36th Parliament, 1st Session

L209b - Mon 23 Jun 1997 / Lun 23 Jun 1997



Report continued from volume A.



Continuing the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of amendments to the standing orders.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I have seldom heard someone speak so passionately as the member for Ottawa, the previous speaker, feeling, rightly so, that his rights as a member are being impacted negatively. I am very much in agreement with what the member said. Mon collègue l'a mentionné dans un ton certain et je suis d'accord avec ses propos.

Let me begin, while we still have the authority, the recognition, the right to do so, to voice in the strongest terms my deeply felt opposition to this kind of hijacking of our democracy. Rule changes and streamlining have taken place since the beginning of parliaments, but in this case they have gone beyond any imaginable threshold. To say that they've gone too far will not suffice. The philosophy of "action directe" will result in an opposition that will be muzzled, shackled, handcuffed. Democracy will take it in the neck. We used to have the democratic right to participate, to oppose at times. This is a constitutional monarchy. That right has been taken away.

Incidentally, as we address the intentions of the government vis-à-vis the House rules, without notice the government comes through and announces some amendments. For the most part, they're benign, they don't mean a lot. But the courtesy of notice has not been extended to the Liberals or to the NDP. Then the government has the audacity, the gall, within two hours after introducing the amendments, to move to present, to table a closure, a time allocation motion so that this travesty can become law by the end of the week.

What is being done here is wrong, wrong and wrong again; the magnitude of the changes that are being proposed so that the train can once again run on time, so that the revolution will not have to explain, will not have to consult with the opposition and with other Ontarians, so that they can deliver their agenda without interference and, sadly, without the benefits of equilibrium, because the opposition has a different philosophy. When the three parties can work together, inevitably the legislation that emanates, that results from consultation, from healthy debate is immensely better than without, immensely better than what is being attempted.

No words are too strong. This regime, these reformists do not wish to be governed at all. The poor, the marginalized do not wish to be governed badly. But these people deliberately and systematically are shaking the very institution, the very foundation of Parliament. A cynic would perhaps draw some parallel -- "Oh, the system is strong, it will never happen here" -- but we know the system is fragile. Little by little, step by step, they march on to the point where they will be able to table first reading of a bill and within a matter of days have it become law, without scrutiny, with very little scrutiny. Members of the opposition will critique, will not be able to do nearly as efficient a job. The public, through that filter, will not be able to critique, for the bill will pass and the opportunity will not be there to seize and to request the government to have a second and third look. They will just push it through.

An hour and a half -- 90 minutes of debate. If you're the critic for a ministry, then you lead the charges as that critic for an hour and a half. Now you're reduced to 40 minutes. So many things to say but so little time to say them. You'll have to come out with one-liners, because it has been decreed. Big Bertha is marching on, following the example. Let me tell you, some of the Reformers must have read the memoirs or the annals of Salazar, Franco, or those of Mobutu soon to be published. General Pinochet would begin to recognize himself. No, sir, no sanction. If you're afraid, sir, they will march all over you.

When we talk about health reforms, people in your riding are not consulted; not with these people they're not. You are given a month to react after they close the Montfort Hospital.

Vous la connaissez, l'histoire de Montfort et la consultation. Pour vous, pour vos concitoyens, pour le père, pour la famille, l'institution, c'est certain que c'étaient les premiers pas. Les enfants y sont nés. Pour maman c'était le son de sa voix, pour papa le bruit de son pas. Aujourd'hui Montfort n'est pas là. L'échéancier que ces gens ont dicté à Montfort est la loi du cadenas. Les premiers pas, le son de sa voix, le bruit de son pas, l'institution : l'âme de la communauté, sans consultation, le vol en pleine nuit, la chance de vivre, d'évoluer, d'être comme les autres.

À l'échelle de l'éducation, c'est la même chose. Vous l'avez vécue. Semaine après semaine, au fil des mois depuis deux ans on les entend, on en connaît les conséquences : un système affaibli d'éducation, un système de santé affaibli, des citoyens d'âge d'or qui ont peur, qui vivent dans l'anxiété à cause du prix des médicaments, c'est ça les résultats de la Révolution. Une Assemblée législative qui siège continuellement pour se donner ses outils néfastes, pour se permettre de changer le visage de l'Ontario, la façon dont on vit, notre façon de travailler, l'impact de tous les services au nom de l'entreprise privée, que ces gens inévitablement travaillent mieux que notre fonction publique.

Dans certains cas, parce que nous ne sommes pas contre les changements, oui. Dans d'autres cas il faut y repenser, il faut trouver l'alternative. Ce qu'on leur demande, c'est d'appliquer les freins. Trop de changements, trop rapidement ; donnez-nous la chance de digérer et d'assimiler votre politique. Monsieur le Gouvernement, attention.

Maintenant, l'état de siège est rendu chez nous, à l'Assemblée législative. Permettez-moi de citer les commentaires des membres du gouvernement, mais pas l'opposition.

The truth is out. This is what Toni Skarica -- Mr Skarica, former prosecutor, crown attorney, former parliamentary assistant, a friend and a colleague -- says, and I'm quoting verbatim: "There's something wrong when the Premier and a couple of unelected staff people can run the entire province. It's a dictatorship."

Toni Skarica said that, a member of the government party, an honest person. They got to him. I wouldn't be surprised if within a week he doesn't have a phone in his constituency office or if the furniture is not removed. They'll strike with passion. They shoot to kill. "You do as we say, as the Premier's office says. Otherwise you don't belong." I would expect Toni not to get a helping hand but to get the back of the hand. This is the fate that awaits people who dare speak against the Reformers. You don't do this and get away. You're not under house arrest, but who knows what the future holds?

It all started on June 8, 1995. But if Toni was alone in saying it's a dictatorship, we could say that he has a lot of credibility, but maybe the words were too strong. But not at all. Gary Carr, MPP, member of provincial Parliament, member of the Progressive Conservative Party -- you see, there's an alliance here, and I have Toni Skarica as a member of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. But they have an alliance with the Ontario Reform, which is the zeal that occupies those sons and daughters of the Reform policy who occupy the back bench. Together they run the province, together they plan the future of Ontario, but since there are more sons and daughters of Reform, their policies are more numerous than the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. This is what Gary Carr says, "Mike Harris has got to realize that this is still a democracy, not a dictatorship." That's number two, another one.

Bill Murdoch, MPP, another fine member of Parliament -- this is what Mr Murdoch said, the former PA -- I mean, they've all lost their jobs, and quick, quick -- "You have to be nicey-nicey and kiss...if you want to get ahead." This is what Murdoch says.

That's Toni Skarica out the door, Gary Carr out the door -- we don't see you in the corridor any more -- and Bill Murdoch followed the other two. But they stood up at great cost. They stood up because they saw the state of siege, they saw what was being done by the gang. They refused to toe the line. My God, what a path. There are ways of doing -- you formed a government, Speaker. We had a coalition, an accord, une entente. The government worked quite well. There was always ample opportunity to debate.


But when you go this far in changing the rules, when you use every trick in the book to silence the opposition, you should be able to come up with some rationale, some substance. Name me one piece of legislation, one intent of the government that wasn't passed. We all know that at the end of the day the majority shall have its way. A long-established tradition -- we have 130 members at present and the Conservative government has 82. When things don't always go well -- they're still getting things passed -- then you blame the opposition and you shove these new rules down their throats. What kind of a world would they wish? That there would be no opposition?

Every minister would just have to get up and say, "This is it." You'd have the tuna man one day saying, "Ninety dollars a month, you can feed yourself on that." The next day you'd have the one-armed bandit saying more VLTs, the crack cocaine of gambling, and the money kept rolling in, never enough, but don't oppose it. Don't talk about the soul of the community. Don't talk about those who are marginalized and certainly do not mention the poor. Don't do that. Because, you see, they're not here for the poor. They're here for the tax break that mainly benefits the rich. They're here to give everything to some entrepreneurs.

I can assure you, Mr Speaker, it's not the manner of humanity that one would wish to court, to attract. Yet in real life, because the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is not everything, what to do after hours? June 16, 1997, one of them issues a memorandum to the Progressive Conservatives, to the government members, "With deep regret we are forced to postpone the cigar night at the Albany Club tonight." There are 21.6% welfare recipients, more than half of them are little ones, they're children. You turn the page and then you inform your colleagues with deep regret that the cigar night at the Albany Club has been postponed.


Mr Pouliot: Talk to me about the breakfast prayer meeting. Yes, it loses an awful lot of its significance and sincerity and appeal, doesn't it? Is this family values? Those people who are working for small salaries -- because I can't penetrate across, I'll talk right over, I'll talk to them with deep respect -- do you know, ladies and gentlemen, about the cigar night at the Albany Club, or are you too busy trying to make ends meet? That's a priority and you're anxious about the many changes that are happening.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): What about stickers on your car that say "Premium fuel only"?

Mr Pouliot: Come on, Jane and John, let's sit down for a while, we'll talk about it. You have a right to be anxious because your life will be changing more and more and a lot of the changes will hit you without being aware because the opposition will have been muzzled. The opposition will have no right to question. The opposition will have no right to scrutinize. The opposition will not have an opportunity to inform you nearly as well in the future because, you see, my friends have decreed that the opposition stands in the way of their program, that the train must depart and arrive at the station on time, that the troops must be punctual, that the members of the brigade must be able to deliver the agenda. "Citizens, if you stand in the way, we will shove you aside. You representatives of citizens, if you stand in the way, we will use our 82-member majority to shackle and to silence and to muzzle you."

The dean of the House, Mr Laughren, the member for Nickel Belt, has been in this House for over a quarter of a century, over 25 years, and he has said to our caucus that he could not have envisaged or ever imagined that under the standing orders we would be visited with a day like today. He could not in his wildest dreams imagine that this depth of change would be imposed on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, on the opposition.

Mr Bradley, the member for St Catharines, the Liberal House leader, has been in this House for over 20 years, two decades. He too echoed the sentiment from the dean, the member for Nickel Belt. They speak with sincerity. They speak with passion on these matters. They know that the fix is in. They know that their rights as members of the assembly, as representatives of people in their constituencies, are being watered down big time.

What's an opposition to do? We're accused of pulling tricks, of using filibusters to delay the will of the day, the will of the government, and yet when we ask the government, "Name one bill that you wished passed that did not; name one instance when at the end of the day, when all was said and done, you did not have your way to a member, to a person," they are incapable of coming up with one example.

This kind of unnecessary draconian legislation will freeze the blood in the veins of any democrat. We will attempt to be imaginative. We can't live with this because it's not commonsensical. It makes little sense for us, and we refuse to die on our knees in the context of serving the public.

If we can't fight the good fight this way, we will fight the guerilla fight, whichever way it takes, because we can't live with it, and by way of a challenge to the government, we're not about to go away. We will be here at our posts doing whatever we can. We will mobilize outside. We'll meet the people in their homes, on the streets and point the finger right at Queen's Park.


C'est là que tout a commencé, Monsieur. That's where it all began. Vous savez, les gens viendront du nord, du sud-ouest, du sud-est, du plus petit village, du plus grand centre, et cette caravane formera la vraie opposition.

Vous savez, si on est pauvre, et si nous sommes membres de la classe moyenne, avec ces gens, on parle peu. Avec ces gens on a peur. Mais chose certaine, avec eux on paie. On paie aujourd'hui, on paie demain, on paie pour toujours, aux bénéfices de cette classe dans la société, cette classe des richards, des gens qui en ont plus, des mieux-nantis, de ceux qui sont plus forts, plus aptes à attaquer, plus aptes à se défendre, ces gens qui peuvent payer avec les dollars des autres dans certains cas : des gagnants, des gagnants de ce gouvernement. Mais pour les autres, pour la masse, la majorité des gens, il faut une opposition, une opposition forte qui puisse énoncer les besoins de la majorité des Ontariens et Ontariennes. On ne demande que ça, pas plus, mais jamais moins que ça.

En ces jours d'attente -- puisque c'est d'ici à la fin de semaine, jeudi ou vendredi, que le projet de loi deviendra la loi -- et pour les années à suivre, la démocratie aura été victime d'un affront. La représentation que l'on avait toujours pris pour acquis, sur laquelle on pouvait toujours compter, va commencer à mourir un peu. Elle a été affaiblie parce que, encore une fois systématiquement, encore une fois délibérément, la majorité des 82 membres du gouvernement a choisi d'écraser, de noyer les voix de l'opposition.

I would like to close, since we're running out of time, by the quote that started this debate: The poor object to being governed badly; the rich object to being governed at all. You have chosen not be governed at all, and we are the victims.

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

Mr Baird: I always enjoy hearing my colleague the member for Lac-Nipigon give a speech. The answer to the question he asked so many times throughout his remarks is to name one bill. I would, and it would be Bill 33.

I'd like to comment on the amendments that were presented by the government earlier today. The amendments tried to deal with some of the concern members have expressed in this place and outside of this place, concerns that were brought forward on the government's amendment to the standing orders.

The first one was with respect to the provisions that would allow the House to sit from 6:30 until 9:30. There were some who said that just allowing that to take place without any notice was unfair, and I was pleased to see that there was an amendment proposed earlier today that would allow such a provision, requiring notice to be placed on the order paper the week before so that people would know that there was a desire to sit on a Tuesday night or a Wednesday night or the Monday night or the Thursday night, what have you. That notice would be required the week before. That was an amendment that was made.

There was also a good amount of concern brought forward in the public that somehow these changes to the standing orders would allow the government, as I heard a member of this place say on one occasion, to pass a bill in two days. I found that quite disturbing because no one in this place believes a piece of legislation, unless it has got such broad support that there is unanimous consent in this chamber, should be passed in two days. You couldn't do it in two days. No one was proposing it could be done in two days. In fact, it had never been done in two days. I think it was self-evident that that was the case.

What would be required today, and I think it's important to put this on the record, for a bill, lightning speed, if someone wanted to go quickly -- I checked, and I can't find a time since my time in this place over the last two years where this has actually been employed, where a bill has ever gone this fast or nearly this fast, but if it were to go at rocket speed today, you would require one day for the bill to be introduced. It would then have to be printed. That could be done in as little as a day or it could be done in two or three days, depending on the printing schedule in this place, but normally it's fairly efficient, I would suggest. The bill would be printed. So there's a minimum of two days before it could even come to second reading. Say it was debated for three days at second reading. Say time allocation was introduced. There would be a fifth day of debate. That vote on time allocation would have to take place the next day, on the sixth day. We only sit four days a week, so you're well into the second week by this point. You would see debate going to at least six or seven days plus committee. All of the pieces of legislation generally go to committee to invite submissions and amendment.

There was never the intent that a bill could be passed in two days, because you couldn't pass it in two days even with these changes. On this amendment it was so important to be clear and up front that not only was a commitment made that no, there would be no intention that any government would want to consider a piece of legislation in two or three days, but on this issue it was so important we'll wear a belt and suspenders; we'll write it right in the rules that no, you can't do that. In my judgement, that deals with one of the biggest objections that has been made by members opposite to that change to the standing orders, to say that no, under no shape or form would you be able to go any faster on a particular piece of legislation under these standing order changes than you could before they were changed. I think that's something that's very important to put on the record.

My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon, for whom I have great respect, said that the opposition has no right to question the government. I was concerned about that, particularly since I remember when he served this province -- very well, I might add -- as Minister of Transportation. I looked at the last 12 months under the previous government, under the NDP, and I had my staff do some work with the legislative research service to find out how often the Legislative Assembly of Ontario had sat in the last 12 months. I have the statistics, and I'll give the exact time lines and dates.

Between June 24, 1994, and June 24, 1995, a 12-month period, the Legislative Assembly didn't sit at all at the end of June, didn't sit at all in July, didn't sit at all in August, didn't sit at all in September, sat one day in October. It sat in the month of November, and it sat for nine days in December. After December 9 it didn't sit.

I said, "Okay, could I get the figures for 1995?" It didn't sit in January 1995, didn't sit in February 1995, didn't sit in March 1995, didn't sit in April 1995. I said: "Well, isn't it funny? The House is supposed to come back in March." It didn't sit, didn't come back.

The ability that my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon spoke of, the opposition's ability to question the government, the most fundamental accountability in this place, probably the most important function of this place, where the government of the day, of all political stripes, is held accountable, there was no option to do that. There was no option to hold the government accountable, because this place didn't sit.

Not was question period going to be delayed two or three minutes, not was question period going to be shorter, as it is in Ottawa in the House of Commons, as it is out west in British Columbia and Saskatchewan or in many provinces across the country; the House didn't sit at all. There was no question period whatsoever, no opportunity for the government of the day to be held accountable in this place.

I did think that was worth repeating when my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon brought up the issue of the opposition's right to question the government. In Ontario, we have substantial occasion for the opposition of the day and indeed for government backbenchers, as I regularly try to, to hold the government accountable in question period in this House. That is something that is important, and no provision whatsoever in the amendments or the original motion seeks to change that. I think that's very important to get on the record.


Another change that was brought forward was to decrease the amount of time that the government could reply to petitions and standing order questions. There was some concern suggested that 45 days was too long. We'll cut it just about in half and go to 24 days to meet those concerns. People brought the concern up; the government listened and earlier today amended its motion. That's very important.

There was another change to the standing orders, an amendment that was raised earlier: Someone expressed that a 15-minute bell taken out of the time of the day would see the opposition and the House collectively -- just as much on the government side -- lose potentially 10 or 15 minutes of debate. No problem. The government sought to amend the standing orders not once, twice or three times, but four times to deal with that concern. It was a fair and reasonable request that some members raised in debate in this place. The government listened and the government acted.

I look as well to another change. There was a concern expressed by many on all sides of this House: Should there be a vote on first reading? I want to put on the record why I thought every member of this place should have the right to introduce a bill. This is something that I would indicate to the House has been used by all parties, so there's no innocent party in this, politically speaking.

Does a member have a right to introduce a bill, to have it printed, to have it distributed and to have it debated before there's a vote? Right now, under the current provisions, a member can vote against a private member's bill or a government bill without ever having read it, without it having been printed, without it having been distributed. This has been used by all parties and there's no party without guilt on this issue. I think that's wrong. Every member of this place should have the right to introduce a bill and have it considered by their colleagues, to have it printed and distributed, not just to members in this place but to our constituents through an extensive network of libraries and through the Internet.

There was a concern raised --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Point of order, Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum. Would you please have that checked.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: As I was saying, there was some concern with respect to the provision for introduction of legislation, that a vote should be held. Some people, I can indicate to you, felt quite strongly on this issue that this was an inherent right. It isn't, in my judgement, abused a lot. It's a principle I felt strongly about, but again the government listened and amended the motion to reflect what it had heard, to reflect the debate that was brought forward, not just in this place by parliamentarians like the well-spoken member for Kingston and The Islands and others in the New Democratic Party; others outside this place raised the concern. There's an amendment to deal with that concern. Again, the government listened and then made an amendment acting on that listening. That's something that's important to note.

It also noted that a time allocation motion may not be moved on the same calendar day as any bill that is subject to a motion which has been called as a government order -- another concession. We listened and made a change. I think that's very important.

They increased the amount of time for debate on the budget. One of the things I brought to this issue that I felt quite strongly about is that there is no requirement in Ontario to vote on a budget. I looked at all three parties. Not to be self-righteous, all three parties over the last 10 years have not always held votes on the budget. In fact, in the last 10 years -- you can look at the statistics -- the Ontario Legislature has only voted on the budget three of the last 10 times. It was interesting that 70% of the time there was no vote on the budget. I think people expect their members of provincial Parliament to come to Queen's Park and hold the government of the day accountable for the budgetary policy.

As I previously mentioned, I looked at what John Nunziata was able to do, as one member of Parliament, to hold his government accountable directly through the budget vote. He was able to vote against the budget, to send a message to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the Liberal government, "We promised to scrap and abolish the GST." He said to the Prime Minister, "Sir, you said on CBC Television that it would be irresponsible to promise to abolish the GST unless you had a specific plan to replace it," and he voted against the budget. Within two weeks, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, the second-most-powerful person in the country, had to resign over that issue. Talk about accountability. I think Ontario was lucky to have John Nunziata in the House of Commons standing up for Ontario's interests. That's something that is important.

This amendment would allow four days, an extra day of debate: more debate, more democracy, more accountability in this place. The government listened and added an extra day of debate. I think that's a good and worthwhile initiative.

With respect to the amount of time for order paper questions, I covered that at the same time as I covered questions. They increase the number of order paper questions by 250%, allow members to put more questions on the order paper. That would be 250% greater than the House of Commons in Ottawa, which is the model they had adopted. This is to stop members of provincial Parliament from tabling 400 or 500 questions. Hardworking public servants have to work till midnight for two or three months just to answer all the order paper questions, and you've got to seriously wonder whether 400 or 500 order paper questions put on the same day are important to deal with. This will realize a reasonable standard, 250% greater than the House of Commons. That's something that I think is important.

These changes with the amendments will allow for even more debate. They will allow more members to have the opportunity to participate. I know that members of the public from all over Ontario, regardless of their political stripe, watch the legislative channel. They tune in and want to see their provincial member of Parliament talking about the issues of concern to them. I have heard a number of my constituents say, "I tune in to the same four or five people talking all the time," and I know there are hardworking people up in Sudbury who want to turn on the television and see their member of provincial Parliament debating the salient political issues of the day more often. As a fellow backbencher, that member for Sudbury will have more opportunity to rise and speak and put the concerns of his constituents on the record. I think that is a fantastic event. And do you know what? All the government backbenchers will have the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of my good friend the member for Sudbury, and we look forward to that.

More debate, more democracy: This will allow for more people to participate, a more egalitarian approach among members of provincial Parliament. You won't have simply my good friends in cabinet. They won't have 90 minutes to speak any more. The backbenchers want more time. We want more time to speak. The ministers and the front bench of the opposition, the opposition leaders, the opposition House leaders, can speak for 90 minutes on just about any bill they like. What we want is more backbenchers to have a greater role and a greater say: more democracy, more debate. These democratic reforms will allow that. They also allow for independent members to have a greater say around here.

Mr North, the member for Elgin, came forward with some ideas. He had a report. After we washed off the dust that had been gathering on it for the four years since it had been written, we read it, and we said: "Listen, these are all reasonable amendments. Should not an independent member, particularly an elected independent member, have the right to sit on a committee? Shouldn't an independent member have the right to ask questions?"

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Sure.

Mr Baird: The member for Timiskaming says, "Sure." I'm pleased to see that he supports that initiative.

Shouldn't they have the right to ask questions? The member for Elgin found out that some Speakers would allow him to ask questions, some Speakers wouldn't allow him to ask questions. He shouldn't be beholden to the Speaker of the day. He should have a right to get up and ask questions. He should have a right to make statements in the Ontario Legislature. He should have a right to sit on committees. He should have a right to participate in private members' hour on Thursdays, I would submit. These changes do just that.


Many of the reforms contained in the motion come directly from the House of Commons in Ottawa, one of the most democratic institutions in the world. Being the member from the riding of Nepean, outside the city of Ottawa, every summer parliamentarians from all over the Commonwealth, from all over la francophonie, from all over the United Nations member countries come to Ottawa to look at our Parliament because they say it's one of the most democratic institutions in the world. It's certainly the mother Parliament for the Ontario Legislature.

I looked in the standing orders, and standing order 1(b) says that the Speaker may use "precedents of the Legislature and parliamentary tradition," and of course what is a bigger Parliament than the Ontario Legislature in this country but the federal House of Commons? Many of the changes simply look at what they employ in that most democratic institution -- that's important to mention -- and as well draw on the strengths of other legislatures. I think that is very important.

When I looked at potentials for standing orders, I did a lot of reading. Again, I want to give credit where credit is due. I found a good amount of very interesting information from my good friend and colleague the member for Sudbury East, Ms Martel, who on May 28, 1991, released a set of NDP government amendments to others here at Queen's Park on suggested changes. That's where the idea of sitting in the evening first came to me, because the very first amendment she suggested would allow for changes to allow members to sit for two and a half hours in the evening. I wanted three hours, a little bit more time, but that's where I got the idea. When I read this NDP government idea, I checked, and in fact the Ontario Legislature used to sit regularly in the evening.

We employed the idea directly from Ms Martel, the member for Sudbury East, from the NDP government's own proposals. We looked at what they did in other jurisdictions, we looked at what they did in the House of Commons and, most important, we looked at what they did in other Canadian legislatures, particularly in the chamber in British Columbia, and we were able to adopt those successes.

I looked very particularly at how the standing order changes were used the last time. How did it shape out and pan out the last time? A motion was tabled here at Queen's Park and negotiations between the three government House leaders took place. Of course, on this even the Toronto Star has given the government some credit while taking issue with a good number of the concerns. A report was released publicly in Ontario, sent to all members here at Queen's Park, and it said, "Give us your concerns, give us your issues."

Something to note is that every opposition idea that came forward was adopted. Mr North brought forward a good number of amendments and we took them all -- because they were all good, we listened -- as well as presenting these amendments today.

I wondered, how did it pan out? What was the conclusion of those deliberations? I looked at Hansard, page 1770, on the division on changes to the standing orders. It's very interesting: The names Bisson, Christopherson, Lankin, Martel, Marchese, Martin, Pouliot, Silipo, Wildman and Wood all stand in the ayes column. I checked, and this was the standing order change which brought in time allocation, something that is far more significant than what this government is presenting.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Shocking. Absolutely shocking.

Mr Baird: Shocking, as one of my colleagues from Scarborough has said. Yet you wouldn't see that when you listen to some of the speeches.

One of the most surprising names I see there is Harris. I said, "I didn't know there were two members named Harris in the last Parliament." I checked and Mike Harris, right here on page 1770, supported the New Democratic Party government when they brought in changes to the standing orders. He worked with the government. He negotiated after it was tabled here in the Legislative Assembly. There was the opportunity to negotiate before for almost two weeks and the opportunity to discuss afterwards.

A good number of these amendments that were presented today by my colleague the member for Mississauga West reflected some -- not all, but some -- of the concerns that were expressed in the House on Thursday, but also some of the concerns that were expressed by our colleagues here in debate. The government has been listening and acting; more debate and more democracy again, and that is something important to note.

To conclude, I would like to make reference to my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre, who is a good friend, in terms of representations of statements I made on this issue. I recognize that all members of this place work extremely hard. They work hard here at Queen's Park and they work hard going back and forth to their constituencies every week. I look across the aisle and I see a good number of members from northern Ontario and southwestern Ontario. I drive five, five and a half hours a week each way to get here. There is a good number of people. They work hard in their ridings, they work hard on committees, they work hard on caucus committees, they work hard on cabinet committees, they work hard working at their community, they work hard on their private members' bills, they work hard on a good amount of legislation.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum. Would you check?

The Acting Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: As I was saying, people are working hard whether they're here or not. It was an interesting time to make that note. I certainly made that very clear throughout my entire report. Members work hard when they're not in this place. Members work hard when they're in their constituencies; members work hard on caucus committees and in legislative committees. By no means would I suggest that they didn't. I made that very clear in my report, I made that very clear in my remarks when I released the report and I made it very clear when I spoke on the main motion to this issue. It does cause me concern that someone would try to suggest that was not the case.

What I do believe to be absolutely ridiculous is that we in this House could spend two days debating whether we should work an extra four days. It's almost like taking four steps forward and two steps back. There was a motion put forward by the government House leader to say, "Instead of breaking on December 13, we should sit until December 19 and come back in the month of January." I think it's ridiculous to spend hours and hours and even days debating whether we should work longer. We should decide that we're either going to work longer or we're not, and that should not be a long debate. It should be a quick decision. Do you want to work longer or do you want to maintain the existing parliamentary calendar? It's not a big decision, in my judgement. People in my constituency don't have the option to debate for two days whether they'd like to change their work schedule. You either agree or you don't agree and get on with it. Allow for more debate on legislation: more debate, more democracy. That certainly is the basis for this amendment.

To conclude, I would simply suggest that the amendments presented today by the government are reasonable. They reflect the listening that has been going on. They reflect the concerns that members on all sides of this House suggest. A good number of members came forward with some positive suggestions, some concerns they had. The government not only listened but they tried to genuinely understand what those concerns were. They listened and then they amended, allowing for more debate, allowing for more democracy.

I am very pleased. I think this motion is better with the amendments and merits support from members on all sides of the House.


Mr Ramsay: In one way I guess I'm pleased to stand in my place tonight and speak to this, but when I look at the outstanding business of this Legislative Assembly before us and knowing that we really only have, after today, three more legislative days before the partial summer break, I'm surprised we're spending so much time on rule changes when we could be getting on with I would say more important parts of the public agenda.

It's interesting, Mr Speaker, and I think you were here last Thursday, that there can be a very cooperative attitude in this place. Last Thursday night we gave second and third reading to Bill 127, the nurse practitioners' act, which happened very quickly, and we gave second reading to the Community Safety Act and sent that on to committee. That will probably be dealt with this summer. That was just in one evening.

Before the government still is the red tape bill, the Development Charges Act; we still have to get to third reading of the Community Safety Act; there's a Provincial Offences Act, a public libraries act that's very important. There are some child support guidelines. A very, very important bill is the road safety bill we have to deal with that primarily deals with trucking, school buses and of course the flying tires that are a chronic problem in this province. There are many bills that need to be dealt with, yet this government sees fit to come forward again with more debate on this motion.

Why I feel a bit resentful about having to spend this time on this, besides all the other business we could be doing, is that the government is not even adhering to its own rules. Mr Speaker, you will remember that during question period our House leader, the Liberal House leader, the member for St Catharines, was very exercised, as he should have been, about our lack of knowledge about what business would be debated today after question period, especially when the opposition parties gave unanimous consent to the government because of the funeral of the late Larry Grossman, a previous leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. That was the right thing to do.

Members from all sides of this House wanted to attend that funeral, yet we weren't given notice as to what would be the orders of the day so we could plan as an opposition party who should be here and who would be able to go to the funeral this afternoon. It's important for opposition parties to be able to notify their specific critics of the different ministries to be on hand when certain bills are being debated so those critics can prepare their speeches before the House, so they can bring forward the most salient points in regard to the legislation to be debated.

That's how you get constructive debate, that's how you get positive debate: when you have well-informed opposition critics bringing forward points that hopefully the government would consider and maybe reconsider, and through that process, as has happened with many, many bills, bring forward amendments so we can improve upon the government's legislation.

I don't think there's anybody in this province who believes that any one of the parties represented here has exclusivity on all the right answers. We're all here to --

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum again.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Call in the members; there will be a bell up to five minutes.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: Mr Speaker, a quorum is now present.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Timiskaming.

Mr Ramsay: Not any one of us here in this Legislature has a monopoly on all the right answers to the many challenges that are facing this province in the year 1997. So through our processes of debate of our bills, committee hearings where we hear public comment, then clause-by-clause either in committee or through committee of the whole of this House, we sometimes come together with some of the ideas and the government responds from time to time and listens to comments from the opposition or comments from the public that come through these various venues. These opportunities are the way our democracy works.

In fact, when you talk to people, and surely this is the government's line, many feel that this Legislature should work more like a business just like many people feel that government should work more like a business. I could certainly be very sympathetic to say that the actions of government should be more businesslike, and over the last few years I think we've all striven to do that and this government is continuing that.

But the Legislative Assembly is a very different institution and I don't believe it should operate as a boardroom of a major corporation. That operation is very different. A boardroom of a corporation and its board members around the table basically are of the same ilk. They are run by the same mission statement. They are headed in the same direction. They know there is work to be done in that company and they have a certain agreement as to how that should be done. In their discussions they're fine-tuning how that should be done and when it should be done.

The Legislative Assembly is a very different creature, and while many may feel that the debates that go on in here and the institution itself may be to some degree kind of antiquated, I'm sure many people look upon this place and the goings-on here as almost a museum piece, if you will. They look to us like through a piece of glass at the Royal Ontario Museum as somehow something from antiquity. But the roots of what we do here and the day-to-day to-and-fro action are a very important functioning of our democracy because all of us in society have differences of opinions as to how our government should function.

It's only through this organized procedure of debate, through our Legislative Assembly, through duly elected members, that we're able really to in a very peaceful way work out our differences. That takes time and it's not very efficient. I'm sure there are many more efficient mechanisms for running a country, but I've seen those examples around the world, both on the extreme right wing and the extreme left wing, and they don't afford the freedom to their citizens that a parliamentary democracy does.

While I'll say to my constituents and many of the people watching here this evening that in a way I'm sympathetic to saying that it would be nice to see democracy more efficient, I don't think you can run a debating institution such as the Ontario Legislature in a much more efficient manner than it runs today.

That's the cost of making sure everybody gets heard, that this small voice, whether it be from a minority group or somebody in a far-off region of this vast province, gets heard. That's what's really important about this place, not that the majority always has its will.

Political scientists will say that a democracy is not about the tyranny of the majority, that while we order ourselves in an election and the majority wins and the party with the largest number of seats forms the government, it is still always very important in a democratic society that the minority be heard, and not only that the minority be heard but from time to time be listened to and their views incorporated in the government of the day's legislation.


There certainly are examples of that. A bill I was working on the last seven months with the Solicitor General was Bill 84, which was an omnibus bill that brought together nine separate old acts that involved fire protection and prevention in this province. This sort of legislation was long overdue and very necessary. Much of the legislation was antiquated and out of date and needed to be brought into the 21st century for sure.

But the trouble with the government starting off with this bill was that it didn't consult on many of the major labour relations aspects to this bill. Regardless of that, they brought forward the bill without that initial consultation with these groups. Firefighters especially and many of the people who understood the importance of how fire services operate in our municipalities were very concerned about the way the government had approached this.

But the bill was introduced on October 16, 1996, and it was only passed last month. In the seven months between first reading and the final passage, there was opportunity, through debate in this House, committee hearings, committee clause-by-clause and third reading debate in this House, for the government to have some time to listen to what many in the public and the people directly involved -- in this case firefighters -- had to say about Bill 84.

I asked the Solicitor General on Thursday of last week about that: While yes, it took him seven months to get his legislation through, he was able to listen on some of those points, he did adopt some of the suggestions that the public and the opposition had made. In the end, through seven months of work with the opposition and the public, didn't he feel it was a better bill in the end?

He was smiling as he stood up to answer the question, because he knew that I had built a little box for him, that it was a little trap I had set for him, that he really couldn't argue that it was a better bill, and it was a better bill because he allowed the time for all the participants to participate in the process, to put their ideas forward, and in the end it was certainly a better bill than what was first introduced on October 16, 1996.

That's what a lot of the opposition challenge to these rule changes is about, to say that because no one party, no one group of people has a monopoly on all the best ideas and no one government, with the haste this government moves forward on, can be a most efficient and correct government with correct policies all the time, with the speed they're pursuing, you need to take some time. You need to put out an idea. If there's a bill you feel is required by the people of Ontario, then you need a bit of time once you put that out. You need a bit of time for the opposition to analyse it, for the general public to digest it, for all of us to mull it over, to think about it and to hopefully come up with some suggestions that would make it better. That takes time and you can't do that in three days.

What we have proposed before us today in this resolution sponsored by the government is --

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Timiskaming has a lot of very important things to put on the record here this afternoon and I don't think we have quorum to hear it.

The Acting Speaker: I'll check. Could you check to see if there is a quorum present.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Timiskaming.

Mr Ramsay: I said earlier that I really felt a bit resentful that we are taking up so much of House's time to discuss what I think is in a way kind of an internal matter in that we're talking about the procedures of how this House works. Why I say that is because I feel the time in this House is really the people's time. It is extremely valuable time and should be spent exclusively on issues that directly affect the people we represent.

While the procedures and the mechanisms of how this House operates are important to us, and indirectly to the people of Ontario, because it's important that we, to our best ability, can represent the people of Ontario through the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, this Legislature, I feel that this sort of housekeeping -- internal rules and procedures -- should be worked out between House leaders and only presented in the House once agreement has been set. That way we would not be taking up time where we could be debating many of the very important bills that are before us and many of the matters that deserve the public's attention and deserve public debate through this Legislative Assembly.

Part of my concern about what we're doing here has got to do with the process. As our House leader, the member for St Catharines, had stated earlier, the process of this particular resolution, which is really a whole new set of operating procedures for this House, from the very beginning has been suspect, suspect because it was on the federal election day that the member for Nepean held a press conference in the morning in this place, when basically the world was not focused on this place -- if it ever is; it certainly wasn't on that day, the day of the federal election -- and announced that he had some alternatives as to how this House should operate.

Many of us in this place were also suspicious that it wasn't just an initiative of the member of Nepean. The opposition had challenged the government's authority through a couple of pieces of legislation in April and the government was angry at the opposition. The Premier's office staff and the House leader's office staff on the government side had taken a look at the rules of this place and had set out changes they felt were necessary for this government to expedite their extremely ambitious agenda.

Today, as I mentioned earlier, again on a day when a lot of members wish to be elsewhere than this place, we did not know what the agenda was before us until near the end of question period when many people had made a commitment to be elsewhere. The government placed before us that today was the day to be discussing rules procedures.

It's not only that aspect of the process that I find distasteful, but also that really the government decided that not only were these ideas the suggestion from the member for Nepean but now they became formalized in a resolution placed forward by the government to be debated in this House and to be passed, ie, shoved down the throats of the opposition and therefore the people of Ontario, and that's what's happening now.

That's not the way to build cooperation, to build bridges between the government members and the opposition, because I would say that if you canvassed every member of this Legislature, regardless of party affiliation, every one of us would have some ideas about how this place could work better, how this place could be more responsive to the people of Ontario, how it could be run more efficiently with a bit of give and take.

But when governments try to shut up opposition voices, then oppositions raise their hackles. They get upset. It's not because it's my rights that necessarily are being impinged upon or restricted by these rules. When you restrict the operating procedures of how the opposition can bring forward their views through this chamber, you are restricting the rights of men and women across this province to voice their dissent to what the government's doing.


As I said earlier, what keeps democracy viable in this country is our profound respect for how the democratic system works. Regardless of who wins an election, regardless of how much we dislike the policies, say, of another political party, once that election is over we all respect the fact that the people of Ontario have spoken. In the last 10 years, the people of Ontario have placed each of the three parties represented in the Ontario Legislature into a position of being their government. Each time, each of the two opposition parties accepted what the people of Ontario had said, that it is this party's time and turn to be the government of Ontario.

We respect that, and we respect that the Progressive Conservative Party won the 1995 election. They have the right to govern for five years and they have the right to bring forward their agenda, but as part of Her Majesty's loyal opposition I have the right and, more so, I have the duty to bring forward the dissenting view of probably 60% of the people of this province who don't necessarily agree all the time with what this government is doing. It's an important function of this chamber that this debate be held on a daily basis so that the people of Ontario can be assured that the government is not on some runaway train shoving their agenda down the throats of the people of Ontario.

That brings me to another matter that's of grave concern to the opposition, and that is one of the main mechanisms that we in opposition use to keep the government accountable on a day-to-day basis. That's question period. In fact, a lot of people probably believe that question period is most of what we do in this place because it's the most highly publicized. It's the most provocative exercise that takes place in this House. It's the most challenging, it's the most aggressive, if you will, because it is a to and fro between opposition and government. It's called question period but it's kind of attack and counterattack, and it's the opposition in a sense focusing attacks on certain aspects of what government is doing on a day-to-day basis, challenging the policy development of the government. That's what keeps the government honest, that's what keeps the government in check, when an opposition can stand in its place on a daily basis for each sessional day and challenge what the government's doing.

I've been on the other side. I've been a minister in a government and I know the challenges. When you're a minister, you don't really like it, you don't really want to have to come in here day in and day out and face the challenging of the opposition. But as a minister of the government of the day, of the executive council of a government, you know that's your role, that's your job. Your job is to represent the government and to be accountable to the people of Ontario through the mechanism of question period. That's how it works and that's what it's all about and that's what makes this place important in the end to all the people of Ontario, whether they focus in on it on a day-to-day basis or just watch clips off the nightly news occasionally. That's what keeps this place functioning and viable and real, because what goes on here is real.

It's a dispute resolution mechanism, if you will. This is where we resolve our disputes. We don't do it in the most efficient way. Sometimes it takes members a lot of time to bring their points forward, and yes, when you have a major piece of legislation like a Bill 26 or an omnibus bill like Bill 84 for firefighters, a critic, who has to be highly focused and knowledgeable about that piece of legislation -- and some of these pieces of legislation are 30, 40, 50, 60 pages in length -- requires a 90-minute leadoff speech to do a proper analysis of an in-depth piece of legislation that comes before this House.

But in these rules the government is trying to circumvent that. They're trying to shorten the length of these speeches. It's important that the critic -- and it's only the critics and the minister who presents the bill through the House -- has that opportunity for an hour and a half to speak to that bill, to do the in-depth analysis that will explain to the general public, who certainly don't have the time or the access to these pieces of legislation, to go through it.

That's part of my job: It's to be an interpreter, if you will. It's to interpret what's in this big, thick piece of legislation, to highlight the main, salient points, so that we can get those points out through the media to the public, so that we can alert them as to what the government is trying to do in a piece of legislation. Any attempt to stifle that is just going to be a recipe for disaster, because the opposition is going to try to find other methods to obstruct if they don't feel there is a constructive way of bringing forward their view. In fact, I wish we would go all the way back to the way the rules were when we were in government in the late 1980s.

I remember the member for Welland-Thorold holding an old-fashioned filibuster on the issue of auto insurance. He spoke through the night, but adhering to the rules of this place, he had to speak to the issue of the day. On the issue of auto insurance he felt passionately that the government was not on the right track. He had a different view and he had the opportunity to bring that view forward through the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, speaking to that issue and speaking as long as he could, until he was exhausted, maybe the issue was exhausted and certainly the people he represented felt that through all that exhaustion those points of view had been brought forward, that they had seen the light of day and that they had been noticed, and possibly through that, showing the great determination that in that case that particular member had, maybe they would change their minds in some aspect, as often as not does happen in this place, and the government bring in amendments that would go partway to satisfy what other people, the opposition, are saying about a particular piece of legislation.

I think that's when this House works very well, when the legislative schedule just doesn't end at the end of the day, at 6 of the clock, as the Speaker says, but sometimes goes on. I have no disagreement with going on. In fact, the rule changes talk about, when we have debates like that, of getting into a second sessional day at 6 o'clock at night, like we're doing now, and going in this case, with the regular rules, to 9:30 at night. I don't disagree with that either, except you're getting in another day without the accountability of question period.

So what we propose back to the government is, if you want more debating time, that's fine, but always couple that with the accountability mechanism of question period. That would satisfy us, that would be very important, because all of us would get the opportunity in the debating time to bring forward points, but also the opposition would have the opportunity to keep going with question period, to bring forward another set of inquiries as to what is going on in the government's agenda. We think that would be very constructive for this place.

It would be very constructive for the government, so the government would be kept accountable, that they could hold their heads up high and say: "This is why we're doing this particular initiative. We believe strongly in this and it's going to help this group of people out there." In government that should be their job, and it should be our job to point out to people that we disagree with that particular aspect and that we think you should be doing things differently. From time to time, yes, even the opposition is constructive and puts forward its own ideas for the government to look at. All that happens in the workings of this House and is a very important aspect of how this House works.

It's not a helpful aspect for this House to have any member put forward a wholesale set of rule changes that have not been discussed by the various House leaders, that don't have any sort of consensus or agreement among members of this House, and through resolution put to this place with the strength of a majority government and shoved down the throats of the opposition and therefore shoved down the throats of the dissenting view in the province of Ontario, the people out there who maybe don't agree with what is happening with this government.


These are some of the concerns we have. They're major, major concerns. Just being able to take this time away from what we really should be debating, the bills that are still before us that are of grave public concern. The state of our health care system today, the whole restructuring issue and how this government is putting the cart before the horse in closing up the hospitals before we put the community health care facilities in place, those are the issues we should be talking about, the issues such as finally got resolved by the government, with the drug plan where seniors are being ripped off for three and a half months when they'd already paid for a full year. Finally, it was through the opposition actions that we were able to get those things changed.

This place does work. In fact, I challenge anybody in the government or in this province to tell us how this government is being slowed down. Nobody in this province is saying, "The Harris government is moving too slowly." Nobody's saying that. If anything, their supporters are saying, "They're doing just fine," and a lot of people, probably the majority by now, are saying, "These guys are going too fast." Yet this government wants to slap down a bunch of rule changes that are going to expedite even faster the type of legislation they're bringing forward.

Our concern is that many, many more mistakes are going to be made because we will no longer have the time to reflect on what's going on, to do the critical analysis for the members, for our research staff and for the general public to really take a close critical analysis of the pieces of legislation. The breadth of this agenda and the ambition of this agenda of this government to set into motion a set of rule changes that will act as a catalyst to move along at a much faster rate the changes they're bringing forward I think would have tragic consequences for Ontario.

These rule changes will now set in motion, starting probably by Thursday, because that will probably be the first day when the new rules will take effect, and coming back here on August 18 through the summer into next fall and into the next spring session, will now start as a snowball rolling down a hill and building momentum and building speed and more and more pieces of legislation at a faster and faster rate with a greater and greater momentum are going to come colliding down that hill, in the end crashing at the bottom of that hill in very tragic consequences for Ontario.

I would just like to use my very last few seconds to plead with this government to reconsider this package of rule changes. Tell me where you've been denied passage of any piece of legislation. You may have been delayed, but you haven't been denied. Please defend democracy in this province.

Mr Martin: I read from the CCPA Monitor where it says:

"So many Canadians have fallen into poverty in recent years that their number -- 5,100,000 -- is now the highest it has been since the 1981-82 recession, according to a recent report by the National Council of Welfare.

"Calling the number `shockingly high,' council chair Lucie Blais traced the sharp rise in poverty to the persistently high unemployment rate and to the deep cuts in social program spending by all levels of government.

"She said that children across Canada have been particularly hard hit, with 20.5% of them now living in poverty, compared with 14.9% in 1980.

"The figures released by the council were for 1995, and Blais predicted that subsequent studies will show that poverty rates will have worsened even more during 1996 and 1997."

I present that to suggest to you that we have in fact a situation in this province and in this country that is worsening by the day; to put it in the context of the discussion we're having here today about the way this place operates, the rules we use to get pieces of legislation a particular government wants through the House so that they become the order of the day; and to suggest to you that what is happening in Ontario today to poor people and to children is not in keeping with the best traditions of this province. It's not in keeping with the ability of this province to take care of its own.

The fact is that today in Ontario corporations, some of our biggest corporate citizens, are making historically record high profits while at the same time we are being held up by the United Nations as one of the places in the world that is probably preferred in terms of the business climate. I would suggest it is also, though, more and more becoming a place of poverty for children in particular, and that is very disturbing.

It's the reason that so many of us on this side of the House are rising and speaking with such great concern about the fact that this government is moving very quickly through an agenda of very rapid and major change that they would be in fact thinking of changing the rules so that they could move through their agenda even more quickly than they have been.

There's nobody -- and you've heard this said in this place before over the last few days or week while we've debated the change in rules that has been presented to us -- in this province I've spoken to back in my own riding or by way of letter or phone call to my office here in Toronto who has said to me that this government is going too slow with its changes. As a matter of fact, most people I talk to today are rather alarmed at the tremendous speed with which this government is moving and the changes they are beginning to experience and see and feel in the communities in which they live.

You may wonder out there, as you listen to this debate, why we on this side of the House are so concerned and why we speak in the way we do. It is precisely tied into the way I started my few thoughts here this afternoon and it's the question of the impact the decisions made by this government are having on the lives of those people in our communities who are most vulnerable and most at risk.

That doesn't happen if we do things in an intelligent, thoughtful, well-thought-out and timely manner. If, as has been the tradition of this place, we take our time with legislation, we respect and make use of the institutions that have been put in place here in this House and in parliamentary democracies across the world, we do not end up with at the end of the day, as experience has showed us as life evolves, with a small group of people as the haves and an ever-growing larger group of people becoming more and more the have-nots.

As a matter of fact, in my mind government is about producing a civilized and inclusive society that in particular looks after those who are on the margins in a very focused and hopefully meaningful way. When you have governments in a big hurry, when you have governments that are driven ideologically to put in place an agenda that is not from the people but is coming from someplace else, is somebody else's view of how life should be for all of us, then you end up, as I said before, with a situation where we are seen by many around the world as a community of people, as a place that is envied in terms of living and yet at the same time we know by the figures that are beginning to come out and recognized by groups, such as Amnesty International, that we have problems, that problems are arising, that all is not well.

Child poverty: I spoke to that and we'll hear more about that as life goes on.

We're not doing very well in the area of protecting the environment, and that been noted by some world-class organizations.

Our attitude towards our native people: Amnesty International just last week brought out a report that was very critical of the way we deal with our native people, and I think we have to listen to that. We have to look at that because it's telling us something. It runs up a red flag for us. It says to us that we're doing something that isn't in the best interests of everybody who calls Ontario home. We're doing something as a government that is somehow missing some people, that is not bringing everybody on board and bringing them along, that is not creating that civilized and inclusive society that I think all of us who are reasonable and thinking at least want for our friends, neighbours and family members. When those red flags go up and we begin to see those warning signs that all is not well out there, that a government is moving ahead holus-bolus, willy-nilly with an agenda that is rather startling in nature, frightening some people, hurting many others, I think we have to step back for a second, take a deep breath and wonder what is going on.


When you look at that and you see how that is impacting on people and begin to realize how destructive that can be, I think it behooves all of us to be concerned when the government arrives in this place one day with a package of legislation that is changing the way we operate here so that we can move through this agenda even faster than we have up to that point.

You may have listened to the members across the way as they stood in their places and told you that this really isn't changing anything, that the rules they are bringing to this place are very minor housekeeping items. I suggest to you that that is not the fact, because why bring them here in such an all-fired hurry? Why be in such a rush to get them through this place? Why not sit down and negotiate with the opposition in a way that allows for the kind of change that's evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, the way that other governments have in the past changed the rules when they thought we might be able to work together in a more cooperative and expedient fashion to get things done that need to be done to make life better for all the citizens of this province? Why is it in this instance we're not willing to sit back and take some time and work with and cooperate with each other in a way that at the end of the day sees a change in the rules of this place if that's what we want, if that's what we decide collectively is in the best interests of everybody, that is in fact going to be helpful and allow us to do things that will be in the best interests of all those people we serve?

We're one of the best provinces in a country that is envied by many around the world. Our House leader just brought me a little piece of paper here that says that the motto of this Legislature is "Audi alteram partem," which is Latin for "Hear the other party." What's happening here these days is certainly not in the spirit of that motto, and perhaps we should sometimes visit some of those things that we hold up as symbols of who we are together and how we should be with each other and actually make them the order of the day and a fact of life as we work through these very challenging times.

As I was saying, we in Ontario are very fortunate in that we have a Parliament that normally and generally works in a way that produces legislation that is well thought out and done in an inclusionary fashion, in a way that reaches out to all people and asks them what they think, how they feel about particular pieces of legislation and initiatives, and we end up with what we have. We end up with a standard of living that is for the most part not half bad and which serves many of us well.

However, we see today, with the very narrow and ideologically driven agenda of this government, the beginning of a fraying at the edges of this wonderful society that we have put together over the years. It's important that we remember we got to where we are today by working together, by working cooperatively with the traditions that were put in place by others and recognized and cherished by others over the years. At this point in time, simply because we have a government in power that's in an all-fired hurry to diminish the role of government, that's in an all-fired hurry to take away from those who have achieved some level of dignity over a long period of time that which gives them that dignity and that freedom and that ability to participate in the way that we've seen in the last two years, you begin to question whether we're still on that track.

Our society in Ontario today, for a growing number of people, is becoming less and less the place it used to be, less and less a place that contributes to a quality of life that speaks to all of us feeling comfortable that there will be something there for us, for our children and for our neighbours as life unfolds, whether it be the health care they need when they get sick or the education they need as they learn how to participate, as they gain skills and develop the gifts that they have so that they can become constructive members of our society. That's what we all aspire to here. That's what we want to achieve. That's what we want to work together to ensure everybody has an opportunity to participate in and to have. But if we move too quickly in this very mean-spirited way to change the very foundation upon which that society is built, then I think we do us all a disservice, and most particularly those out there who are most vulnerable and most at risk.

Why change the rules in this place if the agenda of the government is already evolving and rolling out in a way that to so many of us is quick enough as it is? In fact, it is to many rolling out in a fashion that is reckless. That's a word that we've heard a lot lately. It's a word that was shared with me this weekend to describe how the present government in Ontario is dealing with those things that we all know are important to the standard of living and quality of life of each of us and our family members, and yet this government is moving, as they say, with reckless abandon.

It's like those trucks they want to take off the highway that are dangerous and unsafe, wheels flying here and wheels flying there, people ducking, and at the end of the day some even getting killed. The agenda of this government is not unlike that. It's like a truck going down the 401: We're not sure when a tire is going to fly off; we're not sure when somebody is going to get hurt; and we're not sure this government has any real idea of where they are going to end up and what this is all about.

We have to be really careful about that, because when a government gets carried away with its own self-importance, when a government gets carried away with its drive to put in place an agenda that they think is in the best interests of everybody without consulting them, without doing the impact studies that are necessary to find out just how this is all going to play out in both the short term and the long term, those of us who have been charged with leadership and who have some responsibility in that area have to run up the red flags that many of us on this side of the House are doing these days in front of this package of legislation that will change the rules by which we operate here and try to put in place the best of rules and regulations and maintain the best of services and institutions to help the citizens who pay the taxes and call Ontario home and choose to live and to work here.

We recognize that in Ontario today the economy is not in any real disharmony. As a matter of fact, when you read the papers today and the annual reports of many major corporations, we find that the economy in Ontario is doing quite well, making historically record high profits. But we don't seem to be able to find a way to take that prosperity, that wealth that is generated by those corporations, and spread it around so that more of us can take advantage of it and have for ourselves some of the things that are necessary so that we can participate in a more full way in the economy of the province.


I suggest to you that the reason we're not able to do that is because this government is moving much too quickly to remove some of the fundamental building blocks of the economy and is not giving the kind of leadership they are charged with and that many of us thought they would when they got elected. I know many of the folks back in my community, after the first blush of this new very right-wing Conservative government who spoke in the election campaign about whacking welfare people, about laying off thousands of civil servants, who spoke in the campaign about reducing many of the rules and regulations that protect our environment, after getting through the first blush of that shock and realizing that, "Hey, maybe there is something here to be celebrated in that we now have in control at Queen's Park a group of right-wing business type people who have worked on Bay Street and who understand perhaps more readily than that bunch of New Democrats who were in government for four or five years how the economy should work and would give leadership in that area," sadly have been disappointed.

There is absolutely nothing that has been done in the last two years in this province that indicates that this government is interested in any way in how the economy of this province evolves, is interested in any way in giving leadership and becoming a partner with communities and with small businesses and with working people across this province to improve the lot of everybody. That concerns us. It concerns us that we have a smaller and smaller group of people getting more and more of the wealth and a larger and larger group of people wondering where they're going to get what they need just to keep body and soul together.

When you get a society that has evolved over a number of years in a way that saw more and more people being able to participate, saw more and more people having the kind of thing that speaks to the quality of life that is recognized by the United Nations when it comes out with those statements that say we are a place that people would like to come and live, when you see that being attacked, when you see that systematically being torn down and diminished and you see people being hurt in that effort, you begin to ask yourself some very important and serious and fundamental questions.

In front of that scenario, that kind of unfolding where people can no longer count on the kind of service they once thought they would get when they went to the hospital for health care when they got sick, when people begin to question whether in fact they'll be able to send their kids to a school that will provide them with the kind of opportunity we've become accustomed to in this province because we're moving more and more towards a situation where those who have will get and those who don't will not, you become alarmed and concerned.

When you see all around you people who have most of their lives invested in their ability to serve people, to work hard, to participate in community in so many ways that so many of our friends and neighbours do, when you see people who have been for a number of years the best of teachers and when you see people in your own community who have worked in the area of social work for a number of years losing their jobs, when you see people who work in health care -- nurses, nurse practitioners and people who prepare the food and clean the floor -- who have become the best that they can possibly be in those jobs now out of a job and wondering where they're going to work next, how they're going to participate in this new economy that's coming at them, you have to have some real and serious and genuine concerns. You have to be asking yourself what this government is proposing and planning to do. You have to be worried about the agenda as it unfolds.

If it's not making life better for people, if jobs are not being created, if the fundamental building blocks of a civilized society -- education, health care, some of the social service safety net features that we've collectively built up for each other over the years -- are being attacked and hacked, you begin to ask yourself what it is that a particular government is doing, where it is that the particular government is taking us.

Instead of bringing in rules that govern how we operate here and that will speed up this agenda, will move this agenda even more recklessly through our communities and our towns and villages, one would have to ask: Why that package? Why not a package that would move towards slowing this thing down, that would move towards some of the more valued of the traditions that we've all come to appreciate and participate in here, which is the opportunity for more people to have a say, for more people to be able to vet and look at pieces of legislation as they come at them, for more people to be involved in decisions: decisions, for example, on what communities they would like to live in, what communities they would like to cooperate with in the large-scale amalgamations that are going on; decisions, for example, on how we govern our schools and how we, as people who are concerned about our schools, continue to have a voice in the day-to-day operation of those schools without inhibiting the ability of principals and teachers to do the very excellent job they've always done and want to continue to do but are today more and more alarmed and concerned and raising red flags about whether they will be able to continue to do in that particular way.

You have to ask yourself, if you're a reasonable person in this province today, why this government that has so recklessly begun to tear away at the fundamental foundation blocks that make Ontario a civilized society would be bringing in and presenting to us here in such a unilateral and non-inclusionary fashion rules that will make it easier for them to move through their agenda and to get more of this kind of very negative, destructive, diminishing, take-away type of legislation in. I would suggest to you that it would be more helpful if we were to bring before the House perhaps a set of rules that would make for more consultation, that would speak more to the essence of the democracy that we've all come to appreciate and to support in Ontario.

I say to you, Speaker, and I ask you in all honesty and sincerity, when you look at what's going on in your community, when I look at what's going on in my community -- I ask all the members here to consider what they're hearing from people when they go back to their constituencies on Fridays and on weekends and you get a chance to sit and talk to people and you ask them if everything is well in their life, if everything is well in their family, if there's any hope and vision, if they have an excitement, an enthusiasm, about what they see out there for their young people as they work their way through an education system that becomes ever more costly with each day that goes by. When you ask them if they have any thought at all as to where that young person, once he or she gets through the education process, might work, you begin to understand and feel more deeply than ever before the anxiety that's out there, the angst that's out there, the concern that's out there, the fear that some people are beginning to feel more personally with each day that goes by, and you ask yourself, is that in keeping with the best traditions of this province? Is that part of the evolutionary process that we have the potential to participate in in a province that is as rich as this one?

Is it right that a government should be able to, only two months into its mandate, for example, decide unilaterally that the poorest among us, those who have the least in our communities, those who have the least to spend on food for their children, to pay the rent on the home that they live in, those who have the most difficult time to get around and get a job -- is it right that the government should be able to take 21.6% out of their income, away from them, so they can no longer feed their children?


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): This government believes the poor have too much money and the rich don't have enough.

Mr Martin: This government believes, as my colleague from Algoma says, the poor have too much money and the rich don't have enough, so they're going to go about making sure that that injustice is corrected and that we have a new day in Ontario that will be, yes, good news for those who already have but not such good news for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

It is in that environment, in that atmosphere, that we as members of this place were elected by our communities to come here and speak on their behalf, to make sure that whatever happens at Queen's Park is building on as opposed to tearing down, is contributing to as opposed to taking away, is working towards the common good, the best interests of all as opposed to the interest of a small few corporate élite. That's what we're sent here to speak to and to speak for and to challenge.

At a time when we see out there among the people we work and live with a tremendous angst, a sense of fear in front of the very reckless agenda of this government, we are asked to just sit back and allow them to change the rules so that they can get more of this stuff through ever more quickly, so that they can get their agenda in place, rather than in four or five years, in two or three years, so they can be ready for the next election; no thought at all of the impact this is going to have on the lives of ordinary citizens, no thought at all of the impact this is going to have on families and on communities. I will definitely be voting against these rule changes.

Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): I'm pleased to briefly speak on this motion respecting changes to the standing orders governing procedures of this assembly. Since 1979, as a member of a governing party federally, and later as a member of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, I have witnessed at first hand the frustration of members of both governing and opposition parties. I have taken part in standing orders changes both in the House of Commons and now proposed changes in this Legislature.

Rule changes are always significant. Moving the business of this House forward in a way that respects what is being done in other parliaments is also very important, changes that effect a fair and reasonable balance giving the government a clear means to get on with its business. We have seen tactics which hold the business of this House to ransom, and within reason, at the end of the day, it is the policy and business of any government which is put before the electorate within that five-year period.

It has become fashionable to criticize parliamentarians and Parliament as ineffective and irrelevant, to criticize it as rowdy and unseemly. Motion 24, the standing orders amendments, is an opportunity to assemble a new set of rules which will assist the Legislature to carry out more effectively two of its major functions: legislating and scrutinizing government's performance.

Reform must balance the interests and needs of backbenchers with the legitimate concerns of government and the opposition leadership, to seek to create and respond to each of the major groups within the broader objective of making the Legislature more relevant, effective and efficient.

A moment in politics can be a long time in politics and it can be the beginning or the end of one's political career. As representatives, members of Parliament spearhead campaigns in the Legislature and on public platforms designed to educate the people about the importance of observing human rights and fundamental freedoms. The role of parliamentarians in this respect is twofold: Parliamentarians must secure fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the responsibilities of the individual by passing laws which are in line with the international covenants, and they must see that these rights are respected by the government through proper parliamentary censure.

If Parliament is to effectively discharge its full duty, it must at the very least supervise each grant of power which it makes with great care and must assume the function not only of passing legislation but also of seeing that legislation is carried out in accordance with parliamentary intent. In the absence of the exercise of this latter function, Parliament will be less effective, for no law is better than its administration. In acceptance of these rules, parliamentary governance should be both transparent and accountable.

We often hear of free votes to deal with such issues as abortion, capital punishment or human rights. What many constituents, and certainly my constituents, have told me over the past two decades when they talk about free votes is that they want more say in the decision-making process. This would give MPs more independence, reducing the focus on executive and leadership and thus balancing the accountability and responsibilities of Parliament.

In order for our system to survive, opposition parties must not be marginalized but rather integrated in the system. Modern parliaments are political battlegrounds where authority of governments and the liberty of people fight for their democratic existence.

Today we tend to take for granted our parliamentary institutions. After the demise of Communism and its dictatorship of the people, campaigns are not so much about ideology but rather on good management. Parliamentary democracy can be improved or updated through trust, honesty in government, transparency and balanced budgets. Bad economic policies are bound to throw governments out. The rule of law has to be maintained. Politicians have to match rhetoric and actions and parliamentary committees should be structured in such a way that they become effective.

Some of the highlights of our changes to the standing orders: The amendments strike a good balance between the rights of members to participate in free, open and thorough debate on issues and legislation and the right of the House to make decisions in a timely manner.

The proposed changes, if passed, will protect the democratic rights of our members: more members will be able to speak in debate; prevents members' bills from being blocked; more time will be provided for private members' bills to be debated; the right of each MPP to propose legislation and have it printed for distribution to other members will be guaranteed.

There will be an increase in accountability and efficiency in the Legislature: guarantees a fixed amount of time to debate the budget; guarantees a budget debate within three weeks of the budget speech; requires a vote on the budget; permits the House to sit more than 4.5 hours a day; permits the House to sit for more than 25 weeks a year; ensures that funding for social programs and other vital government operations is not interrupted.

It brings the rules more into line with those of the House of Commons. People throughout the world look to our House of Commons and the Canadian parliamentary traditions as something that are very vital to democracy, and sometimes I believe that we too often take this for granted. We should adopt the House of Commons notice of requirement for raising points of privilege; adopt the House of Commons rules on rotation of speakers, thereby allowing more MPPs to participate in debate; adopt the House of Commons time requirement for replying to petitions; adopt the House of Commons time requirement for replying to order paper questions; adopt the House of Commons limit to the number of questions a member can place on the order paper at any one time.


The technical changes would eliminate potential disagreements over who gets the floor; clarify that motions to have the House work overtime are properly moved during the motions section of routine procedures; clarify the treatment of the points of privilege to reflect parliamentary precedent more accurately; fix the time for voting on opposition day motions and motions of non-confidence and time allocation motions to a standard time; confirm the existing practice whereby the business statement is not read if the business for the coming week has not yet been determined; confirm that a bill reported from committee may be ordered for third reading by a majority vote; fix the length of debate on concurrence in supply; reduce the size of standing and select committees; reflect the existing practice respecting the review of intended government appointments.

In addition, nothing in this motion limits debate on any bill by one moment. The proposed changes allow for more democratic debate by permitting more debate.

The public view the Legislature with disdain. Of course, this is something that is not conducive to the operation of this institution, because it engages in tomfoolery and dilatory tactics.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Speaker: You would notice that there is not a quorum in the House.

The Acting Speaker: I'll check and see. Would you check and see if there's a quorum in the House?

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Frontenac-Addington.

Mr Vankoughnet: In conclusion, I want to say that this is an attempt to allow this House to clean up its act. It's long overdue to regain some public respect. These amendments will create an essential balance in the proceedings of this Legislature which will enable the government to effectively govern and the opposition to effectively oppose.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'm very pleased to join this debate on the amendments that are presently in front of us and to deal with a couple of the items the last member, my colleague and immediate neighbour to the west from Frontenac-Addington, has talked about.

Before doing so, I'm sure the average person watching this must be wondering to themselves, "What are all these quorum calls?" I think it should be clearly understood by the general public out there who may be watching that --

The Acting Speaker: I think you may be on thin ice. We're now discussing the amendments to the motion.

Mr Gerretsen: That's exactly what I'm discussing too, Mr Speaker. I'm glad you're listening to me. It's greatly appreciated.

We have quorum calls, and a quorum in this House is 20 members. It's the government's business that we're dealing with, so they should have at least 20 members here, but there are only 15 here, and then of course there are five or six members from the opposition. I'm glad the Attorney General is here today, because I'm sure he can throw some light on a lot of the things that have been talked about as well.

It's kind of interesting that one of the things that each member of the government has talked about is we're now going to vote, according to these new rules, on a budget annually. Isn't that wonderful. Let me tell you that I have absolutely no objection to that.

If you want to change the rules so that there will be a budget debate for a certain period of time and a vote on that, that's great. But that's about the only thing you're adding; everything else you're taking away from the standing orders. You're limiting the existing standing orders. To continually keep harping on the fact, "We're now going to have a debate on the budget," as if this is some wonderful new thing you've come up with -- I say congratulations to you. We're all in favour of that. If you want us to vote on the budget, we will do so.

The other thing they keep talking about -- the last member said that actually the amount of time we have to debate particular issues is not going to be limited as a result of these rule changes. Again the general public should understand that the leadoff speaker, who currently has the opportunity to speak for 90 minutes -- and that time is quite frequently shared with other members of his or her caucus -- you're now going to limit that to 40 minutes. Any subsequent speaker, who can now speak for 30 minutes, you're going to limit to 20 minutes.

If you multiply all those numbers by the number of people we have in the House, you can only come to one conclusion: that ultimately you have the power and the control, as a result of these rule changes, to limit the debate or to decrease it by somewhere between 30% to 40%. So it is totally erroneous to say that these rule changes are not going to limit the amount of debate in this House. It will. The times you allow the original speaker to speak for and the other people to respond are shorter, so undoubtedly you're going to have less debate here.

Another issue, a much more important issue, in my opinion, is the meaningfulness of the debate that takes place here. The notion I've advanced on a number of different occasions, and I think I've even had concurrence about this when I raised it at the committee level a year or so ago, is the idea that somebody could speak for 90 minutes and everybody else for 30 minutes -- I know some people out in the real world must be saying to themselves, "That's an awful long period of time." It seems to me that if you want to have some real debate on any particular issue, maybe you should allow a member not to speak for any longer than a total of 30 minutes but allow that person to get up as often as he or she wants. You can then engage in some meaningful debate.

Mr Wildman: You can do that in the committee of the whole.

Mr Gerretsen: You can do that in the committee of the whole, but even that's limited in these rule changes. I don't know whether you've noticed that in these rule changes, it talks about that even in committee you can only speak for 20 minutes. I have no idea what that means. Does that mean at a committee level a person on a particular point could only speak once, and then for only 20 minutes? I'll tell you, that is going to limit the amount of discussion that's going to take place at committee level.

I agree that at committee level quite often you have the most interesting discussions, because you've got a lot of give and take and somebody says something and there's a point made and a counterpoint made. It's like a normal conversation. Why couldn't we have that here? I'm sure with modern technology there is nothing to prevent the Clerk's table from keeping track of how long everybody has spoken on a particular bill and just allowing a person to get up more than once. Rather than having them speak once for 30 minutes, have them speak for a total time of 30 minutes. If the member for Wellington has something interesting to say and somebody else wants to respond to that, you can have a meaningful debate going back and forth rather than these 30-minute dissertations and speeches.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): That's why we have responses. Why don't you read the rules, then you would know what you're talking about. We have questions and comments. You can speak as many times as you like.

Mr Gerretsen: Under questions and comments you can speak as often as you want, but still, Mr Attorney General, I'm sure --

Hon Mr Harnick: You don't know what you're talking about. Quite frankly, I don't think you've read the old rules, let alone the new.


Mr Gerretsen: You do know what you're talking about. Obviously you have a great need for the rule changes, I am suggesting, or else you would have waited your 30 minutes before you started your harangue. After 30 minutes, you can get into your harangue, but you couldn't wait for the 30 minutes and you've just proven to me exactly what I'm saying, that a member should be allowed to say something --

Hon Mr Harnick: You want us to jump up and say, "I have something to add."

Mr Gerretsen: That's right. Absolutely. That's where you have a real, meaningful debate.

He's obviously quite exercised about this. He must have had a bad day at the office or something like that. I'm sure he realizes there's an awful lot of truth in what I'm saying or else he wouldn't be reacting the way he is. We know he's just dying to get it off his chest, whatever he wants to say. Under my proposed changes to the rules, whereby we'd engage in real, meaningful debate, he actually could get up now and say something, of course with the permission of the person who has the floor. This is the way it's quite frequently done in other jurisdictions as well.

The other thing the member for Frontenac-Addington talked about was, "Let's adopt the federal House rules." It may be easy for people to say: "That sounds like a good idea. If it works over there, why wouldn't it work here?" You've got to remember that they've got 300 members there. After the next election we will have a third of those members. They also have 20 opposition days in the federal House. We don't have anything close to that; we have closer to about six opposition days for each caucus. You cannot just take the rules of one particular chamber, whether it's the federal House or not, and try to transplant them on this House.

What really should happen, and we've talked about this before, is that there should be a committee formed, with representation from all three parties in the House --

Interjection: Equal representation.

Mr Gerretsen: Equal representation -- to really talk about these rules, and let's see how we can meaningfully change them. The reason why that is necessary, in my opinion, is that you have to build a consensus about the rules under which we operate in this House. That is absolutely essential. I can guarantee you that if it's the government's aim and purpose to get these rules through -- and it will ultimately succeed if it persists in the way it's dealing with the situation right now -- if they're only going to be adopted even by two thirds of the members of this House, they are not going to have the same kind of respect than if you had something worked out among all three parties.

If it's along the way that's being suggested, with the House leaders talking to one another and always having that smoking gun in the government House leader's hands saying, "You're either going to negotiate with me now or else I'm going to let this gun go off etc," it's not going to work that way. The only way it's going to work is if everyone in this House buys into whatever rules this committee can come up with.

Unfortunately, that's not the way this government has decided to proceed with it. I think what we can look at is what's happened over the last two years with this government in power. We all know about Bill 26 and how it was railroaded through this House. It was only by the extraordinary action of Alvin Curling and a number of others that the government finally relented and said, "Okay, we'll have some more debate." As a result of the actions the opposition had to take, 150 different amendments were proposed.

We can also take a look at the megacity bill, for example. The government repeatedly said during its election campaign that it wanted to bring referenda back to the people of Ontario and let them have a real say in some of the changes they were going to effect in this province. We had referenda here in the six area municipalities that make up Metropolitan Toronto, that overwhelmingly voted against the megacity, and then both the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs said, "It doesn't count in this particular case because we don't think people knew what they were voting for."

The question, you may recall, was very simple: "Do you want to live in one megacity or do you want to retain the six area municipalities?" People felt very strongly about it. They darn well knew what they were voting for and they voted diametrically against it.

That's not what it's about either. This is really about one thing and one thing only, and that is to stifle the will of the minority, to stifle the voice of the minority as represented here by the two opposition parties.

The other thing I always find very interesting about this is that even if we go back to the election that took place two years ago, this government was elected and supported by 45% of the people who voted in Ontario on June 8, 1995. Somehow they have translated that into a huge belief that they can make some radical changes to Ontario society. What they keep forgetting is that 55% of the people voted against that. It may very well be that because of our electoral system they've got 82 seats, and I'll grant them that, which is probably about 65% of the total number of seats in this House, but the fact of the matter is still that those 82 members, their party, only got 45% of the popular vote in favour of the government back in 1995. I don't think they have this overwhelming mandate to make the kinds of changes they want.

The other interesting thing, and I've heard it mentioned here a couple of times today, is that they place great emphasis on the fact that an independent member can speak now. Hopefully the independent member will get an opportunity to speak on this as well, but certainly from my speaking to him today, he doesn't like these rules either. I'm all in favour of having an independent member speak, there's no question about it, but they somehow make it sound as if, "We're now letting an independent member speak and we're allowing him to take certain courses of action in this House."

Of course an independent member should have a say as to what happens in this House, nobody has any problem with that, but they somehow want to translate that into the notion, "We're giving the independent member more powers now," and therefore he's somehow on the side of these rule changes. He can speak for himself later on, but it's my understanding he doesn't share their belief that all of a sudden, because of the new powers that are given to the independent member, all these rule changes are for the good.

The other thing that is interesting is that when we look at these amendments that were moved today by the minister of privatization, who I thought was a very appropriate minister to move these kinds of amendments, it almost seems that maybe his major task now is the privatization of this House. Then they can do away with democracy completely. We can elect the government once every four years and let them do whatever they want. Well, that's not the way it works.

I think ultimately a democracy will be judged by the way it treats its minorities, whether we're talking about minorities relating to race, creed, colour, whatever, or whether it's a parliamentary minority like this. I think history will show that this government is not doing that in a very compassionate or a very open way, because most of the major changes it has brought in in a very radical, very fast way without any meaningful debate.

What's interesting in dealing with the amendments is that they refer to an amendment to clause 9(c). That's the one that you may recall originally said that at any time the House leader can decide whether we sit after 6 o'clock. We can be called back on a particular day and sit between 6:30 and 9:30, and the question on a motion as to whether or not we should be sitting later on "shall be put forthwith and without amendment or debate." That means he could bring it in at any time and we'd have to vote on it, without any amendment or debate.

The change that is being made to 9(c) doesn't deal with the amendment or debate portion at all. In other words, it can still not be debated as to whether or not it is appropriate for the House to sit, let's say, until 9:30 in any particular week. All the amendment to 9(c) states is that it has to be done on notice. In other words, they can't dump it on us at the last minute but they have to give us at least one sessional day's notice.


It's an improvement, I agree it's an improvement, but it certainly still doesn't deal with the major issue, and that is that a motion like that surely ought to have some debate and ought to be able to be amended. When a government wants to sit for an extra three hours or for a series of three hours during a particular week, surely the opposition has the right to ask questions about it, surely it's a matter that should be debated, and your amendment doesn't say that. All it says is that it has to be done on notice; that's all. It could still be voted on without any debate whatsoever.

Hon Mr Harnick: Have you got something better to do than be in here debating? Where would you rather be?

Mr Gerretsen: I would much rather be here debating. That's correct. But again the Attorney General shows his lack of understanding: There is nothing to debate when 9(c) is being brought forward. Even with the amendment, Mr Attorney General, it just has to be done on notice and it has to be voted on immediately without any debate or amendment.

Hon Mr Harnick: They like you to be here. The constituents want you.

Mr Gerretsen: Obviously he's had a very, very bad day at the office or else he wouldn't be so exercised about a point that is extremely, extremely reasonable.

Hon Mr Harnick: I think you're blathering and it's pretty obvious. You're blathering along and it's just terrible. I just don't understand.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): You should be putting that energy into the family support plan.

Mr Gerretsen: That's right, of course. We could be talking about the family support plan. If they did not try to bring in these new, draconian rules that will set democracy back even further, we could be talking about the family support plan and the 50% of the calls that you're actually responding to -- when was that stated in the House? -- on a daily basis. My gosh, for a government that likes to pride itself on running government in a businesslike manner, a 50% pickup on calls that are actually returned to people I would say is very, very bad.

I know that in my business, and I'm sure in the businesses of many of the people who are in private business in one way or the other, if you only returned 50% of your calls, you wouldn't be in business very long. All I can say to the Attorney General is: Why don't you try to do something positive? Why don't you try to make sure that the women and children of this province who are entitled to the support payments that are coming into your offices and are being paid for by husbands and wives etc, why don't you ensure that those support payments are properly being distributed to the people?

The Acting Speaker: Order. It's my duty to remind you that it's up to the person speaking to debate and for the rest of us to let him, but I would appreciate if you'd address your comments to me.

Mr Gerretsen: Mr Speaker, once again I totally concur with you. I always like to address my comments to you, except that we sometimes are provoked by the Attorney General when he has one of these outbursts. Sometimes we cannot control ourselves and we have to say something back, especially on behalf of those women and children who have been denied the proper kind of support that has been paid into the plan. These people depend on that kind of money on a month-to-month and a week-to-week basis.

Hon Mr Harnick: Tell us about the rules, Gerretsen. Come on, we want to hear about the rules. You still have 10 more minutes; you must have something to say.

Mr Gerretsen: I've been trying to talk about the rules, but it's obvious that you haven't read them. I would say if anyone in this House has a valid excuse for not reading the rules, it's the Attorney General, I agree. He's got so many other things on his plate and so many other things that a lot of people think are being mismanaged in his particular portfolio, he really should be looking after those issues.

For example, he could be putting more money into the legal aid plan. Look at the number of women who are no longer entitled to legal aid representation and certificates in family law situations and in divorce situations, people who are in effect denied a right of representation because of the tremendous kinds of cutbacks that he has brought into the legal aid plan and why? So that he, together with the other ministries, could have enough money left to fund the tax cut.

Mr Speaker, I know you might think I'm straying off topic, but I think it's all interconnected. It's all totally interconnected. To give the people of Ontario a 30% tax cut while we're still running an annual deficit of $6 billion to $7 billion per year and while the public debt of this province is still going up from $100 billion to $120 billion in a matter of four to five years makes absolutely no sense. He would be much better taking some of that money, which of course goes to the people who make $100,000 or more in the greatest amount, and spending some of that money to make sure that his own department ran properly and accurately so that they could at least answer more than 50% of the phone calls that are being made to the department right now.

The other thing that's kind of interesting deals with the order paper questions. These are the kinds of questions that the members of the House have the right to make to the particular ministries. I can read you a couple of these questions. For example, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services provide the estimated dollar value the minister has cut from Hamilton-Wentworth in the time period of June 1995 to May 1997?" What is wrong that kind of question? Absolutely nothing. I think the people in that particular part of Ontario have the right to know how much has been cut by that particular ministry as it affects the residents who live in that area. Those are the kinds of questions that, I grant you, go on page after page, but they're the kinds of issues and questions and answers that people are interested in.

There's never been a limit on this. Some members take advantage of it. I'll be quite honest with you, I have never taken advantage of that, but I want the right to ask those kinds of questions. Why should we all of a sudden limit that initially to four questions on the order paper? There are some members here who have probably 30 or 40 questions in different ministries, wanting different kinds of information. This is public information. The standing orders are quite clear. Members are entitled to know how their taxpayers' dollars are being expended.

The amendment has now come back and they've said: "Okay, maybe we were harsh with four; we'll make it 10." What they simply don't understand is that by doing that they are limiting democracy. You are limiting the right of a member, any member, government or opposition member, to know about how the public's money is being expended in a particular area.

You may recall there was a question and answer that I had with the Treasurer of Ontario -- I think it was one day last week -- on this very issue. He said, "You should get the right to ask 3,000 or 4,000." The point is, nobody has asked for 3,000 or 4,000 of these inquiries, but a member should not be limited by a standing order in the number of inquiries that he or she wants to find out about on behalf of his or her constituents. That is limiting that member's ability to function and operate in this House.

Many and most of the rule amendments deal with that kind of notion. They deal with the notion of taking the rights of the members and decreasing them even more. When we're in a time when it's already difficult for members, and I dare say for members not only on the opposition but also on the government side, to find out about particular programs or how money's being expended, and when there's a public cynicism out there about politicians in general, I think it behooves us all to expand the democratic rights that we enjoy here and to get involved in a more meaningful debate with members from the other side. I think that's what this is really all about.

Can this place be made better than the way it is? Can we operate it in a better, more efficient manner? Can we operate it in a manner in which there is a freer debate between members? Absolutely. But you're not going to get there by saying to the individual members: "I'm sorry. You're no longer going to have your 90-minute leadoff speech of your critic or your 30-minute speech here. We're going to limit that now to 40 minutes and 20 minutes. And if we want you to sit tomorrow night or all of next week, we can do that almost at a moment's notice. If you've got 11 questions, I'm sorry, you can only ask 10 questions on the order paper." All of our rights are being affected by those kinds of actions and I don't think that any of us gain from that.

The other interesting point that the member for Frontenac-Addington raised was that the House can sit up to 25 weeks, according to the calendar, I guess. I've never actually figured it out, but that would be about right. There are 12 weeks in the spring and about 13 weeks in the fall and winter session. I don't know how many weeks we've been here since mid-September of last year, but it seems to me we've been here almost continually, with the exception of about seven or eight weeks. I'm sure we've been here much more than 25 weeks, and we would love to be here longer than that if it's done on a calendar motion, if it's done so that we all know what the calendar says.


If you want to expand the calendar to allow for more debate on particular issues, that's fine, but I don't think it should be done in the way the government is suggesting, because the government is still denying the fact that in effect when it could start a new sessional day by starting after 6:30 on a particular day, it doesn't have to have that central piece of the parliamentary democratic system, and that is question period. Question period, let's face it, is the opportunity for the opposition particularly to hold the ministers of the crown accountable. I'm afraid that with that gone, many of the parliamentary democratic practices and procedures that we all value very dearly will be sorely missed, and I think we'll all be the worse off for it.

I'm almost ready to wind up because I know that I've spoken on these issues before, but the government's spin, of course, is that these amendments are a great improvement. What I've tried to indicate over the last little while is that these amendments are very minor in nature. They have taken one very offensive one out of there, which I'm glad to see. That's the one where apparently a member, under the rules as originally proposed, could be expelled up to eight sessional days by the Speaker having a vote on the matter. You can just imagine what's going to happen most of the time if it happens to be an opposition member who isn't liked or for whatever reason. By the government side it's very easy to vote for: Let's expel the individual for eight sessional days. At least they've done away with that, and I'm glad for that because that was truly very offensive.

I think the discretion ought to be with the Speaker. You are the Speaker. You're elected by the majority of the members in this House and I think all of us uphold the right of the Speaker to show his or her independence and to exercise that discretion that has been placed on the Speaker in an appropriate fashion. Certainly for the assembly here to decide on a moment's notice as to whether or not a member can be expelled from this House would be highly inappropriate because the will of the minority could be stifled even further.

Mr Wildman: They could at least call him to the bar.

Mr Gerretsen: That's correct.

I think I've said just about everything I'm going to at this stage, but I would just like to remind you, in the last few seconds that I have, what Ernie Eves said, and maybe this is a good way to finish.

He said, "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 to 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."

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm pleased to have the opportunity tonight to speak to this bill. Some people have said in this House and outside this House that the Harris government doesn't understand democracy, that they don't know what they're doing here. I would say that the Harris government, in particular the Premier and the people who are running this government in his inner chambers, know perfectly well what they're doing here, and what's happening is that they are afraid of democracy.

I'll bet you anything that their own polls are showing them they've taken a bit of a beating over the last two years on the speed at which they've been moving through things. They've got a lot of other very controversial legislation coming up, and I'll bet you anything, Speaker, that they know exactly what they're doing here and they're willing to take this on and stand up and pretend that they think this is not anti-democratic, that this is fair, just trying to make the decorum of the House more acceptable, trying to make it a little more smooth for governments to operate and get things through.

But we all know what's going on here. I can tell you what's happening here. They've had a lot of controversial legislation. They're still fairly high in the polls, but I'll bet you anything that their polls are showing them that if they continue on this road, which they have every intention of doing, they're going to start going down in the polls, that the opposition has been effective, that what they call shenanigans and filibustering has actually worked, that on very controversial and devastating legislation like Bill 26, which we all know about by now, and the fact that if we hadn't stopped this government in its tracks, this province would be in complete disaster as a result of that right now -- they know that.

They know they're in trouble over the family support plan and the remarks by the Ombudsman's office that they really messed that up and that thousands of women and children suffered as a result. They know that even though environmental issues are not necessarily at the top of people's agendas right now because of all of the other things that are going on, they're vulnerable in that area. They know that they are vulnerable in terms of the things they have done to seniors in this province. They know.

I see my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre is here. They know what they have done in the past to our labour legislation has gutted it in a very anti-democratic way. Given the way they attacked women and pay equity and employment equity and all of that, they know that after a while, overall, when we look at the cumulative effect of those anti-democratic and anti-community measures, people are going to start putting it all together and it's going to hurt them.

They still have a lot of controversial legislation to bring through the House and they want to get it done fast. They want the press to not be able to report on it. They want to silence the opposition and get it done and out the door as quickly as they can so there will be a minimum amount of fuss, so there won't be the John Sewells out there and the Citizens for Local Democracy and all of the workers who rallied around the labour bills and the women who are rallying around the violence-against-women issues. In all of those areas, they don't want those people to know what is happening.

They want to get it through as quickly as possible in this House so there won't be time for people to understand what's happening. Hopefully they think if they just speed it all up and get it through the House as quickly as possible, they can take a rest. They can just shut down the place and go out there and give good-news announcements and hopefully at least their own supporters, their little universe whom they need to re-elect them, won't be too mad, won't be too touched themselves by all of this stuff, and they can win the next election. There's a strategy here by the boys in the back room, and that's what it is.

When people say words like "dictatorship," in my view it's not used lightly. There are other words that are bandied about that I don't use because I think we have to be very careful in this country, in this democracy in which we've lived for a long time. But I would use the word "dictatorship," because from what I've seen from day one when this government took over, we've been moving more and more in that direction.

When the government talks, repeatedly there are two incidents it likes to bring up as examples of why we need to just fix the system here a little bit. They refer to the Alvin Curling affair, and I notice many of the members referring to that. I want to remind the members of the government that it wasn't the Alvin Curling affair; it was a strategy worked out by both of the opposition parties, yes, together. Because at that time we were very aware, when these huge stacks of bills were dumped on our desks when most of our caucus members were in a lockup -- nobody had even seen this stuff; the ministers didn't even know what was in it -- that we had a big problem. The more we analysed and looked at the implications, the massive implications in that bill, the more we realized that the province was going to be in big trouble if it went through.


But the government wouldn't listen. They still don't like to listen. Heads are shaking. They wouldn't listen and we forced them by that sit-in because we had no other choice. We tried everything we could to say to the government: "This isn't just about the opposition opposing. We have found some real problems with this bill and your own ministers don't know what's in it."

We started to point out, and communities across the province within their own areas started to look at, the implications of this bill -- the mistakes, let alone the policy issues that many of us disagreed with -- and started to point out hundreds of them. The government remained steadfast and said, "No, we're going to forge ahead." We tried everything within the rules and the government said, "No, we're not going to listen."

We did not take it lightly as opposition; I know our party didn't. We debated at length about how we were going to deal with this, but we knew we had to do something. I'm sure the Liberal Party went through the same process because, as with everybody I've heard speak to this bill in the House, all of us prefer to work within the parliamentary rules. I know that I do and I try to. But there are times when a government is so arrogant and so sure of itself, is so willing to move forward without even knowing itself what's in its own bills, that it is very dangerous, and it is our job as the opposition to make sure that comprehensive, all-consuming bills like that do not go through without public scrutiny.

So yes, we forced the government to hold hearings, and at the end of the day it actually worked in the government's favour because they were able to find hundreds of mistakes. They didn't change much of their policy, although a little bit, but they fixed up a lot of really terrible mistakes which would have caused problems down the road for a long, long time; or they would have had to keep coming back to fix the bill up.

We helped the process. I know the members of the government don't want to see it that way, but that is the reality. We helped that process.

Interjection: The public helped.

Ms Churley: The public helped that process by getting involved, by analysing the bill carefully within their own sectors. All of those sectors have experts and they were able to come back and say: "Look, even if we don't agree on the policy here, you've made numerous mistakes. This won't work." Because of the public involvement, the different stakeholders' involvement and the opposition involvement, many, many important changes were made.

Then we had the megacity fiasco where I think it was 74% overall, with a high turnout for a municipal election, particularly a referendum, voted against the megacity. The government said, "No, we don't care what you have to say." This was after we had a government member, the member for Brampton South, stand up and say: "We believe in referenda. We want the support of the opposition. We think the people should have a say in these matters." Then when the time came for a very vital local issue to be resolved, what did the government say? They said: "That's too complicated for the people to figure out. We can't ask them that. They wouldn't know how to deal with it. We're talking about other kinds of issues," although that wasn't defined.

The government decided not to listen. Once again, the opposition was placed in a position where, to do our job, we were forced to look at ways outside -- actually, we worked within the rules, and that's what the government is now trying to plug, to find all the little areas there might be where the opposition can be effective and make a point and actually change something for the better, to make the public more aware.

It's not going to work, as many members in the House have already said. I don't think there is any problem with a committee of the Legislature to sit down with our very able and experienced clerks -- Speaker, you and I work with these clerks on a regular basis -- who have been here for a very long time and who I am sure have some very good ideas about changes to this place. I don't think I would necessarily agree with them all -- we've had some discussions -- but I am very interested in their views on where they see the most reasonable changes that should be made to improve decorum, make the process go more smoothly. I think that's a good idea.

But no, that's not what the government did. The government cherry-picked. They looked at what happens in the House of Commons and across Canada, perhaps other jurisdictions, and they said, "We've taken the best from all of those." But what they've done, as has been pointed out by my able House leader, the member for Algoma, and others, is to cherry-pick from all over the place without putting in the balancing corresponding rules. You end up having a decreased question period. You end up having far less accountability.

At the end of the day, this is going to hurt the democratic process in Ontario. I think they know that and, as I said at the beginning, I think that it has been done for a purpose, that it's quite deliberately shutting down democracy because democracy is getting in the way of the Harris government agenda.

One of the issues in this bill that concerns me -- and yes, there was an amendment made today. I listened with great interest to the amendments as presented this afternoon. It surprised me that those amendments were presented at such a time. I know that my House leader, the member for Algoma, wanted to go to Larry Grossman's funeral today. Many of the members here did go to that funeral. I know Mr Wildman and Mr Bradley had to stay because they didn't know what the order of the day was, and then when those amendments were put forward, as the House leaders they needed to be here to deal with that.

I think that was despicable. I really do. There was no need for it. All of the parties agreed today to move up question period so that anybody, particularly the ministers of the Conservative Party, could go to that funeral. Everybody agreed, yes, that's fair and that we would make an exception for today. Then what does this government do? After we had made that agreement, it deprived our caucuses from knowing what was going to be called today until the last minute, so the member for Algoma and the member for St Catharines, as House leaders, couldn't go and then they were forced to stay to deal with the rule changes. I would like to believe, as others have said, that the majority in that party, most people in that caucus, had they known the implications of this, would not have supported that decision.

In hindsight, if you think about what happened today -- and I know how busy caucus members get, not just cabinet ministers. We've all been there in this caucus. Cabinet ministers are busy, but so are the parliamentary assistants and the backbenchers; they have a lot of their own things to do. Sometimes you don't pay enough attention to what's going on. You're just told, "This is what's happening today," and nobody explains to you the implications and the optics and the cruelty of what happened today. I really think that most of the members, had they been aware of the type of agreement that was made, would not have approved of this kind of despicable, unkind behaviour today.

One of the rules, even with the amendment, that concerns me as a Metro member -- and this is not for a moment to imply to my out-of-town colleagues that they don't work hard in the evenings, because I know they do --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Where are you going?

Ms Churley: I just said I'm not accusing anybody of anything. I know members from my caucus, for instance, during the megacity debate and the weekly meetings all over the place every night, all were out at those meetings. They're involved --

Mr Bisson: Including the out-of-town members.

Ms Churley: That's what I just said -- including the out-of-town members. Seriously, I know that most members of the House are busy often in the evenings as well, no matter where they're from. But I've got to tell you that as a Metro member whose riding luckily is very close to here -- in my car 15 minutes, on my bike 25 -- I have a constituency meeting practically every night of the week. Some of those meetings I call myself, well in advance; some are community meetings. Sometimes it's a local community centre, a local school graduation or an environmental meeting; you name it. It's a big riding, and it's going to get bigger with a huge chunk of East York being part of that.


This government, I can assure you, presents us with many issues, so there are many more meetings than ever before. I'm expected to be at those meetings. I want to be at those meetings. I want to play the role I have played as a local politician in that area since 1988. That is the role of facilitator to the voice of my community. I believe that's what politicians are all about. We are there to help facilitate, to be the voice of the people in our ridings. Certainly in my riding that is what's expected. That's a huge part of why people vote for the politicians they do, because they're very active in the local community. So I make commitments well ahead of time. I call meetings, I send out notices, I respond and agree to be the guest speaker or just to show up at a meeting as the local member to hear the concerns, the issues.

With this rule and the amendment today which says the government will now give notice before they announce a night sitting -- it doesn't say how much notice. Is it going to be the day before? Is it going to be the Thursday before the Monday? Is it going to be a week? Is it going to be two days? What? How am I going to with any confidence -- this infringes on my privilege as a member and I resent it very much. It is going to make me not nearly as effective a community-based member as I have been for eight or nine years now, and that's important to me. It's why I ran in the first place and it's what I like to do. I love this place; I like to be here and engage in debate. I think it's very important that we have that structure and the ability to participate in the debate.

I also think it is more important in some ways to get the message out there to the community. There has to be a balance here, and what the government is doing as they giggle away over there at all this -- because as usual, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere and the member for Durham East are taking my comments on this with some measure of amusement. I say to the members, I would hope when they were elected there was some expectation -- because particularly the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is also in the Metro area.

We are now in the position where at the drop of a hat we're going to be told we're going to have to sit tomorrow night, or three nights from now, and I'm going to be put in the position where I may have to cancel a meeting that I have called myself. If it's an issue that's within my critic area, I'm going to have to be here. We may have problems with enough members, because we've got out-of-town members and in-town members. There are times when I'm not going to be able to be in my community when the expectation is that I will be there. I also think that is despicable behaviour, and it does infringe on my rights. It infringes on my ability to be the best possible member for my constituents.

I sincerely hope, even though the amendments were put forward today, that is thought through again. The rationale for it is very clear. The government says today that with the amendments, including the new evening, they won't be able to get a bill through in three days. What they will be able to do is get two bills through in six days. It still all comes out in the wash at the end of the day. I think it's totally unnecessary and should be rethought.

When the Ombudsman came out with her latest report, she said some pretty devastating things about the Attorney General's role and this government's role in the so-called restructuring of the family support plan. To all the people out there who may be paying attention to this debate and trying to figure out what it means to them, I think we all agree that the rules of the House -- let's think about it: first reading, second reading, third reading, royal assent. Let's face it. Most people, for good reason, don't understand or don't pay all that much attention to the meaning of those words, the implications of that.

It can be difficult to get the word out that these rule changes are going to have a huge impact on how quickly legislation is passed through this House, the lack of the role of the media in getting the word out and the role of all the opposition, and perhaps some disgruntled members in the government. I see the member for Grey-Owen Sound is here tonight, and dare I mention the member for Wentworth North -- the unofficial opposition, I should say.

It gives people the opportunity to get the message out to their communities and it gives people an opportunity to organize and to oppose and to protest and to also give the government alternatives, to also give the government the ability to understand some of the implications of the changes they're making.

All of us who have been in government know that any new bill or law, either through the courts or through the Legislature, sometimes, in fact probably always, has implications and ramifications that aren't even thought of. I would submit that the less time that's given by the government to scrutinize a bill and the less time the opposition and in particular the public, who will be most affected, have time to scrutinize and yes, criticize and suggest, the more problems will evolve from that new piece of legislation.

Even with a long consultation period, there are usually implications that have not been thought of, and then the lawmakers with the affected communities have to start dealing with those problems. But it makes sense and it is a responsible act of those who are entrusted with making those laws that benefit or hurt our communities. It is to their advantage and it is their responsibility to talk to the people who are going to be affected and to make the necessary changes.

It is true that there will be policy differences between any government and the stakeholder groups and the communities at large which can or will be affected, either negatively or positively, but the government has a responsibility to listen. As other members in this House have said, this is not a business we're running here. This is supposed to be a democracy. Democracy can be messy and sometimes time-consuming, but it is necessary that people have their say. I would like to think that the members who are sitting here tonight -- I know one or two of them agree with me, because we have discussed these matters.

This is important. If we go ahead and change these rules because the members over there haven't really read them, haven't really paid attention -- because I believe, member for Durham East, that if you read those rules and understood the implications of those rules, you wouldn't support them, because some day you may be over here. I would like to think that if they paid attention, as the member for Grey-Owen Sound did, who has been over here in opposition and is probably worse off over there now in government -- at least over here he could stand up and just rage against the government. His opportunities to do that are limited now, although we're pleased to see him do it from time to time.


I think it is a break of the public trust to do what this government is doing. I challenge all the members to take a look at the rule changes and talk to some people in your caucus whom you may know recognize there is a problem with these rule changes and that they in fact are totally unnecessary. Because, as has been pointed out by others in this Legislature on all sides of the House, some of whom have been here a lot longer than I, through experience, the irony is it isn't going to work.

In a way, Speaker, it's going to affect the decorum in this place, which is something that you and I, as deputy Speakers, have to worry about, and anybody else who sits in that chair. When we sit in that chair, we try to keep the rules, because that's our role. I know when I sit in that chair, as do you, Speaker, you become neutral and it is your job to be fair to everybody and it is your job to try to keep decorum in this House. What's going to happen now, with opportunities within the legislative rules being shut down, of course, is that the opposition will find every opportunity it can, if necessary outside the rules. If the government won't slow down controversial legislation, the opposition will find a way. I find that extremely unfortunate in this place where people stand up and some of them are making excuses, saying they hear from the public that the decorum in this place is awful and it's time to change it. It isn't going to work.

I want to just make clear to some members who may have misunderstood what I said earlier about certain members like the member for Grey-Owen Sound that I wasn't suggesting for a moment that I expected anybody to cross the floor; in fact, I think we would have perhaps great trepidation in accepting the member for Grey-Owen Sound in our caucus.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I've got nowhere to go now; I have no home now at all.

Ms Churley: I didn't mean to hurt his feelings, but I'm sure he understands.

I would say seriously to the members that what I was saying is that to the members of the opposition this is bad news. These rule changes aren't going to work. It may make you feel better for a while: "We're putting the boots to the opposition. How dare they try to slow us down? We're the government. We're going to get this through and we have every right to. How dare they slow us down?"

I understand that attitude. It can be frustrating, but I can assure you that (a) it isn't going to work, and (b) it's going to come back to haunt you. I would advise all of you to take a better look at the rules and go to your House leader and talk to some of the members, like the members for Parry Sound and Carleton and others who have been mentioned, who understand there are some problems with these rules, and see if you can come forward with some amendments. Let's talk about having some kind of all-party committee working with the table officers to come up with sensible rules that would really make a difference to this place. I'm absolutely appalled at what's happening here, and I strongly object.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I'm pleased to rise today to join in the debate on the motion to amend the standing orders of this House. I have read the motion. I have read the amendments that are being proposed.

Ms Churley: So you're not going to read your speech.

Mrs Ross: I'm not reading my speech. But having read the amendments, I still do not profess to be an expert. To be quite frank, I find the standing orders to be a little complicated, and I think that the member for Nepean deserves a lot of credit for undertaking a mission such as this. We in our caucus have discussed standing order amendments for some time. I don't know what prompted the member for Nepean to press onward and come forward. Perhaps it was what has been referred to as the Alvin Curling affair. Perhaps it was the filibuster. I'm sure they contributed to his wish to go forward and bring these amendments to fruition.

Our House leader made a statement in the House where he said that he felt the standing orders struck a good balance between the rights of members to participate in a free, open and thorough debate on issues and legislation and the right of the House to make decisions in a timely manner.

Mr Gerretsen: You don't believe that, do you?

Mrs Ross: Yes, I do believe that. I think that what the amendments do is facilitate further debate in the House. They allow backbenchers more opportunity and more participation in legislation. I think they give us much more opportunity to speak and bring forward issues as we hear them.

I have never been able to understand how a member, especially of the opposition, can get up and talk for 90 minutes. When I look through Hansard and I review comments that members have made over a 90-minute time frame --

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): And say nothing.

Mrs Ross: They sometimes say nothing, but sometimes they say the same thing several times, over and over again, because you tend to run out of things to say after some time.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, come on. We never said that about the target.

Mrs Ross: No, you didn't say that.

I want to refer to some other comments that were made by the finance minister when he stated that the Prime Minister of Great Britain allows 20 minutes twice a week to answer questions. British Columbia has a 15-minute question period and Saskatchewan has a 20-minute question period. We have done nothing to change the hour of question period, so I think that's important to note.

The other thing to note is that one of the things the Liberal Party did, if members will remember, is that last week when the leader of the official opposition decided that he didn't want to participate in standing order changes, he up and walked out and left his standing orders with the Premier, and I think many of us will recall the opposition party walking out. I just want to read you a couple of quotes from an Ottawa Citizen editorial of today. It states, "It was a tantrum worthy of preschoolers in need of a nap and it demeaned the House." This article states that the proposed changes are in fact sensible and modest, and I agree with that. They are very sensible.

Some of the amendments -- the one to debate and vote on the budget I think is a very important one.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, that's a good one. We all agree on that.

Mrs Ross: We all agree on that. That's amazing. I hadn't heard that yet. I am pleased to hear that all the members agree.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Mrs Ross: That is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation that governments bring forward in this House, so I think it's important that we bring it forward and actually state that we will vote on the budget.

One of the other changes or amendments is to have private members' bills voted on. Currently 12 members in this House can vote down a private member's bill before it even gets printed, and I think that's pretty undemocratic. It's pretty silly and it doesn't allow a member to bring forward what he wants to bring forward on behalf of his constituents, so I think that's an important amendment to bring forward.

Having just taken part in a private member's bill on June 5, many of you will remember the Tartan Act, which was unanimously agreed on. I'm pretty proud of that piece of legislation. I'm looking forward to it coming forward. But again, we, even as government backbenchers, have to compete with government orders and opposition motions and that sort of thing, so a bill that was unanimously agreed to here on June 5 won't even be brought to the committee until late August. That's kind of a disappointment that it takes that long for a unanimously agreed-to bill to go through. I'm pleased to see that change is coming.

With respect to allowing more time in the House, I don't know how anybody could disagree with that. The amendments are stating that we would allow more than four and a half hours a day for us to sit in this House, so I don't see that that would be a problem. I certainly would have no problem with that, and I know none of the members in the government would have a problem with that.


Also, working for more than 25 weeks a year: I am taking two weeks off this year; I didn't take any last year. We all work throughout the year, but the amendments will allow us to bring forward more debate and allow the public out there to understand what's happening in the Legislature on a more frequent basis. I'm pleased to see that brought forward.

It's interesting when you hear the opposition rant and rave about the changes and how they dislike the changes and don't want to see them brought forward and there's no need for it, yet every government brings forward changes.

I just want to read some quotes. We've heard the opposition comment on the Premier and some of his comments, but in 1989 the Premier stated, "This Legislature has lagged behind, as we have in a number of other areas, and I hold this government accountable for not moving us ahead in a more timely fashion on these rule changes." That was when the Liberal government was in power.

Also, during that same time, David Cooke, the government House leader at the time, stated that they were proceeding with changes to standing orders because "They'll finally bring the Ontario Legislature in line with the other legislatures in Canada and the House of Commons." So here we are, trying to do much of what they professed to do.

In 1992 the NDP were in power and they brought some rule changes forward as well. I know the member for Cochrane South will remember when he said the changes would totally change the strategy of the opposition. The member for Riverdale even commented that the Alvin Curling affair was a strategy that the two opposition parties had worked out. Perhaps with amendments to the standing orders, they'll have to look at their strategy a little differently.

The member for Cochrane South might remember saying, "If you can't come to your point in 20 minutes, you have a real problem." I agree with that as well, because after 20 minutes you tend to ramble on and aren't quite sure what you're saying. The member for Cochrane South had a lot to say, believe me, when it came to rule changes, and he still does. He said, "The opposition parties are upset because they know that with the rule changes they are not going to be able to keep up with playing their games." The same holds true today. That was 1992. Nothing changes. The opposition still will have trouble playing their games.

One of the best quotes I've read throughout all this was the quote from the member for Renfrew North. I hold him in such high esteem. He's such a distinguished member; he speaks so eloquently and has so much knowledge that I always listen to what he has to say. What he had to say on July 25, 1989, was: "Government members always think the opposition is being really rude and obnoxious and not doing what an upright citizen should do. Opposition members think the government is really being pigheaded about all this and ramrodding something down the throats of everybody else." Again, nothing changes. Much is the same today as it was in 1989.

The member for Nepean, as I stated, has brought forward some amendments that will provide an opportunity for much more debate, much more democracy and an opportunity for backbenchers to bring forward their issues and their concerns. I also think some of the amendments the member -- I forget what riding he's from -- brought forward today, especially the one where -- in the first amendments brought forward, there was the time frame for debate, and when it went to the 10-minute time slots there were no what we call two-minute hits afterwards. The amendments today reinstated that two minutes to allow even more debate, even more democracy, even more opportunity for members to get involved in debate.

The member for Nepean deserves a lot of credit for working so hard to bring forward what I think are very fair changes to the rules of this House, and I very much support them.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate? Mr Sampson has moved amendments to the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

We have a request for a deferred division: "Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I request that the vote on Mr Sampson's amendments to government notice of motion number 43 be deferred until June 24, 1997, at 5:55 pm." The vote is accordingly deferred.

Orders of the day.

Mr Gerretsen: I move that we adjourn.

The Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands has moved adjournment of the House. Agreed?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

I need orders of the day, then.


The Speaker: No, the motion doesn't carry. Orders of the day.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I have no point of order. I need orders of the day.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): The 28th order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: There is no 28th order. Orders of the day.

Hon Mr Jackson: Mr Speaker, I call the 10th order.



Mr Gilchrist, on behalf of Mr Leach, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 98, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth / Projet de loi 98, Loi visant à promouvoir la création d'emplois et à accroître la responsabilité des municipalités tout en prévoyant le recouvrement des coûts d'aménagement liés à la croissance.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Unaccustomed as I am to these last-minute eventualities, I indeed appreciate the opportunity to speak to this important bill to remind the people across this province that one of our goals in terms of rebuilding the investment climate and the economy in the province was restoring some common sense to the taxation at all levels under our control -- and not just the income tax: I would remind people that we have cut taxes a total of 33 times since we were elected.

But we have also set upon the task of making sure our associates in governing this province, the municipalities, are equipped with the tools to make sure they do not restrain or restrict much-needed development and that they don't inappropriately use tools such as development charges as a means to offset their normal responsibilities of balancing the taxation load across all classes of taxpayers in the province and within individual municipalities.

You'll be familiar that surveys done at the time of our election showed that across the province, particularly down here in the GTA, there were communities where built into the cost of a single-family home were over $20,000 worth of taxes, fees and levies from the local municipalities. There's no doubt, when you look at starter prices in some of the parts of the GTA of only $120,000 to $140,000 for a new home, we're talking one sixth to one seventh of the value of a house going to --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I understand there's some interest in discussing some of the issues revolving around this place, I say to all members, but it's very important that we hear the member for Scarborough East. I would ask all members to take those discussions outside into the lobbies.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Speaker, because this is a very important bill and I appreciate your assistance in making sure all the members have an opportunity to be involved and to hear the presentations on third reading, the discussions we're going to have here.

As I was saying when you called the other members to order, one sixth to one seventh of the cost of some new homes in the GTA are the fees, the levies and the taxes they're assessed by municipalities. No one can suggest that is not a barrier to encouraging even more people to have the pride of owning a home, to encouraging even more people to leave the rental market, a market which in Toronto had seen vacancy rates drop as low as 0.8%. I am pleased to report that as a result of the dramatic increase in new home sales in Ontario, the dramatic increase in affordability of homes, the rate has now doubled in Toronto to 1.8%, and in some communities across southern Ontario the vacancy rate now exceeds 6%, in some cases even 8%.

We're now reaching the stage where there is a far more appropriate balance and it has become in many respects a renter's market. Their ability to ensure that the free market guarantees there are affordable apartments and, at the other end of the spectrum, the lower interest rates we're all paying as a result of the improvements to Canada's economy, in large measure due to the performance of the province of Ontario, and both due to the lower interest rates, lower development charges, lowered fees and levies from the provincial level -- all those things combined have resulted in an economic boom of which we have not seen the likes, certainly since 1985 in this province.

This bill is an important bill, but it is just a small part of our goal to rebuild the economy of this province. There is no doubt that within this, there were special provisions for small industrial expansions. You'll recall that in the past there was an incredible barrier. If someone wanted to bring more jobs and more investment to Ontario, particularly to the GTA communities, there was an extraordinary new charge, an extraordinary new levy in many of those communities if someone were to expand their business, even 10%, 15% or 20%.

But we've clarified those rules now and only a major expansion can prompt the community even to go back and reappraise whether there is a new impact on the services such as sewers and roads in a community. We've got to remind people that that's the underpinning of what development charges were proposed to be in the first place. They were a means of addressing the direct impact on hard costs within a community resulting from the building of a new home, a new factory, a new office building or what have you.

Surely it was never the goal of the original framers of the entire concept of development charges that if a factory expanded by only 10% or 20% as a means to incorporate new equipment or add a new facility or a new service to an existing business, that would be seen as a reason to go back and force that company to, in large measure, pay for an entire new road or build a new library or build a new city hall.

But unfortunately, under the framework of the existing law, many communities had that opportunity, and they took it. It is no small wonder that across southern Ontario we saw many industries respond to that economic pressure, that unfair taxation, by simply not expanding, by pulling back, by participating in a climate of pessimism which unfortunately beset this province certainly between the years 1990 and 1995.

But this bill helps remedy that. This bill is part of our goal of bringing back a spirit of optimism, enthusiasm and excitement to this province. This single bill will not accomplish those goals, but it is an important part of our rebuilding of the economic sector here in the province.

Part III of the bill deals with front-ending of agreements. Municipalities and other parties to the agreement provide for work to be done that relates to the provision of services. It can provide for some costs of development to be borne by persons who develop land in the future. But that's a very important difference from the existing statute, which quite frankly allows a municipality to assess a fee based upon a very speculative interpretation of what that land might be worth at some time in the future.

The goal in this bill was to clarify the relationship between municipalities and developers, and I believe this bill has accomplished that goal. In fact, what is most notable is that between now and the time the bill was introduced for first reading, a committee of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario met with the Urban Development Institute, representing the development side of our economy. At the start of their negotiations, as a result of their original appraisal of this bill, between the two sides they had a total of 23 concerns.

I think it is a remarkable accomplishment, and I express my gratitude on behalf of my colleagues, to AMO and to UDI for their good work, that with very little acrimony and with great alacrity, they resolved 20 of those 23 issues, and with the direct involvement of the minister latterly, those last three issues were resolved. I am very pleased to say that, if anything, the balance was tipped in favour of the municipalities, which have said to us that there are many other changes being proposed in the relationship between the province and the municipalities, and they were concerned about the total scope of those changes.

We have in large measure, I think, in their eyes, proven to them that we are very sensitive to their concerns, that we are responsive to their concerns and that where needs be, we will make sure the tools remain at their disposal to guarantee that absolutely all services that are necessary in a community will have the funding necessary.

We have a number of other sections in this bill. I would remind everyone that as with any fee any community could ever assess or propose to assess, we still provide for an opportunity for affected individuals to appeal those charges to the Ontario Municipal Board. We have guaranteed that that ability to have a complete hearing of all the issues goes beyond just your day at city hall in dealing with those worthy civil servants and politicians but extends to the Ontario Municipal Board if either side believes that a fair balance still has not been struck in whatever is originally proposed in the development charge fee schedule set out by any community.


I think it's very relevant to bring back to you some observations. I have been privileged these last few months to serve as the province's representative when the GTA mayors and chairs meet on a monthly basis, and I can tell you that my very first meeting with them occurred just prior to second reading of Bill 98, the Development Charges Act, and there was no doubt that as a group the mayors were filled with great scepticism that this bill would be resolved in a timely fashion and in a way that they would find favourable.

Just this past Friday was the most recent meeting of mayors and chairs. They had a final report from their two subcommittee members, and I would like to pay particular attention to and express my thanks to the work done by Mayor Ann Mulvale in Oakville and by Mayor Don Cousens, a former member of this Legislature who now serves as the mayor of Markham. They served as the subcommittee of the GTA mayors and chairs, and in their report on Friday, they were quite fulsome in their praise of the process. They expressed considerable appreciation and gratitude to Minister Leach for his personal involvement and, contrary to some of what you may hear in this chamber and outside this room from some of our critics, I think they genuinely appreciated that the process worked.

They genuinely appreciated that this government took the time to meet with them, with both sides, both the developers and the municipalities, and as a result of those meetings, as a result of the personal intervention of the minister and key staff members, we were able to cobble together a final draft of this bill which genuinely meets with the favour of all the GTA communities. At least if there were any with any lingering concerns, they did not express that at the mayors and chairs meeting, and I believe every one of the mayors was in attendance or had a representative from the community in their stead.

I think that really does go to show that the substance behind what our government is doing in terms of our efforts at economic renewal is very different from some of the rhetoric you hear. The bottom line is that we are very committed to working with our partners, in this case the municipalities and the developers, in making sure that no stone is left unturned as we move forward in our efforts to make sure that Ontario once again is the engine that pulls Confederation and that once again Ontario is the source of the economic growth and development on which the rest of this country has always traditionally relied. In that regard, I am sure that some of the enthusiasm is around Bill 98's adoption and the other pieces of legislation we brought in, such as the fair taxation reforms, which will for the first time in 50 years see a balance, a fairness brought back to property taxes across all of Ontario.

At the same time, we have brought in the 33 tax reductions. At the same time, we have eliminated over 1,500 regulations and fees, the red tape that was burdening all businesses and individuals in this province. At the same time, we are streamlining how our government does business and giving the tools to municipalities to streamline their operations. At the same time, we conducted the Who Does What initiative. Those discussions are still ongoing, but as you're well aware -- it's tied intimately to Bill 98 -- the issue of which level of government is best suited to both deliver a service and fund that service is rapidly reaching a conclusion.

We have responded favourably to a counterproposal that was delivered to us some months ago by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. With very minor exceptions, we accepted their proposal almost in total, and it is again an extraordinary illustration that when people are prepared to engage us in honest, honourable, productive and creative bargaining, between us we can reach resolutions that go far beyond the rhetoric, far beyond the doom-and-gloom sentiments, and actually deliver a quality legislative product that will guarantee that this province is once again the place to invest, the place to live, the place to raise a family, the place to stake one's future.

Directly or indirectly, again from Bill 98 and these other initiatives I've mentioned, we've seen the start of that significant reinvestment by businesses and by individuals. We have seen consumer spending increase. We have seen retail spending in particular at its highest level in seven years. We have seen housing starts increase in the GTA and many other communities across Ontario by over 50%. We have seen the creation of new full-time jobs reach astronomic levels -- in the last three months alone, 101,000 new full-time jobs -- and just two Fridays ago you'll recall that Nortel, down in Ottawa, the former Northern Telecom, announced the almost immediate creation of 5,000 more jobs -- quality jobs, high-tech jobs. We had to go back to the early 1960s to find the last time in Ontario that anyone had announced 5,000 jobs in one day, and nothing since the auto pact -- which quite frankly has led to the growth in our automotive sector that is clearly the underpinning of Ontario's economy today -- nothing that significant in the last 37 years has created that kind of development.

Bill 98 was an integral part of that decision, as every one of these businesses across Ontario, recognizing both the bill and its context within the Ontario budget -- you'll know that for the second year in a row we've brought in budgets and been able to report that as a result of the enthusiasm created by these other initiatives that are stimulating new economic growth in this province, we are ahead of our goals. We are $1.2 billion ahead of our own very, very aggressive proposals. That's due in no small measure to the fact that across Ontario, businesses recognize the Development Charges Act and similar pieces of legislation that affect municipalities have genuinely set this province on a very different course.

We could go through this clause by clause, and I know that many people who are watching here tonight would have an interest in our debating that sort of thing --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It appears that the member has a pager on his belt, and I understand that's against the rules.

The Speaker: I think we had this discussion surrounding computers and pagers and so on. It is out of order.


The Speaker: I guess it's not my job to find out if all pagers are turned on or off. I don't really want that job. The member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I thank you, Mr Speaker. I would certainly never presume to transgress on that or any other standing order in this House, particularly those that are about to be changed and approved.

The reality though is it isn't nearly as critical for us in this House and on television here to go through the clauses in detail, because one of the significant steps forward that our government has taken in terms of improving public access to the legislative process is that you'll find almost every bill that our government has promulgated in the last two years has been loaded on the Internet. Over and above your ability to get copies from the government bookstore or from members' offices -- I'm sure members of the opposition would be similarly willing to order copies of bills for their constituents -- we thought it was environmentally sensitive to cut the amount of paper we waste in printing bills that may or may not ever be ordered, and in fact it guaranteed far wider distribution of the information.

Surely with Bill 98 and all legislative initiatives such as this, nothing could be more important than to ensure that the people of this province know in detail the specifics of the legislation that our government is bringing forward. What we don't want is for people to have to make their decisions based on 20-second sound bites. What they shouldn't be making their decision on is the doom and gloom that comes from the members opposite, who have spent the last two years, with the exception of very minor technical and housekeeping bills that have come forward here, Bill 98 and others, they have spent 100% of their time suggesting that every single clause of every single bill was inappropriate, was ill considered, did not help us forward, did not improve on the status quo we inherited, did not serve the needs of the people of Ontario who on June 8, 1995, repudiated that status quo and said they wanted to set a new course, a course back to prosperity, a course back to a future for their children very different than the one they saw facing them, facing into the jaws of death between 1990 and 1995.


We've pulled back from the brink, and we are making sure that the people of this province have the opportunity, in an unvarnished, unfettered, uncensored, honest, open and fair method, to see what's actually in the legislation. They don't need union leaders telling them what it says. They don't even need us telling them what it says, because we might -- of course, I would not hold any truck or trade with that suggestion --

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Is there a quorum?

The Speaker: A quorum check, please.

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

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Speaker: Member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I agree with the member opposite about the trials and travails of midnight sittings. I notice there are only five members in the opposition. One must assume that the other 40 members are doing good works and may be out having a dinner break. Heaven knows that a sessional day that starts at 1:30 and goes till midnight -- I certainly hope their suggestion is that it is inappropriate for members to get an occasional few minutes out of this room.

But back to the bill at hand, Mr Speaker, and I'm sure you're looking forward to hearing even more about Bill 98 because it is an important bill that will have a very direct impact in your home community of Etobicoke, soon to be known as the city of Toronto.

Mr Speaker, I would remind you that in the course of the discussions, even at the very latter stages of the debate between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Urban Development Institute and the government, there were a number of provisions in the original bill that provided for a 10% contribution from municipalities for hard services and 30% towards the provision of soft services.

I think at the outset there was a very well reasoned case made that even if a new neighbourhood that is developed on the outskirts of an existing city causes the creation of new roads, and certainly the installation of new sewers and street lights, there are certain very specific hard services that go in there. It's more difficult to make a case that you need a new city hall, and it's more difficult to make a case that necessarily you need a brand-new library simply as a result of a development that goes on the edge of that existing city. Of course, if the development is large enough to justify a library on its own, that's a very different issue.

One of the concerns that developers had was that the municipalities so far have used development charges to fund in some cases quite luxurious city hall buildings, have used them to create new soft services, and quite frankly the location of some of those buildings has not been within the new developments from whence the development charges were derived but in fact were more centrally related.

Clearly, any reasonable person would understand that all the citizens of a city will wind up using that city hall, that all the citizens would have access to the library or to the new firehall, for example, or new police station. There's no doubt that it's far more difficult to make a correlation between a couple of new streets on the edge of an existing city and the need for any of those significant new soft services or in some cases even hard services.

Having said all of that, the municipalities had indicated they believed that it was very hard for them to quantify exactly what that tradeoff was; that it was very difficult for them to arrive at a formula they thought could be applied in a broad-brush method to ensure that the size of the development did not become something that involved a very complex formula or set of formulae; and that in fact it was very difficult to develop any kind of specific relationship.

I'm proud to say that, at the request of municipalities, every one of them, we have withdrawn both of those provisions from the bill. In fact, that was probably the -- not probably, it was very much the principal concern of the municipalities across Ontario, particularly here in the GTA. Taking those out allowed them to embrace the bill as fully as they have.

Over the next few years, there will no doubt be a need to continue to monitor this tax. All taxes are derived from the same taxpayer's pocket. For too many years all of us in politics have kidded ourselves that somehow if one level of government was to give a tax break, in this case, a reduction in development charges, it was appropriate for other levels, particularly the federal government, to increase their income tax or other fees and levies. We are very much committed that the reduction of development charges is not something that is just offset by other taxes. It will not be offset by other user fees. It will in fact be part of a new discipline, part of a new approach to dealing with the methodology and the financing of municipal services.

Many members in this House -- I know the member for Markham and my colleague from Oxford -- had very lengthy careers in the municipal sector. Their counsel and their guidance throughout this bill, as with all of the bills that come through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has been invaluable, and I wish to thank them, in particular Mr Hardeman, the member for Oxford, and my colleague who is also a parliamentary assistant at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, for their very deep insights into the relationship that our province has historically had with municipalities and how they saw our being able to improve that relationship with this bill and with its companion pieces of legislation.

There are any number of other issues, but in terms of the transition process, it is set out very clearly. We have allowed them 18 months, which again, without exception, every one of the municipalities agreed was a more than adequate period of time for them to go back and review their current development charges regime, go back and review the specific needs that the growing portions of their community face in terms of the implementation of new hard costs and soft costs and go back and factor this into the mix of the Who Does What changes, of the fair taxation, of the reforms to the farm tax rebate and woodlot rebates. All of those things have to be factored into the equation that municipalities will have to keep in mind in those 18 months.

Again, every one of those municipalities has come back and said that they believe that is enough time for them to do that appraisal and to make sure that there is a transition period that deals very fairly with the developers, who have invested their money in a piece of land. They only profit if Ontario profits. They only profit if a new building is built, which creates jobs in construction and which houses new people, whether it's an office building, whether it's a single family home or whether it's a factory.

There has to be a recognition that there must be fairness to the developers, to those people who have made that investment in the land which is going to be affected by these charges. The municipalities have, as I say, en masse indicated that 18 months will give them that opportunity and will give the developers the opportunity to ensure that their investment is protected and that the ultimate development of that land will be done in a cost-effective manner, recognizing the true impact that any new development will have on the community.

I would also like to point out some exclusions in the bill, again recognizing that this was something that involved considerable debate between the province and AMO. We had the opportunity to flesh this out in great detail and make sure that a broad-brush approach was not taken, that we were able to address this with a great degree of specificity, so some of the ineligible services they have agreed should be excluded from being covered by development charges include the provision of cultural and entertainment facilities.


For example, if someone were to construct a new O'Keefe Centre or even some of the smaller theatres and halls that have been built in communities such as my riding of Scarborough East, that would not be appropriate. It would also include museums, other theatres and art galleries, but it very specifically does not exclude public libraries. We recognize that is an integral part of both the education system in this province and the services municipalities traditionally provide from their property tax base.

It is critically important, we believe, to the future of this province, as we develop literacy rates and numeracy rates among our students that allow us to compete for jobs in the 21st century and at the same time ensure that people of all ages have access to informative and educational reading material, that the development charges continue to be available to fund those worthy causes.

Development charges cannot be used for the provision of tourism facilities, including convention centres. I'm sure everyone in this room is very familiar with the extraordinary expansion to the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre which is currently being undertaken. If my memory serves me correctly, a total of $170 million is being invested by the various levels of government in that expansion. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, or the minds of any of my colleagues or any of the politicians at any level of government that put that funding in -- our congratulations to all those who had that vision -- that the expansion will bring more tourists, will bring more business to Toronto. There will be spinoff benefits that are very significant.

Having said that, it is certainly not something that is in any way related to the construction of a new house in Scarborough or North York or Etobicoke. Clearly it would be inappropriate to in any way burden that community and those new homes with development charges to create a convention centre.

Over and above that, one could think of any number of other tourist facilities in municipalities across Ontario. In the great town of Kenora I know they've got a municipal marina, a tremendous opportunity to promote tourism within a community, but in no way could be seen to have a relationship in terms of its cost and its ongoing costs to the construction of a house somewhere in the periphery of Kenora.

The third exclusion is for the acquisition of land for parks. As you know, most communities already assess a separate levy against developers specifically for parkland and most developers are offered the opportunity to give cash grants in lieu of land or, again at their choice, to deed land itself.

In my riding of Scarborough East we have a group of developments under way that will total 1,600 homes. The contribution to Scarborough's park budget would allow Scarborough right now to acquire somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 to 22 acres of land at current market rates. Clearly there is not a need for development charges to top up that existing provision.

There is also in there, over and above the cost aspect, a recognition that if Scarborough, to use that example, were to create a new park, it would be to the benefit of every one of the 550,000 people living in Scarborough. Given that most of our parks are strategically situated on major roads, or in some cases on the waterfront, their appeal is even broader than the population of Scarborough. It crosses all the artificial political boundaries that currently exist within Metro Toronto, and in fact out into Durham and York and the other regions as well.

It also excludes the use of development charges to provide for a hospital. You will be aware that in this province we have increased the expenditures on health from $17.4 to $18.5 billion in our first two years of office. A significant portion of that money has been dedicated to the funding of hospitals. More than just the traditional, "Open another hospital because it's an election year," it is hand in hand with a very intensive appraisal of what services should be provided, at which hospital, and the service integration and distribution within and without the actual buildings that we know as hospitals. We have, on a city-by-city basis, recognized that in many cases there is a need for the provincial government to contribute funds for the redevelopment of hospitals.

If my memory services me correctly, Windsor was recently the beneficiary, I think it was of $48 million worth of grants to give them two absolutely world-class hospitals, replacing the three hospitals that currently exist and which are somewhat dated and in some cases inadequately equipped.

So we think it is inappropriate that hospitals be funded from development charges. We think it's more important that because this hospital is something that is used by all citizens in a community, other forms of payment be used to both create the hospital and cover the ongoing funding.

In the course of discussing this bill with AMO, we added another important exclusion and that was for the provision of waste management services. We have, in concert with the municipalities, convinced them that the provision of waste management is something that must be managed on a municipal-wide basis, that it would be totally inappropriate to fashion specific waste management services just to the new community, and that any municipality must approach the important issue of waste management and recycling with a view to a concerted effort and delivering the most efficient and effective means of disposing of that problem as possible.

We do not believe that to single out the new home or the new building that's being created is an appropriate way, to deal on a piecemeal basis with waste management. Instead there are any number of new technologies, any number of new options that are constantly being made available to municipalities across Ontario. We're confident that with the tools being provided to them in terms of the changes in the funding relationship, the changes in service delivery, the municipalities across this province, recognizing best practices, will find the waste management service that best suits the needs of their community, regardless of whether they are a village, a town, a city or a region.

We have excluded as a use of development charges the provision of headquarters for the general administration of municipalities and local boards -- phrased another way, city halls. There are any number of examples across Ontario and I don't want to single any one of them out because, while they may have at the time inflamed some sensibilities, the fact of the matter is the municipalities operated totally within the context of the existing bill and I don't think they should be unduly vilified for that.

Instead I think the public sentiments that rose up at the time of those funding decisions, which in large measure fell on deaf ears in the Legislature at the time, have been noted. The municipalities have recognized that city halls offer services that are to the benefit of every single citizen in a community, regardless of the size of that community, and it is extraordinarily inappropriate to ask for the funding to build a new city hall and place that on the backs of a relatively few developers who have come forward to create jobs, to create investment, to help stimulate our economy, to be part of that rebuilding. We don't think it's appropriate for someone to be able to get a new city hall on the backs of those people who are taking that risk, who are making that investment in Ontario.

Quite frankly, we have built in here the ability that other services that may come up in the future, as provided in the regulations and in concert with discussions with the association of Municipalities of Ontario, may or may not be covered by development charges in the future.

I guess some of the other important issues we'd like to deal with this evening are the methodology for determining development charges. Again we have, in concert with the municipalities, walked through this process in such detail and with such specificity that they will all be able to operate within the letter of the law, they will all be able to develop a framework of fees that is clear to the people who are making those investments, that is clear to other taxpayers in the community, that is clear to the civil service within the municipality, and that will certainly be clear to our staff in Municipal Affairs and Housing.


The methodology that was selected: First they must estimate the anticipated amount, type and location of development on which development charges can be imposed. They must then match that up with an appraisal of the increase in the need for service which is attributable to the anticipated development. That must be estimated for each service to which the development charge bylaw would apply.

The estimate may include an increase in need only if the council of the municipality has indicated that it intends to ensure that such an increase in need will be met. In other words, to simply say that the construction of your new shopping centre, the construction of your new housing subdivision, will put a new burden on our library system and the new people that will be moving into your subdivision will increase by 10% the expected demand on our libraries is fine, and that's an important step in the methodology, but there must be a concurrent commitment by the municipality to increase the library by that 10%. In other words, no municipality can use the excuse of increased demand to profit from the fees unless at the same time they absolutely make the commitment to turn those funds around and create those investments in improved services in the community, to create those investments in jobs, to create those investments in growth in Ontario.

The determination may or may not be governed by the regulations in here, but in any event, it must be stated. There must be a plan articulated to the developer that builds in a timetable outlining exactly when and where those new services will be provided.

The estimate must not include an increase that would result in a level of service increase to the point that exceeds the average level of service provided in that municipality over the 10-year period immediately proceeding the preparation of that estimate. This is critically important, because again it would be extraordinarily inappropriate -- but unfortunately it has occurred in the last decade -- given the time we have had to appraise this fee, given the effort that has been put into negotiating this bill, the negotiations between the municipalities, the province and the development industry, to exploit the ability to assess development charges to create a higher level of service than existed before the new development was created.

Let me give you an example again. If the per capita square footage of the library system in a community had been, just to pick a number, one square foot per capita, but the new development coming in is told that we will require you to make a contribution that will allow us to create a new library that will have five square feet per capita, clearly that is a very different standard than that to which the municipality has traditionally operated. Clearly it is exploiting the option of assessing this fee and clearly it is placing a burden on that developer that has not been placed on the existing taxpayers, that has not been placed on all the other people in that municipality who have been using those libraries for the 10-year period in question.

We think it is absolutely essential that the municipality have the ability to make sure the investment equals its traditional spending levels. We're not suggesting for one second that services be reduced as a result of new developments coming in; far from it. We are all municipal taxpayers as well. We are all users of municipal services, every one of us in this chamber, our families and our neighbours and friends. Every one of us recognizes the importance of municipal services, even more so once we are through the Who Does What initiative and we've rationalized which level of government delivers which service. Those that are funded provincially we will have absolute responsibility for. Those which are funded by municipalities clearly must have the tools at their disposal to maintain the service level.

Having said that, we don't think it's appropriate to stymie development, to stifle new growth, to stifle investment by providing a higher standard than has traditionally been met. Having said that, if a municipality wants to recognize that its traditional funding of all libraries has been inadequate, nothing in this bill prevents them from setting that higher standard, increasing the property tax appropriately on the existing portions of the municipality and concurrently applying those higher property taxes once people move into the new homes or the new shopping centre.

I'll pause to recognize the change in the Chair, and I certainly won't repeat myself because I know the members have been listening attentively throughout the first few minutes of this discussion, unless of course that is your wish, Mr Speaker.

Clearly issues such as this I think indicate the degree to which we have --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bill Murdoch): A point of order, member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Speaker, I was hoping you would check to see if we have a quorum this evening.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough East may continue.

Mr Gilchrist: It is extraordinarily inappropriate that the member for Windsor-Sandwich was not a product of our new reformed education system with numeracy skills that would allow her to add on her fingers and toes and realize that we had far more than the 20 members required to maintain a quorum. But we'll move along.


Mr Gilchrist: Couldn't figure out -- you had to take your shoes off first. Indeed.

Let me come back to the process, because I've spent some time talking about the protections that are being built in there that go both ways. They protect the existing taxpayers but also protect those that want to make that new investment.

Let me just continue on with some of the process. A development charge bylaw may only be passed within the one-year period following completion of that study I mentioned earlier. In other words, a municipality can't use five-year-old or 10-year-old, out-of-date information to determine the costing of a library service or fire services or police services or any of the other absolutely essential services they deliver. It must be done in a timely fashion. That's only common sense.

A one-year time frame allows them to undertake the normal process within a municipality without any undue haste, to ensure that there is public consultation. In fact we have built in an absolute requirement that this is not something that could be passed in camera or behind closed doors. They must hold at least one public meeting. They must give at least 20 days' notice of the meeting or meetings in the manner of persons or organizations prescribed, and that would certainly involve all the taxpayers in the community. They must ensure that the proposed bylaw and the background study are made available to the public at least two weeks prior to the meeting or, if there's more than one meeting, prior to the first meeting.

I think everyone would recognize that this ensures that every taxpayer -- every existing taxpayer as well as everyone who has an interest in a piece of vacant land or an old run-down property that they're hoping to redevelop or quite frankly just someone who has an interest in investing in a community but has not yet taken that first step of buying the land or the property -- will know that there is a proposal outstanding to put in place or to change the existing development bylaw.

They will also be guaranteed the opportunity to give their thoughts on that matter, to comment on the specifics of any proposed bylaw at a public meeting, and they will have full details provided to them in plenty of time for anyone to make an informed appraisal of that bylaw, compare it with the status quo, compare it with surrounding communities, to seek some guidance from their local MPP to assist in determining whether the proposed bylaw conforms with the spirit and the letter of this law and is providing necessary funding without extraordinary excesses over and above what will actually be required in the provision of any new hard or soft services.


Beyond that, the community, as individuals or in any group, may appeal the decision even after they have had that public hearing and the council goes back and in their wisdom amends or passes as originally proposed the development charge bylaw. Any person or organization may make an appeal --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wonder if the parliamentary assistant could advise the House whether this speech has been authorized by the minister, whether the minister has authorized this filibuster.

The Acting Speaker: You'd have to discuss that, but I don't think it's a point of order at this time. Thank you, though, member.

Mr Gilchrist: The witticisms of the member for Kingston and The Islands never cease to amaze me. We'll attribute it to the late hour.

If I may continue without such frivolous interruptions, it's extraordinarily important to note that even after that council passes that bylaw, there is nothing preventing any individual who disagrees with any or all of it to challenge that and to take it to the Ontario Municipal Board, by filing with the clerk of the municipality on or before the last day for appealing that bylaw a notice of the appeal setting out the objection to the bylaw and the reasons supporting that objection.

As you're well aware, the Ontario Municipal Board is a creation of this province that is uniquely charged with individuals with a great depth of experience in terms of planning matters who will be able to assess the merits of any appeal and will presumably in their wisdom rule accordingly. The Ontario Municipal Board may dismiss any appeal in whole or in part; it may order the council of a municipality to repeal or amend the bylaw in accordance with the board's order; or may itself repeal or amend the bylaw in such manner as the board may determine, and it may do that unilaterally.

Having said that, there are some limitations on the Ontario Municipal Board's power which I think are appropriate, recognizing that at the end of the day municipalities are responsible to all their taxpayers and are responsible for trying to seek balance between the competing interests of the existing residents and any new developers.

Some of the limitations on the power of the OMB are that they may not increase the amount of the development charge that will be payable in any particular case. I think that's a very important point to emphasize. They can go down, they can maintain it, if that is their considered opinion, but in no eventuality may they turn around and say, "As a result of your appeal, we're going to hit you even harder and we are going to allow that charge to be increased." I think that will ensure people approach appeals of these development charges with some comfort that they won't have double jeopardy.

They may not remove or reduce the scope of any exemption the municipality originally built into a development charge. In other words, if a development charge has exempted churches, for example, the OMB would not have the power to consider that exemption inappropriate. Those are things that the municipality, recognizing the responsibility it has to its taxpayers and the responsibility it has to fashion the shape of that community and its composition, will keep in mind when granting any exemptions. It is very important that the OMB not be allowed to override that local decision.

The OMB may also not change a provision for the phasing in of development charges in such a way as to make a charge or part of a charge payable earlier, again a very important point. As a result of appealing something, if you have taken a position that the council was perhaps somewhat excessive in the fee they've charged, if you think they may have used out-of-date data, if you think there are any number of issues which deserve further scrutiny and which you would therefore like reviewed by the OMB, it would be very disconcerting to someone to know that as a result of raising that concern with the OMB they might find themselves in the jackpot of actually accelerating the time at which they would have to pay a fee. The deadlines originally built into any charge the municipality might assess in a bylaw should be sacrosanct and cannot be moved up.

Similarly, they cannot change the date on which the bylaw will expire. In other words, if a municipality has said, perhaps tied into their every-five-years review of the official plan in that municipality, that it is appropriate coincidental to that to review every five years their development charges bylaw, clearly it should be left to the decision of the municipality to put in that sunset review, if I can use that phrase, and allow them the opportunity to bring back before their voters and before their taxpayers all the details of that development charge in such timely fashion as they themselves may deem appropriate.

Having said that, it's clear to most people that when you take those exclusions out of the mix, the things the OMB can rule on are the legitimacy, the validity of the information on which the municipalities have based their decision; they may rule on the pure math, the calculations that have been done; they may rule on the applicability of whether against a new service there would be a demonstrated impact; and that the municipality has provided the necessary assurances that once the fee is paid those dollars will be turned around and put into the creation or expansion of the relevant service.

All those things are very valid points for the OMB to consider. As we have heard in discussing any number of bills in this Legislature, there must be that opportunity for sober second thought. In this case there is no body in the province more ably equipped to deal with planning issues and issues involving municipal services than the Ontario Municipal Board.

Let's deal with some of the process if the OMB did decide there were reasons to critique the original development charge bylaw put forward by a municipality. I would point out that section 18 of the bill says, "If the Ontario Municipal Board repeals or amends a development charge bylaw or orders the council of a municipality to repeal or amend a development charge bylaw, the municipality shall refund, in the case of a repeal, any development charge paid under the bylaw" already. In other words, one need not be concerned that sometimes OMB hearings can take a number of months to schedule.

We would never counsel, nor I'm sure would the members opposite, that anyone fall into arrears in terms of their payment of any tax that is assessed by any level of government. Having said that, there is certainly nothing wrong, if you disagree with the fees, the taxes set whether by the province, the municipality or the federal government, with taking your appeal to the appropriate level. In the case of someone who has paid the original assessment and who has subsequently then proven, on review of the OMB, to have been correct in their assumption that the fee was wrong, they will be guaranteed that any charge they've already paid would be refunded.

If a municipality is required to make a refund, it shall do so within 30 days after the board's order, and, if the OMB orders the council to repeal or amend the bylaw, within 30 days after appeal or amendment by the council. The OMB can either do it directly and start the 30-day clock or, if it asks the municipality to undertake a repeal, 30 days from the date on which the municipality effects that change the refund would be payable.


You're also protected if you are someone caught in that situation, because the municipality shall pay interest on an amount it refunds at a rate not less than the prescribed minimum interest rate from the time the amount was paid to the municipality until the time it was refunded.

It's clearly appropriate, as we go through this bill, to remind you that all these sections of the bill were done in concert with representatives of an organization that represents almost every municipality in the province. In fact, when you overlay AMO with the GTA mayors and chairs, most of the larger municipalities that are not members of AMO are caught in that second group. It is really appropriate, we can't mention enough, that the bill we are bringing forward to you now on which we have moved third reading has met the test. It has met the standards set by the municipalities across this province. It has convinced them of the importance of working together in fashioning these legislative changes.

I must say, as we look at some of the other issues we face, whether it's the Tenant Protection Act or whether it's the WCB reform, we can only hope that others who come forward to the public hearings and who make their submissions, either orally or in writing, adopt the same positive and creative attitude of AMO and the GTA mayors and chairs and have as their goal genuine improvement in the legislation.

I hardly have to tell you that when bills are tabled for first reading and even after second reading, they are only drafts, they are only proposals, they are only the first kick at the cat, as it were. It is not only appropriate, it is expected that there would be any number of amendments to the bill. It is my experience, in the two years I've been privileged to serve in this House, that aside from the most routine or housekeeping bills that have come forward, every single piece of government legislation has seen amendments, in some cases totalling in the dozens and, in at least one case I can think of, over a hundred amendments. In some cases, those amendments arise without even public hearings; they arise from written submissions and comments people have made.

Bill 98 is very much a reflection of that process. It is very much a reflection of the fact that the bill was brought forward for first reading back on November 25, seven months ago. The municipalities have clearly had the time to do a thorough review and they have committed that review.

With that, as I'm having all sorts of notes handed to me here --

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): There's so much more to say.

Mr Gilchrist: There's so much more to say, to the member for Fort York, so much more. I know the member for Fort York gets frustrated when his House leader almost invariably takes the 90-minute leadoff speech, and of course the same is true in the Liberal ranks. There are very few opportunities for the member for Fort York to have full ability to express his point of view on Bill 98 or any other bill.

A quick review of Hansard tells us that day after day after day it's the same few members on the other side who ever get a chance to speak. I hope they approach Bill 98 in the context that on this bill and all other bills, they will have a greater opportunity to speak. More members will speak to bills; more bills will make it through this Legislature, particularly private member's bills and the budget bill.

With that, I know we've had an opportunity to give full debate during second reading. It has been my pleasure to remind people of the merits of Bill 98, the Development Charges Act, an important and integral part of our municipal reforms, an important part of our goal of rebuilding the economy of Ontario, an important part of turning around the affairs of this province so that once again we are second to none in North America as the place where people want to invest, create jobs and come to live.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I'm pleased to make a few comments on the member for Mississauga South's -- oh, Mississauga East.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): He's from Scarborough East.

Mr Crozier: Scarborough East? It's obvious he should get up and speak more, because I don't know where he's from.

In any event, I was listening. What interested me most is that the intent of this bill seems to be, in general terms, that municipalities can't be trusted. When I was mayor of Leamington we had development charges. We had to be able to justify those development charges, whether for hard services or soft services. For someone to then come to the point in provincial government where they're going to start to tell municipalities what they should do, what they can do best and what they can't do best, is rather strange to me. Municipalities, as far as I'm concerned, have a much better record than the provincial government.

The provincial government is now $100 million in debt and that's rising every day; it's going to be $120 million in debt before this government is through, and they've had to borrow every cent of it. Yet they're going to tell municipalities, "You don't know how to run your affairs." That rings strange to me, and therefore I consider everything this member has said this evening to be somehow not in favour of municipalities. I think the municipalities should take some offence at that, because they can run their affairs very much better than the provincial government has done in the past and plans to do in the immediate future.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It was an interesting hour and 10 minutes, to say the least. The member for Scarborough East, with very short notice at the beginning of this whole debate, scrambled around trying to find some notes to speak on this particular bill. I want to congratulate the member for Oxford for having given the member for Scarborough East so many good notes and such good understanding of and briefings on the bill. We tried to assist as best as we could. We called a couple of quorum calls to make sure the member for Oxford, the former parliamentary assistant, actually got a chance to give him notes. But, to his credit, the member for Scarborough East didn't do a bad job. He picked up on the cues and he took off on it pretty quickly. He wasn't too, too bad.

The other thing is that these guys sit there on the one hand and say: "We want to download everything on to municipal governments. They don't know how to make decisions. We're going to do it for them. They're wasting the taxpayers' money. They've got to be more accountable." On the other hand, it's a totally different position. They're coming from one side and going to the other on these issues. It tends to get a little confusing to people.

I would say in the 50 seconds I have left that it was an interesting point the member for Scarborough East made when he said, "We wouldn't want people making decisions in this House based on 20-second sound bites." The rule changes in this House will be equivalent to giving a 20-second sound bite to members having to make decisions on bills that are far more complex than the Development Charges Act. I would say to the member across the way, that is a good example of why we need to make sure we have ample time in the House to look at bills, both to criticize and to praise, to try to find better ways of building legislation, and yes, even more important, giving the media the opportunity to get the information so they can report to the people back home so that people can make better-informed decisions in the end.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Scarborough East on his fine explanation of the Development Charges Act, Bill 98.

First of all, I want to correct the record of the member for Cochrane South, his indication that I was the former PA to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Unless he knows something I don't know, I'm still there as of today.

I had the opportunity to sit through all the committee hearings on Bill 98, the Development Charges Act, and heard the concerns of the municipalities, the developers and the home buyers alike as to what they thought was wrong with the bill as it came forward from second reading to third reading.

The main item the municipalities were concerned with has been addressed ably by my colleague: the issue of copayments for municipalities, that they would have to pay the 10% reduction on the hard services and 30% on the soft services to the development industry and inadvertently to new home buyers. They had very grave concerns about that and that's why we changed the bill, amended it so there no longer would be that reduction. They now can do the development charges on the total cost of the hard services and they must give a reduction in the actual cost attributed to development charges on soft services.

There was also grave concern by the development industry and new home buyers as to the eligible services. There were a great number of services they did not deem should be eligible for development charges and, as my colleague mentioned, we have removed a number of those.

The Speaker: Thank you very much.

I want to caution the member for Fort York. I just mentioned earlier this evening that pagers are out of order.

Mr Bisson: Pages are always in order.

The Speaker: Not pages, pagers.

Mr Marchese: How would you know that?

The Speaker: I heard it. I'm getting annoyed at hearing pagers go off all the time.

Mr Marchese: Who is snitching on me over there?

The Speaker: Actually, there's no one snitching. I heard it. I tell you the member for Cochrane South didn't say anything to me.

Questions and comments?

Ms Castrilli: What to say about the tirade the member for Scarborough East has been on tonight? This sounds very much like more of Big Brother. Here's a government that thinks it can do it best for everybody. Whether it's injured workers, whether it's teachers, whether it's doctors, they're all within their sights, and now municipalities. It wasn't enough that they were downloading all kinds of things on to municipalities without any benefit to them. Now they are also going to tell them what they can do with development charges.

Let me tell the member for Scarborough East and members of this House that there are municipalities that are mature, local, autonomous governments that respond very well to the needs of the local communities and they need no assistance or dictates from the provincial government to be able to do their work well.

Let me just cite you the example of my own municipality, the city of North York, arguably one of the best-run cities in Ontario, if not Canada, a city that boasts some $2 million in reserve, a council that is very much in tune with what is going on with the local citizenry, a council that is universally applauded by the citizens for its commitment to the taxpayer and the taxpayer's dollar. It has not increased taxes for the last three years. They need no advice from this government as to how to conduct their own business.

I say to the government members and in particular to the member for Scarborough East, as well as to the members from North York right here: Take your hands out of the pockets of municipalities. That goes for the municipalities north of Toronto as well, just for the member across the way. Take your hands out of the pockets of municipalities. Allow local government to do its job. It's what you promised during the election. Keep one promise at least.

The Speaker: Response, the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I thank my colleagues on both sides of the House for their comments in response to our discussion of third reading of Bill 98.

Just a couple of very quick points. The member opposite from Cochrane South had used the term "downloading." Of course it isn't downloading; it's a wholesale restructuring of the relationship between the municipalities and the province. We are taking costs, we are transferring costs; there will be a tradeoff. At the end of the day there will be a new ability for both the province and the municipalities to recognize the needs within certain services and to address those needs, because they'll have exclusive and sole funding responsibility.

At the same time I think there's no doubt that the member opposite will recall his own comments, when you were proposing rule changes in 1992, that if you can't make your point in 20 minutes, you shouldn't do it. Given that in the rule changes you're vilifying that we're going to give you 30 minutes, I hope you haven't changed the standard you took when you were in government.

To the member from the Liberal Party: I know you folks give a tremendous workout to your thesaurus over there. I hardly think it's a tirade to stand up here and defend the merits of a bill that has seen such full and honest and honourable debate involving all the stakeholders who will be affected by this bill, giving seven months to that debate and ensuring that at the end of that all the affected parties, all the major players, both the development industry and the municipalities, left that table prepared to agree that this bill best shapes the future for development charges. It is an improvement over the status quo. It focuses their efforts and their ability to assess this. I'm very confident they will continue to applaud the efforts of our government and that this bill will be an integral part in the rebuilding of our economy and our relationship.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerretsen: I seek unanimous consent to split the time with the member for Essex South.

The Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands is seeking unanimous consent to split the time with the member for Essex South. Is it agreed?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): No.

The Speaker: No.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm fully prepared to speak for the entire allotted time if need be. But I can't begin this discussion without reminding the member for Scarborough East that he has been the great defender of the new rules, which would limit debate to 40 minutes in a leadoff position. He spoke for at least 65 minutes on a bill that will make some substantial changes here in Ontario but it is certainly not the most drastic or the most comprehensive bill we've seen in this province.

When you compare it, for example, to a bill like Bill 26 that under the new rules could only be debated by the leadoff speaker for 40 minutes, when you compare that to the size of this bill, there really is no comparison. You may recall that bill dealt with about 15 different ministries. Here we're only dealing with one ministry. It is a significant bill but it doesn't have that many different concepts in it, yet this member spoke for a minimum of 65 minutes.

Quite frankly, we were not sure on this side of the House whether the member for Scarborough East had decided to filibuster his own government's bill. We were of the impression that he was because of the manner in which he went on, which we're not used to on the other side of the House. You know as well as I do that normally on the other side of the House, on the government side, speeches are prepared for the ministers and the backbenchers and they are to read from those speeches to make sure they don't deviate from the word as contained in the Common Sense Revolution. In any event, I think he has clearly indicated why the House rules should remain the way they are.

I wanted to split my leadoff time with another member so we could move the debate along in this House, so we could get an extra speaker on during my opening 90 minutes. But if the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation doesn't want that to happen, that's fine. I hope you will keep that in mind, in the event that there's a motion somewhere down the line for closure, that the government was given an opportunity to get two opposition speakers in the leadoff time and they refused to do that. I think somewhere along the line that should become relevant, because they didn't want that to happen.

Let's start off with this whole notion as to whether or not AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which represents pretty well every municipality in Ontario, is in favour of this bill. I heard the member for Scarborough East mention on at least a half-dozen occasions that they liked this bill. Nothing can be further from the truth. It may be true that the bill as amended is not as drastic or as severe as the one that was originally proposed in first reading and that the municipalities are saying, "Yes, we like this better than what was there before," but time after time this government has taken the position that because municipalities or any group of citizens say a particular bill isn't quite as bad now as it was before, therefore these groups are in favour of the bill. It just isn't so.


You may recall that when the original downloading bill came forward from the government, municipalities were going to spend an extra $1 billion in new costs transferred from the province to the municipalities. Then later on that was amended as a result of negotiations at AMO and as a result of the tremendous human outcry out there, and it was eventually reduced to something like $600 million.

The municipalities and AMO were saying, "Yes, we like this better than the original idea." The original idea would have downloaded the $1 billion worth of services and would have probably increased the taxes in most municipalities in Ontario anywhere from 10% to 20% as far as real estate taxes are concerned. Sure, now as the result of the new downloading arrangements, since you're only transferring about $600 million of that, the municipalities are saying, "We like this better than what we had before." But it doesn't mean they like the concept or the notion of the downloading at all. They don't.

It's exactly the same thing with respect to this bill. What really bothers me, and I suppose I've heard this argument from the provincial government for over the last 25 years, is that each new government that comes into office makes a major statement at the first meeting the minister goes to of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which once again will be holding its conference this year at the Royal York, some time near the end of August, where it's been holding its annual conference for 50 or 60 years. The minister goes there in a grand performance. He says to all the assembled delegates, "We really want the municipalities to be a true partner with the provincial government in the way we govern, in the way we look after the people of Ontario as far as services are concerned." Every government has said that, no matter of which stripe.

I've heard ministers say that from the former Conservative government, from the former Liberal government, from the former NDP government and from the present Reform government. I've heard exactly the same comment every time: "We want to be full partners. We won't do anything without telling you beforehand and without discussing it with you. We won't make any changes without getting you on side." Then they merrily go along and do their own thing. The member for Essex South made an excellent point here tonight when he said, "Basically, what this bill comes down to is that this government doesn't trust municipalities." It's as easy and as simple as that. It simply doesn't trust municipalities.

You talk to the average municipal councillor out there, regardless of political stripe, and ask them what their local officials have told them about what the effects of all these changes, including the changes in the Development Charges Act, are going to mean to their local municipalities. Without exception every one of the ones I've talked to -- they don't necessarily share my political philosophy -- has said exactly the same thing; that is, that they're downloading more and more costs and services and are in effect at the same time taking more and more responsibility away from municipalities.

I think it's very interesting for this member to say: "There has to be some order to development charges. Development charges are inhibiting growth and prosperity." He said that on a number of occasions in his speech. Let's take a look at the actual figures. These are the current development charges for new detached homes in 1996. This is taken from an article in the Toronto Star on November 27: Vaughan has development charges of $18,000 to $19,000; Richmond Hill $17,414; Markham $17,200; Aurora $16,728; Brampton $15,886. That is just taking the top five according to the Toronto Star survey.

Which municipalities are these municipalities in relation to all the other municipalities in Ontario? They just happen to be the five fastest-growing areas in Ontario, where most of the residential building is taking place. You can go on and on and you finally end up with East York, where there are no development charges. I know in my own municipality of Kingston, the city itself, there are no development charges. They are also the places where the least amount of residential development is taking place.

To talk about whether or not building is taking place, whether or not there's any relationship between that and the development charges that are being charged in those municipalities, is absolutely incorrect. I'm not for a moment saying these are the proper amounts that should or shouldn't be charged. The point is simply this: These charges have little to do with how quickly development has taken place in those particular areas. It obviously stands to reason that if you live in a municipality where subdivisions are being stamped out of the ground in a very quick, efficient and fast way, those are the areas as well where the municipalities need the most money to provide the services that people rely on.

When you take, on top of that, the well-known fact that basically your industrial and commercial assessment subsidizes the residential assessment in a municipality -- by that I mean that the commercial and industrial projects pay, as far as the services in a municipality are concerned, more than their fair share as far as the services they get back for the amount of money they pay, and single family homes or duplex homes don't really pay for the fair share of services they enjoy in municipalities. That's a known fact. That's a fact that the industrial and the commercial tax base supports the residential tax base in just about every municipality that certainly I'm aware of in this province.

Let's see what all these municipalities had to say when this bill was first introduced. I'm reading from the same article, the Toronto Star, November 27, 1996, which is headlined "Building Charges Revamp Fires Up Foes, Defenders."

"Plans by the province to revamp development charges for new construction were alternately called a much-needed boost for the building industry and a costly business killer in interviews...yesterday."

It says, for example, "Mayor Hazel McCallion said the changes will mean huge property tax increases and a halt to growth in the greater Toronto area."

She stated: "It is going to have a major financial impact on the municipalities -- on their capital budget -- and a major impact on property tax.

"It's going to hit all municipalities hard, but it's going to hit the GTA more than any other part of the province."

As matter of fact she called an emergency meeting of the GTA mayors and regional chairs to deal with the issue.

The minister predicted that home buyers will save an estimated 15% of the cost of a new house before the revisions to the legislation. All I can say to that is there's absolutely no proof of that. There's absolutely no proof that if the development charges had been less, the price of the homes that were being sold was going to be less as well. One would hope so, but there's no proof of that at all.

Alan Tonks, who at that time was the chair of Metro Toronto -- I'm not sure whether he still is in relation to the new position he has taken on with the province -- stated, "It will hit some municipalities hard because they have been depending so much on development charges."

Let's take a look at another article that was written about the same time, November 29, in the Globe and Mail, which is headlined "Ontario Fee-Cap Proposal Angers Municipalities."

"The Ontario government's proposal to cap the development fees municipalities can charge on new residential and industrial buildings has sparked a fierce response from some politicians in the suburban belt around Metro Toronto.

"Politicians in the booming suburban region, which formed the backbone of the electoral support for the Progressive Conservative government, are lashing back at Queen's Park for new legislation that would see municipalities picking up part of the tab for extending road, water and police services into new developments.

"Mississauga voted Wednesday to stop approvals of all building and development permits.

"`We can't afford to let development go ahead,' Mayor Hazel McCallion said yesterday. `...We don't wish to go into debt. We're managing our finances extremely well and we take exception to the interference [by the province] into the revenue of municipalities.'"


I could read on and on, but the bottom line is that when first reading of this bill was given, the municipalities were dead set against it, AMO was dead set against it. Later on, after I guess the minister listened to them, Mississauga agreed to lift the development freeze because he agreed to set up a new consultation process.

Here's an article in the Toronto Star of November 29. It says: "York Region Joins Protest of Building Charges: Province's Plan Means Cities Pay More for New Parks, Libraries."

To listen to the way the government talks about it, in the areas that are being exempted from the development charges under the new proposed law, it is almost as if municipalities were taking this money beforehand and weren't going to expend it. What that really tells me is that he had absolutely no trust or belief in municipalities. It may very well be that in a particular development, with the development charges a municipality might get, it simply doesn't have enough money to, let's say, build a library or a cultural facility which presumably is needed for those communities.

We all enjoy the benefits of these enterprises, and in the long run I suppose one could say whether it comes from development charges that come from a whole group of projects that pay for one of these new cultural facilities or whether it comes out of the general tax pot really doesn't matter because it all comes out of the municipal coffers and therefore all of the taxpayers in one way or another pay for it in any event.

But the bottom line is that in this whole debate this government doesn't trust municipalities as to what they are going to do or how they deal with developers. Wouldn't it be a lot better if you were in a true partnership situation where you would simply allow the municipalities and the development industry, after the appropriate public meetings, to determine for themselves what would be the appropriate level of development charges in that particular case?

I can assure you, if the development charges are too high, the developers are simply going to leave and go to another municipality and develop there. I find it interesting that here we have a government that states that it is very business-oriented, that it likes to look at the world from a businesslike view, from the view of supply and demand etc, that doesn't trust municipalities in the dealings municipalities have with developers in the same way.

If municipalities don't become competitive in new construction in the housing market, then the developers will go somewhere else where they will have a better competitive advantage in a situation where the development charges aren't as high. This notion that somehow municipalities look at this as a big cash cow and try to get every penny they can get from a developer is simply erroneous, because if it's too much, then they will leave and go elsewhere, will build somewhere else.

I can tell you, if that happens too often in a municipality, then the municipal councils will hear about that quickly enough from the current residents that don't see any development they can place in their municipality. I can assure you they will put enough pressure on that local council to change its policies.

Of course, the other issue that is closely tied into this -- and I know I keep coming back to this, but it needs to be said, because a lot of the people in Ontario still don't think that this is happening. I suppose a lot of people will not really find out the effects of this for maybe another year or so, or maybe another two years, when their property taxes are going up, and that deals with this whole question of downloading.

Consider that in addition to the fact that they will no longer be able to charge for the kinds of items they were able to before in the Development Charges Act -- in other words, they need to find money somewhere else to do the kinds of projects and activities and provide the kind of service municipalities are involved in -- they are also going to be subjected next year to picking up additional costs for social housing.

The social housing amount in Ontario that will be turned over to the municipalities is $890 million, and this is for all the non-profit, all the co-op housing that exists in this province, all the public housing that is owned by the Ontario Housing Corp. These units will be turned over to the municipalities. The individual contracts that exist between the individual non-profit and co-op groups and the province will be turned over to the municipalities and those municipalities will now have to start paying the annual subsidies.

That is a huge cost. It's my understanding, as I mentioned last week, that for the first year the provincial government, through the Ministry of Housing, will still be managing that process and will be sending municipalities the bill for the subsidy dollars. I can tell you in many municipalities the municipal councils and local taxpayers will have to start paying on contracts and subsidy dollars that exist between the non-profit groups and municipalities in situations where the municipalities have never been involved before.

These are contracts that were signed between the province and the non-profit groups, without any municipal input whatsoever. Municipalities are simply going to be handed that bill and they're going to pay it whether they like it or not. Quite frankly, I think that is a totally unfair situation.

The other one of course that has a much greater impact on the rural municipalities deals with the $170 million, I believe it is, that will be transferred with respect to the farm rebate program. What's interesting about this is this used to be money that flowed directly from the provincial government back to the rural property owners. The local municipalities had nothing to do with this. They got their taxes in the normal way, and whatever rebate went back to the farms came through the province.

Now the local municipalities will have to pay for that, and particularly those municipalities, Mr Speaker, that are small and rural in nature. You and I know -- if your part of the province is anything like my part in eastern Ontario -- that the smaller municipalities, the more rural municipalities, simply do not have the tax base to be able to make these kinds of farm rebate payments to the local farmers, to the local farm properties.

I can tell you that this is going to be a major problem. In talking to some of the reeves of the county of Frontenac just in the past week and a half or so, they have been astounded by the amount of money they're looking for in their particular municipalities. I don't think people have been focusing on that before, and of course why they wouldn't have is that money used to come from the province before and it no longer does.

The other downloading of course is in the community public health area. It's kind of interesting that health in general has always been regarded as being the central provincial issue. It's the area where we spend the most money. I think right now over one third of the entire outlay of provincial funds is being paid out in the health area.

All of a sudden, out of the clear blue, community public health, which was taken over by the province some 25 years ago with the establishment of the health units all across the province, which was an attempt to bring some uniformity to make sure that each part of Ontario had the same kind of public health services and facilities available for its citizens, because there used to be back in the 1960s quite a disparity between the public health services that may have been available in one municipality over another municipality -- for some reason, this is the one health expenditure that from now on will have to be paid for at the local levels.


I can tell you that whether you look at it from the municipal viewpoint, which will have to be the payor to the health units, or whether you look at it from the health units themselves, it's a major problem. Most health units in this province I suppose are made up of representatives of probably -- I'm thinking of my part of the province -- anywhere from about 25 to 30 municipalities. Most of that money right now comes from the province. There is a local component to it as well, but it's a very small amount.

For those health units to determine exactly how much they get from each municipality and then to force each municipality to pay that, and to have the ability to force them to pay that when there is no reciprocity as such, has caused a great amount of concern within the public health community and the health units of this province. They would much prefer to be a provincial agency if for no other reason than just the funding aspect of it alone. That's not the only reason why they should be handled by the province; it makes sense that they should be handled by the province. Every other health care service is provided by the province. Why should community public health not be part of that?

I can also tell you that municipal councillors, being the hardworking and dedicated individuals they are, are always going to be under pressure when it comes to choosing between either providing a hard service or a soft service. They're always going to be under pressure to provide the hard services rather than the so-called soft services, and there will be a tendency when the squeeze comes on the tax dollars to try to whittle down the public health areas, or at least the soft service areas, and not the hard service areas.

I was astounded to learn today in another area --

Mr Crozier: Absolutely astounded.

Mr Gerretsen: This was really astounding -- in dealing with the Ministry of Transportation today, to find out that in eastern Ontario, in an area where I happen to live, in the area of Kingston, Belleville, Brockville and Smiths Falls, after January 1, 1998, there will only be three highways that will still be owned and operated by the province. Those are Highway 401, Highway 33, Highway 15, and I think Highway 62, which runs north of Belleville into Bancroft. Every other highway -- Highway 41, for example, which runs from Napanee to Pembroke over an area of probably close to 200 miles, or Highway 38, which runs from Kingston to at least Bancroft --

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): Development charges, John. Get back on development charges.

Mr Gerretsen: Yes, I am talking about development charges, because you are no longer, as a result of these changes, allowing municipalities to set their own agenda and to determine where they can get the money from to run their municipalities and provide the necessary services. That is what it's all about. On the one hand you're saying here you've got to look after all these services -- and I could and probably will mention a few others, because I'm sure the people are interested in that -- and on the other hand you're saying in the development charges area, "Municipalities, you can no longer charge what you think new development should be paying to finance a development."

Mr Marchese: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe there's quorum. Could you check, please?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Fort York, are you in your proper seat?

Mr Marchese: This is Fort York, right here, Speaker. I know you're giving them an opportunity to come in. That's okay, but you know, you could --

The Acting Speaker: I'm not giving them an opportunity to come in. I want to know --

Mr Marchese: Speaker, I'm in my proper seat and I ask you to check for quorum.

The Acting Speaker: I will. Would you check if there's a quorum.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that at this time of the night it may be hard to count properly to see how many people are here, but I see the 20 members here and they're all very much interested in entering this debate at the appropriate time.

What's interesting is that you would think that since the province has downloaded all these provincial highways on to the local municipalities, maybe the province would just take that step it was contemplating doing at one time in Bill 26, and that is to give municipalities some other taxing powers. Maybe municipalities should have a portion of the gasoline tax.

Mr Hardeman: It's not in the bill.

Mr Gerretsen: He's saying it's not in the bill, but this parliamentary assistant, who is the real parliamentary assistant -- I've got a great regard for Mr Hardeman. I served with him at AMO for a number of years and he's an ardent voice particularly for the rural municipalities. I know he's very dedicated and he's very well-meaning. If he were able to speak his own mind, I'm sure he finds it very difficult to have to endorse and to have to speak in public in favour of a lot of the principles that are coming out of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I cannot believe that anybody who has spent as many years at the local level could possibly agree with the notion that the province is trying to take powers away from the local municipality, and that's what these development charges are doing. That's what's happening, Ernie.

I can remember Ernie Hardeman quite well when he was a true spokesman for the local municipalities. He said that the local municipalities should be getting more power, they should be masters in their own domain. It's unfortunate that he has to play the role he has now. He's shaking his head and I understand how he feels. I think he knows about that as well.

There are all these areas where more and more responsibility or, let's put it this way, maybe not responsibility but more and more payment areas are being downloaded to local municipalities. In areas where municipalities have some say as a result of the Development Charges Act -- I think that was passed under a very enlightened Liberal government back in 1989 -- those powers are now being taken away to satisfy the development industry. That's really what it's about. The development industry obviously has gotten to this government and said: "We don't like paying for a lot of these items. We think municipalities are charging us too much etc. So, Mr Minister of Municipal Affairs and Reform government, would you please do something about it?" They did do something about it and they brought in this act.

What's interesting -- and I notice that the other parliamentary assistant, I guess he'd be the urban parliamentary assistant, talked about this a little bit earlier -- are the kinds of things municipalities cannot charge for. It's interesting to just go through that list. For those people who are following at home, it's subsection 2(4), and it specifically states --


Mr Gerretsen: There are two members laughing there, but I will tell you, some people are following this debate with great interest. Do you know who may be following this with great interest? Your own taxpayers and your own municipalities, because you see, if a municipality cannot charge as much as it could before in development charges, guess who's going to pay for those services? Your local taxpayers. That's what it's all about, because these are the items you're saying new development should no longer pay its fair share towards.


Let's go through this list. "A development charge bylaw may not impose development charges to pay for increased capital costs required because of increased needs." The section itself -- isn't this amazing? -- acknowledges the fact that there are increased needs. There are increased needs in a municipality for these services, but, "A development charge bylaw may not impose development charges to pay for increased capital costs required because of increased needs for any of the following...." There's even an acknowledgement there that these needs are there. That's the amazing thing.

"1. The provision of cultural or entertainment facilities, including museums, theatres and art galleries but not including public libraries."

Every time this section has come up, somebody on the government side has said, "Isn't it awful that through development charges a new development has to put in a share towards a museum or towards a theatre or an art gallery?" I can tell you, most small urban municipalities and most large urban municipalities have museums or an art gallery or a theatre. We have the Grand Theatre in Kingston, for example, which is open about 300 to 320 days per year and it has got sellout houses. I know the member for Frontenac-Addington has been there. That theatre was saved by the local municipality. They paid money to buy the theatre and they renovated it. The entire community, depending upon what your choice in cultural events is, can go and see opera there, can see plays there, can see country and western. You can see just about everything.

The point is, why should new development not pay its fair share towards that? What is wrong with that? Tell me what's wrong with that. What's wrong with saying, "There's a new development of 500 houses being built," let's say in a community of 20,000 houses, "and Mr Developer, since the people you're building for are going to enjoy some of these artistic facilities, we want X number of dollars from you"? There's nothing wrong with that. It's a facility that's there now. What is the difference if the municipality has to say, "We're not getting it from the developer, but we're going to borrow this in bonds," or whatever instruments they want to use, "to build one of these facilities"? The taxpayer is going to pay for it anyway. There is no difference.

The government member, the not-so-renowned parliamentary assistant for municipal affairs, in his filibuster here earlier today made it sound like these developers are paying for the entire museum or the entire theatre or what have you, which isn't true at all. They're only paying for their fair share.

I can't for the life of me understand what is wrong with a municipality deciding. You've got to start on the notion that the municipality decides what it wants to charge for. I can tell you, if that municipality is totally unreasonable, the developers will go elsewhere. They'll go to the next township. You don't trust local government, sir. That's what it basically boils down to.

Let's look at another exemption. This is the Development Charges Act I'm talking about. This is another thing they cannot charge for even though there's an increased need, as stated in the act, "The provision of tourism facilities, including convention centres." Just about every municipality of size has wanted to build some sort of tourist facility or convention centre, and many of them have built them over the years. Whether that money comes out of the public purse or whether it should be built privately is a matter we can discuss all day long and there could be different views on it. But if a municipality has decided to build that because it feels it's going to bring new business into the community, more dollars from the outside and therefore provide more jobs etc, what is wrong for a new development paying its fair share into that convention centre or into that tourist facility?

Why don't you leave it to the municipalities to determine whether it should or shouldn't happen? Why are you saying your so-called equal partner in this government partnership between municipalities and the province may not impose development charges even though there's an increased need?

The next one is, "The provision of a hospital as defined in the Public Hospitals Act." This is a very interesting one. We all know that over the last 20 or 30 years, most of the hospital funding has come from the province, and up until now anyway, we've had a pretty good health care system. What the government is currently doing with the restructuring, without setting in place in municipalities the community care services, is awful and it's very confusing to people, and I think that's greatly at risk. But let's admit that over the last 20 or 30 years most of the funding for our health care has been provided by the senior levels of government. I'll admit that. We also know that over the last five to 10 years many municipalities have been on fund-raising drives for major capital improvements in their hospitals.

In Kingston, for example, we had at one time a $10-million campaign. Maybe the member for Frontenac-Addington can help me out. About 10 or 15 years ago we had a major campaign for about $25 million or $30 million that all went into public hospitals, because the province said it couldn't pay for the kind of improvements we felt we needed and the system needed. That's what happened. They raised that money.

I can tell you something: That kind of need is going to be there more and more in the future. As the province cuts back more and more in health care funding, that municipality, to ensure it's going to have the kind of health care facilities it wants for its citizens, is going to require more and more public fund-raising. There's no question about it.

Why would you put into the development charges law the fact that you cannot get anything from the developer towards the provision of hospital funding, particularly, as I've indicated before, when there's an increased need there? Bill 98 states that if there's an increased need in these areas, you may not get any of the money through development charges.

It's interesting. I was reading a quote a little earlier, and if you give me half a minute or even less, I can give you the exact quote.

Mr Marchese: Take your time, John.

Mr Gerretsen: I don't want to take too much time, because I know that people are watching the news and various other things.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Is there a quorum?

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much. I was looking for this quote from the York County Hospital president, Dan Carriere. He called the government's plan "ludicrous," especially in high-growth areas. He says, "This leaves our community in a no-man's land." That's what he said.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): And that was before they cut the business occupancy tax.

Mr Gerretsen: That's right, the business occupancy tax. What are we talking about: $1.06 billion that's going to be taken away from municipalities? I don't even want to talk about that because I don't want to bring too much doom and gloom to the people of Ontario this evening. I'll tell you, the more you read about it, the more anxious you tend to get about matters like this.

Obviously, York is a growing area, and the president of the York County Hospital thinks the government's plan not to allow development charges for the hospital in a fast-growing area is absolutely ludicrous. "This leaves our community in a real no-man's land."

It isn't only the Association of Municipalities of Ontario that doesn't like this law. The Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario is also opposed to the legislation. I can't think of a group of people in the province of Ontario that is more non-partisan than the clerks and treasurers. Mr Speaker, I disagree with you. You are shaking your head; you're not sure about that. I can tell you, I've always found that the vast majority of the municipal employees who are employed throughout this province take their work in a very dedicated fashion. They want to serve their local councils to the best of their abilities and don't like to play politics. Maybe some local politics from time to time, but not this kind of politics.


They oppose this legislation for exactly the same reason: Why not leave well enough alone? Let the municipalities work it out with the developers. If they're being totally unreasonable, the development will go somewhere else.

I finally found that quote I was looking for earlier, and that is the minister's commitment to AMO. This is always a good one. He said: "We want to start a new partnership with the municipalities of Ontario. We want to be equal partners in the development of this province. You won't have to wait for the province to legislate every time you want to do something new." I'll get back to that in a minute. "This will give you flexibility to deal with a rapidly changing world, new developments and things you haven't even envisioned yet. Municipal authority to tax and make laws will be broadened."

Certainly those of us who have taken a close look at Bill 98 wouldn't think this is anywhere near the kind of equal partnership that everyone was hoping for. In an equal partnership, you don't tell one partner, particularly in the high-growth areas, particularly in those areas that have had rather high development charges, because there's an awful lot of development work going on -- you don't tell those municipalities, "You can no longer charge for that." You'd be much better off saying to those municipalities, "We trust municipalities to do the right thing." We all know this government doesn't do that, no question about it.

In the 43 minutes I've got left, I don't want to go through the formula that has to be followed to determine the actual development charges that may be imposed. I would just refer you, Mr Speaker, tonight as you go home, to pages 7 and 8, section 5 of the new act. This is going to take a mathematician to figure out, there are so many rules and regulations about how the charge is to be done and what you can charge for and what you can't, what you multiply by what and what you divide by what etc.

What kind of relationship is that with municipalities? Who came up with this? This is supposed to be the government that believed in fewer regulations. What happens? They come up with such a convoluted type of charge that I don't know who could possibly figure this out.

Mrs McLeod: That's what happens when you have it wrong in the first place.

Mr Gerretsen: Yes, they sure had it wrong the first time around. This government always seems to come out with a sledgehammer. It's kind of like when the Minister of Education -- I will always remember one of the very first quotes I heard about this cabinet and this government, on my way back to Toronto within the first three or four weeks after the election in June 1995, when the Minister of Education was going to create a crisis. "If we create a crisis and we create all sorts of havoc, somehow we'll get everybody in line."

This is exactly what has happened here. Every municipality in the province was either going to freeze development or they were dead set against it. Then we back off. Then we call AMO in. Then we say, "Well, now, isn't this wonderful?" Yes, it is wonderful in relation to what was originally proposed, but it would be more wonderful if you simply hadn't done anything and had left it the way it was.

The largest amount of development in this province was still taking place, ironically, in the five municipalities that had the highest development charges. If development charges are supposed to inhibit development, why is the opposite true? It's because development basically will go where people find the quality of life they're looking for and where the developers can still make a dollar and where the housing is still affordable for those people, or else they wouldn't be buying it in the first place.

But there are other areas where this same downloading is taking place, where municipalities are being asked to supply more and more money come January 1, 1998. Let me raise another area, which is very close to my heart, the ferry subsidies of $15 million. I've got three islands in my riding, Amherst Island, Wolfe Island and Howe Island. Mr Vankoughnet, the member for Frontenac-Addington, is very familiar with it; he is already saying that in the next election I'll have two in that particular riding, and he, if he is the candidate there, will be looking after Amherst Island.

These are communities that have existed and have been developed with farms and with small communities for, I suppose, 150 to 200 years. There's a very great history attached to all these islands, there really is. On Amherst Island we have about 400 residents, on Howe Island maybe about 300 and on Wolfe Island about 1,200 to 1,300 people.

The province came along, Mr Speaker -- you'd have an interest in this -- about 30 or 35 years ago to these island communities and said, "We are a compassionate government." I think this was the government of John Robarts, maybe even before that: Leslie Frost. I'm not sure. "If you give up the ferry boats, we will supply the service from now on, but we also are going to do the hiring for those boats." I take it that at one time, operating the ferry boats was one of the main businesses on the island, going back and forth. That's exactly what happened in the case of Wolfe Island. MTO took over the boat, took over the ferry operation -- there are two highways on Wolfe Island -- and basically regarded the ferry as a sort of floating piece of highway between a highway on the mainland in Kingston, Highway 2, and the highway on Wolfe Island.

Wolfe Island has a tax base of about $300,000 to $400,000 and the ferry boat operation runs at a cost annually of about $2 million. Do you know what the province did about six months ago? Do you know what it said to these people, who had lived there for generations in some cases, who had operated their businesses there, who had farmed the lands? They said, "Come January 1, 1998, we're not going to pay for those ferries any more."

I remember the last election. I did not do well in the islands. I won less than a third of the votes on all these islands. Do you know why? I can remember my then leader, the member for Fort William, having quite a discussion about this when she came to Kingston on one of the campaign trips. I had heard that we had about 15 different funding systems for all these boats all across the province, all the way from where people were paying nothing to situations where some boats were operated by counties, some by the township, some by MTO etc; they all had different systems. I said, "We've got to rationalize this."

My opponent in that election took a totally different approach. She put a great big sign on the island as people came off the ferry, and the sign said -- I can still remember this, and I have the picture to prove it -- "Mike Harris and Sally Barnes will never charge ferry fees." After that, it was kind of difficult for me to go from islander to islander and say, "I'm the best candidate here." They'd say, "You may be, John, but we're never going to get charged ferry fees if we vote for the Tories." That's exactly what happened. Then do you know what happened? They voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Tories. I probably would have done so myself, heaven forbid, if somebody was going to guarantee me free ferry service.


You may recall that they had said to the Premier in the House here, "You said you'd never charge for the ferry service." Remember what he said that day? I can't remember it exactly, but it was something like, "We're not charging for the ferries; we're giving them the boat at the end of the year." That came as a result of the announcement that was made by the Minister of Transportation that they were no longer going to fund ferry subsidies, that they were local services.

I can understand a local service if you have a tax base of, let's say, $10 million and it costs a million dollars to operate the ferry, and yes, it could take a 10% tax increase to raise that money. But how are you going to do that in a situation where you're talking about a $2-million-a-year operation when you've only got a tax base of about $300,000? Those people would have to base their taxes on that island, Wolfe Island, eight times, I think on Howe Island it's something like six times and on Amherst Island it's about seven or eight times. As of today there has been no solution, and a lot of the people who have lived on those islands for generations -- these are not tourists, by the way, there are some tourists but the vast majority of these people live there year-round -- have been told: "Here is the boat at the end of the year. You look after it yourself." They simply will not have the ability to do that.

What bothers me about that more than anything else is that I was always under the impression and held the belief, and certainly all governments of Ontario up until now held the belief, that once you are in government, then you are there to govern all of the people of Ontario and you don't just say, whether it's 2,000 people or 20,000 people, "Well, I'm sorry, but we can no longer afford to have you here and we can no longer afford to pay for you."

What's next? Are we going to pick on isolated communities somewhere and tell them, "I'm sorry, but it costs too much money to run a road up to you"? Maybe I'm wrong. Yes, we are giving those roads away too, aren't we? That's the same thing, exactly the same thing. I almost forgot. It is being done to other communities as well.

It is the total unfairness of it all. I know there are people on the mainland in my riding that somehow take me to task and say, "John, why do you always talk about that?" I can tell you the reason I always talk about that is because it is so totally unfair. We have to recognize that when you're in government, regardless of which party is in government, you are there for all the people of Ontario.

That doesn't mean changes don't have to be made. I will admit that if I were not an islander and if I saw a boat that goes back and forth to the island and nothing was being charged, on the hour, every hour -- a person could very easily come to the conclusion, "My gosh, shouldn't somebody being paying something for that?" But you don't just unilaterally cut them off and say, "It's no longer our problem."

I see the smirks of people in the House and staff people etc, but just place yourselves in that position, and I think that is totally unconscionable. No matter what happens after the next election or whatever, I will always maintain that view because it is simply not acceptable.


Mr Gerretsen: That's another downloading, and it's only $15 million in the total scheme of things. I suppose it isn't all that much but it's affecting people directly. I think we owe people a little bit more than that. We can tell them, "Let's sit around the table and let's discuss a new deal, a new arrangement; the old deal may be too expensive for the system to maintain and we can no longer afford it," all sorts of things. But you don't just unilaterally cut them off as if they were no longer part of this province and in effect become a burden on the local taxpayer. As I mentioned before, the local taxpayer simply cannot afford it. So there's another case.

Let's take this one step further. In the meantime the Minister of Municipal Affairs started a restructuring program. The restructuring program includes, as the parliamentary assistant well knows, the addition of the townships of Kingston and Pittsburgh with the city of Kingston. Most people are quite satisfied with it. Some people are not. There are some people in the rural areas of Pittsburgh and Kingston township who feel they would be better off in a municipality that is not totally urban, and I can understand that and maybe other arrangements could have been made.

But what is very interesting is that in these restructuring agreements that were signed there was a specific clause put in that the Wolfe Island ferry operation would never become part of this restructured municipal government arrangement. This was done I believe about two or three weeks before another branch of the government, the Ministry of Transportation, decided to no longer fund the ferry situation.

If those islanders had been given a choice before final restructuring arrangements were made between joining a much larger tax base or being totally left on their own, as they are currently, there may have been a different solution. I don't know; I think it's a local solution and they should certainly resolve that locally.

But to allow that kind of situation to happen whereby these island communities are now on their own and they don't have any alternative -- as a matter of fact two of them, Howe and Wolfe islands, joined together, which to a certain extent makes the problem worse, because now you've got both islands with major ferry funding problems, with twice the problem that each one of them would have individually on its own. It is just another example of where the one hand of the government doesn't know what the other hand is doing. Certainly the Minister of Transportation should have been an integral part of the whole discussion with respect to restructuring.

We could talk about restructuring and some of its ramifications, but I can tell you that as of right now, in order to bring in a balanced budget next year, the new municipality of Kingston has to cut out $32 million of the expenditures the three municipalities have had this year to arrive at the same tax rate that all the municipalities had last year or this current year. In other words, they have to cut out $32 million worth of services to come to exactly the same place where they are today.

What does that tell you? It tells you that at the municipal level once again they have clearly established and determined, as a result of these various downloadings I've talked about, that it's going to cost more money to the local taxpayer.

I could tell you all these people are good acquaintances and good friends of mine, but they're not necessarily Liberals and they don't necessarily feed me these figures in order for me to dump on the government. I would think that if anything, they're probably more Conservative inclined. But let me tell you they are not enamoured of this current government, because they realize, as many, many other municipalities have realized, that all this downloading is going to mean one thing: that either those costs will have to be raised through increased taxation at the local level, or alternatively services will have to be cut.

We don't know which one of the two it's going to be. Local councillors know they cannot go to the people of their municipalities with a 10% or a 20% tax increase, so what's going to happen? The services are going to be cut.

That is the sad truth of it all, and we've already given the figure as to how it's affecting other municipalities. I guess the property taxpayers of Ontario will know next year at this time what has happened as a result of this downloading. They'll have a much better idea than they do tonight. They will know whether the services in their municipalities have been cut or whether taxes have increased.

What's really happening is that the province is forcing municipalities to do an awful lot of their dirty work by making the kinds of financial decisions they themselves didn't want to make or they have made with the notion of giving a tax cut of 30% to people, which you and I know is going to mean only about $245 for the person with an income of about $25,000, about $590 for an income of about $50,000 and about $2,500 for an income of $100,000. You can clearly see that the tax cut is going to benefit the people who are better off. More costs are going to have to be paid by the local municipalities, so property taxpayers, rich or poor, will be paying those additional costs.


Those are some of the things we're facing in this province. All these issues are directly or indirectly related to the Development Charges Act. They all affect a municipality's ability to run its business, to provide the best kind of service it wants to provide for its local residents.

I have a good feeling and a great regard for local municipal councils. I believe they are the level of government that is closest to the people. There is direct communication between the elected person and the residents. I think that's what helped to make this country great: the fact that you can live in a rural municipality and you know that your councillor or your reeve or your deputy reeve is no farther than one or two concession roads away. Of course that's all going to disappear in a lot of this restructuring.

This government somehow wants the people of Ontario to believe that the people who are really costing them money in the whole system are local politicians. You and I know that most local politicians, particularly those who are not involved with regional government, make very, very little dollars -- I don't know, $5,000, $10,000 at most. They certainly are not the cost of the system. They bring democratic accountability to the system; they bring the voice of the people to local decision-making. I dare say that a lot of people would say, including many people who serve in this House who have either served on local councils or school boards, that the kind of decision-making or how decisions are arrived at at the local level, in a non-partisan sort of way, may be a heck of a lot better than the way we're doing it here. That may just be the case.

I think, for example in what we talked about earlier tonight, that if there had been a real, true desire by the government to do something about the rule changes -- and I notice that the government House leader is here -- then he would have struck an all-parties committee with equal representation from each party and said: "Okay, let's go through the rules of this House, let's go through the standing orders right from beginning to end. How can we make the process more democratic? How can we actually improve on the way we do business in the House?" That I think would be to the benefit of all of us.

It was interesting that the members of the government side made it sound as if, "Well, the independent member has got more rights." Yes, he's got more rights; nobody said he shouldn't have those rights. Now we're going to vote on a budget. Well, I'm sure we'll all endorse that. Why wouldn't we vote on the budget? I'll be honest with you: I'm kind of surprised we don't vote on the budget. You certainly vote on a budget at every other level of government or organization that I'm aware of. So sure, we want to vote on the budget; that's fine.

The other interesting one is the private members' bills. I get a chuckle out of that one. Probably the members of the opposition would like more of their private members' bills to actually get to third reading. It's my understanding that usually government manoeuvring in committees etc does not allow opposition members' private bills to ever see the light of being approved by the House, but we would certainly endorse that. Something tells me that the reason most government private members' bills don't make it out of committee is that the government doesn't want it to happen.

I've seen some private government members' resolutions and private government bills come here and we voted on them and there wasn't a cabinet minister in the House. That tells me something. It tells me that yes, we've expressed the wishes of the backbench government members and the opposition, but the government doesn't want to take a position on that. I would ask the government backbenchers to maybe have a real discussion about why your own government House leader or your own cabinet does not want a lot of your own private members' bills to come before the House and be debated and given third reading, if appropriate. I think there may be a very interesting answer to that.

The government backbenchers may not like that particular answer because they may find out that some of their bills are in effect against government policy and that the cabinet would not like to see the policy changed. So we give a private member's bill an opportunity to see the light of day, whether in opposition or in government, we make a bit of a news headline out of and then we let in die on the order paper. I think that's the way the government wants it.

I want to get back to the Development Charges Act. With all due respect to my colleague from Essex South, I may have to ask him to speak on this some other day because I know that as a former mayor of Leamington, he too has many interesting observations about this bill.

Let us just review once again, dealing with the Development Charges Act, what the Who Does What panel that Mr Crombie chaired advocated to the minister in a letter dated November 8, 1996. He states:

"The subpanel believes that the range of services and associated capital costs that can be included under the act," that is, the existing Development Charges Act, "are reasonable and fair."

Isn't that interesting? This is a former mayor of Toronto, highly regarded by the general public and by your government. Your government made this man head of the Who Does What committee. He's highly regarded, no question about it. He knows what he's talking about. He has seen government both at the local level and at the federal level. Your government set up this commission to look at the Development Charges Act, among other things, and he states -- let's read it once again because we want to make sure you and the other members understand this as well as the people who may be watching:

"The subpanel believes that the range of services and associated capital costs that can be included under the act are reasonable and fair. It recognizes that a number of technical/administrative amendments are required to improve the operational aspects of the act."

None of the issues I've talked about, or indeed that the parliamentary assistant talked about, has anything to do with the administrative, operational aspects of the act. They all have to do with what can or cannot be charged for and how we arrive at those figures.

What does Crombie go on to say? He says:

"Furthermore, current legislation provides a satisfactory process to ensure that the development charges policy is applied in a fair and open fashion." The process applies for public meetings and appeals to the OMB.

He goes on to say:

"Development charges are a critical and essential municipal revenue source for financing growth-related capital infrastructure. Any amendments to the act to reduce the scope or permitted level of development charges will mean higher municipal taxes or user fees."

Let me repeat that for the member for Lambton there.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I'm listening.

Mr Gerretsen: I appreciate your being here at this hour and listening to this debate.

Any amendments to the current Development Charges Act "to reduce the scope or permitted level of development charges will mean higher municipal taxes or user fees." That's Crombie; that's what he's saying.


Mr Beaubien: He has been wrong before, though.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, he has been wrong before.

Interjection: Like the island ferry.

Mr Gerretsen: Yes, I must admit he was wrong on the ferry fee situation; he was certainly wrong on that. But he's talking about an act; he's not talking about particular money that goes to a particular municipality. He talks about it in general and he says you're wrong. He says, basically, as I indicated before, "Any amendments to the act to reduce the scope or permitted level of development charges will mean higher municipal taxes or user fees." It is also noted that "the permissive nature of the act does not obligate municipalities to impose a development charge."

Am I ever glad I read this, because the people out there may actually think that municipalities have to charge a development charge. They don't. It's permissive. This act is in effect tampering with the permissiveness municipalities currently have. If a municipality doesn't want to charge it -- as I said before, most urban municipalities that are developed don't charge it. I understand Cornwall doesn't charge it. I'm not sure whether Peterborough charges it.

Mr Beaubien: Petrolia doesn't charge it.

Mr Gilchrist: North York doesn't charge it.

Mr Gerretsen: Petrolia doesn't charge it. Kingston doesn't charge it. It's totally permissive. Why not leave it that way?

"For these reasons, the subpanel strongly recommends" -- not just recommends but strongly recommends -- "that municipalities should continue to decide on the level of development charges in accordance with the act."

What nobody on the government side has indicated yet is, with that kind of a recommendation, who is putting the pressure on to change the act. We've already determined it's not the clerks and treasurers, because they're against it. It's not AMO regardless of what the member across is saying. AMO basically is saying, "This deal is better than the original deal you gave us," but they'd prefer not to have them. It is not Mr Crombie. It is not the general taxpayer because the general taxpayer is going to have to pay more for a lot of these items because the municipalities can no longer charge development charges in certain areas.

Who is it, then? I can only come up with one group. I think the member for Lambton knows the answer: the developers. I went through the list before of what municipalities cannot charge for, and I just want to go through it again because I missed a few of them. Remember, "A development charge bylaw may not impose development charges to pay for increased capital costs required because of increased needs" -- so there's an acknowledgement in the act there's an increased need -- "for any of the following:" -- and remember, I talked about hospitals, acquisition of lands for parks, tourism facilities, cultural and entertainment facilities including museums, theatres etc. Then it goes on to say that it also cannot charge for "The provision of waste management services." It cannot charge for the provision of waste management services?

Mr Crozier: That is outrageous.

Mr Gerretsen: That is absolutely outrageous. I cannot think of an issue across the province -- oh, thank you very much. I will not say anything bad about your cultural facilities any more, because the Minister of Culture just passed me a glass of water. Thank you very much.

Anyway, the Development Charges Act says a bylaw cannot charge for "The provision of waste management services." There is no issue that is of greater concern to municipalities clear across this province than their waste management services. This has been an issue that has been ongoing for at least the last 10, 15 or 20 years, municipality after municipality. At one time, and I'm sure the parliamentary assistant will agree with me, I think there were something like 50 or 60 different studies going on in this province as to how municipalities or a group of municipalities could deal with waste management. None of them, as far as I know, came to satisfactory conclusions. Now we're saying, in one of the largest capital-requirement type of projects that municipalities get involved in, that development charges cannot be used so that a developer has to pay his fair share towards waste management services.

The members of the government will say, "Well, a developer shouldn't pay for a new sewage treatment plant." Nobody is suggesting that. All we're saying is, "Pay your fair share." Why shouldn't they pay, particularly when you consider that these are the major capital outlays required by municipalities?

The other interesting thing that happened just recently -- I think it's Bill 107 -- is that you have taken all the waste management and water facilities and you've now turned them, and all the debts attached thereto, over to municipalities.

I could go on and on because you talk about one thing and it leads you to something else. Why are you turning over all the water plants to the local municipalities? You'll say that 75% of them are already owned by the local municipalities. It's true. But the other 25% are in those small municipalities that simply did not have the financial capacity on their own to build the kind of facilities they have there. The province, the enlightened Conservative governments of the past, would come in and build these facilities and operate them for the local municipalities. That's how it used to be done.


Mr Gerretsen: Yes, and you're very fortunate if your municipality paid for your own; our municipality did too. But there are smaller municipalities. It's like the island ferry service. They couldn't afford them. Enlightened governments stepped in and said, "Yes, you people too are residents of this province and you are entitled to the same quality of services that other municipalities are getting." Now you're saying to those smaller municipalities that couldn't afford to build them in the first place, "Here are the plans, and by the way, look after the debenture and debt charges as well."

The other item that cannot be charged for is, "The provision of headquarters for the general administration of municipalities and local boards." With all due respect, we've heard this argument: "Some municipalities are building these outrageous municipal halls etc. Isn't it horrible? We've got to put a stop to it. Development charges shouldn't be paying for that." I'd like you to name me one. There may be one. There may be two. But I can tell you that local councils are accountable to their voters, to their electors. If the kind of municipal quarters they erect for the council itself are so outrageous, let the local people decide three years from now or two years from now whether or not they still want that local council in there as a result of the so-called outrageous decision they made.

To say in effect that a developer should not be paying, out of a particular development, the appropriate and fair development charges for this kind of facility, which are put in the pot with money from other developers so that at some point in time in the future you actually have enough money to build a facility such as a new city hall, why not? What is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.

Then of course there's the catch-all one. This catches everything. I cannot understand how these municipal politicians -- you've all been in municipal politics, you always had arguments with the province over one thing or another, particularly over those areas where the province could do something --

Mr Beaubien: You never had one.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, I had them too -- where the province in effect said, "Well, we can pass a regulation."

It says, "Other services prescribed in the regulations." In other words, "A development charge bylaw may not impose development charges to pay for increased capital costs required because of increased needs for...other services prescribed in the regulations." That could mean anything at all that happens in a municipality. Regulations which do not come to this House, which are not debated anywhere, which just go right out of the minister's office into the cabinet office, get signed and have the force of law, could include literally anything the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the equal partner with municipalities, decided on any given day municipalities should no longer charge for.

Why don't you at least do the honourable thing? Why don't you phone AMO tomorrow and tell them: "We're sorry, but we are no longer equal partners. We have the final say. You are still a creature of the province." At least do the honourable thing; tell the municipalities. Municipalities are just like people, they like honesty. Tell them exactly how you feel about these things. Don't tell them you're equal partners. For goodness' sake, we're less than two months away from another AMO convention. Mr Hardeman, I implore you, do not allow the minister to go down there and say: "We're equal partners. Isn't the world unfolding the way it should?" Do the honourable thing and say: "We've thought it all over. We can't trust you in everything. We are not equal partners. We have to tell you exactly what to do. We have to come up with formulas that three or four accountants couldn't understand." I would like the member for Lambton to give me a dissertation on exactly what clause 5 means, this funding formula for how you arrive at development charges. He couldn't do it. It clearly shows that municipalities, as far as this government is concerned, cannot be trusted.


There's another section in the act that's interesting, and I wonder if you could give me an answer to this one. Why, in your legislation, are you prohibiting development charges on industrial expansions that are less than 50% of the existing floor space? Give me an answer to that. I've got a 10,000-square-foot plant and I want to put a 4,500-square-foot addition to that. That is going to require more services, more sewer services, more water services, more parking, whatever. Why are you saying that municipalities, who should have ultimate control of what they charge for, cannot charge a development charge on that expansion?

Remember, development charges are permissive. Municipalities don't have to charge it. But you are denying that permissive legislation in this particular situation. In this section, you are saying that if you are developing your industrial plant by less than 50% of the current floor size, there are no development charges payable at all. Why?

Mr Crozier: Because the developers say so.

Mr Gerretsen: My friend from Essex South says it's because the developers say so. That's the conclusion I've come to as well, I must admit, because that's the only logical conclusion. We know it's not the clerks and treasurers. We know it's not AMO. We know it's not the general taxpayers. We know it's not the Crombie commission. We could just go on and on. It's none of those. It must be the developers, then. It's simply not fair.

In the last few minutes I have left -- and there's so much to say and so little time to say it in. I honestly think we should expand this. I thank the Minister of Culture for her glass of water. It's too bad you took some of the time away from my friend from Essex South. You don't have a problem with me, but you may have a problem with him, because he was prepared to speak --


Mr Gerretsen: Well, you were going to speak and then you weren't allowed to speak. That's too bad. That really is too bad.

Let me finish off by saying it is a total -- can you say "falsehood" in the House? You can't say "lie." You can say it's erroneous. It is totally erroneous to say this bill is endorsed by AMO. It's not true. AMO thinks this is a better deal than the original deal, but they would prefer that you just wouldn't pass anything like this. Crombie doesn't want to pass anything like this. None of the parties I've mentioned before want this passed. Why are you doing it? Why are you dumping and transferring all these costs to local municipalities?

We could be talking about the property assessment service because that's another matter being dumped on the local municipalities. If there's one group of government employees -- many of them are currently government employees -- who are totally befuddled because they don't know whether they're coming or going, it's the property assessors. You've contracted out a lot of these services in different areas to people who in some cases get one day of training, and they're now going to reassess our cities and our rural areas.

I'm sure you will have great faith in that, Mr Speaker. I wish them well. I'll tell you, once you have reassessment taking place, you can't win that one. The people whose taxes are going up will say, "You're the person who caused my taxes to go up." People whose taxes go down as the result of reassessment will say, "I always told you I paid too much." It's a no-win situation. Now you're having people do it who, with all due respect, may not be appropriately trained.

I say to both parliamentary assistants, since they're still here, do the right thing. Phone AMO and tell them, "You're not an equal partner." Also, withdraw this bill and let them decide the exact relationship they should have with developers and what they should and shouldn't charge for in their own individual municipal situation.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Marchese: I want to congratulate the member for having taken the whole time to give a great deal of detail to this bill. He needed that time, as I would have liked to have an hour and a half to speak to this bill, as opposed to the changes this government is making that will restrict us to a mere 40 minutes, which isn't ever sufficient time to deal with these kinds of bills.

I want to congratulate the member for Oxford and the member for Scarborough East. They're real soldiers at a time when the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs is beleaguered and tired and needs two parliamentary assistants to carry him through these two years that have been very difficult for this man. I praise them, because they are real troupers, those two, the member for Oxford and the member for Scarborough East.

But this particular bill is going to do very little for people, for communities and very little for homeowners. The government says they are going to get a good deal out of this, that it's going to make housing cheaper for a lot of people in those communities. I tell you it's not going to do any of that.

It's like the proposals Minister Leach made when he relaxed the basement drainage protection rules and eliminated full-height insulation requirements, which he said would save homeowners $1,000 to $3,000. The Canadian efficiency alliance did a study and said, "That isn't true." Homeowners didn't save a cent. But the minister said they were going to save up to $3,000, because the home builders and their developer friends, who met and lunched with the minister, said, "If you do this, homeowners will save a couple of thousand." They didn't.

They're not going to save with this new bill either, Mr Speaker. I think you know that. I know the member for Oxford and the member for Scarborough East know that as well. I praise the member for that full hour and a half he took to give the details of this bill.

Mr Hardeman: I too want to congratulate the member for Kingston and The Islands for his rendition of the Development Charges Act. I think he also pointed out the need for the rule changes and the fact that the 40 minutes would be quite sufficient for the leadoff speaker. If any member of the House or anyone watching was to check the Hansard, I think we would be rather surprised if there was anywhere near 40 minutes of discussion related to Bill 98. The member did quite a job of speaking to a number of issues, but he did not spend 40 minutes speaking to Bill 98.

Also, in his discussion I noticed he said developers should pay their fair share. I agree that developers should pay their fair share and they should put in the streets and roads that relate to putting in their subdivision. But we should remember that this bill and development charges do not apply to the developer but to the home buyers. It's very important to recognize that first-time home buyers would appreciate the ability to buy their first home. They do not need another $12,000 or $15,000 attached to that home for services they do not presently require nor may ever require in the future.

If they do, the ability of municipalities to tax for those services exists. They've done so in the past, and I see no reason why they would not continue to do that in the future.


The member spoke at quite a length about the involved process of setting development charges. I would point out there are only two minor changes in the process of deciding what development charges should be in a community. They relate to the length of time; they must put the price based on a 10-year average as opposed to a single high year for the development charges. Also, they are restricted --

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Crozier: There are few members of this Legislature who can speak with the experience of the member for Kingston and The Islands in regard to development charges as they relate to municipalities. I congratulate him tonight on his comments on this particular issue.

The fact has been alluded to that it took him an hour and a half, the full time he was allowed, and even then he was only able to cover part of what this really means to the municipalities in this province. I would have thought that the member for Scarborough East would set an example. If 40 minutes is all that's required in a leadoff, I would have thought the member for Scarborough East would have said all he had to say in 40 minutes. As I listened, he probably did say all he had to say in 40 minutes, but he just went on for another 20 minutes for our benefit, I'm sure.

What he did say this evening, I want to remind the municipalities in this province, is: "We don't trust you, municipalities, to set your own fees. We have trusted you in the past and you haven't done a good job, so we have to tell you what to do," Big Brother in Queen's Park, Big Brother in Toronto. Notwithstanding the fact that David Crombie said they needn't tinker with this, Big Brother in Toronto has to tell municipalities what to do. I agree with my colleague from Kingston and The Islands: If there ever was an instance where this government is unable to say to its municipalities, "We are partners," this is one of those instances where they are certainly not saying they're equal partners.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: I appreciate that, Speaker, but I'm quite prepared to make my questions and comments the next time the government House leader calls this bill for debate, if you will take note that I have the floor when this is called again.

Mr Marchese: And it will be called again.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands have two minutes to respond.

Mr Wildman: Wait a minute. I've got two minutes to respond. No, sir, you cannot do that. I want a ruling. It's beyond 12 of the clock.

The Acting Speaker: We'll finish the questions and comments. If you'd like to take your time, I'd like you to do it tonight. If not, you'll lose it.

Mr Wildman: Speaker, I did draw your attention to the clock. It is beyond 12 of the clock.

The Acting Speaker: Once we start the questions and comments, we'll finish them.

Mr Wildman: In that case, I defer to the member for Kingston and The Islands.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands has two minutes to respond.

Mr Gerretsen: I appreciate the confidence that all these members have in what was being said. What it basically boils down to is whether this government trusts municipalities. That's the bottom line. We know their actions have clearly indicated that's not the case. They don't trust municipalities. They set out formulas which are almost incomprehensible: Look at section 5. They tell municipalities the kind of items they cannot charge for when there's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be able to charge for them.

There's total inconsistency in saying development is hampered by the Development Charges Act when the statistics I gave you clearly indicate that the five municipalities with the largest development charges just happen to be the five areas that are growing the fastest in Ontario.

We know that AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, doesn't want this act. We know the clerks and treasurers don't want the act. We know that Crombie doesn't want any changes to the act. There's only one group that really wants the act, and that's the developers.

I think the Premier of this province should meet with the large urban mayor caucus of Ontario. It's my understanding that he's refused to do so. That doesn't sound to me like true partnership. If you are partners with somebody, surely you'd want to meet with your partners to discuss mutual areas of concern. He's refused to do so. Why does the Premier not want to meet with the large urban caucus of Ontario? Withdraw the bill, and then maybe municipalities can be equal partners with you.

The Acting Speaker: It being almost midnight, according to that fast clock up there, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 0007.