36th Parliament, 1st Session

L149 - Wed 22 Jan 1997 / Mer 22 Jan 1997














The House met at 1333.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Tomorrow the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto will speak on behalf of the business community of Metro Toronto and issue a warning that the government's dumping will ultimately drive businesses out of Metro. The resulting pressure of increased residential property taxes will place businesses at a competitive disadvantage. To add to this growing entanglement, the United Way of Greater Toronto is also joining forces to oppose the dumping of social services, seniors' public health care and public housing.

I call upon the Harris government to listen to the growing voices of protest and warning. There is no doubt that the full impact of dumping essential services on to municipalities will result in higher residential property taxes in Metro, drive away small businesses and kill much-needed jobs. This will only lead to more dumping on the poor, their children, the sick, seniors and the disabled, those who can least afford it.

The Common Sense Revolution assured taxpayers that any actions on the part of the government would not result in increases to residential property taxes. Tomorrow this government will have the opportunity to take some much-needed advice from the Metro board of trade and the United Way. I hope it will be listening.

I am pleased to see the Minister of Municipal Affairs is here today and I hope he will be listening tomorrow to the advice of those Metro agencies.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I've had the opportunity over the last couple of days to do some in-detail reading of Bill 104, a bill that is going to change the education system in Ontario. I think that bill actually should be renamed. We should be calling that bill "less democracy for people within school board areas" rather than calling it the Fewer School Boards Act. This bill, by regulation, is going to give cabinet the authority to do a number of things that should be spelled out in legislation, rather than giving it by regulation.

What they're going to do through regulatory powers is that they're giving themselves, as a cabinet in this province, the authority to be able not only to establish school boards and what the area should be, but cabinet is going to decide by regulation what the electoral process shall be for the new school boards in 1997, something that in my view should be spelled out within the legislation itself so that the legislators of this assembly can have a say about how that will happen and have proper debate.

Further to that, the government is establishing an Education Improvement Commission that is going to have vast and far-sweeping powers to be able, among other things, to limit the expenditures of current school boards to $50,000 to projects within their communities. They are going to force school boards in this province to work towards contracting out so that unionized employees can have their jobs taken out from under them, so that they're able to give some contracts to their individual friends.

I say to the government, this is not a government of the people but rather a government of dictatorial style.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): A week ago Monday marked the beginning of the Who Does What session for this Legislature. As a government we announced ways of making the provincial and municipal levels of government in Ontario work better for the taxpayers they serve. It's my pleasure today to rise and announce to the House some of the good things that will be happening in Perth as a result of this legislation.

The announced changes to the property assessment and tax policy are, of course, very welcome. It's a well known and widely accepted fact that the people of Perth county have historically paid more in taxes than they've received in services. The new Ontario fair assessment system, which I might add is already in place in Perth county, will maintain fair taxation in this area of the province.

I would also like to point out great news for the farmers that was announced last week. The government will institute a separate property class for farm lands which will be taxed at 25% of the municipal residential rate. The new property class will replace the cumbersome and costly farm tax rebate program currently in place and will give farmers in Perth control over their own money.

I am proud to be part of a government that's fulfilling its election promises. These good-news announcements are just another stop along the way to lowering taxes, reducing the size and costs of government and creating better-quality services at a lower cost to the taxpayers of Perth county and Ontario.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I was shocked by a report released yesterday by the Ontario School Bus Association. This report said that the reductions in transportation budgets have raised questions about the safety of Ontario school buses. It was described as having reached a critical point. The fleet's age is increasing and there are fewer buses transporting more children.

What shocked me most about this report, however, was the Premier's flippant attitude towards it. He, in typical Mike Harris fashion, shrugged it off, saying that the government was not making the cuts, someone else is. It seems the Premier will spend millions of dollars on television ads to crow about his cuts, but he refuses to take responsibility for his actions. This is not acceptable. The Premier is making the cuts and the Premier must take responsibility.

I have seen this government drag its feet on bus safety issues before. Mr Palladini says that he supports my private member's bill, which seeks to protect children who ride school buses, but his government refuses to bring it forward. Now the Premier and the Minister of Education are choosing to do the same when they refuse to take responsibility for their actions. This must stop. This is not a cheap political game you are playing. You are playing with children's lives. You are making the cuts, you are stalling on legislation and you are responsible for the safety of our children in Ontario.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Beware, Mr Premier and Mr Minister of Municipal Affairs. Opposition to your mega-taxed megacity is growing like the proverbial mushroom.

Never before in my nine years in electoral politics have I seen so many people galvanized by one issue. I have been attending meetings in Toronto for a couple of months now and have watched the numbers grow from a few dozen to, earlier this week, up to 1,500 people. It is growing and growing. They're angry at what they see as a poorly conceived and ill-explained plan to dissolve a way of local government that has served them well for over a century.

Why is there so much opposition to this plan, the Premier may ask. Well, let me tell him this: These people are frightened at what they see as a sure-fire way to turn this city into the American urban nightmare, a shell of its former self -- and Mr Minister, don't keep on fooling yourself. They are mega-angry.

These citizens are also furious because of your complete public contempt for public opinion. This is not minor tinkering we're talking about here; these are very serious, big mega-plans to change the way we're governed and to increase taxes for all of us who live in Metro Toronto.

I want to congratulate John Sewell and all the other thousands of citizens across Toronto who are fighting the minister on this.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): Recently we distributed a small business survey in my riding of Norfolk and some of the results were surprising. We did this survey because small business generates more than 85% of new private sector jobs.

In their responses 54% of local businesses stated they are more likely to expand as a result of the recent Ontario government reforms. Of those planning to expand, 36% stated they will be creating new jobs, mainly full-time positions. I find this very encouraging.

The government policies cited as most influential in their decision were the repeal of the NDP labour laws and the employer health tax cut. Other reasons given were the income tax cut, the hydro rate freeze, the scrapping of the $50 corporate filing fee and the employee quota law, and the minimum wage freeze. Several owners noted that a strong, positive overall direction from the present government was definitely a factor.

Of serious concern, however, was the response by half the employers that our education system does not prepare young people for employment with their companies. Only 11% indicated that students are prepared. On the positive side, 75% stated that the private sector should be more involved in providing students with the skills and training they need to work with their companies.

This survey confirms in my mind that we need new policies, new investment and particularly new business.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Yesterday we witnessed a great victory for the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto. The Premier blinked, sounded the bugles of retreat and pushed Colonel Leach aside. Yes, the thousands of people who are meeting all over Metro, fighting against the dictatorial imposition of the megacity, with its incredible dumping of everything from welfare to health care on the property taxpayers, have made the Premier blink and retreat.

Right here yesterday, with opposition leader Dalton McGuinty asking the question and the galleries filled with citizens fighting Premier Harris's dismantling of democracy in Metro, the megacity dumpster went into reverse. People do care about their community and won't be denied their right to be heard on the future of their cities through a referendum. There is a growing tide and that is why the Premier blinked and backtracked.

The opposition and the Citizens for Local Democracy fighting this megacity madness are not going to go away. They are going to stay and fight and ensure that Mike Harris doesn't destroy one of the best places in the world to live in: the cities of Toronto, North York, Etobicoke, East York and Scarborough. These are great communities. They won't be destroyed without a fight.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This government talks a big game about small business. When it comes time to deliver, there's nothing. Small business, along with workers and students and seniors and the sick, gets skewered again by this government, and I know that. People like Fred and Mary Gabriel and Anna Hucajluk in the members' gallery know it, and Brent Warner, a small business person down in Niagara region, knows it.

Brent Warner, and the minister ought to know about Brent Warner and had a chance to assist Brent Warner, who is a small business person, an entrepreneur, has already been forced to shut down his Niagara Falls variety store and is just hanging on, just barely hanging on at Thorold Magazine on Front Street in Thorold. He employs people, he contributes to the economy of downtown Thorold, yet this government refuses to adequately supervise an Ontario Lottery Corp that has become increasingly corrupt, that has become increasingly favourable to a particular sector of small retailers, ignoring the needs of other participants, people like Brent Warner.

This government has a chance now to intervene and tell Ontario Lottery Corp to finally, once and for all, import some fairness into its practice of allowing licences to small business people, retailers like Brent Warner who have been arbitrarily, unfairly and discriminatorily denied one.

I tell you Thorold Magazine is going to shut down in short order if Brent Warner can't get help from this government in resolving what has been a long-standing and oppressive conflict between him and Ontario Lottery Corp. I'm calling upon this government to put its money where its mouth is.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I would like to advise the House that this week is National Non-Smoking Week. In fact today is Weedless Wednesday, the one day of the year that smokers are asked to butt out.

We are all concerned about the effects of smoking, particularly with our young people. In Canada 28% of teenage boys and 27% of teenage girls are smokers. If we can prevent people from smoking before they reach the age of 20, the chances that they will start smoking are very slim.

That is why our government has been active in enforcing the Tobacco Control Act, which was passed in 1994. A total of 926 charges have been laid for tobacco sales to minors in Ontario and this is more than the total in all other provinces combined. As well, there have been 14 automatic prohibitions issued to stores that have been convicted twice of selling tobacco to minors, and they are not permitted to sell any tobacco products or store them on their premises for six months.

The percentage of tobacco retailers willing to sell to minors in Ontario has dropped from 45% in 1994 to approximately 26% in 1996.

In a CFRB people poll conducted yesterday, 18% of the respondents felt that our laws were too harsh. I would say to them that if this law prevents even one young person from starting to smoke, these efforts are worth it.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Today seven cabinet colleagues and I will introduce nine bills in this House to cut red tape, eliminate wasteful rules and unnecessary regulations and create a more efficient government. Our goal is to provide greater service to taxpayers and customers while we remove barriers to business growth and investment which will create jobs.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the Red Tape Review Commission, of commission chair Frank Sheehan and of the staff who were involved in cutting red tape government-wide. With their invaluable assistance this government has made significant progress in the fight against red tape. We are eliminating or amending more than 1,500 regulations, we are repealing 45 acts and amending 181 other pieces of legislation.

The legislation I will introduce as Minister of Finance, the Red Tape Reduction Act, will amend 26 acts and repeal nine obsolete statutes. The finance legislation cuts red tape so the financial services industry can better serve consumers and businesses by reducing the delays in costs imposed by obsolete rules, unnecessary paperwork and needless duplication.

At the same time we are ensuring that Ontario depositors, policyholders and investors continue to be protected. We are removing red tape that stands in the way of improved customer service. We are also improving government services by making it easier for people to provide information to the government through electronic filings and more flexible forms. Cutting red tape while improving consumer protection helps unleash the job-creating forces of the private sector, improves customer service and benefits all taxpayers by making government more efficient.


The legislation my colleagues and I are introducing today is not the end of our efforts to cut red tape. There are additional measures to be taken both to reduce the existing red tape barriers and to stop more red tape from being created in the future.

I am pleased to receive the final report of the Red Tape Review Commission, which has some 130 further recommendations on how our government can cut red tape. Using this final report as a guide, we will create better government and build a positive climate for job creation in Ontario.

We made the commitment in the Common Sense Revolution to remove barriers to job creation in Ontario, including red tape. As you know, our government keeps its commitments.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Later today I will be introducing a bill to reduce red tape, create jobs and further reduce the cost of government by amending two acts, the Tile Drainage Act and the Drainage Act, and by repealing the obsolete Sheep and Wool Marketing Act.

Aujourd'hui, je déposerai un projet de loi visant à alléger les formalités administratives, à créer des emplois et à réduire d'avantage le coût des opérations gouvernementales, et qui prévoit la modification de deux lois, la Loi sur le drainage au moyen de tuyaux et la Loi sur le drainage, ainsi que l'abrogation de la Loi sur la commercialisation des ovins et de la laine, qui n'est plus utilisée.

Our amendments to the Tile Drainage Act will make it simpler for the province and the municipalities to help farmers afford tile drainage work, a most important project. The changes to the Drainage Act will reduce the administrative costs of drainage projects. And abolishing the Sheep and Wool Marketing Act will remove legislation that has not been used since 1985, when the Sheep Marketing Agency was formed.

The ministry has worked with the Red Tape Review Commission to make these changes as part of our ongoing commitment to reduce waste and to use our resources more effectively.

Last spring we also introduced the agrifood and rural business bill, which amended nine acts and repealed eight others. We have also revoked a number of unnecessary regulations and eliminated the use of 38 different forms and licences.

These regulatory reforms have three goals: to remove barriers to investment and job creation in the agrifood industry, to reduce the cost of government to taxpayers and to improve the service from government to customers.

I am pleased to be able to say that our Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is achieving those goals and helping to build a positive climate for job creation in Ontario.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): It is my pleasure today to inform the House and the people of Ontario about the Ministry of the Attorney General's ongoing efforts to cut the red tape that individuals and businesses face in the justice system.

Last June we introduced legislative changes to 14 statutes as part of the Government Process Simplification Act. Today I am introducing further legislative changes to provide individuals and businesses with faster and easier access to the justice system.

Under the able direction of the Red Tape Review Commission, the ministry has now prepared changes to a total of 18 statutes that will further simplify processes, improve client service and administrative efficiency, and reduce legal and other costs of doing business in Ontario. I would like to highlight some of what our legislative changes will accomplish.

We will remove the unnecessarily severe restrictions on the investment of trust funds so that beneficiaries will be in a better position to have their needs met.

We will allow wider use of fax machines and other electronic means in delivering, storing and transmitting various documents and forms. This will reduce costs and increase convenience for users.

We will reduce the need for official seals in many transactions, simplifying and modernizing our business practices in Ontario.

These changes are important because they support the government's goal of a modern, more accessible and more efficient justice system and because Ontario's competitiveness in the global marketplace is directly linked to the speed and affordability of its justice system.

We are proud to be doing our part to help this government fulfil promises made in the Common Sense Revolution to remove the red tape barriers to economic growth and job creation.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I am pleased to inform members of the Legislature today that my ministry's Red Tape Reduction Act will be introduced later today as part of the government's overall effort to eliminate unnecessary and obsolete legislation. The proposed legislation will repeal section 12 of the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture Act. This section has never been used and the ministry simply does not need it.

As well, this legislation will repeal the Parks Assistance Act, which has not been used since the 1990-91 fiscal year. The provincial interest in investment in the municipal parks covered by the PAA will continue to be protected through other legislation. Removing these unneeded measures is an example of how government legislation can be simplified without affecting stakeholders and the public. Although this is a small bill, my ministry is proud to be contributing to the efforts of the Red Tape Review Commission and to building a positive environment for job creation in Ontario.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'm pleased to announce that my ministry's Red Tape Reduction Act will be introduced today, continuing our attack on red tape, waste and duplication. Now, with the help of the red tape commission, we are introducing a much broader second phase that proposes more than 100 amendments to 30 ministry acts.

Most of these changes are technical in nature, but I would like briefly to draw your attention to some of the benefits that will result from these reforms. Changes to the Corporations Act will reduce red tape and compliance costs for non-profit corporations, encouraging their efforts in helping to build stronger communities. Reform of the Liquor Licence Act will remove barriers to job creation in our hospitality industry without promoting overconsumption. Amendments to the Loan Brokers Act will increase the public's protection against unscrupulous loan brokers, giving my ministry the power to quickly shut down their operations.

Overall, these changes will make my ministry more efficient in serving and protecting the public, more effective in the spending of taxpayers' dollars and more responsive to the needs of business, which creates jobs in this province, while protecting consumers. I am pleased to offer this legislation as part of the government's continuing efforts to roll out the red carpet, not the red tape, for job creation in Ontario.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Today I'm introducing my ministry's second red tape reduction bill. The Ministry of Environment and Energy is committed to reducing red tape while enhancing the protection of the environment and ensuring a reliable, affordable and safe energy supply for all Ontarians.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members opposite, I ask you to come to order. You'll get your five-minute response time.

Hon Mr Sterling: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Obviously this bill is attracting a lot of attention.

This bill dissolves the Ontario Energy Corp and repeals the act which established it. Our decision to terminate this corporation and repeal the act was made because OEC's functions are either no longer relevant or can be provided by the private sector.

Our red tape bill also includes an amendment to the Ontario Energy Board Act giving the OEB greater flexibility in setting rates for natural gas, resulting in a streamlined regulatory process. Flexible rate-setting will encourage natural gas utilities to become more efficient and improve their productivity, resulting in shared savings with their customers.

In summary, this red tape bill will allow the government to continue to refocus on priorities and deliver results more efficiently and effectively.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I'm pleased to announce that later this afternoon I will be tabling legislation designed to further reduce red tape in the health sector.

Since June 1995, this government has been working with our health care partners to reduce red tape and put the needs of patients first. The Red Tape Reduction Act is our second legislative package drafted with this goal in mind. By reducing red tape in the health care sector, this new bill will benefit patients, health care providers and taxpayers by merging health sector appeal boards and streamlining their hearing and review processes; scrapping over 400 unnecessary regulations and converting them to bylaws, giving professional colleges greater administrative freedom while improving accountability to their membership; streamlining and improving access to the college complaint, discipline and appeal proceedings; enhancing the ability of professional colleges to protect the privacy of their members while ensuring openness and accountability to the public; improving the ability of colleges to address suspected cases of fraud and abuse; making it easier for hospitals to acquire CAT scanners and MRIs.

These measures represent the latest action of this government to eliminate red tape in the health care sector, as we promised to do in the Common Sense Revolution. We will continue our efforts in the weeks and months to come because we all know that the more red tape we remove from the system the better it will work for all the people of Ontario.


Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Later today I will be introducing bills under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to reduce red tape, maintain our commitment to protecting the environment while improving customer service and reduce administration costs and duplication.

The MNR legislation will, among other things, protect more than $11 million a year for forest renewal, improve our planning process for crown lands, streamline forest legislation by reducing 11 acts to five, clean up the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and make other necessary housekeeping amendments. For example, we will make it simpler and faster to declare a restricted fire zone, thereby providing better protection to the public during forest fire emergencies.

All the proposed MNR amendments will be posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for 45 days to allow for public review and comment. We will consider all public input before these amendments are finalized.

The MNDM red tape bill will amend the Mining Act to improve the mining industry's business climate by clarifying definitions, standardizing mining claims and simplifying mining fees. This legislation will also protect environmentally sensitive areas during claim staking.

Overall, these two packages of red tape changes will affect 18 pieces of legislation and eliminate several unnecessary regulations.

Working with the Red Tape Review Commission, we have ensured that these changes are consistent with our government's commitment to reduce the cost of government while improving public services and protecting the environment.

The Speaker: Responses?

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I find it very interesting that the government should choose today to introduce red tape legislation as cost-cutting measures. Most interesting today at the press conference was the fact that the very chair of this committee couldn't answer the simple question put to him by reporters, and that was: "How efficient is this? How much money are we saving?" The member could not answer the question.

The reality is that this government is looking for a good-news statement today, and you need one badly. You've had two disastrous weeks of dumping costs on to cities and towns across Ontario, and this government is looking for anything it can find to show as relevant and a priority for this government.

The Minister of Health dares to stand up and talk about red tape in the Ministry of Health while 40,000 people in Windsor don't have a family doctor. It's the same story with the Minister of Environment and Energy, after he guts environment offices across Ontario and stands today to talk about red tape.

This is a lifeline from Queen's Park to all the cities and towns. This is what he's done to the lifeline of all the cities and towns. So much for red tape.

The Speaker: That's a prop, and props are not in order.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): When the Minister of Environment and Energy got up to read his two-paragraph statement today, he forgot to tell us what the rest of the recommendations in that report are. It's part of the ongoing process of destroying the ministry, the ongoing process of simply turning over to industry and to the private sector full control over the environment and environmental standards of this province.

Minister, since your government has come to power, you have gutted 40% of your staff. You have one inspector for water left in the province of Ontario. You have destroyed municipal programs. You are simply turning the clock back 50 years on environmental protection.

What does the report today recommend? It reports abandoning public health and safety when it comes to the environment. It reports abandoning a commitment to recycling. You're now going to allow industrial and commercial recycling programs to be voluntary, not mandatory. You're going to declare Ontario a dumping ground for waste from across North America. You're going to allow the private sector to move hazardous waste across public roads in this province without any controls or regulations. You're going to allow environmental polluters and people who contaminate soil in this province to walk away because the history of who has done it in the past is not going to matter under your new standards. You're going to lower standards for PCB storage. You're going to lower monitoring standards.

That's what you forgot to tell us is recommended in the rest of your report. This is part of the ongoing attack your government has made to environmental protection in Ontario, and the reason you're doing this is that you have no staff left, you have no commitment left and you have gutted your ministry. Today's report simply allows you to justify this total betrayal to the people of Ontario.

Very simply, Minister, you have no environment ministry left, you have no staff left, you have no regulations left. What would maybe serve this province is if we had no minister, because there's nothing for this minister to do.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): If the Minister of Northern Development and Mines were really interested in cutting red tape and creating jobs, he might want to bring back to the north the corporate services division to the ministry in Sudbury. He'd create jobs and he'd cut red tape. He'd also save a quarter of a million dollars in travel. He might want to bring the northern development division back to the north. He'd save almost $100,000 and create jobs. He might want to bring the mines and minerals division back to the north. He'd save jobs, he'd create jobs. He'd also save approximately $180,000 in travel, making a total of half a million dollars. He could save half a million dollars; he could create jobs; he could cut red tape.

He might also want to ensure that the deputy minister comes back and operates his ministry out of the north, as opposed to Toronto. He would create jobs; he would save staff; he would save costs; he would ensure that there is little red tape, as opposed to the red tape we get now.

Do you know what is most important? The Minister of Northern Development and Mines might want to create a strategy, a northern strategy, so that the people of northern Ontario don't feel betrayed.

Do you know what else he might want to do? He might want to talk to the several senior bureaucrats in his ministry who decided they would find employment somewhere else because they didn't like the direction the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines was going in. They didn't like the fact that there was no plan for northern Ontario. They didn't like the fact that this minister wasn't cutting red tape, he was increasing red tape; that this minister wasn't creating jobs, he was taking jobs away from the north; that this minister wasn't saving money, he was costing northern Ontario taxpayers more money; that this minister doesn't know what's going on.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The government has tried to tell people that the downloading of all kinds of costs for health care and social assistance and transportation and libraries and policing and water and sewer is all about reducing red tape and making things efficient. But people saw through that. People saw through this smokescreen, this deception, and people saw very clearly that this was all about putting costs on to municipalities, putting billions of dollars of costs on to municipal taxpayers.

When you examine this much-ballyhooed report from the government and you read through it, you can see that what the government calls red tape involves putting a whole bunch of other costs on to unsuspecting people.

For example, consider the recommendations with respect to the Ministry of Environment and Energy. The government says they should "Revoke regulation 340 requiring 30% by volume of carbonated soft drinks to be sold in refillable containers." In other words, the government is saying: "Do away with refillable containers. Just fill up those landfill sites with all kinds of non-refillable containers. Let the environment pay the cost."

Go a little further. It says, "Replace Ontario regulations...which mandate waste reduction and recycling for industrial, commercial and institutional establishments, with voluntary guidelines." In other words, this government doesn't care about recycling: "Let industry pollute. Let industry turn out all kinds of materials that can't be recycled. Let the environment pay the price while somebody makes a fast buck."


We can go on further. This government says of section 43 of the Environmental Protection Act, which defines "environmental liability" -- in other words, if someone pollutes and unsuspecting members of the public suffer loss and damage from that pollution -- "Narrow that. We don't want corporations to be liable for polluting the environment. We don't want corporations to be liable to unsuspecting members of the public when their water, air or their community is polluted by a corporation. Let corporations offload on to the public." This is red tape?

We could go further. The Minister of Natural Resources stands up and says that he is going to put aside $11 million to protect forest renewal. Last year $46 million was taken from the forest management and forest protection budget. What a load of nonsense.

Then we go further. As you know, there are a number of people in this province who want to be sure that firearms are used safely. We have an ammunition act in the province. All the members of the Conservative Party voted for this ammunition act and now that they're government they're saying, "Re-examine the usefulness of the ammunition act and potentially do away with it." Again, is this red tape? I don't think so.

Then we go on further. Pay equity is to ensure that women are not pushed into low-wage jobs, that women are not paid less than men. What does this government say? "Amend relevant sections of the Pay Equity Act to exempt either small employers (fewer than 50 employees) or preferably small and medium-sized employers (fewer than 100 employees) from its application." It's okay to create wage ghettos for women. Is that red tape? I thought that was fairness. I thought that was about ensuring that women are treated fairly.

Then we go to the Human Rights Code: "Amend the Human Rights Code to require a person to establish reasonable grounds to believe that a right under the code has been infringed before he/she may file a complaint...." In other words, throw all the onus on that poor person who has allegedly been discriminated against; let the discriminator off free. That's red tape? That's called punishing the victim. I could go on. What the government proposes to the Human Rights Code is absolutely indefensible.

In the Ministry of Labour, these people want to go back to a 50-hour workweek. Civilization has fought to get a 40-hour --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, we in the opposition are wondering whether we can expect from you now or soon a ruling on the illegal government advertising --

The Speaker: Yes.

A point of privilege, the member for Grey-Owen Sound.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): -- the leader of the New Democratic Party when he spoke. He spoke --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): You can't correct somebody else; you can only correct yourself.

Mr Murdoch: -- voted for that bill.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): It was a unanimous decision of the House and you're a member.

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Murdoch: It was not a unanimous decision; look at the record.

The Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, you can't correct another member's record. That's the way it goes. You can only correct your own record.


Mr Wildman: You didn't vote against it either.

Mr Murdoch: I did so.

The Speaker: Member for Grey-Owen Sound, please come to order.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): You see, Billy, that's what happens when you take a walk all the time.


The Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, member for Grey-Owen Sound, I'll warn you both now, come to order.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Where were you when that vote was taken, Bill?

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane North, come to order. Thank you.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): On Tuesday, January 14 and Wednesday, January 15, 1997, the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) and the member for Oakwood (Mr Colle) rose on separate questions of privilege to express concerns about government's recent use of electronic and print media to communicate its agenda and about its use of public funds to do so. In addition, I received submissions from the government House leader.

Specifically the member for Algoma expressed concerns about television commercials in which the Premier spoke to the government's forthcoming reform agenda. The member for Oakwood was concerned about a pamphlet issued by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The pamphlet dealt with the government's program for reforming municipal governance in Metropolitan Toronto. Both members indicated that the advertising occurred in advance of consideration by the House of legislative measures that would be necessary to implement the reform agenda and in advance of public hearings on these measures. They asked the Speaker to determine whether this advertising affected members' privileges and whether it was contempt.

Further, on Monday, January 20, 1997, the member for Algoma brought to my attention a separate but related concern. According to the member, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing had issued a press release on the previous Monday announcing the government's intention to realign the responsibilities of provincial and municipal governments. The member submitted that the wording of the press release had the effect of relating the television advertisements to the legislation that the minister was introducing.

Let me begin my response to these concerns by referring to the relevant parliamentary authorities on privilege. Standing order 21(a) provides that "Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom." Examples of individual privilege are freedom of speech, freedom from arrest in civil actions, exemption from jury duty, exemption from attendance as a witness and freedom from molestation.

Although it is not clear from the submissions made by the member for Algoma and the member for Oakwood which specific head of privilege they felt was being breached, I indicated last week that I would look into the matter. In my researches I found an October 29, 1980, ruling by Speaker Sauvé of the Canadian House of Commons, a ruling that dealt with concerns about the propriety of an advertising campaign initiated by the government of Canada. In ruling that there was no prima facie case of privilege, Speaker Sauvé stated the following at pages 4213 and 4214 of the House of Commons Hansard:

"There must...be some connection between the material alleged to contain the interference and the parliamentary proceeding. In this regard, there is little, if any, evidence before me relating either the documents or the advertising campaign to a parliamentary proceeding."

In light of Speaker Sauvé's ruling, and after examining all the circumstances, I find that a prima facie case of privilege has not been made out with respect to the concerns raised by the member for Algoma and the member for Oakwood. The television commercials, the ministry pamphlet and the ministry press release do not attempt by improper means to influence members in their parliamentary conduct and do not impede freedom of speech in this place, nor do they relate to a parliamentary proceeding.

The member for Algoma and the member for Oakwood also asked the Speaker to determine whether the same circumstances amounted to contempt. Erskine May explains the concept of contempt in the following terms (at pages 115, 121, 124 and 125):

"Generally speaking, any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence. It is therefore impossible to list every act which might be considered to amount to a contempt, the power to punish for such an offence being of its nature discretionary....

"Indignities offered to the House by words spoken or writings published reflecting on its character or proceedings have been constantly punished by both the Lords and the Commons upon the principle that such acts tend to obstruct the Houses in the performance of their functions by diminishing the respect due to them....

"Other acts besides words spoken or writings published reflecting upon either House or its proceedings which, though they do not tend directly to obstruct or impede either House in the performance of its functions, yet have a tendency to produce this result indirectly or by bringing such House into odium, contempt or ridicule or by lowering its authorities may constitute contempts."

That is what Erskine May said on contempt.


I want to say to members that I have also reviewed two important rulings mentioned by the member for Algoma last week. The first ruling was by Speaker Fraser in the Canadian House of Commons on October 10, 1989.

The situation that Speaker Fraser was faced with was as follows: The Department of Finance had caused to be published an advertisement that stated that "on January 1, 1991, Canada's federal sales tax system will change" and that a goods and services tax "will replace the existing federal sales tax." The advertisement then outlined specific proposed changes.

After assessing the situation from the perspective of privilege, Speaker Fraser proceeded to assess it from the perspective of contempt. In the course of ruling that there was no prima facie case for breach of privilege or for contempt, he identified the differences between the two in the following terms:

"All breaches of privilege are contempts of the House, but not all contempts are necessarily breaches of privilege. A contempt may be an act or an omission; it does not have to actually obstruct or impede the House or a member; it merely has to have the tendency to produce such results. Matters ranging from minor breaches of decorum to grave attacks against the authority of Parliament may be considered as contempts."

In ruling that there was no case for contempt, Speaker Fraser appears to have accepted the submissions of government ministers that the government had never intended the advertisements in question to be anything more than "informational" and that it had never been "the government's intention to suggest that legislation would not be submitted to Parliament for debate." Members will find this important ruling at pages 4457 to 4461 of the House of Commons Hansard for October 10, 1989.

The member for Algoma also referred to a March 28, 1994, ruling of Speaker Warner in our own House. In that case, the government had caused an open letter to be published in newspapers in the Ottawa-Carleton area. The letter, which appeared under the signature of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, could be interpreted as suggesting that a bill that had only received first reading would become law by a specified time. After reviewing Speaker Fraser's ruling and two precedents from our own House, Speaker Warner indicated that a prima facie case had not been established.

Let me now turn to the application of these authorities to the impugned advertising. With respect to the television commercial and the ministry press release mentioned by the member for Algoma, I am of the view that they do not raise a prima facie case of contempt. On the contrary, the commercial does nothing more than explain in a simple and general way the government's philosophy and its broad reform agenda. As for the press release, it is worded in an innocuous way.

However, I am very concerned by the ministry pamphlet, which was worded more definitely than the commercial and the press release. To name but a few examples, the brochure claims that "new city wards will be created," that "work on building the new city will start in 1997," and that "the new city of Toronto will reduce the number of municipal politicians."

How is one to interpret such unqualified claims? In my opinion, they convey the impression that the passage of the requisite legislation was not necessary or was a foregone conclusion, or that the assembly and the Legislature had a pro forma, tangential, even inferior role in the legislative and lawmaking process, and in doing so, they appear to diminish the respect that is due to this House. I would not have come to this view had these claims or proposals -- and that is all they are -- been qualified by a statement that they would only become law if and when the Legislature gave its stamp of approval to them.

In the two rulings I have referred to, Speaker Fraser in Ottawa and Speaker Warner in our own House had some strong words for ministers or the government of the day on the subject of government advertising.

Speaker Fraser stated he would not be as generous in future in a similar situation and that, "we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, nor a so-called administrative democracy." Speaker Warner stated "that this action has come very close to contempt, and in the future the minister should exercise more caution and exhibit greater respect for the proprieties of this House."

Considering the fact that Speaker Warner issued this very stern warning to the very ministry that I am dealing with today, I would consider this ministry to have been given fair warning.

It is not enough for yet another Speaker to issue yet another warning or caution in circumstances where the wording and circulation of the pamphlet appear on their face to cross the line. I say in all candour that a reader of that document could be left with an incorrect impression about how parliamentary democracy works in Ontario, an impression that undermines respect for our parliamentary institutions.

For these reasons then, I find that a prima facie case of contempt has been established. At the end of this ruling, I will entertain a motion with respect to the matter of the ministry pamphlet raised by the member for Oakwood.

On a separate but related matter, the member for St Catharines (Mr Bradley) expressed concerns on Tuesday of last week about the unequal access to advertising resources as between the government and the opposition. He asked whether the Speaker had any jurisdiction to restrict the government from disseminating allegedly self-serving, partisan advertising.

At this point in my ruling, I want to express some personal concerns about the propriety of public funds being used to advocate, through advertising, a particular position on a matter that is before the House. Let me be clear: I am not speaking here about politically paid for advertising, but rather about funds that are contributed to by every Ontarian, regardless of his or her political view. Personally, I would find it offensive if taxpayer dollars were being used to convey a political or partisan message. There is nothing wrong with members debating an issue and influencing public opinion; in fact, it is part of our parliamentary tradition to do so. But I feel that it's wrong for a government to attempt to influence public opinion through advertising that is paid for with public funds --


The Speaker: Order -- which, I might add, are not available to the opposition -- instead of through debate in the House.

As I say, these are my personal views. While I sympathize with the member for St Catharines, I do not have the jurisdiction to examine the propriety of such campaigns unless they raise a matter of privilege or contempt, a subject I have already addressed.

In his submission, the member for St Catharines also made mention of the Board of Internal Economy. If the member wishes to place some kind of request before the board, he is free to do so and the board can address such of his concerns as fall within its jurisdiction.

In closing, I thank the member for Algoma, the member for Oakwood, the member for St Catharines and the government House leader for bringing their various concerns to my attention.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): A point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: No, I'm not looking for points of privilege or points of order. They're not in order. I think I was very clear in my ruling.


The Speaker: It doesn't matter. I'm looking to the member. I expressed in my ruling I would be looking at the end of this to the member for Oakwood for a motion. Member for Oakwood.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Mr Speaker, I guess the fundamental issue here is in terms of equal information --

The Speaker: Member for Oakwood, I'm looking for a motion.

Mr Colle: My motion is that there's a motion of censure before this House that the Minister of Municipal Affairs is in direct contempt of parliamentary democracy and that we move a motion of censure against the Minister of Municipal Affairs at this time.

The Speaker: I just want to be very clear and it's going to be very straightforward. Member for Oakwood, please take your seat. I will not take too much more time. You moved the motion; you asked me to deal with it. I now am looking for a motion properly put in writing before this House, nothing less.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Have a five-minute recess.


The Speaker: -- longhand; I'm not suggesting you can't do that. I'm saying I need a motion.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We are asking for your assistance in this matter, as we're really looking for --

The Speaker: I say to the member for Lawrence, the ruling was requested by the member for Oakwood and it's been ruled. I now need the motion. Nothing else is in order. There's no time for recess; nothing's in order.

My patience is wearing very thin. It's incumbent on a member who moves this particular action to have a motion ready. Now, it's not ready.

Mr Cordiano: Well, we just need a few minutes to put something in writing.

The Speaker: Okay, I can see it's -- with all due respect to the member, that's a ridiculous argument. When you put the point of order, it's supposed to be ready at that time.


The Speaker: Order. Mr Colle moves that the government be censured by the House for its contemptible advertising campaign and that the matter be sent to the Legislative Assembly committee for consideration. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

Mr Cooke: What about the debate?

The Speaker: Oh, I'm sorry. There's debate; that's right. Okay, you're right. Just to be clear, it's the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carry? Okay, debate?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Just before we begin debate, I would like to request that you make copies of your ruling available to members of the Legislature, at least to the House leaders and leaders, so we have that to refer to as we move into the debate.

The Speaker: Yes, that's fine. I can do it as quickly as I can. Member for Oakwood.

Mr Colle: As you know, Mr Speaker, one of the constant concerns that have been raised by the opposition and the people of Metropolitan Toronto is not so much whether the megacity legislation was good or bad, but they are very concerned that due process and the fundamental democratic rights of the citizens of this province were being violated by the way this bill was introduced and by the way this bill was basically being rammed down the throats of the people of Metropolitan Toronto without due process.

I think that is why this pamphlet that the Minister of Municipal Affairs issued day to day, on almost the first day the bill was introduced, demonstrates the utter contempt the minister has for the right of the people of Metropolitan Toronto to have a say in their future. At the heart of this matter is that the minister totally disregards and is disregarding the right of the people to have both sides of the story. The issuance of this pamphlet, the spending of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars on only one side of the story, is what is most disturbing about this legislation and the way it has been introduced.

The introduction of Bill 103, the megacity bill, is not the issue by itself. The critical issue is how this province works, whether this is a parliamentary democracy or, as you said, an executive government that is functioning here. That is what is most upsetting, because the people of Metropolitan Toronto have been very categorical in saying, "All we want is to be able to have our input in giving both sides of the story." What the Minister of Municipal Affairs has done quite categorically is said: "We do not care what you say. We do not care what the other side is. We are going to ram this bill through without any attempt to give the other side."

I can see that what is at the heart of the matter is that the people of this metropolitan area, 2.5 million people, are saying, "Maybe there should be change and maybe the legislation before us should be debated, but it cannot be debated fairly when the government is able to expend all its resources to give just one side of the story." That is the most fundamental objection I think the opposition has and the people of Metropolitan Toronto have to the way the Minister of Municipal Affairs has conducted himself.

This digs deeper than political boundaries or politicians; this digs right at the very heart of our democracy and at the very principle of fairness and balance. Certainly the opposition is trying to give the other side, but it cannot do so if the government pre-empts the opposition and pre-empts the other side with a fait accompli, as they indicated in their pamphlet.


What is essential here is that if the government were at all fair, the hundreds of thousands of dollars it has spent on this pamphlet that went to every door in Metropolitan Toronto -- this went to a million households. It went to businesses, to homeowners, apartments right across Metro, the six municipalities. It wasn't just one little pamphlet that went into selected areas. It went right across Metro without anybody having an opportunity even to discuss or debate it, and you can see what the rationale was: that the government would get their side of the story out before anybody else had a chance. The government wanted to give an impression that no matter what this House did, no matter what the opposition said, no matter what the ratepayers said or what the citizens of local democracy are saying or what ordinary citizens are saying, this was a done deal. That is what is so fundamentally upsetting to the people of Metropolitan Toronto.

Many people would even agree that maybe there is some merit in some of the government structure being changed. Many of them have told me personally: "I don't care whether this is good or bad. What I care about is my right to have a say in the future of my city, whether it be through a referendum or getting information I want. I can't stand to have that denied me." People, again, who are in the Conservative Party, have said to me, "I am a Conservative but I am against this government and this minister who is ramming this thing down the throats of Metropolitan Toronto with my tax dollars without giving me a say." Is anything that is more fundamentally wrong than that? I don't know whether there is at this point in time, because the people of Metropolitan Toronto are saying loud and clear now that the future of their city, their neighbourhoods, their economy is at stake.

Tomorrow the board of trade will question where this minister is going with the impact on the city as a result of his pronouncements. People all over Metro, in East York, in York, in Etobicoke, are saying: "This megacity bill, what will it mean to me? The government is assuring me it will be nothing but savings." As you know, to show further contempt, the minister produced that rent-a-consultant report from KPMG, which placed his fanciful list of savings that has been proven to be nothing but a smokescreen. That was another expenditure of $110,000 by this minister, where this consultant reaffirmed his pipe dream of a megacity. The public was never given an attempt at getting a consultant or paying for a consultant, like the minister did to give just that one side of the story. If you look at that consultant's report by KPMG, you won't see very much information there, which tells you that the amalgamation of the six cities may cost you more money. All this report did was say it's a saving, reinforcing this pamphlet that the minister paid for.

Where does the ordinary citizen get a say in this? The minister has hundreds of thousands of dollars. He's got thousands of staff. He's got consultants he's hired who are working on this megacity legislation. What does the ordinary ratepayer in North York or the community person in East York have at their disposal to fight the megacity legislation? The minister has made nothing available to them. All they've gotten is the minister's one-sided story, and that is what has been so disturbing about this whole megacity madness, that this minister has basically unequivocally said, "Take it or leave it."

The most astonishing thing --

The Speaker: Order. Member for Oakwood, I would just caution you that you speak to the motion that you put. The motion is clearly a referral to committee with respect to the -- and I understand that there is some latitude there and I will provide some latitude --

Interjection: And a censure.

The Speaker: And a censure, yes, but the thrust of the motion is to committee and, like a bill, you must refer to the motion.

Mr Colle: Referring this bill to committee I think will give members of this Legislature the opportunity essentially to see what they can do to rectify this wrong, because there has been a grievous wrong perpetrated by this minister on the people of Metropolitan Toronto. That is undeniable.

I would hope the committee will investigate a variety of different options of how this wrong will be rectified, because there has to be fairness in its deliberation. In other words, this cannot go unnoticed, because the damage has been done. In other words, the minister has already expended hundreds of thousands of dollars giving his side of the story, so the committee will hopefully investigate ways of rectifying the wrong.

Perhaps what the committee should look at as an option is for the Conservative Party of Ontario, the Conservative Party that the Premier of this province belongs to, to reimburse the taxpayers for this wrongful advertisement. Let's get the bill in terms of what it cost the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. I think that bill should be referred to committee, what the cost is of the distribution to a million households, the printing of a very expensive pamphlet, what the cost is of that. The committee should be given that information and should investigate how the taxpayers might be recompensed for that expenditure.

Second, the committee should look at ways of allowing ordinary citizens in Metro to have a say on the other side of the debate or on ways of improving the legislation or making recommendations, because up until this point ordinary citizens don't have the finances the minister has. As I said, the minister has at his disposal an army of consultants, an army of civil servants who have been putting out their side of the story.

I would hope, in referring this to committee, that the committee will prudently look at ways of ensuring that this type of abuse of power -- and that's what it is; it's an unmitigated, categorical abuse of power of this minister and the whole ministry, and this cannot happen again. As you mentioned, Mr Speaker, this same ministry engaged in a similar activity previously.

A third thing I would like to refer to the committee in this deliberation is how the citizens of Ontario could ensure that there are safeguards built in so that this type of misuse of taxpayers' dollars does not occur again. What is so astonishing is that this whole exercise was supposedly about saving taxpayers' dollars. This whole exercise was about elected officials spending too many taxpayers' dollars. Here we have the very minister who is saying, "There are too many taxpayers' dollars misspent," misspending taxpayers' dollars. He and his ministry and his advisers blatantly misspent taxpayers' dollars to get across one viewpoint on the most sweeping municipal legislation ever seen in this province.

The impact on two and a half million people in Metro is not going to be an impact just for a year or two. For the next 50 years this legislation will impact on the shopkeepers, on the homeowners, on the tenants, on the community groups, on all the people who make this one of the greatest cities in the world. They will be impacted by this legislation. That's why the committee that is looking at this referral has to examine how this wrong can be rectified so that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the other ministries --

The Speaker: Order. I appreciate that there's much discussion in the House right now with respect to the circumstances, but we still have to have the House carry on in an orderly fashion. Members for Hamilton East, Wilson Heights, Windsor-Sandwich and others, not specifically you but others, it has to maintain some decorum. If you're going to meet, please meet outside. It's near impossible for me to hear the comments being made.


Mr Colle: I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. I think the most telling words in this were told to me personally by the former mayor of Scarborough, Joyce Trimmer. "Madam Mayor," I said to her, and I still call her that, "when you were on this commission, what did you discuss in terms of the alternatives? What was your final recommendation?" By the way, the minister, the Honourable Al Leach, was on that committee. Joyce Trimmer told me: "We categorically stated we were going to advocate the retention of local governments. The six local governments would be retained." That's what Joyce Trimmer told me. A lifelong Conservative, an excellent mayor of Scarborough, a councillor for 20 years, that's what she told me.

She said, "You know what perturbs me the most is not whether what they're proposing is totally different from what they did before the election, but it seems that this government and the Minister of Municipal Affairs have a total disregard of debate on this issue." That he is denying the right of people to have a say in the referendum, that that was being ridiculed, is what upset Joyce Trimmer the most. She said it had nothing to do with the fine points of municipal government. She said what was most upsetting to her, as a lifelong Conservative, was that this minister was totally disregarding input or debate.

I would hope the committee of the Legislature that's going to examine this blatant breach of due process and respect for this House and respect for the taxpayers will look at this and maybe bring in the former mayor of Scarborough and have her address this issue, what it means to her as a citizen and as a person who has served in local government. The committee must examine that and bring witnesses forward when we refer this to it.

I would ask that the committee that this is going to be referred to bring forward David Crombie and Jane Jacobs. Let them come forward and talk about due democratic process at the municipal level. They should come and give advice to the committee on how this wrong can be rectified, because it's not a matter of one pamphlet. This is a matter of how this government works. It's a matter of how communities work. It's a matter of how the opposition has at least an attempt to have an equal voice -- not even an equal voice; at least have a voice in the decisions that are going to be made.

I would hope that the committee will be made up of members of the Legislature who will take into account the impact this type of approach has on our processes here, on how we introduce legislation. Maybe we can learn a very valuable lesson when we refer this to committee, because the most astonishing thing to me when the bill was introduced was that the bill categorically said that as of the day of introduction -- I remember it well, December 17, the day I call the day of infamy, when this bill was introduced in this Legislature. The bill said that the bill was in effect and that the trustees were in power that very day, that these handpicked trustees, bureaucrats, were going to run a city of two and a half million people the day the bill was introduced.

The very next day I got phone calls from right across my constituency saying: "We've received some government pamphlets that say the megacity is a done deal. It's right there in the government literature."

So here we have legislation introduced giving power to faceless bureaucrats on December 17. The bill was introduced that day, and I think that's further proof of the contempt that minister and that ministry have for the democratic process.

The committee should bring the deputy ministers forward. The committee should bring forward the lawyers who drafted this legislation and bring forward the lawyers who looked at this legislation and how it basically is part and parcel of the contemptuous approach this whole ministry has had towards the right of people to be heard.

I would say that maybe the committee should widen its investigation, that this investigation and referral should look at this whole operation of this ministry. There is something that stinks in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. That stench can be smelled from Kenora to Cornwall, not only in Metro. I hope, in referring it to the members, my colleagues in this House, you will bring forward further questions about how this ministry has got to this point of having such contempt for this House, for this provincial Legislature and the decades of parliamentary democracy it represents.

Interjection: Centuries.

Mr Colle: Centuries of parliamentary democracy. There must be something fundamentally wrong with this ministry that it could have such contempt not only for the people of Metro; I think this kind of disregard should be taken to heart by everybody. It's not just about those of us who live in Metro; this contempt is a slap in the face to all of you all across Ontario. Whether you live in Ottawa, Wawa or Cornwall, this kind of contempt is going to affect you. Right now they're knocking on our doors in Metro, they're denying us the right to participate in our city's future. What is to say that they won't do the same thing, that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs won't disregard due process in Hamilton, Burlington or Manitouwadge?

It's not as if you're just fighting for the citizens of Toronto to have a say; you're fighting for your basic democratic rights. That's what is upsetting. That is why 1,500 people want this referred to committee. That is why this contemptuous act has to be referred to committee, because the 1,500 people who were at Metropolitan United Church last Monday night are most upset about due democratic process.

Last night there was another meeting in the Annex in Toronto where 500 people said: "We want a say in our future. We want to know what the cost of this is going to be. We want to know whether it's going to work in terms of neighbourhoods, in terms of economic viability." People all over Metro are standing up for everybody all over Ontario.

I know some of my colleagues on the Tory back bench in their heart of hearts know this is wrong. I know it's difficult in a big, majority government to stand up to the Premier, but I ask you all, whether you're a Conservative, Liberal or NDP or whatever, to ensure that when this is referred to committee you come and follow the proceedings, because they're not just proceedings about misuse of taxpayers' dollars by the Minister of Municipal Affairs; they're proceedings that go to the very heart of what makes this province the envy of a lot of countries and a lot of jurisdictions, because what has made this province great is that little people, in little neighbourhoods in little towns and in big neighbourhoods in big towns have had equal access to information.

This minister and his ministry should be brought to task and should be brought before this committee of the Legislature where the committee can ask the question: How much did you spend on this advertising, just one side, this propaganda? That's what it is. What deputy minister signed off on this? Did the Premier's office partake in the decision to pre-empt the process?

Maybe we should bring in the Premier's office to this too, because I know the Premier has taken a lead on the megacity deal. I would ask the committee, when it's referred to it, to ask the Premier to come and appear before it and find out whether his staff signed off on this pre-emptive propaganda campaign and whether they were party to it and ask the Premier whether he's happy with the way this municipal affairs department operates and whether other ministries operate the same way.


As you know, in referring it to committee what we have to look at is all the major pieces of legislation that are going to affect everything from education to health care to taxes in Ontario and whether those other ministries, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, are also doing things in an improper way and misusing taxpayers' dollars to pre-empt the democratic process. When referring it to committee we have to bring in the other ministers and all their communications branches to ensure that they are not perpetrating the same wrong and misusing hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars to push this agenda on to the taxpayers of Ontario.

The committee we're referring it to must widen its scope as it looks at this unprecedented -- this is history here today -- anti-democratic Ministry of Municipal Affairs. That is what is at the heart of the matter. We have to make sure the committee examines whether other ministries are plagued by the same disease, that's what we have to do, because there is more than just one ministry at stake here. There's a whole attitude, and the attitude is manifested in this propaganda they put out. I would hope that the committee members, in their wisdom, will widen and be very prudent in their deliberations, because there is no doubt about it, in this very difficult day we might also see some remedies.

The committee will maybe make some interesting recommendations that will ensure that these safeguards are put into place. When you have a majority government, whether it's this one or future ones, the message the committee should be able to give is that just because you've got a majority government, that doesn't give you the right to deny public participation.

You can introduce legislation, you can eventually pass it because you've got the numbers, but no matter how big your majority is, the public still has a right, the opposition has a right, to get their story out. You can't just take for granted and assume that this is an executive democracy where, just because the Premier's office or one of his ministers decides that this legislation is appropriate, that is the rule or that is the law.

Again I remind you that if you look at the legislation itself, it is a very frightening agenda that basically says: "When we introduce legislation, it's a done deal -- December 17. There's no use fighting it, there's no use resisting it. We have a majority, we have the three editorial boards on side and we can do what we want."

I think the ordinary people have said: "Whether the editorial boards support a policy or whether the Premier supports a policy or whether the minister thinks it's the greatest thing, we citizens can still have a voice. We still have the right to debate, we have the right to question the impact of legislation." There can be nothing more fundamental than that. I know a lot of people will ask, "When it goes to committee, what will the committee really do?" But I think the committee can look at ways in which it can preserve the rights of the minority, basic democratic rights of taxpayers, basic democratic rights of groups, and sometimes we may disagree with these small groups.

They may not be the groups that support the majority agenda, but the committee should look, in its wisdom, at ensuring that when a ministry undertakes the most massive change in the history of this province in local government, the committee has to ensure that no matter how odious the group is, how contrary it is to the government, that group has a right to at least present the alternative view. That is what the committee must examine.

Unequivocally, from day one, December 17 onwards, there has been bulldozing, total disregard, even ridiculing of anybody who questioned this. The three major dailies of Toronto should be ashamed of themselves for going along with this agenda, especially the Toronto Star, a newspaper that was a muckraking paper. They should be ashamed for not allowing public debate on this thing.

That is what is most upsetting: We have to have the other side. Maybe there will be total amalgamation in the end, but it's got to be done with debate and an opportunity for the other side to be heard, and this is what the committee has to look at. No matter how powerful the daily newspapers are, no matter how powerful the media are, no matter how powerful government is, our government cannot deny the right of the opposition and ordinary citizens to have a say. Maybe we will learn a lesson today like we've never learned before, that people, whether they are in corporations or run a barber shop or are out of work, have a right to have a say.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): This is an unusual debate today and I want to outline what I think is the essence of the contempt we have before the House. I've had the time to look at some of the background, and what I think is particularly important here is that we all recognize --

The Speaker: To the leader of the third party, as I said to the member for Oakwood, what is under debate is the motion. I just want to be clear. You'll refer back to the committee etc.

Mr Hampton: Yes.

The Speaker: That's fine. Thank you.

Mr Hampton: This matter of government advertising and government brochures -- this is the one in question -- has been considered by the Speaker in this House before. To quote Speaker Warner, after looking at a similar situation involving the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, the Speaker was very clear in delineating the situation. He said, "I want to say to the minister that this action has come very close to contempt, and in the future the minister should exercise more caution and exhibit greater respect for the proprieties of this House."

When we look at this pamphlet, it's very important to note the attitude the government takes, the attitude the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Municipal Affairs take. The Minister of Municipal Affairs takes the view, as expressed in this pamphlet, that legislation has already been passed to permit the appointment of trustees, that legislation has already been passed to permit the takeover of six existing cities. The Minister and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs take the attitude that it doesn't matter what the public may think, it doesn't matter what the public's views may be, it doesn't matter what debate may happen here, it doesn't matter what questions may be raised, it doesn't matter what points may be brought out. It almost takes the point of view that because the Minister of Municipal Affairs has made a decision, this has happened almost by decree.

What is so absolutely contemptible about that is that it takes the position that democratic debate is merely some sort of formality, that going out and listening to the public and what the public has to say is merely a formality, that any questions that may be raised are merely a formality; that all these institutions of democracy that people have worked so long and so hard to develop and protect are irrelevant as far as the Minister of Municipal Affairs is concerned; that all these democratic institutions -- the right to come here and to debate, the right to come here and to raise issues, the right of the public to be involved in hearings, the right of the public to put across their view, the right of the public to consider the points raised, the right of the public to question the points raised -- are all irrelevant. The minister has decreed how it shall be.


I want to go through this pamphlet to point out some of the elements that I think are most contemptible: most contemptible of democracy, most contemptible of our democratic institutions. If you read the second page, without any legislation having been passed, without any public hearings having been held, without the public ever being consulted, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and this government say, as if it's a fact, "The next regular municipal elections will be held on schedule in November -- at which time Toronto voters will elect their new unified city council." It then says, "We will take 1997 to prepare for the new government in 1998. Throughout 1997 a transition team...." No legislation approving a transition team, no hearings on how this transition team should be appointed, no legislation providing for the appointment of a transition team, but the minister says a transition team will prepare for the new city government.

Further, a "board of trustees will oversee local spending decisions." There has been no legislation creating these trustees. There has been no legislation empowering these trustees. There has been no public debate about whether these trustees are a part of our democratic institutions, where their powers flow from, what the constraints on their powers are. This minister and this government assume you can do this by decree. Democracy doesn't matter. Parliament doesn't matter. Legislative approval doesn't matter. Approval by the public doesn't matter. You simply do it by decree.

I could read on, and I will read on because I believe there are other instances in this pamphlet which illustrate how profound the contempt is.

The transition team: Again, no legislation has been passed creating this transition team. There has been no debate about what powers this transition team shall have. The minister, the ministry and the government say, "The transition team will announce the" new "ward boundaries in early 1997." They will simply announce it -- no need of public consultation, no need of public discussion, no need of ever talking to the people who are going to be governed; you simply do it by decree.

I could go on, and I will go on because there is so much more in this brochure that is contemptible of democratic institutions, that is contemptible of this Legislature, that is contemptible of the will of the public. But I'll save that, because I want to talk a little more broadly about why this is so contemptible.

Democracy is not simply a case of: "We won, therefore none of you matter any more. We're simply going to do whatever we feel like, whatever our whim is, whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it." That is not democracy. Democracy is real debate. Democracy is consultation with the public. Democracy is talking to the public, asking questions, checking the debate, listening to the debate and actually changing the legislation where points are raised, where legitimate concerns are raised, and where problems are shown to exist, amending the legislation.

But if I read this pamphlet, the government is again, the minister is again, the ministry is again making it sound as if there is no room for debate. There is no room for raising legitimate questions; there is no room for challenging.

Is it a good idea to have trustees? Is it a good idea to simply appoint three trustees? How is it that when you've had democratic elections, when mayors and councillors have been democratically elected, you can simply appoint trustees? That's a very serious matter. Ordinarily in our law, trustees are only appointed when someone has done something wrong or when someone is incapable of acting or when you feel that something has somehow gone askew. There is no room for debate, according to this pamphlet, as to what should be the limits on the power of these trustees. There is no room to debate or question whether or not there should even be these trustees. There is no room to debate whether or not appointment of these trustees is fundamentally in opposition to our democratic traditions. There's no room for any of that. None.

That is what is so offensive about this, that the government assumes that because on a certain day in June 1995 they happened to win an election, from now on democracy doesn't matter; from now on, talking to the people doesn't matter; from now on, issues raised by the opposition in this Legislature don't matter; from now on, legitimate points that are raised don't matter. This government, this minister, this ministry take the attitude that once elected, they may do whatever they wish, and they may even announce it to the public before there is any legislation which approves or empowers them to do that.

There is more that in my view is contemptible about this. Not only has the government taken the view that there is no need for debate, there is no need to involve the public, there is no need to consider opposition points of view, there is no need to consider whether or not what they are doing is in accord with democratic principles; not only does the government take that view, but the government also takes the view that they can, without anything further, simply use taxpayers' money to then shove this down people's throats. In this case we are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money, hundreds of thousands of dollars of citizens' money, to then take what amounts to rule by decree and say to people: "This is how it shall be and this is how it shall be and this is how it shall be."

This is contempt upon contempt. This is contempt heaped upon contempt. The first bit of contempt is this, saying to the people who live in Metropolitan Toronto, "This is how it shall be." Without any debate, without any discussion, without any consultation of the people, without any consideration of the public will, "This is how it shall be." That, in my view, is the first contempt.

But above and beyond that, even more serious, is that the minister then takes the view that without any approval, he can then take this point of view that has been handed down by decree and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of citizens' money reinforcing, telling people over and over again: "This is how it shall be. There is no need of debate. There is no need of democratic consideration. There is no need of further exercise of the institutions of democracy. The minister has made a decision. This is how it shall be. Money shall be spent to reinforce the minister's position. Money shall be spent to command public respect and public obedience of the minister's decision. There is no need of any discussion, debate, any public involvement whatsoever." In my view, that is contempt heaped upon contempt for this democratic institution and for all of the institutions of democracy in our society.


I want to go over the points again, because I feel somehow that this government won't listen, that this government is not interested in listening to people. As we've started this debate, I think it's important to note that our understanding is that this government has planned further advertising campaigns, going into the millions of dollars, without any legislation being passed, further advertising campaigns which will essentially say to people: "It has been decreed by the minister. This is how it shall be. The minister is now commanding your obedience." None of this has been authorized by the passage of any legislation; none of this has been subjected to debate with the public; none of this has entertained opposition points of view or views being raised by the public -- none of it.

The government simply believes, this minister simply believes, this ministry simply believes that they can make a decision without any public involvement, decree that decision and then reinforce that decision with millions of dollars of citizens' tax money, commanding their obedience, directing their obedience, informing them, "This is how it shall be."

I fear, Speaker, that not only do we have this contempt of this and, I argue, the further contempt of the advertising, which is engendered and created in order to command obedience, but we will see further examples of this government using millions of dollars of citizens' money, telling citizens: "It shall be thus and so. You have no need for debate. You have no need for discussion. We have no need for public hearings. This is how it shall be, because the minister has decreed it."

There are, I know, governments in the world that operate that way. There are, I know, governments in the world that believe that debate in the Legislature is unnecessary, that believe that consultations with the public are unnecessary, that believe that questions, opposition points of view, alternative points of view are all unnecessary. There are governments in this world that behave and operate that way. Thank God we have not had them here. Thank God that in our heritage of government, in our heritage of democratic process, we have not operated in that way.

In this contempt I fear that a very wrong direction is at stake. The tendency here, if it is followed, is one that frankly is harmful to the whole democratic fabric of this province, is one that in my view has too much in common with the behaviour and activities of governments in other parts of the world which believe that the public doesn't matter, which believe that democratic debate doesn't matter, which believe that all of these things are irrelevant, that it can all be done by decree by the minister. The minister can then go out and tell the public: "This is how it is. This is how it shall be done. Fall in line. Your obedience is commanded."

It's not that way. It can't be that way. In a province that is steeped in democratic tradition, in a province where what happens here, the questions that are asked here, the answers that are given here, where what the public says, where public involvement, where all these things matter, we simply can't allow that to happen.

I want to go back and go into the motion a bit more deeply, "that the government be censured by the House for its contemptible advertising campaign and that the matter be sent to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its consideration."

I want to dwell a bit on why I think this is so important. I want to argue that this is so important that this happened. This is, in my view, an event of historic proportions, what has happened here, and in order that the minister and the ministry not proceed down this lane any further, in order that we are reminded and the minister and the ministry are reminded that the public matters, that public involvement in debate matters, that the proper passage of legislation through this House matters before the government can take a position of saying, "It is decreed it shall be," in order that all that can be looked at and the minister and the ministry can remind themselves of that and the government can take guidance from it, I think it's very, very important --

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I'm going to ask for your ruling on this motion. I'm going to ask that you rule whether this motion is in order. I ask that on the basis that in your comments in your ruling you have expressed concern with regard to the ministry pamphlet, you have expressed concern with a particular pamphlet and you gave some examples of your concern in that regard. As well, you referred to a situation in 1994, I believe it was, in terms of a ruling of the previous Speaker with regard to information pertaining to the Ottawa-Carleton situation, as I can recall at that time, in which case the Speaker did not rule for prima facie contempt, but in your view that was a warning for the ministry.

In the motion that's before us, and I think you are most generous in your consideration of the matter, because the member for Oakwood did have an opportunity to put a motion forward, and while it was quite obvious that he was not prepared for a motion, you allowed great latitude in terms of timing and during that period of time he did put a motion before this House, and that is the motion we're dealing with at the present time, and the motion indicates that the government be censured -- it doesn't refer to the ministry. In your comments you specifically referred to the ministry in question: "be censured by the House for its contemptible advertising campaign."


Mr Speaker, your comments I think were very extensive with regard to various facets of the advertising campaign and your ruling was quite clear that it was not the advertising campaign you were making the ruling on with regard to a prima facie contempt, that your ruling pertained simply to a pamphlet, not to the advertising campaign. Consequently the way this motion is phrased does not address your specific concern, the specific concern you ruled on, but is unquestionably much more broadly based.

Second, it refers to the government, and as such, Mr Speaker, I would submit to you that it is more in the nature of a non-confidence motion, that it is not in the nature of a motion to deal --


The Speaker: If the members opposite want to have a point of order, you may follow, but it's very important that I hear the government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: I think quite clearly that not only does the motion not deal with the ruling you made -- it's much broader -- but that the ruling is in the nature of a non-confidence vote.

I would submit to you that non-confidence motions are certainly permissible. They are guided by section 43(a) of the standing orders, which indicates:

"In any session, upon proper notice, the official opposition is entitled to not more than three motions of want of confidence in the government; the third party is entitled to not more than two such motions, and any other recognized party to one."

Clearly the proper notice has not been given, consequently it would not be in order for a non-confidence motion to be placed today. Mr Speaker, by the wording, I would submit to you that's precisely what we have. I would ask that you give consideration to that and rule that this motion is out of order.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I have listened carefully to the government House leader and I would submit to you some further comments.

First I would ask that the handwritten copy of the motion moved by the member for Oakwood be produced, because I understand that particular handwritten copy, while it was written in haste, did refer specifically to the pamphlet. The member for Oakwood can speak to that, but I believe that the handwritten copy of the motion dealt specifically with the pamphlet. There was some difficulty in reading it, which I understand, but that is the case.

As to the question of whether or not the motion is in order because it deals with the government, the fact is that the ruling of the Speaker dealt with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and referred to Speaker Warner's previous ruling which criticized and warned that ministry. I think it's not a stretch to point out to the House and to you, Mr Speaker, that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is part of the treasury bench and is part of the government. In censuring the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in effect that is censuring the government.

If it is more proper for the motion to speak specifically to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I would submit to you that once you have dealt with this point of order, our caucus and my leader will be prepared to move an amendment, which I have written out here, to deal specifically with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

As to the question of want of confidence and whether this is a want of confidence motion, I think it is pretty clear in the precedents that the only motion that is clearly a want of confidence motion is one that is put under the rule that allows the opposition parties to put want of confidence motions, two want of confidence motions per session, and which are worded specifically that way. It has also, under the precedents, been accepted that most votes against government money bills, budget bills, are considered want of confidence.

But even in that particular case there is precedent in the House of Commons, where the federal government, as I recall -- I'd have to get the exact date -- lost a government money bill and did not treat that in itself as a want of confidence motion. In fact, the government then reconvened the House and put a specific confidence motion before the House and the government was upheld by the House of Commons in that particular vote.

I think it is simply a matter of opinion, not of rules or of precedent, whether this motion is a want of confidence motion.

I would also submit to you, Speaker, that the matter being put to you by the government House leader is not within your purview. I don't think it is for the Speaker to rule on whether a matter is a matter of confidence. That is something for the government to decide and for the House to decide. It is not a matter for the Speaker.

With those comments, Speaker, I would hope that you would rule that this motion is indeed in order and let debate continue.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On the question of whether this is out of order and the government sees this as a want of confidence motion, Mr Speaker, clearly it is not a want of confidence motion. If a government -- I'll say this theoretically so I don't inflame the debate this afternoon -- were looking for an excuse to vote against such a motion, it could try to tell all and sundry that it is a want of confidence motion.

Clearly, as I look at the motion, it is not a want of confidence motion; it is a motion of censure for a specific activity of the government. Of course we know that the government has to approve all the advertising that takes place, not a ministry; a government as a whole approves all the advertising a government undertakes. For the government House leader to suggest this is a want of confidence motion -- I would see it as simply an excuse by a government to try to vote against a motion which clearly has the support of many in this province, if not entirely in this House.

I would hope that your ruling would, as I think logic would tell us, logic according to some of us on this side perhaps, logic would tell us that this is not a want of confidence motion and should be put before the House at an appropriate time in its present order.

Hon David Johnson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It has been indicated that this may be outside the realm of your jurisdiction. I submit to you, as I'm sure we're all aware in this House, that the rule on whether a motion is in order is surely within your jurisdiction.

Mr Speaker, I would submit to you that whether the motion had been intended to be written differently and different words were intended at some point in time is really not the issue before the House. The issue before the House today is the precise wording of the motion before us, and the words before us are quite clear: "that the government be censured," which I would still submit to you is a non-confidence motion, "for its contemptible advertising campaign," which I will reiterate is not relevant to your ruling, which was specifically with regard to a particular pamphlet.

In terms of considering this matter, what future amendments may or may not develop I would think would not weigh too heavily on your mind either. I would ask you to make the ruling in terms of the motion actually before the House at this instant and whether it's in order. If you rule that it's out of order, I would submit that we should proceed with the orders of the day. That in fact would be question period.


Mr Cordiano: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think the House leader is undermining his own argument, because the motion given to the Speaker, as written out in the handwriting of my colleague the House leader for our side, clearly referred to "pamphlet," as pointed out in your ruling.

The Speaker: Order. I'm going to deal with this directly up front, member for Lawrence. I understand what you're saying. Please be seated for a moment.

This is what I received. This is exactly how I received it. Now, it was difficult to read. This was sent out to be copied. Your copy is identical to how the motion read. Let us make no mistakes about that. This has not been changed nor adjusted from the moment I received it. I don't want to go there.

Mr Cordiano: Mr Speaker, I was not implying that the document was altered. The reference was to a pamphlet, but if you're talking about "advertising campaign," in effect a pamphlet is part of an advertising campaign. That point has to be taken into account. I think the argument the House leader is making is very flimsy.

Furthermore, with respect to this being a non-confidence motion, it does not comply with what needs to be put before the House in order to qualify as an non-confidence motion. I think your ruling would be well received on this part to uphold the motion. If that's not the case, we would look for an opportunity to amend the motion.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, and I will be brief: I want to say that if the motion we are debating stems from a ruling, a finding of contempt of the government towards this House, this point of order is a further demonstration of that.

There are two specific points I want to address. First of all, with respect to the wording of the motion, as to whether it refers to a "pamphlet" or an "advertising campaign," your pamphlet is an advertising campaign. If you want, with semantics of that sort, to attempt to frustrate this House from dealing with an unprecedented ruling of a Speaker with respect to a finding of contempt --

The Speaker: To the Chair.

Ms Lankin: -- then you are demonstrating further contempt for this House and for the Speaker's ruling.

The second point I want to make is with respect to whether it would be in order for a motion to flow from your ruling that would censure the government.

Mr Speaker, you put it to the member for Oakwood to have the right to put forward a motion, and it is his motion. It is clearly not a motion of want of confidence. It is not written in the form of a motion of want of confidence.

But I want, just for a moment, to set the context of questions that have been asked in this House with respect to this pamphlet and advertising by this government, which have been defended by both the Minister of Finance, who is the Deputy Premier, and the government House leader, who is also the Chair of Management Board and Minister of Health. These government ministers have stood in their place and spoken on behalf of this government in defence of this particular advertising campaign, that being this pamphlet, as government policy, government expenditures, and have defended that expenditure.

I would put to you that even if there were some rational reason behind the government's point of order at this time, even if there were a shred of doubt in your mind, it should be set aside by the fact that these senior ministers on behalf of the government have spoken in defence of this and have taken ownership of this on behalf of the government. I put to you that I think that's not the threshold. You don't have to reach to that point to find a ruling on this.

This is a motion put by a member whose right it was to put a motion, given your finding of contempt on the part of the government. The motion flows, this government has a choice of how they will vote on that, and the people will judge at that point in time, watching how you vote.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I'm prepared to hear points of order forever, but the fact remains that it would be helpful if you could offer me any new information on this point of order. I think it's important that we deal with this in a timely fashion. If you're going to stand, it would be helpful if you could get to the point.

Mrs McLeod: That was my point for rising, Mr Speaker. Although I'm not sure I have a specific suggestion to offer to you, I did want to make the point that the motion put forward by the member for Oakwood was in response to your ruling. It's a ruling which we respect. The motion is intended to follow through on your ruling, and we would like to be able to have a motion which is clearly in order so we can proceed with the debate and in fact with the business of the House. If the government House leader has some suggestions to make as to ways in which the motion could be amended so that it would be considered by all parties in the House to be in order and be ruled in order by yourself, we would certainly appreciate those recommendations from the government House leader.

The Speaker: That's always in order.

Did you have another point of order?

Mr Hampton: To be helpful to the government, if the government finds some offence or wants to find some offence, perhaps we can amend it so that the word "government" is deleted and replaced by --

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, I appreciate what you're doing, and that can be done, if it is so chosen, between the three parties. It is not at this time appropriate to begin that negotiation process, because I really don't want to know about it, quite frankly.

I have a very important ruling to make and I would request that we recess for 30 minutes. I'm going to review the input I've gotten. I would ask the House leader for the third party, the House leader for the official opposition and the House leader for the government to stand by, please.

The House recessed from 1546 to 1616.

The Speaker: I would like to take the time to deal with the points of order raised by the government House leader as well as various members of the opposition.

Firstly, to deal with the motion itself, that the government be censured by the House with respect to naming it as a government as opposed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, my opinion is, or my ruling is, that is the same. The minister stands in his place on a number of occasions as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and speaks for the government. I don't see any difference in that particular fashion.

Secondly, as far as a confidence motion is concerned, that is a decision that has to be taken by each individual rather than myself. I have no jurisdiction over whether something is a confidence motion or whether it is not a confidence motion. That is a decision that has to be taken by the government itself, the House leaders or the opposition parties, either/or.

The advertising campaign is respecting the pamphlet. I see it very clearly; it is one, the same. The advertising campaign, in my opinion, is the pamphlet, and that is what in fact we are discussing today. That is in fact how I see it. Wherever this goes, it gets referred to committee or however you handle this, the direction or the ruling I've given is that the advertising campaign deals directly with the pamphlet.

Fourthly, I'm not going to suggest to any member of this House that this is a well-written motion; it's not. But what has to happen for a Speaker is, is the motion put in good faith? Yes, I believe the motion was put in good faith. Therefore, I find the motion in order and we'll continue debate. The leader of the third party has the floor.

Mr Hampton: I was speaking about this pamphlet, and I want to continue speaking about this pamphlet, because as I said, in my view this is the source of the contempt. As I said just before you came back in the House, Speaker, this contempt has, in my view, other incidents of contempt built upon it.

In my respectful submission, some of what the government is saying here is argument. The government is trying to argue a certain point of view. If the government wanted to argue this point of view before legislation was in fact passed by the House and passed third reading and become law, if the government wanted to spend citizens' money on arguing a point of view before anything has become law, in my view the proper democratic approach and the proper public policy approach would be for the Conservative Party to put out a pamphlet arguing a point of view. Before legislation has passed this Legislature, before the public has been consulted, before legislation has passed this House, for the government to use citizens' money to go out and pay for what I think is just a point of view -- I don't think there's any conclusion on this, certainly not any conclusion that's been reached by this House -- for the government to use citizens' money, taxpayers' money to promote what is just a point of view, an argument, without any of that having been approved by this House, I think is contempt. I believe it shows contempt for taxpayers, shows contempt for citizens, shows contempt for democratic process, shows contempt for the lawmaking process in this House, and no government should get involved in that, no government should.

To use another example of how this could have been done, if government members from Toronto had wanted through their own MPP budget to advance a line of argument, if they had wanted to report to their constituents, "I believe this will be good and I believe this is the way to go," in my view you could have used your mailing privileges as a member of the Legislature to advance that point of view and to start to develop that debate -- but not the government. For the government to confuse its partisan political belief with what may or may not be the outcome in law, and then to use citizens' money, taxpayers' money to simply say, "It is done, and no debate matters; no passing of law, no passing of second reading, no passing of committee debates, no hearing from the public, no passing of third reading matters," is contempt. It's contempt for this institution, it's contempt for the processes of this institution, it's contempt for the public, it's contempt for the lawmaking process, it's contempt for what I regard as important democratic principles.

But this goes beyond taking a partisan point of view and then trying to say, "This is now law and we're now telling you about what the law is," because the government has also done something else in here. If you read this pamphlet carefully, the government is actually saying, "Thus and so will happen in 1997." Without any laws being passed, "Thus and so will happen," the government says. The government says the transition team will announce the ward boundaries. Well, there has been no legislation in this House that approves of a transition team. There has been no legislation passed by this House that gives a transition team any authority. The government says in this that there will be trustees, that trustees are going to be appointed and trustees will do all these things. There has been no legislation passed by this House that gives these trustees any authority, none. There has been no legislation passed by this House that gives these trustees the capacity to do what they assume they can do out there right now. That is quite incredible.

To give a further example, without having legislation pass this House, without having the public comment on that legislation, without having any debate about that legislation, the government assumes it can set up trustees, that trustees will be in place and that trustees will be able to go to municipal councils and give direction to municipal governments -- elected municipal governments, responsible municipal governments, municipal governments that frankly have all the integrity our law gives to them, that have all the lawmaking powers our democratic process provides for -- that trustees, who have no legal approval, no legislation approving them, could do this is quite simply incredible. It is unbelievable.

To reflect on this and take it just a step further, let's assume there was a board of education somewhere that took a different view of what educational policy should be. Would the government simply say, "We're bringing in legislation today; we're appointing trustees even though this legislation hasn't passed, even though there's been no debate about this legislation; we're simply wiping out the powers of that duly elected and responsible school board"? That's incredible, unbelievable, unprecedented. That a government would presume to have that kind of authority and that a government would presume to exercise that kind of authority without having legislation pass this House is quite incredible.

I say, Speaker, and I say this especially to the government members, yes, some of you are members of cabinet and are therefore members of the government, but others are not members of cabinet, are not members of the government. You are elected to hold and uphold democratic principles and the rights of this House. I say to you that what is being done here and what is being attempted here cuts across your democratic rights and the democratic rights of this whole Legislature, and none of you should support this.

Hon David Johnson: We certainly respect the ruling of the Speaker in this matter. This is an issue that we do feel needs some clarification. I might say that the government is under extreme pressure, if that's the proper word. There are people out there in the province of Ontario who want the government to communicate, who want information about various projects, about various upcoming pieces of legislation. I'm sure that each and every member of this House, in terms of their dealings with their constituents, in terms of dealings with the people of Ontario, have had constituents and people request information. I will say that in my experience with municipal government and with provincial government, that's very common, that people want information about what it is that's being proposed or what it is that's being considered.

Having said that, at the same time, obviously there are parameters around how that information should go out. Those parameters have been tested in other cases. I think the Speaker in his ruling referred to a number, referred to the federal government's consideration of the GST issue. I think it was in 1989 that there was a GST ad that was run, and certainly if there's a piece of legislation and an issue that people wanted information about, GST would be foremost over the last decade or so. In that case the Speaker ruled that there was not a prima facie case for contempt in that particular situation. The Speaker also referred to the ruling of the Speaker of the House in 1994 on newspaper ads pertaining to the Ottawa-Carleton area. Again, these were viewed I guess as being pieces of information.

So there have been various governments in various jurisdictions that have had the need to get information out, but at the same time the parameters need to be tested, what sort of information can be put out and in what content the information can be put out.


The Speaker has ruled in this particular case. We respect the ruling of the Speaker, but as a government we understand the need that this matter be considered further. Certainly the government will be hoping to send, and will be voting in favour of sending, this matter to the Legislative Assembly committee so that there can be consideration of this matter. I think that is only appropriate.

At the same time as I say that, the Speaker, in his ruling on whether this matter was in order, whether the motion was in order, made it clear that it was not his place to rule whether this was a non-confidence motion. The way it is presently phrased, he indicated that he could not rule whether this was a non-confidence motion or not. That he said would be left to the members of this Legislature, to each of the parties, to determine.

There is a concern, obviously, so we cannot support the motion as it is before us. This government wants the people to be involved. This government wants information to be out. This government wants public hearings on all of the bills that are before us. This government is working for those public hearings, there will be public hearings and people will get information. There will be public hearings and they will be allowed to participate.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): You guys know when to stop.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Your members don't show up in public hearings

Hon David Johnson: Notwithstanding the comments from the members opposite, firstly I would wish to establish that this government is making attempts to convey information, to set up a public process, to have the legislation considered, and we certainly will be pursuing that agenda.

But having said that, the ruling deserves respect. The ruling raises the question of, in what context can information go out? This issue has been addressed in the past, in other forums, but I would say it's time and this government says it's time that the matter be dealt with by the Legislative Assembly. We seek the advice of that particular committee.

I am going to move an amendment, Mr Speaker, that the motion be amended by deleting after the words "That the" -- and those are first two words -- the words "government be censured by the House for its contemptible advertising campaign and that the matter" -- those are the words that would be deleted, Mr Speaker -- and that the following be substituted therefor, "Speaker's finding of a prima facie case of contempt in the matter of one pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs referenced in his ruling of January 22, 1997," so that the motion would now read, "That the Speaker's finding of a prima facie case of contempt in the matter of one pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs referenced in his ruling of January 22, 1997, be sent to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its consideration."

I think that is an appropriate motion. The government is most interested. The government wants clarification. There should be clarification in terms of government rules around government --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Take your seat. You have moved the motion. Mr Johnson has said, "I move that the motion be amended by deleting after the words `that the' the words `government be censured by the House for its contemptible advertising campaign and that the matter' and that the following be substituted therefor: `The Speaker's finding of a prima facie of case of contempt in the matter of one pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, referenced in his ruling of January 22, 1997,' and by adding after the word `consideration' the following words, `and that the committee be directed to recommend guidelines to be applied to the development of government communication products to ensure that such an incident is not repeated,'" so that the motion will now read:

"That the Speaker's finding of a prima facie case of contempt in the matter of one pamphlet issued by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, referenced in his ruling of January 22, 1997, be sent to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its consideration and that the committee be directed to recommend guidelines to be applied to the development of government communication products to ensure that such an incident is not repeated."

I will take a 10-minute recess to consider this motion.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think you've been given the wrong motion. That wasn't the motion I read.

The Deputy Speaker: Obviously I was given the wrong motion and I will now read again what has been said:

"I move that the motion be amended by deleting after the words `that the' the words `government be censured by the House for its contemptible advertising campaign and that the matter' and that the following be substituted therefor:

"`That the Speaker's finding of a prima facie case of contempt in the matter of one pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, referenced in his ruling of January 22, 1997, be sent to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its consideration.'"

I will now listen to your point of order.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I would ask you to consider very carefully and rule whether or not this motion is in order, because my reading of the motion is that it is contrary to the original motion. It removes the whole question of censure. It doesn't say anything about censure. In my view, if the government or any member of the House does not wish to support a censure of the government, then they have the choice --

The Deputy Speaker: Just a minute, please. Would you stop the clock.

Mr Wildman: They have the choice of voting against the motion. You cannot amend the motion to delete the most important substantive part of the motion. It is contrary therefore to the original motion, and therefore, I think, Mr Speaker, with respect, should be ruled out of order.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I would submit to you that the operative part of the motion is that the matter "be sent to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its consideration." That's the operative part. My amendment leaves that intact, does not amend that part. My amendment simply amends the prelude and I think clarifies the situation in that regard. I would submit that since my motion does not amend the main operative part, it should be ruled in order.

Mr Bradley: On the point, Mr Speaker: I think clearly the amendment that is being proposed is contrary to the gist of the motion, the strength of the motion that was proposed. It's clear that it's contrary. The government is trying to weasel out of the censure of the government in this case. It's simply trying to fire it away to some committee and hide it and is trying to narrow it as much as possible so that they get away from dealing with the other related matters of the huge government advertising campaign, clearly partisan, blatantly partisan, that they're carrying on. I think on that basis there should be no consideration that this would be in any way in order.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think in your ruling you should take into account that Speaker Stockwell has already ruled that the wording of this motion is in order; and further, that "government" can be taken to mean the minister, and the ministry specifically; as well that the advertising campaign specifically refers to the pamphlet; and further, that the motion was put forward in good faith. When we see the government trying to come out from under it, yes, the basic meaning, but also, in a manner which is disrespectful to the ruling of the previous Speaker, it should not be upheld.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to add my voice to those who have said that this amendment should be ruled out of order because it is contrary to the intent and spirit of the original motion.

Speaker Stockwell's ruling was very clear in a finding of guilt, guilt of contempt. The process that flows from that is that the Speaker provides a right to the member, the member for Oakwood in this instance, who raised the original point of order and point of privilege which led to Speaker Stockwell's finding of contempt. That motion from that member contained two elements: an element of a referral to committee, yes, but also an element of a censure of the government's action, of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the government and their action, for having been in contempt of this House. It is a further demonstration of the contempt of this government that they think they can amend the original member's motion to remove any censure of their actions. A finding of guilt has been made. This motion is about a sentencing and a penalty.

It would be absurd in this circumstance that the government, with its majority, should be able to overrule the rights of the nature of a motion put by a member whose point of order has been found to have been founded in, and in which there has been a finding by the Speaker of, contempt. I would ask you to please, seriously, take the time to review this. I think this is a further action of contempt on the part of this government.

Mr Cordiano: I think really and truly that the government House leader's attempting to wiggle off the hook on this one is reprehensible. We're trying to deal with this matter in good faith to bring this to a resolution that is agreed to by all parties. We're trying to deal with a very serious matter. It is the very essence of how we deal with this House.

I can recall this government wanting very seriously to deal with the matter of decorum with regard to this House, yet today the House leader deems it appropriate to try and undermine the very ruling of the Speaker of this great assembly. I find that completely unacceptable, and there cannot be good faith on the part of the government when they attempt to deny the rights of the minority to be heard through the ruling the Speaker made. That is in essence how this Legislative Assembly works, and works properly. When you begin to do that, when the might of a majority government attempts to do that, you undermine the very essence of the democracy that is this Legislative Assembly. It is reprehensible behaviour on the part of the House leader and not called for, and it does not help matters before this House for the government to continue in its arrogant vein.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I think the attempt of the government in this particular situation is to try to have a full hearing with regard to this matter --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Are you saying the Speaker is wrong?

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Sterling: Therefore it is our desire to have this particular matter considered by the Legislative Assembly committee, which is normally charged with dealing with procedural matters.

The Speaker has already said, with regard to the House leader's question from my party, the government party, that the motion before us can be interpreted by various members of this Legislature either as a confidence motion or not as a confidence motion. This government or this party, this member, is not going to support a motion which may or may not be interpreted as a confidence motion at this time over one pamphlet which was produced by one member of this government.

Therefore our attempt is an honest attempt to try to get this matter in front of a committee so that members of this Legislature can consider all the matters with regard to this matter, which is the desire of the member for Oakwood, who put this forward.

Our attempt here is to deal with this matter and not try to shut off the debate, because if we are forced, or if I am forced, to a position of voting on the bare motion of the member for Oakwood, I have no choice but to vote against it. I would like to have the opportunity --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. Take your seat, please. I am trying to be fair with everyone, to give you an opportunity to voice your opinion. It's the turn of the member for Carleton.

Hon Mr Sterling: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Therefore, I would just say in summary that we would like to have a full hearing of this matter. However, the member for Oakwood's motion does not allow us that opportunity, and therefore we are putting forward this motion in good faith to have a real hearing with regard to the matter, and we are only offering it in that vein.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I listened very carefully to the arguments that have been put forward by members of the government, who are attempting, in my view -- and I hope that you will rule, Mr Speaker, that their amendment is out of order, because it is my view that what they are attempting to do is to distort the intent of a substantive motion before the House by deleting the censure of the government.

That censure is the integral part of that motion. To attempt to delete it by amendment I think is contrary to the rules of order, and I would say to those who have spoken in support of it that you do not do, in my view as a parliamentarian, democracy any favour by attempting, rather than accepting a landmark and important ruling of the Speaker of this Legislature, who is attempting to safeguard democracy, the rights of the people of this province to hear truth and not partisan propaganda and the rights of this Legislature to consider legislation without fear or favour that the people of this province are going to be improperly influenced.

The ruling of Speaker Stockwell was clear and the motion by the member for Oakwood clearly in good faith censures the government. I ask you to rule out of order any amendment which deletes that censure, because it runs contrary to a good-faith amendment that has been put forward on behalf of the official opposition, who frankly believe in the democratic process and procedure of this Legislature and respect the ruling of Speaker Stockwell in his attempt to alert the government to the fact that what they are doing is improper, as the traditions of this Legislature are clear.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Sur le point d'ordre, je voudrais faire clair que ce que le gouvernement essaie de faire dans cette situation est très clair.

Le Président de la Chambre a pris une décision faisant affaire avec la situation que l'on a vu aujourd'hui, c'est-à-dire que le gouvernement payait de l'argent gouvernemental pour faire des publications. Le Président de la Chambre a dit que le gouvernement est en mépris -- c'est le mot clé -- du processus législatif de l'Assemblée. Le Président a demandé qu'une motion soit mise en avant de la Chambre par le député, M. Colle, dans laquelle il a demandé que le gouvernement soit en mépris par cette action, et il a demandé qu'une certaine considération soit mise en avant du comité législatif.

Le gouvernement vient dire aujourd'hui, à travers le chef parlementaire, qu'il veut faire un amendement à la motion, et cet amendement-là changerait complètement l'intention de la motion.

Mon point d'ordre, Monsieur le Président, c'est qu'on ne peut pas, dans mon opinion, selon le Règlement, changer l'intention d'une motion qui était mise en avant, et tout ce que le gouvernement essaie de faire, c'est trouver une manière de s'arranger politiquement, là où ils se trouvent aujourd'hui, étant embarrassés par leurs actions comme gouvernement. Je vous demande de prendre cela en considération.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Mr Speaker, I also rise on a point of privilege. When Mr Johnson rose to present a motion on behalf of the government, he said that his motion was in no way changing the main motion as put forth by the member for Oakwood. It is my view that in order for any member of the House to introduce a motion to amend it must do one of two things: (1) It must add to the main motion, or (2) it must subtract from the main motion, and in doing so, the mover intending to make an amendment must not remove the positive intent within the main motion.

It is my view that even the minister said he does not intend to change the main motion. By introducing his motion to amend as he did, he created a negative intent in the main motion and therefore it is not acceptable.

An amendment, in order to be acceptable, can do two things, and I repeat: to improve the main motion by adding or subtracting, but not to eliminate the positive intent of the motion, thus making it irrelevant. Therefore, I would submit that it is totally unacceptable and shouldn't be taken into consideration.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Speaker, please, can I prevail upon you to consider some of the very special circumstances surrounding this debate regarding Mr Colle's motion this afternoon? First, we are clearly dealing with an unprecedented occurrence in this Legislative Assembly, where the gravest and most serious expression of -- a finding of contempt has been found against the government. It has been a finding, sir. It has been a finding. It is now the reality. The Speaker has clearly stated that the government was in contempt by virtue of its utilization of taxpayers' dollars in the context of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs' pamphleting of the city of Toronto and I presume the greater Toronto area.

Please consider what the Speaker said. He said very clearly, and this is on page 17 of what he released as his written comments: "For these reasons, then" -- and he referred, I tell you, to the previous warning that had been given to this very same ministry -- "I find that a prima facie case of contempt has been established. At the end of this ruling, I will entertain a motion with respect to the matter of the ministry pamphlet raised by the member for Oakwood."

The Speaker will recall that there was a brief pause in the sitting of the House and the Speaker, Speaker Stockwell, indicated that his hands were tied; nothing more was going to happen until a motion was put on the floor, whether it took two minutes or five minutes or 10 minutes or 15 minutes, that the House was bound by his ruling to then consider his ruling. A motion of course was put forward and was found in order by the Speaker.

I would ask you to consider first the timing of this amendment by the government House leader. He didn't raise this amendment immediately after Mr Colle's motion was put on the floor, nor did he raise it in a reasonable period of time after Mr Colle put it on the floor. I ask you, Speaker, to consider whether or not this amendment, which takes the debate of Mr Colle's motion out of this House and defers it to some point in the future -- we don't know when or where -- to a legislative committee about the prima facie finding of contempt, is simply a pathetic and desperate attempt to sweep this matter under the rug, whether it has brought an element of crass partisanship into this debate where the government is merely trying to do damage control.

I submit to you, Speaker, that you have to protect this assembly in the course of its debate over Mr Colle's motion from that partisanship and from these very blatant and transparent efforts to merely whitewash, to sweep this away. This is before the assembly. The assembly is challenged with the responsibility to deal with it. The amendment -- and this has been referred to, but I reinforce these comments -- so fundamentally alters the nature of Mr Colle's motion that it contradicts Mr Colle's motion. In that respect alone, it is not an acceptable or suitable amendment and cannot be found in order.

The standard here has to be higher than, let's say, in the regular course of business, because we're not in the regular course of business. We are considering the most profound finding that could be found about the government by the Speaker. We're considering a finding of contempt. I say to you that this puts on us a responsibility to debate the motion and to vote on it.

The challenge I put to government members isn't to try to find ways, by utilization of pettifoggery, to divert attention, the public's attention and the House's attention, from this matter, but the responsibility and the challenge for government members is to consider this matter fairly, recognizing their obligation to their constituents but also to their roles as members of this Legislative Assembly. They can be partisan if they wish, but I tell you, Speaker, you have to use your powers to ensure that the partisanship the government is exercising now is removed from the debate and removed from the scene.

I urge you, Speaker, to find this amendment to be one that is just frivolous; one that has as its purpose the whitewashing, the sweeping under the rug of this matter; one that has as its purpose nothing more than partisan political damage control; and one that, as has been indicated, reinforces the contempt this government has for this assembly, for the people of this province, for the voters and taxpayers of Ontario, and for long-established rules and traditions.

The Deputy Speaker: I have listened to quite a few points of order. I will listen to one more and then after that I will recess for 10 minutes to reflect and to make a ruling.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I am going to save you the trouble of making that deliberation. On behalf of the government, I put this amendment forward in good faith. This was a suggestion that I had put to the House leaders very early on this afternoon in this debate, that the government would support this matter going to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly. I fully indicated the government's support for it at that point in time, because the government wants clarification. In the spirit of cooperation, I put forward an amendment that I very much hoped we could all support.

Speaker after speaker has said that this is non-partisan, that this needs to go back, that this needs to be considered. That was the spirit I put the motion forward in. But obviously this is not being received in the spirit of goodwill; it's going to require a ruling on your behalf. I will withdraw the amendment. As a result, I think we should get on with the debate and get on with dealing with this matter as the government wishes.

The Deputy Speaker: You had 18 minutes to continue in your debate. Would you like to continue in your debate?

Hon David Johnson: Yes, thank you. I do have 18 minutes, but I don't intend to fully use those 18 minutes.


Speaker Stockwell, now that you're in the chair, I think I would wish to reiterate, number one, the point that the government does respect your ruling and does wish clarification. The government is genuinely concerned, the government is genuinely interested in having clarification on how publications should be dealt with and the government would wish this matter to be considered at the appropriate committee, in the appropriate forum, and to be clarified.

This government also recognizes your statement with regard to whether this is a motion of non-confidence and your advice that this wasn't your position to be ruling in that regard.

The government is well aware of your concerns with regard to this pamphlet. You specifically reference your concern to the pamphlet in your ruling. You specifically mentioned a couple of examples from the pamphlet, and that there was no disclaimer in terms of the information contained in the pamphlet. The government wishes to have this issue clarified and we feel we will find the appropriate way to do that.

I will only say, again, on behalf of the government that there was no desire to show contempt for this House. In fact, your ruling does not indicate that there was contempt; your ruling indicates that there may be a case for contempt, a prima facie case.

Mr Pouliot: Hey, read the God-damned thing. Can't you read? He said contempt.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, please come to order. The member properly has the floor. He has not said anything that would be out of order. He can speak as he feels and this outburst will not help the situation. I appreciate it's a difficult issue, but we need decorum if this is going to continue.

Mr Pouliot: Yes, but he's contemptuous.

The Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, I appreciate what you have to say but it's not in order. The government House leader has the floor. I ask you to give it to him. Government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I'm sorry for that outburst from the other side, but you did rule a prima facie case for contempt and I think we should understand what the meaning is: that there may be but that there is not definitely ruled to be.


The Speaker: Members opposite, you may well disagree with the government House member, and we are in debate, and as we go in rotation you may put your position on the record. It doesn't mean the government House leader can't put his position on the record, and if that is his definition, that is his definition.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): That isn't what he said.

The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt, that is his interpretation and he has every right to do that in this place, and this outburst doesn't help. Government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, finally, I wish to ask for unanimous consent in this House. Because the Minister of Municipal Affairs of course is the topic and central to the ruling and to this issue, the Minister of Municipal Affairs would wish to rise at this time and speak to this matter, and I ask for unanimous consent that he use the remainder of my time.

The Speaker: It has been requested and although it's not unusual as the speaker goes forward, I think it would be very useful if unanimous consent could be given to allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs to make what I would consider a short comment with respect to this issue. He will, of course, use the remainder of the government House leader's time. Agreed? Agreed. The Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like you to know that I respect your ruling and I assure you that any act of contempt was through inadvertence and not intent. And I wish to assure all members of this House, very sincerely, that the pamphlet in question was designed to respond to public requests from citizens for information about our proposals, not in any way to show disrespect for the legislative process or anyone in this House.

On December 17, I introduced Bill 103 for the consideration of this Legislature. The pamphlet was released two days later to explain our legislation, not to suggest that it was not necessary. To the degree that disrespect for the legislative process has been infringed upon, I apologize, Mr Speaker, to you and to every member of this House. I can only at this point again assure all members that this government and this minister would never knowingly commit an offence against the authority or dignity of this Parliament, nor would this government or this minister ever take any action which would obstruct or impede the Legislature in the performance of its functions.

Mr Speaker, I wish to assure you that the government will review all of the contents of all of our communications products in light of your ruling.

The Speaker: Thank you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Further debate?

Mr Bradley: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on what is an unexpected debate this afternoon on a matter of a ruling by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, a ruling that I would refer to as a landmark ruling in the House today because it deals with, I believe, an issue which has long been festering before the assembly, the issue of government advertising, with the specifics being on this bill.

On the motion itself, the contention by the government a little while ago that this was a non-confidence motion is pure nonsense and obviously was an effort on the part of the government of Ontario, through the government House leader, to find an excuse to vote against a censure motion of the government.

It is a landmark ruling on the pamphlet but also, in the context of the entire Speaker's ruling, indicates that the Speaker is concerned about the whole issue of the use of ministry money, that is, taxpayers' money, to purvey clearly partisan, self-serving propaganda on the part of the government. This is the not the first time this matter has been raised in the House. When I raised it last week and this week with members of the government, we got the usual answers and the usual suggestions that this is not to be construed as self-serving government propaganda. I think any independent observer looking at this ad or the television ads that we are seeing or the ads in the newspapers for such things as the tax cut would clearly conclude that this is partisan advertising.

The government did the right thing -- I want to say that when the government does something right, it does something right -- when it had the Progressive Conservative Party pay for a certain ad that was put out with the Premier in it, an ad with the Premier reading a teleprompter in an arena, with a message wanting to sound sincere and so on. That was paid for the Progressive Conservative Party, and while I know people will make the argument, "Isn't that partially subsidized?" at least the people who contributed to the Progressive Conservative Party would approve of that particular advertisement.

I'm interested that the Progressive Conservative Party would have $800,000 to spend on such an ad after coming out of a campaign. Nevertheless, in fairness to the government I differentiate that from the government advertising. As well, the government caucus is provided with funding, as is the opposition, to put out information as it sees fit and I've never objected to the government caucus doing that.

What I object to is the use of taxpayers' dollars by various ministries to put out clearly blatant, political, partisan, self-serving advertising at the expense even of people who disagree with the government. That means that those of us who are in the opposition who pay taxes have to pay for this self-serving government advertising.

This pamphlet is simply part of an entire campaign, so whenever anyone watching this debate this afternoon turns on a television set and sees one of those government ads, he or she should be outraged at the fact that the people of this province are paying for those ads. Never mind what they're saying now; just mind the fact that a so-called penny-pinching government that would never spend money on anything unnecessary, they would say, is squandering hundreds of thousands of dollars, into the millions of dollars now, on such self-serving ads. This is clearly in that category; the Speaker has found that.


I noted in the Speaker's ruling that he mentioned a previous Speaker, Mr Warner. Mr Warner had given warning, not simply to a previous government when it was raised in the assembly, but to all governments. Quite frankly, I think what the Speaker has done with this ruling this afternoon is send a message not only to this government but to future governments in this province as to the advisability and legality and the ethics of purveying clearly partisan propaganda with taxpayers' dollars.

We know the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has a campaign of some $650,000 in television advertising in conjunction with this. We know the Ministry of Education has the same thing. The Ministry of Health was going to do it, but suddenly they've withdrawn that because the heat is on and because some of us were noting that they were closing hospitals but were going to have money to conduct a government advertising campaign. You've been caught with your hand in the cookie jar. This is one of the most embarrassing days for this government -- in fact, I think the most embarrassing day -- since the Bill 26 humiliation that took place in this House. It should make the government extremely cautious.

The Speaker was careful in this. Each day I was hoping we could get a ruling and we were asking each day for a ruling. The Speaker, wisely and upon reflection, took time to look at all the issues. He didn't, frankly, come out clearly and say that everything I had raised in the House, or my friend Mr Colle or my friend Mr Wildman, was necessarily going to find his agreement or his stamp of approval. He didn't say that. I wish he had, but he didn't, and I accept that ruling as I accept all Speakers' rulings in this House.

There was the issue dealt with as well of the unfairness, not only of the squandering of money at a time when you're firing people out the door, like the people who work in our postal service downstairs, many of whom have disabilities, either developmental disabilities or physical disabilities -- it's not that -- "We've got to save money that way, but we've got money to spend as a government on self-serving advertising." I hope this brings an end to that.

I believe that from this ruling, although the Speaker did not say this and I won't put words in the Speaker's mouth or rewrite the statement he made to the Legislature, clearly what is suggested, in my mind, is that the government should withdraw today, immediately, all ads paid for by ministries of a self-serving, partisan nature. All of those ads, all of that propaganda should be withdrawn immediately.

I believe the Progressive Conservative Party should pay back the taxpayers of Ontario for what I consider to be a Conservative Party advertisement. I believe the Conservative Party should pay for this and reimburse the taxpayers of this province. I believe this government owes an apology -- and we've had it from the Minister of Municipal Affairs -- to this House but also to the people of this province for the squandering of their money on self-serving government ads and for the unfairness demonstrated.

In a democratic system you have 82 votes. You're always going to carry a vote in this House. The only way it would not carry is if a sufficient number of members of the government decided they would either be absent or vote against the government. You always have 82 votes in this House. You're going to carry anything you want, so you have a lot of power on that side of the House.

I sat in a government that had 95 seats, even more power than you have, and I think any government, I don't care who they are, has to take into consideration the views of the opposition and be fair in the way the debate takes place. We have, through the television channel that people may be watching today, the opportunity to make our case.

The government has many fine people working on its advertising and what we in politics call the spinning of the government message, the putting out of the government message. You've got very capable people, led by a person I quoted in the House yesterday, Mr Paul Rhodes, in the Premier's office, a person who's expert in this, a person for whom I happen to have a good deal of personal respect for what he has done over the years in terms of communication. I read into the record some of the concerns he had about the OPP being used as a political police force. That's not anything to do with today, but I read that.

You have many people there in your government and in the ministries to help you put out your message through the media. It can go on the television programs. I watched one yesterday on the CBC between 6 and 7. There was a government representative, a Liberal representative and an NDP representative. They all put forward their points of view, and the public could make a judgement. The same is true on TVO, where that can happen, or on Global TV, on Baton Broadcasting or independent broadcasters, any one of the television broadcasters. You have the opportunity and you're going out there.

The minister responsible for privatization was in my riding yesterday speaking to a totally neutral audience, the Rotary Club in St Catharines, and I'm sure there would have been only a couple of Tories in that group. But there he was yesterday making the case for the government. There's nothing wrong with that. I want to say to the member there's nothing wrong with that. I hope the Rotary Club, of course, would want to hear from others with a different point of view, but I want to tell you I think that is exactly what the government should do. If you have a message, you put the message out. I have no objection to that. Though I disagree with the contents of the member's speech, and I read the report in the St Catharines Standard, he has every right to do so.

My friend the member for St Catharines-Brock will put out his press releases and will talk to the local news media and he will put forward the government case. I have no objection to that. That's what should happen, that's his responsibility, and I think that's how the democratic process works. This is not how it works: using ministry money -- ministries which belong to all the taxpayers -- to purvey clearly government propaganda.

I think this has jeopardized the bill you have before the House, the megacity bill. I wonder how the government can now proceed with this bill in the knowledge that this one side has been put out by the government. Some people would say, "Why don't we have" -- maybe it's a suggestion -- "the government allow the opposition to put something out?" I don't want to get into that. I think it's sufficient for the Progressive Conservative Party to simply pay back the money that was used for this partisan propaganda. That, to me, would be fine.

I know that today --

The Speaker: I do want to just say to the member that it's a motion we're speaking to. I know you're trying to stay on the motion. I want you to try a little harder.

Mr Bradley: I always like to hear the Speaker on these matters, recalling as I do his many excellent speeches in the past. I know how the Speaker in the past made a genuine effort to stay on topic, and I will do as good a job, I hope, as he did in those days.

The motion is brought forward, and I'm going to say something right here that I think is important for all of us. The opportunity to raise points of privilege and points of order is extremely important not only to the opposition but to the government, for members to rise in the House and talk about matters of concern, because this matter didn't arise this week alone. My friend Noble Villeneuve has not been here as long as I, but he will perhaps recall some of my previous criticisms of governments.

I remember there was an ad called: "Life is good, Ontario. Preserve it. Conserve it." That PC sounded like "Progressive Conservative," and that's what this reminded me of.

I think it's more than coincidental that this is printed in blue. Blue is the official Conservative Party colour, and this is a ministry. If this were printed in black and white I'd say at least they've made one effort not to be partisan, but it's even done in blue, which is a notorious Progressive Conservative colour.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): It's the colour of your shirt, Jim.

Mr Bradley: The member notes the colour of my shirt, which shows how ecumenical I am in this House.

What I am missing this afternoon, if you will allow me this divergence which is not of a political nature, is that I was supposed to, at 5 o'clock, be able to join Dalton Camp for dinner tonight and hear Dalton Camp speak at Brock University -- a member of the Progressive Conservative Party and a person with whom I agree almost entirely, especially that article in the Sunday Toronto Star.


But back to the pamphlet, back to the motion. What the motion has said is this: The motion is a motion of censure not just of the minister, of the government, and there was some discussion of this in a ruling by the Speaker. You'll say: "Well, you know, we want to narrow it," the government says. "Let's narrow it down. Let's just talk about this at any committee and let's narrow it down to simply having this matter looked at."

Well, there was a censure of the government, because let me tell you what happened with this pamphlet. I know what happens with them, and if the backbenchers don't know, if the non-cabinet members don't know, let me tell you what happens. Here's what happens: This goes to the Premier's office. They vet everything, I assure you. They edit this. I would guess that right up to the last minute before it went to the printer, the gurus in the Premier's office were looking at this and saying, "Change this, change that, slant this a little this way, slant that a little that way." So everything that comes out of the government, particularly with this government, which is run from the Premier's office, is vetted and edited and finalized by the Premier's office. That's why the censure is of the government.

They had to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs to come out and apologize, but don't say he's apologizing for himself. He's apologizing for the entire government, not just his ministry but the entire government, for what this government has done. We want to know what will come of this. I think the Speaker's ruling is significant in that regard, and this motion points to it, because the motion says the Legislative Assembly committee should deal with this kind of advertising. In fact, the government House leader has said maybe we should be looking at what comes out of government.

When you put out an ad that says, "Here are the new rates for the minimum wage," for instance, that's very legitimate. When the government says, "We're going to put out an ad that says kids should get inoculations for measles," I'll support that any time. When the government has ads out that say, "Seniors and people in vulnerable health positions should get a flu shot," that's legitimate. That's legitimate, straight information, and nobody will object to that. When the government puts out tenders, as they have to -- that's part of government advertising; you have to put ads out for tenders -- that's okay by me as well. That's all routinely part of what a government does. This pamphlet is not what a government does. This is very unfair.

I hope the lesson is learned. This is an extremely embarrassing day for the government. I'm sure you didn't anticipate that you were going to be into this much trouble today, but I'm going to tell you, I could see it building. I saw in the ruling of the Speaker that he referred back to other instances, to other governments, to other circumstances. I can see this building, and it builds particularly in the context of a tight money situation where governments are pinching pennies everywhere they can. When they're trying to find places to save money, when they're even withdrawing funding from disabled people and so on, people are going to be much more careful in analysing what the government is spending money on. And so they will analyse this, and I take it this is not a prop today, because this is in fact what we're talking about in terms of the motion.

Now, why censure? I think it's important that this Legislature censure the government in this regard, because clearly the government requires this and it has to be on the record. It has to be on the record not only to remind this government, I believe, but to remind subsequent governments. Whether this government is re-elected or there's another government, that should be on the record to see for other governments in the future so they won't embark upon a clearly self-serving, partisan, blatantly political propaganda extravaganza of the kind we have seen.

We have had an interesting debate taking place on the megacity bill. I am worried now that that debate has been skewed. I am worried that the government has somehow put itself in a position where it shouldn't proceed with this legislation until it has rectified this particular situation by having the Conservative Party in Ontario pay for this, return the money to the taxpayers of this province. I think that would be fair.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): Pay for your phone calls, Jim.

Mr Bradley: Then, as I said before to the member for Etobicoke-Humber, who defends the government line -- no matter what, he'll defend the government line and barrack from there, and that's fine, you can do that -- I suspect there are some embarrassed government members, because I know some of the members of this Legislature, some of whom have been here for a while and some who are new members. I know some of them are embarrassed and I know that next Tuesday morning when there is a caucus meeting, some of them are going to be waving this at the ministers and saying: "Be cautious. Be careful. Be fair. We're prepared to put the arguments out."

Mr Froese and I appeared at Ridley College to talk about economics, the position of the government on economics and the position of the opposition. He put forward his case ably, I hope I put forward my case ably, and the students who were there could make a judgement. That's how it should work. He had some information available to provide, and that's fine, but he didn't go in there with propaganda pamphlets of this kind and distribute them to the people. He didn't do that, and that's the way it works. I have some members who may want to be quoted, and I won't say that too often, but that's the way it should be.

Mr Speaker, in your own area of Etobicoke that happens. You are different because you're an independent member now, but the other members -- my good friend the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who is an independent-minded person -- by the way, he doesn't simply parrot the government line, I'll tell you that. I enjoy his missives in the Toronto Star from time to time. He has a view, and he expressed that view as part of the Trimmer committee when he disagreed with what was in this because he had his own report, along with Mr Shea, the Reverend Mr Shea, the member for High Park-Swansea, and they came forward with a report. Did it reflect this? No. Did they go to the ministry and say, "Can we please" -- and I think I'm on that, Mr Speaker. Did they go to the ministry and say, "Could we please have a pamphlet of this kind printed at taxpayers' expense?" They didn't. They produced their own report that said we shouldn't have one big city in Metro. They produced that report, and that's fine; that's a matter of debate and I don't mind that.

So we have a circumstance in this House today where a government has clearly been found to be in contempt of the Legislature. We have found a circumstance where a government has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar, and that's what our resolution says. Our resolution says, in fact, we censure this government for its activity, and it calls upon the Legislative Assembly committee to find remedies.

I had some recommendations for the Legislative Assembly committee that I've shared with members of this House. One is that the government should immediately withdraw all of its partisan advertising being paid for by the government. What the Conservative Party wants to do is their business. Second, the government should reimburse the taxpayers of this province for that partisan advertising, and in particular this document that I find here before me. The Progressive Conservative Party has plenty of money because it has given everything to the richest people in this province, who will make their contributions, everything they could possibly want. After today's deregulation announcement made in this House, I know your coffers will be full. They'll have to build bigger halls in Ontario to hold those fund-raisers because all the polluters who are going to get off the hook are going to be there shovelling money into the Conservative fund. So you will be able to have the money. It won't be a hardship on the Conservative Party to pay back the people of Ontario for this blatant political advertising.

I hope there are independent-minded members of this government who will vote for this resolution regardless of what the leader of the pack over there says you must do, regardless of what the House leader or the whip or anybody else says to do. I'm appealing to individual members of the Conservative caucus, independent-minded as I know they are, fairminded as I know they want to be, careful with government expenditures as they want the government to be, I'm appealing to those people to join in the censuring of this government for this particular piece of propaganda and to have it go to the committee where further remedies can be found.


We've had an apology and I think that apology was appropriate. It was late, it was written by somebody and then they hold the minister up -- I've seen it before in the House -- and the minister simply moves his lips as to what somebody in the Premier's office has written. And you think that exonerates you. You think like Pontius Pilate, that somehow you wash your hands of it then. They bring out the bowl, the minister washes his hands and everything is fine.

Well, that is not what is going to happen. I know the government House leader is a powerful person on the other side of the House and is the fairminded person that he was when he was mayor of East York, a municipality which will be disappearing, I know, as a result of this legislation. He will probably recommend to you in the final analysis that you withdraw any objection to this particular resolution.

The Speaker said the following: "Speaker Warner stated `that this action has come very close to contempt and in the future, the minister should exercise more caution and exhibit greater respect for the proprieties of this House.'"

That was the last warning, just as the Speaker in the House does when he says, "I warn the member." You know that the next time you may be ejected from the House, that you're likely to be ejected from the House, named, as we say. We know that to happen. This was the warning. He went on to say, "Considering the fact that Speaker Warner issued this very stern warning to the very ministry that I am dealing with today, I would consider this ministry to have been given fair warning."

This didn't come out of the blue. This didn't come out of the sky. This in fact was before the ministry. The ministry knew.

The Speaker went on to say: "It is not enough for yet another Speaker to issue yet another warning or caution in circumstances where the wording and circulation of the pamphlet appear on their face to cross the line. I say in all candour that a reader of that document could be left with an incorrect impression about how parliamentary democracy works in Ontario, an impression that undermines respect for our parliamentary institutions." I couldn't agree more with the Speaker in that regard. He says, "For these reasons then, I find that a prima facie case of contempt has been established."

Then he went on to say: "At this point in my ruling," a little later on, "I want to express some personal concerns about the propriety of public funds being used to advocate, through advertising, a particular position on a matter that is before the House. Let me be clear: I am not speaking here about politically paid for advertising, but rather about funds that are contributed to by every Ontarian regardless of his or her political view. Personally, I would find it offensive if taxpayer dollars were being used to convey a political or partisan message."

Then he goes on to say, "But I feel that it is wrong for a government to attempt to influence public opinion through advertising that is paid for with public funds -- which, I might add, are not available to the opposition -- instead of through debate in the House." That's the point.

As I say, I know your caucus staff produce for you some material that you give out to people, and I understand that. That's the way it works and the same can be done for the other parties. I think where you cross the line, and the Speaker is correct in this, is when you have the ministries spending money for those purposes, because that's where you have more money than the opposition.

The amount of money allocated to parties to carry on their operations in this precinct is based on the number of seats we have. There's a base of 30 seats, I believe, for the Board of Internal Economy, but if you have more seats you get more money, and that's something you accept. It's just like free-time broadcasting by the CBC or TVO. It's based, I think, on the number of representatives you happen to have and during a campaign that happens, the free advertising.

I understand that and I accept that. I may not like it because you have far more members, but I accept that. But when you take ministry money contributed by every taxpayer, including people who are vehemently opposed to the government, and use that for the purposes of advertising, you've crossed the line and you are in contempt of the Legislature and you are deserving as a government of censure for this.

This is not censure of individual members in this House. I don't censure the member for Wellington, whom I've respected for many years. I can't speak for him. I suspect he's uneasy when he sees this happen, as he was probably angered when other governments might have engaged in it. I don't take any of the members individually and say that they are to be condemned, but I think the government as a whole, the leaders of the government, the people who advise the Premier in the Premier's office, the people who put out these kinds of messages, the people who are responsible for these kinds of pamphlets deserve to be censured.

I believe that we should, as I've asked for, have restitution, that is, the Progressive Conservative Party should pay for this ad and any other partisan ads. You should withdraw all ads that are serving a partisan purpose for your government and you should apologize to the people of this province. Voting for this resolution would accomplish part of that.

Mr Wildman: I rise to speak in favour of this motion and I do so as an individual member of the Legislative Assembly who has served in this place for over 21 years and who has never seen what we've seen transpire today in the Legislative Assembly ever before.

I don't participate in this debate lightly. I don't rise in this debate for, to be very blunt, partisan reasons. I rise in this debate because the motion that is before us follows from a very grave Speaker's ruling, a ruling that in many ways is unprecedented in the annals of this assembly. I want to talk a little bit about that and what we face, all of us, as members of this assembly this afternoon. I hope at least those members of the House who are not members of the treasury bench, who are not members of the government, members of the opposition and members of the party that supports the government but who are not part of the government, will listen to this very carefully and consider what I have to say in support of this motion.

The Speaker, I think, took time to consider very carefully points of privilege that have been brought before the House by myself and the member for Oakwood and the member for St Catharines. Those were points of privilege that were brought before the House on behalf not only of ourselves as individual members of the assembly but of all members of the House, because in my view I thought the Speaker should carefully consider whether or not the privileges of all of us as members of the assembly had been transgressed by the government. This is a very serious ruling and I understand why the Speaker took time to make certain that he did the research and considered carefully before making a final ruling.

The central part of this motion is very important. It says that the government should be censured by the House. I want to make one thing clear: This motion of censure follows from a finding by the Speaker. The Speaker found the government, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to be in contempt of the Legislative Assembly. That is very serious. I don't know of any other time when that has happened in the history of this place.

It's not that we're trying here to determine whether or not there was a contempt. The Speaker has ruled that there indeed was a contempt. The government was in contempt of the legislative process. That is very serious.


I want to say a little bit about the response of the government members who have spoken: the House leader of the government and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Both the government House leader and the minister have tried to say that they need to get some information, some ruling, some understanding of what a government can communicate. That's not what this is about. That's not what this is about at all. Frankly I think that's almost obfuscation by the ministers involved. This is not about trying to determine what governments can communicate to the public; it's simply about saying clearly that governments cannot assume that matters that are before the House will pass. You can't just assume that because there's a majority government, matters that have not even been debated, that have not gone to committee, will pass as they are introduced at first reading.

I've seen many times in this House where governments themselves have introduced amendments to their own legislation, and in some cases, not very often, where governments do not proceed with legislation, or in fewer cases, where governments even withdraw legislation they have put before the House. Just today, for that matter, the government House leader put a motion before the House and then withdrew it. He didn't assume, I guess, that just because he put it before the House it would pass.

That's what this is about. It is about ignoring the fact that we have a Legislature and that members of the Legislature have a job to do, that we are elected to represent the concerns of our constituents and all the people of Ontario in debates about legislation and policy, and that where we think there should be changes, to put amendments whether we're members of the government or members of the opposition.

It is our responsibility to listen to what the people have to say and respond to their concerns and their proposals. No government can assume that just because it has introduced a piece of legislation at first reading, it is going to pass as is. That's the mistake, that is the error the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing made. It's not about whether or not he can communicate with the public or what kinds of communications he can have with the public.

It is quite clear that in this pamphlet all the minister had to do, all his ministry had to do in composing this pamphlet, was to say, "If the legislation passes the House, these things will happen," or I suppose, "If the legislation passes without amendment, these things will happen." But the government, I guess in an act of arrogance, just assumed that because it has a majority there are not going to be any amendments, that there are not going to be any changes and that this is just going to be passed as is, so they could put out a pamphlet saying so.

This is not about giving information to people. This is about assuming you can ram anything through just because you have a majority. This is indeed, unfortunately, a contempt of the legislative process, and it's not me saying this, it is the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, whose job it is to protect the rights of all members of the House, the Speaker who, I remind you, is elected by all of us at large in this assembly. It's not an easy job, and I know the Speaker doesn't take it lightly.

We don't really need to have a long-drawn-out process to find out what governments can communicate with the public. The government just has to understand they have to agree that things could change between first reading and third reading, that some things that are introduced at first reading might not become law, because the legislative process will work. It is the height of arrogance for any government -- New Democrat, Liberal or Conservative -- to assume that just because they have an elected majority, anything they say goes and it doesn't matter what the opposition thinks or what other members of the public think, and to then put out a pamphlet saying, "This is the way it's going to be, that's it," before it's even debated in the House.

I want to deal with a couple of other assertions that have been made by the government ministers, but before I do that I want to say to you clearly that I believe that once the Speaker made his ruling, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing should have gotten up immediately and apologized.


Mr Wildman: I'm told he tried. But I want to say this clearly to you: An apology is not enough. First we have to know for what he is apologizing, and if he's saying, as he did when he made his statement to the House, that he's apologizing because he was confused about what he could communicate with the public, that is just not the case. What he is apologizing for is the arrogance of believing that anything this government introduces is going to pass without change. That should be what clearly he's apologizing for. So we also need a statement of the wrong that was committed, the contempt that was committed, not just for this government but for all future governments to know.

You will know that when I raised the matter initially, I referred to a ruling by Speaker Warner in this House, a ruling which dealt with an action by a minister of our government, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): So we're being hung for that.

Mr Wildman: No, you are not. The member says, "We are being hung for that." I know he does not mean that with disrespect to the Speaker, who made this ruling, because the Speaker made it very clear that in the previous case Speaker Warner had warned this very ministry. He said that this should never happen again. He didn't say, "This should never happen again during the life of this government." He said, "This should never happen again," and it wasn't just Speaker Warner. Speaker Warner was basing his ruling on a ruling by Speaker Fraser in the House of Commons, who said exactly the same thing about an advertising campaign that the Mulroney government had. He said that it should never happen again. The people who are responsible for writing this pamphlet in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing should have been aware of the ruling of previous Speaker Warner because it dealt specifically with them.

The Speaker has said very clearly that where the ministry had been warned before, it would not be enough in this case to simply warn them again, and that for that reason, in his view, it constituted a contempt.

Let's all be clear. There is not a debate here about whether or not this is a contempt. It is. It has been so ruled by the Speaker, so that's not in debate and it is not appealable. That's it. It is a contempt. In my view, the minister should have gotten up immediately and apologized, and he should have apologized clearly, not for saying he was confused or that the ministry was confused about what they could communicate to the public, but because he put out a pamphlet which assumed that as soon as something is introduced in this House, the majority government will carry it through without change by third reading.

That's what he should have apologized for, an unequivocal apology; not trying to fudge it, not trying to hedge it, just: "I did the wrong thing. My ministry did the wrong thing. As minister I am responsible and for that I apologize. This is what I did wrong," a statement of the wrongdoing. Then frankly I think the committee that will and should consider this shouldn't get involved in discussions about what kinds of communications should go out or not; it should deal with this specific pamphlet, as the House leader said, and make a recommendation about some remedy beyond the apology and the statement of wrongdoing.

Perhaps the committee might decide that the party of which the minister is in government should reimburse the consolidated revenue fund for the cost of the production and distribution of this pamphlet, because the pamphlet was designed to move forward the agenda of that political party in a partisan way and to influence the people of Metropolitan Toronto to support the position taken by the party.


I agree with my friend from St Catharines that I believe also that the government should withdraw the television ads that are being paid for by the taxpayers, but I respect the ruling of the Speaker that he did not find that to be a prima facie case of contempt. However, I still believe that's inappropriate, not a contempt of the House, as the Speaker has said it isn't, but inappropriate for the taxpayers to be paying for that.

I think it's quite acceptable for the Conservative Party to be paying for their other ad campaign if they wish to. Fine. If they want to have this campaign, let the Conservative Party pay for it too. Don't have the taxpayers pay for it.

I think this is a very serious day for all of us as members of the House. I think it's a sad day for the minister involved, it's a sad day for the government and it's embarrassing, but more than that, I think it's embarrassing and a sad day for all of us as members of the assembly, every one of us, and I say that very seriously.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for this place and for the people who serve here. The people from all political parties, many of whom I've served with who are not here now, on all sides of the House. I've always held my colleagues to be people who may have disagreements, but who are here to do the best job they can for their constituents and for the people of Ontario. I believe that. I have had serious disagreements with other members on policy and on questions of the political agenda, but I have never disrespected their commitment to serve the people of this province.

That's why it is important, when we have such a serious and grave ruling made by the Speaker, that the government admit it made a mistake, that it not try to fudge it, just say: "We did wrong. This is what we did wrong and this is what we're prepared to do to remedy it."

It's been suggested that this is a matter of confidence. This is just bunk. The fact is that in all matters of confidence it's simply a decision, as the Speaker ruled in this House, it's a matter of opinion, it is a decision that is made by the parties and by the members of the House. If the government deems a matter not to be a matter of confidence, it is not a matter of confidence. It's as simple as that. So for this government House leader to somehow argue that the government members and the members of the party who are not members of the government bench, but who support the government, must vote against this because it's a matter of confidence, all that says is that he has decided it's a matter of confidence, not that it is. This is not a matter of confidence. We are not asking the government to resign. We have never suggested that the government should resign on this matter.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Len Wood did.

Mr Wildman: He said the minister should. I'm not sure I agree with him.

Mr Baird: He said, "You should all resign."

Mr Wildman: Well, I'm sorry, I don't share that opinion. There are days when I do share that opinion, but in this very serious matter I do not. I do not believe that the government House leader, for instance, should be resigning because of the errors made by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

I know this is controversial and that the whip is trying to bring the members of the other side into line, but I want to say that I hope they don't bring you into line on the basis of trying to tell you that this is a matter of non-confidence. It is not a matter of confidence. Every one of you, every one of us, every member of the assembly must determine whether this is confidence in the government, and I say to you, I do not believe it is a matter of confidence, or even close to it.

The government should support this motion. The government, in supporting this motion, would support the ruling of the Speaker. The government should support this motion because the government made a serious error and has been found in contempt.

The Speaker: Stop the clock. I understand that I'm up earlier than normal today, and I don't want to take any time away from the member speaking and that's why I've stopped the clock, but I want to give just a brief description of what will happen tomorrow, because I'm certain there will be some concerns with respect to private members' public business.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I'd be quite happy to wrap up tomorrow.

The Speaker: That's good. I appreciate that.

I will simply outline what the process is tomorrow, because it is an unusual circumstance we find ourselves in, and then I will adjourn the House for the day.

Tomorrow, by motion of the government, private members' bills will start at 11, as opposed to 10. Our standing orders are very clear: The only reason this place should meet before 1:30 of the clock is to deal with private members' business. Tomorrow happens to be that day. Therefore, although not asked to make a ruling, I will tell the members present that the procedure we'll use tomorrow is that at 11 o'clock the House will open and private members' bills will be dealt with until 12. Then at 1:30 of the clock, when we come back to this place, we will immediately go into the debate as it sits today, with the member for Algoma properly having the floor at 1:30.

It now being nearly 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 11 of the clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1758.