36th Parliament, 1st Session

L205 - Mon 16 Jun 1997 / Lun 16 Jun 1997












































The House met at 1331.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I rise today to inform members of the Legislature about a very important campaign going on in Thunder Bay. "Raise Values Above Violence" is sponsored by the Catholic Women's League of the diocese of Thunder Bay, which has been studying the effect of violence on youth. This group is carrying on the valuable work started by the Thunder Bay Television Advisory Council's "Speak Out Against Violence" campaign.

The underlying premise of the campaign envisions values and violence as opposite ends of a seesaw: as one goes up, the other falls, hence the campaign slogan, "Raise Values Above Violence."

According to the Canadian Council on Social Development, the reality is that while awareness of violence in the lives of young people has increased greatly in the last decade, many of us still underestimate the problem and its far-reaching effects. We know that violence has serious effects on the short- and long-term health of young people, on their development and on their ability to reach their potential.

By promoting values above violence, we can all come to see that our lives can be lived more safely, happily and with kindness as its own reward.

I want to mention also the campaign's mascot, Kicoo the bear. Kicoo stands for "kindness in caring of others," a moniker we could all stand to remember in our daily lives. I wanted to introduce Kicoo to the members of the House, Speaker, but I recognize that you might have ruled me out of order. But Kicoo is a wonderful mascot.

Finally, I want to commend the Catholic Women's League and Thunder Bay Television for their efforts in addressing the chronic problem of violence for our youth. I invite other communities across the province to join this growing campaign, and I offer to put them in touch with the wonderful people behind the campaign in Thunder Bay.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): This past Friday the entire administration of the town of Marathon was turned over to its young people. Some 24 positions, each and every one of them pivotal to the efficient operation of the town, were staffed by boys and girls from grades 5 and 6.

Children from Margaret Twomey, Holy Saviour and Val des Bois elementary schools competed in educational projects organized by the school staff. The successful students were placed in management positions. They included mayor of Marathon, OPP detachment commander, fire chief, school principals, mine manager, hospital administrator, ambulance attendant, media corespondent and editor, bank manager, director of education, town chief administrative officer, park warden, town engineer and postmaster.

The Marathon detachment of the OPP, those men and women, coordinated and helped in those efforts, and I wish to take this opportunity to commend them.

All the participants felt that their time at the top, one day today and many in the future, was most rewarding indeed.

I was there and felt most honoured. I had a great time, and they made it that way. I thank you and I wish them well.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I'm honoured to rise in the House today to congratulate Ken Armstrong, a great citizen of Peterborough and good friend, on being recently named the Peterborough Volunteer of the Year.

Over 1,000 people, including 392 award recipients, gathered last week at the city's annual civic awards. This event was a time to honour those who have made a commitment to our great community.

A native of Cornwall, Ken moved to Peterborough in 1961 to teach high school at Adam Scott. After retiring from teaching, Ken decided to serve the community in many other ways. He went on to host a local public affairs show on Rogers cable 10, he was pivotal in making the Showplace Peterborough theatre a reality, and more recently he co-chaired the fund-raising group that was instrumental in developing the Evinrude Centre, a state-of-the-art community/sports facility in our city.

This type of volunteer effort is vital to our communities if they are to remain strong and active, and Ken Armstrong has truly demonstrated that commitment to the people of Peterborough.

On behalf of my constituents, my deepest and sincerest congratulations to Ken Armstrong. His tireless efforts have truly made a positive difference in the lives of Peterborough's citizens.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Today the Harris government will try to impose on the Legislature a measure that will make the trains run on time: a motion that will establish what will amount to a parliamentary dictatorship.

Since taking office in 1995, the Harris regime has never been satisfied with democracy, with having to take the proper time to deal with its radical, revolutionary legislative agenda, or the accountability that comes with assuming the reins of power.

The unelected backroom boys who hold the real power in this right-wing regime are impatient with the pace at which this revolution is being implemented and annoyed at the thought that the opposition could slow down the government in its rush to change Ontario to the liking of the very rich and privileged. They resent the democratic process and they're determined to crush those who would dare to question their wisdom.

The government will try to portray its procedural rule changes as reasonable and sensible, but make no mistake about it: They are designed to squelch all opposition to their drastic changes. Any power the opposition had to moderate the pace of change, to ensure adequate debate and discussion of legislation and motions will be severely reduced or eliminated. We will have in Ontario what will amount to a virtual dictatorship.

The role of this House will become that of a rubber stamp for the Premier's backroom advisers. With severe restrictions on public debate and discussion, the people of the province will not be aware of the consequences of this government's actions.

Most people have asked that the Mike Harris government move more slowly, more cautiously and less drastically. Instead they are determined to make the trains run on time, but at what price?


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On Saturday afternoon, I joined a gathering organized by a group of citizens of Metropolitan Toronto called the Rocket Riders, who are advocating continued support for public transit in Metropolitan Toronto.

Their concern and mine is a provision of the new draft Municipal Act the government has released, particularly section 10, which says that municipalities can't stop private companies from setting up shop to compete with the TTC. Some people might say, "What's wrong with that?" Competition in their minds might be a good thing. The problem is that when Joe's Private Van Service, for example, runs along Queen Street scooping up passengers, it takes away the revenues the TTC needs to fund transit services that don't make money. The main routes would get chaotic, unregulated service; the suburbs, the less-traffic areas, would get no service at all. That means that tens of thousands of hardworking people would have a very hard time getting to work.

There is a very remote chance that this may simply have been a drafting error. I hope, perhaps against all hope, that's what it is, because the discussion paper talks about sorting out the responsibilities between the provincial and the municipal level in terms of regulating. But as it is written now, this would mean the end of public transportation in Metropolitan Toronto and indeed throughout the province.

I want to call upon this government to rethink its position if it is going in this area, and to correct the mistake if it is simply a drafting error.


Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): It is with pleasure that I stand today to announce a very special event that will be taking place in our great city of Mississauga on July 11, 12 and 13 at the Meadowvale Theatre and West Credit Secondary School and park. Following in a tradition that began last year, the Mississauga International Children's Festival will bring joy to many children between the ages of one and 12. These magical days will be filled with fabulous children's entertainment, including a giant puppet parade, theatre, storytelling and much more.

I am also proud to announce that a portion of the gate receipts at this year's festival will be directed to the paediatric units of the Credit Valley and Mississauga General hospitals. Our appreciation goes to the many volunteers, the many people who have dedicated their time and energy to provide a creative and fun experience for children in Mississauga.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I rise today to report to this House about the enormity of the error and the problems created by the Minister of Health in connection with his comments about Peterborough Civic Hospital. We find now in that community that they have united to demanded an apology from the minister for the minister having accused Civic Hospital of wheeling bedridden patients out of their room and into hallways to show television cameras that the hospital was underfunded.

For the minister, not even being minister at the time, to have called the Deputy Minister of Health and told her there were a whole pile of empty rooms -- the newspaper, the medical staff, people from outside in the community can't find those empty rooms because they're not there. The Peterborough Examiner said it would take the cooperation of the entire hospital, a conspiracy of silence, with the participation of the media, and not just television but the print media who were there for days and weeks before, of the whole community, who have had these real concerns about a hospital that isn't working because of the funding cuts this government has made.

Rather than deal with that, the minister has made people like Dr Allan Thompson, the president of the medical staff at the Civic; Dean MacDonald, the executive director of the hospital; and Lynne Douglas, the emergency room nurse, feel it was their responsibility.

Minister, you must either resign or apologize for those ridiculous and insulting comments. As the newspaper suggests, the minister's lips should be sutured for the kind of insult he is conferring on the people of Ontario and the people of Peterborough.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I rise today to put on the record some very serious concerns I have about what is happening in the health care system in our province. I speak as a former Minister of Health; I speak as a member of provincial Parliament representing a number of people who have raised concerns with respect to Wellesley Hospital and Women's College Hospital and Doctors Hospital; and I speak also as a woman, as a user of our health care system.

I feel so much trepidation as I watch this government march down the road of this arm's-length process, handing over to the hospital restructuring commission all these decisions based on numbers, inadequate numbers at that, without looking at the communities served and the special nature of those services.

I want to talk specifically about Women's College Hospital. It is a crime to see that group continuing to bend over backwards to meet the minister's needs, to be flexible, to show that they are going to try and meet all the government's concerns -- but to stress to the government that we can no longer have adequate concern and consideration paid to women's health if we do not have separate governance structures to ensure that focus is clear, to ensure that is maintained.

It is not good enough to combine it under the governance structures of Sunnybrook and say: "Trust us. It will continue." As they transfer those services -- and you look at the maternal and newborn and other services the government seems to be sanctioning -- it makes you think it's nothing more than our reproductive health --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Wellington.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): The government was elected with a mandate to reform Ontario's social assistance programs. In an effort to help people on social assistance enter the workforce, the county of Wellington has recently completed its Ontario Works business plan.

Just today we received word that the provincial government has approved the plan and implementation is set to begin in July. Under the program, able-bodied people receiving social assistance will be required to accept offers of community placement, training or job placement as an ongoing condition of their eligibility. Groups like the disabled and seniors will be exempt from the requirements but may take advantage of these programs on a voluntary basis.

My constituents in Wellington believe that people who are physically able to work should be working. It is a fact that the vast majority of people on welfare would prefer to work if given the opportunity. However, many people become trapped on the welfare treadmill, and to get off it they need support and positive encouragement so they can believe in themselves again. They need help to gain that first foothold so they can climb the employment ladder to permanent jobs that pay well.

The county's plan on this subject speaks eloquently to these objectives. It states:

"Ontario Works attempts to reform Ontario's social assistance system constructively and has the potential to be a powerful and positive force in the lives of social assistance recipients.... The purpose of this plan is to design a social assistance system which will ultimately reduce the need for assistance by providing individuals and families the resources to become self-sufficient."

In closing, I'd like to extend my very best wishes to Ontario Works participants as they seize this opportunity --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Wellington, thank you.


Ms Churley: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I believe my principles as a member of this House have been breached, and indeed I believe the safety of the public visiting our Legislature is at issue. I'll take a minute or so to explain.

Like many of us, after a long winter I look forward to the warmer weather. On the rare occasion that time permits, I like to eat my lunch on the lawn or just sit quietly for a few moments. Not until this week did I learn that to do so could be endangering my health.

It's come to my attention that the previous weekend the lawns around the building were sprayed with a substance called Par 3, which is a combination of 2,4-D, dicamba and mecoprop. Some of these chemicals have been taken off the market in other jurisdictions because they have ended up in the drinking water supply.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Riverdale, I'm not demeaning your point of privilege at all, but the point is simply that it isn't a point of privilege here. That is not an issue that is privilege in the Legislature.

I appreciate the fact that you have some concerns with respect to the spraying of the lawns. You expressed those concerns to my office. I did not know that had taken place, and I think we've given you an undertaking that it will not happen again. If you would like to meet on this further, I'll be happy to meet further, but with respect to privilege in this building and a privileged point of order, I don't see it as a point of privilege. It's administration at best.

Ms Churley: Mr Speaker, to continue quickly, it's also about the lack of signage. I believe it is a breach of privilege of every member in this House and the visitors who come by, when in my understanding the lawns are under the jurisdiction of the legislative precinct and that decision is made on that level. It came to my attention when I was outside that the lawn had been sprayed over the weekend and the signage had been taken down.

I'm expressing two concerns: (1) I want you to look into why the signage had been removed, and (2) whether all our policies regarding spraying are being taken into consideration.

The Speaker: You know what, member for Riverdale? I'm having a very difficult time finding a head of privilege this would fall under. Having said that, I am not going to demean your point of privilege. If you would like to speak with me at any time after today -- I will give you my undertaking that the chemical spraying won't happen again; I think we've committed to that to you personally -- and if you want to pursue this line of questioning at a later date, that's fine. With the greatest of respect, there is no head of privilege I can find for that particular issue.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Is this the same point of privilege?

Ms Lankin: It is with respect to what constitutes a point of privilege.

The Speaker: Okay, I will hear the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, I'll be very brief, because I think you have indicated a course of resolution to the concern the member for Riverdale has raised and I think she will follow up on that with you.

I just want to point out to you that on other occasions in this House we have raised points of privilege with respect to accessibility of this building, for example; with respect to cleanliness of parts of this building; security of this building; other items of management of the legislative precinct which have been considered to be points of privilege.

I only raise that for your consideration to look at, because I think the member for Riverdale did have a legitimate point of privilege. I think it's been taken care of; we don't need to belabour the point. But I would hope the ruling you just made would not be a precedent in the future which would prohibit us from bringing forward what I think are very legitimate concerns.

The Speaker: I will say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, access, in my opinion, may always be a point of privilege. Access to this building by members of Parliament is in fact I think a point of privilege.

Cleanliness, spraying of the lawns, if you could cite me examples where I have ruled they are points of privilege, I'd like to see them. What I did at those times and today -- I understand your concern; it may not be a point of privilege -- I'll deal with that issue as I see it.

As far as the other issues you address, I always think access is a point of privilege; I'm really not sure the others fall under the heading of a point of privilege.



Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: On Thursday afternoon, as a member of this House, I felt that my privileges were violated by the language used by the member for Welland-Thorold. In my 12 years in this chamber, I have heard frustration expressed on both sides of the chamber to a degree, but I have never heard, nor has anyone I've spoken to in this chamber, the kind of profanity repeated and repeated by the member for Welland-Thorold as he attacked the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism in this chamber. I ask for your opinion as to whether that is a breach of privilege.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): First of all, it would not be a point of privilege; probably better, it would be a point of order. As a point of order it has been dealt with. It was dealt with on Thursday, and I see no reason to pursue the matter any further today.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I realize you ruled under 23(k) on the event of Thursday. However, I would like to go back beyond Thursday. Something that has occurred more often and increasingly in this House is the use of profanity, street language. This House is supposed to be a model of decorum. We are supposed to set an example --

The Speaker: Member for Kitchener, with respect, you'll know I just ruled on the point of order offered up by the member for Mississauga South. I want to say there is no timeliness in your standing in your place and outlining your concerns with respect to language. I suggest to the member for Kitchener, if you have concerns about language, the moment that language is used is the time for you to stand up and raise your point of order. This does not become a debating society where we cite examples of months or years ago. If you have concerns, the time to raise them is at that time, and if you raise them at any time after that, it is not a timely point of order and in fact would not be considered to be in order.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a midwestern parliamentary delegation headed by Representative David Adkins and Senator Bob Cupp. Please join me in welcoming them. Welcome, gentlemen.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, over the past few days, we've heard quite a bit about your high expectations for Ontario students and the additional responsibilities you'll be giving to teachers to ensure that they are ready for this September's new curriculum. But I want to talk for a moment about your role in all this, and in particular the fact that you are failing to recognize that anybody who knows anything about this matter understands that if our students are going to do better, it's important they start at the earliest possible opportunity, and of course that means junior kindergarten.

You have a role here in helping our students to meet the grade. My question for you quite simply is, given that junior kindergarten is an absolute essential today to ensure that students are ready to learn, why don't we have junior kindergarten funded in Ontario today?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): This may be startling news to the Leader of the Opposition. We do.

Mr McGuinty: Perhaps it will come with some shock to the minister to be informed that 25 school boards to date, 30,000 students in Ontario, have been denied junior kindergarten on his watch because of your cuts to funding.

Minister, I want you to be clear on this. I agree with high standards, but I apply those to you as well. In particular, what are you going to do to help our students make the grade? There are thousands of children in Ontario today who are going to need special help, either because they don't have French or English as a second language or they suffer from particular kinds of learning disabilities. All of those can be addressed at the beginning, which is junior kindergarten.

Minister, are you going to assume your role and reinstate funding for junior kindergarten in Ontario?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Just to make it clear to the Leader of the Opposition, although I think it's clear to about 12 million other people in Ontario, but it needs to be clarified for you, no one is being denied junior kindergarten in this province as an act of this government. It simply is not happening. In fact, this government is funding junior kindergarten programs where boards have decided to offer them at the same rate we're funding senior kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3. I have made this clear to your education critic in the past. Perhaps you should consult with her and get the facts straight on this.

Second, as far as high standards in this province, as far as having our students be where they should be, which is the head of the class, not behind students in other provinces but right there at the head, we have made some vital steps towards that goal, including the announcements last Friday about a tough standard in curriculum. You could have done that seven years ago, but instead you chose to condemn those students to a substandard level of education. We won't tolerate it. You did.

Mr McGuinty: It's perfectly clear that the minister luxuriates in this language of tough love and tough standards and he applies them to everybody but himself. Let me make it clear what you've done to Ontario students on your watch. So far, 25 school boards have been forced to cut junior kindergarten; 23 boards have been forced to reduce special education programs; seven boards have cut library services. Painful as it may be to realize, Minister, you are going to have to play a role to help our students learn. You cannot continue to throw up obstacles in their way. Otherwise, what you are doing is effectively writing off our students and condemning them to failure.

If you're really serious about our kids succeeding in school, then why won't you as minister assume your responsibility and do the kinds of things that are essential to help them meet with success, starting with junior kindergarten?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Once again, it's becoming embarrassing. The Leader of the Opposition doesn't understand. We fund junior kindergarten currently. We will continue to do so. What perhaps is confusing to the Leader of the Opposition is that we're keeping an election promise and he's not used to that, having been a Liberal most of his life.

Let me tell you this: We have done more to improve education in this province in the last two years than the two previous governments did in their entire term, including committing the province to funding education so that every student in this province will have an opportunity for a high-quality education, including having curriculum that meets the needs of our students and, finally, having our students being able to outperform students in other provinces -- finally and at long last.

The legacy of your government is very clear in Ontario: It's students in the middle of the pack in terms of test results. We won't tolerate that. We're going to have a system that meets our students' needs and we're going to have it very quickly. I and my colleagues are proud of those changes, proud that we've had the courage and the vision to put them in place here in Ontario.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is for the same minister, the minister who has denied junior kindergarten to 30,000 Ontario students. Minister, I want to talk about 357 students in particular living in the Ottawa-Carleton area who are attending at present the McHugh school offered in eastern Ontario to those students who have very special problems, special learning disabilities, severe emotional, psychological and behavioural problems.

Apparently, there is some fight ongoing between your government and the Ottawa Board of Education about some amount in the range of $31 million, and I want to set that aside for a moment, because that's not what the parents and the students are concerned about. They want to know whether they're going to be able to attend the McHugh school programs in September of this year. All I need is a yes or no from you, Minister.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Yes.

Mr McGuinty: Just so the minister is brought up to speed on this, I spoke with the principal of McHugh school this morning. He tells me that his teachers, as of 5 o'clock today, will begin to accept offers to work with other school boards because he cannot offer to them a guarantee that his program will be funded by you. Stand up right now, Minister, and provide us with the assurance that this program is going to be funded, no ifs, ands or buts, and tell us when the funding is going to be delivered.

Hon Mr Snobelen: It obviously confuses the Leader of the Opposition if he can't read his notes verbatim. Perhaps next time I'll wait to say yes until your third question so it won't get you out of sync. The answer is yes.

The Ottawa board, which has been providing these section 27 services to young people in that Ottawa area --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Just a minute, Minister. Order.


The Speaker: Member for St Catharines, you must withdraw that comment, the dictator comment.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Since I want to speak later on this afternoon, I will withdraw the comment, although I may --

The Speaker: You know full well that "withdraw" is the only word I'm looking for and anything else is extraneous. Minister.

Hon Mr Snobelen: The grace of the member for St Catharines is obvious again today. As you will probably understand if you look into this issue a little bit, you'll find there was an agreement made under the social contract, by the previous government, with the Ottawa board. The Ottawa board has recently advised us, or at least I'm told they've recently advised the ministry, that they may shirk their responsibility to these young people. I can assure you today that the province will not. The province will make sure the programs for those people are funded next September. You have that assurance from me today.

Mr McGuinty: The agreement signed between the Ottawa Roman Catholic Separate School Board and the McHugh school was signed by them in early April. That was submitted to you about April 15. To this point in time it has not been signed by you or your representative, and until that is done and a copy is returned to the authorities in education in Ottawa, they have no assurance whatsoever. Parents don't want to hear about the social contract, parents don't want to hear about some ongoing fight between you and the Ottawa Board of Education, and 357 students want to know that in September they'll be able to return to class. When will that agreement be signed and when will it be sent back to Ottawa-Carleton?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I hate to do this to the member for Ottawa Centre, but he said on March 8, 1996, about this change, about the social contract, about the movement of funds to the Ottawa board, "In terms of fairness, if all boards are having to rejig their systems in order to contribute, it seems to me you've got to have all board participate." That's what he said about this.

The people in Ottawa can be assured of this: We will not allow those children to suffer. We will make sure those programs are offered and we will review the suggestion that was made by the separate school board and the public school board and we will respond to that in the very near future. But the people of Ontario, particularly the people of Ottawa, can rest assured we will provide the funding for those students. They have my assurance and this government's assurance of that today.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Minister of Labour. Hearings begin today on Bill 99, your legislation attacking injured workers and the workers' compensation system. It's bad enough that literally over 1,000 people will not be heard at these hearings because of the limitations you've placed on them. But what's even worse is you've started to implement your privatization scheme for workers' compensation even before these hearings. Your government contracted with the consultants KPMG and KPMG came back and gave you a scenario for privatizing some of the WCB services. You started to do that.

Minister, do your government's privatization guidelines and your guidelines to protect against conflict of interest apply to KPMG in the privatization of WCB services?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): It's extremely important to remember that whether you call it privatization or contracting out, certainly some of that was begun under your government. As you well know, there are services that are now offered within the vocational rehabilitation program started by yourself where you required the expertise of people outside of WCB. Some of the changes we are continuing to make will again include contracting out of some of the specialized services that are going to be required by the WCB.

Mr Hampton: I asked the minister specifically about KPMG and she struggled hard to avoid answering with respect to KPMG, so let's go back to it. The WCB gave KPMG a contract to plan the overhaul of the board. KPMG drew up a plan including privatizing large chunks of workers' compensation operations. Some parts of that have already been implemented.

The reason I asked you the question, Minister, is this: While KPMG was working for the government and setting up a privatization plan for the WCB, it's now out there saying to people: "Thinking of WCB savings? Think of KPMG." In other words, they have their insider knowledge of how workers' compensation is going to be privatized and they're out there telling employers, "Come and see KPMG if you want the inside track." Minister, do your guidelines for conflict of interest cover KPMG?

Hon Mrs Witmer: In response to the leader of the third party, we have been advised by the senior management at WCB that there is no conflict of interest that exists at the present time.

Mr Hampton: Once again we see this government's standards. It's okay for KPMG to design the privatization of the workers' compensation operations. Then it's okay for them to use that insider information and go out there and talk to private sector employers and say: "If you want the inside word on how things are going to happen at the Workers' Compensation Board, come and talk to us. We've got the inside word. The government gave it to us." This reflects on your government's standards. Let me ask you this: Will you extend the public hearings so these very important issues can be brought up and the public interest, the taxpayers' interest can be protected from your privatization schemes?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm not sure where the leader of the third party is headed, but I simply want to indicate very strongly that the changes we are making to the Workers' Compensation Board are such that the interests of the taxpayers will indeed be protected. We want to ensure there are fair and secure benefits for injured workers in the future. We also want to make sure that employers in this province pay assessment rates that are competitive and will continue to encourage people to invest and create new jobs in the province of Ontario. So we are protecting the taxpayers' money.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mr Hampton: I would say to the Minister of Labour, I don't see any protection of the public interest. I see KPMG making a profit here off your privatization scheme.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A similar question to the Chair of Management Board: Your privatization agenda I believe reaches right into your own office. Last week we received word that Mac Penney, your executive assistant, is going to work for Government Policy Consultants, a prominent lobby firm. Our interest is this: We want to ensure that people who work in the public sector on Monday, and who are negotiating privatization deals on Monday for the government, don't jump over to the private sector company that they negotiated with on Tuesday or Wednesday, or don't jump over and then start to consult in the private sector on the deal they just worked out in the public sector.

Minister, can you confirm your own executive assistant is leaving to join Government Policy Consultants?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): My employees, government employees, have every right to seek alternative employment. What a particular individual will do surely is not at the dictates of the leader of the third party, as much as the leader of the third party may wish to buttonhole individual employees.

If one of my employees chooses to leave, I can tell you this: The conflict-of-interest principles we have established will be fully employed. The Integrity Commissioner will be asked to investigate and review the matter and ensure there is no conflict if any one of my employees or any of the employees involved with any of the ministers were to leave. Exactly the same procedure would take place to ensure that. The Integrity Commissioner would ensure there is a fair process and one that involves no conflict of interest.

Mr Hampton: I take it you are acknowledging that your executive assistant is leaving now to join the private sector firm. Your executive assistant, Mac Penney, would have had a hand in all of the privatizations you've undertaken. You've privatized water testing labs, cleaning services, mail room services, GO Temp, the government's temporary help agency, and more and you're not finished. The motto seems to be: If it moves, privatize it.

Minister, if you're indeed interested in protecting the public interest, will you make public all the privatization files Mac Penney worked on in your office so taxpayers can judge for themselves what kind of insider knowledge Mr Penney will take with him to his position at GPC? Will you make that information available?

Hon David Johnson: It's interesting that alternative service delivery is not new, yet previous governments -- the one the leader of the third party was involved with -- did nothing to introduce conflict-of-interest guidelines, were in office for five years, did absolutely nothing. This government on April 23 brought in conflict-of-interest guidelines, and I can assure the leader of the third party that any individual who leaves this government, in the employ of a member of the cabinet, for example, such as myself, will be subject to a review by the Integrity Commissioner.

The Integrity Commissioner will determine that there's no conflict of interest; for example, that the individual is not working on a file for government and then he or she can go to the private sector and work on that same file. As to any firm an individual has had significant dealings with, that individual will not be able to go and work for that private sector firm for at least 12 months.

Mr Hampton: I asked the minister a very clear question. I asked if you would make public the privatization files Mac Penney worked on. A very simple request: Make available to the public the list of privatization files Mac Penney worked on so that members of the public can see for themselves. Members of the public will be able to tell if Mr Penney, when he goes to GPC, is protecting the public interest or is dealing more in enhancing the private interest. That's a simple question. I asked that question and I ask you now: Table the legislation that you promised, that you said would protect the public interest, because I don't think in any of the examples today you've given us one assurance that the public interest is being served. Show us the files; bring us the legislation. Do the right thing.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Don't take Charles's advice. Don't just slough it off that it's the privacy commissioner, that it's in court. That's what Charles does.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon David Johnson: If the member for Beaches-Woodbine has had her say, what the leader of the third party is saying is he doesn't trust the Integrity Commissioner to do his job. That's exactly what we've set up. The leader of the third party does not trust the Integrity Commissioner.

In the announcement of April 23 we set up a clear process involving the Integrity Commissioner with principles such as: You can't work on a file in government and work on that same file in the private sector; you cannot move from government to the private sector, to any firm with which you've had significant dealings. The Integrity Commissioner is the guardian of that process. I, for one, trust the Integrity Commissioner. I will ensure that the Integrity Commissioner reviews any individual case from my office, as will all the cabinet ministers, and the public will be protected through that process.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health. I'd like to ask you about Northwestern General Hospital. As you're aware, Northwestern was one of the hospitals that was in the draft directions from your hospital restructuring commission. It was suggested at that time that the site be closed in 1999. It has already been brought to your attention in this House that Northwestern is being closed in a hurry-up fashion. It'll be shut down by September unless you act. The outpatient clinics are being closed by the end of June; psychiatric beds are being moved out by the end of June; obstetrics are moving July 15, but not gynaecology; and the entire surgical program is supposed to move in September, which will necessitate the closure of the emergency room.

Minister, you've said earlier that there should be no transfer, you've given no approval for it. It is unknown to the public and unknown to the people in the general area that this is the way we're going to be closing hospitals, and of course it makes a mockery of the hospital restructuring commission because they haven't even given us their final report for Metro.

In the case of Northwestern, you've been aware of the situation. I'd like to ask you today, have you acted on it and have you instructed the board to slow down or to stop this taking down of this hospital in such a hurried-up fashion?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): As I said to the honourable member when he asked this question last, this is not being driven by the Ministry of Health. It is an extremely complicated situation that occurs, of course, during restructurings, when announcements are made. You'll find that Branson, for example, can't get doctors because they're not interested in working there as much as they were in the past because of the interim directives.

What all of us need to see are the final directives from the Health Services Restructuring Commission and then the ministry will be involved. At this point, we're monitoring the situation. That is the best we can do, given that we're in a quasi-legal process and the ministry is not driving this process, the Health Services Restructuring Commission is. We're all waiting for the final directives.

Mr Kennedy: Minister, we're aware when exceptions can be made. We know about that in Burk's Falls; we'll hear about that soon in terms of small rural hospitals. The people served by Northwestern need to know what you're going to do. When you take out gynaecology and you don't take out obstetrics, that means that babies won't be delivered by the doctors who have the children under their care.

There's $20 million in capital that was supposed to go into Humber Memorial Hospital to take over emergency services. None of that has been approved or spent and yet emergencies are going to be shut down to some level of complete confusion. There are orthopaedic surgeons who say Humber hospital is not prepared to take their cases. The speed at which they're moving is dangerous to patient care.

Minister, you have the power, you gave yourself the power under Bill 26 to give directions to hospitals at any time you see fit. For the integrity of the process you spoke about, but more important, for the safety of the patients currently being served in northwest Toronto, will you act and put a stop to this speeded-up closing down of the Northwestern hospital site? Will you do that today?

Hon Mr Wilson: I have acted -- and by the way, those powers weren't contained in Bill 26; they've always been part of the Public Hospitals Act -- long before the member raised this issue in the House. It is a daily management issue for the ministry in terms of making sure there aren't gaps in services.

I remind the honourable member that the building doesn't cure anybody. The programs are moving, many of them intact, to other locations. I tell you that we're doing the very best we can. The board of Northwestern has not in any way abrogated its responsibility, if that's what you're implying. They have a legal responsibility to provide care and that's what they're doing.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is also to the Minister of Health. Statements you've made in the Legislature regarding the fate of Women's College Hospital and women's health services contradict what is actually happening. You indicated to me more than once that the commission has directed that all programs delivered by Women's College Hospital be maintained and enhanced, but that is not what the commission has recommended.

The focus for women's health at Sunnybrook will be on maternal newborn services. The clinical and academic setting for a focus on all aspects of women's health will be lost. All this will be lost because Women's College, regardless of the physical location, will lose its governance structure. It is the governance, direction and focus given to women's health by a board that will be lost.

Minister, if you are really serious about all the services provided by Women's College being maintained and enhanced, will you support the retention of a separate governance structure for Women's College at Sunnybrook? Will you do that today?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The final decision about governance will be made by the Health Services Restructuring Commission.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Who are you trying to kid? The chauffeur doesn't decide where to go; the member in the back seat does.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Algoma.

Hon Mr Wilson: I would remind the honourable member that in the interim report the commission itself calls for the maintenance and enhancement of programs currently being delivered.

I also remind you that this government has put $10 million into the women's health institute, which is several times more money to be spent on women's health research than is currently spent by Women's College in this province. Their own vice-president of research has applauded the government for doing that and is very much looking forward to the new and exciting things they can do as a program for women's health research to improve the health of women and children in the province.

Ms Churley: You're the same minister who told me that I was breaking the law before for asking you this question. Remember that? The police haven't come to get me yet, but in all seriousness, Women's College Hospital has shown incredible flexibility in determining and trying to figure out a way to meet its needs and the government's needs. All I'm asking you today is to endorse that and let the commission know that you care about women's health beyond our reproductive systems. There's a little bit more to women's health than that.

You stated on April 22 that you supported those objectives, that is, a downtown ambulatory care and sexual assault centre and its own governance. The current proposed direction ignores, for example, the advances Women's College has made in women's cardiac research. We're in danger here of losing everything that we've established over the past 50 years. Will you commit --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Riverdale. Minister of Health, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: Nothing could be further from the truth. The government is ahead of any changes to Women's College Hospital, putting more money into women's health. There are many people today, including the deans of medicine, who have told me in the past, "The best thing you can do for women's health is to incorporate it as part of the day-to-day activities of all hospitals in the province." The people at Women's College know that because the research they do then goes out and is disseminated to all the hospitals in the province.

Ms Churley: You will never be forgotten if you --

The Speaker: Member for Riverdale, come to order.

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, I say the best thing that can be done for women's health, and the advice I get, is that it be the focus of every institution, every physician, and the focus of the entire health care system, not just one hospital located in downtown Toronto. I know the women of Ontario want the focus of health care in Ontario to be on women, on children, on those who have unique needs in our health care system.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. There has been a fair amount of activity, one could say a virtual flurry of activity, around municipal restructuring in Ontario. In my own region, of course, there has also been a great deal of activity, so much so that members of the regional council had been lobbying members of this Legislature a fair amount for approval of some of the changes that they requested. The municipalities are anxious to avoid overlap and duplication in the services.

We passed Bill 135 last week in so far as the region of Waterloo is concerned, and I wonder if you could give us a little detail as to exactly what that bill is designed to cover.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I would like to thank the members of the opposition for their support in making sure that bill went through.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Why don't you get rid of these rule changes then?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for St Catharines, come to order, please.

Mr Bradley: Don't even bother thanking the opposition. The thanks we got were dictatorial rule changes; that's the thanks we got for doing that last Wednesday.

Hon Mr Leach: Again I'll thank the members of the opposition, with the exception of the member for St Catharines, if that's what he wants.

I can tell you that on June 11 Bill 135 received second and third reading. I also want to thank the members from Kitchener-Waterloo for all the hard work they put in.

Bill 135 provides for the direct election of the regional chairman, and it also reduces the number of regional councillors from 26 to 22. It's a good example of how municipalities throughout the province are trying to streamline and get rid of waste and duplication.

Mr Wettlaufer: I wonder if you could give us some details about the restructuring plans that other municipalities are doing.

Hon Mr Leach: I would like to inform the House that when this party took office two years ago there were 815 municipalities in Ontario. By the end of 1997 we'll be down to about 650 municipalities, which is a good indication of how the municipalities in Ontario have recognized the need to amalgamate, to restructure, to get rid of waste and duplication and provide more efficient government to the people of Ontario.

There are a couple of examples I could use. In the county of Lambton, the village of Watford and the township of Warwick will amalgamate to form a new township, reducing the number of municipal politicians from 10 to five. That is happening right across the province, including in the area of Kingston and The Islands, where well-known, well-intentioned municipalities have made wise decisions to provide better government.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the acting Premier. On Friday he will know that the widely respected credit rating agency, Moody's, issued its annual report on the financial health of Ontario. The minister will know that under the previous Bob Rae government Moody's downgraded Ontario's credit rating three times. We now find that Moody's is giving Mike Harris exactly the same credit rating as they gave Bob Rae.

In the report, importantly, they are saying that, fully implemented, the tax initiative will cost the government $5 billion in forgone revenue.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members for Nepean and Durham Centre, come to order, please. Member for Scarborough-Agincourt.


Mr Phillips: The minister will know that Moody's said that, fully implemented, the initiative will cost the government $5 billion in forgone revenue. They go on to say, "The magnitude of the tax cut increases the risk. Cuts beyond what is currently contemplated will be needed to secure the government's medium-term balanced budget objective."

The question is this: Why is the government ignoring the very strong concern of Moody's about the future credit rating of the province as you proceed with the tax cut?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I think the member opposite is determined to find the black cloud. I don't have the exact article before me with regard to the credit rating, but my recollection is it was a very favourable response by Moody's and Moody's indicated their extreme happiness with the situation of the province of Ontario.

I will tell you this: The Minister of Finance has been arranging borrowing for the province and the minister was rather amazed that he was able to borrow at 16 basis points over the federal borrowing rate. That's the lowest it has ever been in history. Even when Ontario had an AAA credit rating, the difference was at least 25 basis points. So the reality is that the financial community is saying that Ontario is doing a great job in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books.

Mr Phillips: The job of those organizations is to rate the credit. Forget all the rhetoric; the fact is that they have given Mike Harris exactly the same credit rating as they gave Bob Rae. I remember you and Mike Harris saying, "This credit rating is a disaster."

The public should know that we now have had the three major credit rating agencies look at the finances of the province and every single one has given exactly the same credit rating to Ontario as they gave to Bob Rae. Those are the hard facts for the province and the people of Ontario to appreciate: After two years of Mike Harris, exactly the same credit rating.

On Friday Moody's said, "Listen, we have some concerns that there are going to have to be dramatic additional cuts made in expenditures to meet the balanced budget program." My question is very simple: Are Moody's, Standard and Poor's and the Dominion Bond Rating Service wrong or is Mike Harris wrong?

Hon David Johnson: I'll tell you who I think is right out of this whole process: It's those who are creating jobs in Ontario. They are right. They know what's going on. They have confidence in this government. They have confidence in the province of Ontario: over the last three months, over 1,000 jobs a day.

I'll tell you who else is right: Those who loan money to Ontario are right in that they are giving the province the lowest interest rate in years, perhaps ever.


The Speaker: Okay, I understand. The excitement is palpable. New question.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. When the minister released the rewritten curriculum last week, dropping the requirement that by the end of grade 3 a student should be able to identify and describe stereotypes in media texts, he seemed to be contradicting a statement he made in this House in March when he said his ministry was planning to release a guidebook for principals and teachers on dealing with organized hate groups.

The guidebook had been sitting for months in the anti-discrimination and equal opportunity branch of his ministry. Instead of releasing the guidebook himself, the minister disbanded the anti-discrimination and equal opportunity branch of his ministry. It finally has been published by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in their most recent magazine edition of Education Forum.

Minister, do you honestly believe that we no longer require a branch of your ministry devoted to anti-discrimination and equal opportunity in Ontario schools? Doesn't our society benefit when students --

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

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I believe that branch of the ministry had completed the assignment it was given by the previous government and then maintained by this government, which was to work with the school boards as they developed anti-discrimination policies, policies to combat racism; those policies are now in place with every board across the province.

While we have disbanded the branch, no one in that branch lost their job. They are being put out in field services where they are closest to helping out people from the boards and teachers to make sure they combat these sorts of problems. I don't believe we'll ever be done combating discrimination, combatting racism. I believe it remains a priority for this government as it was for your government.

Mr Wildman: The minister says the work is never done, yet he says they completed their task. The minister has received a letter from the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association asking him to ensure a continuing structured effort on fighting discrimination. Metro Toronto council has asked the minister to extend the contracts of the few remaining staff in the anti-discrimination and equal opportunity branch. These are people who are seconded from school boards until the end of this month.

Will you accept Metro Toronto's request and extend the terms of these secondments past the end of June until you have demonstrated that the work of the anti-discrimination and equal opportunity branch will continue in Ontario?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I believe it's because boards have taken this issue on, again with the help of the ministry, with the support of the previous government, with the support of this government, that we have provided them with the resources they need. I believe the member for Algoma would agree with me that these programs matter in the school, in the classroom. That's where these programs need to take root, that's where we're going to help the most people, that's particularly where we're going to help young people, that's where our concentration of efforts should be; not at 900 Bay but in the classroom, and that's where it will be.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): My question is for the Minister of Education, Mr Snobelen, on curriculum reform. Last Friday you announced a new, higher-standard curriculum for our grade 1 to grade 8 students. I agree we must put our students first.

Parents in my constituency of Durham East have asked for clearer standards, clearer expectations, regular testing and regular reporting for their children. Minister, now that you've released our curriculum on language and math, which is more readable and more understandable for all parents and teachers and students, how will the new curriculum fit with the other reforms the government has introduced?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to thank the member for the question. It's obviously something of great interest to many people across the province. I want to begin, though, by thanking my caucus committee colleagues who helped us put this curriculum in place, the external advisory bodies that helped us do this and the teachers who were consulted across the province who helped us get good curriculum for grades 1 to 8, we believe the best curriculum in Canada.

It does fit with the package of reforms, certainly the funding reforms to make sure our funds are directed to the classroom, that there are no second-class students in this province by virtue of funding. It fits certainly with the secondary school reform that we are now going through. We've consulted with over 20,000 people across the province, looking for a more relevant secondary school program.

It fits together because it's all driven by the same goal, and that goal is to have the highest student achievement in Canada with our students in Ontario. We believe they deserve no less and we'll be delivering on that goal and on that promise. Thank you.


Mr O'Toole: I'm sure putting the student first is the objective of your ministry.

There have been some who have questioned that this curriculum is being introduced too quickly. Some teachers have complained that they will need more than just the summer to implement the new curriculum in time for September. Minister, are you concerned that we are late in introducing our new curriculum with higher standards?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I can assure the honourable member that in fact we are not. We have had a look at how curriculum was introduced in other jurisdictions, both successfully and not so successfully, and I believe we have the right mix with this introduction. We are phasing in the introduction of changes to grades 1 to 8. We are beginning next fall, two and a half months from now, with the languages and the math curriculum; then we will begin to phase in the other parts of curriculum so the total package will take two years to put in place.

We are sending out that curriculum right now. As a matter of fact it's available on our Web site at the ministry. We're putting out 165,000 copies. We're holding symposiums during the summer months to help people make the transition. We are also having orientation sessions with the boards and other groups to make sure our system is ready for these better standards for our students. Once again, all of this is driven by something I think we have in common with teachers, and that is the goal of having the highest student achievement in Canada with our Ontario students.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): My question is to the Solicitor General. I want to again ask you about the circumstances of the employees of Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. Over a week ago I asked you to consider reinstating these employees. We're talking about a group of people who collectively have over 130 years of faithful service to this ministry. We are talking about a set of circumstances whereby they were asked to deal with a large group of young offenders who had just rioted at another institution, set it on fire and were sent to them in handcuffs and leg-irons, all of this in the middle of a strike.

They're now fired based on an investigation conducted by your ministry. These folks are facing dramatic hardship. Trying to keep their homes, their health and their families has become a difficult challenge as they wait for a legal process, with staggering bills, to prove their innocence now on two fronts, criminally and within the ministry.

Minister, what does it take to convince you that your ministry has left these people twisting in the wind? What can you do for them today?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I very much appreciate the concerns expressed by the member in representing his constituents. As he knows, there was an internal investigation that took some months and it was headed up by an inspector from the Ontario Provincial Police. The report was finalized a number of weeks ago and was reviewed by senior officials within the ministry of corrections, who determined following the review that disciplinary action was called for, and based on that did indeed take action which involved a number of dismissals of managers. Those managers have the right to grieve to the Public Service Grievance Board with respect to the disciplinary action and I understand most, if not all of them are exercising that right.

Mr North: Minister, I'm calling on your sense of fairness with regard to your ministry's employees. I have in my hand documentation that will refute or call into question allegations of disregard for ministry policy and procedures by these employees, senior employees with 130 years of unblemished service to your ministry. I ask you today, will you read this information provided? Given the grave situation these employees are in, I ask you to commit this week to an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding these employees and their dismissal, and that they be reinstated to suspension with pay until such time as this or some similar fair, agreed upon process is completed.

Hon Mr Runciman: The Public Service Grievance Board, as I understand it, has the right to call witnesses. The member mentioned a lengthy legal process. As I understand it, hearings are scheduled for mid-July to late July to deal with these issues. They have the right to call witnesses, to have counsel represent them with respect to their concerns, and the board itself has the power to reinstate or make modifications to any disciplinary action meted out by the ministry.

Under section 22 of the Public Service Act, the authority to dismiss a civil servant lies within the mandate of the deputy minister or his or her designate, not the minister. I understand the member's frustrations with respect to having his concerns dealt with by the minister, but under the statutory authority, those powers lie with the deputy and his or her designate.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, over this last week, the untimely deaths of two children reminded us once again of the coroner's inquest into the death of Shanay Johnson. That inquest resulted in eight recommendations for action by your government, indeed mostly by your ministry. In the 38 days since this verdict was released, what recommendations have you acted on?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): We're working very closely with the Association of Children's Aid Societies to put in place not only those recommendations but other suggestions and recommendations that have come forward that will help us improve the children's aid, the child welfare system in Ontario.

Mrs Pupatello: In fact, almost every one of those 38 days we have been here in the House, and so far you have done nothing to ensure that deaths like Shanay Johnson's don't happen again. Months ago, the children's aid societies themselves handed you a list of amendments to the law that they need to help them do their job. You have now ensured that those amendments will not happen in this session, which means we can't even look forward to change and help to these agencies by the fall of this year. So far, your actions in this area have been a complete disappointment to everyone who feels that children are a priority to this government. When are you planning to do something that makes a real difference to kids in Ontario?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Contrary to the suggestion from the member opposite, we don't believe that rushing out and changing the legislation in a knee-jerk reaction is the way to solve a very fundamental and serious problem. If the member is suggesting that we should take recommendations that say we need to give children's aid societies more power and more authority to take children from families without consideration, without proper assessment, she should say that. I think the workers out there deserve more consideration from any government than to rush out and do something for the sake of generating a headline.

The budget was very clear. We have put forward additional resources that will help us implement recommendations at the Ministry of Community and Social Services. We're working with children's aid to come up with the best suggestions and alternatives.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Your ministry is now considering a class A licence application under the Aggregate Resources Act from Seeley and Arnill Aggregates Inc. This particular company proposes a quarry development in Severn township. The local residents who opposed the project before the Ontario Municipal Board argued that before any decision is made, there should be a complete re-evaluation of the wetlands complex. They are very concerned that there has not been an appropriate evaluation of the same and that two wetlands, a class 1 and a class 7, will be destroyed. Are you prepared to delay issuing of any licence to this company until a complete re-evaluation of the wetlands complex is done?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I want to thank the member of the third party for the question. I am well aware of the details around this issue. We are looking into it. As she knows, an elaborate process takes place any time an aggregate licence is requested; these processes take years. This one has gone through a number of years of study and went through to the OMB hearing, as you heard. We'll be looking into it. I am aware of the issue.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): It has come to my attention that a decision is going to be made any day. If you don't intervene directly now, it will be too late. I believe the residents of Severn township have brought forward a very good case. They don't want to have to go back to the OMB. The residents have already spent thousands of dollars in that process and they don't want to have to go through that again.


I'm sure you're well aware that it's not just the residents. The Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Sierra Club of Eastern Canada and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters have also made very strong submissions in opposition to this development.

I would ask you, Minister, to commit today to say that you will hold off on this project being given the go-ahead until you have re-evaluated which class it should be categorized in.

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I mentioned to the other member from the third party, I am aware of the issue. I've been consulted on it. We have a process that I think most people in the province agree is fair. It gives both parties ample access to have input, and it's gone to the OMB. The reason why we have an OMB is to have an impartial arbitrator of these decisions. After that, what happens is they want to make sure that all the issues were considered. I have received correspondence from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and people who are legitimately concerned about protecting wetlands and the values that wetlands contribute to the ecosystems in our province and we will be looking at that.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. When the government scrapped the old Advocacy Act, you promised to implement an approach which was community-based and reflective of the needs of the friends, family and volunteers who are already providing this type of support.

A component of your initiative for vulnerable adults was a telephone inquiry line and a comprehensive clearinghouse of information for those most in need. Can you share with this House how this portion of the initiative is coming along?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I thank the honourable member for Durham-York. Last year as a part of the initiative for vulnerable adults, this government announced its commitment to contract a community-based information service to vulnerable adults, including a province-wide telephone inquiry service and a comprehensive clearinghouse of information.

Last week with my honourable colleague the minister responsible for seniors, I was pleased to award a contract to a partnership of organizations led by ARCH, the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, with the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto and the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. The ministry has signed a two-year contract with ARCH and its partners which we anticipate will be launched by the fall.

Mrs Munro: Minister, can you explain to this House how this approach to advocacy differs from the previous government's? And what has been the reaction to our initiative from those who need this service most?

Hon Ms Mushinski: On April 17, 1996, I launched our $3-million community-based initiative for vulnerable adults. Another component of that plan is the $2.25-million community connections program which supports the coordination of community-based activities. As most members are aware, this component of our plan is delivered by the Trillium Foundation. I might add that the IVA program is in response to what we heard from many stakeholders, including Mr Reville, who is the former chair of the Advocacy Commission, who agreed we could deliver this program at the community level for approximately $3 million.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. The unworkable nature of your new amalgamated school boards is becoming all too obvious. One of the concerns that has been expressed over and over again, most recently at the Ontario Public School Boards' Association meeting last Friday, was that there are a great many small communities, particularly in northern Ontario, that will end up with no trustee representation at all. You had assured communities that they would have those concerns addressed. You even announced something called a low-density factor, but the bottom line is that it doesn't work, it doesn't solve the problem.

If I take board number 2 as an example, because these new boards are nameless, they only go by numbers, which serves the central area of northern Ontario, there will be no trustee representation at all for Chapleau, Wawa, White River or Hornepayne. Is it acceptable to you that these communities will have no representation at all on school board number 2?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for Fort William for asking the question today. Obviously, as we make changes in governance and we direct funds to the classroom away from the cost of bureaucracy and the number of people who work in the administration, there are going to be some difficulties in making that. We certainly agree with that. I would like to assure the member for Fort William that I have been talking with a number of people publicly about this change to see if we can do it in the best way possible to make sure communities are represented.

I've had some meetings with the member for Algoma recently about this very issue and we are looking at one of the alternatives, one of the options, that we can do to make sure those communities are represented properly. I'm sure the member for Fort William will remember that, since the time of the introduction of Bill 104, we have agreed to double the number of boards serving the northern communities on a recommendation from the Education Improvement Commission. Again, we are now looking at how we can improve on that situation, and I assure the member opposite that we want to make sure these changes not only work for the benefit of the communities but work for the benefit of the students. We will do that.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): "Speed, experience and team work save lives. Don't get burned by Bill 84.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Firefighters need speed, experience and teamwork to save lives. I oppose any legislation that could undermine the work of my local firefighters and jeopardize fire safety in my community. Please listen to the professional firefighters and amend Bill 84 to eliminate the threat to fire safety."

I affix my signature to this wonderful petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by the United Steelworkers of America, the Canadian R/PIC Council, from their council meeting in Niagara Falls last month over the name of Reg Duguay, assistant to the director for District 6. The petition reads as follows:

"Whereas Elizabeth Witmer returned Ontario's workplace to the Dark Ages by legalizing the use of scabs; and

"Whereas Bill 7 was designed, written and produced for the business community and implemented by their political bond servant Mike Harris with the full support of his totalitarian cabinet; and

"Whereas such government action is designed to break unions, return to picket-line violence in the quest for even more profit, motivated by the corporate gluttons such as S.A. Armstrong; and

"Whereas our Steelworker brothers and sisters at S.A. Armstrong were forced to take strike action while the company employed scabs in an attempt to undermine the collective bargaining process;

"Therefore, be it resolved delegates demand the Harris government immediately amend the Labour Relations Act to provide again for anti-scab legislation."

I add my name to theirs.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I have received over 1,000 signatures from communities like Nanticoke, Cheapside, Springvale and rural areas of my riding on a petition entitled, "Stand Up for Rural Health Care":

"Whereas there is urgent concern about the future of community hospitals located in Dunnville, Hagersville, Simcoe and Tillsonburg; and

"Whereas distance, weather and doctor shortages are serious barriers to people in rural areas accessing emergency services and health care; and

"Whereas local communities have worked for years to establish, maintain, improve and modernize hospital, physician and other health services;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to adopt a rural health policy to deal with these problems and to protect the health care rights of rural communities; and that hospital boards, district health councils, the Health Services Restructuring Commission and the government of Ontario adhere to this rural policy."

I agree with this petition and therefore I affix my signature to it.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai une pétition ici adressée à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario:

«Attendu que TFO répond aux besoins d'Ontariens et d'Ontariennes de tout âge depuis plus de 25 ans offrant une programmation de qualité non commerciale qui continue de consacrer 70 % de son temps d'antenne à l'éducation et aux enfants ;

«Attendu que TFO est accessible à 97,4 % des Ontariens et Ontariennes et que pour certaines communautés qui n'ont pas la télévision par câble, il s'agit de la seule chaîne disponible, ce qui en fait un actif important de la province ;

«Attendu que TFO continue son travaille visant à générer plus de revenus ;

«Nous, soussignés, présentons la pétition suivante à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario pour que TFO continue d'être de propriété publique et que ce diffuseur à mission éducative reçoive un financement publique.»



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have petitions signed by and forwarded to me by members of the Toronto and Central Ontario building trades and the UFCW, Locals 175 and 663. The petition reads as follows:

"To save workers' compensation.

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system, including reducing benefits, excluding claims for back injuries, carpal tunnel, muscle injuries, strains, sprains, stress and most occupational disease, eliminating pension supplements, handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury, privatizing WCB to large insurance companies, eliminating worker representation, eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, WCAT, deducting Canada pension plan disability benefits and union pensions dollar for dollar from WCB benefits;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, demand compensation if we are injured, a safe workplace, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, that WCAT be left intact and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

l proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

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

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission has directed the Ministry of Health to close the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital; and

"Whereas the closure of this health care facility seriously jeopardizes the continuity of care for the clients it serves; and

"Whereas this closure will have a devastating economic effect on the communities in Leeds and Grenville; and

"Whereas there has been absolutely no opportunity to allow public input from the various city and town councils, health care providers, district health councils, clients, their families and others who rely upon the services currently offered by the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital;

"Therefore we, the undersigned residents of Leeds and Grenville, urge the government of Ontario to treat us fairly by setting aside the recommendation of the Health Services Restructuring Commission with respect to the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital and the programs and services it provides, for a period of not less than six months, to allow full public input prior to any decisions or directions being issued with respect to the future of the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital, and further request that the Minister of Health direct the Health Services Restructuring Commission to take immediate steps to set up full public hearings in the city of Brockville."

I present that on behalf of the Honourable Bob Runciman. It's signed by more than 1,200 residents, and I affix my signature.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I am delighted that the member for Lanark-Renfrew is going to sign that petition and I only hope that when the time comes, he will vote for it. But, Mr Speaker, back to my petition.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Read your petition.

Mr Ruprecht: That's good news. Thank you very much.

The petition is a petition about the current child care crisis in Ontario and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario Tory government has decided to replace our current child care system with one that lacks compassion and common sense and is fraught with many dangerous consequences; and

"Whereas the concept of affordable, accessible and quality child care is a basic, important and fundamental right for many members of our community who are either unemployed and enrolled in a training program, or are working single parents, or where both parents are working; and

"Whereas if our present provincial government is sincere in getting people back to work, they should recognize the value of the child care component of the jobs Ontario program and acknowledge the validity of the wage subsidy to the child care workers;

"Therefore we, the undersigned residents, business owners and child care workers of our Parkdale and High Park communities urge the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario to immediately suspend their plans to implement cuts to our present child care program across our province and restore funding to their previous levels."

I am signing my signature to this document.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition regarding occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"Whereas the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc (OHCOW) provide high-quality professional medical, hygiene and ergonomic services to employers, workers, joint health and safety committees and their communities; and

"Whereas the professional services that the Ministry of Labour once provided are being offloaded to organizations such as the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, increasing the demand for the services provided by OHCOW; and

"Whereas the professional and technical expertise and advice provided by OHCOW have made a significant contribution to improvements to workplace health and safety as well as the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call upon the government to maintain the funding of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and oppose any attempt to alter the governance structure or erode the professional and technical services of OHCOW;

"Further we, the undersigned, demand that OHCOW be provided with the necessary funds to allow expansion into other Ontario communities in order to provide the professional and technical services needed to reduce occupational injuries, illnesses and deaths."

As I'm in agreement, I add my name to this.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:

"Whereas there is much well-documented evidence that the social and economic disadvantages of government-sanctioned gambling far outweigh any apparent benefits;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, declare our opposition to the expansion of casinos and the installation of electronic gambling devices. Therefore, we petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to delay the implementation of Bill 75 and request that the province hold a binding referendum (in conjunction with the 1997 municipal elections) to determine the will of the people regarding the expansion of casinos and the installation of electronic gambling devices in Ontario."

This petition is signed by two members.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): As you know, the campaign to save TVO is going extraordinarily well, with letters and petitions coming in from all across the province, and I have some more to read today.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas TVOntario has served Ontarians of all ages for more than 25 years with quality non-commercial television that continues to focus 70% of its programming on education and children's programming; and

"Whereas TVO is available to 97.4% of Ontarians and for some uncabled communities is the only station available, making it a truly provincial asset; and

"Whereas TVO continues to work towards increasing self-generated revenues;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to ensure that TVOntario continue to be a publicly owned and funded educational broadcaster."

I'm very pleased to sign my name to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have petitions signed and forwarded to me by members of OPSEU and the CAW.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas workers' health and safety must be protected in the province of Ontario, especially the right to refuse work which is likely to endanger a worker, the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to participate in joint health and safety committees; and

"Whereas the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations help protect workers' health and safety and workers' rights in this area; and

"Whereas the government's discussion paper Review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act threatens workers' health and safety by proposing to deregulate the existing act and regulations to reduce or eliminate workers' health and safety rights and to reduce enforcement of health and safety laws by the Ministry of Labour; and

"Whereas workers must have a full opportunity to be heard about this proposed drastic erosion in their present protections from injuries and occupational diseases;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the present provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. Further we, the undersigned, demand that public hearings on the discussion paper be held in at least 20 communities throughout Ontario" -- unlike the measly six days we're getting for the WCB.

I add my name to theirs.



Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have probably one of the most important petitions this House has seen over the last two years right here and I will read it into the record. It states:

"Whereas the people of Ontario want rigorous discussion on legislation dealing with public policy issues like health care, education and care for seniors; and

"Whereas many people in Ontario believe that the Mike Harris Reform government is moving too quickly and recklessly, creating havoc with the provision of quality health care, quality education, and adversely affecting seniors; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Reform government now wishes to change the rules of the Ontario Legislature, which would allow the government to ram legislation through more quickly and have less accountability to the public and the media through exercises such as question period; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, when they were in opposition, defended the rights of the opposition and used the rules to their full advantage when they believed it was necessary to slow down the passage of controversial legislation; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Reform government now wishes to reduce the amount of time that MPPs on all sides will have to debate the important issues of the day; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Reform government, through its proposed rule changes, is attempting to diminish the role of all elected members of the Legislative Assembly who" after all "are accountable to the people who elect them, and instead concentrate power in the Premier's office," with unelected people, "in the hands of people who are not elected officials;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Mike Harris to abandon these proposed draconian rule changes and retain rules which promote rigorous debate on contentious issues and hold the government accountable to the people of Ontario."

I'm very pleased to add my signature to this as well.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I warn you, Mr Speaker, this is long; there are about 44 pages here, although the typing is somewhat large.

I move that the standing orders be amended as follows:

That standing order 1(b) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(b) The purpose of these standing orders is to ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that respects the democratic rights of members,

"(i) to submit motions, resolutions and bills for the consideration of the assembly and its committees, and to have them determined by democratic vote;

"(ii) to debate, speak to, and vote on motions, resolutions and bills;

"(iii) to hold the government accountable for its policies; and

"(iv) collectively, to decide matters submitted to the assembly or a committee.

"(c) In all contingencies not provided for in the standing orders the question shall be decided by the Speaker or Chair, and in making the ruling the Speaker or Chair shall base the decision on the democratic rights of members referred to in clause (b). In doing so the Speaker shall have regard to any applicable usages and precedents of the Legislature and parliamentary tradition.

"(d) The standing orders shall not be interpreted or applied in a manner that permits a member to obtain a procedural or tactical advantage by contravening a standing order."

That standing order 6(b) be deleted.

That standing order 9(c) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(c) The House may meet between the hours of 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm on the passage of a government motion for that purpose. Such a motion may apply to one day or to more than one day. The question on such a motion shall be put forthwith and without amendment or debate. Despite standing order 2, such an evening meeting period is a new sessional day. It shall be limited to the consideration of government orders or private members' public business or both, according to the terms of the motion. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, the division bell shall be limited to 15 minutes. At 9:30 of such an evening meeting period, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day.

"(c.1) Where a motion under clause (c) provides that all or part of an evening meeting period shall be devoted to the consideration of private members' public business, the motion shall indicate the business to be considered, the time or times reserved for such business, and any special procedure to be followed. Such motion may provide that all or part of standing order 96 applies with necessary modifications to the debate on private members' public business.

"(c.2) The House may sit beyond the hours provided in clauses (a) and (c) on the passage of a government motion for that purpose. Such a motion requires notice, and must appear on the Orders and Notices paper by the first sessional day of the first week to which the motion applies. The question on such a motion shall be put forthwith and without amendment or debate. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, the division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes."

That standing order 10(a) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(a) Whenever the House stands adjourned, if the government advises the Speaker that the public interest requires the House to meet at an earlier time, the Speaker shall give notice that the House shall meet at such time, and thereupon the House shall meet to transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time and the period referred to in subclauses 6(a)(i) or (ii) had been extended accordingly."

That standing order 11 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(e) If on Thursday morning the House is adjourned for lack of a quorum during the consideration of private members' public business, it shall stand adjourned until 1:30 pm of the same day."

That standing order 13 be amended by adding the following clauses after clause (b):

"(b.1) The Speaker may rule on a point of privilege or point of order when it is raised without allowing any discussion apart from the member raising the point.

"(b.2) A member raising a point of order or point of privilege, and any member permitted by the Speaker to speak to it, must put the point tersely and speak only to the point raised. A point of order or privilege is heard in silence by the House."

That standing orders 15 and 16 be deleted and the following substituted:

"15(a) If a member on being called to order for an offence against any standing order persists in the offence, the Speaker may direct the member to discontinue, and if such member refuses to comply, the Speaker shall name the member to the House.

"(b) When a member is named by the Speaker, if the offence is a minor one, the Speaker may order the member to withdraw for the balance of the sessional day; but if the matter appears to the Speaker to be of a more serious nature, the Speaker shall put the question on the motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, `that such member be suspended from the service of the House,' such suspension being for any time stated in the motion not exceeding eight sessional days.

"(c) If any member on being named and directed to withdraw from the House refuses to obey the direction of the Speaker when summoned under the Speaker's order by the Sergeant at Arms, the Speaker shall call to the attention of the House that force is necessary in order to compel obedience and such member shall thereupon, without motion, be suspended from the service of the House for the remainder of the session.

"(d) If a member suspended under clause (c) does not leave the House, the member's presence in the House shall not be recognised and the business of the House shall proceed as if the member had left.

"16(a) In the case of grave disorder in the House, the Speaker or the Chair may, if he or she thinks it necessary to do so and unless it would disadvantage a member who is not responsible for the disorder, adjourn the House or a committee without motion, or suspend any meeting for a time to be named by him or her.

"(b) In order to prevent disadvantage to a member who is not responsible for such grave disorder, the Speaker or Chair may, despite any standing order, adjust any adjournment time, commencement time, voting time or voting schedule, time limit, time requirement or deadline in order to compensate for the time lost by the grave disorder or by the adjournment or suspension referred to in clause (a)."

That standing order 20(a) be deleted and the following substituted:

"20(a) Members shall remain in their places and refrain from interrupting the Speaker when he or she has risen to speak, make a ruling, or put a question to the House."

That standing order 21 be deleted and the following substituted:

"21(a) Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom.

"(b) Once the Speaker finds that a prima facie case of privilege exists it shall be taken into consideration immediately.

"(c) Any member proposing to raise a point of privilege, other than one arising out of proceedings in the chamber during the course of a sessional day, shall give to the Speaker a written statement of the point at least one hour prior to raising the question in the House.

"(d) The Speaker may rule that a prima facie case of privilege does not exist on the basis of the written statement referred to in clause (c) and, despite clause 13(b.1), may do so without allowing discussion from any member."


That standing order 22(b) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(b) When two or more members rise to speak, the Speaker shall call upon the member who, in the Speaker's opinion, rose first in his or her place."

That standing order 22 be further amended by adding the following clause:

"(d) Subject to the standing orders and any other order of the House, nothing prevents the Speaker or Chair of the committee of the whole House from recognizing an independent member to speak."

That standing orders 24 and 25 be deleted and the following substituted:

"24(a) Except where otherwise expressly provided by the standing orders or by unanimous consent of a committee, no member shall speak in the House or committee for more than 20 minutes.

"(b) Notwithstanding clause (a), the first speaker for any recognized party in the House may speak for not more than 40 minutes in the following circumstances:

"(i) debate on second reading of a government bill.

"(ii) debate on third reading of a government bill.

"(iii) debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne.

"(iv) debate on the budget motion.

"(v) debate on the interim supply motion.

"(vi) debate on any other substantive government motion.

"(c) Notwithstanding clause (a), no member shall speak for more than 10 minutes after five hours of debate on second or third reading of a government bill.

"25(a) Following the speech of each member, but only during the first five hours of debate, a period not exceeding 10 minutes shall be made available, if required, to allow members to ask questions and comment briefly on matters relevant to the matters before the House and to allow responses thereto, in the following circumstances:

"(i) debate on second reading of a government bill, but no such 10-minute period shall be allowed following the reply allowed to the minister or parliamentary assistant who has moved second reading of the bill;

"(ii) debate on third reading of a government bill, but no such 10-minute period shall be allowed following the reply allowed to the minister or parliamentary assistant who has moved third reading of the bill;

"(iii) debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, but no such 10-minute period shall be allowed following the speeches of the mover and the seconder of the motion for the address; the speeches of the members speaking first on behalf of the official opposition and the other recognized opposition parties, and the speeches of the members winding up the throne debate for each recognized party;

"(iv) debate on the budget motion, but no such 10-minute period shall be allowed following the presentation of the budget by the Minister of Finance, the speeches of the members speaking first on behalf of the official opposition and the other recognized opposition parties, and the speeches of the members winding up the budget debate for each recognized party; and

"(v) debate on a motion for interim supply.

"(b) In asking a question or making a comment with respect to the matters set out in clause (a), no member shall speak for more than two minutes. Two minutes shall be reserved for the reply of the member originally speaking."

That standing order 28 be deleted and the following substituted:

"28(a) When a voice vote has been taken on any question, a division may be required by five members standing in their places.

"(b) When members have been called in for a division, there shall be no further debate.

"(c) When the members have been called in, the Speaker shall again put the question and, subject to standing order 12, every member present at that time who wishes to vote shall rise and record his or her vote.

"(d) Members are not compelled to vote and those who wish to abstain should remain in their seats when asked to rise and record their vote. An abstention shall not be entered in the Votes and Proceedings or Journals.

"(e) The names of the members voting on each side of the question shall be entered in the Votes and Proceedings and the Journals, except on dilatory motions when the numbers only shall be entered.

"(f) Immediately after the vote, the pairs, if any, shall be declared and shall be entered in the Votes and Proceedings and the Journals.

"(g) Except as otherwise provided in the standing orders, the division bells shall be limited to 30 minutes.

"(h) During the ringing of division bells as provided in clause (g), the vote may be deferred at the request of any chief whip of a recognized party in the House. The Speaker shall then defer the taking of the vote to the next sessional day during deferred votes, at which time the bells shall be rung for not more than five minutes.

"(i) Divisions requested on motions to adjourn the House or the debate, that the Chair of a committee of the whole House report progress and ask for leave to meet again or leave the chair, and for closure shall not be deferred.

"(j) Notwithstanding standing order 30(b), the Speaker shall put every question on the deferred votes."

That standing order 30 be deleted and the following substituted:

"30(a) The routine proceedings before the orders of the day are as follows:

"Members' Statements

"Reports by Committees

"Introduction of Bills


"Statements by the Ministry and Responses

"Deferred Votes

"Oral Questions


"(b) At 4 pm on any day on which the House has not commenced orders of the day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of the routine proceeding currently occupying the House and immediately call orders of the day."

That standing order 31 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(d) The Speaker has the discretion to permit an independent member to make a statement for no longer than one and one-half minutes. In exercising his or her discretion, the Speaker shall have regard to the opportunities that members of recognized parties have to make such statements. An independent member shall notify the Speaker of his or her intention to make a statement."

That standing order 33 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(j) The Speaker has the discretion to permit an independent member to place an oral question and one supplementary question during oral question period. In exercising his or her discretion, the Speaker shall have regard to the opportunities that members of recognized parties -- other than the leaders of opposition parties or members who place questions instead of the leaders -- have to place such questions. An independent member shall notify the Speaker of his or her intention to place a question."

That standing order 34(f) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(f) When the House continues to meet past 6 pm on a government motion as provided in standing order 9, except a motion under clause 9(c), the adjournment proceeding under this standing order shall not apply.

"(f.1) If the House is scheduled to meet again at 6:30 pm of the same calendar day and the debate under this standing order has not been completed by 6:25 pm, the Speaker shall immediately interrupt the adjournment proceeding, deem the motion to adjourn to be carried, and adjourn the House to the next sessional day."

That standing order 35 be deleted and the following substituted:

"35. Under the proceeding `Motions' the government House leader may move routine motions that are part of the technical procedure of the House, including motions under standing order 9 and other motions for times of meeting and adjournment of the House, and motions for changes in membership of committees and similar non-substantive matters. Except as provided by clause 9(c.2), these routine motions do not require notice."

That standing order 36(h) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(h) Within 45 sessional days of its presentation, excluding sessional days pursuant to clause 9(c), the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

That standing order 37(a) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(a) The report of a standing or select committee on any bill shall be taken into consideration immediately and the Speaker shall put the question on the motion for the adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without amendment or debate. If a recorded vote is requested, the division bells shall be limited to five minutes."

That standing order 38 be deleted and the following substituted:

"38(a) In recognition of the right of every member to introduce a bill and have it printed for distribution to and consideration by other members, the process for introduction of bills shall be as follows:

"(b) A bill shall be introduced upon a motion for leave for introduction and first reading, specifying the title of the bill. No notice is required.

"(c) Upon being moved, the motion for introduction and first reading shall be deemed to have been carried and the Speaker shall announce the result. In the case of a public bill, the mover may then make a brief explanation of its purposes."


"(d) On the introduction of a government bill, a compendium of background information shall be delivered to the opposition critics. If it is an amending bill, an up-to-date consolidation of the act or acts to be amended shall be delivered to the opposition critics unless the bill amends an act amended previously in the session.

"(e) No bill may be introduced in blank or imperfect form.

"(f) No introduction of a single bill shall last for more than five minutes.

"(g) The period for `Introduction of Bills' shall be limited to 30 minutes."

That standing order 39(a) and (b) be deleted.

That standing order 42(g) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(g) Debate on a motion shall be limited to one sessional day. At 5:45 pm on that day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put the question without debate. If a recorded vote is requested, the division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes."

That standing order 43(b) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(b) Debate on a motion under clause (a) shall be at a time allotted by agreement of the House leaders and restricted to one sessional day. At 5:45 pm on that day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put the question without further debate."

That standing order 45 be amended by adding following clause:

"(d) The Speaker or Chair shall rule out of order any motion or amendment that he or she considers to be frivolous, vexatious, for purposes of delay or contrary to the standing orders or precedents."

That standing order 46(b) and (c) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(b) At 5:45 pm or at 9:15 pm, as the case may be, after the time allocation motion has been called as the first government order of the sessional day the Speaker shall without further debate or amendment put every question necessary to dispose of the motion. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes.

"(c) A time allocation motion may not be moved until second reading debate has been completed or three sessional days of debate have taken place on second reading consideration of any government bill or on a substantive government motion when that government bill or substantive motion has been called as the first government order of the day on each of the sessional days."

That standing order 54 be amended by deleting the words "or a minister acting in his or her place."

That standing order 55 be deleted and the following substituted:

"55. Before the adjournment of the House on each Thursday during the session, the government House leader may announce the business for the following week."

That standing order 57 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(b) There shall be three sessional days allotted to the debate on the budget motion and any amendments thereto. At 5:45 pm or at 9:15 pm, as the case may be, on the third sessional day of debate, the Speaker shall without further debate or amendment put every question necessary to dispose of the budget motion. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes."

That standing order 58 be deleted and the following substituted:

"58. All main estimates shall be presented to the House after completion of the budget debate but not later than 12 sessional days following the presentation of the budget and shall be deemed to be referred to the standing committee on estimates."

That standing order 62(c) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(c) There shall be an order for concurrence placed on the Orders and Notices paper for each of the estimates reported from the committee. At 5:45 pm or 9:15 pm, as the case may be, on the sessional day during which debate on the orders for concurrence commences as the first government order of the day, or after three hours of debate on the orders for concurrence if the debate did not commence as the first government order of the day, the Speaker shall without further debate put every question necessary to dispose of the order for concurrence in supply for each of the ministries and offices named in the committee's report. No amendment to any question may be moved. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, all divisions shall be stacked, and there shall be a single 15-minute division bell. Debate shall be in the House with the Speaker in the chair and subject to the usual standing orders."

That standing order 65 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(b) When the debate on the interim supply motion is complete, or at 5:45 pm or 9:15 pm, as the case may be, on the sessional day during which debate on the interim supply motion commences as the first government order of the day, whichever is earlier, the Speaker shall without further debate or amendment put every question necessary to dispose of the motion. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, the division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes."

That standing order 68 be deleted.

That standing order 69(d) be deleted.

That standing order 75 be amended by adding the following clauses:

"(b) The Chair of a committee, including the Chair of committee of the whole, shall rule out of order any amendment that he or she considers to be frivolous, vexatious, for purposes of delay or contrary to the standing orders or precedents.

"(c) The Chair of a committee, including the Chair of committee of the whole, may group the votes on amendments appropriately grouped together, select the order in which amendments are to be voted, dispense with the reading of an amendment provided that the text of the amendment is available to members and members are informed of what amendment is before them, select from among duplicative amendments those which shall be voted and those which shall not, or take such other steps as he or she considers necessary to facilitate the committee's consideration and disposition of multiple amendments.

"(d) The Chair of a committee, including the Chair of committee of the whole may establish deadlines for tabling amendments or for filing them with the committee clerk."

That standing order 77(a) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(a) Bills reported from committee of the whole House shall stand ordered for third reading. Bills reported from standing or select committees shall be ordered for third reading unless the minister or parliamentary assistant directs that it be referred to committee of the whole House."

That standing order 96(b) be amended by adding the following subclause:

"(iv) The Speaker has the discretion to permit an independent member to speak for up to five minutes on the motion of another private member. In exercising his or her discretion, the Speaker shall have regard to the opportunities that members of recognized parties have to participate in debate on other members' motions. An independent member shall give the Speaker notice of his or her intention to participate in the debate."

That standing order 96 be further amended by deleting clause (d) and substituting the following:

"(d) The order for consideration of the items of business shall be determined by a ballot conducted by the Clerk prior to or at the commencement of each session. All private members, including independent members, may enter their names for the draw, and names shall be drawn from a single box."

That standing order 96(e) be deleted.

That standing order 97(d) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(d) The minister shall answer such written questions within 45 sessional days, excluding sessional days pursuant to clause 9(c), unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be."

That standing order 97 be further amended by adding the following clause:

"(g) No member shall have more than four questions on the order paper at any one time."

That standing order 106(g) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(g) Standing committee on government agencies which is empowered to review and report to the House its observations, opinions and recommendations on the operation of all agencies, boards and commissions to which the Lieutenant Government in Council makes some or all of the appointments, and all corporations to which the crown in right of Ontario is a majority shareholder, such reviews to be made with a view to reducing possible redundancy and overlapping, improving the accountability of agencies, rationalizing the functions of the agencies, identifying those agencies or parts of agencies which could be subject to sunset provisions, and revising the mandates and roles of agencies, and to review the intended appointments of persons to agencies, boards and commissions and of directors to corporations in which the crown in right of Ontario is a majority shareholder (excluding reappointments, appointments for a term of one year or less, and appointments of persons who are public servants under the Public Service Act who remain public servants after their appointments) according to the following procedures:

"1. A minister of the crown shall lay on the table a certificate stating that the Lieutenant Governor in Council intends to appoint a person to an agency, board or commission or to the board of directors of a corporation, together with a copy of the position description and a summary of the person's qualifications, which documents shall be deemed to be referred to the committee.


"2. Upon receipt of a certificate as referred to in paragraph 1, the clerk of the committee shall distribute to each member of the subcommittee on committee business a list of intended appointees in respect of whom a certificate has been received.

"3. The subcommittee shall meet at its own initiative, at the request of the committee, or at the request of any member of the subcommittee, to select from among the intended appointees referred to in paragraph 1, those intended appointees the committee will review. Each member of the subcommittee, other than the Chair, may choose one or more of the intended appointees for review from the certificates provided by the clerk of the committee.

"4. The subcommittee shall report to the committee on the intended appointees for review. Upon receiving the report, the committee shall determine a date for the review of the intended appointees as selected by the members of the subcommittee. The report shall specify the amount of time allocated for the consideration of each intended appointee and the date on which each will be reviewed. An equal amount of time shall be allocated for review of each member's selections, and where a member of the subcommittee has selected more than one intended appointee the time available to review that member's selections shall be allocated among his or her selections.

"5. Upon notice from the clerk of the committee that an intended appointee has been selected for review, the minister shall ensure that the committee receives a copy of the intended appointee's résumé or biographical information and a description of the responsibilities of the position.

"6. A subcommittee member may choose to defer the consideration of one or more of the intended appointees that the member has chosen until a future meeting of the committee at which intended appointees are to be reviewed so long as the consideration of the intended appointee has not previously been deferred.

"7. In reviewing an intended appointee, the committee shall not call as a witness any person other than the intended appointee.

"8. At the conclusion of the meeting held to review an intended appointment, the committee shall determine whether or not it concurs in the intended appointment. Any member may request that the committee defer its determination to the next meeting of the committee, but in any event no later than seven calendar days. In its report, the committee shall state whether or not it concurs in the intended appointments and may state its reasons.

"9. Whether or not the House stands adjourned, the committee shall release its report by depositing it the same day with the Clerk of the assembly and upon receipt of the report by the Clerk the report shall be deemed to be adopted by the House.

"10. A report that the committee will not review an intended appointee shall be deemed to have been made by the committee and adopted by the House in any of the following cases:

"(a) a report respecting the intended appointee has not been made by the committee within 30 calendar days following the day on which the minister tables the certificate referred to in paragraph 1,

"(b) the subcommittee does not at its first meeting following the day on which the minister tables the certificate select the intended appointee for review, or

"(c) the intended appointee has not been selected for review by the subcommittee within 14 days following the day on which the minister tabled the certificate.

"11. The committee by unanimous agreement may extend any of the deadlines in paragraph 10.

"12. The clerk of the committee shall give the minister who tabled the certificate written notification of any decision respecting the appointment made by the committee or the subcommittee on committee business.

"13. During any adjournment of the House that exceeds one week, the committee shall meet on such day or days as may be determined by the subcommittee, but in any event not more than three times per month."

That standing order 110(a) be deleted and the following substituted:

"(a) Subject to clauses (a.1) and (a.2), no standing or select committee shall consist of more than nine members and the membership of such committees shall be in proportion to the representation of the recognized parties in the House.

"(a.1) An independent member shall be appointed to at least one standing committee. An independent member may state his or her committee preference to the House leaders but such statement of preference is not binding. Unless the House decides otherwise, no standing committee shall include more than one independent member.

"(a.2) The appointment of an independent member to a standing committee shall be in addition to the members of recognized parties referred to in clause (a), and for this purpose the committee may consist of up to 10 members. Further, a recognized party with a majority of seats in the House is entitled to an additional member of the committee to which an independent member is appointed, and in this case the committee may consist of up to 11 members."

That standing order 135 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(b) When two sessional days occur on the same calendar day, a single Orders and Notices paper may be printed for both."

That the standing orders be amended by the addition of the following part:

"XXIV. Other

"144. References in these standing orders to the government House leader shall be deemed also to refer to a minister of the crown, or the deputy government House leader, or the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader, acting in place of the government House leader."

That these amendments to the standing orders, except the amendment to standing order 110, take effect at midnight immediately following the day on which they are adopted.

That the amendment to standing order 110 take effect on the first day after August 1, 1997, that the House meets.

That, except as provided below, once in effect these amendments to the standing orders apply to all House and committee proceedings and to all business before the House and its committees, including proceedings commenced and motions and bills introduced before these amendments took effect.

That clause 97(g) of the standing orders shall not affect questions placed on the Orders and Notices paper prior to June 12, 1997.

That the Clerk of the House be authorized and instructed to print a revised edition of the standing orders of the House, renumbering as may be deemed necessary (including reordering part VIII to reflect the new order of routine proceedings) and making such technical and consequential changes as may be necessary.

That completes the motion.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Johnson has moved government notice of motion number 24.

Hon David Johnson: I notice there's an hour and a half on the clock. I won't be taking the hour and a half. That's one of the topics that is part of this motion.

It just occurs to me, in reading that great length of pages, that one may get the impression this is all new. In a number of cases there are a number of clauses on a particular topic and there may be a change to one of the clauses. To avoid any confusion, all the clauses in that particular grouping are reworded in the motion, but in fact much of the language is precisely the same as what's in the standing orders as they exist today. So certainly the length is much longer than one would expect by the number of changes that have taken place.

I believe that all the members of this House would agree, at least in their heart of hearts if not vocally, that it is time to review the standing orders and that it is time for some changes.

Not having been here in 1989, I'm informed that the member for Renfrew North led the Liberal government at that time in terms of standing order changes. So the Liberal government felt, as I'm sure governments before it felt, that from time to time standing orders need to be reviewed in light of circumstances, in light of experience, and need to be brought up to date. Changes were made, I think it was in 1989.

The previous government in 1992 did bring in changes --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): After extensive negotiations.

Hon David Johnson: I'm informed by the House leader of the third party, after extensive negotiations. Of course in that regard I express my thanks, and I'm sure we'll all applaud the member for Nepean and his fine work --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): That's just the cruellest joke of all, that he had anything to do with --

Hon David Johnson: -- because the member for Nepean, notwithstanding the comments from my colleagues, has drawn on his experience, having been part of a federal government, being aware of federal rules and procedures. I can tell you the member for Nepean has taken great wads of paper home over the weekends, the House procedures, read them, gone through them.



Hon David Johnson: If the member opposite is asking, does each and every one of the items that I have tabled today, each and every clause, result totally from the member for Nepean, obviously that's not true, but I can tell you that the member for Nepean did the core work involved here. The lion's share of the work that you see before you today is because of the member for Nepean.

Mr Bradley: Nobody believes it.

Hon David Johnson: If people believe that or don't believe that, there's not much I can do about it, but that happens to be the fact. However, where this was leading me was that he did bring this forward some time ago.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon David Johnson: I think it was about three weeks ago now. I had hoped, as my colleague from the NDP had indicated, that there would be considerable debate and negotiation, and I still hope at this point.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, I would ask you to withdraw, without any question.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): They're a bunch of thugs, sir.

The Deputy Speaker: I just ask you to withdraw the word that you said.

Mr Pouliot: I said many --

The Deputy Speaker: I ask you to withdraw.

Mr Pouliot: I'll withdraw, but I'm not pleased in the least. This is --

The Deputy Speaker: No, I don't want any explanation. I want you to withdraw, clear and simple.

Mr Pouliot: I will. Thank you kindly.

Hon David Johnson: We had hoped to have discussions and negotiations over the last two or three weeks since the member for Nepean had brought forward his suggestions. I do hope that over the next period of time we will have discussions and negotiations. What has been tabled here today -- I've said it publicly and I'll say it here again today -- is negotiable, and I am interested in the views of all the members of this House.

Certainly the independent member has come forward with a number of suggestions. Most of them are already included in this, and you will see reference to the independent member sprinkled throughout the motion. That was because --

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): There's no name attached to it.

Hon David Johnson: Peter North -- I'll say his name right here now -- came forward with a good number of these recommendations, and I applaud him. I hope each and every member of the House comes forward. I am quite confident that members will come forward and say that there need to be certain things added, there need to be certain things amended and, yes, some things will need to be deleted. I am anxious to hear your comments and I am anxious that we carry on with the negotiation.

My colleague the House leader from the third party has indicated that there were negotiations at the beginning. My understanding is that in 1992 the previous government tabled a motion. There may have been negotiations before that; there certainly were negotiations after that. I understand the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party at that time, the now Minister of Finance, the Honourable Ernie Eves, was quite vocal in his expressions, and I have every confidence that his views will be quoted as this debate goes on.

From what I have been told, as that process unfolded, Mr Eves, in his capacity as House leader at that time, did deal with the government, and at the end of the day I am told that he supported the motion brought forward. Indeed, the Progressive Conservative Party at that time, at the end of the day, agreed with the standing order procedures brought forward by the NDP government, and while the Liberal Party, I'm told, did not vote for those procedures, the vote did take place. In my understanding again, at the very least, the official opposition, in that case the Liberal Party, did allow the vote to take place.

There is a form of cooperation among all the parties, two parties agreeing, albeit there would be differences of opinion, and the third party, in that case the official opposition, at least allowing the vote to take place on those standing orders. With that spirit of cooperation in the past in 1992, and that being some five years ago, I am hopeful that the same spirit of cooperation will prevail as we go through this debate.

There are a number of different objectives in terms of the standing orders procedures. People watching the proceedings of this House may say that the number one objective should be, "Restore order." I'm sure every member of this House has talked to constituents who say they cannot believe how the proceedings take place. They cannot believe that there seems to be an uncontrolled, an undisciplined -- there's a certain disrepute, I guess, to the proceedings. They're very rambunctious, uncontrolled.

Mr Wildman: The irony is that the tighter you make the rules, the more rambunctious it may be.

Hon David Johnson: That may be, but that's not primarily the reason. There are certainly clauses within the motion which do tend to encourage, let's say, a more efficient running of the House, a more gentlemanly, if I can use that word, running of the House, a running of the House that is not as fractious. Certainly individual circumstances have been raised. I suppose the most recent major circumstance was the filibuster as it pertained to Bill 103.

Here is a case in point: In the federal government there is a capacity to group amendments that are entirely similar. This government at one point in time was faced with thousands of amendments that were similar. In the federal House there is a capacity to group those amendments together so that there can be a vote on the amendments, but at the same time it can be dealt with in a timely fashion. We have attempted to borrow that provision from the federal government.

Indeed, there are quite a number of amendments that are taken from the federal government. The speaking time, for example, in the federal government is 40 minutes for the first speaker, 20 minutes for subsequent speakers, until five hours have elapsed, and then 10 minutes per speaker. We are suggesting that the same rule that applies in the federal government with regard to the number of hours per speaker apply here within the provincial Legislature.

We are suggesting that, as in the federal government, members have the right to abstain. I don't think I've ever abstained from a vote in my life, but some members feel that it is important to have the right to abstain on a vote. In the federal Parliament one is allowed to abstain on a vote, and in a number of other provinces one is allowed to abstain on a vote. Part of this motion today will allow members to abstain.

In the federal Parliament one must give written notice of a point of privilege unless it pertains to something that's occurring in the House at that point in time. That's not something we've had in the past, but again it seems to work well in the federal government, and we're suggesting through this motion that the same procedure be used here in this Legislature.

They are allowed 45 days to respond to petitions in the federal government. We are suggesting the same thing happen here. In the federal government there is the capacity to get to orders of the day at 4 o'clock. I must say on most days we do get to orders of the day by 4 o'clock, but on some days, if there are various points being raised, that's not achieved. We're suggesting that the same sort of capacity be allowed here in this provincial Legislature as they have in the federal House.

The committee Chair at the federal level has the right to declare certain amendments or motions frivolous or vexatious. Again, we're asking for that same right for the committee Chair.


Order paper questions at the federal level are limited to four order paper questions per member and there are 45 days to respond to them. We're asking simply for the same sort of procedure here in this provincial Legislature as they have in the federal government.

In British Columbia the House is permitted a session from 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening. We are suggesting that same allotment of time in the evening in this provincial Legislature, the same as they have in the British Columbia Legislature, would allow the members of this House to get on with the business, to perform the business of the House. Many members are frustrated at their inability to get to deal with certain pieces of legislation. That would allow that to happen.

In terms of the democratic rights of the individual members, I believe this bill speaks to the rights of the members. For example, the introductory purpose clause refers to the democratic rights of the member. This is a new aspect of the purpose clause that we have introduced to set a tone that the democratic rights of the members are to be respected.

The new time limits on speakers that I have referred to, those same time limits that are in place today in the federal Parliament, will allow more members of this Legislature to participate in the debate. There is a concern that the time is restricted and many members are not allowed or do not have the opportunity to participate in the debate of this House.

The third party may identify with this more, as does the present government, in the sense that quite often it's the government members who are restricted in the vote. In a sense of camaraderie or in a sense of agreement to get a particular piece of legislation through, it's very common that an agreement be reached whereby the government limit its speakers --

Mr Bradley: Then allocate more time.

Hon David Johnson: -- to perhaps one speaker or two short speakers and allow the opposition parties to use the rest of the time. This is only a natural situation. I'm sure the NDP will remember this from their days in government back a few years ago. While this assists in terms of dealing with the business at that point in time, it does result in the members of the government being somewhat restricted in their ability to speak.

My colleague from St Catharines says the government should allocate more time, and he's right, if more time does exist. This government has attempted to allocate more time and to take more time by bringing the House back in January, for example, which is unprecedented. This House met in January and February to allocate more time.

Mr Pouliot: What about August?

Hon David Johnson: My colleague from Nipigon is indicating, "What about August?" Yes indeed, quite likely on August 18 the House will be back, again in unprecedented fashion.

Mr Bradley: No problem.

Hon David Johnson: My colleague from St Catharines says, "No problem"; some other colleagues hold their hand on their heart as if they're having a heart attack, but August 18, in all likelihood. Don't etch that in granite, but that's a possibility. But there, yes, we are in agreement with you, member for St Catharines, that we need to allocate more time.

Through this motion we are trying to allocate more time, not only by using more days in the year but by having the evening sittings, by having the sittings from 6:30 to 9:30, by allowing for --

Mr Bradley: No, that's so you can get more days in; it has nothing to do with more time.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon David Johnson: I understand the differences in points of view, but that will allow more time, not only for government business but for private members' business.

If there's another aspect of this that has bothered me -- and it's interesting that there's an article in the paper today about the Alberta Legislature. As I speak, I'm actually being passed the article. It indicates that in Alberta the private members are not only able to introduce pieces of legislation but in actual fact, to a higher degree, that legislation is being debated and passed in some form.

Mr Wildman: You could do it here if you wanted. You are the guys who don't want to.

Hon David Johnson: That's right, we could do it here, but how do we --

Mr Bradley: Then do it.

Hon David Johnson: I hope we do it; I earnestly hope we do it.

Mr Bradley: You don't have to put your government's name on it --

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Member for St Catharines, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: But to do it, we need more time, and I really think we should do it. That more time, I suggest to you, will be available if the government is able to take advantage in some circumstances of the sittings in the evening from 6:30 to 9:30, or perhaps from just being able to more efficiently extend a day sitting beyond 6 o'clock. That's another aspect of this motion.

Mr Wildman: You could do that, but you're counting it as a separate day.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Algoma, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: I say to the member for Algoma that there are two aspects. One is to have a second sitting in the evening, but also it permits the government to extend the hours beyond 6 o'clock without going through the rigorous and time-consuming extended motion debate which I think is of little assistance to this House.

I really believe that the members of the House will benefit. I know the opposition parties may not yet share my view on that, but I believe the members of this House will find that there's more debating time for them on the bills that come forward and that there will be more opportunities for private members' bills to reach this floor, to be debated and to be passed.

I've already mentioned the independent members; this is an aspect of this bill. In keeping with the rights of the members -- we do have an independent member in the House today; we don't always. I think there was a time during a previous government when we actually had three independent members who weren't associated with any particular party.


The Acting Speaker: Order, member for Algoma.

Hon David Johnson: This motion will give greater latitude to the Speaker to recognize the independent member, to allow the independent member to participate in question period -- although it's interesting, today we did have that -- but also to serve on committees. I don't believe the independent member today serves on a committee.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): He can't. It's not allowed.

Hon David Johnson: He can't. It's not allowed, I'm told. I wasn't even fully aware of that. The independent member today cannot serve on --

Mr Bradley: It has nothing to do with independent members; it has everything to do with ingratiating you with the Premier. Never mind independents.

The Acting Speaker: Member for St Catharines, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: I'm simply pointing out that --

Mr Pouliot: There are some differences.

Hon David Johnson: Yes, there will be some differences of opinion on this motion. There will be a period of time for debate. There will be a period of time for negotiation. I wish to say that my door is open. I am pleased to have the views --

Mr Bradley: You gun is loaded and pointed at the head of the opposition.

The Acting Speaker: Member for St Catharines, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: -- of all of the members of the House in this regard.

Mr Wildman: You will reap what you sow.

Hon David Johnson: There are a number of objectives in these motions. The old phrase, "You will reap what you sow" I guess is true of the Liberal changes in 1989, and of the NDP changes.

There were other changes that could have been contemplated. Some people say the question period in Ontario -- did you know that the question period in this House is the longest question period anywhere in Canada?

Mr Bradley: So what?

Hon David Johnson: It's great. Isn't that great? There have been comments pointing that out, saying that perhaps it should be reduced. But no, as a government, we say question period is a focal point and it should continue. In Ottawa, in the federal House, they only have a 45-minute question period. Some legislatures only have 15 minutes as a question period. Can you believe that? Only 15 minutes.


There are a number of aspects. There was a lot of discussion around this. We pride ourselves in Ontario in participation in a democratic process, but the reality is that from time to time there does need to be a review of the procedures. We have brought these procedures forward to enhance the rights of the members. We brought it forward to increase the efficiency of this House.

It's my hope and I suspect in the heart of everyone it's the hope that this Legislature operates in a manner of which we can all be proud, when the people looking in say: "Yes, they have differences of opinion, and yes, they need to express those differences of opinion, but they can do so in an adult way. They can express their point of view, whether it's the government, whether it's the opposition, whether it's the third party." We want a provincial Legislature the people of Ontario can be proud of. I hope through the negotiations over the next period of time we can bring forward a package that will result in that.

Perhaps I will count those few comments as the kickoff to this very important debate, one in which I know a number of members will participate. I'll be anxious to hear their views, hopefully not only their views here in the House. As we discuss this, I honestly hope the members come forward to me and let me know what they would like to see in this package.

Mr Bradley: The House and the people of Ontario should know what this motion is all about. It's all about making the trains run on time in Ontario. It's all about efficiency for the members of the Premier's staff, who are dissatisfied that they are unable to ram through legislation and other matters in this House in a period of time that they consider to be convenient to themselves.

I indicated in the House the other day in a statement and in part of a debate that you best judge governments on what they do when they think nobody is watching them. Members of this House will recall that on election day, with the federal election on, with all of the news media covering the federal election, with virtually no one paying attention to the proceedings of this House, the member for Nepean was put up to going into a press conference, providing what the government House leader's office and the Premier's office wanted in the way of changes to the rules of this House, and called a press conference at 11 o'clock that morning. That is what you call trying to sneak something in. That is the smarmiest kind of activity that a government engages in.

Then we find out that last Thursday afternoon, again when proceedings are winding down at this place, just before 5 o'clock the government drops this motion in and calls it for debate today.

The government also will have the power to pass this whenever it sees fit. An ethically sound government is one that when it has the power to implement its agenda, that is, the raw power of 82 members, doesn't necessarily use that power either to get its way in the House or, in addition to that, to intimidate or threaten the opposition into accepting what the government wants.

For the government House leader to pretend that the member for Nepean had anything to do with this, that this is somehow an independent line of thought from a YPC, goes beyond belief. I think everybody in this House knows that, including many members of the government bench. I don't begrudge the member for Nepean the chance to ingratiate himself with the Premier. He spends his time daily doing so. But at the risk of the democracy which exists in this House, it is totally unacceptable to me, and I'm sure to others.

The government House leader says that previous governments have made changes. One thing members of this Legislature must know is that no future government will change the rules you implement; they won't, because it's convenient to governments. When you make this change, when you implement these changes to procedures, no future government will change those to make it easier for the opposition. That's why it's so important to defeat, to eliminate these changes today, because governments like the convenience.

I've sat on the government side and I've sat on the opposition side. I can recall in my 20 years in this Legislature listening to various arguments put forward on how this House could be made more efficient. It's usually the newly elected members, particularly those who come from the field of business, where things operate differently, and justifiably so, who make the case that the democracy in this Legislature is too cumbersome, it takes too long and it's inefficient. They want to run this Legislature the way they run their business.

I can say to members of this House that there is a way of running a business. I don't think businesses should be run the way this Legislature is run, under the same rules, under the same conditions, because it's a different venue, it's a different circumstance. Yet we have here the government wanting to run this as though someone simply snaps his fingers and legislation is passed.

The full purpose of this change this afternoon is to make it more convenient for the advisers, the unelected whiz kids, the people who have little regard for those of us who are elected, to get their way, and to get their way more quickly. It has nothing to do with anything else and people in this province should know that.

This motion is more important than any piece of legislation that has come before this House. The reason for that is that a bill indeed can be changed. A bill may have ramifications in a specific area. However, when you change the rules of this House, when you change the opportunity for the government to simply ram through its business at its own whim, then you have dealt with a matter of great importance to the people of this province. Everybody, every resident of this province, has a stake in what is happening in this Legislature today.

This government not only wants to ram this through, but if it does not do that, wants to use this motion, with all of the changes included in it, to put a gun to the head of the members of the opposition and say, "You either accept this, either behave yourselves the way we want you to, or we will implement this tomorrow." This is not good for democracy. This is not good for members of this House. The sad part is that there are members sitting in the government caucus who know that.

There are some members who have been more independent than others. Each has a way of expressing it. I'm not saying one is better than the other. I think of people, and I have disagreed with my colleague the member for Grey-Owen Sound, Bill Murdoch, on a number of occasions on matters of policy, but I'm sure that members such as Mr Murdoch, sure that members such as the man who normally sits in the Speaker's chair during question period, the Honourable Chris Stockwell, the member for Etobicoke West, and I think of Mr Carr, the member for Oakville South, I think of Mr Skarica, the member for Wentworth North --

Mr Pouliot: Ted Arnott.

Mr Bradley: I think of Ted Arnott, the member for Wellington. These are people I know, and there may be others; in fact there might well be others in the government caucus that I don't know about who are very uneasy with these kinds of changes.

What is most disconcerting to those of us in the opposition was, as we approached the last couple of weeks of this Legislature, there were discussions going on which I thought were quite amicable between the House leaders. But I had a feeling last week in sitting down with the government House leader, an individual for whom I have a good deal of respect not only in this House as House leader and as a member but previously as the mayor of East York -- I found him a gentleman to deal with, an upfront person and the kind of person who represented the people who elected him well -- I sat in those meetings with the feeling that somebody had given the orders that no matter what we said, no matter what transpired in those meetings, the Premier's office had ordered a change to the rules of procedure of this House.


It reminded me of being robbed, if a person were robbed in an armed robbery and somebody came up to you and said, "Give me your wallet," and you said, "Can I give you only the money in the wallet and the credit cards, things that will be of use to you?" and the person saying: "No, I want your kids' pictures as well. I want everything. I want the keepsakes in the wallet."

That's what this was about. We could have said you could have every bill on the docket, every bill sitting there that the government indicated was a priority. If we had said we would agree with that, I am sure this government would have dropped these rule changes.

This is originating in the Office of the Premier. That's where this comes from. That crew is not interested in this House. That crew is not interested in democracy. They don't want the careful analysis of legislation that all of us look forward to in this House. They're not interested in anything that would slow down the implementation of their radical, revolutionary agenda, which is designed largely to benefit the richest, the most powerful and indeed the most privileged people in this province. They don't want that agenda slowed down in any way.

We had a circumstance where I thought we were coming into the last couple of weeks of this portion of the sitting of the Legislature where the mood was good, where people were trying to be conciliatory; not all the t's were crossed and not all the i's were dotted, but we were trying to be conciliatory. I thought we could have accommodated the government agenda, because they had been wise enough, for instance, not to include Bill 136, a very controversial piece of legislation. I thought we could have accommodated the government agenda and I genuinely believed that. There was a mood of cooperation. When people asked for unanimous consent in this House, they would get unanimous consent.

I can't emphasize how important unanimous consent is, because some day this government is going to make a mistake. It's going to lose a bill and it's going to ask the opposition if they can have unanimous consent to roll the clock back. Usually the opposition, although it has a strategic opportunity to thwart the government's agenda on that occasion, when it recognizes that it was simply a clerical error or an error of procedure, will grant the government that unanimous consent. Well, I'm going to tell you something: You implement this and you've seen the last unanimous consent.

I recognize that affects the opposition as well. I understand the opposition has to ask for unanimous consents. But I will share with my colleagues in the Liberal caucus a viewpoint that we had better have everything lined up, because I am not prepared to ask for unanimous consent from this government; nor, for the next three years of office, if this government decides to stay for three years, will you get unanimous consent if these rule changes are implemented as we see them today, every one of them designed to suit the government's agenda and not the members.

Let's not pretend under some category that this has anything to do with enhancing the role of individual members. It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with using the sledgehammer on the opposition and bulldozing legislation and other matters through this House.

In discussion with the government House leader, both the opposition House leaders said we would like a chance to discuss with members of our caucus in some detail the ramifications of these changes. I could quickly spot them. I've been in this House long enough to know when the government's up to something sneaky, and they're up to something sneaky here. They're up to taking away any possibility the opposition has to exert pressure on the government.

There are times, I must say, when the opposition has to use extraordinary parliamentary action. We don't like doing that. There's nobody on this side, I can assure you, who prefers to use extraordinary parliamentary action.

I can think of two occasions within two years where extraordinary action was used. Once was in the case of Bill 26, a massive government bill which attempted to take about 47 statutes of the Ontario Legislature and amend them or get rid of them or make changes to them in such a way that they had rather significant ramifications for the province. Bill 26, members of this Legislature and the public will know, now gives the government the right to close hospitals through the so-called hospital restructuring commission.

The member who had his life saved in St Mary's Hospital and feels an obligation to that hospital now has no opportunity, through this House, to try to protect that hospital from closure when the government-appointed hospital closing commission shows up in that area of the province.

We all remember what the Premier said during the election campaign, in May 1995, in the leaders' debate, in answer to Robert Fisher, one of the news media panelists. Mike Harris said on that occasion, as leader of the Conservative Party, "Certainly I can guarantee you, Robert, it's not my plan to close hospitals." That's a direct quote, and all across this province now we see hospitals closed.

Do we have an opportunity in this House to prevent that from happening? No, we do not, because Bill 26, the massive omnibus -- some would say ominous -- bill provided for the government to establish a hospital restructuring commission which has a mandate to go around the province and close hospitals, hospitals that many of us believe are essential for our communities and for the patients in those communities.

We took extraordinary action on that occasion. Mr Curling was the member who was specifically affected by this, but it could have been virtually any other member of the Legislature. We wanted to make a point on that occasion, to say to the government: "Hold on. Hold it right there. Take a look at what you're doing. Do you understand the consequences? Do you understand the ramifications of this bill?"

The hospital closing commission was just one provision. There were many provisions of that bill which really gave increased powers to a limited number of people. To whom? To the people who advise the Premier, the unelected people, the whiz kids, as we sometimes like calling them in the opposition, the people who know better than you people who are elected, and to a few cabinet ministers, at the expense of the rest of the members of the Legislature.

All we were asking was that the government not ram this piece of legislation through before Christmas, that it not just have show hearings in Toronto, which were meaningless just before the Christmas holiday season, but instead that the government travel across Ontario and have meaningful hearings in various centres on the provisions of that bill. As a result of that extraordinary action, the government itself made over 150 amendments to that bill. The democratic process worked well in that instance and the government legislation was better as a result of the opportunity the opposition had to invoke an extraordinary procedural and parliamentary measure, to slow the government down, to make the government reconsider. Well, this provision is removed in this particular motion that's before us this afternoon.

On another occasion, against the wishes expressed through plebiscites in various of the municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto, with 76% of the people voting, "No, we don't want one huge megacity," the government decided it would proceed in any event with its legislation. As a result, the opposition invoked an extraordinary measure on that occasion.

Do we like doing it? No. Nobody likes it. I don't think anybody liked that exercise. But it was a demonstration to the government that you can't simply go around this province during an election campaign talking about listening to the will of the people, and then, when that will is expressed, turn around and ignore it as you did in that instance.

Ultimately, in both cases the government legislation passed. You were elected. You have 82 seats. No, you didn't get 50% of the vote, you got about 46%, but that's the way our system works. I don't want to revisit that. I'm not going to get into the argument, "We should have proportional representation," at all, even though that's an argument for another day. Because our system did work that way, we all knew, going into the campaign, that the party that got the most seats, regardless of the percentage of votes garnered, would be the party that won the election. So I accept that fact. I accept the fact the government has the right to govern. But we in opposition have the right and indeed the obligation to slow the government down, to make the government reconsider, to make the government examine the ramifications of its actions before proceeding.


Even the people who agree with the government -- and there are a considerable number in this province who agree with the general thrust of the government, who say, "We believe some of this had to be done" -- say to me today, and they're good Conservatives, good supporters of your government: "We wish you in the opposition would at least slow our government down. We wish you would make them do things right, instead of doing them quickly. We wish you would encourage them not to make such drastic changes as they are contemplating and as they're implementing. We wish you would ensure that they examine the consequences and ramifications of their actions before they proceed ultimately to pass the bill in final reading."

That's the role the opposition plays. It's a positive role; it's a constructive role, because it ensures -- it doesn't ensure; it reduces the risk that the kind of legislation we ultimately get might be extremely detrimental. That surely is an important part of being a member of this provincial Parliament.

That is why I say every person in Ontario has a stake in this debate. The members of the news media will tell you: "Our editors aren't interested in this. We can't file stories because unless you're going to do something extraordinary, unless there's closure" -- by the way, that used to be a matter of great contention; now it's accepted -- "unless there's something very extraordinary, a gimmick, a trick happens in this Legislature, we're not interested in procedural matters." Yet this resolution, this motion, has more consequences for the people of this province than anything this government has done so far.

I know Mike Harris may not like this Legislature. I know it may be inconvenient to him. I know the people who advise him may consider it to be --

Mr Wildman: A nuisance.

Mr Bradley: -- a nuisance to them, because it's always easier to move more quickly, it's always easier not to get the Cadillac scratched as it's going by, but that surely is the role to play, to let them know what's wrong when things do pass. There are plenty of government people and government flacks to tell you what is right about what the government is doing. So once that debate takes place and we've gone through all the stages and the government passes its bill, there may still be opposition, but we have to ensure --

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Point of order, Madam Speaker: The member for St Catharines is imputing motive when he says the Premier and other members of the Legislature may not like this Legislature. I think that's a ludicrous thing to say, aside from imputing motive as well, Madam Speaker. I believe that is out of order and I would ask you to rule on it.

Mr Wildman: Point of order, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Same point of order?

Mr Wildman: Yes. It is difficult to impute motives when in fact you are describing them accurately.

The Acting Speaker: I've been listening carefully to the member for St Catharines and I have not heard specifically imputing motives. As often happens in debates here, people give opinions as to what they think is going on. I will continue to be listening carefully. I'll ask the member for St Catharines to continue.

Mr Bradley: I want to get back to looking at who should be running the province and who should not be running the province. We have seen in many jurisdictions, not in Ontario alone, an unfortunate move towards placing more power in the hands of unelected people. It's because many people consider legislative bodies, parliaments, to be inconvenient, to be cumbersome, to be overly democratic.

This does not bode well for those of us who are individually elected members. Let me tell you why that is the case. That is the case because if the people who elect us don't like us, at the end of our term they can indicate that by not returning us to office. That is why on election day I remember a number of politicians who have said, when they have lost, that the people have spoken and the people are always right in a democracy. What they mean by that is that's how democracy works; the people do make that decision. Individual politicians, individual elected representatives who are defeated may quarrel with that decision but they must respect that decision, as I respect that decision.

That is why I worry when I see that the very people who make the most decisions, those who seem to have the most power, are not elected. You can't get at them. You can't get at the senior civil service, and more important, you can't get at the political advisers to the Premier. Yet, if you talk to individual members of any government, particularly those who are not in cabinet, you will find out that they believe power rests with those unelected advisers, which is most unfortunate. Again, that is not healthy for the democratic system.

The rule changes, then, to those individuals are there to grease the skids for the kinds of radical and revolutionary changes they wish to impose upon Ontario. When you're making changes which are so radical -- and I want to characterize the changes that way because they're not moderate changes; they are radical changes. I guess that's democracy and there's nothing wrong as such with radical changes. You have to live with those changes. The point I make, though, is that when you are making those changes which are so radical, there's an extra onus on those of us in opposition to point out the consequences of those changes. That's why extensive debate is very important in those cases.

The rule changes as read by the government House leader sound benign, but they are really drawn up by the Harris government in order that it can ram through its legislation and policies designed, as I say, to be beneficial to the most powerful and privileged people in this province. The benign wording will fool some. There are some who want to be fooled; there are some out there who want to congratulate this government no matter what it does. I can't deal with those people.

There are a lot of independent-minded people, some of whom agree with what the government is doing, who are concerned. I hope those people aren't fooled by the categories, or by the open letters that people send. The member for Nepean sent an open letter to the leader of the official opposition. I was almost physically ill when I read the letter. In fact, I wrote a letter back to the government House leader and never mailed it to him, because it was somewhat vitriolic, to say the least, in the condemnation of that exercise.

To try to characterize the changes as those which would benefit individual members of this Legislature is absolutely ludicrous. It would be misleading -- I'm not saying anybody is misleading, but anybody who would want to characterize those changes, I would say they would be misleading changes; misleading wording would be used. I'm not accusing any member of misleading the House, because I know that's against our rules. I'm not trying to be tricky or funny with that either to get around it. I'm just saying that as I read them, I would laugh if it weren't such a serious matter, when I see how they were characterized.

Everybody recognizes that a healthy democracy requires a vigilant opposition with the ability, when necessary, to slow the government down, to allow for additional debate and discussion and to allow for reflection and reconsideration. I even said that when I was in government. I remember speaking to a number of audiences -- you get more speaking requests when you're a minister, obviously, than when you're a member of the opposition -- on many occasions where the topic wasn't specific to the ministry with which I was involved, the Ministry of the Environment. When we were talking about the democratic or legislative system, I almost invariably took the opportunity to point out the importance of the opposition. I guess it's a benefit of having sat on both sides of the House that one can see that importance. Yes, it does takes longer when the opposition slows things down, but the purpose of the debate out there is important: It's to let the public know what a bill is all about.


The government wants a two-for-one day. Let me give you an example of that: They want to be able to sit one afternoon, with a question period then, but they want to count another legislative day, and that's for purposes of saying, "Oh, we've had enough debate on this bill." They want to use that time in the evening and call it another legislative day.

What is important is that debate take place over a period of time, so that the public at home watching this television channel or through the news media coverage of this place, or for those who are lucky enough now to have the Internet and a computer to get Hansard, because they can't get Hansard any more in the printed form through the kind of subscription they used to -- it's important that those people know what the issues are before the House, that they know the arguments on all sides.

The minister usually puts forward what the minister believes is a compelling argument for the legislation; and some other government members. The opposition members sometimes compliment the government, sometimes agree, more often tend to point out the shortcomings of that legislation, and the public finally makes a judgement. But if the government is simply able to ram through its legislation within a couple of days, the public doesn't really become aware of what's happened in this House, and ultimately the public itself is the loser.

We have to draw attention to those issues, and we can do so by debate and by employing other devices. What the government is doing in its motion is not only restricting debate on the part of the opposition; the government is also removing any of the bargaining chips the opposition would have in dealing with the government. When I'm dealing with the government House leader, I can make a suggestion to him that we might be compliant in a certain way if we had an additional day of debate. I'll tell you something: You're taking all the chips away from the opposition.

Now the government House leader will simply be in a position -- I'm not saying he's going to -- to say, "I'm sorry, I don't have to listen to you people any more, because I have the rules all in my favour and now I will dictate what goes through and when it goes through." Remember, the government House leader is not a person who himself makes those decisions; he is accountable to the Premier, and I can tell you the Premier is always a person who wants to get through a program eagerly and quickly. Not this Premier alone -- other Premiers have had the same anxiousness to get through matters they felt were of importance -- but certainly I can say that applies to the present Premier as well.

This change we see here, this drastic change to the procedural rules of this House, will be popular with the zealots, will be popular with the extremists, who really think the opposition is only a nuisance, who think the opposition is at best misguided and at worst stupid. They really have no regard for any views other than their own. This government probably has in it, in its apparatus out there, more zealots and more extremists than any government I've seen.

I would have anticipated, and perhaps wrongly, that the New Democratic Party, which was noted as a government with an ideology, which was a government that had certain plans for the province, might have been more zealous, might have been more extreme than it ultimately was; there were times when I disagreed with the government, times when I agreed with it. But I have never witnessed a government, since I've been in this Legislature or watching this Legislature as an individual citizen, that has more zealots and has more extremists within the apparatus of the government than this government; I'm not saying the members of this Legislature necessarily, but particularly the advisers to this government.

I know where they get this. They get it south of the border. They head down to talk to the Republicans, and I'm not talking of moderate Republicans. I'm not talking of the present defense secretary, Cohen, for instance, who when he was a senator from Maine was considered to be a moderate; or Senator Stafford, whom I had a chance to meet, who was very good on environmental issues, again a New England senator of great reputation. That's not the kind of person they're talking to. They're talking to the Newt Gingrich types, the people who are extreme in their viewpoint, the people who have an agenda for America.

Some of those zealots who advise the government spend a lot of time talking to those individuals, to extreme individuals south of the border, and they genuinely believe in that. When I've looked at the Tory caucus over the years, however, I've seen a lot of people who are pretty middle of the road. They've been more cautious than perhaps others, more small-c conservative than others, but in years gone by they've been fair-minded people; they've been people who have recognized the importance of this place.

A colleague of mine in the Legislature who sat as government House leader was Bob Welch, and Bob Welch, whether you agreed or disagreed on a specific policy with him, was a man who had great regard for this House. He was a good orator in this House. He was a person who would defend the rights of individual members. He was an individual who had a respect for those who disagreed with him. I can't speak for Mr Welch, most certainly, but when I watched him in action and then I watch this government in action I see a major contrast. I can't help but believe that many of the Tories from his era must be very uncomfortable with what they see happening in this Legislature, particularly today when they see these kinds of rule changes.

You see, some of the rule changes that are proposed are designed to keep more things secret in the government. I understand the government views order paper questions as inconvenient, sometimes they may feel they're frivolous or vexatious, those legal words they use that kind of make them not useful questions, not helpful questions, but that's how you can obtain a lot of information. We don't have a five-hour question period in this House. The estimates process doesn't take place in this House any more. So the ability to glean information, important information from the government is not there unless you have order paper questions.

The amount of time it takes for the government to answer -- sometimes it may take a little longer to answer. The number of questions overall the government may look at and say, "Gee, I don't know if some of these are really that necessary," but that's how you get the information from the government. Surely an open government, with all the information on the table, is a healthier government than that which wishes to hide information.

My friend Norm Sterling, the member for Carleton, was preoccupied in one of his previous roles as a person responsible for freedom of information. The member for Renfrew North, who was in the House this afternoon, when paying tribute to him on June 9, I believe mentioned that Mr Sterling was involved with freedom of information and felt very strongly about it on that occasion. Some of the rule changes here would deny that kind of free flow of information that we in the opposition believe is important and I think the public should believe is important.

I look at this whole exercise and how it affects the mood of the House. The House works best when the House leaders and whips, who are specific people with specific roles, can sit down and try to make some decisions on how matters will proceed in the House. When you have those kinds of undertakings, when you have those good meetings, you find out that things do happen, that the government agenda, while it may not pass at the pace the government wants, does pass.

I think this is creating an ugly mood in this House, because all of the thoughts of cooperation which the opposition had in the last few weeks in our discussions have left and the mood has turned ugly. You're going to find confrontations and perhaps even disorder in this House when this government tries to implement these changes, and that's not good for anybody; it's not fun for anybody. I don't think anybody is excited by that kind of circumstance. I prefer strong debate and extensive debate in the House, and I hate the ugliness when it permeates this House. We'll be responsible for some of it and the government will be responsible for some of it. Nobody will have clean hands when that happens. That's most unfortunate because that does bring this House into disrepute.


Look at the tool chest which has been put forward. Remember when the Minister of Education said he was going to provide a tool chest for boards of education to be able to deal with the people who had been nuisances to the boards over the years, and he provided some of that, not all of it, but some of it is in Bill 136, a bill which takes away rights from many people who work in the public sector. I say to them it is not in the interests of democracy to do that. With 82 seats in the Legislature, the government has the opportunity to do as it pleases in any event.

What the government is doing with this, if it doesn't intend to pass it as is, is really putting a gun to the heads of the opposition -- speaking figuratively, of course -- loading that gun with whatever number, I guess six bullets, and putting it to the heads of the opposition and saying, "Either you agree to some form of rule changes or you agree to put through all of our legislative agenda, or you're going to be stuck with these rules as they are, and you'll be sorry forever."

I get to that and start saying: "Why don't you just close down the Legislature, Mike? Why don't you just say this place isn't important any more? Why don't you just send the members home to get birth certificates quickly for people or to cut ribbons or to do ceremonial things or to be" -- I say this in the best sense of the words -- "glorified social workers?"

Jonathan Manthorpe -- I'm going to say about 1975; it was before I was in this Legislature -- wrote a column about the role of this Legislature. He made a case which I don't agree with, by the way, that members should not have constituency offices, and he said that's because it had made members glorified social workers, that in effect we spent all of our time trying to deal with intricate individual problems to the neglect of what happened in legislative committees and in this House. His solution was to abolish constituency offices. I don't agree with that solution, but I understand what he meant when he said that if members are preoccupied with other things, if there aren't meaningful ways of dealing with government business, then you might as well close down the Legislature, just give the key to the Premier and let him run the province the way he wants to. That's most discouraging to those of us in the opposition and I suspect to some on the government side.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to compliment the government on not doing something inflammatory. In its package, it did not say it wanted Bill 136 completed before the end of June, which is going to be a controversial bill. The government will ultimately pass the bill because it has the power to do so, but I think there was a recognition there would be considerable debate, hopefully a lot of hearings and perhaps some modifications to the bill. I have to take that back now because under the rules, remember something else that's interesting. I don't know how many members noticed this. The motion says the rules are retroactive to what's going on in the House now, not something for the future, not something to say, "We didn't like what happened in the past, but in the future we're going to do it," but something retroactive.

I'm not a lawyer, so I can't speak to this in a way that a lawyer can. My friends who are lawyers almost invariably express concern about retroactive legislation, and they probably understand better than I or others the ramifications of that. The government under its new rules in the last two weeks of the Legislature could theoretically bring in another bill. They could bring in the son or daughter of Bill 136, which would affect members of the teaching profession, on June 24, and have it passed on June 26 before the Legislature ends. Second reading could be brought in. So no period ahead of time to know anything about; do it right at the end of the year when nobody is watching and get the legislation through. That's one of the consequences of this dynamite package of changes, the grenade which has been rolled into the middle of this Legislature with the pin pulled and waiting for somebody to jump on the grenade or to withdraw the grenade or to dismantle it somehow to make it not effective.

I can say to the government when it says, "We don't have enough time for our members to speak," that all the government has to do is provide more time in the Legislature for the members to speak, take more time with each bill. I'm one who doesn't mind the Legislature sitting for a longer period of time. I read in the letter that was sent to the Leader of the Opposition that the House can't sit beyond 25 weeks or something like that. That's nonsense. The House is sitting now. The opposition does not object to the House sitting. The opposition is prepared to deal with the legislation, and yet it's put out there as though somehow the opposition doesn't want to work. Again, that's a smarmy approach when I read somewhere somebody saying, "You know, we've got to work a full day," as though when members aren't in this chamber they aren't working. I know people from all parties who are working late into the evening or early in the morning in their offices, or they're back in the constituency, or they're working on the weekend. The suggestion -- and it was put out there in this open letter -- that somehow members of the Legislature don't work unless the House is sitting is nonsense.

I see that even more for members who represent rural constituencies. The member for Grey-Owen Sound is here and nods in agreement. The member for Renfrew North has a huge riding that he has to deal with. I'm going to tell you it's impossible for people with huge ridings to be in this House every day of the week, and a lot of the work is not done in this House. But of course the suggestion was, just as the government House leader said when asked, "Why are we sitting election day?" "Oh, well, everybody else has to work." The real fact was that if the opposition had said on the bill that ends rent control, "We'll end our debate on Thursday" -- the government didn't want to sit on Monday then. It was a bogus argument. I can't use the words I want to use. It was a bogus argument, let me put it that way, but it was put out there as, "Oh, certain people don't want to work on election day." It had nothing to do with it at all. The government was prepared not to, so-called, work on election day.

I look at people like Gary Carr and Toni Skarica and Bill Murdoch, who have expressed openly their concern about what the government is doing. The three of them have paid a price for doing that which is financial and which is I guess social, if you can put it in those terms, because they have dared to speak out against the government agenda, and not only the government agenda but the way the government operates. They're not going to ingratiate themselves to the Premier, I understand that, and they may not make it to the cabinet, but I think they're going to garner a lot more respect and they're going to be able to live with their consciences by being able to express their views as they see them instead of as the Premier would like to hear them. Even those who tell the Premier what he wants to hear are not providing a good service to the Premier.

I can recall in my years in government that the Premier of the day, Premier Peterson, from time to time referred to me as the Leader of the Opposition, because I would on many occasions disagree with something the Premier had said, but I was convinced that he respected someone more who would express that disagreement than those who would nod acquiescently at every suggestion the Premier would make and laugh compliantly at every joke that would be made. I think we serve ourselves better as legislators when we put those views directly to the people who have the greatest power.


I would characterize these changes as dictatorial, as mean-spirited and as not good ultimately for the province. I remember the words of Ernie Eves. Ernie and I are good friends and have been for a number of years. He came in the Legislature in 1981; I came in in 1977. Ernie had something interesting to say about rule changes -- I'll allow myself to go in a different direction for just a moment, because the member for Nickel Belt is here. He will recall probably the day I was angriest in the House, the angriest speech I gave was a speech condemning rule changes made by a previous government. He mentioned to me later -- he doesn't mind me saying this, I'm sure -- that he hadn't seen me as angry as that day, because I recognize when you get into rule changes in this House, you're really making a difference.

It reminds me of another instance. The member for Nepean purportedly said he doesn't want to see the opposition or 20 members, whoever, block a private member's bill. The Davis government used to do that routinely. That practice was changed, and I like that practice changed.

But do you know what can happen? The government can put members up to bringing a bill into the Legislature in private members' hour which the government doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to place its stamp on and doesn't want to be directly associated with, wants to have its hands clean. It can do that through using one of its members, with a majority of government members supporting it. While that power to block that bill coming to a vote should be used extremely rarely, I'm not convinced that removing that power completely is wise, because of that.

The only time it has been invoked during this Parliament was when Mr Flaherty brought forward a motion to change the rules of this House by using private members' hour. I felt as all members of the Legislature were affected by this, that was one specific instance where that measure could be invoked, and they're going to take that away. Even if the government withdrew this motion this afternoon, it could have one of its own members, using private members' hour, have a motion passed, which would have the same effect and the government could wash its hands.

I want to go back to what Ernie Eves had to say on June 22, 1992, about the rule changes proposed by Mr Cooke of the previous government.

"I think one has to understand that the only way opposition -- not just opposition members but any public opposition to any proposed piece of legislation -- can be effectively dealt with or talked about under our system of government, under the parliamentary system of government, is through the opposition parties' ability to debate, and yes, on occasion, even stall or slow down the progress of a particular bill, and that has worked very effectively over the years against governments of all political stripes."

I agree with Ernie. He was right on that occasion and he made that argument with a good deal of sincerity and a knowledge of how this House works.

I remember a letter from Norm Sterling, now the Minister of Environment and Energy, the member for the riding of Carleton -- it used to have a different name at one time; it was Carleton-Grenville. He wrote a letter to the Ottawa Sun and it was read into the Hansard by Ernie Eves on June 22, 1992. Let me tell you what Mr Sterling had to say:

"Over the past six years in opposition, I have been successful in forcing the government of the day to accept some amendments to their legislation. My only tool was to delay or threaten to delay. What sense is there for me to bother to debate if I have no means to make them listen?"

That was Norm Sterling, the member for the riding of Carleton, who made that statement, and I agree with him. I think he was right on that occasion; I think he would be right if he said that today.

I want to also say that Mr Eves on another occasion said, "It does get kind of frustrating over here in opposition, when we could be talking about the rule changes in House leaders' meetings, where they're supposed to be dealt with." Again, he was worried about a matter that was before the House instead of the House leaders dealing with these matters, as they should.

Last Thursday, in reacting to the changes which were proposed, I noted that the government was enhancing its reputation as a government of bullies, as a bullying government. That's a reputation unfortunately this government, at least the cabinet and the unelected advisers, have earned. I'm not saying the other members, necessarily, but they have earned it. Indeed, some of the members of the Legislature who are government members know that and in their ridings have seen the consequences of that. Some members of the government caucus swing back, don't simply take the punches, figuratively speaking, but throw a few themselves, and that's seldom appreciated.

I look at all these rules individually and I know that can bore people, when they have to deal with those kinds of rules, those kinds of matters, but on Thursday, June 12, when these were snuck in at about five minutes to 5 as a motion, I said as follows:

"The Harris government has used the iron fist late this afternoon to squelch the opposition by imposing drastic procedural rule changes that will severely restrict the ability of the opposition members to debate and slow down government legislation.

"Under the cover of the federal election, a press conference was held Monday, June 2, at which time the Harris regime, using the MPP for Nepean, revealed proposed parliamentary rule changes hatched in the Office of the Premier and designed to enable the Harris government to ram through controversial and far-reaching legislation with ease and a minimum of debate.

"This afternoon" -- I was referring to last Thursday afternoon -- "the government tabled a motion to implement its punitive rule changes and indicated that it would proceed with the extreme measure before the House recesses at the end of the month. With this motion, the Harris government has confirmed its reputation as a bully, impatient with any opposition and determined to run roughshod over any who would impede their efforts to force revolutionary change on the province.

"Even those who might agree with some of the legislation proposed by the Harris Conservatives believe the government is moving too quickly, too drastically and without considering the consequences of its actions. It is outrageous that the backroom boys in the Premier's office will render the Ontario Legislature powerless with the passage of one motion. The only honourable course of action is the immediate withdrawal of this mean-spirited measure. Democracy is under assault by Mike Harris and his revolutionaries and must be defended rigorously."

Yes, those are strong words. I was vehement in my opposition to what the government was doing. But I think they're an accurate reflection of what is happening in this Legislature this afternoon.

What the government is looking for in some of the provisions is rather interesting to note. The Harris government is asking for a two-for-one special on democracy. They want the ability to proceed with two sessional days in one 24-hour period without two corresponding question periods. They want to be able to move faster, with less accountability, at a time when most Ontarians feel this government already moves too quickly and too recklessly without considering the consequences of their actions.


They want to reduce speaking times and limit access to inspection through order paper questions. This limits the ability of elected members to hold the government accountable to the taxpayers of Ontario.

By the way, I don't know how many of my fellow members noted -- I don't know if I'll be able to find it quickly -- the new order which is proposed by the government, an order which will place question period way down the list. The members of the news media, whose editors' eyes may glaze over at the thought of rule changes, should note what this means by those rule changes. It says the following:

"That standing order 30 be deleted and the following substituted:

"30(a) The routine proceedings before the orders of the day are as follows": first of all, members' statements, (2) reports by committees, (3) introduction of bills, (4) motions, (5) statements by the ministry and responses, (6) deferred votes, (7) question period.

You can see that the government wants to manage the news, wants to push question period back so far that it will affect the deadlines of those who have to meet newspaper and electronic media deadlines -- pretty machiavellian if you look at it. There are a lot of people who will say, "Aren't they clever?" Mostly it's the people who do this themselves, who talk to one another and say: "Aren't we clever people? Look what we've done. We have shown the opposition and we've pushed question period way down."

The American legislators who were here today saw something, when they were here visiting during question period, that they don't have in their legislative bodies. They don't have a question period. Many of them, if they're on the government side, are anxious about that; in other words, anxious not to have it implemented. Those in the minority, as they call it, or opposition, think it's a great idea that we have a question period, that we have accountability.

I can tell you, as a minister I never looked forward to question period, because it was a time of great tension. It was a time when a member could raise something we had never thought would be raised or no one in our ministry might have brought to our attention. It meant not only answering the question in the House but also having to go out into the hallway into what we call a scrum, where the media gathers to question us about those matters of the day. But it's important for democracy. It keeps us on our toes, it keeps all governments on their toes.

When you relegate question period to the end of all these proceedings, you're showing your disdain for that particular institution. But the purpose is this: They don't want the opposition to use any of the other items, like reports by committees or introduction of bills or motions, to be able to slow down the process, so they put it there.

They're also suggesting that orders of the day, regardless of what happens, shall start at 4 o'clock. Most of the time they do anyway and most of the time they should, but there are occasions when other matters take precedence, and those other matters will no longer be able to take precedence because of the rule changes implemented by this government.

When I say I can't believe these have anything to do with the member for Nepean, anxious as he might be to please the Premier, when I say that, it's because the changes are technical. The changes are developed by those who know what goes on in this House and how a government can best dominate what goes on in this Legislature.

The federal House is mentioned from time to time. They say, "This is done in the federal House" or "That's done in the federal House." There are 20 opposition days in the federal House. I'm sorry, I did not see this. Maybe the House leader for the NDP saw something for 20 opposition days. He saw that in the federal rules. Did you see it in the proposed package from the government? No, we did not see that. They've cherry-picked, they've selected those rules which they think would be convenient for the government to place in this motion before the Legislature. That's what they've chosen.

They also say: "What about the time? The federal members don't get to speak as long as we do in the provincial House." No, they don't. There are 301 members of the federal House; there will be 103 members of the provincial House. In other words, they have three times as many members as we have.

I say to members of this House, look carefully at those rule changes. They are not motivated as we would hope they would be motivated. I can't impute motives -- we're not allowed to do this in the House -- but I simply say that this package is designed to help only the members of the government and not the members of the opposition, and not, when you look at the real detail of them, the individual members of the government caucus.

There's a key paragraph at the beginning. This is humorous, only it's too serious to be humorous. It says at the very beginning, in the preamble:

"The purpose of these standing orders is to ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that respects the democratic rights of members" -- wrong from the beginning. That's not the purpose.

The purpose says it is to make it expedient for the government:

"(i) to submit motions, resolutions and bills for the consideration of the assembly and its committees, and to have them determined by democratic vote;

"(ii) to debate, speak to, and vote on motions, resolutions and bills;

"(iii) to hold the government accountable for its policies; and

"(iv) collectively, to decide matters submitted to the assembly or a committee."

I can tell you that's not the purpose of these rule changes. It's exactly the opposite purpose of these rule changes.

The key paragraph at the end of the section on members' rights reads as follows:

"The standing orders shall not be interpreted or applied in a manner that permits a member to obtain a procedural or tactical advantage by contravening a standing order."

This of course could be used by the Speaker to shut down any delaying tactics, because the clause is wide open to interpretation. It's okay as long as we have the present people in the chair: yourself, Ms Churley, M. Morin, Speaker Stockwell. But if we ever had a situation where we had a government toady in the chair -- and that can happen; it may have happened in the past; it may have happened in other parliaments -- where you have somebody simply willing to do what the Premier wants in the chair, if that situation ever arose, that wide-open-to-interpretation clause would be used against the opposition. We're fortunate now, and I say this in all sincerity, that the members we have sitting in the chair who have these official positions do not fit that description or that definition. But it could happen in the future.

They've eliminated the need for an extended-hours motion. There are times when that resolution is not needed, where the opposition says, "I don't think we need to debate that." In fact, last Wednesday what Bud Wildman, the House leader for the NDP, and I did was approach the government and say: "We don't think you should just have to deal with the matter of the extended hours today. Why not bring in the Waterloo bill as well? We'll use half-and-half time for those."

It worked very well. We had one speech by the Liberals, one speech by the NDP, one speech by the government representative, and the bill passed, not only second reading but third reading. Why? Because there was consensus, agreement and no need to slow up that kind of legislation or to block that legislation. That's how the House can work well. There are many times when we have not used the extended-hours motion. We simply say, "Let's forget about that and let's deal with some bills," and that works out all right.

I mentioned the two-for-one special. The minute the government House leader, who has to put a good face on this -- I'm not blaming him personally, but he has to put the good face on it, otherwise he'll face the wrath of the Premier. Those who have dealt with the caucus in caucus meetings know what that's like. Certain members of the caucus who are in the House today know that the wrath of the Premier is something to behold, as do members of cabinet as well.


He says to the House: "Well, you know, we are providing additional time for debate. We're going to let us debate from 6:30 to 9:30." What he doesn't say is, "We're going to count that as an additional legislative day, so that when we want to bring in a time allocation motion, we'll be able to get a bill through in two days instead of three days at maximum." It's disguised and portrayed as a motion favourable to more debate, but in fact it's a motion designed to restrict debate in this Legislature.

It says they're going to eliminate the need for a House calendar by getting rid of standing order 10(a). That means the government does not need the permission of the Speaker to sit when the calendar does not have the House scheduled to sit. With this proposal, the government unilaterally brings the House back when it pleases. We may as well not have a parliamentary calendar. I prefer to have the Speaker with that power. I can't remember a Speaker ever denying the government the opportunity to come back, but I would like to have that in the hands of an individual who is independent of the Premier, an individual who has to use his or her own good judgement and the able assistance of the people at the table, the clerks who advise you on many of these matters.

The government says if it loses a quorum on Thursday morning during private members' business, that doesn't affect the rest of the day. That is saying that private members' business is not as important as government business in the afternoon.

Points of privilege: The Speaker is going to listen to the first point of privilege and then can shut down related points of privilege. Frankly, Mr Speaker, you can do that today. It doesn't often happen. The Speaker is usually pretty good at listening to a few points of privilege, all the Speakers we've had. But eventually the Speaker can say, even after one if it's a bogus point of privilege -- and I must confess to bringing points of privilege, from time to time, that bordered on not being points of privilege. But the Speaker of the day has said, "Thank you, but that's not a point of privilege," and there has been no further point of privilege on that. But points of privilege are important. I don't deny the Speaker the right to say, "That's not a point of privilege," but I think the government is tampering with something that's pretty sacred to this House.

The Speaker may adjust voting times and adjournment times if there has been a delay as a result of grave disorder. That's going to work to the convenience of the government, no question about that.

No interrupting the Speaker when he or she has risen to speak, making a ruling or putting a question to the House. The new wording is "putting a question." I didn't know you could interrupt the Speaker in any event, legally and legitimately. We're all supposed to know that when the Speaker rises, to indicate that he or she is speaking, the rest of us are supposed to sit down and listen to what the Speaker says or face legitimate chastisement by the Speaker. That's one rule of this House that should always be adhered to. But the putting of a question is because they're afraid the opposition might question something about the putting of a question, because the government at one point in time is going to want to put a question so that there's no further debate. I suspect that could happen with this debate.

Points of privilege not relating to the day's events require a one-and-a-half-hour notice. The Speaker may rule on these without debate in the House. There may be something in your riding that happened in Stratford on a particular day and you didn't have the opportunity to give notice of an hour and a half previously. I don't want to see you denied the opportunity to rise on that point of privilege simply because you haven't given an hour-and-a-half notice to the Speaker. The Speaker may rule quickly whether he believes you are in order or not in order, Speaker Stockwell, for instance, who is usually in the chair at the beginning of the day, but I want you to have the right to raise that without sending a notice an hour and a half ahead of time, because it may be a matter that has arisen quite recently, just before the House convenes for consideration of matters.

Eliminating the allowance of a motion that a member now be heard. That certainly will be in favour of the government.

Speaking time is reduced from 90 minutes to 40 minutes for leadoffs. The standard 30-minute speeches are reduced to 20 minutes. After five hours of debate, the speaking times are 10 minutes. I know they like to say it's a House of Commons, which, as I pointed out earlier, has three times as many members as we have in this House.

Every time you limit the amount of debate, you make the opposition move to extraordinary measures to make itself heard. All of this shutting down of democracy, the restricting of committee hearings, the restricting of consultation, the restricting of debate, tends to militate in favour of people going outside the legislative process to take action. People should be condemned for taking extreme action outside the legislative process. But it becomes more understandable, when they believe their day in court is not allowed to them, that they begin to take extreme action to express views opposite to those of the government.

The speaking times, then, I think are important. What we have done in opposition to help speed the process for the government is that we have asked permission to split the speaking time. We ask for unanimous consent to split it among a number of members. That way they have all been satisfied with the right to speak, the points have been made in opposition to the government legislation and very often a bill will take one or two days, sometimes three, to pass second reading. That method can be used, and we use it. We don't necessarily use, as we are today, the full 90 minutes for one speaker.

If the House is scheduled to sit at 6:30 and adjournment procedures have not concluded, the Speaker may deem them so at 6:25. Again, designed to accommodate the government. The two-for-one special does not require notice. That's the two-for-one special where the government says: "We're not satisfied we've had the afternoon session. We want at any time to be able to have an evening session from 6:30 to 9:30, and we don't have to tell the opposition about that." The opposition critics or others with a specific interest in a bill might well have headed back to their ridings for special events or circumstances in their ridings, and the government would not have to tell them about this, just spring it on them at the last minute, and there it is, implemented. Again, most unfair, undemocratic, but it will please the people who advise the Premier, the unelected people in the Premier's office and outside the Premier's office who talk about matters that relate to this House.

The Speaker may rule out of order any motion he or she deems to have been moved for the purposes of delay. As far as I can recall, the Speaker can rule motions out of order in any event, but this is putting something specific in. We're fortunate when we have you in the chair or when we have M. Morin or Ms Churley or Speaker Stockwell, but what happens if we get a government toady in the chair, somebody who wants to please the Premier, please the cabinet? Then this could be invoked, to the detriment of the opposition.

The government House leader "may," instead of "must," do a business statement on the upcoming week. Isn't it nice to know at the concluding of one week what has been agreed upon to deal with next week, instead of having it be a surprise, so members can prepare their consideration of the bills?

There are three sessional days allotted for budget debate. The government can do that now. Who cares? Why don't they just do it now if that's so important to the government?

The concurrence in supply is limited to one day of debate. The debate on interim supply is limited to one day of debate. Let me tell you what that means. Those two debates -- and you would know this as Speaker -- are debates where members can discuss a wide-ranging number of topics, can look at the expenditures of the government, whether they're decreasing or increasing, and can on a very broad basis canvass significant issues of the day. The government is going to restrict that to one day. That excellent opportunity to deal with issues of importance to the opposition would be restricted to one day instead of several days.

Government bills may be introduced during the last two weeks of a session, with allowance to proceed to second reading. Again, the government could hide much of its controversial legislation to the end, if it saw fit, and then spring that legislation on this Legislature and have it sit past for second reading.


If they do it before that two-week period of time, the government is quite entitled to proceed with the bill, and I accept that. This is what is called, I think my friend Mr Wildman said, the Ernie Eves rule. The former House leader of the Conservative Party said this should be in place. I agreed with him then. I hope he has the same view now and will be able to convince the Premier's advisers that indeed that should be taken out, because that does allow for great difficulty in terms of the opposition -- and I say that in the broad sense rather than just opposition members -- being able to deal with a bill.

The answering of order paper questions from 14 to 45 days: It's nice to be able to get that information early and I'll tell you why. The session may be ending, and the government, if it has some embarrassing information that must be provided, by extending the time to answer those questions to 45 days, could always wait until the session has ended, or if an election is coming up, wait until the election happens, where the writ is issued and the government never has to answer that question. The government can give an interim answer in any event.

Standing committees shrink to nine members. That's a strange one. Only five Conservative MPPs, three Liberals and one New Democrat would sit on a committee. That again, I think, restricts the government in its ability to have its members play a meaningful role. As well, it limits the NDP to only one member of a committee, and that's often difficult because we have to be in many places at once and it's good to have more than one member allowed.

When two sessional days occur on the same calendar day, a single Orders and Notices paper will be printed. I don't have any trouble with that. There are a few things that are found in there that are benign.

The last thing I mention and I must underline is that these rules affect all legislation retroactively. The government didn't like the way things were, so it's going to go back in history and make changes which will affect that which took place before, which was introduced previously.

We find ourselves in a debate that many hoped we would never find ourselves in. I had hoped this afternoon that some of our members would be dealing with legislation. I had hoped we would be dealing with such things as safety on the highways, the comprehensive bill that the government brought in. I had hoped we would be dealing with other pieces of legislation where there's a general consensus. I was prepared to accept that the government would deal with some of its legislation with which I don't agree but which we should be dealing with. Here we are this afternoon dealing with drastic, extreme changes to the procedures of this House instead of dealing with important government legislation.

If all of these bills were so important, one may legitimately ask, why did the government not bring those bills in today to deal with instead of this procedural change? The reason is that the people in the Premier's office are not happy. The people in the Premier's office don't like the rules of this House and therefore they're forcing the government House leader, through the member for Nepean, to suggest changes to the House and its rules.

I wish the government would not do this. The best course of action the government can take is to withdraw this motion. It has shown its hand. It can say to the opposition, "Here's what we could do but we won't," and it may have a sobering effect on members who are contemplating some rare but extreme legislative action or parliamentary tactics. But I think this group has too many zealots to withdraw this.

The government House leaders says it's negotiable. Well, when you start negotiating, you buy into the process. I don't believe in buying into what I believe is a bad process. The House leader of the New Democratic Party and I have at no time stated that we're not prepared to discuss matters of procedure and some changes; we have indicated this to the government House leader. But they're eager to rush this through now because the government, you may or may not know, Mr Speaker, has more revolutionary legislation coming in that it believes will engender a good deal of opposition in this province.

I say to all the people who watch this parliamentary channel: You all have a stake in this. Now, if there's any legislation that could affect your particular group or you as an individual, the government will be able to much more easily ram that legislation through this House. your rights could be abrogated as a result of that legislation, but you'll have little recourse but to accept it.

The government House leader tries to sound, as he can, a reasonable person, but he's a reasonable person selling an unreasonable package. I believe there may be members on the government side, newly elected, who believe that they will never be in opposition, that somehow a new dynasty has begun, that we'll see 42 years of Conservative power again. I doubt that many members who have been here awhile believe that. They know the electorate is volatile. They know that change takes place quickly in terms of political allegiances at election time, even during a campaign.

I think some of those people know that if these rules are passed, all the persuasive powers of people who abhor this kind of procedure, these kinds of rules, will not convince a subsequent Premier or a subsequent government House leader to change those rules. You gain a lot more respect as a government, as a person, as an institution, when you face a circumstance where you have a power, where you have the ability to bully, where you have the ability to get your way and you don't exercise that simply because you possess that power. That speaks well of an individual, that speaks well of a government, that speaks well of an organization when you do not use the strength or the power you have to get your way, but rather you are benevolent and considerate of others.

The Speaker who is listed as the Speaker has returned and it reminds me of the fact that as a member in opposition and to a certain extent in government he was vociferous, was demanding of the government and was a person who really believed in this institution and in fairness. I could be wrong; I don't think I am. When the last set of rules was passed under the auspices of Mr Cooke, the government House leader of the day, and voted for by some of the members of the Conservative caucus, I don't think the present Speaker voted for those rules and I don't think certain other members of the Conservative caucus voted for those rules, and with good reason.

I can recall there were certain NDP members during the NDP government who did not vote for closure motions or for time allocation motions. I think the same could be said to be true of this government, that there were members of this government who, when the government employed closure or time allocation, did not vote for those motions, because they are extremely important to us.

I began by saying that this is probably the most important legislative initiative to come forward from this government, the one which has the most far-reaching ramifications, the one which has the most effect, ultimately, on the people of this province, on the news media, on the opposition, on all members of this House.

But it won't be characterized that way. It will receive scant attention in the news media, and therefore the government will know that nobody is really looking carefully at what it's doing and the government will know it can get away with these changes. But in their conscience, will government members really believe they have done the right thing by allowing these changes to take place? Is democracy not more important than making the trains run on time?

The statement "making the trains run on time" refers to efficiency in government. There are those over the years who have established a reputation for efficiency, and there is a certain amount of envy of those who are efficient. There is always applause among the extremists, among the very committed, among the zealots, particularly those unelected, when governments proceed in an expeditious and efficient manner.

But our democracy is best served when there is a strong and influential opposition, with the tools to be able to slow down and, on very rare occasions, halt the government for a short period of time to allow it to reconsider, to allow it to reflect, to allow it to make changes to its own legislative initiatives. This can only happen under the rules we have in the Legislature at this time. To take away these opportunities is to diminish the role of members of this House. This Legislature, if this motion passes, will be a much more insignificant place than it has been for many years since I've been in the House.


Mr Wildman: I only have a few minutes left today, since these rules have not been passed and the government can't unilaterally extend the day, so I will make a few introductory remarks and then get into the main part of my speech the next time, which I suspect may be tomorrow. But again, because there's so little cooperation from the government at this point, we don't know for certain that we're going to be debating this matter tomorrow because the government doesn't have the courtesy to tell us.

I want to make a couple of points in opening my remarks. Let's be very realistic here: We understand what this is about. The government has introduced this motion with an enormous number of rule changes, some of them not so important and others very significant, that will make it possible for the government to move forward its agenda much more quickly than it has. Why have they done it at this point? They've done it because they want to hold a stick over the opposition, over the Legislative Assembly.

The government House leader seems to have taken as his text that comment from Teddy Roosevelt, "Walk softly and carry a big stick," because that's what this is. This is a big stick. In other words, the government introduces these proposed rule changes and, to use another analogy, it's like the sword of Damocles over the head of the opposition so they can try to force other pieces of legislation through the rest of this month and then in August, if they decide to come back, against the calendar of the Legislature, in August. Then if things don't go well as far as the government is concerned, they can drop the sword on to Damocles: the opposition in this House. But they're not just going to affect the opposition; they're going to be affecting the way democracy works in this province.

I don't pretend to be dramatic here. I think it's important that we understand the importance of these changes. Some might wonder why, as a member of the New Democratic Party, I am raising these concerns, because, as the government House leader has been wont to do, he has pointed out that there have been rule changes by both opposition parties when they were in government. And that's true; there have been. The difference, and I think it's a very important difference, is that there was significant debate and discussion, particularly among House leaders, before rule changes proceeded, at least the last time.

I just want to refer to some comments made by the member for Parry Sound in June 1992, because he was in this place, where I am right now, when the rule changes took place. These are a couple of comments the member for Parry Sound made as the House leader for the third party at that time:

"I believe it is essential that we change the rules only by consensus of all three parties. Sure, any government, I suppose, that has a majority can change them unilaterally; none ever has in the province of Ontario and now none will up to this date.

"We were hoping of course that the government would not proceed unilaterally and it did not, although a government of the day can do it if it has a majority. I think this place only works when there's a spirit of goodwill among all three parties, and in particular among all three House leaders. If any government ever did proceed unilaterally with rule changes, it would become a very acrimonious place indeed."

That's what Ernie Eves, the member for Parry Sound, said in 1992. I want to repeat that last statement: "If any government ever did proceed unilaterally with rule changes, it would become a very acrimonious place indeed." I think the member for Parry Sound spoke with some prophecy when he made that statement.

He also said: "In the 12 years, almost, that I've been in this assembly" -- referring to the length of time he had served prior to 1992 -- "all three parties have been in power and all three parties have had various House leaders. If that spirit and that element of trust is not there, I don't think it matters what the rules are, quite frankly; this place is not going to operate."

That, I think, explains how this place operates and has operated. It warns members who have only served in government and have never served on this side of the aisle about what can happen, no matter what the rules of the place are. The member for Parry Sound was quite right when he said, "If that spirit and that element of trust is not there, I don't think it matters what the rules are, quite frankly; this place is not going to operate."

I warn the government and the government House leader: If this government moves forward unilaterally with rule changes against the wishes of the members of this House and against the rights of the minority, this place will not operate. Essentially, every time there's a rule change, do you know what happens? The members of the opposition start thinking about how to get around the new rules, and the more difficult it is, the more acrimonious this place is.

The government House leader said in introducing this debate that this is sometimes seen as a rather rambunctious place. I think that was the word he used. Mark my words, it's going to be a hell of a lot more rambunctious if you bring in these rule changes. Rule changes, no matter how designed, do not make things better in this place if they are done unilaterally; they only make things worse.

Why is it that the opposition has had to revert to such drastic measures as they have on a couple of occasions? Frankly, it's because we don't have any other option. The only power the opposition has in a majority House is to hold up the government, and if the government continues to bring in rule changes that make it difficult for the opposition to hold them up, there are more and more drastic measures taken to achieve that end, and that will happen no matter what the rules are.

So the member for Parry Sound was quite correct when he said, "If any government ever did proceed unilaterally with rule changes, it would become a very acrimonious place indeed." I hope the member for Parry Sound is saying that at the cabinet table as the government considers moving on these rule changes.


I think the other comment I quoted is even more important. "If that spirit and that element of trust is not there, I don't think it matters what the rules are, quite frankly; this place is not going to operate." If a government moves on its own unilaterally and changes the rules for its benefit, no matter how much they try to dress it up as trying to protect the rights of individual members, if it can make the rules work so that they can make the trains run on time, to use that phrase that was used in Italy in the 1930s, the trains may in fact run on time for a little while but then the government is going to find that somebody has blown up the tracks and the trains aren't going to operate at all.

This government cannot, even if it wants to, rule by decree. This government believes that this place, this assembly is a nuisance. It holds things up; it makes things take too long. There's too much talk, too much debate, as if they don't understand that that's what this place is actually for: talk and debate. It's a nuisance. It would be far easier if the Premier, after the policy and priorities committee meeting, could simply say: "This is the way it's going to be. As of such-and-such a date, this new law, this new regulation, will be in place." It would be a lot easier for him.

There have been governments that have operated that way, even in the western hemisphere. I won't mention them because I might be accused then of comparing the Premier to some rather unsavory characters. But it wouldn't necessarily be a good thing even for the government and it certainly would not be a good thing for this province if the government could operate that way.

I know it's hard for some of you to understand this, but sometimes even this Premier and the senior cabinet ministers can make a mistake. Sometimes those kinds of errors can be ferreted out through spirited debate in this assembly; not often, I'll admit, but sometimes that can happen. That's why it's important to have vigorous debate on controversial pieces of legislation, so that we do look at the possible ramifications of various elements in the bills and we determine if there should be amendments and changes.

I know amendments sometimes take too long as far as the government is concerned. It actually slows down the process. It's as if sometimes you have to set the train on to a siding and have a look at the train and say, "Maybe there are some things that need to be repaired before we proceed down the track" -- maybe, but that's what this place is for. These rule changes proposed by the government House leader are designed to make it very, very difficult for the train ever to be moved on to a siding, for there ever to be sober second thought, to use the term that is used in Parliament.

I want to refer to that for a moment. I am no fan of the Senate. I think that institution is an anachronism that should be eliminated. But it's important to understand that if you're going to cherry-pick some of the rules from the House of Commons that make it possible to get bills through more quickly, in the House of Commons, after a bill is passed, it has to go through the same process again to get through Parliament. That is not the case here. We don't want a bicameral system here. We do not want two Houses. But we want to make certain that this assembly is able to do the job in a way that makes it unnecessary to have the sober second thought of a second House.

I think it's interesting too that when the government argues, "We've just brought in some of the rules from the House of Commons," they ignore a number of significant differences. For one thing, they haven't brought in all the rules. They've cherry-picked, by coincidence, rules that are convenient to the government. They haven't brought in rules that benefit individual members or members of the opposition. As my friend from St Catharines pointed out, in the House of Commons rules there are 20 opposition days in a session -- 20, not the few that we have.

Some might argue that in the House of Commons there are a lot more members. There are. That's another difference. There are three times as many members in the House of Commons as there are in this Legislative Assembly. So when you want to limit the number of minutes that each member has to speak, you can understand why they have shorter speaking times in the House of Commons than they have here, because they have three times as many potential speakers.

You can't just take some of the rules from the House of Commons and dump them into this place and say, "They worked there for the government, and therefore they should be transferrable to this place," unless you're going to look at all of them. This government doesn't want to look at all of them, because no matter how they try to dress up these rule changes as trying to protect the rights of the individual members, what it is about is getting the trains to run on time without having to go on to any sidings, without having to change anything.

What is worse, I think the most invidious part of this proposal is not how it relates to the members of this assembly but how it relates to the public. The changes that are proposed by the government House leader will make it possible for a government to pass a controversial piece of legislation by introducing it for first reading on Monday, debating it that evening for second reading, the next day for second reading and the next evening for second reading and then bringing in time allocation and getting it through in less than a week, and the public won't even know it has been introduced and the public will not have a say and will not be involved.

Speaker, I recognize that it is close to 6 o'clock. I am going to adjourn my remarks now, but I want to emphasize that I'm going to be quoting at length what the honourable member for Parry Sound had to say about rule changes, and I only hope he will be reiterating those views about process to his colleague the government House leader and to the Premier as they proceed on this wrong track for the province of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): It now being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1758.