36th Parliament, 1st Session

L212b - Thu 26 Jun 1997 / Jeu 26 Jun 1997





Report continued from volume A.




Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move that, pursuant to standing order 46 and notwithstanding any other standing order, when the order of the day is called for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of amendments to the standing orders, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the motion and any amendments thereto, which questions shall be decided without further amendment or debate. If a recorded vote is requested, the division bells shall be limited to five minutes and no deferral of the division pursuant to standing order 28(g) shall be permitted.

We have been fortunate to have quite a long period of debate on the standing order procedures. I'm just trying to recall now -- there was a suspicion that the standing orders were introduced on election day, but in actual fact, my parliamentary assistant, John Baird, the member for Nepean, brought forward a report on that particular day. However, the government did take into account Mr Baird's suggestions with regard to the standing orders and --


Hon David Johnson: I really don't know what all the fuss is about.

Those suggestions were brought forward. The government has brought forward changes to the standing orders, as did the previous government. For some reason or another, we have a self-righteous group, who brought forward time allocation -- and it was all right for the previous government to bring forward standing order changes, all right for the previous government to bring in time allocation, but for some reason or other, this government, under different circumstances, is not permitted to do that. I'm sorry, I don't see the logic in that.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): We've got an agreement on a calendar motion.

Hon David Johnson: I might say that any agreements we've had have been honoured by this government, for sure. If there is any allegation that any agreements have not been honoured, I'd like to know the specifics of any --

Mr Wildman: The letter of the agreement has been.

Hon David Johnson: Absolutely. The letter and --

Mr Wildman: The letter, but not the spirit.

Hon David Johnson: No. I'm sorry, I'd have to dispute that.

We have had well over 30 hours of debate on the standing order procedures. This, I believe, is the fifth day of debate in a sense that we've had on the standing orders. The standing orders are important to us, and I'm going to state again the objectives of the standing orders because I think they're important. The people of Ontario are going to hear different objectives, have heard different objectives, but I can tell you what the objectives of the government are.

The objectives of the government are numerous. There's more than one. One of the objectives is certainly to involve more members of the Legislature in the debate. Some of the members opposite say, "Oh, sure," sort of thing, but today the lead speaker on an item has 90 minutes to speak to the issue and in the federal government 40 minutes.

I ask the members opposite and the people of Ontario, does it make sense to have 90 minutes as a lead speaker to an item? Most people would say no. If you can't say it in 30 or 40 minutes, what have you really got to say?

I can say that at the municipal level, the city of Metropolitan Toronto, for example, the speakers were allocated five minutes to speak on an issue, with a five-minute extension, for a total of 10 minutes. That may be a bit confining for this House, so I'm not suggesting that, but there is a major public corporation with elected representatives.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): They don't have the party system. They have independent members. Big difference.

Hon David Johnson: My friend from the Liberal back bench was there and he somehow managed to live within those rules and regulations, made an excellent contribution to the Metro council for many years and was restricted to speaking within the confines of five minutes plus five minutes, for 10 minutes in total, and yet we survived quite nicely.

What it meant, as Mr Colle will recall, was that many more members of the Metro council were involved in the debate. Of the 34 members of the Metro council, on a significant issue it was not unusual for at least 20 or two dozen members to be involved in the debate. Over half the members of the council would quite routinely get involved in the debate, because everybody had an opportunity and you didn't have one speaker dominating the floor for 90 minutes, taking up the large majority of the time.

In the case of the Legislature in fact three members can have 90 minutes each. Three members can dominate the entire debate and take up all that time, leaving very little time for the other members. That is an issue we intend to address through these rule changes.

Yes, there are more members of the federal House, but the fact remains that somehow there they are able to get by quite nicely with 40 minutes for a lead speaker, 20 minutes for subsequent speakers until five hours of debate has occurred, and then 10 minutes for each speaker beyond that. In that manner, many more people have the opportunity.

It's important that members of this House have the opportunity to speak, because each and every one of us represents a different constituency. Under the present system, a very few speakers are permitted to dominate the speaking, the contribution in this House, and that means many of our constituencies are not represented in the debate. I don't think that's right and the government doesn't think that's right.

We think that more members representing more constituencies should be given the opportunity to participate in the debate. I think it's a very valid argument. It certainly works very well at the municipal level and it works very well at the federal level. The question is, if it works very well in all those other governments, why can't it work well here? What is different about this Legislature than the municipal councils --


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order. Interjections and so on -- I understand that within the context of this there has to be some negotiation. I'll not allow that to be done across the floor.

Mr Wildman: There's no negotiation, Speaker. They brought it in as a motion.

The Acting Speaker: Order. If you would like to speak, I would ask you to do it in the time that's allotted to you. In the meantime, I am required to have attention in this House so that I can hear the speaker. Thank you.


Hon David Johnson: This has been before us now for I believe three weeks. We have had a number of days of debate on it. The member for Nepean introduced the matter through his own report a week before that. There has been considerable thought and comment on it. There have been reports in the media, editorials, some in support, some expressing concern.

There have been discussions between the House leaders. As a result of those discussions, Mr Sampson, the member for Mississauga West, has brought in amendments. The opposition parties have said that's not enough. We have dealt with another amendment from the third party. They've brought in another amendment. I can say that the government has attempted to react to some of the concerns the opposition parties have brought forward.

The main concern at the beginning, the first concern, was that the government, through the process of having evening sessions constituting a separate sessional day, as, I might say, they have in British Columbia, an extra sessional day -- again, this is not unique in Canada. The same sort of process takes place, with a bit of a variation, but there are two sessional days in British Columbia, as we're proposing, with the time being put in, 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening, three hours worth of time.

The concern was that the government, if it wished -- and I must say that neither of the governments that have been associated with the time allocation motion have used, as far as I know, the minimum amount of time. I don't believe the former government used the time allocation motion with the minimal amount of time, from second reading to third reading completion. That could involve as few as five days: three days of second reading debate, a fourth day for time allocation and the fifth day for the vote on the matter. So under the time allocation brought in by the previous government, it's possible to go from start of second reading to completion of third reading in five days. But I don't believe the former government rammed things through that quickly. I think they spread the time out. I think the former government spread the time out more. This government has certainly spread the time out more. We have not time-allocated strictly in a five-day period.

Nevertheless, the opposition parties have indicated that, technically, today it's possible to go through that process in five days. Under the procedures we have introduced, it would have been technically possible to reduce that by two days, to three days. Yes, that was true. It wasn't our intention to do that. We haven't taken advantage of that ability in the standing order procedures today. We didn't intend to do that in the procedures that we used. But we said, "Even though we don't intend to do that, to use that short period of time, we will make it abundantly clear that that cannot happen." So we brought in an amendment which would prohibit calling the same bill on the one day and thereby would ensure that the extended length of consideration for a bill was no shorter than it is today.

I think that's a good amendment. It's my strong belief that even with that, again, we will not use the minimum time. It is only to the advantage of a government to have debate over a period of time, to allow a bill to sink into the public consciousness, if you will, to get input through the public hearings process and to take advantage of that. We have done that.

I know the opposition parties don't like some of the legislation we've brought through, but I will say that over the past year we have generally agreed -- not always, but generally -- on the amount of committee public hearings time. There have been extensive public hearings which have been generally agreed by all three parties in terms of any number of bills: the Who Does What bills, for example, the amount of travel time, the amount of committee time in Metropolitan Toronto. There hasn't been agreement on each and every bill, but I would say on the majority of the bills there has been agreement on the public hearings. In fact, we've logged the hours of public hearings that we had in 1996, and they exceed the number of hours of public hearings that we've been able to find over the last 10 years or so. We've had more public hearings, that I've been able to determine, than either of the previous two governments. So I think we've taken excellent advantage of that.

There are other amendments that we did bring forward to try to accommodate some of the concerns of the opposition members. I realize the opposition parties are still not satisfied, but at some point in time the government needs the ability to go forward. We have had extensive debate now, well over 30 hours of debate, I think, approaching 40 hours of debate on this matter. The matter has been before the House for some three weeks or so, introduced through a report from the member for Nepean even before that, in a sense, and I think the members have had good opportunity to participate.

I've also given my undertaking to the members of the other parties, through the House leaders, that over the course of the summer I'd be happy to get together with the other two House leaders to further discuss this matter and to see if we couldn't seek a resolution that would resolve some of the concerns the opposition members have or at least minimize some of the concerns they have. The undertaking is that if this motion is passed today, the actual vote on the standing order procedures wouldn't be until the House comes back in August, with 24 hours' notice to the opposition parties, after a summer recess period in which we would have the opportunity for further discussions. It's my hope in all of these matters that we can negotiate something that's acceptable to all parties. It's not always possible, but if we can do that, then I think that makes for a smoother running of the House.

Some of the other changes we feel are important involve the independent members of this House. At the present time, we do have one independent member. To some degree, the independent members do not have the same rights and privileges as other members of this House. For example, an independent member does not have a right to serve on a standing committee. This was studied back in 1992 under the former government. A report was brought forward, and we're proposing to introduce many of the rights which were reported on at that point in time through these House procedure changes. I think that's more democratic.

We are proposing that there actually be a vote on the budget. I think the general public would be greatly surprised to realize that over the last 10 years only in three years has there been a vote on the budget. I guess in one year there actually was no budget, so there was nothing to report on, but in seven of the last 10 years there has actually not been a vote on the budget in the province of Ontario. I think that would surprise and shock most of the people of the province. We are proposing, through the standing order procedures, that in fact we do have a vote on the budget, and the procedures we've brought forward would ensure that.

I think there are many good aspects to this process, to this motion that we're bringing forward, that all three parties would agree on.

I will limit my remarks today. I do note that somebody has given me a note saying that standing order changes have been addressed in the Canadian House of Commons on various dates over the past 20 or 30 years. In 1991, some changes were made involving debate for about 12 and a half hours. I think we have exceeded that by about three times the debate that they had in the House of Commons in 1991. I don't know how many hours of debate there were here in this House in 1992 when the standing order procedures were changed. I see some of the members opposite who were here at that point; perhaps they could advise me. I don't know, but I suspect it was not as long as the kind of debate we've had over the last three weeks.


In the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1992, there were 20 hours of debate to effect changes to the standing order procedures. Again we've exceeded that: almost double, I would say, by this point in time.

So we have put in a considerable amount of debate on this matter, much more so than many other jurisdictions. I think it's been useful. I don't begrudge the debating time. I do wish that we had been able to reach a closer agreement. Perhaps we'll do that over the summer months. I've indicated that my door is open, and let's talk. We'll be setting up meetings to try to effect a closer resolution, let's say, of our views on this matter.

At this time, I think I'll leave my comments at that. I know that many other members would wish to contribute to this debate as well.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on restricting the debate on the House rules. I think the public's eyes probably just glass over when they hear rule debates: "What in the world does that have to do with me and my life?" While we'll be here debating it, I think the public probably just wonders, "What are they spending their time on?"

I will just say to the public, this is all about giving Mike Harris a hammer to do exactly what he wants to do, and it's part of the theme. It's part of the theme of Mike Harris and his government. For the public I say once these House rules are passed, the government can ram its legislation through, and, in my opinion, in a quite undemocratic way.

Why are we all here? I hope we're all here and I think we all ran to serve the public. The public have a right to understand the legislation that is being proposed, have a right to comment on that legislation, have a right to have their input into that legislation, because we are doing it on their behalf.

Why in the world we would want to ram through things faster than the government has been moving is beyond me. I understand that Mike Harris may not like some of the opposition to his legislation. They want to have the tools to get this through a lot faster, but I don't think he has that right. I think the public have a right to input, to dialogue and discussion on legislation. We're in opposition. We are here to scrutinize what the government does, to point out the problems of the legislation and to try and improve it.

I will just use a few examples for the public because they probably say, "Well, you're just playing the role of opposition." I always say about Mike Harris's government: "Don't listen to what they say. Watch what they do." I'll give you a few examples.

Perhaps the first big example for us in the opposition was something called Bill 26, the omnibus bill. I remember -- this is typical of the way Mike Harris operates -- it was the day that a major economic statement was being prepared and presented. As a matter of fact, most of us, virtually all of us in the Legislature, were in something called a lockup. We were there being briefed on what was in the document. The government at 4 o'clock that day got up in the House to present that major statement, and sitting on our desks was this Bill 26 that became known as the bully bill, the omnibus bill. The government tried to ram that through with virtually no debate.

The reason I point that out is that one of the things in these rule changes takes away that right, that opportunity that we used to delay the passage of Bill 26. Why is that important? Bill 26 was a mess. It was a complete mess. I don't know how the government got it prepared, but it was a disaster. We, through some extraordinary actions here -- and I might say the public was mixed on that. I had phone calls saying: "What are you doing delaying this bill? We don't like the tactic you're using." But those people who objected to that tactic later phoned me and said, "You know, I didn't realize what was in that bill, and I'm glad you held it up."

If you'll remember, that bully bill went out to public hearings, which the government never wanted, around the province. The government itself was forced to bring in over 150 amendments to their own bill.

I say to the public, understand what the motive is for these rule changes. It is designed to allow Mike Harris to ram through his agenda and to take away any of the tools the opposition have to delay or to give a sober second thought. I would say on Bill 26 that all of the firefighters in this province, all of the health care workers, all of the public sector, all appreciated an opportunity for that bill to be changed and to be amended.

I might add that it was that bill that established the hospital restructuring commission and it was that bill, hastily put together -- the government, I gather, still doesn't understand how it should deal with the hospital restructuring commission because it was, as I say, rammed together.

The rules themselves, I was suspicious. On federal election day, many of the members of the Legislature were in their ridings. I'm always cautious on a day when the media is diverted. That's when the government tries to do its less desirable work. Sure enough, 10 o'clock that morning, the government calls a press conference. They had a backbench member present them, but they were all rules that had been through the House leader's office and the Premier's office. They presented them as, "Here are some suggestions for improving the operation of the House." Clearly they were Mike Harris's rule changes to speed up the Legislature. It was no surprise to us, but the public should recognize it was no accident that that was presented federal election day when the government hoped they could get it shoved under the door with as little attention as possible.

I remember, by the way, that the government, through what's called the Who Does What work, planned to dump social assistance, child care and social housing on to the property taxpayer. David Crombie, the Who Does What panel head, the person handpicked by the Premier, along with the 14 other members of that Who Does What panel, was appalled by that. They said: "Al Leach is out of control here, dumping all of this on to property tax. We reject it. We think it is a ridiculous idea." What happened? Al Leach and his ministry scheduled a press conference for 3:30 on December 30. They sent Mr Crombie at 3:30 to a press conference, hoping no one would pay any attention.


The reason I raise those is that all three of those are symptomatic of the way we see Mike Harris and his government working and the reason why we feel so strongly about these rule changes. I say to the public, you will only appreciate how dangerous these rule changes are when the government puts through legislation that you find objectionable and you say to us in opposition: "Why did you let that go through? Why didn't you tell us about that? How could you possibly have seen that thing go through that fast and doing so much damage?"

I will say that when we get into debate on the labour legislation for many of the public servants and our teachers, there will be and there needs to be a sound debate on that, because the government is planning to take away fundamental rights from people. But they've now got the tools to ram that through. The public will say to us in opposition: "How could you let that happen? How could you not have alerted us to what the government was going to do to the people they serve?" We can never forget that that's why we're here. We aren't here to operate as a -- "dictatorship" is too strong a word, but as a government that can do whatever it wants.

Yes, they're elected and they've got an overwhelming majority. They do have a right to implement their agenda. But they don't have a right to ram it through. I say to the public, if you want to know what this is all about, it is giving bully tools to the government. I'll take the example of Bill 26, the omnibus bill, the bully bill: that thick, Mr Speaker, as you remember, profound changes in legislation. They were going to ram that through with virtually no debate. My colleague Alvin Curling refused to leave the House and forced the debate. I thought it was instructive that Premier Harris the other day said, "the despicable act of Alvin Curling." That was not a despicable act; it was an act of courage that forced the debate on Bill 26.


Mr Phillips: There we are. Now the public should hear. The Conservative members now who were forced to acknowledge that Bill 26 was a mistake, badly done, are now barracking because Alvin Curling forced the debate on it, forced the government to slow down, forced the government to have hearings. The government itself: 150 amendments. I would say, when we're speaking about Bill 26, the omnibus bill, that we've had in the last 24 hours a dramatic demonstration of the impact of rushing legislation through.

I just want to go over that, because today in the House, in my opinion, there were some quotes made from the Integrity Commissioner that were not accurate. The Minister of Municipal Affairs did not quote the Integrity Commissioner accurately. He needs to correct the record for the public watching this.

What is this all about? I'll go back to this Bill 26, the bully bill. It set up a hospital restructuring commission. We were told when we were in the debate on that bill: "This will be an independent, arm's-length agency. It will make all the decisions on hospital closings, and the cabinet will have no opportunity to influence its decisions." That's what we were told. Many of us in the opposition, both parties, warned the government. We said, "Listen, a hospital is perhaps the most important facility in many communities." Certainly I can guarantee you that if you or your loved one is ill, there is no more important building than the hospital. Nothing else matters but that facility and the care. Nothing. We've all been through that with loved ones.

We said: "Listen, these institutions belong to the public. They have a right to have a say in the operation of them. That's why they're there. That's why they're publicly funded. You can't turn that over to some arm's-length agency that is removed from the public. The public want a say in that finally. It may be difficult, it may be stressful, but they want a say in it."

But the government said: "No, we are removing the cabinet from this. The cabinet will have no influence on it." We argued against it. We said to the hospitals, "It may be neat and tidy, but it's not the way that the public want their business done." The public want somehow or other to have a say in those facilities. But no. The government said, "There will be an arm's-length agency set up."

We find out now that this was not the case, and this is what the problem is with Mr Leach. Minister Leach has sent a letter to the commission. It may have been supporting a worthy cause, and that is delaying the commission from its recommendations, and we may very well support the intent of the letter, but the fact is that for the people in my community who I've told, "Listen, the cabinet has no influence over them. The decision is final. We have been assured the cabinet won't have its fingers into it," now we find that Minister Leach did.

Then, in a very strongly worded report by the commissioner, he says, "...in the present situation is also a flagrant breach of parliamentary convention in that the HSRC was set up as an independent quasi-judicial tribunal to operate at arm's length from government," and that the minister's office should indicate that an intervention is not possible by any minister. It goes on to say, "I am satisfied that the Honourable Allan Leach contravened the Members' Integrity Act, 1994 by communicating...."

The public may say: "What's the big deal? So he wrote a letter to the commission on behalf of a local hospital." I'll say what the big deal is: He broke the act. You can't do that.

Then the minister said today in the Legislature that the Integrity Commissioner said, in his opinion, he shouldn't resign as minister. The Integrity Commissioner said no such thing. The Integrity Commissioner said that he has no authority to determine whether or not Mr Leach should stay in cabinet, and I was amazed today for the minister to, in my opinion, misquote the Integrity Commissioner.

The minister is here now. I asked him earlier if he would correct the record, and maybe he will later. This is the Integrity Commissioner: "Whether a member of the executive council remains in cabinet is not a matter for my office." That is not the Integrity Commissioner's business. Whether the member remains a member is, but not whether he remains in cabinet. "It would not be correct to draw any inference that my recommendation that no penalty be imposed has any relationship to a member's status as a member of the executive council."

Again, the reason I raise that is I go back to the public watching this debate, and I think the public would say: "Listen, we want our public institutions to function effectively. We want them to operate smoothly. We want them to be efficient." Be aware that we are dealing with a government that is on a mission. They're on a mission, as they just acknowledged.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): The Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Phillips: The Common Sense Revolution. Exactly. There it is. The mission means that anybody who gets in their way, too bad; we will run roughshod over you.

I had a local school principal -- and I'll just give you an example of why I feel so strongly -- who sent a letter out to her community indicating concerns about the implications of cutbacks. I read the letter. By the way, I'd never met the principal until after this incident. What happened? Mr Snobelen's political staff phoned that principal up and said: "Listen, you stop that. You stop that or, firstly, I'll report you to your superior officer and, secondly, I'll talk to a reporter in one of the local papers who will write a story about it."


Mr Klees: That's harassment.

Mr Phillips: Harassment. As a matter of fact, now that we're on the subject and now that Mr Klees has decided to get into this, the Integrity Commissioner was asked to look at another circumstance around Mr Leach.

The reason I raise all of this is because if you wonder why we in opposition feel so strongly about these rule changes, we have a belief about the way the government operates and we know that they are determined to have their way regardless. We happen to think democracy works a little differently.

But another example, Mr Leach himself: There was a legal suit, a legal action taken by a parents' group. There was a community school in Metropolitan Toronto and the community group felt they were not having input into the government's plans on education, so they engaged a lawyer to try and slow the process down and that lawyer began action against the government. What happened? Minister Leach didn't like that, so Minister Leach had his executive assistant phone the law firm and say to the partners, the senior people in that law firm: "What's going on here? Is this serious? Is this just a joke?" The long and the short of it was that the lawsuit stopped, the person involved in it left the firm and the matter then dropped. The point is that it was totally inappropriate for the government to use its clout to phone the law firm and, whether they realize it or not, and I have to believe they would, put pressure on them. That was the second instance with Mr Leach.

The Integrity Commissioner said this about Mr Leach having his executive assistant phone up: "The commissioner considered the fourth principle in the preamble to the integrity act: `Members are expected to act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest public scrutiny.'" Then he goes on to say, "In my opinion, such comments were inappropriate and do not reflect the proper appreciation of the preamble."

In other words, the Integrity Commissioner looked at the way Minister Leach handled this situation, where a community group had engaged a lawyer to attempt to slow the government down. What happens? The government gets senior people to phone the law firm, the partners, and say, "Are you serious about doing this?" The Integrity Commissioner said it was inappropriate, not consistent with the act.

Yesterday, in response to the minister sending a letter to the hospital restructuring commission, the Integrity Commissioner had to conclude: "I am satisfied that the Honourable Allan Leach contravened the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, by communicating with the chair of the Health Services Restructuring Commission."

I go back to why this is important. It's important because Ontario was told that the government was going to set up this hospital restructuring commission, that there would be no political interference, it was at arm's length, it would not have the cabinet putting pressure on it. I accepted that and I told people that. I didn't agree with it, but I accepted that.

What are we to say now? My community will say it sure looks like the cabinet that set up this body -- in fact there were three cabinet ministers writing to the commission, and Justice Evans said it was totally inappropriate. He went on to say the minister may have been -- I think he had some comments about the minister's background here. He said maybe it's excusable because in organizations like the TTC "it would be most unusual if top-level management people did not acquire an attitude that resents any limitations which they perceive as an unwarranted obstruction in the attainment of their particular goals." Fairly strong language, actually, what the Integrity Commissioner said: It would be sort of strange if top-level management like Mr Leach didn't get an attitude that resents any limitations which they perceive as an unwarranted obstruction in the attainment of their particular goals.

The fact is that the minister should never have written that letter. He played a major role in the legislation setting up the hospital restructuring commission. He writes the legislation, plays a big role in it, and then he breaks the law. People may say, "Why are you making a big deal about all of this?" It's all about trust in the hospital restructuring commission and its impartiality. I will just say that now, whether the commission likes it or not, its recommendations will have a taint because it has now become public that there are three examples of the cabinet interfering in it.

I was very surprised today to hear the minister saying that the commissioner said no penalties should be imposed. The commissioner was extremely clear. He said: "I'm not recommending that he lose his seat. I'm not recommending that there be a penalty imposed as a member, but I have no authority about how he deals with his cabinet role."

The reason I went through all of that is to point out to the public that this is the backdrop against which we evaluate the rule changes, and that backdrop is a history of, "If you get in our way, we have our ways of dealing with you." I go back to that school principal in my area, that community group that engaged the lawyer; Bill 26; the Who Does What group. An additional one is the whole issue of how the government is dealing with the Ipperwash situation. The reason I raise this is because it is a metaphor, in my opinion, for how the government deals with people who get in its way. I raise Ipperwash because it has become a symbol of the Harris government.

To refresh your memory, Mr Speaker, on Labour Day, September 4, 1995, about two years ago, after Ipperwash Provincial Park had closed -- that's traditionally the end of the camping season -- a group of first nations moved into Ipperwash Provincial Park. They went in there because they believed and had evidence that there was a sacred native burial ground there that was being desecrated and they went in to secure that. The government handling of that ultimately will be fully exposed once we have a public inquiry, but the following is clear.

That occupation took place on Labour Day in 1995 around 6 o'clock in the evening. The government began to hold high-level meetings immediately, and on September 5 there was an emergency planning for aboriginal issues interministerial committee meeting. The Premier's executive assistant was at that and someone from cabinet office, along with a series of other people, including one elected member who is the Legislature right now. Those meetings started on September 5; they ran for several hours. They met again on September 6 for several hours and then at about 11 o'clock on September 6 there was a confrontation between the OPP and the first nations, and a first nations called Dudley George died as a result of that.

The reason I raise all of this is that the way the government handled that is, as I say, perhaps a metaphor for the government. They decided to ignore the first nations claim that there was a burial ground there and simply say, "This is a group of people who are trespassing illegally." That was the first mistake. Had they treated it and dealt with it as a first nations issue it would have been handled very differently.


The second thing they did, and it's in these minutes, was that the government said, "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers ASAP." That decision taken by the government was the key decision, in my opinion, that led to the confrontation. They said, "The OPP will have the discretion as to how to remove" -- not whether; how to remove -- "the Stony Pointers from the park." The reason I'm spending time on this is because it is, as I say, a symbol of the government that we believe we are dealing with.

Throughout this period the local Conservative member was at the police command post on a regular basis, and as a matter of fact was very active in the circumstances. This is the headline from the day the shooting took place on September 6, and the headline says, "Queen's Park to Take a Hard Line Against Park Occupiers: Beaubien."

Here we have at a police command post, dealing with one of the toughest, most sensitive situations, an elected member of the government, on a regular basis. I think it's unacceptable. I can just imagine that if there was a confrontation -- let's take a labour dispute, where there's a confrontation between a corporation and striking employees of some sort. Would it ever be acceptable for an elected member to be at the police command post saying, "We're going to take a hard line with these people," or "I've been talking to the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and the Premier's office and I am faxing them my intentions"?

I see, Mr Speaker, you want me to move back on to the House rules, but the reason I raise the Ipperwash situation --


Mr Phillips: Mr Leach is sitting over there clapping, and the public will want to know that. Mr Leach clapping over there will want to know that they don't want to hear about Ipperwash.

Mr Klees: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't think it's appropriate for the honourable member to leave the impression with this House that it was Mr Leach who was clapping. It was not Mr Leach, and I think we should put that on the record.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): That's not a point of order.

Mr Phillips: I know the government doesn't want to hear about Ipperwash, but I will just say to you it will not go away. The Premier has said he has no records on Ipperwash, despite the fact that his executive assistant and communications person were at daily meetings, running often for three hours on the most serious situation facing the government. We had back from the Premier, "My staff kept no records, no files, no memo, no e-mail, no briefing note." That is for us too incredible to believe.

The reason I raised Ipperwash is for the public. I hope they appreciate that the reason we feel so strongly about these rules is that they give the government another tool to silence another form of opposition for them, in this case the opposition parties. I mentioned earlier how this is a typical tactic. The government planned to dump on to municipalities over $1 billion of added costs. As I said before, first the Who Does What panel tried to alert the public to what the government was doing. But the government set up the time for the press conference. When did they do it? December 30, 3:30 in the afternoon here at Queen's Park, in an attempt to silence the opposition and silence Mr Crombie.

Then the government introduced this downloading, this dumping, and tried to ram it through. We in the opposition said: "No, this is wrong. The Who Does What panel says it's wrong. You can't dump $1 billion of new costs on to municipalities, all social housing, social assistance, child care." The government said, "No, you're all wrong, opposition; It isn't $1 billion," etc. Fortunately the opposition, because we still had some ways to slow them down, forced some time on it and the government finally said: "We were wrong; you were right, opposition. It is $1 billion. We're now going to change our minds."

Do you remember at one time they were going to take all education off residential property tax? The government didn't have its numbers right. They found out they couldn't do it, and of course they finally backed down on it. But it was only because the opposition pointed it out that we travelled around the province -- we couldn't get the Conservatives to agree to it, but we travelled around the province -- in community after community, and every single community said, "This is a huge mistake."

Now the government has partially backed down. They are still adding $660 million on to property tax. Mr Klees is over there. I am anxiously awaiting a year from now, when the full impact of your dumping $660 million of costs on to property tax is felt.

I will say to the people, I remember well. This is why you're trying to ram through the Common Sense Revolution, but in the Common Sense Revolution you said you wouldn't hurt seniors. A majority of social housing, assisted housing that the province helps to fund, is for seniors. What's happening? A hundred per cent is being dumped on to the property tax.

Mr Klees says, "Oh, they won't be hurt." Seniors don't believe that and municipal leaders don't believe that. Municipal leaders say you're wrong, you've made a huge mistake here. But why is it happening? I'll tell you why it's happening, and we all know: The government has to fund its tax cut, so it's funding it by dumping on to municipalities. The government says it's going to dump $900 million of social housing on to the property tax. When the public recognize that, I think they will recognize the reason their property taxes are going up.

The province has decided it's going to solve its fiscal problems. It's going to find the money to fund the tax cut by dumping it on to property tax. I repeat: Without some techniques to slow the government down, they would run roughshod over the public. I've already mentioned the case of Bill 26, the omnibus bill. The only way we could slow them down, the only way -- we had run out of any other device -- was through the device Mr Curling used. The government doesn't like that.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): A shameful business.

Mr Phillips: Just so everybody knows, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale says it's shameful.

The government was going to ram that thing through and the only technique was that one.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Phillips: I think the public will appreciate what we're facing here: Some of the government members want to have that kind of hammer to ram things through. We don't think it's right. As someone once said -- I think it was my colleague Mr Wildman -- no one out there is saying the government is moving too slowly.

I go back to, had we not had some ways of slowing the government down, they would have dumped over $1 billion of new costs on to municipalities. As it is, they're still going to dump $660 million, but at least we were able to slow that down.

I want to talk a little bit about another matter, and that is the megacity. The reason I raise the megacity is that I remember the report that was prepared before the last provincial election by the Mike Harris Task Force on Metro. That's what it was called. I live in Metro. I watched this very carefully. I think I know the feelings of many people. I remember that task force report. By the way, one of the co-chairs was Al Leach. It said this: We will retain all six existing municipalities -- Scarborough, East York, North York, Etobicoke, York and the city of Toronto -- and we will get rid of Metro.

People in Scarborough bought that. They thought: "Gee, that's what Mike Harris believes. That's what we want." There are four members from Scarborough now.


I liked it partially because of that. I remember that well, because there was a debate around here about which level of government to get rid of and Mike was very clear on that. Lo and behold, in the middle of December, we find that Mike Harris changed his mind and was going to get rid of the six area municipalities and move to one Metro government.

The thing that I found objectionable is that he ran on one platform and he's doing exactly the opposite. I was surprised that this was the decision he took. I was surprised that he changed his mind and I was surprised that the government wanted to ram it through.

It was only through extraordinary action by the opposition that there was some semblance of debate on it and there was time for expression from the public. The public, of course, overwhelmingly said, "We don't like it," but the government ignored all that.

I raise that one because when the government decides to do exactly the opposite of what it said before the election -- it's bad enough to be ramming through legislation that goes in the same direction as the government was heading, but to go exactly the opposite and then want to put it through in a very short period, affecting the most successful urban area in North America, I just don't think is right.

First, I think the public understands clearly what this is all about. This is all about Mike Harris having the tools to run roughshod over the opposition. I repeat: It's a dangerous day when governments think that only they know best and all they need is the tools to get this stuff through in a hurry because the public finally will understand after the fact that the government knew best. I think the public knows best. I think it's the public who understand these things and I think the public has a right to input, debate and understand what their government is doing to them.

The reason the government is ramming its agenda through is because it does have to make its cuts to find the money for the tax cut. Come next Tuesday, I guess, another phase of the tax cut goes through and the average taxpayer will be getting about $1.44 more a week in income, a large or medium-sized coffee.

Mr Klees: You'd take it away.

Mr Phillips: The member says we'd take it away. I would just say this. First, I think the public understands that here in the Legislature we have a view and the government has a view and we get into it. But the three credit rating agencies that have commented on Ontario's finances -- and this is their business; they get paid to do this -- what do they say about the tax cut? All three of them have expressed reservations, saying --

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Tell us what we're borrowing at, Gerry.

Mr Phillips: The House whip has encouraged me to talk about how much we're borrowing, and I'll get to that.

All three credit rating agencies have looked at the finances of the government. I remember that Mike Harris used to rail at Bob Rae. He'd say: "Bob, your credit rating is totally unacceptable. You're losing the confidence of the world financial community."

What happened? We're now two years into the government's mandate. Moody's, Standard and Poor's, Dominion Bond Rating Service, three of the four largest credit rating agencies, have all looked at Mike Harris' finances and said, "We'll give you the same credit rating we gave Bob Rae," two years into your mandate.


Mr Phillips: I know the government members don't want to hear this. I always say to my business friends, "Don't assume they know how to run the business; you watched what Mulroney did," and you people are not unlike Mulroney. He never made a dent in the deficit. I know people like Jim Wilson used to work for the Mulroney group, so they might bring the same attitude.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. Would the member for Scarborough just come back to the topic.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The rule changes were introduced by someone who worked in the Mulroney government.

The reason I raise the credit rating is because the rule changes are all about forcing the government's agenda through much faster. Look at this, ladies and gentlemen: Why do the three credit rating agencies give Mike Harris the same credit rating as Bob Rae? All three of them said the tax cut is risky. Every penny of the tax cut is borrowed, every penny. As a matter of fact, you can see that over the next three years -- the first four budgets of Mike Harris take the deficit up $21 billion. The tax cut over that period of time will cost $9 billion in lost revenue.

I say to my friends, yes, everybody wants a tax cut. Those people making --


Mr Phillips: Yes, Mr Klees. Those people making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year are going to get $500 million of a tax break, we understand that. But I just say to all of us that if the deficit is so important that people on social assistance, children, have to get by with 20% less, and the majority of people on social assistance are children -- "You've got to get by with 20% less because we've got this deficit we've got to fight." To the seniors: "We told you we would not impose a user fee. We're sorry. We've changed our mind. We're going to put a user fee on." To all the senior citizens who rely on social housing, and the majority of social housing is for seniors, "Sorry, but we're going to dump that on to the property tax." Why? "We've got to find $500 million for a tax break for people making more than a quarter of a million dollars."

The great business minds in the government have said: "We've got to fight this deficit, so we're going to cut social assistance, we're going to close hospitals, we are going to put user fees on seniors, we are going to put user fees on all sorts of services, we are going to cut education. We are going to see" -- I'll use the example of tuition fees going from $3,000 a year to $18,000 a year. That's under Mike Harris. Why? "We've got to find the money for the tax cut."

I say about the tax cut, come Tuesday --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. You'll have the chance to come back, if you wish. If you want to debate, just wait your turn.

Mr Phillips: That's very good, Mr Speaker. I thought that rule changes were all --

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): This is why we need the rule changes, because of this kind of waste of time.

Mr Phillips: The member may not like what I'm saying because it's striking home, which is this: Three credit rating agencies have said --

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'll send you a copy of the statement.


Mr Phillips: Mr Leach is barking, and I appreciate that. He is the same one who today said the Integrity Commissioner said he shouldn't step down as the minister. I don't think the Integrity Commissioner ever said that and I challenge Mr Leach to prove that.

Hon Mr Leach: I can send you over a copy of the statement.

Mr Phillips: Mr Leach, you said something in the House that is not fact, not accurate. I understand why, and the public can, I think, now hear the government barking, because this is typical. They would like to silence the opposition from saying this.

Mr Flaherty: You've been talking for half an hour. What are you talking about?

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The public I think now understands the tactics: Silence the opposition. If a principal says something you don't like, phone that principal up and threaten them, threaten them to go to their boss; threaten that you'll get a reporter on them. If you don't like what a lawyer is doing, phone the senior partners up.

Mr Flaherty: I want you to speak to the motion.

Mr Phillips: Mr Flaherty, I understand you may not want to hear about the bully tactics, but we see them out there -- phone the law firm up.

Mr Wildman: What this is really about is, when you don't like what somebody says, "Shut up."

Mr Phillips: Exactly. So I go back to, why are you doing this? Because you want to silence opposition wherever it is, because Mike Harris wants to ram through the revolution. I would say I fundamentally disagree with much in the revolution, but you won and we lost. I know what the revolution is all about.

I remember clearly -- I say this often to my friends, because my friends say: "Listen, I thought Bill Davis was a fairly moderate person. I thought the Progressive Conservative Party was a progressive party." I say: "This isn't the Progressive Conservative Party. This was an agenda written to keep Preston Manning from running candidates in the last provincial election and it worked." That's why Mike Harris is Premier and that's why Jean Charest is quite angry, because Mike said, "If you don't come in here, we'll give you the Common Sense Revolution and" --

The Deputy Speaker: Back to the rules.

Mr Phillips: Mr Speaker, you're saying to get back to the rules, but I think the public understands what this government is all about, and it is bullying their way through on their agenda.

Mr Hastings: You were bullying with the land tax.

Mr Phillips: There is the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, Mr Hastings, is barking again. I say to the public that this is exactly why they want to change the rules: so they can force their will on people faster.

I want to go back to the government's financial plans and say that the tax cut -- the three credit rating agencies we've already talked about -- recognized that every single penny of this tax cut is money that has to be borrowed. I understand that the tax cut was perhaps the central reason why you got elected, but the people who look at this objectively say it's a big mistake.

I wanted to talk briefly as well about the ruling that came down very recently from the Grievance Settlement Board. The reason I raise this is that again it's symptomatic of a government that is ramming its way through. The government negotiated a deal with the public sector. Our public servants were out on strike, I guess, for seven or eight weeks, a very difficult strike for them, and one of the things they thought they had secured in their agreement was some protection during privatization. The government is determined to take public jobs and turn them over to the private sector, and our union said, "We need some protection when that happens in terms of your making a reasonable effort to accommodate us."

I think in quite a shocking development, something called the Grievance Settlement Board looked at the performance of the government in this area. This is serious because it is symptomatic of the way the government treats its employees. The people who work for the public are our most valuable asset. We are, after all, employing on behalf of the public literally public servants. They have a right to be treated with dignity and respect and they expect the government to live up to the agreement it signed. They thought at least you would live up to the settlement that Mike Harris finally was able to, in many respects, force on the public servants.

But what happened? The Grievance Settlement Board looked at two cases where the government was dealing with its employees and said: "You're not dealing fairly with them. You're not living up to the contract." Both of the awards -- this is from the government itself to its senior staff -- from the settlement board found that the employer had failed to make reasonable efforts and satisfy its obligations under the collective agreement. "The awards direct the employer to apply the following principles in the application of its `reasonable efforts' obligation."

What does that mean in simple terms? As we all know, our public servants went through a very, very traumatic strike. They saw what was coming, which is a dramatic downsizing, a dislocation in the public service, a loss of a lot of jobs, and they tried their best to negotiate some dignity for their members. The government was found by an independent, quasi-judicial board to have concluded that the government, the employer, had failed to make reasonable efforts to satisfy its obligations under the collective agreement.

Again I'll raise this because it is symptomatic of a government that, whoever gets in its way -- whether, in my opinion, it be the first nations at Ipperwash, whether it be a hospital that has a problem, whether it be the Who Does What panel, whether it be the hospital restructuring commission, whether it be the Burk's Falls Hospital or whether it be our own collective agreement with our employees, and finally, of course, whether it be the opposition -- will do what it takes to silence them.

I know from dealing with the public and people in my area that rule changes are not front and centre in their daily lives. As a matter of fact, they probably wonder what we are debating here. "Why the big fuss?" Our caucus one day walked out of question period; another day the NDP did. "Why are you going through all of this? Isn't this just histrionics and isn't this inappropriate in the Legislature?"

I know for a fact that after the bully bill was stalled I got literally hundreds of people telling me: "Thank you for slowing that down. Thank you for giving us a chance to find out what was in it and thank you for forcing the government to admit it made many mistakes." The bill never got fixed in the way that in our opinion it should have been but the government was forced to bring in 150 amendments.

As a matter of fact, I remember that the amendments had to be in by 4 o'clock. I can remember sitting in the committee room dealing with them, and they were caught in a traffic jam somewhere and literally came through the door at 4 o'clock with a series of other -- and do you know what they were? They were dealing with the privacy records of patients in hospitals. The government was going to close hospitals and they didn't have in the bill any way of ensuring that the records of people who were patients in those hospitals were protected. It was a dangerous, dangerous piece of work.


But there it was. I kid you not. Literally at one minute to 4 they finally came through the door. It was only, I might add, because we phoned the privacy commissioner at about 3:30 to say, "Are you satisfied with what's here?" The privacy commissioner said, "No, I'm not," so they were forced to draft amendments at exactly the last moment.

The public, as I say, must wonder what we are doing here and why this big debate on the rules bill. It's precisely for that reason. I appreciated what the Integrity Commissioner said because he may have got it right in his report. The Integrity Commissioner points out the difference between a public institution and others. He's referring to Mr Leach. He said maybe it's because he'd been in another organization:

"Its rules are those of the marketplace -- a constant competitive struggle to survive or to improve. In such an atmosphere, it would be unusual if top-level management people did not acquire an attitude that resents any limitations which they perceive as an unwarranted obstruction in the attainment of their particular goals."

I think what we've got here is that Mike Harris sees the rules here as a limitation which he perceives as an unwarranted obstruction of his attainment of his particular goals. But for the public, surely what you want is an opportunity for legislation to be reviewed properly and thoroughly when there's legislation that's introduced that's inappropriate, for some way to slow it down.

I remember saying to the finance minister, Mr Eves, the other day, "Why do you need these rules?" He said, "There will be occasions when we've got to get things through very quickly." "Yes, but on major bills why would you need these rules?" "Well, we'd never use them. We'd never use them in those cases." I say to the public, that was quite chilling for me because the government wants rules and says: "Don't worry. We'll never use them." If you'll never use them, don't ask for them because it illustrates that you will perhaps use them.

On the rule changes, just to review our concerns, there's no question of what they're all about. The fact that they were introduced the morning of the federal election, when many were preoccupied -- I was in my office and I got a call about a half-hour before the media conference to say that they were being introduced. I went down. We found out that they were rules that had been through the House leader's office, they'd had their scrutiny. They were clearly the government rules designed to thwart and to silence the opposition.

You wonder why we are so suspicious of the government? I go through the things we've experienced: the bully bill that they attempted to present to us after we'd been locked up in a briefing session most of the day, and the initial demand was that it be passed very quickly; the experience with the Who Does What panel; the experience I've had on Ipperwash; the experience we've had in dealing with the Integrity Commissioner over the last day here; the experience I've had with the principal in my own area; all of the experience I've had with megacity -- all examples where the government was determined to ram through its agenda.

As I begin to wrap up, you can I hope appreciate that we resent the government trying to gag the opposition. I happen to think the opposition plays an important role. I've been on both sides. I was in government and I've been in opposition. I'd rather be in government, but I don't make that decision on my own. I can tell you that regardless of who's in government, a crucial role is an effective opposition that challenges the government. A government that attempts to eliminate opposition simply says that it is more interested in ramming through its agenda than in ensuring that the public has a legitimate debate around legislation. The package of rule changes, every one of them, is designed primarily to lessen the role of opposition, some of them designed to give the government back bench more opportunity, but all of them designed to lessen the role of the opposition.

What this province does not need is less scrutiny of this government. The last thing Mike Harris needs is less scrutiny of what he's doing. What this province needs and demands is more scrutiny. I understand why Mike Harris may not want it. I understand why he may want to change the rules. I understand why he's done the things he's done with other groups. Because he's determined to get his way regardless. As I say, the last thing Ontario needs is to turn out more lights and darken the scrutiny of the Harris government.

We resent this. The government will have its way here. The public should know this, that in the end they will have their way, but I will just say to them, you are sewing the seeds of bigger problems for yourselves because in the end the public will demand scrutiny and the public will demand that you not ram through things.

You may think this is a victory for you. When you get these rules passed, you'll head down to your caucus room and you'll celebrate, but it'll be a very hollow victory and it will be a sad day when the rule changes are finally passed. The opposition will simply have to find different ways of expressing the public's view, but you create a bigger problem for yourselves with less scrutiny of Mike Harris's government, and I personally resent what the government's doing here.

Mr Wildman: I rise to participate in this debate, and I must say that I feel some considerable resentment about having to participate in this discussion today, the last day the House sits in June prior to our coming back in August.

I want to talk about the reasons for that frustration and regret. There are a number of things I want to put on the table for discussion this afternoon and evening. The first will deal with what we should be talking about this afternoon, the last day of the session. We will be talking about the things we could have been dealing with. I'll also be pointing out a number of things that are wrong with the motion before us and a number of things that are wrong with the approach the government is taking.

I hope the government members who are present will understand that I will attempt not to be repetitious and that I'm putting forward these views with all sincerity, and hopefully some of the government members may in fact listen. I don't expect them necessarily to agree with me, but I hope some of the things I raise will give them pause to consider.

We are here this afternoon debating a time allocation motion -- the last day of the session, time allocation. The member for Don Mills has moved a motion for "resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of amendments to the standing orders...." The motion says, "The Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the motion and any amendments thereto...without further amendment or debate. If a recorded vote is required, the division bells shall be limited to five minutes" and the vote cannot be deferred. This motion was tabled on June 23, 1997, in the House.


This time allocation motion deals with the proposed changes to the standing orders which govern how this assembly operates, so some people might find it rather strange that on the last day of the session we are debating a time allocation motion which will determine what the government can do when the government comes back in August. I think most people who might be observing this debate would think that it's reasonable for the government to want to get a number of pieces of legislation that it has on the order paper passed before the end of the session. It would be reasonable to expect that at the end of a session there might be a number of things that the government would like to get cleaned up that it hasn't been able to get through during the session and would ask the opposition to consider these bills and get them through.

But the government House leader has chosen not to follow that route. The government House leader has chosen instead to debate a time allocation motion which will determine something that'll happen in August when the House comes back. As a result, a large number of bills that the government has been saying are very important to the government and to the people of Ontario will not be dealt with.

On a personal note, I will express regret for being here this afternoon and evening. I had the good fortune to be invited by a friend of mine named Ted Nolan to participate in his celebrity golf tournament this weekend, which is starting in the Sault today. I had the opportunity to be seated at a table at the dinner this evening with Bobby Orr, and I know Bobby Orr will be very disappointed that I can't make it because I have to participate in this debate. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to participate in that function.

I want to say, if I can, congratulations to Ted Nolan for holding this tournament. I'll explain that. All of you know who Ted Nolan is. Ted Nolan is the most successful coach in the National Hockey League. He is a constituent of mine. He lives at Garden River; he's a member of the Garden River First Nation. His older brother was an even closer friend of mine until his unfortunate untimely death a few years ago.

Ted Nolan's golf tournament is held annually to raise money for aboriginal women who are going on to higher education. It is dedicated to Rose Nolan, who was Ted's mother, who died in an automobile accident a number of years ago on Highway 17 in the Garden River reserve. Mrs Nolan was a well-known matriarch of that community, was the mother of 12 children, one of whom is Ted. She was a wonderful lady and someone we all grieve for and miss. I really congratulate Ted for arranging this celebrity tournament every year to raise funds for young aboriginal women to be able to extend their education, and I regret not being able to be there this evening.

Parenthetically, I would say that it seems very strange to me that the most successful coach in the NHL does not have a contract, but I guess it's not appropriate for me to comment on that this evening.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Are you negotiating for him?

Mr Wildman: It's none of my business to interfere in these negotiations. I have enough trouble in negotiations around this place. But I wish Ted well and I hope the tournament goes well and that he raises a lot of money. That tournament is designed to raise funds in memory of Rose Nolan, who died in an automobile accident on the Garden River reserve. I wonder why we are not debating something that deals with road safety today. It would have made more sense, to me, for us in this assembly to be passing into law the road safety bill.

This is a bill that the Minister of Transportation first proposed back in February, because we had seen a number of truck wheels fly off of trucks on highways in Ontario. While they caused many accidents, a number of them caused fatalities. The Minister of Transportation first brought forward a bill which he said would deal with this specific problem and he wanted to pass it immediately and he wanted the opposition to agree, but the government House leader, for reasons that are inexplicable, refused to bring forward that piece of legislation.

Subsequently, the minister and the government decided they wanted what they referred to as a comprehensive bill on road safety that dealt not only with flying truck wheels but with a number of safety issues related to school bus safety and to prevention of drunk driving. All of us agreed that this was a bill that deserved support. When this bill was brought forward by the government both opposition parties repeatedly got up and said, "Why don't you bring forward your road safety bill for quick passage?"

Initially, the opposition agreed to allow that bill to go through in one afternoon. We said the government could get second reading and third reading in one day. Then the government and the opposition House leaders agreed that perhaps that wasn't the best way to approach it, that it probably would be better to have a few days, a very short period, for committee hearings so that the victims of flying truck wheels, the police, MADD and other groups interested in preventing drunk driving would be able to make presentations to the committee so we could see if there should be improvements to that legislation.

The opposition and government House leaders agreed that we would have committee hearings, but we assured the government House leader that when the committee completed its work and the government called the road safety bill we would pass the third reading in one day. So why are we debating a time allocation motion on rule changes on the last day of the session, June 26?

We are just about to go into the tourist season. Students are on vacation or just beginning their vacation. I know the pages are looking forward to having some time off and not being around this zoo all the time. There are going to be lots of people on vacation and there's going to be a lot of traffic on the highways. Why is it that the government has not called the road safety bill as the first order of business today, the last day of the session? The government has a commitment from the opposition parties that that bill will be passed in one day.

I know the government doesn't like the current rules. The current rules say that in the last two weeks of the session, after the government has introduced a motion, we sit until midnight. But a sitting that goes from the end of question period, usually around 3:30, to midnight is one day. This government doesn't like that. They don't like seeing eight hours as a day, ignoring the fact, despite what members on the opposite side have said, that eight hours is a normal working day for most people.

Apparently the government does not want to call the road safety bill as the first order of business today, June 26, because they don't want to take possibly a full eight hours to discuss that and pass it so that it can be law before the tourist season this summer.

What does this mean for road safety in the province? It means that the regulations around liability for flying truck wheels, for improper maintenance of trucks, improper operation of trucks, the legislation for dealing with drunk driving and preventing drunk driving and increasing the penalties for drunk drivers and the legislation that deals with school bus safety will not be in effect in July. It will not have become law despite the fact the government knows it had a commitment from the two opposition parties that the bill would be passed in one day, and it could have been passed today. Again, the commitment was for one day's debate, and one day's debate, thanks to the government motion today and for the rest of the days in the last two weeks, goes until midnight.


I challenge any of the members of the government to explain why we are not debating the road safety bill today so that it can be in place before people are going on vacation, before we have tourists coming and we have a significant increase in traffic on our highways and side roads and concession roads in this province. Why has this government not got its priorities straight? Why is it a greater priority for the Conservative government to have a time allocation motion debated the last day of the session in June rather than road safety, a bill they say is a high priority? Despite the rhetoric from the Minister of Transportation that this is a high priority for the Conservative government, we've seen how low a priority it really is. The fact is that this government is not particularly interested in road safety. This government doesn't think it's important enough to debate it on the last day of the session in June.

There are not many things I agree with the Minister of Transportation about. Road safety is one. Another is his anger at the government House leader, which he expressed to the press outside this chamber earlier today. As I understand it, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Palladini, expressed serious concern about the fact that the government House leader had chosen to call this time allocation motion rather than Bill 138, the road safety bill. I agree with Mr Palladini on this. It appears that road safety, dealing with flying truck wheels, dealing with drunk driving this summer, is important to Mr Palladini, the Minister of Transportation, but it's not important to the rest of his colleagues and it's certainly not important to the government House leader.

I hope the members of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, understand that the reason we don't have a road safety bill in place for this summer, for this July, is because the government House leader doesn't think it's important enough. He hasn't thought it was important enough since February. He hasn't called it. Repeatedly has been asked by the opposition to call it, and repeatedly he hasn't.

I suspect I know why he hasn't. It appears that every time there was an offer to deal with the road safety legislation, or before that the flying truck wheels legislation, the government House leader saw it as a chance to use it as a lever. He thought, "Maybe this is a way of getting the opposition to agree to pass something they're opposed to. What we'll do is we'll say to the opposition," said Mr Johnson, the government House leader, "`If you want to pass the road safety bill, we want you to agree that you have to pass this other bill that I know you're opposed to. I'll call that other bill to which you're opposed before I call the road safety bill, so if you want the road safety bill passed, you've got to pass this other legislation first.'"

The opposition House leaders, the member for St Catharines and myself, said to him: "No, no, that's not the way it works. You call the road safety bill first, and we'll pass it as we've committed to do. Then you can call whatever you like after that and we'll debate whatever you call."

Repeatedly, Mr Johnson, the government House leader, has used this stratagem, and the overall result of this approach is that the bill has now completed committee hearings and clause-by-clause, it is ready to come back for third reading, but it isn't law yet, and it isn't law because this government and the government House leader don't care about road safety. They see it simply as a way of trying to put pressure on the opposition parties to pass other pieces of legislation which they think are more important. One of those, it appears, are these rule changes. I think it's appalling. I'm tempted to talk about some personal experiences I've had, but I won't. But I think road safety is the most important thing we could be dealing with today, on June 26, and this government doesn't think it's important enough.

I'd like to explain a couple of things. Because this government was asleep at the switch the other night, the opposition was able to move a strategy in this House which messed up the government's agenda for this week. We didn't do anything that was against the rules; as a matter of fact, we used the rules. This government still doesn't seem to be aware of the rules they're trying to change. It seems to me that any government that wants to change the rules should first understand what the rules are, but they didn't.

The other night we were debating amendments to the rule changes brought forward by the minister who is responsible for privatization in the government. In the evening, a Conservative member was speaking to those amendments, and when that member completed the remarks and sat down, no opposition member stood to participate in the debate. When that happened, of course, the Speaker asked for further debate and no one stood. I would emphasize that no Conservative stood either; nobody stood up. There was nobody to debate the amendments any further, and so the Speaker had to say: "Well, then, we're going to have a vote. All in favour? All those opposed?" We had a voice vote. The opposition members followed the rules and forced a division by five people standing.

Then, as the House leader for our party, I gave the Speaker a deferral motion, which is allowed under the rules, to defer the vote until the next day at five to 6. That meant there couldn't be any further debate on the motion and there couldn't be any debate the next day until after five to 6. It completely messed up the government's agenda.

I guess in opposition one revels in small victories. I felt pretty good about that little strategy. The Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation was the only minister of the crown who was in her place initially. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. She didn't have the faintest idea what was going on or what she should do. The government House leader wasn't present; he apparently was at a speaking engagement. The minister responsible for senior citizens came into the House and the Speaker called for orders of the day because we couldn't deal with that matter any more; we had to deal with some other matter. The minister for senior citizens got up and called order 28. The Speaker then looked at the orders and said, "There is no order 28."


The government looked like fools. They didn't know what on earth was going on. Despite the fact that they have this big majority, 82 members, they can't control the House. They don't understand how to run the place. So what do they want? They want to change the rules to make it easier for them to do that instead of just understanding the current rules and making certain that they're able to run the place based on the current rules.

Eventually we got to another order of the day and we debated Bill 129. Frankly, I don't understand why the government didn't just adjourn the House, because they didn't know what they were doing. Anyway, as a result, the government's agenda was messed up.

The government House leader understood, as the Speaker understood, that as a result of that strategy the rule changes could not be dealt with this week. They could not be made law this week. The vote could not be held. I won't go into the reasons for that, but everyone understood that. That meant that the government had a couple of choices: The government could come back next week, call the House back for another few days after Canada Day -- or I suppose the day before Canada Day and then the days subsequent next week -- and then they could pass the rule changes if they were determined to do that; or they would have to leave the rule changes until August when the government was going to come back.

However, the government didn't have a calendar motion passed yet. So the government House leader came to the two opposition House leaders and said: "Look, we want the calendar motion. We want to pass the calendar motion, and if you're prepared to allow us to debate the rule changes some more this week, the motion we will put will be the one that brings us back on August 18 for the fall session," despite the fact that it's still summertime. We said, "We think there are other pieces of legislation that should be debated this week and passed." I've talked about the road safety bill. That's an obvious one. There were other bills that we were prepared to pass. One is a community safety bill. Community safety is on the order paper. It's an important issue. It's one that has general support on all sides of the House. That's another one that had to be debated, that we said we were prepared to debate. The government said they needed supply, and there were a number of other matters. We were prepared to move on those. There were a couple of bills we weren't prepared to agree to pass this week, but there was a long list that we were prepared to deal with.

The government House leader said, "No, no, we want to debate the rule changes." I know the government members probably got a different version of this in caucus, but I'm not being unfair about this. This is the way it happened. Anyway, we said, "We want to deal with these others." One was the Game and Fish Act amendments, the new bill there. We said: "We could deal with that one. You said you wanted it." The government House leader said, "No, no, we want to deal with the rule changes." I said: "You've got two days left. Why don't you agree to debate the rule changes for one day and these other pieces of legislation on the other day?" He said, "My backbenchers won't accept that." Mr Johnson, the member for Don Mills, said: "No, no, the backbenchers won't accept that. They're determined to get these rule changes through." I said, "You can't get them through until August. What difference does it make unless you're coming back next week?"

There's another matter in this whole situation. The Integrity Commissioner tabled his report yesterday with regard to the conduct of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I won't go into a long debate about that because it has been raised a number of times in this House. We know this is the third time the minister has messed up. We know he didn't do the honourable thing and tender his resignation so that the Premier could avoid a difficult situation. Instead, he said he wanted to stay on, he didn't think there was any problem, and he cherry-picked from the commissioner's report, much as the government has cherry-picked rule changes, to try and justify that.

The Premier said that the minister and two other members of the executive council had in fact violated the rules of conduct for ministers as the commissioner had ruled but that they all were doing things in good faith and they should all stay.

Then we needed some clarification on this. What we discovered was that according to the Members' Integrity Act it is important, it is required that the assembly respond within 30 days to such a report, that the assembly "consider and respond." So we had the rather pathetic view of a member of the government party getting up and trying to argue that a day is not a day, that 30 days could be interpreted as sessional days, so who knows how long this really is?

I thought, in trying to explain to Ted Nolan and to my wife about why I was away so much, I could say, "Well, it's not really a week, it's just a sessional day." You've got to put this in perspective, talk about sessional days rather than calendar days.

It was a pathetic argument and of course was rejected almost immediately by the Speaker. He simply called the Integrity Commissioner and the Integrity Commissioner said, "A day is a day is a day." It is not a sessional day. When the law says, "You must respond within 30 days," it means a month; not a sessional month, whatever that might be, but a month.

Mr Michael Brown: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I don't believe we have a quorum to listen to the member for Algoma's remarks.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you please verify if we have a quorum?

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think it's very important to note for the record that there have been no Liberal members in the House for the last hour.

The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order. Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: The member who just raised that point of order which was not a point of order purports to be some sort of expert on rules. He would know then, if he is such an expert, that it is against the rules of the House to comment on the presence or absence of a member or any group of members.

Mr Flaherty: What do you care about rules? You are supposed to be debating the rules.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Member for Algoma?

Mr Wildman: We had an intervention from a member who knows absolutely nothing about anything. If the member had been listening to the debate, he would know that I have indeed been talking about the --

Mr Baird: You're talking about the road safety bill.

Mr Wildman: Yes. It's not important to you guys.

Mr Baird: You're supposed to be talking about the rules.

Mr Wildman: The member would know, if he had listened, and he hasn't been, that I've been talking about why we are dealing with a time allocation motion on the last day of the session, which is what we are doing. That's what we're debating, a time allocation motion, and I've been dealing with this time allocation motion and why we are debating it. I know the member resents being pulled in from whatever he was doing so he had to listen to the debate, but it might be nice, if he doesn't wish to listen to the debate, if he would go back to whatever he was doing.

I was indicating why we had this time allocation motion here before us the last day of the session. I indicated that the government had messed up. It had lost control of the agenda of the assembly. It knew the government could not pass the rule changes this week. We all knew that. The government House leader admitted it. He had a choice. We could come back next week to deal with the rule changes or we could leave them until August. Everybody knows that. So the government House leader came to the two opposition House leaders and said, "Look, we need a House calendar motion." A House calendar motion will determine when we come back to deal with a number of matters, including the rule changes. I said, "If we're going to have the House calendar motion pass, we have to know what we're going to deal with on the last two days of the session." I see the government House leader is nodding his head, because he knows that's what happened.

The government House leader said he wanted to deal with the rule changes, and I said to him, "Why do you want to deal with the rule changes on the last two days of the session when you have all these other bills you haven't passed, when you know you can't get the rule changes passed until August -- or next week, if you come back next week?" I have yet to get a good explanation for that.

Hon David Johnson: Come on outside and talk to me.

Mr Wildman: I don't know how the member means that when he says, "Come on outside." When I was a teenager and somebody invited you to come outside --


Mr Wildman: No. I've been wearing glasses since I was 12. I don't go outside.

Hon David Johnson: Purely gentlemanly fashion.

Mr Wildman: I remember once in this House a number of years ago when somebody accused the then Minister of Education, the Honourable Bette Stephenson, of something she objected to. I would remind you a male member did this. She invited him to come outside, and I don't think she intended to have a nice, civil discussion when they went outside. I remember Bette Stephenson very well, and I'll tell you, I never would have gone outside with her on that kind of an invitation either.

At any rate, I still don't understand, and the minister says he'd offer me an explanation.

Anyway, to get back to why we're dealing with this, I said, "If you want to debate the rule changes, why don't you debate them one day out of the two and we can deal with other legislation the other day?" The other day we could deal with the Game and Fish Act changes or the road safety bill or a number of bills the government said they wanted and that we were prepared to deal with. For some reason, the minister maintained that no, he had to have debate on the rule changes for two days, and he sort of indicated that it was his caucus that insisted on having the debate on the rule changes for two days, even though his caucus should be aware that the government can't pass the rule changes until August. So we could come back in August and have the debate for two days then and get these other pieces of legislation through this week.

We, in good faith, finally agreed to the calendar motion, and the calendar motion, which normally is debated for a couple of hours, went through in a matter of minutes the other night. But what do we find now? Instead of debating the rule changes for two days, as the government House leader indicated he wanted to do, we debated them for one day, and today we're debating this time allocation motion.

What does this time allocation motion mean? It means that the government can call this matter the first day we come back into session in August and pass it in five minutes. At the same time, the government House leader has said he is prepared to have real negotiations around the rule changes and the concerns of the opposition and the concerns of the government about rule changes between now and August, but look at the time allocation motion. It says, "the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the motion and any amendments thereto" -- that is, the amendments that have already been put; I moved some amendments yesterday and the minister for privatization has moved some amendments -- "which questions shall be decided without further amendment or debate." That means the motion that we have before us today and the amendments that are on the floor today will be put without further amendment or debate. How can that mean we will have real discussions in July about rule changes, if the government doesn't intend to have any further amendments or debate?

What we are being told here is this government, despite the fact that the House leader says he's prepared to debate and discuss and negotiate about rule changes over July, intends to pass the motion as it stands now in five minutes in August. That doesn't mean we're going to have real negotiation. It should be obvious to all members, no matter what your opinions about the rule changes, why the members of the opposition are frustrated about this. Frankly, it doesn't look very much like good faith to me.

We agreed to the calendar motion, we agreed to allow two days of debate on rule changes, despite the fact that we should be debating other things in these two days, other matters that are before the House already, like road safety, so that it can be in place before we break and is in place this July to give the enforcement officials greater power to deal with these things. We should be debating that. But we agreed we'll debate rule changes. If that's a higher priority than road safety for this government, we'll debate it, but instead of debating the rule changes themselves and the amendments that are before the House for two days, we're debating a time allocation motion, which in any other parlance is a closure motion. The government will be able to get this through in five minutes when they come back in August.

The government House leader, in introducing this debate today, referred to our caucus as self-righteous. Give me a break. What are we supposed to be negotiating if we're going to pass the thing with no further amendment or debate? I offered. My staff person phoned the government House leader's office and said, "When are we going to be meeting in July?" Obviously on a personal basis, for family reasons, all of us, the government House leader and the opposition House leaders, want to know when we're going to meeting in July to negotiate so that we can arrange for whatever vacation we want to have with our families and so on. Then in response to that we're presented today with a time allocation motion that says, "Whether you like it or not, opposition, this time allocation motion means that it's going through in five minutes when we come back."


Yesterday I moved an amendment to the rule changes. I have here the government's original motion. The government's original motion is a little over 16 pages long. I haven't counted up all the amendments so I can't give you the total number, but essentially what the government is doing is rewriting the standing orders book: 17 pages of changes.

We have before us as well the amendments that were moved by the minister for privatization, which have been accepted. Those are mostly minor amendments. They improve things somewhat, but they're minor amendments. These amendments give us 15 more minutes of debate. Instead of voting at 5:45, we vote at 6, so we get 15 minutes. But at the same time they cut the length of time it takes for a vote from 15 minutes to five, so same difference. They do make some changes with regard to the limits on the rights of the members to have questions on the order paper and they make some changes about time within which the government is obligated to respond to those, but they don't deal with the crucial questions, questions that are crucial, I'll admit, for the government members as well as the opposition members.

I know that many members of the party that supports the government resent the fact that they're expected to sit here and listen to me and not have the same opportunity to participate in the debate. I know they feel that way. I felt that way when I was in their shoes in the past. I haven't been exactly in the same position they have because I never had the opportunity to serve as a member of the government back bench, but I've been a backbencher, I'm a backbencher now. I understand the concerns that backbenchers have. They want to represent their constituents; they want the opportunity to participate in debate.

The crux of the argument is that the government says, "We want to get our agenda through quickly. We want to have a maximum of three days on second reading of bills." If the government arbitrarily sets that limit of number of days, then that inevitably means the government backbenchers don't get to speak under the current rules.

Every time I raise this as an option for the government, many of those government backbenchers who resent the fact that they don't get to speak pooh-pooh what I'm saying as if I'm being silly, but there's a very simple way of giving government backbenchers more time to speak on bills that are important. You simply don't say you have to get them through in three days. You don't have to limit second reading debate to three days. You can have four or five days of second reading debate. But the government backbenchers say, "You're crazy, we couldn't have that long for debate." Why not, on important issues?

I tried to make the point yesterday, and I'm not sure whether I was effective in making it, that in moving the amendment that we have before the House, we only dealt with two of the sections of the government changes. They are very important sections, I'll admit, but they only deal with two sections. They don't deal with all of these picayune changes that you've decided to make to the rules. If you want them through, fine, go ahead.

I am quite supportive of the idea that the independent member, for instance, should have more rights in this House. It's quite unacceptable that he should not have the same rights as all other members. It's just a quirk of the rules and if we want to amend the rules to give him those rights, then I agree with it, and the government House leader knows that both myself and the member for St Catharines agree with that. It's just not fair. It's not fair to that member and it's not fair to his constituents. His constituents chose him as their representative and he should then have the same opportunity to put forward views and concerns of his constituents as all other members, so we support that.

There are a lot of other changes in here that are okay, that we could go along with. I suppose if we had wanted to be silly, we could have gone through these 16 or 17 pages of amendments and we could have put in amendments to everything if we were trying to stall debate here, but that wasn't the purpose of our amendment. Our amendment was to identify the central issues that have got to be dealt with. In our view, the central issues deal with the two-for-one day and the length of debating time for members.

There are some other problems. We don't like the change in the order of the House so that question period starts later. We don't like that. We think there should be some reconsideration of that. We don't like the fact that question period automatically is to end at 4 o'clock, no matter how long it's gone on. But that's not the central issue. The central issue deals with extension of debate into the evening and counting it as two days and the length of time for debating for each member in the House.

When I introduced this amendment the other day it was met with derision from some government members. They were saying, "You just want the status quo." If we wanted the status quo, we would simply say we're opposed to all of these amendments. That would be the status quo. We didn't say that. We said there are two areas we reject, we don't accept. We do not believe that individual members' rights are enhanced by taking away the time that they can debate. I think that's elementary. We do not believe it enhances the rights of the members to allow the government to get a bill through in three days.

One of the amendments that was brought in by the minister responsible for privatization now says, "We won't pass bills in three days; we will now be able to pass two bills in six days." That's better. Instead of being able to get a bill through in six days, as you can under the current rules, if you wish, you will now be able to get two bills in six days. You're speeding up the agenda. That's not about enhancing the rights of members; it's about helping the government speed up the agenda. Those are the central issues that must be dealt with.

I was under the impression from my discussion with the government House leader and the member for St Catharines that we were going to have serious negotiations in July about these issues, and that's why we highlighted them by putting them forward as an amendment. In the debate about those amendments I indicated, just as I hoped the government's final position was not as it is in their amendments, that this was not necessarily our final position.


At this point in time, we are saying we want the same number of minutes for debate as we have now. We are also saying we do not accept the extension into the evening and counting it as two sessional days. We're opposed to that. But the final position we might arrive at through negotiation is somewhere between what the government is proposing and what we are saying we want. That's what negotiation is about.

As the member for Parry Sound said in 1992, if the government wants these rules to help the assembly work better, the final rules must be arrived at through negotiation and some sort of agreement, or at least less opposition. If you continue to say, "We're going to pass these in five minutes when we come back in August," do you know what the result is going to be? I said this the other night; I'm being very frank. The result is that you'll get controversial bills through more quickly, you will, but every other, non-controversial bill is going to take you longer. That will be the result.

I can indicate that with some evidence of what's happened around here that the government is unhappy about. Let's look at what's on the order paper right now. We've got some controversial matters related to downloading, government restructuring and so on that the government wants to get through. I know they're going to be bringing in more bills in August. We have changes to the Labour Relations Act, we have changes to the Workers' Compensation Act, we have changes to rent control. These are all very controversial. Even the government members who support these changes admit they are controversial. They are going to generate a lot of debate and opposition. There's no question about that.

The government in the end, because they have a majority, will get them through, either as they're proposing them now or, if they listen to the presentations made to them by members of the public, perhaps with amendment. But they will get them through; that's the way it works. There isn't one piece of legislation that the members of the government party can point to that the opposition has prevented the government from passing. There isn't one. It's simple. It's numbers. It's arithmetic. You've got 82 members. You'll get them through. What is the rush?

I hope we're going to have real negotiations. Those negotiations might fail. We mightn't be successful in coming to any kind of accommodation; I admit that. But we might. In the end, we might not agree with what the government finally puts forward, but we might be less opposed to it -- let's put it that way.

This is really important. The member for St Catharines said that this is perhaps the most important initiative of the government this session. It is really important. Sure, it's important to us in the opposition right now, but it's not just important for all of us who are in the House right now in 1997. These rules will not just affect us and the current government's agenda. They will affect the way this assembly works for a long time to come.

I said the other day that if these rules pass, particularly if they're done in a unilateral fashion, as is in the time allocation motion, they will pass without further amendment or debate, in five minutes. If that happens, the opposition is going to be forced to do its job in other ways.

You've got to understand in this House that the government is certainly elected with a mandate to govern and to get its agenda through. But the opposition members are elected with a mandate to oppose, to criticize, to scrutinize and to debate. Just as the government has a mandate, so too does the opposition, and they are in conflict. The strength of our system is that we try to resolve that conflict in a civilized way. As the member for Renfrew North said the other night, this place -- debate, argument -- is a substitute for guns and the battlefield, because that's how political argument is carried on in most other parts of the world.

Sure, there are lots of problems in the way we do things around here. The clerks will know that sometimes, from time to time, I get somewhat frustrated. Sometimes I've even been known to take out my frustrations on the members of the Clerk's table. I know the Clerk would never betray that to anyone. But at the same time, this is the best place anyone could be who is interested in serving the public. I've been in this place for many years, serving the people of Algoma and the people of Ontario. It is a wonderful place to be. It's a tremendous opportunity, despite all of the frustrations that all of us experience in this House. It's wonderful opportunity to serve your neighbours and friends, the communities and the people of Ontario.

So when we make rule changes, we've got to understand that we affect certainly the atmosphere in this place, but we also affect the way the members who are elected to represent the people of Ontario are going to be able to carry out their jobs; not just the people on the government side, but also the people on the opposition side.

What I find frustrating is -- and I may be wrong, I sincerely hope I'm wrong on this -- that many of the government members seem not to understand that the opposition is also elected to do a job. I know the member for Parry Sound understands that. I know the member for Carleton, Norm Sterling, understands that. I know the member for Leeds-Grenville understands it. As the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore knows, the member for Leeds-Grenville and I have not agreed on many things over the years. But we agree on a couple of things that I think he believes about the way this place should operate. He also has the advantage, just as I have had and the member for Algoma-Manitoulin has had, of having served on both sides of this House.

What we do between now and August about these rule changes will have ramifications, not just for this government's agenda, the Harris government's agenda, between now and the next election, but for how this place operates as a democratic debating forum for many years to come. It's obvious that whoever is the government after the next election, or subsequent elections, will be tempted to leave the rules as they are because it'll make it very difficult for the opposition to do its job.

I'll admit that if I'm in government after the next election, I might be tempted to say, "These ain't bad rules." It seems to me the only way these rules will ever change in the future -- that is, to give the opposition greater ability to carry out its mandate -- will be if we have a minority government.


But as the member for Parry Sound has said, it's not so important what the actual rules are; what's more important is the atmosphere in this place, how we work together even though we are opposing one another. If there isn't cooperation and understanding of each other's position and a willingness to have some give and take, you can tighten the rules so tight that the opposition can never participate and the opposition will still mess it up.

Some members of the government party have reacted against what I've said a couple of times during this debate where I've said that sometimes the opposition will have to be even more bizarre in its opposition. We'll have to find even stranger ways of opposing if the rules are too tight.

Mr Michael Brown: And we'll find them.

Mr Wildman: But that's the fact. It's not just if the Liberals and the New Democrats are in opposition, it will also be true if the Conservatives are in opposition. What led to some of the rules changes in 1992? Frankly, it was the antics of the Conservatives. "Antics" was the term we used at that time and that the government is now using about us. It's been mentioned over and over about reading the lakes and rivers into the record. That was one example. The reason it's used most often of course is that it was done by the then leader of the third party, the now Premier.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Could you check and see if there's 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: Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: The point I'm trying to make is that it would have been far more productive for all of us, members of the government and for opposition, to use the last two days of the House sitting in June to deal with issues that are important, that we could have gotten through.

I've said that we could have been dealing with the road safety act. I honestly also think that we should have been dealing with the report of the Integrity Commissioner. The Integrity Commissioner has made a ruling that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was in contravention of the law. The law says that this assembly has the responsibility to consider and respond by July 25.

Today in the assembly the government House leader proposed a motion. That motion would have had the matter referred to the Legislative Assembly committee and the committee would have been authorized to sit for two days between now and July 25, and then in a bizarre fashion the motion said that the committee would report to the Integrity Commissioner.

The Integrity Commissioner does not receive reports from this assembly, in my understanding. That's not his job. That's not his role. His role is to give advice to members and to make rulings on questions referred to him. He doesn't receive rulings or reports from this assembly. Committees of this assembly, for those of you who are interested in the rules and understand the rules, report to the assembly. They consider matters referred to the committees by the assembly and they report back to the assembly. They don't report to a commissioner.

That motion was unacceptable to us. I said, "If you want to leave that in the motion, go ahead." This is in the discussions we had prior to the government House leader introducing the motion. I said, "Go ahead. You can do that, if you want, but you also have to add to that motion that the committee will report back to the House when the House reconvenes." The government House leader said, "Oh, no, we don't want to do that." I know why he didn't want to do that. As we all know, those of us who are interested in the rules, when a committee reports to the House, that is debatable.

The government House leader did not want to have a debate in August about the conduct of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In other words, he doesn't like the rules. He doesn't like the way things work. He doesn't like the way things operate in this place when a matter is referred to the Legislative Assembly committee. The Legislative Assembly committee considers it and reports back to the House, and if the assembly then decides to debate that report, that is as in the rules. The government House leader understood that. He doesn't want a debate and so he said no, he wouldn't do that. When he brought forward the motion, he asked for unanimous consent and the members of the Liberal Party said no.

I know what this is going to mean. It's going to mean one of two things. It's going to mean that the government House leader will ask the Speaker to call the House back for one day some time in July, between now and July 25, to debate the issue, although I don't think that's very likely.

What is more likely to happen is that we will come back according to the House calendar motion on August 18 and the assembly will be in contravention of the law. If the assembly is in contravention of the law, that's a serious problem because obviously all of us, as honourable members elected to represent the people of Ontario, have a responsibility to uphold the law. If we come back not having considered that matter before July 25, the assembly will be in contravention of the law.

How are we going to deal with that? I suspect that if anybody raises that at that time, the government House leader will get up and say, "We tried to comply with the law by moving a motion back on June 26, but we didn't get unanimous consent," ignoring the fact that the motion he put was inadequate to comply with the law.

Even if the government House leader and the Conservative government have got the rule changes pat by the time that matter is raised in the House, even if the government has moved forward on this time allocation motion and passed the rule changes in five minutes as is set out in this time allocation motion, mark my words, the government will not get away with being in contravention of the law and we in the opposition will raise the issue and say that the assembly has not carried out its responsibilities according to the Members' Integrity Act.

In doing that, the government will simply be compounding the miserable record it has in dealing with the issue of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing's behaviour. It's bad enough that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing doesn't understand his responsibilities as a minister of the crown, that he has been in trouble three times, that he has been found to be acting inappropriately by the Speaker and by the Integrity Commissioner. That's bad enough, but the government is compounding the situation if it doesn't have the House consider and respond to this matter before July 25. All of this is interesting, but it doesn't deal with the central issue. The central issue is that the Premier of this province doesn't understand his obligations with regard to the conduct of the members of the executive council.


It is the Premier where the buck stops. It is the Premier who decides who is in cabinet and who is not. It is the Premier who decides whether or not an individual who has been given a cabinet post is conducting herself or himself in a way that means that individual can continue in that cabinet post. It's not the Integrity Commissioner. The Integrity Commissioner can suggest that a member of this assembly who has contravened the law should no longer be a member of this assembly, but the commissioner cannot make that kind of a ruling with regard to membership in the executive council. Only the Premier can do that.

Frankly, it really was incumbent upon Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to do the honourable thing and himself resign to avoid the embarrassment for the Premier. He should have perhaps followed the example of the Minister of Health, who at least had the gumption to go to the Premier and say: "Look, there is an allegation about a member of my staff. There is an appearance that I may have been involved or somebody in my office was involved, and until this matter is dealt with I'm going to resign." I disagree with a lot of things the Minister of Health is doing to health in this province, but at least he had the integrity to say to the Premier, "In that kind of a situation I should not continue as a member of the executive council."

Apparently, Mr Leach does not have that level of integrity. Apparently, Mr Leach doesn't understand the issue. He doesn't understand the importance of what has happened. He doesn't understand the difficulty he has put the government in. There certainly were a lot of people on that side in question period yesterday and today who did; I could tell from the glum looks on their faces.

Mr Flaherty: It's your speech.

Mr Wildman: I'm talking about question period. It was during question period that Mr Leach and the Premier were attempting to defend the indefensible. There were an awful lot of glum faces around and there was almost no applause. The members across the way sat on their hands because they were embarrassed.

The buck finally stops on the Premier's desk. The Premier should have asked for Mr Leach's resignation if it wasn't voluntarily tendered. By not doing that, the Premier has lowered the standards by which he judges the acceptability of members of the executive council in the way they conduct themselves. That demeans all of us; it demeans the government, it demeans the assembly because the Premier is not providing an example of the kind of behaviour that must be followed by a cabinet minister in what he's doing.

We should be debating that issue today. If the government took the Integrity Commissioner's report seriously, understood the impact of it, this assembly should be considering that today, because it's the last day of the session before July 25; or we should be coming back next week to deal with it; or we should be debating a motion on the referral of that matter to a committee of the assembly, such as the Legislative Assembly committee, so that committee could act before July 25. That's what we should be doing today.

If the government didn't want to deal with all of the bills that are on the order paper that they know we would agree to, at least we should be dealing with that matter, the matter of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing's inappropriate behaviour as a minister of the crown. What are we debating? We're debating this time allocation motion on rule changes, a time allocation motion which will make it possible for this government to ram these changes through in five minutes when we come back in August.

In closing, I suppose I should re-emphasize a couple of things. In agreeing to the calendar motion, we took the government House leader at his word. We took him seriously when he said he was interested in real negotiations in August about rule changes. We took him seriously when he said he expected that the amended motion that is before us now would not be the final rule changes we would deal with in August. We took that seriously and as a result we agreed in a matter of minutes to the motion on the House calendar. But now we have a time allocation motion before us which says that the matter will be put when it's called, it will be decided without further amendment or debate. What does it mean? How can you have serious negotiation about changes to the rules in July if in August you can't debate them and you can't amend them, you just vote?

This government is not dealing with the opposition and with the people of this province in a straightforward manner. This government is trying to hoodwink people into saying that they will agree to negotiate things when they have no intention, apparently, of doing that.

The government House leader keeps arguing that he has a very long agenda to go through and he can't get it through. That's why he needs these rule changes. Let's look at what's on the order paper right now. I listed a number of important issues that the government wants to deal with which we all admit will be controversial, whether we agree with the government's position or not. The changes to the Labour Relations Act, the changes to the Workers' Compensation Act and changes to the Rent Control Act are among the most controversial.

Under these new rule changes, the government will be able to get those through quickly. The government will be able to get those changes through very quickly. We will oppose them, we will do everything we can to oppose them, but in the end if the government is determined to pass those bills without amendment, the government will do it because the government has the majority.

But look at what else is on the order paper. You've got a bunch of other little bills, unimportant bills, ones that are not controversial. A group of them are the so-called red tape bills. They've been on the order paper for a couple of years. Why is it we haven't been able to get those through? I'll tell you why.

Mr Flaherty: Because of you.

Mr Wildman: Exactly, and the rules are not going to change that. This guy who is interjecting doesn't understand this. I'm telling you the government will be able to get its controversial bills through more quickly. You will get the workers' compensation bill through more quickly, you will get the rent control bill through more quickly, you will get the labour relations bill through more quickly, you will get the teacher collective bargaining bill through more quickly, but you won't get all the stuff you want to do as well through more quickly. It's going to take you longer.

All those other bills, the red tape bills, do you know how you could get them through quickly? You could bundle them. That's what the debate has been about. "Let's put them all together and deal with them as a group."



Mr Wildman: We haven't let you do it now and if you move forward on these rules, we sure as hell will not let you do it in the fall. You'll deal with each one of those bills individually. You want them? Sure. We'll deal with them the maximum amount of time and you may have to -- I don't know -- time-allocate them individually.

The member a moment ago interjected and said, "We'll get them through." Yes, perhaps you'll get them through but it's going to take you an awfully long time. Yes, you'll get the workers' compensation stuff through and you'll hurt injured workers. Yes, you'll get the rent control stuff through and it'll take away protection for tenants. Yes, you'll get the changes to the Labour Relations Act through that will deny rights to workers. Yes, you'll get the changes to teacher collective bargaining through which may deny teachers their rights under the current Bill 100. You'll get those through. It'll take you some time but you'll get them through all right, and you'll get them through faster than you can under the current rules. But those stupid little red tape bills are going to take you an awful long time because you're going to have to deal with each one of them individually and we'll debate every one of them to the maximum and there won't be a darn thing under these new rules you can do about it.

If you don't want that to happen, what you need to do is have real negotiations about these rule changes in July. You need to ask, "What are the problems that the opposition has with these particular rule changes? What are the rule changes the government wants, and is there some accommodation, is there some way we can come up with something that's better for the opposition and for the government so that in the fall we might have some spirit of cooperation in this assembly, that we might be prepared to bundle" -- to use that term -- "some of the red tape bills and deal with them as a group?"

It's up to you, it's up to the government. That's the decision the government must make. Is the government going to ram these things through as per this time allocation motion that is before the House, that shouldn't be before the House? Is it, or is the government going to sit down with the opposition over the next few weeks and say, "Okay, how do we deal with this so that we can work in a civilized fashion in this House?"

The decision in the last analysis is the Premier's. In this government, more than any other government I have seen in the 22 years I've served in the House, everything is determined by the Premier. This is the most centralized -- I won't use the other word -- administration I have ever seen. The buck stops on the Premier's desk, as I said earlier, but in this government it starts on the Premier's desk too. Everything is decided by those minions who work in the catacombs in the Premier's office and other ministers get instructions. I'm not party to the cabinet meetings, obviously, I'm not party to the caucus meetings on the other side, and I shouldn't be, but I know there isn't the same kind of give and take within the government caucus in this government that there was in the previous government under the premiership of Bob Rae or the government before that, I think, under the premiership of David Peterson, or the previous administration of Bill Davis.

A good friend of mine and of many of us in this House passed away a few days ago, much too young. His name was Larry Grossman. I couldn't go to the funeral, neither could the member for St Catharines, because of the shenanigans of the situation around here. But let me tell you something about that member when he was first elected. He was elected in 1975, the same time I was. At that time -- this may sound familiar to some of you -- the government was trying to close the Doctors Hospital. They're trying to close it again now. That newly elected member for St Andrew-St Patrick, a government backbencher, was on his feet every day asking embarrassing questions of the government, he was out organizing in the community against the closure of Doctors Hospital and he stopped the government.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): He took them to court.

Mr Wildman: He took them to court, yes. You know how Bill Davis reacted to that? He put him in the cabinet. "This guy's got ability. He knows what he's doing."

Mr Baird: There were other reasons.

Mr Wildman: There were other reasons but it was largely his ability. He had demonstrated his ability.

Mr Baird: It was to shut him up.

Mr Wildman: It was also to shut him up, that's true; that's quite true. But what does this government do to members who challenge their own party? They don't put them in the cabinet; they put them in purgatory.

Ms Lankin: They protect Leach and fire Carr. That makes no sense.

Mr Wildman: The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is still in the cabinet after all his transgressions and Gary Carr isn't in this House most of the time. The member for Wentworth North has to mobilize the opposition and a few of his friends in the government back bench to support his positions against the cabinet because the cabinet dumps him and won't have anything to do with him because he has the gall to cross the Premier and to challenge the Premier. If this government treats its own members that way, maybe it's completely too much to hope for that they will actually negotiate with the opposition about rule changes that will work for all the members of the House.

I heard some of the debate this morning in private members' hour when the member for Wentworth North I think used rather intemperate language about the government. I wouldn't use that same kind of language about the government and I am not a member of the same party. But I'll tell you, the government House leader had better be serious about real negotiations in July about these rule changes and he'd better not be serious about this motion that he is determined we should spend today, the last day of the session in June, debating. If he forces these changes through in five minutes, as he is allowed to do under this motion if it passes, there will be acrimony in this House. You ain't seen nothing yet, and I don't relish saying that. The member for Wellington and I have know each other for a long time and he knows of what I speak.

It is ridiculous that we are debating this today instead of road safety or the other matters I've raised. It is ridiculous that we are going into the summer holiday without proper protection for road safety and the touring public. Instead, we are debating a time allocation motion on rule changes that this government appears determined to send through. It's unfortunate and it is ridiculous.

Mr Baird: I'm pleased to rise and to join the debate on the motion presented by my colleague the member for Don Mills.

Let me at the outset thank the member for Algoma for his remarks. He said at the outset of his comments that he hoped some of his comments would give us all pause to consider, and indeed, I think there is a good amount of what he says that is very true. In the previous speeches he made, not only on the two amendments but on the main motion, I certainly took the time to listen, and not just to listen but to try to genuinely understand where he was coming from and what his concerns were. I think a good number of the amendments presented on Tuesday by my colleague the member for Mississauga West are reflective of some of what we heard, but certainly not every concern.


Let me say at the outset as well that the government is committed to improving both the effectiveness and the efficiency of Ontario's Parliament. In his annual report released just this week our Integrity Commissioner, Judge Evans, stated that the House was not working as well as it could, that teachers are so dismayed at the rudeness and antics of Ontario's MPPs that they do not use it to teach democratic principles to their students. Probably all of us to some extent, certainly on both sides of the House, have to assume some sort of collective responsibility for that judgment made by Judge Evans and to do our utmost at an individual level to try and clean it up.

There are probably two sides to that coin: the heckling and interjections which occur in this place. In a democratic institution, from time to time, people feel the need to express themselves. That's one part we should try to deal with, as well some of the antics and the silly season used by all parties at various times in recent years, to try to clean up our act. I think the public expects nothing less.

Our goal is to restore some order to the House, to limit as much as possible the tomfoolery and filibustering that has marked this session and embarrassed this House. I believe the changes presented in this motion will do just that.

There have been claims that this government is denying the public any opportunity for input. We sent staff over to the legislative library, including the very hard-working Donna Duncan from our government House leader's office, and they spent many hours logging through the library and trying to research a response to just how many hours and minutes of committee time was spent, by all three governments of all three political parties in recent years, debating bills and during the public deputations.

Donna Duncan was one of the staff who discovered -- it's a very interesting and surprising result which I'd like to report on to the House with respect to the consideration of this motion. In 1996 this government sent bills out for 293 hours and five minutes of debate with travelling committees, those committees which depart Queen's Park to travel across the province to receive input in locales around the province. From time to time, these committees adjourn from Queen's Park and visit northern Ontario, southwestern Ontario, central Ontario and have the opportunity on occasion to come to my part of the province in eastern Ontario. This government in 1996 spent 427 hours and six minutes in committees right here at Queen's Park for a total of 720 hours and 11 minutes. That was considerable, I know, for a good number of my colleagues on all sides of the House whom I travelled with. We certainly worked hard in 1996.

I looked at the record for 1994, the last year the New Democratic Party was in government. It sent bills out for 209 hours and 35 minutes of debates for travelling committees and 472 hours and six minutes in committees here at Queen's Park for a total of 681 hours and 41 minutes. In other words, this government has spent almost 40 hours longer in committee receiving public input on bills than did the previous government in 1994.

Our record compared with the Liberals, I believe, is even better. In 1989 the Liberals sent their bills out for only 74 hours of travelling committees and 455 hours spent here at Queen's Park, for a total of only 529 hours of opportunity for public input.

Like my colleague the member for Algoma said, "Look at the actions, not at the rhetoric," and I am pleased to note those numbers again. In 1996, under the Conservative government, 720 hours consulting with the public and hearing their concerns; under the previous NDP government, 681; and finally, under the Liberals, 529. So that's quite important: There are more hours of public hearings for bills.

I'd now like to talk about the nature of the bill, what type of government legislation. In 1996 this government passed 33 bills; in 1994, the previous NDP government passed 41 bills, 25% more bills with less opportunity for public input.

Before you get the idea that the third party was hard at work improving the quality of life for Ontarians by passing such a high number of bills, I should point out that many of the bills passed were associated with tax increases. I look at some of the bills that were passed by the previous government: Bill 146, the Corporations Tax Amendment Act; Bill 110, the Employer Health Tax Amendment Act; and Bill 138, the Retail Sales Tax Amendment Act.

I look at the consequences of those bills. My colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, Gerry Phillips, once commented after the presentation of a New Democratic Party budget that the billion dollars of new tax increases presented in that budget would directly kill, in his judgement, 25,000 jobs. Regrettably, we have to look at the stats. Was the member for Scarborough-Agincourt right in the early 1990s when he said that the billion dollars of tax increases would kill at least 25,000 existing jobs? Regrettably, I'm saddened to report that he was right, that those jobs were lost.

I look at these three tax bills which raised taxes and put a pinch on hard-working families struggling to make ends meet, some families in my constituency who simply were taxed and taxed and taxed to death. Over the last 10 years, there were 65 tax increases from the provincial government alone.

That was some of the enormity of the bills being passed by the previous government which were obviously quite substantial and had an enormous effect on the quality of lives of hard-working families across Ontario. I think that's something that's very important.

To look at our colleagues in the now official opposition, the then Liberal government of the day in 1989: 93 bills received third reading by the Liberal government, almost three times the number passed by this government in 1996. So we're look at 93 Liberal bills in 1989, 41 NDP bills in 1994 and 33 government bills passed in 1996 by the Conservative government. The Conservative Party led by Premier Harris saw more hours of public hearings.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Bravo.

Mr Baird: My colleague the member for Fort York says bravo and I would thank him for that great compliment. Mon collègue M. Marchese était correct.

This government has had a substantial amount of public hearings and, I can tell all of my colleagues, at substantial cost to each and every member of this Legislature who has taken time away from Queen's Park and from their responsibilities working with their constituents to travel the province to try to solicit other views and take them into consideration when bills are being considered. That's very important to note and it puts it in context in terms of how much public consultation there's been and how many bills have been passed.

A good number of my colleagues suggested this government was passing more pieces of legislation than any government in history, but when you look at the facts and at some of the substantive nature of those pieces of legislation, it does put it into context.

We have not had any tax bills taking a larger bite out of hardworking families in Ontario, killing jobs and leading to less prosperity, less hope, less opportunity, and that's very important to note.

With respect to the rule changes and the motion before us to have a vote, we have had a substantial amount of debate on those rule changes. I looked at the record. As a new member who doesn't have the experience some of my colleagues have, I looked at the amount of time that this place considered previous rule changes. I looked at the Liberal motion number 9, dated July 25, 1989. There were prolonged all-party negotiations and there was one hour and 35 minutes, so there was not a substantial amount of time debated in this place.


I looked at the previous New Democratic Party rule changes brought in in 1992 as a gauge to see what would be a reasonable period of time to debate these motions, what would be a fair and reasonable time. The New Democratic Party obtained through two motions, motions number 7 and 11 in June 1992 -- both those motions together, to be fair, saw 18 hours and 30 minutes of debate. We have had the occasion to debate in this place not only this past Monday; we have had the occasion on Tuesday of last week, sitting until midnight, and on Wednesday, so we've had four days of debate plus this date on time allocation and the motion presented by my colleague the member for Don Mills.

That says there has been substantially more debate on the motion that we're dealing with. I think that's important to note. In this government not only has there been more committee time on fewer bills; there has been more debate in terms of the changes to the standing orders.

One thing that's important to note as well is not only legislative time here in this place. I read with great interest an editorial in the Toronto Star, which quite frankly was not enamoured or thrilled with all of our rule changes, but they said to give this party credit that they floated the proposals before they tabled them in the Legislative Assembly. That's something to note, because the alternative would have been simply to slap down a rule change motion on the order paper rather than sending it out to all members to get their input and to get their thoughts before action was taken. That is important.

For those members who chose to participate in that process, regrettably there weren't as many from the opposition as we all would have liked, but a good number of my own caucus colleagues came forward with some concerns, and those concerns were directly reflected in the motion presented by my colleague the member for Don Mills.

I look at the member for Elgin, who came forward with a good number of suggestions on how the role of the independent member could be increased, how that member could have more opportunity. Quite frankly, I had never even spoken to the member for Elgin. He came forward with some very positive suggestions, some suggestions, I'd say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, which had been sitting in a legislative report, a report of a committee with members from all parties, and had been gathering dust since 1993.


M. Baird : Mon collègue le député de Fort York a probablement participé à ce rapport. Malheureusement, ce rapport est resté à la bibliothèque du Parlement pendant quatre ans et ça n'a jamais été lu par une motion du greffier ici en la Chambre.

This report sat for four years gathering dust and the member for Elgin came forward and said: "Here are my recommendations. I'd like a voice. As an independent member, as one member, I'd like to be able to fully participate in this process." I said to him, "It's not only an insult to you personally," but, as the member for Algoma said, it's an insult to his constituents in Elgin.

I read the proposals, and the government adopted virtually every single one of them in the motion here today. That was something I thought was important. Should the member for Elgin be required to depend on the Speaker of the day to be able to ask questions, to participate in debate, to participate in private members' hour, even to have the simple right to sit on a legislative committee? Some Speakers have said: "No, you can't speak. You are an independent member; there is no place for you in this chamber." Some Speakers have said, "Oh, once in a while, but don't ask me too often," while the current Speaker has been more generous. But that member should not have to wait, to depend on the whims of the Speaker of the day; he should have a democratic right to participate in this place. It is important to note that all of those reforms were reflected in the motion presented that we seek to have voted on.

My colleague from Algoma also mentioned this place's role as a democratic debating forum. I suggest that my colleagues ponder and consider this thought, that those watching television consider this thought: Look back at Hansard and read the content of the 90-minute speeches and ask yourself, how often has a speaker, in 90 minutes, spoken to the issue at hand? Too often we have seen 20-minute tangents just in debate on these standing order motions, amendments, and on this time allocation. We have seen speakers being called to order time and again. Just last night, Speaker Boyd in the chair made several comments to speakers to stick to the topic at hand, and it's a challenge, because a 90-minute speaking time is an awfully long time.

My colleague the member for Cochrane South said in 1992 --

Mr Marchese: What did he say?

Mr Baird: My colleague from Fort York asks, "What did he say?" He said if you can't say it in 20 minutes, you've got a problem. This motion, of course, allows for 40 minutes of debate on the first go-round, 20 minutes of debate on the second, and then after five hours of debate, 10 minutes. There will be the opportunity for debate after each of those three speeches, where three or four members will have the opportunity to get up and respond to those speeches, and then for the member to have a second opportunity to speak for two minutes to respond to those comments: real debate.

What I hope is that we'll have more quality speeches that will contribute to the debate, quality speeches like that of the member for Hamilton West, who I thought gave a fantastic, well-prepared speech just this morning, even though I didn't agree with her on that subject, that I think contributed to the debate. I note that she only had six or seven minutes in which to do that, but she did an able job. I think that's important.

Where do those numbers come from: 40, 20 and 10? Directly from the House of Commons, directly from our federal Parliament. Why would we use the federal Parliament? The federal Parliament is our mother Parliament here in Canada. It's a Parliament to which academics and parliamentary scholars come from around the Commonwealth, and indeed the entire world, to look at how we operate as a Liberal democracy. Those numbers came directly from the way Jean Chrétien runs things in Ottawa, the democratic way he runs the government, and that's very important to note.

I feel it's very important to put those changes into context. Rather than the 90-minute speeches, would you not rather hear from the first speaker for 40 minutes and then allow five more members the opportunity to participate, five more members the opportunity to come to this place and to say, "Listen, here's what my constituents in High Park-Swansea have to say," "Here's what my constituents in Arthur or Staynor have to say," "Here's what my constituents in Scarborough East have to say"? That would contribute to the debate here, and in a very real way we could just begin to address the concerns that Judge Evans laid down, the challenge that Judge Evans laid down to this place, to deal with it.

I think it is very important to mention the time we have spent in this House dealing with antics. I listened to a speech the other night by my colleague the member for Riverdale, and I thought she gave a very good speech. What the member for Riverdale said was that she disliked the part of the main motion that would allow for evening sittings because she wouldn't have sufficient time to give notice of her attendance or lack thereof at a community meeting. I noticed with considerable interest those remarks and I was very moved by them. It did give me pause to reflect, but then I thought of the opportunities when I'm invited to participate at events in my constituency when I haven't had the opportunity because I have to be in this place, those times that I would like to be in my constituency to speak to a community meeting.


Mr Baird: I know the member for Fort York would like to speak, but he'll be up next.

The member for Riverdale said she wanted to be able to attend those meetings. The rest of us would like to be able to attend those meetings too, and I wanted to give a message to those from outside the greater Toronto area, those of us who travel a distance to get here. We don't have the opportunity to be at a lot of the community meetings when the House is in session, we don't have the opportunity to meet with constituents during the week, and that causes me great concern. In July while many are taking vacation, I will have to be out knocking on doors in my community, going out and meeting with community groups, with school councils and with others in the community, community associations, to receive their input, because I haven't had that opportunity, and that's a fair game. Those of us from outside the provincial capital have to deal with that reality and that's a fair point.


But for me and many members who travel from outside of Toronto, to drive the five or five and a half hours to get to this place and then to not debate, to not debate legislation and to not debate the public's business but simply to engage in silly tactics does cause us concern. When we arrived back at our constituencies on Thursday evening, when we were asked: "What bills did you consider this week?" and we were able to say, "I'm afraid we didn't consider any; the whole week was spent, 24 hours a day, voting on 12,000 amendments," people were rightfully concerned.

I appreciate the concern the member for Fort York has said, so in a very real sense those of us from outside Metropolitan Toronto and the greater Toronto area are especially concerned.

Mr Marchese: John, you've gone beyond 20 minutes.

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

Mr Baird: Those evening sessions will allow us to have more debate, more democracy, more opportunity to debate those bills, so they can get out to committee. We've seen already that under this government there has been a considerable amount of committee time and I think the ability to work a few extra hours in the evening when so many of us have travelled so far to get here is not an unreasonable request. It's something I would ask all members, particularly those from the greater Toronto area and the city of Toronto, to consider, because it's very, very important.

If I look at the other changes proposed in this legislation to give individual members more opportunity to speak, it's very important, particularly if you look at the opportunities in this place for individual members in the committee system. Right now, there was one particular member who spoke in committee for some six months. Someone said, "How could a member speak for six months in a committee?" There was a standing committee of this Legislative Assembly which travelled across the province, which heard a lot of submissions within the city of Toronto on proposed law, on referendums. One member got the floor some time in December and spoke for almost six months. The rest of those members of the committee, as individual members, were deprived of the opportunity to talk about what they had heard because one member spoke for six months.


Mr Baird: I know the member for Fort York agrees with me. He's very enthusiastic about it and I would agree. He was probably one of the members there, waiting to have the opportunity to represent his constituents. But one single member was able to hijack the committee for six months. I think that was not a very good day for democracy, that one member could get the floor in committee and speak for almost six months. As an individual member of this place, I think there's got to be a greater role.

What we're saying is not have less debate, but just that every 20 minutes, could you surrender the floor to allow another colleague the opportunity to speak, to allow another colleague the opportunity to enter into debate, to allow another colleague to perhaps inject an alternative point of view other than your own in the debate. I think that is extremely important.

If you look at the important role that we, as backbenchers, have to play in the government, we have a special responsibility. I listened with great interest to the comments just this morning in the Legislative Assembly by the member for Fort William. She got up in her place and she challenged the government backbenchers who were sitting in the House this morning. She challenged the government backbenchers. She said: "I'd like to see you get up and vote against this." "You don't have the guts to get up and vote against this," is what she directly said.

When the vote came -- private members' hour is of course non-partisan, the members are free to vote how they choose and how they would like, based on their reflections. There is no party discipline. Normally the cabinet doesn't come in that morning, because it's a genuine private members' hour.

The member for Fort William was probably very surprised. When the time came, a good number, even a majority of the government backbenchers, got up and did not support the motion. She was even going to give a speech and apologize that she mentioned in her remarks -- so we await that when the House comes back on August 18. There was an opportunity where government backbenchers got up in this place and voted, and I think it will have an impact in terms of the public policy direction of the province.

But the problem for many second readings of government legislation is that in the past, some 82 times in the previous 20 or 25 years, those bills have been blocked. They've only been blocked once under this Parliament and that's important to note. But 81 times, mostly under Conservative governments, I'll have you know, 12 members rose in their places and blocked a vote. I think that was inherently undemocratic and these rule changes will change that. They'll allow for more debate, more democracy.

It will also allow for more debate on third reading of private members' bills. Right now, the private members' bills presented by my colleagues in this place, on both the opposition and the government side, compete with government orders. They compete with opposition day motions and they don't often have the opportunity to be debated. There are some very important pieces of legislation that members of provincial Parliament, as individual members, have brought to Queen's Park to have debated and they deserve the opportunity to go to third reading once they leave committee.

The provisions allowing for more debate, more democracy contained in the motion that we should have the opportunity to vote on will allow us to perhaps consider the private member's bill presented by my colleague the member for Scarborough East. It was passed here on second reading almost a year ago. It's been through committee; it's been sent back here. Perhaps one night they could say, "Listen, next Thursday night or next Wednesday night, why don't we deal with two private members' bills for that three-hour block and allow a vote?" The member for Hamilton West presented an excellent private member's bill with respect to the heritage of Ontario by establishing for the first time a tartan in Ontario, the Tartan Act. There is a good bill that could have the potential to come up and participate and that's something that's very important.

Some other important private members' bills we would have liked to have seen: Bill 33, the bill presented by my colleague the member for Durham Centre. That didn't get to committee. There was no committee that was able to consider Bill 33, and you wonder why, because I think, as I know the member for Durham Centre would agree, that democracy has three essential components: Members of provincial Parliament should have a right to introduce a bill, they should have a right to have that bill debated in this assembly for each of us to bring some thoughts to the table --

Mr Marchese: He's been up more than 20 minutes.

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

Mr Baird: -- and finally, we should have the ability to vote on that bill, that voting is an essential part of democracy, that being able to cast a decision is very important.

On Bill 33, this Legislative Assembly was denied that opportunity. They said: "Yes, you can introduce; yes, you can debate the bill, but no, we're not going to let you have a vote. We're not going to let you stand up and cast your vote, stand up on second reading and let you say whether you're for or against." On Bill 33, there was no opportunity. Twelve members rose and the bill was sent back to square one. I know a good number of my colleagues thought that was a sad day for democracy.

This motion would change that. It's funny. The blocking of a private members' hour was instigated some 81 times, normally by a Conservative government to stop opposition private members' bills, so it shows you the non-partisan nature of this debate. I think it's important to note that this will prevent that.

Another important thing is that someone has raised the concern that we could simply bring in a government bill through the back door and have it considered as a private member's bill. It's important to note that our existing standing orders -- and the amendment does not change this -- does not allow for a time allocation motion on a private member's bill. You can't time-allocate a private member's bill. So if someone, this government or a future government, were to be so crass as to try to bring a government bill through the private members' route, and the opposition was not pleased, under these standing orders they would be protected. My colleague from Fort York would be able to stand in his place and to fight for his constituents in Fort York. These rules present no challenge to that. They present no challenge to more debate, so that's simply an argument that doesn't cut it.

This motion will allow for more debate. It will allow more individual members to have the opportunity to rise to speak to the important and politically salient issues to them and to their constituencies. These motions will allow us to simply adopt the standards in a lot of cases that were either employed by the House of Commons or proposed by our colleagues in the New Democratic Party in 1991 but weren't adopted. I think that's good for democracy. I think individual MPPs, backbenchers, having more democratic rights to express the views of their constituencies will lead to greater debate, more democracy.

Mr Marchese: When he gets in the opposition he's going to need an hour and a half. What are you going to do?

Mr Baird: The member for Fort York is very enthusiastic. More debate, more democracy. These rule changes will allow him to get up and to speak. We'd be all very privileged to have the opportunity of hearing the member for Fort York and we look forward to his insightful interventions.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to participate in the debate about the rule changes. I've heard some of the debate today and on previous occasions.

I must say that the previous speaker, the member for Nepean, parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, made a very straightforward argument for and in defence of the government position. For anyone who wants to hear a ministerialist, see a ministerialist and understand what ministerial careerism is all about, I think the previous 30 minutes would be as good an example as one could find.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Spoken from experience.

Mr Conway: No, I don't believe I've had quite that experience, in the sense that I was fortunate enough upon change of government in 1985 to go directly into cabinet.

I don't want to get into the debate about last night, but I tell you, it's important that somebody observe that what we just heard from the member for Nepean is the point of view of the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader. He stands here and tries to have people believe out there in television land that he's just a garden variety private member; he's not. We have before the House now a time allocation motion that attaches to very significant changes to the House rules that are the responsibility of the government House leader. The previous speaker is the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader. He's part of the broader cabinet ministerial operation. That's his right and it is his responsibility, but I think it needs to be underscored that he is not independent of the government in the way that many of the rest of the government bench is and certainly those of us in the opposition.

I also find it interesting that the previous speaker would feel that on the basis of 24 months' experience in this place, that, together with a bit of research done by the redoubtable Ms Duncan, gives him the comfort to make the rather compelling conclusions he has done.

Mr Marchese: She's here. She's smiling to have heard her name.

Mr Conway: I don't know Ms Duncan. I'm sure she's a very fine person, and she's done some --

Mr Gilchrist: Very redoubtable.

Mr Conway: I know Ms Lankin is going to address this at greater length, but I'll tell you, some of the data, as presented by the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader, is more notable for what it excluded than for what it highlighted.

It reminded me of a time about 15 years ago, when a Conservative member for Sault Ste Marie, newly elected -- help me.

Mr Michael Brown: Russ Ramsay.

Mr Conway: Russ Ramsay, a very nice fellow. He'd been a broadcast executive. He was elected in a by-election in 1978 after the unfortunate death of John Rhodes, father of Paul Rhodes. Russ was here maybe six months -- it was certainly within the first year of his time -- and he was in a committee; I happened to be there. After a relatively short time -- and Russ was a really nice guy -- he decided at the end of the proceedings that spring to give a detailed report card of how he thought everybody was performing. I've got to tell you -- I hope he doesn't mind -- Bruce McCaffrey, who was then an upwardly mobile Conservative member from Toronto and the lead hand on the committee for the government, just went completely apoplectic.

"How dare you, Ramsay, having arrived here a few weeks ago, having been here a couple of months, make the definitive assessment of how well this committee's performing and who's doing a good job and who's doing a bad job?" Russ I think meant well, but as McCaffrey pointed out that day, there was a rather breathtaking presumption about the recently arrived Mr Ramsay. Clearly, as a member elected he had every right to do it, but certainly some of his own colleagues felt it somewhat unseemly.

To hear Mr Baird, the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader, is to make one think it was a junior version of Stanley Knowles, that he's just completed 30 years in the assembly and from that high chair of judgement and that long distance of experience he is coming down from the mountain to give tablets of enlightenment to the chamber.

But the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader, in his inimitable way, presented the ministerial case extremely well. If it doesn't do anything else, I am sure it will aid and abet his transparent and remarkable thirst for preferment in the current government caucus.

The interesting thing about the rules -- and there have been some amendments. I think some of the amendments probably mitigate some of the more worrisome aspects of the original package. The package as a whole one can understand from the government's point of view, but I have to ask myself, does anybody really think they're going to work? It's the generals fighting the last war. Successive government House leaders have gotten up and decided, on the basis of a big flap last week or last month, that rule changes were in order. I did it myself. The remarkable thing about this rather rambunctious and self-respecting Legislature, most of the time, is that it generally adjusts to the new conditions and finds new avenues of activity and of engagement.


Mr Conway: I think the member for Algoma makes a very good point. If people think the limitation on speeches per se is going to move everything along -- I agree with the member from Algoma that it's almost certainly not going to work, because what used to be minimums will now become maximums. People who weren't going to get into the debate will say: "There's 20 minutes. I guess we'll get in there and we'll take our 20 minutes."

Many speakers in the course of this debate have talked about consensus, and the place runs on consensus. If any government, particularly a majority government, thinks it's going to manufacture a consensus and just damn the torpedoes, I suspect they're going to be sadly disappointed. It's hard for me to predict what the downstream adjustments in behaviour are going to be. Nobody 10 or 15 years ago imagined the petition trick that was invented here a few years ago, I guess by Mr Kormos. That's just one. The Tories, when they were in opposition here between 1990 and 1995, refined and developed new procedures that some of us oldtimers wouldn't even have thought possible. I have every confidence that the 37th and 38th legislatures will take these rules and find opportunities that the drafters and crafters never imagined and drive successive governments a bit batty.

It's too bad the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader is not here, because he's very skilful, as are a lot of those right-wing ideologues of which he is so notable a part. He's so skilful in purposely confusing the executive and the legislative branches. To hear Harris talk and Clement talk, and Gilchrist and certainly that young man from Nepean just fresh in on this highway of ambition, they talk about politics and politicians and they almost always confine themselves to the legislative side of things: "Too many politicians; we've got to reduce the number of seats. We look at these rule changes because we've got to clean up the House. The House is badly behaved on occasion."


My question to the charming Mr Baird is, where in this package is there one constraint on the executive branch of government? Where is there one? I was saying last night that people who have looked at our political culture in Canada, whether it's provincial or national, note that it is unique for the incredible dominance of the executive, irrespective of whether the first minister is someone named Davis or Peterson or Rae or Harris. This is an executive-dominated, cabinet-dominated political culture. My question, dear Mr Baird, is where in your package is there one constraint on the powers of cabinet, on the powers of the executive branch?

I'm not going to trot out the fact that the Ottawa Citizen, for example, reported just a few months or weeks ago that Mike Harris, first minister, is spending something like a half million dollars of additional money this year over last on his executive office budget. He might have a good reason for that, but I'll tell you, the executive branch is not diminishing in its spending power and in its political power. We saw the spectacle of what was done to Messrs Carr and Skarica and Murdoch in recent weeks. I'm not really here to debate that.

My question tonight for the ministerialists, for the John Bairds of the world, is, what in this package is there to constrain the executive branch of government? I can't find one scintilla of restriction on cabinet government, not one. If you take your view -- and this goes back to a point I was making last night -- that after an election all Parliament is is an electoral college, a rubber stamp, that we're here to do the King's business and nothing else, I suppose we need not worry. But I'll accept that they've taken away 27 seats. We've legislated a reduction of the assembly by a factor of 30%, or is it 20%? It's 27 seats, whatever percentage that is. We have substantially downsized the number of elected members because there's too much government, there are too many politicians. We're now going to say there are --


Mr Conway: That's not the only reason, I say to the member from Lanark, but it was certainly the principal reason advertised --

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): Lanark-Renfrew, please.

Mr Conway: Lanark-Renfrew. It was the principal reason advertised by the leader of the government, Mr Harris. So we have reduced the number of members of the Legislature. With this package, we're going to reduce the speaking opportunities for a number of members. We're going to reduce the opportunities for Parliament to get notice of executive intention. We're going to reduce or eliminate the constraints on the recall of Parliament.

I can't find, I say to Mr Dave Johnson, government Leader -- where in your package is there any constraint whatsoever?

Mr Jordan: There never was.

Mr Conway: I say to the parliamentary assistant, tourism, another man who has crossed the divide, once you accept the seal, once you accept the preferment, you are to some extent, my dear Jordan, not an independent man, and we've got conflict-of-interest guidelines that make that point. Most members here don't remember that for a long time, if you accepted an appointment to cabinet the first thing you had to do was resign your seat. Why did you have to do that? Because your first duty was to your constituents as the member of Parliament, and if you decided to accept a King's commission to go to the King's council, you had to resign and get a new and independent sanction to do that.

Mr Jordan: I was there when George Gomme resigned.

Mr Conway: You might have been. I doubt that was the case. It ceased to be applicable in Ontario in 1941. I don't believe Mr Gomme was elected in 1941.


Mr Conway: I'll have to defer to the wisdom of your greater age.

But my point is a very serious point: Where is there any constraint on government in this? I'm here to talk about the package. The currency of the right wing today is that there's too much government. Let's think about that for a moment. If the analysts all say government in this culture is primarily cabinet government, aren't we striking out at the weak sister? I think we are. I said last night, and I'll repeat now, having been a government House leader, I can tell you this is every government House leader's interest.

I look at this and I say to myself, "Boy, would I have liked some of this in 1987 or 1988." Even in my wildest fantasy I wouldn't have imagined it, because I think of what Norm Sterling in his Napoleonic splendour would have done, I think about just how wild and uncontrollable Ernie Eves and Mike -- the things that Harris and Eves would have done I can't even talk about. In the consensual environment you didn't do it.

I remember the day I did something in here and Bob Rae's brother, God love him, had died and there was a funeral. It was the last thing on my mind. There was some part of some rule package I was involved with and the place went nuts -- "Conway, you are just grotesque in your insensitivity" -- because it was Bob Rae's brother's funeral. I can assure you it was the last thing on my mind, and it was a very real tragedy what happened to David Rae. These are sensitive issues and this place runs successfully only when there is a reasonable regard for those sensitivities and for the consensus that arises out of that.

Part of me wants to say, "Go and do this, do it." I'll get the last laugh, because you'll be sitting there some day, just thinking, "I thought we fixed that." This is a dyke of 1,000 leakholes and governments have at best 100 fingers. You're not going to be able to plug all the holes in this dyke.

I looked in vain for anything here that suggested constraint on government. There's a report that sits up in the library gathering dust. It's the fourth report of the Camp commission on the Ontario Legislature, issued I think in September 1975. It's worth a read. I look at this package of proposals and it's the very thing that Dalton Camp, Doug Fisher and Farquhar Oliver tried to fix 22 years ago. They came here and said, "What are some of the problems?"

One of the problems they identified was the allocation of time. It was just loosey-goosey. There was little or no notice. There was no business statement. It was just a joke and privately everybody was saying, "We've got to fix it." What did we do? We moved to the business statement. We moved to the beginnings of a calendar. We moved to a number of things that we're just washing away with this. It's not as though we haven't been here before. Maybe it's a new culture and maybe we've all changed our ways. I doubt it, but hey, who am I?

It's like work to rule. You've got a contract, there's lots of very specific language as to what management should do and what labour should do, but it's amazing how the workplace functions when there's a reasonable degree of harmony and mutual respect. Boy, a lot of things get done that are quite efficient and quite acceptable. Then the consensus starts to break down, there are talks that aren't going very well and what do we get?

We get work to rule when people start to actually pick up the contract, go to subclause (vi) of section 9 on page 57 and say, "This is what we have technically agreed to do." That Toronto-Woodstock train that just kind of routinely buzzed along at 55 miles an hour all of a sudden is going at 37 miles an hour. It's moving and it's heading through the lush farm lands of western Ontario but it's not going nearly as fast as everybody had expected or as they had been accustomed to.


Look at what's happened here the last 10 days. We've spent an inordinate amount of time on this kind of procedural material when we would normally be dealing with the rush of material that we always get at the end of the session, whether it's in June or in December. We were treated to the spectacle this afternoon -- I wasn't, actually. I came in and I saw a bunch of press people out there who said, "You just missed it, you missed a real show." The otherwise charming Minister of Transportation has gone ballistic because apparently he's been shuffled out of the deck with his truck safety bill. I'm not going to repeat what the press said the minister did and said.

It is very customary around here when things are going reasonably well to get a lot of stuff done on the nod in the evening or at the end of session. But if there is a lack of trust, if there is a sense that there is not balance and fairness, it's not going to happen. And you cannot write a set of rules that is going to give you the kind of expedition you want.

I must say, to hear the member for Nepean, the parliamentary assistant to the government House leader, talk about the speeches of the opposition and their content -- Mr Baird, long experienced in the Ontario Legislature, feels that some of the speeches he's heard just don't excite him in terms of content. As the professor emeritus of the Ontario Legislature, he just doesn't think some of these speeches are up to snuff. Really, Mr Baird.

We have budget speeches now that are rather different than when I came here. We have a little show in the House on budget day. The chancellor comes in with his props, lots of unanimous consents to make it all happen; it's quite a production. Most of that's done by consent. I'm going to tell you, there's a lot of froth and foam and politics in that speech aimed at the nightly news irrespective of whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man named McKeough, a man named Laughren or a man named Eves.

I wonder, does the professor emeritus from Nepean think about whether or not that kind of performance meets with his rigorous new test? If Mr Baird is going to be the proud son of Stanley Knowles in this Parliament, and something other than the Charlie McCarthy to some Edgar Bergen in the Premier's office, he might just want to reflect on some of what the treasury bench is allowed to do both substantively and formally.

But you see, I don't think that's Mr Baird's interest at all. Mr Baird is a man on the make. He's a man with preferment on his mind. He's here to do the bidding of Mr Dave Johnson, the government House leader, who I invite, as he's in the precinct tonight, to tell me before this debate is over where I could find in this package one constraint on the power of executive government. I might be repeating it, Mr Johnson, because you have not throughout the weeks made any response to the criticism. I say again very seriously that those people who have looked at our political culture have said it is remarkable for the extent to which it is cabinet-dominated, and the authorities are everywhere. Where, my friends, are the constraints on cabinet?

Our friend Turnbull is here from Post Road and he'll know because of his lineage that in the Mother of Parliaments you have of course that wonderful spectacle where most notably it is the Conservative caucus that will stand up on many occasions and say to 10 Downing Street, "To hell with you." People forget that one of the most successful and powerful Prime Ministers in modern Britain, Margaret Thatcher, was brought down by her own parliamentary caucus.

Can we imagine that happening here? Could we imagine in our wildest fantasy John Baird, Esq, late of Bells Corners, formerly of Mr Perrin Beatty's ministerial suite, having sufficient independence and political testosterone to stand up and do what his colleagues at the Carlton Club did in Britain a few years ago? I think not. He's too worried about the next train leaving to the office at the end of the second floor, east wing, of this building.

But I say again, I'm quite prepared to look at rule changes. I have as much sympathy as anybody for some of the problems.

Mr Turnbull: Tell us about Mr Nunziata.

Mr Conway: Listen, it was once said of imperial Britain that she had no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, just permanent interests. I've said repeatedly over the last couple of days, it doesn't matter whether the first minister is a Liberal named Peterson or Chrétien, a Social Crediter named Vander Zalm or Wacky Bennett, or a Tory named Harris, the infectious disease is everywhere the same.

Parliament has a responsibility to put some reasonable constraint on that cabinet. If you think the way that's going to be done is by getting rid of 27 members of the Legislature and reducing the speaking time for the honourable member from Kicking Horse Pass from 40 minutes to 20 minutes, you are dreaming in Technicolor. I understand the concern about filibusters and I've said before I don't like filibusters, I loathe bell ringing. Some of these antics are totally repugnant to me. My experience is that, generally speaking, they are only resorted to when consensus is gone, tempers are absolutely stratospheric and there is a sense that there is just no alternative.

The example I was using last night: Harvie Andre and Tom Cossitt. I know they could be hell-raisers in their own way, but the day they stormed the Speaker's dais in Ottawa 17 years ago, that famous scene where they looked like they were almost going to do something to Speaker Francis, was I'm sure not what they wanted to do, but their anger and frustration over what they thought was the totally wrongheaded quality of the national energy policy is what drove them to it. Not only was the policy bad, but the technical measures the government House leader of the time had attached to that repugnant policy just pushed them over the edge.

So I say again, where is the balance? Where is there some evidence in this package of proposals to restrain the dominant cabinet that the analysts say we've got, not just in Ontario, the too-dominant cabinet that we've got in much of our system, certainly here in Ontario. I don't see anything.

I don't expect it from people whose only ambition in life is to get the word "Hon" before their Christian name. I don't expect the member, the parliamentary assistant -- he's already half in the door. John Baird is -- well, I won't because I was already bad today. But I say to the institution generally, where, what kind of constraint? Do we have any interest in amending this package to say, "No, maybe there should just be" -- I mean, the idea that we're not going to have a business schedule. That's just discourteous, if you think about it.

If you've got any self-respect at all, you say, "Surely, we're entitled to the courtesy of a business statement." The other day, I say to Mr Johnson who has the reputation of being a rather nice fellow, it was discourteous in the extreme to behave as he did when the House was trying to deal with the Grossman funeral and the business of the last week. If I had done that as government House leader, I would have expected to have been really put upon. Caucuses were trying to organize themselves: Who can go to the funeral? Who is going to stay behind? What's the business of the place?

If the member from Manitoulin is here, anticipating there is going to be a debate about the Fish and Game Act, or the member for Oxford wants to talk about some part of the Planning Act, they have a right to reasonable notice. We didn't give that and we didn't give it for a reason. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but I'm telling you what concerns me most about this package is there is absolutely no constraint on the overwhelming and the ever-increasing power of cabinet, and in many of its technical respects we're going back to a time that Dalton Camp and Doug Fisher said 22 years ago was something you should leave behind.



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

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): The following are the bills to which Her Honour has assented:

Bill 105, An Act to renew the partnership between the province, municipalities and the police and to enhance community safety / Projet de loi 105, Loi visant à renouveler le partenariat entre la province, les municipalités et la police et visant à accroître la sécurité de la collectivité

Bill 127, An Act to amend the Nursing Act, 1991 and to make consequential amendments to the Healing Arts Radiation Protection Act, the Medical Laboratory Technology Act, 1991, the Respiratory Therapy Act, 1991 and the Vital Statistics Act / Projet de loi 127, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1991 sur les infirmières et infirmiers et apportant des modifications corrélatives à la Loi sur la protection contre les rayons X, à la Loi de 1991 sur les technologistes de laboratoire médical, à la Loi de 1991 sur les inhalothérapeutes et à la Loi sur les statistiques de l'état civil

Bill 129, An Act to stimulate job growth, to reduce taxes and to implement other measures contained in the 1997 Budget / Projet de loi 129, Loi visant à stimuler la croissance de l'emploi, à réduire les impôts et à mettre en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1997

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

The Speaker: That was well done.

Mr Marchese: Especially the French.

The Speaker: Yes, and that was the first one he's done, so I think that's well done. Further debate?


Mr Marchese: It is a pleasure to follow the member for Renfrew North as we speak to this motion on time allocation as it relates to the changes to the House rules.

I want to begin by saying that the member for Nepean has made a number of references to my colleague from Cochrane South who was quoted as saying, "If you can't say something in 20 minutes, you've got a problem." He made fun of the fact that the member for Cochrane South said that, but all of you who have followed the member for Nepean's speech will realize that he took the whole 30 minutes.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): No.

Mr Marchese: He took the whole 30 minutes, member for Dovercourt, every last second. I was trying to remind him that he was going beyond his 20 minutes, but he would pay me no heed. That was quite clear, and why? It was clear that the member for Nepean had a lot to say. I could tell that, and he completed, rounded all of his 30 minutes, the full time because he needed the time. I understood very clearly that the member had a lot more to say and I knew that if the House leader or the whip of his party allowed him to he would have gone on, I say, interminably --

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): An hour and a half, maybe.

Mr Marchese: -- I would suggest at least an hour and a half. I know the member for Nepean isn't listening now so it's a bit of a problem, but I suspect he would have needed a whole hour at least to say what he wanted to say.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): He's spoken already.

Mr Marchese: It's true; he already spoke, so he doesn't have to listen. You're quite right, member for Yorkview. But it is clear that once you are on a roll and you have something to say, even if you're reading the speech, as the member for Nepean was doing some of the time, you've got a lot to say, so to restrict the members of substance and form would be a problem. Member for Nepean, I suggest to you that what you said of others should apply to you, but clearly you yourself don't have the discipline to control yourself, and it was obvious to me.

That's a problem and I wanted to state that for the record, because I think members should have the time they need to be able to say what they need to say. To curtail that time is of no benefit to the government or to individual members either in opposition or the government.

I want to stay in context because the member for Nepean talks about the goal.


The Speaker: I would ask the government benches to please just come to order to some degree. I want to hear them -- particularly the three wise men on the front bench there. Member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, it's actually the four wise men who are not sitting in their seats, but that's okay. They're chatting and they've got a lot to say because they were conferring with each other about the speech the member for Nepean made. I understand. If they don't have time to listen to the member for Fort York, that's all right. Member for Nepean, not to worry.

But I want to put the whole thing in context because the member says --

Mr Baird: I can quote your speeches verbatim.

Mr Marchese: But you've got to have the natural style, member for Nepean, because when you force that, it doesn't work. It has to be natural, and if it isn't natural, don't do it. Don't mimic, because it won't work.

He says the goal of these changes is to eliminate the tomfoolery. It should have begun with the member for Nepean --


Mr Marchese: But it didn't end there. Clearly, I realize that's not the goal or the intent of these rule changes. It's something else. To find that something else we need to give the context. They hate context because they always say: "Speak to the bill. Stick to the bill." Without the context we won't be able to understand the significance of some of these guys or the policy changes they're introducing.

To get a glimpse of this government, all we have to do is refer to Bill 26, in which this government repeatedly demonstrates its disinterest in the Legislature and the democratic process. What does Bill 26 do? I tell you, you've got to go back to that. You go back to that and you get a sense, the feel of this government.

Bill 26: What does it do? It allows the Minister of Municipal Affairs -- poor Minister Leach, man, has he been beleaguered in this place.

Hon Mr Leach: Be nice.

Mr Marchese: I quite agree. You have been --

Hon Mr Leach: Be nice.

Mr Marchese: I'm trying; I'm trying.

Mr Martin: Be gentle. He's had a hard day.

Mr Marchese: He has been beleaguered. He has been in charge of so many bills he's had to carry on those poor shoulders, which with age get weaker. With age they get weaker and he's had to carry that himself two years in a row. I suggest to you all that's a heavy load to carry, but because --

Mr Martin: He needs help.

Mr Marchese: He needed help. What does Bill 26 do? It allows him to completely restructure municipalities without presenting those plans to the Legislature. Speaker, do you understand what I'm saying?

The Speaker: Yes.

Mr Marchese: Because the minister was carrying this heavy load on those weakening shoulders, he thought: "How do I lift the load from my back? Well, I'll simply pass the bill that allows municipalities to restructure themselves, and if it doesn't work I will appoint some hack, a henchman, a hired gun to do the dirty job for me," because he can't carry it alone. It's a tough job. So he allows through Bill 26 something that gives the suggestion of this government in terms of its autocratic desires to rule. It is a very autocratic government.

When, through Bill 26, you give yourselves those powers, I suggest to you that you're getting into that field of authoritarianism. I know these are words they don't like. They hate the whole sense of what the words "authority," "authoritarianism," "autocracy," "anti-democratic" carry. They don't like that.

Mr Martin: Dictatorship.

Mr Marchese: "Dictatorship" is a word they despise because they like to see themselves as great revolutionary democrats. Bill 26 contradicts any of that, and it's quite obvious.

What else does my good friend M. Leach do with Bill 26, not just M. Leach but his Premier? He allows and creates a commission completely beyond public control with a mandate to radically rearrange our health care services: that restructuring commission.

Mr Martin: Can you appeal to the court? Can it be brought to court, their decision?


Mr Marchese: Beyond the courts, that restructuring commission; that restructuring commission has given incredible power unto itself through Bill 26. I suggest to you, those who are watching, that they use this commission and the commissioner as a foil for their dirty, reptilian deeds. It's a foil.

We are doing through a commission and a commissioner what they are afraid to do. The Minister of Health constantly says: "It is beyond our control. They are independent. I am not the boss of the health care system. The restructuring commission is in charge, not me." The poor guy says: "I'm not the boss of the system, somebody else is," someone else we have empowered to have that power.

It is a foil for their dirty deeds, as if somehow the public is befuddled by that structure they've set up. They're not confused by it. They know it's you. They know that something you have created is a creature of yours and therefore, by correlation, is something that is your responsibility, and you need to take responsibility for those structures, but they don't want to take responsibility for that.

Mr Martin: Absolutely, they have to, they're the government.

Mr Marchese: Sure they have to. The public is not deceived by that kind of dissimulation. They're not deceived by it. So that was Bill 26.

Get a glint again of the taste of this government as you look at the amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto. What do these guys do? Do you think they consulted with these municipalities? Were they given an opportunity to consult with each other how best to restructure, as they did with Bill 26, allowing many of the other municipalities that opportunity? No, they didn't do that with Metro. With Metro they decided to use government fiat. They flexed their strong muscles, weak in some cases, but they flexed them none the less. They said to Metropolitan Toronto: "You have no say and, by the way, even if you have a referendum, we're not going to listen to the results of that referendum."

Ladies and gentlemen who are watching this, do you get a flavour of this government? Do you get a flavour of this autocracy, the stench of this autocracy? Certainly it flows through this chamber to your very chamber where you are. Surely you get the flavour because the stench is overwhelming in here. I can imagine how it is out there.

This government on its amalgamation of the Metropolitan city governments has shown itself to have no respect for local decision-making, no respect whatsoever for democracy as it relates to our place here in Metropolitan Toronto -- but Chatham-Kent too. In Chatham-Kent they have shown complete disrespect for those communities. They hired this guy who's got a title, Dr Meyboom, to go there and essentially, in his autocratic way, Monsieur Leach, the guy went there and told them what was good for them.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): Why?

Mr Marchese: They were not given an opportunity to solve those matters, even though they were close to doing so.

Mr Spina: Why?

Mr Marchese: Why? Because it's easier to give the henchman you guys hired big bucks, because you gave him big bucks, to do the dirty deed. The guy was quite happy to take the money and do your bidding, to be your foil for the dirty deed. He did it. So he restructures with the displeasure of those city councillors and many of the communities in Kent that have discovered or uncovered the dissimulation of this government and are fighting back. They're fighting back because due process was not respected in Chatham-Kent either.

This government, through the member for Nepean, poor member for Nepean who's been charged with a heavy responsibility to be the foil for the government, the fall guy -- David Johnson, Chairman of Management Board, said: "It wasn't me, it's that guy from Nepean, it's a few other guys who got together to discuss these rule changes." The Management Board minister said, "I had nothing to do with it, poor Mike Harris had nothing to do with it," as if the poor guy doesn't know what he's doing. He was commissioned to do the dirty deed.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Commissioned?

Mr Marchese: Commissioned indeed. I won't talk about whether there is an avaricious desire by the member for Nepean to be in those first ranks as quickly as possible. I can't speak to that, but I am certain that Mike Harris said: "Johnny, I know you can do a good job for me; I can't promise you anything, but will you do it?" and the member for Nepean said, "Of course, Mikey, anything you say." He's the Premier, what is he going to say? He's the fall guy, but he's not the only fall guy because I understand there are two other guys. Is that correct, member for Nepean? There are two other people working with you or more or less?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): The entire caucus.

Mr Marchese: You were alone?


Mr Marchese: He could not have been alone. There must have been other dirty hands. There must have been the imprints of others on that report.

Hon Mr Leach: A few other guys.

Mr Marchese: A few other guys at least, right?

I tell you the imprints of Mike Harris are certainly on these rule changes, including the young reactionaries because it's not fair to call you radicals -- reactionaries. Because there is fervour when you're young, you say: "Oh, gee, we've got to change the rules around here. We're sick and tired of the opposition stalling our bills."

Imagine, sick and tired of the opposition. They have discombobulated this place with the multiplicity of bills, discombobulated the members of the opposition, their own members, and the people who've had to react to the multiplicity of bills this government has changed. They have introduced so many bills with incredible celerity that you needed a machine gun on the other side to stop these guys.

Bill 26 was passed rather quickly. Remember employment equity? My God, a couple of weeks, it was over. Speaker, you remember employment equity -- you were here then when we were in government -- it took us years. The Liberals consulted on the issue of employment equity. We consulted for years. This government comes with a majority, because they've got a majority, and they pass an immediate bill to repeal employment equity in a couple of weeks.

They have the power. You guys are the bosses. You've got the wheels, you have the power, you've got the numbers to be able to essentially do what you want, and you've done it. You have been able to do what you've wanted all these two years. Do you need more rule changes to be able to pass bills more quickly? My God, haven't you done enough damage already? My sense is that you know you have. My sense is that you know you have probably alienated half of the province in two years. My suspicion is that in the next two years we're likely not to see too many bills.

Hon Mr Sampson: What?

Mr Marchese: Very likely. That's why I'm wondering why you need the rule changes. First of all, you've got the power, you've got the numbers, you've got a majority government. Why would you need to do it? That's why I ask, why do you pursue this? In the next two years, minister of privatization, you're going to go after welfare people again and you're going to --

Hon Mr Sampson: No.

Mr Marchese: Please, allow me and then you come around when it's your turn. Then you're going to go after unions, is my suspicion. Why? Because you need an enemy, right? You need an enemy for your Conservative friends out there.

Here's the strategy. Mikey comes and says to you fine boys: "I know you guys are tired. We've been here for too long." My God, much too long. You guys haven't been able to have a rest, no holiday. You haven't even been able to go back to the public to explain the things you've done, to educate the public on the things you have done. You haven't had time.

So he says: "This is it, boys. We've got a few more things to do. We've got rent control that we want out of the way quickly because we don't want it to drag on beyond September and October. Let's get a few of these dirty things that could linger and cause some problems. Let's get them out of the way. Call the House back in August and deal with all of these issues immediately. I know you're tired, but if we do it now, then come September, October, November, it'll be a little easier and you can rest. You'll have time to go back to your Conservative crowds and remind them how your plan is working." I love that, "The plan is working." It's not working, I can tell you that.


Hon Mr Sampson: It is.

Mr Marchese: Mike says to the guys: "You'll be able to go back to the community and tell them your plan is working. Educate the public."

Hon Mr Sampson: It is.

Mr Marchese: I know, I know, minister of privatization, but you haven't had time to go back and talk to your community. How do they know whether your plan is working? You haven't had a chance to go and explain to them all the wonderful things you guys are doing, all these jobs that are coming in place, and yet unemployment is the highest in your history and mine. Member from privatization, unemployment is at its height under you guys, you fine guys, you guys who laud and put the private sector on this great pedestal, you guys who talk about all these jobs, yet unemployment is at its highest. You should croak when you say the plan is working.

Hon Mr Sampson: How many jobs did you guys create?

Mr Marchese: It's not how many jobs we created. You've got the wheel since then. It's up to you. Mr Terence Young talks about these young people feeling inspired and feeling great and having the confidence, this and that. They are desperate under you guys. There is desperation out there because youth unemployment is at its highest under your fine policies. The member from privatization waves with his hand saying that isn't true. I don't know what statistics you're looking at, member from somewhere, minister of privatization, you who laud the private sector. Unemployment is at its highest.

Hon Mr Sampson: No.

Mr Marchese: What do you mean "no," Sampson? Speaker, I tell you, you've got to have your feet firmly on the ground when you're in this place. You can't mythologize the issues. You can build on mythology and create them yourself, but I'll tell you, Sampson, you've got to have your feet deeply rooted on the ground. You, my friend, are soaring on your own creation.

Mr Martin: They're starting to believe their own bullshit.

The Speaker: Order. That was, I'm sure, a mistake. I would ask the member to withdraw. That's you, Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: I'm not in my right chair.

The Speaker: Get in your chair.

Mr Martin: I'm out of my chair.

The Speaker: This isn't a long debating point. You haven't got a lot of time.

Mr Martin: I withdraw.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Marchese: It's so difficult to say what you want to say when you feel it's correct and you can't say it. You can't be graphic, otherwise you get called by the Speaker withdraw it. It's sad. They should change the rules to allow us to speak with images and graphically, things the people who are watching would understand. As it is -- the clerks understand this -- we have to sanitize our comments. We have to put all of our comments in antiseptic before we can utter them in this place. It's not good. It takes the heart out of what we feel.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Okay, stop the clock, please. Point of order, the member for York East.

Mr Parker: Mr Speaker, I appreciate the efforts of my friend from Fort York to demonstrate the wisdom of the rule changes that the government has proposed, but we are still operating under rules that require a member to stick to the topic when he speaks in this chamber. I'd remind the House that the topic we are here to speak upon is a time allocation motion.

The Speaker: I understand that. It's a time allocation motion on the rule changes and I think he was within the bounds of the rule changes motion that's before the House. Start the clock, please.

Mr Marchese: Speaker, I appreciate your stopping the clock for me because you appreciate the fact that we need time. I know you were here and you know we need the time.

The member for York East, I was talking about Bill 26 as a way of showing this government is authoritarian and autocratic. I was speaking to the megacity to show this government is autocratic; nothing democratic about this government in terms of these changes. I'm speaking to the rule changes to show that these members have a great desire to be authoritarian, just as the commissioner said a few days ago of Minister Leach, that he comes out of a structure that's authoritarian and he reproduces it in this place. Not only he but many of the members who come into power feel they need to be authoritarian to do what they need to do. That's what these rule changes are all about: to give themselves greater authority than they already have. They have the authority to do what they want and it isn't sufficient.

Mr Martin: They want more.

Mr Marchese: They want more. There's a rapacious desire to have more power, as if they don't have enough.

Mr Martin: That's an acceptable word.

Mr Marchese: "Rapacious" is a good word?

Mr Martin: Yes, it's a good word, very descriptive.

Mr Marchese: How many more members do you want to be able to give yourselves more power? You already have it. What do these guys want, Speaker?


Mr Marchese: They want to be able to make changes that would permit my friend from Brampton, who's speaking to me in Italian again --

The Speaker: That's out of order, member for Brampton.

Mr Marchese: No, I don't mind it. It's okay. I just thought I'd alert you to the problem.


Mr Marchese: Member for Brampton, if you don't mind, I just want to continue. I only have a few minutes left.

Mr Spina: Is this your speech?

Mr Marchese: It is mine. They want to pass two bills within a six-day period. Right now, you need six to seven, eight days at times to be able to pass one bill. These guys want to change the rules so they can pass two bills in six days.

The member for Nepean I don't believe even touched that particular issue. Of course not, because obviously he only wants to make notable what he wants to say and subsume or diminish other matters of great importance to the opposition and to the general public. What does this do? This proposed change and others allow the government to pass more legislation in less time and reduce the accountability mechanisms that are used by the members of the opposition and the public.

It isn't just a matter of reducing my time from an hour and a half to 40 minutes and from a half-hour to 20 minutes. That might be acceptable to some, but I argue, as the member for Nepean demonstrated, that we need the time to be able to communicate a whole lot of things we have to say.

This particular measure that they're introducing to pass two bills within six days doesn't just limit my ability to represent my district, but it limits the ability of the general public to make this government accountable. This government refuses to make itself accountable. That's what this bill is all about.

If you recall, we had here 100 people -- I'm not sure you were here that day; oh yes, you or somebody else -- demanding to be heard on these rule changes. They were saying, "What about us and where do we as the public fit into these rule changes?" You can make it appear that it has only to do with the members of the opposition, but I tell you from now until August more and more people will understand that you're just not curtailing my own time, but you are curtailing the time of the general public to monitor your actions and to make you accountable. They want to be able to scrutinize what you do and they want to make sure there's sufficient time for themselves and the media to have an opportunity to be critical, when necessary, of the bills you have to present here.

The member for Nepean is trying to support me and give me a hand here: an article that says, "5,000 Jobs Coming to the City of Nepean."


Hon Mr Sampson: There's nothing wrong with that. Perfect.

Mr Marchese: Nothing wrong with that at all, minister of privatization, but I tell you, your plan to privatize will not create us more jobs. We have a great deal of history, not just in this country but elsewhere, of people who have done what you have done, where others have been where you want to go. Privatization does nothing except to lay people off and reduce the services they provide. That's what it does.

The member for Nepean says, "We've got 5,000 jobs coming," but unemployment is still high. They have to make themselves accountable. They have to account for the high unemployment levels in this country.

But talking about rule changes again, Speaker: I'm assuming one of these fine Tories will speak after me for a half hour or so, and I'm sure they'll need the time. They've got to speak to the issue of changing the rules to allow them to sit beyond 6 o'clock, to move a motion to sit until 9:30, allowing them in six days to move two bills. Speak to that and tell me, you fine Tory members, with your reptilian tactics, how that is going to help democracy in Ontario. It won't.

Mr Gilchrist: Reptilian tactics?

Mr Marchese: It's graphic. I know they feel the word. They feel the crust of the word "reptilian." Maybe they prefer amphibian; I'm not sure. But the public understands it, because they feel those crusts just peeling away from the bodies as they have to deal with this government that doesn't listen and refuses to make itself accountable.

Restricting speeches from an half and a half to 40 minutes is not going to solve your problem. We argue that if you want your members to have more time, you build in that time; build it into the debates. Extend the time for the debate of those bills. Don't shorten the time. If you reduce the passage of two bills into six days, you're not giving us any time and you're certainly not giving yourself any time if you have a desire to speak, without notes or with notes.

If you want to speak, ask Premier Harris; ask the front bench to help you guys out. Tell them, "You've gone too fast," and that you guys need time to reflect on the bills, to speak on the bills, to get back to your own community so you can defend them with courage, which you do not have at the moment. You guys have no courage, some of you, except Steve Gilchrist. He's a brave soldier. He's come into my riding several times. He is one of the bravest soldiers I've seen of this Tory government. I cannot say the same of too many others, who quiver with fear.

All I want is for the public to know that these changes affect them. Come August, we want you to come, be part of these debates and tell the government what you feel.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It is a great honour, as always, to participate in the debate of this House. It is not only an honour, it is a privilege. It is a privilege to participate in substantive debate in this House. I say that not as a parliamentary assistant, not as a member of provincial Parliament representing my constituents in Brampton. I say this as a citizen in Ontario. It is a privilege to have not only the right but the duty and obligation to speak in this House. Unfortunately, it is a right and a duty and an obligation that sometimes we in this chamber take not so seriously at all.

I have been in this House, it is true, for just a bit over two years, not a long time in the whole span of the history of Ontario or indeed of Canada. The member from Renfrew, I thought in a tone that was more than a little bit sarcastic, made mention of the fact that my friend and colleague from Nepean and persons such as myself and other colleagues -- there are 62 of us, I believe, who are here for the first time on this side of the House -- have not been here for as long as the 20-year veteran from across the way.

But I would have to say this: We have participated in Ontario society. We have watched this chamber as outsiders, as citizens, as spectators. We have watched it over a great period of time. By that calculation and by that experience, I believe we have something important to say, those of us who are seen as neophytes; important to say, because sometimes when you're in this House for a long period of time -- dare I say it? -- perspective is not the first hallmark of your personality, and sometimes the wider context of why we are here is lost. Can I say that, Mr Speaker?


Mr Clement: I think the majority are on the yes on that.

The point is this: This privilege we have in this House should not be ignored, should not be something we take lightly but is something we should wear heavily, because we do it not only as citizens but as representatives of our constituents. That is why I make a plea to this House today that we do take into consideration that privilege and that we do act in this House in a way that is not only testament to ourselves but testament to this great province of Ontario. That means acting to a standard, Mr Speaker, that I know you would like us to set -- you have said so on several occasions -- a standard that all of us, and I put myself in that category, perhaps do not meet sometimes but that we should aspire to.

The question I put before this House is, what sort of rules can we structure that underline that it is a privilege to be here and that we should be engaged at all times, or at least aspire to be engaged at all times, in real, substantive debate on behalf of all the citizens of Ontario? I would put it to you that these rules are meant in their own way to prolong and elongate the substantive portion of debates.

We know there will be theatrics, we know there will be protests in this chamber for years to come. The protests are there because that is the role of the opposition. Absolutely; they should, and their duty is to oppose. They have defined that duty to oppose to mean duty to oppose at all times and in all circumstances, and it is their right to do so. But it should be done in a context of democratic debate, of aspiring to embody the privilege it is to be here, and I think the public expects us to conduct ourselves in certain ways. Protest is important, no question about it; that is part and parcel of democratic politics. But this chamber should be all about substantive debate, not only about theatrics, not only about protest, not only about getting your leader or yourself at the top of the 6 o'clock news. It should be about substantive debate, clear-headed debate.

What I like about these rules is that I as a private member, I as a backbencher, have greater opportunity to be engaged in that debate, greater opportunity for my private member's motions to participate, greater opportunity through greater rotation to be part of the substantive debate of this House.


The honourable member for Renfrew North earlier said, quite dramatically: "Where are the constraints on the executive branch of government? I see the constraints on the legislative branch," he said, "but where are the constraints on the executive branch?" Fair enough question, but I want to assure him and those who might be watching that this is one part of a package of how we have to get our democracy, our chamber, our accountability into the 21st century, where other jurisdictions are already. We've lagged a bit behind.

The member for Dovercourt and others know that I feel very strongly that this chamber is important to the democratic traditions of this province, certainly, but there are times when citizens in this province have the right and the obligation, but certainly the right, to have a direct say in the choices that affect their lives, most notably through binding referendums. I want to assure the honourable member opposite that that is part of the construct of the new democracy that is responsive and accountable to the citizens of Ontario that will occur over time in the weeks and months ahead to ensure that people have a direct say in the important decisions of their lives.

When the honourable member asks, "Where is the constraint on the executive branch?" we are proposing -- and the honourable member for Dovercourt has seen us in action at committee on this very point -- that one of the biggest constraints on the executive council can be the people of Ontario, as it should be. We are accountable to them. Not only is the executive accountable to the caucus or the executive accountable to the chamber, but it is accountable to the people of Ontario. I would ask honourable members to keep that in mind as they discuss these changes, in the proper context of how we as an assembly must bring this democracy into the 21st century. That is a very important point to make.

I agree with the honourable members that there is a role for protest, a role for getting your point of view across in this chamber, but I plead with them that we use our time not for the theatrics, not for the protest day in, day out, but for the substantive debate that makes this a special chamber, a chamber that is used not only by matter of right by all us honourable members but because it is a privilege to serve here on behalf of our constituents, on behalf of the citizens of Ontario, a privilege that I do not take lightly and that I hope the honourable members will not take lightly in the future either.

Mr Sergio: I'm delighted to join the debate as well. I was enjoying the company of some colleagues while we were listening to the presentation from the member for Brampton South.

We are dealing with two things tonight, I would say. One is the time allocation for debate on the changes to the House rules, which has taken some time in the last few days. I will try to comment on both: the changes as proposed by the government and the time limit on the debate itself.

The rules of the House are provided for the benefit of both sides of the House -- for the government, for the opposition -- for the people who are watching, for the public, and for the decorum of the House itself. When we attack democracy, as I've heard from a number of presenters, with the veiled view that this House is becoming a little phoney or stuff like that -- I don't think we can take away from the democratic process solely because at times we tend to let ourselves go and may deviate from the debate at hand. That should not be a reason for the government to change so drastically, in such a draconian manner, the rules that will affect the House and every member of this House in a very negative aspect.

Why is the government introducing their rules at this particular time? I think they have seen what happened in the past couple of years, and I must say I don't think they liked what happened in the past couple of years in this House. They have seen a well-organized, very active, very alert opposition that stood up to the government, to the Premier, to the various ministers when they introduced legislation that was not in the best interests of the people of Ontario. This was contrary to the views and the agenda the government wanted to proceed with. They found out that the attention of the opposition was curtailing the agenda of the government. We had good reason to do that, but of course the government didn't appreciate that we interfered with and curtailed the actions of the government.

When you have the Premier who starts the engine and you have one of the ministers pressing the pedal, God knows where they will end up. Unless you have somebody to watch over them, they may end up in one of the ditches on the new highway or stuff like that, and of course you know what happens.

What they want to accomplish with the new rules is, so-called, two for one. They want to accomplish what they should be doing in four days in two days. It's like saying to my friend the Minister of Transportation, "Remove all the stop signs, remove all the yield signs, remove whatever hindrance you have on the new 407, and you will be going from end to end in half the time." Of course. It's like saying, "Let's disband the opposition, let's eliminate their voice," which is not our voice but the people's out there, "and we can run through whatever we want in half the time." We don't think that's fair. That's why we are here.

Our system of government allows for an opposition. As the member for Brampton South was saying, "It is our duty, it is our right, it is our privilege, it is our obligation and responsibility to be in the House and speak on matters that we feel are important to us and to the people out there." Of course it is, but so is the role of the opposition. Once you take that away from us -- Mr Speaker, I see you counting the members. I don't mind if we are short. It really doesn't bother me. I think we can carry on; that's fine. At this time we have no difficulties.

The opposition has a definite role to play in the House. When we want to silence the opposition, it means we want to silence the people out there, those who do not agree with the actions or the views of the government. Through us, they want to be heard in this House. When you have a government that just refuses to listen to the concern of the majority of constituents out there, then who do you have to represent those people? You have the opposition. Therefore, I'm saying to the government, don't change the rules to curtail so much that you deprive us, you deprive the people out there from being heard.

I don't mind that members of the opposition -- especially those who, because of time and time allocation, don't get a chance to get up and speak as often and as long as they would like to, and I wish they could. I really wish they could, because I think that not only would they like to as members of the House; I think they owe it to the people who elected them to stand up in this House and ask questions of the various ministers, do the routine petitions and statements, stuff like that. I think they have a sacrosanct right to get up in the House and address their own constituents that have elected them.


We have seen tonight on a couple of occasions that it is a myth as to why they want to change the rules of this House. It is not that anyone is abusing the system or the rules or that we have become so arrogant with the rules that we don't pay attention any more. We have seen tonight on a couple of occasions where members of the government side have taken their full hour or their full 30 minutes, their full time allocated to each speaker.

There is an example that if they wanted to get more speakers, they could have split, as we do on many, many occasions, that particular time and allowed some of the members who don't have that opportunity to be heard to stand up and address their constituents, to address the Legislature here on issues that are important to them and are important to their constituents.

When you have a government that wants to become so draconian and shut up the opposition, I think what happens is that this will work contrary to their own wishes and desires, because what you do is you alienate not only the opposition members -- welcome, Mr Speaker. As I was saying, you cannot silence the opposition totally. By doing that, what you do is you are going to attract more attention out there from the people who are being deprived of being heard through us in this House here.

This is not the way, to curtail the democratic process or curtail democracy itself. Certainly we cannot curtail either democracy or the democratic process to save -- and I have to say that tongue-in-cheek -- embarrassment for the Premier or the government at different times. The only time that the government gets embarrassed, and rightly so, is when they commit mistakes; it's when they propose legislation that is not in the best interests of the people. Therefore, we cannot suit the rules of the House to suit ourselves so we avoid embarrassment and at the time say, "Well, we're going to cut off these guys' time, especially question period, so they don't have to ask questions and embarrass the government." That is not the way that our system works. That is not the way on which we base the democratic process in our House.

I have to say that the government at times prides itself on saying, "You know, we have been working harder and longer than any other government." That's fine. I don't think we've heard any member in the House quarrelling with that. That's fine. We don't mind working, and working longer. So if it is a case of wanting to allow some of the members on both sides of the House, but especially members of the government, since there is a larger number if you will, and they should have the right to be heard, then why don't we find out a way to sit longer in the House as we have done in the past two weeks?

For the audience out there, this is live; it's not a repeat of yesterday or last week or last month. This is live and it's now about 9 in the evening. If it takes an extra week a year, if you will, or a few more hours during particular days during a week so that we can allow more members to voice their concern on issues of interest to them, then why don't we do that? Why do we have to curtail the right of the opposition to speak on important matters, on issues that they feel are important to the people of Ontario and their own constituents?

As I was saying, I don't have an aversion myself to some of the rule changes that have been proposed by the government. Some of them are very innocuous, if you will, such as sharing the speaking time equally among members and stuff like that. That I have absolutely no problem with. Others are terribly, extremely destructive, disruptive, and do not add anything to the debates, the decorum or the quality of debate in this House or provide information to the people that have put us in here.

To give you an idea of some of the most important and negative aspects of the proposed legislation, I'll just mention a few; for example, to limit the legitimate debate. That is one of the cornerstones of our system, and if you eliminate the legitimate time for debate in the House, what else is left? Somewhere buried in the 37 or 47 proposed changes there are some minor changes, very minor and technical, which do not affect either members or the quality or the effectiveness of the debate. Those I don't think create a problem. What we have been saying to the government is that those that are mostly negative, that limit, curtail, our ability to work in this House, we resent. I think you will find that we will continue to be opposing them.

Diminish the ability of the opposition during question period: Well, that is the most important time in this House here. It is when we, as members of the government itself, as members of the opposition, get a chance to question the Premier, to question the ministers on their to-date actions, how they conduct the affairs of the government, the affairs of the people.

It is not the affairs of the government. I think sometimes we lose sight that this is not our government; it's the people's government. So it is up to us, it is incumbent upon each member of this House, that we use question period to question the various ministers and the Premier on the various issues as to why they do certain things. We may see it differently, but it is that time when the public pays attention, is made aware of our questioning of the government on issues to which we feel the government is not paying enough attention on behalf of the people of Ontario.

One other aspect of why I think it's very dangerous to proceed with the changes as they are proposing is that this is going to create a terribly lopsided balance of power, terribly, let alone that with a majority government, sooner or later you're going to get your way. We can filibuster, we can get a bit noisy, and I think getting noisy once in a while is healthy, I think is part of the process. I think that adds some flair, if you will. At times it may get a bit vociferous, but I think it adds some flair. But when you already have a majority and you come up with this type of draconian measure, you really leave no alternative, no possibility to the opposition to come up with any other substantial measure to confront an arrogance at times -- and I'm not speaking of every member, I'm speaking of an arrogant government, and yes, we have a few -- I think we have a right to do that. When you have a lopsided government, it is done not in the best interests of either the people or the democratic process which governs us.


As I said, sure, at times we tend to get a bit phoney, if you will, with some of the things that are being done or said in the House, or perhaps it's our own posturing that we go through from time to time in the House, but it should not be done at the expense of the democratic system. If you don't have an opposition that keeps an eye on the actions of the government, then it means the government becomes very passive and the government is not kept in check from the opposition on behalf of the people.

Very often when we deal with the various committee levels, we question the ministers' assistants or other members of staff and we say, "We have our own set of amendments which we want to propose" on whatever may be under discussion. I'm trying to remember when any of the opposition amendments on whatever laws the government has proposed have been accepted by members of the government -- almost never.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Bill 104.

Mr Sergio: I thank the minister for that interjection. Almost never. Even when members of the government side sit on a particular committee and say, "Yes, it makes sense; we like it," because they've got to follow the party line, they get voted down.

This reflects in these rules, because one of the changes proposed by the government -- I don't know if it was the idea of the member for Nepean or if it was from the office of Mr Harris or whatever, but the fact is we are now facing a debate on the proposed changes. One of the rules -- let alone that they don't accept amendments as proposed by the opposition, they don't want to even debate them any more -- is they want to give the right and the power to the Chairs of the various committees to throw away the amendments that may be proposed from some of the government side.

If that is the case, knowing the composition of the various committees, what is the purpose of sending particular bills to various committees when we know they always have the majority on any particular committee and they can vote down the opposition at any time? Are we then saying that we do it solely for the sake of doing it? I don't think so. We have to create that balance that we would lose if we were to adopt all these rules. Therefore, it is important that we do not lose sight of the role of the opposition, the right of the opposition. As the member for Brampton South said, we have a duty, we have a right, we have an obligation and we have the responsibility as well.

If you didn't have an opposition that from time to time confronted the government and spoke on behalf of the people who are affected, who, then, would bring to the attention of those affected the consequences of the actions that the government may bring about as a consequence of a negative bill?

I don't have to go too far to just remind you that two or three weeks ago, for example, if it wasn't for the opposition, who have been pounding on the government that what you did to the seniors community in Ontario was wrong, charging $100 for copayments, user fees for one year and then giving the seniors only eight and a half months of benefit, they would have got away with it. It wasn't right, but if it wasn't for us -- we said to the government: "Look, guys, this is not fair. You're picking on the most vulnerable in our society and it's not fair that you're taking away $30 million in copayments, in user fees, in prescription fees from the most needy in our society."

We had questions a number of times in the House and the minister responsible kept on saying: "No, no, no, it's not like that. It's a question of accounting procedure. It's when the year ends and when the year begins." Hold on a second, here. We have this which the government put out for everybody that says you pay $100 for 12 months, and now we have seniors saying, "How come I'm being asked to pay $100 again only eight and a half months after the program went into action?" If it wasn't for us, the government would have continued to charge seniors and others the $2 copayment and the $100 payment prior to the determined time, and I don't think that's fair.

There are many other areas, but this is one example where an active and attentive opposition must be a guardian of the people out there, must keep an eye on the government and say, "You're wrong." It's not posturing; it is not being phoney or silly. It is telling the government that what you're doing is wrong. It's up to us to use whatever method is available to us and make the government understand that indeed what it did or was doing was wrong. So I'm quite pleased that the government came to its senses and said, "Yes, it is wrong," and changed it.

The question remains that if we were to be shut off completely and not able to pursue in those allotted times that we have now for the opposition to tell the government to change its course because the way it is going, it is affecting very adversely a number of people -- I think we'd like to have that time.

I don't have to tell you, for example, another very important aspect -- and it still is not over. We are dealing with Bill 99, for example. I have to say, with all due respect, the government is not interested in letting the people know everything that is included in some of the bills they keep proposing. I would like to know how many of the injured workers know that no longer -- and this is still under debate -- would they be entitled to benefits for mental stress -- it's called "mental stress" now, as it is in subsection 12(3) of Bill 99. Only within this section it is made clear that a worker is not entitled to benefits under the insurance plan for mental stress unless the mental stress is "an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event arising in the course of his or her employment."

The only time that is recognized is if that happens right in the place of employment. But if you are a strong employee or maybe the shock wasn't so hard and you managed to get out of the plant or the office and walk to the parking lot and you fall down, that's it, you've had it; it didn't happen in the place of employment. I'm asking you if that is right. That is totally wrong, and we have been telling the government that it's wrong. Whether they will listen is something else, but it's our duty, our responsibility as members of the opposition, to point out to the government what is wrong with some of the contents of some of the legislation they are proposing.


I think this is a real offence, an attack on injured workers, especially when they say, in connection with this to the workplace, that it must be established that the stress must be sudden, shocking and life-threatening. My God, do you want to see somebody coming out really dead of an injury in a workplace? It's got to be sudden, it's got to shocking and it's got to be life-threatening. How bad must it be? If that is not recognized in the place of employment under these conditions here, how bad must it be? I think the person must be dead in order to be recognized. So there is a need and there is a place for an efficient and healthy opposition, and the government must listen to that, listen to the opposition.

As I have said before, I hope the rules will be changed to accommodate all members of this House so they can get up and speak up and be seen by their constituents on matters that are important to them. I think it would be nice to see some members of the government, especially the backbenchers, get up and confront the actions of the government sometimes like some members do. Mind you, the government knows what to do to put them in place. I think it would be very nice to see some backbenchers criticize the actions of their own government. We know there is plenty of criticism, but it would be nice to see them up there criticizing their own government openly, live, so their constituents can see that.

Unfortunately, I have only a few seconds left. I had prepared myself for a longer time, but what can I say? So be it. That's again the democratic process, and I would say I have made my point in the time that was allotted to me. I do not want to indulge myself in seeking more time, because I think it's reasonable enough and I don't think we should go for any changes in the rules.

I just want to say this: You cannot save embarrassment at the expense of democracy. Democracy and the democratic process cannot be curtailed at the expense of our people.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate. The first thing I'd like to do is comment on and respond to some of the remarks of the government House leader. I was in the House as he commented when he first called the order of the day and outlined some of the reasons that the government was doing what it is now doing. Of course, let's understand that the actual motion we're debating now is to shut off debate on the rule changes that will limit and in large part muzzle the opposition in their ability to debate in the first place. It almost becomes a spy versus spy versus spy routine, but that is the motion that is on the floor now and that's what we're debating.

The government House leader opened his remarks using the government's mantra on this issue, which is, as we have heard over and over again from government backbenchers, "This is all about involving more members in debate." That was his quote.


Mr Christopherson: I see the member who supposedly wrote all these applauding first. He must have been at least allowed in the meeting where they talked about the spin-doctoring if he wasn't in the meeting where they originated all the ideas that are in this document, because nobody is fooled by what's going on.

I'm surprised that the honourable member for Nepean would allow himself to be drawn into this, thinking that somehow this was going to work and the people wouldn't see through it. He could support it and lead the charge, but not many of us believe that he actually sat down and authored these and penned every one of them and they were his ideas alone and it was just coincidental that later in the day, after he held a news conference, the government House leader waded in saying: "What wonderful ideas they are. They should be the original opening for more discussion." Of course, we know there hasn't been any real discussion.

Let's move on in terms of why the government is really doing this and what the people think about it. Nobody buys into your argument that this is about opening up democracy and nobody buys the argument that this is about involving more members in debate. I'd like to read part of an editorial from the St Catharines Standard dated June 21. It's headed up "Contempt for Democracy," and one of the paragraph reads:

"The government was obviously counting on the public at large to take little notice, viewing this baffling matter" -- meaning rule changes -- "as some dull bureaucratic shuffle that had something to do with who gets to ask questions in the Legislature and in what order. But this week, when the mice had been caught up in their game and it became obvious that public attention was inevitable, government House leader Dave Johnson quickly said he could meet with opposition parties to try and reach some sort of compromise. Why didn't the government take this approach before tabling the changes? Credibility doesn't seem to matter."

The Hamilton Spectator headline from yesterday is, "Rule Clampdown is Tory Overkill." These are folks who support you more times than not.

"The provincial government does not have a case for proposed procedural changes that would allow it to pass twice the amount of legislation it can under current rules. Democratic debate is the lifeblood of the Legislature. Even though question period in provincial legislatures, as well as the House of Commons, has become a bombastic circus, governments should resist the urge to stifle debate and criticism."

That is just a sampling of the opinions that are out there, and I think it's almost insulting to the people who support you that you continue to put such a feeble argument forward in an attempt to cover up what is blatantly a move to stifle the opposition and to ram legislation through at an even quicker pace than you already have. The evidence is there. This is not something new.

We saw it with Bill 7, when you brought in a brand-new Ontario Labour Relations Act -- not a couple of amendments; a brand-new act -- and how much public input did this government allow on a completely brand-new Ontario Labour Relations Act, an act that went way beyond the Common Sense Revolution, way beyond things that you talked about in the campaign? You attacked rights that workers had that you did not speak about in the campaign. That piece of legislation was rammed through this House in one month; in fact second and third reading were the same day. The 640-page compendium that goes with the bill, the document that allows those of us who aren't lawyers to understand in plain language -- done by bureaucrats, not partisans -- what the bill is about and what the changes mean, was given to us five minutes before the debate began, a mere few hours before you made it law. And how much public input was there on Bill 7? Nothing, not one minute of public debate on Bill 7.

What happened after that? Then they really got full of themselves, because shortly after that, in fact less than two months, just before Christmas, they introduced the infamous Bill 26, the omnibus bully bill, the bill that removed so much discussion from this place because, rather than requiring a law change, Bill 26 contained massive amounts of deferring decision-making from this place, in terms of having to make a law, because, as people who are watching know, when you want to change a law, it has to go through this Legislature. When that happens we have the cameras, we have the public, we have the media, and people can decide for themselves what is going on and how they feel about it.


Bill 26 did so many things, but one of the big things it did, and it was a thread through all the different pieces of legislation that were affected by Bill 26, was take the power away from this Legislature, therefore away from the public, and put it in regulations. As we all know, regulations aren't debated in public; regulations are passed in the cabinet room. Cabinet rooms, cabinet meetings, are not open to anyone other than cabinet ministers and the specific staff they allow to be there. I'm not faulting that; I was a part of that system. I've sat in that room and passed regulations myself. That is not my point. My point is that you transferred power away from the public eye back into that cabinet room that before Bill 26 properly belonged in here. That's part of what Bill 26 was about.

We also know that Bill 26 was the creation of the Health Services Restructuring Commission, which right now is in my community eyeballing at least one, maybe two of our hospitals; the same commission, by the way, that the Minister of Municipal Affairs just finished writing a letter to, and the Solicitor General wrote to it and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The Minister of Municipal Affairs was found by the Integrity Commissioner to have flagrantly abused his rights as a minister.

What's interesting about that is that it was the Minister of Health -- who sits just diagonally; he could reach out and touch the Minister of Health -- who not long ago in this House talked about the fact that the Health Services Restructuring Commission was an arm's-length body and he couldn't have anything to do with it, none of his government could have anything to do with it, because it was this arm's-length body. Now we watched yesterday the Premier stand up and say, "Oh, it's news to us that it's a quasi-judicial body; it's news to us that it's inappropriate for a minister to contact this commission in any way."

There's a reason you can't do that. Ministers of the crown have incredible influence. When you receive a letter of any sort or a phone call or any contact from a minister's office, it gets attention, it wakes people up, it carries messages, it has influence even if it isn't meant to, which is why, I might point out, the Integrity Commissioner urges -- Minister, they must be urging you. I used to get the letters all the time. Being the cautious kind of politician I try to be, I availed myself of his offices many times, asking: "This is what I'm about to do," or "This is what I'm thinking of doing," or "Here's the situation, where I feel I should respond. How far can I go? Can I do this?" It's easier to ask ahead of time than it is to stand up and explain why you violated and potentially abused the office of a minister of the crown.

It's hard to believe that those three cabinet ministers wouldn't have known that they shouldn't contact the commission. But it's even more incredible, if you accept the workload that ministers have and how quickly things fly by -- I can appreciate that -- it's even more difficult to believe that someone on that minister's staff didn't make sure there was a contact with the Integrity Commissioner to make sure their minister wasn't doing exactly what they did, which was cross the line.

That Health Services Restructuring Commission was a part of Bill 26. We talk about how sneaky it was that they brought in the rule changes; it was just as sneaky with Bill 26. It was in the dying days of the session in the week or two, a few weeks anyway, before Christmas, when everybody was starting to look elsewhere and thinking about the holidays and making their plans, even members of this place. We all do our job, like any citizen, but as that season approaches, our minds turn to those things. You brought in that omnibus bill, which contained so much change, change that I would argue is not good for Ontario, but you cannot argue objectively that it wasn't a massive amount of change and you tried to ram it through in a blink.

It was so detested by us that we took the most extraordinary action I've even seen since I've been here on either side of the House, and that was to literally, and I admit it, hijack the place, because you left us no choice, because you abused your majority in a way that no one ever had before. No one argues with your right to govern. You've got a majority and you have a right to use it. But you do not have a right to trample over the rights of the minority and you do not have a right to trample over the rights of the public. That's an abuse of your power.

What we did was to make sure that there was some means to slow you down. The public knows that once we got out into the communities and started holding hearings, there were hundreds of submissions that said, "You have to slow down." Many of your own supporters said: "You've got to slow down. This is too big; we can't comprehend it." I can remember talking to people over the holiday season saying, "I'm just overwhelmed," and these were experts in the field in one particular area of Bill 26. You were in dozens of different areas. It was deliberate. It was a deliberate attempt to overwhelm the agenda, to ram it through when the public wasn't looking, hoping you still had enough of the shine from the honeymoon that you could withstand the criticism and ram it through.

We stopped you to some degree and forced you out into the public and at least gave people a chance to understand what was in it to some degree. But you still didn't listen to those who said that you need to take more time. It was a cross between being sad and a joke to watch the hundreds of amendments you had to make to that bill, because once we got out into the public, all these mistakes came out. That, in and of itself, is not a significant matter. It's not unusual for bills to be improved when they're out in public. In fact, in large part that's why you do it. We in this place, it's an understatement to say it, don't have all the answers. Once the public finally had an opportunity to get at this monstrous bully bill, you had to make massive amounts of changes because you'd moved so quickly.

Does that end the example? No. Bill 49, changes to the Employment Standards Act, was a bill about which the Minister of Labour said to Ontario labour leaders the week before you introduced it: "Oh, by the way, we're going to introduce this minor bill next week. It's just a few housekeeping matters, nuts and bolts, nothing to get too worried about."

Ministers of the crown are given great leeway in terms of the respect they're afforded. If a minister was saying that point-blank, why would anyone question it? What a coincidence. You guys are so full of coincidences. The next coincidence was that those same labour leaders were off to a national labour convention at the other side of the country. You dropped Bill 49 on the floor of this Legislature, we took a look at this thing and all hell broke loose. It wasn't minor housekeeping. There were major takeaways in that bill, rights that workers have had for decades. That's what was in Bill 49. You tried to ram it through and say: "There's no need for public hearings. It's only a minor bill, minor housekeeping."

We called you on it and started to bring to light the implications of Bill 49 and your takeaways in employment standards, which, by the way, particularly for those workers who don't have the benefit of a union, is your bill of rights. This says how many hours of work, how much vacation you're entitled to; this is the floor of your rights. When we brought to light how many of those rights were being taken away, this government went from saying, "It's only a minor housekeeping bill and therefore doesn't require any public hearings," to four weeks of province-wide public hearings, not because they suddenly had a massive injection of democracy but because they were caught out, the same as the editorial from the St Catharines Standard pointed out on this issue. You didn't start negotiating or offer to negotiate until you were caught out.


It goes on: Bill 99, WCB. We had promises from Minister Jackson and Minister Witmer: "Don't worry. The opposition is making all this noise about province-wide public hearings. We're going to do that. Why do the opposition members keep getting up and making all these requests? Of course we're going to do that." What did we get? Four half-days in Toronto, six measly days across the province, for a bill that completely replaces the Workers' Compensation Act, for a bill that takes $15 billion away from injured workers and gives $6 billion of it to your corporate pals, that takes away 50% of the money that's set aside for pensions for injured workers.

It's interesting. Your idea of fairness is, take away 5% from injured workers, because now they're only going to get 85% of net instead of 90%, and lower the premiums that the employers pay into the fund. That's fair. Each of them is 5%. Some of your arguments are that simplistic. But the fact of the matter is that the unfunded liability of the WCB is not taxpayer money, not one penny, and they've never borrowed a dime. That's money employers owe because their employees can't sue them under the law. If you're hurt at work and it's your employer's fault, you can't sue them. You're entitled to your wages and benefits. That was the tradeoff in 1914. You've given those who owe that unfunded liability a 5% reduction in the money they pay. At the same time you've reduced the amount of take-home pay of a worker injured on the job through no fault of their own.

That bill, after your Minister of Labour promised province-wide public hearings, got six days. In fact, in order to get to as many communities as we could, we even split at least one of the days -- I'm not sure if there were two -- so we're only going to be in that community a half-day. Yet this is a government that stands up on every piece of legislation and says: "We're doing this for democracy. We're doing this for the people. We're taking care of people in a way you never did." That's sure true.

What are some of the other things the government House leader said? He thought that 90 minutes for opening debate, leadoff debates, which means either the leader of the party, in my case Howard Hampton, or from the Liberals, or it could be the government or the critic, or the minister can have up to 90 minutes, was too much time. Isn't it funny that when they were in the third party over here the 90 minutes that we had moved to from unlimited wasn't enough. Isn't that interesting. It wasn't enough over here; too much over there.

What phrase did he use? He used an interesting phrase. He said, "We can't let these people dominate the time." That one really left me perplexed: "dominate the time." He makes it sound like somehow we've got leaders and critics and ministers pushing everybody out of the way, maybe using a baseball bat to threaten them, saying, "I'm going to use all this time and you just get out of my way."

When my leader stands up and leads off our debate for 90 minutes, I want that to happen. I'm proud of my leader and I'm proud of the position he takes and I'm proud when he speaks on behalf of my party. He's not dominating anything. He's being given an opportunity, a decent amount of time to expand on some ideas so we can do what we're supposed to do in here, which is have thoughtful debate. Yes, we have theatrics and, yes, we all tend to get a little louder than others from time to time, but the longer the time to speak, there is the argument, the more time you have to get into the nuances and details and implications of what are sometimes very complex pieces of legislation.

Again, it looks contrived. It looks like a contrived argument from where I sit. I would also argue, since we all don't want that to change, that if you think we're being so hard done by by our party leaders or our critics, just add another day. But you don't justify this argument by reducing that time from 90 to 40.

A couple of other things. The government House leader says, "Other jurisdictions can do it," meaning this time limit and some of the other changes they're making, but what he doesn't tell you is that they've cherry-picked. They took a little bit from this Legislature, a little bit from the House of Commons, a little bit over here, and sort of patched it all together so that we have the most restrictive rights in the entire nation, and then they justify it by saying, "All the other jurisdictions can do it." It doesn't wash when you look at it.

For instance, some of the times that are less are in provinces that have fewer members because the Legislature's not as big. Some of the time limits the government talks about in the House of Commons, try factoring in the fact that they've got two Houses. They've got a Senate and the House of Commons. Bills have to go through a much longer process. No matter how hard a Prime Minister tries, with how big a majority, there's a certain amount of time restriction that will make those cases seem like forever compared to what we're going to have here in Ontario.

I would say to him, if he likes all those other rules so much, how about bringing in some total packages for us to look at? If you like what they do in a certain province so much, let's look at all the things they do. You like what they do in the House of Commons? Let's look at all the things they do. But don't cherry-pick from the different places, patch it all together and then say: "Everybody else can do it. Why can't you?" That's not the reality.

Then the minister said: "Listen, there are things in there that may seem a little harsh, but we don't intend to do it. We wouldn't really use those rules. We just want to put them there." We heard that in Bill 26, and slowly but surely all those draconian measures, one at a time, are being used. You've got your excuse for it at the time, but it does put the lie to the argument you gave at the time that, "Oh, we would never do that," because you are doing it. Nobody puts rules in place when you're in power that you don't imagine at some point you might want to use. Please don't insult us with that kind of argument.

Then the minister said he wants to negotiate. Again, let's remember that all of that came out after the media started to pay much closer attention, when they began to realize they were going to be carved out of the process in a significant way, and if they're out, that means the public's out. Once the light was on them and the truth started to come up, bubble to the surface, suddenly the minister wants to negotiate. He even said he's ready to have more negotiations later on, but we know all they're doing is watching the clock. It's 9:35 now. They know at midnight they're out of this place and they're in their favourite mode; that is, when nobody's watching. They like that best. The prospect of any real negotiation is all but non-existent. It's smoke and mirrors, and people are seeing it for that.

In the few minutes that I have left I want to just touch on a couple of the comments that the member for Nepean made. I caught some of his debate when I was in one of the rooms.

He talked about the number of bills that were passed. I have a colleague of mine who later on has stats to argue that. I want to argue it from the point of view that one of the reasons you may not have passed as many bills is that you're very big on passing omnibus bills, whole new pieces of legislation, rather than the individual bills that other governments have traditionally brought in over the decades, so there was a lot more debate on individual bills and there were more bills. But the effect of the change that is being made is that you're the winner, hands down. That omnibus Bill 26 was the most comprehensive bill ever to be introduced in the history of Ontario, the one you tried to ram through just before Christmas.


On top of that, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of the debates that used to happen here through law changes don't require bills any more; they're done by regulation in the cabinet room. You've designed a world that gives you the outcome you want: fewer bills; pass them more quickly; less controversy; less opportunity for scrutiny; less opportunity for opposition members to speak.

I want to mention in the final moments that if you really were interested in the public, the bill that you already had agreement from us on in terms of time lines, one where we did have an agreement, one that does matter to the public, one that will make a difference, that we all support, the road safety bill -- you didn't call that bill today. That's not what we're dealing with here on the last day of this session. What we're dealing with is a motion that shuts down debate on the rules that are shutting down debate.

That's what you decided was the priority. But it's your priority, not the public's. It's always your priority that matters, not the public. Whatever is in your best interests, everyone else has to live with. The fact of the matter is that I have no doubt that this government will go down in history as the most anti-democratic, anti-citizen, anti-public-interest government that we've ever seen. I have to go back and read about what some of the governments were doing during the Depression to find anything close to what you're doing at every level that you're at.

You seem to think that you've got enough time between now and the election that people are going to forget. They aren't going to forget. We're not going to let them forget. They will know from the change in their lives and the change in their communities that you hurt people, and now what you want is the ability to do it with fewer people looking on, less analysis, less debate, in the hope that people won't catch on that you're the cause of a lot of what the future ills are going to be in this province.

Mr Parker: Anyone just checking in on this debate might be forgiven for thinking that what we are debating here today is another one of those ruthless, notorious initiatives by the government to make the planet stop rotating on its axis and to cause water to run uphill. I would also suggest that someone might be forgiven for thinking that the rules that we are talking about here today are rules that are written in stone and have been passed down to us from the ages and that there is somehow some nefarious plot to overturn all of this.

So I thought maybe what I would do is take the time available to me and try to bring some perspective to bear on the discussion we're having here this evening and maybe give some focus to the debate that we are engaged in. We're here debating a motion for time allocation on a motion to make certain amendments to the rules that govern our processes here in this chamber. A little bit of history might be useful in helping to give some perspective to what we are engaged in here today, or what I thought we were engaged in and what the order paper says we are engaged in, although not everyone who has spoken here today seems to have read the same order paper that I have on my desk.

To give it some perspective, let's just go back a few years and remind ourselves that the standing orders in this House are a creature of this House. The standing orders change from time to time at the wish of the members of this House. In 1989, for example, the Liberal government of the day brought in certain changes to the standing orders as they then existed.

Mr Baird: Who was the House leader then?

Mr Parker: Who was the House leader at that time? I think it was the member for Renfrew North, an eminently respected member of this chamber who wouldn't ever do anything contrary to the interests of parliamentary procedure. But at that time, a motion was brought forward and was voted into effect by the Liberal government of the day which included among its provisions imposing a time limit on the period for petitions in routine proceedings. A time limit was imposed in 1989 by the Liberal government of that day.

In 1991, there were certain amendments that were brought forward by the NDP government of that day. Those amendments included a provision to extend the hours of the House when required. I wonder if that suggestion sounds familiar.

Mr Baird: That's where I got the idea.

Mr Parker: My friend from Nepean tells me that's where he got the idea for the amendment that he brought forward before this House here this month. That was a suggestion that was brought forward by the NDP government in 1991. Included in the 1991 package was a suggestion that there be a requirement to move the orders of the day at 4 pm, regardless of the state of the proceedings during the day. That may sound familiar to members of this chamber also. That's where my friend from Nepean got the idea for that particular initiative. The 1991 package included a 30-minute speaking limit. That particular package was not pursued.

But in 1992 another package was pursued and was acted on. In 1992, the NDP government of that day shortened the parliamentary calendar by two weeks. We've heard a lot here tonight about the importance of debate, the importance of not stifling debate and the importance of the processes of this House. So important were the processes of this House to the government in 1992 that it voted to shorten the parliamentary calendar by two weeks. The arguments from the other side about the importance of debate in this House begin to ring a little hollow with me when I'm reminded of that.

The package in 1992 also included a limit to the opening speeches to 90 minutes. Prior to that time, there were no limits on speaking time in this House, but a limit was imposed. Someone thought it was wise to impose time limits on speeches in 1992.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Who was that?

Mr Parker: That was the NDP government at that time. They thought it made sense to impose time limits on speaking time in this House. The guardians of the democratic process and the guardians of the rights of the members of this House to speak on matters before this House and to represent their constituents imposed time limits. The time limit on the initial speaker was 90 minutes and subsequent speakers 30 minutes.

The 1992 package brought forward by the NDP government of the day also included a formal provision for allocation of time on a stage of a bill, time allocation on a bill. Again, another means of limiting debate in this House, putting time limits, putting some constraints, putting some discipline on debate in this House. That was the NDP government on that day. My friend from Niagara Falls asks the question; I'm constrained to give him the answer.

In June of this year, my colleague from Nepean suggested another set of rule changes before this House. His proposals included 32 proposed amendments to the standing orders. They were designed further to improve the rules governing the proceedings of the Legislature so that the House could be more productive, more effective and more respectful of individual members. I will get into some of the specifics a bit later.

Just in general terms, the proposals included a guaranteed amount of time for debate on the budget, a requirement that the budget be voted on and a provision to make it easier for the Legislature to work longer hours when necessary. Again, does that sound familiar? Is that an idea that originated with my friend from Nepean? No. That was an idea that was brought forward by the previous government. They chose not to act on it at that time. It was a good idea then and I suggest that it's a good idea now.


My friend from Nepean brought forward a proposal to ensure that funding for social programs and other vital government operations is not interrupted by what goes on in this House. I'll just take a moment to remind the members present that periodically it is necessary to vote through a supply motion in this House. There have been times when supply motions have been held up because of the proceedings in this House, and people don't get their cheques and people aren't paid for the work they do. People out there in this province who require and rely on support from the government are held hostage while this House gets through whatever roadblock is in the way, caused by whatever gamesmanship is going on in this House until that has worked its way through. Those people who are relying on support from this government, those people who have put in their honest day's work and are waiting to get paid have to wait until that process has been completed. The proposals brought forward by my friend from Nepean address that difficulty.

Included also are measures to ensure that the legitimate business of the House is not impeded by MPPs who break rules or by frivolous procedural delays and stalling tactics. I think that's in the interests of the people of the province, that whatever goes on in this House, the business of this House can proceed so the needs of the people can be addressed. If a member of this House wants to pull some sort of antic, wants to demonstrate disapproval of one nature or another by means of breaking the rules of this House, the business of the House need not be interrupted while that member carries on.

Many of the amendments proposed by Mr Baird would bring the rules of this House into conformity with the rules that apply in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): So the Liberals here could agree with them.

Mr Parker: We would expect that the Liberals here would look with favour upon those particular recommendations. Some of them have been gracious enough to express their favour with some of the recommendations that have been brought forward; not all of them but some of them.

On June 12 of this year, just a few weeks ago, the government House leader tabled a motion which was based largely on the proposals brought forward by my colleague from Nepean, but his proposals also included the recommendations of other members of this House. A consultation period had taken place, recommendations had been brought forward and those recommendations had been included in the proposals the government formally tabled in the motion before this House.

Specifically, there were certain recommendations from the member for Elgin, the only independent member of this House. Those recommendations were aimed at improving the effectiveness of independent members of this House and those recommendations were adopted by the government and put forward in the motion the government tabled.

Maybe this is a moment where I can specify in detail just what the recommendations are that we are ostensibly debating here today. They fall into four broad categories.

The first category I might classify as amendments that are designed to protect and enhance the democratic rights of MPPs themselves. These amendments would guarantee that each MPP had the right to bring their private member's bill or resolution to a vote. It might not be immediately apparent to everyone listening to this debate that that would be an issue, but at present the rules of this House enable members of this House to prevent a private member's bill from coming forward to a vote. We think that's wrong. We think that's unfair. We think that is not in the interests of the people in this province. We think matters that are properly brought before this House should be entitled to be brought forward to a vote in this House and that vote should not be impeded by the actions of a minority of the members of the House through some procedural mechanism. That procedural mechanism exists at present to interfere with the ability of a private member's bill to be brought for a vote. The proposals before us today would remove that procedural impediment and would guarantee that every private member's bill brought forward would be able to be carried through to a vote.

The proposals the government has brought forward would give each MPP a right to abstain from voting. Right now, each member in this House is required to participate in every vote that takes place. If the member is in this chamber at the time the vote takes place, the member is required to vote yes or no on the issue. There are times when a member may wish to demonstrate an abstention on a particular vote. That option is not available at present. I see no reason why that option should not be available to members of this House. The proposals brought forward by the government would give members that option.

The proposals brought forward by the government would add a purpose clause to the rules. The reason for having a purpose clause would be to give a context to all the rules in the book, to ensure that the standing orders are interpreted and applied in a manner that respects the rights of MPPs. A purpose clause gives a context to all that follows it so that in matters of interpretation it is clear what purpose is to be achieved by the rule under interpretation. In the absence of a purpose clause, that guiding principle is absent and it is not clear to anyone attempting to interpret a rule in a particular set of circumstances how that rule should be applied.

Putting in a purpose clause right at the top puts everything into context so that when an issue arises, when a concern arises, when an ambiguity arises in the light of the particular circumstances of a particular situation, the purpose clause can serve as a guide as to how the rule is to be interpreted and applied. I think that makes sense. I think that's helpful to all of us. I think it's helpful to the process. That's one of the recommendations included in the package that's before us tonight.

One of the provisions in the government's package is a provision designed to protect MPPs by clarifying that a member who contravenes House rules cannot prevent other members from continuing to represent their constituents. I've commented on this already. At present, an individual member so inclined, if that member breaches the rules of this House and acts in violation of the rules in this House, has the potential of bringing the proceedings of the House to a total standstill. The purpose of the rules is to serve as a code of conduct for all of us, a code to which we all adhere, to which we all agree and by which we are all bound. The thought that by rejecting that code, by rejecting those principles, an individual member can bring the proceedings of the House to a halt is in direct contravention of everything we should all be committed to in this House, which is to conform to the rules we set for ourselves and to enable the business of the House to proceed.

Certainly individuals will have differing points of view on different issues and those differing points of view should be debated -- this is the place for debate -- but when the time comes for a decision, that decision should be capable of being made. It is hardly appropriate at all that an individual member can prevent that decision from being made or prevent the business of the House from going forward by the simple act of breaking the rule. But that's the situation we find ourselves in now.

I see that as a gap in our current rules and I see that as a gap that should be plugged. The proposals before the House now plug that gap and will enable the business of the House to proceed in the interests of the members of the House who obey the rules and in the interests of the people of this province, so that one member who decides to be obstreperous, who decides to be obstructionist, cannot hold up the business of all the other members who are here performing their duties for their constituents in good faith.


There are other provisions that fall into that category, but let me move on to the next category, which, I will suggest, is those amendments designed to make the assembly more efficient and more productive. These are the provisions that would encourage greater debating opportunity in the Legislature, that would make it easier for MPPs to work late prior to recess so that more debating time could be made available to members, so that the evening is work time also.

We happen to be debating now in the evening. Anyone who's watching this on TV, you're watching this live; this is not a tape from earlier today. But this is available only in the last two weeks of a session. Members are here for such a short period of time, and many members travel to Queen's Park from points in remote areas of the province. When you're here, the debating time is limited to the afternoon of four days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; two hours on Thursday morning for private members' business, but otherwise, afternoons only on four days of the week. That's hardly enough time to get all the business of the province completed. There's no reason why time in the evening can't also be made available to members to get on with the public business. The proposals brought forward by the government would enable that to take place.

There is a provision in the package brought forward by the government to move from routine proceedings to orders of the day at 4 pm. This is a proposal that the NDP government thought was a good idea in 1992; we think it's still a good idea now and we are moving ahead with that recommendation.

It would also include a mechanism to ensure that funding for vital operations of the government is not interrupted, and I've commented on that already.

A third category of amendments in the government's package are those amendments designed to bring the rules of this House into line with those of the House of Commons in Ottawa. There are a number of such proposals. One of these proposals is a specified petition response time that would bring this House into compliance with the House of Commons, certain rules concerning routine proceedings, certain rules concerning order paper questions. Maybe I can just comment on that briefly.

At present -- this might not be commonly known across the province -- a member in this House is entitled to file questions not only during the oral question period each afternoon, but questions could also be filed with government ministries in written form. There is no limit to the number of questions that can be put forward. We have cases on record in this Parliament, during this session, of one member tabling 400 written questions in, what was it, a week? Was it 400 questions in a week?

I leave it to others to make their own inference as to whether 400 questions, all tabled at virtually the same time, were really intended and directed at any sort of useful procurement of information. Or might they have been tabled for some other purpose? How do we want our government's resources applied? Do we want our government's resources applied answering 400 questions in a week, tabled by one member, or do we want the government's resources applied to getting on with the business of the people?

We think the people want the resources of their government applied to getting on with the business of the people. We think 400 questions in one week is not doing anybody any good. They don't think that in Ottawa either. There are rules in Ottawa to apply realistic limits to written order paper questions. We propose to bring the same sort of discipline, the same sort of focus, the same sort of rules here to Queen's Park.

There is also a proposal to bring this House into compliance with the House of Commons in Ottawa to allocate speaking time according to a more precise formula. The previous government imposed limits on speaking time. The previous government saw fit to put a limit on debate in this House, to limit the total minutes that could be consumed in debate before this House. The initial speaker would have 90 minutes, subsequent speakers 30 minutes, and at a certain point a time allocation motion could be brought forward and bring the whole thing to a close. Those rules were imposed by the previous government, by the NDP government, their rules, the rules they brought forward.

What we have seen in this House is that certain speakers are on their feet all the time and other members don't get up at all.

Mr Gilchrist: All Bradley, all the time.

Mr Parker: Some people who watch the legislative channel on TV might be forgiven, as my friend from Scarborough East suggests, for thinking that the Ontario parliamentary channel is in fact the all-Bradley channel: all Bradley, all the time.

The initial speaker on any bill is entitled to speak for 90 minutes. Anyone who has watched the debates in this House, anyone who has debated in this House, is well aware that well before the 90 minutes has expired, the thought that is applied to the bill in question has long since expired and the time begins to be padded out. It gets padded out with reminiscences. It gets padded out with personal comments. It gets padded out with a few advertisements for the folks back home, a few inside jokes, a few asides, a few debating points --

Mr Gilchrist: Book reports.

Mr Parker: Some book reports; we've had book reports in this House.

It's hard for people -- well, it's hard for some people in this House -- to fill 90 minutes of speaking time with 90 minutes of productive content. I'm not the first person to make this observation. My friend opposite from Cochrane South, when this very concept was being debated in 1992, made the point, "If you can't come to your point in 20 minutes you have a real problem." I think he had a good point in 1992, but we're not prepared to be quite that strict. The recommendation the government has brought forward in its package is that the initial speaker on any particular bill would have 40 minutes to speak to the bill. Subsequent speakers would have 20 minutes apiece, up to five hours. Once five hours of debate has taken place, speakers after that would have 10 minutes.

Does this limit debate? No, it does not limit debate. We are not talking about limiting debate with this amendment. I've heard the comments opposite suggest that's exactly what this is aimed at, what this is designed for, but no. It is not designed for limiting debate; it is designed for increasing debate, enhancing debate, improving debate. Instead of having 90 minutes of drivel on all subjects under the sun, because the speaker has run out of things to say on the bill and is beginning to grasp at straws, we would rotate more speakers on the matter. The first speaker would have a full 40 minutes to make all the points that need to be made in an opening speech, and then the baton is passed. The subsequent speakers would have 20 minutes each, perhaps bringing a different perspective, perhaps bringing the debate back to bear on the matter at hand, as I am trying to do here tonight after listening to many of my friends opposite meander off into areas far afield from the time allocation motion we are dealing with tonight on the rule changes being proposed.

By focusing on 20 minutes of debating time per speaker, the debate will focus more clearly on the issue before the House in each case. That is a recommendation that the House of Commons has adopted. They see the wisdom of such a rule. We propose to bring that provision here in this House. It gives more members an opportunity to participate in debate.


I appreciate that Mr Bradley would have to share some of his air time with some of his colleagues. I expect his colleagues would appreciate that and Mr Bradley would have to find his air time somewhere else. I'm sure he's creative enough to find other opportunities. It would give an opportunity for other members of all caucuses to participate in the debate on all matters that are brought before this House.

Is total debate limited by this proposal? No, total debate is not limited by this proposal. This is not a proposal to limit the total amount of debate. It is a proposal to keep each speaker focused on the issues in question, on the matters to which they are speaking, and to give more members an opportunity to participate in that debate.

There is a fourth category of amendments brought forward by the government, and those fall into what I will call a technical category. I won't take the House's time tonight to dwell on those in detail, but to be honest, I haven't heard any particular objection to those recommendations. I think those are recommendations that there's pretty much agreement on in this House.

I'm going to bring my remarks to a close now, but I did want to take this opportunity to bring this entire discussion back down to earth and remind the member for Scarborough North what we're here to talk about so that when he gets up right after me, he will, unlike some others who have appeared before us, keep his remarks firmly focused on the substance of the matter that is before us tonight and perhaps address some of the issues that we're here to discuss tonight and enlighten us with some useful remarks that relate to the issues that arise directly out of the motion that is before all of us here at this moment.

Mr Gilchrist: Keep going.

Mr Parker: I'm encouraged to keep speaking. I don't want to disappoint my friends. I know they've enjoyed what I've had to say, and there's so much more that could be said, but I am sure others can bring another perspective to bear on this entire discussion and it's important that they have their opportunity to do so. So at this point, having said what I intended to say about summarizing what it is we're here to talk about, to help the member for Scarborough North keep focused on the matters that are genuinely at issue here tonight, I think the time has come for me to relinquish the rest of my time and allow the member from Scarborough to pick it up from here. Thank you all very much.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Let me sympathize with the member for York East first. He said that in this debate one of the main focuses is to limit members to 20 minutes. Somehow this member took his full 30 minutes just trying to be focused and he still hasn't focused. In his 30 minutes he said his party is going to dictate to us when we should speak, how we should speak, why we should speak. Then he himself, who was trying to discipline himself to speak for 20 minutes, spoke for 30 minutes and then said, "Listen, I better quit now because I have so much more to say." How contradictory. How ironic that in one breath your party is trying to dictate to all the opposition, plus many of your backbenchers who basically just follow orders, as has been said.

As some members in your party have said to me, "Why would they want to bring in a bill at this moment to change the rules, to upset more people when so many people are upset with us now?" It's the nature of the animal. It's the nature of the bully. It's the nature of the individuals who want to amass all this power unto themselves and to go further. Someone said to me also that in this democracy there are people who seep into the system, who got the mandate to govern, and now they think they have the mandate to rule. But there are people out there who will not allow this. As a matter of fact, there was someone called Hitler who got elected in the same way, in the democratic process, and got so much out of hand -- you saw how out of hand he got -- that millions of people died thereafter when he got power to his head and himself.

Again, they will tell me when to speak, how to speak and what to speak. In this arena itself, one speaks as one feels, with respect to all, and gets into a debate. I presume it's very difficult for the government side to listen to criticism. It is kind of difficult. I presume you have to have a certain amount of character in an individual to receive that criticism and take it in that way.

Let me again mention what this legislation is all about: It's to shut us down. It's to dictate to us. It's to bully us. One of your colleagues in the government stated that we are a bunch of obstructionists. They want to get their bills through and the nerve of the opposition to debate this when they want to get on with the job, get on to do what they have to do without any kind of democratic process.

I think I should remind the members here why I was elected and maybe why they were elected, lest they forget. I was elected by the people of Scarborough North in 1985 when there were about 220,000 people within that constituency; about 120,000 of those could vote. Even though many did not vote for me, I felt a responsibility to come to the arena of this Parliament to present their views and to take my time in the best way I can to articulate their views and their concerns.

On arriving here in 1985, I did not find that much difficulty doing it in the time that was given to me. First, one has to get accustomed to this rather intimidating arena. I found many articulate, quite bright and very experienced politicians here and I learned a lot. I've seen many new members arrive in this place who try to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations. Some take an hour, an hour and a half to get across their ideas, their many views and some of the neglected issues that had to be brought. It took more than half an hour, it took more than an hour, but patiently the government of the day, whoever they were during those times, listened carefully.

Then here arrived in 1995 a government that said, "We have a mandate to govern, to tell the people, because we are right in everything we do, and we will tell you how long you should speak." In the short time they have governed this province -- trying to rule is what they are doing in this province -- they have had more closures within that time than any other government I've seen. One closure is one closure too many, because that's what debate is all about. The fact is that each time they don't get their way, they bring their bully approach to things by shutting the debate down and limiting the time.

The ironic thing about it all is that they say they want to reduce the time so everyone can have an opportunity to speak, but the fact is sometimes, before I even get an opportunity to express my constituency concerns, they have brought in closure. The same government, the same party that is talking about giving an opportunity for all of us to speak has put closure on this. They have even put closure on this motion about rule changes, and that's what we're debating today, to shut this down, to hurry it along.


I can't recall ever sitting for such a long time, one sitting that has been so long, trying to ram everything through, and still they feel they do not have enough time to do their mandate. They do; they have passed many bills. They are the government and they can do whatever they want, and they have done so, and we have seen that.

Many of my colleagues have spoken about some of the legislation that has been through this place that has taken on the tone, "We want it now, first reading, and in the next day or so we want second reading, and in the next day or so, third reading." When we decide that this will not be so, they get rather upset and put closure on these motions, on the bills they put forward.

The ultimate nerve of this government was at the time they were putting forward their budget. It is the ordinary courtesy of a government to do a briefing, to do a lockup. A lockup, for those who are watching this in the wee hours -- I know many people are watching this at home right now because it's much more entertaining than Geraldo or even Law and Order. They are saying, "The nerve of these people who are saying they will ram things through."

We were sitting in a lockup for the budget, and then beyond that we were told that there was a bomb scare in the building and that we could not move. What this government had done in the meantime was it sneaked in behind those who were out, called the House to order, and tried to move a bill that was rather thick, a huge bill, one of the largest bills I have known that has been brought before this House: the famous Bill 26, the omnibus bill.

The time they were giving us to read that bill in order to vote on that bill was the minimum. As a matter of fact, it wasn't even in my hand and they wanted me and my colleagues to vote on it. Then when we refused and said that time should be allowed, the bully approach and tactics -- and that's how they got their name. As a matter of fact, no one regarded them as such a bully until they decided this bill must go through: "We need the power to control this province. We need the power not to come back to the Legislature for any consent, for any process of changing any legislation. What we want to do is to put in this great omnibus bill," amassing the power to a few people who sit in the cabinet office, with instructions from what are called the whiz kids, who tell them what to do, how to jump, how high to jump, why to jump.

The pathetic part about all this is that many of the backbenchers there didn't even understand what was going on. They didn't even know what was happening. They just had to follow orders. So they arrived here to vote on this bill. Madam Speaker, I'm sure you were there the day they all stood in unison, like a choir, singing out of this hymn book. They had never seen the lines before, but how well they were tuned, saying yes, yes, yes.

I and my colleagues decided, "Listen, we are not able to vote on this; you're ramming this thing through; you're asking for motions and you're asking for passage of a bill without any public hearing," just before Christmas when they felt everyone would be more concerned about other things than legislation. They were trying to pass this as fast as possible, but many of us in the opposition -- all of us in the opposition -- said: "This is more important than even Christmas. This is about how we govern people and we have to understand these laws. We are making sure this bully government doesn't ram things through." So we all refused to leave.

Today and yesterday, on a couple of days when we debate this, I'm hearing many times about the "Alvin Curling fiasco."

Mr Baird: That has nothing to do with Bill 26.

Mr Curling: It's rather interesting that they would then regard my action -- that they would need to change the rules of this Parliament because of the action that was taken by me and my colleagues here.

Of course they say, "This has nothing to do with Bill 26." It has all to do with Bill 26. You know why they say that? Let me explain that. They hadn't read it, so it had nothing to do with Bill 26. They didn't know what was in it. Had I read it at that time? No. They did not give us any time to read it. How can I vote on something I don't know? But in a glance at the bill I see where they're going to amass this power to themselves, where they are not going to entertain any debate from the public, or extremely limited debate.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: If you happen to have a copy of the standing orders, you might want to take a look at standing order 23(c). I believe it prevents the current speaker from repeatedly referring to matters that have already been decided in this session.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): I would say to the members that I've been listening. I've been in the chair for a great deal of the evening. I have been lenient with all members from both sides of the floor.

Mr Gilchrist: I think Mr Parker raised this before.

The Acting Speaker: Well, to all the members, I am listening carefully. I will continue to do so, but I have been lenient in this debate with all members.

Mr Grimmett: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Are you indicating that standing order 23(c) is not be enforced?

The Acting Speaker: No, what I'm saying to the member is that I'm listening carefully to all members debating and that I have been lenient with all members in this debate, because the entire debate is around rules, and I am listening carefully to make sure that the content of the debate has to do with the rules.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Speaker: I would just remind you, for information's sake, that this is the member who read his speech the other night.

The Acting Speaker: I don't think any of this is productive. That was not a point of order. Member for Scarborough North.

Mr Curling: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay made my point very well. He stood up to try to tell me when I could speak and what I should speak. It is the exact point I am trying to make. I will speak what I want to speak, with great respect to the Chair and to Parliament. There are times you could look in that rule book until you die. The fact is, I will say what I want to say, when I want to say it. You can make rules until the cows come home. The point of view is that I will say what I want to say.

I might point out again, as I said, that Bill 26 was amassing all this power upon this government, feeling, "We have five years to do whatever we want." Then when they were caught on all this bully approach to things, when they were caught on this and forced to bring this Bill 26 to public hearings, the Premier stated in public, "Maybe we were really going too fast," and maybe that's one of the biggest mistakes he has made since he has been the Premier. That humbleness did not last too long. A couple of weeks after he said, "Maybe we didn't go fast enough." That's the arrogance we're talking about, "We did not go fast enough."

At times I have requested my caucus, when we go for public hearings, that what we should do is to make sure that we go into every part of this province. One of the most memorable spots I went to was in the Premier's riding. When I was up there we had a great gathering of people.


Mr Tilson: All Tories.

Mr Curling: They could be all Tories, yes. As a matter of fact, most of them were Tories and they were embarrassed by what was happening at Queen's Park with Bill 26, ramming it through. I remember a doctor there who said that if that's the kind of democracy that Mike Harris is going to have, they want no part of it.

Mr Maves: Bill 26 did not go to North Bay.

Mr Curling: The member for Niagara Falls said that Bill 26 did not go to North Bay. Let me correct him a bit again, and that's a good point too because the places they avoided, we, the Liberal Party and our leader, Dalton McGuinty, made sure we had a presentation of Bill 26 in North Bay. So when you said it didn't go there, it's another part of the arrogance again. Here is another part of the arrogance again.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Curling: They felt that only where they go is where representation should be. But we go everywhere, wherever Ontarians are, whether they are Tories, New Democrats, Liberals and some of those who don't even vote -- even Reformers who have slipped away from the Conservative Party. We have travelled many, many places where many of the Tories refuse to go. So Bill 26 did visit there, member for Niagara Falls, whether you like it or not.

I want to comment a bit about this civil disobedience that they speak of that I had done. I would like also to remind you of some civil disobedience that happened by Rosa Parks, gross civil disobedience on her part. She sat in a seat that she should not have sat in. Rosa Parks -- one of these days when I have some time I will give you an education on that. But the fact is that civil disobedience changed the law and made sure that blacks can sit in any part of the bus because she had the civil disobedience and found it was wrong.

Muhammad Ali refused to go to war in Vietnam and everyone was against him about that. He made a statement the other day. He said if so many people who loved him could just love other people, what a wonderful world it would be. I make the point because he himself, with civil disobedience, changed that law.

The Berrigan brothers, priests as you may remember, objected to all this nuclear warfare that was going on and of course were looked upon as civilly disobedient individuals. Again, today we have laws that govern nuclear armaments and are quite careful about how we administer those.

They said it was too much. Some of the members said they had to leave because -- I presume all men are honourable men. All people here are honourable people and their conscience, of course, concerns them. Jesus Christ was a civil disobedient and changed the whole world. I presume they'll challenge me on that too. That's too much for them to take.

So any one of us here who has seen any law, regardless of the book, would want to say -- I don't know if I can say that -- that the law could be an ass. The fact is, if we find that wrong, we will object to that. So whatever law you want to pass here to muzzle us will not help, because cooperation is the order of the day. We need legislation for the people, by the people, not dictated by you, the Tories, or dictated by backbenchers in the back room of cabinet office. If the laws are not reflecting off the people, we in opposition will continue to object and we'll fight it in every way we can.

So I'm not at all intimidated by the fact that you are bringing in these rules here and saying that you will then restrict us, because you're so considerate. You want us to speak in 20-minute batches to give us all a chance. I will see the day -- of course you will ram this thing through and pass it -- that you will continue to put closure in, because when you multiply 20 minutes by 130 members here -- and I hope that every single one will speak on the bill. We will see that, that they will speak on the bills as they come through here and take that opportunity and share it, because there is some legislation that some members feel they should not speak on, but we give our colleagues the chance to make most of the points. If a member speaks for an hour and a half, and most of our members did not speak, that does not necessarily say the members do not share the concerns and the issues and the support of what that member had said.

So regardless of the law that you may bring in today, regardless of the closure aspect that you will do, if it's civil disobedience that will make some sense to you and make that change, we will do that. A greater point that is going to be made is on the day when you're called to the people to justify the kind of dictatorship that you have ruled and governed --

Mr Martin: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: The member is making such a cogent and important argument here that I think it's important that we have some folks in the chamber to hear it. A quorum please.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, can you see if there is a quorum, please?

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Scarborough North.

Mr Curling: I'm so glad that the members are now gathering to listen to my summary.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Not summer; summary.

Mr Curling: "Summary," not "summery." Summer is out of your mind. I know very much that the backroom boys can tell all the backbenchers here what to do, when to do it, and they do it so well, so orderly. But I must remind you all that while they can tell you what to do, they will not be able to tell the opposition what to do. They won't even tell me what to do. The fact is we will oppose it and we will protest and we will do the things that are necessary to get your attention. The fact is, as I was saying, that when the day of reckoning comes -- the day of reckoning is the day when you go back to the polls. I can recall that lady in Ottawa who pointed to your cousin Brian Mulroney and said, "You should not touch my pension, and you have done so and I will remember you."

This was one lady who made that statement, one person. How profound it was when the day of reckoning came. The Conservative Party, which had the largest number in the House, was reduced to calling its caucus in a telephone booth, with only two members. They were reduced to two members because of the day of reckoning. Some of the time you over there all feel that the people are not watching, are not listening, but as you can dictate by rules in this House, they know that the power of the pen, that marking with the pen, that X, will mark you all out in the next election. That's what I'm hearing on the road. That's what I'm hearing outside there.


I know that for many of you here your mothers and fathers are not quite so proud of you, because I'm sure they did not bring you up in that manner. They have educated you to make your own decisions and to listen to people, but you have not listened.

I'm telling you, I represent a wonderful riding, Scarborough North, a riding that has been bullied by this government in rent controls, a government that has shown it can violate the rules any time it wants and the Premier will bail them out, regardless of what it is; a government that has shown complete disrespect for the most vulnerable in our society; a government that has taken 20% of welfare income from the people, and they come back here and say how grateful the people were because they took 20%; a government that has from time to time tried to muzzle us while they muzzle the most vulnerable, the disabled and all those outside; a government that has seen some of the minorities and has taken away some of the protections in employment equity and human rights; a government that has reduced its budget to the limit that people wonder, "Who do they represent?"

It's a government that said: "I am the friend of the developer. You have a friend now. I am a friend of power. You have a friend now. But those who are vulnerable, those who need the services to be protected by this government, have no protection because we are not here to protect those. You fend for yourselves. You lazy bums, you people who are on welfare, you people who are single mothers, you minorities who are unable to get jobs and are discriminated against, fend for yourselves. We call you special interest groups. But no, the developers and the landlords are not special interest groups at all. No, they're not special interest groups. They are the ones we will protect, because from the tables of the rich, from the tables of the privileged, will fall the food to the poor and they shall wait for the droppings to come from those tables."

Mr Baird: We are going to get out the red book if you keep talking that way.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): What happened to the land of opportunity, Alvin?

Mr Turnbull: Mandatory opportunity: Remember that phrase?


Mr Sergio: You got them excited.

Mr Curling: I know. I told you their mothers and fathers raised them well. Their conscience is bothering them. I'm telling you that the day of reckoning will come, my friends, that day when they'll turf you out and you'll be accountable for that. I will defend the rights of the poor as long as I'm here.

Mr Martin: I find it a privilege to get up and speak after such an eloquent statement on behalf of the poor and the marginalized and the vulnerable in our province. I support the thoughts of the member from Scarborough wholeheartedly. He speaks with compassion and concern and we all need to hear that in this place.

Tonight we discuss a piece of work brought to us by the government across the way which to many may seem of some small significance, not very meaningful, not of as much import as some of the bills we've seen go through this place over the last number of months that amalgamated cities and amalgamated school boards and took away the rights of workers.

Nevertheless, this piece of legislation is a very important bill that we discuss and has tremendously important ramifications, because it's about hurrying up the agenda of this government, it's about giving this government the green light to move even more quickly than we've seen in the last two years to introduce change to this province that is by any measurement reckless, at best, and at its worst certainly not well-thought-out and not in the best interests of all the people who call this wonderful province of ours home and who choose to work and to bring up families here.

This government seems bound and determined to introduce and have its agenda imposed on the people of Ontario in a time frame that simply boggles the mind. Here we have in Ontario a jurisdiction that's the envy of people around the world. Ontario is the industrial heartland of Canada, a place that over the last 100 or so years has seen progress in a way that is inclusive and thoughtful and intelligent in many ways, and that progress was made by people such as ourselves, elected to office, working together in a cooperative fashion, debating issues, debating bills and taking the time that is necessary to make sure that those bills, those pieces of legislation, are in fact in the best interests of all the people of the province.

Now we have a government that came to power in 1995 that wants to turn everything upside down. Not only do they want to turn it upside down, but they want to do it yesterday, with no opportunity for the people who are going to be affected most by this to adjust, to come to terms with some of the new reality that's coming at them, and certainly no ability to participate in any positive way in what may or may not be some of the positive outcomes that will happen.

We know that in Ontario today we have an economy that's doing well, that's generating wealth and creating profit, but for a small group of people, not for everybody. The agenda of this government is making sure that those who don't participate at this particular point in time will never participate in any serious and significant way.

This government would serve even itself better if it took its time, if it slowed down, if it was a bit more thoughtful in the legislation it's bringing forward and took the time necessary to run it through the various systems that have been set up over a long number of years in this province to make sure that we do what's right, to make sure that we do what's in the best interests of everybody and that we do that which moves us forward in a progressive and constructive way, as opposed to take us back to a time when not everybody was able to participate, to a time when the wealth we generate was not distributed in the same way we find today in this province.

We talk about changing the speed at which we introduce bills here, because it is felt that will somehow make life better for all of us who choose to call Ontario home. I suggest this government will find out in short order that what they think will be helpful to them and to all of us will turn out not to be as helpful as they first suggested.

I have here a statement by a member of the Progressive Conservative Party in the federal House not so long ago, March 1982, confronting a government of that day who were bound and determined to push through with their agenda and not respect the role that opposition plays in a House of Commons, not be thoughtful or mindful of the traditions and the processes that are put in place to make sure the pieces of legislation that are brought forward are the best they can be.


Mr Baird: You are the best, Tony.

Mr Martin: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

One Erik Nielsen, Tory House leader, March 1982, had this to say:

"There was of course outside pressure on us, and in the beginning many angry editorials about our obstructionist tactics appeared in the newspapers. But as time passed and people began to realize both the nature of the legislation and the unprecedented ploy the government was using in wrapping its proposals in this single indigestible bill, the mood began to change and the accusations of being the enemies of progress changed to recognition of our defence of the rules of Parliament."

That's what those of us on this side of the House who stand to speak here tonight are standing in defence of, the rules of the House of Parliament, because we know, particularly those members who have served here for a goodly number of years and those of us who have worked out there in the larger community in any way to make life better for the citizens who live in our neighbourhoods and who call the communities that we come from home, that a well-thought-out process that includes everybody, that takes the time necessary to hear the various voices, however discordant they are with the position that we ourselves take, is in the end a process that produces results that will be the best we can attain.

I remember myself back in the 1980s, part of the so-called 10 lost years, working as a member of the social planning council in Sault Ste Marie with a piece of work that the then coalition government, NDP-Liberal government of the mid-1980s, was bringing through to try and find an answer that would be helpful to those people who found themselves, unfortunately, in a situation in our province where they needed to rely on social assistance for their wellbeing, needed to rely on a system that would provide them the wherewithal to put food on the table for their children, to pay their rent and to clothe themselves and their children through some pretty difficult and long and hard winters.

It was a piece of work that was led by none other than Judge Thomson, the Social Assistance Review exercise. All kinds of people participated in that. I remember in Sault Ste Marie literally hundreds of people gathering in small groups and large groups to digest and work their way through all the issues that were out there confronting people, trying to recognize as realistically as possible the challenges that were there for those who found themselves caught up in the system in a way that wasn't allowing them to participate constructively or productively in their communities.

After lengthy debate, after much thought and work and effort on the part of all kinds of people from every community across this province, we produced a piece of work, a document that was quite lengthy. I remember trying to work my way through it. I remember, even more importantly, the fact that because of the effort that was made and because of the time that was taken to put that piece of work together, to put that program together that would have been a very positive and constructive approach to how we provide for those who are most vulnerable in our province, at the end of the day, because they were allowed to participate, because the leadership of that exercise took the time to make sure there were a lot of people involved, everybody felt they had some ownership, from the person on social assistance, to the activist who was working with people who were struggling to find a place in the community in which they lived where they could participate, to the small business person, to even none other than Conrad Black.

They decided this was a blueprint that they could work with, and so the then government of David Peterson, with support from the New Democratic caucus, began to move forward with an initiative that was complex, all-encompassing and fairly sophisticated but was moving towards creating a system of assistance for people that was going to be, as the report was called, a transition for them from being dependent to being independent to being interdependent.

That was probably the most hopeful involvement that I had up to that time in the struggle that so many of us who worked in the area of social justice participated in, and we were very excited about the possibilities it presented for people.

But in relation to what we're debating here tonight, if we are to pass what is presented to us, if we are to move forward with this time allocation motion which will see us ultimately coming back to this place in August to change the rules so that we move legislation through this place in a way that doesn't allow for the kind of participation that was there in the development of that Transitions program, we will not have good legislation, we will not have good initiatives to bring forward to the people and we will not take advantage of the potential that we have here in Ontario to provide for all the citizens who call this place home.

When the members across the way get up, they make a case that in fact they have provided more time, more discussion on very serious and significant pieces of legislation, than we did when we were in government. I would suggest if you took some time and sat down and looked at the actual time that has been spent on various pieces of legislation as they have worked their way through this place, you would find there's a very significant difference.

For example, Bill 7, the legislation that the present government brought forward that changes the environment within which employees and employers relate to each other in today's society: Your effort to get that through took 9.2 hours of House time in this place. Our Bill 40 -- all of you will remember Bill 40 and the time and effort that we put into making sure that bill reflected in meaningful and significant ways the thoughts and the feelings and the concerns of everybody involved out there -- took us all of 25 hours of House time, 14 hours at second reading and 29 days in committee of the whole in this place. We took our time.

To the members across the way who got here two years ago and are in such an all-fired hurry to make the changes that they feel will be in the best interests of the people of Ontario, it would behoove them to take a look at the record of previous governments and what actually took place before you got here to move very significant pieces of legislation through this House so that at the end of the day they did reflect both the concerns and the challenges that brought these pieces of legislation forward in the first place and at the end of the process put in place something that was going to be helpful, as opposed to unhelpful.


Let's look at a couple of other pieces of legislation and compare the kind of time we spent as opposed to the hours that have been spent by this government in bringing legislation through this place, just to make the point that where the members across the way will argue that they are spending more time per bill in this place, taking it through the various levels of readings and committee work and saying it is more than what previously happened in this place, you'll find is not the truth.

Bill 103, for example, a major piece of legislation they brought through here that was quite contentious: They spent all of six and a half hours in committee on that piece of legislation. If you look at our Bill 143, which was a very contentious piece of legislation -- that was the piece of legislation we worked through this House that concerned itself with what we were going to do with Metro's garbage, if you remember -- we spent all of 24 hours working that through the various stages of reading and committee.

Bill 103, the bill that unilaterally puts together all the communities that made up the metropolis of Toronto: six and a half hours at most by this government to ram that through. The bill we brought in, the effort we made to try and deal with the very important and difficult and challenging problem of what to do with Metro's garbage, we spent literally four times as much time bringing that through the committee process, taking it up north, having people come in and talk to us about it here, so to suggest for a second that you need to speed up what you're doing any more than you are because you're not getting your bills through as quickly as you'd like to flies in the face of reality.

You are, just by way of the two examples I gave you, Bill 103 and Bill 7, moving through the whole process we have set up here: second and third reading, committee, committee of the whole, taking it through the system at a speed that is probably a quarter of what we took, when we were government, with some very important and significant pieces of legislation through this House.

I would suggest that it behooves all of us to stand back for a minute and remember what government is about, remember that when you make change it affects everybody and that you have to consider, in making that change, particularly in a special way those who are less able to participate, who have less access to the levers of power, who are most vulnerable to the kind of change you're wanting to make, particularly in the environment we find ourselves in today where we have an economy that is much more complicated and sophisticated than it has ever been before, an economy that is less accessible by ordinary workers in the communities we represent and come from -- that we take our time, that we think this through, that we make sure in a global economy such as the one we're in that anything we do that we consider the impact it will have on all the people who live in our province.

We have here in Ontario a wonderful place that many of us were born in, a place that some of us chose to come and live in, for a myriad of reasons. Probably most important among those reasons is the opportunity that is there both for us and for our children to work, to get an education, to access health care when we're sick and to play and participate in a quality of life that is envied by the rest of the world.

When we see the wonderful province we have inherited and are now responsible for begin to fray at the edges, and where on one hand we're told by organizations as important as the United Nations that we are one of the best jurisdictions in the world for a lot of reasons, and on the other hand that we have a growing problem of child poverty, you have to ask yourself what we're doing that isn't quite right and take the time together, government and opposition, to work through some of those very challenging questions so that at the end of the day we put in place something that will answer some of those very difficult challenges.

I suggest to you that in the world we live in today, there are some people who will not need any help. There are some people who will always be able to participate. There are some people who will always see the opportunity and grasp it and run with it. I think that's wonderful and we should be encouraging that and making sure there's an environment within which that can happen.

There will be people who will work their way through our education system, who will take advantage of the opportunity that's there and find a place for themselves and be able to participate, but my concern is for those who will not be able to participate in that way, who because of the very complicated nature of the economy we find ourselves in, the very complicated nature of the society that's coming at us and the challenges we face, will have some difficulty.

That's where government has to play a very important role and that's where I believe government has to be very thoughtful and has to be willing to take the time that is necessary to hear all the arguments that are made, to hear all the concerns people have that are very real, perhaps not so significant to some who are in a hurry or are not able to see the everyday difficulties that ordinary people experience, but we have to take the time to do that. That's why government is set up the way it is; that's why there are the checks and balances at a place like Queen's Park and why we must honour that.

This place didn't just all of a sudden happen one day; it evolved over a long number of years as people struggled with how we make this democracy that we call government work for ourselves and for all the people. When I came to this place first back in 1990 I had some ideas on what I thought I'd be able to do to make life better for people. I soon began to realize that there was a whole pile of other people here who had some tremendously valuable and exciting ideas too and that mine weren't the only ones, in many cases not necessarily even the best ones.

When I got together with other people and we shared our ideas and we pooled our resources and we respected the processes that are in place here that call us to take new initiatives to the public by way of standing committee, that call us in the House to listen to the voice and the concern raised by the opposition, we were all in the end better served.

We had legislation that was probably never perfect but at least a move forward, an attempt to improve the lot of another group of people who for too long were left out of the equation or who for too long found themselves at some disadvantage, who could now, because of the initiative of sometimes an individual member in this place, sometimes a caucus of an opposition party, more times than not the government brought forward a piece of legislation, a resolution, a regulation that, when it was processed and people were allowed to participate in it and it reflected the discussion and the argument and the give and take of that process, it became something that was very valuable.


We brought to this place in the four and a half to five years we had as government a whole raft of new ideas and new legislation. Some of it was very good. Some of it probably needed some work. Some of it needed to be developed further. Some of it, perhaps we should have waited a while before we introduced it, because I think you can't as government ever be too far ahead of the people you serve in some of the initiatives you bring forward, because when you do that you stand the chance of people not understanding it and not being able, because of that, to participate in a constructive and positive way in the implementation of that particular initiative, even if it was designed to help you particularly. Nevertheless, we moved forward with that, and it was progress.

But within half a year to a year of the present Conservative government coming to power in Ontario, without batting an eye, without thinking through the consequence of rolling back some of what you rolled back in that first year or year and a half, boom, most of it was gone, and people were hurt, people were left without the supports they fought so hard for so long to have put in place that would help them participate more fully in the life of the community where they lived.

Because they are moving so rapidly, I don't think it has been well-thought-out. I think five or 10 years down the road it will become even more obvious that the biggest mistake being made by this government, above and beyond the impact of the actual initiatives, is the fact that they're not taking the time to think this through; that they're not taking the time to include more people in the conversation; that they're not honouring the process Queen's Park is, the checks and balances that have been put in place over many years by our predecessors, by very thoughtful people who were elected by citizens, the same as we have been, to be responsible for the common good of all the people of Ontario.

To come as we have in the last number of days to this place in such an all-fired hurry to make the major changes you're suggesting that will affect in such a radical way the timing of the initiatives you want to bring forward concerns me, concerns my colleagues in the NDP caucus, concerns all the opposition in this place and concerns a lot of the ordinary citizens out there who talk to us when we go home on the weekend.

I say to the members opposite, you're going to have a few weeks off now, as we are, to think and to meet with constituents and to ponder the last couple of years as government. Slow down. Reflect. Think about this. We'll come back on August 18, and let's have a fuller conversation about this. Let's think this thing through. Hopefully you'll respect what we have to say when we come back. With any luck at all, if you respect what we have to say, we'll respect what you have to say.

The Speaker: Further debate? The member for Brampton North.

Mr Spina: You said that with a little chagrin, Speaker. I didn't know whether --

The Speaker: No, no. If that was what you heard, I'm very certain to let you know that was not at all intended.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thought you said it with both enthusiasm and reverence.

The Speaker: That's why I'm beginning to really enjoy the interjections from the Minister of Education.

Mr Spina: Thank you, Speaker. I really appreciate it.

I'm very pleased to be able to address the issues regarding these motions to make changes to the standing orders. I want to reiterate some of what we think are the positive elements of this, and then I'd like to follow up with some comparisons, with some of the comments that have been made endlessly from the opposition.

We talk about increasing accountability and efficiency in this Legislature, and there are a few points that will demonstrate that. We are looking at guaranteeing a fixed amount of time to debate the budget. We're looking at guaranteeing the budget debate within three weeks of a budget speech. As has been mentioned earlier by some of my colleagues, that has not been done in a timely manner in the past five or six years. It also permits the House to sit more than four and a half hours a day, plenty of opportunity for us to engage in longer debate on a per diem basis, and it permits the House to sit for more than 25 weeks a year.

Some of the rules we're bringing into place are really more in line with those of the federal House of Commons. We've adopted the House of Commons notice requirement for raising points of privilege. We're adopting the House of Commons rule on the rotation of speakers, and that allows more MPPs to participate in the debate. We're adopting the House of Commons time requirement for replying to petitions. We're adopting the House of Commons time requirement for replying to order paper questions. We're adopting the House of Commons limit to the number of questions a member can place on the order paper at any one time.

If we're adopting all these rules from the federal House of Commons, listening to the comments made by the opposition I can only arrive at one conclusion: that the federal Liberal government in Ottawa is a draconian government that rams bill through. Is that the conclusion the Liberal Party is coming to? That's the only thing I can conclude, that if that is the conclusion they came to, it must be the case in Ottawa.

The technical changes: We're looking to eliminate potential disagreement over who gets the floor; clarifying that motions to have the House work overtime are properly moved during the motions sections of the routine procedures; clarifying the treatment of points of privilege to reflect the parliamentary procedure more accurately. Speaker, these are all moves that make your job easier, and we really want to help you do that: make your job easier. Very clarified, very clear on the rules of the House, so it's easier for you to make decisions. It also allows you more flexibility to be able to control the procedures in the House.

Another one is to fix time on voting on opposition day motions, motions of non-confidence and time allocation motions to a standard at 5:45 pm. We're confirming the existing practice whereby the business statement is not read if the business for the coming week has not yet been determined. We want to confirm that a bill reported from a committee may be ordered for third reading by a simple majority vote. We want to fix the length of debate on concurrence and supply so we don't get our shorts in a wringer in trying to pay the public service for getting their jobs done.

We want to reduce the size of standing and select committees. We have 13 people on most committees now.

Mr Silipo: Too many.

Mr Spina: The member for Dovercourt says, "Too many," and we agree 100%. In the past, I think the rationale, the motivation for sitting on a committee was to pick up the $100-a-day per diem; that's the way MPPs made up their salary from the base it was. But it's now fixed. Under the new salary program we instituted in this Legislature last year, there is now a fixed salary for members and a fixed salary for parliamentary assistants, whips, House leaders and so forth. You see, there's no scrambling around to try to make a few more bucks by sitting on a few extra days of committee time.

We are at committee for very legitimate reasons, to be there for the purpose for which it was intended: to listen to the delegations, to assist in clause-by-clause discussion, debate, amendments and making the recommendations to the House. That's what the committee is there for. We don't need 13 people to listen to 150 delegations; eight or nine would reflect the revised size of the Legislature once the next election is complete, at 103 members; nine or 10 members would far more accurately reflect what we have in the House.


We can make those changes now. Not only would it expedite proceedings in the committee hearings, but in addition to that, Speaker, and I know you'll be particularly pleased with this point, there will be a substantial savings of money, because then we'll only be schlepping nine or 10 members plus staff around this province for public hearings instead of the 20 or 22 we now ship around the province for public hearings. It's important that we have public hearings. The question is, do we have to schlep all these people at great expense?

Mr Tilson: Is that Latin? What's schlepping?

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): What does that mean?

Mr Spina: It's a good word that means moving people around at great expense and under great duress. I think that's the meaning. I apologize, Speaker. I shouldn't engage in debate with other people.

We want to reflect the existing practice respecting the review of intended government appointments. In addition, nothing in this motion -- I repeat, nothing in this motion -- limits debate on any bill by one minute. The proposed changes allow for more democratic debate by permitting more debate.

To illustrate that, let me just look at some comparisons here. Let's look at the 1991 proposed changes, by the honourable member for Sudbury East, I might add. One motion that was proposed was no debate on tabling of committee reports; a five-minute bell. I couldn't believe it. No debate on tabling of committee reports.

Another one: speaking time limited to 30 minutes. That wasn't bad, but we just did one better here, folks. We have extended speaking time for the first speaker, limited to 40 minutes, subsequent speakers 20 minutes, and then 10 minutes after five hours. That's a far more democratic time permitted for speakers to speak than the proposed rule presented by the member for Sudbury East.

Let's look at time allocation that was proposed in 1991 by the NDP. It said, time allocation after a minimum of one day of debate at any stage of the bill. Let's look at the comparison of this bill. It says, time allocation after two days' debate at second reading. In other words, she couldn't even allocate the time after first reading, as is permissible.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): They must be blushing.

Mr Spina: I think the opposition ought to be blushing, member for High Park-Swansea. They should be embarrassed by the fact that we have taken some of the recommendations but made them better.

It's always a pleasure to listen to the member for Hamilton Centre. He speaks so loudly and forcefully that he doesn't need the PA system in this Legislature. He talks about bills we introduced that were not part of the CSR, the Common Sense Revolution. Well, hello, folks. Since when was any government limited to just the one set of comments they set out in an election campaign? You govern as you feel is necessary to govern when you are the government.

Let's look at Bill 26. The member for Hamilton Centre and the other members from various ridings have been accusing this government, using terms such as "ram through," "trample," "draconian," "sneaky." Any others? "Anti-labour." "Anti-worker." But it's on the process that we want to address this.

Let's look at Bill 26, which the members speak about, the so-called infamous omnibus bill. The last group that was in government rammed five omnibus bills through; not one but five.

The other thing is, how many days did the Legislature actually sit to discuss bills?

Interjection: Nineteen.

Mr Spina: Nineteen days in the fall of 1994; zero in 1995. Furthermore, there was no budget in 1995, because they were more interested in trying to lose the election -- sorry, they were thinking of winning the election. But the reality is that there was no interest in having sitting days, there was no interest in creating a budget to communicate to the people of this province how they were going to govern. They're trying to tell us now, in opposition, how they were planning to govern. But the reality is that they never did it when they had the chance. Why should we believe them now, when they're in opposition, when they had a chance and blew their opportunity?

The member for Hamilton Centre and the members from the Liberal Party pontificate on the fact that we do not have enough public hearing days. Let's look at the social contract. How many public hearing days did we have with the social contract? I'm amazed. How many? Thirty days? Twenty days? Ten days? Zero days: zero days of public hearings on the social contract, an omnibus bill unto itself because it covered so many ministries.

Mr Shea: What arrogance.

Mr Spina: "Arrogance" is not the word; it was dictatorial. I lost count of the number of orders in council that came down from the Premier's office during the reign of terror of the NDP government, an unbelievable number of orders in council.

They're talking about us being dictatorial? They're talking about us ramming legislation through? They're talking about us being draconian? I have never seen such a draconian government as the last party that governed this province.

The member for Fort York, my esteemed colleague --

Mr Silipo: He's not in his seat.

Mr Marchese: I'm not there.

Mr Spina: I can't say whether he's there; I'm not permitted to make a comment on the presence or absence of a member. But he is in the chamber, so we're pleased to hear he's able to hear the comments. He talked about how the ruling comes down from the Premier's office, that everything has the "M.H." stamp on it. He is phenomenally clairvoyant. He really thinks that everything comes from Mike. But do you know something? There are 81 other members -- well, 80, with due respect and deference to the Speaker. The reality is that you cannot herd that many people --

Mr Silipo: Not by yourself.

Mr Spina: -- by yourself. This is a Premier who sits through the entire caucus meeting, who listens to the comments, opinions and input of the members of caucus. There's no question that the Premier's office wants to and should have approval authority over anything proposed by the members of the government. That's the case in any government; that's the mark of leadership. The leader has to be able to govern not only the government but also its party members. You have to have that final step of approval whenever issues are proposed and brought forward, so of course the Premier's office is going to have a stamp of approval on it. Tell me Bob Rae didn't have that. Tell me that David Peterson didn't do that.

How about the draconian measure of the employer health tax? In 1989, as the president of the Brampton Board of Trade, I filed, along with many other business people in this province, hundreds of thousands of petitions against the employer health tax. What did David Peterson do? Rammed it on through.


Mr Shea: And the commercial concentration tax.

Mr Spina: And the other element, the commercial concentration tax. How could businesses survive, for Pete's sake? No wonder we're into a recession over the last five years -- draconian measures of the previous two governments. If you want to kill business, that's the way to do it: steal from their profits. How do you think jobs are created? Government creates recycled jobs, business creates real jobs.

Mr Marchese: You guys are great. They're great.

Mr Spina: The member for Fort York is very entertaining in his speech and he thinks he's clairvoyant in being able to see into the caucus. The first couple of times I heard him, I listened attentively because the next caucus meeting I sat there and I tried to compare what went on in the caucus meeting versus what I heard from the honourable member for Fort York. And you know what? It's not true. The caucus office was not bugged. It confirmed my feelings that the member for Fort York is not clairvoyant and therefore his guesses are nothing but that: speculative comments on how this government is run, how the decisions are made within this caucus.

We were criticized about whether we should have this debate tonight or have it six weeks from now. Do you want to know the reality? It was a vote of the caucus that wanted it now, not six weeks from now. However, we defer to the power and the negotiating skill of the House leader with the other leaders. Therefore, here we are, folks. We're doing this part tonight, the time allocation. The actual vote on this motion will take place in August. Why? Because we work as a team. Even though we wanted one thing, we are perfectly understanding of the House leader to work with the other parties. We are flexible, we're willing to listen.

Mr Silipo: We didn't ask you to call this one today.

Mr Shea: You were asking for it.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): No, fair and reasonable.

Mr Spina: We are fair and reasonable and the reality is that we are trying to do our best. We're not perfect, we will admit that, but I think the proof is in the pudding when the population, including the former Premier, clearly expresses the fact that this government is going in the right direction. We are doing the right things.

The Speaker: Member for Nepean.

Mr Marchese: He's using a prop.

Mr Spina: The people have shown their approval in the latest polls released today. Clearly we are ahead. This government, this party, is now again the leading party of popularity with the people of Ontario. Furthermore, the leader that everyone so decries and who we admire as the lightning rod of this party is clearly head and shoulders above the two leaders of the opposition, and that's no comment on their height.

You want to talk about jobs in this province? How can this motion create jobs in this province? What we're trying to do is expedite the business of government, put bills through that are better for the economy to be able to grow, expand and hire people. Isn't that called job creation? That's what I thought.

I'm really happy because in my riding Chrysler Canada has the LH platform car. They hired 250 people over this past year. That's only in Brampton. But that ain't all, folks. You know what? One hundred per cent of the LH production cars are coming to the Brampton plant next year, in cooperation and negotiation with the CAW. Good guys. And you know what? A third shift is going to be added, 1,200 more jobs in that plant. Those jobs are coming from the United States of America to Ontario. That's what makes us proud.

The member for Nepean talks about the Nortel jobs coming to Nepean, the $250-million expansion, the 5,000 new jobs by the year 2000, over the next couple of years. Fantastic.

Mr Shea: We didn't get those five years ago.

Mr Spina: No. But I've got to tell you another story about Nortel which is a little known story. Northern Telecom moved its global headquarters to Brampton. They moved the switching plant out of Brampton to Belleville. The point is that they increased jobs in Belleville for switching equipment and production facilities. We lost 400 jobs in Brampton; however, they converted the plant into the world headquarters for Nortel and brought 600 jobs into the community. Northern Telecom, ladies and gentlemen, is an international, global corporation. They could have gone anywhere. They have a huge facility in Memphis, Tennessee; they have facilities in Europe; they have facilities in other spots in the US and Canada. Where did they choose to locate their global headquarters? Brampton, Ontario. I'm proud of that.

The $250-million expansion, Nepean, Ontario.


Mr Spina: How do you pronounce that? Nepean, thank you.

These moves all work in concert. There is a plan, there is a strategy and it is working. Jobs are up, the economy is up, popularity is up. This government is doing what the people wanted. This government is doing what the people needed. This government is delivering on what it promised. This government is delivering in areas in which it didn't promise but knew that the moves that were made were absolutely needed for the betterment of the economy of this province. That's what governing is all about.

I'm out of breath. I'm very happy to have spoken on this motion.

Interjection: Tell us more. Tell us more about Nepean.

Interjection: Give him a glass of water.

Mr Spina: That's what I need.

While we're at it, we have announcements. Since we're on the final roll here, we have five minutes left. The member for Fort York would like me to continue and I'm very much looking forward to it. My colleagues have been kind enough to slake my thirst.

I just wanted to --

Mr Silipo: This is the benefit of having 30 minutes within which to speak.

Mr Spina: Yes, and you see, the point was made 10 minutes ago, so therefore I could have stopped 20 minutes ago, but because of this silliness of the rules that we have in this House, I can go on for another four minutes and 42 seconds, you see. That's exactly the thing.


Mr O'Toole: Recite a poem or something.


Mr Spina: No, I'm going to recite a couple of comments Mr Bob Rae made:

"Harris Right, Rae Says

"`I do believe that all that has taken place is necessary,' Rae said at the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

"There are limits to what all governments can spend, borrow and tax."

Bob, a message to you: If you had paid attention to your own message and your own thoughts, you might still have been Premier. But you listened to your own party, and there's where your problem lay.

Let's talk about a couple of other people here. I'm going to begin the quote:

"We are going to proceed with parliamentary reform. We're proceeding with parliamentary reform which will finally bring the Ontario Legislature in line with the other legislatures in Canada and the House of Commons."

Mr Baird: Who said that? Mike Harris?

Mr Spina: David Cooke, June 9, 1992.

How about this one, folks?

"When both the Liberals and the Conservatives sat in government, they were able to get, on average, about 30 bills through this Legislature. Why? Because the opposition parties allowed, yes, a debate to a certain extent and allowed the business of the House to go ahead because we understood, as an opposition party, when we were there, that the government does have the right to govern and at the end of the day it must put forward its agenda. Democratically, they have that right."

Mr O'Toole: Who said that?

Mr Spina: The man who said that? Gilles Bisson, the honourable member for Cochrane South, June 22, 1992.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Why don't you go home and put your child to bed.

Mr Spina: She's in bed. It's okay, Marilyn.

Here's another one:

"Bring in a reasonable amount of reform that puts a time on the speeches. Other jurisdictions, the federal House and other provinces, have that. We can live with that."

Mr Shea: Who said that?

Mr Spina: Steve Mahoney, Liberal, Mississauga West, 1992. Mr Mahoney has now taken his thoughts to Ottawa. Congratulations, Steve.

There are a number of other issues we can talk about, but it's important that the last quote be made:

"We have lagged behind. As the federal House and other provincial houses have moved on to bring in changes, this particular Legislature has lagged behind, as we have in a number of other areas. I hold this government accountable for not moving us ahead in a more timely fashion on these rule changes" -- said in 1989 by Mike Harris, referring to the Liberal government of the day.

What do we have now? We have the opportunity to take the rule changes and implement them, make this House more efficient, more cost-effective --

Mrs Ross: More democratic.

Mr Spina: -- more democratic and more accountable to the people.

The last and final comment is that many backbenchers, including myself, will have more opportunity to get up and speak on various bills. Speaker, that's just as important a point as all the others because the members represent their constituents, they represent their ridings, they represent in this chamber the people of Ontario. It's important that they have that opportunity to speak on the various bills and issues that come before this House in a timely fashion.

Mr Colle: I listened to the words of the member for Brampton North and I applaud him for his enthusiasm. I think he represents a lot of Progressive Conservatives or certainly Conservatives who are very happy and very content with what's happening in this province.

What is very evident too is that there are also many people in this province who aren't as pleased, who aren't doing as well as some of his colleagues are. There are a lot of people in this province who are not joking and are not going to bed with a smile on their face. They're going to bed without a job. About 10% of Ontarians are still out of work. About 20% of our youth are out of work. There are children throughout this province who don't have the food they should have, who don't have the housing that's appropriate. So it's not all, let's say, a bed of roses out there.

There are a lot of people in Ontario who wonder: "If things are so good in this province, why does government try to take $30 million from seniors in pretending that the calendar went for eight and a half months? If there's so much money coming in, why did they have to try and pull that stunt?" That's why you need an opposition. That's why you need time for the opposition to raise issues, so the public can find out and probe and try to make, you might say, the government's agenda clear to people.

This government has an agenda and it has put forth a lot of bills. They may believe in their agenda and their bills, but the public has the right to know what's in the bills. The opposition can help make the public aware of what's in a bill. The public has a right to question this government. The opposition has a right to question this government. The public has a right to try and understand the implications of all your legislation.

Look at Bill 26, for instance, the size and scope of this. This is the bill you tried to ram through with a week of hearings before Christmas, on Christmas Eve. That's what you tried to do. You tried to pretend this wasn't going to affect people. Everything from the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, to some amendments to the Corporations Tax Act, to amendments to the Capital Investment Plan Act, to the Highway Traffic Act, to the Ontario Drug Benefit Act -- this is where you brought in the user fees -- the Physicians Services Delivery Management Act -- this is about the hospital restructuring, all this was tried by your government House leader to be pushed through in a week before Christmas.

That's why the member for Scarborough North sat in his place and said, "You can't push this through without us and the opposition having an opportunity to question it." You didn't want it to be questioned. You said this bill had to go through without deliberate and detailed analysis. You wanted to hide something. It's our job in opposition to try and disclose and find out for the public what's in the bill. That's what the opposition is here for. You are trying to do more than you can to limit the opposition's role. You already have a majority of 82 seats. What other powers do you want?

Interjection: We want it all.

Mr Colle: Do you want every seat in this House? I think that's what one member just said, from Oakville. He wants all the seats. That's what we've come to, Mr Speaker: an attempt to take total executive control of this Legislature.

If I could remind the members out there, this is the legislative branch of the government. The legislative branch has a function to check the executive branch. The executive branch under Mike Harris has enormous powers. Three of your own members -- Toni Skarica, Bill Murdoch, Gary Carr -- said that you're bordering on the verge of being dictatorial. It wasn't the opposition saying that.

There's probably never been a Premier in the history of this province who's had so much centralized power, yet you want to give the Premier and the backroom manipulators even more power so that any bill they draft can be rushed through this House in a matter of a week. You can do two bills in six days if you follow through with the amendments you're proposing. You're trying to limit the opposition's ability to raise questions. You're trying to limit the public's ability, therefore, to raise questions. The questions that are raised are maybe sometimes frivolous to you, but they're not to the public.


Case in point is Bill 26. Because we raised questions, you had to make 150 amendments to that monster Bill 26. You also tried to ram through Bill 103. You were going to do it even before the referendums were held in the municipalities because you were afraid to let the people know what was in the bill. You wanted to ram it through again, even despite the fact the public was trying to tell you, "We're not sure what's in the bill; we'd like to see what's in it." When you said you were going to do it anyway, the public got very upset because, as they found out what was in the bill, 76% of the people of Metropolitan Toronto said no to your Bill 103. But with your majority you did it anyway. You basically told 400,000 people you didn't care what they said. You did it anyway. Bill 26 you did anyway, despite all of the protests.

The question is, how much more power do you want? You've got 82 seats. You've got the ability right now to almost pass any bill at will. You don't even have to listen to the deputations. Look at the deputations that went before Bill 103. Deputant after deputant after deputant, except for the Premier's chauffeur, said, "Withdraw Bill 103." You still rammed Bill 103 down.

So don't talk about being the super democrats; that you are not. You may be a lot of things, but you do not like to listen. You don't like to be questioned. You don't like to be criticized. You've got very thin skin. You've got a majority government and you want more power. You want to shut us down more. You want to pass more bills through quicker.

What are you trying to achieve? You're like the revolutionaries now gone mad. You're like the revolutionaries now in the stage where you have established the dictatorship of the proletariat, where you do away with all opposition and you rule basically at the hands of one person. That's what you're establishing.

What else are you going to do next? After you shut down the opposition's ability to question and debate, what's the next scheme that the backroom whiz kids are going to unload on this House? What other power grabs have you got up your sleeve?

You know why you want this power? Because you know you're going to do things that the public of Ontario won't like if they find out what's in them. You're trying to hide something. You're going to bring forward some bills, I'm sure, in August or in September that the public will not like, but you want to be able to push them through, jam them through before public opinion rises up against you.

That's what your motivation is behind this. We've had major rule changes in this province both by the Liberals and the NDP. Now you want to go to the point where the opposition is totally handcuffed, and you say, "We're going to do what they're doing in Ottawa or BC."

You're just cherry-picking. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that in Ottawa there are two chambers, that even though something gets through the lower House, you can debate and the public can get engaged in legislation through the Senate, and that's been happening with quite a lot of regularity. We do not have a higher level or chamber here in Ontario. That's why it's so critically important to have a strong legislative branch. That's why the opposition has to have that role of questioning, because you don't have the second check and balance. Even in the United States the state legislatures are all bicameral at the state level, never mind the federal level. They have checks and balances.

That's what makes British parliamentary democracy one of the most envied systems of government in the world. It has a system of traditions and checks and balances. I know some of you consider this a lot of silliness and a lot of extras, but I'll tell you, this took hundreds of years to develop. These traditions of protecting the rights of the opposition did not come automatically. People gave up their lives, they gave up their careers. They were dedicated to parliamentary democracy. Going back as far as the 13th century, there was a lot of sacrifice to bring us to where we are.

What you're doing is trying to go back in a regressive fashion, limiting the role and the right of the public to find out what you're doing behind your closed doors. This government is becoming a closed-door government that wants to draft a bill and jam it through the Legislature before anybody out there finds out what's in it.

You're going to make big mistakes. We've seen the 150 mistakes in Bill 26. We've seen the massive mistakes in Bill 103. They'll probably have to pass another five bills to correct the mistakes they haven't already.

When you have debate, the public finds out how they're affected and you have better government. It's a safety valve also. The public feels at least they have a say. Now the public is wondering, "How are we ever going to be able to question or find out what's in a bill if they can pass two bills in six days and even reduce the influence of question period?" You were even trying to shove question period right off the roster almost.

What is the rationale for this? You say efficiency and effectiveness. You just don't get it. This place is about debate. This place is about questioning. This place is about criticizing the government when they're wrong. That is what makes this place work, why it's worked all these years. You are now trying to go back and take away those rights and privileges that made our government here in Ontario and governments of its ilk all across the western world the prized democracies.

For your own expediency, you're changing the rules. Why are you changing the rules? Because you're losing. Because you want total control. Because you lost the battle for Bill 26. The public said Bill 26 was wrong. The public said Bill 103 was wrong. You think, "We can't let that happen again because we've got some other really bad bills coming up and we want to make sure that doesn't happen again." So the whiz kids in the back room try to figure out ways and schemes of doing it. They are unelected whiz kids. Who are these faceless people who are scheming up these ways of diluting democracy, diluting the public's right to know?

You should not be supporting any of these measures because basically they're denying the public's right to know what's in your bills, what's in the legislation. You don't want them to know, because once they find out they may oppose you, they may question you, and that's what you don't like.

You think you have a divine right to rule now. You think because you won the election, you've bought the business. Well, this isn't a business; this is still a parliamentary democracy, with all its warts and scars and inefficiencies. If you want to make something that's perfect, maybe you should go back to business. This is not about business; this is about a province that people own. It belongs to the people of Ontario. It doesn't belong to any of us. It doesn't belong to your cabinet and it doesn't belong to the Progressive Conservative Party; it belongs to the people of this province. As wrong as they may be sometimes, as wrong as the opposition may be, they still have the right to question you, and you do not have the right to limit our right to question you. That is what you're trying to do.

The unconscionable thing about these rule changes is that they have the audacity to say they need all the power. As the member from Oakville said, they want all the seats. They want a one-party system; then they would be happy. Then the backroom boys would have succeeded in taking control of something that is not theirs. You will never have all the seats. You will never own this province. It's not up for sale. You didn't buy it.

The member for Scarborough East is laughing as usual. He thinks democracy is a joke. He thinks this House is a playpen for him. He doesn't realize the pain and suffering that wrong decisions made by his government can inflict on people. That's what they don't realize.

The Speaker: Mr Johnson has moved government notice of motion number 26. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 2400 to 0015.

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


Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Sampson, Rob

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Saunderson, William

Boushy, Dave

Hudak, Tim

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Johns, Helen

Snobelen, John

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Jordan, W. Leo

Sterling, Norman W.

Doyle, Ed

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Ecker, Janet

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tascona, Joseph N.

Elliott, Brenda

Maves, Bart

Tilson, David

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.

Young, Terence H.

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas


Hardeman, Ernie

Ross, Lillian


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


Brown, Michael A.

Curling, Alvin

Martin, Tony

Christopherson, David

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 43; the nays are 14.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I would seek unanimous consent that we deal with third reading of Bill 138, the road safety bill.


The Speaker: I don't think you're going to get unanimous consent.

Hon David Johnson: You usually put the question.

The Speaker: But it is past 12 of the clock. I don't put it on unanimous consent.


The Speaker: Come to order, please. Government House leader, please take your seat. It is past 12 of the clock. This House stands adjourned --


The Speaker: Minister of Environment, you know the rules very well. It's past 12 of the clock. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock, August 18.

The House adjourned at 0020.