36th Parliament, 1st Session

L178 - Tue 22 Apr 1997 / Mar 22 Avr 1997















































The House met at 1332.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This Thursday the Minister of Northern Development and Mines will be making a rare public visit to Sudbury to, we hope, make a funding announcement concerning the northern Ontario community cancer care program, which we have asked for repeatedly from this government over the course of the last year and a half. This worthwhile initiative and welcome announcement of funding will be the culmination of the hard work of the northeastern and northwestern Ontario regional cancer centres and the realization of the vision of the likes of Gerry Lougheed Jr and Dr Dahli Dahliwal, who have championed this cause.

The second reason for the minister's visit to Sudbury is to speak to the chamber of commerce. While I'm sure the minister will deliver a barn burner of a speech, he will likely leave out a few important facts. He probably won't mention the fact that the downloading exercise is not revenue-neutral. He probably will also forget to inform the people that the Sudburians in the region of Sudbury will be hit by $105 million of extra money because of this downloading. He will probably forget to tell the chamber that the Partnership for Community Prosperity, a coalition of business and labour in Sudbury, has repeatedly been asking for a meeting with himself and/or the Premier for the last six months, but to no avail. The minister's rosy picture that he will try to paint will probably forget to mention that over 2,000 jobs have left the north because of this government.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Four months ago this Conservative government passed Bill 82, the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act. At the time the Attorney General said, "This bill will permit us at the earliest possible time to begin to have enforcement techniques that will be effective and will protect and put money into the hands of women and children."

The member for Dufferin-Peel went one further, no doubt at the urging of the Attorney General. He said: "By the end of January, we will begin the implementation of our key enforcement tools.... By the summer of 1997, all our tough new enforcement tools will be in place."

What a joke. This Conservative government has yet to make Bill 82 the law. The Attorney General in December had the audacity to suggest that the opposition was holding up passage of Bill 82. Now, four months later, this same Attorney General is still so incompetent that he can't even get his own bill passed into law.

There are no new enforcement tools in place today. Not a single woman or family counting on Bill 82 has seen one penny of support payments owing. Women and children who were told by this government that their problems would be fixed by Bill 82 have been completely betrayed by this Attorney General. He has proven to be as incompetent in getting his own bill passed into law as he has been in dealing with this plan since last August when he closed the regional offices and laid off 290 staff.

This Attorney General's treatment of women and children is shameful.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I rise today to call the attention to all members of the House to a landmark occasion in my Scarborough riding. In the space of a week, two schools in my riding will pass significant milestones. Birch Cliff Heights Public School and Regent Heights Junior Public School will both be celebrating 75th anniversaries in the month of May.

For the last 75 years, since 1922, these two schools have been an integral part of education in Scarborough and vital pillars of the community. A school is more than just bricks and mortar and desks and blackboards. Far more important than the actual physical school are the dedicated professionals who work to teach our children. It's the hard work and devotion of principals, teachers, secretaries, nurses and support staff that help our children to learn and grow in a safe environment. Both the schools have grown and adapted to the changing needs of education in this province over the years.

Regent Heights began as a frame portable built on Bexhill Avenue. Over the years it has moved several times as educators moved the portable around, rented additional spaces in community halls and church basements and renovated the portable. In 1946 construction began on the existing site on Pharmacy Avenue. The school has continued to expand and improve since that date, serving more students with more diverse needs.

Birch Cliff Heights began in 1922 as a four-classroom school with a basement. The school grew steadily until it consisted of 22 classrooms and a gymnasium by 1958. Enrolment peaked in 1962 at 761 students.

It is with great pleasure that I recognize these two excellent schools on their 75th anniversary and wish them the best in the next 75.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): The 12 municipal governments of Ottawa-Carleton, including the regional government, are willing to move forward with municipal governance reform. The 12 councils have already developed and unanimously approved a locally designed process. Unfortunately, governance reform in Ontario's second-largest municipality in the metropolitan area can't go ahead without the approval of the provincial government, but the only thing the Minister of Municipal Affairs says is, "Persevere and develop a local process."

Minister, they have a local process but you won't act. Why is it that when there is a local agreement, as is the case with Ottawa-Carleton, you won't act, but in the case of Metro Toronto, where there is no agreement, you are more than willing to impose your will?

Minister, in letters to you and the Premier, the mayor of Ottawa states that you have created an untenable situation. It's imperative that we seize on the climate of consensus in Ottawa-Carleton. The municipalities are together on this, but you are the missing link. Give your approval and allow governance reform to move forward in a stable framework by postponing municipal elections in the Ottawa-Carleton area until the late spring of 1998.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): If I could have a page come over, I have some materials I would like to have distributed to the members of the government caucus. I bring this back from a meeting I attended last night -- thank you, Stuart; give one to each of the government members on the other side -- which was the 20th weekly meeting of Citizens for Local Democracy. The member for Dovercourt and the member for Riverdale accompanied me to that meeting last night.

The government may have thought yesterday in passing Bill 103 and in rushing down the hall to the Lieutenant Governor's suite to get royal assent that the fight was over, that they had won the fight and they could just put this chapter behind them. Quite frankly, exactly the opposite is true. Last night we heard the sense of conviction from Citizens for Local Democracy and the mayors of the municipalities in Metro Toronto that this will continue to be fought in the courts during the implementation.

I also want to let you know, for those of you outside of Metro who think, "This won't bother us any more," Citizens for Local Democracy groups are springing up in places like Kitchener, Peterborough, Belleville, coming to a community near you soon. What they've sent back to you, though, is a hope that you will listen in the future. It says, "Government, please clean out your ears." Here are a couple of Q'Tips. We hope you'll put them to good use.



Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): On the evening of April 21, Ontario's Jewish community, and indeed Jews the world over, began the celebration of Passover, the ancient Jewish festival of unleavened bread, the season of their freedom as the people of God, and the oldest continuously performed ceremony in human history.

Passover dramatically recalls the liberation of the children of Israel by God through the prophet Moses and their passing over from the place of their enslavement in Egypt to the promised land, "flowing with milk and honey."

Passover is a celebration of Jewish history and identity. The benedictions, the wine and other foods that are eaten at the Passover table, the recitals and the prayers -- all these bring to life the great events and the people of Israel's past. At this holiest time of the Jewish year, Jews renew a sense of peoplehood and community. They recall the days of history's glory, as well as the suffering that has been their historic companion on their journey to final freedom and statehood.

On behalf of the government of Ontario, I would like to wish my Jewish community of Hamilton and throughout Ontario a very happy Passover, together with the holiday wish that we celebrate Passover next year in Jerusalem. Shalom.


Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I rise today to bring the voices of 132,000 petitioners to this Legislature. The citizens of this province are uniting across party and linguistic lines to implore the government to save the Montfort Hospital. The Montfort does not simply give a passing nod to equality of care; rather, it serves as a model of what the framers of Bill 8 could only dream about: a province where every person could feel totally at home.

Thousands of Ontarians are finally beginning to realize the deeper importance of the Montfort. It is not just a hospital; it is the heart of a community. Closing the Montfort would do nothing less than pull apart our history and traditions, which developed to meet needs that are as great today as ever.

On March 22 in Ottawa, some 10,000 people participated in a historic rally. In an outpouring of emotion, they delivered a simple message that nevertheless cloaks a complex reality: To protect a vibrant and historic community, the Montfort must survive.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Yesterday we sat in this place as the government passed Bill 103. It was a bleak day for everyone who has participated in that debate: a bleak day for the deputants, the countless deputations that we had in committee; a bleak day for the thousands of local citizens who have been involved all over Metropolitan Toronto in their efforts to preserve local autonomy and local government.

I was reading today a column by John Barber. He speaks rather eloquently of the work that those individuals have done in resisting and fighting Bill 103. He says:

"There is one thing that all parties to this debate, including the government, appear to agree on. They all say there is great passion and great talent in civic Toronto; that Toronto citizens care deeply about their city and how it is governed. The antis proved it with their miraculous, albeit fruitless campaign to resist the megacity. The Tories say they are counting on it to make the megacity work.

"I wish I shared the faith. There is only so much effort people can devote to a lost cause...and look where it gets you. Despite all the brave talk, the spirit is broken."

I have to tell you, from the discussions I've had with many people yesterday, the spirit is not broken. That spirit of fighting against this government against this bill and so many other bills that are coming will continue, and they will fight back against this government.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): This year the Victorian Order of Nurses, Canada's leading community health care organization, celebrates 100 years of innovative "Caring for Life."

The seeds of the VON were sown in 1896 at an annual meeting of the newly formed National Council of Women of Canada. Women from across the Dominion shared accounts of poor public health conditions in both the slums of the eastern cities and the frontier settlements of Canada's west and northwest. The meeting adopted a resolution asking Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, a founder of the council and the wife of Canada's Governor General, to establish a visiting nurses organization for Canada.

VON Canada received its royal charter the following year, and within a few months VON branches were established in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax.

Today the VON provides more than 50 different services under the headings of visiting nursing, health promotion and support services. The VON employs some 7,000 registered nurses and allied health care professionals, assisted by 9,000 volunteers. While the organization is rightly proud of its high professional standards, volunteers have always been the lifeblood of the VON.

On behalf of all members in this House, I am honoured to thank the many thousands of Canadians who have contributed to the VON's success in meeting the health care needs of communities across our great nation. We wish you another 100 years of successful "Caring for Life."


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House I have today laid upon the table the 1996 annual report of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further, I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to a certain bill.

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): The following is the title of the bill to which Her Honour did assent:

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.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I would like to ask the indulgence of the House for unanimous consent to have the government make a statement regarding Earth Day today.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for a statement on Earth Day? I hear a no.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Who said no?

The Speaker: Member for Fort York, please.


The Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: As you know, the government has announced its intention to call for debate this afternoon an amended time allocation motion regarding Bill 104. In our view, this motion should be ruled out of order. I've provided you with a copy of my opinions on the subject earlier today to assist you in making a ruling this afternoon. With your indulgence, I will briefly outline my submission to the House.

The Speaker: With the greatest respect to the member for Algoma, it is simply on the order paper. It hasn't been called so it's not before the House. Those submissions will be properly made when that order is in fact called, if it is called.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question today is for the Minister of Education. Minister, I want to talk to you about Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, which ought more appropriately to be called the Fewer Resources for Ontario Schools Act.

You tell us that your bill is going to improve the quality of education for Ontario students. We don't see it and neither do Ontario's parents, students or teachers, and neither, for that matter, do People for Education, who today released a very interesting report called Real Stories, Real Schools, which describes in intimate detail the impact that your policies are having on schools right now.

Minister, you tell us time and time again that it is your sincere and genuine intent to protect education in Ontario. So far you've cut $400 million. You tell us that you can find at least another $1 billion in there in savings. Furthermore, on your watch, over 50 Ontario school boards have laid off teachers. Tell us, why should we trust you when it comes to Bill 104?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): To the Leader of the Opposition, Bill 104 is a bill that will help to reduce the amount of duplication involved in our education system, reduce the amount of bureaucracy, reduce the number of politicians who are involved in our education system from about 1,900 to about 700. That is an awful lot of people.

I think a lot of folks who have done reports on this have recognized that we need to make these moves in order to improve our education system; in order to, most importantly, improve student achievement, because as I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition knows, Ontario has ranked in about the middle of the pack in international and pan-Canadian tests in the past. Those kinds of results by the students of Ontario do not reflect the quality of our teachers -- obviously you have some of the most qualified teachers in North America -- and do not reflect the quality of our students.

We think we need to give our students a better opportunity. We think it's important that each student in Ontario have an equal opportunity to a first-quality education. That is why we've introduced Bill 104 as part of a step in reforms for our education system.


Mr McGuinty: You, sir, have a very serious credibility problem when it comes to being a protector of education in Ontario.

Because of you and your policies at least 25 boards across the province have been forced to cut junior kindergarten. Many others are struggling to keep it afloat when we all know, in our heart of hearts, that as we stand on the precipice of the 21st century we need more education, not less. Because of you another 23 boards have cut special education, education designed to meet the needs of those who are learning disabled; 23 boards have cut in that area. You're also the minister who declared guidance, libraries, even basic maintenance and heating as not constituting any real part of classroom funding. I'm going to ask you again, Minister: Given this record of very dubious achievements, how can you expect us to trust you when it comes to Bill 104?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I find it curious at best that with those kinds of distortions, the Leader of the Opposition would talk about credibility. The only person whose credibility can be questioned in this House is the Leader of the Opposition when he opposes the changes in Bill 104, because if I can quote directly from the Leader of the Opposition, he said, "I think there's generally a fairly broad support for reduction in school boards." That was on January 13, 1997.

Let me address the issue of removing education from the property tax since that's topical: "That's a good thing to do." That's a quote from the Leader of the Opposition on February 1, 1997. If there's an issue of credibility, it rests there with the Leader of the Opposition, who is on the record as supporting the initiatives in Bill 104. Why don't you just help us pass the bill and improve education in Ontario?

Mr McGuinty: No matter what you tell us, the people in this province know what you've done to their schools -- not for them, what you've done to them. Students, teachers and parents know that class sizes today are larger. They know there are fewer programs and fewer services. You can't hide that.

But what they don't know and what you're not telling them is what will happen when you assume full control. You won't tell us how much you're going to cut once you eliminate local control of schools. You won't tell us the level of funding you plan to leave for students in different parts of the province. You won't even tell us about the transition costs that are going to be there when you proceed with your plans.

Given what you've already done to Ontario schools and given what you're not telling us about right now, how can expect the people of this province to honestly believe that Bill 104 is in the interests of Ontario students?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm glad the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that as a result of the social contract some class sizes in Ontario went up. We find that unacceptable. I'm also glad the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that when his party was in power they failed to address the general legislative grant program in this province that has had second-class students, from a funding point of view, for decades.

This government is taking those issues on to improve education, to improve student achievement. What will be the results of our reform? I'm proud to say that the results of our reforms will be higher standards in each and every grade; testing of students province-wide, which we've already initiated this year; better supports for teachers; and a better of quality education for every student in this province. That will be the result of our reforms.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My next question is for the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I think she's just coming in right now. I'll just allow her a moment to take her seat.

Minister, you will recall that yesterday I raised the shocking reality of the large number of cases of child abuse in our province: broken bones, cigarette burns, bruises and shattered spirits. You will know that we all have a very special responsibility to ensure that our children are protected and enjoy a good quality of life. Unfortunately, for too many of Ontario's kids this isn't the case. This is a time of crisis for our children, but your only action to date of any substance has been to cut 5% from the budget of Ontario's children's aid societies. That's $17 million that could have been used to help these children.

You're telling us, Minister, that for you protecting children is a top priority. If it's such a priority, then I want you to stand up right now and tell me why it is that on your watch 340 full-time staff have been laid off from children's aid societies in Ontario.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): My apology to the member of the opposition for not being here when he started his question. I was following up on an issue with a parent of a disabled kid from one of his backbenchers who gave me a letter which I asked my staff to follow up on.

I would like to reiterate what I said yesterday, that our government does take quite seriously what is happening at the coroner's inquest, the task force that the coroner and the children's aid societies, with the support of the ministry are undertaking, to try and see how the system has failed children in the past and what we can do to make sure they're not falling through the cracks.

As I mentioned, we announced last week almost $45 million to try and shift resources to intervention and prevention, the kind of steps we need is one of the things we've done, and there are many other things we have undertaken and are prepared to undertake in response to the task force to improve the system.

Mr McGuinty: That lends no comfort whatsoever to the kids of this province who are the subject of abuse today. You haven't listened and you haven't acted. In November 1996, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies published a number of proposed amendments to the Child and Family Services Act. That was sent to the Minister of Community and Social Services in November 1996. It is now six months later and you haven't acted on a single one of those recommendations. Minister, if protecting Ontario's children is such a high priority for you, why have you failed to act on those recommendations?

Hon Mrs Ecker: With all due respect to the honourable member, we have not failed to act. We are in the process of doing many things in response to the children's aid society comments to us and also in response to the task force recommendations. They did their interim report some weeks ago.

Last spring we started the process for new risk assessment tools, to select what is called the single assessment tool to help workers make better judgements on risks. The implementation plan has been developed. It's under way; it will be finished by this fall. Last spring the consulting contract was signed for the new information system for the new computer technology; last summer, standards revised; last summer, protocols with the coroner and the children's aid society. I have a list here of the things we have done and we have under way to try and improve the system.

If the honourable member wishes to provide me with more suggestions and recommendations about how we can improve the system, I would be very pleased to hear them.


Mr McGuinty: Minister, we've learned that it takes an average of 44 months before a child can be permanently rescued from abuse -- 44 months. If you are the subject of abuse and you are four years of age, you may very well have been the subject of abuse for your entire life before you are removed from that situation.

You have talked about some Band-Aid solutions. The fact of the matter is caseloads are going up; you're laying off full-time staff at children's aid societies. Concrete proposals have been put before you by the children's aid societies and you have failed to act.

Furthermore, when Mike Harris and Ernie Eves came to you and said, "I need 17 million bucks from Ontario's kids who happen to be abused," you know what you did? You didn't tell them to go fly a kite. You said, "You can have it." You're not fulfilling your obligation to Ontario's kids. You let $17 million slip from your hands.

What are you going to do, Minister? Tell me today for Ontario's kids.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Leader of the official opposition, thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I guess if the honourable member is so concerned about things that should have been done and legislation that should have been done, he might wish to ask his colleagues who were in the Liberal government when they didn't proceed with the legislation and the amendments that they brought forward, because we quite recognize --


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: If the honourable member doesn't think that new investments for a new computer technology system to support the workers is helping; if he doesn't think that working with regulatory colleges to try and improve the education and support to professionals who are seeing child abuse or potential child abuse cases is worthwhile; if he doesn't think that $800,000 for professional education is worthwhile; if he doesn't think reviewing the legislation with an eye to enacting the recommendations that the coroner or the children's aid societies have put forward is worthwhile; if he doesn't think bringing in legislation to improve social workers, to make them self-regulating professionals, is worthwhile -- those are all things that this government is undertaking -- if he doesn't think they are worthwhile --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question, third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Earlier today the Minister of Education received a petition from school children. The petition reflects their fears and insecurities about what is happening in their schools because of his cutbacks to education. They echo what was said by children who appeared before the standing committee to ask you not to ram through Bill 104.

Grade 3 student Allison Elwell told the committee she is worried about losing her education. Like so many other Ontario children, she has already lost some library. These children are worried with good reason, Minister. It's their education that's going to be affected. They are the children who may see money taken from their classrooms to pay for your transition costs. Can you explain to Allison why you are ramming through a bill that already has elementary school children worried?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): In response to the leader of the third party, can I say that it's disappointing personally, and I'm sure to all my colleagues and to the members opposite, I'm sure, in many cases, that school children in this province have such a distorted view of what's in Bill 104. I'm not sure of the origins of that distorted view, but there are some people who actually believe that there are fiscal measures in Bill 104 and in some cases, as shocking as this may be, some children have been told by parties unknown to me that there are reductions and cuts to their school system intended by Bill 104.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Nothing could be further from the truth.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Nothing could be further from the truth -- nothing. I want to thank my colleagues for pointing that out, because obviously -- thank you, Gerry --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Mr Speaker, I'll be brief. Obviously there's a time for some amusement in this House from time to time. Nothing, though, is amusing I'm sure to anyone about young children being used for political purposes. I find that repugnant. I want to be very clear that the purpose of Bill 104 is to reduce the bureaucracy in our education system and to reduce the number of politicians in our education system.

Mr Hampton: The only thing we're not amused about, Minister, is your cavalier attitude. As you go about cutting $5 million and $6 million from this year's education budget, from school boards, when you promised you wouldn't do it, people have good reason to be worried.

But it gets worse. Yesterday you shamelessly told a press conference that you don't know what the cost of transition will be for Bill 104, you don't know how many school board staff will lose their jobs and you don't know how much money is needed to educate a child in Ontario. In southwestern Ontario you're going to force the amalgamation of four boards, and they already know that the 1997 transition cost will be $2 million. They don't know where that money is going to come from. They're afraid you're going to force them to take it out of the classroom.

Minister, it's a serious question: Will you make Allison and all those other children a promise? Will you promise her that she won't have to lose any more money from the library and from the classroom to pay for your transition costs?

Hon Mr Snobelen: One of the reasons I was so pleased to make an announcement earlier that assured students across the province that in their 1997-98 year there'll be no interruption in programs and what's offered to those students is that we wanted to allay those fears that there would be some interruption in the quality of education during that year. There will not be, and we've made that assurance.

We know for certain that the results of Bill 104 will be a reduction in the cost -- outside estimates are $150 million a year -- for waste and duplication and bureaucracy in our system. We know that, and we also know that the actions of the leader of the third party have delayed the passage of this bill by three weeks, have delayed getting the answers --


Hon Mr Snobelen: The glee of the third party at delaying three weeks and wasting $2.5 million is obviously as good today as it was yesterday, but I can tell you this: That delay is delaying the school boards, the ministry, the Education Improvement Commission from getting on with the business of having this transition, of making it smooth for the benefit of our students. I'd call on the leader of the third party not to further delay, to let us improve the system of education for those students.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a supplementary regarding the implementation of Bill 104 if it passes. I have the draft guidelines for the establishment of the local education improvement committees that have been published by the proposed Education Improvement Commission.

These committees will have to be established by trustees in existing boards. They're going to have to set up subcommittees, including human resources subcommittees with employees represented. They have to appoint coordinators and establish steering committees. They will make recommendations to the commission. They will develop amalgamation work plans with time lines. They will develop and implement local communications and consultation strategy. They will prepare an inventory of assets and liabilities on existing staff of all involved boards. They will play a role in determining trustee distribution in the new boards and they will report regularly to their existing boards. They have to do all of this by December 31 of this year, just eight months from now.

Minister, aren't you setting up a situation which will ensure that this work cannot be done in time, will not be done properly? You'll then blame incompetent school boards. Why don't you do this in a time frame that is reasonable and short?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Even the member for Algoma should be embarrassed to talk about time compression as he and his party delay the passage of the bill. I think that's sad.


We've heard a lot about this bill, a lot about what's in 104. Let me read you a statement that I think brings it home:

"Many statements have been made by various organizations and individuals concerning the consolidation of school boards. The opposition supports changes in administration but objects to the undemocratic and paternalistic way in which the government has proceeded. The third party says the government is preoccupied with the structure at the expense of equality in education. Trustees and trustee organizations have expressed concerns that with fewer trustees and larger units of administration many small municipalities will not be represented. Federations have stated that the reorganization of boards may dilute the quality of education."

If this sounds familiar, it should. Each of these statements was made in the 1968 amalgamation process, which was previously so highly disparaged. Those are the comments of Walter MacLeod. We hear this on and on again. Let's get on with improving education for the students in Ontario. Let's get 104 passed. Let's get on with amalgamation.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A question to the Premier: The people of Ontario are becoming more and more concerned about the Conservative government's trashing of environmental protection in Ontario. It's obvious this government doesn't care what I say about their attack on the environment and they don't care what environmentalists say. But today, on Earth Day, Ontario's independent Environmental Commissioner has sounded the alarm about this government's sorry environmental record. Here's what the commissioner said today: "If we continue along this path, our right and the right of our children to a healthy environment will be jeopardized."

My question to the Premier is this: What will it take to get him to realize that his government has to stop clear-cutting the laws that protect Ontario's environment? What will it take?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): As we are speaking here, the Minister of Environment is visiting with the US states to deal both with water quality and with air emissions in the border states as part of a coordinated program to deal with the environment here in Ontario and the role that we can all cooperatively play in that area.

On balance, if you look at the Environmental Commissioner's report, a report, I might add, that we welcome, a report that is quite complimentary to this government in particular and to the ministry in a number of areas, by and large complimentary --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): What page?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): What page? Where is it complimentary?

Ms Martel: One paragraph. One sentence.

Hon Mr Harris: At the same time, though, as is the role of the Environmental Commissioner, they point out areas they want to make sure we are concerned about and that we all --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, Premier. The members for London Centre and Sudbury East, come to order, please. Supplementary.

Mr Hampton: It's obvious that the Premier hasn't read this report. Premier, this report has nothing good to say about your government. In fact, this is what it says in reference to your government's decisions. In reference to one decision, it says, "This decision most likely increases the risk of inadequate drinking water testing in Ontario." Drinking water, Premier -- essential for human health. Then it says, "With budget and staff cuts announced in 1996, it is questionable whether MNR will be able to adequately audit and enforce the law." Then it says: "Mine closure and rehabilitation compliance staff have dropped from 18 to five. One thing is clear -- cleanup costs will be passed on to the taxpayer" -- from the mining industry on to the taxpayer. Then it says, "Ministries demonstrated an alarming lack of environmental vision."

Premier, do you really think the people of Ontario support your agenda of chopping environmental protection in this province, of putting the fox in charge of the environmental henhouse, of putting our province's --

The Speaker: Thank you very much, leader of the third party. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I think the public of Ontario share our concern with the environment, share our concern equally, I would say. The commitment of this government is that the legacy we leave to our children and our grandchildren and next generations -- just as important as not spending their money today and balancing the books, an equal priority of this party and this government is that we not spend the environment today at the expense of our grandchildren and future generations.

We are very much committed to sustainable development. We are very much committed to channelling our environment resources where they can do some good. I might add, since you mention the Environmental Commissioner, she has some advice for us in some areas that we take very seriously. In other areas, she says:

"I commend the Ministry of Environment and Energy for addressing some of the technical and administrative recommendations I made in my 1994-1995 annual report.

"The environmental registry has now been tested and proven a cost-effective way to open the door to government environmental decision-making."

The Speaker: Thank you very much, Premier. Final supplementary, member for Riverdale.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Thank you, to the Premier, for pointing out that it was our government that brought in the Environmental Bill of Rights. I say to the Premier, take this report and read it. It is a devastating report. You should pay attention to its advice instead of the PR you're doing here today. It talks about the fact that all kinds of environmental changes and deregulation are going on in secret, behind closed doors, just like you're doing everything else in this government.

Premier, as the Environmental Commissioner says, the problem is that the commission last year stopped testing water supplies and has forced municipalities to pay private labs up to five times as much as the cost in the ministry labs. That means taxpayers are paying more, and it's not even a legal requirement that they're certified or accredited labs.

Premier, is this government so out of control, are you so determined to download and privatize, that you won't even take responsibility for safe drinking water?

Hon Mr Harris: Of course we do take responsibility and accountability, as do municipalities, which have quite an interest as well. Many of them, as you know, already own their own water and water treatment facilities, and they take it very seriously, and as their partners, we take it very seriously.

But I might add that while the commissioner points out some things -- some of them are ongoing -- some of them are complimentary and some are areas we should look at. That's the purpose of having the Environmental Commissioner.

The commissioner also says, for example, "The Ministry of Environment and Energy was the most consistently proactive in opening the door to its environmental decision-making processes." I'm just quoting from the report.

It says, re the Niagara Escarpment pits and quarries, "Together, high-quality public submissions and the ministry's commitment to consider what the public had to say made this a better decision."

"Generally the ministry's processes for posting proposed policies, acts and regulations, reviewing and considering public comments, and posting decisions were well designed."

Yes, there are some areas, and that's the purpose and the reason to have the Environmental Commissioner: to say some areas we should look at. We will look at those.

The Speaker: Thank you very much. New question, official opposition, the member for Hamilton East.


The Speaker: I'm standing and you're standing, and one of us is out of order. The member for Hamilton East.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Premier as well. Premier, if you had read the report, rather than the whiz kids in your office picking out two or three quotes, you would clearly realize that this is nothing more than a brutal indictment of your record as Premier and your minister's record with regard to protecting the environment.

You have compromised the quality of drinking water in Ontario with your cuts. You have compromised environmental standards in air emissions across Ontario with your cuts. You have abandoned your commitment to the Niagara Escarpment Commission with your cuts. You have made moves that have set environmental standards in this province back 20 years in your continued obsession for this tax cut to your rich friends.

Let me read something you said on June 5, 1995. "`I don't think you'll find a cent there cut out of the environment,' he said. `We were able to find $6 billion in cuts without cutting the environment.'" Premier, those are your words, not mine, not the opposition's.

The Speaker: Your question?

Mr Agostino: Premier, can you tell the House why you've betrayed the people of Ontario and broken this promise and clear commitment you made not to cut one cent out of the environment?

Hon Mr Harris: As I recall, we said we would look for efficiencies within the operation and administration, not anything that would affect the environment. Let me give you some of the things we've been able to do with the dollars available to us that are in fact improving protection to the environment, which is our goal.


We released new landfill standards, including requirements for siting, design operation, monitoring, protecting ground and surface waters, controlling landfill gas, continuously planning financial assurance. Those clearly defined standards are among the toughest in the world, and neither the Liberal government nor the NDP government had the guts to go on the record and set those tough standards.

We've undertaken a comprehensive updating of environmental legislation. We've introduced administrative changes to five acts to replace outdated language, obsolete requirements, outdated methods of serving orders.

We are putting our dollars to actually protecting and improving and cleaning up the environment and we will continue to live up to those commitments.

Mr Agostino: The Premier obviously doesn't remember everything he said. I'm going to remind him again: On June 5, Premier, you said, "I don't think you'll find a cent cut out of the environment."

Let me remind you what you've done since that time. You have cut, not one cent, but $111 million out of the Ministry of the Environment's budget. That is the largest percentage cut to any ministry since you have become Premier of Ontario: $111 million, when you promised you weren't going to cut one cent. That was the promise you made on June 5.

You have cut 725 jobs, or 31% of the workforce of the Ministry of the Environment. You have done that when you promised you weren't going to cut one cent. It is very clear what you have done: You have lowered the standards. You have basically turned over control of the Ministry of the Environment to the private sector, turned over control that is going to take us back 20 years.

Can you explain to the House again why you made the commitment in June 1995 that you weren't going to cut one cent, but you have since then cut $111 million?

Hon Mr Harris: We committed that we would not cut one cent from dollars going to protect the environment, but if there's waste we cut the waste, and we are reducing that waste. At the same time --


The Speaker: Order. Premier?

Hon Mr Harris: Other things we've done: We've introduced and passed Bill 76, An Act to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act. We've submitted Ontario's voluntary challenge and registry program to the federal Minister of Natural Resources, producing a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000.

I'll tell you something that is very different. I could read off the list of things we've done. We measure success in the environment by results. You measured it by how many dollars you could waste. Instead of how many dollars you waste, we measure success by results, and we will stand on that record of results of protecting the environment.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is also for the Premier. Today 15 nurses from Mount Sinai Hospital tried to meet with you to explain the impact of your government's budget cuts on patient care in their hospital. You, as I understand is usual, refused to meet with these front-line workers, so they're here in the members' gallery and they want to hear your answers to the questions.

Premier, 94 nurses were laid off today from Mount Sinai Hospital. That's almost 20% of the nursing staff. Already the number of patients to each nurse has jumped from three to four. These nurses are deeply concerned about the impact of these cuts on the quality of patient care. Not only do they have more patients because there are fewer of them, but these patients need a higher level of care because of the shortness of their hospital stays.

Premier, you need to understand these layoffs have nothing to do with hospital restructuring in Metro. They are the direct result of your government's budget cuts, $6 million of budget cuts to Mount Sinai this year. Are you going to tell these nurses when you're going to step in and restore patient care in their hospital and in this province?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The Minister of Health is, yes.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for the question, because indeed during this period of transition and restructuring in our health care system, the nurses and the front-line workers need all of our understanding. That's why we're putting millions of dollars into retraining programs.

An astonishing press release on March 12 said, "Survey Points Towards Increased Employment Opportunities for...Nurses." That's put out by the arm's-length College of Nurses of Ontario and it says:

"A recent survey undertaken by the College of Nurses of Ontario among its 111,179 members predicts that the province of Ontario will face a shortage of nurses at the turn of the century. According to professor Johanne Pomerleau, director of Laurentian University's school of nursing, `The results of the survey indicate that there will be an increased demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses in all sectors of health care after the present health restructuring is completed.'"

With the $170 million that we've invested in community-based care, with the $35 million we've put into hospital-based cardiac care --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, Minister of Health.

Mrs Boyd: It doesn't surprise me that the Premier wouldn't answer the question. It's very clear that the minister is an apologist for his government. He knows that he's taken $800 million out of hospital budgets and that's resulted in 5,000 nurses losing their jobs, and it's scant comfort to those nurses to know that three years from now there may be an oversupply. Why? Because they've left the field? Because these nurses whom we've trained through our education dollars, who have a commitment to their patients and a commitment to their community, are having their careers destroyed by your indiscriminate budget cuts that are coming at a time when what we need is a careful plan to restructure this system, a plan which in fact ensures that quality of patient care is there.

When are you going to accept responsibility for the fact that your budget cuts are causing real problems for patients and you're refusing to listen to the experts who are telling you what their observation is about the deterioration in patient care?

Hon Mr Wilson: I've had seven years in my place in this House listening to nurses, and nurses, through their own advertising campaign, say there's waste in the hospitals that has to be addressed, that every dollar has to be put into front-line patient care. The College of Nurses of Ontario, at arm's length, says that in a few years there will be a shortage of nurses because of the tremendous reinvestments.

The Premier made a $42-million announcement last week on children in this province. That creates 200 nursing jobs for public health nurses. Cardiac nurses are working Saturdays and Sundays now to try and get us the lowest waiting list in the Ontario; 4,400 new jobs are being created in the community sector through the investment of $170 million, the largest single investment in the history of Ontario.

The health care budget is up $300 million this year, and during the five years that honourable member was in office, 14,000 nurses were laid off and went through the health services training and adjustment program -- 14,000 nurses, no vision for health care, $100 million --

The Speaker: Minister.


The Speaker: Order.

New question, the member for York East.



Mr John L. Parker (York East): I'd like to bring some more good news to the attention of our friends opposite. My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. You're aware of my interest in the needs of children in this province. In fact, together with me, you have met personally with a number of the dedicated child care workers in my riding, something I appreciate very much, as I know they do as well. Just last week you announced you would be giving funding to continue the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program. I wonder if you might explain to this House why you decided to continue that particular project.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Thank you very much, to the member, for the question. We have recognized that the research and the support the Better Beginnings program is putting forward has been supporting 4,000 families in eight low-income neighbourhoods and communities around the province. It is demonstrating that the kind of support it puts in place for low-income families actually does show a decrease in crime, actually does show a decrease in child abuse, and for that reason we felt it was appropriate to take it from a pilot project that was destined to end this year to regular full-time funding, because we think the program should continue.

I'd also like to note that this spending has also supported 1,000 hours per month of volunteers who help in these community programs.

Mr Parker: Minister, you mentioned there's a home visiting component to that program. I also know that last week you, the Premier, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education together announced there would be money for the healthy babies program. That program also does home visits. Isn't there an overlap between the two programs?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Again a very good question. The healthy babies announcement that was done last week -- I think one of the things that's important to note about that announcement the Premier made was that the ministries of health, education and community and social services are working at trying to integrate our funding and our programs to better serve the vulnerable people who need the help.

The healthy babies program, as my colleague the Minister of Health mentioned, is a screening program using public health nurses and other support workers to go out and screen some of the 150,000 newborns, where as the Better Beginnings is a community program that is supporting families in low-income neighbourhoods. Both programs, we know, will work very well to help us improve intervention and prevention services for children in Ontario.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier and the subject is Ipperwash and the shooting death of aboriginal Dudley George. This is really to the heart of the matter, and that is your role in this affair.

We've now had from you two versions of your role in it. One version is you have said to us that you have no files, no records because, "We had no involvement." "At no time...was there any direction given by any political staff or any politicians as to what the OPP should do...." That's what you said in the House.

We now have had another version released publicly and that is the minutes of the meeting that took place the day before the shooting. I might add that attending that meeting was an elected Conservative member, the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General, the Premier's executive assistant, and a senior OPP officer who was acting as a liaison between this meeting and the police. What the minutes say is that the province has taken the decision -- the specific words are, "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers as soon as possible." In other words, the minutes say, "We've already taken the decision; get them out." It goes on to say, "The OPP will have the discretion only as to how to proceed to get them out."

My question to you is this, Premier --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm sorry, time's up. Premier.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think we have to be very careful. There is a court case that is there. It's before the courts and I think we need to respect that; at least I think reasonable people would want to respect that.

We've been very clear: Absolutely no political direction was given to the OPP. Any briefings any of my staff attended would get a report from the OPP as to status. Any action that was taken by the government as a result of any of those meetings that would require action was to seek an injunction. That's a matter of public record and I don't think I'm affecting the court case by indicating that was the action the government was taking.

How anything was to be carried out I think has been confirmed by the OPP. There was no direction. There were no meetings to give any direction. We were not wanting to give any direction. It was not our role to give any direction, and I don't think you'll find any record of any direction because there was none.

Mr Phillips: I would say in terms of jeopardizing the court case, Premier, the day the court case opened, that very day, April 1, the headline was, "`Ipperwash group was breaking the law,' Premier says." You had your mouth all over this case on April 1, the day it opened.

In your own minutes it's clear you made the order: "Get them out of the park as soon as possible." It then goes on to say that the police will be allowed to determine how to get them out but not whether to. The police wanted to negotiate this. They wanted a peaceful settlement, it was clear. I've read Commissioner O'Grady's remarks very clearly. He says, "Yes, the government didn't give us tactical advice, they gave us," what he calls, "broad policy direction." In other words, the direction was, the senior OPP officer at that meeting, your executive assistant -- by the way, the minutes say to report back to you the results of this meeting. That meeting said, "Get them out of the park as soon as possible," and it instructed the OPP to move forward on that. It says the decision on how will be left to them.

The question for you is, you've now given us two different versions of this. Will you agree to a public inquiry so we can get to the bottom of this matter and find out specifically --

The Speaker: Thank you. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I just want to be clear. The member is quoted as saying in his question that he has a minute that says the OPP were instructed. That is not true. You do not have a minute that says that. The OPP were never instructed. There was no direction given to the OPP, and I suggest you may want to withdraw that at the appropriate time.

I will tell you this: What we took action on as a government is a matter of public record. We felt there was an illegal occupation. We said so publicly. We as well took the action that is a matter of public record to seek a court injunction. That is the action the government took. There was no direction given to the OPP before, after or during any other situation; no direction given by the government, no direction given by any of our staff, no direction given by any of the ministers. We said all along that is it.

I would suggest to the member that you may want to review very carefully the information you lay before this Legislature, because it is false and untrue.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Repeat it outside, Gerry. Go ahead.

The Speaker: Order. I know the rules, the member from Ottawa. I understand. Premier, you must withdraw "it is false and untrue."

Hon Mr Harris: Done. Withdrawn.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Premier. Premier, on March 6, you said in response to a question from me that all of Women's College Hospital's programs, staff, administration would be moved to Sunnybrook hospital. In addition, you said the programs of Women's College would be augmented by another $10 million. You said, "We on our side will suggest we're in favour of enhancing the programs and the services provided by Women's College Hospital, including maintaining the name and the programs and the staff and enhancing them."

That is not what the commission recommended, and we now have a letter to the chair of the commission from your government indicating support for the commission's recommendation to close Women's College, to lose the independence of the board, to lose its funding and its independent programs.

Premier, which is it? Are you concerned about the future of women's health or are you going to allow your government to proceed with closing down and destroying 86 years of excellence and innovation at Women's College Hospital? Which is it? You can't have it both ways.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Health --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister of Health.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The comments the honourable member uses to quote the minister are what the commission -- I'd ask the honourable member to read the commission's report again. The commission has directed that all programs delivered today by Women's College be maintained and enhanced. They have directed that the programs move to a new building which has been built for those purposes, C wing at Sunnybrook hospital, replacing an 86-year-old building downtown.


In our response, we've also picked up on what the commission has recommended in terms of a sexual assault clinic to be located downtown, in terms of ambulatory care services for women to be located downtown. Those are our suggestions as party to this process. I know the minister for women's issues has made similar suggestions to the commission.

I'd like to know what the opposition parties said to the commission, because that seems to be the greatest secret in this province right now. What did your submission say to the commission?

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Ms Churley: I am shocked that the Premier would not answer my question.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Ottawa-Rideau, you seem to come in right at the very end when you're the only noticeable voice. Thank you.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): You can't hear me.

The Speaker: I do hear you. Even when you're almost beneath the desk, I still hear you. Supplementary, the member for Riverdale.

Ms Churley: To the Minister of Health, I'm disappointed that the Premier didn't answer, because they were his words I was quoting. But I want to guarantee the Minister of Health that what the Premier said in this House and what is said in this letter, which I have a copy of, is completely different. It says various things. For example, it uses the phrase "the Ministry of Health supports"; it says, "the government supports"; it says, "I support"; it says, "we support" all over the place, and it's then signed by an ADM on behalf of the deputy minister. In addition, we know what the Premier said. He said, "We are in favour of expanding Women's College. You" -- whoever -- "have made your opinions known on this."

By your own actions, your political house is one of straw. You have intervened where it is politically suitable, in the case of rural hospitals, and you have now intervened in the case of Montfort Hospital in Ottawa. A letter from the ministry is the same as a letter from you and a letter telling Duncan Sinclair what to do.

Minister, will you commit therefore today to stand up for women's health and write a letter to the commission and ask him to keep Women's College --

The Speaker: Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: On March 8, the scientist at Women's College, in a Toronto Star article, pointed out that the $10 million that the commission is recommending -- that's 10 million new dollars -- be earmarked annually for research on women's health "`would represent a significant improvement' said Cecil Yip, vice-dean of research in the school's medical faculty.

"`You are seeing an expansion in terms of research on women's health,' Yip said.

"`It's about five times the amount they have ongoing there (at Women's College) right now. It will be really boosted in terms of women's health research.'"

If you don't believe the government and you don't believe our sincere efforts and the commission's sincere efforts to improve women's health in this province, maybe you'll believe the vice-president of research at Women's College itself, who says it's five times more to spend on research than they're currently able to do today; it's an improvement to women's health services in this province.

Ms Churley: It's pretty clear --

The Speaker: Member for Riverdale, come to order.

Ms Churley: I was answering the Premier.

The Speaker: No. You ask the questions; they answer them. It's that way.

Ms Churley: But they don't answer them.

The Speaker: Order, member for Riverdale. The member for Scarborough Centre.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I stand in my place today as an urban member to ask a question of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs regarding our outstanding agrifood industry. While the agrifood industry may be primarily located in rural Ontario, it affects every Ontarian, urban and rural.

As you know, Minister, the Canadian Environmental Law Association recently released a report stating that there are toxins in Canadian produce and meat. I know that our agrifood industry is the best. What can I tell my constituents, urban constituents in Scarborough Centre, about this report? Will you assure those who have read the report that our food is safe?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my colleague for that question. It's my understanding that this report was put together from a hodgepodge of research that was done over the past and had no new studies at all. I can assure the people of Ontario and my colleague from the city that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, along with the federal government, is making sure that the safety of our agrifood products is number one.

In fact, a 1994 food inspection report established that 99.73% -- that's a pretty precise figure -- was absolutely safe for consumption. Our importers of Canadian and Ontario food products know the quality that we have, and sometimes it's a well-kept secret. I support the best environmentalists that we have. They are the food producers and the farmers of this province.

Mr Newman: I appreciate the minister's response to my question. As a supplementary question of the same minister, today is Earth Day. Is it not important to recognize the valuable service provided by Ontario's farmers with respect to the environment?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: On Earth Day I am proud to tell you that, again, the best environmentalists are our food producers. They are the best stewards of our land. I'll tell you, if the Canadian Environmental Law Association --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): And who are they?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Apparently they're legal people, and I'll take the farmers' word over lawyers' any time at all.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Minister of Education regarding the strike at York University, if you'll pay attention to me. On March 20, a strike began at York University. Thirty-three days now have passed. The silence in your government is deafening. You're the minister responsible for colleges and universities. What are you doing to facilitate the end to this crisis you have created?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for Scarborough North for bringing this matter to my attention today. Obviously we have been monitoring very carefully the situation at York because there are a number of students who have had their education interrupted. They've had some of their future goals interrupted. Many of those students are looking forward to summer work to help support their education. Many others are looking to get entrance into graduate programs both in Ontario and in other jurisdictions, and they need to have their marks.

I have talked to faculty at York. I have talked to the administration at York about how they might overcome the hurdle they have in front of them in order to reach an agreement that both parties can live with. I know there has been in the last few days some movement from both sides looking for an agreement. I, like everyone else in this chamber, encourage both parties to work together in the interests of the students and, frankly, in the interests of the future of the province.

We continue to monitor; we will continue to watch it very carefully. If there is a moment where my intervention can be of some assistance to those two parties, I will be more than happy to put in whatever effort I can.




Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I have a petition signed by 132,000 people opposing the closure of Montfort and it reads as follows:

«À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que la recommandation de la Commission de la restructuration des soins de santé en Ontario ordonne la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort ;

«Attendu que l'hôpital Montfort joue un rôle à la grandeur de la province pour les francophones de l'Ontario en desservant non seulement la population de l'est mais également celle du nord ;

«Attendu que nous perdons le seul hôpital d'enseignement et de développement des professionnels de la santé uniquement en français en Ontario ;

«Attendu que la recommandation ne tient pas compte que 40 % des francophones de la province de l'Ontario résident dans le bassin de service de Montfort ;

«Attendu que le comté de Russell n'a pas d'hôpital ;

«Nous, soussignés, adressons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario la pétition suivante :

«Nous demandons que le premier ministre de la province intervienne fermement auprès de la Commission de restructuration des services de santé de l'Ontario afin que soit préservé le site actuel de l'hôpital et que soient consolidés la vocation, le mandat et le rôle essentiel que joue Montfort auprès de sa communauté.»

I will affix my signature.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to restructure completely the provincial-municipal relationship without having consulted the people of Ontario; and

"This restructuring proposes to download to municipalities the cost of transportation and such critical social services as welfare and long-term care for the elderly and the chronically ill; and

"Removes school boards' ability to tax, eliminating any effective local control over schools and school programs; and

"The government's actions fail to guarantee existing levels of funding and fail to recognize the unequal ability of local communities to bear the cost of these new burdens, thus producing inequitable access to essential services; and

"Whereas the government's lack of meaningful public consultation and disregard for public response pose a serious threat to democracy;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, because we are concerned about the quality of life in our province and the wellbeing of our children, neighbours and communities, register a vote of non-confidence to the government in the province of Ontario."

I have affixed my signature to the petition.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I would like to present a petition on behalf of some of the constituents of my riding of Bruce. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the province of Ontario established the gasoline sales tax to pay for future construction of highways and bridges and for ongoing maintenance to maintain a safe transportation system within the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the provincial government is transferring ownership of recognized provincial highways and bridges to local municipalities; and

"Whereas the provincial government is cutting transfer payments for provincial highways through smaller towns and villages normally called connecting links;

"Therefore we, the council of the town of Port Elgin, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"To fully disclose all moneys derived from the gasoline sales tax to all affected municipalities, and to provide to all affected municipalities that are to be given care, control and maintenance of these highways and bridges the appropriate ratio of funding from the gasoline sales tax."

I'd like to affix my name to the top of the petition.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai ici une pétition qui vient de 13 écoles élémentaires catholiques de Prescott et Russell.

«À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario se propose de changer entièrement la structure de relations entre la province et les municipalités sans avoir consulté la population de l'Ontario ; et

«Que cette restructuration propose de transférer aux municipalité le coût des services de transport et des services sociaux essentiels tels que l'aide sociale et les soins de longue durée à l'intention des personnes âgées et des personnes atteintes d'une maladie chronique ; et

«Enlève aux conseils scolaires leur habilité à lever des impôts, éliminant ainsi tout pouvoir de contrôle réel sur les écoles et les programmes scolaires ; et

«Que par ces mesures le gouvernement manque à son engagement de garantir les niveaux de financement actuels et ne reconnaît pas que les diverses collectivités locales n'ont pas les mêmes moyens de faire face à ces nouveaux fardeaux, créant ainsi une inégalité d'accès aux services essentiels ; et

«Considérant que le gouvernement ne manifeste pas l'intérêt pour une consultation réelle du public, qu'il ne prend pas en compte les réactions du public et qu'il constitue ainsi une grave menace pour la démocratie ;

«Nous, les soussignés résidents et résidentes de l'Ontario, parce que nous nous soucions de la qualité de vie dans notre province et du bien-être de nos enfants, de nos voisins, de nos voisines et de nos communautés, déposons par la présente un vote de non-confiance à l'endroit du gouvernement de la province de l'Ontario.»


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition that is signed by over 6,000 citizens of London in support of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 190. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we oppose the provisions provided for in Bill 104 in which the Education Improvement Commission, which is an appointed, not elected, body will conduct research, facilitate discussion and make recommendations to the minister on how to promote and facilitate the outsourcing of non-instructional services by district school boards; and

"Whereas this will adversely affect students, school safety and building cleanliness;

"Therefore, be it resolved that Bill 104 in its present form is not acceptable to the citizens of Ontario and we demand the right to maintain in-house, non-instructional services in our school boards."

I am proud to affix my signature in support of this petition.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario. It's signed by more than 500 signatures. I'd like to read the petition:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario that the residents of the city of Barrie do not want a charity permanent casino and video lottery terminals located in the city of Barrie."


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas improper catch and release methods of sport fishing have a long-lasting effect on any given body of water; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is not encouraging proper management of fish stocks by allowing netting during spawning season, which destroys spawning beds; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is not encouraging proper management of fish stocks by allowing any size of fish to be retained; and

"Whereas sport fishing of Lancaster perch and other breeds in greater Cornwall greatly benefit local tourism, fishing and the overall economy and will continue to do so if managed properly;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to call on the Ministry of Natural Resources to impose a seven-inch size limit on fish allowed to be kept, not allow netting during spawning season and also to reopen the provincial parks in the area to encourage tourism and ensure a vibrant long-term sports fishing area in our part of eastern Ontario."

I also have affixed my signature, and it's signed by 328 residents.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by 476 residents of Etobicoke. It says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we are residents of Etobicoke who hold of major importance the education of the young people of Ontario;

"Whereas we are committed that the control and accountability of the education system and the determination of educational priorities remain at the local level;

"Whereas we hold that Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, 1997, completely disregards the rights and opinions of the people of the province of Ontario;

"Whereas we feel that the Education Improvement Commission is being given sweeping powers that not only make it unaccountable for its actions but also place it and its members above the law;

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

"To cancel the proposed legislation to disband local boards of education; cancel all plans to take away from local boards of education public accountability, determination of educational priorities, and the power to raise education taxes through property taxes; and to disband the Education Improvement Commission with its arbitrary powers immediately in order to restore to this province the true democracy that the people of Ontario hold so dear."

I support the petition, and I affix my name thereto.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition, and unlike some of my colleagues, I'll comply with the standing orders and summarize the petition rather than reading it. This petition is concerned with some of the attempts by our government to amend legislation, particularly with respect to municipalities and school boards, and questions confidence in the government of the province of Ontario. It's signed by approximately 227 of my constituents and I believe it's in order. I'll sign it today.



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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): "Whereas Mike Harris and John Snobelen promised to give Ontario students a better education and to make the education system more accountable; and

"Whereas there is nothing in Bill 104 or in prior bills to indicate how or whether the education of Ontario's students will improve; and

"Whereas Bill 104 severely undermines an important level of local, democratically elected representation; and

"Whereas Bill 104 allows the government to appoint an Education Improvement Commission with sweeping powers that reports to the Minister of Education; and

"Whereas the fact that Bill 104 states that decisions of the Education Improvement Commission are `final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court' indicates a severe lack of regard for democracy; and

"Whereas the radical change to the structure of the education system called for in Bill 104 and the undue speed with which the government is attempting to pass and implement Bill 104 indicate a severe lack of regard for democracy; and

"Whereas democracy is the system that makes government accountable,

"We, the undersigned, demand that the government withdraw Bill 104."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I have a petition from all across the province, including Elliot Lake, Sudbury, Espanola, Dryden, and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons; and

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

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

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

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

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

I sign my signature.


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

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to restructure completely the provincial-municipal relationship without having consulted the people of Ontario; and

"This restructuring proposes to download to municipalities the cost of transportation and such critical social services as welfare and long-term care for the elderly and the chronically ill; and

"Removes school boards' ability to tax, eliminating any effective local control of schools and school programs; and

"The government's actions fail to guarantee existing levels of funding and failure to recognize the unequal ability of local communities to bear the cost of these new burdens, thus producing inequitable access to essential services; and

"Whereas the government's lack of meaningful public consultation and disregard for public response pose a serious threat to democracy;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, because we care about the quality of life in our province and the wellbeing of our children, neighbours and communities, register a vote of non-confidence in the government of the province of Ontario."

It is clearly signed by literally hundreds of Ontario residents and I've affixed my signature in full agreement.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition for the Minister of Labour and to the chair of the WCB. It reads as follows:

"We are deeply disturbed at the news that the WCB's appeal system will lose its independence on June 2, 1997. Appeals are very important. Justice will not be served by this move. It is astounding that such a dramatic change could be initiated without public consultation and with no public announcement. Keep the WCB appeal system independent."

It's signed by, I would say, almost 100 injured workers in the city of Toronto.



Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs on pre-budget consultation, 1997, and move the adoption of its recommendations.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Chudleigh: Not at this time, thank you, Mr Speaker, but I move adjournment of debate.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the wish of the House the motion carry? Is it agreed? It is agreed. That is carried.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Welland-Thorold has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Attorney General concerning the family support plan. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Riverdale has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Premier concerning the Environmental Commissioner's report. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.



Mr Kwinter moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 126, An Act to amend the Medicine Act, 1991 / Projet de loi 126, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1991 sur les médecins.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the wish of this House that the motion carry? It is carried.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Mr Speaker, am I not entitled to a brief statement?

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Wilson Heights for a statement.

Mr Kwinter: This bill ensures that physicians who provide non-traditional therapies or alternative forms of medicine are not found guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence unless there is evidence that proves that the therapy poses a greater risk to a patient's health than the traditional or prevailing practice.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move that, pursuant to standing order 46 and notwithstanding any other standing order or the order of the House dated February 6, 1997 relating to Bill 104, An Act to improve the accountability, effectiveness and quality of Ontario's school system by permitting a reduction in the number of school boards, establishing an Education Improvement Commission to oversee the transition to the new system, providing for certain matters related to elections in 1997 and making other improvements to the Education Act and the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, the order for committee of the whole House be discharged and that the bill be ordered for third reading;

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

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


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Johnson has moved government notice of motion number 16.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: As I indicated earlier today, we intended to raise with you a point of order related to the government House leader moving this motion. It's our contention that the motion should be ruled out of order. I've already submitted opinions to you and I will put them on the record.

In our view, this motion is out of order for two reasons: First, it violates a very fundamental right of all members of the House to move amendments to public bills; second, our standing orders do not permit such a motion to be debated.

On February 6, 1997, this House passed a motion allocating time for the standing committee, the committee of the whole House and third reading stages of Bill 104. Our party objected to that motion and voted against it, but the government's motion was within the rules of the Legislature. The motion very clearly stated that committee of the whole House consideration would take place. The motion stated that the deadline for submitting amendments for committee of the whole consideration was 2 pm on the day the bill was called for committee of the whole House debate.

The sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms says, "The function of a committee on a bill is to go through the text of the bill clause by clause and, if necessary, word by word, with a view to making such amendments in it as may seem likely to render it more generally acceptable." That's from the sixth edition, page 205.

Parliamentary practice and our standing orders give members the right to move motions at either a standing committee stage or committee of the whole House stage. You will recall that on Bill 103 the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing used that right to move substantive amendments at the committee of the whole House stage, after choosing not to move a single amendment at the standing committee.

With regard to Bill 104, our caucus decided to adopt a similar approach. Wednesday, April 2, was to be the first day that the committee of the whole House consideration of Bill 104 appeared on the daily business sheet, so we submitted our amendments around 1 pm that day and shared our amendments with the other parties in the assembly. Now it appears that the government intends to amend the assembly's time allocation motion to deny members the opportunity to amend the bill at the committee of the whole House stage.

Our caucus and the official opposition caucus are being denied the right to move amendments to this very important bill, amendments which we might have moved at the standing committee stage had we known the government was planning to amend the order of the House.

I would point out that the amendments we intend to bring before the House, before the committee, are based on submissions that were made in the hearings across the province at the standing committee stage.

The proposed amendment from the government raises very serious concerns with regard to the process in this House. Think for a moment about how a government could abuse its ability to amend time allocation motions to retroactively change the deadline for submitting amendments. The result would be that one party in the assembly would know the deadline for submitting amendments and the other two parties would not. Surely this is not acceptable.

It seems only fair that if the government insists on not proceeding with committee of the whole House consideration of the bill, the bill be ordered back to standing committee, to ensure that our right to amend the legislation is not eliminated.

According to Beauchesne, "The Speaker may make alterations to proposed motions or may refer them back to the member for correction" -- sixth edition, page 50. I suggest that you would be perfectly in order to make such an alteration to this motion or rule it out of order entirely.

I would also submit that the consideration of such a motion is contrary to the rules of this assembly and to parliamentary convention. Standing order 51 reads as follows: "No motion, or amendment, the subject matter of which has been decided upon, can be again proposed during the same session." This assembly has already decided how it wishes to proceed with this piece of legislation and time allocation. It's already been decided.

The sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms contains the following reference: "An old rule of Parliament reads that a question being once made and carried in the affirmative or negative cannot be questioned again but must stand as the judgement of the House. Unless such a rule were in existence, the time of the House might be used in discussion of a motion of the same nature and contradictory decisions would be sometimes arrived at in the course of the same session."

There is precedent in this assembly for a motion being ruled out of order because the House had already reached a decision on a similar motion. On October 28, 1982, the then Speaker of the assembly ruled that a motion moved by Mr Peterson, the member for London Centre, was out of order because the matter had already been debated and voted on by the Legislature in that very session. At that time, the Speaker quoted standing orders of the assembly as well as Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, as well as Beauchesne. I refer you to Hansard, page 4651, October 28, 1982, where the Speaker made that ruling.

For these reasons, Speaker, I suggest you rule this motion out of order.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, I think a compelling case has probably been made this afternoon for ruling this motion out of order. I'm sorry to pre-empt the government House leader, who I thought was going to rise and agree with that.

The motion does not allow the opportunity for anyone in this House from any of the parties to submit amendments in committee of the whole. While the committee process itself allowed for the opportunity to submit and have voted upon certain amendments, and that indeed was done, there were representations made by hundreds of groups and organizations and individuals, and perhaps thousands of written submissions, that were heard by the various parties and by the committee. Those who wanted to see some of these submissions reflected in amendments will not be able to do so today, because the government wishes to cut off the option to present amendments. Our party had a significant number of amendments which we wished to put forward in the name of the member for Fort William, the Ontario Liberal critic in the field of education.

I well recall on October 28, 1982, when Mr Peterson of the Liberal Party at that time endeavoured to bring forward a motion and have it debated and voted upon, only to be ruled out of order by the Speaker. If my memory is correct, it was Speaker Turner at the time who ruled it out of order because the topic had been debated and voted upon already in that particular session.

I think the case has been made. The government has become jittery over the process of the committee of the whole and for this reason wishes to circumvent that process. I think they're unnecessarily jittery about it, but nevertheless I understand that the government House leader feels that way. Of course I hope you will rule in favour of the submission which has been made that this motion is out of order.

The Speaker: Government House leader.


Hon David Johnson: Not too surprisingly, Mr Speaker, I would submit very strongly that this motion is indeed in order. There has been a point put forward with regard to the committee of the whole process, but I think we all realize here today that the committee of the whole is not a mandatory part of the flow of any legislative proceedings. It's an optional part. It can be entertained, indeed is entertained in some situations, probably not so much in the future as in the past, given the circumstances over the last three weeks where we entertained some 12,000 amendments through committee of the whole on Bill 103.

However, I would say that of the nine bills we've had out through committee work over the past month or so, only two of them have been steered at one point in time through committee of the whole and the other seven have not been steered in that direction whatsoever.

The standing committee, as was pointed out, did meet with regard to Bill 104, did have public hearings, did entertain amendments. Indeed I might say that one of the NDP amendments was actually passed, was put before the standing committee and was passed. That amendment dealt with an amendment to allow students to be represented on school boards. There is a specific example of an amendment put forward by the third party which was entertained through the standing committee and it's currently now part of the bill; it was approved. So amendments have been entertained by all parties and some have been passed and some have not been passed.

I don't believe there's any provision to order this bill back to a standing committee. I think it's in order to rule whether this particular motion is in order or not, obviously, but I submit it would not be the proper course of action to send this back to committee where it has already received great attention through the standing committee -- many hours, many amendments considered.

In terms of standing order 51, which is the other aspect that is being put before us today, I think it's clear and the practice has been clear that the rationale and application of standing order 51 has always been applied to the governance of the province, not to the scheduling of legislative business. There's the important distinction and I suspect one will find that in the case of the instances that have been put before us today, it has been applied to the governance of the province, not to the scheduling of legislative business.

I can give you for instances. For example, just last year an order of the House was made on November 28, 1996, relating to clause-by-clause deliberation of Bill 82. The November 28 motion directed all amendments which had not been moved by 5 o'clock on the date specified to have been moved. However, a superseding motion was passed on December 3, 1996, and moved that time from 5 o'clock to 8 pm. So here is a motion that was approved by this House dealing with the legislative business before this House that was agreed upon.

I can give you another example. The order of the House dated November 2, 1995, still in the same session, is superseded frequently. For example, on Thursday, December 5, 1996, I moved a motion which read as follows: "That notwithstanding the order of the House dated November 2, 1995, the standing committee on resources development be authorized to meet beyond 6 pm on Monday, December 9, 1996, for the purpose of clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 86, An Act to provide for better local government by updating and streamlining the Municipal Elections Act, the Municipal Act and related statutes." That motion was adopted, another instance where an order of the House was superseded, and again it has to deal with the legislative business.

I would submit on both counts that the motion is in order. It is a time allocation motion. It is introduced with the phrase "notwithstanding...the order of the House dated February 6, 1997." Therefore I would also submit, based on that wording, that it is indeed even a different matter, if that's helpful. There are different circumstances. The "notwithstanding" clause does make it a different matter, as an additional point, but the practice certainly has been that the scheduling of the legislative business has been amended on numerous occasions in the past.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I would like to speak to both points that have been raised. Let me first begin with standing order 51. I'd like to talk about the precedent that has been set in this Legislature, the actual ruling that was made, because I believe you've indicated on a number of occasions that is the first place we look to, the standing orders and the rulings that have been made with respect to those standing orders.

In the ruling my colleague the member for Algoma referred to of October 28, 1982, the Speaker, upon reviewing the motion that had been put by Mr Peterson at the time, directed the attention of the members of the Legislative Assembly to standing order 39 at the time. I would point out to you that the content and reading is identical to our current standing order 51. Through rule changes, there has been a renumbering, but the content is exactly the same. He goes on to spell that out, that it reads, "No motion, or amendment, the subject matter of which has been decided upon, can be again proposed during the same session."

He makes some specific references; first of all, to Lewis on page 39, which says, "Any matter which has been the subject of a motion or amendment decided in the House cannot again be brought forward during the same session."

He refers then to May on page 368 and quotes "Matters already decided during the same session," and states: "A motion or amendment may not be brought forward which is the same in substance as a question which has been decided in the affirmative or negative during the current session. The rule may be fully stated as follows:

"`No question or bill shall be offered in either House that is substantially the same as one on which judgement has already been expressed in the current session.'"

Then he gives a reference from Beauchesne and says that it is substantially the same ruling and/or commentary as in May. He goes on to find, therefore, under the authority of the standing orders that in his opinion the "motion which has been offered is, indeed, contrary to the standing orders of the House."

One of the interesting points is what follows in the Hansard. Mr Nixon, who was the seconder of Mr Peterson's motion, rises to draw the Speaker's attention to the fact that while on two days within the same week a substantially identical motion had been moved, on the first day -- and I don't have the date in front of me, but it was the Tuesday of that same week of October 28 -- the question that had been put to the House and the question that was decided was a motion of, "Shall the debate proceed?" He points out that in fact the meaning of that question is, "Should the debate proceed on that day?" There was a division and there was a vote on that, and the government majority at that point in time voted in the negative, that the debate should not proceed.

He put to the Speaker therefore that there was a very different substantive issue. It was not the amendment itself which had been decided on but a procedural matter, which was "Should the debate proceed?"

The interesting thing here is that the Speaker, in having reviewed this, says, "I think, with all respect, I am bound by the rules of the House and my interpretation thereof. I have explained that..." and maintains his ruling.

So the substance was similar but the motion that had been put forward on day one of the House entertaining this particular motion, the question that was put to the House, was very different but it dealt with substantially the same subject matter. The Speaker found in that case that his ruling was applicable and maintained his ruling.

They then went on in the House to seek unanimous consent to actually deal with the same substantive motion, and in fact the House granted unanimous consent and the debate proceeded along those lines.

I think that's a really important point, because the types of procedural motions that the government House leader has referred to as precedents in this House, which have, for example, extended times of sittings of committees or added days of sittings of committees, are ones which have had the consent of the House to be dealt with. In fact, in both the situations the government House leader cited, they flow from agreements of House leaders with respect to the handling of the business of the House. That's a very different circumstance than what we see here before us today.


The motion that is before us today is one which, when you cut away all the language, comes down to saying that the order for committee of the whole House be discharged. That's the key essence, the intent of the motion. The motion is attempting to bypass the committee of the whole process.

The minister has spoken to the fact that the committee of the whole process is not mandatory, that it is optional. I'd point out to him, so is committee stage. These things are decided along the course of dealing with a bill. In this case, I would point out to him that should this motion not be dealt with and passed today, in fact committee of the whole is mandatory because it was passed in a time allocation motion by this Legislative Assembly.

Section 46(a) of our current standing orders is the section that deals with time allocation. It indicates: "The government House leader or any minister of the crown may move a motion with notice providing for the allocation of time to any proceeding on a government bill or substantive government motion." The motion itself, the time allocation motion, the content of the motion is to time-allocate the bill.

Mr Speaker, on February 6 such a motion was put before this Legislative Assembly, was debated and was decided upon. The motion we have before us today is of the same substance: a time allocation motion. I would put to you that it is particularly with respect to the issue of committee of the whole House that you must determine that this matter has already been decided.

On February 6 the motion that was put before us had a process for dealing with committee of the whole which involved an hour of proceedings and review and debate and questions and answers on amendments, after which all outstanding amendments deemed to be moved must be read in and then must be voted on. That question of how committee of the whole House should be handled with respect to Bill 104 has been debated and been decided by this Legislative Assembly. The intent and substance of the motion here before us today, which is in its effect to discharge the committee of the whole House, is dealing with the same subject matter that this Legislative Assembly has already decided.

I step back to the first argument that my colleague from Algoma put forward to you, which was one about whether it can be in order for the government at this stage in the process to move a motion to change the rules of the game, essentially.

I want to combine these two arguments now, Mr Speaker, and say to you that I believe very strongly in your role as safeguard of the rights of the minority in the House. You must look to what the practical effect of a finding that this motion is in order would have.

My colleague presented to you a scenario where, after amendments had been filed by 1 o'clock of the day the order was to be called, pursuant to a time allocation motion of a nature like the one passed on February 6 -- the opposition parties file their motions and then, two days later, the government passes a motion and says: "No. We're going to retroactively change the filing time. It's 1 o'clock the day before the matter is to be called as an order of the House."

The prejudice to the rights of the minority must be understood in that circumstance, and the finding that this kind of motion is in order could leave open that kind of circumstance.

I don't believe that the government's argument that rule 51 only applies to substantive motions or government bills is one you can find as substantive or as having any basis in our rules. Rule 51 is contained in the section on motions. There is absolutely no distinction with respect to whether this is dealing with a motion, a bill or a substantive motion. Clearly, whether it be procedural or whether it be substantive or whether it be a bill, the rule says that if a question has been put and has been decided in the affirmative or the negative by this Legislature, it may not be put again without perhaps unanimous consent, and we have seen occasions on which that unanimous consent has been given.

Mr Speaker, if you were to find that our arguments with respect to standing order 51 were not arguments that would lead you to rule this motion out of order, I believe you still have a role with respect to the protection of the rights of the minority.

In this case, I want to point out to you the sequence in time of what has occurred. Had the government indicated prior to the standing committee stage that it intended to change the rules and to eliminate the committee of the whole, the opposition parties would have been made aware of that and would have had an opportunity to submit any further amendments at the standing committee stage.

But that's not what occurred. The opposition parties were led to believe that the government would proceed as had been set out in the time allocation motion passed by this Legislative Assembly and that there would be two opportunities on which to deal with amendments to this piece of legislation. It does not matter whether in other bills, the seven the minister referred to, there is committee of the whole or there is a standing committee. What we're dealing with is the instance before us, in which the opposition parties were informed of a process and were told of the rules the process would follow and would be governed by and acted according to those rules.

The prejudice to the members of the opposition and the minority, who did not have the knowledge that the government would change the rules some time down the road and did not therefore submit all substantive amendments at the standing committee stage, is great if you should at this point in time allow the government to proceed with this retroactive changing of the rules.

I suggest to you that our submissions on standing order 51 are very strong, and I hope that on that basis you will rule this out of order. But second to that, if you do not, I hope you would take the suggestion of the member for Algoma that you, as Speaker, have discretion and that you have the ability to direct the mover of the motion and/or to find a resolve to this, which may be to direct this bill back to the standing committee so we could deal with the substantive amendments the opposition parties have put forward.

I think to find -- simply that it is in order and to allow it to proceed at this point in time is a great affront to the rights of the minority for full knowledge and full participation in the process of setting legislation in this assembly.

The Speaker: The member for Fort William.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I will be very brief because I won't reiterate the points that have already been made, but I did rise earlier to make a point which now is further to the last point made by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, although from a somewhat different perspective.

With respect to the government House leader, I would suggest that the argument that it is quite appropriate for any bill to be referred directly to third reading from standing committee and not go to committee of the whole is simply not relevant. We all know that. There are many examples of bills which are not referred to committee of the whole which do go directly to third reading. That's not the issue here.

The issue is that the government did have a time allocation motion which it brought in and which was duly passed in spite of the objections of the opposition. That motion then directed the business of the standing committee on social development in considering this bill, following both second reading and following the public consultations on the bill.

The member for Beaches-Woodbine has suggested that changing the motion now would prejudice the minority rights of the members of the opposition and the opposition members of the standing committee on social development. I would suggest, somewhat differently, that the change in this motion prejudices the work of the entire standing committee on social development, and I would make that statement in two respects.

The first is that the time for the standing committee on social development to consider amendments, to consider the input from the public consultations, was already very brief. It was to be enhanced by the admittedly very limited one hour for further debate on amendments that was to take place in committee of the whole, according to that same time allocation motion. I think it's fair to assume that if there was to have been no committee of the whole from the outset, an argument could have been made that at least that hour of further debate time could have been added to the debate time for the standing committee on social development.

Beyond that, and perhaps less theoretical, is the fact that in doing the business under the time allocation motion that was in place, the standing committee on social development unanimously made recommendations for referral of a small number of amendments to committee of the whole. Those amendments included a government amendment which was deferred and referred to committee of the whole and an opposition amendment which had received unanimous support in committee.


I believe that had we had any sense that there would be no opportunity to consider those amendments in committee of the whole, they clearly would not have been referred by the standing committee on social development. There was a clear intention on the part of all members of the committee on social development to have those amendments included in the body of the bill. They related specifically to the government's concern that native representation and representatives who are on public boards representing separate school ratepayers for secondary school purposes would not be included in the limited number of trustees that constitute the elected portion of the new boards.

There was a further opposition amendment that was again approved unanimously by the social development committee to allow for student representation on the new boards. The government recognized that it would then have to change its amendment to ensure that student representatives were not part of the elected complement and therefore, because they wanted to look more carefully at the wording, they referred all those amendments to committee of the whole. It would have been very easy, if we had known that committee of the whole was not to take place, to have made the appropriate changes and have those amendments passed at the standing committee on social development. They would then be incorporated in the amended bill, as in fact the other government amendments are.

I would submit that the understanding that we were working under in the social development committee, that was directed by the government's own time allocation motion, has now been altered and that it would be most appropriate for the government now to refer those amendments at least back to the standing committee on social development so the now unfinished business of that committee could be completed.

Hon David Johnson: Simply to reiterate, it's the government's contention that because of the "notwithstanding" clause, this is in fact a different matter. What is at issue here is whether this motion is in order. That's what is at issue here today. Because of that, we view that in fact it is in order; secondly, even beyond that, it is again dealing with the scheduling of the legislative business of this House and not a matter that could be characterized as dealing with governance of the province, and I've indicated a couple of examples.

Beyond that, it's the government's position that there has been an exhaustive public hearing process involving I believe some 72 hours in half a dozen or 10 different municipalities, involving clause-by-clause consideration, involving an amendment from the opposition party which indeed was approved. Every consideration has been given to this bill. In fact, the minority rights, if you wish, have been well protected by many hours of public hearings, exhaustive debate, and the clause-by-clause amendments, all amendments, being considered. With all of that together, I would submit that this motion is well in order.

The Speaker: To the government House leader, quickly, you cited two precedents that you had earlier. There's some discussion as to whether or not they were preceded by unanimous consents. Do you have the answer to that question?

Hon David Johnson: I don't have that information. I would say, though, that they were motions that were approved by this House.

The Speaker: Okay, I appreciate that. I can pursue --


The Speaker: Order. Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: Just a short one: Since the government House leader has pointed to the opposition amendment which I put, which was carried in the standing committee, a couple of times, I wanted to point out, as did the member for Fort William, that while that was accepted unanimously by the standing committee, the government then said there had to be a reordering of its amendment so that the student representative was not counted in the numbers that were set out in the bill. That was referred to the committee of the whole debate.

The Speaker: I appreciate your input, but I don't see how that is germane.

Mr Wildman: But mine was too, so when he says that the amendment was carried --

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, I appreciate that, but with the greatest respect, that really isn't germane. It's an order that we're dealing with here, and what happened at committee isn't germane.

Ms Lankin: I just wanted to stress one point, Mr Speaker. I don't have the Hansard references of the government House leader with respect to those two motions, but I can assure you with full recollection that those came forth as a result of agreement from House leaders' meetings. I do remember the subject content, and that was the way in which those motions came forward with full support from the parties.

The Speaker: I'll just recess for 20 minutes in order to research.

The House recessed from 1546 to 1622.

The Speaker: I thank all members for their submissions on this point of order.

I want to begin by dealing with the argument that the motion is out of order because it denies members the ability to make amendments to Bill 104 at committee of the whole House. In reviewing precedents on this matter, I have found many instances of similar time allocation motions. There were in fact no less than 13 time allocation motions during the 1993-94 session of this House in which no provision was made for any committee of the whole House consideration. Indeed, on July 21, 1992, Speaker Warner ruled in order a time allocation motion which allowed for no third reading debate.

My point is this: Time allocation motions by their very nature sometimes impose severe restrictions on the various stages of consideration of legislation. Sometimes those restrictions include the elimination of the legislative stage altogether. While this may be regarded as extreme by some, it does not make such a motion out of order.

As stated in the 21st edition of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, time allocation motions "may be regarded as the extreme limit to which procedure goes in affirming the rights of the majority at the expense of the minorities of the House, and it cannot be denied that they are capable of being used in such a way as to upset the balance, generally so carefully preserved, between the claims of business and the rights of debate."

I cannot find, then, that the time allocation motion moved by the government House leader today is out of order on the basis that it does not provide for any time in committee of the whole House. As I said, this is consistent with many similar motions this House has passed previously.

I want to turn to the second argument put forward, which is that the motion is out of order on the basis that it violates standing order 51. I perused with interest the precedent that the member for Algoma referred to. I think that this ruling is of questionable precedential importance and I'm not convinced that, faced with the same situation, I would have made the same ruling. In most cases where a Speaker has ruled a motion out of order on the basis of standing order 51 it has been a substantive motion or resolution that expresses an opinion of the House or is legislation.

On the other hand, I also found numerous examples of motions that order the business of the House and its committees which were subsequently superseded by a new motion. As an example, this House often passes motions that set out the days and the times and the meetings of the standing committees. While passage of such motions results in an order of the House, the House has never felt bound that such an order is final and unchangeable. It is in the nature of a housekeeping order relating to the timetable of House business in the committees.

Notwithstanding the provisions of the original motion, our precedents abound with examples of revisions to the ordering of business at a later date. To cite two such examples, on May 18, 1983, the House, by motion and without unanimous consent, rescinded a previous order and changed the committee referral; and on April 11, 1994, the House passed a motion which authorized the standing committee on resources development to meet at times other than those specified in a previous order of the House. The House must surely retain the right to order its business as it sees fit, and indeed these examples illustrate clearly that the House always has.

Standing order 51 was meant to cover substantive motions that expressed the opinion of the House, not substantive motions dealing with how the House orders or reorders its business. Were it otherwise, members can surely appreciate that it would not have been possible for this House to from time to time pass "notwithstanding" motions that change a pre-existing arrangement to the scheduling of House business.

To look at it another way, the House adopts its standing orders by motion. If such a decision of the House were final and unchangeable, then the House would be powerless to revise its own standing orders in the future. I don't believe standing order 51 contemplates that the House should bind itself in its own housekeeping decisions. I find, then, that the motion is in order.

New point of order, the member for Algoma?

Mr Wildman: Speaker, you have ruled that this motion is in order and I accept that decision. I rise on a different point of order.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): The table wins.

The Speaker: Order. Member for Lake Nipigon, that is completely out of order.

Mr Pouliot: I withdraw. I'm sorry.

Mr Wildman: The standing orders of the Legislature place very few restrictions on the rights of members to speak to legislation and to motions, and rightly so. After all, we are all here to represent our constituents and we must be afforded the right to speak on their behalf here in the House. Motions to adjourn the House or to adjourn the debate are not debatable and the restriction on other motions comes through closure which, as you know, Speaker, gives discretion to the Chair to determine whether such a motion violates the rights of the minority.

The only other restriction on a substantive motion is made through standing order 46, which gives the government the right to allocate time on legislation or on other motions. In light of the extraordinary powers that this standing order gives to limit debate on a motion to one sessional day, I submit that any motion moved under this standing order must be carefully reviewed to determine whether it truly is the type of motion contemplated by the rules of the House. Simply prefacing the motion with the words, "Pursuant to standing order 46," is not enough.

The right to allocate time under standing order 46 has already been exercised by the government on this particular bill. Their motion of February 6, 1997, clearly fell within the boundaries of the standing order. But that standing order does not give the government the right to move and pass multiple time allocation motions on the same piece of legislation. It says, "The government House leader or any minister of the crown may move a motion with notice providing for the allocation of time."

Speaker, you have ruled that this motion is in order. In my view, it can only be in order as a substantive motion which has been moved with notice by the government House leader, and with all the restrictions on debate which normally accompany a substantive motion. Since the rules particular to time allocation motions do not contemplate such a motion, it cannot be moved pursuant to standing order 46. Instead, this motion must be moved under standing order 48(a), which provides a broader definition of a substantive motion and gives the members of this assembly a greater ability to participate in the debate.

I believe that, upon review, you may reach a similar conclusion, Speaker, and I would ask you to consider very carefully if this is in order under standing order 48(a).

Hon David Johnson: I'll simply say that it is our view that this is a time allocation motion. As I understand it, the member opposite is saying that it may not be.

Standing order 46(c) indicates that a motion may not be moved until at least three sessional days of debate have taken place on second reading consideration. Certainly three days have taken place, indeed more than that in terms of committee work etc. Consequently, this motion qualifies in that regard in that it meets the requirements as laid out in the standing orders.

Only in standing order 46 do we see provision for time allocation, and the provisions there indicate that at least three sessional days of debate must have taken place. We have met that test. It is a time allocation motion. It meets all the tests of being a time allocation motion, and consequently it should be considered for processing in line with the process laid out for a time allocation motion, ie, one day of debate.


The Speaker: I appreciate the notice you gave me on the first notice of motion, member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: I thought you were going to rule it out of order.

The Speaker: Thank you.

It's an interesting point you make. The difficulty I find in accepting your argument is that in 46(a) it says, "The government House leader or any minister of the crown may move a motion." It doesn't say one motion, it doesn't say two motions, it doesn't say three; it says "a motion." So it would seem to me that a motion can be any period of time over a closure motion. Furthermore, you may have a time allocation at committee and you may also have one at third reading, and that could be two separate time allocation motions, so it would be in order then as well.

It's an unusual situation, and you make interesting arguments, but with the greatest respect to the member for Algoma, I don't think it's out of order on that basis either.

Government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: Am I now able to speak to the time allocation motion?

The Speaker: Yes.

Hon David Johnson: Time is passing by, and I promise not to be too lengthy in this. We find ourselves at this juncture, having gone through a very difficult situation over the past three weeks with regard to Bill 103, which had a time allocation motion on it, with the electronic flooding of amendments, some 12,000 amendments, that in my view took advantage of a good system, a committee of the whole system that has been honoured through the years, which has not been abused through the years -- though I suppose one would argue not outside the rules, I would say an abused system in that case.

We are looking here again at a system where some 2,000 to 3,000 amendments --

Mr Pouliot: No.

Hon David Johnson: Was it more than that? I guess the member opposite is indicating there were probably more than that, double or triple. There obviously is a problem in the system.

For our part, as a government, we did offer the possibility of further debate, further public hearings on Bill 103, further amendments even, on the basis that the thousands and thousands of frivolous amendments would be withdrawn, but that wasn't acceptable.

Consequently, with regard to Bill 104, we find ourselves in a similar situation, after having had in this case some 72 hours of public hearings, exhaustive proceedings, and I'm sure the members opposite had every opportunity to participate, in Windsor, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Brantford, Barrie. We were delighted to go to many fine communities, all of which had good input.

We were delighted to consider the amendments that came through from the government, amendments from the Liberal Party, amendments from the third party, even delighted that one of the amendments from the third party seemed to make sense, and we supported that and put it through, a good amendment. There were many other good amendments, particularly from the government.

It was a healthy process, with great debate, great consideration of this issue, but there comes a point in time when we have to get on with the business, because the business of this bill is important. The people of Ontario have a right to expect, through a democratic process -- a democratic process they participated in in 1995, for example, an election in which this government promised to look at the education system, which is very important to the people of the province. We promised during that election, and I hope this would be a promise whose intent would be shared by all members of this House, that we'd allocate our resources in the education system to our children, to the classroom. That's where the money should be spent, and that, I might say, is the intent behind Bill 104.

This legislation will reduce the number of school boards in the province from 129 to 66.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): What did the red book say?

Hon David Johnson: Some of my colleagues are asking, "What did the red book say?" It said our education dollars must be spend on classroom spending rather than administration. I would assume, based on that statement, that the official opposition party would agree with Bill 104. Let's put that money into the classroom rather than into administration.

Mrs McLeod: Show us the money. Show us the money first.

Mr Pouliot: Your red book was a recipe for losers. Forget the red book.

Hon David Johnson: I think it was unfair of the member opposite to say the red book is for losers, but I guess that's his opinion. They're a little rowdy today, Mr Speaker.

I will also say that Bill 104 calls for fewer politicians, and they will no longer be paid the equivalent of a full-time salary. There are many people in Metropolitan Toronto who think that the salaries, for example, of the school board representatives here in Metropolitan Toronto have gone beyond an acceptable range.


Mr Baird: What does the red book say?

Hon David Johnson: My colleagues again ask, "What does the red book say about that?" It says, "A Liberal government will further cut spending on administration and get rid of waste and duplication by reducing the number of trustees, placing a cap on the salaries of trustees and recognizing the part-time nature of the job."

It's nice to know that we have support for Bill 104 because through Bill 104 we will indeed have fewer school boards, fewer trustees, there will be less cost and the salaries will be at a lower level, again recognizing this important initiative that there is a part-time nature and this is not a full-time job as a trustee.

We are further honoured to be following up on an initiative in a sense begun by both of the previous parties.

Mr Wildman: "In a sense." Heavy on that.

Hon David Johnson: Heavy on that, my friend indicates.

The former government, the NDP government, contracted with John Sweeney, a former Liberal cabinet minister, to study education. Mr Sweeney has reported and he suggested fewer school boards. We agree with that sentiment.

I'm also delighted that this bill will establish a non-partisan commission co-chaired by David Cooke and Ann Vanstone, David Cooke of course being one of the former ministers in the NDP government.

Mr Bradley: Did you go to his testimonial dinner?

Hon David Johnson: It's our hope that through this commission some of the bickering, maybe some of the heckling that I'm experiencing at the present time, maybe the partisanship will be taken out of this whole issue, because the children are important.

We need to put in place a school system that uses to maximum advantage the money we have available for education, that takes the resources we have and focuses them in the classroom. At the end of the day, I believe that's a sentiment shared by all three parties in this House. Certainly I can say that this government agrees with that concept.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Your heart isn't in this, Dave, I can tell.

The Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands.

Hon David Johnson: I'm told that in my lifetime there have been some 24 studies on school board governance. I don't know if they know how old I am; I suspect there are more than 24. It's time for action.

Mr Bradley: Is that what it says on there?

Hon David Johnson: It doesn't say that here.

Mr Baird: That's what it said in the red book.

Hon David Johnson: That's what it said in the red book: "It's time for action." This government is saying it's time for action, it's time for Bill 104, it's time to put the focus on our students and to get the money into the classrooms. We've had 72 hours of debate, 400 submissions to the committee, many, many amendments. I will simply leave my comments at that because I know many other people want to speak to this bill.

We've gone through a long process. It's a worthwhile process. It's called democracy. We've heard the public through the election process. We've heard the public through the public hearing process. We now have a bill, Bill 104, which I believe we need to get on with, have the third reading, get it into effect for the future of our children and the education system in Ontario.

The Speaker: I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the Honourable Mr Luizinho Saleiro, minister of state for industries, labour and employment from Goa, India, as well as the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Further debate? The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: Mr Speaker, if it's possible, I'd request permission to share my time with the member for Fort William and the member for Windsor-Walkerville. I don't expect to use the full time, but I would like to share the time if it's permissible. If it's not possible, I'll have to give the whole speech myself.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for the member for St Catharines to share his time with the member for Fort William and the member for Windsor-Walkerville? Agreed.

Mr Bradley: Thank you very much. If there's no dissent on that, I will proceed. Otherwise the House would be treated to only one person making a speech, and I think the viewpoints of some other members of the Liberal Party would be important as well.

We have had considerable argument so far on the legality of this particular motion. I think my friend the member for Algoma has made some arguments, which were not accepted but were nevertheless compelling arguments, as did the member for Fort William and the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I even made an intervention myself. But the Speaker has ruled and we all respect the Speaker's ruling in this House, because we feel that he is impartial, that he takes the necessary time to consider all of the arguments and then he rules based on the precedents and based on the very good advice which he receives from the table.

Unlike some who have recriminations when the Speaker makes a ruling and are sometimes abusive in their public remarks about the Speaker, we in the official opposition, even though we may not agree with the ruling of the Speaker, are respectful of that ruling and believe that all of us in this House should be respectful of the impartial and judicious approach of our Speaker.

The problem we are confronted with in this time allocation motion is that we have a motion essentially which is going to circumvent the process of allowing for more amendments to Bill 104. The best move we believe the government could take with Bill 104, the education bill, is to withdraw the bill, go back for some further consultations, endeavour to develop a consensus in the province and then decide to move forward. Instead, in the face of compelling arguments made by a large number of groups, organizations and individuals with an interest and expertise in education, instead of listening to that and developing a consensus, the government decided to bulldoze ahead with Bill 104, bypass committee of the whole, where amendments reflecting the views put forward by the people who made representations to the committee -- we think that would be a good process, I might say, if we were allowed to place those amendments.

If the government perhaps heard of some representations which merited the development of an amendment based on those representations, then we think it would be important to move forward with that through the avenue of the committee of the whole. The government for some reason is paranoid about going into committee of the whole. I can't imagine why they would be. They are aware that there are some interesting and helpful amendments available from both of the opposition parties that could be put forward in great number to assist the government in improving this legislation, which we believe is very difficult to improve upon.

The real agenda behind the legislation, the real reason the government wants to move forward with the time allocation motion as opposed to allowing considerably more debate on this particular piece of legislation, is that the government is looking for an opportunity to withdraw even further funding from education. That's the real agenda that the government wishes to do.

There are some members on the government side who think this is a good idea. Others are in full denial, but some believe this a good idea, that having already taken out about half a billion dollars from education, and fiddling with the formula to such an extent that boards of education are getting even less money than they had anticipated to carry out the responsibilities of educating our children, the government is now going to move forward with Bill 104, take full control of education at the provincial level, virtually eliminate any opportunity at the local level to have an impact on educational issues, and move forward.


I want to assure my friend the member for Algoma that we want to allow some time to the New Democratic Party to put its comments on as well. I think he noted I was moving forward in full form and perhaps was going to take the full time, but in the interests of sharing the opportunity, I want to assure him that there will be some time for New Democrats to speak as well.

This bill fits in with the general attitude that people have towards this government: that it's moving too quickly, too drastically, and not looking at the consequences of its actions. In other words, it wants to do things rapidly instead of doing them right. Unfortunately, this is not the usual cautious, careful, prudent approach we have come to expect from previous Conservative governments when Premier Robarts and Premier Davis, both with strong interests in education, moved forward with educational reforms but in such a fashion as to allow for full consultation and an opportunity to develop some consensus. Instead we have the Reform Party in power. We have the extreme right wing of the Conservative Party obviously in control of the Conservative government.

Some of the moderates, I note, have been deposed. My friend the whip of the Liberal party, the member for Kingston and The Islands, I know has a list of these individuals who have been deposed from the government. He's going to bring it to me in just a moment, if he has not already returned it to me. This list is people who are prepared to speak out against the government. I have to share what they had to say. I'm sorry I have to share it, but I do have to share what they had to say.

First of all, there is a report which has come in. I want to list the people, all fine in my view, who have been, as I say, demoted. Why, I don't know.

"Gary Carr publicly complained when he didn't make cabinet but was given a chance as a PA anyway. Then he publicly complained about municipal reform. Adios, amigo," it says in a publication put out by some group or organization. Gary Carr, I think, is known as one of the more moderate members of the Conservative caucus. I have known him since 1990, when he was elected to the House. I've always held him in very high regard. I think my fellow members of the House will as well. He is not an ideologue. He is not one who worships at the feet of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in New Jersey and Michigan and Mississippi and wherever else you can find them. He is not a person who heads down to the Republican conventions to ensure that they are keeping up with Republican thought. I think Mr Carr is an individual for whom many people, particularly the people of Oakville South, would have some considerable respect.

I see Bill Murdoch. Outspoken. He's not an individual who has shined the boots of the Premier. I don't want to use other terms, but "shined the boots of the Premier" is just a way of putting it. He certainly hasn't done that. When he has felt that the government is wrong, he has been prepared to speak out.

There are others who rush to the defence of the Premier. If the Premier says something that's remotely funny, there are great guffaws from those who want to rise and become parliamentary assistants or chairs of committees or indeed get into the cabinet. Or they rush quickly to the Premier's side to be photographed with him.

I found it amusing, as you probably did, that during some of the votes we had in the House, they brought the Premier in near the end, they piled all this work on his desk and then they brought the Tory cameraman up. There was a YPC up there and somebody else and they were taking all these photographs. Well, I watched carefully and the Premier didn't touch the work. He read a magazine, but he didn't touch the work on his desk. This was all, if I may use the word, a phoney photo opportunity.

Let me look at some of the others who are prepared to speak out against the government. Tony Skarica made the mistake of listening to the people in his constituency instead of the people who inhabit the Premier's office, instead of those unelected wiseguys, men and women in the Premier's office who advise. They haven't been elected, mind you, but they're much smarter than the people in the Tory caucus, they believe. I don't think that's something shared by all members of the Conservative caucus. They call the shots. The job of the Conservative backbenchers is simply to applaud at the right time, laugh at the Premier's jokes, and carry the message out to the constituencies. Well, some of these individuals have not been prepared to do so.

I see some others who have been deposed as well from their positions. I don't know the reason. Mr Beaubien, my friend from Lambton, has been deposed from his position. My friend Morley Kells, the member from Lakeshore, who from time to time writes in the Toronto Star and writes, I must say, some rather interesting material, revealing material, in the Toronto Star --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Mr Bradley: Etobicoke-Lakeshore, as my friend from Mississauga South would want me to say. He doesn't have a position in the cabinet and he's not a parliamentary assistant. I was told that he didn't even want to be a committee Chair and indicated that rather forcefully to the henchperson from the Premier's office who came forward to make that suggestion. This is all true. I have it on good authority.

I see that my friend Garry Guzzo, the former judge from Ottawa-Rideau, has been deposed from his position. Jerry Ouellette, David Tilson, Terry Young. I wonder what sin all of those people have committed to be deposed from their position of parliamentary assistant. We have elevated some others who obviously have been loyal to the Premier and will now merit the $11,000 extra which goes with this position and the onerous responsibilities that they have.

I want to share with members of the House what they had to say, because if they could speak in this debate this afternoon, if they were allowed to speak, I know some of the things they'd want to say.

"`There's something wrong when the Premier and a couple of unelected staff people can run the entire province. It's a dictatorship,' said Wentworth North Tory MPP Toni Skarica, who lost his job as parliamentary assistant to Education Minister John Snobelen. `Anyone who spoke out has been canned'" --

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know the member for St Catharines, having been elected 22 years ago, knows the standing orders very well. I would respectfully suggest that he has yet to speak to the motion, and he has been speaking for about 15 minutes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I totally agree.

Mrs Marland: So we're waiting anxiously for him to speak to the motion.

The Deputy Speaker: I would ask you to speak to the motion.

Mr Bradley: Let me explain to you why I'm speaking to the motion. The motion is one which restricts debate in the Legislative Assembly to something that's very confined. It does not allow for moving to committee of the whole. It confines to one day the amount of speaking time that would be available to members of the Legislature on third reading. I know that my friend the member for Wentworth North would want to be able to put these things on the record and is being limited from doing so.

Gary Carr, the member for Oakville South, would want to worry as well about this kind of motion. Let me tell you why he would. He said, "They want a lot of people around who won't question what the government does." Indeed, if we limit the debate to simply one day, people such as Gary Carr are not going to be able to speak.

This must be Bill Murdoch, the member for Grey-Owen Sound. He says, and I may have to change the wording a little bit because I don't know if we can use the words in the House: "They tell me if I keep my nose clean and work real hard I might be able to work my way back up. Well, I can tell you two words for them that you can't print,' Murdoch said." I can't imagine what they would be, but he said that. He said, "`My biggest disappointment is that if the boss wants to get rid of me, why doesn't the boss phone me? That's Mike Harris.'"


Apparently, what happened was that my good friend the whip of the Conservative Party was given the job of firing Bill Murdoch. I find that most unfortunate, because if the Premier is going to do it, I think the Premier himself should do it.

You might say: "In the Toronto Star they would say that, but what about the Toronto Sun? What did they say in the Toronto Sun that related to this bill?" Well, they said the following:

The member for Grey-Owen sound says, "`You have to be nicey, nicey and'" -- I can't say the next -- "`if you want to get ahead,' Bill Murdoch said." In other words, he said you must cosy up to the Premier -- that's the best way I can put it -- if you want to get back.

Mr Skarica, the member for Wentworth North, was unseated and he had opposed amalgamation. He said, and this is for all the Conservative members, "`This is a lesson to other people that if they speak out, expect the consequences,' Skarica said. `It seems to me anybody who spoke out has had privileges removed.'"

Gary Carr said, "`They don't like anybody speaking out,' he said, noting the cabinet" -- here's what Gary Carr said; I don't know if this is true -- "is full of yes-men and women."

I know there might secretly be some Conservatives who are not in the cabinet who would agree with that. I know the members who will be there, and so do the members of the Conservative caucus. They know the members who are striving hard to make it to the cabinet. Whenever the Premier says, "Jump," they say: "How high, Mr Premier? How high must I jump?"

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): And you settled for a front-row seat.

Mr Bradley: I'm sure he wasn't speaking about my friend the agriculture minister, because I can't believe he would be a yes-man; can't believe that in all his years. He wouldn't be speaking about that minister, I'm sure, but he may have been speaking about some other ministers; I don't know that.

You see, here we have a bill before us that is very unpopular across the province.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Speak to the French people about that.

Mr Bradley: The minister from Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and East Grenville says, "Speak to the French people about that." I wish I had an opportunity to, but they're so busy telling me they want Montfort Hospital kept open that they haven't had time to discuss this, because they see that the government is trying to close Montfort, the only French hospital in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: I'd just like to bring you back to order. Debate the time allocation.

Mr Bradley: What we are seeing in action is a bullying government, a bulldozing government that established its reputation with Bill 26, the massive omnibus bill which gave unprecedented power to unelected people and to a few cabinet ministers and excluded everybody else, including the non-cabinet members of the government caucus, including the member from Rexdale. I would like to see the member from Rexdale have more opportunity to have some input. He is a parliamentary assistant now, so he's going to get $11,000 more, but I want to see him have real input. I don't think he can have that real input if the power under Bill 26 is concentrated in the hands of unelected people and a few privileged cabinet ministers.

I know in their heart of hearts the members of the Conservative caucus agree with me, even though they were told at caucus this morning, "You know, we've had a bad week" or "a bad weekend." They were told, "You have to applaud." The Premier came in and read the riot act, said, "These people are being outspoken; the rest of you had better behave yourselves." So when you came into the House today, if the Premier sneezed, everybody was applauding and saying, "Yes, Premier; you're right, Premier."

But I didn't notice Mr Carr, I didn't notice Mr Skarica, I didn't notice Mr Murdoch, I didn't notice Mr Kells, any of them, applauding and agreeing with the Premier, because they were prepared to be independent-minded members of this House, and they know what a resolution of this kind means: yet another -- I call it a closure motion; it's really called time allocation -- motion which restricts debate in the Legislative Assembly, because there are many people who simply want to rush the revolutionary agenda through and be done with it and revolutionize the province.

For those who agree with that, I guess that's the way it should be. I can't help but believe that many of the members elected in 1990 and previous to that must be uneasy about many aspects of this revolution.

I heard the Premier today talk about sending his friend Norm Sterling south of the border on a trip to talk to people in various states about environmental issues.

Mrs Marland: Do you remember when you did that?

Mr Bradley: Yes, and am I glad the member for Mississauga South raised this, because in those days Ontario was an environmental leader. I was able to go on behalf of the people of Ontario and the government of Ontario and say: "Here is what we are doing to improve the environment. Would you match our effort?"

Today Mr Sterling would go south and if he said, "Would you match our effort?" it would be: "Would you dismantle your ministry of the environment? Would you cut by one third the staff of the ministry of the environment and the budget of the ministry of the environment?" I don't think that's going to solve our environmental problems.

Looking at education, as all of us must, I remember very well in the past the people who were committed to education in the Conservative Party. Premier Robarts developed the Robarts plan for Ontario, considered to be a progressive change in education, not one that takes us back to the 1940s, not one that satisfies the angry right wing, but a progressive consensus-building education system. Who was his Minister of Education? None other than William Grenville Davis, a fine gentleman who tried to make some changes, and we helped him out. We told him, "Premier Davis, you should sell the jet you are buying for the comfort and convenience of your cabinet ministers and senior government officials and put that money into education." You know, the Premier, after several months of questions, sold the jet, finally got rid of the jet.

But Premier Davis understood, as did Bob Welch -- if you want to talk about a Minister of Education who was well liked by everyone because he could build a consensus, it's Bob Welch, who was the member for Brock.

Tom Wells, another progressive in the field of education; Larry Grossman; Dennis Timbrell. These were people who understood mainstream Ontario, not the extreme right wing that some of you represent. He understood mainstream Ontario. He has lost his way, Mr Timbrell -- he's running for Brian Mulroney's party -- but back in the days when he was in this House, he was considered to be a moderate; now he is not.

I think of Dr Bette Stephenson. Some people in those days thought Dr Stephenson was right-wing. Today she'd be a red Tory, in this House with this group of Conservatives.

All these people must be concerned when they see the damage you are inflicting on education.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Go to the French-language boards.

Mr Bradley: The agriculture minister mentions French-language boards. But you know something? You can't find that in Bob Runciman's literature. The member for Leeds-Grenville, I looked through his campaign literature. I don't see anything bragging about French-language boards. My friend the member for Carleton, I don't see anything bragging about French-language boards; maybe the member for Algoma does. I haven't seen it. Maybe my friend the member for Algoma knows whether some of the Conservatives from ridings where they have been less than friendly to the French language, where some of those members have been less than friendly, put that in their literature. I don't think so. But I know my friend the agriculture minister will in his riding and I appreciate that he will.


These people also talk about fewer politicians. That really means you're putting power in the hands of bureaucrats. As you shrink the number of elected, accountable people, then we know you want to turn the power over to the whiz kids in the Premier's office. Because you're saying now: "Why do we need elected representatives? Why would we listen to the people when we have whiz kids, when we have the brightest people in the land advising the Premier?" Not elected, but advising the Premier -- the YPCs. I feel bad for my friends in the Conservative caucus who must be subservient to the people in the Premier's office -- I do -- and all the members of the government caucus who are in that position.

Some of the people who are most opposed to what you're doing are traditional Conservative supporters. I was at a meeting last night in the constituency of St Catharines and one of the trustees who was present that evening was a person who said he voted for Mike Harris last time. He was a Conservative. I'll tell you, he was less than complimentary, to put it kindly, about Bill 104, Bill 26 and the agenda of this government, because he did not recognize the party he had traditionally supported. He did not recognize that party because of what it was doing to education.

He was insulted as many people at the local level are. Mr Speaker, you're familiar with the local level. You are in close touch with the people in your constituency, I'm certain, who are elected representatives, and you must know how offended they are when the Premier calls them whiners or the Minister of Education uses them as scapegoats when he wants to extol the virtues of Bill 104 and says, "These are greedy, grabbing trustees." Many of these people have given their lives to education as have others.

We have as well caretakers, cleaners, clerks, educational assistants, library technicians, maintenance personnel, secretaries, special ed support technicians, youth care workers, child care workers, counsellors, clerical workers, a variety of people who are involved in the education system whom you want to privatize and outsource now -- it says so in your legislation -- because you hate seeing people have a job, I'm sure, of this kind if it could possibly be privatized.

I know these people. They're part of the educational team, if you will. They are people who are part of the activity of education, they're committed to education, and you people wish to fire them out the door and bring in contract workers. That's what the agenda is. You want to bring them back, if you do bring them back, at a lower wage, lower salaries and no benefits. I could imagine that some of the Conservatives in years gone by who served in this House would be ashamed of such an agenda.

The member for Durham East has a weaselly sounding resolution which won't help, but he at least has put it forward because he recognizes he's getting flak from the people in his constituency in this regard.

I've been sent a note by the Conservative caucus asking me to mention Conrad Black and VLTs and I will save both of those for another speech.

What we're going to see is the same thing we're seeing in hospitals. Mr Speaker, I was driving through Listowel the other day, I was up into your part of the province, and I actually drove up to the hospital doors to see what it looked like because I know you would be concerned about the possible closing of the Listowel hospital. I thought they would have inscribed on a sign out front, "Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you it's not my plan to close hospitals." Who said that? Mike Harris said that during the leaders' campaign, just as he said in education that he wouldn't take any money out of the classroom, when indeed we're going to see millions of dollars removed from classroom education.

The next agenda that you have is to replace the teachers with computers throughout the system. Just watch that one coming up. They may not have even told the people outside the cabinet about this yet. Watch that initiative. It's coming up. I give you fair warning about that.

I see a rebellion in the government ranks and that's why I saw the other day some members chose not to vote for the government on Bill 103. I encourage more of you to do that. You know, they can't put everybody in the cabinet; some of you must be disgruntled. I encourage you to vote what's good for your constituents and what your conscience tells you instead of what the whip is instructed to tell you by members of the whiz kid crew in the Premier's office.

The Minister of Education said that he was going to create a crisis in education. My friend the member for Fort William tells me that he has indeed caused a crisis in education.

What we really have to know then is why the government is embarking upon this whole course of action. It's to pay for the tax cut. I was talking to a couple of people last night who were worried about the deficit. They said, "You know, we have to deal with the deficit." I said: "We certainly do, and let me tell you how you can deal with the deficit. You can avoid borrowing money to give rich people a tax break."

The Dominion Bond Rating Service, certainly not a bastion of socialists, said it will cost this government when fully implemented some $4.8 million in lost revenue to cut the income tax in the province, an income tax cut which will benefit the wealthiest people in our province to the greatest extent.

I've talked to small-c conservative economists who tell me it's nuts. It just doesn't happen. What you have when you have a drastic cut in government expenditures coupled with a cut in taxes is a contractionary effect on the economy.

When the budget appears you will see evidence of a diminishing of the interest rates in this country. Thanks to the lowering of interest rates in this country, the costs of borrowing are significantly reduced and this government will be able to benefit from that particular initiative.

Second, there are the evil gambling revenues coming in, millions upon millions upon millions of dollars coming in. I know those members who ran on family values, I know those people in the Conservative caucus who extolled the virtues of family values and had the support of the Christian Reformed Church and other churches in our province must be beside themselves at the gambling activities of this government.

I'm getting letters from those churches today. They're saying, "We are opposed to video lottery terminals," which will be placed in every bar, every restaurant, on every street, in every neighbourhood and every community in Ontario. When that happens, I'm going to tell you, the most vulnerable people in our society will be affected and the social price that we will pay will be an awful price.


What you have today is a government which has an agenda which is to restrict debate. My friend from Algoma and some of the rest of us tried to prevent the government from moving forward with that agenda. But I know secretly the government is developing rule changes, because there are some people -- I call them the mad right-wingers, the angry right-wingers -- who don't like the democratic system. They think you just run it like their own business, where if you don't like somebody you fire them out the door, and if you don't like something that happens, you say, "Lump it; it's too bad," and you whip through quickly. Maybe in business that's the way they want to operate, but this is a democratic milieu in which we find ourselves.

I know my friend the government whip, the member for York Mills, remembers his days in opposition and how important it was to have rules which allowed us to have proper debate and proper consideration. When the previous government brought in draconian rule changes -- nobody there now is responsible; it was the member for Windsor-Riverside. He's gone now, so I can say that. When the member for Windsor-Riverside, who is now co-chair of your implementation commission on education, brought them in, I warned that the democratic process would be diminished. Some of my NDP friends agree with me today.

Who voted for it? The Conservative Party voted for those rule changes, because many of them, particularly the newly elected members, don't believe in the democratic institutions. They think you should just ram everything through and close the place down and say, "That's the way it is, and if you aren't one of us, it's just too bad." They want to rule having one rule for the rich and the privileged and one rule for the rest in the province. Fortunately, there is a bulwark against that: the opposition and decent citizens across this province who will stand up to this government and not enable it to simply bulldoze its way through.

I find this Bill 104 reprehensible. They are completely reprehensible. I believe that the government, if it were wise, would withdraw this piece of legislation, would try to develop a consensus in this province instead of a confrontation and would result in having a better education system because you would have the valuable input of the people on the front line, you would have some moderate opinions brought forward and not simply an agenda imposed from south of the border, an agenda which is not Canadian and does not represent the consensus of the mainstream of the people of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: Again let me assure the members of the third party that we will leave the agreed-upon time for them to participate in the debate. I appreciate the concerns of members across the floor as to whether or not I will have enough time to express my very considerable views on Bill 104 and on this time allocation motion. Unless we're successful in persuading them to vote against the time allocation motion today, I'm very much afraid that I will have no time to further present my views and my concerns about Bill 104 when it is rammed through for third reading.

My participation in today's debate will just be to express surprise that any of the members opposite would have questioned our House leader's participation in this debate today focusing on the bullying, dictatorial approach that is taken by this government, because that indeed is what this time allocation motion is all about. This is one more closure motion in a series of closure motions that come from the Harris bully government.

Lest anybody have any question about that, just look at any of the initiatives this government has taken through and you'll see the pattern. This is what we expect from this government. They decide what their political agenda is going to be, they ram it through with as little consultation as possible -- and on this bill, which they consider to be minor, we had to fight to get any public hearings of any kind -- and they ignore any concerns that might be raised in that minimal piece of consultation they allow. They dismiss any opposition as being vested interest groups.

It has been absolutely amazing that in the course of just a few days of hearings, as parents and students and representatives of parent councils have come forward and said, "We're worried about Bill 104, we're concerned about this bill," they have somehow become vested interest groups to this government. Anybody who disagrees with them, anybody who wants to resist this agenda is considered to be a vested interest group, so that the members of this government can stay absolutely secure in their sheer arrogance of believing that only they are right, only their view matters and only their agenda counts. Then they can put the bulldozer into gear and they don't have to worry about who gets run over or who gets lost.

Tonight we are on the verge of passing a bill in which the losers are the students in Ontario. If you think I'm not angry and I'm not worried, you're wrong. I don't participate in this debate without a very deep concern for the consequences of this bill and for the fact that we've had no opportunity to have the concerns, that were presented not just by trustees, not just by teachers but by students and by parents, that there's been no real opportunity to have those concerns fully considered.

We've seen the pattern of this government using its bullying approach in its full force on Bill 26. We tried with an all-night sit-in to stop the bullying. We didn't stop the bullying; we slowed it down. We at least got public hearings. But the bill passed; it was rammed through and now we're seeing the consequences of Bill 26 in its ravaging of the health system and its imposing of the government's will on municipalities and the amalgamation.

Last night, in a truly infamous day in this Legislature, we saw one of those amazing consequences of a government able to impose its will on municipalities with again the government ramming through Bill 103 in spite of the opposition of 76% of the people, who said No in a referendum vote. But the government didn't choose to listen. It didn't choose to hear. It didn't choose to understand that the opposition to that bill, the unprecedented filibuster in this House, was because nobody is prepared to lie down quietly and let this government ram through its agenda.

The same thing will be true on Bill 104, because one of the things that has happened is a mobilization of parents who have not been political in the past but who are deeply concerned about education and about the future of their children, and who are not going to lie down quietly. They're not going to go away even as this government uses its bullying force to pass first this time allocation closure motion and then, I'm afraid, to ram through their bill tomorrow. Those parents are not going to go quietly away, because you have awakened a giant out there and it is a giant concerned about its kids.

I find it absolutely amazing that the government House leader today has read into the record in his presentation of the time allocation motion the spin that the Minister of Education has offered, and that I heard government members on the social development committee use, that after all there has been consultation on school board amalgamation in the past. If you want to go back in the record of this government on education, you will find that one of the very first actions of this Minister of Education and this government on education was to cancel the consultation on the very task force report that the government House leader spoke about today.

Yes, John Sweeney, a former Liberal cabinet minister, did undertake on behalf of the previous government to look at whether or not there could be some amalgamations of school boards. In fact, that wasn't what he was asked to do. He was told to go out and figure out how to cut school boards in the province. He came back with a report that was then to have gone out for public consultation, and this government said: "No way. It's part of our cost-cutting. We don't want to hear whether people think these amalgamations are good, bad or indifferent."

There was no real consultation; there was a 1-800, "If you can get through and want to express your concerns" consultation which meant nothing. So there was no consultation on school board amalgamation, and even if there had been, the proposals that this minister presented to this Legislature for school board amalgamation were far more sweeping than anything the Sweeney task force on school board reduction ever contemplated. These proposals have come out of the blue, from the draconian nature of the school board boundaries to the draconian controls that are being put in place for a non-elected, non-accountable education commission. I wonder how you stop a bully that is so determined to just ram through its agenda without consultation, without any regard for the concerns that are expressed, without any willingness to even be open about its own agenda and the consequences of its own legislation.


I'm not sure when this government is going to learn that when it brings forward a piece of legislation it is supposed to include in the legislation how it's going to work. At least it's supposed to be able to answer questions about how it's going to work; it's supposed to be able to answer questions about what it is all going to cost in the end. This government has no answers to any of those questions, and people who have made presentations to the committee, who have come forward with genuine, sincere questions, cannot believe that any government would try and ram through a piece of legislation when it has no answers to the most basic questions. I don't know when this government is going to learn that it can't just simply say, "Trust us; we'll figure out how it's going to work later."

The Minister of Education is out there saying, "I'm going to look at a different model of school board amalgamation and governance for northern Ontario." I happen to know that he's made some commitments to one of his own party members to change some of the board boundaries in Leeds-Grenville, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Lanark, and at the moment I forget the fourth board that's going to be amalgamated. The member said, "That doesn't work," so the minister is going to change it. We don't even know at this hour, as the government is about to ram through its legislation, what the school board boundaries are going to look like.

What sort of consultation has there really been and why wasn't this in place before? Why weren't these basic understandings worked out and when is the government going to learn that it can't simply turn the responsibility for solving all these problems and answering all these questions over to this non-elected, non-accountable, undemocratic commission?

It is the job of government to understand what the concerns are, what needs to be done. It is the job of government to bring forward legislation which has been duly thought out. It is the job of government to have an understanding of how to implement that legislation in a responsible, planned way. It is the responsibility of government to understand what its initiatives are going to cost and who is going to pay for them. This government has dealt with none of those areas of its responsibility in bringing forward Bill 104 for its third and final reading tomorrow.

I'm afraid I will have an opportunity tomorrow to go into some of the specific concerns with Bill 104. All I want to say today in conclusion is that this a wrong-headed, perverse, irresponsible, arrogant, anti-democratic way of making laws and it is a bullying way to govern. This bill should not be going to third reading and it should be withdrawn until all the unanswered questions have answers.

Mr Wildman: I rise to speak on this new time allocation motion with sincere regret. I think we should put this debate into some context. It's important for us to recognize that on Bill 104 there was not prolonged debate at second reading. As a matter of fact, this government chose to move a previous time allocation motion when there was only three days' debate at second reading. There was not prolonged debate. There was no delay on the part of members of this House. There were no dilatory actions taken in this House.

The government decided they wanted to get this through in a hurry and they brought in a time allocation motion which allowed for very constricted committee hearings and then only one day of clause-by-clause debate, and then it was to go to committee of the whole debate, only for an hour, to deal with further amendments. Now we are faced with a new time allocation motion which deems that the portion of the previous one that dealt with committee of the whole House has been discharged. I find this very unfortunate, because as the government House leader himself pointed out, in that very restricted time frame when we debated amendments in the standing committee for four hours, there were some significant and important matters identified by all members of the committee that had to be changed.

For one thing, the number of trustees: There were questions raised about whether or not the number of trustees set out in the bill would include aboriginal representation on boards or if it would include student representation on boards, because I had moved an amendment which was accepted by the government that there should be student representation on the boards, and the argument was that the number of elected trustees should not include these two representatives.

At the standing committee the government members said, "We're going to have to reword some of our own clauses to deal with this, to protect and ensure that the intent of these amendments is carried out, and we'll do that at committee of the whole House stage." By moving this time allocation motion, the government House leader has precluded that that matter can be resolved in this bill, and that is most unfortunate.

As a matter of fact, the amendment I had put forward to allow for student representation on boards was also referred to committee of the whole, so despite what the government House leader says, that the government accepted the amendment I had put forward, in fact because of this time allocation motion it is not accepted and is being bypassed. I find it most unfortunate that the government has chosen to take this action.

I also find it completely unacceptable that at this stage of the debate, even under time allocation, the government would decide that all the amendments that were tabled -- I want to emphasize that the amendments we tabled responded to the concerns that were raised by students, parents, teachers, trustees and administrators at the committee when we travelled across Ontario.

Despite that the government House leader says the government listened and moved amendments on the basis of what they had heard, the fact is that overwhelmingly, of 400 submissions before the standing committee, there were only a very few that supported Bill 104. The vast majority opposed Bill 104 and said that it meant there would be less accessibility to trustees, less local accountability, less local decision-making, and that the power to make decisions, whether on curriculum or on funding and allocation of expenditures, would be concentrated in the bureaucracy here at Queen's Park.

The argument was made that this was less democratic and took away from local accountability, which has always been part of our education system. That was the overwhelming view that was expressed by presenters who appeared before the committee. Just as the government ignored the will of the people that was expressed on Bill 103, they've ignored it on Bill 104, and they do not want to deal with amendments that deal with those particular questions.

Another issue that was raised by almost everyone who appeared before the committee was the fact that the Education Improvement Commission, so-called, was above the law, that they could not have their decisions tested in court. Decisions made by this commission could not be appealed to a court of law.

The government responded to that, because it took out that provision in one part of the bill, but it didn't want to tell anybody that it put it back in in another part of the bill. I asked the government lawyer about this. I said, "How is it you took it out but you put it back in?" and he said, "We wanted to take it out so that decisions of the commission could be appealed to the courts, but we put it back in in the other section to make it difficult to appeal to the courts." Talk about a shell game. The fact is, the government wants the commission to be able to make decisions. Those decisions will stand and it will be very, very difficult for those decisions to be appealed by anyone, whether it be boards of education, parents, ratepayers or anyone interested in education.


One of the justifications for this time allocation motion is that we in the opposition have held up Bill 104. Well, you're darned right we've held up Bill 104. We're very pleased that we've held up Bill 104 and frankly we wish we could hold it up some more.

This is a bill that has absolutely nothing to do with the education of kids. It has absolutely nothing to do with improving education for students in Ontario. What it has to do with is control and power in education. What it's about is the minister trying to aggrandize himself, to ensure that he as the Minister of Education and Training will have complete control over the education system.

It is to make it impossible for local boards to set their own agendas. It will mean there will be larger boards with larger numbers of students, even greater geographic areas in some parts of the province, and fewer trustees with no decision-making power. Frankly, I don't understand why anybody would want to run to be a school trustee once this bill comes into effect, because what it does is it concentrates decision-making in the ministry and leaves the local board to have to deal with all the complaints. They will become essentially a complaints bureau and they won't be able to do anything to resolve the concerns that parents and students and ratepayers have about education in their own communities.

Let's look at some of the things we heard when we went on committee, holding hearings across the province, and let's see how the government has or has not responded. The fact is this: We went to Ottawa and we heard presentations from people from eastern Ontario.


Hon Mr Villeneuve: Well, if they are in it for the money, they are not in it for the right reason.

Mr Wildman: The member from Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and East Grenville will know this. He will know that we heard from the Lanark board, we heard from representatives of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, we heard from the Prescott and Russell board and we heard from the Leeds-Grenville board. This is the alphabet soup board that is being set up by this new proposed boundary system.

Mr Pouliot: What is it going to be called?

Mr Wildman: I guess it's going to be called the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and Prescott and Russell board. That's why I call it the alphabet soup board.

The fact is that this government claims it's simply following Mr Sweeney's proposals. Well, we know and the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and the member for Leeds-Grenville both know that's not true, because in that particular case Mr Sweeney suggested there should be some amalgamations in that part of the province but he said there should be two boards, not one. We heard from representatives of all those boards when we went to Ottawa and all of them said, "If you must have amalgamations, do what Sweeney proposed; don't do what this government is suggesting." The member for Lanark-Renfrew was on the committee and he said, "Don't worry, we're going to work this out." He was on the committee that day.

Then we went to northwestern Ontario, to Thunder Bay, and we had presentations there from a number of boards and parents and teachers from northwestern Ontario. They pointed out to us that there is a proposed board in northwestern Ontario that is about the size of France. It was also pointed out that the government has talked a lot about --

Mr Pouliot: "Pick up the phone."

Mr Wildman: Yes, teleconferencing, that this is the way we would deal with this: We would have teleconferencing. Unfortunately, it was pointed out that in many of the communities in northwestern Ontario they don't have the infrastructure to make teleconferencing possible. I understand they have to have five lines for it to work. In many cases they only have two lines. In some cases they don't even have digital equipment; they're still with rotary equipment. They can't do it; it can't be done.

Then we went to Sudbury and we heard presentations there from people in northeastern Ontario. One of the presentations that was most effective was the presentation by Janice Beatty, secretary-treasurer of the Hornepayne Board of Education. She pointed out that she had to travel nine hours to get to the hearing. She also pointed out that in the proposal there is going to be a board that runs from Hornepayne and Hearst through Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls and Timmins into Timiskaming, almost to North Bay, the whole of Highway 11.

Mr Pouliot: It doesn't register. Look at them.

Mr Wildman: It did register, interestingly enough, with the committee, because after the committee heard this presentation a motion was put to request that the boundaries be reviewed and that motion passed unanimously in the standing committee. Every member of the standing committee, including all the government members, voted for it, because they understood that this board boundary being proposed made absolutely no sense.

Subsequently, the committee also passed another motion asking that all the boundaries in Ontario be reviewed. It passed unanimously as well -- all the government members. I regret to say that one of the members was from Hamilton-Wentworth and he has since been treated to his reward for being a person, I guess, who listens to the people who want decisions made fairly. But the fact is that the committee voted unanimously, and now we have a time allocation motion before this House that is going to make it impossible for the government to respond to the decision that was twice made by the standing committee.

There were a couple of other boards we heard about that are just absolutely nuts. We went to the Brantford area and we heard a presentation from the boards in the London area: London, Middlesex, Oxford and Elgin. Again the government members tried to argue -- Mr Johnson tried to argue, "This is just what Sweeney proposed," and then he was taken aback when the presenters, who were members of the board, pointed out that no, it isn't what Sweeney proposed. Mr Sweeney proposed two boards in that area, not one. In fact Mr Sweeney proposed 88 boards altogether, not 66. So when the government goes around saying, "We're just doing what Sweeney proposed," they aren't telling the truth.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Nobody said that.

Mr Wildman: The government House leader said that, as a matter of fact, in this debate. That's what he said. The member for Brantford said that in the hearing in Brantford and he was taken down a peg or two by the presenters who said, "No, no, that's not what you're proposing."

Mrs Marland: Oh, you mean Mr Johnson.

Mr Wildman: Yes, Mr Johnson, that Mr Johnson.

What did Mr Sweeney propose in Toronto? I don't know whether what he proposed was right or not, because we didn't have the consultation; this government truncated the consultation. What he proposed was four boards in Metropolitan Toronto. What does this government propose? One board with 22 trustees for 310,000 students -- 310,000 students, one board.

The argument was made by the government members that the reason they had to have one board in Toronto was because they had to mirror what was being proposed in Bill 103 for one city. We asked them; "If you're going to have one city in Toronto, and you're now proposing to have 57 members on the council, how come you're proposing one board with 22 trustees? If you're going to mirror what is being proposed on the municipal side, why aren't you increasing the number of trustees above 22?" The government members on the committee had absolutely no answer, and they've got no answer for the people of Toronto who overwhelmingly rejected the idea of one board for this whole metropolitan area.

Now we have a time allocation motion which is designed to ensure that we get this through without real debate and without real consideration of what the overwhelming view was that was proposed when we had the hearings.


We have stalled the debate on this bill. We had hoped that would give the government the time to let us know what the whole package is on what they call education reform. We had hoped they would tell us what the funding formula is going to be. Is it going to mean, as many people fear, a significant cut in the amount of money that many boards have to spend on education of students? Is it going to mean significantly more cuts in classroom education despite the promises of the Conservatives in 1995? We need to know what that funding formula is. We had hoped the government would put that before us, as well as whatever changes they are contemplating with regard to teacher collective bargaining, but they chose not to do that. Instead, they chose to move a time allocation motion which rams this through without real debate or consideration, a bill that the minister himself admits is flawed and is going to need adjustment and amendment.

The other problem that was pointed out when we had hearings was that while other jurisdictions have cut the number of school boards and amalgamated boards -- Alberta, for instance, has brought down the number of boards from 70-some to 57, 57 boards for the same number of students that we have in one board in Metropolitan Toronto. So following the argument that Alberta has done it and we should follow Alberta's example, we should have 57 boards, I suppose, in Metropolitan Toronto. The argument was made, "Well, British Columbia has done it," ignoring the fact that British Columbia took three years to amalgamate a much smaller number of boards so that they could do it in a way that ensured all of the problems could be worked out in a way that was satisfactory.

This government is determined to ram this through, and that's why we've got the time allocation motion. This government is only going to give eight months for all of the boards and the committees to work this all out so it's in place by January 1, 1998. Frankly, everybody who knows anything about the education system knows that we are going to have chaos in January 1998 in school boards across this province. I know that's not a problem for the minister. The minister, I think, believes in chaos theory. He said he wanted to create a crisis. He's doing it. He said he wanted to invent a crisis. He didn't want to improve education; he said you could improve education to death. What he wanted, I guess, was to destroy it so that he could rebuild it in whatever image, whatever vision he may have, which he has not yet made clear to us, other than we appear to be headed for significant change, significant cuts in classroom education, a move to privatization, to charter schools, which is going to drain the public education system, a system that we are all proud of in this province, or should be.

There are a lot of things that this government could be doing to improve Bill 104. They could be bringing in a children's bill of rights as developed by Toronto parents and suggested to the committee by the chair of the Toronto board. Then again, they'd only be able to do that if they believed in the right of kids to education, and they don't. They could have proposed a system for ensuring that we don't have boards that are far too large in geographic size and are too large in terms of numbers of students related to numbers of trustees. They could have brought in a process for determining that that was democratic, not something that is going to be imposed by a commission whose decisions it will be very, very difficult to appeal.

The government could make clear what the right is of school boards to collect local taxes to determine how they could have revenue enough to meet the particular problems of their own particular area.

If the government was serious about doing this in a reasonable way, in a proper way, they could have delayed the effect of this bill for a year. They could have at least given a year to work all this out. We could have had then a year and a half to work out all the problems, which are going to be legion, in trying to merge collective agreements, deal with seniority lists, have early retirement packages, I suppose, deal with assets and liabilities of various boards and how they're all going to be worked out.

Instead this government is going to ram this legislation through without any idea of what the transition costs are going to be and leave all these decisions to an unelected commission whose decisions are almost impossible to appeal. And people wonder why we say this government does not accept democracy.

The government could have brought in real amendments that got rid of any reference to contracting out. Instead they took out the word "promote," that the commission will not "promote" contracting out, but they left in it that the commission will "facilitate" outsourcing. Frankly, that means they're still going to do it.

Finally, we believe the government could have ensured that school councils remain advisory and that there be a continuation for local accountability, local decision-making powers under the bill. Instead, what do we have? We have a time allocation motion which goes even further than the previous time allocation motion, which says that this government is not prepared to amend this bill in any significant way. They are going to go through with it despite the fact that the vast majority of people who appeared before the committee said this was bad for education, it was bad for students, it removed local accountability, it removed local decision-making for education and it is going to make for a much larger bureaucracy, a centralized bureaucracy, that is going to harm education, a system that has been built up over 150 years.

We are seeing the most significant restructuring of education in 150 years in this province and we have to ask, what is the rush? Why does this government have to get it through so quickly? Why does it require time allocation motions that do not allow for real amendments that respond to the concerns that have been raised? I think I know why. Because this government has determined that they are going to give a tax cut in the next fiscal year and they have got to get the money somewhere. They've got to get the money out of health care, they've got to get the money out of community services and they've got to get the money out of education.

The minister says he's going to freeze the expenditures over the next year and a half, that there's not going to be a further cut. This year he said he froze the expenditures and in fact there was over a $200-million cut. Mark my words: The new funding formula is crucial. We should have seen it before the passage of Bill 104. That funding formula is going to mean fewer funds for kids' education in this province.

The French-language boards themselves appreciate the changes that are under this bill and support it, but even they have recognized that there's a need for transitional funding to be made available to be able to get their boards up and running. They have absolutely no commitment from this government that the transitional funding is there. The minister himself says he doesn't know what the transitional costs are going to be. He has no idea. He doesn't know where the money's going to come from. Well, I know where it's going to come from. It's going to come out of classroom education for kids.

This is bad legislation. It is being hurried, it is being sped up because this government does not want to have debate, it doesn't want to respond to those who are opposed to it or those who have concerns. This is a government that is determined to proceed despite what everybody else has to say. I regret that we have this time allocation motion before us today. I urge the members of the House to act as the government members did in the standing committee. I urge the members of this House to consider this very seriously and determine that we should have the time to put this through correctly; vote against this time allocation motion and move to committee of the whole so we can have real amendments; and change this bill so it responds to the needs of students in Ontario.

Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The member for Riverdale has been taken ill. She had a late show scheduled. I would ask the indulgence of the House that it be rescheduled. She has had to go home ill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is there unanimous consent to reschedule the late show? It is agreed.

Government notice of motion number 16. Is it the wish of the House that this motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye." All those opposed, say "nay." In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 15-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1801 to 1816.

The Acting Speaker: Would the members please take their seats.

On government notice of motion number 16, all those in favour rise one at a time.


Baird, John R.

Grimmett, Bill

O'Toole, John

Barrett, Toby

Guzzo, Garry J.

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Bassett, Isabel

Hardeman, Ernie

Parker, John L.

Beaubien, Marcel

Harris, Michael D.

Pettit, Trevor

Boushy, Dave

Hastings, John

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Brown, Jim

Hodgson, Chris

Ross, Lillian

Carroll, Jack

Hudak, Tim

Runciman, Robert W.

Chudleigh, Ted

Johns, Helen

Sampson, Rob

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, David

Shea, Derwyn

Danford, Harry

Jordan, W. Leo

Sheehan, Frank

DeFaria, Carl

Kells, Morley

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Klees, Frank

Snobelen, John

Ecker, Janet

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Eves, Ernie L.

Leadston, Gary L.

Tascona, Joseph N.

Fisher, Barbara

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

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

Newman, Dan

Young, Terence H.

The Acting Speaker: Those opposed please rise one at a time.


Bartolucci, Rick

Gerretsen, John

Miclash, Frank

Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

Morin, Gilles E.

Bradley, James J.

Gravelle, Michael

Patten, Richard

Brown, Michael A.

Hoy, Pat

Phillips, Gerry

Chiarelli, Robert

Kennedy, Gerard

Pouliot, Gilles

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Cleary, John C.

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Colle, Mike

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Silipo, Tony

Conway, Sean G.

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley

Wood, Len

Curling, Alvin

Martin, Tony


Duncan, Dwight

McLeod, Lyn


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 60; the nays are 34.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for Welland-Thorold has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to the question given today to the Attorney General. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter. The minister or parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I should first point out that this notice of dissatisfaction was served yesterday as a result of, in my opinion and, I tell you, that of a whole bunch of people who watched the response of the Attorney General, the Attorney General's grossly inadequate response.

It's apparent that the Attorney General will not be here to respond. I should indicate clearly that the Attorney General had a pressing matter this evening and advised me of it. I certainly had no quarrel with his being unavailable this evening and I don't want to read anything inappropriate or unresponsive into his absence tonight. However, I did invite the Attorney General to request unanimous consent to defer this matter to Thursday or to Tuesday of next week. The Attorney General declined, for reasons that weren't made apparent to me.

At the same time, I look forward to seeing the parliamentary assistant arrive in the chamber to respond to this, either the old one or the new one. Quite frankly, if Mr Tilson -- who was fired, as we know, as parliamentary assistant, notwithstanding that he puckered as well as anybody, in so far as I could see, among the government back benches. Mr Tilson, notwithstanding that he was fired, as far as I'm concerned, can stand in for Mr Flaherty.

I'd also welcome, of course, seeing Mr Flaherty on the other side. I look and look and look. Here we are, we've got parliamentary assistants making their $78,000-plus a year, plus another $11,500; you're talking about $90,000 a year to be a parliamentary assistant. Out of the 83-member government caucus, only eight of them do not receive a stipend in addition to their base $78,000 salary. Only eight out of 83 aren't at the trough along with that whole long roster of ministers, committee Chairs, parliamentary assistants etc.

We know why Mr Carr is no longer a parliamentary assistant. He dared to unpucker. He dared to clench his teeth and take the pucker off his face for even the briefest of moments, as with Mr Murdoch and as with a member I respect a great deal, Toni Skarica, the member for Wentworth North. It's unfortunate.

The issue yesterday, and the issue today, is very much the incompetence of the Attorney General, the apparent, obvious, unmitigated, singular incompetence of the Attorney General and his mishandling of the family support plan and the victimization of thousands of women and their children across the province as the result of the Attorney General's failure to come to grips with his responsibilities as the minister responsible for the family support plan.

We know how the bungling began, because the minister, prevailed upon I'm sure by Mr Eves, the Treasurer, and by the Premier, Mr Harris -- the Premier is in town from time to time. When he's not skiing or golfing, he is in town from time to time, signing the memos that constitute orders.

Mr Harnick, in response to the pressure applied by the inner circle, by the backroom gang, the Tom Longs of Toronto, terminated the jobs of some 290 family support plan workers and shut down eight regional offices.

He stood in this House through the fall of 1996, day after day after day, in response to questions from the opposition, in response to questions from Ms Boyd, Ms Lankin, from Howie Hampton, from Ms Martel, from Mr Wood and Mr Martin from the north, insisting that the plan was up and operational. Well, horsefeathers, because on November 7 of last year, Ms Martel and I took that now somewhat infamous early morning visit to Mr Harnick's mega-FSP office up in Downsview, in North York. We found the office in disarray, inoperative, not working, totally incapable of processing any of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars that were destined for children and their mothers and that were rightly theirs.

Charlie Harnick, the Attorney General, insisted that Bill 82 be passed. The opposition supported Bill 82, which gave them these new tools, to wit, among other things, the suspension of the driver's licence of a defaulting payor. The Attorney General promised that the tools made available to the government in Bill 82 would be available by the end of January. Here we are at the end of April 1997 and not one of those new enforcement techniques is available. It's shameful. I tell you, it's criminal. I tell you there has to be some responsibility accepted by this government.

That's why Ms Martel and I are going to be in Windsor tomorrow, at the Windsor library, meeting with victims of the family support plan. We're going to be at the Riverside Library in Windsor at 1 pm and we'll be talking to victims there.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. I await --

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Mr Speaker, can I have a point of order?

The Acting Speaker: No.

The business of this House being completed, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 o'clock tomorrow, Wednesday, April 23, 1997.

The House adjourned at 1827.