from the opposition benches? "Oh, everything's fine. The folks in the suburban cities can continue to pay the higher taxes and end up having fewer services."

We've heard from across the way that the whole thing will end up in higher taxes completely. Well, anybody who has taken a degree in anything would know there are statistical variations, and that is going to be evident in the outcome when we go to the new property assessment system in January 1998.

For starters, we need to get our property assessment system in greater balance than it is now so we will have greater opportunity to create some jobs in this province. When I say "we," I'm referring to the private sector. We can create a climate for creating jobs. Government usually does not directly create jobs except for those it hires for specific governmental functions.

Another reason for the whole referenda debate being proposed by the leader of the third party is that they believe this is a question on which you can pose a fair question and that we can work together. But in point of fact, the members of both opposition parties, particularly the Liberals, have done nothing but a classic filibuster when it comes to the issue of deciding how we would establish a referenda bill and what kinds of concepts and problems and topics would be fairminded questions under that proposed legislation. In fact, prior to December 1996, the member for Windsor-Sandwich, Ms Pupatello, did a two-hour filibuster in the Legislative Assembly committee denouncing the use of referenda whatsoever, and used California as the prime example of how dreadful they are, how evil they are, and imputed motives to the members of this government for even proposing the possibility of having referenda legislation. Furthermore, the Deputy Speaker, M. Morin, had proposed that we could look at referenda if we had a three-party caucus representation commission, or some such name, where any question would have to have unanimity. Yet when it came to going into details of the implementation of such legislation, we ended up with a two-hour rant by the member opposite.


Isn't it strange, when he talks in the Legislative Assembly about how great referenda are, when we look at the member for Oakwood, who was demanding that we have an amalgamation when he was his other self back in 1983? I have here a photocopied brochure from the 1982 election, in which the honourable member for Oakwood pointed out, "Amalgamation: A solution that deserves serious consideration. Is York a politicians' luxury we cannot afford? We have the highest taxes in Metro but shoddy services and few community facilities," and went on to propose that this was a possibility, a good concept to look at.

What happened between 1982, or 1980 when he was the chairman of Reform York, and 1997? What created the 360-degree inversion in terms of whether we should have a referendum? Back then amalgamation was a good idea and yet today amalgamation is the worst idea you can come across and it ends up that he wants to have a referendum on the question. Absolutely incredible, but true to where that particular party stands on the whole issue of new legislation.

I would like to add further to the debate in terms of the theme that democracy is being destroyed by not holding a referendum on Bill 103. Aside from whether you could even come up with two sides to ascertain what the question would be, have the parameters of what the debate would be and get on with posting how you'd implement and carry out the question, we have here the destruction of democracy in that context. I would like the ask the members of the public, and the members of the opposition particularly, when you have nine economic development departments, or six legal departments, or seven planning departments, do you have greater democracy?

It would appear so, because the members opposite opposed thoroughly the Fewer Politicians Act when this government had the courage to reduce the number of politicians from 130 down to 103. Now they are again back on the same theme in terms of saying that would be undemocratic, but in point of fact none of them has very much of an optimistic nature over there, would look at the possibilities in terms of what would be the advantages and benefits of a new, unified city in terms of even democratic representation.

To be specific, you would have 44 councillors and one mayor elected at large right across Metro. The present representation by population within Metropolitan Toronto by Metro government itself, by the Metro Toronto councillors, is approximately between 75,000 and 90,000, yet in the new, unified city we would have two councillors, not one, whose population ranges in terms of representation would be, at the lowest, between 48,700 and about 55,780. That would be the population range.

Furthermore, when you look at the significant built-in advantages of having a new mayor from a new, unified, amalgamated city, as I'm sure the member for Oakwood must have been thinking back even in the days of 1983 when he first ran for public office, what are the strategic advantages of having a mayor speak for 2.5 million citizens Metro-wide? It's pretty obvious. That mayor, however he or she gets elected, or if the costs are somewhat too high we end up with an acclamation, will have tremendous authority and influence to speak for the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto in terms of whether Metro government and the people of Metropolitan Toronto are getting as much from the provincial government as the rest of Ontario. I think it will provide significant leverage in negotiations on practically any of the issues that are raised by the members opposite.

Finally, I would like to add that the final theme of Bill 103 that comes through very clearly, if you read the thing in its entirety, is accountability. Back when Municipal Affairs Minister John Eakins in the Peterson government of 1988 proposed, when the new Metro came into being, whereby the major principle of that legislation was direct election of Metro councillors to Metro government -- he said at the time that there would be greater public accountability to the electorate.

Case in point: In January-February 1989, when I first got elected to Etobicoke city council, lo and behold, what was the first issue the new Metro, supposedly truly accountable group of people down there, brought forward on the agenda? Not job creation, not the management of strategic reserves. No, no, none of that. They sent a resolution to all the local councils of the day demanding that they get their proportion of tax dollars for Metro even before the taxes had been levied in February 1989. In other words, "Just give us the money so we can get on with what we have to do." Is that accountability? In point of fact, on the direct election of Metro council, even Liberals today and members of the NDP have said to me, "It wasn't a great idea," because what it did to accountability was to diffuse it, so much that nobody becomes truly accountable.

The tax levy fiasco of January and February 1989 clearly points out why this government is eliminating Metro. That was its first priority at that time, and we had to end up going to court to protect the right of the local municipality to collect the taxes, because there was a great dispute over who was going to get the interest and who was going to spend the money.

Today Bill 103 clearly shows where there will be direct accountability in a fiscal sense. There will be one set of councillors elected -- nobody else, only them, whoever they are -- in the two districts of the 22 provincial-federal proposed new ridings. They will be responsible for how money is spent, how taxing decisions are made. Those are the primary rationales for Bill 103. There are many, many others I could go into, but I think this highlights and outlines why people are interested in getting on with the job of having a true, unified city that speaks together as one voice, internationally, nationally and locally, and from that perspective we will all be the winners.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm pleased to join the debate on the motion brought by the third party. Let me begin my short few minutes. The real debate is not the entirety of Bill 103, what it does and what it doesn't do; it is with respect to whether we should have the possibility of presenting the opportunity to the people to have their say. It's got to do with the referendum call, it's got to do with democracy; the real thing, real democracy, not the one I keep on hearing from the side of the government.

Many years ago one of the major newspapers here in Toronto did write that democracy is alive and well and working only when the governing majority gives the minority an opportunity to be heard. Under this government the minority is not getting their voice to be heard.

All afternoon I have heard from the government side nothing with respect to what Bill 103 and the megacity are going to be doing to Metro Toronto people. I haven't heard anything with respect to taxes, to seniors issues or kids and so forth.

When I hear members of the opposition side, especially for Scarborough East and Scarborough Centre, saying, "This is our commitment and this is our mandate," let me say what their leader, their Premier has been telling the people of Ontario over the years. Let me read just a couple of paragraphs, because I think it is important for the members of the government side and for the people out there to hear this. This comes from a document that I am going to carry as long as I sit in this House. It is entitled Your Ontario, Your Choice. I say to the people on the government side that if you really meant what you told the people of Ontario, if your leader, Mr Harris, meant it and was truthful and honest when he got this document in front of us, then go ahead and read it and give the people a choice; give the people a chance to choose. This is what Mr Harris says:

"So must the question of responsibility. Some have negatively suggested that the referendum mechanism is an abrogation of a government's responsibility to govern. This Ontario government believes otherwise. Our concept of governing arises from a strong belief in individual choice" -- he speaks of individual choice -- "collective stewardship, and distributed responsibility for the future. In other words, we believe that individuals should decide their futures. In turn, the function of government should be to serve and facilitate those aspirations, not to rule or constrain them. Referenda are but one way of putting taxpayers back in control of their government."

This was not the opposition; this was Mr Harris. This wasn't prior to the election either; this was back in August 1996. I am calling on the backbenchers over there, I am calling on Mr Harris now and saying, this is your document. This is what you have said with respect to referenda. This is what you have said in going to the people. This is what you have said about giving the people a choice to decide for themselves, giving the people a voice.

What we have here today, what we are debating today, is nothing less than what Mr Harris has been saying all along, so I would hope that indeed the government side will see what Mr Harris has been saying all along with respect to going to the people and the democratic process.

This is only a smokescreen. The members of the government side should not be saying, "How are we going to do it? It's too complicated," and stuff like that. I think they should be addressing themselves with respect to kids in Metro, to seniors waiting to get into old-age homes, nursing homes, day cares and so forth. That's the real issue. They should be concerned and they should be speaking more about taxes going up. They should address the issue that services will go down. Those are the real issues.

I don't think I have heard one member on the government side addressing the fact that one out of three kids in Metro lives in poverty. They don't want to hear that. Now it becomes the responsibility of the local municipality. What are we going to do now that we have this information, now that we have these figures? Are we going to wait until after January 1998, when the government is going to dump the responsibility on the local municipality to look after one third of the kids in Metro living in poverty? Are we going to wait until January 1, 1998, to find more beds in nursing homes so people don't have to lie in hospital corridors and be charged on top of that? Is this what the government is telling us, that now it's no longer their responsibility and that we will have to wait until the transition takes place? This is the real issue.

The real issue is not what they have been telling the people of Ontario. They have not been clear, they have not been upfront and they have not been telling the truth, if I may. The truth is what the papers have been printing in the last week. The truth is what this government has been dumping on the people of Ontario in the past week, and it amounts to millions and millions of dollars.

The government members on the other side and the Premier have been saying that there is one taxpayer. You know what's really sad, to the members on the government side? We have a government that has got the guts to tell the seniors of Ontario, "When your taxes are going to go up on the house that you spent your life paying for, if you can't afford the increases, go ahead and put on a negative mortgage."

You know, Mr Speaker -- and I'm going to finish my comments because my time is running out -- it is very sad. It's very sad indeed when we have a callous government and when we have a Premier who doesn't give a damn about kids starving in the city of Toronto. He doesn't give a damn about the seniors in Toronto here, those seniors who don't have RRSPs, who don't have executive pension plans. I'm talking about those seniors who built this place here, who built our schools, our roads and our hospitals, those seniors who are barely making it on their own today, and we are telling those seniors: "That's too bad." If they can't afford the tax increase which they're going to be getting, "Put a negative mortgage on the house."

I'm delighted to support this motion brought forward by the third party and I hope the House will do the same.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm glad to have a few minutes at least to speak on this motion, which is actually, when you look at it, a very simple, straightforward, and I would say even relatively mild proposal that we are putting forward. We are asking in this motion that the government members agree that the Minister of Municipal Affairs sit down with the mayors, put together a referendum question that's acceptable to him and to the mayors, and then abide by that referendum question on the issue of amalgamation of the six different municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto into one large megacity.

We are doing that because we believe it's fundamental that people in Metropolitan Toronto have an opportunity to express their democratic right on this important question. We particularly feel that's essential when, in this instance, what the Harris government is doing is completely opposite to what they promised prior to the last election they would do.

Here is a Premier who runs around the province proudly proclaiming that he's the man who keeps his promises, and on this important issue he is doing exactly the opposite of what he said prior to the last election he would do. He said in the Toronto Star debate on the greater Toronto area that he would abolish Metropolitan Toronto and would keep the lower-tier municipalities; he is doing the opposite. So there is no mandate that this government has on this important issue and people are justifiably upset about the lack of democratic process that this government is using to try to ram through this legislation.

We see those actions continuing to the point where we have the minister standing up and mocking municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto because they are taking advantage of the rules that he himself only a few weeks ago proudly proclaimed in Bill 86 that allow for referenda and votes to be taken in ways other than the traditional way of voting; in other words, by using the phone-in ballot, by using the mail-in ballot, by using those particular methods as alternatives to the traditional way of voting. What this government is not realizing is that in mocking what the municipalities are doing, they are mocking the people of Metropolitan Toronto, because if ever there was an issue on which people are beginning to rise, this is it. This is it because people are understanding that the democratic rights they have are being trampled on and because they also see that behind Bill 103 is the rest of the Tory agenda, the rest of the Mike Harris agenda that we've seen unfold in spades in this last week, which is all about downloading on to the property tax base billions of dollars that at the end of the day will result in property taxes picking up a larger and larger chunk of costs and will result, more importantly, in the average family -- not just in Metropolitan Toronto but across the province -- paying more for health care, paying more for long-term care, paying more for basic services. The only ones who are going to be better off at the end of the day are Mike Harris's rich friends who will indeed benefit from the tax cut.

That's what the story is about, that's what people are realizing more and more is happening and that's why this government is afraid of having a referendum on Bill 103. They know they would lose it and they're not prepared to be bound by that.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It is my pleasure to participate for a few short minutes in the debate concerning this resolution. I want to confine my remarks, if I may, unless prompted by my friendly members opposite, to the actual intent of the opposition day motion which I have to say is making a number of assumptions that we on this side of the House are having difficulty agreeing with.

It is quite true, of course, that we introduced Bill 103 and we intend, as the members of both sides of the House are aware, to have full public hearings with respect to Bill 103 in order to gain some added advice from the public at large, and undoubtedly from some of the politicians who are affected by this in Metropolitan Toronto and hopefully from some of the taxpayers and citizens and consumers of services within Metropolitan Toronto.

The second paragraph goes on to say that the "municipalities within Metropolitan Toronto have decided to conduct a public referendum on the province's legislation." This is where we, I believe, on this side of the House have some difficulty with the wording as proposed by the third party.

A referendum is a very special thing. A referendum refers, both in law and in practice, to public participation in a voting process on a particular question, which process is binding. We all know that under Bill 86, as members opposite have indicated, municipalities have the ability and the right, and in some cases, I would argue, the obligation, to pursue canvassing of the public through what can best be described as a plebiscite. The difference between a plebiscite and a referendum is like the distance between either shore of the Red Sea, in that a plebiscite is non-binding and a referendum is binding.

I applaud those citizens within Metropolitan Toronto who wish to have some sort of say in their future. I applaud that. I do not applaud the activities of the mayors within Metropolitan Toronto who are using the term "referendum" for something that could best be described as a plebiscite and at worst a public opinion poll of dubious merit.

I say that not lightly, and there's a bit of tragedy involved here, because I believe that people are unfortunately being misled, not by anyone in this House, certainly, but by the tale of events that have occurred within Metropolitan Toronto.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Are you for referenda?

Mr Clement: The member asks an important question: Am I for referendums? I am 110%, unequivocally in favour of binding referendums for the future of this province. Unfortunately what we have happening in Metropolitan Toronto is not a referendum. It does not have the tools available to it to make it a referendum. It does not have the safeguards to ensure a democratic result that binding referendums of necessity must have.

Mr Speaker, as you're aware, at the Legislative Assembly committee of this chamber I have been proposing a series of moves that would allow and commit the government and this Legislature to an umbrella piece of legislation that would commit the province of Ontario to binding referendums in certain cases.

What's happening in Metropolitan Toronto, if I may say parenthetically, is a walking advertisement for the need for umbrella legislation, to ensure that binding referendums occur within a framework that makes them fair, reasonable, democratic, open and honest. Unfortunately, those criteria have not been met in the instant case within Metropolitan Toronto.

We suggest the following: There may be two avenues to pursue to allow a binding referendum to take place. One is where the government thinks an issue is of such importance that it should go to a binding referendum. The government has the right, though, to say, "Look, this is a logical extension of our agenda that we were elected to do as a result of the last election," and they have the right to move forward on pieces of legislation that they feel are in the best interests of Ontario and are totally consistent with the agenda they were elected to do.

However, the government might be wrong or the opposition parties might be wrong. That might be the considered opinion of the citizens of Ontario, that we have got it wrong that in a particular case a referendum should not be the rule. That is where citizen initiatives come into play, where the people of Ontario say to the political elites, say to the government and indeed might say to the opposition parties: "You have got it wrong. We think this is an issue of such public importance that a referendum is necessary." We have proposed that would occur when 10% of the citizenry sign a petition within 180 days of its start, and under those circumstances, a binding referendum would occur at the next reasonable opportunity.

There are other things we have suggested: a fair referendum commission that would (1) vet the question, and (2) ensure that the administration of the referendum was fair, open and honest.

Let's start to view the situation we face in Metropolitan Toronto right now as opposed to the suggestions the government and I as a member of the government are pursuing on behalf of our agenda to have binding referendums as the norm in Ontario.

We have, in the case of our proposals, a way to ensure that the question is fair versus what we have going on in the six cities within Metropolitan Toronto where a skewed question is being pursued by six mayors who have decided what the question is going to be. We have a fair administration that we are proposing by the government of Ontario, that would be done independently of the government of Ontario by a fair referendum commission versus the cities administering the referendum in the case of Metropolitan Toronto, the cities deciding how the ballots are going to be allocated, the cities deciding how they are going to be counted, the cities deciding how they are going to be accounted for.

We have what I would suggest to be a fair discussion of the issues by virtue of the role of the referendum commission we are proposing versus the cities not only setting the question, but funding one side of the question, the city of Toronto being the most egregious in this respect, where we not only have $955,000 being spent for the actual poll, including staff costs, but $450,000 being spent on a Metro-wide public information campaign -- goodness knows what sort of information they're going to get on that -- plus ward anti-amalgamation campaign funds allocated to each councillor, not some independent commission but each city councillor, to the tune of $200,000. And if that wasn't enough, they're spending another $20,000 being allocated to a group, so-called Taxpayers Against Megacity. That's just one example. I acknowledged the most egregious one, but the trend is there for the others to follow.

That to me does not lend itself to a proper question nor a legitimate answer. It might be good enough for a public opinion poll or some form of testing of the waters -- I applaud the cities for doing that -- but not to make it a binding referendum where the legitimacy is there, the credibility is there and a fair, open and honest process is there. Those are the differences between what the government wants to see in terms of binding referendums and the tragedy that is occurring within Metropolitan Toronto when it comes to this ersatz, this zirconium referendum procedure that they are following.

From our perspective, we would love to get to the stage where direct democracy is the order of the day, and we look forward to this House and this Legislature debating direct democracy so that it can occur not only in Metropolitan Toronto but in the province as a whole. But you are not getting direct democracy either through this resolution or as a result of the campaign that is being waged by the six mayors in their own offices, so-called on behalf of the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto but, really, who can tell?


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I am very delighted to be able to speak in this debate today and to support the resolution as put forward, because I believe that what this government fails to realize is that they are undermining, and truly I believe they are undermining, the kind of traditions, the kind of structures and the kind of democracy that have evolved in our province.

I lament these days in which critics of the government and those who oppose what the government has done are being described as nothing more than wasters of taxpayers' dollars, as though they were intentionally following that route. Any dissenting voice to this government's agenda is relegated to nothing more than simply waste, refuse, to be thrown away. The dissenting voices, those voices that have criticism of this government, can be described by those who support the government as such as though they were wasting taxpayers' money.

I lament this attitude, because we've come to the point where to criticize the government means you are wasting taxpayers' dollars. When that begins to occur in a democracy, you can justify any action that is undertaken by any government and avoid any kind of dissenting voice, avoid any kind of public scrutiny, any kind of real, democratic debate that should be held by the public at large.

That is the essence of what we're dealing with, because ultimately this resolution and the resolution I put forward in private members' hour calling on the government to uphold the results of referenda or plebiscites that have been held in Metro Toronto to deal with the question of amalgamation are calling on the government to recognize that there may be in fact -- and it may be a minority opinion; it may very well turn out to be a minority opinion -- but none the less an opinion and an expression of interest that ought to be heard, because that is the essence of our democracy: allowing for dissenting voices to have their fullest expression.

This government has not found the time to allow for those dissenting voices to be heard. Ultimately what's being called for here is an expression of that dissent to be recognized publicly. Referenda may not be the best way to do this, but what choice do people have when this government tries to shut down the opposition, tries to silence the critics of the government?

Time and time again this government has shown its true character. It didn't just start yesterday or with the introduction of this megacity bill; it started with the introduction of the omnibus legislation, Bill 26.

I have to remind members of this chamber that had it not been the for the opposition using extreme measures and tactics -- and yes, they were extreme -- which I believe were called for, we would not have had a fuller debate in this assembly around a very important piece of legislation. Again, we see the same thing happening today and during this special session which has been brought to us to deal with the matters surrounding amalgamation and, furthermore, the enormous, fundamental changes that are being put forward by this government in mega-week, altering the very fabric of our society as we know it, altering the very fundamental institutions that sustain our society.

Who's going to get it in the nose? It will be Metropolitan Toronto, which ultimately will pay a huge price. I know the Speaker, whose riding is part of Metro Toronto, would agree with me. Not to make him more partisan, but he is a Metro Toronto member, I'll speak on his behalf. Indeed, Metro Toronto taxpayers, property taxpayers, will feel enormous pain and the wrath of this government. I lament that indeed the democracy that I have come to love, that I know every member of this Legislative Assembly would uphold, is being undermined.

Metropolitan Toronto is being sacrificed. I think there is a great resentment on the part of the government towards the way this city has evolved, the life of this city, the structures that have been put in place that allow for dissent, that allow for an expression of criticism, that allow for citizens' groups to come together collectively to make decisions. This government doesn't like that, doesn't like dissent, doesn't like contrary opinion. It wants to ram through its legislation time and time again and avoid the dissenting opinions. What we're seeing is that the barbarians truly are at the gates of our democracy, and I lament that.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I am pleased to join this debate and in particular to talk about the very essence of this motion that's before us today, and that is simply a request that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing meet with the different mayors of the six area municipalities to draft a referendum question which fairly and accurately describes the government's proposal for the amalgamated city. Nothing could be simpler than that.

We've heard an awful lot of debate here today, particularly from the government side, which seems to indicate that, number one, they're in favour of a referendum. Mr Clement has talked about referendum legislation with the Legislative Assembly committee on a number of occasions, urging the other members of that committee to endorse the concept of holding referendums.

This is a perfect opportunity for that to actually take place, on an issue which is clear-cut and focused: Should there be one Toronto, a metropolitan municipality of 2.3 million people, or should we, in effect, have six autonomous cities in this area? I can't for the life of me understand why the government members would be opposed to this kind of question being raised, a request that the Minister of Municipal Affairs meet with the mayors so that the best possible question, which would be as simple and straightforward as possible, can be determined, especially since it is obviously in all of our interests that whatever question is asked be clear-cut, be direct, be fair, so that whatever opinion is expressed by the people on this issue will be forthright and straightforward and so that there can be no doubt as to where the people in this metropolitan area of 2.3 million people stand on this issue.

Quite frankly, I thought the question was very wisely put, because it was not made completely into a partisan issue by one party or another. It asked in effect that an opposition party get together with the ministry in charge to draft the appropriate question in order to legitimize what's been happening in these six different municipalities.

We all know that Toronto is the lifeline of this province, and I would strongly suggest to the government members that they support this more-than-reasonable resolution.


Mr Hampton: This is an important debate and it concerns some important issues. Let me start off by saying that the government's whole process around this has been awful, awful because if you go back to the 1995 election campaign, the Premier, in several questionnaires he filled out, said that he and his party did not favour large urban governments. In fact, he said that he and his party favoured strengthening local government. At the debate that was held on the GTA region, the now Premier even said at the time that he favoured doing away with Metro-style government and he favoured strengthening the local municipalities within Metropolitan Toronto.

So now the government comes forward this fall and tries to dissociate itself totally from what it said in the past. But not wanting to be confronted with what it has said in the past, not wanting to be confronted with the fact that there has been a total change in direction and, I might add, some deception, the government wants to ram it all through, ram it all through and hope no one notices.

The government doesn't want to hear from local municipalities, doesn't want to hear from the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto, doesn't want to engage in any argument or debate about what needs to be done. The fact of the matter is, and I think people across Metropolitan Toronto know this, there are legitimate issues of governance and administration in Toronto and the GTA, but what the government is proposing here does not deal with any of those.

Let me give you an example of why we're opposing this whole megacity concept and let me spell out what I think the direction ought to be. A megacity will be undemocratic. It will be profoundly undemocratic. It will be friendly to developers and it will be friendly to the corporate interests, but not to neighbourhoods. A megacity is too big to handle local planning. Councillors covering a city of over two million people won't know anything about most of the neighbourhood changes they're voting on. Toronto got its reputation as a livable city by listening to neighbourhoods and protecting them. This scheme is custom-made for the interests of developers and for the interests of corporations.

The megacity will be so large that big infrastructure questions will dominate the agenda. Neighbourhood issues will get short shrift. As I said, this megacity concept will be good for developers. It will be bad for neighbourhoods, bad for communities and bad for the citizens of Toronto.

The government tries to cloud the issue by saying that there will be community councils made up of councillors from areas approximating the old cities. The government backgrounder says these councils may even get some limited planning authority, but absolutely none of this is in the legislation; all of this to be accepted on faith. But when you look a little further on "accepted on faith," we know that the official plan amendments which are needed for most significant development decisions will remain with this large megacity council, a megacity council that will be largely financed and backed by those developers and corporations which hope to profit by and hope to take advantage of this whole scheme. This will be profoundly undemocratic.

The government says, "This will save money." All the government offers up to back up that suggestion is a very flimsy KPMG study that said that amalgamation might find $300 million a year. This study was done in three weeks and the consultants were not even allowed to talk to anyone who actually delivers services in a municipality.

Most of these so-called savings that the government talks about were actually based on changes that have nothing to do with amalgamation. For example, large savings were calculated in policing, a service that's already amalgamating. Many of the so-called savings are based on new management practices that include such things as contracting out of sewage services, contracting out of computer operations, all of which involve big issues of privacy and confidentiality, things where before anyone talks about them, there at least ought to be some study and consultation to see if there's any truth in them.

The government wants to ignore the fact that where megacity has been forced before, such as, for example, Halifax-Dartmouth and the surrounding areas, the costs actually went up. The government wants to ignore American experts like Wendell Cox and University of Western Ontario professor Andrew Sancton, both of whom have studied megacity amalgamations and both of whom say that in almost every case it has cost more. In fact, Professor Sancton points out that either service levels will harmonize upwards to the highest level, thereby increasing costs, or some municipalities will see service standards decline.

We believe that's what will happen here. A larger structure means more middle management, which translates into government by nameless, faceless bureaucrats -- not responsible government, not representative government. In fact, if you look at where megacity has been tried in the past, megacity usually means mega-bureaucracy, meaning mega-taxes. We believe that is exactly what will happen here.

Then there's the whole issue of downloading, because part of what's happening in the background is that this government wants to force down the costs of health care, force down the costs of transportation, force down the costs of policing, force down the costs of social assistance. When you add that into the equation, it certainly means mega-taxes.

So we're opposed to what the government is proposing here because we believe it doesn't answer any of the salient questions. There are salient questions, though, that need to be looked at. For example, both the Golden report and the government's own process, the Crombie panel, pointed out that there needs to be coordination of transportation and coordination of sewer and water services across the greater Toronto area. This will not address any of those. In fact, both of those reports alluded to the fact that $1 billion could be saved in terms of greater coordination of sewer and water services, transportation services and attention to economic growth across the greater Toronto area, but this government wants to ignore that. A legitimate issue of governance and administration, and this government wants to ignore it.

The government should deal with urban sprawl, which is one of the greatest costs that's hitting us. Urban sprawl should be dealt with as both an environmental issue and an efficiency issue. Again, the Golden task force pointed out that there would be a lot of savings if this were addressed. Instead of doing that, this government has, by its other measures, worsened urban sprawl, created a greater problem in terms of urban sprawl, things that will add to municipal taxes in the future.

We need democratic, accountable local government. In fact, planning consultant Ken Greenberg gave one example of why in a November 23 Globe and Mail article:

"For local planning decisions which have so much impact on the look and feel of a city, you need municipal councillors who have personal knowledge of the urban spaces in question. You won't have that. You can't have that if councillors are representing a huge, sprawling metropolis of over two million people."

Further, we need efficiency and we believe there are ways to create efficiency, but this government wants to race ahead without any serious study of how you create efficiencies. Local municipalities should be looking at ways to better coordinate services, or in some cases amalgamate the services. The minister has never even considered whether this could be done while still preserving the right of people to their own local government, to responsible government, to democratic government. He is again relying on a KPMG study where the consultants weren't even allowed to talk to the people who actually deliver the services. I could go on.

Support for amalgamation of services, where this is proven through comprehensive studies, is something that needs to be looked at. I would even argue that the government should be promoting, in some cases, the amalgamation of municipalities where they are interested in that and where they think it will be in the interests of their citizens. For example, the city of York is looking at this, but the government doesn't promote this. No, they've got their megacity scheme that they want to promote. He won't meet with the mayors to even talk about the issue.

Because all these legitimate issues are being ignored, because the government is more interested in forcing the downloading of health care services, the downloading of transportation services, the downloading of policing, the downloading of social assistance, because this government is more interested in creating a governing structure that will be great for developers and wonderful for corporate interests but awful for democracy and awful for neighbourhoods and awful for communities, we have no choice but to put forward this resolution and say to the government and to people: Allow some democratic decision-making, allow some democratic input.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Hampton has moved opposition day number 1. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; it's a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1753 to 1758.

The Speaker: Mr Hampton has moved opposition day number 1. All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

Martel, Shelley

Bradley, James J.

Gravelle, Michael

Martin, Tony

Brown, Michael A.

Hampton, Howard

McGuinty, Dalton

Churley, Marilyn

Hoy, Pat

Miclash, Frank

Colle, Mike

Kennedy, Gerard

Patten, Richard

Cooke, David S.

Kormos, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles

Cordiano, Joseph

Kwinter, Monte

Pupatello, Sandra

Crozier, Bruce

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Curling, Alvin

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Duncan, Dwight

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Gerretsen, John

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Galt, Doug

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Baird, John R.

Gilchrist, Steve

Ross, Lillian

Barrett, Toby

Grimmett, Bill

Runciman, Robert W.

Bassett, Isabel

Guzzo, Garry J.

Shea, Derwyn

Beaubien, Marcel

Hastings, John

Sheehan, Frank

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Skarica, Toni

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Carroll, Jack

Jordan, W. Leo

Spina, Joseph

Chudleigh, Ted

Kells, Morley

Stewart, R. Gary

Clement, Tony

Leach, Al

Tascona, Joseph N.

Cunningham, Dianne

Leadston, Gary L.

Tilson, David

Danford, Harry

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tsubouchi, David H.

DeFaria, Carl

Munro, Julia

Turnbull, David

Doyle, Ed

Murdoch, Bill

Vankoughnet, Bill

Elliott, Brenda

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Fisher, Barbara

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Flaherty, Jim

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Ford, Douglas B.

Parker, John L.

Young, Terence H.

Fox, Gary

Pettit, Trevor


Froese, Tom

Preston, Peter


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 33, the nays are 58.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

It now being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1801.