36th Parliament, 1st Session

L197 - Mon 2 Jun 1997 / Lun 2 Jun 1997













































The House met at 1333.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Would you ascertain whether or not there is a quorum, please.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Quorum call.

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): You can judge a government best by what it does when it thinks nobody's looking.

The tenants of this province know that this Conservative-Reform government will be sneaking in the end of rent control legislation today. "What an opportune time," Mike Harris says. "Do it when they are busy with the federal election." Although they promised not to end rent control in their Common Sense Revolution, the Conservative-Reform government found a foot soldier who would do anything. Al Leach doesn't mind if seniors who are renting will be unable to afford escalating rents. Al Leach and Mike Harris do not mind if they demolish rental units to build condominiums. Al Leach and his government do not mind if the people who can't afford it will be subjected to the so-called private sector. This Conservative-Reform government doesn't mind if they sell the homes of those who are living in non-profit housing.

Sneaky as you are, the people of this province will remember this Conservative-Reform government which, although not in the Common Sense Revolution, decided very much so to end rent control on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society. Shame on you. We hope that the people of this province, when the time comes, make sure that the Conservative-Reform government does not exist to have a second term around here.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Today, June 2, is an important date not just because it's the date of a federal election here in Canada but because it also happens to be the Italian National Day. I want to pay tribute today to Italians in Italy and across the world, because we know that the presence of Italians is felt throughout the world and has been for years and years.

In the country itself, the Republic of Italy marks its 51st anniversary, but of course the culture which is Italian, the traditions which are Italian and particularly the people who are Italian go back generations. Here in Canada we are fortunate, I believe, to have among us so many Italian Canadians who have made this country their home, who continue to see the future being here in Canada and who continue to see that, working together, we can build a strong, united Canada.

I want to particularly note that in this year of 1997, we also mark another important holiday a little bit later this month. On June 24 we will mark the arrival of one John Cabot, or Giovanni Caboto, as he originally, and always, was known, to the shores of Newfoundland. He was the first Italian to have landed here in Canada, to be followed some years later by Father Bressani, who was actually the first Italian Canadian back in 1642 to have lived here in Canada.

To them and to all those who have come afterwards to help make this country strong, we applaud you today.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have two stories today that exemplify the community spirit that is so strong throughout my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay.

Recently two terrible fires occurred in my riding. On April 17, Knechtel's grocery store and the local Home Hardware were destroyed in the village of MacTier, and just a week ago the Northern Planing Mills historic building in downtown Bracebridge was also destroyed.

From speaking to store owners and other constituents, there were great concerns about these small businesses and the effect the fires would have on the local communities. In the case of MacTier, there was great concern that the seniors and shut-ins would have no place to shop close by. Wasting no time, in both cases the local councils and business communities took swift action.

In the case of MacTier, the arena was closed down early, the ice was removed and both the grocery store and the hardware store set up there. I'm glad to inform the Legislature that both those businesses are now operating and the community is back on an even keel.

In the case of the Bracebridge fire, even some of the competitors of the building supply business pitched in to make sure that the business was able to open again just about three days following the fire. It is back operating; I visited the premises.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the Georgian Bay and Muskoka Lakes townships fire departments, as well as the Bracebridge fire department and the Ontario Fire College, who all worked together to limit the loss and the damage to the local economies.


Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Before the last provincial election, the government assured the public it would not make cuts to funding for seniors and the disabled. This has not proven to be the case.

Take the assistive devices program, upon which many have come to depend for expensive but necessary aids to daily living. Since the Conservatives came into office, this program has been slashed by $22 million and this year's estimates indicate that the program will be further cut by $89,300. This will considerably worsen the situation of individuals who already have to deal with unreasonable red tape to get the help they need.


The provincial government will pay three quarters of the cost of a wheelchair of a person who can prove they require it for six months or longer. But what about terminally ill cancer patients like Sue Kisslinger of Hamilton, who was given six months to live last December? She may live longer, but since this is impossible to prove, Sue has been denied assistance in purchasing her badly needed wheelchair.

I implore the government to reinstate funding to the assistive devices program and to reformulate its restrictive eligibility criteria. People like Sue deserve the chance to live the rest of their lives to the fullest.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): For the first time in 122 years, the Ontario Legislature is sitting on the day of a federal election. As you will remember from last week, our caucus and the Liberals agreed that we'd be willing to meet on a Friday to make up for the day that Tory House leader Dave Johnson said was badly needed because they're so far behind in their destructive legislative agenda. We all know what's going on here. To quote my esteemed colleague Floyd Laughren from Nickel Belt, "Mike Harris is so afraid of Preston Manning's troops, he's giving the entire Tory caucus an alibi."

It's interesting which ones chose to come here today: the ones who are afraid to be out there in the communities because they might have to go from one campaign to another. I'm glad to see that --


Ms Churley: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, for instance; we all know where he stands. He comes right out and tells the public that he's a Reformer. He's honest about it, anyway. We know he's out there today in his riding fighting for the Reformers, helping to get them elected in his riding.

The members here today I guess are too chicken, to coin a phrase that's been very recently used in the press -- as of yesterday, I believe -- to say who they're really voting for and standing up for and working for in this election.

So we know what's going on here today, and shame on you.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The members for St Catharines, Brock, Nepean and Halton North, come to order. Statements are meant to be heard and I'm having difficulty hearing it.

Ms Churley: It was a good statement too.

The Speaker: The member for Riverdale, that's not helpful.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Clean Air Month is here. It's an opportunity for public and private sector employers and employees to improve the quality of air that we breathe. At the heart of Clean Air Month is the fifth annual clean air commute, in which thousands of people and dozens of organizations will engage in the fun and friendly competition to find a fresh way to get to work. In previous years, employees of participating organizations have left their cars at home to take transit, walk, cycle, roller skate and even canoe to work. Those who must drive to work have helped clear the air by carpooling and improved auto maintenance. The result is that thousands of people are learning about the links between pollution and ill health. Each organization is free to choose which week in the month of June it will participate in the clean air commute.

I congratulate Pollution Probe, the organizer of Clean Air Month, and I'd like to point out that this creative effort to involve workers and employers in contributing to a healthy environment is due to the substantial sponsorship of 18 leading corporations. Last week, Minister Sterling himself was leading the pack during Bike to Work Week. I urge each member present to follow the minister's example some time this month by finding an alternative method of getting in to work and by encouraging their constituents to do the same.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): You can judge a government best by what it does when it believes no one is looking. Today is such a day. When the attention of the news media and the public is clearly devoted to the federal election, the Conservative-Reform coalition government of Mike Harris is sneaking in a proposal for drastic changes to the rules of procedure of the Legislative Assembly, rule changes designed to muzzle the opposition and make it much easier and convenient for the Harris government to ram through any new measures it deems useful to its agenda.

Everyone will remember the infamous Bill 26, the massive omnibus budget bill that took powers away from elected members of the Legislature and concentrated them in the hands of the unelected political advisers of the Harris regime and a few select cabinet ministers, and that established the hospital restructuring commission which is slamming the doors shut on hospitals across Ontario.

Only extraordinary action on the part of the opposition forced the government to hold hearings across the province, hearings that resulted in the government bringing in over 150 amendments to its own legislation. Without this action on the part of the opposition, we would have had a virtual dictatorship in our province.

Now, with everyone's attention diverted to the federal election, the government is trying to slip in its demands for a rubber-stamp Legislature, disguising them as a set of proposals from a 27-year-old YPC trying to please the Premier for future considerations.

Make no mistake about it: These rule changes come right from the Premier's office, from the cabal of Newt Gingrich Republican Party worshippers who consider elected representatives, particularly the opposition --

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


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I was proud to join workers on their picket line this weekend past at the Vincor factory, the old Brights winery on Dorchester Road in Niagara Falls. These workers have been called upon by their very profitable corporate boss to take concessions.

They've been working too hard for seniority terms of up to 25 years and beyond to begin now to take concessions in terms of vacation time and health care benefits that they've worked hard for, especially when you've got a company that has enjoyed the profits that flow from the hard work of these workers.

These members of the Teamsters union have been bravely picketing outside that plant as scabs have been running scab wine in and out of Vincor. I'll tell you what I told those workers this past weekend: There's no room in Ontario for scabs and there's no place on our dinner tables for scab wine.

I encourage those people who would contemplate purchasing a Vincor or Brights or Sawmill Creek product to abstain. Those wines have acquired a somewhat foul taste as long as they're being shipped by scabs. We can tell Vincor that they'll become far more palatable once Vincor gets down to the table and gets those workers back to work, where they want to be and where they belong. No scabs in Ontario; no scab wine in our dining rooms.


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): Yesterday, along with Premier Mike Harris and 25,000 other people at the SkyDome in Toronto, I attended a superb international track meet. There a young man from Oakville who attended Queen Elizabeth Park High School and Sheridan College once again astounded the world.

Donovan Bailey, the pride of Oakville, has captured the hearts of all Canadians. Yesterday he brought us together for one brief moment to celebrate the great achievement of a fellow Canadian, and he didn't let us down.

Donovan's fierce belief in himself, along with his winning attitude, his drive and hard work are a valuable gift to us all. Donovan's accomplishments prove we can make it to the finish line and win with perseverance.

In the spirit of friendly competition and patriotic rivalry, I hereby send a message to our friends and neighbours in the United States: Donovan Bailey is unquestionably unrivalled and confirmed the fastest man on earth.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Later today we will be effectively terminating second reading debate on Bill 96, your so-called Tenant Protection Act, while the election is on.

I want to come back to an issue I raised with the minister some weeks ago in the House. That is the issue around the words "income information" in sections 36 and 200 of Bill 96. Those words deal with the landlord's right to effectively discriminate against people of lower income in choosing tenants for a rental property. Minister, could you address your view of that section and tell us why the government included it in its bill?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): What we were trying to do in our very balanced piece of legislation was to ensure that both landlords and tenants started off on an equal footing. I don't think you can purchase any sizeable commodity without going through a credit check or providing like information, to get a credit card, for example, to buy a car, to do anything.

What we were trying to do was to ensure that landlords had the opportunity to review information on potential tenants, to do credit checks, and I think it's only a reasonable thing to do. However, if the member feels quite strongly, when we finish and get this bill out into committee, I'd be glad to consider an amendment if he wanted to put one forward.


Mr Duncan: That's where the opposition differs from the government in its view of tenant protection. Housing is not a commodity that ought to be considered in the same breath as purchasing a car or other consumer-type goods. Housing is a right and ought to be treated as a right, and the minister clearly has lost sight of that.

If in fact we bring forward an amendment during committee hearings that would strike the offensive clauses from the bill and limit the government's ability with regulation to impact on this issue, am I to take by the minister's response that he would accept that amendment and strike the offensive clauses from the bill?

Hon Mr Leach: I'd certainly want to take that under consideration, but again I want to point out what we're attempting to do with this legislation, and that's to ensure that both the tenant and the landlord have adequate protection, to make sure they're both starting off on an even footing. We're providing the protection to tenants and we also would like to provide some protection to landlords. But as I said, as soon as we can get this bill through second reading and into committee, I'd be glad to consider any amendments the member wants to put forward.

Mr Duncan: It certainly will go through today. The government will jam it through second reading without adequate debate.

But I'd like to point out to the minister, as we have pointed out before, that it's not just the official opposition that's calling for amendments to these two offensive clauses of your bill. None other than Keith Norton, PC, a former cabinet minister, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, has said to you and to the Premier in a letter dated March 10 that if given the opportunity to speak at committee, they will propose similar amendments. The opposition, your own Human Rights Commission, and a variety of interest groups throughout the province are saying that these particular clauses of your bill are offensive and will discriminate against low-income Ontarians.

Will you now agree to repeal the offensive sections of the bill and acknowledge finally that this has nothing to do with tenant protection but everything to do with enhancing the position of landlords in this province at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable tenants in Ontario?

Hon Mr Leach: Again to repeat myself, all the opposition has to do is to put the bill into second reading. We'll go into committee. There will be amendments proposed and we would be glad to consider any amendments they put forward.

Let's talk about the issue of "jamming" this through the House. I've never heard anything so silly in my life. We've had more debate on this bill than there was on the combined NDP and Liberal bills on rent control. On Bill 121, the NDP felt that one day of debate in the House was sufficient for an important bill.

Mr Duncan: You're just wrong.

Hon Mr Leach: Do you want to talk about your bills? Bill 11 and Bill 51 had a total of four hours' debate. Four hours' debate, and you want to talk about jamming a bill through the House? You'd better look back at your own records before you start throwing stones. We put this legislation out on the street a year ago.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon Mr Leach: Last June we put this out so that we could have a whole summer of consultation. Mr Speaker, this bill has had more debate than all of theirs put together.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Jurisdictions throughout North America have increasingly come to the conclusion that legalized gambling is essentially a tax on the poor and the desperate and the vulnerable in our society. In the United States over the last three years, over 30 state legislative ballots proposing the expansion of legalized gaming have been defeated. In Canada, jurisdictions in Alberta and the province of British Columbia have banned video slot machines, described by many as the crack cocaine of gambling. During the last provincial election campaign, Mike Harris stated, "I don't want $1 million a day into the province of Ontario." Referring to the blood money from gambling, Mike Harris said, "I don't want the Ontario government to have it."

Based on the compelling evidence before you, based on the fact that so many jurisdictions today are having second thoughts about gambling and the effect it's having on the population, particularly the social fabric of various jurisdictions, based on that, Minister, will you give an undertaking that you will put a moratorium on any more expansion of gambling opportunities in this province?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): If I could remind the honourable member, we brought through Bill 75 with the intention of bringing a lot more integrity and accountability to the system. The majority of the provisions under Bill 75 deal with better enforcement tools to ensure that we don't have further expansion of illegal gambling, for example, but the government recognizes that there are certain difficulties within the sector. We have looked, for example, at the problem gambling area and we have allocated around $9 million this year for research, training and education in this field. The additional funds have certainly been welcomed by proponents in the area.

I remind the member that when he brought in, with the Peterson government, the three-day Monte Carlos, there were no funds whatsoever allocated to problem gambling. When the NDP brought in the casinos, they at least allocated $1 million towards this.

The government is trying to do things in terms of integrity of the game, increasing the enforcement, and to really deal with problem gambling.

Mr Bradley: Minister, you have the opportunity to look into the future. You can point fingers at the past and point fingers at other jurisdictions, but I don't think that's really helpful. I don't think it represents the concern that even members of your own caucus must feel about this continued escalation of gambling opportunities and about the fact that the OPP had a confidential report on organized crime moving into it. Maryland, for instance, is abandoning charity casinos because of the fact that the underworld is getting into this particular jurisdiction.

I don't think this is a Liberal, NDP, Conservative or any other party's issue. It's of genuine concern among people, not just the churches, which have expressed it to a great extent, and social workers and so on, but the general population, that authorities and jurisdictions all over are moving too quickly and too drastically into new opportunities, expanded opportunities, escalating opportunities for gambling.

In light of this, will you at the very least give an undertaking to this House that you will not allow at any time VLTs, video lottery terminals, in restaurants and bars in this province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The honourable member touched on a couple of things: first, the aspect of illegal gambling to a certain extent, but he also mentioned the hospitality trade. I remind the member of what we actually said. We were looking at implementing video lottery terminals in the racetracks and also in the charity gaming clubs. We also said at that point in time that we'd monitor what happened and look to see what the facts were before we moved on, so the government has talked about having a pause in there to assess the situation. He directs me to a point we are certainly aware of and have heard from our members.

Second, dealing with illegal gambling, when the casino rules came in, the NDP government introduced screening rules to make sure that people were looked at in terms of their involvement with illegal activities, that they tried to screen the people involved with the process. We believe we've continued with that process as well, that we have allocated more resources towards the enforcement against illegal gambling, $7 million worth.

Mr Bradley: Once again, we can't roll back the clock to some of the things that have happened in the past. The minister knows that on a personal basis I don't even like casinos, but we've got casinos in the province.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Lottery tickets.

Mr Bradley: You mention lottery tickets. They're out there, and I guess people have grown accustomed to those. What I am looking at is the escalation that's taking place in the province. I associate it with your tax cut, because you need revenues to make up for that tax cut. Is it really worth the damage you're doing to the social fabric of this province, to vulnerable people, to desperate people in our society, to those who are addicted to gambling? Is it really worth it to be able to give a tax break, an income tax cut that largely benefits the richest and most powerful people in our society, and then take the money away from those who are the most vulnerable in our society and wreak havoc in many communities, including the communities in the Kitchener area, where five mayors have asked that you have a referendum on casinos?

Minister, will you now institute a moratorium on a further escalation of gambling in this province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I know the honourable member would like to somehow equate the government's initiatives, which it has continued with, with a tax cut. But I remind the member that a strange thing happened on the way to Queen's Park the other day: The government produced a tax cut for the people of Ontario, and our revenues are up. Gee, I wonder who said that. I guess it was us.

To deal with the issue the honourable member is raising right now, one of the reasons we brought in Bill 75 was to increase accountability. We've certainly heard, and I'm sure the honourable member has heard this as well from charities within his own area, that after having a three-day Monte Carlo, quite often the charities do not benefit at all. That is not the idea behind these things. That's where Bill 75 comes in, to increase the accountability of government, to increase the accountability of people within this area, to make sure the charities benefit. Currently the charities benefit about $10 million to $12 million a year, which will be increased to about $180 million under these new charity gaming clubs.



Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Could you tell us, aside from the Ontario Mining Association, who urged you to abolish the Occupational Disease Panel?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): The honourable member may know that we have had a very thorough review of the Workers' Compensation Board and are doing a thorough review of occupational health and safety in this province. We are attempting to coordinate and have one vision and one strategy. The stakeholder consultations were started by Minister Jackson and were completed by me. We feel that the Workers' Compensation Board is in the best position to take over the responsibility for the prevention of illness and injury.

Mr Silipo: It's no wonder the minister is only allowing 10 hours of hearings in Toronto on Bill 99. I think what I can take from the answer she gave was that nobody but herself and her Premier wants to abolish the Occupational Disease Panel. She is looking forward, I'm sure, to the fact that people will be so busy denouncing all the other draconian changes in the bills that the effects of occupational diseases will be overlooked.

She knows there has been an international outcry against her plan to scrap the Occupational Disease Panel. But, Minister, you're trying to make sure the committee won't even have a chance to change this part of the bill. What's the rationale for allowing, with the major changes you are making, only about half the hearing time for Bill 99 as you did for your so-called housekeeping bill to the Employment Standards Act?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I want to make it abundantly clear that we are changing the focus for health and safety in Ontario. We are not satisfied with the number of fatalities and illnesses in this province, so we have changed the purpose clause at the Workers' Compensation Board. They have now assumed responsibility for safe and healthy workplaces.

As a result, we've taken a look at the five agencies that support the board, and we have decided to consolidate some of those activities and to change some of the activities of those five agencies. One of the agencies we feel can be consolidated and integrated within the board is the Occupational Disease Panel, because we feel this is a priority the board must focus on. We are planning to reinvest the money we save as a result of this restructuring and invest an additional $7 million into research into why there's illness and injury in the workplace. The focus has changed. We're bringing everything together.

Mr Silipo: Minister, you're changing the focus all right. What you're saying to injured workers is that any claims they have with respect to compensation, they had better get used to the fact that you're going to put them even further back on the back burner.

No one is quibbling with you about efforts to improve rehabilitation efforts, but you can't do what you're doing. You can't claim, for example, that there's a crisis in the WCB finances when people see the facts. They see that the board has been operating at a surplus for three years in a row, which means a steady decrease in the unfunded liability, in addition to the actions we took as a government which brought down the unfunded liability. They see the current board chair wasting $70,000 on a new washroom -- and you talk about a crisis in funding. They see you cutting employer assessments by 5%, taking $6 billion from injured workers and giving it to some of the wealthiest, most profitable corporations in this province.

You certainly are changing the focus, Minister, but that's exactly how you're doing it: You're taking benefits away from injured workers and putting money into the hands of employers. Now you're ramming this bill through without adequate public hearings. Why, Minister?

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's unfortunate that you and the members of your party are continuing to mislead injured workers as to the intent --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister, you can't accuse another member of misleading. You must withdraw that.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I withdraw.

What is happening is that we are not satisfied with the direction your party or previous governments took. We are going to focus on prevention. In fact, we have set a target of a 30% decrease in lost-time injuries. We are going to try to meet that target and we're going to make sure we don't have the huge number of injured workers in the future.

We're also going to focus on safe and timely return to work. If some of those people who are injured today had had the opportunity to be returned to work in a safe and timely manner, they wouldn't be in the position they find themselves in today.

I can assure you that we have had ample debate. There will be an opportunity for further debate in June and over the summer, and we will respect --

The Speaker: Thank you very much. New question, third party.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Chair of Management Board and government House leader. A funny thing happened in the Legislature this morning. At about 11 o'clock the government House leader's parliamentary assistant tabled proposals for changes to the legislative rules and held a media conference. He told the media: "I'm just a backbencher. I'm just an individual member who is interested in some change. I'm proposing these changes and I'm anxious to hear feedback from all the members, and hey, I'm not speaking for the government." That was at 11 o'clock.

At 11:30 the government House leader sent us a letter announcing that Mr Baird had been appointed as the government representative on a committee to review his proposals. It goes without saying that Mr Baird was telling the truth this morning. My question is this: What happened between 11 and 11:30 to change your mind?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): There's a lot of time there.

The member for Nepean has come forward with a report that I hope will be considered carefully. To the member for Beaches-Woodbine and my other colleagues in the House, I hope it will be considered by each and every member of this House. Certainly in terms of the procedures, which as I understand were last looked at about five years ago, there are changes to the procedures I suspect we would all like to see.

Mr Baird has come forward with a report. I've asked Mr Baird if he would be our representative on a tripartite committee. I hope the Liberals will appoint a member and I hope the NDP will appoint a member. We certainly want input from the clerks and other members of this House. I hope we can come forward with a set of standing orders that allow this House to represent the people and work for the people in a more superior fashion than it does today.

Ms Lankin: I can't quite believe that answer. You've already indicated to other House leaders that you were considering rule changes, and now to pawn this off on another member like you had nothing to do with it is quite astonishing.

To return to the press conference this morning, Mr Baird was repeatedly asked about the time lines for changes to the rules. Mr Baird insisted, and I'm quoting: "I haven't given the matter any thought. I'm just putting forward these proposals for discussion." However, you indicated in your letter today that you want the committee to be established today, to meet today and to respond by Thursday to the House leaders' meeting.

Of course it goes without saying that Mr Baird was telling the truth this morning. My supplementary question is this: When were you going to tell Mr Baird about these tight time lines, and does he agree with you that the rules should be changed by Thursday?


Hon David Johnson: There have been no definite time lines set out. I have suggested in my letter that we act on this as quickly as possible. I'd like to see the parties talking about it. Surely we can talk about it in some fashion today if there's something to report by the House leaders' meeting, yes; that's what the House leaders' meeting is all about, to discuss matters that pertain to the House, and I hope we would have discussion. Indeed I would say that in some fashion at a previous House leaders' meeting we've already had a little bit of discussion about the need to look at the standing orders.

This is all about making this House work more effectively and efficiently for the people of Ontario, and I hope we would all endorse that. As I understand it, there are opportunities in there to allow individual members more opportunity to speak, maybe not at such great length, but more opportunities for individual members to have their bills considered. So there are lots of opportunities for the members and for the people of Ontario, and yes, I hope we get on and consider this.

Ms Lankin: That's a crock -- the short bottom line. We know what your changes are about. Your changes are about --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Durham East, do you know what's out of order? You're out of order for being in the wrong seat and heckling. Order. I don't find "crock" out of order. "Crock" seems to be a perfectly in order statement. Order.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): A crock of what?

The Speaker: It could be a crock of soup. It could be a crock of all kinds of stuff.

Ms Lankin: Thank you, Mr Speaker. If I said what it was a crock of, I would be out of order.

We know what these rule changes are about. You thought there was too much debate on the megacity. You thought there was too much debate on your overhaul of education. You thought there was too much debate on the creation of a hospital restructuring commission. You're tired of hearing from people who don't agree with you, and we're getting used to that from this government. Minister, I put it to you that in the past, government House leaders have either tabled rule changes in this House or proposed them at government or at House leaders' meetings or at both, and there's been a process of negotiation. Why are you changing the process here? Why are you pawning it off, letting someone else do your dirty work and insisting that members respond within two days?

You know there are substantial items here which impact on the democratic rights of members of the opposition. Your government has a reputation for being anti-democratic, using bully tactics. That's what's behind these rule changes. Substantial negotiations are required. Will you commit to that process of negotiation?

Hon David Johnson: First of all, this government is proud of the kind of debate it's had. I would say this government has had more public hearings, more public debate than any other government in the history of Ontario.

Ms Lankin: In the history of the universe, that's another crock.

Hon David Johnson: Whatever a crock is. I'll tell you that through the recommendations I've seen from Mr Baird, he wants the government to work as hard in this House as we're working through the committees. It's not all that complicated. In something of this nature there is the need for members from each party to roll up their sleeves and to work hard on the detail -- I'm merely suggesting that Mr Baird is quite acquainted with the report -- each party represent an individual, sit down, work together, and yes, then I am suggesting to come to the House leaders' meeting. As you indicated in your own initial question, I'd like to see it come first of all to the House leaders' meeting this week.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): My question is to the Minister of Health. The Wilson Heights area is home to the largest concentration of seniors located in Metro Toronto. In fact, this community is home for 32,000 seniors, of which about 75% are over the age of 75, many of whom live on or near the poverty line.

The Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations last Thursday expressed their concern for these 32,000 seniors who live in the catchment area of North York Branson Hospital, which your Health Services Restructuring Commission has ordered shut down in its entirety without any provision for any community-based health care. North York Branson Hospital's emergency department treated over 400 heart attack victims last year. The majority of these victims didn't come by car or ambulance, but came in because they lived in the neighbourhood. If Branson is closed, seniors with heart attacks will have to go by car or ambulance to the next nearest hospital, eight or 10 kilometres away.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question.

Mr Kwinter: Minister, now that you have established a health policy that totally disregards the needs of community health-based services, do you think --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Wilson Heights. Minister of Health.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the concerns being expressed by the honourable member on behalf of the people who live around Branson Hospital, many within walking distance. I know that the hospital itself and many interested individuals, including the Canadian Jewish Congress, have made submissions in this regard to the Health Services Restructuring Commission. I'm confident the commission will take into account the needs of all the people of Ontario, but in particular the needs of the people in Wilson Heights.

Mr Kwinter: Minister, as you so rightly mention, North York Branson Hospital is particularly sensitive to the specialized needs of the heavy concentration of Jewish seniors who live in the community. Many of these seniors are dependent on the provision of ethnoculturally sensitive services. The hospital has an onsite Jewish chapel, makes available Jewish holiday and ritual services, provides kosher meals and is accessible by foot, facilitating its use by observant Jews, patients, relatives and physicians. Do you think it's fair or reasonable to deprive a significant number of my constituents of this essential and specialized service?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, I'm very sensitive to the needs of the people in that area, but I would say that I wonder if it was fair to close 11,000 hospital beds, many of them closed at the time the honourable member was part of the Liberal government in this province, to leave all that administration in place, to allow our waiting lists for cardiac surgery and dialysis, where frankly there weren't services for many, many people throughout this province, including people in urban centres, to allow our waiting lists for a number of services to increase over the years, and at the same time not do anything to restructure the health care system and get rid of the duplication and waste that nurses and many others have been telling us about over the years.

We've set up an arm's-length commission. They will make decisions that are in the best interests of the patients and will make sure every dollar gets spent on patient services, including the people of Wilson Heights who clearly are making the case of special needs, and I'm confident the commission will take that into consideration.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): This is a question for my good friend Monsieur Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This afternoon we will be debating your landlord protection act. As you know, all the members have heard stories in their ridings about problem tenants, tenants who have caused undue damage to the premises or who have interfered with the enjoyment of the premises by other tenants, who have seriously impaired the safety or other rights of another tenant, and who have knowingly misrepresented their income. Will your Tenant Protection Act make it easier for landlords to evict tenants who bring these types of problems with them?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): In response to the member and my good friend in the third party, it will allow the landlord to get rid of tenants who cause problems for other tenants. I think everybody would agree that you can have a tenant who can cause great disruption to a whole building and that the landlord has to carry the responsibility for that tenant, so there should be ways and means to ensure the protection and the wellbeing of the majority of the tenants. The landlord should have the tools made available to him to get an unruly tenant out as quickly as he possibly can.

Mr Marchese: I agree with what the minister has said, and I believe your government has already been served with a notice of eviction from the premises of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on all of those grounds and others. In fact, you've been asked by the Ontario Coalition for Non-Violent Action to vacate the premises by June 16, 1997. The question is this: Is your government planning to obey the eviction notice and leave peaceably or are you going to force the landlords, the people of Ontario, to take more drastic action to get you out?

Hon Mr Leach: A very interesting proposal. I think our landlords, the citizens of Ontario, will have an opportunity to review the facts, in a couple of years, as to whether this government has performed well, and I'm sure they will. If they choose to exercise one option or the other, I am positive they will do that. I'm sure when we put on the record the things we've done for all tenants in Ontario, they will sign a new lease for this government for another four years.



Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines. There has been discussion in this House in the past about the northern Ontario heritage fund. Specifically, I can recall some members questioning the time that was spent establishing a new mandate for the fund and whether any dollars would actually be committed to projects. Can the minister tell the House whether the heritage fund has actually made any commitments to northern projects?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): That's a good question. As the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay and all the members in the House will know, the heritage fund deals with infrastructure programs to help improve the northern economy in this province. We spent some time establishing a new mandate because there had been some criticism about how the money had been spent in the past. I was pleased to announce these new guidelines, the criteria for the heritage fund, last October, along with the Premier and the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, up in Timmins.

Since that time, the board members, who have been acting for $1 a year --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The jackboots across the room.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for St Catharines, that's out of order.

Mr Bradley: What's out of order? The truth is out of order?

The Speaker: Member for St Catharines, I'm cautioning you. You must withdraw that comment.

Mr Bradley: Which comment, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: The jackboots comment.

Mr Bradley: I will withdraw the jackboots comment.

Hon Mr Hodgson: Just in case anybody is watching this at home today, I want them to be fully aware that that withdrawal had nothing to do with the northern Ontario heritage fund.


The Speaker: Order. I think it's best that we not comment back and forth any more.

Hon Mr Hodgson: I know there are a lot of people in Ontario who are interested in the northern Ontario heritage fund and its benefits for creating new wealth and new opportunity in northern Ontario. I'd like to let the members of this House know that we're committed to spending, over the four years of our mandate, $210 million in new money to be leveraged by the private sector and other partners for projects in the future. To date, the heritage fund has committed $18 million in projects and has leveraged another $25 million in partners' contributions.

Mr Grimmett: That certainly is good news for residents in northern Ontario. I've heard some rumours that some of the money that's going to be spent on this fund may even go towards health projects. I wonder if the minister can describe some of the projects that have been funded specifically in the north.

Hon Mr Hodgson: We've invested in a number of projects that are designed to help right across the north. We've announced $2.4 million to support cancer care programs in communities throughout the north. We've announced $240,000 to refurbish the Caribou Mountain fire tower in Temagami to enhance that important tourism component of their local economy. We've announced more than $1 million towards marketing programs by the six northern Ontario travel associations. Money has also been committed to improve the fibre optics and telecommunications in communities such as Atikokan and Kenora. The heritage fund has approved money for about 30 projects throughout the north. These dollars will lead to real growth and real jobs, and we'll be continuing with this good news in future months.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the House leader. I'd like to ask a question on what I regard as a totally unacceptable and obscene package of rule changes your government tabled today. It is the ultimate bully tactic. You've tried to bully other people who disagree with you and the government, and now Mike Harris is putting in rules to try to bully and shut up the opposition. We find it completely unacceptable.

The question is to you, Minister -- I can see Mike Harris's handprint all over this -- because the member this morning said he had gone over these with you. He obviously went over these with you. Did you comment on them and are you in agreement with this obscene set of rule changes?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): First of all, the government has not tabled rule changes today. The member for Nepean has spent a good deal of time in terms of looking through standing order changes because of a number of situations that have come up; for example, because of his desire that more members of this House get involved in the debate. A number of situations have arisen. He's addressed them. Yes, I've gone through the changes with him, and yes, I've commented on them. Some I'm certainly in favour of, and some I'm looking for comment on from the other parties. The process we've laid out involves comment from the Liberals and comment from the NDP. I hope that we can get together, that the three parties sit down, roll up our sleeves, have a look at this, discuss it in a House leaders' meeting and come up with standing order changes that allow for a more effective and efficient House.

Mr Phillips: The public watching this should recognize that it was a deliberate attempt to put it out today, with the federal election going on, because these rule changes are designed to gag the opposition. There's no other way to describe it. Frankly, I am ashamed of you, that you went over these rule changes and obviously are in agreement with them.

I want to ask you this final question: Will you withdraw this package that is designed simply to bully and silence the opposition? Will you do your job? Will you bring forward a set of rules that you want to propose and withdraw this set of unacceptable rule changes?

Hon David Johnson: We're a little high on the dramatics here today. I think the member for Nepean has done a very credible job of looking at the problems that are being faced.

The member for Nepean has issued his own report and I am suggesting that the three parties, along with the Clerk's department and other interested members and staff, should sit down and should have a look at that report. You may well have ideas. I know the former government had ideas. The former government twice tabled changes to the standing orders and made a review and an overhaul of the standing orders in 1992. This is not something that is uncommon for governments to do. We're taking initiative.

There's nothing before the House at this point in time. Let's take the opportunity to discuss it, get all our ideas into it and get something that allows this House to work in a better fashion for the people of Ontario.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): A question to the Minister of Housing: Your so-called Tenant Protection Act is the subject matter of your closure motion this afternoon, so your government's going to kill debate on the Tenant Protection Act. The timing is remarkable because tomorrow is the launch date of the 220-kilometre hike against hunger and homelessness. We all know that homelessness has become an ever-increasing problem in this province since the election of Harris and your Tories. Please tell us how your Tenant Protection Act is going to protect tenants against homelessness once rents are no longer controlled.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): It seems obvious to me that the member couldn't have read the bill, because the bill maintains rent controls, it keeps rent controls. As a matter of fact, it keeps exactly the same formula that was put forward by the previous government. The formula is there; rent controls are there; tenants are protected. When they move into a new apartment and negotiate a rent with the landlord, rent controls come on and they stay on as long as that tenant is in the unit, so I don't know where the member gets that we're getting rid of rent controls.


Mr Kormos: It's a crock and the minister, quite frankly, is full of it.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): "Crock" was in order, but you've extended it now with the other comment. I think everyone knows that there are certain connotations attached to that comment. I ask you to withdraw.

Mr Kormos: I'm shocked. I didn't intend those connotations. I withdraw, Speaker.

Minister, the hike against hunger and homelessness that starts tomorrow is about the problems that are faced increasingly in this province by people who don't have a lot of choices; they don't have a whole lot of options. They don't have the money to pick and choose where they're going to live and under what conditions.

Your legislation is giving landlords the explicit right to discriminate on the basis of income. It's not just tenants and their advocacy groups. You've been told many times that among others, Keith Norton, head of your Ontario Humans Rights Commission, has condemned this section of your legislation. Minister, why won't you remove that section of the act to ensure that homelessness does not remain an ongoing problem here in the province?

Hon Mr Leach: Mr Norton, the head of the Human Rights Commission, wrote to us and asked us to reconsider the particular portion of the act that referred to incomes. I've responded to the Human Rights Commissioner and said that when we get this bill into committee and we have an opportunity to make amendments, we would certainly consider an amendment to that part of the bill. So I urge the members opposite to get on with second reading.

I certainly regret having to bring in a time allocation bill. If we had had cooperation from the parties opposite, we would have had this bill out to committee by now and the tenants and landlords in Ontario would have had an opportunity to put forth views and an opportunity to make changes such as this.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. I read in the Toronto Star today that in the next six to 10 years the auto assembly and component sector will be facing a skills shortage due to the retirement of up to 56,000 skilled workers. Could you explain what the government is doing to address this shortage?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): One of the reasons we have initiated a reform of our apprenticeship programs is because we can see, clearly in the auto sector and in other sectors, a need to have a better apprenticeship program in Ontario, so we have undertaken to do that now. I think the timing of the federal withdrawal from funding apprenticeship programs is unfortunate and regrettable, but we in Ontario are moving forward in that.

In secondary school reform we have clearly said that one of our objectives is to expand the cooperative opportunities that some 60,000 students are now engaged in that help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to get involved in the auto sector and other sectors. We also have had a keen interest in developing skills and technologies inside of our secondary school programs and that's part of our initiative.

We are also working with the colleges. For instance, in the most recent budget we extended the tax credits for cooperative programs with colleges and industry, again an attempt to make sure that our needs, from industry's point of view, are matched by what's going on in our colleges and in our schools.

Mrs Munro: Minister, you spoke of the need to update our programs to address these changes in the future. It's my understanding that last week you visited the Durham side of my riding. Having visited Durham College, could you give us any indication of their efforts to provide innovative programs that could assist in this impending skills shortage?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I had an opportunity last week to go to the first class to graduate from Durham College in a program that was designed to work in cooperation with the local school boards, with the federal government and the provincial government; a program that allowed students enrolled in a secondary school to attend the college, to pick up credits for their apprenticeship and complete the requirements for their high school diploma. Those students are well on their way both with the accreditation of a high school diploma and with the skills for those trades. This is a program designed by Durham College that will help all those students.

I also can point to a cooperation between St Clair College, the University of Windsor and Chrysler, which has just recently got back into the apprenticeship business and is working with the university and with the college to develop programs that will meet their needs and meet the needs of the students in Ontario. There's a lot of great work being done in our colleges.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship. Your government has worked hard to reverse all equal opportunity and anti-racism initiatives that have evolved in this province. You have eliminated employment equity and cut half the budget of the Ministry of Citizenship and all the anti-racism initiatives.

You have seen the vandalism that took place at the Munchy King restaurant in Scarborough. The culprits were motivated by racism. Tony McPherson opened a small West Indian restaurant only four months ago, and when he arrived to open it one morning he found the back door pried open, dishes smashed, furniture broken, tablecloths ripped and racist hate messages spray-painted across the walls.

The hate crime was a deliberate and malicious attack on a business owned by a person of colour. What has your ministry done to counter these types of actions?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I know there is a police investigation ongoing with respect to this particular incident, so it would not be appropriate for me to comment on any details of that particular incident.

However, I can tell you that discrimination is against the law in this province and certainly the Ontario Human Rights Commission is the appropriate body to deal with incidents of discrimination. We are ensuring that the Ontario Human Rights Commission is strengthened by protecting funding for the commission. I can tell you that this government is committed to eradicating all forms of discrimination from this province.

Mr Curling: Madam Minister, how can you stand in your place and say to us that you are committed when you have cut the budget for the anti-racism, wiped it out, as a matter of fact? How can you stand there and say to me and to the people of the province that we do not need employment equity, and then say, "We are committed"? Those are words; we want action. People out there see that this government does not protect the most vulnerable in society.

Your Attorney General whispered to you about, "It's under investigation, so therefore my hands are tied." Your hands seem to be tied when it comes to protecting those who need it most.

I would say to you that it's about time you started acting like a minister to protect the most vulnerable in our society, people who are being attacked in a racist attitude. You sit there and say, "We are now committed to human rights." You have cut the budget there.

Tell me, Minister, what you intend to do about this situation that is rampant in this province.

Hon Ms Mushinski: I can tell you that we won't raise taxes 33 times, as was done by that government, and we won't raise taxes 32 times, as was done by the other government, who denied Ontarians more opportunities because of their tax-and-spend policies of the last 10 years. That's the reason we have deficits, that's the reason we don't have opportunities, and that's the reason we're reforming the Ontario Human Rights Commission so we can deal with the backlog, because we know that justice delayed is justice denied, which is something you did for 10 years.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Labour. You have often said that you support the principle of pay equity. Your government has a very strange way of showing that. You've taken millions of dollars out of the pockets of the lowest-paid women; you've refused to pay money they are owed under the law, even; and you've attacked the pay equity law itself under Bill 26, abolishing the proxy method of pay equity that was established under the NDP government.

Minister, will you stop pretending that you support pay equity and tell us today what you are really up to? The women of this province are worried and want to know.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As the member opposite probably knows, we have conducted a review of the Pay Equity Act. Our objective is to ensure that we continue to have a pay equity system that is sustainable and will take us into the future. I would also indicate to you that this government has invested more money in pay equity than your government did.

Ms Churley: I wish we had more time to discuss that because -- how shall I put this? -- that is not my understanding of the amount of money this government has spent. I've asked the minister today to stop pretending on this issue --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for London North, that is not a proper statement to make. I ask you to withdraw.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I think you're stretching it, but I will withdraw it.

Ms Churley: The minister for women's issues should be sitting in her seat and supporting my question today, supporting me on pay equity for women, instead of sitting there, as always, defending this government taking away the rights of women in this province time after time. Shame on you, minister responsible for women's issues.

Minister of Labour, I'm asking you today to come right out and admit that you don't agree with laws guaranteeing fair pay for women. Instead of coming right out and repealing these laws, you're taking away women's rights bit by bit by bit as part of other initiatives.

Last year there was this comprehensive review of pay equity laws that you talked about. Many of the recommendations would be destructive and your government shouldn't act on them. Will you commit today that you will not take away pay equity rights --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Riverdale.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just again indicate to you that Mrs Read did a review, and we have personally indicated we are committed to the principles of pay equity. We have also committed to ensure that we continue with pay equity, that it is sustainable and that it is efficient. I would also indicate to you that this government invested $500 million into the broader public sector for pay equity. That is the largest amount that any government has ever contributed to fund pay equity.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Reader's Digest recently named the Trans-Canada Highway between Kenora and Vermilion Bay as one of Canada's five most dangerous highways. Minister, I wondered what your response was to this dubious distinction.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): It isn't one that I'm very proud of, but I want the member and all Ontarians to know that this section of highway is a priority for our government and is scheduled for improvements.

The ministry will be reconstructing this entire section of highway in three major projects. Last year we announced that a $6-million contract was awarded to improve the nine-kilometre section near Longbow Corners that was contaminated by PCBs in the late 1980s. This project will also be completed this summer, I might add.

The design for this section of road includes the realignment of the most difficult curbs, the widening of rock cuts and the construction of fully paved shoulders throughout. As well, a second contract to resurface 35 kilometres into the Vermilion Bay area is scheduled to be awarded later on this year.

As you can see, there is much work to be done and that is because of the neglect of the previous two governments, but we will commit to make sure that we spend the necessary dollars, even though --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Spina: In recent travels to northern Ontario as the parliamentary assistant to northern development, I noticed there were other northern highways in poor condition, but I also saw a number of construction vehicles, paving vehicles, going down the highway. Minister, I wondered if that's just sort of a blip on the radar screen, or can we look forward to these other highways being repaired as well?

Hon Mr Palladini: The improvement of northern Ontario highways is a priority for this government, as my colleague demonstrated a little while back. This year we have committed to spend $141 million, the largest sum of money ever allocated for highway improvements in the north. In the budget, this government increased spending on northern highways by $200 million over the next five years. That again shows our commitment. I want to say to the honourable member that other projects are also planned to improve this highway, and the increased funding accumulating in this year's budget over the next five years will certainly be spent on northern Ontario highways.

Again, I want to say that even though Ontarians contribute over $2 billion a year through gas and fuel taxes to the federal coffers, not one dollar is being reinvested by the federal government in Ontario, and in particular on northern Ontario highways. I challenge Mr Martin and Mr Chrétien to give Ontario its fair share of those funds.


Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, independent consultants have shown that the restructuring commission has seriously overestimated the savings to be made on hospital closures and has underestimated the impact these closures will have on the communities they serve.

The public protest against the closing of the Montfort in my riding has been joined by many experts who say even the public's interest is at stake. Languages commissioner Victor Goldbloom last week said that the closure or transfer of the only French-language hospital in Ontario would seriously jeopardize access to services for francophones in Ontario.

Minister, if the commission stands by its decision to close the Montfort, will you stand by your government's role as the protector of minority rights in this province? This is an easy question. All I need is a yes or a no.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member knows the answer, and that is, this government is fully supportive of the French Language Services Act and the protections it provides French-speaking people in this province, I think as good or better protections than we see throughout other parts of the country, and that's a real plus for Ontario.

The commission did make it clear and is making it as clear as it can in all of its public pronouncements I've heard that it very much respects and very much is keeping in mind the need to provide French-language services to the francophone community in Ottawa-Carleton.

I will make one correction to the honourable member's question, and that is, he talks about hospital closings as having something to do with saving money. From a government perspective, restructuring is not about saving money. I have never said that. None of my 82 colleagues have ever said that. It's about getting rid of waste and duplication in the system -- what nurses have told us for years -- reinvesting every penny and significantly more back into front-line services, more services for a growing and aging population. That's what it's about.

Mr Morin: Minister, I'm confused, as ever, whenever I ask a question to your minister for francophone affairs or when I ask a question to you. I still didn't get the answer that I really want to hear. It's really difficult to figure out where you stand on your own role in the restructuring exercise.

You claim an arm's-length relationship with the restructuring commission and yet your own deputy minister wrote to the commission to propose that the Montfort be absorbed into a new mega-hospital. It's hard to believe that her letter will not bear considerable weight, even when all the evidence suggests that her option is unworkable.

Your government has a responsibility to protect the interest of minorities. Minister, you have the power to reverse the decisions of the commission when the public interest is at stake. Will you admit that you do in fact have the ultimate say and will you promise to intervene, if necessary? Everybody counts on you.


Hon Mr Wilson: The answer to that is contained in the law of this province, and that is the Minister of Health cannot contravene or override a directive from the Health Services Restructuring Commission. That is clear in the law. You are free to take that law and share it with your constituents so that they understand the process.

Also part of the process: Every member in this House, every citizen of this province, including the Ministry of Health, which is a party to the process and an interested party to the process has the opportunity during that 30-day period between interim decisions of the commission and final directives of the commission to make a submission. I hope the honourable member took the opportunity during that period not to play politics but to come up with some data and facts to tell the commission what the right thing to do is in the Ottawa-Carleton area.

Again I say to the honourable member, the process is sealed in law and the honourable member should make himself aware of that law.



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 have affixed my signature.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I am pleased to present hundreds of more names to add to signatures of concerned citizens in Ontario about drunk driving from Nepean, Manotick and Ottawa, which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas drinking and driving is the largest criminal cause of death and injury in Canada;

"Whereas every 45 minutes in Ontario a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash;

"Whereas most alcohol-related accidents are caused by repeat offenders;

"Whereas lengthy licence suspensions for impaired driving have been shown to greatly reduce repeat offences;

"Whereas the victims of impaired drivers often pay with their lives while only 22% of convicted impaired drivers go to jail and even then only for an average of 21 days;

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

"We urge the provincial government to pass legislation that will strengthen measures against impaired drivers in Ontario."

I am happy to add my name to Ann Soucy, who collected these petitions, because I'm in complete agreement.


M. Gilles E. Morin (Carleton-Est) : J'ai une pétition à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que la recommandation de la Commission de restructuration des soins de santé en Ontario ordonne la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort et que cette décision constitue le rejet de la volonté de l'entière communauté francophone de la province et de la communauté de l'est ;

«Attendu que 40 % des francophones de la province de l'Ontario résident dans l'aire de service de l'hôpital Montfort, soit à l'est de l'Ontario, où la population connaît un des plus hauts taux de croissance de toute la province, que le comté de Russell n'a pas d'hôpital et qu'en plus, Montfort dessert le nord de l'Ontario, où le nombre de francophones est très élevé ;

«Attendu que la fermeture de Montfort éloigne et diminue grandement l'accessibilité à une salle d'urgences pour plus de 150 000 personnes ;

«Attendu que Montfort est le seul hôpital enseignement et de formation des professionnels de la santé en français en Ontario et que la fermeture du seul hôpital spécialisé, offrant une gamme complète de services en français, mènera à la dilution et, éventuellement, à la disparition des services de santé en français en Ontario ;

«Attendu que l'on fait disparaître l'hôpital qui a un des meilleurs rendements de la province et qui, pour fins de comparaison, constitue l'exemple de choix du ministère de la Santé ;

«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 l'emplacement actuel de l'hôpital et que soient consolidés la vocation, le mandat et le rôle essentiel que joue Montfort auprès de sa communauté.»


Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I have a petition signed by 480 people to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned, support our OPP, especially Sergeant Deane, in their testimony and actions taken at Ipperwash park;

"We believe all of the OPP acted properly in their line of duty."


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition which reads as follows:

"To the government of Ontario:

"Whereas the Conservative government has brought forward Bill 96, legislation which will effectively kill rent control in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Conservative campaign literature during the York South by-election stated that rent control will continue; and

"Whereas tenant groups, students and seniors have pointed out that this legislation will hurt those that can least afford it, as it will cause higher rents across most markets in Ontario; and

"Whereas this Conservative proposal will make it easier for residents to be evicted from retirement care homes; and

"Whereas the Liberal caucus continues to believe that all tenants, particularly the vulnerable in our society who live on fixed incomes, deserve the assurance of a maximum rent cap;

"We, the undersigned, demand that the Mike Harris government scrap its proposal to abandon and eliminate rent control and to introduce legislation which will protect tenants in the province of Ontario."

I affix my signature, as I'm in agreement.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario signed by 3,000 people, and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, support our OPP, and especially Sergeant Deane, in their testimony and action taken at Ipperwash park;

"We believe all of the OPP acted properly in their line of duty."


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition. It reads like this:

"Whereas the Conservative Party has broken its promise that it would not close hospitals in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party said it would not introduce user fees and proceeded to introduce $225 million in new user fees for seniors through the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that aid for the disabled would not be cut and proceeded to level millions of dollars in new user fees on the backs of the disabled; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised there would be no cuts to education and then proceeded to impose cuts which caused the cancellation of JK classes, the cancellation of special education programs and created larger classroom sizes; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party stated that there would be no cuts to law enforcement and then cut the budgets of Ontario police and courts by more than $100 million; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that there would be no cuts to the environment and has broken the promise by firing environmental inspectors and cutting the budget which protects the environment by over $100 million;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Conservative Party to cancel the last stage of the tax scheme which benefits the wealthiest people in Ontario the most and restore funding for programs which protect health care, education, seniors and the environment."

I have affixed my signature to this in full agreement.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It is my pleasure to present a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas pregnancy is not a disease, injury or illness;

"Whereas abortion is not therapeutic;

"Whereas abortion is never medically necessary;

"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require `elective procedures' to be funded;

"Whereas there is no right to publicly funded abortion;

"Whereas it is the responsibility and the authority of the province exclusively to determine what services will be insured;

"Whereas there is mounting evidence that abortion is hazardous to women's health;

"Whereas the availability of abortion at public expense leads to the use of abortion as a means of birth control;

"Whereas Ontario taxpayers funded over 45,000 abortions in 1993 at an estimated cost of $25 million;

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

"That the government remove abortion as a service or procedure covered under the provincial health insurance plan."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We are requesting that the Harris government not proceed with the proposed cuts to the child care system. These cuts will hurt children, parents, child care staff and local communities.

"Without standards, children will get lower-quality care. Without provincial funding for child care, regulated, non-profit child care services will collapse. Parents who want regulated care won't be able to access it. Parents on social assistance will be forced to enrol in workfare/learnfare programs or lose all their benefits. They will be left with no alternatives but to place their children in unsafe care. Communities also lose when jobs are lost and community investment disappears.

"The following voters are opposed to any cuts in licensed child care."

I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have yet another 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 affix my signature to it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The petition is to the government of Ontario:

"Since the Hotel Dieu Hospital has played and continues to play a vital role in the delivery of health care services in St Catharines and the Niagara region; and

"Since Hotel Dieu has modified its role over the years as part of a rationalization of medical services in St Catharines and has assumed the position of a regional health care facility in such areas as kidney dialysis and oncology; and

"Since the Niagara region is experiencing underfunding in the health care field and requires more medical services and not fewer services; and

"Since Niagara residents are required at present to travel outside of the Niagara region to receive many specialized services that could be provided in city hospitals and thereby not require local patients to make difficult and inconvenient trips down our highways to other centres; and

"Since the Niagara hospital restructuring committee used a Toronto consulting firm to develop its recommendations and was forced to take into account a cut of over $40 million in funding for Niagara hospitals when carrying out its study; and

"Since the population of the Niagara region is older than that in most areas of the province and more elderly people tend to require more hospital services;

"We, the undersigned, request that the government of Ontario keep the election commitment of Premier Mike Harris not to close hospitals in our province, and we call upon the Premier to reject any recommendation to close Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines."

I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement with the petition.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): "To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas black bear populations in Ontario are healthy with between 75,000 and 100,000 animals and their numbers are stable or increasing in many areas of the province; and

"Whereas black bear hunting is enjoyed by over 20,000 hunters annually in Ontario and black bears are a well-managed renewable resource; and

"Whereas bear hunting replaces natural mortality and reduces cannibalism among bears; and

"Whereas hunting regulations are based on sustained yield principles and all forms of hunting are needed to optimize the socioeconomic benefits associated with hunting; and

"Whereas the value of the spring bear hunt to tourist operators in northern Ontario is $30 million annually, generating about 500 person-years of employment; and

"Whereas animal rights activists have launched a campaign to ban bear hunting and end our hunting heritage in Ontario, ignoring the enormous impact this would have on the people of Ontario;

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

"That the Ontario government protect our hunting heritage and continue to support all current forms of black bear hunting."


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The petition is to the government of Ontario:

"Whereas the Conservative Party has broken its promise that it would not close hospitals in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party said it would not introduce user fees and proceeded to introduce $225 million in new user fees for seniors through the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that aid for the disabled would not be cut and proceeded to level millions of dollars in new user fees on to the backs of the disabled; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that there would be no cuts to education and then proceeded to impose cuts which caused the cancellation of junior kindergarten classes, the cancellation of special education programs, and created larger classroom sizes; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party stated that there would be no cuts to law enforcement and then cut the budgets of Ontario's police and courts by more than $100 million; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that there would not be cuts to the environment and has broken this promise by firing environmental inspectors and cutting the budget which protects the environment by over $100 million;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Conservative Party to cancel the last stage of its tax scheme, which benefits the wealthiest people in Ontario the most, and to restore funding for programs which protect health care, education, seniors and the environment."

I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement with this petition.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have yet another 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;

"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."



Mr Leach moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 135, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act and to make consequential amendments / Projet de loi 135, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la municipalité régionale de Waterloo et apportant des modifications corrélatives.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I move that pursuant to standing order 46 and notwithstanding any other standing or special order of the House relating to Bill 96, An Act to Consolidate and Revise the Law with respect to Residential Tenancies, when Bill 96 is next called as a government order, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill without further debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be referred to the standing committee on general government;

That the standing committee on general government shall be authorized to meet to consider the bill at its regularly scheduled meeting times during the weeks of June 9, 16 and 23;

That the standing committee further be authorized to meet to consider the bill for eight days during the summer recess;

That all amendments be tabled with the clerk of the committee by 5 pm seven calendar days following the final day of consideration during the summer recess;

That the committee be authorized to meet to consider the bill for two days of clause-by-clause during its regularly scheduled sessional meeting times; and that the committee be authorized to meet beyond its normal hour of adjournment on the second day until completion of clause-by-clause consideration;

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

That the committee shall report the bill to the House no later than the first sessional day that reports from committees may be received following the commencement of the second day of clause-by-clause consideration or no later than the first sessional day in November, whichever is earliest. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on the date provided, the bill shall be deemed passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House;


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

That one sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment;

That in the case of any division 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.

I'm pleased to address the House on the importance of this time allocation motion, which lets us start extensive public hearings on Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act. This proposed legislation takes a seriously flawed system of rent regulation and improves it for the benefit of all tenants, property owners and taxpayers in the province of Ontario.

We've identified the problems. We know that more than $10 billion in repair is needed to rental buildings. We know there are apartment buildings across this province that are poorly maintained. We know there is little or no investment in rental housing. We know that vacancy rates in many cities are low, leaving tenants with few choices about where to live.

We consulted extensively and we heard tenants suggest imposing the strictest rent controls imaginable, leaving property owners with no chance to break even, let alone make a profit. We heard property owners suggest eliminating the entire rent control system and all the regulations that go with it, leaving tenants totally unprotected. We left the extremes of both of these positions behind and introduced legislation that found a balanced middle ground, a balanced, fair and equitable act.

We had several objectives: We wanted to protect tenants from unfair rent increases; we wanted to improve maintenance and get tough on landlords who fail to take care of their buildings; we wanted to create a climate where people would invest in rental real estate; and we wanted to streamline the administration and create a faster, fairer system. We introduced legislation to address these objectives and we can't afford to wait any longer.

This time allocation motion is needed to move us through the legislative process. Our consultation has been extensive. We listened and we met with the tenant and landlord organizations as well as many other groups, including home builders, developers, social housing agencies and care home providers. We listened to their ideas and suggestions, and created a paper called Tenant Protection Legislation: New Directions for Discussion, which was released in June of last year. It outlined our proposed policy direction and asked for suggestions and comments.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Would you ascertain whether there is a quorum?

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Clerk, is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): Quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: Quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: To help gain the widest possible input, last summer we held extensive public hearings across the province. We travelled to Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Ottawa, Windsor, Hamilton, Peterborough, Kitchener and London as well as the hearings we held right here in Toronto. In total, we heard from more than 100 groups and individuals on rental issues and we received more than 200 carefully thought-out written submissions.

All this information, all this input was taken into account when we crafted Bill 96. It is now time to consult further. We believe it is important to move on to the committee stage and receive even more public comment on our proposed reforms. This time allocation motion would let us do exactly that. However, I would like to forestall any comment from the opposition parties that it indicates that we are trying to rush through debate on Bill 96. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I have said, we have already held weeks of public hearings on our discussion paper and we have already held three full days of second reading debate. I'm sure the members opposite would agree that public input is extremely important to producing the best bill possible.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): But you didn't listen before, or maybe Mr Turnbull is going to listen now.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, come to order.

Hon Mr Leach: We are eager once again to consult, to listen and to hear that public viewpoint.

We have already given this very important issue more debate than either of the two opposition parties gave their own rental legislation. The NDP, when debating Bill 121, felt only one day of debate in the House was sufficient. The two pieces of rental legislation introduced by the former Liberal government, Bill 11 and Bill 51, had a total of four hours of debate at second reading.

Ms Lankin: Al, don't you realize you can only do that if the opposition doesn't want to speak?

The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order.

Hon Mr Leach: This government has had double the number of hours for second reading than the opposition bills combined.

This time allocation motion allows the opposition one day for third reading. This is the same amount of time that was spent on the Liberals' Bill 51 and the same number of hours spent by the NDP on their Bill 121.

It is important to remember that the former governments of both my Liberal and NDP colleagues used time allocation motions on a regular basis. The NDP government used time allocation 23 times in its term, a high number when you consider that they didn't sit at all in the last year of their mandate. As a matter of fact, it was the NDP that created the time allocation standing order that we're using today.

The members of the third party have no credibility whatsoever when they say they do not want to try and delay the process. Indeed, they wasted millions of dollars and about 10 days of House time during their ill-conceived filibuster of Bill 103.

This House is very aware of the opposition's position on Bill 96. What is important now is to have the opportunity to go out and talk to tenants, talk to property owners and get their input, because this proposed legislation is for them.

Some economists believe that rent controls do not protect tenants. The Todd report, which I know you're very familiar with, Madam Speaker, found that most rent control units are close to market levels at the present time. Keeping rents artificially controlled protects the unit; it does not protect the tenants. We believe it should be the other way around. Our legislation will protect the individual, not the unit.

All tenants will be covered by the annual guideline increase and many other protections that they currently enjoy, but when they vacate the unit, the landlord and the new tenant will negotiate a new rent. That rent will also be capped by the annual guideline increase. In this way we will protect the tenants while allowing the market to maintain a fair rental level. This, along with all the other measures, will encourage better-maintained buildings, new supply and more jobs.

During the second reading debate, I know that my friends in opposition mentioned the Russell report. They stated that landlords have received an average of 10% return on their investment over the past number of years. I want to take the opportunity to clarify the record.

My colleagues opposite failed to mention that the Russell report is statistically invalid due to the small sample size: Only six buildings were examined. As a matter of fact, the authors of the Russell report wrote to us in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to inform us that it would be totally inaccurate to use their report to predict any type of financial return, and they were shocked that the members of the opposition would even think to do so.

In conclusion, the government has brought forth this time allocation motion in order to be very clear about our intentions with this piece of legislation. We are clear about the need for extensive public hearings. We are clear about the need for discussions with all interested parties. And we are clear about the need to improve the rental housing legislation in Ontario for the benefit of the tenant, the property owner and the Ontario taxpayer.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Madam Speaker, I ask for permission to share my time with the member for Windsor-Walkerville and the member for Scarborough North.

The Acting Speaker: Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr Bradley: I find interesting, first of all, the particular day that we are dealing with this piece of legislation, with the time allocation which rams through the end of rent control in Ontario. I suspect that there are a lot of people out there who don't know that this government is ending rent control. I suspect the developers know. I suspect those who own the huge apartment complexes in Toronto and other places know, and that they were there at the Tory fund-raiser to applaud this legislation. But I suspect that there are a number of senior citizens, a number of students, a number of vulnerable people and a number of people who don't fit any of those categories who are not aware that in fact the government today is bringing an end to rent control in this province. That is unfortunate.

If the government were upfront, if the government said in its platform, "We're here to end rent control; this is what we are going to do," and they spelled it out at the beginning, we could still oppose it in opposition with some considerable virtue, but it would at least be a situation where the government was not trying to sneak something through. Here the government is on election day, when the Legislative Assembly has normally not been in session and members have been in their constituency offices or being able to vote in their constituencies -- of course, the government portrays it somewhat differently.

I read an account where the government House leader -- they like to use this, and it is a misinterpretation. I thought of another word, but you can't use it in the House. It's a misinterpretation of the rules of this House or of what is really going on. The government House leader says, of course, "We're going to make members work like everybody else." Funny thing, though. Last Thursday and the Thursday before, in the House leaders' meeting, they said, "If only you people in the opposition will simply let this bill go through without any further debate, then we will not be sitting next Monday." So much for the nonsense of the government House leader pretending that this had anything to do with so-called working on election day. It had everything to do with the fact that the government wanted to get this bill through as quickly as possible so people didn't see the ramifications of it.

Here the government is, ending rent control. You know, I can remember that a lot of senior citizens in this province were attracted by certain portions of the Conservative program. When they were out putting the boots to the people on welfare or people receiving social assistance, when they were misconstruing legislation passed by a previous government and saying, "No quotas," and trying to set that out to inflame people -- by the way, those little signs were there in the last week of the election campaign, if anyone is wondering where the Reform Party got the idea for those little inflammatory messages that appear on signs. The Conservative Party did that. The Mike Harris party did that in the last provincial election.

Some of those seniors might have been attracted by some of the policies and pronouncements of the Conservative Party, but little did they know that they would be paying part of the cost of their prescriptions, for instance, and that in fact the government would be interpreting one year when only nine months had gone by and requiring them to pay once again. I'm sure most of those seniors didn't know that rent control is going to end for any senior citizens or others who move from one apartment to another in this province. So people will in effect, if they want to avoid those kinds of increases, be prisoners in their own home.

If this bill were dealing with some genuine problems out there for landlords, then one would say the Legislature would consider it perhaps with some sympathy. I can't think of anybody who doesn't feel sorry for a landlord who owns a fourplex or a sixplex who has a tenant who refuses to pay; who has a tenant who destroys the property that is there; who has a tenant who is disruptive to others. Everybody in the Legislature wants to see that the good tenants are treated appropriately and that those who are not good tenants are subject to the recourse of the law.

But that's not what this bill is about. That's not what this bill is about at all. This bill is about caving in to the big developers in this province. There are a lot of small landlords who own small properties in this province who have encountered some problems, and I think people are sympathetic to trying to rectify those problems. What they're not sympathetic to is simply caving in to the huge developers who put pressure on this government, and that's what they've done. Seniors in this province who may be watching this afternoon will be alarmed to know that this Conservative-Reform government that we have in Ontario is in fact going to end rent control for them.

Second, and as insidious, is the provision that there is going to be much easier conversion from what we call rental properties, the huge rental properties, to condominium properties. That's most unfortunate, because that's going to reduce the amount of rental stock in the province. The theory that the minister puts forward that somehow rental stock will increase because everybody is now going to go out and build apartment buildings is simply not going to hold water.

The second reason it won't is that people really don't believe that subsequent governments won't possibly reimpose rent control. If that's the reason they're talking about, if they think they're going to generate more rental housing in this province, they are not. In fact, we are going to have fewer rental units in this province for people who require them than we had before.

Seniors, many of whom are on a fixed income, are going to be stuck with huge increases in rents as the market tightens. Students, who must move almost yearly because of their educational requirements, often cannot afford to keep the apartment for the summer months, three or four months in the summer, they too are going to be hit by this and they are going to see their costs increase at the very time that this government has drastically increased tuition fees for people in this province, again bringing about a situation where the rich and the privileged will be fine, thank you, but people of modest income will not enjoy the same privileges and the same rights as others. I consider that to be most unfortunate.

So when I look at this bill, I see this bill as a deception. The bill itself is a deception. I can't say anything about the people who are doing it because, as I say, the rules do not permit that, and I don't want to do that in any event.

Lauren, from St Catharines-Brock, has just provided me with a drink of water -- thank you, Lauren -- to allow for a little more discussion of this.

So it's most unfortunate, but I think it is instructive to note that it's on election day when they are hiding behind this. You see, if you want to judge a government, you judge a government based on what it does when nobody is looking, or when it thinks nobody is looking, and today, naturally, attention in the political field is diverted to the federal field because there is a federal election on today. So members of the news media are not here in great numbers and the public is probably preoccupied with other items, justifiably so, today. And when it feels it has no attention, the government sneaks through an end to rent control, killing rent control in this province. On the same day, it tries to slip in some rule changes to the Legislative Assembly.

Now the extreme right-wingers, such as my friend the member for Scarborough East, who would like to change the rules of this House so you run it like a virtual dictatorship, are going to be pleased with this. He's going to say, "Aren't we smart. Aren't we clever. If we put this through today, we can have a smirk as wide as our faces on it." But you know, some of the people on the government benches who have served in opposition, or some who simply have a high regard for the democratic system, are going to be very disturbed with the proposals that you see before us today.

The member should know that when this happens we should have as many members in the House as possible, and that's why I'm wondering if we have a quorum at this time. Would you check?


The Acting Speaker: Clerk, is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay appropriately notes that the Reform Party is in some trouble in Muskoka-Georgian Bay without him there to run the campaign, as he did in the last federal election. I know he was very instrumental in that regard. The people in Muskoka-Georgian Bay who are Reformers should know that the member is here today. I don't know if there's some wavering in support and he's going over to the Tories now, but something is happening there. My friend the member for Scarborough East will be helpful in letting me know what happens.

What we're seeing happening today, by the way, in terms of the rules, and this is part of the rules we have today, we're dealing with a time allocation motion. The government doesn't want any more debate on the rent control abolishment legislation, so it has decided it's going to pass a motion this afternoon, which by virtue of its majority it can always carry, to terminate that debate. The purpose of the debate is to allow the public to know what the issues are surrounding a piece of legislation. It is a very valuable tool for the opposition to use to make certain the public is aware of the ramifications of all the provisions of a piece of legislation.

I know there are members in the government benches who have sat in opposition who must be very concerned in their heart of hearts about the proposals we've seen through the auspices of the member for Nepean. I don't for a moment believe that the member for Nepean drew up these proposed rule changes. The member for Nepean was in fact used by the Premier's office and apparently is prepared to comply, because he has put his name to this. But make no mistake about it: The rule changes in procedure in this House that this government wishes to implement came from the Premier's office; they came from those very clever people who are not elected, who didn't have to go to the polls, who are so very clever, because they go down to meet with Newt Gingrich and the Republican guard down in the States and they all exchange stories about how clever they are and how clever they can be in dealing with the Legislature.

It seems to me that if you begin to roll the tanks over the rights of the opposition in this Legislature, then democracy is the loser. You can pass a lot of bills, you can pass a lot of motions, you can change a lot of policies, but what has ramifications for the long term are changes to the rules of this House. One of the unfortunate aspects of rule changes, one aspect that I think is important, is that you must know that future governments will not change the rules back.

I would like to be able to stand in this House and say that if one of the opposition parties were elected in the next election, these rules would be changed back to the way they are or made more accommodating to the opposition. I've never seen that happen yet. That simply does not happen. That's why members of the government who really care about the democratic process should be very wary of these kinds of rule changes.

The last government that was in power made some significant changes to the rules. It now has to live with those. It means that those of us in opposition even today have fewer opportunities and rights than was the case previous to those rule changes. I remember that those of us who were opposed to those rule changes warned the government members of the day that they would rue the day they allowed those changes to take place.

Another clever thought in the minds of the people who advise the Premier is, "Well, don't worry, Premier, because the news media won't be interested in these," because the reporters will go to their editors and say: "Well, what does this mean to the people outside of this House? Why should people outside of the Legislative Assembly care about the rule changes anyway?"

Well, they are extremely important. They're important to the process. I go back to Bill 26, a mammoth, massive government bill that some referred to as a bully bill. The reason they called it a bully bill was because it concentrated so much power in the hands of unelected officials and in the hands of a very few cabinet ministers. The government was prepared to ram that bill through before Christmas, and certainly had the majority to do so, and even under the existing rules was able to do so. The opposition had to take extraordinary action to prevent the government from doing so, had to in effect bring the Legislature, for a temporary period of time, to a halt so there could be appropriate discussions and a way found to process the bill with the necessary input from the public.

The question wasn't whether the government had the right to pass the bill; it did. The question wasn't whether the government had the majority to pass the bill; it clearly had a massive majority to pass the bill. The question was about a bill which dealt with about 48 different acts of the Legislature, a massive, as we called it, omnibus -- and some people called it ominous -- bill that was going to take away from elected members of the Legislature, the only people the public can get at, and give massive powers to unelected members of the Premier's staff. That's why we in the opposition saw this as being a very important piece of legislation to receive further consideration.

I wonder how many government members like the fact that the bill created a so-called hospital restructuring commission, a commission that is now going from municipality to municipality in the province closing hospitals despite the fact that Premier Harris, as Conservative leader in May 1995, during the leaders' debate said, "Certainly I can guarantee you it is not my plan to close hospitals." Then we see the government elected and they bring in Bill 26, a massive bill which gives to the hospital restructuring commission the power to walk in and close hospitals in every community in Ontario, clearly a provincial responsibility and clearly one which was created by this bill.

The bill was going to pass before Christmas, and again, this government has a knack of being able to find times when they think the public is not really listening to try to put through controversial legislation. But the opposition prevented that and caused hearings to be held in various municipalities across Ontario as well as here at the Legislature, extensive hearings which resulted in the government itself making 150 amendments to its own bill. There's a bill that would have gone through virtually unamended if it were not for the action of the opposition, extraordinary as it was, to prevent the Legislature from proceeding with that legislation.

I know we've got some people in here from the business sector, where they simply snap their fingers in their small business and they're able to get what they want. Maybe that's the way it should be in their business. I don't object to that. That's a different venue; it's a different circumstance. I think things always work best when you consult the people with whom you work and when you look at the ramifications of what you're doing. But it's a different circumstance to be dealing with the private sector and private business than it is with public business before this House.

I think truly thoughtful members of the government caucus will look at the proposed changes and think about the fact that some day they might be in opposition, or not even think about that but think: "Is this wise for the democratic process? Can we not wait a few more days? Can we not sustain perhaps what we don't like as inconvenient actions by the opposition just a little longer to get the legislation through, to allow it to be subjected to more scrutiny?" If it requires changes, perhaps some of the government members will quietly make those recommendations to the government and say, "You know, the opposition has a point here; I'm not going to get up in the House as a government member and embarrass the government, but I think they've got a point," and go to the Conservative caucus meeting and say, "We think these changes should be made."


Without that kind of opportunity for the opposition, this will not happen. Will the House be more efficient for the Premier's staff? It will. Will Guy Giorno be happier? He will. Will Tom Long be delighted? Most certainly. Will all the people who advise the Premier think this is good? Yes, they will. But it's not good for the democratic process.

That's what we're elected to do, to deal with things democratically. It's sometimes cumbersome. I don't want to be so profound or historical as to quote extensively Winston Churchill, but we all recall what Winston Churchill said in criticizing the democratic system, that it was cumbersome and far from perfect, but it was the best system we had.

There are many countries in the world that have much more efficient parliaments than we have; there are many jurisdictions that have more efficient parliaments. But I don't think they provide better government to the people they represent as a result of the --


The Acting Speaker: Take your seat for a moment. Order, please. Could I ask the members of the House to come to order, please. It's just far too noisy. The noise level has gone right up.

Mr Bradley: When these matters of changing the democratic system, these matters of bringing in rent control termination are not discussed during an election campaign, one becomes worried. The public may react to some inflammatory statements that are made, some easy slogans, some so-called hot button issues that make us immediately angry. But they must always look, when voting -- whether it's a provincial, federal or local election, but it applies most particularly federally and provincially -- at the entire package. You can't simply cherry-pick. You can't simply say, "I like this one because it's going to get those criminals" or "I like that one because it'll teach those French people in Quebec something." You can't do that.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Be careful.

Mr Bradley: You have to be careful, as the member for Lake Nipigon says.

Mr Pouliot: And a former Quebecker.

Mr Bradley: And a former Quebecker, as he notes.

You've got to watch that because you've got to look at what else is in the package. While you may be angry on a particular day, as I think many people were in June 1995, angry enough to elect a government which pushed some hot buttons for them -- one of the hot buttons was not rent control. Nobody mentioned to the people I know, the seniors I know, that the government would be ending rent control for anybody who had to move or chose to move from one rental accommodation to another, or make it easier for developers to convert their massive buildings from rental accommodation which was approved by the municipality to what we call condominiums, which of course is a different circumstance that some who live in those rental buildings could not afford.

This government is essentially in so many instances catering to the rich and the privileged in the province, and dividing the province so those at the very top economically are going to be much better off than those at the bottom. We cannot guarantee as a Legislature, we cannot guarantee as parliamentarians that everyone is going to be able to drive a Cadillac, that everyone's going to live in a $5-million home, that everyone's going to be able to take a vacation in Aruba or Switzerland, but one thing we can do is guarantee that there's a reasonable social safety net, that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected by legislation and regulations passed by this House and by the cabinet. That is our role; that is our responsibility.

The rich and the privileged can look after themselves. They have the wherewithal; they have the money; they have the position; they have the power. This is not to say that one should ignore what any segment of society has to say or the needs of any segment of society, but the people in the category I've described are by and large able to look after themselves. This government is increasing the gap between the richest people in the province and the poorest people in the province.

We will all pay that consequence -- not just a few people; everyone will pay that consequence -- because as the people on the bottom economic rung become more desperate, as they see that they are unable to cope with the circumstances they face, as they see some people getting richer and richer and richer while their lot is not increased measurably or may decrease, they are going to increasingly be desperate enough to turn to other ways of advancing themselves. Some of those ways may not be legal and some of those ways may not be ethical, but while one will never be able to condone those circumstances where people take the law into their own hands or break the law, one would certainly then understand, as this government increases the gap between the rich and the poor, what is happening.

It is important. Today is another day that we are voting, but in thinking of 1995, it's important that one look at all of the package when you have people out there proposing things to you that sound very attractive. We saw an example of that the other day when a bill was introduced by a Conservative member of the Legislature which would in effect remove the Rand formula. In other words, it was a piece of legislation, the Rand formula provisions, brought in by a Conservative government, a pretty moderate, middle-of-the-road, slightly-right-of-centre Conservative government. A newly elected Conservative member of the Legislature was bringing in a law that would have drastically changed labour laws in this province to the detriment of unionized workers in Ontario.

Probably many of those unionized workers voted for the candidates for this government because they liked some of the issues they talked about. One always has to look at that and say: "What is behind the open-necked shirt? What is behind the denim? What is behind the down-home discussions and way of speaking?"

Mr Pouliot: A very mean government.

Mr Bradley: It's a very mean government, as suggested by my friend the member for Lake Nipigon. Very often one must look carefully at the entire platform of parties that appear to be attractive and work to make us angry against the system or against other people in our society. If they had looked in 1995, they would have found rent control being abolished by this government, although they would have had to have a magnifying glass to find any particular reference to that in this government's platform. They would have to look at the major changes to labour legislation.

As I say, while I don't agree with some of the government legislation which is brought in, if it was clearly in the platform -- my friend the member for St Catharines-Brock and I have been on some platforms together, where he has presented the government's point of view and I an opposition point of view, and we allow people to make the choice. Where he has said to people, "Here is what we said in our platform. Here's what we propose. Here's what we're doing," then the debate isn't over, "You didn't say you were going to do that," the debate is over whether that's valid to do that. That's a fair debate. He makes his case and I make my case and the audience has a chance to choose. That's a good democratic process. We both enjoy doing that, I'm sure, making those points to people. There are occasions when sometimes it's probably not as amicable as we would both like.

When the government didn't mention something or hid it somewhere and then it appears as government policy, that's when there's justification for making the kind of accusation we have today, that here on election day the government's doing two things: (1) hiding its rent-control-ending legislation, trying to spirit it through the House this afternoon with a time allocation or closure of debate motion, and (2) proposing drastic and totally unacceptable changes to the rules of procedure of this House, which I think would severely damage the system we have.

I should say as well that the amount of consultation is important. I know to some members it appears to be irrelevant. What concerns me a lot is that governments -- I'll put it in the plural and I'll make it generic -- tend to go out and conduct public hearings and not often reflect what they heard in those public hearings. It's probably a misuse of the committee system to do that, but I still think it's important, even if governments don't have that intention, to allow people their day in court. I know it takes a little more time.


I think of the Workers' Compensation Board legislation. I got a call from people in St Catharines who wanted to be able to make representations somewhere in the Niagara region. St Catharines is the largest community and probably a reasonable place. The government has allocated only six days for public hearings on its Workers' Compensation Board bill. I know there was some consultation that Mr Jackson, the member for Burlington South, conducted with people, and that was on some general ideas, but here we have a specific bill. When a government comes in and says, "You have six days to make representations on major changes," that's just too quick.

You've got a five-year mandate. You haven't even completed two years yet. If you want to brag -- people in government do brag and there's nothing wrong with that -- about what you're doing, and I make this in reference to the proposed rule changes, you've probably passed more legislation, with the rules that exist, since you've been in government than any other government in that period of time. Yet you've got somebody who wants to ingratiate himself to the Premier allowing his name to be placed on rule changes to this House. You have passed that legislation. I may disagree with some of it, others in society may disagree with some of it, but there's no question you've passed it and there's no question that as a government you're entitled to do so. We hope to persuade you, when you are wrong, that you are wrong. That's part of the process. Perhaps you'll agree sometimes, most of the time you likely won't agree, but that's what this process is about.

I am deeply disturbed when I see the provisions of the rent control legislation that we see here. As I mentioned previously -- some of the other members have alluded to this during the debate -- we all recognize that some of the smaller landlords have had some problems and I think people are sympathetic to addressing those. That's who you will trot out. You'll say, "What about the poor landlord?" and we'll say, "Indeed. What about the person with a sixplex out there who has someone who is wrecking the apartment and won't pay the rent and is disruptive?"

Nobody here is sympathetic to that, I can assure you of that. They're sympathetic to the landlord in that circumstance. If you can fix legislation which would help those landlords out, I think you'd find a pretty good consensus in this House. But if you stick it in as part of a package that abolishes rent control when someone wants to move from one rental residence to another, then it's not going to receive that support. That's really what this is all about.

You're really going to put people at the mercy of an ever-constricting market. In some communities you won't notice a difference immediately. I hear people say, "In my municipality the vacancy rate is higher than it's been for a while," but when you allow these condominium conversions, from rental to condominium accommodation, and when the market generally tightens, because I don't see people running out, with this legislation, to build new rental accommodation, then you're going to see those rents increase substantially.

This is not, as you characterize it, a tenant protection package; this is a developer protection package. These policies do not strengthen rent control; they in effect end rent control. Everything that knowledgeable tenants who have been watching the situation have feared about this government is now coming true.

We intend to fight this through the committee process, through third reading, hoping to persuade the government to abandon this unfortunate and unwise initiative.

Mike Harris made two promises, as I recall, to Ontario's three million tenants: (1) rent control will continue, and (2) any reforms he would bring to rent control would result in lower rents for tenants. This package in effect breaks both of the Premier's promises.

The spin doctors, the government relations people, the people who are paid well by the government to put out the government message are sometimes successful in putting this out. They like to say, "One thing you can say about this government is they're doing what they said they were going to do." In some instances that's the case, but they've broken a lot of promises. I defy anybody on the government benches to tell me how Mike Harris keeps his promises through this piece of legislation.

Remember those two promises to Ontario's three million tenants: (1) rent control will continue -- in fact it will not; if anyone moves out of an apartment, rent control is gone -- and (2) any reforms he would bring to rent control would result in lower rents for tenants. That remains to be seen. I doubt that very much, if we look at the five-year period ahead.

The area of great concern to those of us in opposition is the element of the package that removes rent control from an apartment when it becomes vacant. Simply put, when a tenant moves out of an apartment the landlord can raise the rent on the apartment as high as the landlord wishes. It's called vacancy decontrol. Because the incentive is going to be there, it can lead to where in some of the huge buildings the landlord will intimidate tenants and the tenants will become prisoners in their own apartments.

With approximately 20% of tenants moving each year, vacancy decontrol will see a gradual rise in overall rent levels. It is the method of the Conservative-Reform government, as I call you over there, of killing rent controls, and it's the back-door way of doing it. It's not even up front. It's not even saying it straightforwardly to people; it's doing it through the back door, which is most unfortunate.

You claim, as a government, at least your minister does, that the policy will result in more apartments being built and an overall improved level of maintenance in buildings, yet we have no research at all provided by the government to prove that this will be the case. In fact vacancy rates in cities like Toronto today are only one-half of a percentage point below the level they were before rent controls were put in place 20 years ago by the Conservative government of Bill Davis.

Clearly you people did not listen to tenants when you drafted this policy. During the consultations scheduled in the summer, we want to ensure tenants are informed of the harm in this policy and make sure you hear tenants' concerns loudly and clearly.

Tenants are being done in by this group of Conservatives who sit in the House today. I suspect with the Davis government this wouldn't have happened. We had a more moderate complexion to the government in those days.

Indeed I was just thinking today how some of the government House leaders over the years -- I think of my friend Bob Welch, the member for Lincoln at one time and then St Catharines-Brock. He was government House leader and he was a man who recognized the needs of the opposition and the importance of democracy. I wonder what Bob Welch would think of this package. Tom Wells, a very accommodating individual, easy to work with, wanted to know how the views of the opposition could be accommodated. I see his photograph in the government House leader's office and I know he must be concerned in his heart of hearts when he hears how the government is going to severely restrict even further the opportunities for members of the opposition to make their case.

Some people believe the debate that takes place in the House is frivolous, time-consuming, and some would even say a waste of time, but you have to remember it often takes a little while for the public to become accustomed to and aware of the provisions of pieces of legislation. The Conservative Party, in opposition, utilized that. The Conservative Party, in opposition, used the time available in the House and the rules that were available to draw to the public's attention matters of concern to them when there was an NDP government in power and a Liberal government in power. Yes, members on the government benches, I can remember some of my colleagues when we were in government as the Liberal Party, particularly the newly elected members who had never sat in the House, expressing their frustration and impatience with the opposition; and yet, as an individual who had had that experience previously, I would explain the process the opposition was going through and why ultimately it was beneficial to the legislation and to the people we serve in the province, because we would have a full canvassing of those issues.


I ask people out there when they are looking, as they did in 1995, at the platform of a government when it comes out with a few hot-button issues, when it gets you angry with certain groups in our society, when it has some simplistic and simple answers to complicated issues, to look beyond the veneer, look beyond the curtain to see what is lurking behind. What agenda is there behind which will affect ordinary people in this province, the average person in this province? If you do so and you cast your ballot knowing that, that's quite valid.

I suspect that during the last election, people who lived in apartments and are surprised by what's happening today, that category of person who lives in a rental accommodation and is surprised by this piece of legislation, may not have read the full platform or questioned the government members when they were opposition people running for office, or they would have known what this government was going to do to tenants across this province by abolishing rent control.

I know my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville, who has done considerable work on this legislation, who delivered an excellent speech on it previously in the House and has directed pointed questions to the minister, will want to elaborate further on the provisions of this bill and the reasons why we in the Liberal Party are opposed to the abolishing of rent control that the Conservative government of Mike Harris is going through at this time.

I hope as well that members and the public will remember that this is being done, slipped through, sneaked in the back door, on election day when people are occupied with something else. If you're proud of it, do it up front. If you think it's the right policy, announce it on a day when everybody can see and hear it. I go back to a point of judgement. I always like to judge governments on what they do when they think nobody is looking, because that's the true agenda of a government. If they're prepared to do it up front, if they're prepared to say, "We're going to abolish rent control because we think it'll be better for the province" or "We have listened to the developers and the huge landlords in this province who say it's better and we're responding to that," if they say that, then at least they're being up front. But when you sneak it in today through the back door, then we in the Liberal Party are very concerned.

We would oppose the legislation in any event because we don't think it's good for the province. We think it's particularly onerous on senior citizens, on people with disabilities, on people with modest incomes and on university and college students in this province. We think it's particularly difficult for those people, and I'm told in senior citizens' homes there are some who have concerns that have to be looked at. I am very concerned about that. I think that's why we needed more debate in this House, not a lot more debate but more debate. That's why I believe we need more extensive hearings than the government is prepared to grant, so people can make those representations, so they can see what the final consequence will be of this government's actions.

To the government members I say keep in mind what people have told you. Yes, you have people who are opposed to you. That will always be the case, but some of your supporters very sincerely have said to you that you're moving too quickly, too drastically and you're not looking at the consequences of your actions. That is the case with this bill, and most assuredly that is going to be the case if you implement and impose the new rules that Mike Harris's team of experts, the unelected people in the Premier's office, have proposed for this House.

I want to yield the floor to my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville, who will continue this case.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Are we rotating here?

Mr Marchese: We're not rotating.

The Acting Speaker: I'll just give you a moment to work it out.

Mr Marchese: Madam Speaker, I would like unanimous consent to divide my time with the members for Welland-Thorold, Riverdale, yourself, and Beaches-Woodbine.

The Acting Speaker: Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr Marchese: We tend to agree on these things.

Let's be clear about what this time allocation motion is all about. It's an attempt to extinguish the life of the opposition. It's an attempt to extinguish the opposition of such people as Michael Walker, who is here today, a councillor from the city of Toronto who lives in the riding of M. Saunderson, the member for Eglinton, who is the Minister for Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Michael Walker, who is not unknown in those Conservative circles, has been fighting this particular bill from its inception. Why is he doing that? Because people like him know the dramatic effect it is going to have on the seniors of his riding. That's why he's here today, to listen to the debate we're having and wanting to know what the minister said and surely wanting to know what we have to say, because I believe we in the opposition reflect his views and the views of the people he represents in that riding.

When Minister Leach stands up to talk about the fact that this closure motion will allow for further consultation, I say it's disingenuous and I'll tell you why. We've had four weeks of public hearings on this very issue, not on an act but on a package, the tenant protection package, so called. Why do I say the minister's comments are disingenuous? They are because after four weeks of hearings on this very issue, which this bill reflects, M. Leach didn't listen at all. If anything, he listened to the developers and to the rich landlords who came in front of the committee. He didn't listen to people like Michael Walker who came to depute in our committee, who came and said, "Keep rent control because it's the best protection our tenants have."

Mr Leach and all the other underlings over there didn't listen. The Harrisites in that committee, listening to 70% of the people who came to speak against this bill, didn't listen. So M. Leach stands up again and again saying he wants time allocation so he can go back and present this bill to the public. If he didn't listen before, I ask those who are watching, why would you believe M. Leach and M. Beaubien, who is yawning, would listen again? They wouldn't be listening because the evidence before us is that if they didn't listen then, they're likely not to listen again.

You've got to look at the facts when you, as people watching, are deciding on issues of credibility. Does this government, member for Kitchener, I ask you, have any credibility when having taken that package that was called the tenant protection package, designed clearly to help tenants -- if it does nothing for tenants and you then listen to 70% of the deputations, mon ami, and they don't listen at the end, does the government have any credibility? Of course not. How could it?

You've got to look at the evidence. You can't simply listen to M. Leach and say, "Oh, he sounds reasonable." It doesn't matter that he sounds reasonable, that he speaks the language of balance, that he speaks about fixing a problem as if somehow tenants are going to be fixed through this; it doesn't matter that he uses such language because what counts is what the bill says and what they did before with that package.


Clearly the only people M. Leach listens to are the developers, because those are the ones who have got the cash, those are the people who have the bread to help Mr Leach out. You don't think M. Leach and the developers have met frequently over lunch to talk about how they'd fix the tenants, and restore balance to the poor landlord who is starving, who is not making enough money? Do you believe him? Does the minister have any credibility in this regard? I say no.

Look at Leach. He comes today and says, "These poor landlords" --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, just come to order a minute. I remind the member to refer to the minister as the Minister of Housing or by his riding.

Mr Marchese: Merci, Madame. I appreciate the intervention and I will remember to refer to M. Leach as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The minister comes today again and says, "These poor people, these poor landlords are not making enough money." He does it over and over again. Do you, listeners, do you, Mr Walker, believe that these landlords are not making enough money? If they weren't, would they be in the business? Of course not. They're making lots of money.

The person who did this study is J.J. Barnicke, no less. Do you think he's a friend of mine? No, he's one of the most well-known commercial property real estate people in Canada. He's the guy who says that the landlords are doing okay, that they're making a good return; in fact, a 10% to 15% return. Do you think this man is wrong -- a well-known commercial realty person and a friend of M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who is a friend of developers, not tenants?

This poor man comes arguing today that these poor landlords are starving, literally saying that. He said today that they're barely breaking even. It's on the record. What do you think happened? They have a couple of lunches together, possibly dinners, I'm sure in a lot of Italian restaurants because Italian restaurants are very good, in downtown Toronto especially, and throughout. That's where they would meet to iron things out, to restore balance to those poor landlords who are starving. They work it out and they talk about how they can help each other. That's what this is all about.

Then the Minister of Municipal Affairs says, "We need this because people need choices." What does it mean that they need choices? I presume this poor minister, this besieged, beleaguered minister means that the private sector all of a sudden is going to build housing galore for the poor, the working poor, working people, middle-class people. I presume that's what he means. Don't you agree with me, Madam Speaker? I think that's what he means.

But we were told by his developer friends, his landlord friends -- M. Lampert, the economist they hired to do that study, even agrees with us that there will be very little developed. Why? You know why. They know why. Developers will not build housing if there is no profit that comes back to them. The Speaker knows that.


Mr Marchese: Madam Minister of Culture, they build housing for the well-to-do. That's why we have a glut of condominiums on the market. They build for people like that because there's enough of a wealthy population in Ontario that wants that kind of stuff, but the developer doesn't build if the rate of return isn't sufficient to build for those who are in real need.

The people in real need are those seniors whose income has dropped over the years. Why has it dropped? Because when you become a senior, you lose your income power and you don't have a whole lot of money any more. These are the people who are going to be hurt and need housing. People with disabilities are already disfranchised from all layers of political and social life. These people need housing. Working people, whose income power is being gradually reduced by the policies of this Conservative, Reform-minded government, need housing.

There is going to be a whole population sector in Ontario that's going to desperately look for affordable and accessible housing, and they're not going to get it, because M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, says, "We're getting out of the housing business." The minister says he's getting out. The private sector, through Mr Lampert, their economist, says they're not going to build any housing. The people who came in front of our committee as deputants said it's none of their business, none of their affair if housing does not get built for those who need it because they're not necessarily there, as governments should be, to make sure housing is provided for those who need it.

We've got a whole set of people who are saying they're out of that business: M. Leach, the minister; developers, who have said, "We're not building for the poor, it's not our business." If that is so, who's left?

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Carrying on what you did.

Mr Marchese: Who's left, Steve, to build for those people? They don't care, and when we say they don't care, they say, "You don't have a monopoly on caring." We don't want a monopoly on caring. We want you to share that responsibility with us. We want you to be building housing, and if you're not going to build it because you don't give a damn, how are you going to make sure your friends are going to build when they clearly tell us there isn't enough money for them to build for those low-income people?

What role do you have as a government if not to care for those who are disfranchised by your policies and by the private market out there, which doesn't give a damn about those people left on the outside of economic and social life? If governments are no longer there to take on that responsibility to care for those who are marginalized, disfranchised by the private sector and by your policies, who's going to be there to help them?

Because they say they don't care either. They say: "You make it or you don't make it in this system. It's not our fault. And if you don't make it, it is your fault for not making it." This kind of capitalism doesn't necessarily speak to those needs. Capitalism doesn't give a damn about people's needs, it gives a damn about profits, and these are their messengers. This Tory government is the instrument of that message.

These are the foot soldiers here proclaiming the privileges of the free market system -- not only the privileges but the wonders of the free market system. I tell you, when you leave the free market system to do its evil deeds, a whole lot of people are going to be shut out. They are.

Let me go on, because they say, "We've got a problem we've got to fix." M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, says: "It's broken. We've got to fix it." What does he mean? What he means is: "I'm taking sides as a minister. I'm with the landlords, and you, opposition, NDP, are with the tenants." We proudly say yes, we are, and they proudly say they are with the landlords. They said it in this House; it's on the record. They care about landlords, not about tenants.

When they say they need $10 billion worth of repairs, I argue with that number because I'm not sure that is real, but if it were real, my point is this, Minister: Under the Liberal government, when they had rent review, we saw rents skyrocket, from 10% to 110% in many cases. That's why we introduced rent control: to prevent those kinds of insanities from happening. But even in those dirty years where landlords made a whole heap of money, what did they do with those dollars? Why did they not put that money back into restoration of their buildings? Why did they not do that rather than take the money they were making from poor tenants and invest it somewhere else as their buildings become dilapidated and then blame the NDP and their policies for that?


Tenants know better. Tenants know, because I heard them in our rent protection package hearings, where they said what I am saying now: For years landlords have made money; how did they spend it? Open up your books and show us how you've shored up those buildings that are falling apart. For 20 years those buildings were falling apart. Finally they get a government such as the NDP, which brings about rent control, and they say: "Oh, my God, it's rent control that's bringing down our buildings. They're falling apart because of rent control." They were falling apart 20 years ago. The member for Lake Nipigon knows this. All of a sudden they have an NDP government they can blame, and they say, "Oh, it's the policies of the NDP government through its rent control."

But all the deputants who came in front of our committee said, "Keep rent control, Monsieur Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs, because it's the only protection we've got." They know better.

There's more. The minister says that rent control will continue. He has to say that because M. Harris, the Premier, says rent control will continue. He said it before the election, so they have to dissemble in order to make the point. What do I mean when I say they have to dissemble? Clearly they are not keeping rent control, and I will explain why that is not so. Some 70% of all tenants, according to M. Lampert, their own economist -- member for Lake Nipigon, do you know what he said? He said 70% of those tenants move within a five-year period. That means 70% of the entire 3.3 million tenants move within a five-year period.

But, member for Lake Nipigon, isn't this true? It is ipso facto the case that if 70% of the people move, it might as well be the elimination of rent control. You know what happens? When the tenant moves from place A to place B, that landlord can charge anything he wants or can get in apartment A and apartment B.

Mr Pouliot: What about pressuring the people to move?

Mr Marchese: I'll get to that. That's what happens. If 70% of the people are moving and the landlord can charge whatever he or she wants, it effectively kills rent control. M. Harris says rent control is still there, but it is meaningless if you can charge whatever you like to 70% of the people who move. The member for Lake Nipigon understands that, but you can hear the Tories; they don't understand a thing. Either they don't understand or they refuse to understand.

Mr Pouliot: They're aspiring tenants.

Mr Marchese: I'm not sure they're aspiring tenants. They're good landlords.

The point of the decontrolling of rents is the following: You move, and as soon as you move you get whacked by the landlord with a rent increase. Therefore, ipso facto, those rent controls are gone.

What happens to the individual who stays? What happens to the 30% of the people who stay? They are what has been called by the movement of tenants "sitting ducks." I'll explain why. Member for St Catharines-Brock, I'll explain what that means.

At the moment you have the regular guideline increase, 2.8%. Landlords are allowed at the moment to increase that by 3% on capital repairs, and you've got to go through a hearing. They say nothing changes to the existing tenants, but the reason why tenants are arguing they're sitting ducks is because there is a slight change that will increase the rents. Member for St Catharines-Brock, what is that difference? That 3% of capital repairs goes, under your bill, to 4%. That is a 1% automatic increase without doing a thing, so you can help your poor landlord friends who are starving, who can't go to the fine restaurants to eat.


Mr Marchese: Member for St Catharines-Brock, listen. Then any increases you get in property taxes or utilities are added on, whereas under our Rent Control Act, existing still until you change it, it's already built in. Property taxes and utility bills are included in the guideline. Your fine government, through this fine bill, is going to pass that additional cost on to the tenant, the sitting duck.

Then M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, says: "Oh, nothing changes. We've still got rent controls. The people who stay are not affected." We are proving that all this smacks of a lack of credibility, don't you think, to say the least?

Mr Pouliot: Could the minister be lying?

Mr Marchese: It's difficult to say. You know matters of mendacity cannot be dealt with in this House. You know that. It's disingenuous, to say the least. M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, is about to get rid of the rent registry, which permitted people to know what they were paying before they entered into a rental unit. The minister says we don't need that any more. He's getting rid of the rent registry. The poor tenants won't have a clue any more what they were paying before, because this government says, "We're about to get rid of rent control, so we don't need a rent registry."

Mr Pouliot: What about forcing Mrs Jones to leave?

Mr Marchese: The member for Lake Nipigon mentioned, "What about forcing Mrs Jones to leave?" I'll tackle it now in case I forget. This government proudly says, "We are increasing the fines so that those who are likely to discriminate will get a fine from $25,000 to $50,000." This government says: "Aren't we great? When we increase the fine to $50,000, no landlord is going to discriminate." Do you believe that, though, member for Lake Nipigon? You don't believe that.

The seniors who came in front of our committee don't believe it either. You know what they told us? I was there throughout all the hearings. They said: "We don't have the energy to go after a landlord who harasses us, who hassles us. We don't have the energy, the knowhow, the stamina to take the appeal through the process and take them to the tribunal." They know they are under their care. When a senior is under the care of a landlord with power and money, do you think that 70-year-old lady or man is going to go to that landlord and say, "You can't do that; you can't just shut off the taps; you can't just put me on hold for three months while that faucet is leaking; you can't force me to wait for months until we get rid of the rats"? That's what they do. But do you think seniors are going to have the power, the muscle, the knowhow to deal with such landlords? They don't.

This bill by these "honorables" that speaks about increasing the fine is not going to deal with issues of discrimination, and people will be forced out. Why? So that as they are forced out, the incoming person can get whatever rent increase is demanded. That's what happens to that senior. That's what happens to the person with a disability. That's what happens to that poor working person. They will be squeezed out ever so delicately, or harshly, by that landlord who knows what to do to get them out.

Costs no longer borne: Under rent control, something the NDP brought in, once an item was bought for that apartment and paid for, the cost of that item was wiped off. These fine "misérables" on the other side, these "honorables" on the other side, are getting rid of that clause, costs no longer borne, so that once an item is bought already and they're purchasing another item, that item stays on the rents forever. Gary, you've got to pay attention to these things.

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I'm listening to you, because nobody else is.

Mr Marchese: Mr Stewart is listening. I'm glad. Costs no longer borne.

Tenants constitute a third of the entire population; 33% of the population are tenants. But you know, member for Lake Nipigon, what I think is happening here? This is the fact: These guys know. These guys here to my left, the Conservatives here to the left, know that 70% of tenants do not vote, so they are taking advantage of that fact. They are taking advantage of the fact that we have an electorate, as tenants, who do not vote. So they are about to inflict this on those who do not know any better, who do not vote and cannot and will not teach these people a lesson. That's why they're doing it.

Do you think they would go after the landlords? Do you think they would go after developers? Do you think they would go after the rich in this province? They would not. They go after the most vulnerable members of our society because they know it is not a constituency that has yet fought back against governments.


Mr Bradley: Do you mean the developers?

Mr Marchese: They won't take the developers on, I was saying, because those friends would speak up and they would be angry. They would be there with M. Leach the next day arguing over lunch how to undo it.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Member for Scarborough East.

Mr Marchese: But not with tenants who are poor, not with people with disabilities who are poor, not with seniors who are poor and disabled at times, frail and unable to cope and deal with a government that is about to give them a whole serious whack with its fairness bill. That's what they're about to do, member for Lake Nipigon.

There is so much more to talk about. The minister speaks and gets up to say: "Oh, we've got to go and consult, but they don't listen. The system is flawed." Flawed for whom? It's flawed for the developer and the landlord. It's flawed for them. That's why he wants to fix the system. That's what he means. That's what he's saying. There's $10 billion worth of repairs? Then get your landlord friends to spend the money they've made and restore those buildings. Don't go to the poor tenant and ask for more as you transfer more of the money to those who M. Barnicke, that fine commercial realtor, said are making plenty of money. Don't transfer it from those who don't have to those who already have a whole lot, Minister. It's wrong. It is morally wrong. It is economically wrong. Because it is so unjust, it will catch up with you later on. It will catch up with you later, if not now.

He's getting rid of the Rental Housing Protection Act. The Rental Housing Protection Act was there to protect our rental stock, because we knew, through our rental control bill, that we needed to preserve the little we had. We knew we needed to preserve it. We knew because that was the role of government, to make sure there is enough housing that's affordable, that is there for people who need affordable and accessible homes. We did that because we felt it was the role of government to do.

You are abandoning your role as a government to protect those people. How could a government ever get away with that? Mind you, the federal Liberals are doing the same thing. They're getting out of the way. They're devolving everything to the provinces, to the point that we are losing anything by way of standards. We are losing what holds us together as Canadians. M. Chrétien is about to sell it all, to Ontario, to Alberta and to Quebec; to appease the west, to appease Quebec and to some extent to appease you guys over here. But as you do that, we lose our national fabric, our national flavour. Once the government steps out of the way, that role is lost, and what's left is the free market system of those rich globetrotters around the world who are there with the design to get rid of governments and their policies that protect our social services.

The Conservatives, of course, we can dismiss out of hand. We know those are their policies. They're in the back pocket of the multinationals. We know that. We didn't expect it of the federal Liberals, but they too are abandoning the role of government, and I find that the most shameful act of our Canadian history. All we can hope is that the people who are watching today wake up to the new reality, where governments are losing control, where governments are abdicating whatever control they've got. We've got to fight that phenomenon that is taking place, where those who own the financial means and those with the big bucks -- because I tell you, there is a whole lot of money in Ontario and in Canada, but it doesn't belong to us; it belongs to the financial institutions.

These Tory members are the instruments of those people there, and as they get involved together, in cahoots with one another, governments are being brought asunder, and we have to fight that. That's why it's important in these debates to bring these points out, because if we don't do that, you will not expect the government to do that for us. Listen to what the ministers have to say. Everything they say is in generalities; nothing is ever specific. They prefer it that way, because if you got to know the facts, you would think differently of this government.

There's so much more here that they speak about. There is something here under the changes that affect the care homes. Under this change, the care home landlords can try to evict a tenant who no longer needs the level of care provided by the landlord, or a tenant who needs a level of care that the landlord is not able to provide. This is a new reason for eviction. Imagine. We in our party, in the NDP, realized that those people who are very vulnerable needed protection. These people in these care homes have a contractual agreement to provide a service. But this government, through this section, in this bill, permits the caregiver, the landlord, to simply send somebody away because they've decided, "We just don't want to look after this person any more." Under the guise of saying, "We no longer can provide that service," they're just going to force them out the door. That's what this bill does too for those who are most vulnerable. I find it shameful.

We heard Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, speak today and he said he was going to listen to the Human Rights Commission and the commissioner, because he's a good friend of theirs. He's a good Tory appointment. I'm glad. He wrote a fine two- or three-page letter saying to this government, "Don't make the change to the Human Rights Code that would allow landlords to check tenants' credit ratings for the type of income they have when they apply for an apartment." The government is making this change even though the law says that a landlord cannot refuse to rent to someone because that person receives public assistance.

This is an assault. We know how this works. We know that landlords would rather have men and women and families who earn stable bucks so that money comes steadily and without any concern. But if and when you do that, those vulnerable individuals that we sought to protect under our rent act are on their own. If those people are not allowed to enter into their apartments, where would they go?

The minister doesn't address this. He's saying, "Don't worry, we'll address it through choice," because, presumably, although he didn't say this, the private sector is going to be building so much of that housing stock, these poor people, these buggers who some landlords may not like, will find some fine accommodation or appropriate accommodation somewhere else. But the landlord is not going to build for those people because they're not making money. They're waiting for M. Leach and Mr Harris to come with the purse, open it up and say to that landlord: "Here it is. Take all the money. Take what you want and go and build." That's what they're waiting for. They're waiting for that big giveaway without which the landlord will not build. That's what they're waiting for, but it's not coming.

It's not coming because to give away the store, as the Tories and Liberals did in the 1970s, is to give away land for free, is to give a whole lot of other interest-free loans or things of that nature to make it profitable for the landlord to build. If you do that, you then subsidize the landlord and the developer again. You subsidize particularly the developer to build for the public interest. You are literally then giving money away so the developer can build, and if you have to do that, Minister, then you might as well build yourself. If you're going to give away so much to the developer, then don't make him any richer. You build housing as we did. We built housing because we felt it was the duty of government to do so. We believed, as NDPers, that it was the duty of governments to provide housing for those who cannot afford the type of housing that is there. We believe that capital stock belongs to the people through governments, and we believe if you give away tax breaks or if you give away land or interest-free loans to the developer to make more money, you are giving them public money. Now they own that private property and in the end it will cost us more to give so much away to those with whom M. Leach, the minister, I'm sure has dined or has had lunch to talk about how they are going to fix this problem, this system that is flawed.

This is no balance. They did not have balance even under our NDP policies. Even with our rent control they didn't get the balance they needed, they argued. So the tenant movement said, "If you are going to help tenants, fix it so as to make it better for tenants." But M. Leach, the minister, is not doing that. He is fixing a system that he says is flawed for the landlord. That's what he is doing. He is taking sides with those people who don't need our help, and he's got nothing for tenants. He has absolutely nothing for tenants. It is quite clear, as you dissect this bill -- as those of you who are watching have the opportunity to exfoliate the malodorous onion that this bill is -- you will see that there is nothing for the tenants, nothing at all, and that it's a continual giveaway to the developer.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Isn't this the same speech you gave before?

Mr Marchese: Sure. But look at the speech that your minister made. I took notes again. He said the same thing today that he said a couple of weeks ago. Wayne, what do you expect us to do? He keeps on repeating the same stuff. The script doesn't change, but at least I am speaking to the facts of the bill. He doesn't. Your minister doesn't speak to the facts of the bill. He generalizes and says: "This is great for everybody. This is great because the system is flawed. This is great because now developers will build. This is great because now tenants are going to have choices."

What is that? Do you understand that? Does that give you any sense of what the bill is all about? Nada. It gives you nada comprehension whatsoever.

Mr Wettlaufer: What about tenants? Their buildings are going to have to be repaired.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Kitchener-Wilmot.

Mr Wettlaufer: Kitchener.

Mr Marchese: I know the member for Kitchener constantly talks about how he and I were immigrants and what about those immigrant landlords? I agree with that, sure. We know there are a lot of immigrant landlords --


Mr Marchese: Canadians of course -- who own a single house and rent.

Hon Mr Leach: It's small business.

Mr Marchese: Small business, of course, sure, and they rent their basements or they rent a room in their apartments. Many of them rent, true, but those people by and large are not the people we have problems with. There is nothing in your bill that fixes any concerns they might have had. Although Wayne speaks about them, this bill does not address any of those problems that the small landlord might be having. We have no beef with them. The strongest arguments against the landlords are those landlords typical of the ones we might have in St James Town here at Sherbourne and Wellesley, those apartment buildings that are 20 or 30 storeys high. It is those tenants who have concerns with such landlords. The facts are there, Minister. You know that. You are very close to them.

Hon Mr Leach: My riding.

Mr Marchese: That's your riding, exactly. I haven't seen you go walking down there, talking to the tenants about how you are going to fix it for them, but they expect you --


Mr Marchese: You have? Tell us what you did for them, because I tell you, the problems continue there year after year, in spite of the fact that those city councillors who are of that area have fought for years to try to help them out. You've done nothing for them.

These are the landlords we are fighting against, not the little landlord who owns a house, a two-storey house or a three-storey house, or a unit where there is a threeplex or fourplex or fiveplex. They are, by and large, okay. The problems are with the large landlords.

We've heard them throughout Ontario, wherever we went to listen to the people. They had horror stories of what they had to endure as tenants and associations fighting the miscreants, horror stories of what they have to deal with daily, weekly, monthly, yearly in having to deal with a landlord who refuses to do the very basic things that you expect as a tenant when there is a problem with your home. These are the people we are fighting.

I tell you, Minister, we're not fighting them alone. There are advocates here. And the movement of advocacy and advocates, the tenant movement advocates -- and there are a number of them across Ontario -- have been defunded by you. Why would you do that? At a time when you were about to whack them in the head with the whole loss of rights and rental increases, this is the time they need a movement or advocacy groups that are there to help tenants, because you know that 70% of those people don't vote. You know that, Minister; that's why you're doing it.

I tell you, if 70% of those tenants voted, you would not be doing this. You would be frightened and terrified in your Tory boots if 70% of those people voted. But you know the facts and you know that 70% do not vote, and that is why you are about to assault them again through your Tory policies. You've decided they don't need advocates.

This is a government that hates advocacy and advocates in general. They have done a massacre of all advocacy in every area imaginable. Remember the Advocacy Commission? It's gone. It was designed after we heard 15 years of complaints, 15 years of the fact that we needed an Advocacy Commission to take care of the most vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities and people with mental illness.

This government says: "We don't need advocacy any more. We don't need a commission to deal with that. We've got families to deal with them." When we pointed out that sometimes families are those who perpetrate injustices to their family members, they said: "Oh, these people are fighting the family. They're fighting families."

We weren't fighting families. We were saying some families are good and they do a great deal of good to their own members, but we know through the facts and the research and those experts who came in front of our committee that many of these people find themselves very vulnerable, not just with others but witih members of their own family. This government disregarded all of that. And you have the Minister of Municipal Affairs saying he wants to get on with the job because he wants to get out and listen to the public, the way he listened on the tenant protection package, where he dismissed everything tenants had to say? Is that the kind of consultation M. Leach wants? I don't think so.

I find it difficult to have to go back to those tenants again and bring them out into committee, only to tell them, "Do you think Mr Leach and Mr Harris are going to listen to you this time because they're bringing this package back in the form of an act?" Why would they believe it? They have been jaded by the fact that you have the audacity to call this bill a tenant protection act, because they know from the evidence there is nothing in the act that protects tenants. That's why I say it dissembles. This bill fabricates. This bill has no credibility. The minister is disingenuous when he speaks about fixing a problem for the tenants, because it doesn't do that.

And then this minister brings a new form of remedy to people who have a problem with their landlord. He says he's going to create a tribunal. I remind the folks here, these fine honorables, that most of the lawyers and most of the agencies that represent tenants that came to speak against that landlord protection package said 95% of all cases are dealt with appropriately, efficiently and fast. It is only 5% of the cases that are troublesome. So what does M. Harris, through his instrument M. Leach, do? He creates a new tribunal.

He's going to create another bureaucracy. Do we believe this new bureaucracy is going to solve the problems having to do with a remedy someone seeks? I think not. It is my personal belief that this will not happen any more efficiently than under the old system. So the minister set up a new bureaucracy that will be costly and full of patronage appointments.


Remember, when the NDP was in, this government used to attack us at every turn. Every time there was a smell of an NDP candidate being thought of as a person to be appointed on some commission, board or agency, the Tories were there smelling it out, snorking the NDPers out so they could say: "Look at this government. Look at the NDP. Look at them give away these patronage seats here and there."

The Tories said then that they were going to be better. Speaker, you know that, because you're a Liberal opposition member. They said that when they got in they would be an example to be followed. An example to be followed indeed. You can't find more than a couple of people you can count on your hands, Minister, who are anything but a Tory or Reform-minded person of your colours, of your type. But they said they were going to be different.

Hon Mr Leach: Does the name Cooke ring a bell?

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): How about Dave Cooke?

Mr Marchese: "How about Dave Cooke?" They appoint a former colleague of ours and they say, "That should take care of it," without making the point that they do that for a purpose. They never appoint anyone such as they did with Dave Cooke other than to try to embarrass us with a particular issue, so they can look saintly, almost, so they can look as if, "Not all our appointments are Tory, by God." But they are. We know it, you know it, and you make no bones about it.

We worry that these appointments on this tribunal will be Tory appointments. The lawyers and the organizations that came to defend and protect tenants said: "We're worried about Tory patronage appointments. We're worried they will be very political." They know that. If your appointments are very Tory in their ideology, are tenants going to get a fair shake in this new tribunal Minister Leach has set up? I'm worried because there is no sense from this government or this minister that we're going to get people who are absolutely neutral, clean of that Tory stench or taint.

Mr Pouliot: Would I get an appointment?

Mr Marchese: I don't think my friend from Lake Nipigon is going to get an appointment, absolutely not -- not yet, at least.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): That all depends what you apply for.

Mr Marchese: It depends what you apply for, but you have to speak to M. Leach in private, and you might have to pay for that lunch. You never know, later on.

This new tribunal is going to be costly to set up. I'm certainly not clear or sure that it can be more effective than the present system that was effective 95% of the time. The system is flawed, and yes, it needs fixing, but it needs continued fixing, such as the NDP did, in order to continue to help tenants out.

I want to conclude by urging those who are watching, particularly if they are tenants, to come out at public meetings, once these debates come back again, to meet with your honorables on the other side, to go to their offices in great numbers so that you can talk to them, so that you can look them in the eyes as they tell you this bill is about protecting you as a tenant. Ask Mr Leach and these other fine honorables on the other side to point to what there is in the bill for you as a tenant. Make them accountable to you.

If you tenants take control and exercise the power you've got, some of these Tory members will quiver. They will worry because many of them want to be re-elected. They will go back to M. Leach and tell him: "Minister, we've got a problem here. There's a whole lot of politicization happening. There are a whole lot of tenants who have woken up to the fact that you are about to whack them and we've got to do something."

If you do not do that, those of you who are watching this program and are tenants, this government will continue to get away taking sides, helping the poor starving landlord and the poor starving developer, versus dumping and giving you yet another whack on another issue. This whack has to do with rental increases and the loss of your protections as a tenant, where the landlord who has all the power will exercise it under the legitimacy of a new act brought in by this Reform government, at the service of those who have a great deal of wealth. You've got to get out there, you've got to write the minister and your members letters.

More than writing the minister a letter with "Private and confidential" on the front of it, you've to force a meeting with Minister Saunderson or other ministers who are in the metropolitan area, because a lot of our rental stock is in Metro. Some 40% of our rental stock is in Metro. Those of you who live there need to speak to our members from Metro. M. Harnick is here today listening to this debate; other people are here from other ridings, like Derwyn Shea from High Park. You've got to talk to them. You've got to meet with them and say, "What are you people doing?"

Mr Pouliot: It's pretty difficult; they're busy.

Mr Marchese: I hear a lot of complaints. I went to Ridgetown the other day where people told me, "We have a hell of a time talking to the member," from that area. Ridgetown is in Kent county. I understand that sometimes you've got a hell of a time reaching your member, who may not be interested in running again, for a variety of different reasons. But if they are interested in running again, you've got to force a meeting with them and make them accountable. They are your servants.

The Reform and Conservative Party likes to talk about recall and being the servants of the people. If they refuse to meet with you, they're losing sight of that wonderful ideology they care about, that is, listening to the public, listening to your needs and what you want. I urge you to meet with them. If you do, these members, in spite of who they are, in spite of the stench of autocracy they leave throughout Ontario, will have to listen to you. They will listen to you. Send them those letters. Send me a copy so I know you're doing it, so that we know and we help each other as we try to fight back against a government that is taking away a lot of your social and political rights.

I thank you for your attention. I know other members of my caucus will want to speak later.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I want to take the opportunity this evening to address not just Bill 96, the tenant rejection act, the landlord and developer protection act, but I also want to address the government's overall housing agenda, and also in the time that's allotted to me the government's overall housing policy and the government's way of doing business both in this House and across this province.

When I spoke originally on Bill 96, I quoted Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in a speech he made to the Ontario Home Builders' Association on October 19, 1995, where he said, "I've said it before and I'll say it again: Rent control has got to go." Then, less than a year later, in a by-election campaign in a Metro Toronto riding, we had quotations from the Ontario Conservative Party candidate at that time that rent control would continue, tenant protection would be improved under the Mike Harris government and that the Mike Harris tenant protection plan would help to ensure that tenants were not subject to unfair rent increases.


I intend to show, as tenants in this province already know, that this government's rhetoric and its deeds are not the same. Let us begin by talking about the government's agenda in housing so far.

In its 1996 business plan, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Mr Leach, announced that 21% of his workforce in his ministry would be cut. That's 398 jobs. The operating budget of that ministry would be cut by $27 million, 2.4%, in a year. But that's not where the deepest cuts occurred. Those are not the policies that were most harmful to tenants in this province. Let's not forget that in July 1995, 390 approved non-profit housing projects were cancelled; $120 million cut in the housing capital budget resulting from the elimination of support for all new non-profit housing.

What do we begin to see shaping up? We see the elimination of tenant protection in Bill 96 and we see the government withdrawing from the provision of affordable and non-profit housing in the Ontario market at the same time. This is a recipe for developers, for landlords, not for those people in this province who so urgently and desperately need housing.

Let's not forget some other things the government has done since it came to office: $25 million, or 11%, of the Ontario Housing Corp's operating budget and $51 million, or 26%, of its capital budget was cut for 1996-97. The Ontario Housing Corp's capital repair budget was cut by $13 million, or 25%. So what do we see yet again? A reduced commitment to public housing and elimination of development of non-profit and affordable housing and a removal of tenant protection via Bill 96. We see, then, a policy that is designed and aimed to protect landlords, not tenants.

When the minister spoke today about balance and fairness, I was amused, I was taken aback, because there's nothing at all balanced in this legislation. We see for the first time in a generation, for the first time, really, since prior to the Davis government, a retreat from tenant protection in this province. We see a government that is prepared, through a variety of legislative initiatives, to remove itself from protecting tenants and wants to create a climate that benefits only landlords. We say that that policy that's encompassed not only in Bill 96 but across a broad range of housing initiatives by this government is the wrong form of public policy.

Was there a need for change? Certainly. Are there aspects of the bill that our party finds amenable? Certainly. There's no question all of us have dealt with small landlords who have been left in very difficult situations. But I say the government is abandoning tenants not to small landlords but to big landlords.

Let's talk about the rental market in Ontario for a few minutes. Let's review just what it is that we're talking about. Today there are approximately 3.2 million tenants in Ontario, and they occupy approximately 1.4 million rental units; 45% of these units are here in Metropolitan Toronto, 10% are in Ottawa. Overall, 80% of the units are private, with the remainder being either public or non-profit housing. Interestingly enough, today in the business page of the Globe and Mail we see that the housing market is again heating up in Toronto, the way it did in the 1980s.

We see a current vacancy rate of less than 1% in this city, less than what it was when the Bill Davis Tory government introduced rent control back in 1975. Toronto is but one example. There are cities, large urban centres, where the vacancy rate is not as high: Hamilton 2%, Sudbury 6%, Ottawa 4.2%, Thunder Bay 6.4%, and my home, Windsor, 1.8%.

In the book Boom, Bust and Echo we see predictions that by the turn of the century, three years from now, the demand for rental housing will increase yet again. I will make a prediction that there will be plenty of what used to be called in the legislation "luxury" apartments available for rent in Toronto and the other large urban centres, but because of the combination of this government's policies, the number of rental units that would be classified as affordable or within the reach of the poor, the disabled, seniors, those of modest income, will be dwindling and diminishing, and contrary to what the government argues, the private sector will not move in to fill the gap.

Adam Smith's famous invisible hand won't bring the market into equilibrium. What will happen is that accommodation will be available on the highest end. If you're a landlord or a developer and you can invest in apartment units that will yield you a higher profit, a higher return on your investment in the upper range, why would you invest anywhere else? Of course there will be investment, but it will be in the sections of the market where investment is least needed.

What will happen? First of all, the obvious human tragedy. Today in Toronto one third of renters pay more than 30% of their income in rent. That is a high percentage. I'll bet not many of the members opposite in the government party, the Tories, have to worry about that. But to people on limited incomes, people whose welfare benefits that government has cut, pensioners whose Canada pension has not gone up very much, 30% of their income is a lot.

I say to the wealthy developers and my friends opposite in the Tory party that if you went to a bank and tried to negotiate a mortgage and said that the mortgage and taxes would eat 30% of your income, that bank would look long and hard at whether it would lend you the money. Why? Because they know that to feed yourself, to provide for your family, you need a large percentage of your disposable income available, and the more of that that goes into housing, the less you have for things like clothes and food for your children. And with the cutbacks in education that we've seen, more and more costs are being borne by parents. Again, who does it impact on the most? It impacts the most on those of the most modest means, those who are least able to afford it.

Today in Toronto the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $661; the maximum shelter allowance under social assistance is $325.


Mr Pouliot: It's okay if you are rich.

Mr Duncan: That's right, member for Lake Nipigon: If you're rich, you can afford it.

But again, as we've seen in policy after policy from this government, they don't care. They don't want to deal with the tens of thousands of people in this province, in this city and in the large urban centres right across Ontario: Windsor, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Hamilton, London, Ottawa. They don't want to deal with those people.

They don't want to be concerned about those people who are making it from paycheque to paycheque, if they have a paycheque. They don't want to deal with the senior citizen who's struggling on a pension. They don't want to deal with the disabled or those on family benefits. They don't want to think about it, because in their world, in their trickle-down world, if you put more money in the pockets of the wealthy, the benefit will trickle down to those below.

But what history has told us and what the research says is that that is simply not the case. What you do is create a wider gap between rich and poor. You create a whole underclass of citizens who will struggle and have a difficult time making it in their day-to-day existence and day-to-day lives.


Mr Pouliot: Good speech for Windsor.

Mr Duncan: One speaks of passion, one speaks of the need to understand. My colleagues for Welland-Thorold and Lake Nipigon speak of my Windsor roots. Yes, indeed, we look across the river and see a city that has the wealthiest of the wealthy and the poorest of the poor. We see what happens when a government abandons the middle road, when a government takes away from those who need protection and gives to those who least need it.

With this combination of policies -- the reduction of the government's role in housing in general; the elimination of any further development of non-profit housing; the reduction in funds available in future in the rent-geared-to-income category; the removal of tenant protection; the moves this government has made with respect to disentanglement, downloading -- what do we see? We see a housing market that will leave tenants and the most vulnerable unprotected. Will it, as the minister says, create supply? I agree it will create supply -- in the upper end, where the profits are the highest. Will it solve the problem of the vast majority of people in this province or help them cope on a day-to-day basis? No, it will not.

Let's talk about Bill 96 itself for a few minutes and let's deal with the provisions in that bill and what it means specifically for tenants in Ontario. At present, rent controls apply to all rental units. New buildings are exempt from controls for their first five years. Rent controls still apply to a rental unit when it's vacated.

Now, under this government, rent controls will be removed when an apartment becomes vacant. Once a person moves into an apartment, they are covered by the maximum rent increase guideline for the duration of their occupancy. The government argues that it's the middle road; we argue that it's the slow death of rent control. Indeed, Lampert argues that it's not even a slow death, that it will happen within five years. When you look at the turnover rate in vacant apartments and when you further look at those numbers and divide them into the communities where the rental issues are the biggest, where you have the largest tenant populations, it will happen even more quickly than that.

What we have here is a situation where it will be in the landlord's interest to have as many new tenants as possible. What does this mean? It means there is going to be more tenant harassment. It means that fewer and fewer repairs will be done. It means that landlords will want to get people to move along. Irony of ironies, the minister calls this bill the Tenant Protection Act, but in the bill itself he acknowledges that there will be more tenant harassment. There's a fundamental contradiction: On the one hand they say they're protecting tenants, but on the other hand in the bill they recognize that tenant harassment will increase.

How do we know this? The bill proposes the creation of an anti-harassment unit in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and a doubling of the fines for harassing tenants, to $10,000 for individual landlords and $50,000 for corporations. Well, in how many bills have we seen them apply these big fines and how many times have those fines actually been implemented? The results are startling. They talk a good game and they put it in the legislation, knowing full well that these types of fines and sanctions will never ever be implemented. And of course now rent controls will never be applied to new buildings.

What's going to happen? I say again, we will see development -- yes, I agree -- of luxury buildings, and for those who are in a position to afford them, they'll have more choice. But that choice will not extend down to the poorest, that choice will not extend down to those of a modest income who are renters, that choice will not extend to those who need the choice. The protection they've enjoyed to date, protection that in some instances may not even be good protection, but at least they've had some protection -- what we see with this government is a removal of that protection and a diminution overall of our ability to protect tenants from landlords and developers. That is an unfortunate development that this government has contemplated and is now implementing with lightning speed.

Remember that the government's own study last fall, the Lampert report, said that 25% of tenants move every year and 70% in five years. It's likely quicker in areas like Toronto. That means that rent control, for all intents and purposes, will be gone in the province by the turn of the century.

Maintenance and repairs: Successive governments, landlords and tenants have wrestled with this issue. Currently, landlords are only permitted to charge an additional increase of 3% per year to cover the cost of repairs. Landlords must apply to a rent officer for that increase. What we see now in Bill 96 is that landlords will be permitted to charge an additional increase of 4% per year to cover the cost of repairs. They will have to apply to the dispute tribunal that the minister's creating for approval of that rent increase.

We've also seen that changes to the Planning Act and the Building Code Act are contemplated. Municipal building inspectors will now have the responsibility for responding to tenant complaints. Again we see a government that's just saying: "Let's get out of this altogether. We have no business in protecting or regulating tenants and landlords in this province."


They're doing this at a time when they are cutting transfers to municipalities; they are doing it at a time when they are downloading social housing to municipalities; and they're doing it at a time when there's probably more confusion at the municipal level than we have witnessed in the history of this province.

What it means is that municipalities will be given greater responsibility at a time when they have fewer resources, and other responsibilities being thrust on them by this government. Quite frankly, it means yet again a policy that's deliberately designed to remove protections from tenants and to take sides with landlords and developers in a way that is unfortunate and does not even address the problem the Tories are trying to address, which is the need for new rental unit accommodation in this province.

The government is abdicating -- indeed the government is creating a situation where there will be less rental accommodation, in our view, for tenants and more profit for the landlords and developers, who already do quite well in Ontario.

I want to talk about the housing market relative to this initiative, and the way the government has approached this bill. Let's not forget that today we're dealing with closure. We are dealing with a government motion to end debate. We are dealing with yet again more force by a government that has shown, throughout its mandate, too much desire to force debate to move fast.

As my colleague from St Catharines said, no matter what the politics are, no matter what you think of individual initiatives this government has undertaken, they've done a lot. The one complaint I hear time and again, even from supporters of the government, is that maybe they're going a little too fast, maybe they're not putting enough thought into what they're doing, maybe they're trying to jam through this change -- and it's massive, this change -- without a lot of thought and without due consideration to the potential consequences.

Indeed, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced the so-called mega-week announcements and they've had to retreat from virtually all of them. The ones they've stuck to we know darned well aren't going to work, and, in the case of the amalgamation of the cities in Toronto, over the objection of the vast majority of people in this community. We see what happens when a government moves without proper consideration.

The government will try to suggest that it is holding more hearings on this bill than either of the current opposition parties did when they were in office. That simply is not the case. When their bills were passed, they were passed with the consent of the opposition parties.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, please, members. If you have any pressing issues, you can take them to the lobby if you like. Otherwise, could we bring it down just a bit? Thank you.

Mr Duncan: The government is pushing ahead. Today, ironically, the Premier's rule changes were brought forward by one of his minions, rule changes that will take away the opposition's ability to fully debate government initiatives, rule changes that are designed to stifle full debate in this province, rule changes that ultimately serve the government's interests and not the interests of the broader public in this province. I guess we shouldn't be surprised; they've been threatening it for months.

I hear all the time, even from supporters of the government, that they're going too far too fast. Yes, there has been immense change. Politics aside -- the government members support it; we oppose much of it -- most people I talk to are concerned, including Tories right across this province, that they're going too fast. That's why they had to back down on most of the mega-week announcements, because they realized after we raised the issues, after they heard from municipalities, that you just can't bulldoze ahead without thought or consideration to the consequence, that what makes sense from a narrow provincial perspective might not make sense in a broader context and with other partners who share in the administration of legislation or programs.

We see the same with Bill 96. Last summer we had so-called hearings. Absolutely nothing has changed. The government's position of last summer is reflected completely in Bill 96. We have raised the specific case of sections 36 and 200, the portions of the bill that would deny basic human rights to the poorest people in this province. We've asked the minister specifically, will he remove the offensive sections, and he says, "Put it in committee and we'll see." We asked him twice today for a specific commitment on those issues. What did we get? Nothing.

I'll predict today that that's exactly what we'll get in the government's amendments. We'll see on the day they bring forward their amendments whether they take out those clauses. It's not simply the opposition; it's the government's own human rights commissioner who is advocating that those offensive sections be removed -- a commission chairperson, by the way, who was appointed by that government; not a leftover appointment from a previous government but your own appointment. The chair of that commission has said they will make representations.

The Speaker: Look, folks, if you want to have a discussion, I suggest you take it outside. It's difficult, with the din, to hear the speaker.

Mr Duncan: In conclusion, I suggest that Bill 96 and the government's housing policies are an attack on tenants. They remove tenants' rights to be protected. They stand for the developer, for the landlord. They are undoing a generation of progress in the area of rent control. They propose to solve a problem. They propose that these changes will make more rental accommodation available. We say you're wrong; it'll make more luxury accommodation available but it won't address the broad mass of people in this community, Toronto, and other large urban centres who really don't have access to affordable housing.

That problem will become more acute in the next three to five years and it will be a problem that this Legislature and the next Legislature will address, because tenant concerns have been with us for many years and will continue to be with us.

We in the opposition say that in 1999, after the next election, we'll repeal Bill 96 and replace it with real rent control. We will do so recognizing that rent control does not hinder development; rent control protects tenants.

We will do so recognizing that improvements can always be found, to find a better match between what protects tenants and landlords, but recognizing always first and foremost, in large urban centres especially, where there is a limited supply and a large demand for affordable, decent living, that government has a significant role to play in regulating the prices in that market and ensuring that tenants in all our centres are protected from an unfettered market that serves the interests of landlords and developers, serves the interests of profit over people.

We say to the government, withdraw this bill and put people before profit and recognize that government has a role to play in protecting the most vulnerable in our society.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I should tell you, I'm very aware that we're debating yet another time allocation motion, yet another effort in a series of concentrated efforts on the part of this government to suppress debate, to turn this assembly, this chamber, into a mere showpiece, to make what happens here irrelevant to democracy. Indeed, this government has done more to put democracy under attack in this province, no matter how much there was by way of resistance from opposition parties, than any government in this chamber's history ever has. That's something that should be of great concern to everybody.

You'll recall last week when there was a modest request on the part of the opposition to exchange Monday for Friday in the calendar this week to permit members, Liberals, New Democrats, yes, Conservatives -- if there are any Conservatives here. Please don't look at me quizzically. By God, I read of Bob Wood, from out there in Middlesex, standing with his leader --

Interjection: London South.

Mr Kormos: London South. See the impact he has made? We have difficulty knowing some of the ridings of these people.

This is one of the problems with time allocation motions. I'm opposing this not so much for New Democrats or Liberals. We know there aren't a whole lot of us here. There are a few more Liberals. We have an opportunity to address these bills, sometimes, during the course of debate. It's government members who are being denied the opportunity to stand up and explain where they stand on this attack on tenants.

Most interesting would be to hear from members in the Toronto area, where huge developers with their run-down high-rises, elevators broken, screens off windows, paint peeling, plumbing systems corroded, infested with cockroaches -- it would be interesting to hear where Conservative members stand on protecting tenants from the vultures in the high-rise apartment industry. We don't get a chance to hear from them. We don't know where they stand. It's the rare government member who does stand and speak to this or any other number of bills which have been subjected to this very undemocratic, anti-democratic closure motion.

These are tools whereby the government can snuff, kill, eliminate debate. Debate is supposed to be what takes place here so that the issues can be raised so that one can attempt to persuade others of a particular policy or so that opposition members can point out the flaws in a particular policy and the legislation that is driven by it.

We don't hear from government members, especially those in, let's say, the Toronto area, explaining why they'd be supporting a piece of legislation that eliminates rent control. It does. Make no mistake about it, this bill is the end of rent control. This bill is an open door, it's carte blanche for development landlords to hike rents, to jack up rents, to be as usurious as their conscience permits them. The problem is that there isn't a whole lot of conscience among the developer industry; there simply isn't. They're out there to gouge as thoroughly as they can.

Talk to the tenants who suffer under their regime, and you'll understand exactly what I'm saying. Go into some of those apartments, as often as not the high-rises, as often as not 10, 15, maybe 20 years old, that have fallen into disrepair because the landlord quite simply can circumvent the law and maximize profits at the expense of quality of life for families, for seniors, for children, who in many parts of this province are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing.

As I say, Bob Wood, the member for London South, as I'm told, with his leader, Preston Manning, doesn't consider it appropriate to pucker up for Jean Charest, who is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. Bob Wood puckers for Preston. It was a pucker-for-Preston rally and there was Bob Wood.

Far be it from me to allege fraud. That wouldn't be appropriate, would it, Speaker, to speak of fraud on the part of government members? But I'm a little troubled, because people who voted for government members in the last election thought they were voting for Progressive Conservatives. I've got to tell you, in the Criminal Code, false pretences, fraud, deals with conduct where you present yourself as one thing but in fact you're another. I think what we've discovered is that the people of Ontario haven't been victims of a Conservative government here in Ontario, they've been victims of a Preston Manning Reform government. My goodness.

Why didn't these people have the courage to run as Reformers if in fact they were Reformers? Why didn't they have the courage to identify themselves as what they truly were: not the heirs of the Bill Davis-Frank Miller legacy but the new little foot soldiers, arm-banded and jackbooted?

The Speaker: You did push it a little bit and then you went over the line. You can't say that. You have to withdraw it.

Mr Kormos: I withdraw jackbooted, but those Doc Martens with the different-coloured laces, the ones that come up halfway to your calf and have the cleats on the heels so that when you stomp to attention, you pound that right foot down and you can hear the click of the cleat hitting the floor. There they were, joining the troops of Preston Manning --

Mr Pouliot: Are the brown shirts back in the dry cleaners?

Mr Kormos: I wonder if some of them received the appropriate tatoos up on their biceps to show their allegiance to Preston Manning and his army of Reformers. There was Bob Wood singing the praises of --

The Speaker: I'm always interested in your speeches, but I'm really interested in hearing about the closure motion for the bill before us today.

Mr Kormos: That's why I prefaced my comments by indicating that I was acutely aware that we were debating this time allocation motion. I'm being very careful, and I appreciate your assistance and the guidance you give me in making sure that nobody would even begin to presume that I'm doing anything less than speaking to the time allocation motion, one of the most undemocratic, indeed anti-democratic, tools that could be used here. This government has done it beyond excess but at a rate and to a level that surpasses the usage of time allocation of any other government.

This, I tell you, deprives opposition members of the opportunity to raise issues, but it also deprives government members. I've got a feeling government members have been grateful for this, though, because government members really don't want to have to stand up and debate Bill 96 or, quite frankly, most of the other pieces of legislation that come from this government.

First, most of them are incapable of it. When they do speak, we hear canned, scripted speeches. You know what I'm speaking of. You can hear the fluff. It's like government backbench questions during question period, the stuff that's churned out of the communications departments of respective ministries. Mind you, it's the same garbled tomes that come from the mouths of most ministers, but it's the sort of stuff that's prepared for them, and they pucker up and do their best.

We saw what happened to backbenchers who don't. We saw what happened to the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General. Do you recall that, Speaker? Here was the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General on Bill 84, firefighters legislation, and he was listening to firefighters. He committed the penultimate sin in this Harris government: He was listening to firefighters. He wouldn't have advocated time allocation as is apparent in this bill. No. He was prepared to listen and quite frankly to begin to accommodate firefighters. No, not that member. He's gone. He was fired as parliamentary assistant on the day before the final day of public hearings on Bill 84.


What happened, and I'm surprised our colleague who ran as a Conservative from up Owen Sound way, from Grey-Owen Sound, Bill Murdoch -- here's a person who once again made it to the 6 o'clock news sitting as a Reformer in the Reform rally audience, nodding his head in approval at the policies of Reform. I suspect that may have some currency up in Grey-Owen Sound, but I think people in Ontario had better understand we're not dealing with a government here that espouses traditional Conservative, never mind Progressive Conservative, values. We're talking about a government here that's in line with and behind their real leadership, and that's Preston Manning, Reform, and all the stuff he carries with him.

I told you, Speaker, that I was down on the picket line with workers at Vincor, on Dorchester Road in St Catharines. I was down there with John Cowan and James Wilson. John Cowan is the NDP candidate in the federal riding of Niagara Falls and James Wilson is the New Democratic Party candidate in Niagara Centre.

Mr Duncan: The polls will be open until 9:30.

Mr Kormos: Quite right. My friend from Windsor indicates the polls will be open till 9:30.

I was there with John Cowan, the New Democratic Party candidate from Niagara Falls, and with James Wilson, the New Democratic Party candidate in Niagara Centre, because they were not afraid to join me in support of working people. They understood what it means to be forced on to a picket line. They understand the evil of scabs and what it means to have scabs take away workers' jobs.

John Cowan and James Wilson understand what Bill 7 meant. They understand that Mike Harris and this government reintroduced scabs to the workplace of Ontario. They understand that until the event of Bill 7, which had little debate, which received short shrift, which opposition members were to the largest extent denied the opportunity to engage in debate on, and to participate in public hearings such that the public could be aware of the impact of Bill 7 -- but it's Mike Harris's Bill 7 and his scab legislation that have created labour disputes like those by the 70-plus hardworking women and men at Vincor in Niagara Falls whose jobs have been stolen by scabs and who have to stand there and witness the tragedy and injustice of scabs hauling Brights and Vincor and Sawmill Creek wines on a daily basis out of the old Brights winery on Dorchester.

As I said earlier, I know that James Wilson and John Cowan, who stood there with me as we stood shoulder to shoulder with the working people at Vincor, understand that there's no room for scabs in Ontario and that there's no room for scab lines like Brights and Vincor and Sawmill Creek on our dining tables.

Once again, we've got a government that wants to impose its will without having --

Interjection: I thought this was landlord and tenants. Isn't this the tenant act, Peter? I'm confused here.

Mr Kormos: I'm talking about Bill 96 and the time allocation motion. We've got a government that simply wants to impose its will. There's nothing magical about having been here for 20 years or 25 years as Floyd Laughren has, and as Jim Bradley has from the Liberal caucus. But people who have been here more than a mere two years understand that what goes around comes around. I'm going to tell you, this assault on democracy is going to have a huge payback for huge numbers of the Tory backbenchers. How can it be that not one of them would stand up today and condemn or reject this time allocation motion? How can it be that not one Tory backbencher hasn't got the gumption or the guts to stand up and say, "No, I was elected to the provincial Parliament prepared to debate, understanding that good legislation can take some time to develop, understanding that the opposition has an important function"?

Why is it that one government backbencher won't stand up with the courage and the integrity to say that time allocation, after a mere -- what was it? How many days of debate on Bill 96, which is going to impact on so many people and so many families? A mere three afternoons. The number of speakers who were able to speak in the course of a mere three afternoons -- we're talking about two and a half, maybe three hours in an afternoon, three hours if you're lucky. You're talking about less than 10 hours of debate, which means at the end of the day fewer than 20 members, out of a Parliament of 130, having a chance to represent their constituents' views.

I'm getting, and have had for some time, the distinct impression that this government doesn't give a tinker's dam about democracy or about representation by members of the Legislative Assembly. To illustrate that is their increased and ever-present reliance on time allocation. They don't want to see the debate. Just today yet another motion was tabled with the Clerk seeking time allocation on Bill 57, a bill that has great significance for the province's environment. Once again this government has chosen to not just restrict debate but to quash it.

Look, I understand as well as anybody that matters can't be debated on and on and on as we go around in circles. I understand that. Right now, this government knows that there are 30-minute restrictions on the length of time that any member can speak. I didn't support that but I'm prepared to accept that that's the rule of the House, a mere 30 minutes to each member. With the significant restriction on the period of time that any member is permitted to address a given issue, surely as many members as possible should be accommodated. I tell you that time allocation motions like this one, as it is addressing Bill 96 -- and Bill 96, once again let's make this clear, eliminates rent control in Ontario. Rent control is gone. The phoney argument --

Mr Bradley: Zap, zap.

Mr Kormos: It's zapped, it's gone. As Mr Marchese would say, it's yet whacked by this government.

The argument that somehow eliminating rent control is going to generate new development strikes one as being downright dumb and stupid. The fact is that this government and its developer friends know that new units don't have any rent control imposed on them in terms of what the base rent is going to be. This bill has nothing to do with generating new building. This rent control elimination bill has everything to do with permitting developers to make bigger and bigger profits out of shabbier and shoddier and more run-down huge apartment complexes.

The minister speaks of the urgency for public hearings. It would have been far more interesting for this minister to have devoted some time to listening to tenants and the pain that tenants endure with greedy and voracious landlords, especially in the high-rise and development industry, before this minister even presented this bill to the House. You're left, then, with mere speculation about what would prompt the bill.

Well, I've got no difficulty with that. Clearly this government has taken sides. It's on the side of the big developers. Why, it's so deep in their back pockets that it's spitting out lint. No two ways about it. I'm not sure this government is owned by the development industry, but they've certainly taken out a lease on it for a period of a few years. This government is prepared to sacrifice the welfare of families and their children and retirees across the province in order to repay its debt, in order to do the bidding of its wealthy, corporate and very big developer friends.

I'm looking for one caucus member in the Conservative Party, and again, I understand that notwithstanding what their House leader had to say about today being a working day -- you heard his arguments about why the House couldn't suspend its sitting today and instead use Friday as a makeup day in view of the fact that this House hasn't sat on a federal election day since 1874.


We New Democrats are proud of our federal party. We're proud of our leader, Alexa McDonough. We're eager to be back in our communities, and some of our members are today. Those members for whom the travel, after the House closes at 6 o'clock, would have simply made it impossible to get back are already in their ridings. The Toronto members and myself -- I'm going to be travelling down to Niagara at 6 o'clock -- are eager to participate in our ridings as New Democrats and in company with our federal candidates as counterparts.

Was there a motive in us asking for the House not to sit on Monday? Yes, because we're proud of our party's tradition and our party's leadership and we were eager to participate with other New Democrats, engaging in the democratic process in our own communities, helping to get the vote out, any number of things that people who are interested in the political process do on an election day. So were the Liberals, quite frankly.

We know a few of the Liberals aren't here today. Those who are coming from long distances, those from the north, are back there, I have no doubt. Some, I know, are working for NDP candidates but most, by and large, are working for their Liberal federal counterparts. I've spoken to some who indicated a strong interest in the NDP federal candidates because they feel that their party, the Jean Chrétien Liberal Party, has abandoned traditional Liberal values.

It's interesting that we get confronted today, knowing there's a time allocation motion, by yet more rule changes, rule changes that are designed to silence, to gag, not just opposition members but the government's own backbenchers. Make no mistake about that. Time allocation motions are as dangerous to government backbenchers as are the rule changes that were announced this morning. It's very clear that the government very consciously chose this day, federal election day, when they knew that attention, quite rightly, would be distracted, diverted to the federal election.

I mentioned that a whole lot of New Democrats aren't here today. These are people whose home ridings are too far away from Toronto for them to get back after 6 o'clock to work in the election campaigns of their federal counterparts, just like a whole lot of Liberals' ridings are. I'm not singling any person out, but you saw during question period. The cameras demonstrated how few members of cabinet were here and how few backbenchers were here from the Tory caucus. You see, I'm confident New Democrats are out working for New Democratic Party campaigns. Liberals are out working for Liberal Party campaigns. It seems that the Tory members who are here don't have a strong enough Reform campaign or candidate in their riding to warrant pulling the vote for that candidate today. Bill Murdoch, I'm sure, is out campaigning for his Reform counterpart. Do I deny somebody the right to belong to the Reform Party? Of course not.


Mr Kormos: We're getting to the time allocation, but I tell you, we know that these Tory backbenchers who ran as Conservatives and who were elected as Conservatives have always been Reformers and they bring to this Legislature with them all of the things the Reform Party stands for; not just some of the things but all of the things the Reform Party stands for: the anti-worker agenda, the anti-woman agenda, the anti-ethnic agenda, the agenda which questions whether somebody from Quebec is good enough to be the Prime Minister of the country.


Mr Kormos: Don't shoot the messenger. It's the Reform Party that has that very much as part and parcel of their agenda. Quite frankly, I find it repugnant that any Canadian could question whether a Quebecker should be denied the right to present himself or herself for election as Prime Minister by virtue of the fact that he or she is from Quebec.

Mr Bradley: Where do they stand on pensions?

Mr Kormos: On pensions, you see, they talk a big game. As a matter of fact what's interesting is, just like with this time allocation motion, which I suggest to you is being misrepresented -- the time allocation motion is being misrepresented; I'm very careful in the language I choose -- Reform and Tories talk a big game about pensions and fiscal restraint, but by God they can trough as good as the best of them. I'm talking about full-fledged porking. You know exactly what I'm talking about. The porcinity of Tory-Reform troughing is unparalleled.

What did this government do? One of the first things it did after taking office was bring scabs back into Ontario so they could steal workers' jobs. Then it slashed the benefits of the poorest people in our society to the tune of 22%. Then they gave themselves raises here in the Legislative Assembly of anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 a year, calling it pension reform. Let me tell you, this government is consistent.

Mr Pouliot: It's 6 of the clock.

Mr Kormos: At the same time as it brought scabs back into the province, at the same time as it slashed the poorest people's incomes by 22%, they gave themselves raises of $8,000 to $10,000 a year and spoke of themselves as somehow engaging in fiscal restraint.

Mr Pouliot: Stick to the motion.

Mr Kormos: That's exactly what happened, and it quite frankly happened in that exact order. These guys can trough with the best of them, let me tell you. They're prepared to do it on the backs of the poorest, the weakest. They're prepared to do it on the backs of tenants. As real wages drop in Mike Harris's Ontario -- and they do -- at the same time as unemployment increases in Mike Harris's Ontario -- and it is -- these people continue to attack the weakest and the most vulnerable.

The Speaker: I don't want to confuse you. We go by that clock. You still have three and a half minutes.

Mr Kormos: I appreciate that because there's one more thing I wanted to say. We've got a government here that's going to pay off its rich friends with a tax break, where 90% of all the tax break is going to go to 10% of the wealthiest people in this province. I'm sure it makes Conrad Black ecstatic, Tubby, as he buys up more and more of Ontario's independent and small-town newspapers, turning them into his personal broadsheets. I'm sure Conrad Black is ecstatic.

But I tell you, for this government to talk about a tax break for the wealthiest, and when it's going to borrow $22 billion more added to the province's debt to pay for that tax break in addition to all the cutting and slashing, and when it's going to meet its real electoral obligations -- not electoral obligations to the people of Ontario, not electoral obligations to the working people or retirees or kids or seniors -- when it's going to repay its debt to its developer friends by killing rent controls, this government has shown its true colours. Listen, friends, Preston Manning would be proud of you. Killing rent control, I'm sure, gives him a smile and a pleasure that's hard to replicate.

I'm opposed to the time allocation motion. It's a frontal attack on democracy. Government backbenchers should show some guts and oppose it as well. Government backbenchers who think that somehow merely going along -- I'm being encouraged to go on. I appreciate the support and I could go on, as you well know, and I'd love to go on, but we do want to get back to our ridings, because the polls are open till 9:30. I know James Wilson is out there pulling in the vote in Welland, John Cowan in Niagara Falls. Ed Gould up in St Catharines, the NDP candidate, has been working hard talking about working people, as he has through the course of the campaign.

The Speaker: I appreciate the fact they're all hardworking people, but this is a time allocation motion. You have a minute and 15 seconds left. Maybe we could finish in a flurry and talk about that.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. Ed Gould up in St Catharines, Willem Hanrath down in Erie-Lincoln, all of them committed to working people, committed to tenants. One of the things they asked me to say today is that they join with New Democrats here at Queen's Park in fighting a right-wing agenda that would place the poorest and the sickest and the weakest in our society under direct attack. It would sacrifice them, would serve them up to the wealthy multinational corporate world. Bill 96 is part and parcel of that overall scheme.

Bill 96 is going to kill rent control. It's going to insert brand-new, unknown-to-Ontario levels of discrimination on the part of landlords picking and choosing prospective tenants. You heard from other speakers and you heard during question period from both the official opposition and the New Democratic Party caucus our concern, shared by the head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who condemns this legislation for its discriminatory quality.

The Speaker: Thank you very much. Mr Leach has moved government notice of motion 21. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The House recessed from 1801 to 1816.

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


Barrett, Toby

Johns, Helen

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Johnson, David

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Beaubien, Marcel

Jordan, W. Leo

Ross, Lillian

Boushy, Dave

Kells, Morley

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Klees, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Leach, Al

Spina, Joseph

Cunningham, Dianne

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Danford, Harry

Marland, Margaret

Tsubouchi, David H.

Doyle, Ed

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Froese, Tom

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Galt, Doug

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Gilchrist, Steve

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Grimmett, Bill

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Hardeman, Ernie

O'Toole, John

Young, Terence H.

Jackson, Cameron

Ouellette, Jerry J.


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


Bradley, James J.

Kormos, Peter

Morin, Gilles E.

Duncan, Dwight

Lankin, Frances

Pouliot, Gilles

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 44; the nays are 6.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

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

The House adjourned at 1819.