36th Parliament, 1st Session

L158 - Thu 6 Feb 1997 / Jeu 6 Fév 1997








































The House met at 1100.




Mr Bartolucci moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 110, An Act respecting the number of pupils that may be enrolled in a school class / Projet de loi 110, Loi concernant le nombre d'élèves pouvant être inscrits dans une classe scolaire.

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

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): First of all I think it would be important for members of the House to understand that we clearly feel there is a need for this bill. The way we arrived at the need was to sample throughout Ontario some class sizes which are not unusual. We tried to stay away from unusual examples, classrooms that had over 40 students. We tried to stay away from the sensationalism of enormous class sizes because we believe we can make a case for what is really out there needing change to be more effective in our educational system.

As we sampled throughout the province, the following numbers were not unusual: in a grade 1 class, 37 students; in a grade 2 class, 39; in a split grade 2 and 3, 34; in a grade 3 class, 39; in a split grade 3 and 4, which is a very difficult split because you're moving from the end of the primary division into the first year of the junior division, it is not unusual to find numbers such as 35 and 37 students; in grade 4, 37; in grade 5, 37 pupils in a classroom; in grade 6, 36 pupils; in a split grade 6 and 7, another very difficult split because you're at the end of the junior division and in the first year of the intermediate division, we find class sizes of 38; in grade 7, 37; in grades 7 and 8, 35; in grade 8, 36.

In high school: grade 9 history advanced classes of 36; grade 10 geography general classes of 36; grade 11 phys ed classes of 29; grade 12 English advanced classes of 38.

Clearly we feel there is a need to ensure that these types of classes do not, cannot and must not become the norm in Ontario.

We also looked at some statistics. We found that between 1991 and 1995 the number of classrooms in Ontario diminished from 42,640 to 39,862 at the elementary level, which is a decrease of 2,728 classrooms.

At the same time we found that at every grade level in the elementary division there was an increase in the pupil-teacher ratio, that the average class sizes in each elementary class throughout Ontario increased: at the junior kindergarten level, a 7.3% increase; kindergarten, an 8.5% increase; grade 1, a 6% increase; grade 2, a 5.7% increase; grade 3, a 6.4% increase; grade 4, a 4.8% increase; grade 5, a 4.7% increase; grade 6, 5%; grade 7, 4.6%; and grade 8, 4%. We've also found that the number of classrooms in Ontario is decreasing and the number of students in those classrooms is increasing. In other words, there is a greater number of students in individual classes all over Ontario.

I think it is most important for members of the House to understand that classroom makeup has changed over the course of the last five, six, seven years. Certainly, all classrooms have too many students in them. These students come at varying ability levels. In some classrooms you're going to have three, four, five and in some instances even six different ability levels, six different groups. At the same time, you're going to find in each of those classrooms individuals who have identified learning exceptionalities which require the teacher to address these exceptionalities on an individual basis. That is the standard in Ontario classrooms nowadays. That's the reality in Ontario classrooms nowadays. There are more identified exceptionalities in these classes, and teachers must spend individual time with each of these exceptionalities to ensure that their potential is maximized.

Clearly the bill is intended to affect the students of Ontario. I make no apologies for that. What is the thrust of the bill? I make no apologies for that either. The thrust of the bill is clearly to limit classroom sizes in this province. Studies and experience show that classroom sizes have a clear and direct influence on how much students learn, the kinds of skills they learn and the kinds of programs in which they can engage and flourish. There is a direct correlation between that, and I'm sure other speakers will expand on that a little later on. Specific, clearly defined caps on the number of students per classroom are important. It is unacceptable that any pupil in this province should be in a class of 40 or more students.

I think it is important for the House to realize as well that we didn't just gather this information or these numbers holus-bolus. We met extensively with teacher groups. We met extensively with parent groups. We studied provincial data. We studied the many studies that have been published with regard to class sizes. We ensured that we met with student groups to find out what their feelings are.

I tried to make this as apolitical as possible, so I moved away from Sudbury and northern Ontario. I concentrated on areas not held by Liberal Party members. I concentrated on Halton Centre, Wentworth North, Kitchener-Wilmot and Durham-York because two of the members are directly connected with the Ministry of Education and the other two areas are held by members who were teachers previous to their election as MPPs.


It was amazing what we found. We found that there is consensus across this province that class sizes are just too large. In closing, let me read you just a few quotes.

The School Class Sizes Act "guarantees that each student in our province will at long last receive the attention that each one deserves. Unless a guarantee is put in place restricting the classroom size, students will lose out again." That's a comment from a school trustee.

"As a father of children in the primary division this act guarantees my children will not be placed in conditions so crowded that optimum learning does not take place." That's from a father of two, Peter Martikainen.

Laurel McCaig, a teacher, writes: "My experience teaching in larger classes has convinced me of the limitations of such an environment. The noise level and the extent to which class control cuts into class time places significant limitations on the amount of work and the types of projects in which the students can engage. Limited class sizes would be a welcome step forward."

Finally, from a student: "I only wish in my earlier years that I had class sizes that are reflected in your bill. It would have allowed me to develop my individuality to a greater degree."

Ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, the government has stressed that its goal is to improve classroom education. What better way of doing that than to ensure that classroom sizes do not grow to levels that threaten the quality of education? I believe that should be the goal of all three parties, of every member in this House.

We don't have to demonstrate it in a political way; we can demonstrate it in a very practical and realistic way by ensuring that the number of students in each classroom in Ontario reflects the optimum opportunity to enhance individual potential, to ensure, as Mike Harris once said, we must prepare our students for the 21st century. I have no problem with that. I agree with him. As a teacher with 30 years' experience, I too want to ensure that our children are prepared for the 21st century.

One of the most profound ways of ensuring that preparation takes place is to ensure that each individual student in Ontario, whether they be in junior kindergarten or in the final year of high school, has the opportunity to learn in an environment which is conducive to maximum potential development.

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): I'm pleased to participate in this debate. This bill addresses an issue that is close to the heart of every caring person in Ontario: quality of education. We're taking action to improve the quality in education at less cost to the taxpayer. We're focusing resources where they should be, in the classroom. Our reforms are designed to help teachers teach and to help learners learn.

I appreciate that Bill 110 is motivated by that priority and I applaud its good intentions. I totally support the bill's underlying principle of ensuring that there be more resources directed to the classroom, but I cannot support this bill as an appropriate or effective tool to realize that principle.

I appreciate the intent of the bill to direct resources to the classroom and provide a better environment for learning for teachers and students. However, I must advise the members that I see significant problems with the bill's proposals, problems that would severely undermine the bill's own good intentions: First, it will limit the ability of school boards, school councils and schools to determine how best to direct their resources; second, it will result in significant additional cost to schools; and third, its approach is too simplistic and narrow.

Bill 110 would effectively be a straitjacket, because it denies schools the flexibility to choose how to provide the best service to their students. For example, less than half of elementary classrooms in the province currently exceed the proposed maximum. In general, they exceed the maximum only slightly. For example, some classes average 27 students, which would be two students too many if the bill became law.

If a maximum class size were legislated, a school would need to create a second class, one for 25 students in order to meet the maximum allowed by Bill 110 and another for the remaining two students, or the school could divide up the 27 in a more logical fashion, such as 14 in one and 13 in the other, effectively creating upheaval for all 27 students. There would be new rooms, new faces, a new teacher for half of the students, new relationships and a disruption of their studies. The principal might have to get on the phone and order in a new portable, which is effectively not possible in many parts of Ontario midwinter.

This kind of one-size-fits-all administration is not the kind of approach that is consistent with local responsibility. Local school boards, school councils and schools need room to make decisions about resource management, to be effective and efficient, to make decisions that will serve students best, according to their individual needs, taking into account their age, their subject matter of study and the community environment, including the community of the school itself.

Schools must have the power to respond quickly to the needs of students and parents. Anyone who has ever worked in a school for any length of time will know that. Students often move between schools in the middle of the year, and students also move between courses in the middle of the year. But the narrow focus of Bill 110 does not recognize that mobility, doesn't recognize that mobility is a fact of our everyday life. A student could be kept out of a course in their own school because the class size was already at maximum and physical space or teachers were not available to create another class.

Earlier I mentioned costs. In the examples I've raised, schools and school boards would have major expenses to keep class sizes below Bill 110's limit: spending to hire more classroom teachers, spending to find space to accommodate more classes. For example, if a student sought entrance to a course midyear that she or he had begun in another school and if that course were at its maximum enrolment, the student would be denied access. Alternatively, if the school were forced to set up an additional class midyear to accommodate the new student, the costs would be very high, perhaps forcing principals or boards to cancel some meaningful programs or extracurricular activities such as a band or choir performance, support of the drama club or sports activities. This issue of cost must be of concern to all members.

It's also important to recognize that the issue of class size cannot be addressed in isolation, as it is in this bill. Teachers have told me that it's not so much the issue of class size as of the skills and aptitudes of the children in those classes; for example, students with special needs who require different approaches and special assistance. Local teachers and principals are the only ones who can address those kinds of situations to take into account the best interests of our children.

Let me give you another example: Class size can have an impact on funding. We're in the process of developing a new model for allocating money to school boards with the goal of ensuring that a higher proportion of resources goes into the classroom. The focus of that process will be helping children learn. Our decision will be guided by the belief that local school boards and schools should exercise their judgement of how that is best achieved.

In conclusion, I recognize the principle that motivates this bill. Supporting teachers in their very important work and directing more resources to the classroom are not only goals that we share, they're issues on which this government is taking action. This bill, however, takes too simplistic and narrow an approach. In the final analysis, it cannot do what it should and it may even create significant obstacles to quality education and create hardship for individual students and their families. It would not deliver significant benefit but it surely would impose significant costs.

I respectfully ask the members then not to support the bill, but at the same time recognize that the intent of focusing resources in the classroom is certainly a priority for the government. We are acting on that priority and we will achieve our common goal of quality education.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I believe this is a bill that puts to the test this government's so-called commitment to classroom education, because this bill is all about kids in a classroom; make no mistake about that. This bill is about what can be done to ensure that children in a classroom get a reasonably fair chance at a good education. The whole intent is to make sure that no government, whether it is a local government or the provincial government, forces students into classes of as many as 40, where in my home community some students have to sit on buckets because there are no desks for them in the classroom.

The bill sets maximum class sizes so that we would no longer see elementary school students in classes of as many as 32, where there might be 10 students with special needs in that group of 32 students. There surely is no debate about the importance of class size to effective teaching and to student learning, and that is particularly true to individualized learning, because teachers in a large class can't do anything but teach to the average student. There's no time to respond to individual needs. There's no time to test students to determine what each individual student knows and what that student needs to learn next.

I was proud to be part of a government that made children and classroom education a real priority and that put dollars behind its commitment, paid in full to keep a commitment that would keep class sizes in grades 1 and 2 to a maximum of 24 students. I was privileged to have been part of building an educational system that believed that every child had a place in the classroom on an integrated basis, and I will never deny or apologize for the increased spending that that commitment to integration entailed.

So no wonder spending costs for education went up, because they supported a belief in early childhood education with junior kindergarten funding. They supported a belief in lower class sizes in grades 1 and 2 by funding maximum class sizes in those grades, and they supported integrated education even for those students with special needs and provided the dollars to support those students in an integrated class.

I don't expect that this government will support the bill because, although the minister talks about the importance of putting resources into the classroom, we know that the goal of the minister, the real goal, is to cut spending. The minister claims he wants to see student achievement improved, but his only initiatives have been to cut supports to learning, from cutting the funding for junior kindergarten to the $9.9 million he wants to take out of classroom supplies and equipment in order to supposedly get some savings from amalgamating school boards.

If you buy into what the ministry and the Minister of Education are saying about spending too much on education, you won't support this bill. If you believe that Ontario's students should somehow be dropped to the point where they are below our national average in the support that we provide, then you won't support this bill. But if the government members do not support this bill, we will be back to ask what class sizes are going to be the basis for the funding that the Ministry of Education provides to each school board on a per pupil basis, because when this government carries through its intent to amalgamate school boards and take over educational funding, it will be responsible for what goes on in the classroom. It will not be able to blame large class sizes on local school boards, because the ministry will have determined what funding it gives that makes those class sizes a reality. And it won't be able to blame local school boards for the fact that special education support is no longer being provided, because those will be decisions that are the responsibility of the Minister of Education, who wants control over educational funding and who is going to get it and who will have to live with that responsibility.

If the government were to agree that good education, effective teaching and effective learning begin with reasonable class sizes so that there can be a good interaction between the teacher and each of that teacher's students, then the government would support this bill and would have a clear basis for determining the funding that supports that most important priority of class sizes of a reasonable level.

Again, I am not optimistic that the government will support the bill because I don't think we have seen a government that truly values education. We've seen a government that is prepared to take $1 billion out of education, to cut junior kindergarten funding, that is ready now to reduce the number of hours that go into teaching English. It is ready to put students into work experiences that have nothing to do with academic learning and are unsupervised.

This would be a starting point for the government to say they are truly committed to children in a classroom, and I hope the government members will see the bill in that light.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I rise today to speak in favour of this bill on behalf of the New Democratic Party, and I would like to set out some of the logic of why that is.

First of all, what is the member for Sudbury, Mr Bartolucci, trying to do? He's trying to put into legislation something that is now in most cases protected by collective agreements between teachers and school boards. As it is right now in those collective agreements, class size is an issue in some cases that's dealt with within the collective agreements to make sure that we don't have too many kids in the care of teachers and to keep those class sizes within manageable areas.

Why is he doing this? Why is the member bringing forward this particular legislation? It's fairly clear. The government has decreed that it's going to follow a certain direction in education. It's doing a couple of things.

First, it's taking over the entire funding of our education system and taking over the entire control so that later on down the road, as they take the control, they're going to be able make some fundamental changes to education. At the same time that goes on, the Minister of Education's personal friend Mr Paroian is out there looking at what they're going to do when they get their hands on the education system.

What is one of the things they're going to want to do? They're going to want to be able to get to the collective agreements of teachers. What is inside the collective agreement of teachers but classroom size, preparation time, all of those issues that the Conservatives would like us to believe really don't have anything to do with classroom expenditures, but we know that they do.

The member for Sudbury is trying to bring this particular private member's bill to the House because he recognizes, as we do in the New Democratic Party of Ontario, that the real agenda of the government is to take over the control of financing of education and directing it so they can make those fundamental changes that are going to allow them to change education as we know it today, and one of the things they want to do is reduce expenditures overall within education.

What do you do if you take $1 billion or $2 billion out of education? Where do you save the money? The government will make you believe that they can take that amount of money out of education and it can be done strictly through administration of school boards, it can be done strictly through cutting things that are not in the classroom. The reality is that 80% of what we spend in education goes directly to the classroom. The minute you start taking large sums of money out of our education system, you know darn well it is going to affect the classroom. One of the things that is going to have to be effected if you're going to be able to offset those cuts is to increase the amount of students per teacher, and this is what the member is trying to affect with this particular bill.

I want to commend the member for at least trying to bring this issue forward. What he's trying to say is, let's put some legislation in place so at least we're able to protect the classroom size to a certain degree. Now, I have a bit of difference about how many students per class and all that, and I think we can get into that debate if we get to committee, but in general I support it.

I also want to say quickly from the comments I heard from the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education, his speech came down to two things. He said,"We as a government, we the Conservative government of Ontario, want to focus our resources in the classroom." If you're truly serious about that as Conservatives, why wouldn't you support this bill? What you would be doing by supporting this bill would be keeping to your commitment that you want to protect the classroom. If you vote against this bill, it tends to tell me that you're really not serious in your commitment about protecting the classroom. Because you know and I know and, more important, you out there know that where most of the money is spent is in teachers' wages and the number of students that you have per teacher is a great effect of how much we spend in the classroom.

The second thing that the member said, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education -- the same Minister of Education who didn't graduate high school and, in my view, doesn't have a respect for the education system that we have in this province, the same minister who said, when he was first sworn in as Minister of Education --


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Nepean.


Mr Bisson: "I will create a crisis in education so that I can make the changes that need to be done in education," said the Minister of Education.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Halton North.

Mr Bisson: The same Minister of Education who at every opportunity has taken a slap at the teachers, has taken a slap at our public system of education, is trying to make people in this province believe that our education system is broke and it don't work. Well, that isn't the case. Sure, there are problems in our education system, as there are in every kind of private sector enterprise, as there are in every public sector enterprise. You can always strive to make things better. But this Minister of Education is trying to make us believe that our system of public education doesn't work.

I beg to differ. We have a good system of public education that has been recognized as being one of the best in the world. We have school boards in this province which have been awarded awards, that are recognized nationally and internationally as being some of the best educational programs in the world, and this minister has the gall to say publicly that our system doesn't work.

The parliamentary assistant said he was not going to support this bill, and he was urging his fellow Conservative members in his caucus, right-wing Republican Conservatives that they are, that they shouldn't support this bill. Why? Because it was too simple and narrow in its approach.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Perth.

Mr Bisson: Who is more simplistic and who is more narrow than the Conservative Party of Ontario today? In everything they have done, from the mega-city to Bill 104 and the restructuring of school boards, to their approach through Bill 26 and their gutting of the labour laws through Bill 7, through absolutely every piece of legislation and every change in regulation, this has been a government that is simplistic and narrow in its approach.

That's what your philosophy is. I've just given you another reason why you should support the bill from the member for Sudbury. If you don't, it means you're not going to live up to your commitment and that the real agenda here is that you want to take over education so you can give it a good kick and change it into a system of education where if you've got money, you go to a private charter school, and if you don't got money, you go to a public school that is underfunded, understaffed and with class sizes that are much larger than what could be sustained for a good system of public education.

For those reasons, I will be supporting the member's bill.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this particular bill. The bill that's being proposed by the member for Sudbury is certainly very honourable and very motherhood, but it certainly takes the responsibility away from the present school boards. I appreciate Mr Bartolucci's concern for class size, but I must oppose his private member's bill on some very basic principles.

Quite simply, we are looking for better results from our education system, not more regulations and bureaucratic process. That principle has been clearly stated by the Minister of Education. This government is indeed committed to bringing greater accountability to public schools within a framework of stakeholder involvement, regular testing and a common curriculum.

It's been said that education is the only industry left where if you do a good job, nothing good happens to you, and if you do a bad job, nothing bad happens to you. I believe the introduction of province-wide student testing will change that by promoting greater accountability to the people who are served.

That said, I also believe school boards must have the freedom and flexibility to negotiate class sizes and manage in the new environment. They must have the freedom to work with different approaches to education within basic guidelines and the flexibility to accommodate change in Ontario's schools and classrooms. Only then will we be able to find out what really works and to encourage innovation and excellence in our public school system.

This bill seeks to bring greater regulation to the classroom, not less. It is based on an outdated model of command and control. Instead, our government is taking a different approach. We are seeking a model of education that focuses on results rather than on compliance with endless rules and regulations.

On a number of occasions the Minister of Education has said he is considering giving more authority to our school councils. That, I believe, is a good thing. Study after study has shown that greater parental involvement translates directly to better student achievement.

I believe the issue of class size is something that should remain the responsibility of the local school authorities, with the direct input of teachers and parent councils. By providing more decision-making responsibility at the school site, we will make education more responsive to the people it serves. If class size in a particular school is having a negative impact on student achievement, consistent and regular testing will identify the problem. Steps can then be taken to resolve the issue. Regular student testing and reporting of school achievement is something on which this government has already taken decisive action. I believe that with benchmarking we will make it easier to identify problems, while making Ontario's school system more transparent to those who foot the bill.

In his letter to members of this House, the member for Sudbury asked us to seek input from educators, students and parents. In my riding we did just that about nine months ago when we went to the public seeking feedback on the Sweeney report. In my discussions with education stakeholders and in my subsequent report to the minister, I identified the concerns from my constituency regarding education. I would like to briefly share some of those results with you today.

During our discussions a great deal of concern was expressed about the ultimate quality of education that students receive in Ontario. All groups participating -- parents, municipal politicians, students and educators -- wanted a strong common curriculum, regular student testing and greater accountability and community control of our education system.

That is indeed what we are moving towards: a school system that promotes more local control, accountability and excellence in the classroom. I urge the member sponsoring the bill to have some patience while these changes are being implemented.

While I agree that class size is a valid and serious concern, I believe it will be addressed when individual school and school board results are published and held up to regular public scrutiny. With the greater involvement of parents, teachers and community groups, that is what we are working towards. With these new systems in place, I am confident that class size will not be permitted to have a negative impact on student performance.

In the last minute and a half, I'd like to relate to Mr Bartolucci some delegations that have come to my office. One was some parents and teachers from a school where there was a class size over 40. I asked them: "If the class size is over 40 in that school, and last year the PTR or pupil-teacher ratio went from 16.5 to 17, I would like to know where the teachers are. Are they facilitators, consultants, superintendents or directors? Are they on prep time?" I don't know. The answer never came back.

I had another president of OSSTF, of a secondary school in my area, come to me saying that the class size from last year to this year increased on average in that school by three students. The PTR, pupil-teacher ratio, went from 14.9 to 15.2, an increase of 0.3 students, but the students went up by three in the classroom. Again, I asked that individual, that president: "Where are the teachers? Are they facilitators? Are they consultants? Where are the teachers? Why did we move up an average of three students per classroom when the PTR only changed by 0.3?"

The responsibility has to lie with that school board and it should be answering to the public and to us what has happened when the number of students enrolled per class has gone up that far. I think that's where our problem lies. There's a lack of accountability with our boards, with this kind of class size and with this PTR and how it rolls out in our class size.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I'm pleased to speak to a very important bill, Bill 110, this morning, on an issue that I believe is absolutely fundamental to education. I will attempt to provide not a partisan view at all, but some statistics and some research that I think speak eloquently to the issue.

It's a well-known fact that class size is a key indicator, and every member who has spoken to this has said that. The Royal Commission on Learning, for example, reinforced this point in its report, For the Love of Learning.

I'd like to address the points made by the member for Northumberland and the member for Halton Centre.

I want to tell you about a four-year research project that was done in Tennessee. It was called STAR, which stands for student-teacher achievement ratio. The research, one of the most comprehensive studies in educational history, was led by Tennessee State University's centre of excellence. The STAR project is considered to be the ground-breaking research into the effects of classroom size in the early grades on academic achievement and the reduction of disruptive behaviour.

Spearheaded by the governor of Tennessee, STAR was the biggest-ever educational research project in the United States and involved 6,500 children over a four-year period from 1985 to 1989 throughout the whole state of Tennessee. Their progress and achievements were measured with frequent tests of basic skills and comparisons against statewide and national standards.

These children performed dramatically better when classroom sizes were reduced from kindergarten through to grade 3. The results of the study, which were published in 1990, produced such convincing evidence in favour of reduced class size that the Legislature of Tennessee voted two years later to make small classes an educational priority throughout the state. So compelling was the evidence for small classes that all schools in the state, beginning with the most disadvantaged, had class sizes reduced to a maximum of 20 students in the early grades.

Nationwide, in Canada, Statistics Canada keeps statistics on the per pupil ratio, the pupil-educator ratio, which is the ratio of full-time pupils to all certified educators. To be included the educator must have a teaching certificate. Thus, any board-level employee with a teaching certificate, including superintendents and consultants, would be included in this particular ratio, and the member for Northumberland just talked about this. In 1993, the average for Canada as a whole was 15.7 pupils per educator, but Ontario was slightly lower than the national average, at 15.3 pupils per educator.

It is thought that the lower PER changes in Ontario resulted from the provincial Liberal government decision under David Peterson to lower grade 1 and grade 2 class sizes to a maximum of 20 students. We know that has now changed. Other factors include expansion of special education programs and an increase in the number of administrators and consultants serving school boards.

What has happened since then will not surprise you: The phasing in of class size reductions in grades 1 and 2 has slowed down, and despite the compelling evidence of research on the effects of classroom size, Ontario continues to cut funds to education, forcing boards to increase class sizes. I know that in Ottawa-Carleton class sizes have been steadily increasing.

In a new release this week from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, it was reported that "according to the most recent data available...Ontario is now in 45th place in class size when ranked with the American states." Further, in the ranking of Ontario per pupil expenditure, compared to American and Canadian jurisdictions, we're in 46th place, not a place to be happy about. Budget cuts in education are affecting the classroom and in particular classroom size, an important key indicator. The Royal Commission on Learning believed we have the capacity to forge an excellent educational system, and I do too, but not the way we're proceeding at the moment.

I heard Dan Offord interviewed on CBC yesterday morning. Dr Offord is the principal author of the Ontario Child Health Study and currently research director of the Centre for Studies of Children at Risk at McMaster University. He spoke about the importance of the early years and what is important to raise a generation of healthy, happy and productive children and youth. All children require love, nurturing and guidance within the supportive environments of home, school and the community to attain their individual potential. What is most important is that there's a relationship with the teacher that is a personal one, so that the teacher may be able to respond to the needs of those children.

I could go on and on, but my time is up. I am happy to be supporting my colleague's bill. It's very important for all Ontario.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I rise in support of this bill of my colleague the member for Sudbury and I applaud him for his initiative in bringing it forward. It's clear from the short speeches we've had in the assembly this morning that the government members, who of course have the majority, are not going to be supporting Mr Bartolucci's bill. I regret that because it's an opportunity to have a further debate, an ongoing debate about our education system in this province.

I find it passing strange that at the very time the Minister of Education is decrying the quality of education and the ability of our students to rank higher in national competition, he's cutting expenditures in education and reducing expenditures that affect and impact directly on the classroom as well, despite the promise not to do that. I personally don't have any problem with the reduction in the number of school boards -- I think that's overdue -- but I sure have a problem with the way in which some of the cuts are going to impact on the classroom.

I heard the member from Halton-Foxfire -- sorry, Halton Centre -- comment that he was opposed to this because it would prevent the school boards from deciding where they'd direct their costs. Well, of course it would. It would prevent the school boards from saying, "We're going to save money and make up for the provincial cuts by increasing the size of the classes to more than 30, or perhaps even 40." I really didn't understand his comment that if you had 27 students and the limit was 26, you then would have 26 in one class and one in the other. That really is strange mathematics.

The trouble is that if you allow it to be 10%, give or take, above the maximum, then you know and I know what would happen: That would become the minimum if you allowed that. So at some point you have to get arbitrary in this system and set a limit, and that's what the member for Sudbury is trying to do.

I think it was the member for Northumberland who said there would be no significant benefits if this bill was implemented, just additional costs. What a categorical statement that is. Does he really believe that if you set a ceiling on the number of students per class, there's no benefit to the students in those classes? Of course there is. Every knowledgeable person, people who know a lot more about education than I, will tell you that the size of the class does have a very direct bearing on the quality of education in that classroom, and in particular in the lower grades, in the elementary school system. I always felt that if we were going to put any more money into the education system, it should be at the elementary level, because those really are the formative years, and any study I've ever read has reinforced that view.

I'm pleased to play a small part in this debate this morning and support the initiative by the member for Sudbury.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I too would like to indicate my support for the member for Sudbury's bill this morning. As we know, he has spent a great number of years in the field of education and knows of what he speaks in terms of the education our children are receiving in this province.

More importantly, I think we have to take a look at what's happening in terms of a particular classroom today. As a former educator myself in those classrooms, and as the member representing the area of Kenora now, I spend a lot of time going into the classrooms, into the schools to find out what's happening on the front line. We have a minister who often speaks about not harming what's happening in the classrooms, but we have a minister who as well does not seem to know what's going on in those classrooms.

I made a recent visit to St Joseph's school in Dryden, only last Friday, where I was invited by the principal, Dixie Whiteside, to address her staff. They made it very clear to me that the Minister of Education and Training must become more involved in what's going on, that when he speaks about a computer on every desk, he must also remember that we need socialization in the classroom, which is very important. I think this bill speaks directly to that in terms of numbers. Previous speakers have indicated that a great number of studies have suggested that numbers are directly related to the socialization a child is going to receive at whatever grade level.


Again I go back to the fact that we have a minister here who does not seem to be getting the message, whether it be from trustees, from parents, from those people who appear in the classroom every day, the teachers. I can only suggest to him that he must pay a little bit more attention to what is being said out there.

Yes, we agree that changes have to be made, and I go back to the members and the bill in terms of the research that's been done in this area. I think this is a very good opportunity for every member in the House to begin those changes, which have a good amount of substance to back them up.

You listen to a teacher who faces anywhere from 35 to 40 students in a classroom, and quite often a good number of those students are special needs students as well or students who need enrichment, and we often hear about students who don't get the enrichment they need. A teacher being asked to address all those various needs in a group of 35 to 40 students I think is going beyond what our very dedicated teachers are requested to do presently. I think we have to take a close look at the research, a close look at what the bill intends to do. It's just an excellent start to move ahead in terms of ensuring that our students are getting the proper education.

When I go into the schools, teachers ask me what this government is all about when it comes to education. I've had to come to the conclusion that it's not really the education of our students in the province that the government seems to be concentrating on, it's more the bottom line and, "Where can we get those dollars to ensure that every person in the province is going to receive that tax cut?" which the Premier has offered. Whether it be health care, whether it be education, which we're speaking about today, the Premier has one goal in mind, and that's the bottom line. We see that affecting all the ministries, and I think it's really upsetting for those people who are on the front line, whether it be the teachers, the trustees or those who are involved in education -- very frustrating. Now they're faced with a government which doesn't show interest, doesn't seem to be listening to what they're saying.

As you know, individual members will have to make up their minds in terms of what they're going to do, whether they're going to support this bill or not support it. I would certainly urge every member of the House to take a very close look. This has been a beginning to ensure that our future generations have the education that will meet their needs.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate this opportunity to join in the debate and would like to begin by complimenting my colleague Mr Bartolucci on Bill 110. Like my colleagues, I think his attempt to bring some real sense to what's happening in our education system is worthy of the debate today. Again like my colleagues, whether or not I might agree with the exact specifics, I certainly think that during this important time in the Legislature, which is an opportunity for private member's bills, it's worthy of support and it ought to be moved on further so we can focus discussion, in this province and in this Legislature, very much on what is happening in classrooms. That is the key to the real issues I hear about as I travel around in my riding.

For instance, last evening at Westdale high school I participated, along with our education critic, Bud Wildman, and our leader, Howard Hampton, in a forum at a public event sponsored by SPA, Students for Political Action, which is a student group, and cosponsored by OSSTF. The room was packed, absolutely packed with standing room only. It wasn't just teachers, it wasn't just parents, it wasn't just students; it was anyone and everyone who has a concern about education. A good number of school board trustees were there. Over and over, the message was: What this Tory government is doing to education is hurting the children, the kids, the students in the classroom.

I would argue that nothing upsets people more, particularly the parents -- I see one of my colleagues across the way, a Tory member from Hamilton. I caution him to start listening to the very parents who are on the parent councils his government touts as the be-all and end-all, because they're very worried about what's going on in the classrooms, particularly as this government says that things like classroom cleaning and transportation don't affect the classroom and don't count when you decide how much money is going to classrooms.

I can tell you something else, and this happened at another debate I attended at St Thomas More high school a week or two ago as parents, students and teachers again looked at the $1 billion that's coming out of the classroom -- because that is where it's coming from. This government likes to put forward that it's 47%; I believe that's the figure. The reality is that in Hamilton in the public school system it's between 2% and 4%. Every administrator, official, parent and student body will stand behind that figure, yet this minister stands here and says that's not the case.

I suggest they talk to Marlene Gibson, the parent of a student, who is active in a parent council. She's very concerned. She's participating in as big a way as a parent can be expected to. She knows the impact of the $400 million you took out last year and what that's done to our classrooms. She's very worried about what's going to happen when you take out this next $1 billion.

That's what this is all about in terms of Bill 104, which does tie in to Bill 110. Your intent is to take away control of those budgets because you didn't like what happened in places like Hamilton, where our trustees said, "You're not going to get rid of junior kindergarten and you're not going to close off a lot of our special needs programs," and put forward a small increase in the mill rate -- not very popular, but bloody courageous. I've commended them before and I continue to commend them for doing that.

This government doesn't like that because it goes against its ideology. They're going to take over control of the education system, not to make it better, this nonsense that you're going to do more with less. What a lot of garbage; we're going to end up doing less with less. When trustees like Ray Mulholland, with over 20 years' experience and a former chair of the board, speak out and say that everything you're doing is hurting classrooms and hurting kids, that ought to be listened to.

I want to thank the member again for bringing this forward. It's important that bills like this hit the floor and we talk about what's really going on in the classrooms out there.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Bartolucci, you have two minutes.

Mr Bartolucci: I'd like to thank those members from both opposition parties who spoke in favour of the bill. I'd like to make just one or two comments to the member for Halton Centre and the member for Northumberland.

I simply ask the member for Northumberland to read the study Class Size: When Less Can Be More. He will find out how wrong he really is with his assumption that this will not enhance education.

To the member for Halton Centre, you started off by stating, as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education, that you agree in principle, agree with the intent of the motion. I believe this reading is what that is all about, and then we debate the specifics when we go to committee. The member for Northumberland also started and ended his comments by stating that he agreed with the intent. I suggest that if you truly believe in the intent of the resolution or the motion, you will support it going to committee, where we can hash out the problems that may exist in the bill.

Clearly this bill is not perfect. Clearly this bill reflects what parents, students, teachers and trustees are thinking. I understand that there may be some refinements necessary, but I want you to know, honestly, that the people of this province, the students of this province, the parents of this province, the board trustees of this province, the teachers of this province, are concerned with class sizes. It must be addressed.

If you agree with the intent, then you agree that at second reading it should be passed on to committee for further discussion. This is what private members' hour is all about. If you agree with intent, you then agree to put it on to a meaningful committee, and I ask you to live up to that agreement and pass it on to the committee.

The Deputy Speaker: We are now dealing with ballot item number 61, standing in the name of Mr Bartolucci. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Bartolucci moves second reading of Bill 110. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; this will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1201 to 1206.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until your names are called.


Agostino, Dominic

Cordiano, Joseph

Marchese, Rosario

Arnott, Ted

Crozier, Bruce

McLean, Allan K.

Baird, John R.

Curling, Alvin

McLeod, Lyn

Bartolucci, Rick

Doyle, Ed

Miclash, Frank

Bassett, Isabel

Gerretsen, John

O'Toole, John

Bisson, Gilles

Grandmaître, Bernard

Patten, Richard

Boushy, Dave

Hoy, Pat

Pettit, Trevor

Boyd, Marion

Kennedy, Gerard

Pupatello, Sandra

Bradley, James J.

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Brown, Michael A.

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Christopherson, David

Lankin, Frances

Shea, Derwyn

Churley, Marilyn

Laughren, Floyd

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Leadston, Gary L.

Wildman, Bud

The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please rise and remain standing until your names are called.


Chudleigh, Ted

Hudak, Tim

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Danford, Harry

Johnson, Bert

Sheehan, Frank

Fisher, Barbara

Jordan, W. Leo

Skarica, Toni

Ford, Douglas B.

Leach, Al

Smith, Bruce

Galt, Doug

Martiniuk, Gerry

Stewart, R. Gary

Gilchrist, Steve

Maves, Bart

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Grimmett, Bill

Munro, Julia

Wood, Bob

Hastings, John

Preston, Peter

Young, Terence H.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 39; the nays are 24.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to standing order 96(k), the bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.

Mr Bartolucci: Social development.

The Deputy Speaker: Shall this bill be referred to the committee on social development?

All those opposed to this question will please rise and remain standing.


The Deputy Speaker: The question is, shall the bill be referred to the standing committee on social development?

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until the numbers are called.

Take your seats. The majority of the House being in agreement with the request of the member, this bill is referred to the standing committee on social development.

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 1211 to 1331.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): In his taxpayer-funded glossy brochures distributed to every home, Minister of Municipal Affairs Al Leach informed the people of Metro Toronto that the megacity proposal will move us forward towards the next century, that it is paramount to our prosperity. The Chinatown East chamber of commerce, which represents over 300 local businesses, recently came out and criticized the Harris government because the small business owners know that the shifting of all essential services on to municipalities will result in higher property taxes in Metro.

One of the dominant concerns expressed by residents about the Harris government's megacity plans is that we will lose our diverse and distinct neighbourhoods. The government justification for destroying our city of neighbourhoods is that business and industries are leaving Toronto. However, small local business owners in our vibrant neighbourhoods clearly see through the municipal affairs minister's rhetoric and rightly understand that the cost of what he is doing will ultimately drive local businesses out of business.

The Harris government is not making our great city better. Not only is this government making our municipal boundaries disappear, what it is in fact doing is destroying the multicultural essence of distinct neighbourhoods. Distinct communities and their local small businesses lend character and flavour to our metropolitan area, neighbourhoods such as Chinatown East.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I was delighted to see the Premier's recipe for one-bowl chocolate cake in yesterday's Star. It looks good. I understand the recipe was originally intended to make six smaller cupcakes but that the Premier unilaterally changed the recipe to make one large mega-cake.

But Premier, there's another recipe of yours that's not so appetizing, and I call it the Mike Harris recipe for mega-disaster: Take six well-functioning cities and forcefully blend at high speed until amalgamated. Ensure no evidence of culture or distinctiveness remains. Take care not to add any convincing rationale. Well-respected and experienced chefs may insist that your recipe is flawed. Just pretend to listen; after all, you know best. Meanwhile, download welfare costs.

Note: This recipe will create uncertainty about mega property tax increases. As a result, some unpleasant referenda results may bubble to the surface on March 3. Before they can impart an unpleasant flavour, quickly and dismissively skim them off and discard. Now add a healthy dollop of Tory arrogance, a large helping of disdain for democracy, sprinkle with phoney tax-cut rhetoric and serve quickly to a wary and demoralized citizenry.

Premier, this recipe leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. However, your chocolate cake sounds delicious. You should give up your day job and stay home baking cakes or, for that matter, hot breakfast cereal.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I know that I speak on behalf of all members of this House in extending greetings to the Muslim community of Ontario and in wishing them Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak. These greetings, which in Arabic mean "May you have a month of giving and a blessed feast," speak to the central meaning of Ramadan.

Canada's 500,000 Muslims are, of course, observing a month of fasting during Ramadan, between January 10 and this weekend. Ramadan was the month in which the verses of the Holy Koran were first revealed to the prophet Mohammed. During Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, marital relations and bad habits during their fast.

Our Muslim neighbours will be celebrating the feast of Eid-Ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, this weekend. After gathering for prayers, they meet with one another, giving presents and sharing alms with the needy so that all members of the community may be able to celebrate together.

Understanding why our Muslim friends are not sharing coffee breaks or lunch with us this month is a first step towards appreciating their devotion to God and the practice of their faith. In fulfilling the teachings of their faith, they demonstrate to us a commitment to righteousness and a compassion for the needy, qualities to which we can all aspire.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): A constituent of Windsor-Sandwich followed the Premier's advice and called the famous 1-800 line viewed on the $2.3-million television ads in my riding. He called because he wanted the government's plan for health care. He was assured over the phone that the government had a plan and that a package explaining the government's vision would be sent to him. Let me tell you what he received. He received a recruitment package from the Progressive Conservative Party. It included a membership form to join the Progressive Conservative Party.

That is shocking. Do you really think the people of Windsor-Sandwich would go out of their way to join a party that is decimating health care across Ontario, particularly in my riding? Not only that: He wanted a vision on health care as a gentleman laid off in the health care sector. He also lives across the street from the emergency room being closed down because of the Progressive Conservative government.

This is simply not acceptable, that $2.3 million in ads could be wasted on television companies instead of spent on areas like emergency care on the west side of Windsor. It is not acceptable, not to my constituent. He expects to see a real plan for health care.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): As you know, the hearings on Bill 103, the megacity venture of this government, are well under way now and we are continuing to hear from citizens of all stripes how abhorrent they find this proposal and this venture from this government.

As one presenter this morning said, "What scares me is the possibility that this mega-scheme may destroy this marvellous city, with its sidewalk cafés and street musicians, its hot dog vendors and fruit and vegetable stands, its mixed use of buildings, its mixtures of people of all ages and economic status and ethnic backgrounds, a city rich in diversity, a city to live in, a city to walk in, a city to love" -- a city, I might add, that is working; yes, a city that needs to change, but speaker after speaker is telling us that change needs to come about as a result of real discussion involving politicians at both levels but, most important, involving the citizens who live in this great metropolis.

As the mayor of the city of Toronto this morning said so clearly, "What's the rush?" What's the rush this government has in imposing this megacity scheme when what should be happening is some thoughtful and serious discussion about the alternatives, about what can be done to ensure that Toronto is here into the foreseeable future in a way that allows people to continue to have the best of the local democratic process they have now and will continue to grow and thrive into the next century. That's the direction this government should be taking. Bill 103 is completely the opposite of that.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): This morning, Finance Minister Ernie Eves released information to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs on the performance of the economy for the third quarter of 1996. The third-quarter Ontario Finances and the Ontario Economic Accounts reports contain good news for the people of Ontario. The figures show that Ontario's economy is growing and that this government is on track in meeting its deficit reduction target. The province's gross domestic product rose at 3.8% annual rate in the third quarter, faster than the national rate of 3.3%.

Ontario is leading the way in private sector job creation. Since this government took office, more than half the private sector jobs created in Canada have been created right here in Ontario. Revenue increased by more than $1 billion, primarily as a result of strong growth in personal and corporate income tax and retail sales tax revenues.

Business investment has been rising as Ontario firms adapt to competing in world markets. In the latest conference board survey on national business confidence, almost 60% of respondents identified Ontario as the province where they plan to invest the most.

Record low interest rates, competitive prices and rising consumer confidence led to a rebound in the housing market. For 1996 --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This morning during private members' hour the remarkable happened, the unusual happened: Everyone in the House was listening to what everybody else had to say. We're only a little disappointed that the Minister of Education wasn't in the House to hear the very excellent arguments that were being made by all three parties with regard to Bill 110.

The House decided that this bill would pass second reading, that this House supported it in principle. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education and the member for Northumberland spoke against the resolution, but agreed the intent of the resolution is the way this government should go. So although they voted against it, they agreed with it in principle; they agreed with the intent. You know what? It's going to the committee for social development.

I can't wait for this committee to travel across the province to hear from parents, from teachers, from school board trustees, from all those stakeholders in education, telling this government, telling us in opposition, telling everyone in the province that class sizes are too big, that we have to limit the number of students who enter individual classes in Ontario, that to maximize the potential for development of children and of students, we must ensure there are reasonable class sizes.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, as you know, over the last few weeks community after community, neighbourhood after neighbourhood have been holding meetings, looking at the government's proposed megacity legislation. There is tremendous grass-roots community opposition to this.

Just this week alone, on Monday night, I attended a meeting at the Walter Stewart library; there were 65 people there. Tuesday night at the Acropol Banquet Hall on Gerrard Street there were over 200 people. Last night at Valley Park public school in East York there were 250 to 300 people at that meeting. I have to say that each of these meetings has been very open, very accessible and people have been able to ask questions or put forward their own comments.

I want to contrast that with another meeting that took place, hosted by the member for York Mills, David Turnbull. He had the member for Scarborough East, Steven Gilchrist, there. People who were opposed to the megacity weren't allowed to bring in their literature. After they lectured to the crowd, a small crowd that was there of some 60 people, they were told it was time for questions.

People had to write out their questions and then David Turnbull hand-selected the questions, read them out and Steven Gilchrist answered those questions. No one could raise their voice themselves; not one citizen could speak out, and when they tried -- in fact a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party tried -- they were shut down and they ended up leaving the meeting. This is the way this government continues to refuse to listen to the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Tonight marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, a festival which will be continuously celebrated by the Chinese-Canadian community for the next two weeks in honour of the Year of the Ox.

According to tradition, the festival of Chung Chieh dates to a time when a wild beast threatened to kill many villagers in China towards the end of the winter. Seeing that the beast feared bright lights, noise and the colour red, the people began protecting themselves on the last day of the lunar year by lighting up their houses, painting objects red, banging drums and gongs and exploding crackers.

Other new year practices include symbolic foods, such as bean sprouts that promise prosperity and oysters that promise good business. After midnight, especially in Hong Kong, people will go out to buy flowers for good luck, dragon and lion dances will be performed as people visit temples, and objects like scissors and brooms are left alone on New Year's Day since they can cut good luck and sweep out good fortune.

On behalf of the government of Ontario I have the privilege of wishing all members of the Chinese Canadian community a very happy and prosperous new year. I congratulate all of them and thank them on behalf of all Ontarians for their many contributions to Canada and for the opportunity to experience their colourful and richly meaningful culture. Happy New Year. Gong Hay Fat Choy.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We were not informed that there would be this number of cabinet ministers absent today. We request that perhaps they would come out or we would have unanimous consent to delay question period.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I have a request to seek unanimous consent to delay question period. Agreed? Not agreed.


The Speaker: It's okay, it didn't carry. Member for Algoma?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I was under the impression, Speaker, that there would be unanimous consent to pay tribute to the former member for Windsor-Riverside, but I'm not certain now whether the Liberal caucus --

The Speaker: The member for Algoma is seeking unanimous consent for the member for Windsor-Riverside. Agreed? Agreed.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): It's a pleasure for me to rise today and pay tribute to one of the longest-serving members in the Ontario Legislature, at least during my tenure here, since 1981. Dave Cooke, of course, is a relatively young individual by almost any measure in today's political world, some 44 years of age, but he's served almost half his life as a member of the Ontario Legislature.

He started out wanting to be an elected representative, to represent the people in his area of the province at Queen's Park. He achieved his goal and has been, I think, ultimately successful. When you look through some of David's press clippings over the last not just few weeks but few years, he's certainly done quite a job for the city of Windsor and the southwestern area of the province, but more importantly for the entire province of Ontario as a whole. He served in many capacities here at Queen's Park both before and after my tenure here. He served as Minister of Education and Training under the New Democratic government.

When I was in Windsor a couple of weeks ago I talked to many people there, including the incumbent mayor, the former mayor and many other people in the community, and I can tell you that regardless of their political stripe, people in the city of Windsor regard him as somebody who has represented them extremely well. He has brought over $600 million worth of bricks and mortar, as the Windsor Star said, to the city of Windsor. He has done exactly what I think provincial representatives, regardless of their area of the province or political party, are elected to do, and that is to better the lives of their constituents, and indeed better the lives of Ontario residents as a whole.

As David recently said in an interview in the Windsor Star, "I don't want to set a world record, and I'm not sure the people of Windsor-Riverside would necessarily let me set a world record, for the longest-serving, democratically elected politician."

He has gone on to assume other responsibilities, which of course is no secret to anybody in this place. I am sure he will bring the same degree of enthusiasm, integrity and determination that he's brought to his days here at Queen's Park for some 20 years.

It's difficult perhaps for members of his own party to understand why Mr Cooke would accept such an appointment. It may be difficult for some members of my own caucus to understand why a government would want a member of another political party to do such an important task. I can tell you that the only criterion for the job, and the only qualification, I believe, that Mr Cooke brings to the job, is that he is a person of utmost integrity. I think he will approach his new responsibilities with the sophistication, integrity, understanding and knowledge that he's brought to his many days in 20 years as a representative at Queen's Park.

I think he will do an honest and a fair job, and that's all that is asked of him. Indeed, that's what he did every day in this place for over 20 years.


I had many battles with David, as the House leader, I had many battles with him in the Board of Internal Economy, but I can tell you that we developed a feeling of mutual respect and trust that I think this place has to have if it's going to operate. It's fine for one side to have 82 seats and another party to have fewer seats, but this place doesn't work unless there is that feeling of mutual trust among House leaders, among members and among members of political parties.

I think David Cooke has brought that sort of approach and attitude to this place for well over 20 years and I am confident that he will bring it to his representation of the people of Ontario in the new duties he's been asked to perform and has graciously accepted.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Our party is most appreciative of the opportunity to speak about Dave Cooke, the member for Windsor-Riverside.

As a local resident of the city of Windsor and Essex county, I personally was able to watch the long hours that Dave Cooke has always put into the work of the constituency for the constituents of Windsor-Riverside. We knew that David began his work for the community well before his first election, as a social worker, in his work through children's aid, and he always held the cause of children dear.

He took that work with him to Queen's Park 20 years ago. Having now arrived at Queen's Park as his colleague, I can tell you that the people in Windsor and Essex county probably never got to see and appreciate the work Dave Cooke has done over the many years here at Queen's Park. Unless you know the workings and inner wranglings of the running of affairs at Queen's Park, you really don't appreciate how valuable he was to the NDP caucus and what a pivotal player he has always been, whether it was through his work as House leader or through his work as a minister during the term of an NDP government.

He was always well respected, and now his appointment to work for the Ministry of Education is testimony to how well respected he's been in the education field. It was put quite well by a gentleman named Charles Pascal, a former Deputy Minister of Education, who said quite clearly that of any of the people who worked in the area of education, as a politician he could honestly bring forward a very non-partisan view to that job. We believe his perspective on education truly was his personal belief, that he made that part of who he was. In many articles and interviews that Dave Cooke did during his time as a government member he always said that he felt he had finally arrived when he could work as Minister of Education, doing the things he honestly believed in.

In all the years I have been involved in various community things in Windsor, Dave Cooke and I often crossed paths. I'll tell you that Dave spent just as many hours at home, traipsing around the Italian clubs, the Serbian clubs, the CAW hall, walking in parades, and it was always Dave Cooke who got the fancy open-air Jeep to drive around in the parade while we got stuck with the rather regular models. But Dave Cooke always managed to look the renegade part in the open-air Jeep, so we were always impressed that he could finagle that one from the various people organizing the parade.

It was with great sadness that the majority of people of Essex county saw that he would be ending his years here at Queen's Park, but most of the people of Essex county know that he will continue to serve our community just as he has done for many years as a member of provincial Parliament.

We wish him good luck. We will tell him too, as a brief partisan note, that we were always a little dismayed that even Liberals would vote for Dave Cooke, not because of his party but because he was simply Dave Cooke. So our hats are off to Dave Cooke.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's a pleasure for me to speak on behalf of my leader and caucus in paying tribute to a former colleague who has served this party, served this House and served the people of Ontario with distinction over 20 years.

Many of us in this House, particularly newer members, I guess, may not appreciate the effort and the kind of self-sacrifice it takes to serve in this place for over 20 years. There aren't many of us who achieve that length of service, and I think it's a tribute to the relationship Dave Cooke had with the people of Windsor and particularly the people of Windsor-Riverside.

As the member from the Liberal Party pointed out, Dave Cooke had support in Windsor that went far beyond the support simply of New Democrats but was very widespread. He gained the respect of people from all three parties in that community and I think across Ontario for the work that he did.

Dave started serving people right from the time he finished his formal education. He became a social worker and worked for the children's aid society. He had a long-enduring interest in children throughout his career which he still maintains. He served on the board of education in Windsor prior to being elected to this place in 1977 to represent Windsor-Riverside and he maintained his interest in education matters throughout his career and maintains that today.

Dave was particularly interested, as I said, in children but also in the elderly and in the health care system, social services generally. In opposition he brought before this House issues around the mismanagement of nursing homes to the point that the government had to respond and to ensure that the senior citizens and disabled who were being cared for in nursing homes were treated with dignity and with proper care.

When we were elected to government, Dave was really an important cog in our government, and I think that former Premier Bob Rae would agree with me in saying that Dave Cooke was, if not his second-in-command, certainly the third-in-command in our government. Dave served in many portfolios: the Ministry of Education and Training, municipal affairs, management board, and also served as House leader. He was a member of the inner cabinet and the policy and priorities committee and was always very knowledgeable and put forward his positions clearly and forcefully.

The Minister of Finance said that he had many battles -- public battles and private as well, I suppose -- with Dave Cooke. I might say I also had some battles with Dave Cooke and usually in caucus or in cabinet I was on the losing end because of the conviction with which Dave put forward his position, the knowledge he had, the research he had done and the ability with which he put forward his views.

Dave is also a friend and it has been a privilege for me personally to have known Dave for these many years and to have been able to serve along with him. He has a tremendous sense of humour. As I said, we may have had disagreements from time to time but they were never long-lasting and we were pleased to be able to work together, along with our other colleagues, for the advancement of the people of Ontario generally.

Dave worked very hard for the people in his constituency and for the people of Windsor and southwestern Ontario generally. He worked hard for the people of Ontario. He was focused, he knew what he believed and why. He was dedicated, determined and committed. He is only now in his 40s. He isn't retiring from public life, he's continuing to serve the people of Ontario.

All of us have benefited from knowing Dave and being able to work with him over the years. The people of Ontario have benefited from the dedicated public service of Dave Cooke and they will continue to do so.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will ensure those comments are passed on to Mr Cooke. It's now time for oral questions.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to bring a point of privilege before the House. Two primary authorities on British parliamentary procedure both contain provisions for informing the assembly of the arrest of a member of the assembly. The sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms contains the following passage on page 24:

"From British practice it would seem that if a member is arrested the House should be informed, through the Speaker, by the judge or the magistrate concerned. There is no example of this...happening in the Parliament of Canada, although in 1946 the Prime Minister made an extensive statement explaining the circumstances...of Fred Rose," who ultimately was convicted on espionage charges.

The 21st edition of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice contains the following reference, found on page 96:

"The committal of a lord or member for high treason or any criminal offence is brought before the House by a letter addressed to the Lord Chancellor or the Speaker by the committing judge or magistrate."

We learned last night that a member of this assembly will be arrested. On at least one television broadcast, the Metropolitan police were said to have confirmed that a summons of arrest will be issued to the member for Welland-Thorold tomorrow.

Mr Speaker, have you taken any steps or will you take any steps to ensure that this assembly is adequately informed of the charges which will be laid against the member for Welland-Thorold, in keeping with parliamentary convention?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The difficulty is, to the member for Algoma -- I will investigate, but with respect, I have no power to investigate the matter. I must check to see if communication has been had, but I can tell you, I don't think so.

Further, it would seem imprudent of me to comment at this time, considering what you've quoted chapter and verse. If you would allow me the opportunity to review it, I'll be happen to do so. But I want to leave that by saying I don't have any powers of investigation. I'm allowed to review it and, as I understand it at this point, the member has not been arrested so again it makes it presumptuous to some degree on my part, but I will seize the issue and report back.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Mr Speaker, on a point of privilege: Standing order 21 is quite clear. It says:

"Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom," and I want to emphasize, by practice, by precedent, by usage, by custom and also by statutes. "Whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately."

Speaker, we all know it is inappropriate for any member of this Legislature to comment on matters that are before the courts and under police investigation, and our own rules say that on page 16. It essentially says, "a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he or she" -- and I refer to part (g) -- "Refers to any matter that is the subject of a proceeding that is pending in a court or before a judge for judicial determination, or that is before any quasi-judicial body constituted by the House or by or under the authority of an act of the Legislature."

These are part of our own rules, and I want to refer to those rules. I want to refer to part (h), "Makes allegations against another member," and (i), "Imputes false or unavowed motives to another member."

Our own rules cover these issues, and there is a fair amount of precedent around these issues. The conclusion that I would draw from this, though, is that it is inappropriate for any member of this Legislature to comment on matters that are before the courts or under police investigation. It simply is improper.

I want to refer you as well to some very important literature that has been written about the constitutional and legal role of the Attorney General, and I'll make that available to you because I think it's important for you to have a look at it and the connection with our own rules. I believe it's paramount that the Attorney General, the chief law officer of the province, must not comment on a matter which is the subject of a police investigation or before the courts.

I would refer you to page 153 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, which states the following, part 505:

"Members are expected to refrain from discussing matters that are before the courts or tribunals which are courts of record. The purpose of this sub judice convention is to protect the parties in a case awaiting or undergoing trial and persons who stand to be affected by the outcome of a judicial inquiry. It is a voluntary restraint imposed by the House upon itself in the interest of justice and fair play."

The goal here, the reason legislatures impose this restraint upon themselves, is in the interest of justice and fair play.

Part 509 of Beauchesne says, and this is the important part for you, Speaker:

"[T]he responsibility of the Speaker during the question period should be minimal as regards the sub judice convention, and the responsibility should principally rest upon the member who asks the question and the minister to whom it is addressed. However, the Speaker should remain the final arbiter in the matter but should exercise discretion only in exceptional cases."

These are the two quotations from Beauchesne. I want to refer now to the facts that occurred in this House.

On November 7, 1996, the Attorney General rose in his place to announce that the police were called in to investigate an incident on the premises of his ministry. Hansard shows he quite clearly accused the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Sudbury East of having participated in criminal activities.

The natural limit that precedent has placed on the historic practice of matters which are before the criminal justice system has been a practical one. It's been a practical one. No one could reasonably expect the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to know about all police investigations, all matters currently before the courts of Ontario. We don't expect you, practically, to know all those details.

But this situation is quite different. In this situation the Attorney General rose in this House and announced the beginnings of the investigation and announced who the investigation was about. Every member of this House, including you, knew that an investigation was under way. I will repeat Beauchesne's warning that although it is rarely appropriate for the Speaker to be asked whether a matter is sub judice, the Speaker should remain the "final arbiter."

In a case like this, where you as Speaker could reasonably be expected to know about the commencement of a police investigation which had just been announced by the Attorney General, I believe it is appropriate for members of this assembly to request that you now play that role, in Beauchesne's words, that you be the "final arbiter" in this matter.

I want to refer to a few more authorities because I think they are relevant to what is happening here. In fact, I think they are quite relevant to what is happening here.

I'm referring to Professor Alan Young, who is a professor of constitutional law at York University. Professor Young has given a legal opinion on this matter and it relates directly to what we're talking about here today. I will present you with a copy of this, Speaker, because I believe it bears heavily on what Beauchesne is referring to and about our rules of practice and about your role here of being the final arbiter.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, members. If you're going to have a meeting, can you please go to the lobby outside to have your meeting? It's very difficult to hear. Thank you.

Mr Hampton: In his legal opinion, Professor Alan Young makes the following point, referring to the comments made by the Attorney General, comments made by the Attorney General in this House. He says:

"His actions and statements compromised the independence of the office of the AG; his actions and statements compromised the independence of the police; his actions and statements have the potential of impairing the integrity of the trial process...."

I want to go back to Beauchesne. Beauchesne, in his reference to the British Parliament, our own Parliament -- and our own rules; it's important; we recognize these matters in our own rules -- makes this point:

"Members are expected to refrain from discussing matters that are before the courts or tribunals which are courts of record. The purpose of this sub judice convention is to protect the parties in a case awaiting or undergoing trial and persons who stand to be affected by the outcome of a judicial inquiry."

He finally makes the point that "It is a voluntary restraint imposed by the House upon itself in the interest of justice and fair play."

My point is this, and I think this is a point of privilege that affects all of us: No one in this House would want this House to be tarnished by activities or comments which would tend to interfere with the proper functioning of our justice system, which would tend to interfere with justice itself, which would tend to interfere with fair play. After all, we pride ourselves on being a nation ruled by law, obedient to the rule of law, not to whim, not to executive privilege, not to whomever may hold power at a particular point in time.

I submit to you that one of the fundamental tenets of our Legislature -- not only that: one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy -- has been breached. It's referred to in our rules. Beauchesne comments upon it. Beauchesne says that a fundamental rule of our Legislature, of all democratic legislatures under the British parliamentary system, is that we impose restraint upon ourselves. We do not make comments in here which might tend to prejudice the justice process, which might tend to prejudice fair play in the trial system or in the workings of the justice system.

I submit to you, Speaker, that what happened in this Legislature and as those events have now unfolded, what happened in this Legislature on November 7, 1996, was not only a breach of our rules that we should not comment upon something before a judge or something that was going to go before a judge, but we should not impute false or unavowed motives to another member, we should not make allegations against another member. All of these converge.

I would submit to you that this is such a serious breach of our own rules and such a serious breach of one of our fundamental principles -- that we respect justice, we respect the justice system, we do not interfere with the justice system, we do not interfere with the outcomes of the justice system, we do not prejudice the activities of the police or the courts or the prosecution -- it is such a fundamental rule, and I believe what has happened is that the line has been crossed.

As Beauchesne says, Speaker, I believe it is now up to you, as the final arbiter in these matters, to consider this issue and to consider Beauchesne's comments, our own rules, to consider if one of our fundamental rules not to interfere with the justice system, not to interfere with outcomes of the justice system, has not been breached and all the privileges of the members of this House have not been breached, and I would argue that it borders on bringing this House into contempt.

I ask you to review these authorities and to look at this from the perspective of being the final arbiter.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: These are matters that were brought to the attention of this House last November, I believe it was, at that point brought forward by the third party in particular, I suspect, and by the opposition at great length, pertaining to comments that may or may not have been made by the Attorney General. You considered those matters very thoroughly at that time and you made a ruling which is noted in Hansard of November 18, where you indicated that you had "reviewed the parliamentary authorities and find that the matters raised by the members on November 7 do not qualify as a case of privilege." So you have made a ruling on this matter, Mr Speaker, and I would submit that this matter has been dealt with.

In terms of interference, the police obviously are independent. They choose which cases to investigate and not investigate; they choose in which cases to make charges and not make charges. I am not aware, government is not aware of particular charges in any particular instances the third party may be raising. That's a matter for the police. That is completely independent. This matter has been fully dealt with, and I submit that you've made your ruling and that we should get on with the business of the House.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Further on this point of privilege: I believe that in the legal opinion that has been released there is reason to raise this matter again with the Speaker and particularly to draw the Speaker's attention within this opinion to Supreme Court rulings and to the legal opinion which says that the court of the Legislature, the Legislative Assembly, is the arena in which this matter must be dealt with.

There are only three references that I want to make specifically to the opinion and one to a court ruling which I hope would be of assistance to you, so I will be brief.

First of all at page 14 of the opinion from Alan Young, I quote: "...it is apparent that the AG acted in a manner inconsistent with constitutional convention in that he intervened in a case which should not require his involvement, and that he announced the pending criminal investigation into the activities of political opponents in a forum and in a manner which leads to an appearance of partisan political interference."

I would say to you, Mr Speaker, with respect to the point just raised by the government House leader, the points of order that were raised at the time in present were not with respect to the statement the minister had made in the House but rather to comments in interjections and later in debate, so I believe there is a new area being raised.

Second, I would like to quote again from Professor Young: "In this case, the Attorney General appears to have bypassed the conventional and usual method of initiating a police investigation and as a result of his actions, he has acted in a manner inconsistent with the duties of the chief law officer of the province."

Third, I would like to quote from page 31: "I have concluded that the actions and statements of the AG on November 7, 1996, were violative of the historical and constitutional traditions of the AG. Although some people may conclude that the AG's initial comments were simply an inadvertent and careless response to heated interjections by members of the assembly, it must not be forgotten that he repeated these comments a number of times after having had time to reflect upon his comments and regain his composure."

The two references that I want to make, one I alluded to was the Supreme Court of Canada, a ruling in 1971, in which the Supreme Court indicated that "...obviously, the manner in which the AG of the day exercises his statutory discretion may be questioned or censured by the legislative body to which he is answerable"; and second, again referring to the opinion of Professor Alan Young, and I quote from that, "As to possible remedies for this violation of constitutional convention, it is clear that the primary remedy would lie in accountability to the Legislative Assembly."


Mr Speaker, we seek your guidance in how we may pursue access to that remedy. We believe there has been a breach of privilege of all members of this House. We believe that the cited opinions are from the most renowned legal minds on this subject and that this must be taken into account with respect to the workings of this Legislative Assembly.

The Speaker: Quickly, a point of privilege, leader of the third party?

Mr Hampton: Just to be clear, in response to the government House leader, I have looked at your comments from November and I believe that the only thing you ruled on in November was a point we raised as to whether Hansard had been altered. You ruled at that time on that issue. You did not rule on this issue: What happens when a member of the Legislature breaches not only one of our own fundamental rules but breaches a code of conduct and internal restraint which all members follow? I don't believe you've ruled on that.

Even more so, Speaker, added to that, the facts are now changed by the extension of events. The police were on television last night. The police indicated that a member of the Legislature, and they identified that member of the Legislature as the member for Welland-Thorold, will be charged.

The comments that were made by the Attorney General now assume a totally new importance. The comments made by the Attorney General in terms of singling out the member for Welland-Thorold and making an accusation of a break-in, accusations of criminal activity and calling for a police investigation in this Legislature in my view breach all of our tenets, our rules about respecting the justice system, respecting fair play in the justice system and non-interference in the justice system. I make the point again, Speaker: I believe you must now be the final arbiter in this very serious matter.

The Speaker: Point of privilege, Minister of Environment.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I think it's important to distinguish here that when an Attorney General in this place is answering in the House or talking about certain matters, sometimes they talk about different matters that are ongoing in this province, and whether or not they are interfering with the criminal justice system or the civil law system is a matter of discretion.

I want to point out to you, Mr Speaker, that on November 26, 1992, the former Attorney General of this province, the now leader of the third party, said to this Legislature, in answer to a question from Mr Conway, the member for Renfrew North, with regard to Mr John Piper -- Mr Hampton, on page 3537: "I'm advised that officials in the criminal law division were in touch with officials of the Ontario Provincial Police on Friday to request that an investigation into the events of Thursday and Friday take place."

At that time there was no call nor sensitivity with regard to the former Attorney General in revealing that there was an investigation taking place with regard to John Piper. Mr Speaker, I think by that admission --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): He didn't make it an accusation of criminal activity.

Hon Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, he was reporting the events of what was going on with regard to that particular investigation. There have been some allegations as to what the Attorney General did and didn't say. We do not accept the allegations put forward by the leader of the third party with regard to this matter, nor do we think the Attorney General stepped over a line.

The Speaker: I appreciate the submissions from all members. As far as the House leader for the government is concerned, I don't recollect completely what exactly I was ruling on at that time in November. I do remember very vividly the events, but I don't quite recall exactly the ruling that was asked to be made.

It seems incumbent on me to take these issues, review them and report back to this House at a later date. I don't think there's anything else I can do considering the circumstances and events. I will also take what the Minister of Environment has provided in the way of information and review it, and I will report back.

Mr Wildman: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker, on another matter: I will be submitting to you some material that was found in the recycling bin outside the government print room yesterday. What I will be submitting to you is a leaflet entitled One Toronto: Changing for the Future, which discusses the proposed amalgamation of governments in Metropolitan Toronto.

Under the heading "Seven Benefits For You: Why a Unified Toronto is Good News for Metro Taxpayers," it lists seven changes which will take place. It doesn't say "perhaps will take place" or "maybe will take place," but "will take place."


The Speaker: Order, member for Dufferin-Peel.

Mr Hampton: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I believe the minister responsible for women's issues just alleged "another case of theft." I believe the minister should, in deference --

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, he did say he found it in a recycling bin. I don't think the comment is directed in any sense the way it's taken.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Are you kidding?

The Speaker: No, I'm not kidding, with all due respect. I'm not suggesting for a minute -- if the leader of the third party would like, I will address the question to the minister. Minister, you have the option to withdraw the comment.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): Well, Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: Minister, this is not a conversation. You withdraw or you don't.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I will withdraw the comment.

The Speaker: Thank you. Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: As I was saying, the leaflet has "Seven Benefits for You: Why a Unified Toronto is Good News for Metro Taxpayers," and then lists a number of things that will happen. It's dated February 1997 --

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, can I ask quickly: I understand you're on a point of privilege, but was this document distributed? Was it received anywhere? If it was simply found in a recycling bin, it's very difficult to suggest that this is in fact a document that's been distributed at large. So I would ask directly to the member for Algoma, if it has not been distributed, then it's very difficult for me to hear points of privilege.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I appreciate your assistance. I would want to make clear my point and the point I'm raising. Also on this leaflet it states, on the other page, "Comments and questions: Contact Ontario PC Party, 120 Adelaide Street West, Suite 2020, Toronto," and the telephone, e-mail and fax numbers.

What I am suggesting you should investigate is whether or not this material is being printed on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party in the government print room.


I also want to submit to you another piece, which is a mail-back piece that was with this, with pictures of the Premier on it. It says, "Ontario PCs." It has the return address: The Ontario PC Party, 120 Adelaide Street West, Suite 2020, Toronto. It gives a message from the Premier, Mike Harris: "We believe in Ontario's future." It talks about welfare changes, government-spending changes, changes in taxes and so on. It also has a mail-back --

The Speaker: The member for Algoma, I appreciate your point of privilege and I understand where you're coming from. I don't think anyone in this place wants the Speaker to get involved in determining where something originates from, and how I'm supposed to determine --


The Speaker: I appreciate the point of privilege you're making. It was in a recycling bin outside the print shop. Beyond that, I say to the member for Algoma, I don't think the members of this House want the Speaker to get involved in investigating this process, because this brochure was found in a recycling bin. With all due respect, it's not something I think the Speaker is going to have any success in reviewing and, secondly, I don't think has the wherewithal to in fact do just that.

If this brochure were sent out or you could bring in some evidence that it was printed at a certain spot or paid for by a specific account that it shouldn't have been, I would be happy to review it. But with all due respect, finding it in a recycling bin outside a print shop isn't a smoking gun, in my opinion.

Mr Wildman: With respect, Speaker --

The Speaker: With respect to the member for Algoma and with respect to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, that's my ruling on this issue. If you want to continue to --

Ms Lankin: There's more information I would like to add.

The Speaker: The more information I will hear briefly, then.

Ms Lankin: I will add this briefly. I understand the problem you find yourself in in not being able to ascertain full evidence that it was printed in that room. I would suggest to you that there is additional information you should review. There is a video available which indicates how much material was in that recycling bin. There were multiple copies, obviously a bad print run from the print room, which had been discarded outside the door in there. The problem is that there is Progressive Conservative Party political material being printed using taxpayers' dollars in the government caucus print room, which violates all the rules, and we need you to look into that.

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, I appreciate what you've said. You've drawn your conclusions. I don't necessarily think those are conclusions that all would draw. All I can tell you is that I don't have the capacity to investigate those. From what I've seen and been presented with today, it doesn't seem to me that I'm going to spend a fruitful amount of time investigating those kinds of things.

The other issues I've heard today I will take back and report back to the House. I consider them to be very important matters.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for St Catharines, is this a point of privilege?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Yes, it is, Mr Speaker, a very important one. You made a ruling in this House, and it flows from your ruling. Your ruling was on certain advertising that took place. You commented upon television ads which are taking place. I would just like to inform you that yet another series of television ads is taking place, now with the Premier of this province portrayed reading a teleprompter in a classroom in what I believe is clearly partisan, self-serving government propaganda.

Having reviewed the other television ads and advertising, I'm wondering if you would view that particular advertising to see if it's in violation of the spirit of the landmark ruling you made the other day.

The Speaker: I will.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, I want to draw your attention to the government notice of motion number 15 that's on the order paper. I want to raise two questions with you with regard to this motion. This motion is brought forward and on the order paper, and it is quite unusual in that it authorizes a committee to travel to certain locations, which is quite unprecedented in my view and in my understanding of reading similar types of motions that have been presented by governments in the past in this House. Also, it sets out a very limited time frame to deal with a large number of people who have indicated interest in presenting. We understand that over 600 requests have been made, without advertising, for presentations to a committee on Bill 104 and yet the motion only sets forward the equivalent of one week in Toronto and one week of travel across the province to four locations.

I ask you to rule whether it is appropriate to allocate or determine ahead of time what places a committee might travel to and whether this is sufficient. Usually, the committee would do this. Normally, with a committee under a time allocation motion, the subcommittee would meet together to determine on the basis of what time they've been given where they would travel to, and that would be decided by the majority on the committee.

The Speaker: To the member for Algoma, it's a motion that has not been moved and it's not been called. As I've said in the past, there are proper times to move points of order. When the motion is called and moved is the proper time to move that point of order.

It's time for oral questions, unless the member for Fort William has a point of privilege.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Mr Speaker, it is a point of order. It's not my intention to delay but I share the concern of the member for Algoma about the very nature of the motion of which notice has been given. It is, as you know, directly related to the closure debate, as well as to the limitations on public hearings.

It's my understanding that is something which you, as Speaker, would be able to determine as to whether that motion being introduced is appropriate or not appropriate. I'm not sure at what point the government intends to bring it forward. I'm not sure if that is within the hour or subsequent to that, but I would hope that in determining whether or not the closure on this debate is appropriate, you would take some time to hear the expressions of concern about just how much is involved in this particular bill, as well as the numbers of people who have already indicated their desire to make their views known.

The Speaker: I can only rule on orders, and when a motion is moved by the government I can only rule whether it's in order or not in order. What you're asking me seems beyond my scope, but I will say that when the motion is moved and I hear the points of order I will hear them and rule accordingly.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know you heard my member's statement earlier, but perhaps I could get some kind of ruling from you as to the appropriateness as it relates to a constituent of mine who responded to the $2.3-million television ads and what they received instead was a Progressive Conservative membership form.

The difficulty is that when they responded to the 1-800 number, what they requested from those answering the phones was specifically health care vision, and what they got instead was a Progressive Conservative membership form. I believe that given the ads, $2.3 million of taxpayers' money being spent to talk about the vision of the Ontario government, it is highly inappropriate that it should have become a blatantly partisan push for membership. The offside that it also happens to be a health care worker who was laid off, who lives across from the emergency centre this government is closing, only makes it, as far as I can see, more salt in the wound.

Clearly, I need some help on this, Mr Speaker.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I don't know what the member is talking about. There is no health care ad out submitting and asking people to write in for any particular copy. The facts are somewhat garbled here, Mr Speaker. I can only say to you that the government is interested in communicating with the people of Ontario, but there is no ad on the television, no health care ad, advocating that people call in for any particular information.

The Speaker: To the member for Windsor-Sandwich, it sounds to me like a very good question and it's something you should ask the government about, and I would give you all the encouragement in the world to ask it.



Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. This morning, over 800,000 children boarded school buses, trusting that they will return home safely, but tragically 11 children have been killed in the past five years.

I have a private member's bill that will help prosecute reckless drivers. That bill received the unanimous support of this House. My bill has the support of the Ontario School Bus Association, the Police Association of Ontario, school boards, the Federated Women's Institute, the Canada Safety Council, just to name a few.

My bill calls for vehicle liability. School bus drivers and police know that vehicle liability is the only measure which will protect Ontario school children, because it will allow convictions to be made. I want to know, Mr Palladini, is it your intention to kill my bill?


Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to tell the honourable member that the safety of our children in and around school buses is of primary importance to the government of Ontario and the Ministry of Transportation. I appreciate the member's interest in school bus safety, and I thank him gallantly for his efforts because I believe he has succeeded in bringing this issue to a highlight where it's most worthy.

I have told the member that my ministry is looking at how we can introduce or incorporate his bill into our spring road safety bill; my staff is presently working on that. I've actually asked the member for his support in ensuring that the law is effective, that whatever law we introduce will be effective.

Mr Hoy: I've been trying since December to get my bill before a committee, but the government has done nothing but stall.

Minister, you have advised me on three separate occasions that this government opposes vehicle liability. I have addressed all your concerns, yet you refuse to tell me what this bill would involve and you want me to trust you.

I have worked closely with Larry and Colleen Marcuzzi in recent months. In spite of their pain, they have spoken out publicly to support my bill and explain why vehicle liability is essential to try and spare other parents the grief they have known. In good conscience, I cannot and will not make deals with the minister unless I'm absolutely certain that the minister's bill will provide the remedy of vehicle liability. Mr Palladini, will you pass a law which will give vehicle liability? Will you do that to protect the children of Ontario?

Hon Mr Palladini: School bus safety is more than one law or a fine. I want to take a comprehensive approach, to see how we can build on what we have and make it worthwhile.

I'm also interested in seeing the recommendation of the inquest presently taking place because I believe there is going to be a lot of positive input from that inquest that we might possibly be able to incorporate into our spring bill.

The current fines are among the highest in North America and there are several measures we already have in our road safety plan that we want to build on. Certainly a bus is at the very top of the list. I'm willing to work with the member to see how best we can come up with remedies that will work, that can be enforced, and most important, that when it does get into a court of law, we will get a conviction.

Mr Hoy: Minister, you've hit on part of the problem. You can raise the fines under the current law as high as you want, but you can't get convictions because you cannot get vehicle driver identification.

On Tuesday night in Windsor the minister said: "We have to have the proper reporting measures. We have to have safeguards in place that a bus driver is not just going to randomly pick a licence number and report that this particular person has obstructed the bus or disobeyed."

I've been working with school bus drivers for almost a year. I have learned the depth of caring that drivers have for their precious carload. Almost all of them speak of the children as "my kids." They are professionals. They are the ones who watch in helpless horror every time a car passes illegally. They never know how long luck will hold out for their kids.

For the minister to suggest that bus drivers would randomly pick a licence number is an insult. It is a disrespect to Ontario bus drivers. It is a disrespect to the Marcuzzi family and the memory of their daughter Ryan. Will you not change your mind and introduce vehicle liability that's meaningful?

Hon Mr Palladini: I would once again remind the member that I am very supportive of his bill in principle, and there are some things within his bill that I believe we can incorporate in our spring road safety bill. It's something we've been building on since October 1995. I want to go on record saying it's going to be an ongoing thing until road safety in the province of Ontario is the best in North America. Accidents involving school buses are a rarity, but even the rarity I don't want to happen.

Again, I want to say to the member, help us come up with remedies that we'll be able to enforce and make them. We are going to be taking a look at what we can incorporate as early as we can as part of our spring road safety bill to make sure that we have things tied down.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the minister of colleges and universities. Yesterday you quietly announced that tuition fees in Ontario colleges and universities will be increasing by as much as from 10% to 20%. Based on your Ministry of Education data, this means students could be paying as much as $3,500 per year. This does not include books, accommodation or other basic living expenses. Students who face a real unemployment figure of over 25% are now supposed to come up with as much as $500 more for tuition when many can't even find a job, as you know.

Minister, where in the Common Sense Revolution did you promise to make post-secondary education unaffordable and inaccessible by increasing tuition fees by as much as 40% in two years?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I did make an announcement yesterday that the government will be allowing our universities and colleges to use increasing discretion in setting their fees. We obviously did not increase the floor of tuitions in Ontario because we believe that would not be responsible, particularly in the absence of an income-contingent plan so our students can use an income-contingent plan to repay loans.

We think that's critical to the future of the post-secondary education system in Ontario. The Smith commission made that point in a recent review, and we have asked our federal colleagues to move quickly to get an income-contingent plan in Ontario so that we can assist students to pay their share of their education costs. I would encourage the member opposite to please use his good offices, as we're using ours, to make sure the federal government gives a response to our request in the coming budget. I hope the member opposite will do that.

Mr Curling: Let's not blame the feds. If you want to marry that program, the feds are not buying in on that.

Minister, in comparison to your own study that said, "When provincial government operational support for universities is examined, Ontario is at or near the bottom of ranking of Canadian provinces," and went on to say that we even lagged behind in government support as compared to most universities in the US, during the election Mike Harris said, "Post-secondary education has never been more important for the future of Ontario's young people."

Is being 10th out of 10 and having the lowest provincial government support for the post-secondary education where you want it to be, and why is it that your government has such a poor record for supporting post-secondary education?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I believe our post-secondary system is important to the future of the province, and that's why this government has done exactly what it said to the people of Ontario it would do in the last election. We have, as you know, put a committee out to look at what is the future of post-secondary education, how must we address this important sector. We are digesting that report now, working with other partners.

But we haven't waited until that report was completely digested, we have moved. We were able to announce before Christmas that we have stable funding for our colleges and universities through the next year. We made the announcement that we made yesterday. We have instituted, as you know, a $100-million student trust fund to help those students most in need.

In our announcement yesterday, and I'm surprised the member opposite would fail to mention this, we called upon universities and colleges, who make use of this increased room, to hold back 30% for student aid. We've increased the funding through the Ontario student assistance program and we have done a variety of measures including, for the first time, a merit scholarship that will reward students who are in the top 2% of their class by paying all of their tuition.

We are moving very quickly, we are moving to help students and we are moving to improve our post-secondary education system. But we need the help of the federal government to make one of the important moves, and that's --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Final supplementary.


Mr Curling: Minister, I really do expect better from you. You have made post-secondary education more unaffordable and inaccessible than ever before. You and I know that. While increasing student tuition by 40% in two years, you have also informed students that they will have to repay a larger portion of their loans, from $6,000 to $7,000, and Vicky Smallman, Ontario chair of Canadian Federation of Students, who is in the gallery with us today, has denounced your government's hike in the loan forgiveness cap.

Increasing student aid doesn't change the reality students are facing, and you know that. Poor job prospects and student bankruptcies are currently at record levels. Students are afraid of taking on debt they are not able to repay. The number of students defaulting on loans has tripled as a result of double-digit tuition fee increases brought in by you and the previous NDP government.

Minister, why have you made our universities and colleges places that only the rich will be able to attend?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm shocked and surprised that the member opposite would make this into a partisan issue. The future of our post-secondary education system is more important than that. The member opposite knows full well that when his party was in power --


The Speaker: Order. Minister?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Unfortunately some of the colleagues of the member opposite would also like to turn this into a partisan issue.

You know full well that your party raised tuition fees when you were in power. The member opposite knows that this government has done more to increase and improve aid to the students most in need in this province than any government in the last 20 years, and that is the record. You also know that the students' share of tuition fees --


The Speaker: Minister?

Hon Mr Snobelen: It seems to me that, when we look at the record of the previous government and we look at what has happened in this climate, it becomes important that we have an income-contingent loans package available to students so they can meet their obligation for post-secondary education. Everyone knows that, and I'm calling on my colleagues' help to get that action from the federal government now.

It is with unmitigated gall that the member opposite would talk about opportunities for students from a government that raised taxes and lowered that opportunity and a government that raised the debt those students must now pay. I find that incredible.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I wanted to ask this question of the Premier. I'll ask it of the Minister of Municipal Affairs since it concerns his ongoing activities.

As indicated earlier, your print room, a taxpayer-paid-for print room, is pumping out material for the Progressive Conservative Party. I wanted to ask you this: These were two unfolded leaflets. It's clear they've come off the printer. This one doesn't identify PC caucus services at all; it refers to the Progressive Conservative Party. It's got the self-addressed, stamped envelope which taxpayers are paying for. Among other things, what it does is ask people if they want to join the PC Party or contribute to the Progressive Conservative Party.

We all mail material from this building to promote our point of view on the debate, but we don't ask people to join the party; we don't ask people to donate money to the party. Can you explain why you're using your Queen's Park, taxpayer-paid printing privileges to publish materials --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I don't know anything about the piece of paper that the member's waving around, what it says or what it's for or what it was intended to do. From what he said, it sounds like it would be good information for the public to have, but I don't know where it was initiated from or who it was sent to or why.

Mr Hampton: So that the minister knows, I've sent a copy over to him. The real issue is this: With you and your government, this keeps happening over and over again. You send out a leaflet that pretends the megacity legislation is already law. The Speaker found a prima facie case of contempt against you. Then, the next couple of days later, you send out massive numbers of faxes from your offices, once again promoting your megacity, but you try to pretend that they're anonymous. This also earned rebuke from the Speaker.

Now you're using Queen's Park, taxpayer-paid printing presses to turn out material that says to people, "Join and contribute to the Conservative Party." It doesn't have your legislative address on it; it has the Ontario PC Party address on it. When are you going to stop having such contempt for the Legislature of Ontario and the taxpayers of Ontario?

Hon Mr Leach: I can only repeat that I have no idea what the member's talking about with respect to this particular pamphlet, which I assume somebody over there just sent over here. To my knowledge, I don't know anything about this. I have never seen it before. As I mentioned, it looks like information that people of the greater Toronto area would be glad to have. I'm sure whoever is sending this to them is providing it to them with the best of intent. Beyond saying that I think the information looks quite informative, I can't make any additional comment.

Mr Hampton: I sent it over to the minister because I assumed he could read. I assumed he would look at it and he would see, gee, that it doesn't say, "Return to the Progressive Conservative caucus at Queen's Park"; it says, "Return to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, 120 Adelaide Street." It doesn't ask people about their comments on legislation; it says, "Join and contribute to the Conservative Party."

Just to bring you up to speed, we sent our video team over to your print room and you've got thousands of these outside your print room. A reasonable person would draw a conclusion about where they came from.

What I find even more incredible is that when the city of Toronto sends out material to dispute your megacity claims, you say that they're using taxpayers' money improperly. You owe the taxpayers of Ontario an apology and you owe the taxpayers of Ontario some cash. Will you reimburse the taxpayers of Ontario for printing partisan Progressive Conservative Party literature?

Hon Mr Leach: I have absolutely no knowledge of who printed this or who paid for it or who's going to pay for it. All I know is that they've sent something over that outlines seven benefits to the people of Toronto if this legislation passes. It says that it will (1) create jobs and attract investment, (2) save you money, (3) reduce duplication and overlap, (4) be more accountable and less confusing, (5) enhance neighbourhood output, (6) reduce the size of government and (7) mean better decision-making.

I think that's excellent information to get out to the people of Ontario. I don't know who sent it, I don't know who printed it, I don't know who's paying for it, but it is excellent information and I thank the member for bringing it to my attention.

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

Mr Hampton: I would say again to the minister: You might want to read the part that says, "If you'd like to learn more about the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, please call the following -- 1-800-903-MIKE."



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is to the Deputy Premier. On November 7, 1996, the Attorney General made some very disturbing and inappropriate statements regarding two members of this Legislature and their visit to the family support plan. I won't give you the quotes; they're in Hansard. We all know; we can read the quotes.

We've obtained an independent legal opinion regarding the AG's comments from Professor Alan Young of Osgoode Law School that states, "In this case, the Attorney General appears to have bypassed the conventional and usual method of initiating a police investigation and as a result of his actions, he has acted in a manner inconsistent with the duties of the chief law officer of the province." As Deputy Premier, do you think it's appropriate for the Attorney General to be making statements that appear to compromise the independence of the office of the Attorney General and the police?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): No I don't, and I don't believe the Attorney General of this province has done that. Being a former Attorney General himself, the member opposite knows well that the police are responsible for investigating any alleged incident and they're responsible for making the decision whether to lay charges or not. Police conduct their investigations independent of government and I believe that has been done.

Mr Hampton: I'll read for you again the comments of the Attorney General. He said, "There was a break-in"; "I said it was because there was a break-in"; and later again, "In fact, we all know who was involved because they've admitted they were there."

Professor Young states:

"I have concluded that the statements made by the Attorney General on November 7, 1996 were inconsistent with the role and function of the chief law officer of this province....

"His actions and statements compromised the independence of the office of the Attorney General; his actions and statements compromised the independence of the police; his actions and statements have the potential of impairing the integrity of the trial process."

The AG pre-empted a police investigation. His comments directly related to the matter that was under investigation by the police. Any judgemental statement made by the Attorney General regarding an ongoing criminal investigation has significant implications for the carriage of justice. As Deputy Premier, would you agree that the Attorney General has compromised the justice system?

Hon Mr Eves: I'm not going to get into a debate about a legal opinion or discuss a legal opinion in the House. I think it's quite clear that the Ministry of the Attorney General had no direct involvement in any investigation whatsoever. I think it's also clear that police are responsible for investigating this incident or any other incidents. It's quite clear today -- I don't believe that any charges have been laid against anybody arising out of the particular incident that you're talking about. If in the future there are any, that will be done because police have determined in their own independent investigation that charges should be laid.

Mr Hampton: I had hoped that if the Attorney General could not have a neutral mind, the Deputy Premier would have a neutral mind. This is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in Canada. He says:

"I have concluded that the actions and the statements of the Attorney General on November 7, 1996 were violative of the historical and constitutional traditions of the Attorney General. Although some people may conclude that the Attorney General's initial comments were simply an inadvertent and careless response to heated interjections by members of the assembly, it must not be forgotten that he repeated these comments a number of times after having had time to reflect upon his comments and regain his composure."

This is someone who's read the Hansard transcripts. This is someone who is a scholar in this particular area. He says this clearly impairs justice. Minister, I believe the Attorney General has no alternative but to resign. He has impaired the judicial process.

Hon Mr Eves: Arising out of this particular incident and to ensure absolute fairness, the Ministry of the Attorney General determined there should be independent counsel available from outside Toronto to provide the Metropolitan Toronto police, if they needed any outside counsel, with that advice, and that was done. I am not going to comment on the basis or the facts upon which some lawyer decided to offer up an --

Interjection: Some lawyer.

Hon Mr Eves: A lawyer. Yes, some lawyer. He's a lawyer, is he not?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): He's a very well-known lawyer.

Hon Mr Eves: Fine, there are lots of very well qualified lawyers who have lots of different opinions about lots of different issues in lots of different circumstances.

Mr Hampton: You just make up the rules as you go along, Ernie.

Hon Mr Eves: No, absolutely not. I would say to the honourable member that the police alone are responsible for investigating and laying a charge in a particular incident, and if in fact a charge ends up being laid in this incident, it will have been their decision and their decision only.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Treasurer of the province because he pays for things through the taxpayers of this province. The member for Windsor-Sandwich raised the issue with the Speaker earlier today of a constituent of hers in Windsor-Sandwich who called the 1-800 number from TV ads and asked specifically for information on health care. He was told he would be sent something from the Harris vision on health care. This person feels that this person has been misled by this ad. In fact, the person, I understand, was sent an application for membership in the Progressive Conservative Party.

Minister, would you now do what is right? Would you do one of two things: Would you either have the Conservative Party pay for all the ads you have on the air at this time, or would you withdraw them so the taxpayers aren't stuck with the bill and so you don't gain an unfair advantage on the opposition in the debates that take place in this House and in this province?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I certainly have no knowledge of any such ads. I would refer the question to the Minister of Health, who may have such knowledge.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): There have been no health ads on TV. What the individual may have seen, and I really don't know what the individual did see, but it's possible the individual saw the party ad. We made it clear -- the first government, I guess, probably, in the history of governments to actually pay for advertising to communicate with the people of Ontario. It's quite possible the individual could have seen an advertisement: some $800,000, party money, no taxpayers' money; that's likely what the individual was responding to. If the members opposite wish to clarify which particular ad, then we would know which ad the individual was responding to.

Mr Bradley: The ads to which we are making reference in this House, in addition to the Conservative Party ads, are the ads that are paid for entirely by the taxpayers of this province. They are clearly partisan, self-serving government propaganda with the Premier's picture on them. You are spending hundreds of thousands, now into millions of dollars; you are spending more money in the last few weeks on self-serving government ads paid for by the taxpayer than the Conservative Party spent on television advertising in the last election campaign.

If you will not withdraw those ads -- and that's what you should do -- will you have the Conservative Party pay for them, and for the ads that are still on the air, will you place at the bottom of those ads, "Paid for with the tax dollars of the people of the province of Ontario"?

Hon David Johnson: This is rather interesting in view of the fact that, for example, in the year 1990-91, in the last year of the Liberal administration, some $22.3 million --

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Deception.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You were going to be different.


Hon David Johnson: Obviously, there's a little sensitivity to this, Mr Speaker, because the Liberal government spent $22.3 million on advertising. The Liberal government did not pay for ads through their party, as the Progressive Conservative Party has paid for ads, used their own money, not taxpayers' money, to pay for ads of a partisan nature.


Mr Bradley: Don't tell everybody you're paying for that.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members for St Catharines, Windsor-Sandwich, and Kingston and The Islands, would you come to order please.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, the --

Mrs Pupatello: You're closing emergency services.

The Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, I'm warning you now, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: I'll try it again. The partisan ads have been paid for by the party, some $800,000. The ads, which I will say will be under half of what the Liberals spent in their last year, under what the NDP spent, are ads involving ministries, conveying information to the people of Ontario. Our record is the best, bar none, in terms of expenditures on advertising to the people of Ontario.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Minister of Education and Training with regard to the proposals for hearings on Bill 104 that the government has put forward on the order paper.

We know there already have been over 400 individual requests submitted from people just in the Toronto area to make presentations on Bill 104 even before there have been any advertisements requesting submissions. We understand there will be another 150 requests delivered to the Clerk's office today, so that means over 600 just from the Toronto area.

Does the minister consider it sufficient to have just 10 hours of hearings in Toronto and four days of hearings in other parts of Ontario on such an important bill that affects school boards all over Ontario and all schools, students and parents across the province?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Obviously this is a matter of some importance to the people of Ontario as we move from an old system of education to a new system of education, as we propose reducing the number of politicians involved in education from 1,900 to some 700, and make a variety of other improvements that will allow us to increase student achievement right across the province. I realize this is an important issue.

The member for Algoma's government commissioned the Sweeney commission to look at this, to reduce the number of school boards across the province. We've built on that work. By the way, Mr Sweeney conducted over a year of consultations -- over 19,000 submissions from the public. Since that report has been submitted, I have twice asked the members of this chamber to talk to their constituents and give us some input, which we have addressed in our bill that's before the House.

So yes, the government House leader and the other House leaders will work, I am sure, to have some public consultation on this bill, but I want to underline this fact: There has already been an extraordinary amount of conversation about --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Wildman: The parents of Ontario want to know if this government wants to hear their views about a piece of legislation that, as the minister himself has said, will bring about important changes in the way education is delivered to the students of Ontario. We've got four days proposed with only one location in northern Ontario.

I have a letter from Ron Tough of Sudbury saying that parents in that community want the opportunity to make presentations on this bill. I've heard from Beverly Rizzi of the Mothers for Education in Thunder Bay, who says to fail to include Thunder Bay as part of the north is to ignore the needs of thousands of children and parents.

Does this government want to hear from people across Ontario? Do you want to hear from parents across northern Ontario about a bill that is going to change their relationship with their boards, change the relationship of trustees with parents and students and change the boundaries to produce very large boards across northern Ontario?

Hon Mr Snobelen: First of all I have to say that I find some of the points made by the member for Algoma to be somewhat startling, given that his government looked at this, and I think that many of his colleagues are on record as saying they are in support of what is in Bill 104, so I'm somewhat surprised by that representation.

We have a presentation, as I understand, before this chamber, to have public consultations. I want to emphasize, though, that while we have to have public consultations and I think they're necessary for this bill, certainly those people who are not able to attend, whatever the final arrangement is, as you know, will be able to make written submissions, as is the normal case. I think the member for Algoma knows that.

I can go over the litany of studies that have been conducted on this subject.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): So you think that's enough, four days in the rest of the province is enough.

Hon Mr Snobelen: As the member knows, there's more than that allowed for in what's before the chamber at the moment.

We need to get on with public consultations on this. Our students deserve a better system of education in this province. We need to get this legislation to the point where we can have public consultation so we can create that better system, so I'd encourage the members opposite to get through second reading so we can get on with public consultation.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): My question this afternoon is to the minister responsible for women's issues. During Wife Assault Prevention Month last November our government announced the creation of the automated and information referral service and the victim notification service. Could you please update the House as to the progress of these two projects.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to respond to my colleague. We now have three projects that are active to assist victims of violence through the Solicitor General's ministry and correctional services. The first one, as was mentioned, was the victim notification system, where callers can request information on specific adult offenders in the Ontario corrections system.

The second one is AIRS and it's up and going, an automated information and referral service, which provides general information in both English and French on our criminal justice system.

The last one, which we announced last Friday in London, Ontario, and will be announced in other communities, is that we're adding community information centres, using new technology, using the telephone system, to our informal referral service, both AIRS and VNS, by region, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, providing comprehensive and accessible information to citizens who live all over Ontario. That is our most recent addition to our system.

Mrs Fisher: Minister, I was wondering how the women of my riding of Bruce and women throughout the province will benefit from this new AIRS system.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: In response, in more detail on the third system that was introduced last Friday, all of us know that we have community information systems. There are centres right across Ontario. They're often referred to as Information -- whatever your city is called; in my case it's Information London. We're working with other agencies in the communities. The counsellors staffing the lines in these systems can draw on a broad range of information to help victims of violence connect with the appropriate services within their own community.

The reason we moved in this direction was that there are many areas of the province that don't have the same level of service, and we're concerned about it. They can be hooked in by referring to this 1-888-579-2888 number, which was announced some time in November. We're very proud of this hassle-free system for people who really need good information to help them, especially those who are victims of violence.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Health. There's a facility on Hamilton Mountain called Macassa Lodge. It's a seniors retirement home and nursing home with 270 residents. It has been under renovation since 1988. We have a letter of approval from the previous minister, Ruth Grier, in March 1995, approving the final phase of a renovation project for $8.5 million.

We've also learned that your government has chosen to cut that funding and take away the $8.5 million of provincial share for the much-needed renovations to Macassa Lodge. We're talking about senior citizens, an average age of 85, who live in conditions that are very difficult. They're frail. There are health and safety issues.

Minister, in your Common Sense Revolution you promised you would not cut aid and programs for seniors and the disabled. Can you explain to the House what rationale there would be in cutting the funding for Macassa Lodge that had been previously approved?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I wish I had the details of every facility at my fingertips. Unfortunately, not being given prior knowledge, I don't have the details of this particular lodge. I'd be delighted to look into it. I'm not aware if the funding has been cut or was cut last year and may be reinstated next year.

I will tell the member opposite that last week I made an announcement in Markdale with regard to a long-term-care facility that had been on the books since the mid-1980s that through successive governments -- through the Liberal government, through the NDP government -- had been essentially approved but the money hadn't flowed. We finally flowed that money, just about a week ago, to improve life for the seniors. This is a facility some 93 years old.

We have been consistent in terms of our health care funding exceeding the commitments we made in the --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much.


Mr Agostino: Let me make it clear for the minister. You cut the funding. As of January 31 you took away the $8.5 million approved a year and a half prior by the NDP government. These are renovations that include making changes so senior citizens don't have a cold draft coming through the windows in their rooms. Many of these seniors are living four to a room with a communal bathroom for the whole floor.

Talk about roofs that have problems, talk about boiler systems that have a problem, talk about the lack of air-conditioning systems, where they're using big fans to keep seniors cool under some very difficult circumstances in the summer. We're talking about basic health and safety issues. I'm astonished that you wouldn't know about it, because your member for Hamilton Mountain sent you a letter a few weeks ago outlining to you the concerns and urging you not to cut the funding, but you proceeded to cut the funding. This is a question of health and safety for senior citizens.

Minister, in view of the circumstances I've outlined, will you commit today to reinstate the $8.5 million in funding that you cut for the final phase of renovations of Macassa Lodge on Hamilton Mountain?

Hon David Johnson: I will say in general that this government is very supportive of and has put a great deal of money into services for the elderly in terms of long-term care, community care. Last year we made an announcement of some $170 million in community care for seniors.

In view of the fact that the matter has been raised here again today, certainly I will check back into this particular situation. The government has been supportive in terms of long-term-care facilities, Markdale being the most recent example, community services, some $170 million. I'll give my undertaking to the member to recheck this particular situation.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Today, just weeks after two workers were killed at Dofasco in Hamilton, you launched your long-feared attack on the rights of workers and their legal protection in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Your report starts out by saying you will "streamline the act by eliminating red tape." Workers know what those code words mean. They mean 50-hour workweeks and the elimination of any kind of regulatory protection. On page 30 your report goes on to say that some businesses think the level of fines for violating this act are too high. It says, "a barrier to businesses in Ontario."

Minister, given your track record of attacking and taking away the rights of workers in virtually every piece of legislation you've ever touched, if you want workers to have any confidence at all in this process you've started, you must today guarantee that you won't ram through legislation that takes away their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act over the opposition of workers and their representatives. Will you --

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

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): To the member for Hamilton Centre, yes, I'm extremely pleased to announce today that our government, as part of our commitment to making Ontario's workplaces among the safest in the world, launched an occupational health and safety discussion paper. We were not satisfied with the NDP record on health and safety. In fact, the Toronto Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic indicated on August 24, 1994, at the committee hearings on Bill 165 that between 1991 and 1993, "the number of workplace accidents reported to the Ministry" of Labour "was up 38%, the number of critical injuries reported...was up 45%...the number of health and safety complaints received...was up 50%." They go on to say, "These figures do not indicate any trend toward improved health and safety conditions in this province."

I want to tell you we're not happy with your track record, and that's why we have a discussion paper. We're going to consult with our stakeholders and we are going to make sure we have among the safest workplaces in the world.

The Speaker: Supplementary. Leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): It's interesting to listen to your rhetoric, because everyone knows that when you start dealing with labour standards, it means labour standards go down.

Your paper talks about greater flexibility for selected employers, ie, give them more room to do what they want. It talks about privatizing some of the work of the Ministry of Labour's health and safety branch. It talks about relaxing the rules on health and safety committees.

You should know the concern about your government's records. The steelworkers at Gold Corp in Red Lake can't get action from your ministry on their health and safety complaints. The auto workers have been waiting for action on an occupational disease panel report showing a link between metalworking fluids and lung disease. Your response? "Wipe out the panel." When two workers died at Dofasco, the Steelworkers union couldn't get into the investigation to express their viewpoint until after our labour critic forced you to do it.

Minister, if you want a productive consultation process, make a commitment today that there'll be no changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just like to remind you of your track record and I'd like to demonstrate to you the improvements we've made.

When they were in power from 1992 to 1995, the number of critical injuries rose from 617 to 824; inspections declined by 25%; field visits declined by 20%; MOL orders declined by 20%. I want to tell you, since we've taken over, inspections have increased in the year 1995-96 by 35%.

We have a new integrated and coordinated vision for health and safety and we will have among the safest workplaces in the world. Our paper is designed to ensure that we don't focus on the process. We want outcomes.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. People in my riding of Scarborough Centre and indeed across Ontario are asking about these so-called loan brokers. They are concerned because they charge expensive up-front fees to people applying for loans, refuse them the loan they had promised and refuse to return the fees that the unsuspecting consumer has paid. I know the Loan Brokers Act provides some protection, but what else is the government doing to protect consumers from these corrupt practices?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Our government is committed to protecting the public and consumers against unscrupulous loan brokers. Certainly, we must inform the public that it is illegal in this province to charge an up-front fee for a loan until that loan has actually been given.

The situation over the last 10 years or more has been such that a loan broker, even after he has been charged or convicted of illegal practices, can still continue to provide these types of illegal loans to the public. I'm very happy to announce and to inform people that through our red tape initiatives we are introducing measures which will allow the ministry to issue cease-and-desist orders to unscrupulous loan brokers who have been convicted or who have been charged. It is a very important step.

I encourage the members opposite to join with us -- and I thank the member -- to make sure we stamp out these unscrupulous practices by loan brokers, because it is a good move for consumers.

Mr Newman: This change to the Loan Brokers Act is indeed good news. I understand the ministry's investigations unit is having some success and has been laying charges of fraud against a number of these loan brokers. Do you have any statistics regarding the number of charges laid and how these cease-and-desist orders will help in the battle against these unethical practices?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Once again I thank the member for Scarborough Centre. The ministry has laid a total of 448 charges under the Loan Brokers Act. These include charges against six companies and seven individuals. We are also working with other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States to monitor the activities of these unscrupulous loan brokers so we can act in a unified way to stamp out this very illegal process. Once again I encourage members -- I see they have a fair amount of support for this initiative -- to really fight and to stamp out illegal loan brokers and protect the consumers of the province.



Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. I have a report from the OPP indicating that there were 24 major traffic accidents in the past eight months on a stretch of Highway 17 in my riding that has been known for many years as the "killer strip." During that period of eight months this 20-kilometre stretch of Highway 17 from Rockland to Orléans has claimed four lives and seriously injured 14 persons, including an OPP constable, Willy Flint.

Will you make the commitment today that the widening of Highway 17 to four lanes from Trim Road to Clarence will be completed before dumping that section of Highway 17 to the municipalities?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I certainly do feel we must do whatever we can in making sure that highways are safe and loss of lives is prevented. Our government is focusing the few dollars we have on making sure we maintain the provincial infrastructure in the condition that will also contribute to safety. As far as future expansion of Highway 17 is concerned, we're obviously going to be taking a look at how best we can spend the limited dollars on projects that are much-needed.

Mr Lalonde: That has been scheduled for many, many years. Thousands of my constituents drive on this dangerous highway every day to go to work in the nation's capital. Our study shows that the traffic flow is in excess of 18,000 cars per day.

The concept design is done. The public hearing has taken place and some parcels of land have already been purchased. The people of Prescott and Russell are anxiously awaiting a commitment on your part in order to say that the loss of a friend, a father or a sister has not been totally in vain. Will you make sure that this stretch of Highway 17 called the "killer strip" is put back on your priority list before it becomes a municipal responsibility?

Hon Mr Palladini: I certainly appreciate and understand some of the necessities that are needed in Ontario, but this government is going to be spending with fiscal responsibility in mind and making sure that whatever is a priority in the province is what we're going to focus on.

I understand that everything must be done to safeguard, whatever it takes, to make sure that our highways are safe. Our people basically do initiate as far as looking for properties and future expansion is concerned. That has been an ongoing thing. I can assure the member that our staff at MTO will be more than willing to help work with the member just to see how things have progressed to this point and to see what else can be done in the future to make it easier for his constituents.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I want to read to you from Hansard, your quote of January 14: "The trustees will also have the power to review sales of assets, and if there was ever any doubt about whether that power was necessary, it disappeared on December 16. That's the day when East York council voted to explore options for giving away public property to a non-profit foundation, giving away buildings built and paid for by the taxpayers of East York. Having a board of trustees" is necessary, and you go on.

I want to inform you that in 1946 the municipality of East York dedicated the whole entire city block where the city hall is to the memory of the men and women who fought and died in the Second World War, and they granted it in perpetuity to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branches 10, 11, 22 and 345. It's a war memorial. East York council was right to try to pass a resolution to make sure you couldn't go ahead with your plans to sell it off to the highest bidder.

You owe them an apology. Will you instruct your trustees to approve the council resolution that indicates they want to transfer ownership of that property to the East York Foundation as a cultural and artistic facility?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I never at any time indicated that we were going to sell any building in East York to the highest bidder, so let's make sure that's correct.

The motion that was passed by the council of the borough of East York stated that they wanted to transfer the assets of the borough of East York to a non-profit corporation. The only reason they wanted to do that was a result of the proposal to create a single city. I think that's inappropriate; I really do. I believe that the mayor of the borough of East York was also quoted saying that he would ensure every asset that wasn't nailed down would be transferred, and I don't think that's appropriate.

Ms Lankin: That resolution by city council was passed on December 16, and it was passed because of your comments that said that you were looking forward with relish to selling off those six city halls, another one of your arrogant little quips that you made to the mayors. They reported it out and it's been reported in the media.

The non-profit foundation that this resolution by city council refers to is the East York Foundation. That is a foundation that was incorporated by legislation in this legislation, Bill Pr38, 1965. It was set up with a board of directors including True Davidson, one of the true fighters for the municipality of East York. It has its purpose. It's set out in the legislation. It is to receive, maintain, manage and control, and use donations for charitable purposes. That block and the buildings thereon are all part of a war memorial. City council does nothing on that block without checking with the Legion and getting the Legion's agreement.

Will you guarantee that you will direct the trustees to approve city council's direction so that the Legion and the men and women whose memories are commemorated, men and women who died in the war --

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

Hon Mr Leach: I have absolutely no bones to pick with any non-profit corporation in the borough of East York. I think they are to be commended for having such an organization. That's not the point. It's the borough taking action to transfer assets that belong to the taxpayers of the borough of East York to a non-profit corporation prior to a single city being incorporated.

As for giving direction to the trustees, I don't give direction to the trustees. Their terms of reference are included in the bill. They will act independently and take whatever steps and actions they think are appropriate with respect to municipal expenditures.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Back in 1988 the Farm Practices Protection Act was passed. Better known as the right-to-farm legislation, it was all about protecting farmers from some nuisance lawsuits relating to noise, odour and dust. I understand that there has been a series of meetings throughout Ontario, giving farmers an opportunity to comment on this particular act. Maybe you could inform this House as to what motivated these consultation meetings and what kind of feedback you're receiving from those meetings.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I thank the honourable member for his question. Yes, we have pre-bill consultation. We must strengthen the protection that farmers must have when they produce the food that is so very important to our economy and indeed to our persons.

We have good turnouts at these pre-bill meetings. We've had half a dozen so far, well over 100 people at every meeting. We're getting information from all across the spectrum as to what farmers feel they need to protect their right to produce food. It's going very, very well and I certainly look forward to presenting this Legislature with a bill to protect farmers and food producers in the near future.

Mr Galt: It's most gratifying to hear of the kind of turnouts you've been getting at some of these meetings. There's increasing municipal authority, and some municipal councils think they have ability to pass bylaws that may actually impede some of our farm practices. What measures will you be taking to ensure that there will in fact be an equitable balance for both farmers and those who live in the rural community?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I've had the opportunity of discussing this with my colleague in BC -- they've just had that sort of legislation -- and also with my colleague in Quebec. They have had some difficulty in dealing with autonomous municipalities. We're getting advice, everything from grandfathering the fact that food producers are not subject to the bylaws to rescinding the bylaws. We are listening very closely to what our partners in the food production end are telling us and we will be enacting what appears to be the best solution to protect farmers and food producers.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition which is addressed to the Legislature of Ontario and I'm going to read it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I concur and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the members of the United Steelworkers of America and the Canadian Auto Workers Union. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government has begun a process to open the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario; and

"Whereas this act is the single most important piece of legislation for working people since it is designed to protect our lives, safety and health while at work and allow us to return home to our families in the same condition in which we left; and

"Whereas the government has made it clear that they intend to water down the act and weaken the rights of workers under the law, including the right to know, the right to participate and especially the right to refuse unsafe work; and

"Whereas this government has already watered down proper training of certified committee members;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to alter the Occupational Health and Safety Act or erode the rights of workers any further and ensure strict enforcement of the legislation."

On behalf of my caucus, I add my name to theirs.


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

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons; and

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

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

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

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

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

I have signed this petition.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by a large number of constituents from my riding. I've affixed my signature as I am in full agreement with the sentiments.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition related to gun control, with a different point of view.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas violence involving firearms in unacceptably common; and

"Whereas the requirement that firearms be registered as proposed by the federal government is reasonable;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately withdraw all opposition to the federal gun control legislation.

"Further, we demand that all money that would have been spent to oppose the federal gun control legislation instead be spent on the prevention of domestic violence and on services for victims of domestic violence."

I thoroughly agree with this petition, and I affix my signature.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Petitions? Are there -- yes?


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Kingston and The Islands has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House 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; this will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1546 to 1616.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Gerretsen has moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour please rise and remain standing until recognized.

All those opposed please rise and remain standing until counted.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 15; the nays are 51.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Petitions? I recognize the member for Beaches-Woodbine.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I move to proceed to reports by committees.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells ran from 1618 to 1648.

The Acting Speaker: Ms Lankin has moved that we proceed to reports by committees. Those in favour, please rise and remain standing.

Those opposed, please rise and remain standing until counted.

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 17; the nays are 50.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Point of order, Mr Speaker.


The Acting Speaker: Petitions? The Chair recognizes the member for Don Mills.


Ms Lankin: Point of order. You have to recognize --

Mrs Boyd: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker: There is nothing out of order.

Mrs Boyd: Indeed there is. You haven't heard my point of order.

The Acting Speaker: We moved to petitions. The Chair recognized the member for York Mills. He moved that we go to orders of the day.

All those in favour of going to orders of the day? Opposed? In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Ms Lankin: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1652 to 1722.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Will members take their seats, please. Order. Member for Fort York.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): On my way.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Turnbull has moved that we move to orders of the day.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 49; the nays are 16.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Orders of the day.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of privilege, Madam Speaker: It is very important that we get on the record as a point of privilege what happened just prior to the calling of the last vote. As the Speaker announced the results of the previous vote, I was on my feet and asking a point of order. The Speaker refused to recognize me, refused to look to this side of the House and deliberately recognized the whip for the government party, knowing what was going to happen, and as he completed answering the vote, looked to the whip for the government party and recognized him, despite the fact that I was clearly asking for a point of order.

Madam Speaker, I understand that you are not in a position where you can counteract what has happened as a result of that Speaker's actions, but it is important that we recognize that the Speaker is there to protect the rights of all members of the House, and particularly to protect the rights of a minority in a House when there is a majority government that can frankly take its merry way whatever happens. That is what we saw happen this afternoon, and it is important for us all to recognize that every time it happens that a Speaker sitting in the chair acts in a partisan rather than a non-partisan manner, it calls into question whether or not this House truly can represent the voices and the votes of all the people of the province of Ontario.

I do not know whether in your position as an deputy Speaker you are able to bring this issue to the table officers and to the Speaker of the House and the other deputy Speakers. I hope you will do so. It is a very serious matter and I hope we do not see this occur again in this House.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): On a point of order, Madam Speaker, on another issue, obviously: I believe that in moving to the orders of the day that the order which is to be called will be the motion of which we have notice. I understand that you cannot in any way have jurisdiction over the contents of a time allocation motion -- as odious as the substance of that motion may be in terms of not only restricting debate in the Legislature, but also restricting the access of the public to hearings and to being able to voice their concerns -- but I am concerned and I do believe that this is a point of order which is within the Speaker's jurisdiction.

I'm concerned about the fact that a time allocation motion can only follow three days of debate. It's quite clear in the rules of order that that is the only circumstance under which a time allocation motion can be introduced. Our rules are very rigorous, as you know. I don't suppose there is a tighter set of rules limiting parliamentary debate in any parliamentary jurisdiction in North America or perhaps in any country having a parliamentary process. It is important that the fair spirit and intent of those very rigorous and very restrictive rules be fully observed.

I would submit to you, Madam Speaker, that in a circumstance where three days of debate on a major bill -- and I stress the fact that this is a major bill. The implications of this bill are far-reaching, the consequences of the carrying out of this bill, assuming that it's passed, and it's quite clear that the government intends to ram this through, will be ones that are irreversible in their impact. So it is of monumental significance that this bill be given full debate -- I would contend full public hearing, but that's an issue you don't have jurisdiction over -- but it's one on which we must have full debate. There must be a real understanding of all of the consequences of this bill.

There is a tendency for the government to see this as being a minor bill and a politically popular bill. It is not. It is a major bill. Three days of debate on a major bill before time allocation motion is introduced --


Mrs McLeod: Madam Speaker, I will wait until the Chair has given you advice and I can complete my point of order.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. One moment.

Mrs McLeod: Do you want me to complete my point of order, and if you seek advice from the Chair subsequent to my point of order, I would certainly understand that. But I have a serious point of order to raise and I would like to complete it because I do believe, if I can come back to it, that, under rules of order that are more rigorous than any parliamentary jurisdiction has to live within, the spirit of three days of debate before a time allocation motion can be introduced needs to be rigorously observed.

I would suggest to you that the spirit of those three days of debate -- when there has only been an opportunity for two members of the official opposition and one member of the third party to participate in the debate before the government brings in a time allocation motion, is not in keeping with the spirit of three days of debate. I stress, I am talking about the spirit and intent of the legislation that governs the rules of order in this House.

I also want to add to that the fact that there is no justification for the government suggesting that there has been a filibuster that is preventing debate on this bill. This is a bill which we take seriously. We have entered into the debate seriously. We have a list of people who want to discuss the consequences of this bill. There is no justification for not allowing a full and fair debate that is at least within the intent of what should be minimum debate before introducing time allocation and essentially closure.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Madam Chair, in relation to the point of order raised by my friend the member for Fort William: To make it very clear, so that everyone understands, unlike other controversial pieces of legislation before this House, such as Bill 103, there has not been any attempt, whenever the government has called for debate on Bill 104, to prevent debate. As a matter of fact, every time the bill has been called it has been debated. It has been debated for three days. There has been exchange of opinion and significant debate on this piece of legislation. There has not been filibustering.



The Acting Speaker: Can I have order so I can hear, please.

Mr Wildman: I am just pointing out that normally a motion to close off debate, a motion of time allocation, occurs after significant disruption or filibuster. Neither of those has occurred on this piece of legislation. I have spoken for 90 minutes. The Liberals have had their 90 minutes. There has been a couple of other speakers for half an hour and some Conservative members for half an hour each. There has not been any filibuster on this debate. What is the justification for time allocation?

The Acting Speaker: Thank you for giving me a moment to confer with the clerks on the point of order and the point of privilege.

First, and I did not seek advice on this, I want to respond to the member for London Centre. I appreciate her comments about the fact that I was not in the chair at the time. In fact, this is one of the more difficult situations for the deputy Chairs because, as the member knows, I was in my seat at the time as a member. Therefore, although I appreciate your point of privilege, I can certainly assure the member that I concur with her suggestion that this be discussed at the weekly Speakers' meetings. I would say that for all the deputy Speakers, it is most important that when we sit in this chair we be neutral, and I think your point of privilege warrants a discussion.

To the member for Algoma and the member for Fort William on your point of order about the three days' debate, there have been, under the standing orders, three days of debate. Those are the rules. The rules do not stipulate hours. We now will be moving to orders of the day.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): On behalf of Mr Johnson, I move government notice of motion number 15:

That, pursuant to standing order 46 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 104, An Act to improve the accountability, effectiveness and quality of Ontario's school system by permitting a reduction in the number of school boards, establishing an Education Improvement Commission to oversee the transition to the new system, providing for certain matters related to elections in 1997 and making other improvements to the Education Act and the Municipal Elections Act, when Bill 104 is next called as a government order, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill without further debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be referred to the standing committee on social development;

That the standing committee on social development shall meet to consider the bill for the purpose of conducting public hearings at its regularly scheduled meeting times on Monday, February 17, 1997, Tuesday, February 18, 1997, Monday, February 24, 1997, and Tuesday, February 25, 1997;

That the committee further be authorized to meet to consider the bill for the purpose of conducting public hearings Monday through Thursday the week of March 17, 1997, and be authorized to travel only to Ottawa, Kitchener, Windsor and Sault Ste Marie;

That the standing committee on social development shall be authorized to meet to consider the bill for clause-by-clause consideration commencing Monday, March 24, 1997, from 1 pm until the completion of clause-by-clause;

All proposed amendments shall be filed with the clerk of the committee by 5 pm on March 21, 1997. At 5 pm on Monday, March 24, 1997, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto. Any divisions required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put and taken in succession with one 20-minute waiting period allowed pursuant to standing order 128(a);

The committee shall report the bill to the House on the first available day following completion of clause-by-clause consideration that reports from committees may be received. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on the day provided, the bill shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House;

That upon receiving the report of the standing committee on social development, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without debate or amendment;

That one hour shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in committee of the whole House. At the end of that time, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Any divisions required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put, the members called in once and all deferred divisions taken in succession. All amendments proposed to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the Assembly by 2 pm on the sessional day on which the bill is considered in committee of the whole House and that the House be authorized to meet beyond its normal adjournment time until completion of the committee of the whole stage of Bill 104;

That, upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without debate or amendment and at such time, the bill shall be ordered for third reading;

That one sessional day be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At the end of that sessional day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment;

That, in the case of any divisions relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes and no deferral of any division pursuant to standing order 28(g) shall be permitted.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I would suggest that the House give unanimous consent for the government House leader to move an amendment to this motion which I understand he wishes to put.


The Acting Speaker: Is there agreement?

Hon Mr Sterling: I request permission to put forward an amendment which we are working out with the opposition parties at this time. Once that amendment is ready, then perhaps we could return the floor to the government House leader to put that amendment forward.

We have about 20 minutes of debate time, if people would like to utilize that time before this particular motion is passed. Is it agreed that we would split that time so that I would take three minutes and the remaining time --

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): It would just take a couple of minutes.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: We are moving a time allocation motion pursuant to standing order 46, which permits the government to move time allocation after three days of debate in this Legislature.

With regard to debate on this bill, as the opposition parties indicated, there have been no dilatory tactics used with regard to this particular piece of legislation until today. However, as you know, there have been dilatory actions used with regard to other pieces of legislation in this House; therefore the government feels it's unfortunate that at this point in time, with the dramatic changes we are making with regard to legislation, it is necessary to move this time allocation motion with regard to this very important piece of legislation.

I want to say that the reason we feel it is necessary to move this and to get on with this and to get second reading over with is that we in this party would like to hear from a number of delegations not only here in Toronto but across Ontario. It is normal, in our Parliament here in Ontario, that we do not like to have our members travelling across the province while the Legislature is in session, because members want to attend this place, they want to be involved in the business of this place; there are other committees sitting in this place, there are other meetings that are taking place. Therefore it is with great reluctance that the House leaders allow their members to travel across the province while the Legislature is sitting.

It is our intent, with regard to having this bill passed, that it be passed now and those public hearings can start immediately.

This is also important for us because as of April 1 we enter into the next election period for the new district school boards which will be set up under this particular act. The reason we would like this to be done at this time, before April 1, is for us to get out, have the public hearings and then bring it back in so we can pass this for third reading. The people who want to get elected to these district school boards can then register and get on with the election when these school boards take effect next January 1. They are running in the November 1997 election; therefore it's necessary for them to get on with their campaigns, their election finances etc.

That is the timing framework we are operating under here and that is why we believe there is urgency for the passage of this bill in terms of second reading and getting it out for public consultation.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Let me say first of all that the longer the deputy House leader spoke about this particular motion, the more he was agreeing with our position that this is a very important piece of legislation. Certainly, it should have had more than three days of debate in the House, and certainly it should have more public hearing time, both here in Toronto and elsewhere, than was originally suggested.

Let me put it quite clearly that we do not agree at all with the closure motion here. We agree with the amendment to the extent that it will allow more time and more input both here and in Toronto, but it doesn't mean at all that we agree with the principle of the closure motion. We think an important piece of legislation that is basically going to change the fundamentals of the school governance we've had in this province since the 1830s, for almost 200 years, is going to be changed in a very dramatic fashion. The main area where it's going to be changed is the fact that the school boards will no longer have any control of the funding that will come into the system.

Let me make it clear that I've gone on record many times in the past as favouring a system whereby the government of Ontario takes over the major funding of the system. But that doesn't mean and it doesn't alter the fact that school boards are going to change. For that kind of change to be truly understood by the people of Ontario, first, there should be adequate consultation with the people of Ontario and, second, there should have been adequate debate time here in the House. Certainly three days isn't going to do it.

As we've already heard, we've heard from at the most two speakers from each party. The kind of consultation time after second reading that was proposed initially by the government House leader certainly isn't going to be enough to satisfy the demand that's out there from the people who want to speak on this bill. This bill is not just about reshaping the boundaries of school boards; it's about something much more fundamental than that. I think the deputy House leader put his finger right on it when he said this is a major piece of legislation. In my opinion, and it's certainly something that's shared by my caucus, a major piece of legislation requires something much more than three days of debate.

There's the other notion as well that somehow all this has to be done by April 1. That is just an artificial time period that the government imposed on itself because it feels that the trustees and also the new municipal councillors who may want to run for election this November have to have a date by which they can register for election so they can start collecting funds etc.

I would say that in about 98% of all the municipalities of Ontario, most of the people who want to run for local office, whether it's as a school board trustee or to a local council, probably won't start declaring themselves until some time this summer and probably won't be doing anything about it by way of actively getting funds or starting a campaign until early in the fall.

There may be the odd area, and undoubtedly the megacity of Toronto that we've been talking about and hearing about at the hearing downstairs is one perfect example, where people will have to get at it a lot sooner, because they're going to be representing such huge districts that will require so much money to mount an effective campaign that they will have to do so well before that.

But there is nothing magical about the date of April 1. There's absolutely no reason why the date May 1 could not have been chosen as the new date for this year that we were aiming towards as far as registration as a candidate is concerned. I doubt very much whether in most municipalities anything will happen between April 1 and April 30 as far as people declaring themselves for particular positions is concerned. So this whole notion of having to give this bill third reading by April 1 is purely an artificial date that has been put forward by the government and, quite frankly, it doesn't hold any water.

There's also, of course, something else that is troubling about this. There is already an assumption in what was stated by the deputy House leader that this bill will be passed. I realize you've got a majority and you can pass this bill through the kind of closure procedure that we have before us today. You could do it any time you want. But there's this assumption, "We're going to pass this bill," and I'm sure there are people out there who are saying, "Then why should I bother to make a representation to this committee either in Toronto or elsewhere in the province?"

I certainly hope, and I discussed this with members from different caucuses over the last year and a half, that maybe at some point in time we could take another look at the rules and see whether the kind of consultation that we require, particularly on major pieces of legislation like this or on megacity, can take place well before second reading of the bill. It seems to me that we're asking the public to comment on bills when all parties have already taken various positions on the bills.

The kinds of amendments I've seen coming forward to different pieces of legislation here over the last year and a half are usually of a very small, minor and technical nature and really do not do anything to the essence of the bill. If we want to put forward the notion that we're in a democratic society where what people say really matters, then I think we should be much more cognizant of their views before we have in effect staked our positions.


I think the megacity hearings are a real eye-opener not only for the members from Metropolitan Toronto but indeed for the members throughout the province. It is very interesting to see person after person come before the committee and give excellent testimony from different perspectives. These people do not represent different organizations but they all speak from the heart and speak for themselves, and I think it would be an education indeed for all the members to sit in on these hearings.

Just to make absolutely certain of the position that we take in this matter, we do not agree with closure. We agree with the amendment and that any more time that can be allocated for debate and for discussion and for public input, whether it's here in Toronto or elsewhere in the province, we certainly applaud. As a matter of fact, we would like to see much more than even what has been contemplated in the amendment that will be put forward a little bit later on.

This is a major piece of legislation, and I think the people of Ontario should really understand the nature of it. The nature of it is that boards of education, in effect their whole nature, their whole way of operation will completely change. I think personally that is not a good thing. One of the things that has always made our system of government in Ontario, whether it's at the local level or whether it's at the school board level, work extremely well is the kind of governance that we have there.

Should there be changes? No question about it. Should they be the radical changes that this bill in effect imposes on them? I have some serious concerns. We will be voting against this closure motion and we certainly hope that people from around Ontario who will get an opportunity to speak to the committee will take advantage of doing so either here in Toronto or elsewhere in the province.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Wildman: I must say I am very concerned about the motion that has been put by the government. I think it is inappropriate and I think it is most unfortunate that we have seen the turn of events we have this afternoon.

I think we should understand that Bill 104 is a very important piece of legislation, as my colleague from Kingston and The Islands has just said, and I think it's important for all members of the House and for the public to understand that this bill has not been filibustered, it has not been stalled. Every time the government has called Bill 104 it has been debated. It has been debated for three days and there has been serious debate. This is not a situation where delay tactics have been used to stall this piece of legislation. There is absolutely no excuse for the moving of a time allocation motion at this time.

There are many, many members of the Legislature on all sides who wish to debate this piece of legislation, a piece of legislation that affects boards of education and separate boards right across Ontario, the whole province. It affects rural and urban Ontario. It affects students and parents and trustees right across Ontario. It changes completely the role of trustees in Ontario. It changes the relationship between the provincial government and local boards. It changes the relationship between school staffs and boards and the provincial government.

This is a piece of legislation that mandates the commission to overrule democratically elected boards of education in the province and to administer their affairs. This is a piece of legislation that mandates a commission to find ways of outsourcing non-instructional jobs in education right across Ontario. Thirty-six thousand CUPE jobs are at risk as a result of this, not to save money but simply because of an ideological position taken by this government that we should contract out these kinds of jobs.

I have in my hand here a number of letters, a significantly large number of letters that have been sent to the clerk's office today. These are people in Toronto who wish to express their views on this Bill 104 -- just in Toronto, just today, just this afternoon. There are almost 200 letters here.

We know that prior to these letters being submitted, there were over 400 letters and applications and requests. This is without any advertisement by the committee requesting people to come forward to make representations, to make submissions on Bill 104. These are people who are concerned about the education of their children, concerned about local accountability, concerned about how funding for education will be determined in the future and who will have the say and the control over that. Bill 104 is a bill which intends to take control over education away from local authorities and have it concentrated in the Ministry of Education and Training, to replace elected officials having accountability with bureaucrats in Toronto advising the minister on how education should be administered across Ontario.

This is a very important piece of legislation. It has not been stalled in this House. The debate, frankly, has only begun, and now we have a time allocation motion that, as set out, would only allow for 10 hours of hearings in Toronto and for four days of travel visiting four communities in the province: a bill that affects the whole province, every community, every school and every student in this province.

Now we have I guess a proposal from the government that they will amend this motion to provide for more hearings, two more days. Two more days are better than four, but they ain't much. We also understand that the amendment may in fact provide for more hours of hearings in Toronto. Well, that's an improvement, but when you're starting from almost nothing, it's not much of an improvement.

We know that there are already almost 700 applications, before we've even advertised for people to come before the committee, 700 people who want to make presentations on Bill 104. Most of those come from Toronto. Once we advertise across the province, there are going to be many, many more. With the time allocation proposed for hearings in this motion and in the proposed amendment, we will not be able to accommodate half of the people who have applied. This government apparently is not willing to listen to people. It's not willing to listen to people's view about a piece of legislation that affects the education of children and will be in place for a good long time, a very long time.

I don't understand how government backbenchers can support this kind of thing, particularly rural backbenchers who are going to see their boards amalgamated with adjacent urban boards and who are going to lose control over the education in the schools in their communities. I don't understand how they can accept this kind of time being allocated. This is purely artificial. There is absolutely no reason why this legislation, in terms of education, has to be in place this fall. We could take more time. We could have the amalgamations of boards and the changes in place after considered debate and hearings, listening to all concerned, and have it in place for the next municipal election. It doesn't have to be in place for this municipal election.

In BC they took three years to do this. Why are we in such a rush? We know why you're in a rush. Because what this is about is taking control over education, taking money out of education. It's about taking another $1 billion out of education once the Minister of Education and Training gets complete control of funding and expenditures in education in this province.

That $1 billion has to be collected by this fall because the Treasurer, the Minister of Finance, needs the money in order to finance the income tax scheme that this government is committed to. It doesn't have to do with education. It doesn't have to do with the municipal election. It has everything to do with cutting income taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the education of our kids, at the expense of listening to people and hearing what their views are about the education of their kids.

I wish the commission that has been set up had been given proper time to do a good job to assist in the amalgamation of boards and the development of a system of education that would serve us well now into the 21st century. We could be doing it with adequate time. Instead, this government is ramming it through.

The Acting Speaker: Before I adjourn the House for the day, perhaps you -- no? There has been an agreement?

Hon David Johnson: There's agreement in terms of an amendment, which I'm happy to put forward in the interests of increased public participation.

The amendment is that the motion be amended by adding the words "and further on those days, that the committee be authorized to meet from 9 am to 12 noon" at the end of the second paragraph; and that the words following the words "March 17, 1997" in the third paragraph be deleted and the words "and Monday, March 24, 1997, and Tuesday, March 25, 1997" be inserted therefor; and that the words "Monday, March 24" in the fourth paragraph be deleted and the words "Wednesday, March 26" be substituted therefor; and that "5 pm" in the second line of the fifth paragraph be replaced by "9 am"; and "21," "Monday" and "24" in the second line be replaced by "26," "Wednesday" and "26."

The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall the motion, as amended, be carried?

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

Those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members: a 15-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1802 to 1817.

The Acting Speaker: All those in favour of Mr Johnson's motion, as amended, will please rise one at a time.


Arnott, Ted

Hudak, Tim

Sampson, Rob

Baird, John R.

Jackson, Cameron

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Sheehan, Frank

Carr, Gary

Johnson, David

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, Ron

Snobelen, John

Clement, Tony

Leach, Al

Spina, Joseph

Cunningham, Dianne

Marland, Margaret

Sterling, Norman W.

Danford, Harry

Martiniuk, Gerry

Stewart, R. Gary DeFaria, Carl

Maves, Bart

Tascona, Joseph N.


Doyle, Ed

Munro, Julia

Tilson, David

Eves, Ernie L.

Mushinski, Marilyn

Tsubouchi, David H.

Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Vankoughnet, Bill

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al

Villeneuve, Noble

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor

Witmer, Elizabeth

Hardeman, Ernie

Preston, Peter

Wood, Bob

Hastings, John

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Young, Terence H.

Hodgson, Chris

Ross, Lillian


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed, please stand one at a time.


Boyd, Marion

Kennedy, Gerard

Phillips, Gerry

Christopherson, David

Kwinter, Monte

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Cordiano, Joseph

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Crozier, Bruce

Marchese, Rosario


Gerretsen, John

Martin, Tony


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56; the nays are 16.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion, as amended, carried.

It being well past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1821.