36th Parliament, 1st Session

L150 - Thu 23 Jan 1997 / Jeu 23 Jan 1997












The House met at 1102.




Mr Cleary moved private member's notice of motion number 35:

That, in the opinion of this House, the reopening of several parks formerly operated by the St Lawrence Parks Commission in eastern Ontario, an agency of the government of Ontario, would translate into enhanced tourism, new job opportunities, including employment for students, spinoff benefits for area businesses and an overall boost to the local economy and since several potential operators have submitted proposals to the government to lease or purchase these parks; this House calls on the government of Ontario to finalize tendering and announce as soon as possible a private sector operator for the closed parks and campgrounds of the St Lawrence Parks Commission in order that the parks may be open for the spring/summer of 1997.

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

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I am delighted to have this opportunity to put forward this resolution in the House today and I believe it holds much potential in terms of tourism and job opportunities in our part of Ontario.

I would like to ask that as I put forward this proposal, along with the reasons behind it, each member support this resolution. I would hope the members of the House would put aside partisan differences and consider only the benefits that can be achieved in eastern Ontario with this motion.

I'll begin with a few comments on the background, although there is not likely a member in this House who is not familiar with the basics of the closed provincial parks, given the number of times that I and to some extent -- not recently -- the member for S-D-G & East Grenville have raised the matter over many years.

The history goes back to 1950, when the government was seeking both hydro-electric power and a transportation network to the Atlantic Ocean. As part of the process, Premier Frost toured the upper St Lawrence Valley, an area spanning my riding and the riding of S-D-G, and promised that the government would create some potential park space in the area.

Schools, churches and many businesses were to be lost in our area. The chamber of commerce had many meetings, and as a student I attended the meetings.

The Premier returned to the chamber with this promise, and legislation to create the Ontario-St Lawrence Development Commission Act was finalized in 1955. It specified that this new commission would "develop, control, manage, operate and maintain the parks," lands vested to it throughout the counties of Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Grenville and Leeds.

I can recall park area and tourism space that was lost. When we used to go to that park when we were kids, we saw a sign way up in a tree, at the top of a pine tree, that said this would be the high-water mark of the St Lawrence once the flooding had taken place.

The statute clarified that the commission did not own the land, nor does it today. Ownership is held by the government of Ontario.

After the commission put much work into the development of the shorelines, planting trees, clearing farm land, creating historical and commemorative sites and constructing the Long Sault Parkway for more than six miles over 12 artificially created islands, the parks were opened to the public in 1961.

Shortly thereafter, when the responsibility to oversee the park commission was transferred from the planning and development ministry to the travel and publicity ministry, the commission received the name of the St Lawrence Parks Commission, which it holds today.

From the official opening in 1961 to the 1990s, visitors to the area and residents enjoyed the facilities of the commission, which we were mighty proud of.

Early in the 1980s the former Conservative government closed Lake View Heights park, but in 1990 the government of the day saw fit to close five of the 15 parks and campsites, saying attendance was down and it was not profitable for the government to run these parks. The parks included Farran park, Charlottenburgh park, Grenville park, Morrison/Nairne park and Brown's Bay campground. This left seven full-time, 20 seasonal and 23 summer students without jobs.

I admit that the decision to close the parks was made by a former Liberal government, by Tourism Minister Ken Black under a Liberal administration, but I also ask the House to recognize that as quickly as the government announced that it would no longer run the parks, negotiations were under way to allow private investors to step in. In fact, in a very short period of time a deal was hammered out with Osnabruck township to revive Farran park and the Nairne campsite, two deals that I was very familiar with.

But then there was the election in the fall of 1990 and the NDP government took over, so no further announcements could come out of the Liberal administration. The ball was now in a new government's court.

For the first year or so of the NDP administration, it looked promising that, for example, Charlottenburgh park would be allowed to re-open with private investment. The tourism minister of the day, Peter North, the member for Elgin, who is still a member of this House, spent a lot of time trying to get a deal with Charlottenburgh park in our area. I and the municipal representatives in the area thank him for that. It looked promising for a while, but after a new tourism minister stepped in, no further advances were made -- quite the opposite.


In 1993, without having secured lease takeovers for the park closures, the NDP administration closed two more parks, Adolphustown and Raisin River, and that pretty much brings things to where we are today. Some parks that were closed by the government in the early 1980s, in 1990 and 1993 remain closed to this day. Unless concrete action is taken by the government, unless this resolution passes, yet another season may go by with the parks closed.

Already Raisin River has lost three years of tourism, three years of park revenue, three years of summer jobs for the students and three years of spinoff in the economy. Charlottenburgh park has lost six years of tourists, six years of park revenue, six years of summer jobs and the same spinoff in the community.

Unless the government acts here today, the blame for these parks will be on three governments, all political parties. I cannot stress enough that there is much potential in these parks. There's no reason why these parks should remain closed. All the ingredients needed are right before us. We just need to get our house in order and get an agreement in place.

First, in fact all successive governments have to share in the problems that we have on these closed parks.

Second, we have a lineup of potential investors, each offering different terms to the government. Some proposals offer private sector money in return for a percentage of revenues to the province. We have another proposal, a partnership for a training site for business startup and management counselling. All told, I am personally aware of half a dozen proposals that are sitting on the government's table, and I'm sure the minister of the day has more.

Leasing the parks out would not have to cost the government a dime, and I'm sure the government would reap many benefits in the way of jobs and employment. There simply isn't a hindering block anywhere. The government must go ahead. Even the suggestion that successor rights would be a problem has been cleared, and this has the support of local representatives in our area.

Perhaps most importantly, reopening the parks means jobs, jobs, jobs, which we really need in our part of Ontario. Statistics Canada shows that the rate for the Cornwall area was 20.2% this past summer and 13.9% in November and that student employment was much less.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Thank you for your patience, Mr Speaker. I am pleased to rise and speak on this resolution. There are some parts of the resolution that I of course agree with totally, because I've always been a very strong believer in the importance of our provincial parks. As someone who has spent many summers camping all across North America, in the United States and all across Canada, in every province in Canada, I am a huge fan of our parks system.

I know that all three political parties have wrestled with the dilemma of keeping parks open with the degree of subsidy they receive from the taxpayers, and our government, the New Democrats, was no different as we struggled with that to find dollar savings wherever we could. That was true of the Tories and true of the Liberals as well. It really has been a very difficult thing to do, to maintain our park system at a quality that people have come to expect from our provincial parks. As a matter of fact, it was the last Tory government that expanded our provincial park system very substantially, when the Honourable Alan Pope, the member for Cochrane South, was the Minister of Natural Resources.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Former member for Cochrane South.

Mr Laughren: He was the member for Cochrane South. When I say, "He was the member," that means former, I think.

I think there's an acknowledgement on this side that the Tories built our park system, and did a good job of it, in the old days. Alan Pope was one of the ones who helped expand the park system, but since then there's been a lot of pressure on the fiscal side to cut back on support. That's a very tough call to make, because I believe they are a huge asset for us as a province. The tourism which the member for Cornwall refers to is important.

Having visited many parks in the United States as well as other provinces, I think we have a park system to be proud of, but I am getting increasingly nervous about our ability to maintain that level of quality in our park system. I think that would be very sad, if we allow our park system to degenerate.

Speaking directly to this resolution from the member for Cornwall, it's very true, what he says about enhancing tourism and so forth. I regret that we've come to the point where we're privatizing aspects of the provincial park system. We need to understand that all three political parties have done this when they've been in government, so I'm not casting stones in this regard. But in this particular resolution what the member is calling for is for parks that are closed to be reopened, if I understand his resolution properly, and that proper requests for proposals go out so that those parks can be open this summer. I think that makes a lot of sense.

I wish we had the resources to continue to operate our parks totally in the public sector, because I think that's where we'll get the best level of quality. I've stayed in some private parks as well, and I can tell you that when I travel, and I camp a lot, I always look for a public park over a private park, because I've been jammed in, in private parks, where I thought it was disgraceful. But when there are no other spaces, that's what you have to do. I really believe that if you were to take a measure of the parks, the campgrounds in particular, in North America, you wouldn't have much of a comparison between the public parks and the private parks, because the public parks are invariably nicer, better maintained, have more room and are no more expensive than the private sector parks. But the private sector parks are not subsidized. I understand the dilemma. If you operate a private park, you at least want to break even. I know that many people wouldn't be satisfied with that.

It really is a situation in which we are forced to subsidize our public parks. I think it's an asset. I think it's something we should continue to do, because as long as those parks are there, they're already there, the land mass is already set aside, it would be foolhardy to get rid of those parks.

I appreciate the fact that the privatization that has occurred has been privatization of the services offered in those parks, as opposed to the privatization of the parkland itself. That would really be disturbing, if the government -- which is on a privatization bent; I understand that -- but it would be truly tragic if it privatized the land mass represented by the 150-some provincial parks we have in this province. Privatizing the services I don't like either, even though, as I said, all three governments, all three political parties, have done some of that. I don't like it. I didn't like it when we did it and I don't like it when somebody else does it, but I do understand some of the pressures that come into play.

I would simply say that I understand the way the resolution is worded and I think on balance I would support the resolution. I'm bothered by the request for proposal for privatization, but I think those parks are better open than closed and at the end of the day it would be my intention to support the member for Cornwall in his resolution.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): It's a pleasure today to speak on the resolution brought forward by the member for Cornwall.

I know this is an issue very close to the heart of a number of members representing eastern Ontario. As the parliamentary assistant with special responsibility for tourism, I've had the opportunity to discuss this and other issues with representatives of the St Lawrence Parks Commission, members of the Eastern Ontario Tourism Association and government members for Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings, Leeds-Grenville, Frontenac-Addington and the member for S-D-G & East Grenville, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. These members, as well as the member for Cornwall, have been working very hard to try and reopen the parks in order to boost local tourist and economic activity.

It's clear to me that the parks and campgrounds of the St Lawrence Parks Commission have the potential to play an important role in the promotion of tourism in eastern Ontario. Reopened parks should play a role in attracting visitors to what is a unique recreational and historic attraction in the St Lawrence corridor.

The St Lawrence Parks Commission provides recreational and tourism opportunities through a number of historic attractions and recreational areas. Some of the commission's more popular attractions include Fort Henry and Upper Canada Village. The commission also features a series of parks and campgrounds, two parkways, a long-distance recreational trail, a wildlife sanctuary and a marina.

The St Lawrence Parks Commission is a schedule 1 agency that retains revenues and is funded on a net basis for planned expenditures. In 1995-96, it exceeded attendance revenue targets. It has completed a comprehensive five-year corporate plan, and the commission has moved from activity-based to entertainment-and-recreation-based destinations, with plans for private sector investment. These changes will help to ensure the St Lawrence Parks Commission's long-term viability and provide greater spinoff benefits to local communities, businesses and residents.

As the commission moves towards greater self-sufficiency, it's future gets brighter and brighter. There's no doubt this attraction serves as a generator of tourism and economic activity for the residents living in eastern Ontario, and the minister is well aware of the commission's contribution. As the member for Cornwall knows, the minister has dedicated himself to working with the St Lawrence Parks Commission to encourage an environment where municipalities and/or private sector interests will stand up and take notice of the opportunities which exist through the leasing of these closed parks.

The member for Cornwall has provided a good background on the history of this matter. It goes back to 1990, when the St Lawrence Parks Commission closed eight parks in the St Lawrence corridor. I believe the best indication of these parks' great potential is demonstrated by the fact that four of those formerly closed facilities have since been reopened. For example, Osnabruck township took on Farran park, which is now operated by it; Grenville park is currently leased by an individual in the private sector; Adolphustown park is licensed to the not-for-profit Bay of Quinte branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association; and the commission has opened another park near the bird sanctuary as a nature campsite.

I know the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism has advised the member for Cornwall that the St Lawrence Parks Commission is currently working with a local township, Charlottenburgh township to develop a lease for Raisin River park for this year, if possible. At the same time, the commission is also looking at the future of Charlottenburgh park in conjunction with Charlottenburgh township.

In fact, I'm pleased to remind the member that the ministry will be conducting a program review of the commission, including a request for proposals which will include closed parks for alternative service delivery. The minister is optimistic this tender process can be issued in the near future and that operators for the parks can be found in the near future.

I note in the member's resolution that he calls for the government to finalize tendering and announce as soon as possible a private sector operator for the closed parks and campgrounds of the St Lawrence Park Commission in order that the parks may be reopened for the spring or summer of 1997. While I intend to support this resolution, I indicate to the member that the results of the RFP process may not be implemented for this summer season. I am, however, pleased to report that the staff at the commission have informed the minister that they are optimistic that the local township will agree to operate both parks this year.

Clearly this government has taken more positive steps than its predecessors in making the St Lawrence parks attractive to the private sector and to ultimately having the facilities reopened. Specifically, we have removed some of the restraints which have previously tied the hands of the St Lawrence Parks Commission in its effort to attract private sector interest. Unlike previous requests for bids, the crown is now exempt from applying successor rights.

The St Lawrence Parks Commission has developed a corporate plan which is in keeping with the government's direction. I'm optimistic that through partnerships with the private sector the commission will be able to reopen the currently closed parks in question.

I thank the member for Cornwall for bringing this subject forward today, and I'm pleased to say I'll be supporting the resolution.

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Tout d'abord, je veux féliciter mon collègue de Cornwall. Par ce fait-même, j'appuye la résolution de mon collègue.

Je veux aussi vous dire que l'industrie touristique est très importante dans ce pays. Nous savons que l'industrie touristique embauche au-delà de 280 000 personnes par année. Le secteur récréatif embauche plus de 63 000 personnes.

Lorsque nous parlons du secteur récréatif, nous parlons du sport en plein air et nous parlons du camping. Dans le secteur de Cornwall, nous savons que quelques parcs ont été fermés par les trois partis dans le passé, mais aujourd'hui nous reconnaissons l'importance de l'embauche ou de l'emploi chez les étudiants.

Nous reconnaissons que dans le secteur de Cornwall, le pourcentage de sans-emploi est très élevé. Même si nous regardons le pourcentage du mois de septembre dernier, qui varie dans la région de 20 %, nous pouvons dire que lorsque nous rapportons ces chiffres, ça manque les chiffres des personnes qui ont fait appel ou qui ont déposé des demandes d'emploi. Mais quand nous regardons dans le secteur d'étudiants, ces chiffres ne reflètent pas le pourcentage que nous indiquons.

Je dis encore que l'industrie touristique est très, très importante non seulement dans l'Ontario mais dans le pays et dans le monde entier. Le secteur touristique en Ontario rapporte des revenus d'au-delà de 17 $ milliards par année. Dans le secteur touristique, nous rapportons des revenus d'au-delà de 16 $ milliards. Donc, les revenus au total dans ce pays se chiffrent au-delà de 29 $ milliards, mais au moins 16 $ milliards est dans le secteur touristique de l'Ontario.

Je regarde le nombre d'emplois, comme j'ai dit tout à l'heure, les revenus pour le secteur récréatif ; seulement récréatif, le revenu encore là est d'au-delà de 2 $ milliards. Donc, tout ça veut dire que le secteur de Cornwall pourrait définitivement bénéficier de cette industrie touristique.

J'ai dit encore que le secteur touristique est la quatrième industrie majeure au Canada. Je regarde dans le rapport qui était préparé par le comité aviseur qui avait été mis sur pied par le ministre du temps en 1993, l'honorable Anne Swarbrick. Elle avait demandé de mettre sur pied un comité aviseur qui a fait la tournée de la province pour voir ce qu'ils devraient faire dans le secteur touristique en Ontario pour améliorer le tourisme, améliorer l'emploi. Dans son rapport, on mentionne que le pourcentage de touristes qui rentrent en Ontario est de l'ordre de 18 % du montant total, un montant total d'au-delà de 16 $ millions de revenus. Je n'ai pas les chiffres exacts dans le moment ; je reviendrai avec les chiffres plus tard.

Donc, si nous regardons la retombée économique et la retombée touristique en Ontario de 16 $ milliards, de cela, quelque 18 % nous provient du Québec, et reconnaissons que les parcs du Saint-Laurent longent vraiment le fleuve Saint-Laurent, qui est immédiatement suivant les lignes du Québec. Je regarde seulement qu'au parc des Voyageurs maintenant, qui est justement à l'entrée de l'Ontario du Québec, nous avons des retombées économiques qui sont très, très importantes parce que le tourisme qui rentre du Québec à l'Ontario par le parc Voyageur est d'au-delà de 100 000 personnes par année.

Donc, si nous regardons les parcs le long du Saint-Laurent, je regarde au-delà de 500 000 touristes qui proviennent du Québec. J'ai toujours dit qu'il est très, très important pour le gouvernement de l'Ontario de faire sa publicité en français au Québec, parce que beaucoup de gens, beaucoup de résidents du Québec, croient que les résidents de l'Ontario ne parlent pas le français. J'ai toujours dit que pour le secteur francophone en Ontario, même si nous ne sommes que 500 000 mille francophones, je crois qu'il est très important que le ministère du Tourisme fasse sa publicité en français.


Il y a beaucoup de statistiques de sorties de cette étude. Je regarde dans ce rapport, qui était mis sur pied, encore une fois, par le comité aviseur, dont je faisais partie, et nous avons fait la tournée de l'Ontario. Le tourisme en Ontario a été laissé de côté trop longtemps. Non seulement au pays mais dans le monde entier, nous regardons des retombées économiques très élevées. Je vais le répéter en anglais : It also represents 10.7% of the global capital investment and 10.9% of worldwide consumer spending. Lorsqu'on regarde dans ce domaine, nous voyons que nous anticipons une augmentation de tourisme un peu partout.

Je regarde la page 9 du rapport :

"By the year 2000 the tourism industry in Ontario will achieve leading levels of growth, specifically by:

"Attracting 15 million more visitors, an increase in the number of visitors to Ontario from 159 million to 174 million;

"Generating approximately $6 billion more in visitor spending to a new revenue level of $23 billion (1991 dollars);

"Achieving clear recognition as one of the top industries in the Ontario economy."

Je crois que tous les membres de cette assemblée devraient supporter la résolution de mon collègue de Cornwall. Je me rappelle que pendant 35 ans je faisais souvent le trajet de ma municipalité de Rockland pour visiter les parcs de Cornwall. Nous pouvions voir à ce temps-là les touristes qui venaient d'autres provinces et d'autres secteurs de l'Ontario. Même si ce tourisme compte une partie de 36 % du tourisme total de l'Ontario, ce sont des visiteurs qui proviennent d'autres municipalités ou d'autres secteurs de l'Ontario, mais je crois qu'il est très important.

Lorsque je regarde encore un peu plus loin, des touristes qui proviennent des États-Unis et de l'Alberta, 11 % viennent de l'Alberta. Nous en avons de l'île-du-Prince-Édouard, de la Nouvelle-Écosse -- tous les résultats dans ces rapports du comité aviseur sont très clairs.

Il me fait grand plaisir de prendre un vote sur cette résolution. J'espère que tous mes collègues pourront supporter la résolution du député de Cornwall, puisque nous reconnaissons que le chiffre pour les sans-emploi est encore très élevé dans le secteur de Cornwall même si on dit qu'il y a eu une amélioration de ce chiffre à Cornwall du mois de novembre de 13,9 % vis-à-vis le 20,2 % cité pour l'été, au mois de juillet. Ces chiffres induisent le public en erreur, parce que ce ne sont que des chiffres pour les personnes qui ont demandé des emplois. Les personnes qui ne sont pas actuellement récipiendaires d'assurance-chômage ne figurent pas dans ces chiffres.

Si on regarde chez les étudiants, la plupart du temps, je dirais 99,9 % du temps, ce sont des personnes qui n'étaient pas récipiendaires d'assurance-chômage. Donc, de plus en plus on cherche à créer des emplois pour nos étudiants, et je crois que le secteur des parcs en Ontario pourra bénéficier à nos étudiants en repensant la réouverture des parcs le long du fleuve Saint-Laurent. Je vous remercie pour l'occasion d'adresser la parole sur cette résolution.

Mr Bisson: Generally, as the representative of the New Democratic caucus, I support the resolutions the member for Cornwall brings forward. I understand that we all come to this Legislature and advocate on behalf of our communities and our ridings, but I would have hoped he would have tried to make his motion a little more far-sweeping in its reach than what this calls for.

Specifically, it calls for the opening of several parks formerly operated by the St Lawrence Parks Commission. Although I understand what the member is trying to do and I generally don't have any difficulty with what he's asking for, I would have asked that the member try to expand that. The motion should have read along the lines of the government re-engaging itself towards the good management of our public parks system that we've long had in Ontario.

The member for Nickel Belt, who is the dean of the Legislature -- maybe we should listen from time to time to people who have been here for a while -- speaks about how governments over the years have played a very important role, first of all, in creating public parks and then making sure those parks have sufficient funding to be able to operate and offer the services to citizens within our communities, and rightfully so. He pointed out that previous governments, those of Mr Davis and Mr Robarts and others under various provincial Conservative premiers, have invested quite heavily and had a very substantial impact on expanding the public parks system in Ontario. I think if you asked many people in the province the question about their level of confidence about how those parks are run and how they felt about them, the general reaction was one that was very good.

Unfortunately what has happened over the years, as the former Treasurer pointed out, is that since then, under David Peterson, under Bob Rae and now under Mike Harris, governments are finding themselves in a financial situation of scrambling to pay for essential services like health care, education, social services, transit and others and trying to balance off the needs of funding those services adequately. Where do you get the dollars if you're not able to go the tax route and raise taxes? Governments have been forced to take a look at how you remove money from programs like parks to offset the operating deficits we have in those other programs.

That's what I would like to limit my comments to this morning. Although in general I support what the member is trying to put forward here, I ask the member where we are going to find the money to do it. I think it's important that even the opposition, if we're asking for something, should try to come forward and at least give a general outline of how we think we're going to pay for it. I think it's fairly easy -- pour un membre de l'Assemblée de venir ici et dire, «Je veux que le gouvernement paie tel et tel service pour mes citoyens,» je pense qu'il est assez important, comme membre de l'opposition ou du gouvernement, que l'on dit au gouvernement que, pour payer ce service, on propose que tel et tel service soit diminué par tel et tel montant pour être capable de trouver les dollars nécessaires pour payer le service, ou que l'on propose un frais d'utilisateur de ce service ou d'augmenter les taxes. Je pense qu'il est nécessaire, en tant que l'opposition, de revenir du moins avec une proposition de manières de payer ce service.

En général je n'ai pas de problème avec la motion. On va supporter la motion de M. Cleary, le député de Cornwall. On sait que ça fait très longtemps que le député, dans ce parlement et dans le parlement d'avant, sous le gouvernement de M. Rae, soulève cette question, et à beaucoup de reprises, faisant affaire avec le parc Saint-Laurent, comme il l'avait mentionné dans son discours. Nous, en tant que gouvernement, ont été forcés, pour les raisons que j'ai déjà mentionnées, de réduire le budget de ce parc qui a valu la réduction de certains services, et le gouvernement de M. Harris a fait plus dans cette direction.

It's not often that we get the opportunity in this Legislature to talk about parks, because we do not often get legislation from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the ministry responsible for parks, or we deal generally with this kind of legislation. I just want to say the following in the four minutes that I have left. The government is moving in a direction in which they want to privatize services within the parks we now own in Ontario, so many provincial parks in which we've been used to seeing summer rangers working and seeing Ministry of Natural Resources employees running those parks over a number of years are going to see those services privatized.

I listened intently to the members opposite, from the Conservative side, talk about how it was a good thing they were doing that, and that one of the things they were going to do to help the operators of these new, privately operated parks do this would be to allow no successor rights to employees who are going to be working for these private contractors. The government member took great pride in being able to say that in the Legislature today, and I would just say this: We need to determine, as a Legislature, number one, the importance of provincial parks in our community and in this province. I think we should dedicate some funds to making sure the province maintains a role of operating those provincial parks as we have in the past. It might be less of a role than we had before, but we should try to keep at least a minimal service.


The last thing is that in order to operate parks, we're going to basically do it on the backs of working men and women who work for the Ministry of Natural Resources. "Rather than paying that worker $12 or $14 an hour, as is set out in the collective agreement," says the Conservative government, "we're going to allow an individual operator to circumvent a collective agreement so they can pay workers minimum wage."

I think it's a pretty simpleminded and mean-spirited policy undertaken by this government, because what they are saying is, number one: "We place no value on the labour of working men and women in this province. We see working men and women as units of production and basically something that can be exploited by a private sector employer." I don't think that's right. I think working men and women in this province are what makes this province work. We are the people who pay the taxes, we are the people who produce the goods within our industry, and we are the people who manage our public resources and public services in this province.

If we don't put a value on that, if we're not prepared as a society to say that working men and women should get a living wage and should be able to get enough money so they can look to the future with some confidence, I think that says something very bad about our society. It says that we want to move back to a society of the late 1800s where people like the Vanderbilts of the United States and various sorts of what they used to call railroad barons used to be able to control basically all the wealth in the country at the cost of working men and women. I certainly don't want to return to that kind of society. I think men and women have worked too hard over the last 80 to 100 years to advance the rights of working men and women in this province to see a government such as Mike Harris's move all of that back.

So I just want to say to the government, I think you're wrong in what you're doing. You should not be trying to privatize these parks in the first place, and in doing so, you shouldn't be doing it at the expense of working men and women.

Comme j'ai dit plus tôt, le caucus va voter en faveur, j'imagine par majorité, sur la motion de M. Cleary. J'aurais demandé que le député, par moyen de sa résolution, aurait pu faire une expansion de la résolution pour dire que le gouvernement regarde, point final, le rôle qu'il a besoin de jouer dans la livraison de services de ses parcs dans la province. Je comprends que le député de Cornwall parle pour sa paroisse, comme on dit en français. Il est ici à Queen's Park pour parler de la part du monde à Cornwall, mais je demanderais la prochaine fois que le membre regarde la situation peut-être d'une manière plus agrandie pour être capable de récupérer les services non seulement pour le monde de Cornwall et ceux qui vont à Cornwall en vacances, mais pour toute la province.

Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak briefly about the resolution before us today, ballot item number 58, put forward by the member for Cornwall, to reopen parks formerly operated by the St Lawrence Parks Commission in eastern Ontario with the use of private sector operators.

I support the premise of this resolution, as it would enhance not only the much-needed economic activity but also promote our rich Loyalist history, historic sites as well as our parks.

I treasure and speak of the great historical aspects of these properties. We are interested in promoting stakeholders as recognized by the St Lawrence Parks Commission in 1955, when this legislation was passed by the former Premier, Leslie Frost, and the local member, Mr George Challies.

This resolution endorsing the government's plan for such a tendering process to select alternative operators and to open closed parks supports innovative management by interested stakeholders. To expand and create jobs, more for less can be achieved at all levels.

We need to find new ways to do business. It is important that we form partnerships between governments, labour, business, individuals and organizations.

Adolphustown Park, west of Kingston on the historical Loyalist Parkway, is proof that contracting out is workable. Adolphustown Park wasn't functioning properly and was losing money, but now it is being leased from the St Lawrence Parks Commission by the United Empire Loyalists' Association and run by capable individuals. There is efficiency and praise from happy campers and certainly tourists alike. The United Empire Loyalists' Association, Bay of Quinte branch, the St Lawrence Parks Commission, historic Adolphustown township and all the individuals involved who have made Adolphustown Park the success it is today are to be congratulated.

It should be noted that Adolphustown Park had a profit last year of $12,000, half of which goes to the St Lawrence Parks Commission and the rest reinvested in the park itself. I would like to compliment Minister Saunderson on implementing a review of the governance of Fort Henry through a joint committee called the Fort Henry working group, comprised of members of the community, the Kingston Area Economic Development Commission, the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Henry Guard Club of Canada, the Department of National Defence and the St Lawrence Parks Commission. The Kingston community has been very supportive of this effort.

An example of what can be done is a full-size outdoor skating rink recently opened on the fort's parade square.

Fort Henry, which is owned by the federal government, is a national treasure, but the question arises as to why the federal government does not operate this historic site. In order to promote tourism and trade in eastern Ontario, the federal government should also be involved in the promotion of trade and tourism through a fixed link to the United States via Wolfe Island. American tourists and commerce would be drawn to the region's beauty, history and trade through this convenient bridge access.

The St Lawrence Parks Commission or a separate commission, such as a Loyalist Parkway commission, should do more to promote our parks, historic sites and culture, particularly west of Kingston to the Trenton area in the Bay of Quinte region.

There are three houses of historical significance along the Loyalist Parkway that are owned by the province of Ontario. They are the Allison house in Adolphustown, which houses the rich cultural heritage of the first permanent United Empire Loyalist settlers and for some time has housed the Loyalist Cultural Centre; the Fairfield-Gutzeit house in Bath, which was constructed in 1796; and the Fairfield-White house in Amherstview, which was built in 1793, making them among the oldest examples of Loyalist architecture in Canada.

Due to funding cutbacks in recent years, the commission has not been able to develop or promote properties at the level that will maintain structural integrity for the enjoyment of future generations. There is also a role for the provincial government that it must continue to play in promoting and preserving our cultural and heritage properties along with our scenic parks.

West of Kingston, the history and beauty are bound together by scenic Highway 33, the Loyalist Parkway, which was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1984. We owe it to ourselves, our ancestors and future generations of Canadians to promote and effectively maintain all the region's history and natural beauty.

I urge members of this Legislature and our government to continue to find ways and means necessary to promote our parks in the Loyalist townships, known as the Johnstown settlement and the Cataraqui settlement, to preserve our historic past and promote our promising future in eastern Ontario.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Cornwall, Mr Cleary, for introducing this resolution. I know that Mr Cleary has been working on this resolution for a number of years. He has been an advocate of the St Lawrence Parks Commission of eastern Ontario for as long as he's been a member in this House. I hope that the members today will support this resolution for a number of reasons. The main reason is that tourism is the second-largest industry in the province of Ontario. Reopening these parks will create jobs and attract new people to Ontario, and at the same time we will be able to profit from their dollars. This is what the government is all about. We have to promote the historical values of these parks and, at the same time, create jobs.

I realize that some of my colleagues, especially the member for Cochrane South, is a little concerned about the possibility of privatizing the operation of these parks. I'm not too concerned about the privatization. I want to see people work. I want to see students in the province of Ontario spending their summer months visiting these parks. I think it's much better to privatize the operation of these parks rather than to see them closed. I think we have a responsibility to look after students, especially.

We have an opportunity to create a partnership with the private sector, and he's imploring the government of Ontario to finalize tendering and announce as soon as possible a private sector operator. From what my colleague says, we do have some private investors. The private sector is willing to sign an agreement with the government of Ontario to operate these parks. We're all looking to improve the quality of life in the province of Ontario and we're opening casinos hoping we will attract new tourists in the province. At the same time, I think casinos are very important, but also our parks are very important.

You've noticed, Mr Speaker, that in the last couple of years the government has introduced user fees for these parks. Maybe this is the new trend. I'm not saying that user fees are totally acceptable in Ontario, but at the same time I think it's better to use user fees than to close these parks.

Je veux premièrement féliciter mon collègue de Cornwall pour sa résolution. Je crois que M. Cleary, depuis un certain nombre d'années, défend la cause de nos parcs en Ontario. Il est notre critique, il fait son devoir, et aujourd'hui je crois que sa résolution est remplie de bons sens, pour la simple raison qu'il y a une possibilité qu'un nouveau partenariat sera créé entre le gouvernement et le secteur privé.

Je ne suis pas tout à fait d'accord avec des frais d'utilisateurs pour ces parcs, mais par contre, je préfère avoir ces parcs ouverts au lieu de fermés. Je le répète : le tourisme, c'est la deuxième plus grande industrie en Ontario et le gouvernement se doit de promouvoir l'Ontario, de promouvoir nos parcs et les valeurs historiques de nos parcs. Je crois que la résolution de mon collègue aujourd'hui démontre très clairement la volonté des gens qui demeurent dans ces secteurs, surtout le secteur de Cornwall et les environs, que ces gens-là sont prêts à aider le gouvernement, si vous voulez, à promouvoir l'Ontario, à promouvoir nos parcs, et à «vendre» les valeurs historiques de nos parcs.

Alors, je vais appuyer la résolution de mon collègue de Cornwall.

Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I'm pleased to speak on this resolution today for two reasons.

First, recreational parks have an impact on the lives of many of my constituents in Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings. Prince Edward county is essentially an island, with the Sandbanks Provincial Park and many other private parks providing employment to people and tourism in related industries.

Secondly, the topic of this resolution is very important to our government's agenda. The role of the government in the tourist industry is being revisited in renewed options for alternative ways to manage our provincial parks. The fact that in 1990 the St Lawrence Parks Commission under the Liberal government closed eight parks because of budget constraints and as part of its business rationalization plan is proof that the government needs to seriously look at how its parks are managed.

The private sector, municipal and even non-profit involvement in the operations of some of our parks is and should be an integral part of our tourist industry. The St Lawrence Parks Commission manages six historical attractions, including Upper Canada Village and Old Fort Henry, as well as the Crysler Marina, 12 parks and campgrounds, the wildlife sanctuary and the Upper Canada Golf Course, one of eastern Ontario's finest championship courses. I don't need to detail the contribution these historical and recreational sites have made, both to the local tourist economy in eastern Ontario and as places of historical significance. For anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit any of these sites, I'm sure you will agree that they are simply an enjoyable experience.

There are also economic and other reasons for the operation of the commission's facilities. For instance, the United Empire Loyalists, who have a history throughout the greater Kingston area and particularly in my riding of Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings, and the Ontario Museum Association are interested in the preservation of the artifacts, records and the heritage of Crysler Park, Fort Henry and Upper Canada Village.

The St Lawrence Parks Commission corporate plan that was submitted to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism in July 1996 seeks to reduce government dependency on provincial transfers while maintaining these values. This plan is in tandem with that of our government -- that of fiscal responsibility. This plan has allowed the commission to cope effectively with a transfer payment reduction by the province of $2 million.

Similarly, in my riding Sandbanks Provincial Park has been operating more effectively and cost-efficiently since it was restructured last summer. At Sandbanks, the province supplies operating funds and the superintendent manages the three parks that comprise the Sandbanks park -- Outlet Beach, North Beach and Sandbanks -- on an individual basis. Any proceeds made from the park, including the film crews that currently use the park, are reinvested in the park. This continued reinvestment in the park should eliminate the need for provincial operating funds.

It is interesting to note that of the four parks that have reopened within the St Lawrence Parks Commission in the past seven years, one has been taken over by a municipal government through a lease arrangement, one through a private individual, one through the St Lawrence Parks Commission and the fourth one, in my riding, the Adolphustown Park, has been leased to the Bay of Quinte branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association, a non-profit group.

Today's resolution largely deals with concerns about two unopened parks: Charlottenburgh and Raisin River. I agree they should be reopened.

The crown is now exempt from applying successor rights, which increases the commission's flexibility to lease parks. Charlottenburgh township is discussing with the commission regarding taking over operations this year, and will work in tandem with the St Lawrence Parks Commission to ensure the future of Charlottenburgh park. The commission is working with Charlottenburgh township to operate Raisin River park in 1997 and to look at the future of Charlottenburgh park.

It's important to note that the member is not asking for provincial funding. I agree with the member for Cornwall that reopening the park is important for tourism for eastern Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired. The member for Cornwall, you have three minutes.

Mr Cleary: I appreciate the remarks of the members for Nickel Belt and Muskoka-Georgian Bay -- and just to remind him, I'm aware of the negotiations that are going on right now and I would appreciate it if he would give that a boost because I'm not sure we're going to be in place for the 1997 season; also the members for Prescott-Russell, Cochrane, Frontenac-Addington, Ottawa East and Prince Edward-Lennox.

I just want to remind the people of this Legislature and the residents of Ontario that in our part of Ontario there are 4,000 who are unable to find jobs out of a population of job seekers of 24,000.

I just remind the members that this resolution has the support of all my municipal colleagues, the wardens, the reeves. To the government members here today, I'd like to let you know that I have received congratulations from the mayor of Cornwall for bringing this resolution forward. As many know, the mayor has announced he is seeking the nomination for the Conservative Party in the next federal election. I thought it might show you how non-partisan this might be.

My goal in getting these parks open is mainly to get our students jobs for the coming summer, which they have not been very successful at, and to get them job experience, to create tourism and to create opportunity at no cost to government.

As I said earlier, we are very proud of the park situation in Cornwall. I've had some calls from as far away as Florida asking for information on the closed parks of the St Lawrence. These individuals were willing to put up their hard-earned money to probably get a piece of the tourism end. I also have letters from a tourist group in Germany that was very interested in getting involved in possibly bringing tourists to our part of Ontario.

I thank my colleagues for their remarks. You know there is very little investment. If we can get tourist dollars, we will all benefit, and we're able to bring our own produce and everything else forward. I thank all the members for their support.

The Deputy Speaker: We are dealing with ballot item number 58 standing in the name of Mr Cleary. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Cleary has moved private member's resolution number 35. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

All matters relating to private members' public business having been completed, I do now leave the chair. The House will resume at 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1202 to 1331.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion by Mr Colle arising from the Speaker's ruling of January 22, 1997.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Yesterday evening when we adjourned the debate, we were engaged in a very unusual process and just the beginning of the debate -- excuse me, I think I had 10 minutes.

The Speaker: I think you did too, actually. There you go: 10:05.

Mr Wildman: Thank you, Speaker. I was saying, as we adjourned the debate last evening we were in a very unusual and I suppose historic situation in this House. The beginning of this session today is an indication of how unusual the process is in which we are engaged. We are not going through question period or the normal procedures, because we have a matter before the House that takes precedence over all else. We have before us, as a result of a very important Speaker's ruling, a motion of censure that is directed at the government resulting from the actions of a ministry, a part of that government, which the Speaker has judged to be a contempt. I want to make a couple of points in closing.

First, it has been suggested, I think by the spin doctors in the Premier's office, that somehow this motion is a matter of confidence. I believe that is to stretch the truth significantly, to come to that kind of a conclusion. I'm tempted to conclude that if the government takes that position it is simply because it is trying to find an excuse to whip the individual members of its caucus into voting against this motion. I hope that's not the case, and I mean that sincerely.

This is not a matter of confidence; it is not. It is an expression of opinion by all members of this House, as individuals, about the actions of a member of the treasury bench, actions which the Speaker found to be in contempt of this Legislature, to be in contempt of the legislative process. That is very serious.

I also want to deal with the fact that some ministers, again I think at the behest of the spin doctors in the Premier's office, tried to call into question whether or not there was indeed a contempt and whether there was just some confusion or inadvertence. I want all members of the House to be clear: The decision on that has been made; that is not what the debate is about. The Speaker ruled that the government, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, was in contempt of the Legislature. That is not appealable, it is not in question, and it is a very serious ruling. There's no question about that.

What is in question is what kind of remediation there is to be done. How is this to be rectified? That is what is in question and all members of the House have the responsibility to determine how this should be done. In determining how to vote on this motion, members must determine whether the Speaker's ruling that there has been a contempt committed, a contempt against this Legislature, a contempt of the privileges of all members of this Legislature, must be made right in some way or whether we should just leave it.

I'm very concerned about this, because I think it is part of a pattern, a pattern of attitude in this government. We saw that pattern demonstrated a little over a year ago when the government brought forward the so-called omnibus bill and tried to ram a lot of very controversial changes through this House without giving the proper approach to legislative debate and the opportunity for the public to have a say and to influence the process as is part of our democratic process.

At that time we said that Bill 26 was a demonstration of bullying by this government, a government that did not take seriously the legislative process, a government that in a way saw the Legislature and the legislative process as a nuisance, a government that seems to think -- I hope the minister understands how grave this situation is -- that once the cabinet decides that a piece of legislation should be introduced in the Legislature, it then becomes law. That is what Speaker Fraser referred to as executive democracy, so-called.

As the Speaker of our Legislative Assembly said yesterday, this is not an executive democracy. The fact that the cabinet has decided that something should be proceeded with and introduced in the Legislature for first reading does not mean it becomes law, because if it does mean that, it means that the role of every individual member of the Legislature is insignificant and doesn't matter, that what we do in this House is irrelevant.

That's an insult, I believe, to all members of the House, but I want to say to the members of the government party, to those of you who are not members of the treasury bench, it is an insult to each and every one of you, because what it is saying to members of the Conservative Party in this House is that the cabinet believes that as soon as they decide something is going to become law, every one of you is just going to line up and vote for it without having any say other than what you may discuss in caucus beforehand.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): They're saying the back bench is irrelevant.

Mr Wildman: I don't think backbenchers are irrelevant. I don't think backbenchers should be treated in that fashion, whether they are on the opposition side or the government side. In my view, every member of this House is elected by his or her constituents to represent their concerns in debate, to put forward their views and to represent all of the people of Ontario in a very serious and thoughtful way in this House. That is why we are elected. That is what the legislative process is about.

The Speaker has ruled that in putting out this piece of advertising, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has shown contempt for this Legislature and for that process. It shows a lack of respect for that process, a process that I've been involved in as an individual member of this House for over 21 years, a process for which I have tremendous respect.

Members of this House cannot be taken for granted. The legislative process cannot be taken for granted. The votes of members of this House cannot be taken for granted. The acquiescence of the public to government proposals cannot be taken for granted. That is not how our democracy works. A government cannot just assume that because it has a majority in the Legislative Assembly what the cabinet decides is a fait accompli, without further debate, hearings, public input, amendment, change, debate and discussion.


There are systems around the world that do work that way, and all of us as Canadians and Ontarians are thankful that we are lucky enough to live in a British parliamentary democracy where things do not work that way. Too often, this Premier seems to think that as long as he and a small group of the executive decide something, it's automatic, that's the way it is. It's the arrogance of power, and that arrogance was demonstrated and was ruled a contempt by the Speaker.

There must be a remedy. In this situation, not only has the government in my view shown contempt for the legislative process and for the members of this House and for the Legislative Assembly, but the government has shown contempt in this particular case for the people of Metropolitan Toronto and for their views and concerns. We can't just leave it there. That's why we have this motion before the House. We must seek a remedy. We mustn't just have the kind of equivocal attempt at apology from the minister that we had yesterday. There must be a remedy. I call on the members of this House to understand the Speaker's ruling and to vote for this motion.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege, and if I could have a page, I would like to send you this package of materials.

The Speaker: The fact is that we can't have privilege until we decide on this point. There can be no privilege.

Ms Lankin: No privilege and no order until --

The Speaker: No, a point of order is always in order, but privilege can't be decided until this particular ruling has been dealt with and dispensed. A point of order is always in order, but privilege can't be.

Ms Lankin: But I seek your --

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine. I ask for the indulgence --

Ms Lankin: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think this is probably a matter of privilege, in which case I will wait; I understand your ruling. It is a question of whether or not the government remains in contempt of the House. I have materials. A contempt issue is an issue of privilege, not an issue of order. Could I just ask for your assistance on that, and if it is privilege I will wait until this matter is completed.

The Speaker: I would suggest that it is a privilege issue and I think that we should dispense with this before I take any more privilege points.

Further debate.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I rise today on an extremely important case, a case which will undoubtedly be reviewed by legislatures all across Canada and throughout the English-speaking world. Your ruling of yesterday will be one which will be referred to, and so indeed you have assured yourself your page in the history books. It's a very important ruling, and not for one minute do I challenge it -- from the very beginning I want to say this -- but I want to put certain things on record.

You ruled that a case of prima facie contempt had been established, but I emphasize that this was not a finding of guilt. Minister Leach apologized yesterday, both in this assembly and outside in a press conference, as is appropriate in a circumstance like this. The opposition clearly wants to make more of this issue because it's good inside politics. I was speaking to one of the members of the press yesterday, and it was interesting, he seemed to also agree that this was inside politics, and clearly we're in uncharted waters here.

The opposition's handling of this issue, I would suggest, is somewhat disgraceful in light of the offer of the government to send this matter to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, and Leach's statement also agreed with this matter. It is very clear that we need some guidelines as to how taxpayers' money is spent.

Mr Wildman: Just say, "If this passes in the Legislature, this will happen."

Mr Turnbull: The member for Algoma has shouted across the floor. He just had the floor but he's saying something again, "Just say, `If this passes the Legislative Assembly,'" and indeed you bring me to my next point. This is a very narrow ruling about the fact that the brochure in question did not have wording to the extent, "If this passes the Legislative Assembly." To the member for Algoma, you are in fact correct; that's exactly what the narrow aspect of this ruling was, and we will indeed have to address this. We need guidelines. We need guidelines for this government and every other government in the future, guidelines on how all communications from both the government and the opposition are conducted.

I have an example of an open letter, which was published in several newspapers around the province I believe on June 19, 1993. It was an open letter from Premier Rae. In this open letter, which was paid for by the taxpayers, as in the case that we're discussing, there is a line which said, "For this reason we've brought in a law." In fact, the legislation with regard to the social contract had only just been introduced. It had not been passed, and yet in this open letter, paid for by taxpayers, in the newspapers, it clearly says, "We've brought in a law." It further says, "I want to point out that the law protects public workers." Then it says, "The social contract law will give employers," further on it says, "The law sets guidelines," and further on it says, "This is spelled out in the law," and "with the social contract law" and "the law reflects that concern."

We are talking about exactly the same kind of situation, and there is no doubt about it. This, as has been very clearly ruled by the Speaker, is not the way public funds should be spent. Now, we've got to learn from this.

I look back at the recent elections of new leaders of both the NDP and the Liberal Party. I have here the newsletter from one of the members of this House, Annamarie Castrilli, which is of a very partisan nature, paid for by the taxpayers as a newsletter. Not only was it distributed in her riding but it was also distributed in all of the public meetings --

The Speaker: Chief government whip, if you --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): What ministry paid for that?

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines. Chief government whip. Would you stop the clock, please. Thank you.

I just want to be very clear --


The Speaker: I would like the opposition members to come to order. I would like to be very clear that what we are debating today is the motion that's before the House.

To the chief government whip, the motion is dealing with the ruling from yesterday, the referral to committee. I appreciate the points you're trying to make. I don't want to enter into debate on that issue. That is a separate issue, the householder issue. The referral of where that goes is directly to the Board of Internal Economy. It's separate and distinct. Let's try and stay, within reason, on topic. Thank you.


Mr Turnbull: A very good point, Mr Speaker. I was merely trying to illustrate the problems that we face here in this Legislature with taxpayers' money, and indeed I do believe, and I have always believed since I sat in opposition, that we need to be very careful as to how we spend taxpayers' money.

With respect to your ruling yesterday, as I've said, it is very clear from your ruling, because I've read it carefully, that it is a very narrow technical ruling that had that publication contained some wording to the extent that that was subject to it being passed by the Legislature, it would have been in order and would have been consistent with other government documents. That is merely the point I'm trying to make. But it is quite apparent that we need to have a coming together of all parties in a discussion of this matter as to how taxpayers' money is spent.

The member for Algoma, in his debate, said that votes of this House cannot be taken for granted. Sir, you are quite correct, and I will fight to my last breath to ensure that is always the case. We have an apology from the minister, and I'm sure he feels very sorry that this has occurred, but because some staff member has prepared some wording which is a few words off what you would like and in fact is virtually identical, in terms of the content, the error, to Premier Rae's letter, therefore we need to make sure that all parties are aware of this very serious problem. But it is a technical problem.

We have been communicating with the people of Metro Toronto, and as a member for Metro Toronto I can assure all of the members who are from other parts of the province that my office has had a lot of requests saying they want some factual information. Certainly this letter, which has various tables of expenditures, is exactly that. It is factual information. It isn't something which is open to debate; it is a fact that that is the distribution of the costs within Metro.

I see the member for Beaches-Woodbine nodding her head. I would of course point out that in March of this year she was criticized for the fact that during her leadership race she put out as a householder highly partisan material, which in fact had the NDP logo on it, paid for at taxpayers' expense.

The Speaker: I'm allowing a lot of latitude to the chief government whip, and the breadth of latitude I think I'm offering is fair and equitable. It really is difficult for me to understand how this relates back to the committee referral and the motion before us. If you could help me by simply tying this back in, it would make it a lot easier to manage this place.

Mr Turnbull: The point I'm making is that we need a full airing of the whole way in which taxpayers' dollars are spent on communications both from the government and from the opposition. That's the whole point I am endeavouring to make, and that was why the amendment was made yesterday which the opposition objected to.

I still believe it would be in the best interests of the taxpayer -- and let's remember, folks, that's why we're here. This is what we're doing. We are representing the taxpayer, and we all have a responsibility. The old adage is, "Let the person without sin cast the first stone." I would admonish you all to think about that, because we have on record oodles of times when there has been a suggestion that the other parties have been in violation of this.

Your ruling yesterday, Mr Speaker, on the same kind of issue was that we had a ministry that had been ruled against once before, when the NDP was the government, and had been warned that if it happened again the Speaker would find contempt. I would point out that that was another government, and there is no doubt about it, it does not excuse it, but it does somewhat explain how the mistake occurred. I would say that our government will be extremely careful in future to make sure the wording was very carefully scrutinized so that we do not make that mistake.

But I would add that the amount of money that our government is spending on government communication is significantly -- many, many millions of dollars -- less than both the Liberal Party when it was in office and the NDP when it was in office.

The whole reason I am bringing this to your attention is that our party takes very seriously the situation and will seek to remedy it. However, the wording --

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): That doesn't sound very sincere. Not what you said before.

Mr Turnbull: I hear babbling from the latest member of this Legislature that it doesn't sound very convincing. Well, sir, I've heard you speaking, and I've heard you speaking out of both sides of your mouth, so please don't start saying that --

The Speaker: Order. Members opposite, I appreciate that it's going to be a rather cantankerous session and I understand the difficulties we're going to be faced with today. I would ask that the member speak through the Chair. If heckling can be taken to the lowest --


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I remember when you had the very same tone, Gary.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, I'm speaking about heckling.

Mr Pouliot: I'm sorry.

The Speaker: Thank you, and I'll hold you to that. If we just take it down a few degrees, it would be helpful. To the chief government whip, I know it is a little difficult, but if you can just speak through the Chair it would be better.

Mr Turnbull: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Clearly, it is the responsibility of the government to communicate with the citizens of this province. We will continue to do so and we will endeavour to make sure that an error of this nature never, ever occurs again, and clearly future governments of all political persuasions must be guided by your ruling of yesterday, which I say was most appropriate. It has implications all across Canada and, as I said, all around the English-speaking world where they look to the parliamentary traditions and privileges of all the legislatures.

However, the wording of the motion which was brought by the member for Oakwood yesterday is such that I cannot support the motion, much as I agree with the intent that we must not have a violation of the taxpayers' concerns in the future. With that, I will sit down.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, I listened with interest to the chief government apologist and I can understand how it's in the government's interest to circumscribe and narrowly limit your ruling. But we don't see it that way. I think it's important not to underestimate the significance of that ruling or what took place in this House yesterday.

For the first time in the history of this Legislature, a representative of the government was found to be in contempt. I want to say that one more time to emphasize it: For the first time in the history of this Legislature, a representative of the government of the day was found to be in contempt. Let's be very clear what this means. This isn't just contempt for the 130 people who have the privilege of serving in this chamber. It's contempt for the entire population of the province of Ontario.

Before I proceed any further, and in case this is misconstrued, I want to make it perfectly clear that what I'm talking about today has nothing whatsoever to do with the right of the government to put forward its agenda, to introduce legislation that would help support that agenda. It's got nothing to do with that. But for every right this government has there is a corresponding obligation, and the obligation of which we speak today is the obligation to allow an opportunity for us as members of the opposition to offer our opinion, to criticize, to offer alternatives, and the same for the greater public. I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm not talking about the right of the government to move forward on its agenda, but I am talking about the corresponding obligation for us to have an opportunity, and for the people of this province to have an opportunity, to address those initiatives in a very real and meaningful way.


I had hoped that we wouldn't be returning to this issue today. We have very many important issues, such as the dumping of $1 billion on to residential taxpayers, a cost that will make property taxes soar over the next few years. I am particularly concerned about the implications of the mega-week initiatives on our ability as a province to care for our less fortunate.

I had hoped that the Premier, upon hearing of your objection, Mr Speaker, to the use of taxpayers' dollars for the television ads, ads clearly designed to change public opinion, would have pulled those ads immediately. We should have had that announcement this morning. The Premier should have had a press conference immediately, either yesterday afternoon or first thing this morning, and said, "We understand the full significance of this hearing, and for that reason we are not comfortable in any way whatsoever with these television ads, so we are yanking them." We've heard nothing in that regard.

I had also hoped that the Progressive Conservative Party would have done the right thing by now and offered to reimburse taxpayers to the tune of some $300,000, which was the cost spent on this self-serving, partisan pamphlet. There has been no word on that front either. None of that has happened, and that's why we're still debating this issue today.

This may very well be the most blatant example of contempt that this government has for the people of Ontario, but unfortunately and sadly, it's certainly not the first example, nor is it in fact the second example or even the 10th example. We are less than one week away from the first anniversary of the passing of Bill 26, a bill that some people refer to as the ominous bill or, more popularly, the bully bill.

We all remember how Mike Harris and the Conservative government tried to shove that bill through this House, and we remember as well how they tried to sneak the bill into this Legislature while many of the opposition members were locked up in a budget lockup, together with members of the media. We remember how they wanted to ram Bill 26 through without public hearings. All Ontarians remember how my caucus and the NDP caucus, all of us following the courageous lead of my Liberal colleague Alvin Curling, literally had to shut this place down and stay here all night just to force this government to give us a few weeks of hearings. That's all we were looking for.

It's important to understand who the key architects of that bill were: the Premier, the former Minister of Health, who has now resigned --

The Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, if I can just have some order, I, again, gave some latitude to the chief government whip; he's got to somehow relate this argument back to the motion before us. I say the same to you. I can give some latitude, but we must remember that we're debating a motion. The motion is under debate, and you've got to come and visit that motion.

Mr McGuinty: I understand very well, Mr Speaker, and I accept that, but I think it's important as well to understand that there is a context within which this latest incident is found. I think it's important to establish the pattern here.

There are many, many more incidents of contempt shown by this minister and this government for the public and for our democratic process. We remember how this very minister had his office force lawyers to back away from legal action on behalf of the parents at the Franklin school, and we remember how the Minister of Education threatened a Scarborough school principal after she dared send a letter to parents.


The Speaker: I appreciate the heckling. It's a government censure motion. It's a broad topic. I'm doing my best to contain the debate. When this motion is before us, if you read it carefully, it's pretty broad. There is a referral to a committee, but it's very difficult for the Speaker to direct debate.


The Speaker: I did as best I could with the chief government whip, to the member for Nepean, but again I gave him a lot of latitude as well. So I ask each side of the House to understand when they're debating that it's a broad context; it's difficult to pigeonhole debate when the first part of the debate is, "The government should be censured."

Leader of the official opposition.

Mr McGuinty: You know they still haven't learned. They're still trying to restrict what we can and can't say on this side of the House.

We remember the Minister of Education and Training, as another example, threatening a Scarborough school principal after she'd dared to send a letter to parents speaking out against the government's education cuts, and we remember more recently the Minister of Health, now resigned, using confidential OHIP billing data to smear a government opponent. Of course we all know the contempt the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs are showing to the legitimate concerns of the people of Metropolitan Toronto and the growing opposition to the megacity.

There is a pattern here; there is a clear pattern that has emerged over the year. This is a government that sees democratic process as an inconvenience, as a nuisance to be skirted around or just plowed over. It ought to see democracy as the fundamental underpinning of what we do here, but it doesn't.

This government, from the Premier on down, has nothing but contempt for the opposition or for any other legitimate dissent. They don't care about what the people think. They don't care about what their backbenchers think. They remind me of the university professor who once said, "Universities would be great places if they could just get rid of the students."

This government believes that health care would be great if they could just get rid of the doctors, that education would be great if they could just get rid of the teachers and that governing in Ontario would be great if they could get rid of the opposition and all those who happen to oppose the government agenda.

Yesterday, Mr Speaker, and I applaud you for this, you had the courage to stand up for our rights as legislators and for the people of Ontario. You made some very clear points about government using the people's money to run ads to persuade the people to change their minds. You said, and I want to quote as this is worth repeating:

"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.... 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's part of our parliamentary tradition to do so. 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...."

Mr Speaker, I couldn't agree more. What the government has done here is wrong and it is indeed, to use your very word, "offensive." Mike Harris's multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign is nothing short of a deliberate attempt to improve the political fortunes of the Conservative Party with taxpayers paying fully 100% of the costs, and that's wrong.

It's not the first time the government has wasted tax dollars on self-serving propaganda. On April 11 this past year there was a radio and newspaper ad campaign to promote Tory spending cuts one day after cutting $500,000 from anti-drinking-and-driving ads, and that campaign cost taxpayers $350,000. On November 23 this past year there was a newspaper ad campaigned by the Ministry of Education to promote new, standardized testing and report cards. The cost of that campaign, $135,000.

Of course there are the two television ads currently running, both featuring the Premier, what can only be described as self-serving and partisan ads. The costs to taxpayers of those two ads are over $1.3 million. Just think of what we could do with $1.3 million today in this province. We are told there was supposed to be another television ad campaign. This one was going to be put out by the Minister of Health, but luckily for taxpayers the government dropped those commercials at the very last minute because they realized there was simply no way in this province to defend spending $650,000 on self-serving health care propaganda at the same time as you've shut down hospitals.

A very important question here is, what role did the Premier's office play in all of this? Let's remember what's happened here. You have, for the first time in Ontario's history, once again, found a minister of the crown to be in contempt of this House. The minister said he's sorry, but neither he nor the Premier nor anyone else has answered a host of lingering questions.


We're told that this very pamphlet that was found to be in contempt of this Legislature was partially written and heavily edited in the Premier's office itself. How, clearly, could they have done this when they must have known that such a campaign was inappropriate?

We know what the Premier thinks by his very appearance in the television commercials the Speaker said he found offensive. We know the Premier thought it was okay to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars on this self-serving propaganda.

Clearly, we need a legislative committee to get to the bottom of this contempt. We need to know who in the Premier's office was responsible for this. We need to know under whose direction those people were acting. We need to know if the Premier himself knew of and approved of this ad campaign. Personally, I can't help but think that given the very tight control that the Premier's office exercises on the public service and the massive amounts of money involved, it's almost impossible to believe that the Premier and his cabinet didn't know of and approve of this campaign in advance.

Let's cut to the chase. Why did this government and this minister run this massive advertising campaign? The answer is that they were forcing on Ontarians some massive changes they knew the public would not accept. They did it because they knew their policies were bad and unless their spin doctors ran a full-corps press, Ontarians just wouldn't buy what they were selling. But guess what? They aren't fooling anybody. Confusing them, yes, but fooling them, definitely not.

On Monday night I went to a meeting in downtown Toronto, a meeting protesting the Premier's and this minister's megacity scheme. This was a group that started out a few weeks ago as a simple handful of people. Two weeks ago it had grown to 350 people, then 650 and now 1,500. Who knows how much it will continue to grow.

I say to the Premier and the minister very directly: You can try to stem the tide of democracy, you can try to divert it or run around it, but in the end you're going to be swept up by that tide. The Premier and the minister casually dismiss those 1,500 people. Will they so casually dismiss the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto? This morning the president of that board of trade, the largest board of trade or chamber of commerce in Canada, spoke to the media. Here's what he had to say about the Harris government dumping social services on the local governments: "This could accelerate the flight of business from older jurisdictions and potentially --

The Speaker: I'm really having great difficulty understanding how this ties into the referral motion.


The Speaker: Order, the member for Brant-Haldimand.

Mr McGuinty: I think there is some comfort to be found in all of this. It's comforting to know that in spite of all of the public dollars hijacked by this government and spent on partisan propaganda, in spite of an advertising blitz that equals if not surpasses the advertising that a party spends in a total election campaign, in spite of this massive contempt for the people of Ontario, in spite of it all, Ontarians can see through this government, and therein lies the real hope for this province.

In closing, let me reiterate why this ruling of contempt should be of concern to members of the governing party and why it's so important not only for the democratic workings of this Legislature but very directly to the people of this province. This decision is important because it says that every single member of this Legislature has a role to play in governing this province. The Premier and the cabinet do not make the laws; we do, all of us here do.

I say very directly to the backbenchers of the government: Don't let the train drivers in the Premier's office railroad you into going against the best interests of the people you were elected to represent. Don't forget those who sent you, and don't forget what you were sent to do.

As legislators, we must all reflect on the message the Speaker delivered yesterday. Let's hope the arrogance that has plagued and characterized the first 18 months of this government ended yesterday afternoon. Only time's going to tell.

We don't have a constitution in this country containing the words "We, the people," but that doesn't mean we are any less of a democracy. It's still we, the people, who make the laws in this province. It's still we, the people, who must be consulted before laws are proclaimed. It is "We, the people," not "I, the Premier," nor "I, the Minister of Municipal Affairs"; it is we, the people, who lie at the heart of democracy and who rise in anger against those who threaten us. That's a lesson this government would do very well to heed in the future.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I rise to speak to this issue with a great deal of concern. I want to say at the outset that I'm a little troubled by the tone I hear so far in this debate from some of the government members, because I think, for whatever reason, there seems to be a lack of understanding about the severity and the importance of what it is we are debating here this afternoon.

I see the motion that's before us, Speaker -- coming from your ruling, a ruling that found a prima facie case of contempt as a result of a pamphlet that the ministry and the Minister of Municipal Affairs put out on Bill 104 -- I find the motion in front of us and your ruling that led to that motion as being one of the most significant issues that's ever faced the Parliament of Ontario in its history. We know this is the first time a minister of the government and a ministry of the government have been found to be in contempt of the Parliament of Ontario. It's not something that happens every other week. It is a very unusual situation.

I, for one, appreciate the fact that you have taken the time and taken the care to go through the issue. Obviously I agree with the ruling you have made, and I know we're not here to debate your ruling but to debate instead what has been offered by the member for Oakwood as the next step or the remedy as a result of your finding.

I want to say again very clearly that what we are dealing with in this Legislature today and what we were dealing with yesterday is what we should be doing as the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in response to the most serious finding that any Speaker could ever find against any branch of a government. That distinction between the government and the Parliament of Ontario is inherent in what's before us today. I want to stress that, because I think that even yesterday one of the senior members of the government caucus was, in comments, not appreciating the distinction between the government and the Legislative Assembly. To me, that's at the heart of what's in front of us, and it certainly is at the heart of your finding that's led to this motion in front of us today.

What has happened essentially, as I see it, is this: You, as the Speaker, have found that a branch of the government which is responsible at the end of the day to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario has breached a significant procedure in assuming, through the pamphlet they put out, that passage of that bill was a fait accompli; in assuming that the Legislative Assembly was not necessary to the process, that it was superfluous, that it was sufficient for the minister of the day to stand up and say, "We've introduced the bill; it is therefore almost as if it's passed."

What your ruling clearly said was: "Sorry, it doesn't work that way, folks, it doesn't work that way, ladies and gentlemen, because we have an institution in this province called the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which has powers, which has rights, to which all of us who happen to be elected have responsibilities, upholding the reality, the fact that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario remains supreme, over the Premier, over the Minister of Municipal Affairs, over any other minister, indeed over any member of the government and indeed over any individual member of this assembly."

That is the rule of law under which we function.


The significance to me of your finding, Speaker, is that in calling to task and in calling to order in this case the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, you have once again reiterated that long-held view and that long-held reality in our process of governance that it is this assembly, not the Premier, not the minister, but this assembly that at the end of the day has to make the decisions as to what laws we will function under as the society we know called Ontario.

That is beyond reproach, that is beyond discussion. I stress that because I still, in listening to the government members, hear that they have not quite appreciated that distinction. We continue to hear from members: "Well, what you found, Speaker, was, yes, a prima facie case of contempt, but we're not quite sure what that means." Yesterday the government House leader went as far as saying, "It may be that there is a prima facie case of contempt, or maybe not."

There is no debating it, Speaker. You found that the government, through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and through the Minister of Municipal Affairs, in its actions in putting out a pamphlet which deemed that the legislation for all intents and purposes had already been passed, was indeed in contempt of this Parliament. The members across can try and draw all kinds of parallels they want in terms of individual MPPs, statements on their letterheads or indeed pamphlets individual MPPs may put out, but that quite frankly is not the point. What we are talking about here and what the motion in front of us deals with is the actions of the government, the actions of a ministry, not the actions of individual members. Individual members, within the confines of the rules that we function under, have lots of freedom to be able to issue whatever political statements they want, stating whatever political view they want to express.

But when you have a ministry and when you have a minister that assume in what goes out officially on behalf of the government, not as an individual member but on behalf of the government, that what is contained in a piece of legislation, which had simply been tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario at the time this pamphlet was put out, somehow is sufficient and that they can deem and can say, "This is what will happen," clearly is an infringement upon the process, is an infringement upon the rights and the responsibilities and the respect that is due to this Parliament.

In looking at this issue and at the motion that's in front of us, I come at it first and foremost with that very clear understanding in my mind. I belaboured that point particularly because I know that for some members of the government side -- and I'm choosing my words very carefully -- they may not have yet fully appreciated, and I say this with all due respect to all individual members of this House, the distinction that exists between members of the government side and the government, because at the end of the day we know that under our system a lot of power resides in the government, ie, the cabinet, we know that a lot of power resides in the hands of the Premier and the Premier's office, but we know that at the end of the day the degree to which that power can be exercised is always, always subject to the latitude that this Parliament is prepared to afford those offices and the people who hold those offices.

I say particularly to the members of the government side who are not members of the government, because they are not members of cabinet, that they particularly, as members of this assembly, have on this issue probably the most important responsibility of any members or any group of members in this Legislative Assembly. It is for them to carry the responsibility in determining how to vote on this motion that they in fact will decide to uphold or not the rights of this Parliament to continue to be supreme over the exercise of power by the Premier and by the individual ministers.

That's really what's at stake here, Speaker, because the motion, in calling that the government be censured for its contemptible advertising campaign, is clearly saying that as a Legislative Assembly, we want to be clear that we do not condone the actions of this government as exercised through the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I think that is an action and a step that every single member of this assembly, including those members from the government caucus, should have no hesitation in supporting. They should have no hesitation in supporting it because in doing so they would be continuing to uphold the tradition of our laws in this province that say that government always remains subject to the latitude and the powers afforded to it by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

If they require any further support or any further reasons as to why they should have no trouble in supporting this motion, we need only look at the words that were spoken yesterday by the Minister of Municipal Affairs himself. I have to say I take at face value his apology, standing in this House and clearly saying that he respected your ruling, he accepted your ruling and he expressed his apology to you, to this assembly and to all members of this assembly for the actions that he took and for the actions that his ministry has taken. In accepting your ruling, he has to therefore be saying that he's accepting that you have found him to be in contempt. What troubles me is that when I hear some of the other government caucus members debating this issue, I don't hear that same acceptance. I hear an effort to retry the issue here.

Let me try to put it in very simple terms that perhaps take it out of the context of this Legislative Assembly. The issue, as I see it, has been tried. You have found the minister and the ministry to be in contempt. There's no debating that. We're not here to retry the issue. We're not here to redebate whether in fact the minister is in contempt. We're not here to question what that means in terms of whether the minister did something wrong or not. He did. He is in contempt of this House. That is so clear. Those are powers that we bestow, through our parliamentary traditions, upon the Speaker, and the Speaker has made that finding. That finding is not debatable. That finding is not to be retried. That finding is not to be requestioned or re-examined. Yet, Speaker, when I listen to some of the government members opposite, I get very clearly the sense that what they want to do is to retry the issue, that what they want to do is sort of have another debate about whether in fact your ruling was correct or not.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): You don't want to go to committee, then.

Mr Silipo: The Minister of Agriculture and Food says, "You don't want to go to committee." I'm going to get to that point, I say to the minister. I have no trouble with this issue going to committee, but if it goes to committee, I would say we had better be really clear about why it's going to committee. It's not going to committee, as I see it, so that we can rehash the whole issue and understand what the minister did or didn't do. That's already been determined. The Speaker has made his ruling on that point. So if you think that by sending this to committee you're going to come back with a different finding, you haven't understood what the Speaker has ruled. You can come back with whatever finding you want; it will not change the reality that the Speaker has found the Minister of Municipal Affairs to be in contempt of this Parliament. That's a reality.


I want to say further on this point that, to be honest with you, a part of me questions the usefulness of the second part of this motion, going to committee, because I'm not sure what is to be achieved by going to committee. I will listen to the debate and I will make a decision on this, as others will, at the end of the day.

Speaker, if the concern is that all of a sudden we need to have guidelines established, as some members have said, as a result of your finding, that's an issue that perhaps needs some addressing, but again I would say to you, I don't think we need to be belabouring the point in terms of what guidelines we need. The clear guidelines that I heard you reiterate in your ruling, in your finding of contempt, is that no ministry and no government can ever and should ever assume that by simply introducing legislation, that legislation can be deemed to have been passed. It's so simple. It doesn't require a great deal of debate; it doesn't require a great deal of perusal.

Members are holding something up. I don't know what it is, Speaker. If they want me to respond to it, I'd be happy to, if they'd get me a copy of it. Again, I say to them -- because what I suspect they're holding up may be something that's come from a member of this Parliament -- that the issue here is not what each of us puts out in our individual letters or newsletters. That's not the issue here; that's not what the Speaker's ruling dealt with; that's not what the motion in front of us deals with. We are talking here about the actions of a government and the responsibility of a government to be held accountable and to continue to be held accountable to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Can't you guys take yes for an answer?

Mr Silipo: One of the members opposite asks if I can't take yes for an answer? I haven't heard a yes from the government members. The only thing close to yes I heard was from the minister responsible for this débâcle, who did at least apologize. I want to give him credit for that: He did apologize for his actions.

But I would have expected that every single member of the Mike Harris team standing up and debating this issue would have tried to take the same tone that the minister himself has taken on this, and accept responsibility, rather than try and run away from the responsibility, because I say to my friends opposite that you can't have it both ways. You can't want to be a member of this government when it suits you and when one of you is found to be in contempt try to say, "Maybe it is; maybe it isn't." No, it is. The Minister of Municipal Affairs has been found to be in contempt. That is beyond debate.

You can make whatever parallel you want to other individual mailings. You can make whatever parallel you want to the need for guidelines. The basic guideline is there. The Speaker has set it out. He has said that you cannot as a government, whether it's you or any other government in the future, issue any pamphlets, as was done here, you cannot put out any form of advertising, you cannot take any positions that assume that the process of the Parliament is irrelevant. You can talk about, "If the legislation passes, this is what it will do," you can talk about, "This is our intention if it passes through the Legislative Assembly and through the process," but you can never assume that by simply tabling the legislation, for all intents and purposes, you've passed it.

We will continue at this point, because it is fundamental to the understanding of how our process of government works, our process of democracy works in this province. We know that at the end of the day the likelihood is that all of the members of the PC caucus will vote in favour of this legislation, but we also know that legislation is sometimes amended, we know that legislation is sometimes withdrawn. Both of those things have happened during the life of this government, based on public input, based on the government's assessment and the minister's assessment as discussions go through.

I see the Minister of Labour. She could stand up and give us lots of examples of when she's withdrawn provisions that upon reflection she has found to be not particularly wise.

We heard on this particular bill that's led to this issue, on Bill 104, at least one member of the government side express some real concerns about this bill, the member for Scarborough West, Mr Brown. I don't know how he's going to vote on this at the end of the day, but he may end up voting against it. There may be other members of the government side who end up voting against it, and then what happens? Maybe the bill won't pass, and therein is the problem: in assuming, as the minister did, that all he had to do was to introduce the legislation and he could assume, because he had a majority of Conservative members in this House, that the legislation was going to in fact pass.

The likelihood is there, the probability even, but at the end of the day, that isn't the point. The point is that Parliament remains supreme. If we ever lose sight of that reality, then we may as well just all pack it in. You may as well, then, in fact reduce the 130 members in this House not just to 103, you may as well just reduce them down to one, because you don't need the rest of us. You can just elect the Premier and let him or her do whatever you want. We won't need a Speaker. They can just rule however they wish.

In other places, that's called dictatorship. It's something that many of our forefathers and foremothers fought against, I would remind members. I think we take pride, and certainly I take pride as a member of this assembly, in the continuing role that this assembly can and indeed needs to continue to play in looking at proposals that come from the government side, because they have the responsibility and the right and the power to bring forward legislation that they feel will improve the quality of life of people across this province in whatever measures they wish. It's up to them to bring those forward, but then it's up to the Parliament, through its process, to determine whether that is the correct action to take.

That process involves talking with people, it involves continuing to listen to people, because the democratic process we function under goes far beyond simply casting our ballots once every four or five years. That's a key part of it. As a result of that, we give direction, we set a course. I am mindful and respectful of the direction and the course voters in Ontario chose last June 1995. I am respectful of that. But equally, I expect that members of the Mike Harris government would continue to be respectful not just of the rest of us who are not part of that team but indeed continue to be respectful of -- as any of the rest of us, the New Democrats or the Liberals had we formed the government, would have had to continue to be respectful of -- the population out there which has elected us and which expects and requires and needs to continue to know that whatever government is in place, that government will never try to assume upon itself, as opposed to the Legislative Assembly, the powers that can only rest in this assembly.

The process of making decisions about what laws to bring about also involves, as I said, not just being elected once every four or five years but continuing to talk to the public, continuing to hear from the public and continuing to understand the concerns of the public, because things change, issues change, particularly an issue like the one that's led to this problem, an issue like the amalgamation of the various municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto into a megacity, an issue on which the best the minister and the Premier of the day can say is that they did not support the position they are putting forward now when they ran for office. The worst that can be said is that they in fact are acting completely opposite to what indeed they promised during the last election. For that reason too, we have reason to be concerned and to be worried about what in fact this government is doing and how in fact the government members are responding to this very, very important motion before us.

I would say I expressed some concerns, or some hesitation rather, about this matter going to committee because I'm not entirely sure, I have to confess, what the point of that is, but I'm absolutely clear on the need for the motion, particularly in its first part, to be adopted by this Legislative Assembly. It is crucial that we say, as a Legislative Assembly, partisanship aside, that we want to continue to uphold the supremacy of this Parliament, which I believe is the essence of the ruling you have made on this question.


I would think, Speaker, that if the government as a government wanted to show proper respect for the finding you have made and the motion that is now in front of us, they, without having to be coerced, without being demanded by us or by others, in and of themselves would have already taken, and I think there is still time for them to take, some steps to remedy the situation. I think the minister's apology was a useful first step. But I believe that if Mike Harris has any respect whatsoever left for the democratic process and for this assembly, it would be incumbent upon him to go beyond that, to withdraw the ads.

I appreciate that your ruling did not find those to be in contempt, but because of the relationship here -- I'm talking now about what the minister and the Premier can do to show full compliance and full respect for the ruling -- I would say that the government should withdraw its ads and offer in some way, either through their caucus funds or more appropriately through their party funds, to repay to the public coffers the money spent on this brochure. I think that would show the necessary level of respect this government needs to show for this Parliament.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): You guys would have to pay five times.

Mr Silipo: I hear the minister across continuing to talk about what partisan flyers are put out by others. I have to say again that I'm a bit nonplussed, because here's a member of this Legislative Assembly with great seniority who I think still has not appreciated the significance of what's in front of us. This is not a question of a party flyer that's been put out. This is not a question or concern around a caucus flyer or an individual MPP flyer. This is a question of the government, because of government advertising, having been found to be in contempt. I don't know how many ways people want to try to cut that but that's the reality.

This government has been found to be in contempt of the Legislative Assembly, the first time ever, in the over 100 years of history of this Parliament, that has taken place. That is an inescapable fact; that is something you will never be able to move away from. What you can do is take some steps to show that you have still, even at this late time, some semblance of respect left for the parliamentary process in this province.

The minister has taken the first step. He has issued an apology. The government, whether it's through the government House leader or through the Premier himself, should take the next steps, and those are, again, to withdraw the ads, repay the money into the public coffers and show that they have a real understanding and appreciation of this Parliament and what this Parliament is all about.

I look forward to the continuing debate and I will be listening most earnestly to hear any sense of understanding and any sense of responsibility being taken by members of the government side who, I want to remind them -- at least most of them -- are not members of the government. Their first responsibility is to this Legislative Assembly, to the people who elected them here, and to show that they in their actions, in supporting this motion of censure, understand what has happened here is that the worst finding that could ever be found against a government has been found in this case. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario has found the Minister of Municipal Affairs, in his actions, to be in contempt of this Parliament.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): That's not true. He did not.

Mr Silipo: Well, you hear it again, Speaker.

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Silipo: A prima facie case is not the same as contempt? I say to the members opposite, I don't know what books they've been reading. A prima facie case means a case of contempt has been established. The words could not be clearer. Maybe, Speaker, you need to explain it to them again, because that seems to me to be the only way these folks over here will understand that what you found was the Minister of Municipal Affairs to be in contempt of this Parliament. They can't cut it any other way. That's the reality.

The Speaker: I appreciate the opportunity. I think I'll take the member for Dovercourt up on "prima facie." It's on first appearance, which means --


The Speaker: Minister of Environment, thank you for your help.

It means basically that what we have here is, on first appearance, evidence that the Speaker says warrants a debate or a motion by the Legislature. I can't personally find anyone in contempt. The only body that may do that is us. So I see it as on first appearance. I then say, yes, there's enough information here to bring before the Legislature, and you must find: You must do the finding, you must do the discovery, you must decide among yourselves if there's enough evidence. It's here for that exact reason. That's why the member for Oakwood moved the motion.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise on a matter which I believe to be of some urgency in terms of the order of proceedings of the House. Ironically it does relate to the matter that is before us, but it is a different issue and I believe the urgency compels me to bring it forward at this time.

You may be aware that on the very day we are debating a motion of censure against a government which you have found to be in contempt of the Legislature by having appeared to take action or provide information as if legislation had been enacted when in fact it was still before the House, on that very day, the Minister of Education has seen fit to announce his intention to appoint commissioners to head --

The Speaker: Would you take your seat. I appreciate what the member is saying. We are in the middle of a debate. It must be disposed of before any points of privilege may arise. It's not a point of order and it may in fact be a point of privilege. What I'm saying from my position here is that we must dispose of this motion before us before I may hear any more points of privilege.

Mrs McLeod: May I just --

The Speaker: Quickly, then.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I will look for your guidance. The reason I rise on it at this point is that the fact that the government has seen fit to act as if legislation was to be enacted, even though it's only in second reading, is at 3 o'clock this afternoon to trigger in turn the resignation of an MPP, and that in turn will trigger the necessity of a by-election. I just feel that does make it of some urgency.

The Speaker: I'm having a great deal of difficulty understanding, as it is a point of order, even the privilege that would be involved regardless. I would ask that we move on with this debate. I'll move forward to the government side. I'm not saying I'm going to reserve ruling -- I'm not -- but would just take the opportunity to allow this debate to continue.

Mrs McLeod: If you would give me some direction as to how to place it, it is, I believe, another very blatant example of --

The Speaker: You'll have to wait until we dispose of this issue. It's just that simple.

Minister of privatization with responsibility for --

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Minister without portfolio with responsibility for privatization. I know it's a long title but we'll get to it shortly.

I wanted to thank you, Mr Speaker, for the clarification you just delivered to the House today because I think it was important to clarify what exactly this debate is that we're having today. In anticipation of the fact that I might have brought your attention to that point of clarification, Mr Speaker, I did some homework --


Hon Mr Sampson: Yes, it sounds strange, but I did do some homework on what those two Latin words mean and how they might relate to your decision. It's quite clear that indeed should you have allowed to continue this discussion that would have alluded to the fact that you have made a determination of contempt, I would have thought that would have been a contempt and a removal of our privileges and my privileges to be part of the House that will be engaged in the debate of that fact. I'm glad that you were able to rise and speak to that particular point.


I'm cautious of your previous instructions to other speakers to try to stick to the debate and the item being debated, which is the motion from the honourable member for Oakwood, and so I will attempt to do that, and I know you will not waste very much time should I stray from that particular topic.

I think it's important if we start to discuss the issue of whether there has been in fact, as the motion suggests, a "contemptible advertising campaign," and that is how the motion reads -- I know you had a ruling yesterday that allows a narrowing of that particular definition to the item at hand, which is an actual advertising brochure produced by the ministry -- I think it's relevant to go over perhaps the situations in other jurisdictions, in other Houses, as they relate to alleged incidents of contempt, alleged incidents of breach of privilege, so that we can have a better understanding in the context of this particular motion how this document that is being discussed here relates to a potential or an alleged incident of contempt.

The trailing clause to the motion suggests that the matter be sent to the Legislative Assembly committee for consideration. I believe that was an offer of the House leader yesterday, and there may well be some merit in doing that, but let me speak to the issue of advertising in general.

I know that you and your ruling did take a look at what was raised by the two honourable members opposite as the basket of advertising that we're considering. I would hope that this House wouldn't agree that the government should be removed of its responsibility for communicating with its electorate. As a member of this House, I certainly would expect that to be a privilege of mine and I would hope that the other honourable members here share that opinion.

I know members opposite have risen in the past in this chamber during this session on a number of occasions and criticized this government for not being open and not disclosing to the electorate various items of our agenda. They have indeed risen on questions and I believe they have risen on points of privilege and points of order on that very subject. I would hasten to say that I would be surprised if they were now to stand in their places and say that the government does not have a responsibility to communicate with the electorate; clearly we do.

Our responsibility as government is to outline where we believe our government policies are taking this province. It's a requirement, I believe, of government, it's an obligation on us, and it's frankly an expectation of the electorate to understand where their government is going and where they believe we are leading this province, especially as we come to the turn of the century, a very important point in our history in this province.

I want to add to the points that were raised by the minister yesterday when he stood in this House and spoke to this chamber about this particular document. He indicated in his delivery that the motive behind the pamphlet of the government on the proposal to unite the cities of Metro Toronto to create the one city of Toronto was an attempt to inform the affected parties on what they should expect to see when our government continues with that particular piece of legislation, what they would expect to see as the result of the bill being passed. Again I say, as I said earlier, I think that's an obligation of this government: to stand in here, yes, and to communicate outside this chamber to the electorate on what we are attempting to do with respect to any particular piece of legislation, and the minister clarified that.

I would say to you that this particular document we're discussing today also contained information as it would relate to other sections of the GTA, one that I in fact come from in the region of Peel. It attempted to indicate to the electorate how our vision of the one Toronto may impact on what the citizens of the region of Peel can expect to see as a result of the legislation being passed.

The dates outlined in the pamphlet, frankly, are trying to demonstrate to the electorate that the government does indeed have an implementation plan with respect to our agenda for change for the city of Toronto. I think it would not be correct to stand again in this chamber, to stand outside of this chamber and say, "We believe we have a vision of Toronto but we won't tell you when we believe that vision will occur."

I don't know how the people, the voters of this province, the voters in this city would be able to comment if we didn't have the opportunity to lay out to them our timing and when we believe these changes would become effective. That's clearly one of the questions that I would have expected the electorate to question us on when we outlined what our agenda for change was.

Mr Speaker, I say to you that the government has an obligation here -- I know you're patiently awaiting further points that I'm raising here -- to inform the electorate on its agenda and to establish how we believe that agenda will unfold over the next period of time. It's an attempt to inform people, as the minister stood in this House yesterday; it's not an attempt to mislead or to trample over the rights and privileges of the members in this House.

I want to speak to a couple of other precedents, two of them that you were asked to look at by the members opposite who stood on the point. The member for Algoma was one of them and the member for Oakwood was the other. As you know, one relates to the federal Parliament in 1989 and it was a GST ad. The other was a particular advertisement in 1994 as it related to the then Bill 77, an advertisement that appeared in the Ottawa-Carleton area.

As you quite clearly understood, sir, the government's newspaper advertisement in the Ottawa-Carleton ad contained a statement that, "The bill will be law well in advance of the official closing date for the nominations of October 14, 1994." I would put to you, and it's the attempt to discuss the motive here which I think we're talking about on this particular motion, that this particular language is far in excess of the reference to dates that we see appearing in the document under question. There's an actual date mentioned of October 14, 1994, and the fact that certain things will occur, as the language was here, well in advance of that particular date.

The issue as it relates to the federal point that was raised and was discussed centred around a GST advertisement. That advertisement clearly stated, "The date Canada's federal sales tax will change to effect the GST," and it established that particular date and asked readers to "please save this notice." I would put to you that this is far in excess of the language that we see contained in this particular ad.

There are a couple of other points that were not raised by the honourable members opposite which I believe continue to establish and confirm the point that I'm speaking to as it relates to the nature of this document and other items that were referred to in the debate so far.

In December 1989 in the National Assembly in Quebec -- and these two instances are in fact in Quebec -- the opposition House leader of the National Assembly requested that the Président, the Speaker, rule on the content of brochures published by a certain commission of the government. The brochures contained information on a new system which was to come into force in January 1990, and the opposition asserted at that point in time that the rights of the members had been ignored or breached, a violation of privilege, as has been discussed here.


In that particular situation, the Speaker of the National Assembly ruled that, unlike the GST example that we have had discussed here, and I'm quoting, sir, "The information in question had not been made public in newspapers but was limited to a narrow audience with common interests." That of course is what --

The Speaker: Member from Mississauga West, Minister, I just want to be clear that I'm not here to listen to debate about the merits of previous findings by previous Speakers and my finding. I'm not here to listen to what you consider to be far in excess of my findings as opposed to other findings. I'm here to hear debate on the motion. I've offered some latitude, I think, to all parties surrounding that motion. I offer no latitude on the finding. I ask you to stick to topic.

Hon Mr Sampson: I appreciate your instruction to me to speak to the topic, but the motion being raised, if I can, Mr Speaker, is that we're debating the motion that, as it's spoken here and written here, the government be censured for its contemptible advertising campaign. I'm trying to draw attention to advertising campaigns that have been drawn into question in other jurisdictions so that we can have that comparison and as a result of that comparison --

The Speaker: I think I was fairly clear to the member. I said very specifically, you drew the analogy between the two examples I brought forward. I don't want the analogies. The finding has been done. I ask you to speak to the motion. Let us move on to the motion.

Mr Bradley: I'm telling J.B.

Hon Mr Sampson: The honourable member wants to speak to J.B. He might have some difficulty doing that, given the fact that he has passed away. Thank you very much for your reference.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will redirect my discussion. I believe it should be in order for me to continue to discuss, since we have reference to them here in this particular motion, advertising campaigns and the relevance of advertising campaigns to a government's, as I said earlier, obligation to communicate with its electorate. The previous governments, and I say that to both the Liberal members and the NDP members, must have clearly believed that there was a very serious obligation of governments to communicate with their electorate in regard to their agenda, and I would say a very serious obligation, they considered, if one were to govern their level of seriousness and the degree of seriousness by the dollars actually being spent.

In fact the previous NDP government was so concerned about communicating with their electorate on their government agenda that during the time that this House did not sit prior to the 1995 election, they spent a considerable amount of money communicating and delivering on their obligation to communicate to their electorate as it relates to what they were intending to do, even though what they were intending to do could clearly not have been executed because this House didn't even sit. We had a government that was prepared to spend thousands and thousands of dollars, the NDP government, delivering on its obligation to communicate with its electorate when nobody was in this House to deal with the legislation or the issues or the regulation that they were trying to communicate to their electorate on.

Mr Speaker, I would put to you that now they find it objectionable that anybody on the government side communicate with its electorate on its agenda even when this House has been convened especially for the purposes of considering the issues and the points which we intend to deliver to Ontarians on. They were not prepared to sit; we are. They were not prepared to call a special session of the Legislature.

Mr Speaker, I see you glancing over at my side. I know you're quite engaged in this discussion. But we are talking about an advertising campaign, as the motion says, and I am trying to speak to advertising campaigns, and I've been very close to that. I've been trying to speak to the intent of the advertising campaigns, and I am putting to you, sir, the point that if this, in the position of the opposition and the member for Oakwood, is a contemptible advertising campaign, it is nowhere near and it could not possibly be, because we are dealing with issues which would come before this House, have been tabled in this House, are in the process of being debated in this House, while the members opposite in the New Democratic Party were prepared to advertise on their agenda and nobody was here.

We're attempting here to discuss this issue on whether or not -- and I'm again debating the motion, sir -- the government should be censured for this type of activity. I put to you, sir, we should not be censured for this type of activity because we in fact are, as I started off my discussion with you, sir, delivering on our commitment to communicate, and we are sitting in this Legislature under a special sitting to discuss those very issues we have laid in front of the people of Toronto as they relate to this particular incident, as they relate to the citizens of Peel, as they relate to this particular document, as they relate to the other residents of the province and as they relate to our other agenda items.

Mr Speaker, I want to close by saying that when you rose a few minutes ago in the House to talk about the prima facie case, you were quite clear in saying, although the opposition has not made these statements, that you have not found guilt as it relates to this particular incident; that is the obligation and the responsibility of this House. You have clearly in your motion simply said this House should debate that issue, and in fact that's what we are doing here. But, Mr Speaker, you have not ruled -- and this, I believe, is a summary of your words, since I don't have the Hansard in front of me to quote verbatim -- that there is in fact a guilt relationship here; there is just, as the Latin words say, a first-appearance view of some alleged incident, that's all.

I instruct this House to consider that as it considers this particular motion, because it's important to understand that it's up to this House to determine whether or not an incident as it relates to censure has occurred, and it's up to this House to determine how that incident should be dealt with, reviewed etc, and that was the tailing item as it relates to sending the incident and the motion off to committee for their review.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I rise to join in this debate with a great deal of concern about what I'm hearing from the government benches around this matter, because I do not believe we're hearing the government suggest in any way that in fact a case has been made for a finding of contempt. That's what government members, government spokespeople, have said over the last day and a half: that there has been no finding for a case to be made for contempt.

The Speaker's ruling is very clear on this matter. I want to get into that in just a moment, but let me just say that the other disturbing feature of this debate from the government benches is that they're attempting to make this into a partisan matter. I find that completely unacceptable, because this is a matter that should be non-partisan and it should concern every member of this Legislature, whether they're sitting in the fourth row or in the first row. It is for that reason we're debating this matter, which is a very serious matter, at some length. Because it is just that: a very serious matter.

We, as legislators, are charged with the responsibility for not only dealing with laws that come through this assembly, but for upholding the very essence of democracy that this Legislative Assembly represents. When the day arrives that we forget it is this Legislative Assembly that approves legislation, that passes legislation, that processes legislation, that allows for real debate to take place, that allows for some semblance of scrutiny, then we will have failed as a democracy and this will no longer be a Parliament, this will no longer be a parliamentary democracy.


I think we'll all rue the day when that happens, and we're coming perilously close to that. I've sat in this Legislative Assembly for almost 12 years, and even in that period of time I see a fundamental change, a transformation taking place in the role of members of this assembly, of members who are part of a governing majority, of members who are part of the opposition, in the role of members in legislative committees and in the way in which this Legislative Assembly functions. The privileges and the obligations of members are something we take with a great deal of seriousness, because it is through them, through us as members of the Legislative Assembly, that people have the opportunity to express their democratic rights and freedoms. It is through this Legislative Assembly that this happens.

Let me go on to the substantive matter with respect to the case before us. The argument being made by government members is that there has not been a case made for contempt. The Minister of Municipal Affairs stood up in his place and apologized just yesterday to this assembly, apologized to the people of this province for his actions. Therefore, we can only conclude that he meant his apology, and if he did not, then what is he saying, "I wasn't quite serious about this; there was no contempt on my part"? In essence, the prima facie case has been made by the Speaker that the municipal affairs minister and the ministry have been found in contempt on the face of it, which is a very serious measurement by which you can establish contempt.

What we're discussing today is the motion put before us by my colleague the member for Oakwood that the government be censured by this House for its contemptible advertising campaign. All we're asking for is that the matter be referred to a committee or that the matter be dealt with, with respect to censure. If the government does not want to send this to committee, then please tell us how it is you wish to deal with this matter, how it is you wish to find some restitution for taxpayers, firstly, and how it is you wish to deal with the matter that you have been found in contempt of this Legislative Assembly, which, I repeat, is a very serious matter indeed.

We are debating here this afternoon whether in fact the very principles of our democracy have been undermined, because what did the Speaker say with regard to this matter? I want to quote some of the passages of the Speaker's findings. He refers back to the previous Speaker, who issued a stern warning to the previous government for a similar circumstance. He said it's not enough in this case to issue another warning, and therefore he found a prima facie case of contempt. So the Speaker was compelled to find that this case was a prima facie case of contempt. That's what we're dealing with here. That has been established. There's no debating that matter, as the Speaker got up in his place to suggest to the Minister without Portfolio, that to deal with this matter directly cannot be up for debate.

The Speaker went on to say that he found that the matter should be dealt with in all seriousness because the document in question, the pamphlet that was issued by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, left people "with an incorrect impression about how parliamentary democracy works in Ontario, an impression that undermines respect for our parliamentary institutions." I can think of no more serious matter than that before this House. The words are very clear: "an impression that undermines respect for our parliamentary institutions."

I can say -- and I'm trying not to be partisan and I'm not trying to use loaded words, because I take this matter very seriously -- I just find that it concerns me that members of the government would try to make this a partisan issue, and in fact yesterday that the government House leader would suggest that this was a matter to be considered as a non-confidence vote would before this assembly, making it a matter of partisanship. That's what I find unacceptable. I'm trying to select the words that I use very carefully, because I think members of this House have to respect not only decorum -- this government started off its mandate by saying we have to do several things to change this place in the way it functions: Decorum has to be maintained, the way in which we deal with each other, the way in which debate is undertaken. We cannot undermine the principles of this Legislative Assembly and then just have some semblance of decorum, so we are debating a motion that is before us which strikes at the very heart of what is our democratic institution.

I think it is very important to understand what we're dealing with. Just to delve further into the findings of the Speaker, he went on to say, "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." He said, "Personally, I would find it offensive if taxpayer dollars were being used to convey a political or partisan message." He also went on to say, "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 -- which, I might add, are not available to the opposition -- instead of through debate in the House." Very direct, very clear.

I think therein lies the answer as to why this government, this Minister of Municipal Affairs, must be censured by this House, because public funds were expended to propagate one viewpoint, a partisan viewpoint. It can only be described as that because this government suggested that in fact something had been passed and approved by this Legislative Assembly in law which made it a de facto situation. The Speaker attempted to convey that as well in his ruling, and I quote again:

"In my opinion, they," the government, "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."


What are we dealing with? It's the undermining of the authority of this legislative chamber, of this Legislative Assembly, to deal with legislative matters before it in respect of the passage of law before a government could go out there and suggest to the people of this province that this was already approved, that this was the case, and therefore propagating the idea that this was the case, before this Legislative Assembly had the opportunity to even examine legislation before it. In other words, executive decree was invoked. That was the impression left.

Any observer who did not understand the workings of our Legislative Assembly might come to that conclusion. That's an important distinction to make because in our system the executive branch and the legislative branch are intertwined, in the role of not only the cabinet but the Premier, the entire majority government. Their power is derived from this Legislative Assembly. That is the distinction to be made, unlike the American system where they have a clearly defined division between executive and legislative roles.

Then it behooves any government to take proper care to pass legislation, not only observing and respecting the traditions of this assembly, the customs, but upholding the very processes by which we govern ourselves. This move on the part of the Minister of Municipal Affairs undermined the importance of this Legislative Assembly to deal with matters before it.

I say once again to government members that this is not a matter to be taken lightly. If we've come to the point where decisions can be taken by cabinet and executive decrees issued bypassing the Legislative Assembly, then we have seriously damaged our parliamentary system. We should not and cannot accept this as a precedent, and that is why the Speaker stood in his place and found that there was a prima facie case of contempt.

So what are we here to do today, what are we here debating about? We're debating this matter. We're debating the motion that's before every single one of us for consideration of a finding of contempt. What are we considering? We are considering whether the government should be censured, whether this minister should be censured, and what to do about it.

I find the government is not forthcoming on this because it's not attempting to deal with this in the light it should be dealt with. They're not attempting to deal with this in a straightforward fashion. Attempting to make this a matter to be debated with respect to its being a vote of non-confidence puts it in a partisan light, and that is not the way in which this matter should be dealt with. It is not partisan and therefore should be dealt with in this assembly and dealt with by members of this Legislative Assembly, either in committee or in this House. Further to this debate, every single member of this assembly should accept this motion, not only uphold it but vote for it.

Ultimately, I think to myself that there are members on that side of the House, the government side, who think that this is a waste of time, that this is another cheap trick by the opposition to delay, to be obstructionist. I assure members of the government that this is not our intention and I want to tell you that if one day you should happen to be sitting on the opposition benches, which I think you will most likely do come the next election, and the roles are reversed, because I've been on that side of the House, you will accept the fact that there are very few privileges and very few means by which the opposition has a say. Ultimately we are talking about upholding this institution for the rights of the minority to be heard and for the right, that is our democratic freedom, to have a say. If we lose that, we lose, as I said earlier, the essence of our democracy.

Everything this government is doing is unprecedented. Not only is this finding of contempt unprecedented and the motion that's before the House, but we are dealing with a government that has unprecedented reforms and is dealing with those reforms with unprecedented speed and, according to the Speaker's ruling yesterday, unprecedented arrogance. That's my slant on this, because if the government House leader had been able to put forward his motion and it was found in order, indeed to be a motion for non-confidence, then he would have undermined everything the Speaker ruled on. This is not a matter of non-confidence; this is a matter, as I say, for all members to take seriously.

This is not wasteful. What we deal with before this Legislative Assembly is not a waste of time, is not a waste. In fact, it is this government's haste that's making more waste than we can account for. Moving with lightening speed has caused all of these repercussions, has led to this unprecedented situation being dealt with before this Legislative Assembly. It is their haste that is causing those unprecedented conditions. They cannot ignore the people of this province. They cannot ignore the people's right to have a say on a variety of issues.

This is a case that has to be dealt with and remedied. I say to the government, when we're talking about censuring the government, it is about restitution. I think it would be in order, and I think my colleagues would agree with me, that this government should repay the taxpayers of this province the $300,000 or $400,000 it cost to put out that erroneous, contemptible piece of advertising propaganda by the government. Repay the taxpayers of this province; that would be the right thing to do. Furthermore, I think it is incumbent upon this Minister of Municipal Affairs and the government to make clear that there was a bias, that there was a prejudging of what was to take place in this Legislative Assembly with respect to the laws that were before this assembly that hadn't been dealt with yet, and this government took for granted that this was the case and was passing it off as such to the electorate. That is contemptible, in every way possible.

As I said earlier, it is undermining the very democratic principles that we live by and we chose to live by in this Legislative Assembly. This government should do the right thing. Every single member of this assembly should not only uphold the motion, indeed claim that it is the right thing to be dealt with and debated, but should support it. I call on members of the government, on the backbenchers, to do the right thing, because you'll be held to account in your own ridings if you fail to do that.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm very pleased to be able to spend some time to discuss a matter that I believe is very important in terms of its implications on how this government generally tends to do things around this House and outside of this House.

The Speaker has found that a clear case of contempt has been established, and what we hear from the members of government continually is a denial of this fact. You hear a number of people talking about this matter as if it were a mere technicality, as if somehow it was a simple error, and so: "We would describe that error as a technicality. Please let us move beyond this debate because there is no debate." Some would describe it merely as inadvertence, a simple error, a simple mistake, that there was no serious intent behind the way this article was written and therefore they almost beg for forgiveness in some way and say, "Let us please move on to other important matters of this House."

But I argue that this is not a simple matter of technicality or inadvertence. I think that there's something more premeditated in the way this government does things. That's why it's not quite simple to dismiss us here in this assembly and the public with wording such as "technicality" or "inadvertence" or further saying that this motion is not particularly relevant by pointing to other things that other governments may have done, such as saying, "We are spending much less than the other governments before us," as if to suggest that what they have now done is not so pertinent. All of these arguments are very weak as a way of establishing some argument as to why they should not be taking responsibility for what they've done.

The final argument I also heard from the member for Mississauga West is to say: "We as a government" -- meaning themselves -- "have a responsibility to communicate to our electorate. In fact, we have an obligation to communicate with our constituents." No one on this side of the House is saying to the government that it cannot communicate with the constituents or the electorate. No one is denying them that right, including the Speaker, who admits that they have a perfect right to do so because they are the ones in government and they are the ones who are the policymakers and have a duty to communicate with the electorate.

But to hear the member for Mississauga West, you would think that we were denying them that right to communicate. That's not what we are doing, and the Speaker himself has said that is their perfect right to do so, so why we continue to hear these arguments suggesting that somehow there's some other argument here than the case that has been established, the contempt that has been established as a result of the way this pamphlet, which my colleague in front of me has, has been written? I would like to show the way it has been written.

The Speaker himself made a few points and said:

"I am very concerned by the ministry pamphlet, which is worded more definitively 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.'"

The Speaker has concerns about this, and so did we. That's why we began to raise this very issue, because we felt it was inappropriate to use language of the sort that has been read to speak to something that has yet not been passed by this assembly. The Speaker rightfully found that this was in contempt and we found it therefore -- not just as a result of his decision but before this decision that this was contemptible -- a contemptible action, an abuse of one's privilege as a government to use public dollars and spend them in this way, that it is an abuse of public dollars to spend them in this way: to publicize, to politicize the public in a certain direction.

This pamphlet, when folded, makes it appear as if it were any ordinary pamphlet distributed by any grass-roots organization. You pick it up and you say, "Interesting; it's nice and blue; the paper weight is of considerable substance," and so you look at it and you say, "It's an interesting pamphlet." It takes you a little while to discover that there is a trillium and next to the trillium, "Ontario."

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I'd ask that you put that down. I would ask you to leave it on your desk. You're referring to it. We're debating the motion and I would ask you to bring your comments within that and not use a demonstration.

Mr Marchese: You're saying not to use this pamphlet as a demonstration? This whole motion is based on this pamphlet.

The Acting Speaker: We are in debate and I would ask the member for Fort York not to use the demonstration. We appreciate that the discussion arose from the pamphlet. You have shown it and now I would ask you just to leave it on the desk.

Mr Marchese: All right. This is the subject upon which we are debating, of course, and this is the object of our motion. To raise it and to show the public what we are speaking about I think helps the public to understand a little more clearly what we are talking about. It is most difficult to separate this motion from this pamphlet. I'm not quite sure of the ruling, but if you insist, then I'll do that. I'll put it down and continue to refer to it.

The Acting Speaker: I'm very patient. I think I'm being very patient. I have explained once or twice and I would ask the member for Fort York to come to order.

Mr Bisson: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I don't mean to be combative but I would just point out that members of the Legislature often use materials to be able to deliver their speeches, including printed documents that you may have collected through clippings, speeches that you may have written, letters that you would have received from constituents or in some cases publications, and as long as a member utilizes that in the vein of being able to address the motion, it is perfectly in order.

The Acting Speaker: I'd like to explain myself just a little bit further, that yes, we do allow people to use pamphlets and papers to read from and so on, but we don't allow the use of props. It is my opinion, when it's being held up at length, that it becomes a prop. Thank you. I would ask the --

Mr Bisson: On a further point of order, Mr Speaker: Am I to understand you are saying the government publication is a prop?

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, I was hoping for some greater clarification from you about this. I quite clearly don't see this as a prop. But I think I'll wait for the Speaker. Any further clarity on this matter?

Hon Mr Sterling: You want some ruling, then you don't want to accept it.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): This is ridiculous, Norm. Every member of this House reads from all kinds of publications. It's just ridiculous.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Norm, Dave Johnson was holding it up yesterday. He was reading from it and referring to it. What's he supposed to do?

The Acting Speaker: The member for Sudbury East and the Minister of Environment and Energy, come to order, please.


The Acting Speaker: You're rising on a point of order?


The Acting Speaker: No, you will rise on a point of order or --

Mrs McLeod: All right, I will rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would ask in relationship to the ruling that you've just made whether you would determine for me whether, if I were to be debating Bill 104, the education bill, holding up the education bill would be considered a demonstration and therefore not in order.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The Chair recognizes the member for Fort York.


Mr Marchese: I appreciate the assistance from the member. I find it very difficult of course to accept your ruling, but naturally you are the Speaker. I found no greater clarity from what you said that would help me to continue.

I think, for the benefit of the public that is watching, many of them don't have a clue what we're talking about. This merely allows the public to understand that this is the same brochure that they might have received in their doors and that that is what we're talking about, from which we have established a clear case of contempt. This brochure that I was showing in my hands is the object of our displeasure here and object of disagreement.

We are not disagreeing with the member for Mississauga West when he says you have a right as a government to communicate. We didn't say that you don't have the power to do that. It would of course be ludicrous on anybody's part to say that. To suggest, as someone is saying, you can't do that is not very intelligent. So please, as a government, continue to communicate with the public, because they need to know; they want to understand.

The argument I link this to is that when you read this document on first hand, it doesn't appear as if somehow there is any offence. The offence has been established, and I read it in for the record, based on what the Speaker has said.

The problem of contempt here connects to the very way in which the government by and large relates -- I'll try to use that brochure in a little while -- to this assembly and to the public. If you think back on a number of other matters that have occurred in this House, you can see that this contempt of this House in this area continues in a number of other areas.

If you'll recall, on the issue of the referendum around amalgamation, where the public in Metropolitan Toronto said, "This is the only tool we've got to make this government listen to us," this government, as of a couple of days ago, refused to accept that as part of the democratic right the people had in Metro and in fact said, "They can do it but we're going to disregard it." That is seeing the same type of contempt that he has for this assembly as he has for the people in Metropolitan Toronto. So when we talk about inadvertence or technicality, there is a great deal of contemplation that is going on in the government as to how they're going to relate to the public of Ontario.

So contempt was clearly established, in my view, when they dealt with the referendum by repeatedly saying they would not pay attention to the results of that referendum. In fact, just a few days ago the Premier said that now the referendum can proceed and the vote will occur later. He continues to say that he's going to forge ahead with that bill on amalgamation and didn't say whether or not he would disregard the results of the referendum. I still am inclined to believe that he may not pay attention to the results of that referendum.

That is why the people of Ontario and Metro in particular have to continue to show force against the autocracy and the dictatorial approach this government has to them. They have to continue to show themselves in great numbers at those Monday night meetings, because I'm not convinced that the Premier is listening and I'm not convinced that if the results of the referendum lead in the direction that this government doesn't want them to, they might listen.

We need to continue to show force and show growing democracy in this province and show through that growing democracy that what you say about amalgamation and about the dumping of those new services on to the property tax owner is profoundly unfair to Metro and to the property tax owner that is now going to have to bear a great deal of responsibility for things the provincial government should be doing. So they need to continue to participate in this growing democracy, because I have observed this government on many occasions and I have observed that they do not listen.

Just to establish another example around the rent control hearings, we had the tenant protection package. We went around the province and toured with it for four weeks, and they were supposed to listen to what the public said. Seventy per cent of the deputants were totally against what they had to say, and they came back to the committee and the committee refused to deal with the evidence before them. They refused to deal with them.

Mr Bradley: What pamphlet are you talking about? I haven't seen it. Hold it up.

Mr Marchese: I'll tell you in a second.

They refused to deal with what people had to say: 70% of the people said no to the elimination of rent control. They came back with a bill that spoke in the same manner, with the same complete disregard of people's views, the new Tenant Protection Act.

You're getting a very good sense of the type of attitude this government has. The kind of contempt that has been established around this pamphlet is connected, I argue, to many other things this government has done.

Bill 26 was another act of contempt. There were a number of areas in that bill that gave dictatorial powers to ministers, in complete disregard of the democratic process in this assembly and the democratic process that would allow the public to participate in discussions on policy matters which now ministers controlled. That was Bill 26. The tenant protection package was the same: complete disregard for what people had to say and the complete disregard of the referendum in this matter.

We are establishing, in my view, a connective in the way this government behaves with this assembly and with the public. When this government argues that it is a mere matter of inadvertence, the public will know that this is not a matter of complete inadvertence but that it is contemplated and premeditated and that they have a very good sense of what they're doing.

Although this is a case that connects very clearly to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, of which I'm the critic, it connects most definitely to the government in the way they all behave. It isn't simply one minister behaving in this manner; it is the whole government approach to all issues we have thus far dealt with. The approach is no different. We are seeing that in every aspect of every proposal, every bill, every process we have dealt with we meet with arrogance, we meet with a dictatorial approach to the way they deal with communities and we meet with a complete disregard of people's views.

I want to touch on some of the matters the Speaker touched on to show how he builds up to why contempt has been established. He says, "In my opinion, they" -- those quotations I had read that new city wards will be created etc -- "convey the impression that the passage of the requisite legislation was not necessary or was a foregone conclusion...."

We agree with that. That's why we brought it up in the first place. We knew that the bill had yet to be debated on second reading, that they had yet to give the public an opportunity to speak, that they had yet to give the opposition parties an opportunity to speak and that they had yet to give an opportunity to their own members to speak on this bill, if they have the courage to speak on this bill. I hope many will have the courage to do so. It makes it appear that this bill is "a foregone conclusion," meaning the public has no role to influence this government -- not just this assembly, which represents a significant proportion of the electorate, but that the public has no way of changing the direction of this government. It is the complete disregard of that process that is contemptible.

I suspect that the people who are watching and beginning to understand what we're actually debating will, after understanding it, realize that this is exactly the case, that the public has been held in contempt -- not just me as a politician representing an electorate, one riding out of so many in Ontario, but that they, individually and collectively, were being told they have no power whatsoever to change the direction of the policies of this government. That, I argue, is a contemptible act. But is it a unique act? No. This is not unique in the history of this government's political experience, not unique at all. That's why I alluded to Bill 26 and I alluded to the tenant protection package, which will hurt tenants, when most oppose it, and they come back again presenting the same package, through an act, to this House. It's not inadvertence whatsoever.


The Speaker continued and said, "I would not have come to this view had these claims or proposals...been qualified by a statement that they would only become law if and when the Legislature gave its stamp of approval to them." He's correct, because we want to be able to have that opportunity and so do your members want to be able to have an opportunity to speak to the bill. I'm still optimistic and hopeful that some of your members will in fact speak to this bill, because I can tell you, in a number of meetings that I have been at just recently -- a couple of days ago at Loretto high school 500 people were there, crying for a role, crying for a way and a means to participate, crying to be heard; wanting the member of Parliament of that riding to be there, but she did not come; wanting direct accountability of their members, and she did not come.

I expect more. I expect a government to be able to stand up and defend its policies, no matter what. I do not expect government members to hide away. I don't expect them not to have the courage to defend their policies. But over and over again where I go to meetings, I find that members of the government do not have the courage to come and defend their policies, however wrong they might be -- or however right, according to them. If they believe they're right, come and defend them.

The Speaker continues. He makes a number of good points when he refers to Speaker Fraser, saying this is a parliamentary democracy, and I agree. But with this pamphlet, this very pamphlet, the Speaker has said this government has crossed the line, and they did. There is a threshold of what is publicly acceptable, and they have crossed the line. They crossed the line in terms of what they stated by pretending this is a foregone conclusion, and they crossed the line as well where they have used public dollars to direct a political position, and that is the government's position. As they know, most of what we produce here should be in the nature that it informs the public, but not in ways that it leans in favour of a government to put forth its position, not giving the public an opportunity to give its other view and not giving this assembly the opportunity to have its view. That's what we are crying for in this place. That's why the protests around this are so strong.

I suspect there are a lot of other people out there in the public who are not readers of the biggest dailies and they don't follow television too often, so some of them probably wonder: "What is this about? Why is the feeling of the opposition so strong around this, and why did the Speaker make such a ruling?"

The people who come here on a regular basis, who are sitting here above me, they care, and they are very concerned, because this government is about to trample on their rights. This government, in Metro, is about to trample on their rights. They are being amalgamated without having a say, literally. Up until a few days ago, they would have been amalgamated without a say, until the Premier said the referendum will be permitted to continue.

But these people who are in this assembly care very much about the way this government is behaving and the way it is ruling, and that is why they're here. Normally you won't see a gallery filled with people. Normally people of course carry on with their business. They may or may not disagree with what a government is doing, but you will not see them in great numbers up here in this gallery. The reason you see them coming daily is because they're very concerned about whether or not they will have a say, and whether or not democracy in this province still works, and whether or not their participation will be heard, and whether or not their participation can influence the government if they strongly disagree with what you have to say.

We, through this debate that we're having, are giving the people of Ontario an opportunity to understand why this debate is happening, that it isn't a very simple thing that they simply sneak away under that carpet. You can't simply do that. This is a serious matter and it goes to the heart of our democracy and the way this province should run.

I am genuinely hopeful that what we're seeing in Ontario through this growing democracy is a movement where people are actually beginning to participate in what concerns them and in what they care about. I am optimistic and hopeful that people for the first time will start being involved in the political process of this province, because they are beginning, in my view, to understand that what happens in this place affects their lives directly, and not just in their pocketbooks but in how things are organized in a way that affects a modus vivendi, a way of living. That's what we're seeing here in Toronto in particular. We're seeing it in Metro. They're concerned by the way their life is being disordered by the actions of this government.

So I praise this government for having given us the opportunity and given many in Ontario the opportunity to have a reason to be involved. You have done for us more than you can imagine. You, through the policies that are so disagreeable, have given people in Ontario and Metropolitan Toronto in particular a cause. It's a cause célèbre, Monsieur Villeneuve, and I'm right behind it, and I'm not the only one. As you see it weekly, there is a movement that's growing. People are attending those weekly meetings, and it is beautiful to see it grow because it gives me hope that we will be able to stop this government from imposing its treachery on the people of Ontario.

What they are doing through the imposition of these policies, through the imposition of these processes that are completely undemocratic, is that this public, the people of Ontario and Metro, are going to hold you accountable, and I'm looking forward to that day. Many people here in this province are looking forward to that day.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Mr Speaker, I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to rise to speak on this resolution being put forward by the member for Oakwood. I think this resolution very much arises from your ruling yesterday. It's very important, in my judgement, to look at the basis for the ruling, the content for that ruling, to be able to look at the motivation behind the drafting of the motion brought forward by my colleague the member for Oakwood.

The ruling has been characterized as a final verdict, as a sentence, if you wish, Mr Speaker. In reading the ruling -- I think it is very important to quote your ruling, as have other members -- you have ruled that, "I find that a prima facie case of contempt has been established."

"Prima facie," in my definition, Mr Speaker, is at first glance, that the motivation behind this motion has been that at first glance our Speaker has deemed that there is a finding of a contempt, that this issue should be discussed and debated in this House. In fact, sir, you invited the honourable member for Oakwood to rise and speak and present a motion immediately, it being so important to stop debate on all other issues while this case was dealt with.


You did not, in my judgement, sentence the government or impose a verdict beyond allowing the member for Oakwood to present his motion. That's very important. I think the one very important piece of information that has been neglected in discussions by my colleagues the members opposite is that following this ruling, which was limited to the pamphlet, you ruled:

"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."

So there are two cases here. The motion, though, does refer to the advertising campaign, which I as a member on this side of the House believe could leave the impression with the general public that the scope of your ruling was far greater than it in fact was.

Not to underestimate the content of the ruling, which I have great respect for, Mr Speaker, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to his great credit, the moment the Speaker took his place after delivering this ruling, stood in his place wanting to immediately seek the floor to address this very important issue we faced yesterday. The minister immediately stood and unfortunately, due to the procedures in this place, could not have the opportunity to speak, but when my government House leader did get the floor some time later and spoke for some 15 minutes, he asked for unanimous consent. To the credit of all members opposite, they allowed him the opportunity to get up and speak. To his credit, Mr Speaker, he not only said that he accepted your ruling, he not only stated that he respected your ruling, he apologized to this House.

I think that's very important because I recall that yesterday, during the debate and the discussions, the member for Algoma, for example, spoke and said, "Why doesn't the minister get up and apologize?" Well, he stood up in his place immediately and it was his intention to do so, because he respects Parliament and he respects your judgement and your ruling. That's very important to put on the record, because it has on occasion been forgotten during this debate.

The motion under debate presented by the member for Oakwood in my judgement makes a presumption far beyond the ruling, a presumption that this government will never support, and it causes me great concern. The member for Oakwood moved, in my judgement, three separate and very unique things in one motion. The first thing he proposed was to censure the government, solely on the basis that the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, elected by all three parties in this place, ruled that at first glance a case existed with respect to contempt of Parliament and to parliamentary privilege, when the Speaker ruled that at first glance there was a clear case that this issue -- to say that the government be censured when at first glance there is just a case does in my judgement extend it too far.

To the credit of the minister, though, he immediately stood up and acknowledged that there should have been a disclaimer, that the pamphlet should have said "would" rather than perhaps the word "will," which you said, sir, in your ruling. That's something that I think is very, very important.

The Speaker was asked and ruled on a number of points, which led to this motion. You ruled on, I believe, two or three separate points of personal privilege and found that it was at first glance only applicable in one of those three or four points of privilege that were brought. That's also very important to note.

The motion says explicitly that the government was contemptible in its advertising campaign, in my judgement attempting to cast a far wider net than the ruling that you gave in this House, sir, permitted, which I think is very important. That causes me concern as a member being asked to debate this motion, which I think goes well beyond the decision that you ably made to the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

It inferred things that you explicitly, in my judgement, sir, said were not. I think it's important to put on the record your ruling:

"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."

Something that I guess, sir, you were acknowledging is very important, that the government do communicate with the public, with the taxpayers that they are elected to represent. That's the second concern I would have with the member for Oakwood's motion that we are currently debating.

The third point I see contained in the motion is referring the matter to the Legislative Assembly committee. This was certainly an option. We certainly believe that a suitable and appropriate discussion should arise on this issue. This issue is obviously one that has been a problem for various governments at various different levels, and as some of the members opposite have indicated, on a non-partisan level governments have on occasion gone into various situations where it is perhaps grey. The world isn't always black and white as some would like to think. Governments do have a very difficult time establishing a protocol.

I could say very categorically that a suitable and appropriate examination should be given to this because when you look at the precedents and rulings from various parts of Canada, in various legislative assemblies, in the National Assembly, in the Houses across the country, this is obviously an issue that has been a challenge for various levels of government.

I suppose if you had said, "We're going to put forward proposals and not allow the public to know about it," it would make it easier. It would always be easier for the government to do nothing. It would always be easier for the government to simply not attempt to inform the general public who sent us here. It is important, though, that the government attempt to put forward the information to the public so that they are in a position to make their own judgements with respect to the pros or cons of the particular issue being discussed in public policy circles. That's very important. I do have the concern, though, with respect to the broad range, the broad nature of the motion being put forward by the member for Oakwood in this motion.

I think it is important in these discussions to look at how other governments at various opportunities have dealt with this issue. It is important, in my judgement, to look at the number of points of privilege that were brought forward that led to your ruling.

On January 14 the member for Algoma raised a point of privilege regarding a 30-second Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing television advertisement released on January 13, 1997, in which the Premier talks about services and local government. The member asked the Speaker "to admonish the government to withdraw the ad and to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again."

On January 15 the members for Oakwood and Algoma raised points of privilege relating to a Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing pamphlet being distributed to households within the Metropolitan Toronto area relating to government legislation affecting governance in Metropolitan Toronto. The member for Algoma asked the Speaker to rule whether the pamphlet was in contempt of the Legislature. Matters were also raised around the expense of communications, and you, Mr Speaker, of course, recognize that the government's use of funds outside of the Legislative Assembly is not within the jurisdiction of the Speaker. That is important to put on the record.

There are a number of previous instances where this issue has been grappled with by governments at various levels. References have been made by members who made points of privilege in this place last week, two examples of situations relating to government communications products, one in the federal Parliament on a 1989 advertisement and one here in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1994 relating to a newspaper advertisement appearing in the Ottawa-Carleton area concerning Bill 77, which again, remarkably, was on an issue of local governance and the makeup of governance in my part of the province in Ottawa-Carleton. In both cases it was said there was not a prima facie case for contempt. There have been many cases of government communications relating to a bill currently in debate that have not constituted contempt.

It is obviously, as you can see, Mr Speaker, a very difficult balancing act for the government, which your ruling will certainly provide great assistance for. Your ruling will provide great assistance for parliaments right across the globe on this issue. As the member for St Catharines indicated yesterday, a landmark ruling indeed.


As you can no doubt appreciate, governments have a responsibility to communicate with their electorate and are too often criticized that they do not. We have been inundated with requests from citizens for information about various government proposals. Last week in this place a whole series of big initiatives were announced. Many were concerned, and they wanted more information on them. I know, as a member of provincial Parliament, like many of my colleagues, I have received a good number of requests from folks in our constituencies asking to learn more.

One of the important things I've said to my constituents is that, while these proposals were studied and drafted in 1996, while they were introduced as proposals in this Legislative Assembly in 1997, the intent of the government was to see them implemented in 1998 and perhaps not even fully transferred on the ground through 1999, so it was actually a much longer process. It often is very difficult for members of the general public to get specific and meaningful information on a whole host of government announcements and government proposals at one opportunity, so on occasion I get calls from my constituents asking me to provide them with information. That's certainly done regularly by most members and indeed most governments around the province.

As a government, we've got to feel it's important to respond to that need, to that request for factual information, from which the individual taxpayer, citizen, voter and resident can make their own judgement on what they choose to believe.

I could look at the past actions of governments with respect to the motion put forward by the member for Oakwood, with respect to how they chose to communicate various decisions. I look at advertising --

Mr Bradley: What about all those blatant partisan ads?

Mr Baird: The member for St Catharines talks about blatant partisan ads. I couldn't agree with him more. I saw a blatant partisan ad on June 19, 1993, in the Saturday Star. The member for St Catharines mentions blatant partisan ads. I've certainly got a good example here. This is a case where the previous government, the members opposite, put a message from the Premier of Ontario in the Saturday Star. It's directly related to government communications is of course the reason, for the member for Oakwood.

Mr Bradley: Weren't you going to be different?

Mr Baird: The member for St Catharines says, "Weren't you going to be different?" Certainly I would argue that we are different, that the issue of contempt and censure of Parliament contained in the resolution from the member for Oakwood says -- these are my notes -- that the advertisement contained in the Saturday Star went in a far more explicit way with respect to Parliament. If I could quote from it to the House, "It's for this reason that we brought in a law that tries to get the social contract negotiations started again" -- "that we brought in a law." On June 19, there had been no law brought in. There was no law, and there was no bill before this place for discussion.

Interjection: Who signed that?

Mr Baird: Who signed that? Bob Rae. I believe we're in a very rare instance where we can look at virtually every member of the New Democratic Party opposite who was sitting in that cabinet. When they talk about a motion for censuring the government, as contained in the resolution, they should certainly agree.

But when censuring the government, why would you censure the government when the government wasn't censured for the social contract law? They used the word "law." "Law" means it's been introduced in the first reading, it's been completed through second reading --

The Speaker: It's difficult, I know, to try and stay close to the topic on such an important issue, but I think it's important that you stay around the topic.

Mr Baird: I appreciate your guidance, Mr Speaker, as I always do. I have a great deal of respect for the Speaker's ruling. But for censure to be brought forward, as is dictated in the motion we're currently debating from the member for Oakwood, when we used the word "law" in previous examples, it does give one pause, when using directly the word, and the terminology goes far beyond that contained in the brochure in question, the brochure my colleague the member for Fort York so ably held up.

The issue with respect to the 30-second television commercials made no reference to legislation, nor does it make any reference to the timing of change, yet it's lumped in with this ad. Yet the member for Oakwood chose to use the words "advertising campaign," which, in my judgement as a member of the Legislative Assembly, clearly leaves the impression that it's part of the ruling of the Speaker, which in my judgement, clearly looking at your ruling, Mr Speaker, it of course is not. It makes no reference to legislation, nor does it make reference to timing.

This issue has been dealt with, as I mentioned, by various other levels of government, relating to the motion from the member for Oakwood. In dealing with the motion in question, I think it's very important to look at appropriate cases where governments have advertised where there was not a prima facie case for contempt.

In December 1989, the opposition House leader of the National Assembly questioned the content of brochures published by la Commission de la santé de sécurité au travail. The brochure contained information on a new rate system which was to come into force on January 1, 1990. The opposition asserted that rights of members were being ignored. In this motion to provide contempt of the government, of course it was no relation to that issue.

The pamphlet in question produced by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which was, I guess, part of an advertising campaign, was distributed to those household which were directly affected by the proposed changes. The pamphlet, as I have already outlined, is quite factual and was intended for information purposes. Clearly the Speaker has ruled that intent and consequence are obviously different things, and that's something all members of the House have great respect for. The ruling introduced by the Speaker in the Legislative Assembly yesterday does provide guidance for governments right across the Commonwealth.

There have been a number of other cases in various parts of the province where this issue has arisen. The advertisement in discussion was sent just to homes within the Metropolitan Toronto area, and that's important to note too.

It is very important, in my judgement, to say that the pamphlet should have contained a disclaimer, and to the credit of the minister, he immediately made that pronouncement following the ruling of the Speaker. Perhaps the word "would" should have been used rather than "will" and that would have been more clear.

But I think with every single issue we must look at motive. What was the intention behind the advertising campaign that the member for Oakwood has talked about in his resolution? What was the motive, what was the intention? The intention and the motive guiding the government in that instance was to provide information. There were a good number of questions and concerns being related to members from Metropolitan Toronto asking for information and this was a very cost-effective way to disseminate information.

The pamphlet was produced and it was distributed in Metropolitan Toronto after first reading, something that was not done when the previous government brought in the social contract and took out advertisements advertising their plan to override collective agreements and talked about a law which was not even a bill at that point. For those not familiar with the legislative process, you have a proposal, then you have a bill and then you have a law. Certainly in other circumstances people get far ahead of themselves and call something a law before it's even a bill. For those students of the parliamentary process, it's very important to note that.

I think it's important to keep that in mind, that the scope of the resolution brought forward by the member for Oakwood goes well beyond the ruling that was made by the Speaker with respect to this issue and in my judgement simply does not merit support because it tries to do three things, which in my judgement all go too far. The motion requests the censure of the government where only a case has been made that it is totally obvious on the surface that there is a case of contempt. It attempts to render a verdict rather than to see charges laid, which in my judgement is important to note. The intention of the motion is as well to lump in the whole advertising campaign, something that was explicitly ruled by the Speaker was not a problem.

So I find those reasons give me problems as a member of the Legislative Assembly to --

Mr Bradley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm going to correct my own record here because my record is my recollection and that is, I just heard the member say that the Speaker ruled that the advertising campaign of the government was okay.

The Speaker: Member for St Catharines, your record can't be your recollection. That's not possible, but I appreciate the attempt. The member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: So for those reasons that I've outlined in my remarks, I can't support the motion presented by the member for Oakwood.

We've had significant debate on this issue. We have been discussing it for some time. We have spent two full days discussing it to this point -- no statements by members -- so pursuant to standing order 47, after 21 members have spoken, I ask that this question be now put.

The Speaker: I'm going to take a 10-minute recess to review the information.

The House recessed from 1620 to 1630.

The Speaker: Mr Baird has moved that the question be now put.

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1631 to 1702.

The Speaker: Mr Baird has moved that the question now be put.

Will those in favour please rise one at a time.


Arnott, Ted

Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Bassett, Isabel

Hodgson, Chris

Sampson, Rob

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Saunderson, William

Carr, Gary

Johnson, David

Shea, Derwyn

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, Ron

Skarica, Toni

Clement, Tony

Kells, Morley

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Klees, Frank

Snobelen, John

DeFaria, Carl

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Tascona, Joseph N.

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tsubouchi, David H.

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Ford, Douglas B.

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Witmer, Elizabeth

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.


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


Boyd, Marion

Gerretsen, John

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Morin, Gilles E.

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Phillips, Gerry

Churley, Marilyn

Kwinter, Monte

Pouliot, Gilles

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Pupatello, Sandra

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario

Sergio, Mario

Cordiano, Joseph

Martel, Shelley

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Curling, Alvin

McGuinty, Dalton


Duncan, Dwight

McLeod, Lyn


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 59, the nays are 28.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Mr Colle has moved 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.

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

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1705 to 1735.

The Speaker: All those in favour please rise one at a time to be recognized by the Clerk.


Bartolucci, Rick

Duncan, Dwight

McLeod, Lyn

Boyd, Marion

Gerretsen, John

Phillips, Gerry

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Pouliot, Gilles

Christopherson, David

Kwinter, Monte

Pupatello, Sandra

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Conway, Sean G.

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Cordiano, Joseph

Martin, Tony


Crozier, Bruce

McGuinty, Dalton


The Speaker: All those opposed please rise.


Arnott, Ted

Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Bassett, Isabel

Hastings, John

Sampson, Rob

Brown, Jim

Hodgson, Chris

Saunderson, William

Carr, Gary

Johnson, Bert

Shea, Derwyn

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Skarica, Toni

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Kells, Morley

Snobelen, John

DeFaria, Carl

Klees, Frank

Tascona, Joseph N.

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Tilson, David

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Tsubouchi, David H.

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Villeneuve, Noble

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Ford, Douglas B.

Mushinski, Marilyn

Witmer, Elizabeth

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Froese, Tom

O'Toole, John

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

Ouellette, Jerry J.


Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 25, the nays are 58.

The Speaker: I declare the motion not passed -- failed.

Ms Lankin: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: If I could have a page, I would like to send these documents up to you. As you receive these four pages, you will see that the first page is an Internet address. The short form of it -- I won't go through the whole thing -- is Toronto.mmah.gov.on.ca. On the next page, which is a directory page, at the top of it you will see that the header has the graphics, which is "One Toronto for All of Us," the CN Tower and the "Toronto" the same as on the pamphlet that has been the subject of debate in the House for the last couple of days. You'll see on that directory a number of things listed: news release, background information, speeches, the act. Specifically, each of these documents is individually accessible to members of the public.

I've pulled off just one example for you, that being the document which is headlined on the directory page entitled "Life in a Unified City." "Background Information," it is called. If you take a look through it, Mr Speaker -- and I won't take a lot of your time because I know that you will probably want to reserve and read this thoroughly -- for example, "What is happening to local government in Metro Toronto?" One sentence there: "All of these governments are being merged into one government."

"Why is this happening?" The last sentence: "There will not be vehicles from three different local governments in the park cutting grass or clearing trails. Instead there will be one city providing services as efficiently as possible."

"When will the merger happen? The new city government will begin to operate on January 1, 1998."

I want to make it very clear to you how seriously I take the ruling that you've made and the unprecedented nature of that ruling, and I don't in any way mean, by bringing forward another example soon on the heels of that, to lessen the importance or to appear to want to abuse the ruling that you have made.

It is my belief that having found a prima facie case that the Minister and Ministry of Municipal Affairs are in contempt of the Legislature for a document which set out and which would leave the impression with members of the public that in fact a law had been passed or actions were being taken, that it wasn't subject to parliamentary democracy, the ministry should have taken at least some minimal remedial steps to ensure that all of its publications and documentation and communications with the public were at least appropriately qualified, if not withdrawn.

I pulled these documents off the Internet this afternoon. This remains. There's been an opportunity for the government, had it taken the case seriously, to have taken steps. It appears to me the evidence, in conjunction with the vote we just saw, is that the government hasn't taken your ruling seriously. In that light I bring it forward and I would ask that you take a look at that and rule to the House.

The Speaker: Do you want to speak to this?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I gather the member for Beaches-Woodbine is asking you to take into consideration other pieces of material, other pieces of literature that may have been associated with the same general package that you made the ruling on --


Mr Wildman: No, this is on today.

The Speaker: Opposition members, I appreciate the input, but I want to hear from the government House leader, please.

Hon David Johnson: We certainly respect the ruling which you have made. While the ruling pertained to one particular pamphlet, I guess in general you made it clear in your remarks that there was a broad advertising campaign, or something of that nature. I forget exactly how you worded it.

In terms of the government's communications, there has been a communications package put in place, obviously, to communicate with the people of Ontario. My suspicion, without seeing precisely what the member has, is that it is part of that package which had been designed and put in place some time ago and part of the same package that the communication with regard to the city of Toronto has come out of.

Obviously the government has heeded your words and will certainly be addressing its communications package and looking to ensure that it complies with the suggestions and the guidelines that come out of your decision. I think you would realize, Mr Speaker, that over the course of the last day or so the government had limited ability to do that.

Indeed, if in this House we were to raise all examples of former communications packages, whether they be within the last weeks or months or whether they be over the last years, one could raise the communication from the former government in 1993 with regard to the social --


The Speaker: Order. Government House leader, I appreciate your input to the point where we started moving towards previous administrations etc. I take your point of order very seriously and I will deal with it when I report back. I will reserve to analyse the situation. If you'd like to continue, you're more than welcome to, but that tack I don't think would be helpful at this time.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I'm not sure precisely what tack. As I understand it, the member for Beaches-Woodbine is asking for another ruling on other material which has been designed in the past --

Mr Wildman: No, today.

Hon David Johnson: But designed and constructed in the past. The government has not had the chance to react.

What I'm saying is if we are to deal with the past and motions that stem from the past, then there certainly clearly is a communication in the past from the former government which clearly breaches the guidelines you have laid out, not to mention from the member herself with regard to communications for her own riding, which is the subject of --

The Speaker: I appreciate it. I will take this opportunity -- point of privilege?

Ms Lankin: Sorry, Mr Speaker, not to prolong it, but two short additional pieces of information. I want to make it very clear that this is a current package that was taken off the Internet today, and while the minister has said that the government has not had time to deal with this, I would point out that the pamphlet, One Toronto for All of Us, which is the subject of your ruling, was on the Internet and was removed by the ministry. I am pointing to other documents that have not been and simply point out to you that on the directory page this information is not subject to any qualifier or other document you have to go through first; it is directly accessible as an individual, standalone document.

The Speaker: I'll simply take that and reserve and report back at a later date.

Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, not relating to the previous point of order directly, but a related point of order: In my comments earlier today I mentioned the fact that the NDP put out literature with the NDP stylized trillium logo on it; in fact it's on their letterhead. After that presentation, the member for Beaches-Woodbine came over to me and said, "It's allowed to have the trillium or the provincial logo on letterhead."

Over the years I have always understood the provincial logo to be very clear as to what it was and in fact the trillium had a particular typeface to be used. However, leading up to the last election -- and this is a very important point that I'm making, Mr Speaker, so I hope you will pay very careful attention to this -- approximately a year and a half, I'm sure you will remember, before the last election, the Premier of the day took to wearing a very, very large -- excuse me, Mr Speaker, I haven't --

The Speaker: Order. To the chief government whip, I appreciate the point you're making, but let's be clear. There is a process in place to deal with that issue. That process is through the Board of Internal Economy. That may be referred there at any time and dealt with by an all-party board. I would encourage you to refer that matter to the Board of Internal Economy, which it should properly be before, and not really take up the time of the House. It's not truly before us; it should be before the Board of Internal Economy. I thank you for your input.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Last night I attended a massive public rally to save Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines from closing because of the drastic funding cuts being imposed by the Conservative government of Mike Harris.

The largest crowd I have ever witnessed at Club Roma heard a panel of extremely knowledgeable individuals from the field of health care denounce the recommendations of the Niagara hospital restructuring committee that, faced with a proposed $44-million cut in provincial government funding for Niagara hospitals, has recommended the elimination of an essential health care facility that has served St Catharines and the Niagara Peninsula residents so well for so many years.

The proponents of this kind of crackpot realism that compels local authorities to accept the closing of needed health care institutions was not accepted by the panel of medical experts assembled at the town hall meeting or by the hundreds of concerned citizens who braved winter weather to express their opposition to the hospital closing policy of the Harris government in general and the ill-advised recommendation in particular.

I expressed my continued support for the Hotel Dieu Hospital, which has an important oncology and kidney dialysis unit. I do not intend to roll over and play dead, nor does anyone at that meeting intend to roll over and play dead, while the Harris government, which is spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money on self-serving, partisan ads, closes our local hospital.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): There appears to be no end to which the Harris Tories won't go so they can give a tax break to their rich friends. Just last week the government's second minister against the environment announced the latest round of sackings in the ministry: another 303 jobs sacrificed on the altar of the Common Sense Revolution.

Should this be cause for concern or should Ontarians relax, secure in the knowledge that they're just trimming the fat? That depends on whether one considers programs monitoring water quality, for instance, or those that combat acid rain, as frills. MOEE staff have been cut to the extent that these invaluable programs are virtually at a standstill.

In Mike Harris's Ontario, it would seem that issues such as the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink are but trifling concerns. Why else would he allow the number of air monitoring staff to fall to a little over half the number of just five years ago? To Mike Harris, it would seem clean air is one of those luxury items we can do without.

We know that the overuse of pesticides causes a number of environmental and human health concerns: cancer, immune and reproductive system damage and the like. But yes, let's stick our heads in the sand and cut the field pesticide staff by 40%, because after all, if there's no one there to say we have a problem, there's no problem. Right, Mr Premier?


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I stand in the House today to announce yet another example of how the people of Perth are working together to improve the province of Ontario.

Instructors Peter McAsh and Jim Sheldon have developed what has been characterized as a ground-breaking private-public partnership which will provide the students at St Marys DCVI with training which was unavailable, and to some unimaginable. The students are to be offered an opportunity to gain practical experience in Web page design, coding, business, sales and community relations. The proposal is to have students develop Web sites for local businesses participating in the program. Local businesses will in turn buy those services in order to finance the project. In effect, businesses will receive Web page design, maintenance and regular updates. The availability of the server service was arranged with the assistance of Chris Warus, a newswire account executive and a native of Perth.

The benefit to the community as a whole is that the Web site will provide a presence for the town of St Marys. The goals of the project, which began in the fall of 1996, were to provide Internet access for the school and a presence on the Internet for St Marys. Included in the project is a business guide, and in the future it is hoped that sites will be provided for the friendship centre, the museum and other non-profit organizations. I commend the students at St Marys DCVI for their foresight.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Last week the Minister of Environment announced the virtual shutdown of Windsor's environment ministry. Today we read in the newspaper about further hospital layoffs. We've seen $1.4 billion cut from health care, we've seen more than a $1 billion cut from education, yet this government persists in spending public money to advertise its political agenda.

This government refuses to honour the Speaker's ruling about contempt and votes down a resolution that would have censured its own members. This government doesn't understand the pain that it's inflicted on the people of this province. The members opposite will rant and rave and say they're all right, but the people of Ontario are reading your number, and your numbers are going down.

In about two years' time the chickens will come home to roost and every one of you in Metro Toronto is going to be in very deep trouble, because thousands of people are standing up for home communities. Thousands of people are standing up for small government. Thousands of people are standing up for responsible property tax management in this province. The people of Ontario understand that your agenda is about raising taxes for the poor, raising taxes for middle class people, putting a greater burden of public expense on property taxpayers, particularly senior citizens, and all the while you use their hard-earned tax dollars to advertise your failing agenda --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Last year at Convocation Hall Sister Helen Prejean, the nun whose life was immortalized in the movie Dead Man Walking, said that in the face of great wrong, in the face of great evil, if you do the right thing, however small the step or incremental, eventually providence will kick in.

This week in this place the chickens have come home to roost for this government. Mr Speaker, with the help of yourself, they were found guilty of contempt of the Legislature, guilty of contempt of democracy. The program that they have in mind for this province is in line with what was introduced in the jurisdictions of the US and the UK and there, according to the National Centre for Children and Poverty, the child poverty rate is 25.5% in the United States and 19.3% in the United Kingdom.

Canada is not far behind. We stand right now at a child poverty rate of 14.3%. If this government continues down the road that it is on now, more children and more families will be in poverty and communities will be destroyed.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Tony, $11-billion deficit.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister of Agriculture, thank you.


Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): It is with great pleasure that I rise to address the House regarding Parkwood estate and gardens, situated in the heart of the city of Oshawa in my riding of Durham Centre. A national historic site, Parkwood was built in 1917 as the home of Colonel and Mrs R.S. McLaughlin, the founder of McLaughlin Motor Works, which became General Motors of Canada.

Parkwood is a national, provincial and civic treasure, being a rare and complete example of a large estate of the era between the First and Second World Wars. The residence is intact, with the grounds being largely the same as they were originally.

Just recently, Parkwood was featured on A&E's America's Castles and has also been a setting for a large number of films. Parkwood attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year for its art, architecture, antiques and also for tea in the spectacular gardens. Many civic and private events are hosted in this atmosphere of a bygone era.

Parkwood is a valuable part of Oshawa's community and maintains a link with Oshawa's roots. Parkwood provides a rare insight into the history of the city of Oshawa and the province of Ontario. I invite all members and everyone in Ontario to visit the gardens and the estate of Parkwood in my riding of Durham Centre, adjacent to the riding of Jerry Ouellette, the honourable member for Oshawa, and John O'Toole, the honourable member for Durham East.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): How's the dumping in Oshawa?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. It was a park he was speaking about.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): It's a great park.

The Speaker: I'm sure it is a great park.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I wanted to comment on the concerns of Scarborough about the plans for amalgamation. I think, firstly, the House should recognize that about six weeks before the provincial election, Mike Harris had a Mike Harris task force. It was chaired by someone called Joyce Trimmer, the former mayor of Scarborough, and co-chaired by Al Leach. The recommendation couldn't have been clearer to Scarborough: "We are going to keep Scarborough. We're going to get rid of Metro. We believe in keeping Scarborough." So the residents of Scarborough all felt they had been told not to worry. Al Leach himself said, "We're going to get rid of Metro and we're going to keep Toronto, Scarborough, Etobicoke," and many of you got elected on that basis. So what do we find? Suddenly Al Leach decides he's going to get rid of it.

But now we've seen the first crack, because fortunately Marilyn Mushinski has jumped off the bandwagon. I have a letter here addressed to Frank Faubert dated January 14: "I am pleased to invite your municipality to bid to host the 1998 Ontario Summer Games." Marilyn Mushinski knows there will be a Scarborough. She has abandoned Al Leach. She is now inviting Scarborough to host the games. We are making progress.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to comment on the Premier's remark that critics of the massive downloading that's taking place are nothing but whiners. The fact of the matter is that local politicians are speaking out for communities like mine in Hamilton-Wentworth that are being devastated by the changes you're making. We're talking about $121 million being downloaded above and beyond what you call a wash. That is translating into an 18% increase in property tax.


Mr Christopherson: You may want to heckle and think that it's not important, but what it means to my constituents and those of Hamilton-Wentworth is a $425-a-year increase over and above what they're already paying because of what you're downloading into my community. For instance, public health: You're putting added responsibility to the tune of $21 million. In public housing it's $58 million. In social services it's $183 million.

This government claims there will be a 10% decrease for property taxpayers. Well, there sure as hell won't be in Hamilton-Wentworth. There are the figures, and they can back them up with documentation.

They've asked you to take this back. Take it back and consider what you're doing to communities like mine. You're destroying them and you've no right to.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till 1:30 of the clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1802.