36th Parliament, 1st Session

L177 - Mon 21 Apr 1997 / Lun 21 Avr 1997
































The House met at 1332.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Today marks the beginning of Information Rights Week in Canada, a week dedicated to discussion on the rights of all Canadians to accessible and affordable information. On this side of the House, I can report that the Ontario Liberal Party strongly believes in the individual's right and freedom to choose and access information.

There's a growing fear sweeping across Ontario that the freedom to information liberties we now enjoy is being threatened by this government's Bill 109, the Local Control of Public Libraries Act. By eliminating provincial library transfer payments to municipalities, Ontarians, particularly those in small and northern communities, may lose community library services altogether. This is a direct violation of our information rights.

By allowing user fees for electronic forms of information, this government is infringing on the rights of all Ontarians to government documents, which in many cases are now only available in an electronic format. This creates a system where those who can pay get the information and those who can't pay do without. This clearly is a violation of our information rights.

By removing the obligation for arm's-length, majority citizen participation on library boards, this government is moving towards political and special interest tampering of our library resources. Indeed, as the Peterborough Examiner said just last week, without public participation on library boards, it's not a large leap from financial control to political control and finally to censorship. While some members of this House appear to advocate such a point of view, we in the Ontario Liberal Party stand strongly against it.

I call upon the Minister of Culture to accept the amendments for Bill 109 that will deal with these problems.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Last week over two million Muslims from Canada and around the world performed the annual pilgrimage of Hajj in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca. However, this year's Hajj was struck with a tragic fire that swept the tent city on the plains of Mina. Hundreds of pilgrims perished in the flames, while many more were trampled to death.

On behalf of the NDP caucus, I want to offer our condolences to the Muslim community of Canada and the families of the victims. I also want to take this opportunity to wish the Muslim community a happy Eid-ul-Adha, which fell on the day following Hajj.

Last week also saw the celebration of Baisakhi in the Canadian Sikh and Hindu communities. This is of course a great occasion of joy and celebration. Again, to the Hindu and Canadian Sikh communities, a joyous and happy Baisakhi on our behalf.

The celebration of Eid-ul-Adha and Baisakhi in Canada is a testament to the multicultural nature of this society and our ability to work together as a community, embracing the religious and ethnic diversity that we have in this country. It is indeed in this unity that our diversity is most cherished, and it is that unity and diversity that make Canada the best place in the world to live and work.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): It's an honour to be able to rise today to recognize the valiant sacrifice of many young Canadian soldiers and to say a few words about the anniversary of Vimy Ridge.

It was a wet 5:19 am, April 9, 1917, 80 years ago, that over 100,000 Canadians in four divisions fought side by side and took a key, heavily fortified position. This was a feat that neither the French nor British forces had been able to accomplish.

It was young Canadian soldiers such as Mr Henry Price, a veteran and resident of Oshawa, who advanced on the hill with the 128th Battalion. These brave soldiers demonstrated to the world what could be done with Canadian planning, determination, courage and a commitment to duty.

Mr Price was born in 1897 and will celebrate his centennial birthday this August 12. Mr Price, when in Toronto, was a CPR telegraph operator at the corner of Yonge and King before the war. As a signaller in the war, Mr Price was constantly reporting on the enemy from within enemy territory, well ahead of the front lines.

Veterans such as Mr Price, a signaller at Vimy Ridge, have made great contributions to the world, Canada, Ontario and our communities. In the city of Oshawa, veterans and their associations continue with pride to support local sports, youth and many other activities within our communities. All gave some and some gave their all in the performance of what they saw as their duty and trust to their comrades, families and nation.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): In its quest to find scapegoats and victims for the so-called Common Sense Revolution of Mike Harris and his band of right-wing zealots, the revolutionary Harris government has determined to bulldoze Bill 104 through the Legislature with its 82-seat majority and, in doing so, deprive thousands of loyal, dedicated, capable and experienced employees of boards of education of their livelihoods.

Under the provisions of Bill 104, the Harrisites seem determined to demean and downplay the importance of non-instructional or non-teaching staff by encouraging boards of education to privatize and outsource positions which have traditionally been an important part of the educational team. Anyone who is at all familiar with the field of education is aware that the educational support personnel -- librarians, guidance counsellors, custodial, maintenance and cleaning staff, and secretarial and administrative staff -- are indeed part of a team which functions best when there is certainty, continuity and coordination.

This bill could result in an enormous loss of jobs, the disruption of thousands of lives, the stripping away of benefits and the cutting of wages and salaries for people who have devoted themselves to education for years and sometimes decades.

I call upon Premier Harris to withdraw Bill 104 and engage in a meaningful consultation that will reveal the immense value of the staff the Premier is so eager to marginalize and reject. Educational employees in Ontario will not forget the attack on their integrity and worth.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On Saturday past, the workers at Stelpipe Page-Hersey, who, as you know, were forced on to picket lines almost six months ago, gave a resounding and solid no to the embarrassing, indeed insulting, offer of the employer, Stelpipe. Some 97% of the workforce membership showed up for a vote, and 96.8% of them said no to an offer that required more from them by way of concessions than offered them by way of what they had been seeking: modest pay increases and some fairness and decency when it comes to pension.

These workers and workers before them have been making profits for Stelpipe and Page-Hersey in the city of Welland for decade after decade after decade. Over the last four years, these same workers have improved or increased productivity by 120%. Now they're being called upon by Stelpipe, with the assistance and the endorsement of this Harris government, to take cuts and to do with less when they deserve more. They deserve far better treatment from a company that has enjoyed their hard work and productivity for so many generations.

I speak for the vast majority of people in Welland-Thorold and across Niagara region when we express our strong support for those workers and demand for them the same fairness and decency by their employer, by way of modest pay increases and decent pensions, that we would expect for any hardworking person in this province.



Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): In recognizing great Ontarians, it is my pleasure to stand in the House today and introduce you to an individual in Halton North who has made an outstanding contribution to our community.

On March 18, Trevor Williams was honoured for his lifetime of achievements as the 1996 Georgetown Lions Club Citizen of the Year. A resident of Georgetown since 1929 and a veteran of the Second World War's D-Day in 1944, Trevor's dedication to his community spans over 50 years.

Among his achievements are a 35-year member of Georgetown Agricultural Society; a volunteer ambulance driver for 25 years; a volunteer firefighter; a Legion member for 37 years; an active member of the cancer society for 35 years, and still drives patients to various cancer treatment centres; a 30-year volunteer of the Red Cross and a 98-time blood donor; and an active member of St John's United Church for almost 50 years.

It is humbling, in this day and age of short attention spans, to put into perspective the kind of contribution in time, dedication and commitment that Trevor Williams has made to Halton North. Trevor, I salute you for your efforts. You're an example of the type of Ontarian we should all strive to become and are one of the reasons that this province is such a great place to live.

To Trevor, his wife, Nora, his four children and 10 grandchildren, I say congratulations.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Today is a very difficult day for the people in Windsor-Sandwich, in fact for the people for all of Essex county. As the Conservative caucus knows, the emergency room on the west side of Essex county is now closed. You knew 18 days ago when it was going to close. You had plenty of time, we told you daily that it was 17 days to go, then 16 days to go, but all of you refused to help get a message to the Minister of Health and the Premier of this province that we needed to have measures in place in Windsor before that emergency room was closed.

Today, after a weekend of no emergency service on the west side of Essex county, what we have is more patients, longer waits, turned ER into a war zone. The reason I'd like to bring this to your attention today is that what the hospital closing commission, which has been going around, traipsing around Ontario, has told you are announcements of what will be coming to your neighbourhood in your town and in your city.

What we currently have in Windsor-Sandwich is no emergency service for the people who live on the west side of Essex county. It is not acceptable. We asked for a meeting with the Premier and we were denied. We asked for a meeting with the minister and we got a 40-minute phone call of excuses as to why they can't give us even interim support, some interim help for the people of Windsor-Sandwich. It's not acceptable.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Adult learners spoke out this morning. The beloved and esteemed members of our press gallery I believe were a bit alarmed to come into their gallery this morning to find dozens of adult learners there to give a message to the Harris government that they are very alarmed and frightened that they are going to lose the education system for adults in this province.

They pointed out this morning to the people of Ontario and to the Premier and to the minister that if they don't learn English when they're new to this country, then they can't get a job and they can never make it. They also pointed out that if adults who dropped out of school for whatever reason can't go back and get an education, then they're unable to help their children with their homework and unable to make sure their children advance to higher levels. It was an important message for this government to hear, and I apologize to the members of the press gallery for perhaps a little bit of an unusual event, but I think the message was very clear.

I also want to point out that today is a very special day in the House. One of the very few fallouts, I suppose, for us in the megacity filibuster was that we can't wear buttons here any more, but we can still wear the colour yellow. As you can see, I'm wearing my yellow sweater today, and I notice that many other people are wearing yellow. It of course symbolizes the fight against --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Yellow is not out of order.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Tomorrow people around the world are celebrating Earth Day, and there is no better day to reinforce this government's commitment to protecting the environment. As custodians of the environment we take our job very seriously. We're not just talking about environmental protection; we are taking action to ensure that there will be clean air and water for future generations.

Since we took office in 1995, we've moved carefully and deliberately to ensure Ontario's environment is better protected. We've improved environmental assessment practices, making them more effective in protecting the environment, more timely for everyone involved and less costly; we are updating the regulatory system to ensure strong and consolidated environmental protection in Ontario; we are developing an aggressive smog plan that will ensure that people in this province have cleaner and healthier air to breathe; and we've introduced new soil cleanup guidelines which will allow for quicker cleanup of contaminated sites so they can be turned into cleaner productive lands.

We will continue to set tough environmental standards and we will be vigilant in ensuring that these standards are met. We are determined to make our environment next year better than this year and that our environment in 1999 will be better than our environment in 1998.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the membership of the House by reason of the resignation of Elinor Caplan, member for the electoral district of Oriole. Accordingly, my warrant has been issued to the chief election officer for the issue of a writ for a by-election.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to introduce in the government's gallery the former member for Wellington, Mr Jack Johnson. Welcome.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Please join me in welcoming the 10th group of pages to serve the 36th Parliament of Ontario: Michael Berlin, Mississauga West; Christopher Bremer, Simcoe Centre; Megan Campbell, Waterloo North; Emma Cochrane, High Park-Swansea; Jillian Davey, Lambton; Jonas Didzbalis, Etobicoke West; Amanda Dube, Windsor-Riverside; Scott Evans, Cambridge; Erika Fagerdahl, Rainy River; Bethany Hammond, Muskoka-Georgian Bay; Timothy Johnson, Durham West; Kaley Keefe, Mississauga East; Peter Lipscombe, St George-St David; Christina MacDonald, Eglinton; Tyler McNaughton, Chatham-Kent; Suzanne Morrow, Markham; Jonathan Odumeru, Guelph; Michelle Pilozow, Kenora; Ethan Rabidoux, Perth; and Stuart Smith, Etobicoke-Humber. Please join me in welcoming the new pages.




Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): It's my pleasure to rise in the Legislature this afternoon and talk about the past year that Ontarians have had seeing the benefits of the measures introduced in our government's first budget. Jobs are being created in the province of Ontario --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Just say May 6 and sit down.

Hon Mr Eves: I say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I tried that last year; I thought I would just announce the date and sit down, only to hear a bunch of drivel come from the opposition benches for 10 minutes after.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): After 20 minutes I've already lost control, so that's par for the course.

Hon Mr Eves: I'm sorry if I've helped that along in any way, Mr Speaker. I'll try to make it up to you somehow.

Indeed jobs have been created in Ontario in the last year. Depending on any measure used by StatsCan, one being of course a survey done of employees, it says that 113,000 jobs have been created in the province. If you look at the StatsCan employer survey, it says that 176,000 jobs have been created in the province. In the month of March alone, the federal government says that 46,000 jobs were created in Ontario.

The province is returning to prosperity. There is renewed optimism for a future of greater opportunity.

I am pleased to announce, as I've indicated to my two opposition critics, that the budget will be presented to the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday, May 6, at 4 pm.

The 1997 budget will show how the government's plan is making Ontario better now and will make it better in the future. It will show how our plan is attracting private sector investment and stimulating economic growth that creates jobs. It will show how our plan is returning Ontario to economic and fiscal health while reducing taxes, protecting priority public services such as health care and education, and promoting government efficiency.

The 1997 Ontario budget will show the deficit is coming down and that we are indeed on track for a balanced budget by the fiscal year 2000-01.

The 1997 budget will continue the course the government began when we were elected in June 1995. It will ensure that Ontario leads the way in growth, prosperity and quality of life for present and future generations of Ontarians. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to respond to the minister's statement on the budget date and say that we're looking forward to the budget and an opportunity to debate the government's fiscal plans.

I might say we were surprised at the date. We had been expecting the budget would be presented next week. It's customary, as you know, Mr Speaker, for the Minister of Finance to announce the date roughly a week in advance, and it's clear to us the government is having some difficulty getting its fiscal house together.

There is no question -- municipalities will understand this -- that the government has downloaded, dumped $1 billion of extra costs on to municipalities. What's going on right now? Every municipal leader in this province knows it, has called your bluff and has said you are dumping $1 billion. Every senior citizen in this province knows you have dumped seniors' housing on to property tax. Every senior citizen know you have dumped long-term care on to property tax. Every child who requires social assistance knows the province has dumped its responsibility on to property tax. It is clear the municipalities understand that and will have nothing to do with it. That's why the budget has been delayed until May 6.

On the job front I will quote the minister's own statements. The ministry puts out a document every month outlining jobs. What does this document say? It says, if you can believe the numbers from the minister's own statement, Ontario has lost 11,000 jobs in the last seven months. The rest of Canada over that same period of time has gained 88,000.

We have a serious unemployment problem in Ontario. And what does Mike Harris say? "No, we don't." He doesn't trust the numbers; says, "No, there's no problem." We in the Liberal caucus say we have a serious, significant, dramatic problem in unemployment, and we'll be looking for this budget to spell out the measures that are going to solve the unemployment problem. I would just add that it is particularly tragic among our young people.

What this document shows is the unemployment rate in the first three months of 1997: first three months, unemployment rate among our young people, 15 to 24, all of those young people who have worked hard, many of whom have gotten college and university degrees, looking for work. What has happened to them? The unemployment rate, and you can see the numbers right here, is 18.5%, up from 16.2% the same period a year ago. So, yes, we'll be looking for the budget and some comment on how they are going to begin to tackle this serious unemployment problem.

The next thing I would like to talk a little bit about is the tax cut, and I hear Mike Harris saying, "Well, the tax cut's paying for itself." He can't believe that. He cannot believe that. Again, I go to the minister's own figures. Here's what they show: that in 1995-96 personal income tax revenue was $16.2 billion; in 1997, the numbers the minister gave us only a few weeks ago, $15.6 billion. We have seen the revenue drop from personal income tax by $600 million at the same time they should have been growing by $600 million.

There is no question the personal tax cut has cost Ontario $1 billion in lost revenue. There's no question of that. The minister may yell and barrack from the other side and the Premier may hide somewhere and say it hasn't, but it has. As a matter of fact, the minister's own budget said it would cost $1 billion. The reason I raise all of this is that when the seniors of this province see what you're doing to them, forcing social housing, their housing onto the property tax -- why? To fund this $1-billion tax break, last year $5 billion in total, and I might add to all of the business people out there, every penny of that is borrowed money -- every penny of it.

The people of Ontario will say, "If we have to deal with a serious deficit problem, tell me again how the province can afford to borrow $1 billion," which we did do for this tax break, and I might add finally, $500 million of that tax break goes to people making more than a quarter of a million dollars. The people of Ontario, as we look forward to this budget, should say, "My hospital is being closed, but we can give a tax break worth $500 million to people making a quarter of a million dollars?" I don't think so.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, I appreciate your assistance.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): We are pleased that the government is going to bring in what I guess will be its second budget, because we too want to debate some of the things that this government spends a lot of time bragging about. We in fact want a chance to examine once again their tax cut scheme, a tax cut scheme that puts two thirds of the benefits in the hands of the 10% of people who are at the top of the wealth and income ladder; in other words, a tax cut scheme for the wealthy.

We also want to point out to the government that today, as we approach the end of its second year in office, there are 100,000 more young people unemployed in Ontario than there were two years ago at this time. In fact there are 58,000 more adults unemployed in Ontario than there were two years ago at this time. In fact, two years into its mandate, by any count, any measure, this government is 600,000 jobs behind the 725,000 jobs it promised in its election campaign document, the Common Sense Revolution.


But more, we want to talk about the fact that good, stable, well-paying jobs are disappearing in Ontario as a result of this government, and what we're seeing, as a result of this government, are more minimum-wage, part-time, temporary McJobs: not the kind of jobs that can support a family, not the kind of jobs that can support our communities. This is the historical record of this government.

The government also wants to talk about health care. Well, the health care system in Ontario has never been under greater attack in the history of this province than it is now. In fact what we are seeing across this province are more and more cuts to health care in every community across the province, but it's all part of this government's agenda to prepare the health care system for piecemeal privatization, American-style. That's what we're seeing in our health care system.

Then there is education. What's the history in education so far? We are fast headed towards a situation where you either need to be wealthy or your parents need to be wealthy if you hope to go on to university or community college. More and more, you had better hope that you are lucky enough to live in a wealthy neighbourhood because otherwise the school system in your community or the school system in your neighbourhood is starting to show more and more cracks, more and more holes.

Finally, we see the last element in this government's desperate fiscal plan: to take important health care services, important community services and to throw them down onto the municipal property tax; to take a good fire service and privatize it, American-style; to take ambulance services and set them up for privatization. What we're seeing is a wholesale attempt by this government to turn Ontario into the Alabama of the north. So we look forward to your budget presentation. We look forward to the debate, Mr Finance Minister.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Treasurer, with respect, from your page 1: "Tax cuts have put money in the pockets of Ontarians." I guess it's okay if you're rich and if you can run faster to get away from the field, but when is enough enough? EI, CPP, health levy has taken the tax cut away and we're all very much aware of that.

Your page 2, "protecting priority public services such as health care and education": Thousands of nurses, thousands of teachers are being asked to go on the dole in the next year or two, the fault of this government. Then, Minister, "a balanced budget by 2000-01." At that long-awaited time they'll be out of office. They'll be left with carrying the guilt but it will be a sign of yesteryears.

The figures simply do not add up and the middle class, because of this government, is under a state of siege, under a state of erosion. They're guilty of it. The long-awaited budget will not --

The Speaker: Thank you.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question today is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. We have now given you a few extra weeks to reconsider and to look at the real facts about your megacity. Think of it as a bit of cooling-off period. We've given you time to listen. We know you have heard but you haven't listened. You've now had the time to listen to the hundreds of thousands who voted against your megacity by way of the referenda. You've had the time to listen to the experts, who tell us that the savings are just not to be found. You had time to listen to groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who are telling us that taxes are going up, and you've had time to listen to your own backbenchers, who have had the courage to speak up on this issue. That kind of courage, it would seem to me, ought to be rewarded and not punished.

Mr Minister, you've had time to listen and we want to know where you stand today. Will you do the right thing? Will you not proceed with the megacity bill?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the official Leader of the Opposition, he's right. We did listen and that's why we've made almost 30 amendments to the bill. We listened to the concerns about the size of council. We increased the size of council. We listened to the concerns about the trustees. We dealt with the trustees. We heard the concerns about the transition team and, again, we dealt with those.

We dealt with the community councils to ensure that all of the communities have an opportunity to maintain their identity. All of those things we listened very carefully to, to the 600 deputants that came in to the town hall meetings, to the meetings at my constituency office. We listened to everybody and we took into consideration their comments and made 30 changes to the bill.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, you've done a lot of things, but by no stretch of the imagination can it be said that you honestly, genuinely and with any real intent listened to the people who are going to be affected by your change. Let's not forget the past, although you're anxious to do so. In the Mike Harris Metro task force, which you were vice-chair of, you said, through recommendations in this report, that the present number of six local governments will be retained. You said that. You signed this report; you endorsed it.

Then in the Common Sense Revolution, at the last page, after you've laid out the master plan for change in Ontario, you say: "The Next Step -- Public Involvement," and the last sentence on this page is, "But how we get there will be discussed in partnership with all Ontarians."

Not only are you hiding from the facts, breaking your promises, you're ignoring your backbenchers and you're ignoring the very people that you serve. Another chance, Minister: Will you withdraw the megacity bill?

Hon Mr Leach: Again to the Leader of the Opposition, I'm glad he referred to the Common Sense Revolution, because it did specifically talk about eliminating waste and duplication, getting rid of a level of government. All of those things are happening to municipalities across Ontario, and particularly here in Metropolitan Toronto.

We are eliminating the second level of government, which is going to eliminate a lot of waste and duplication. We are protecting the identities of the communities by establishing community councils, which will give each of the existing six municipalities an opportunity to ensure that the concerns of their citizens are taken care of. All of those things have been done. We're now moving forward into the 21st century. We have a great city before us, and it's going to be even greater at that time.

Mr McGuinty: The single most important fact that you seem so willing to overlook, Minister, is the fact that 76%, more than 400,000 people who are going to be affected by your change, looked at the bill, found it wanting and rejected it.

Understand, this affects more than just Metro Toronto. You yourself have said that this kind of change is going to be used as a model for restructuring right across the province. If you proceed with 103, contrary to your campaign promises and contrary to the wishes of the people that you serve, I'm telling you now, it's going to come back to haunt you, because what this really means at the end of the day is that this minister, this government doesn't understand that it's the people who are in charge of the government and not the other way around.

One final chance, Minister: It's all up to you. Will you withdraw 103?

Hon Mr Leach: To be direct, I guess, no, I won't withdraw 103. Bill 103 is a bill that's going to improve conditions in Metropolitan Toronto and for all of the 2.4 million people who live in this community.

What are we talking about here? At the present time, the majority of the funding goes to the upper tier. Most of the services that are presently provided to the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto are already amalgamated. We're talking about the remaining 28% of funding being moved to a single tier. The vast majority of people in this area -- they said 400,000 voted against it; that leaves about two million that didn't.

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

Mr McGuinty: It's that kind of attitude that makes us look forward to the next election.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My next question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. This weekend the Toronto Star ran a very disturbing exposé outlining some of the brutal conditions faced by too many children growing up in our province. We saw stories of children who face vicious cycles of neglect, physical abuse and even death at the hands of their own parents or at the hands of guardians who are supposed to protect them. A lot of the public learned for the very first time about the deplorable conditions in which some of Ontario's kids are being raised, but none of this is new to you.

I'm asking you to put children at the top of your agenda. I'm asking you personally to take responsibility and I'm asking you in particular to declare a state of emergency for Ontario's children. I want you to commit to emergency measures that will begin to put an end to these horror stories. Minister, will you do that?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): To the honourable member, thank you very much for the question. This is indeed a very important, very controversial, very sensitive issue. I think anybody who has read those stories in the Star or has read the reports from the coroner's task force cannot help but be shocked and appalled and very alarmed about what we need to do to improve the system.

That's one of the reasons why last spring we undertook to review all the safeguards in place for children. It's one of the reasons why we were quite prepared to support and participate with the coroner and the Association of Children's Aid Societies in the task force, so that we could come up with recommendations and information about how to improve the system. That's why we've undertaken to bring in a new computer system, a new database, so that children are not falling through the cracks. It's also one of the reasons why we think we need to improve the training, and we've begun work to do that as well. There are a number of issues that we have undertaken to pursue this very important issue.

Mr McGuinty: The single most important thing that you have done in your capacity as the Minister of Community and Social Services is you have cut funding to the children's aid societies to the tune of some $17 million. The problem, of course, is that the damnedest thing about kids is they don't know how to get their act together. They don't write us, they don't lobby us, they don't organize bus convoys, they don't put together placards, they don't protest. That's why, Minister, you above everybody else in this Legislature has a special responsibility to bring those concerns forward. Nobody wants to hear of any more stories about kids with broken bones, fractured skulls, cigarette burns and shattered spirits. Nobody wants to hear that kind of stuff any more. You tell me right now: How much longer do you think Ontario's kids are going to have to wait until you take some real action on their behalf?

Hon Mrs Ecker: With all due respect, perhaps the honourable member needs cards and letters from children in order to exercise the responsibility, but we certainly do not. For example, last week the Premier, with the support of the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health and myself, announced spending of almost $45 million. That $45 million is going to the kind of intervention and prevention programs that start to identify these problems early. We know we have to do a better job in the system. We know the staff people need better training, we know they need better support. But if the honourable member would also pay attention to some of the information that's been put forward by the coroner's task force, he would recognize that simply throwing money at this problem will not solve it. What we need is better training, what we need is better information. There are a number of things that are happening. That's why we are working with the task force to put those steps in place.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Why are you cutting the CAS?

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): You're cutting the CAS.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members for Hamilton East and Kingston and The Islands, I ask you to come to order.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, you may not want to hear this, but the fact of the matter is, it's going to take some money. Painful as that very concept may be to you, and perhaps even foreign to you, it's going to take some money to help these kids, and I for one am not about to apologize for those kinds of expenditures.

In a couple of weeks' time, the Minister of Finance is going to tell us that he's going to benefit us with another part of a tax cut bonus to the tune of $1.25 billion. You had to cut $20 million from the children's aid societies' budget, but you're going to give us all another $1.25 billion so that at the end of the day we'll have $5 billion and we can bank a bit more.

You'd better stand up in this House right now and assure all of us that kids are first and foremost on your agenda, that when the cabinet meets, you're in there, you're fighting for Ontario's kids, because nobody else is. Stand up and tell me that right now.

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member can try and turn this into a partisan issue if he wishes, but I don't think that's the appropriate way to deal with this issue. Even the children's aid society has acknowledged --


Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Where were you then, Dalton?

The Speaker: Member for Ottawa-Rideau.

Mr Guzzo: I apologize.

The Speaker: I thank you for your apology. Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I might draw to the attention of the honourable member that we are spending $350 million on child welfare in this province, that one of the reasons under the Who Does What initiatives that we decided to undertake the full funding for children's aid societies was so that we would be able to work with those children's aid societies to improve the services for these children. We've also put out $800,000 for better training for the workers who are out there on the front lines, who are trying so hard to make those decisions.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): Blame the workers. You are doing it.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I hear the honourable members over there trying to say that somehow or other we're blaming the workers. I really wish they would stop this, because those individuals out there need their support. They're trying to play politics with this again instead of trying to work with us, with the agencies, with Ottawa. Tell Ottawa to get the national child benefit in place sooner. That's one of the other things we're working on, because we do take this issue extremely seriously, sir.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Today your government wants to ram through Bill 103. In the process, you'll rob 2.4 million people of their local government, you'll rob them of control over their own communities, and you will have ignored the fact that 76% of the people of Metropolitan Toronto voted against your bill in a referendum.

Minister, you're acting more like a general in a South American junta than like a leader in a democracy. You've got one last chance. Say that you'll withdraw Bill 103 today. Do the democratic thing.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Again I will say that what we're giving to the people of Metropolitan Toronto is better government. By getting rid of the confusing two layers people will finally know who to call. They'll have one local elected representative they'll be able to talk to about all the important issues they have to deal with. They'll no longer have to put up with all the waste and duplication that goes on by having seven planning departments and six fire departments. All that will finally be resolved so that the people of this area, the people of Toronto, the people of the GTA and the people of Ontario, will finally have an area in Metropolitan Toronto that works well, once and for all.


Mr Hampton: I'll try again. Minister, even your own MPPs don't believe you. The member for Grey-Owen Sound has said publicly that 70% of your Toronto caucus would vote against you if it were a secret ballot. When the referendum was held you couldn't get any of your own party's supporters to come out and support your position. You've got members of your caucus calling the Premier a dictator because of some of the positions he's taken on this. They don't believe your nonsense about Bill 103. Minister, you've still got a chance to show that you have some respect for democracy, that you have some respect for the will of the people. Will you show that today? Withdraw this bill. Show some respect for democracy.

Hon Mr Leach: The leader of the third party talks about democracy. Two weeks ago we offered them two more weeks of meaningful debate on this issue, that we would go back to committee for two weeks so they could have more input and make more suggestions. What did they decide to do? They decided to take nine days and waste it on reading silly resolutions with which the only thing different was the name. They talk about democracy. You should be ashamed of yourself. You had an opportunity to get more input into this bill and what did you choose? You chose nonsense.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Minister, let me tell you, we're pretty proud of what we've managed to do in this House. We know that at the end of the day you can insist on passing your megacity bill and ramming this through the legislature. We saw no usefulness in two weeks more of debate so that we could hear you talking about why you've listened and made no changes whatsoever on the essential point people said to you, Minister, that they didn't want the megacity.

People said no and you've continued to ignore them, but as bad as that is, your megacity plan, we know, is also going to cost municipal taxpayers plenty. Metro Toronto says your mega download will cost taxpayers in Metropolitan Toronto over $500 million. Now you've tried to fiddle with the numbers, you've pulled together people around you to try and fix those numbers, but even they aren't buying your numbers.

Minister, before you ram through your megacity bill, will you at least have the decency to level with the people of Metro Toronto and tell them what your download is going to cost them?

Hon Mr Leach: I am very happy to talk to the people of Ontario and mention the cost savings that will occur. We estimate we'll save about $865 million in the first three years and $300 million every year thereafter. As far as a cost-saving exercise is concerned, it will save a lot of money, but even better than that, it's going to get rid of the waste and duplication and the confusion in the various levels of government we have now.

The member said he's very proud of how they wasted the time of this House over the past few weeks, that it was one of their best accomplishments. Well, for that party it probably was one of their best accomplishments. With the kind of record they have of putting this province $100 billion into debt and having interest payments of $9 billion a year, they have the nerve to talk about cost savings.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A question to the Minister of Education and Training: Minister, over the past few days you've been busy holding press conferences trying to convince people across this province that your Bill 104 isn't about setting the stage for more cuts to education, but nobody believes you because you've already broken your promise not to cut funding to classroom education.

Recently in a visit to a high school in Waterloo we were given this textbook. It's a high school poetry anthology. It's used fairly widely in high schools across the province. What's interesting about this book is that it's falling apart. It came in about three parts. It's held together by an elastic band. That's the state of things in Waterloo high schools. When we asked the board about buying new ones, they said they don't have the money. Minister, can you tell us how Bill 104 is going to help give these students new textbooks that aren't held together by elastics?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I echo my colleague's views on the use of the time of this House during the committee of the whole proceedings, but I acknowledge the fact that the leader of the third party was in the chamber during that process. Whether he's proud or not proud of it, at least he was here, in stark contrast to the Leader of the Opposition.

In direct response to your question, I believe that Bill 104 will help us begin to build a new and improved education system in this province, one that --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With that remark I'm just wondering whether he could tell us if the Premier was at the Masters for the final vote.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): No, that's not a point of order.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I believe the leader of the third party was here while his amendments were being read.

Bill 104 will do much to improve the system of education as a building block; we build on the foundation of what's right in our education system. We're going to reduce the amount of money we gave to spend on bureaucracy and on politicians in our education system. It will allow us to focus our resources on the classroom, on the materials and teacher supports and things that make a difference with our students. That's clearly the premise of these improvements. That's clearly the direction of this government.

Mr Hampton: A very interesting answer. The Minister of Education continues to talk about how he's going to take money out of the school boardroom and put it in the classroom.

We've had a look at the minister's own paper that talks about the fact that he believes you can get $150 million by collapsing the number of school boards. He says that's going to be the savings. But when you look at the details of the savings, what do they show? They show that $9.9 million of the savings are going to come out of classroom supplies and equipment. In other words, they're going to come out of things like textbooks. Can you explain this, Minister: How can you plan to save almost $10 million on supplies and equipment when students are using textbooks like this, that come in three parts? It doesn't add up: $150 million, yet you're planning to take some out of textbooks. How are you going to do that?

Hon Mr Snobelen: This may be difficult for the leader of the third party to understand, but the outside consultants who have had a look at our plans to restructure, who say there are significant savings available, have identified the fact that when you put together a larger purchasing unit, you can purchase more school books for less money. That may be difficult for the leader of the third party to understand, because it's hard for him to understand that spending $2.5 million on a filibuster is 100,000 new textbooks for classrooms, and the leader of the third party has just wasted that money.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I guess that number is about the same amount it took the Premier to renovate his new office over in the Whitney Block.

The minister is referring to this Ernst and Young report that was done. Keeping in mind that Ernst and Young themselves said they weren't sure they could stand by the figures, they said that out of the $150 million, $9.9 million was coming from classroom supplies. At the press conference this morning, the minister could not even commit that the $150 million referred to in this report, that he keeps repeating, would actually go back into the classroom. Also, he admitted that the transition costs in amalgamating boards would increase costs, at least in the short term, and he didn't give any indication where that money was going to come from. Surely that money is going to come out of the $13.6 billion spent annually in Ontario on education. In other words, classroom education is going to suffer even more.

Are you going to commit to give transition funding, at least, so you can protect classroom funding?


Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm glad the member for Algoma is paying attention to the press conferences; perhaps now some of his criticisms might be more accurate. Yes, the report did suggest that savings could be had by purchasing more classroom supplies for less money by having a larger network of purchasing. That's called purchasing power, and there were some suggestions that would happen so we can improve the classroom.

Bill 104 is clearly designed to reduce the amount of money that's spent on bureaucracy, reduce the number of politicians involved in education in Ontario and focus our resources on the classroom. We'd like to get on about the business of making that transition, about improving the education system. We'd like to answer the questions about the transition costs and lay out a plan for it. We cannot do that until Bill 104 is passed, so I would ask the member for Algoma to quit delaying passage of this bill. Let's get on with improving the system.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question too is for the Minister of Education. Again this morning you refused to give a guarantee that there would not be further cuts to education once your new school boards are in place and you are in complete control. Once again this morning you refused to acknowledge the cuts that you have already made and that you are going to make.

You keep playing word games, trying to make people believe that you're going to give school boards something you call stable funding. Your idea of stable funding for this year has meant $250 million more cut from education, and now we are seeing more programs lost and more teachers laid off. Now you're talking about stable funding for the first six months of these new amalgamated boards, but those boards have to pay all the startup costs of that forced amalgamation in those six months, and the money for your amalgamation is going to come right out of the same budgets that pay for teachers, that pay for busing kids to school, that pay to provide textbooks.

Minister, this is a huge new cut, and I ask you, why are you making students pay the price of pushing your agenda through?

Hon Mr Snobelen: That is simply untrue. We made an announcement yesterday that said that school boards will be able to make the transition during the 1997-98 school year without affecting the programs that are offered students, because we do not want this transition period to cause any disruption in the classrooms in Ontario. Because of our announcement yesterday, we can assure parents and teachers and, most important, students that this will be the case: There will be a stable funding base for 1997-98; all of the programs will be offered. That's the commitment of this government.

Mrs McLeod: It's hard for me to determine what the minister defines as "truth," because the only thing that counts as truth is what is borne out by the facts. The facts are, according to this minister's own written statements, that school boards will have to pay all the startup costs for amalgamation and there will be no further funding. That means stable funding is actually a cut. The minister doesn't want to acknowledge that. He doesn't know what the figures are. He doesn't want to know, because then he'd have to acknowledge that he is going to hurt students with his amalgamation.

Let me ask you a very specific question, Minister, so I can get your sense of what this amalgamation is going to mean to kids in the classroom. Let me just take as an example two boards that are going to come into a multiboard amalgamation. One of the boards, because of your cuts last year, had to decide to drop its French immersion program so it could keep junior kindergarten. The other board made a different decision; they decided that they would keep French immersion but they didn't have enough money left after your cuts to keep junior kindergarten. Minister, I want to ask you, under the amalgamated boards, are you going to fund both the junior kindergarten and the French immersion program for all the kids in the new amalgamated board or which program will you --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Surely the member opposite is not suggesting that you would somehow change the program offering midyear. That's the whole purpose of our announcement, to provide stability for the programs that are offered for the students.

When you talk about trust, in the red book you committed to reducing the number of trustees; you committed to reducing trustees' salaries; you wanted to recognize the part-time nature of a trustee's job; you committed to getting the province's education dollars spent in the classroom. Those were the things you said during the election campaign in this province, yet you've criticized this government's efforts to make those a reality. Which way is it, this way or that way, yesterday or tomorrow? You keep flip-flopping on this, and I can tell you the people of Ontario know who to trust to get a better education system. It's this government.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I was disturbed by some elements of your answer earlier with respect to children's services and child welfare.

I want to review with you your government's record with respect to children. We hear a lot about how much you care, but let's take a look at the announcement you made last week for about $45 million in children's services: important services, but it was a reannouncement of $45 million that you first announced in last year's budget. We're a week away from fiscal year-end. You didn't spend a cent. You also announced in last year's budget 40 million new dollars for child care spaces in this province. You said you were going to spend more than any government ever had. You haven't spent one penny of that. In fact, you cut another $50 million of capital out and many thousands of child care spaces have disappeared. You've taken money out of CAS programs, where we know high-risk children are getting services. We have to improve them. You've talked about that; I would support you in that. But you've taken money out of those programs.

The bottom line is that you're balancing the budget and giving a tax break on the backs of kids. Why won't you commit those unspent dollars today to intervene in the CASs to give them the money they need?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): There's no question that the announcement we did last week talked about the budget commitment for speech and language, which was a budget commitment we are proceeding with. Secondly, the healthy babies initiative was also a budget commitment.

I'd like to remind the honourable member that the investment we have given to the Invest in Kids Foundation, which focuses on prevention and intervention work for young preschool children, was a new investment.

Secondly, the announcement that we are continuing as a permanent program the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program I think is also new. There is a program where we have seen that with the right community supports, with the right programming in high-risk communities, we can have a very dramatic impact on the number of children who need the care of children's aid or any other kind of intervention procedures.

So I think we have indeed moved forward and will continue to move forward. For example, the national child benefit: I was at a meeting again last week with my colleagues to see how we could improve services for low-income children.

Ms Lankin: Minister, your Invest in Kids amount was a very small amount of money to an agency that didn't even request money from you when you've got CASs where the workers' caseloads are growing daily. There are more poor kids in this province; there are more families at risk and families who need help. You can see how critical this is when you see the results if we don't have the system working well.

I admit to you and I agree with you that the system has needed work for a long time, but right now we're facing a crisis in terms of these kids. You've got to step in. There's over $150 million unspent from last year's budget that you allocated to kids. Surely you could proceed and allocate moneys to needed child care spaces, where families are desperately needing that in order to get the relief they need or to get out and get work. Surely you could restore the $17 million to CASs so they could bring down the caseload. Surely you could ensure that an investigation is being done of children's services across all the community and not just CASs. Minister, you've got to take responsibility. Please tell us you're going to act today.


Hon Mrs Ecker: Forgive me, but I thought one of the things I was talking about was the things that we had already done or are doing. I do believe we are taking responsibility for this, as are the children's aid societies, and we look forward to working with them on the coroner's task force when they complete their recommendations. We've already begun some of the work to do that.

Yes, the families need help, and I'm pleased that the honourable member recognizes that, but it's not a question of simply throwing more money at the problem. Yes, resources are very important, but the other important question, the other thing the experts recommend to us, is how we're spending that money. Are we spending it on intervention and prevention? Yes, we are shifting to that. Are we providing more supports for the workers? Yes, we are. Those are the kinds of things that will make sure we're doing a better job for these children who need our support and care.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): My question is to the Minister of Health. In my riding of Hamilton West, the single biggest issue that's been raised through my office has been the issue of health care, in particular cardiac surgery. We have heard of some of the reinvestments your ministry has made in patient dollars saved through reinvestment. In light of those recent announcements, can you tell me and the people in my riding in what areas we can expect to see improved cardiac services?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Thank you to the member for Hamilton West. Hamilton, in the recent announcements I was able to make there on behalf of the government with respect to cardiac care, with respect to dialysis services, trauma services and transplant services, is an excellent example of the benefits that come from restructuring, getting rid of the waste and duplication in the health care system and investing every dollar, and more, back into services.

I was in Hamilton recently to announce $7.3 million in hospital priority programs, and that falls on top of $2 million in cardiac services in Hamilton just late in 1996. By this time next year, with those investments in Hamilton and with the $35-million unprecedented reinvestment in cardiac care in this province, we will have the shortest waiting lists in the history of this province by this time next year in cardiac care. That's because we've not cut one penny in health care. In fact, we're spending $300 million more in health care and we're shortening the waiting list to an all-time low --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.

Mrs Ross: Minister, what does this mean in terms of reinvestment in my community of Hamilton West? What does this mean in terms of patient care that we can expect there?


The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order. The member for Hamilton East.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): She's not coming back anyway.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, come to order. I'm not warning you again.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Pucker up, guys. Here comes the Premier.

The Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold as well.

Hon Mr Wilson: The people of Hamilton were very appreciative, and so were the cardiac surgeons and so were the people who put in new hips and knees and the surgeons who look after trauma patients. Dialysis services are available today that weren't available a year ago in Hamilton. All of that is a credit to the honourable member, because she understands health care, she understands that we're putting every dollar and more back into the system.

At the end of the day what it means to your constituents, I say to the member for Hamilton West, and all constituents across Ontario is that there will be modern hospitals with more services; no more half-empty buildings, no more huge administrations, but modern, full-service hospitals, with the newest technologies and the newest drug therapies and the shortest waiting lists in the history of health care in this province. That's what restructuring is all about and that's what the reinvestment strategy is all about. I know that the doctors and nurses I met in Hamilton when I was down there recently understand that fully, and the patients were very grateful to have shorter waiting lists and a greater access to a range of hospital services.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Hamilton East.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): It's unfortunate the minister didn't speak about hospital closures in Hamilton.

The Speaker: I still need to know who your question is to.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the minister of privatization. The government's obsession with privatizing absolutely everything that moves in this province, absolutely anything that is essential, has now carried on to your next goal, and that is privatizing drinking water in this province. It started under Bill 26, when you took away the right of referendums from municipalities that choose to privatize their drinking water. It then continued through your massive downloading and dumping on municipalities. Now, Bill 107 is the final step, where you've turned the rest of the assets over to municipalities to allow them to privatize drinking water.

Very clearly, we have seen the experiences throughout the world. We have seen the British experience of an increase of 1,000% in rates, the health care difficulties. They turned off the people's water when they couldn't pay, and we are moving in that direction as a result of Bill 107.

Minister, can you tell the House why you believe it is appropriate for municipalities to have the power to sell their water and sewer assets to the highest bidder?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): I think the honourable member across the floor will know that if he looks at the bill he's speaking to, that question is better addressed to the Minister of Environment. But in his absence, I will tell you that the assets we're dealing with in that particular bill were actually owned by the municipalities anyhow, and we're just doing what would have been done over the course of time anyhow.

As it relates to privatization, of course the member knows that we've been working over the last number of months to try to establish a framework so we can move ahead on privatization in a fair and open environment. In fact, we hope to be able to come forward with that framework shortly to deal with matters of privatization in the way they should be dealt with.

Mr Agostino: I'm astonished at the lack of knowledge of this issue since it clearly is going to fall under the jurisdiction that you have responsibility for once municipalities start moving to privatize their water services because of the fact that you have downloaded so much on to them that is the only asset they have. Frankly, the private sector would love to get its hands on and be able to control the water rates.

Very clearly, it's not a question of moving the other 25% of the services to the municipalities. This is an issue about your government having the responsibility and the power to very clearly say to municipalities across Ontario: "We're not going to allow you to privatize drinking water. It is not for sale to the highest bidder. It is a vital service to Ontarians."

Minister, we are going to introduce an amendment to Bill 107 that would prohibit municipalities from privatizing and losing control of the ability to set rates for water and sewer services. Can you tell us if you and your government are going to support that amendment that would stop municipalities from selling off their water to the highest bidder and in the process shafting homeowners and residents of this province and holding them hostage to corporate greed rather than --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The minister without portfolio responsible for privatization.

Hon Mr Sampson: What I can tell the member across the floor is that we intend to set up a framework that will deal with privatization matters on a fair and open basis so that all the issues related to privatization can be discussed, all the options associated with privatization can be discussed and the range of opportunities and options around asset sale or partnership or whatever can be discussed in a full and open environment. We intend to have that full and open discussion.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a question to the Attorney General. During the fall of last year, Attorney General, after you laid off almost 290 family support plan staff and shut down eight of the regional offices, day after day you told this House that your mega-office in Downsview was up and operating. It was only on November 7, when Shelley Martel and I brought back videotape, that your incompetence was revealed and it was demonstrated that the office was nowhere near operational and that's why women and kids weren't getting the money you were responsible for delivering to them.

You then brought forward Bill 82, and after a mere four days of hearings it was passed before Christmas 1996. You promised that the new enforcement procedures in Bill 82 would be proclaimed by January. It's now April, and women and children are still going without their family support payments. Why did you break that promise other than for your sole incompetence and inability to run your ministry and the family support plan?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): We have passed a bill that will bring in what I believe are the toughest enforcement measures anywhere in North America to collect family support payments. We have worked very hard to bring service improvements to the plan so that 95% of cheques are processed within 48 hours, and we will continue to focus on service.

In addition, we're doing something different with the family support plan, and that is that we are changing the focus from cheque processing to enforcement. We are going to develop an enforcement agency and that will effectively change the way this plan operates. Rather than the passive approach that has always been taken in the past to collect family support payments, we have implemented in this bill 30 new techniques that provide active enforcement, something that never existed in any plan in this province before.

We're now working very hard to ensure that the tools are implemented so that we can bring in our enforcement mechanisms in the most effective way.


Mr Kormos: Attorney General, your singular incompetence rears its ugly head once again. The fact is that only 50% of the 2,000 phone calls a day are being answered. The fact is that hundreds and thousands of families in this province, women and their kids, still aren't receiving moneys that you're responsible to deliver to them, and the fact is that you promised that this bill would be proclaimed by January. It's now April. You can't even give a commitment as to when it will be proclaimed. You can't even give a commitment as to when the most basic enforcement tools that were contained in Bill 82 will be in effect so that you can start utilizing them.

You're an embarrassment. You express nothing but disdain for the women and children of this province. You ought to do the right thing and confess your incompetence, acknowledge it, resign. Let somebody else, if there is anybody else in that miserable caucus, take over your responsibilities.

Hon Mr Harnick: At least I wasn't dumb enough to be a Sunshine Boy.

I am surprised about the member's question, because in 1993, when these enforcement measures were sought by a mother --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: I am surprised that the member is pressing on this issue so hard, because in 1993 when --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): You're incompetent.

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

Hon Mr Harnick: In 1993, when Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears sought this kind of bill, they were turned away by the NDP government. When we were debating Bill 82, the opposition NDP brought an opposition day to stop the bill altogether, and now they want this bill. I can assure them that we are working very hard to implement the bill in a way that will be most effective, that will provide a new dimension to the family support plan, which for the first time will have an enforcement branch to it that will effectively be able to actively pursue arrears, something the NDP government rejected, took no steps to develop. We are doing this so that women and children can get the money to which they are entitled. Enforcement mechanisms have not existed to permit the plan to do that. They will exist very shortly.

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Serving notice upon this incompetent minister, the one who bungled and breaks promises --

The Speaker: If you want to serve notice, you better do it in the proper manner.

Mr Kormos: -- upon the Attorney General that he or his parliamentary assistant, whoever it happens to be today, is going to have to come back at 6, because that answer isn't adequate.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Minister, two years ago we campaigned on the premise of less government regulation and a return to more self-reliance. In the 1996 business plan of your ministry and subsequently the passing of Bill 54, the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act of June of last year, the government outlined an initiative to move towards self-management for a number of business sectors regulated by your ministry.

I have a number of constituents who fall into this sector and will be affected by the legislation. I was wondering what the status of this initiative is and when they can expect changes to be in place. Could you inform the Legislature as to the progress you are making towards implementing self-management by real estate brokers and agents, travel agents and wholesalers, and automobile dealers?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): As the member knows, we outlined our intentions in Bill 54 to delegate certain responsibilities for the administration, enforcement and licensing of certain industries to non-profit, independent, private-sector organizations. I'd like to advise that we have made a fair amount of progress in our efforts in industry self-management.

As the member is aware right now, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, OMVIC, is now up and running. We then proceeded to work on the real estate council as well. I had an opportunity to first speak about this real estate council to members of the greater Hamilton real estate board, which was attended as well by the member for Hamilton West, whom I'd like to welcome as my new parliamentary assistant, Lillian Ross, at the same time, and also thank the member for Durham Centre for the work he did as parliamentary assistant to the ministry. We then signed the agreement with the Real Estate Council of Ontario on March 1.

I'd like to refer to a certain remark by Alan Silverstein, who is a well-respected lawyer and Toronto Star columnist who had this to say. He said, "Never before" --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm afraid you'll have to do it in the supplementary.

Mr Chudleigh: Thank you very much, Minister. On the flip side of the issue, some of my Halton North constituents have commented to me that in turning over these responsibilities to the private sector, consumer protection will be put at risk. Can you tell the House what protection will be in place to assist the consumers of Ontario and address the concerns of my constituents?


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Mr Speaker, I will finish that thought at the request of the member from over there. Mr Silverstein did indicate: "Never before have business and consumers had an opportunity for greater input. If anything," the industry "should be concerned that its activities will now be subject to greater public scrutiny, higher levels of competence and ethical conduct, and tougher sanctions."

Mr Speaker, we are embarking upon self-management, not self-regulation. What this means is that certain functions that the ministry used to do will be handled by the industry, such as administration and some licensing functions. We will still maintain the policy and regulatory functions for the ministry. We'll be responsible for monitoring.

Certainly this has worked in other provinces. Other provinces which have raised the bar in terms of standards for the industry are Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

We will maintain the consumer protection. We will have consumer representatives on all these councils. We will have government representatives as well just to make sure the consumer is protected.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. The minister will know that on March 25, the town council at Jaffray Melick passed a resolution to reject the 41.5 kilometres of highway that the minister has attempted to download on them. Minister, you will know that many other municipal leaders along with Mayor Canfield have stated that they and their councils are unwilling to accept these highways. The minister will also know that the mayor and council went out and covered the signs that announced the transfer of highways to the motorists in black plastic.

Now that the town has refused your downloading, I want to ask you, who is responsible for the safety of the motoring public and also the maintenance of these highways?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to inform the honourable member that these highways have been transferred to the local municipality, and they are the ones who are going to be responsible for the upkeep of safety. I do expect that municipalities will maintain safety on their new provincial roads.

Mr Miclash: They've rejected taking on these highways; they're not taking them. They've told you they don't want them. We know that many of these mayors and councillors are very dedicated. They are dedicated leaders and they're trying to protect their municipalities, municipalities that are having enough of a tough time maintaining the roads they now have.

Mayor Canfield and his colleagues are asking the question on the minds of other municipal leaders across the north, that being, does the province have the right to bankrupt their municipality? Minister, again, these municipalities have said they do not want these highways. They have rejected them. I ask you, what do you say to Mayor Canfield and others who fear the worst and have told you they will not accept these highways?

Hon Mr Palladini: The highways that have been earmarked and transferred to the municipalities have been done. As of April 1, they're going to be responsible. But I also want to say to the member that the municipalities are going to control the land use and the zoning and they will also have control on the entries and building permits that possibly are going to be erected from this particular point. I also want to say that municipalities are going to have an excellent opportunity to increase local development with these transfers, so there are positives in what has been going on.

I must say, these highways have been transferred in the best of condition, and if there are some situations where they have to be addressed, there are funds available to make sure that these transfers are going to be done in an orderly fashion.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): A question to the Minister of Finance. Minister, we've just finished two weeks of public hearings on your Bill 106, that of reassessment Ontario. These are some of the impacts of your bill. Bill 106 demands a complete reassessment of some 3.8 million properties across Ontario, with a possible 900,000 appeals. Bill 106, the same bill, will involve a massive tax shift whereby the big banks, the big conglomerates, will save some 40% of their business occupancy tax and the slack will be picked up by those smaller businesses. Homeowners and tenants in Metro Toronto will be subjected to a massive increase. Rural municipalities will have to assume a new responsibility, that of the farm tax rebate -- all this in a one-year tax frame.

Tell the House, Minister, what's your rush? What's the big hurry?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The honourable member will know that the system of property taxation and assessment we have in Ontario today is very unfair and unequal across the province. We have some people being taxed on 1940 values and we have other people being taxed on 1992 values.

I say to the honourable member, he's making an assumption. If he thinks that municipalities are going to pass on what is now the business occupancy tax to residential homeowners, I think he's making a very serious mistake indeed. There is no need for municipalities to pass that on to residential homeowners. As a matter of fact, municipalities will now have six classes of properties. They can take the entire revenue that they now gain on business occupancy tax and ask businesses to continue to pay it or they can distribute it as they see fit.

I might also point out that the city of Toronto alone loses over $100 million a year because of an out-of-date property tax assessment.

Mr Pouliot: Minister, let's snap out of it. Let's get into the real world here. The devil is in the detail. The city of Oakville, for instance, will be asked to pass $18 million of industrial assessment on to the commercial sector and to the residential sector.

The Premier and the Treasurer are very good at looking across the fence and saying, "You must streamline; you must get leaner; you will find those savings through efficiencies," and yet this is a government that is spending more money this year than last year and more last year than the year before. You have no credibility. Why don't you start doing your own work instead of downloading on the smaller people, the municipalities, which is the last resort? You have no credibility. You are in a mess, with nine months for implementation. We don't want you to simmer in it. Why don't you come to your senses? Withdraw the bill or give it a little more time. Do what's right, Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: We are doing what's right. The reality is that there are thousands upon thousands of Ontario taxpayers who have been paying more than their share; some for decades have been paying more than their share. We are changing the system so that, for example, Metro Toronto won't lose $100 million a year in lost revenue due to appeals. There are over 40,000 appeals currently pending in Ontario today. In municipalities all across this province right now there is over $200 million in arrears under the business occupancy tax. It's an outdated tax that was started in 1904. It's totally unworkable, as well as inequitable.

After we are done with this process we'll have a far more equitable system across Ontario, where everybody knows they will be treated the same. If the honourable member, as indeed other members, has suggestions he'd like to see improvements to Bill 106, we're quite prepared to listen to them.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move that we do now proceed to orders of the day.

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

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. It'll be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1506 to 1536.

The Speaker: Order. Order, member for Hamilton Centre.

The government House leader has moved a motion to 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 (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 70; the nays are 38.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Leach moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto / Projet de loi 103, Loi visant à remplacer les sept administrations municipales existantes de la communauté urbaine de Toronto en constituant une nouvelle municipalité appelée la cité de Toronto.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Just to indicate up front, I understand there is unanimous consent that the opposition parties would be allocated about 50 minutes each and the government will take the remaining time beyond that.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's okay if you want to do that; it's just unusual. Unanimous consent to 50 minutes each to the opposition parties and the government will take the remaining time? Agreed.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): This is a historic day for Torontonians, because today Bill 103, the City of Toronto Act, comes before this House for third reading.


The Speaker: Order. Members for Lake Nipigon and Sudbury East, I would ask that you come to order. The Minister of Municipal Affairs has the floor. Member for Yorkview.

Hon Mr Leach: Historic because today we take the final steps towards unifying Metropolitan Toronto and its six area municipalities into one city of Toronto, and today the people who live and work in this region are one step closer to better government. They're one step closer to government that will result in lower costs, lower taxes, fewer politicians, better services and increased accountability. They're one step closer to a strong, globally competitive city of Toronto and they're one step closer to a future that includes jobs, prosperity, hope and progress.

Torontonians deserve a future that's built on optimism, a future dedicated to positive change and a future that says yes to new and exciting possibilities.

Certainly the road leading to today's vote has not been easy. Nobody ever said it would be easy; change is never easy. But we made the tough decisions to move ahead with this important legislation because we very sincerely believe the results will be well worth the effort. The new, unified city of Toronto is all about government that works.

There have been dozens of studies, each showing that the status quo was not an option. Even the six mayors agreed with that. The Who Does What panel recommended fixing the GTA core and so did the Golden task force. They recognized, as we recognize, that this is a great city but it simply cannot afford to sit back and rest on its laurels.

We knew we had to take action to maintain its international position as a vibrant and thriving metropolis. We knew action was necessary to deal with a global economy, new technology and new ways of doing business. So we got down to brass tacks and we introduced Bill 103 to galvanize this great city, to propel it into the 21st century and to ensure its rightful place on the cutting edge of prosperity and growth.

What's so important about creating a unified Toronto? Improved economic development potential: one city presented to business investors, not six cities competing with the same prospects; one strong council and one mayor, not seven competing voices.

Better political accountability: Taxpayers won't have to deal with two levels of government, only one. Savings: Taxpayers can save up to $865 million over three years and $300 million every year thereafter.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Even your own civil servants don't believe that nonsense.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Leader of the third party.

Hon Mr Leach: An end to duplication and waste: One fire department, not six; one roads department, not seven. Closing the loop on service amalgamation: Three quarters of the amount spent on city services is already amalgamated. Police, public transit, social and ambulance services are already consolidated. It's time to bring the final quarter on board.

Last, but not least, a solid GTA core, a strong centre to an area that is Ontario's economic engine: A unified Toronto will have the population, political representation and clout to ensure that the GTA and Ontario continue to thrive. In fact, I expect to receive the final report on recommendations for a Greater Toronto Services Board very shortly, and unifying Metro is the first and very logical step towards reform of this entire area.

These are the reasons we introduced Bill 103. We expected opposition, and we certainly got it, but we also knew that we would have support, and we got that as well. People voiced their opinions at committee hearings, town hall meetings, in letters and phone calls, through public opinion surveys and yes, even in referenda.

The government listened very closely. This input -- the input from 600 deputations, from town hall meetings -- helped us to understand how we can improve our legislation for the benefit of all of Toronto, and we responded. Our fundamental goal of one city of Toronto remained intact, but we introduced more than 30 amendments to our legislation, amendments that combined the benefits of unification with the strengths of local community representation.

Have we pleased everyone? Obviously not. We recognize there are naysayers out there who will be satisfied with nothing less than scrapping Bill 103 in its entirety, but for those looking for honest improvement, we believe we have come up with fair and workable solutions that address their concerns.

People said our initial proposal didn't give them enough local representation. We have increased the number of locally elected councillors to 56 within the current Metro ward boundaries.

People told us they were concerned about protecting and preserving their neighbourhoods, so we strengthened those provisions. There will be six community councils based on existing municipal boundaries.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): They're a joke. You admitted they're a joke yourself.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oakwood.

Hon Mr Leach: People were worried that the board of trustees was too powerful. We have replaced the board of trustees with a financial advisory board with limited powers.

People told us our proposed transition team placed too much power in the hands of unelected officials. Again, we listened. The transition team will now be an advisory and consultative body which will make recommendations to the new city council on how things might work.

People told us they were afraid a new, unified council would increase their taxes. We don't believe that's the case at all, so the transition team is going to prepare a 1998 draft budget for the new council's consideration. This budget will reflect the principles of tax stability and continuity of services.

We believe the new council, as duly elected officials, will work hard to find the efficiencies in the new, unified city that will allow it to once again avoid tax increases, and we believe it is only logical that moving from seven governments to one will produce savings.

Some citizens told us they felt their cities' reserve funds were open to grabs by the provincial government. The fact is, these reserve funds were never at the mercy of the province at any time. But again, we acknowledged this concern and introduced an amendment to our bill that clarified that the province will not be able to access municipal reserves.

These are the major amendments which we introduced and which have brought us to this point in Toronto's history. Bill 103 is now up for final debate. One strong city of Toronto is now on the horizon. This is a new day, a new beginning for all of us. But the work is just beginning, public consultations are just beginning and the transition will take time to complete. With the goodwill and the perseverance of everyone in this great city, one new and better Toronto will emerge for all of us.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): At one level this debate is about the structure of government for Metro Toronto, but at a deeper level it's about something else. It's about our vision for one of the greatest cities on the planet and it's about our values as a society. Before we vote on this bill, I think we should each ask ourselves three separate and distinct questions: First of all, is a megacity the right vision for Metro Toronto; second, do the people of Toronto really want a megacity; and third, what does the passage of this bill say about the Harris government and its view of democracy?

With respect to the first question, earlier this year a legislative committee held six weeks of hearings on the megacity bill, six weeks of input that this government didn't want but was forced into by the opposition. We heard from expert after expert, and their views were unanimous: A megacity is the wrong vision for Metro Toronto. The evidence is overwhelming and beyond dispute. A megacity will cause property taxes to soar, it will cause services to be cut and it will make government even more remote from the people it is supposed to serve.

We heard from Wendell Cox, an international public policy consultant who said: "This just makes no sense at all. I think in the long run megacity is going to be a failed experiment." Later on, Mr Cox told us that the megacity comes along with a $4.5-billion pricetag for the next 10 years. That means a property tax hike of about $5,000 per household over the next 10 years, and that's before the effects of downloading, which are going to cost us another $500 every year per household. Let's face it: Megacity and downloading are a one-two punch aimed at the very heart of Metropolitan Toronto.

We also heard from Jane Jacobs, the internationally renowned authority on cities, who has chosen to make Toronto her home for good reason, who said: "Amalgamation is the most stupid idea that's come along for ages.... If it ever happens, we'll just have to accept we're going to stagnate." We heard from expert after expert who said that bigger cities are not more efficient and cheaper; they are less efficient and more expensive.


I remember when Mike Harris used to make the same point. I remember when he said: "I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities." That's what the then leader of the third party said. But that was then and this is now. Opposition leader Mike Harris used to speak out for strong local governments. Now, Premier Mike Harris kills them.

Next question: Do the people of Toronto really want a megacity? I think the answer to that one ought to be pretty apparent to all of us. Over the course of six weeks, we saw nearly 1,000 people who love this community -- and I use that word advisedly. They love this community; there is a strong emotional bond with the communities in which the people of Metropolitan Toronto happen to live. We saw those 1,000 people testify at committee. We saw 10,000 people march down Yonge Street. We saw meetings night after night in municipality after municipality, from 15 to 15,000 people. I don't think this city has seen so many people so involved in an issue in nearly three decades. The message they sent was loud and very, very clear: "We don't want to be part of a megacity and we don't want you forcing a megacity on us."

We saw referenda in six municipalities, referenda that this government tried to derail, referenda that it said it would ignore and ultimately referenda that it tried to buy with a million-dollar advertising campaign. Yet when all was said and done and all the votes were counted, 76% of those who voted said no to the megacity.

It would seem to me that's pretty clear; in fact, I'd call it unequivocal. It ought to be unequivocal, and it is to everybody but this government. People said "No." They didn't say, "No, unless they make some token changes," and they didn't say, "No, unless they make some minor amendments." They said, "No." They said, "No means no," and they said, "No means no megacity." There was only one decent, honourable and responsive thing for this government to do: Kill the bill, put it out of its misery.

I remember the good old days when Mike Harris used to speak in favour of referenda. I remember when he said the government should listen to the people it serves. But that was then and this is now. Opposition leader Mike Harris used to listen to people. Premier Mike Harris runs roughshod over them.

The third question: What does the passage of this bill say about the Harris government and its view of democracy? The people of Metro Toronto have sent a clear and unequivocal message to this government. If this government insists on using its majority to force through Bill 103, it will send a clear and unequivocal message back to the people. The Harris government is saying to the people of Metro Toronto: "We don't care what your vision of your community is. We don't care about your belief in strong local government. You're getting a megacity, and you're getting it whether you like it or not."

That kind of bullheadedness is of concern not only to the people of Metro but to people right across this great province, because if this government insists on forcing its will on the largest and most powerful community in this province, then surely it will not hesitate one instant to run roughshod over the smallest and the most powerless.

The contempt for public opinion that this government is showing today is nothing less than sledgehammer democracy at its very worst. A great deal has been said about this government's style of operation, but the member for Wentworth North perhaps captured it best. He said, and remember we're talking about a Conservative member here, "This government is controlled by the Premier's office in conjunction with a bunch of kids who I say have a college or university degree in one hand and Machiavelli's Prince in the other, and not a whole lot in between." He added, "And those are the people, for ideological reasons, that are coming up with this policy." That's what one of their own said.

I'm going to make an appeal now directly to the Conservative members opposite. When you cast your vote on this bill, you can send the Premier one of two messages. You can say it's okay for the Premier to run this province like it's his personal fiefdom; it's okay to ignore the wishes of the people of Ontario and the members they elect, even government members; it's okay for a small, unelected clique inside the Premier's office to force its will on the people. Or the members opposite can stand up for the people who voted for you and you can vote against this bill. You can send a loud and clear message that it's not okay for the Premier and a small group of ideologues in his office to ignore the people of Ontario and those they elected to represent them. It's not too late, in fact it's never too late, to stand up for real democracy instead of sledgehammer democracy. Even at this 11th hour, it's not too late.

That's why I'm tabling an amendment to this bill. It's called a reasoned amendment, which our rules allow even on third reading of a bill. It says, in part, that Bill 103 is fundamentally defective in principle, which every member of this House knows in their heart to be true, and that Bill 103 ought to be withdrawn, which every member of this House knows is the only action that is in keeping with the will of the people we happen to enjoy the privilege of serving.

It was over 200 years ago that one of the greatest students of democracy, somebody by the name of Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote, "Governments usually perish from impotence or from tyranny." In the case of this government, it is certainly risking both. In forcing through this bill, this government has lost a sense of the very real privilege of government, a sense that what we are really all about in this chamber is public service. Those who lose touch with this concept, who lose touch with the people we happen to serve, are a government that has lost the support of the people.

This government and this Premier can try to rule by imposing their will on the people, can choose a path quite different from the path of democracy, but they should not be surprised when the people respond decisively at election time. The people of Metropolitan Toronto will not just accept this vote and go quietly into the night and the people of Ontario will not forget what happens here today. If this government chooses to sow the wind, then it had better be prepared to reap the whirlwind.

I want to conclude by moving the following reasoned amendment:

That Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto, be not now read a third time but be returned to the standing committee on general government to determine the following matters:

The amount of the shift in tax burden from provincial taxes to municipal residential, commercial and industrial property which is occurring as a result of the downloading and offloading of provincial costs on to the municipal tax base;

The impact of the offloading of the provincial costs on the taxes, services and the voice of communities across Metro. The government should present evidence to demonstrate how the legislation will reduce taxes in Metro and to show how services will be protected;

The implications of ignoring the Golden and Crombie task force recommendations to replace the five existing regional governments with a GTA-wide council or board made up of representatives from the municipalities within the GTA;

The implications of studies showing that once a city gets over one million people, economies of scale in municipal operations start to disappear. The government's own studies showing what savings are expected should also be presented at this time.

I now ask for unanimous consent for me to move this particular amendment and for us to have an opportunity for a vote.


The Deputy Speaker: You have moved it; I have to read it.

Mr McGuinty has moved a reasoned amendment:

That Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto, be not now read a third time but be returned to the standing committee on general government to determine the following matters:

The amount of the shift in tax burden from provincial taxes to municipal residential, commercial and industrial property which is occurring as a result of the downloading and offloading of provincial costs on to the municipal tax base;

The impact of the offloading of provincial costs on the taxes, services and the voice of communities across Metro. The government should present evidence to demonstrate how the legislation will reduce taxes in Metro and to show how services will be protected;

The implications of ignoring the Golden and Crombie task forces' recommendations to replace the five existing regional governments with a GTA-wide council or board made up of representatives from the municipalities within the GTA;

The implications of studies showing that once a city gets over one million people economies of scale in municipal operations start to disappear. The government's own studies showing what savings are expected should also be presented at this time. April 17, 1997.

Further debate? The member for Dovercourt.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Usually when we stand --

Mr McGuinty: Point of order: Do we have unanimous consent?

The Deputy Speaker: No unanimous consent required.

Mr Silipo: When we rise to speak we usually begin, many of us, with the words, "I'm pleased to rise and speak" to whatever the motion or the matter may be. I'm not particularly pleased to stand here today and to speak on third reading of Bill 103. I'm in fact quite angered at the fact that this is where we are in the proceedings of the House, but I'm not surprised. Even the reasoned amendment that we've just seen presented I know will find the same conclusion that in fact any other reasonable proposal that has come forward from any of us in the opposition and indeed, and particularly, members of the public will find, which is that the government will simply ignore it. They will ignore it because for them this is not about reason, this is not about doing the right thing, this is about doing the ideologically correct thing for them. This is doing the thing that controls and continues to put the control and the power into the hands of fewer and fewer people and takes that control more and more away from the citizens -- in this case, the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto. That is what's driven this government on many of its actions and that's certainly what is driving this minister and this government on this particular action.

I could speak in the short time that I'm going to be speaking about all of the reasons why the government should, even at this late stage, pull back, pause, reflect, figure out a way to send this bill away, but I know that I would be simply repeating things that the government would not care to hear and things that quite frankly would not make a difference at all. So I would rather spend a few minutes talking about what this all means; not what this means so much in terms of the next stage in the implementation because, let me tell you, the debate is just beginning on that, but what this means in terms of what's happened through this whole process in terms of the understanding that's developed among the people, not just in Metropolitan Toronto -- yes, in spades in Metropolitan Toronto -- but indeed across the province about what this government is all about: the undemocratic nature that they have gone to, the undemocratic measures that they have used to ram through this bill, to ignore completely what the vast majority of residents in Metropolitan Toronto have said, not just through the hearings but through the referendum. Quite clearly people have begun to understand that. They know that if this government is prepared to go to these undemocratic means, is prepared to ignore so clearly an expressed view as that of 76% of the people in Metropolitan Toronto saying no to the megacity in a referendum, that they will stop at nothing to implement their horrendous agenda.

I think, quite frankly, that there is at least a tremendous amount of value to what's happened in the last few months because I have seen a citizens' movement develop here in Metropolitan Toronto that I have not seen for some years. The minister can stand here, even upon third reading of the bill, and talk about, "We expected some opposition and we got it," or he can talk about, "Those people out there are naysayers." I want to say to the minister, take a look up in the galleries, on both sides, listen to the noise that you hear out there because that's the sound and these are the faces of the people that you are choosing to ignore. You will ignore them not just at your own political peril but you will ignore them and you will end up at the end losing on your revolution because people understand now what your Common Sense Revolution is all about.

They understand that it's not about more democracy, they understand that it's very much about less democracy. They understand that it's about concentrating more and more power in the hands of fewer and fewer people, in the hands of unelected people, unaccountable to the public. They understand that, Minister. You may get away with passing this bill on third reading today but if you think for one second that's the end of the matter, then you really haven't heard a thing out there, because in the courts this will continue to be fought, in the implementation this will continue to be fought. At every stage from here till the last day that you will stand up as Minister of Municipal Affairs to whoever will succeed you and to the last days of your government, there will continue to be opposition to this, not because we in the opposition have to muster that opposition but simply because what you are doing is fundamentally wrong and people understand that.

When people understand that what their government is doing is wrong and when they are prepared to continue to tell you that in all sorts of ways, then the opposition that's out there which has been tremendous up until this point will not wither away, it will grow. It will be expressed in different ways but it will grow. At the end of the day it will result in your government being defeated and it will result in the people being able to win the day. Why? Simply because they are right and you're wrong. It's as simple as that.

You can muck around with this bill as much as you want. You can make as many amendments as you want, but if you continue to persist, as you are obviously doing here today, in your insane approach that says that this megacity is the way to go, then you have either not heard, not understood, or you have heard and understood but chosen to ignore the will of the people. When any government acts contrary to the will of the people, the only thing that it has left is a little bit of time and that's the time between now and the next election. That's the only thing you have left. You have no credibility, you have no ability to convince people, even in some of the smaller measures that you might want to bring about, because people have seen through your façade. People have seen through the Common Sense Revolution. They have seen it for the charade that it is and yet they understand the seriousness of it, because people have made the connection between the megacity, the mega school boards that are being created under Bill 104 and all of the other measures that particularly we are seeing in this special session of the Parliament which will result, all for the sake of the tax cut, in democratic power being taken away from the people and put more and more into the hands of fewer and fewer people. The minister can say, "We've increased the number of politicians." It's not about the numbers, Minister, it's about the process, it's about the link there is and it's about the decision-making power.

You can continue to ride this through. You presumably have the numbers this afternoon to pass this bill. But at the end of the day, the voice and the will of the people will ride over what this government is doing.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): It always does.

Mr Silipo: It always does, as my colleague the member for Sault Ste Marie says, and it certainly will in this case.

So I stand today with a lot of sadness because we have not managed to convince this government that what it is doing is wrong, but I stand today also very firm in my mind that this is but another chapter in the ongoing fight against this ludicrous notion of a megacity that Mike Harris and Al Leach want to continue to impose upon the people of Metropolitan Toronto, despite the fact that the collective wisdom of the people has said no, will continue to say no and will persist in saying no until either Mike Harris and Al Leach listen, or quite frankly until Mike Harris and Al Leach are here no more and therefore it doesn't matter whether they listen or not. But the will of the people, at the end of the day, will have the day, because that's the way the democratic process is and should continue to be.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It's my pleasure to rise on what is indeed an auspicious day as we give third reading and final consideration to a bill which will have a dramatic and positive impact on the people here in Metro Toronto.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Would the member for Scarborough East take his seat for a second, please. Could I ask the members in the gallery to please not make that hissing noise. It is against the rules here and I have to ask that you obey the rules when you're sitting in those seats, please. Thank you.

Mr Gilchrist: I know the leader of the second and third parties, Mr Sewell, is in attendance. Perhaps he can counsel his members to respect the rules here in the Legislature.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough East, take your seat for a moment. I would ask the member for Oakwood to come to order. The member for Scarborough East, I don't think it's appropriate or indeed helpful to the situation to provoke members or insult members of the gallery either.

Mr Gilchrist: We'll stay on topic then, and the topic is indeed the fact that this --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I think you appropriately cautioned the member, but I would suggest it is out of order to refer to members in the gallery and/or to refer to them by parliamentary names like "the leader of the second and third parties." I would suggest that the member for Scarborough East could facilitate this by simply withdrawing in a polite fashion instead of the arrogant display we've seen.


The Acting Speaker: Come to order, please. Member for Beaches-Woodbine, there was nothing out of order according to the rules of the House. If the member chooses to apologize to any members of the public, then that is his choice, and I offer him that opportunity.

Mr Gilchrist: I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone in the public if they took exception to who has been one of the more outspoken critics, because as we saw during the filibuster, at times when there were no members of the official opposition in attendance here, clearly if there were criticisms to this bill, they were better articulated outside this chamber sometimes than inside.


The Acting Speaker: Order. Member for Scarborough East, take your seat.

Mr Colle: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: This member continues to basically insult and antagonize people. Will he withdraw his first comment?

The Acting Speaker: First of all, I would caution the member for Scarborough East to not be so provocative. I think you know what you're doing, and it would help matters all around in a difficult debate like this if you would not do that. Again, the member for Scarborough East has not used unparliamentary language. I again caution the member, however, and I'd ask all members as we debate this to try to not insult and provoke each other.

Mr Gilchrist: Certainly, the use of the facts I hope will never be inflammatory or cause any great concern, because the root of what we are about to conclude here was a bill that was introduced on December 17. At the outset, a statement was made categorically that there would be ample time given to public hearings. In fact, we gave 105 hours of consideration to this bill, one of the longest consideration periods before a legislative committee of any bill in the last 10 years. That was something outlined by the government the very day the bill was introduced. If the other side wants to deal with the mythology that their 48 somehow forced our 82 to do certain things, I'll leave that to the public to decide the math and the accuracy of that.

The bottom line is, in those hearings we did hear some very specific suggestions. People's concerns basically fell into three categories: They were concerned that somehow this bill would have an impact on the evolution of their community; they had a concern there might be an impact on the democratic representation being offered by the municipal politicians in their area; they had a concern that there might be an impact on taxation.

I am absolutely convinced, and I think any reasonable person reading the amendments we brought forward would conclude the same, that every one of those substantive and specific concerns was addressed directly in the form of those amendments. We took out all the references that we thought were building in extra protection for taxpayers in this city, protection that would ensure that the trustees and the transition team would be allowed to do their work without frivolous and vexatious opposition and time wasting. We recognized this was an important initiative and that once people were charged with the task of going forward and making this project work, they had to have the flexibility to do that in an efficient and effective manner.

We heard certain criticisms about the fact that the bill would be retroactive; we took them out. We heard criticisms that the decisions of the trustees would be immune from any court prosecution; we took them out. In fact, we took out every single specific reference to what others considered undemocratic or anti-democratic actions. Every one of those sections was removed.

We heard too, on the subject of representation, that to go from 106 politicians down to 44 was too great a cut all at once. Interestingly enough, Metro council itself reduced back in 1988 by over 20% the number of members at Metro council, and many other communities across Ontario have seen dramatic reductions in the number of councillors, voluntarily initiated. Here in Metro we saw no grass-roots initiative on the part of the seven local governments to bring about that greater accountability, so that was something we had to do. But we heard concerns that 44 was too few. We reflected that by going up to 56.

I have to say at this point it is clear, to anyone who understands the Municipal Act and understands this bill, that effective the first day that new council is formed, the evolution of the city of Toronto government will be totally in the hands of those 57 politicians. All of their decisions in terms of future boundary changes, in fact whether they even keep 56 councillors and one mayor, those decisions will be made by the city government as they are made by city governments all across this province as a result of our Bill 86, passed last December, which gives those authorities specifically to the communities and removes their need to have to come cap in hand to Queen's Park. So we heard the criticisms about representation and we acted on them, I think very directly.

At the same time a majority of the people who criticized the bill in the legislative hearings said that they thought there was a need to reflect the traditional boundaries of the six existing cities. I think there were others who suggested that those were to some extent outdated and irrelevant and that we should have looked at something that more evenly distributed the workload of the community councils. But having said that, enough people made it clear to us that they thought there was value in respecting those old boundaries that we said the new community councils will in fact conform exactly, precisely, 100% to the boundaries of the existing six cities.

To the extent that the new councils and the new councillors decide to either preserve those boundaries or change in the future, that decision will be totally a made-in-Toronto decision. But at the outset, everyone who said East York is somehow different from York is somehow different from Etobicoke etc will have the ability through their local councils, the community councils, to make sure those differences continue to be respected.

Of course, the third criticism was that there would be an impact on taxation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, one of the tasks of the transition team will be to prepare a budget that proves categorically that it is possible to maintain all existing services, even though those services may differ from one of the old communities to another.



Mr Gilchrist: Perhaps you might have that person removed.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I would caution members in the gallery again. I think you've been well informed even by the Speaker of the House, who attended a meeting at one time, about the rules of the House. You must remain quiet as you sit and listen to the debate. Thank you.

Mr Gilchrist: Clearly the transition team will be charged with the task of coming up with a budget that shows you can preserve all of the services as they exist right now, including the differences between North York's and Scarborough's snowplowing and all the other examples we heard about during these last few weeks, and maintain exactly the same tax. The mill rate need not change.

If the new council, after January 1, decides to take a different course and decides to build more subways or build more libraries or shut down a service or do any change, that will purely and simply be a decision they have made and in no way related to this bill itself, because one of our commitments was that we will be able to provide that proof, that nothing in Bill 103 will impact the taxation of the property owners in the new city of Toronto.

The process has worked and it has worked extraordinarily well. As every member opposite knows and as they themselves practised during their respective five-year terms of office over the last decade, bills that are introduced in this chamber, the thousands of pieces of legislation that have come through this House, are carried out in a particular format. We have first reading, which is nothing more than reading the title of the bill. We have second reading, where quite frankly the three parties just put on record their respective positions. Then the real work takes place of listening to the public. We did that: 105 hours of hearings.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Member for Scarborough North, come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: We also attended the town hall meetings. In fact every member of the government of Toronto hosted their own town hall meeting at least once. The bottom line is, you add to that all the letters and phone calls and faxes we received, and I know this may be a great shock to the members opposite, but in my riding a majority of the people who came to the town hall meetings, a majority of the people who wrote and phoned and faxed, support this bill.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): They ran you out of your town hall.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: The fact of the matter is, in my home community of Scarborough right now, despite the fact that we had three months of the press absolutely suggesting that the world was going to come to an end, absolutely suggesting that this bill was some terrible, draconian instrument that was going to be the death of all our communities, 81.2% of all the people in Scarborough weren't concerned enough to mail back a ballot. That's how concerned the people in my riding were about this bill. The suggestion that 16% of the people in Scarborough voted no, 16% of the eligible voters --

Mrs Pupatello: How many votes elected you, member? A lot of those votes put you in that seat.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: Math class may have been a long time ago, but 82 is still bigger than 16%. To suggest that the 74% of the people across Metro who didn't have enough concern to even vote, in the case of North York to pick up their phone and take two minutes, the suggestion that somehow they are the only people who should be listened to, and the other 74%, or in the case of Scarborough the other 81%, don't have a right to be heard and their views are not to be factored in by the members sitting in this chamber I think is preposterous.

Obviously there is no precedent. Nobody over there ever took direction in the form of a bill from a referendum in a local community. No one over there during their term of office --

Ms Lankin: You want the people to believe in this process.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Mr Gilchrist: -- none of them had the courage to do what they're suggesting we do today.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine and Sudbury East, please.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): You are the one with the referendum bill, you clown. Give your head a shake.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Sudbury East, come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: I didn't realize "clown" was parliamentary in your eyes, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Scarborough East, take your seat for a moment. I did not actually hear the words that were used and I don't appreciate those kinds of comments directed towards the Chair. I just want to make it clear I did not hear the specific comments, and I ask all members to come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: Quite simply, just to conclude, the bottom line is that this bill will deliver on all the promises we laid out at the outset. The mayors of the six cities themselves, in their own report entitled Change for the Better, said that the savings from consolidating services and eliminating just one level of government, namely, Metro, were going to save $240 million. It stands to reason, then, if you do the same consolidation of services and eliminate six governments, you'll certainly save the $240 million, maybe as much as the $300 million in the KPMG report, but I'm quite comfortable with the $240 million.

To believe that the mayors themselves have been willingly prepared to waste that quarter of a million dollars each and every year of their two-year mandate -- two and a half years now, and in fact four months have passed since they tabled their own report where they said the time for these changes was now, was immediate. Well, four months have passed and not one mayor has taken one step to save one dollar. That's why we have to act.

This is not the time for more study, this is not the time for more rhetoric, this is the time for action. Our government was elected with a mandate to commit to municipal reform. We're very pleased that 350 of the 815 municipalities, including many in northern Ontario, have seen fit to take up the challenge and to undertake municipal reform. Unfortunately, there was no leadership at the municipal level here in Toronto. That leadership is coming from Queen's Park. That leadership is coming from the government of the day.

This bill is a worthy piece of legislation that will deliver on those savings. It means greater tax cuts and greater service delivery for the people of Toronto, and that's why I intend to support this bill.

Mr Colle: I think it's evident that the member for Scarborough East and the municipal affairs minister are saying the same things they were saying four or five months ago, the same empty words, the same jargon. They still don't get it. They have not listened to the people at the hearings. They have not listened to all the people who were at the public meetings. They don't get it.

What the people have said over and over again is, "We don't like being dictated to." They're not here to oppose you because of the mayors or the dollar figures. They're saying, "We are citizens who have basic democratic rights and you as a government are not dictators." Two members of your own caucus said that your government is run like a dictatorship. It's not just the opposition, it's not just the members of the public, their own caucus has said publicly, categorically -- how else do you say it? -- Mike Harris runs this province as if it were his personal fiefdom. He thinks when he won the election he bought the business. That's how he's running this province.

That is the most disgusting, shameful thing about Bill 103. No matter how many citizens spoke out against it, no matter how many people voted in a referendum, they're still laughing and trying to marginalize and minimize the fact that people went and voted in the referendum. They're still trying to write it off as just a silly exercise. Well, the message is very simple: The people of Metropolitan Toronto take their basic rights very seriously. You may take them away temporarily with Bill 103, and I see Bill 103 as a temporary thing, because the people are saying over and over again that they will never give in to this bill. They will resist it, they will fight it, and even though you pass it with your strong-arm tactics and you dictate it and you're able to give away $11,000 rewards of patronage to your backbenchers to keep them in line, you can't buy off the people of Toronto. You won't buy them off with 11,000 bucks like a lot of the backbenchers who have been bought off by the Premier.

Where is the Premier? He refused to go into a debate. He avoided the debate about Bill 103. They were asked at the committee on 103: "Would you take the hearings out to the local municipalities? Would you go out to Scarborough or East York?" The member for Scarborough East said, "No, we don't have the money to go to East York for a meeting." They didn't even have the guts or the respect to go to the city hall and have a public meeting, at East York city hall, Toronto city hall, Scarborough city hall and the other city halls. The Premier didn't even have the guts to do that. As he takes away their rights, as he dictates this odious bill against their wishes, he didn't even have the courage to go and tell them to their faces. He didn't have the courage to show up here today.


He's a Premier who is basically saying, "I'm a dictator and I will do what I want to you no matter what you say." That is what is so odious about Bill 103. Bill 103 will go down in infamy as a bill that characterizes what we don't want in Canada. It's a disgraceful exercise of taking away of basic political rights that have taken hundreds of years to develop. This government has taken it away, and they have taken it away in the guise of saying it's about municipal boundaries.

This is essentially a two-part agenda. It's a political vendetta against their opponents, because they don't like the city of Toronto opposing them on rent control, they don't like the city of Toronto or East York opposing them on market value assessment. It's a political vendetta. Mike Harris said in East York: "You know why we're doing this. It's because we're going to get rid of those lefties in Toronto." That's what the Premier said. That's what the Premier's motives were. It's a political vendetta, and that's how cheap this bill is. That's how cheap this bill is, a cheap political vendetta to destroy basic democratic rights, the right to have something to say about how you are governed, to destroy one of the most viable communities in North America or the world, to put neighbourhoods at risk, to put a successful city at risk. Why? For a cheap political vendetta that this Premier has in his stupid little head. That's what it's all about.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Oakwood, I think that is crossing the line a little bit, and I would ask you to withdraw that.

Mr Colle: I'll withdraw.

The second reason they're doing it is because they feel by dismantling political opposition, by dismantling the six cities and the six boards of education where the public in Metro have a say in their education and their municipal government, they can get at the tax dollars in Toronto. It's a tax grab. It's another cheap tax grab by this government to feed that ludicrous tax cut so they can take half a billion dollars out of education and half a billion dollars with the downloading. That is what it clearly is. It's a cheap political vendetta and it's a cheap tax grab by a government that is bankrupt.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Kitchener, come to order, please.

Mr Colle: It's bankrupt because it has walked away from fundamental rights that governments of all stripes have helped to institute in Ontario and in Metro, and they are turning away from those fundamental rights.

I say to people all over Ontario, I'm a bit disappointed that you don't realize that the fight here in Toronto and East York and Scarborough and Etobicoke is a fight for all of Ontario, because if they can stomp on our rights here in Toronto, you'd better believe they're going to be stomping on your rights in every community. We're not just fighting for what our city halls are about or our school boards; we're fighting against a dictatorial government that dictates to its own caucus, doesn't care about referendums, doesn't care about public hearings. In other words, they're saying they don't care about the Legislature, they don't care about this democratic government; they're going to do it anyway. If that doesn't affect people all over Ontario, I don't know what else does. It's a fundamental shift in the way we are governed, because it means the caucus members are all basically trained seals. If you disagree, you get heaved.

If you have a referendum, it doesn't matter. What recourse do the people have to go to? They tried the referendum. They tried faxing, writing, public meetings. It's amazing. I think it's a credit to the people of Toronto that they've been so civil in this undertaking. In this most disgraceful undertaking, they have maintained their civility, but I think if this were to happen in other countries, we would be seeing here what we saw in Belgrade and other cities. But the people of Toronto respect civility and they respect due process to the point where I think they're saying in the long run, "We will avenge 103." They will maybe let you get away with it today in passing this disgusting piece of odious -- you can't even call it legislation. Even the court said it was illegal, the trusteeship. The Speaker found in the bill and the way it was advertised that there was a case for contempt of the Legislature, a bill that was refuted by 76%, 400,000 people, in the referendum.

There's probably never been a worse piece of garbage ever put before a Legislature in this country. It's just pure garbage. It doesn't even have the support of their own caucus. Their own caucus members said if they had a private vote, 70% of their own caucus would vote against it. It's just pure, utter garbage, and it's an insult to everybody in this country, in this province, in this city, that they could get away with it.

But the people will not let them get away with it, because they will resist this megacity, they will resist the quislings who promote it. They will fight it and they will overthrow it and they will replace it with democratic government once again. So although it is a sad, dark, disgusting day -- the member for Scarborough East is smiling and grinning. He thinks he's getting away with something. I'll tell you that you and your kind are not getting away with this, that we will eventually win and the people will have their democratic institutions back, and we'll take that smirk off your face. You and Mike Harris and your kind will eventually find out that the people are right, and you will be removed from office legitimately and go back to where you belong. You don't belong in the Legislature, because you are the authors of this piece of garbage. So remember --

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Would you address the Chair, please.

Mr Colle: Just in conclusion, the last word in this will be in the mouths of the citizens of Toronto, East York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York and the city of York. They will eventually undo this garbage and bring back good government, and despite Mike Harris and his henchmen, they will bring back democracy. I tell people: Don't give in. Resist. Don't worry what the Toronto Star says, or the Sun or the Globe or CFTO or CFRB. You're more important, you're more powerful than all that garbage. Resist. Never give in.

Ms Lankin: I've got to tell you that I am filled with a tremendous amount of emotion today. I am angry and I am sad. I feel so frustrated, so frustrated, and I know I express those emotions on behalf of so many people across Metro Toronto who have come together, who have attempted to make their voices heard, who have pled with a government that has just turned its back on the people, pled with the government to listen to reason, to listen to the wishes of the people, to no avail, to absolutely no avail.

I was -- I was going to say "shocked," but you can't be shocked any more when I listen to the members opposite, the members of the government. I heard the Minister of Municipal Affairs today in answer to a question, and I heard his parliamentary assistant just a few minutes ago in his contribution to this third reading debate, refer to the referendum in Metro Toronto and say that only 25% or 26% of people voted, which means that the rest of the people must support the government; only 400,000 people came out and voted in the referendum, and therefore the other two million people must support the government. I just find that such incredible arrogance, to stand there and to say that, and to say it in a serious way like you believe that.

During this process and the standoff that took place during committee of the whole, we did attempt to try and find a way for the government to respond to the main tenet of the opposition, that being that people really did not want one city, a megacity, people really did not believe the numbers that had been put forward by the government, people really wanted an opportunity to discuss in a rational sense, in a rational process, with full citizen involvement, the coordination of services and the support for economic development that was required across the whole economic region which is the greater Toronto area. This government just kept shoving people away, just kept refusing to listen to people.


We suggested that you pull back this bill and really engage in a meaningful process, a one-year delay -- a one-year delay only -- and establish a citizens' group that would come forward, that could be involved in working out the solutions with you, that could take the good recommendations made in reports like the Golden report and others and work through them in a rational way to address the concerns of the people in the 905 belt, the GTA belt around Metro Toronto, their concerns with respect to a greater Toronto area governing body, address those concerns with the people in Metro, find a way to really seriously address the needs of the economic region, those being coordination of transportation, coordination of planning around sewer and water, economic development, fair property taxation across the region. Yes, those are all important issues but they're important across the economic region.

At the same time they could ensure that whatever we are doing is building stronger local government, stronger government at a level where people can access it, where it affects their neighbourhoods, where planning and issues of that nature come and meet them at their very front door.

We said that citizens' assembly could work with government and could provide a model for legislation to be introduced by the fall and passed over a period of time in the fall and the beginning of the winter session and be in place for an election the following fall. A one-year delay -- that's all -- and a rational process. The one thing you did do was you mobilized people to want to get involved in civic politics. At least you could have provided the opportunity for them to get involved in a meaningful way. But you rejected that.

We said: "Okay, set this aside then and let's see whether or not in a shorter period of time we can begin in good-faith discussions to start to see a consensus emerge. If the government thinks that won't happen, is not happening or it's not a good-faith process, then come back with your bill and you can still pass it in time to proceed with perhaps a six-month delay." No, the government rejected that option.

Then we said: "All the way through this you have rejected the claims of the public and the claims of members of opposition parties that the majority of residents in Metropolitan Toronto and the cities contained therein actually opposed this. You rejected the process involved with the referendum. From the very beginning you've heaped scorn on the citizens' referendum process." I heard you all. You talked about the question. You criticized the question, you criticized the campaign, you criticized the actual process, even though in the majority of cases it was absolutely in line with legislation you had just passed. You criticized all of that so you could insulate yourselves from the results.

So we said to you: "Okay, let's have a referendum where we work jointly with you and the citizens who have been involved with this to create a question you can live with, a process you support and an equitable campaign that you believe meets the needs of distributing good information to the public, and let's live by the results of that." You're the government that proposes that referendum be the way of the future. We suggested that to you.

I believe that if you honestly had those kinds of criticisms and concerns about the referendum but you believed in the concept of referendum, you would have followed that. If you genuinely believed that the majority of people supported your legislation, you would have proceeded with that kind of referendum. If you don't believe that the majority of people support what you're doing, you have no moral authority to be proceeding as you are here in this Legislature today -- no moral authority. The people have said they do not want this legislation.

Mr Gilchrist: They supported us on June 8, 1995.

Ms Lankin: The member for Scarborough East heckles and says: "There was an election. We have the moral authority. We have the mandate." You did not campaign on this; in fact you campaigned on the exact opposite. The Premier has said very clearly in the past that he did not support and would not move with forced amalgamation. My friends, this is forced amalgamation. He said that he didn't support bigger governments. My friends, this is big government. This runs absolutely opposed to the things you campaigned on and put forward to the people and sought and gained a mandate on in the last election. My colleagues across the floor, you cannot dismiss the people and their opinion and their wishes in such a cavalier fashion and not pay a huge political price.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): You ought to know.

Ms Lankin: One of the members says, "You ought to know." You're right. We've all had experiences in government. We all know when it's necessary, sometimes, to step back and change your direction because the people don't support where you're headed, and sometimes it's really painful to do, and it's painful to your own political base. But you're elected to govern on behalf of the people of Ontario and you must respond to the people's wishes, and you have refused to do that here.

You know, the attitude which says, "Anyone who criticizes us is a special interest group, is simply a naysayer" -- and we heard it again from the minister in his speech on this third reading -- that attitude has so permeated the mindset of this government, you're treating your own members in that way. The most recent treatment of three of your own backbenchers who dared speak publicly in opposition to something the Premier wanted to do is an example of how far you will go to push through your own ideological agenda, no matter what, no matter who.

We all represent constituents and we bring forward those points of view, within your caucus and in the opposition caucuses, and it is incredibly important that the place for that here in this Legislature and that process be respected and that it be listened to. But we have seen a display of arrogance, a display of complete disregard for democratic process and expression of will of the people that will haunt your government.

If I feel sad and angry to begin with, the one thing I feel heartened by is that not just here in Metro, where we saw a tremendous uprising of citizens who are involved and engaged and who will continue to fight you every step of the way on this, but across the province, as I've travelled the province in the last month, I have heard from people how appalled they are at the behaviour and the process of this government.

Your reputation as arrogant and anti-democratic is one that is being widely understood, and that means when the day comes and when the final test comes, you won't be returned. I only hope there will be enough of Ontario left for us to rebuild the civil society we all want to share.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for allowing this member to join in what I expected would be to some extent a debate which would try to engage in some ideas. But trying to listen to members opposite, the degree of the rhetoric that we are finding is not surprising. So what I would like to start with today --

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): The Renaissance man.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York, come to order, please. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, take your seat for a moment. Could I ask the members of the opposition, both parties, to please come to order, particularly the member for Fort York. Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr Hastings: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to start this presentation by quoting a member of the previous government regarding property tax assessment. These remarks were entered into the record on November 16, 1993:

"Across Ontario our property tax system is riddled with inequities and unfairness. Poor, low-income and moderate-income families, as well as the unemployed, are being penalized by a regressive property tax system which is not based on ability to pay.

"In Metropolitan Toronto we have a system which is based on 1940 market values and all the unfairness and inequity that entails. Many of us have tried to bring Metro's property tax system into the 1990s through market value reassessment and, more recently, through a process called equalization. Although determined in our approach, we have been unsuccessful in making our property tax system in Metro a little fairer."

"In November 1992, I introduced a resolution, which passed in this House, in which I asked that education taxes be taken off the backs of property taxpayers. Today I again ask this Parliament and this government to reform in a more meaningful way our antiquated, unfair, unequal, regressive property tax system by removing education financing from property taxes and provide tax relief to those people who need it most."


It would be very interesting, I think, for people in the gallery and also for members in this Legislature to know the identity of that speaker. The identity of that speaker was Mr Anthony Perruzza, the member for Downsview, who spoke those words in 1993. That's four years ago. Now here we are in 1997, and without actually identifying that speaker you could almost word for word use those words on this side of the aisle today, because in my estimation one of the central, fundamental justifications for the introduction of Bill 103, the new unified city legislation, involves inexorably an interlinking of the property tax reform that we have proposed in Bill 106, the better and fairer financing act for municipalities in this province.

There is no doubt in my mind that the best way to bring these two indistinct and inseparable components together is through a package of these reforms, as found in Bill 103 and Bill 106. Without reform of Metro government, without reform of local government in Metropolitan Toronto, we will forever and a day continue to have a system which is unfair, discriminatory, inequitable and regressive.

I find it most surprising that the Leader of the Opposition spoke today of Liberal values, that is, values that I thought he and his party were always championing, values like equity, values like fairness. Why is it that in this particular debate, this party would appear to be championing the reverse: unfairness, continuation of regressive property tax systems throughout different parts of Metropolitan Toronto?

Inequitable application of the property tax system throughout Metropolitan Toronto: I have spoken in this House on two other occasions regarding Bill 103, and I have focused, as I am focusing again today, on this interrelationship between the existing, inexorably inequitable property tax system and the reform of Metropolitan Toronto and local government.

If you go back and look at the history of this whole subject, the member for Oakwood certainly was brought into the loop in the late 1970s, early 1980s, when he championed that there ought to be consolidation of Metro's existing municipalities, consolidation to get more efficient and effective service delivery systems. In my first speaking on this proposal back shortly before the Christmas recess, we mentioned that he ran on a platform back in 1982 which advocated what this government is carrying out. I ask the question again, what happened between 1982 and 1997 that made the original champion of amalgamation, consolidation or whatever you want to call it, change his mind so dramatically on this subject?

A lot of the critics say this is a new idea, that nobody's ever really thought about amalgamation or consolidation, that there aren't any studies on it, that nobody's really debated it. If they believe in that position and adhere to and champion that position, they are missing to a great extent some of the vital history in Metropolitan Toronto that occurred when Frederick Gardiner first established Metro back in 1953 and today. From mayors Dennison, Givens, Nate Phillips, Allan Lamport, look at the records of debates in the city of Toronto in those years and at Metro council; the subject of amalgamation or consolidation was brought up in either forum.

There is a history, a presence today, of refocusing back on that particular item and putting it into its appropriate historical perspective. It's not as if you can decouple history and say, "That never occurred." It did. To say that it didn't occur is to disown some of the great people who came before us in this House in local governments and in Metro government since 1953.

In my estimation, reforms in Bills 103 and 106 are the key, central points that need to be focused on when we talk about bringing some tax relief to those people who have been the silent majority over the last 40 years within Metro. The folks who tried before, for whatever reasons weren't able to single out and to marshal the political will this government is exhibiting in presenting Bill 103 today. We are finally doing it.

While there may be a lot of sadness and despair, I look on the other side of the coin and find that those folks who have been working so hard in my riding and in many other ridings throughout Metropolitan Toronto will finally get some tax relief in their local property taxes, much to the chagrin of the gloomsters and doomsters who believe the only way you can find things happening is that taxes will rise.

Finally, I want to reiterate a point which I find sadly surprising but not totally shocking. I hear the member for Dovercourt, Mr Silipo, suggest a "We will fight this on the beaches" theme, which suggests to me, and it's very alarming, that the folks who may get elected to the new amalgamated city would not work in the best interests of taxpayers throughout Metropolitan Toronto, that they would start from being uncooperative. I hope I heard that remark incorrectly, because I find it a little bit alarming. I'm sure he didn't really mean that. I'm hoping that in the context he was misspeaking, in a sense.

Thank you for allowing me these remarks today on what I regard as a historic, vital future for Metropolitan Toronto.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It's with mixed feelings and some sense of foreboding that I address this bill today, to see a government bring us a hollow, truncated bill, a bill they would rather cut pieces out of than bring back to normal debate, a bill these members don't have enough fortitude to stand up in public debate and discuss in this House -- on second reading, they'd rather send it out; a government that had to be wrestled to the ground to send this out to public hearings; a government that needed a filibuster to even get it to consider the implications of what it was doing. This indeed is a sad day, but it's not a sad day for us, it's not a sad day for the people in the galleries; it's a sad day for this government.


Mr Kennedy: As we see the members opposite making noise, some of them for the first time in this debate -- where has the member for St Andrew-St Patrick been? Where has the member for Scarborough Centre been? Where have you been in terms of representing the people who sent you here? To hear today this discussion reduced down to a 45-year-old rationale, the grasping of this caucus, which has absented itself from its democratic responsibilities, which has allowed a handful of people in the Premier's office to run roughshod over the largest metropolitan centre in this province --


This is a quote from Ernie Eves to a different audience, to the people of Niagara Falls. The honourable Minister of Finance said that the Minister of Municipal Affairs is "not going to force amalgamation on anyone.... The municipalities will decide these things for themselves."

Ladies and gentlemen, today we have a massive dereliction of duty on the part of members on the other side of the House, the members for Scarborough West, Scarborough Centre, Scarborough-Ellesmere, Etobicoke-Rexdale, these members who could have made this a debate about the future of this city, who could have made this a debate about how to not just preserve but move forward with one of the best metropolitan areas that exists, a special responsibility that you were unable to come to terms with. We regret that.

We regret that there wasn't even an understanding of what our real risk was, because there is always, in the course of this government, the loss that occurs when they twist the agenda to their particular pursuits. We all know what this pursuit is about. It's a convoluted path, but it leads very clearly back to the tax cut; it leads to a government that believes that at some imagined date in the future it can turn around and start to become popular. On behalf of the people of Metropolitan Toronto, that date is somewhere in the next century, when you're going to get a consideration on that kind of score.

But what needs to be said and what needs to be understood is what you're taking away this day. You're taking away from this city -- you're jeopardizing, at least, because I don't think there's any sense of giving up on the part of people in this assembly -- but you're at least jeopardizing, in a senseless and unnecessary way, cities that work, cities that are made up of complex component parts, cities that can house the most diverse population anywhere on the face of the earth with a minimum of problems, cities that depend on that fundamental acceptance of people's differences, of allowances, messy as they are, for people to feel that in this large, large agglomeration of 2.3 million people, bounded by millions more, they might matter for something.

The members opposite, unusually, I suppose, for a party that at one time adhered to a conservative outlook, are taking away that sense of individualism. They're taking away that fragile sense of civility and cohesion that we have in this city. It's not the result of any magic weave by our local municipal councils, but they're not the kind of people who deserve the kind of discredit this government tried to heap on them in the beginning, when we saw the first earmarks of what this bill was about, a submarine kind of bill trying to do by stealth what this government, again, did not have the courage to do up front: a government that couldn't say to the people of Metropolitan Toronto, "We want to take away some of your tax base"; that couldn't say to the people of Metropolitan Toronto, "We don't appreciate that diversity; we don't want that to work any more"; people who would take away from each individual who lives in this city something that we may not treasure immediately on the top of our mind but which everyone here is going to feel some sense of loss about, and that's an ability to participate, an ability to matter, to have some consequence and some significance.

This government may, as it did on December 17 in introducing the bill, feel a sense of insulation from all of this; it may, as it did on the day of March 3, when there was a referendum vote that told you clearly what you needed to know, that the public was interested, that this is not an issue which you could believe June 8, 1995, gave you the mandate for.

We've heard about your contradictions here today. You didn't have the guts to come back to us and say, "We made a mistake and here's what we can do." You tried to hide this, over and over again, cited for contempt by the Speaker for the first time in the Commonwealth for abusing this House.

We see instead, even in the Minister of Municipal Affairs' own neighbourhood in the town of Mount Dennis that makes up part of my riding, they voted 70% against. The significance of that is not that Mr Leach didn't carry his own neighbourhood; the significance is that not one iota changed.

The member for Scarborough West led a committee effort that passed not one amendment; that heard some of the most eloquent speeches on the part of the people in Metropolitan Toronto of each of the cities and of Madeleine McDowell, someone from the city of York, who was brought to tears talking about the history of the place where she lives, the particularity of the place where she lives, the uniqueness of the place where she lives, which you would jeopardize for the sake of your fiscal agenda.

For the Madeleine McDowells, for the others who attend this House, for the people who have watched this debate, they need to know that April 21 is not the end of anything. April 21 is simply the time when the predictable Progressive Conservatives, the people who have the height of arrogance to believe that they have some kind of inherent right to have this place work as they wish, who are able to put down their own considerations, those of their voters, in order to fall in line for a Premier who doesn't even deign to give us his presence today and at other times and at the debates.

We see a mega-tendency on the part of this government that leads us to believe we're in for more of the same across the province. Just as you amalgamated the family support program to disaster for vulnerable households and children across this province, just as you would give us mega-hospitals instead of our community hospitals in this city, in Ottawa and as you threaten hospitals in small towns across the province, we know that risk is there. You would tell us this is no longer our city, that this is Mike Harris's city, thanks to your collaboration. We say no. You would tell us that you own this Legislature, that you are the guys who got the vote, as we heard today, on June 8. Let me tell you, you're only renting and, thanks to your actions today, the lease is running out.

Mr Marchese: M. Leach today introduced his speech by saying that this is indeed an historic day. It may be an historic day for M. Leach and M. Harris, but it is a historically bleak day for many people attending this Legislature today and those outside. It is a bleak day for the close to 1,000 deputants who came in front of the committee urging the government to withdraw this bill, in fact to repeal it, take it away. That's by and large what they did. It is a bleak day for those people who went to those Monday night meetings that the Citizens for Local Democracy have put on weekly. It may be a good day for Monsieur Leach, but it is not a happy day for the countless people who have voted against it.

I want to refer to a bill to give you a sense of how this government listens to the public, and that reference is to the rent protection package. If you recall, Mr Speaker, we had a package that was supposed to help tenants. That's what the title says. It was a funny thing because, as the deputants came in front of the committee, they had discovered in reading it that there was nothing in it for tenants at all; it wasn't a package for tenants, it was a package for landlords. Seventy per cent of all the deputants who came in front of the committee said: "We like the Rent Control Act that is in place. Please don't change it."

The members of this government who were in that committee received the report written up by the researcher on the 70% of the public that said no, received that report that spoke eloquently about why they should not get rid of rent control and simply sent that package to M. Leach for his gratification, his interest, his night-bed reading perhaps. They did not respond one single moment to anything they had heard.

We have M. Gilchrist today who says that the real work of listening to the public was in second reading. If they listened to the public as they did to the public around the Tenant Protection Act, we've got a real problem, because the fact of the matter is they don't listen.


On Bill 103, as you know, we had a referendum; a referendum, by the way, sanctioned by this government through Bill 86. Bill 86 allows for municipalities to have a referendum in between elections. Then we go through the process of this vote and 76% of the population votes against the amalgamation, and what does this government do? It disregards 76% of the population that said no to amalgamation. M. Gilchrist comes here jokingly today, smilingly, about how happy he is and about how he and M. Leach and M. Harris listened to the public, and they say this with pride. "We've listened," they say. If they had listened to the referendum, they would have withdrawn Bill 103, because that's what the public said. This government has no longer any credibility on issues of referendum, of which this government is very proud to speak.

Soon they'll bring a referendum bill, but how can they have any credibility when they have been put to the test already through Bill 103 and they haven't listened? On this important issue they've said no to the public. How can they come back to the public later on saying: "We've got a better bill for you. Bill 86 wasn't it. We have a better bill that deals with referendum." They have lost any credibility on this issue, and it's sad.

M. Leach comes today and says, "We are one step closer to better government." What does he mean? Does M. Leach ever define it, the poor fellow? Never defines anything. M. Leach says over and over again, "We have increased accountability." What does that mean? If we have any accountability, as we see it through Queen's Park and this Conservative government, if this is what they mean by accountability, when a public votes on a referendum, they say no, and this government refuses to listen to the public, if this government is any measure of accountability, we're in trouble.

Then you have this big city called Toronto now, a big city comprising 2.4 million, getting bigger, and the fact of the matter is that the bigger the government gets, the more unaccountable it becomes. Witness it through this government. Witness it through them. They are completely inaccessible. Members of this public have tried countless times to reach these people. They cannot be reached, neither individually nor collectively. We had a referendum and they didn't listen. How do you reach a government that doesn't listen, therefore? M. Leach has the temerity to come today and say we'll have greater accountability through this new government. How? The poor man never defines it because he doesn't know.

The same poor fellow, before the election said, "We don't agree with amalgamation." In fact, he argued for local government, both he and Mr Harris. Lo and behold, things change once they get elected. Why? Because they need to amalgamate to be able to download more effectively what's yet to come. That's why they're doing it. All of this is under the guise of greater accountability. It means nothing. End of duplication. It means nothing to most people except the Tories around the Metro area, who believe you when you say it's going to be cheaper. We have heard evidence from all the experts in this field that there are no savings, that it will be more costly. You have disregarded that evidence too. You've disregarded the individual testimonies of experts and you've disregarded the referendum completely. You have no more respect, it seems to me, from these individuals who have appealed to you to do the right thing or from the public that has voted against you.

I have a beautiful letter written to me by an individual that I want to quickly read because it sort of encapsulates what people are feeling around this issue, written April 10:

"I'm extremely appreciative of your efforts in representing myself and the other 76% of the taxpayers who voted no against this bill. I not only oppose this bill and its content but I am utterly confused about the impetus of this legislation in the first place. Why, if we have the best city in the world, do we need such extensive retooling? Clearly, a more thoughtful and studied approach with minor changes would have been much wiser.

"It is also evident that this government has little regard for the democratic process. They exhibit utter disregard for respecting the views of the citizens who they are supposed to represent. In other regions of the world this is known as dictatorship."

Clearly, this is the modus operandi of this government. We have witnessed it over and over again. It is autocratic in its approach to things. It is arrogant, quite clearly, and visible all of the time, draconian in its methodology and it's government by fiat. We see it all the time and the public has seen it. What we have witnessed in the last couple of months is a movement, not created by the opposition -- we did not create that movement. They created for themselves a movement not just to oppose this government but to tell you more clearly their expression of what a city should look like. That's what they did through the deputations. That's what they did through the referendum.

They have built a civic movement of which I am proud and proud to have been part of it. They have spoken, in my view, loud and clear. The referendum was the tool that you have allowed them to use and you have completely disregarded that tool that you gave them. In my view, it is a very shameful act of this government. It clearly speaks to the way you deal with the public, with the opposition and your own caucus members. The member for Wentworth North says clearly here they are undemocratic. "I'm a right-winger," he says -- imagine that -- "but I am democratic above all." Imagine that, and imagine what it says about this particular government and its modus operandi.

The public will continue to oppose this government and to bring forth good ideas that I hope they will listen to in the next short couple of years that they have left. Thank you, Speaker, for the opportunity.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): At least, I say to the member for Scarborough North, I'm willing to get up and debate this issue and you have not, sir.

I'm pleased to stand on third reading of Bill 103 today to support Bill 103. When this bill was first introduced on December 17, 1996, it was a bill about eliminating waste and duplication and reducing the tax burden to property taxpayers within current boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto. Today, on April 21, 1997, Bill 103 is still about eliminating waste and duplication and reducing the tax burden on property taxpayers in Metropolitan Toronto, so I'm pleased to support this bill on behalf of my constituents.

During the Bill 103 hearings on the general government committee, we heard over five weeks of hearings, over 600 presentations. This government listened very closely to what the people were saying. Originally, when this bill was proposed, we spoke about having 44 councillors and one elected mayor. People said that it wasn't enough representation, so we listened and we've increased the number from 44 councillors plus one mayor to 56 councillors plus one mayor. We believe that local representation will be guaranteed through this election of the 56 councillors. Now some of the naysayers are saying that 56 is too many, so I don't know what pleases these people who oppose us. I don't think anything does, quite frankly.

They spoke about neighbourhood committees and ensuring that they had a guaranteed voice in the new city, and we've done that by having the legislation say "shall" and not "may." We also heard about the board of trustees and we changed that, about safeguarding taxpayers' interest during the transition period and replacing it with a financial advisory board. Again, we've listened. The transition team to facilitate from seven cities to one, we've looked after that as well.

I say to the member for York South, who suggested that I as the member for Scarborough Centre haven't spoken on this issue, that if he attended a little more often he might find out that I've spoken no less than 13 times on this issue in this place. One of the issues on which I asked a question of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was that of the reserve funds. We've responded with our amendments by saying that the reserve funds were never available to the province and that this would be clarified and the province will never be able to access these reserves. I asked that question in this House and that was brought about. Also, about the time frame and the province determining the boundaries, this will be a local decision. The Metro boundary wards will be kept in place until then.

I also want to discuss what some of the other members opposite have said today. The member for Dovercourt and the member for Fort York spoke about this government not listening to what people said in a referendum. I say to those two members and the members of the New Democratic Party that in 1994 the people of the city of Toronto held a referendum and they said they wanted to do away with the Metro level of government. I say to you, why did you not listen to those people? Why is it this government that's carrying out your dirty work, the work you would not do?


When we talk about referendums, the NDP en masse voted against Bill 86, the bill that brought about referendum legislation for municipalities. So the member for Dovercourt and the member for Fort York need not lecture members of the government on listening to the public.

I know the member for Dovercourt said he has not seen a citizens' movement as large as this. Well, I have and so have the members on this side. It was called the election of June 8, 1995. That's when the people clearly spoke about wanting less government, fewer politicians, less government spending and lower taxes, and the parties opposite did not listen. The NDP didn't listen and the Liberal Party had a watered down version of the Common Sense Revolution which now they're suddenly all against. It was blue light.


Mr Newman: I say to the member for Oakwood, I'm proud to speak on behalf of the people from Scarborough Centre.

In closing, I ask the members of the Liberal Party and the members of the New Democratic Party to stand in their place today and say they will repeal Bill 103 should they ever form the government.

Mr Colle: Did you get $11,000?

The Acting Speaker: The member for Oakwood, come to order.

Mr Newman: I've not heard a single member of the opposition party say they would repeal Bill 103. They've never said that. Tell us and tell the people of Ontario that you'll hike taxes and increase government spending back to the levels when you were in government. Have the guts to say that. Also, while you're at it, tell us you're going to repeal Bill 104 and increase the number of trustees back to the levels they're at. You haven't got the guts to do that.

In closing, the people of Scarborough have said to me that although some of them did not like amalgamation, they liked the filibuster even less. They said the filibuster was an absolute waste of taxpayers' dollars.

Mr Colle: You got $11,000.

The Acting Speaker: Order. I think the member for Oakwood has had his opportunity to speak. Now I'd like to give others their opportunity.

Mr Newman: I know the member for Oakwood has no extra responsibilities. I think there's a clear reason for that.

I just wanted to say that the people of Scarborough have said they feel the filibuster was an absolute waste of money.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The clock is going. That's the unfortunate thing.

I'm delighted to join my colleagues for about six or seven minutes. I'll do my very best to touch on some of the important points which have already been discussed already many times and on some that have been brought by the government side this afternoon.

Let me mention a couple of things. The bill was introduced under the pretence, or should I say false pretence, that this would provide better representation, more representation, would cost less, would save money and would cut politicians. Now, after five weeks of public hearings, the government is doing the total reverse.

Unfortunately, the government pretends to have listened to the people but it hasn't heard what the people have said. They didn't say, "We want more representation, from 44 to 57." What the people have said is: "We want to have input on how the city is going to be shaped. We have a stake in the city here and we want to have a say in how our city is going to be shaped in the future." That's what they said.

They didn't say, "From 44, go to 57." What are the savings all of a sudden? Two million dollars a year. You figured that out, what 13 new councillors will mean to the taxpayers of the new city. What are the savings you purport this will give to the citizens of Metro? Where are the savings? Two million dollars a year. They didn't say, "We don't have enough representation," they said, "We want to have a say in how we are going to be represented."

What the people of Toronto have said very resoundingly -- 78% -- is no, but they didn't say no to any changes whatsoever. Even we ourselves have said we've got to make some changes, but it's how we are going to make those changes, and when we have a chance to make those changes, we will round off the edges where it makes the difference.

The people have said, "We would be happy if you were to do exactly what you said in your own Common Sense Revolution, but what you're doing is the total opposite." Never anywhere in your Common Sense Revolution did you say, "We are going to download on you, already the poor taxpayers, welfare."

Mr Gilchrist: Wrong bill.

Mr Sergio: Wrong bill? I'll tell you "wrong bill." I've just come from the hearings on Bill 98, and do you know what the people are saying, to the member for Scarborough East? That there is no difference between Bills 26, 103, 98, 106. The government doesn't know itself what the content of each bill contains.

Do you know the essence of what we are doing here? They are so determined to push, to bully not only the members of the opposition but the people of Ontario, to push their own agenda, and the funny thing is it's not even your own agenda. You are not listening to the people on the street; you are listening to the people on Bay Street and that's the most unfortunate thing. You're unloading on the handicapped, on the poor, on the unemployed, on those who can least afford it. I'm addressing myself to the minister himself: You have a chance today to withdraw this bill and go into history as doing the right thing, or move into history and disappear completely, move into obscurity.

The people of Metropolitan Toronto did say, "This is not what you told us." If you want to eliminate Metro, eliminate Metro, to the member for Scarborough Centre. He just said, "The city of Toronto had a referendum and they said, `Eliminate Metro'." Well, wonderful. Give the city of Toronto what they said they wanted. Abolish Metro. But 78% of the people didn't say that a few months ago. They said, "We don't want your megacity the way you're proposing it." It's unfortunate that they keep on saying, "We are listening to the people," but their ears, their minds, their hearts are completely closed. It's most unfortunate.

This is going to be a sad day in Ontario, because this does not affect only the city of Toronto or the future city of Toronto; the repercussions will be felt throughout the province of Ontario, with the downloading of transportation, social services, Ontario Housing and all kinds of other uncontrollable expenses unloaded on the local municipalities.

I wish the members would go and listen to what they are saying, even some of the largest organizations in our province -- AMO -- with respect to this bill and Bill 98. I said, "Didn't the government consult you prior to the drafting of this legislation?" Their answer was, "Of course they did." If they did, how come they are not listening? Whose agenda are they pushing ahead? Are they really listening to the people? Who is supposed to be the government? Those who were elected, we in the opposition, or the people out there? That's the real government, but they don't want to hear that. They don't want to understand that. When the people are saying, "You can't close hospitals," did you ever say that in your Common Sense Nonsense Revolution? Did you ever say that?

Mr Gilchrist: Yup.

Mr Sergio: Oh, you said that. I'm glad you said that, because we've got a few people in here. I can still see Mr Harris with the envelope. He said, "This is closed; not even one penny from education, not even one cent from the health care system." Well, we all know what happened to that. So when we are here listening to members of the government side saying, "We are doing what the people have said," baloney. Total BS. You are not doing what the people have said and you are not doing what you told the people prior to the election.

The unfortunate thing is that the government made those silly promises at a time when they knew they had not a chance to form the government, and now they must appease the people on Bay Street, not the people on the street, and it's most unfortunate.


Unfortunately, my time is quickly running out. I would have so much to say, but in five minutes you just can't cover it. Isn't that something wonderful, something really to make history? The ministers are not in the House. The Premier hasn't been in this House here today at all. What would be the repercussions of all these bills, let alone Bill 103? Now we're going to have Bill 104. What are you going to tell the people of Ontario, the long-term-care people, the children? One third of the kids in Metro Toronto live in poverty, and what are they saying? "We have no money. We have to cut." Why is that? What about jobs? "Oh, that's not part of this bill." They don't want to know about that, but everything you do is affecting our people in Ontario, and it's most unfortunate.

I'm going to close. It's most unfortunate that the debate is coming to a close and there are no ministers in the House here, not even the minister himself.

Mr Gilchrist: There is so.

Mr Sergio: Now he pretends to be a minister, for goodness sake. I hope we will have enough common sense among the backbenchers to either abstain or vote with the opposition and send a real message to Mr Harris and to Mr Leach. They have already been told, "Listen, you've got to be in the House; otherwise, you're going to get your ass kicked out like some of the other members." This is a very sad day, unfortunately.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I just want to point out a few facts to the members of the government. First, we keep hearing all day long and throughout this whole debate after the referendum from a government who said they would not listen to the results of a referendum, thinking we wouldn't really be able to pull it off. These people sitting here today, respectfully, did pull it off. They pulled it off, and not only did they pull it off, but I want to remind the members of the government caucus that fewer people voted for the Harris Tories in the Metro area than did in this referendum. There were more votes on the No side in this referendum than there were for these members of the Tory government in the last election. Furthermore, there was a higher turnout for this referendum than there was in the last municipal election, and this government has the gall and the arrogance to dismiss it because not enough people, in their view, turned out. I can guarantee you that if the vote had gone the other way, they would be having a different opinion on the results. They'd be crowing loudly about what a great result it was.

The other thing I want to point out is that this is a government that wants to bring in referenda, who crowed about that: "Let's bring the issues closer to the people." Then there was a real referendum created by the citizens of this area, and what did they say? "Oh, the issue is too complicated. They can't really understand what this is all about. We don't like the question." Well, they could have held their own if they really wanted to know what people thought. They refused to listen to the results of a referendum, which is something they said they believed in.

This is the government whose leader, the Premier of this province, said in the election campaign, "If I break a promise, I will resign." Perhaps the Premier should stand on his feet today and resign, because he said the exact opposite. Don't you remember? He said he would not eliminate local government; he would deal with the Metro area. Our caucus has given you an opportunity to explore further those ideas. You ignore it.

That's not the only promise your Premier has broken. He broke it on dumps and hearings. He broke it on health care. He broke it on education. If people out there still think the Premier of this province is governing for all the people and that even if they don't like some of the things he's doing, at least he's keeping his promises, look closely at this Premier's record and they will see a whole other story. He has broken promise after promise after promise, and because he's keeping his insane promise on the tax cut, which is hurting Ontarians right across the province, because he's keeping that big, silly promise, which is absolutely --

Mr Gilchrist: It's 46,000 new jobs.

Ms Churley: This government is out of control, and the member for Scarborough East is a perfect example of that. They are out of control. I am serious here. Take a look at what you are doing not only to our city, the Metro area, but to the entire province. You are out of control. Those guys -- maybe some women; I don't know -- back there in the Premier's office are making all the decisions. They're telling you what to do and saying, "Don't worry, we're still high in the polls."

The Premier is willing to sacrifice on the altar the members of your caucus from the Metro area, because I can guarantee you that they are being sacrificed. I'm sure they're speaking up at caucus meetings. I would like to think so. There are three people who spoke out who have been punished. I believe the members from the Metro area, if they don't come out and vote against this bill today, are betraying the trust that people gave them when they were elected. You are betraying your constituents and you will pay for it. Not only will you pay for it in the polling booth, you will be paying for it in history, because you will go down in history, the entire lot of you, as the people who systematically destroyed the level of comprehensive, responsive government that I've been a part of and that I'm proud of, that we built over the years in this city. You are tearing it all down.

Mr Speaker, they have no respect for democracy. They have no respect for the people of this city, none whatsoever. That noise you hear out there is the sound of fury, and I suggest you listen and don't laugh, because these people will not go gently into the night. These people are just beginning. You've had to take out the guts of your bill. You have no power to implement this, and I can guarantee you that I will stand and my caucus will stand with those people who led this fight, and fight you every single step of the way, because what you are doing is morally and fundamentally wrong, but not only that, it's stupid. It's going to cost more money at the end of the day than we're paying now, and you will find that out in the near future.

I will end by appealing to the Metro members once again today. Stand up for what you know is right. Don't laugh at me; don't laugh at your constituents. This is an appeal from the heart, believe it or not. We can use our hearts and our reason sometimes. You're wrong. Admit it and stand up with us today. Stand up for your constituents.


The Speaker: Order. Can you ask that member of the gallery to be removed.

Further debate?

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I rise today to object to Bill 103 and its third reading. The member for Scarborough East mentioned that I haven't spoken on this. Let me tell Scarborough East and Scarborough Centre and all the Tory Scarborough members out there who did not defend Scarborough, while the mayor is here today, Frank Faubert, watching this happening -- I know it's a sad day for the mayor. He has just celebrated 200 years of bicentenary in Scarborough, and we'll be destroyed by these Tory bullies who decide not to listen to any kind of democracy.

You may say I have not spoken, but 78% of the people who voted spoke loud and clear and told this government, "No, we do not want megacity," through a referendum, through a process that you would like to endorse and said you would endorse. But all of a sudden -- you even have a committee to handle referendum. What you have done is you have pulled back that committee itself. The member for Scarborough East was the mouthpiece for the government and continued to mouth his way through. He got his foot-in-mouth disease and they wouldn't pull him back.

It is sad. I am not at all surprised at the actions of this government. It's the same government that attacked the most vulnerable in our society and took about 20% of their income when they had nothing to do, no appeal on that. It's the same government that wiped out employment equity without any remorse. It's the same government that rammed Bill 26 through, wanting to amass on itself the great power of dictatorship. The people have spoken and the people will continue to speak, because they're seeing the kind of bully tactics, the arrogance, the undemocratic approach of this Tory government of Mike Harris and his bunch of individuals who believe they can go about ignoring the people like this.


I am not at all surprised when they amass power on themselves and ignore the people, but I have great confidence in the democratic process. They will wait. I watched the same people who waited so patiently to send a clear message to your big old cousin Brian Mulroney and eliminate you to two people sitting in the House. I hope when the time comes around, and I do believe in this process, they'll wipe you all out.

I speak passionately about Scarborough because it is a city that is rather unique. All cities, of course, have a uniqueness about them. They protect the ability of citizenship, they protect the community environment. I speak, just because of the short time I have, of the members for Scarborough: Scarborough-Ellesmere, Scarborough East, Scarborough Centre, and of course my Scarborough West colleague who isn't here today. Maybe he extricated himself because he was so embarrassed at what you are doing. You have not protected Scarborough, and the people will not forget it. They will not forget you.

So when you say, my dear gentlemen and Madam Minister who are from Scarborough, that I have not spoken for Scarborough, I tell you, the people's voice is much louder, much more eloquent, and they will speak louder when they throw the bunch of you out at the next election because you've abandoned Scarborough. You've abandoned it in every way. You've made promises that you can't fulfil and you completely ignore. I'm not surprised. This is the same government that came in and wanted to wipe out rent control of all the most vulnerable people. It's the same government that, when people came forward to represent themselves, called them special interest groups.

Thousands and thousands of people came before you through writing letters, through petitions and through representation in committees, and they have said it so eloquently, they have said it so intelligently. They said to you, "No, we do not want a megacity." What do you do? You insult their intelligence. You tinker around a bit. You go out on little speaking engagements. As a matter of fact, many of the Scarborough members we couldn't find. They were nowhere to be found in Scarborough when they were beckoned to respond to questions and answers from the people. They were in hiding for days. Sometimes when they asked Mr Gilchrist of Scarborough East -- I remember many places he couldn't be found. But if there was a light of a camera, there he was, grinning away, hoping this would give him a vote all over.

They will remember you and they will remember all those in Scarborough who abandoned it. Scarborough is a special place, a city that will be there long after you're gone, and the people will speak. They will speak loud and clear, because they believe in democracy.

When we addressed the downloading issue, Mr Gilchrist, the member for Scarborough East, said, "It has nothing to do with it; downloading has nothing to do with megacity." I was surprised he said that, but having listened to him continuously, I realize that his capacity to understand that was limited, so yes, I understand it when you said it has nothing to do with it. It has a lot to do with it. It has a lot to do with how we govern and what money we get in that respect. When we get all those responsibilities dumped on that city, we ask, "Where is that money coming from?"

Tinkering around with it has not fooled the people in the least. They have not been fooled one bit by the way it is handled.

I understand that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has said that he's accessible. I can't recall him coming to very many hearings on Bill 103. He made some cameo appearances from time to time and said, "I have listened," and then he said he's accessible. In his arrogance, he said: "It doesn't matter what the people do. It doesn't matter about democracy. It doesn't matter about representation. I am just going to ram it through." Even on the last day, today, the day it will go through -- you have the numbers and we know you're going to ram it through -- even with that you have circumvented the process of the House today and used your majority to ram it through. But while we speak and we will continue to speak, we will remind the people that it is you who have done this to them.

Democracy is a very special thing. It is of course not perfect, as we have heard, but there is no other process of governing that I have seen of exemplified representation and hearing the people. This Conservative government, this Mike Harris government, decided to ignore all that. They would not like to see that. They insult the fact that people came forward to have a referendum. Mr Gilchrist, the member for Scarborough East, said the numbers were insignificant and they did not come out to vote. I just wonder how many people voted for him. Some of the same people who voted in that referendum, I am sure, offered their votes to him at that time. Of course, they'll reassess that.

I say the matter is not over. This is the government that declared war on the poor. This is the government that declared a revolution on democracy. This is the government that has ignored all the process. This is the government that tried to snuff many of the members here from speaking. Three of them somehow, because they stood up for their principles, lost their positions as parliamentary assistants, but these individuals are much more principled. The people out there will remember this, and the time will come to vote these buggers out.

Mr Hampton: I want to say just a few words about where we're at now on third reading of this bill, to summarize what's happened. The fact is that people across this province acknowledge that there are some things we want to do to improve the structure of local government. The people across this province know that what the government is doing here in terms of this megacity bill runs completely contrary, completely at odds with all the recommendations that were received from the Golden commission, all the recommendations that were received from the Crombie panel.

We have a government here that despite the study, despite the recommendations of a lot of learned people, insists on imposing its agenda. What is that agenda? This government will tell us that it's about their obscure notion of efficiency. Well, the Conservative megacity is not about the best possible municipal government for 2.4 million people. It's about who has power in Ontario and who doesn't have it. It's about more bureaucracy, a mega-bureaucracy. It's about a bigger, less accessible government, a government that is neither responsible to people nor responsive to people.


The government's megacity concept isn't about keeping an election promise or saving money and making things more efficient; it's about finding an excuse to download provincial costs and provincial responsibilities onto the municipal taxpayer. It's about forcing municipal taxes up and forcing municipal governments not only in Toronto but across Ontario to choose between increasing property taxes and cutting, closing or privatizing important services like long-term care for seniors, health care, day care, water and sewage treatment, social housing, fire protection and highway maintenance. That's what it's about.

Bill 103 is also about the future of 2.4 million people in the Metropolitan Toronto area and all those businesses and regions outside Metropolitan Toronto that depend on this healthy, prosperous, cosmopolitan area. Bill 103 is also about democracy. It's about grass-roots opposition to a callous, arrogant, bullying Conservative government determined to trample over anyone who dares to question its agenda. In fact, I can say that never in my political lifetime has there been such a need to renew democracy in this province and to renew democracy in this city. Never have we needed such a renewal as we need now in the face of this government's bullying agenda.

I want to say just a bit about what this new Conservative megacity government will look like. What's the scheme here? What's operating under the surface? What it is is this: It's about privileged access to government, both at Queen's Park and in the megacity halls. It's about services and institutions waiting to be privatized and it's about lobbyists, lawyers, bankers and consultants salivating at the opportunity to make a buck while it happens. That is the purpose of this megacity. That's the right-wing agenda.

The right-wing megacity scheme is crucial to the Conservative's plan to eviscerate government that can respond and act on behalf of people. The fact is, with bills 103 and 104 and Bill 84 to privatize firefighting in the province, and all the related downloading legislation, the Conservatives want to bring public services in Ontario down to the ground. They want to destroy many of the public services, much of the quality of public life that we have built over 50 years. They want to cripple it or they want to destroy it.

The procedure to do that is to financially hamstring the choices municipalities can make about day care, about long-term care, about public health, about public housing, about transportation, water, policing and social assistance. All these things are targets of this right-wing agenda. But these things are not just for consumption; they are the means of life and the quality of life in this city and in this province. They are indispensable to the workings of a fair and accessible society.

I can say to this government that despite your scheme, despite how much you are willing to force this through, despite the fact that you're so committed to this agenda that you will ignore the overwhelming results of referenda that voted against you, despite your full-fledged commitment to this, your strategy will not work. You cannot turn the quality of public life in Toronto and in Ontario into a commodity that can be bought and sold on the market. You can't turn Ontario into a place where everything that has made public life good will now be thrown into the marketplace and the quality of life will depend upon how much money we have. You can't do it because people won't let you do it.

You think this is a triumph for you. You are quite wrong. This is not triumph for you; this is just the end of the very beginning. People have not yet begun to fight against you, people have not yet begun to rally and to inform and to create awareness among their neighbours; they have just started to do that. When this continues from community to community across this province, you are going to pay a huge price.

People understand that what has made Toronto one of the best cities in the world to live in and what has made Ontario one of the best provinces in North America to live in is not some phoney tax scheme for the wealthy, is not turning our quality of life into a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace. People understand that what has made Toronto one of the best cities in the world to live in and made this province one of the best places in North America to live in has been the quality of public life, the quality of our public institutions, the responsiveness and the responsible nature of our governments. People understand that.

People are not prepared to turn good-quality firefighting services into a private sector commodity that responds to one person if you're wealthy and can pay for fire protection and doesn't respond if you can't afford to pay. People are not prepared to turn their back on things like child care, like decent housing, like decent neighbourhoods. People are not prepared to turn their backs on these things, and so as they understand the fullness of this agenda, as they understand the right-wing radicalness of this agenda, they are going to fight you more and more. You are not going to win here. You're not going to triumph.

What you've succeeded in doing is simply to awaken more and more people to how right-wing your agenda is, to how destructive your agenda is to public life and to how destructive your agenda is to the kind of province, the kinds of communities, the kind of city Toronto is and that we've built everywhere across this province.

I say to you, Speaker, and you've presided over some tough times in this Legislature surrounding this bill, you won't get any rest. You won't get any rest because this is just the beginning of the process, not the end.

To the government, I'll make a prediction. We'll be back here within two or three years fixing all the mistakes you've made, fixing the destruction you're now trying to push on to the citizens of this city and the destruction you're now trying to push on to the citizens of this province. We'll be back here fixing it. We'll be back here returning to a quality of life that provides for good community. We'll be back here returning and preparing to return to the people government that is responsive to them and is responsible to them at the local level. You have not won, you have only started the fight, and people are going to take that fight back to you time and time again.

I started initially to talk about democracy and I want to say just a couple more words about democracy. This legislation has absolutely no credibility. You didn't campaign on it. In fact, many of the cabinet ministers and Toronto backbenchers in this government denied over and over again before the last provincial election and during the last provincial election that you would ever try to do anything like this.

This legislation was submitted to a series of referenda across this city and you know the results: 76% of the people who turned out for those referenda voted against what you're doing. You can never quibble with results like that. You lost, you have no support for this legislation, this legislation is completely contrary to the public will, yet you continue.

You took this legislation out for some public hearings, and you heard over and over again, overwhelmingly, the opposition of the public to this legislation. This legislation has no credibility. It has no foundation with people, it has no foundation with the public will. For that reason people will feel they are fully entitled to oppose you not just now but at every step down the road. You are imposing on people something that is absolutely contrary to their will, contrary to their wishes and contrary to their understanding of their community. I will say to this government, we will be there with the public to fight you every step of the way. Shame on you.

The Speaker: Shall the bill be now read for a third time?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1801 to 1806.

The Speaker: Order. I again caution the galleries, there are no outbursts.

All those in favour please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Hardeman, Ernie

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Palladini, Al

Barrett, Toby

Harris, Michael D.

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Hastings, John

Pettit, Trevor

Beaubien, Marcel

Hodgson, Chris

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boushy, Dave

Hudak, Tim

Ross, Lillian

Carroll, Jack

Jackson, Cameron

Runciman, Robert W.

Chudleigh, Ted

Johns, Helen

Sampson, Rob

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Shea, Derwyn

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

DeFaria, Carl

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Jordan, W. Leo

Snobelen, John

Ecker, Janet

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Elliott, Brenda

Klees, Frank

Stewart, R. Gary

Eves, Ernie L.

Leach, Al

Tascona, Joseph N.

Fisher, Barbara

Leadston, Gary L.

Tilson, David

Flaherty, Jim

Marland, Margaret

Tsubouchi, David H.

Ford, Douglas B.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Maves, Bart

Villeneuve, Noble

Froese, Tom

McLean, Allan K.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Galt, Doug

Munro, Julia

Wilson, Jim

Gilchrist, Steve

Mushinski, Marilyn

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Guzzo, Garry J.

O'Toole, John

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: Those opposed will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Gerretsen, John

McGuinty, Dalton

Bartolucci, Rick

Grandmaître, Bernard

McLeod, Lyn

Boyd, Marion

Gravelle, Michael

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Hampton, Howard

Morin, Gilles E.

Brown, Michael A.

Hoy, Pat

North, Peter

Christopherson, David

Kennedy, Gerard

Patten, Richard

Churley, Marilyn

Kormos, Peter

Phillips, Gerry

Cleary, John C.

Kwinter, Monte

Pouliot, Gilles

Colle, Mike

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Pupatello, Sandra

Conway, Sean G.

Lankin, Frances

Ramsay, David

Cordiano, Joseph

Laughren, Floyd

Sergio, Mario

Crozier, Bruce

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Curling, Alvin

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 72; the nays are 42.

The Speaker: Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

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

The House adjourned at 1810.