36th Parliament, 1st Session

L216 - Wed 20 Aug 1997 / Mer 20 Aoû 1997















































Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I rise today to congratulate the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation on the election of their new executive council. Chief Charles Fox was re-elected to serve a second term as grand chief of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. Joining Mr Fox on the executive council are three deputy grand chiefs who were sworn in during a ceremonial banquet.

During his last term as grand chief, Charles Fox did an exceptional job representing the views and concerns of the people of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. Having experienced at first hand the dedication and hard work which Chief Fox demonstrated in his position, I believe that he will fulfil his post with as much devotion and enthusiasm. The ongoing support of his community is reflected in the positive accomplishments made during his first term.

As in the past, I look forward to working with the grand chief on issues that affect the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation.

Once again, I congratulate Chief Charles Fox and his executive council on their achievements in attaining their respected positions. I am sure that under their leadership the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation will continue to be nurtured and successful.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): In a press release issued on Monday by Premier Harris, one could read: "We're very encouraged by the signs we've been seeing of a turnaround in Ontario. We're starting to see our efforts bear fruit."

My question for the government is very simple: Where have you been in the last two years? The situation has never been so chaotic and so messy in Ontario. Every single sector is being hit, hit hard by this government. Across the province hospitals are closing, waiting lists for health care services and surgeries are getting longer and longer, schools are forced to cut programs and increase the number of children in classrooms, public workers are being laid off, municipalities are struggling with the downloading mess that is being handed down by your government, in northern Ontario homeowners are facing huge property tax increases, and tenants are facing unlimited rent increases.

The private sector has not been spared. Last year, for example, Ontario restaurant and foodservice bankruptcy reached its highest levels. I could be here all day to tell you what's wrong with this province and what's wrong with this government plan, but I doubt that you would listen to me.

What you should be aware of, though, is that people are very much concerned that the only fruit your efforts are bearing is growing concern, dissatisfaction, anger and frustration among the population in this province with the Conservative government.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I rise today to congratulate Mr James Breithaupt and the organizing committee of the World Horseshoe Championships, which were held in Kitchener in July.

The committee worked hard for four years to bring the event to Ontario and Kitchener. This was the first time in the history of the 88-year-old event that it was held outside the United States.

Over 1,700 players, the largest number of players to ever compete in the world championship tournament, came to Kitchener in search of a world title. They came from countries such as the United States, Norway and Japan, as well as from all over Canada.

In addition to competing for the world championship, the pitchers were also competing for $50,000 in prize money.

For those members who are familiar with the game of horseshoes, you will be interested to learn that the highest percentage of ringers thrown in the ladies' championship round was 85.15%, while in the men's the highest percentage was 84.21%. To the uninitiated, this means that over four out of five horseshoes pitched were ringers.

The ladies' world champion is Bev Nathe of Minnesota; the men's world champion is Alan Francis of Ohio.

Over the past several years, Kitchener and our twin city, Waterloo, have hosted the Brier, the Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament, the women's world softball championships, the Canadian men's junior baseball championship, and of course we host the annual Oktoberfest celebration.

My congratulations to the two world champions, the organizers of the event and the city of Kitchener for showing the world that Kitchener and the province of Ontario are world-class places to hold world-class events.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I rise today once again to speak about the plight of the flood victims of Essex and Kent counties. Property damage is in the millions of dollars; breakwalls have fallen and are in great disrepair.

As I've advised the Minister of Municipal Affairs on numerous occasions, the situation is critical. The fall season will soon be upon us, and with it will come damaging fall storms. With the current high lake levels, residents on the shores of Lakes Erie and St Clair are in danger of suffering irreparable property damage.

All this can be rectified today if the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing would reinstate funding to the Shoreline Property Assistance Act. We're not talking about a handout. It's not a grant; it's a loan.

Governments of Ontario have a proud history of helping others who have suffered the wrath of natural disasters, recently demonstrated during the great flood that befell Manitoba. Why has the minister not approved flood relief funding to the citizens of Essex and Kent counties?

In addition to my calls for action, this week our leader, Dalton McGuinty, wrote to Premier Harris regarding the lack of support to the shoreline property owners to date, in hopes that damage to property and breakwalls can be repaired promptly.

Ontarians need the help of their government now. I strongly urge the minister to provide assistance that is required immediately.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to express my own dismay and that of the people of the district of Algoma at the fact that the Minister of Education and Training has apparently decided not to make any changes with regard to trustee representation on the two new district school boards: district school board number 2 and district school board number 31.

The minister claims, in a letter dated July 23, "The Education Improvement Commission did not make a recommendation to alter the configuration of district school board number 2." This, of course, is patently incorrect.

As the minister well knows, on May 9 he removed the Hornepayne Board of Education area from the proposed district school board number 1 and put it in district school board number 2, adding 192 kilometres round-trip to the area of that particular board. The total distance from one end to the other of that board is approximately 600 kilometres, yet the minister, in his letter dated July 24, claims they won't change the number of trustees because the formula for distribution of trustees "recognizes the low-population area and ensures that these areas receive adequate representation." This is just a joke.

District school board number 2, according to this government, is a highly densely populated area and therefore should not get extra trustees. How can anyone think that outside of Sault Ste Marie, Algoma district is densely populated? It demonstrates a complete --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.



Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I rise in the House today to remind members and staff of a resolution passed on February 13, 1997 in this Legislature. All sides of this House agreed with the removal-of-voice-mail resolution that was put forward by my colleague Bill Murdoch, MPP for Grey-Owen Sound.

It seems no one is listening. My constituents and staff are experiencing difficulty and frustration at reaching a live human voice when calling ministry offices. Recently, constituents Harvey White and Larry Ainsworth complained about not being able to work their way through the voice mail system. During debate last February one opposition member called voice mail a science fiction nightmare. I agree with this statement and from the complaints I am getting my constituents agree also. The same member stated, "All people really want is a warm hello and a straightforward answer when they call for assistance."

This morning CHUM radio commentator Brian Henderson asked his listening audience if they had ever tried to call Queen's Park. He referred to the layers of voice mail a caller must go through, often without the desired result. He used voice mail as an example of poor customer service.

I encourage all offices here at Queen's Park to act quickly to support the voice mail resolution and offer our public good personal service. Let's hang up the voice mail and use it after hours.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The gouging of consumers has begun once again with the latest huge hikes in gasoline prices across Ontario. Late last week the oil companies imposed substantial increases in gas prices, bringing the price of a litre of gas over the 60-cent threshold in southern Ontario and much higher in the north.

Many residents in our province woke up to 62-cent-a-litre prices and higher, even 70 cents a litre and over. As the Sault Star put it, and I suspect tongue-in-cheek: "It must be just coincidence that gasoline prices of different brands shot up across Ontario by four cents a litre in the Sault and much of the north. After all, collusion is illegal as well as immoral, so it's unthinkable that the decision-makers at the various companies conspired beforehand and agreed they would hike prices together."

When my colleagues and I have urged the Conservative government to act on this ripoff, this gouging of consumers, we've encountered only apologists, finger-pointers and evaders in the Harris cabinet.

The tourism minister says he thinks our prices he sees at the pumps are quite fair. The energy minister blames everyone else and suggests, as his Republican friends in the USA do, that it's gas taxes that are driving up the price, when in fact only the oil companies' take is increasing, not the taxes. The consumer minister remains silent, as does the Minister of Transportation.

Don't blame the independent operators; they are victims too. Don't blame the local retailers; they get their orders from the big oil companies. It's time for action on the part of the Harris regime, not capitulation to the big oil interests.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I wait for the federal Liberal government to take action on the price of gas in Ontario -- long that they should be doing something about it.

I want to bring to your attention, though, an issue that is happening in regard to the Ministry of Transportation in northeastern Ontario. In the community of Gowganda, nearby on Highway 520, the Ministry of Transportation some six months ago was contacted by CN Rail to do some work on that road.

What's involved is shutting down the highway for a period of 12 hours so that CN can do some work on a right of way they have on a crossing on that highway. Six months ago they contacted the Ministry of Transportation to shut that highway down. When? On the Labour Day long weekend, on Saturday.

Anybody who knows anything about northeastern Ontario would know you don't shut down the road between Shining Tree and Elk Lake on a Saturday long weekend. That is a weekend people use that highway in probably larger numbers than most. What compounds things is that the town of Gowganda has a reunion planned for that weekend, and by closing down the highway people trying to get access into Gowganda will have difficulty.

The result is that the Ministry of Transportation, because it doesn't have the staff to deal with it, to properly check with the municipality how they should shut down that road so people aren't inconvenienced, is going to spend $38,000 of hard taxpayers' dollars. To do what? To build a bypass so people can go through that highway for a 12-hour period. I say we should be trying to get the Minister of Transportation to do his job and have the staff there so we can do this properly.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): A leading goal of this government is to promote economic development and job creation in Ontario. According to Statistics Canada's labour force survey, since the June 1995 election, under Harris government policies employment in Ontario has increased by 191,000 net new jobs.

It is my pleasure to inform the Legislature that the Rockwell International plant located in my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay has recently struck a four-year, $672-million deal with Lear Corp to provide seat adjuster systems for the new General Motors of Canada light truck program. Lear Corp, which is building the seats for General Motors 1998 redesigned light trucks and sport utility vehicles, has subcontracted the design and manufacture of the seat adjuster device to Rockwell's centre of expertise in the town of Bracebridge.

I know that Rockwell management and employees are very pleased with this agreement and have put a lot of effort into the program. In fact, most of the work associated with the design of the seat adjusting systems for the program has been done at the technical centre located in Bracebridge. The Bracebridge Rockwell plant currently employs about 360 people and the company believes there will be an increase in the employment base as a result of the new business.

That one of the world's leading manufacturing companies is growing so successfully in Ontario and in Muskoka-Georgian Bay should serve as an example that this province is open for business.



Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): At the annual premiers' conference the government committed to make youth employment a national priority through a national strategy.


Hon Mr Snobelen: I think a little applause to that will be worthwhile.

Education and training must play a vital role in this strategy. As our economy strengthens, more young people are finding work, but at the same time young people still face barriers. We are reforming the secondary school system and apprenticeship training to help students complete their education and to train for a good career.

The government is introducing new opportunities to help 141,000 young people find work. These include the career and employment preparation program, the graduate transitions task credit, business startup loans and support for summer jobs.

I want to draw the members' attention to the summer jobs strategy. With the summer not yet over, the strategy has exceeded its targets. As of August 1, about 44,000 young people have already been helped, nearly 4,000 more than we expected. More than 23,000 young people found work through my ministry's summer jobs service alone, and thousands more have been helped by the program's information and referral services.

I'd like to introduce to members two students who found work through the program and who are with us today. Kim Chapman gained work experience and acted as a role model for local youth at the O'Connor Focus Community Against Substance Abuse in North York. Mary Renton's summer job at Entertainment Resources Group in Mississauga has given her experience in marketing software to the United States and to Europe.

In addition to the summer jobs service, Management Board's Summer Experience program, the Ontario-Quebec student exchange program and regular ministry summer hiring helped more than 7,700 young people find jobs with the Ontario government, with community groups and as Ontario Rangers.

I'm especially pleased that young people with disabilities and special needs were also able to find work. I want to thank the thousands of employers in business and community groups and government agencies who hired students this summer. I also want to thank the community-based organizations, community colleges and others who delivered the programs so very effectively.

We are proud of the summer jobs strategy, but we have only begun. We will do more.


Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I would also like to take this opportunity to tell the House about the success of the summer employment program offered by the Ministry of Natural Resources for our province's youth. Our ministry has employed more than 2,000 young people this summer. The Ministry of Natural Resources employs youth in two different programs specifically. The first is the Summer Experience program, which is part of a larger government of Ontario initiative called Ontario Summer Jobs 1997. The second is the Ontario Ranger program, which has been in existence for the last 53 years.

This government is committed to providing valuable summer work experience for the young people of Ontario. This summer, through the Ministry of Natural Resources, this government has spent more than $5 million on the Summer Experience program and the Ontario Rangers.

The Summer Experience program provides youth with the chance to develop skills which will be valuable to them when they complete their education and begin working full-time. This year the Summer Experience program has employed more than 1,600 young people between the ages of 15 and 24, or up to 29 if they are disabled. They have been spending this summer working at the Ministry of Natural Resources main office, field offices and in most of Ontario's provincial parks. These young people have been employed throughout the province in a variety of jobs, from black bear field research assistants and fish culture technicians to park gate attendants and park planning research assistants.

My ministry's Ontario Ranger program continues to be a success after 53 years of operation. This summer the Ministry of Natural Resources hired 400 young people at 14 camps across the province. They have worked at thinning and pruning young stands of trees, developing and improving campsites, assisting with fish and wildlife projects and clearing nature and snowmobile trails.

The jobs the Ministry of Natural Resources has provided to young people this summer have given them a hands-on experience in managing fish and wildlife habitat and in operating Ontario's parks. These are more than just summer jobs; they can become career choices. The valuable work experience these young people have received will last them a lifetime.

L'hon Noble A. Villeneuve (ministre de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones) : Il me fait plaisir de me joindre à mes collègues pour présenter à l'Assemblée une mise à jour en ce qui concerne notre programme d'emplois d'été pour les jeunes.

I'm pleased to join my colleagues to update the House on our summer youth employment program. Earlier this year our government committed $3 million to create summer jobs in rural Ontario. Traditionally young people in our rural communities have had to seek employment in urban centres. With the summer youth employment program, this government has provided rural youth with the opportunity to work and gain valuable skills in their own communities. So far more than 1,500 youth have been hired under the program. That's 1,500 young people living in rural Ontario who are gaining work experience and earning an income while staying close to home.

Ministry staff are busy processing applications, and rural employers still have more than five weeks -- and I emphasize five weeks -- to get involved. I am confident that more young people will be hired before the deadline at the end of September. After all, the fall is one of the busiest times of the year for rural businesses, and especially for farmers.

Under the program, employers may hire youth at any time between April 15 and September 30 for up to 16 weeks. Eligible employers receive a $2-per-hour investment by this government on the salary paid to young employees, to a maximum of 35 hours a week.

This year, with the introduction of the rural job strategy in the May budget, the summer youth employment program was expanded to all rural businesses, including agribusiness, food manufacturers, non-profit and community organizations. For farmers and any of these kinds of employers, the program provides an opportunity to give young rural people an experience that otherwise might not have been available. For the province, it's an investment in rural youth that will pay dividends for years to come. The work they're doing in the summer of 1997 may encourage some young people to pursue a career in the very diverse and growing Ontario agrifood industry.

The summer youth employment program is yet another shining example of how this government is serious about investing in jobs for our young people and in the future of rural Ontario.

Le programme d'emplois d'été pour nos jeunes est un autre excellent exemple du sérieux de ce gouvernement quand il s'agit d'investir dans des emplois pour nos jeunes et dans l'avenir de l'Ontario rural.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I too am pleased to inform my colleagues of the progress of the summer youth employment program at my ministry. Some 2,647 young people across the province found employment opportunities through my ministry's programs alone this summer. We approved 274 student venture loans, which created 411 jobs for students. The student venture program helps young people aged 15 to 29 who are returning to school to create their own summer job by starting and running their own business.

The success of this program was in part due to our partnership with the Royal Bank. Young people were made aware of the program through local and campus papers, transit ads, my ministry's self-help centres and student employment centres.

The ideas submitted for new businesses were most innovative and showed good business sense among our youth. Businesses created were diverse, ranging from an in-line skating school to an Asian wedding coordination service to a Web page design company.

We also offered job opportunities for students through my ministry's travel information centres, tourism agencies and the Ontario Travel Associations. Tourism jobs can be especially rewarding for students as they provide them with opportunities to explore their career options in the fastest growing industry in the world.

Our government's 10% tax credit to private sector employers is expected to create 45,000 internship jobs over the next three years. As well, we will continue to contribute towards business startup loans for unemployed youth in cooperation with the private sector.

Clearly, Ontario's youth has initiative and drive. Coupled with our government's commitment to creating a positive business climate, and thereby jobs, Ontario's economy is in the best of hands.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): There's something going on here. We've got the Premier heading over to Saint Andrews and in front of the world he announces, "We have a youth jobs crisis in Ontario." A mere week later we've got all these ministerial puppets on their feet saying, "Look at the fabulous job we're doing in youth employment."

Have we got a problem here? We certainly do. Let's talk about the facts here. Your Minister of Education headed out to Aurora not all that long ago and he decided to do a big splash, "We're going to hire all these students this year." The truth is, the Ministry of Agriculture is undersubscribed for its programs. The last time we asked your Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism about youth programs, he said, "We're helping by freezing the minimum wage levels." Do you remember that absurd answer? That's the calibre of attention we are seeing to youth employment here.

The reality is your numbers for youth employment: a significant cut of $20 million to youth programs. You went from $59 million to $39 million in one year. And you have the gall to stand up here today and talk to us about your concern for young people in Ontario, about your fabulous youth programs?

Is this the same program that included the Environmental Youth Corps in Belleville with the Bridging the Gap program that could not hire six students this summer and therefore didn't take on children in their program to the rate they could before because they didn't have people to work in the program? That was your doing. And you have the nerve to stand here today and tell us all the wonderful things you're doing for young people?

When we talked to businesses that used to participate in your programs, they said, "They're only giving a $2 subsidy and we can't afford to pay the balance, so we're just not hiring students."

I think you're just a little bit too early, because when we get to September and we ask these very same students to pay their new Mike Harris tuition fees at universities and colleges, and after your brand-new and improved youth programs that slashed the number of weeks they work from up to 16 and 20 weeks in a summer down to six weeks -- I want to know how they're going to pay your new Mike Harris tuition fees. That is not going to be a successful program.

Here we are in the middle of August seeing all of these individuals having to divvy up the pie so many more ways so you can get more people, so in the end you can say, "We've done more for more people." The fact is, you've done less for more people, and in the end they won't be able to afford your new fees to continue their education.


The truth is that many non-profits were involved in accessing your programs for young people. It was their opportunity to provide training and offer excellent programs through their non-profit organizations. A whole litany of them today could not hire those young people as they don't have the funding to pay the additional funds allowed because you went to a $2 subsidy only.

You had to find a way to make a big show in Aurora so you could have the press running after you to get your good-news story, but they have come back to Queen's Park to find out you didn't tell them the whole story. You left out a whole big chunk of news, that is, that you've cut out significant programs that provided an excellent training ground for young people. Bridging the Gap, in Belleville, is a very good example of that. We spoke to them on Friday and know that in the end children suffered in Belleville. They couldn't access a program because you cut that Environmental Youth Corps program.

Don't come into the House today because you're dipping in the polls -- your Premier went off to St Andrews and said all of a sudden: "Maybe we're not on the right side of this issue. Young people really are a concern." You can't go on the world stage and talk about youth strategies but come back to Queen's Park and slash $20 million out of some very excellent programs. We won't allow it. The Liberal Party has always been supportive of anything you would do for young people. But you will not fool them, and we'll make it our job to see that they will not be fooled.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I want to take our last 20 seconds to add my view of the sheer gall of the members of this government coming in and taking pride in what they've done for youth in this province over the course of the summer when we saw in July the unemployment numbers for young people in this province rise to the alarming rate of 18.3%. That is the real unemployment rate. If you add to that all the other --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much. Third party, responses.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Yesterday I stood and said that I thought there was a pattern developing of these feel-good, fluffy announcements from ministers in the House, where they're going to come in and tell everybody that everything's rosy out there, that everything's okay, that jobs are being created and that they're proud of their achievements.

Even I didn't believe they could go this far. This takes some bravado: to come into the House and say you are proud of what you have done for youth employment over the course of this summer, to say you are proud, for example -- the Minister of Education and the Minister of Agriculture -- of the Ontario public service summer student program. Let me tell you what you did. You cut that from $13.7 million of spending in 1994-95 to $6.3 million -- many, many less youth getting access to that program, and you're proud?

The Minister of Northern Development talked about his Rangers program and Nortop and the Environmental Youth Corps and others, the Summer Experience programs he was focusing on. You're proud? You're proud of the fact that you cut that from $35.5 million in 1994-95 to $8.4 million in expenditures? You're proud of that?

The Minister of Economic Development and Trade talked about how proud he was of the student venture programs. Minister, I have a little bit of experience with that portfolio, I was in that portfolio. How can you be proud that you cut spending on student ventures from $2 million in 1994-95 to $400,000 this summer? You're proud of that?

All of you over there, you should be ashamed of what you have done in terms of youth employment in this province. There are 100,000 more young people unemployed now than there were in 1995 directly as a result of your cuts to youth employment programs, and you're proud? How can you be proud of a record like that?

How do you have the gall, the bravado, to stand in this House when there are more and more kids homeless and in the streets, more and more kids that you're cutting off social assistance support and income support when they're trying to live, more kids who are trying to get the money to go on for post-secondary education who can't make it? You're proud?

We know what this is, this spin-doctoring exercise, because we saw the intentional leak in the Toronto Star today about your apprenticeship announcements that are going to be coming up. That's supposed to make the public think that the Harris government is going to do a whole lot in terms of youth and employment and that you really care about it. But let me tell you before you make that announcement that since your government took office, the number of apprenticeships and training clients in Ontario has dropped from 451,500 in 1995-96 to 270,830 in 1997-98, a decline of almost 60%, and you're proud?

Boy, there are a lot of things I disagree with in your government's agenda, and you know it. You also know when I think you're doing a good job that I stand in this House and I say it, as I have responded at times to some of your ministers. But let me tell you, your record with respect to youth employment -- youth unemployment -- is a scandal. Your Premier said it was a crisis. Well, it is a crisis, and you are doing nothing to address it, and to stand here and try and sugarcoat it and tell people you're proud of the accomplishments you made when you have gone so far back from the records and the standards that have been set is a terrible sham. StatsCan has just recently told us in the numbers that youth unemployment ranges between 17% and 18% in this province, one of the worst records in Canada. You have nothing to be proud about.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): The Minister of Natural Resources should hang his head in shame today for his record on youth employment. The facts are, since he refuses to provide them, that the budget for the Ontario Ranger program was cut from last year to this. Last year 528 Junior Rangers were hired, 154 support staff; this year only 400 Junior Rangers got hired and the ministry refused to give me the information on the support staff and told me I would have to do that via an order paper question. Last year there were 21 camps that operated. This minister closed seven Junior Ranger camps this summer; seven less operated, most of them in northern Ontario.

The minister didn't say anything about his other hat, northern development, and there the only youth program he had was cut from $6.3 million to $4.7 million. I suspect the reason he didn't come with those figures today is that they are so poor he is embarrassed to share them with the House. Shame on all of you for your complete lack of regard for youth and their employment.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, yesterday I brought to your attention the case of a two-year-old constituent of mine who is about to be discharged from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario this Friday. I told you that the doctors had quite rightly decided it was time for her to go home, how the mother has quite rightly decided it was time to take her in and how home care quite rightly decided that they had to assume some responsibility in this regard but that they could not because of a waiting list.

You told me there were no waiting lists in Ottawa. We learned this morning that for three weeks now there has been an application on your desk from the home care office in Ottawa for $1.4 million to address a backlog. There is a waiting list in Ottawa. Will you now admit that there is a waiting list, and could you inform us, please, how many people are on the waiting list for home care services in Ottawa-Carleton today?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Without knowing the details of the case yesterday, there are no people on the regular home care waiting list anywhere in this province. Ottawa has nine people currently in hospital on what they call complex care, what we used to call chronic care, where the hospitals are suggesting that perhaps for the first time many of these people, because of our expansion of home care and the availability of nursing services, could get out of hospital where they've been living for years and actually live at home. So it's a good-news story. It is not available anywhere else in Canada, I should say. We have the best home care program by far.

If you live in New Brunswick today where there's a Liberal government, you're on your own. You're either in the hospital with no in-home nursing services available -- Ontario can be very proud of work done by previous governments, of $170 million of new money put in by this government. It's enabling patients for the first time, including those nine patients in Ottawa, the opportunity to go home.


Mr McGuinty: I'll take that as an admission by the Minister of Health for the province of Ontario that there is indeed a waiting list for home care services, at least, as far as we know, in Ottawa-Carleton. I am not sure about the other eight cases, but I can tell you about this one, and I am sure the others are just as compelling.

Sarah is to go home this Friday. We have spoken to the discharge nurse at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and she has confirmed Sarah is going home on Friday. The children's aid society has been properly notified. The mother is concerned that she will not be able to provide for her child.

Home care has submitted an application for $1.4 million to you. They cannot provide that care without that funding. Will you provide the funding?

Hon Mr Wilson: I would remind the honourable member that the Ottawa area, on a per capita basis, receives significantly more money than any other area of the province. So what we're doing in terms of that request is saying to the CCAC, our new community care access centres, which provide one-stop shopping for home care services, a significant improvement to the system, we're having a discussion right now to see -- and they're doing very good work at the CCAC -- if more money is needed, or a better use of current resources. Given that Ottawa is an anomaly in the province, where it receives significantly more dollars per person than other areas of the province which are able to deliver services for less money, it's a question of fairness at this point, and that's why we're having a discussion with the CCAC.

I will note, though, that in the restructuring report the commission has asked for an additional $5 million to meet the anticipated needs of a growing and aging population. We will certainly be backing up the commission.

So whatever way you slice it, there'll be more money for home care, but we want to do it on a basis so it's fair throughout the province.

Mr McGuinty: I want to come back to what we're really talking about here. Sarah is two years of age. She's being discharged from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario on Friday. She's going home to her mother. Sarah has muscular dystrophy and so does her mother. Everybody who has any insight into this matter understands that the very best place for young Sarah is with her mother. She needs five and a half hours of nursing care every day. Right now, home care can't deliver that.

I am asking on behalf of Sarah and her mother once again, will you ensure that they have the necessary care as of this Friday?

Hon Mr Wilson: Yes. The honourable member should have been informed this morning by the good people at the community care access centre that the case is solved. Frankly, I thought he would get up today and thank the good people at the community care access centre who went out of their way to create a special program so that Sarah can go home for the first time in the 28 months that she's been with us here on this earth.

I think it's a good-news story. I thank the honourable member for bringing it to our attention. More importantly, I commend the people at the community care access centre in Ottawa who were already working on this case long before the honourable member brought it to the attention of the Legislature.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier and has to do with his and his office's role in the Ipperwash affair. You've indicated, Premier, in the House that you had no files, no records because you had no involvement in it. The minutes that were released last week indicate that your executive assistant, Ms Hutton, was at a meeting on September 6 that was developing recommendations around Ipperwash. The notes indicate that she had been speaking with you "last night" on the matter and that -- these are in quotation marks, these were your wishes -- "out of the park only -- nothing else."

My question is -- and I'm sure you've talked to Ms Hutton about how accurate those were -- do those notes accurately reflect what Ms Hutton said at that meeting and do they accurately reflect what you told Ms Hutton were your wishes in the matter of Ipperwash?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): You're quite right, in the sense that we did not have any meetings, we did not have the lead role. There was a committee that was set up, perhaps by your government, followed by the successive government, of about 20 people from various ministries who would meet when these situations arose. One representative of the Premier's office would be there, and that was Ms Hutton. That would explain logically -- we don't chair the meetings; Ms Hutton didn't chair the meetings, the Premier's office didn't chair the meetings -- why we would not have any minutes of any of those meetings. They would be by others, the Solicitor General's ministry, ONAS, native affairs, or what not, that would have the minutes.

I can't give you an interpretation of somebody's notes of what Ms Hutton said a couple of years ago, but it strikes me that in general terms --

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

Hon Mr Harris: -- it's quite consistent with the policy of your government and of the NDP government and quite consistent with what we said, that we --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier.

Mr Phillips: I think the public can appreciate why we continue to push on this.

I will ask again for a direct answer. You have no doubt talked in detail to Ms Hutton. The minutes are quite clear on what she reported to that meeting. The question is very simple. Did she say those things at that meeting? More important, did you have a conversation with her before the meeting and do these notes reflect your instructions: "out of the park only -- nothing else"?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me indicate, I haven't had detailed discussions with her, as a matter of fact. As these issues are brought forward I would say, "What would be your recollection?" As I've indicated to you, we are limited, because of court cases, in how much information we can give, but there are some documents that have been made public.

Let me say that I was briefed I think on an almost daily basis over that period of time, because it was quite a serious issue, and it would be Ms Hutton who would brief me, and I think cabinet was briefed; I believe the Attorney General and the Solicitor General would be briefed. Let me quote this to you:

"The general position of our government, and as I understand it of previous governments, was that we would not negotiate the substance of the issue with the occupiers or some people who had put up a blockade." That was said by Bud Wildman, and that certainly was our position.

Mr Phillips: I hope the public is listening to this. The Premier refuses to answer the question. We know why he refuses to answer the question: because you said that, you said "out of the park only -- nothing else." No negotiations.

I will follow up on an answer you gave on Monday. I asked you who made the decision that there would be no negotiations with the first nations on the burial grounds. You said the OPP made the decision that there would be no negotiations. I'll ask you very directly. You've had 48 hours to reconsider that answer --

Hon Mr Harris: That's not what I said at all, not what I said. Tell the truth.

Mr Phillips: The Premier says it's not true.


The Speaker: Order. Premier, you must withdraw that comment. It's out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: I withdraw that I asked you to tell the truth.

Mr Phillips: Very Premier-like. I hope the public is watching.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Lake Nipigon, he simply used the words he was withdrawing. That's completely in order. I've allowed many members to do that. I've allowed many members to withdraw the words. I have allowed it on many occasions.

Mr Phillips: On Monday I said to the Premier, "Why did you determine there would be no negotiations with the Stony Pointers?"

"Hon Mr Harris: I determined nothing. I gave no direction. I gave no influence on it. We left that entirely to the OPP."

I now ask you to reconsider that answer you gave on Monday. Did you leave that matter of the negotiations with the first nations entirely to the OPP?

Hon Mr Harris: As I indicated, we followed exactly the same policy as the NDP. I quote now from Bud Wildman on June 4, 1997: "The general position of our" --


Hon Mr Harris: I would think you would want to hear this very carefully.

Mr Phillips: I want to hear the truth.

Hon Mr Harris: Do you want him to withdraw that, Mr Speaker? He'd like to hear the truth from me.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I heard that comment. I don't think it's out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: I think it was precisely the words I used, but I accept your ruling.

The general position of our government, and as I understand of previous governments, was we would not negotiate the substance of the issue with the occupier or some people who had put up a blockade. The direction that I understand was being followed by our government, as the NDP, as your government, on the issue of the substance, was that there would be no negotiations on land claims on the burial grounds or on the issues that were there. On the issue of the blockade, those negotiations would be left 100%, as I said, with the OPP.


The Speaker: New question, third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Premier and it concerns the wrongful death of Dudley George at Ipperwash park. In the handwritten minutes of the interministerial meeting on September 5, 1995, regarding Ipperwash park, your executive assistant, Deb Hutton, is quoted as saying, "Premier, last night, OPP only, maybe MNR, out of the park only -- nothing else."

What meeting or briefing was Deb Hutton referring to with you when she said, at that interministerial group, "Premier, last night..."? Was she speaking to you alone on September 4 or were others in attendance at this meeting or briefing where you clearly gave instructions to Deb Hutton?

Hon Mr Harris: I can't recall whether there was a meeting two years ago. Ms Hutton may be able to recall, but my recollection is this: There would be no negotiations with the natives, as we said publicly at the time, over any claims while the occupation was under way. That was the policy of the former government and that was the policy of our government and Ms Hutton explained that.

However, we did indicate that any actions, as the minutes clearly confirm, that it would be up to the OPP to handle any of the negotiations or whatever action they felt was appropriate; we would not interfere with that. There was no direction given as to how the Ministry of Natural Resources would get their park back. That was up to the OPP. The OPP did not ask for, I don't think, nor did they want to negotiate land claims, given the success that federal and provincial governments have had over the last 20 years.

Mr Hampton: This is not about the last 20 years; this is about: Deb Hutton says, "Premier, last night...." She obviously is referring to a conversation or a meeting with you.

Hon Mr Harris: Right.

Mr Hampton: Right. That's what we're talking about here. What I've asked you for is the details. I can't imagine that your executive assistant would go to a meeting on a very important issue involving the OPP and a number of officials from a number of ministries and purport to give direction from you without having had that direction. That's what I'm asking you about. She refers specifically to: "Premier, last night, OPP only, out of the park only -- nothing else." I'm asking you, did you have a meeting with Deb Hutton? You must have had a meeting, a conversation with her on that last night, the night of September 4. I'm asking you, will you make public today a list of the individuals who attended that meeting or will you make public the records of that meeting? Will you do that?

Hon Mr Harris: First of all, there are no records of a meeting. It may have been a phone call; it may have been in passing; it may have been a briefing. I have no way of knowing. But if you're asking me, do the minutes that were released reflect the position of the government, yes, they do: that the OPP were in charge, that there was no direction to be given to the OPP, as the minutes of that meeting say, that the only action the government would take would be to seek a civil injunction. I see absolutely nothing in those released minutes that isn't 100% consistent with the policy followed by your government, by the Liberal government and by every government before that, and in fact 100% consistent with everything we've said on the issue up to this point in time.

Mr Hampton: No, Premier, that's where you're quite incorrect, because the written record shows this. Deb Hutton goes to a meeting of senior civil servants dealing with the native occupation of Ipperwash park and she says very clearly, "Premier, last night, out of the park -- nothing else -- OPP." She's very clear, and the civil servants there got the message.

In fact, if you read the police logs the next day, they got the message. "Deb Hutton, EA to Harris, was at an emergency meeting on Ipperwash with other political staff and an OPP representative." Later on in the police log it says, "John Carson" -- Inspector John Carson of the OPP -- "stated Premier and Solicitor General want to deal with this."

Premier, it's very clear. Deb Hutton says she got the instruction from you. She refers the instruction to the civil service: "Get the natives out of the park, nothing else. OPP to act." Then you read the police log. The OPP clearly got the message from you.

I ask you, Premier, who was at that meeting? Produce the records from September 4. If you've got nothing to hide, answer the questions.

Hon Mr Harris: I have absolutely nothing to hide. I am telling you my position, as put forward by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the government and the Premier: We wanted the natives out of the park as soon as possible. We've been quite public about that.

We turned it over to the OPP to deal with that, and the OPP were to deal with it. The OPP, as I understand it, asked for an injunction; the Attorney General, on behalf of the government, sought permission to proceed to court with the injunction as the vehicle they would use. Other than that, everything's a matter of public record.

The Speaker: New question, third party.

Mr Hampton: A question to the Premier: Your answers so far don't add up, so we're going to go after it again.

You have been invited -- in fact you have been subpoenaed --


Mr Hampton: I recognize that your backbenchers don't like that you have to answer these questions, but this is a democracy. We get to put the questions and you answer them.

The last public official who tried this line of defence, that he can't recall, that he doesn't have any records, was someone named Richard Nixon. Do you remember Richard Nixon?


The Speaker: Order. Leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: Premier, I want to remind you that as a result of this succession of events, someone died, and the courts have ruled it a wrongful death. The George family has subpoenaed you to appear as a witness, to give testimony under oath at this wrongful death trial.

It's clear from Deb Hutton's comments that you had a conversation with her on September 4, or there was a meeting involving yourself and your executive, Deb Hutton, on September 4. That may be germane to all of this, Premier, and I ask you again, will you go back and search your records? Will you produce Deb Hutton so that she can answer questions, so that we can find out where these directions came from and the impact they had on the OPP that eventually led to the death of Dudley George?


Hon Mr Harris: As I recall the order of the questions, yes, I remember Richard Nixon and, no, I have not been served with a subpoena. I think there has been a notice of request for discovery in a civil action by one lawyer to my lawyers and that will be handled by the lawyers.

Mr Hampton: Yesterday, Premier, the Deputy Premier said to us that you were going to make a personal decision whether you would appear at the hearing and answer questions under oath, so let me put the question to you now. Will you appear at the hearing and answer questions under oath, will you release the names of all the individuals who attended that fateful meeting on September 4 involving yourself and Deb Hutton and will you appear and answer the questions of the Dudley George family regarding the wrongful death? Will you do that?

Hon Mr Harris: I'm not exactly sure of the wording that the Deputy Premier used, but certainly I will take the advice of the lawyers in the matter of the civil suit.

Mr Hampton: Premier, I come back to the part of my question that you didn't answer and it's about your conversation, your meeting with Deb Hutton on September 4. Deb Hutton could not have gone to an interministerial meeting on September 5 and quoted you as saying, "Out of the park -- nothing else -- OPP," and, "Government must be seen as acting." She couldn't have come up with those words herself. So I'm asking you, and this is of interest to the civil trial and it's also of interest to the whole line of events here, will you produce the records of the meeting that you had with Deb Hutton and anyone else on September 4, because it is germane, it appears, to everything that happened after that and led to the wrongful death of Dudley George. Will you do that?

Hon Mr Harris: We've already produced all the records.

The Speaker: New question, official opposition.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm going to follow up on the Premier's comment that this was left entirely in OPP hands. I will quote from a conversation between the two commanding officers about an hour and a half before the shooting death. They're commenting on the action the government was taking, on the injunction that the government decided -- not the OPP, the government.

The commanding officer said, "Well, that injunction surprises me," because the one they were going for was different. They went from that regular type of injunction, which the OPP wanted, to the emergency type. He went on to say, "Which you know really isn't in our favour," in the OPP's favour. "We want a little bit more time, but they've gone for that. That's why these papers must come down tonight." He goes on to say, "This is typical, where we get caught and the ball's gonna be in our lap."

Listening now to that transcript, Premier, will you acknowledge that the government decided to act in a way that was inconsistent with what the OPP commanders wanted?

Hon Mr Harris: I know the Attorney General can answer.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Quite simply, there's not such a thing as an emergency injunction or an emergency document as the member quotes. An ex parte injunction was sought at the recommendation of government lawyers. As a courtesy, there was an attempt, even though it was an ex parte injunction, to provide notice to those who were occupying Ipperwash park of the nature of that proceeding. There was an attempt to deliver that material; the OPP was asked to do that. Quite simply, this was a very standard procedure and a very usual procedure in these kinds of situations.

Mr Phillips: Premier, I proceed to point out and to prove that you and your government were directly and deeply involved in the major decisions at Ipperwash. We challenge you at any time to call any hearing, any committee, any public forum, and we will be happy to prove those allegations.

I go on to say that it's clear from the minutes on September 6, the day of the shooting -- these are the minutes; this is what the government said -- "The police have been asked to remove the occupiers from the park." Not to work to get them out, not to find a way to solve this; the government asked the police to remove the occupiers from the park. Who made that decision to ask the police to remove the occupiers from the park ASAP?

Hon Mr Harnick: The minutes are quite clear. The minutes have certain directives that came out of them. They are from the Ministry of Natural Resources: "The minister wants to act as quickly as possible to avoid further damage and to curtail any escalation of the situation"; from the Ministry of the Attorney General: "The minister agrees that an application will be made for an injunction," exactly what happened; finally, from the Solicitor General's ministry: "As a matter of protocol, the Solicitor General's office does not involve itself in the day-to-day operation of the OPP. The OPP will exercise its discretion regarding how to proceed in removing the Stony Pointers from the park and laying appropriate charges."

That's what came out of the meetings. It's quite clear that it was left to the OPP to deal with this matter and to deal with the safety and security issues as they normally would in the normal course.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, on August 12 the Ottawa Citizen reported that the member for Lanark-Renfrew had been charged by your staff with two violations under the federal Fisheries Act. Specifically, the member was charged with (1) filling in a portion of a historic canal without a permit and (2) harmfully altering fish habitat between January 1 and April 7 of this year.

Just two days after this was reported, your deputy, Ron Vrancart, sent a memo on your behalf to all MNR staff advising that you were ordering the staff to stop enforcing the Fisheries Act. That means fish habitat in this province will go unprotected and essentially people are going to have free rein to do whatever they want and destroy fish habitat in the process.

Minister, I want to know from you, are you ordering your staff to stop enforcement of the federal Fisheries Act because you don't have the staff to enforce it or because you have been convinced that you don't have to worry about protecting fish habitat any more?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I want to thank the member of the third party for the question. In her preamble she talked about charges. She knows full well that those matters are before the court and I can't comment on those things. However, she does talk about a very important issue, that under our Constitution fish habitat is a federal responsibility.

Under section 35(2) there was an informal agreement made about 10 years ago which was supposed to be formalized over that 10 years. They've talked about it for 10 years. Eight months ago at a fisheries conference with provincial colleagues and the federal minister, we talked about six months trying to get together and work out a formal agreement. Since that time, after repeated requests, we cannot get the federal government to sit down and discuss a permanent agreement around protecting fish habitat. It is clearly their responsibility. It's not a power grab. If they want to deliver that program, they're welcome to it; if not, let's sit down and work out a formal permanent agreement.


Ms Martel: I find it passing strange that the minister directed his staff to stop enforcement of this act two days after the charges were reported in the Ottawa Citizen. But, Minister, I don't think you understand the serious consequences of your decision and your action. You have ordered your staff not to enforce the federal Fisheries Act, and what you don't seem to understand is that conservation officers who are designated as fishery officers have an obligation to enforce the federal Fisheries Act. Like police officers, these conservation officers must enforce the law. They have that responsibility. They will have a liability if they do not. You don't seem to understand the position you've put your own staff in. Your action is completely inappropriate. Your political intervention is completely inappropriate. What do you intend to do to ensure that your staff are not kept in the position you have now put them in?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I suppose we could do in Ontario what you did for the last five years under your mandate or the five years before: go on and do nothing. We care very deeply about fish habitat.

We had an interim agreement --


Hon Mr Hodgson: I appreciate the question. I think it draws attention to the issue that we're just asking the federal government to sit down and talk with us. We agreed eight months ago that we would deal with this in the next six months with the federal Minister of Fisheries in Canmore. We have been dealing with this issue for 10 years. We think that Ontario should be recognized. We have 101 federal Liberal members from Ontario. Surely the minister or his staff could phone our deputy minister or our staff, or minister and minister would get together, and formalize an agreement which would avoid the duplication and overlap and make sure that we protect our fish habitat to the best possible with the resources we have from the taxpayers. That's our goal on this, and I want to thank you for asking the question. Maybe it will help speed the process along.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. The single biggest issue for constituents in my riding of Cambridge is job creation and economic growth. The focus of the government initiatives has been made to make Ontario an attractive place to invest and do business and measures designed to boost consumer confidence. Attracting more foreign investment to Ontario has to be our top priority.

The biggest employer in my riding, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, recently announced they are planning to boost production of their plant by 25%. This investment is good news for those looking for work in my riding. The level of confidence that investors and business people hold in the Ontario economy is the key employment growth indicator.

Could the minister report to the House on specific progress of these key economic indicators?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to thank the member for Cambridge for his question and I'd like to say that I was very pleased with the news from Toyota that they're going to boost their production. That's very good news. We should be pleased with that.

I'd like to say to my colleagues that the recent Conference Board of Canada survey found that 53.2% of businesses cited Ontario as the most desirable province in Canada in which to make an investment. Our export numbers are up, employment numbers are up, the "help-wanted" index is rising steadily and consumer confidence has jumped 10.5% in the second quarter. That's the sixth straight month for a jump like that. So businesses are opening and they are expanding, and I'd like to give just a couple of examples, if I could: National Steel Car in Hamilton has recalled 800 employees and they're going to hire another 200 next month; Newbridge Networks in Kanata is going to add 800 to 1,000 jobs annually for the next four years.

The list goes on and on, but obviously we're finally doing well again in Ontario.

Mr Martiniuk: While we all welcome this new investment in the province and the boost in consumer confidence, some have expressed concern. Many of my constituents are trying to plan for their retirement, make their mortgage payments and pay their bills. They tell me they are impressed with our growth to date, but wonder if this prosperity will last. What assurances can the minister give my constituents that this economic growth will continue in the months to come?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'm very happy to respond to the supplementary. The Conference Board of Canada forecasts that Ontario will outperform the rest of Canada in 1997, as well as in 1998, in economic terms. The major banks in Canada are predicting 300,000 new jobs in Ontario over the next two years, and Statistics Canada reported that 11.8% of businesses plan to increase their investment in Ontario. As the Royal Bank economist John McCallum said, "Ontario is doing best and is still climbing fast."

Thanks to our policies, Ontario's economy is finally back on track and we plan to keep it that way. I hope you tell your constituents that.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Premier. Last week, after your meeting with the mayors, you were quoted as saying: "What I indicated is that it's not our goal to see property taxes go up. Nothing in these trades should impact on the property tax rates positively or negatively." On a daily basis, we're hearing from municipality after municipality about how as a result of your downloading taxes will increase next year. From the mayor of North Bay yesterday we heard it's going to go up 75%; in Hamilton about $60 million.

Last Friday, we had a meeting -- when I say "we," I'm talking about two of my colleagues and five of your backbenchers -- with 15 wardens and CAOs from eastern Ontario. In each and every case, taxes were estimated to go up anywhere between 20% and 50%. Who are the people of Ontario to believe? You, that the taxes aren't going to go up, or their municipal leaders clear across this province, that taxes are going to go up as a result of your downloading efforts? Who are they to trust?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Mel Lastman says they're not going up. Bob Chiarelli says they're not going to go up. There are many mayors out there who appreciate and understand they're not going to go up. I can assure you that no action we are taking should cause taxes to go up.

As a matter of fact, I believe that by the year 2000 with the actions we are taking, along with the new Municipal Act that neither you nor the NDP would give to the municipalities, along with the substantial reallocation of who does what that you had all these negotiations on but you didn't have enough courage to follow through on, we should see a lessening of the tax impact at the end of the day in municipalities.

I would offer this observation: It is in fact election year, and if there's any way during election year you can come forward with statements and negotiate the absolute best position on their behalf, that's their job and I respect --

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): What the vast majority of municipal leaders are saying is that just based on what they now know, property taxes are going to go up. What nobody yet knows is what you're going to do with your new educational taxes, because for the first time you and your government are going to come into the municipalities and you're going to raise property tax for education on top of what the municipalities are forced to do.

Because of your download, you are going to come in and put a property tax on every residence and every business in every community. You don't know how you're going to do it. You don't know whether it's going to be a flat tax across the entire province or whether you're going to come in and set different tax rates for different areas. I ask you for another guarantee today, another promise to the municipalities. Will you guarantee that no community will see an increase in the business tax they pay for education? Will you give us that guarantee?

Hon Mr Harris: Listen. Mike Colle's candidate said there's no need for any tax increase in the city of Toronto. I saw that. Mr Chiarelli said the downloaded responsibilities could be absorbed, that the region's estimate of new costs is inflated --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Harris: On the whole issue, in the area that had been raised by both members, clearly at least Mike Colle and Bob Chiarelli believe there will be no tax increases in the next three years. Let me make this commitment very clear: We will not be increasing by one cent to the province of Ontario any of the education taxes.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is again to the Premier. It concerns the wrongful death of Dudley George and what happened at Ipperwash park. From your answers today -- and I want to be very clear on this -- you had a meeting or a conversation with Deb Hutton on September 4. That is the meeting, the conversation she refers to when she addresses civil servants at the interministerial meeting on September 5. Will you give us the names of the people who attended that meeting with you where you gave the instruction: "Out of the park. OPP. Government must be seen as acting. Out of the park -- nothing else"? Will you give us the names of the people who were at that meeting, Premier?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Actually, in the interim I have talked to Ms Hutton. You suggested that I would have talked to her extensively. I didn't, because the document was released confirming 100% everything we had said. You seem to suggest otherwise, but that's not true. I have talked to Ms Hutton. It was two years ago. She was indicating that she believes she informed me by phone -- she believes it was a long weekend and I was in North Bay -- of the occupation, period. As to the rest of the alleged comments, she recalls, as was consistent with previous governments, she indicated that we would not negotiate substantive issues but the OPP only should be negotiating the end of the occupation.

Mr Hampton: This is exactly why we need a public inquiry, so that people like Deb Hutton, who have the germane information, can come forward and relay to us exactly the chain of information that went from you to her to the interministerial committee and finally to the OPP, and which resulted in the OPP saying in their log, "Inspector John Carson states Premier and Solicitor want to deal with this." Premier, will you call that public inquiry now so that all the questions that surround this issue, all the questions that need to be answered, the truth, can emerge?

Hon Mr Harris: I have relayed to you exactly the chain of events from the telephone conversation to the information Ms Hutton relayed to that committee meeting. But as to whether it would be a public inquiry, a full inquiry, what other information has to come out, you know full well -- we've answered this -- we are waiting for the matters before the courts to be cleared up. If there is any other information that has not been made public that should be, of course we'll look into vehicles at that time.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. As you are aware, Oshawa, in the region of Durham, is a rapidly growing area, in fact one of the fastest in the province. This year the housing market in Ontario and Durham remains vibrant and continues to grow, with housing starts 37% above the previous year, providing much-needed jobs and development in Oshawa and the region of Durham. Even though these numbers are encouraging, a number of my constituents have expressed concern that the government is not doing enough to promote and encourage builders to start building again. Could you outline for my constituents the government's housing supply strategy?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'd like to thank the member for Oshawa for the question. Obviously the policies of past governments haven't worked. Excessive taxes and regulations have killed the building industry in Ontario over the last decade. I am very proud of the record of this government in terms of creating a climate to encourage jobs around the province of Ontario. As a matter of fact, I am pleased to point out that housing starts in Metro are the highest they've been in the last 10 years. Is that a coincidence, do you think? I think not.

This government has streamlined and created a one-window approach to the planning approval process. We have finally restored fairness to the property taxes and we've asked the federal Liberal government to reconsider its punitive tax policies on rental housing.

A housing boom in Ontario will not only stimulate growth and prosperity --

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

Hon Mr Leach: -- in Oshawa and the Durham region, but will have spillover effects right across this province.

Mr Ouellette: I know that in July the minister was in the region of Durham and attended an event organized by the Oshawa-Durham Home Builders' Association. I know the minister had the opportunity to speak with a number of industry stakeholders regarding the housing issues in the province with a little local flavour. This is yet another example of the government's belief in consultation. Communication with industry stakeholders is critical in helping identify areas for improvement.

A number of my constituents have contacted me about the issue of social housing and have inquired about the Advisory Council on Social Housing Reform. Minister, can you explain for my constituents what the mandate for this council will be and why it was reformed?

Hon Mr Leach: Again I'd like to thank the member for Oshawa for his question.

On June 5, I announced the Advisory Council on Social Housing Reform, and since then they've had many very productive meetings. The council members were chosen for their expertise in areas of finance, property management, federal housing programs, and management of private non-profits, municipal non-profits and cooperatives. The council was mandated to look at the current system of administration, finance and regulation of the social housing portfolio, develop principles for reform, and provide recommendations to me for future legislation. The council's advice will not only assist the government to reform the social housing system but will also be useful to municipalities as they start to prepare to assume responsibilities for social housing. I certainly look forward to hearing the council's recommendations on housing policy.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. I'd like to come back to a discussion we began yesterday that involved Highway 407. Last night there was an incident on the 407 that involved an automobile crossing the median and smacking into the wall, an eastbound automobile crossing the median and hitting a wall on the other side. An Ontario Provincial Police officer was quoted subsequent to the incident as saying that had a median been installed there, this accident could have been prevented.

Minister, no one was killed last night. The incident involved a health problem for the driver involved. Will you review this issue and will you consider installing medians on the 407 now?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Whenever I hear of an accident on one of our highways, obviously I'm always very saddened to that effect. The accident, as far as I know, is still under investigation. The report has not been submitted to the Ministry of Transportation by the OPP.

When safety concerns were first raised last fall, we asked the Professional Engineers of Ontario to do a safety review, and I believe they did a very thorough safety review. The review found that the 407 was as safe as any other 400 series highway, but recommended 12 safety enhancements. Before the highway opened, we implemented all of those 12 safety enhancements. We included installing rumble strips on the side of the shoulder so in case someone does doze off, at least that noise will bring them back. We reshaped the median because of what the engineers said --

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

Hon Mr Palladini: -- as to potential crashes, and we installed crash pads along the light standards to make sure that that again was safe for --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary.


Mr Duncan: We also understand that our standards on the 400 series highways, while they are accurate, are not necessarily up to date and do not necessarily reflect changes in traffic engineering that have been developed.

I would suggest to you, Minister, that if you dealt with the toll issue, if you would come clean about what penalties Hughes-Bell is paying for not delivering the toll system on time, if you would get those tolls operating quickly, the interest you're spending, the forgone interest, could be applied to enhancing the safety of that highway. Instead of giving us sorry answers around the mismanagement of your ministry and your government on this issue, we could be spending that money investing in better safety on the highway.

Will you commit today to new funds to put a median on the highway to make it safer and will you commit to dealing with the toll issue so that the interest costs the taxpayers of this province are paying are kept to a minimum?

Hon Mr Palladini: The rate of accidents on Highway 407 is well below the average accident rate on other provincial highways. I want to re-emphasize the PEO's report. I just want to quote something for the member": Considering all safety consequences, to build a median barrier would be detrimental to safety." That is the final report of the PEO. "Putting a median barrier close to the edge of the highway puts vehicles closer to another object for them to hit" -- Dr John Robinson, chairman of the PEO's report.

To quote another individual of this province: "They" -- the PEO -- "agreed with our concern with the need to reshape the centre medians and install crash protection devices. If these improvements are implemented, they will address our concerns and make the highway safer." That is OPP Superintendent Bill Currie.

I want to say to the honourable member that 407 is a very safe, very viable, very successful highway and it will be opened to tolling very shortly.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Minister, you will know that I have a private member's bill before the House, Bill 144, which seeks to increase the number of councillors in East York under the new City of Toronto Act that you brought forward, the megacity legislation.

Having had extensive discussions with your House leader and knowing how busy the House agenda is with government business from now until the end of November, I know there is next to no possibility for time to deal with that private member's bill, so I am going to be tabling -- legislative counsel is working on it now -- two amendments to your Bill 148, the city of Toronto transition bill, which would have the effect of increasing the representation in East York, one by three councillors, which is what they have asked for, although some people have said that would cause a problem in terms of ties on the overall megacity council, so I'm going to put an alternative in that would increase it by four.

You know the problems, you know the issue. What I'm asking you today is for a commitment that you will at least consider those amendments from me and perhaps work with me to see if there is a way you could have the government support the amendments to give equitable representation to East York.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member from the third party for the question and I'd be pleased to consider her amendments. As a matter of fact , I'll make a commitment that I will provide a copy of her amendments to the transition team so they will be able to inform the new council of the views of the member, because our position is that the size and shape of the community councils and how they're structured and how many represent certain areas should be the responsibility of the new city of Toronto council.

If the member has advice she would like the new city council to have, I'll make sure that advice gets to them through the transition team . I know the new council will take that into consideration when they're reviewing the role of the community councils.

Ms Lankin: Minister, thanks. I've already talked to the transition team. They are aware of that, I've made that position clear and I think some of them are quite sympathetic to it.

The problem with that, and I know you know this, is that fact any changes with respect to ward boundaries and representation numbers wouldn't come into place until the next municipal election, another three years from now.

When I was a minister -- I know you weren't here but you can check with your colleagues -- I did work with opposition members when they add ideas. I did sit down with them and talk to them or have our legal counsel meet with them to see if there was a way I could help them make the amendment acceptable to the government so they could bring forward the idea and accomplish it.

Let me ask you, would you agree to meet with me with your staff, or if not you, your legal staff or policy staff who have carriage of this, and help me draft this in a way that's acceptable to you? The citizens of East York deserve equitable representation now, in the next municipal election, not three years from now.

Minister, you can make it happen. I will be tabling those amendments. You'll have to deal with them. Please, let's get together so you don't have to vote them down.

Hon Mr Leach: I'd like to thank the member from the third party for her question, because it is an important issue, but it's an issue that we sincerely believe should be dealt with by the new council, not by this government. We've set up the initial structure for the new city of Toronto council and we have set up the ways and means in which the community councils should be established.

If the new city council wants to make any changes to that organization or those structures and how they work, what their roles are, what their responsibilities are, how they're formed, how the boundaries would change, that's a role and a responsibility for the new unified city of Toronto. I think that is the organization and the body that should deal with it.

I'll be glad to work with the member to make sure any of her ideas are submitted through the transition team and ensure that the new city council is made aware of them.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is to the Minister of Health. When it comes to reforming the health care system, the elimination of excess overhead and administrative costs in hospitals is the focus of a lot of attention across Ontario. At the same time, my constituents back in Nepean are talking to me about the growing and aging population.

Could the minister specifically state how the government is developing programs and services to deal with the growing number of people who need long-term-care services, and can the minister give my constituents an overview of what his ministry is doing to ensure that long-term care will be there for those people when they need it?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for asking the question on behalf of his constituents. All of us across the province have constituencies which are growing, and the people are aging. Today's number of 1.4 million seniors is expected to double to 2.8 million seniors over the next 20 years. The government is moving very quickly now, and the focus of part of our hospital restructuring is to prepare for the growing and aging population.

We've established 43 community care access centres, getting rid of the 76 home care and placement coordination services that previously existed. The money we saved in administration has been put into direct front-line services. We've expanded home care throughout the province. Just recently, we've put $100 million into our nursing homes and homes for the aged to ensure that people who are in those homes today receive top-quality care. We've announced the largest single investment in the history of health care in Ontario, $170 million, so that 80,000 to 100,000 more seniors --

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

Hon Mr Wilson: -- can receive in-home therapies, occupational therapy, in-home nursing and community-based services. We've expanded nursing home beds across the province. We're about to launch the biggest single reinvestment in --

The Speaker: Thank you.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario which I'd like to read:

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

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

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

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

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

I concur with the petition and will affix my signature to it.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario signed by 235 residents of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas on September 6, 1995, Anthony O'Brien Dudley George of the Stony Point First Nation number 43 was shot and killed by Acting Sergeant Kenneth Deane of the Ontario Provincial Police; and

"Whereas the Ontario Provincial Police met with a representative of the Premier's office before the massive police buildup that led to the death of Anthony O'Brien Dudley George; and

"Whereas the people of Ontario need to know what role the government played in ordering the Ontario Provincial Police to confront the Stony Point people with violence;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call a public inquiry into the Ontario Provincial Police shooting of Dudley George."

I affix my name to the petition.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): This petition was presented to me by a constituent, Ms Lois Hayes of Newmarket. I present it to the Legislature as requested.

"Whereas this government seeks to decrease the deficit and save public funds; and

"Whereas Premier Harris and the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus espouse a commonsense approach to governing; and

"Whereas these elected representatives of the House advocate plainly the need to reduce individuals' reliance upon government and government services; and

"Whereas the rights of adults who were adopted in Ontario remain unrecognized in law, constituting discrimination against them; and

"Whereas the present restrictive system for the disclosure of personal information to persons who are adopted is not cost-efficient; and

"Whereas Ontario's adoption community cannot be classified as a special interest group because one in five Ontarians are directly or negatively affected by the secrecy and denial inherent in sealed records, legislation and policy; and

"Whereas current legislation governing the disclosure of personal information to adult adoptees in this province contravenes the Canadian charter, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; and

"Whereas the adoption community has sought legislative remedy for this situation and a reform of this discriminatory law which has been found to be detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of adopted persons continuously by every government consultation process, study and legislative standing committee since former Minister of Community and Social Services the Honourable James Taylor first commissioned a report in 1975 which recommends open records;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, beg leave to petition the 36th Legislative Assembly of this province as follows:

"We demand that government legislation be passed into law forthwith to abolish the mandatory counselling requirement attached to disclosure services under the Child and Family Services Act and grant adults who are adopted right of access to their own original unamended birth certificates.

"In closing, these commonsense measures will promote autonomy for Ontarians who happen to be adopted, will establish parity between adopted and non-adopted persons with respect to the right to obtain one's own birth information and will allow for the reinvestment of millions of tax dollars presently spent on perpetuating a myth."


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas on July 15, 1996, the government of Ontario forced seniors with incomes over $16,018 to pay an annual $100 deductible on prescription drugs;

"Whereas this user fee imposed significant financial hardships on vulnerable seniors;

"Whereas on April 1, 1997, the government of Ontario unfairly and knowingly forced Ontario seniors to pay that $100 deductible again;

"Whereas the time between July 15, 1996, and April 1, 1997, is only eight and a half months and not one year;

"Whereas the Ontario government has wrongly taken an additional $30 million out of the pockets of seniors for prescription drugs;

"Whereas Ontario seniors feel cheated by the government of Ontario and this $30-million ripoff shows a tremendous disrespect for Ontario seniors;

"Therefore be it resolved that the government of Ontario credit Ontario seniors for the three-and-a-half-months' overpayment they were forced to pay on prescription drugs by making the effective date for the 1998 $100 deductible July 15, 1998, instead of April 1, 1998."

I've attached my name to that petition as well.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition which reads:

"Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas cancer claims in excess of 20,000 lives annually in Ontario alone; and

"Whereas cancer treatment costs Ontario taxpayers in excess of $1 billion annually; and

"Whereas the best way to fight cancer or any disease is through preventive measures; and

"Whereas the Ontario Task Force on the Primary Prevention of Cancer has advised the government to set realistic and realizable targets for phasing out the release of environmental toxins; and

"Whereas the Legislative Assembly on April 18, 1996, passed a resolution to that effect with support from all three parties;

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

"The Premier and the Minister of Health should immediately implement the April 18 resolution and strike a working committee to begin the task of setting realistic targets for the phase-out of persistent bio-accumulative environmental toxins."

I will gladly affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition signed by 461 people from the London area. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the courts have ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to pass a bill empowering municipalities to enact bylaws governing dress code and to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to reinstate such partial nudity as an offence."


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the provincial government has discontinued the northern support grant which has traditionally compensated the north for assessment deficiencies and increased service costs; and

"Whereas the north is confronted with unique costs, severe weather conditions, higher prices, difficult terrain, higher levels of unemployment and a lower per capita income; and

"Whereas the provincial government has indicated its intention to eliminate all municipal unconditional grants, including the conditional road subsidy; and

"Whereas there has been no indication that the Ontario mining tax which was implemented to fund northern support grants will be eliminated or reduced;

"Now therefore be it resolved that we petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to fully support and endorse the position taken by the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities in its paper entitled Fairness and Equity for Our North, and that the province be requested to enact a new act to establish and provide on a permanent basis northern Ontario investments for northern municipalities to provide funds to maintain the basic infrastructure in terms of roads, water and sewer facilities and provide funds to stimulate the social and economic development of the north; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, believe that the amount set aside for the northern development investments be equivalent to the amount set aside for the northern support grant in 1989 indexed on an annual basis."

I affix my signature as I am in agreement with it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have the following petitions to present to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Harris government has introduced Bill 136; and

"Whereas Bill 136 strips entitlements to employee status and therefore pay equity rights for home child care providers; and

"Whereas home child care providers are predominantly female; and

"Whereas home child care providers are one of the lowest-paid groups of workers in Ontario;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly to withdraw all of Bill 136 and in particular its implications for the Pay Equity Act."

I agree with the sentiments in this petition and add my name to theirs.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario in excess of 100 signatures. It deals with casinos and a referendum. Thank you.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mine is very timely in light of the fact that the government is changing the rules of the House today.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm sure it is. Can you read it?

Mr Bradley: I will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly which reads:

"Whereas over half the people in Ontario are women;

"Only 5% of the money spent on medical research goes to research in women's health;

"Women have special medical needs since their bodies are not the same as men's;

"Women's College is the only hospital in Ontario with a primary mandate giving priority to research and treatment dedicated to women's health needs;

"The World Health Organization has named Women's College Hospital as the sole collaborating centre for women's health for both North and South America;

"Without Women's College Hospital the women of Ontario and of the world will lose a health resource that will not be duplicated elsewhere;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure the continuance, independence, women-centred focus and accessible downtown location of the one hospital most crucial to the future of women's health."

I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): Whereas communities strongly disagree with allowing women to go topless in public, I have a petition signed by a number of residents.

"To enact legislation to require women to wear tops in public places for the protection of our children and for public safety in general."


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My petition reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, has proposed the fingerprinting of Ontario citizens; and

"Whereas fingerprinting Ontarians was never promised in the Common Sense Revolution, or in his election campaign; and

"Whereas universal fingerprinting of Ontario citizens is a direct violation of basic civil rights and fundamental rights of privacy; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is intervening and intruding into all aspects of daily life, from megacities, user fees, rent controls, and market value taxes, which he never promised in the election campaign;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose Mike Harris's plan to fingerprint Ontario citizens, and to respect their privacy and to stop creating a mega-government that does not respect the basic freedom and individuality of the citizens of Ontario."

I've attached my name to that petition as well.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I beg leave to present the 41st report of the standing committee on government agencies.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Does the acting Chair wish to make any brief comments?

Mr Miclash: I know the Chair will probably want to make comments at a later date.

The Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 106(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Mr Flaherty moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 151, An Act to preserve Lynde Marsh in Whitby for conservation and educational purposes / Projet de loi 151, Loi visant à préserver Lynde Marsh à Whitby à des fins de conservation et d'enseignement.

The Speaker (Mr Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): Lynde Marsh should be protected and preserved not only on behalf of the people of Whitby and Durham region but on behalf of all the people of Ontario. Some development has been planned by local authorities. This regrettable decision was based in the mistaken belief that an adequate buffer zone, with a vegetative barrier, would be in place before development occurred. A monitoring committee was supposed to ensure that adequate protections were in place to protect this class 1 wetland.

My constituents feel that all necessary steps must be taken to protect the marsh, and I support this struggle. I previously organized a group of concerned environmental organizations. I've also had discussions with development groups. We must make every effort to preserve the marsh now and in the future.

This is a class 1 wetland which is of provincial and national significance. It is the last remaining class 1 wetland on the north shore of Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Brighton. Unfortunately, this private member's bill is necessary because of the proposed development on the shores of Lynde Marsh.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion as amended for adoption of amendments to the standing orders.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Pursuant to the order of the House dated June 26, 1997, I am now required to put the question on the motion. Shall the motion as amended for adoption of amendments to the standing orders carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1527 to 1532.

The Speaker: Please leave the galleries now. Don't ask me to use force. There is no force necessary. Please leave the galleries now. All the galleries must be cleared.

All those in favour please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Bassett, Isabel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Cunningham, Dianne

Doyle, Ed

Ecker, Janet

Elliott, Brenda

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Grimmett, Bill

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Harris, Michael D.

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, David

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Ross, Lillian

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Smith, Bruce

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: All those opposed please rise and be recognized one at a time.


Bartolucci, Rick

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Cleary, John C.

Conway, Sean G.

Crozier, Bruce

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

GrandmaTtre, Bernard

Hampton, Howard

Hoy, Pat

Kormos, Peter

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Lankin, Frances

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McGuinty, Dalton

McLeod, Lyn

Miclash, Frank

Morin, Gilles E.

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Pupatello, Sandra

Sergio, Mario

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 58; the nays are 31.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to introduce a motion to make amendments to the standing orders, amendments that have been agreed upon among the three parties.

The Speaker: The government House leader is seeking unanimous consent to move a motion to amend the standing orders. Agreed? Agreed.

Hon David Johnson: I also seek consent, if it's the appropriate time to do it, with regard to the procedure for considering the motion and for addressing the rest of the time this afternoon in the House. I believe in that regard we have unanimous consent to have a one-hour debate on the motion, 20 minutes allotted to each party, and at the end of that time the Speaker will put the question; if a recorded vote is required, the division bell will be limited to five minutes.

Further, after that, that the second and third readings of the Supply Act be completed this afternoon.

The Speaker: I'm going to need a copy of that. Do you have that, by chance?

Hon David Johnson: I have the first part, Mr Speaker, not the last part.

The Speaker: Okay. That's a complicated agreement and we'll have to know what the agreement is.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): If I could be helpful, Mr Speaker, why don't we quickly deal with the matter with regard to the motion on the standing orders? There is unanimous consent on that, and I believe the government House leader has that in writing.

The Speaker: Do you have any problem with dealing with that first, the motion, and then dealing with these?

Hon David Johnson: With respect, we have an understanding on the Supply Act this afternoon. All right.

The Speaker: If everyone would listen very carefully, it would be helpful, because you're seeking unanimous consent on this and it is complicated.

Consent to have a one-hour debate on this motion that you've given unanimous consent to hear, 20 minutes allotted to each party, and then at the end of that time, I will put the question and if a recorded vote is required the division bell will be limited to five minutes.

He is also seeking unanimous consent to have second and third readings completed on the supply motion.


The Speaker: You know what? I'm seeking --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, could I just clarify something?

The Speaker: Clarify the unanimous consent?

Ms Lankin: No, I think there is unanimous consent, but the wording is slightly wrong. Could I just --

The Speaker: Go ahead.

Ms Lankin: Just so it doesn't get too confused, the government whip did try to seek consent about deferral of the vote to a certain time, and we didn't agree on that. We've agreed to the completion of the debate on second and third readings today. That's as far as the agreement goes.

The Speaker: No vote?

Hon David Johnson: You have to have a vote.

Ms Lankin: Of course we will.

The Speaker: So you'll have completion of second and third readings and vote on second reading?

Ms Lankin: That's what we agreed.

The Speaker: Okay, no vote on third. Is that clear? Agreed? Hold it.

The difficulty I have with that particular unanimous consent motion is this: If at 6 o'clock we are debating second reading, you're asking me then to have a vote on second reading and consider debate for third reading to be done, and I can't do that


Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, I think you can agree to this unanimous consent within the rules of the House. It's then up to the parties to ensure that second reading is concluded at such time that there is time for third reading, which we have all agreed to do. We understand that if for some reason one of the parties took it through to 6 o'clock on second reading and didn't leave the time for appropriate third reading debate, you couldn't then enforce the unanimous consent because we'd be past 6 of the clock, but we would be in violation of a three-party agreement and there's no intent to do that.

The Speaker: Then you don't need unanimous consent. I can't ask for unanimous consent, then. That's my difficulty.

Hon David Johnson: It's sufficient for me that it's recorded in Hansard that we have had this debate and we have the third party on record and we have no objections from the opposition.

The Speaker: Then I'll stick with this on the paper. That says one hour of debate on this motion, that you've just agreed to with unanimous consent, 20 minutes allotted to each party, and that at the end of that time, the Speaker will put the question; if a recorded vote is required, the division bell will be rung and limited to five minutes. Agreed? Agreed.

Hon David Johnson: So I'll read the motion at this point, Mr Speaker. Is this the appropriate time?

The Speaker: Yes.

Hon David Johnson: I move that standing order 9 be amended by deleting clause (c.2) and substituting:

"(c.2) The House may sit outside the hours provided in clauses (a) and (c) on the passage of a government motion for that purpose. Such a motion requires notice, as follows:

"(i) A motion providing that the House sit past 9:30 pm on one or more days must appear on the Orders and Notices paper by the second sessional day of the week immediately preceding the first week to which the motion applies.

"(ii) Any other motion under this clause must appear on the Orders and Notices paper by the first sessional day of the first week to which the motion applies.

"The question on such a motion shall be put forthwith without amendment or debate. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, the division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes."

That standing order 24(b) be amended by deleting the number "40" and substituting therefor the number "60."

That standing order 24(c) be amended by deleting the words "five hours" and substituting therefor "seven hours."

That standing order 24 be further amended by adding the following clause:

"(d) Notwithstanding clause (b), the whip of a party may indicate to the Speaker at any time during a debate governed by this standing order that one or more of the periods of debate limited pursuant to clause (b) of this standing order allotted to members of his or her party are to be divided in two or more parts. Such speeches shall be given consecutively without rotation among the parties and shall be deemed to be a single speech for the purposes of standing order 25."

That standing order 35 be amended by deleting the words "clause 9(c.2)" and substituting therefor "standing order 9."

That standing order 55 be amended by deleting the word "may" and substituting therefor "shall."

That standing order 57 be amended by deleting the word "third" and substituting therefor "fourth."

That standing order 68 be amended by adding the following clause:

"(d) No bill shall be considered in any standing or select committee while any matter relating to the same policy field is being considered in the House."

That standing order 105(g) be amended by deleting the words "(excluding re-appointments, appointments for a term of one year or less, and appointments of persons who are public servants under the Public Service Act who remain public servants after their appointments)" in the first paragraph and substituting therefor "(excluding re-appointments and appointments for a term of one year or less)."

This debate over the next hour concludes a long debate, some 30 1/2 hours of debate which began in June, I guess it was, although work was done prior to that to pull together a new set of standing orders. This is a process, it seems to me, that every government goes through. We know that the government prior to 1990 went through a process of reviewing the standing orders, we know that the previous government went through a process of reviewing the standing orders and this is the current government's addressing of the standing orders. I think it's only appropriate, in that circumstances change, that from time to time every government looks at the procedures that govern how the House is run, how the business is conducted.

We had a few objectives in terms of reviewing the procedures. Some of the objectives were to enhance the rights of members of this Legislature, and by those rights I mean in particular the ability of members to enter into the debate, to be part of the process, to represent their constituents and to have the opportunity to stand on the floor of the Legislature and express their opinions.

In that regard and in regard to a number of other items, we scrutinized the procedures of the federal government and of some of the other provincial governments, and I guess in this particular case we borrowed from the federal House of Commons. In the federal situation the speakers are allocated less time than the amount of time per speaker at one opportunity that we previously had here in this Legislature. That allowed more people the opportunity to speak. In our case, 90 minutes was allotted to a leadoff speaker and many people would say that 90 minutes is just too long. Certainly, at the municipal level they would not tolerate one individual speaking for 90 minutes. There are many people who would say, "If you can't say it in 10 or 20 minutes, you can't say it." If there's a view you have to express, you should be able to get to the point and express the concerns of your constituents. Don't beat around the bush; don't go on and on forever.

In the federal House they didn't allow 90 minutes; they allowed 40 minutes for a leadoff speaker. In the federal case they feel that 40 minutes is enough to express the sentiments of individual members. Subsequent speakers are allowed either 20 minutes or 10 minutes. We thought if it works in the House of Commons, it can certainly work here. By doing that, you don't listen to one speaker all afternoon. You might listen to three or four; four or five people may have the opportunity to speak.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Could you limit the amount of time --

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: However, I will say that concerns were expressed to me, to the government, that 40 minutes for a leadoff speaker was not enough time, and one of the amendments that's being proposed here today is to increase that from 40 to 60. It's still a reduction from 90 minutes, which was the previous practice, but I think one hour is a goodly period of time and allows ample opportunity for the leadoff speaker to express the sentiments.

Other than that, we felt that if the members needed the time in a thoughtful way to reflect on the legislation, the important legislation that comes before this House, they should be given the opportunity to achieve that time, to get that time.

In the Legislature in British Columbia they have evening sittings, and we have adopted that process here in Ontario. We have said that to ensure the members of this Legislative Assembly have the opportunity to look thoroughly at the legislation, to look thoughtfully at the legislation, to make sure the legislation is appropriate, well-thought-out and comprehensive, we would indeed adopt the opportunity for evening sittings and the government would have that opportunity.


Through those two actions, we have given the members of this Legislature more opportunity to consider the legislation, to speak to the legislation, to debate it and to ensure that the views of their constituents are being entertained in this Legislature. This will be of great assistance, not only this fall but in subsequent years, to make sure legislation is thoroughly and completely considered by all members and by the House.

There are a number of other features. Most people I talk to are astounded that in there has been a vote on the budget in only three of the last 10 years.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): No one has ever asked me about that, ever.

Hon David Johnson: My colleague and good friend opposite from the Liberal Party has said nobody has ever asked. I must say nobody has ever asked me about that either, but when I raise the issue at meetings, they assume that there is always a vote on the budget.

I ask, "How many people expect that we have a vote on the budget?" and all the hands go up. Everybody in the room says: "Sure, you have to have a vote on the budget. The budget is surely the most important part of the provincial government; it's a foundation. Surely there has to be a vote." But there isn't. There are votes on pieces that come out of the budget, but in terms of a budget, we've only had a vote in three of the last 10 years. The new procedures we have require a vote to be taken each and every year. That's another important component.

There were obviously loopholes, where people watching would see that bells were ringing, that procedures were being used to eliminate or reduce debate in the House. I call them loopholes; they're not illegal. I'm sure the members on the other side of the House would say none of them are illegal. They're there, they can be used, but they do prevent the efficient operation of this House. They do not add to the debate; they do not add to consideration of a bill; they simply delay and stall the government from moving forward.

Mr Bradley: What are you talking about? Nobody's arguing getting rid of those.

Hon David Johnson: The member for St Catharines says, "Nobody's arguing getting rid of those." I'm pleased to hear that and I'm pleased to hear we have that sort of agreement, because I think the people of the province would say: "Absolutely, get rid of the nonsense. Get on with the debate. If you're against a bill, speak against it, pound your desk, show your opposition to it, but get on with the debate and don't use the stalling and delaying tactics."

The House leaders have had the opportunity to consider the standing orders. We have come forward with some changes here today. This is a continuing part of the process that began before the summer. I think it shows the willingness of the government to compromise. I know some of the amendments that are in here are not our first choice, but we realize we all have to work together in this House, so we're bringing forward a package today.

Some of the changes that are in this package will be good for all the members of this House, some of the changes in here are more to the benefit of the opposition parties, but we all have to work together and get along. I hope that's what this will promote.

Finally, because my 10 minutes is up, we are also committing, through a standing committee, to address further changes as time goes on. In terms of all the members of the House, there's perhaps some view that that process will take place in the longer term, that having gone through this process now there may not be an enthusiasm to delve back into that tomorrow morning, but I would like to see a committee further review some of the other ideas that came up.

The House leader for the NDP, for example, brought forward an idea about prioritizing the business of the House, and I think we should follow up and see if we can make that workable. There's an idea that came up. Maybe we weren't able to give it full consideration at this point in time, but in the longer term I think he's got a point that should be looked at.

We voted on the main motion. We have a set of amendments here today that I think reflect a getting together of the House leaders. We'll set up a committee through the standing committee to further review some of these matters and possibly in the future come forward with some further changes that reflect the views of all the members of this House and promote the workings of this Legislature.

With those comments, I'll sit down and allow my colleague for Nepean to take the floor.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'll just speak for a very few minutes on the amendments contained in this motion presented by the government House leader. It's interesting to note that the government House leader did sit down with his colleagues and genuinely tried to listen and have some of what he heard reflected in this motion and has brought it forward immediately after the first motion was dealt with, and to their credit they are allowing it to be dealt with expeditiously by the House.

The amendments presented by my colleague the government House leader represent a number of instances where the government has moved to meet some of the concerns -- not all, but some of the concerns -- of the opposition, particularly requiring notice when the House would sit past 9:30 in the evening, allowing for more debate, changing the 40-minute speech blocks to 60 minutes and allowing 10-minute speeches to start only after seven hours, instead of five. That will add even more debate to the amendments that were presented in June by the government House leader.

As well, an interesting concession is allowing the speech time to be split, with notice from the whip to the Clerk. That is very important. That will allow more members to participate early on but at the same time allow a member -- for example, if the critic of a given bill wanted to participate for the full 60 minutes. That would only add to democracy and allow more members to debate. For example, if there were 60-minute speeches, that could be split by three or four members in the House and that would be something that would be very helpful.

Allowing the business statement to be read, clarifying that there be more debate on the budget and expanding the power of the standing committee on government agencies, these are all substantial movement on the government House leader's part to show that we're prepared to listen and to consult, as the three party House leaders did over the last number of months.

Mr Bradley: Make no mistake about it, this is all about shoving the agenda of the government through the House much more quickly than it has already been shoved through the House. Those members of the government who were behind closed doors at the caucus meeting of the Conservative Party yesterday, and some in the hallways after, expressed concern about how quickly the government is moving, how recklessly the government is moving, how drastically it's moving and how it's not looking at the consequences of its actions. That's what this is all about. Please understand that.

If the government House leader and the member for Nepean stood up and said, "That's what this is about," I would at least give them credit for being honest and straightforward, because that's what it is about. Maybe some of you will agree with that, and I accept that you really believe that's good for this Legislature, but it's not.

The problem is that each subsequent government is extremely reluctant to change it. When the NDP changed the rules quite drastically to generally reduce the amount of debate in this House on legislation and the opportunity for the opposition to stop the government in its tracks from time to time, the Conservative government that followed did not change those rules. I suspect any government following would have been very reluctant to change those rules.

We as members of the Legislature, and ultimately the people we represent, lose. Democracy loses. I know democracy seems to be cumbersome sometimes. I know it seems to be much slower than many people who have their small businesses, their insurance firms, would like it to be, because they're used to moving quickly, and that's the way business should move. Business is different from government. I would never advocate that we apply the rules of this House to the rules of running a corporation or a small business. They are different, and they shouldn't be the same. I would agree with that.


What is happening, though, is that mentality is creeping into the dealing with democracy. Make no mistake about it, to the people who may be watching this or reading the debates, this is the most important legislative initiative this government has brought forward, because it is going to grease the skids for all the future legislation the government wishes to bring through.

We all remember the infamous Bill 26. I would say in their heart of hearts many Tories look back upon that day when Bill 26 was brought before the House, the omnibus bill which changed some 47 acts of this Legislature was brought forward. When the government wanted to ram it through before Christmas with, yes, hearings, but just before Christmas, the opposition stopped the government from doing so. As a result, we had hearings across the province in various municipalities, and the government introduced 150 amendments to its own legislation. That's the importance of having debate. That's the importance of having the opposition the odd time employing extraordinary powers, not powers you like to employ.

If I could use the analogy to war, I'm sure no government, no President, no Prime Minister has ever wanted to use nuclear weapons. That is reserved for only the most extreme cases. Oppositions think that way as well. It has to be an extreme case before one will employ extraordinary actions.

But let me tell you why the opposition, on two occasions I can think of, employed extraordinary, extraparliamentary even, measures. That was because the rules had already been changed to diminish debate by previous rule changes in this House. When you diminish the opportunity to debate, which I would prefer, or even to filibuster, as the member for Welland-Thorold did on one occasion for some 17 hours, when you diminish that opportunity to talk things out, you force the opposition and others to go to extraordinary tactics.

What will happen now is that we will find some other tactics to use. I hate doing that. I really do hate doing that. But you're taking away the speaking time. If the government wants more time for debate, I have no objection to sitting at night, none at all. I think that's fine, and I think that measure would be supportable. But know what the real purpose of that is: They want to count it as an additional day in the debate, 6:30 to 9:30 as an additional day for the purposes of time allocation motions or closure motions. That's what that's all about.

If the government really wanted some of its members or all of the members of the House to be able to have a greater opportunity to participate in debates in this House, it would simply have extended the amount of time and had these sittings at night and would have sat longer than the calendar calls for. You heard no one in the opposition complain that you were coming back in January. You went almost all the way through. We're back in August; nobody is complaining about that. The government has an ambitious agenda, and I don't object to the government having more days sitting. But what they really want is to have more days without more question periods.

Look where they've placed question period. Question period in our system is oh, so very important. Americans come in and watch this Legislature and they're astounded by the fact that the government of the day has to answer questions in a timely fashion. The government has now relegated question period through the rule changes from third place to seventh place. Then the government has said that at 4 o'clock, even if question period is in progress, maybe it has been in progress 10 minutes, it will end. The time that television and radio people, particularly television, have to file their stories is quite limited.

The government can manipulate this to such an extent that it can avoid the kind of scrutiny that's good for all of democracy. This is a step backwards. I tell you it is a step backwards. I'd be ashamed if a government of which I were a part were introducing this. But I'll tell you, it's always tempting to governments to do so.

When I was first elected to the governing side, I remember the new members who came in from the Liberal Party. They were impatient with the opposition. They said: "Aren't these people childish? Aren't these people foolish? Aren't these people obstructionist?" I had to explain that that's the role of the opposition; that in order that our government of the day would be more accountable, that we would do things right instead of doing them quickly, it was essential that the opposition have those powers and exercise those powers from time to time to stop the government in its tracks or at least to slow the government down.

Ernie Eves, whom I've had a lot of time for in this House in terms of the contribution he has made, made an interesting intervention that I think is worthy of putting on the record again. He was speaking to the NDP rule changes on June 22, 1992, and he said the following. I think all government members and the public should remember this.

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

Norm Sterling, another person who has been here since 1977, in this case wrote a letter to the Ottawa Sun. Mr Eves read this into the record as part of the debate. He was quoting Norm Sterling, the member for Carleton. He said the following:

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

These rules take away the bargaining chips that the opposition House leaders have. Before, we could say to the government House leader, "Well, you can have the following bills or the following motions, but we would like these conditions," perhaps more time for hearings, perhaps more communities to be visited. That's gone. You've taken that all away. The government House leader can virtually walk in now at the behest of the Premier -- because make no mistake about it, the Premier runs this government, and we have a more presidential style every time we have a new government. The Premier will simply say, "I want this through," and it will be through. The government backbencher's role will be to applaud, to get up and read the speeches that are provided by government research and don't ask you to think but simply to read what the government wants you to read into the record, and it will go through quickly.

Will it be more efficient for the government? It certainly will. Will it be better for democracy? Will the legislation be better as a result? The answer is no. You see, the purpose of debate often is to delay, not simply to make the case but sometimes to delay, and that is so the public has a longer period of time to look at the ramifications of the legislation.

The changes that are proposed in this particular motion represent tinkering. They are better than what originally was there, but they are essentially tinkering. It's the old story of one saying, "Well, thank you for kicking me in the shins because you didn't kick me in the face." I don't think many people will be thanking the government for this, particularly those who are opponents of the government. The consequences are not simply dire for those of us in this House; they're dire for everybody. They're dire for the people who are the victims of legislation or the beneficiaries of legislation. You will do things in the wrong fashion more times now.

All these proposals, I say, make the Premier happy. The Premier is an unhappy man because he feels his agenda should move through more quickly. He is not a man who is given to patience. Whatever his virtues might be -- and I'm not here to denigrate the Premier -- he is not a man given to patience. He is not a man who could be considered not to be stubborn. Both of those are traits I have seen in him, and I don't pass negative judgement; I've seen those. That is reflected in the changes we see this afternoon that have been voted upon already.

Most people would say the government is moving too quickly, too drastically, too recklessly and not looking at the consequences of its actions. How ironic that at the very time Conservative members of the caucus are expressing this view, reflecting that view from the public, today they have voted on a motion which in fact will allow Premier Harris, at the behest of his unelected advisers, to ram more measures through this House, to get the revolution implemented in this province.

Not everything you're going to do is going to be bad for the province. Not everything any government does is bad for the province. But you're going to make far more mistakes as a result of this, and you're not going to be looking at the ramifications of your actions.

It is, as I mentioned, difficult to get the next government to change. I watched the interviews in the Legislature after certain questions were asked on this. They asked the opposition leaders, "Are you going to change things?" They both gave an undertaking that they would review the rules. Well, let me tell you the reality of it. I've watched this over the years and what happens is, they're too attractive to the next government.


So, Conservative members, some day when you're in opposition 42 years from now or whenever that happens to be, you will have to live with the consequences of that and you won't be able to do your job as well as you would if the rules were as they were before the changes. Don't look to that to happen.

Everyone loses in this, in my view. Everyone who is elected to this House loses, except the Premier, a few cabinet ministers and the intelligentsia who advise the Premier, the ones who were never elected but know far more than members of the Legislature about what is good for the people of this province. At least that is what they would let you believe, and I know some of you know who those people are.

The role of the opposition is an important one. When I was a cabinet minister, I used to extol in speeches the role of the opposition, explain to people, whether it was students or others, how important it was that not just the government view be heard, but the opposition be heard, that government really be called to account.

In the final analysis, the public will choose. If they want your government re-elected, they will do so. If they think another party might do a better job, they will make that choice. But they should make that choice based on proper debate of legislation because some of the changes you make are irreversible and when they're irreversible, it's important that you do them right.

I hope you don't do them wrong. I don't sit here wishing that the government is going to be making mistakes that will have dire consequences for the province. I don't want you to be re-elected. It's unrealistic to say that obviously. But I don't wish you dire consequences. I really don't wish that a disaster happens to you. I hope that simply, based on policies and ideas, perhaps we will be looked at more favourably, but I don't wish you dire consequences in what you are doing. But that's what will result from this.

This whole idea was hatched in the Premier's office. I've seen suggestions that certain members of the Legislature have made these suggestions. It's nonsense. It's all done with the Premier's consent and at the behest of the Premier. You want more time to sit and, as I've mentioned, we're more than happy to see that. I understand your wanting to remove the chance for two of the major stoppages you've had. I understand that. I don't like it as an opposition member because it takes away a bargaining chip or an opportunity, but I understand that and I don't sit and condemn the government for doing it.

What I am condemning you for is taking away the amount of time for debate because the amount of time for debate is key in this House. That's why I felt very unhappy and uneasy about having to engage in the filibuster, for instance, where we read amendment after amendment. I would have preferred that we had debate after debate, hours of debate on that so the public could see the issues, not putting forward all these amendments. That wasn't the first choice, but it turned out to be the only choice and again, as you restrict the rules more on debate, you're going to see more of that, and that's not good for democracy. I'm not going to enjoy that, the public will not think it's great and the government will be just as annoyed as ever because we are doing it.

We are in essence going to have fewer days of sitting, not more days of sitting as the member for Nepean likes to suggest. We will have, as a result of this, fewer days of this House sitting and we will have fewer question periods and less accountability, and a government, no matter who it is, needs accountability.

When I was a minister I hated coming into question period because I was always nervous that somebody had something I didn't know about or there was a weakness in government policy somewhere. You're always nervous as a minister. If you aren't, you're not doing your job. But it was important that we be held accountable because if we weren't accountable, I'm telling you, none of us does as good a job when that accountability is diminished.

You're going to see far less cooperation. I think some members think there wasn't much cooperation between the government and the opposition. There is a surprisingly large amount of cooperation. When the new rule changes come in, the incentive is lost for the opposition because we have only a few opportunities to stick it to the government, if you want to put it that way, and we're going to use those now, ones that we wouldn't have used before probably, because the rules are changed.

One has to say: "I guess we're going to have to employ these tactics. I guess we're going to have to say no to unanimous consent." A government House leader always knows the importance of unanimous consent for anything. That is the most important thing a government House leader has. The opposition sometimes needs it and the government, in retribution and retaliation, will be saying, "You cannot have it." Does either side benefit from that? No, but that's a consequence of what's going to happen with these rule changes.

You have two for one now, of course. You have the night sitting which gives you an additional day on another bill without a question period. That's what I call the two-for-one provision, and I don't think that's good, though I don't object to the government sitting at night to get its agenda through.

This House, unfortunately, is going to become irrelevant. As it is now, it's sometimes hard to persuade people to run for politics because they begin to ask: "What power do I really have? If I'm a" -- I don't like the word "backbencher" -- "non-cabinet member in the government, all I'm supposed to do is laugh at the Premier's jokes and applaud and be good people out in the hallway when the press asks us questions. I really don't have that much power." And I tell you, that's not just this government. I want to say that. It's not just this government, but they think about that.

And the opposition says, "You know, if I'm down to a 10-minute speech after the seven hours of debate, and I've got a bun feed in the riding or something to cut the ribbons, why am I going to wait around here?" It may seem of minor consequence to you, but that's exactly what's going to happen. This House will become less relevant. We'll become glorified social workers. We will become people who, instead of spending our time carefully scrutinizing legislation and policies and measures of the government, will be simply back home getting the good old votes the way maybe it used to be at one time, and really not doing our job properly as legislators.

This, in essence, will not be the lead story. The press gallery is empty, except for one assiduous individual there. The gallery where the cameras are is not full. The government knows it can get away with this. I said in the House before when you introduced these changes that you can judge a government best by what it does when it thinks no one is looking. Maybe you can do the same with people. The original suggestions came forward on the federal election date, when they would be buried somewhere. Then, on another opportunity, there was something else going on and the government on a Thursday afternoon dropped something else to do with these rule changes.

Governments know that the editors today are not going to be telling their people at Queen's Park to cover the rule changes. That's just not a catchy story. Yet what we're doing this afternoon has more impact on democracy in Ontario and the wellbeing of this province than any bill you've brought forward, any measure you've brought forward, any policy you are promoting.

In Ontario, I guess it will be a sad story. The opponents will use extraordinary tactics. The House will become far less relevant. But one thing Premier Harris can say, one thing this government can say, is, "By gosh, in Ontario the trains will run on time."

Mr Wildman: I rise to participate in this debate in a very serious way because I am very concerned about what this will mean for the legislative process in Ontario, and I don't say that lightly.

I want to refer to a couple of things the government House leader said in his comments at the outset of this debate. I'd like to refer first back to the last change in the rules, which was carried out by the NDP government in 1992. The House leader for the Liberal Party has referred to comments made by the then third party House leader, the member for Parry Sound, Ernie Eves. I'd like to refer briefly to what the member for Parry Sound then said because he's a very experienced member and he knows the way this place works.

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

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


Then, further:

"Unilateral actions by governments -- which can be done if you have a majority; eventually it will pass, but if that's how you want to proceed -- will result in nothing but chaos and acrimony around here for the next two to three years, whenever it is the Premier decides to call the next election." That was said by the member for Parry Sound on June 22, 1992.

It's interesting that the member for Parry Sound pointed out in that debate that the government of the day did not act unilaterally, that there was negotiation among the House leaders regarding rule changes.

Interestingly enough, the member for Parry Sound proposed a rule change in those negotiations that was accepted by the then government, the so-called Ernie Eves rule, which would prohibit governments from introducing new bills for second reading in the last two weeks of a session. Interestingly enough, this government is now changing that rule. That is one of the rules this government has eliminated, and in my view eliminated unilaterally.

I want to speak to that for a moment, because the government House leader indicated that this was the end of a long process, that we'd had about 30 hours of debate and there had been discussions and so on. Well, I recall that in June of this year, when we last debated the rules, the government House leader, Mr Johnson, stated:

"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" of the opposition members. Then further: "It's my hope in all of these matters that we can negotiate something that's acceptable to all parties."

Ms Lankin: If only he meant it.

Mr Wildman: Yes, if only he meant it. We took the government House leader at his word when he said that on June 26, 1997, so we looked at the rule changes that were introduced by the government and we went over them. It took us about two to three weeks. We came up with some alternative proposals that would respond to some of the concerns that were raised by the government members and by the government House leader and at the same time would preserve the rights of all members of this House and would ensure continuing accountability of the government of the day.

When we came up with those proposals, I then wrote a letter to all members of the House, giving them my ideas -- the ideas of our caucus, not just my ideas -- and suggesting that we should meet over the summer to negotiate around these issues. I did have a conversation by telephone with the government House leader as well as my friend from St Catharines, but that was it until last week. Then last week, suddenly the government House leader wanted to have a meeting, the Thursday of the week prior to our resuming the legislative session on Monday. This was supposedly to fulfil the commitment made on June 26 that we would negotiate over the summer.

We had a long meeting. It went from about 5 until about 9 in the evening. Then we had another meeting -- I wasn't present because I had to be with the Lieutenant Governor in my riding, but my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine attended the meeting -- on Monday. But that was it.

Now the government House leader has brought forward an amendment to the motion that he introduced for changes to the rules. He indicated in his opening remarks that there was unanimous consent. I want to make something clear here: There was unanimous consent that we would deal with this motion today and that we would have a debate for an hour. There is not unanimous consent about the rules that are being proposed by this government.

It is true that the government House leader has responded to one or two of the concerns we raised about limiting debate. They are very, very minor changes. They do benefit the proceedings of the assembly, I believe. But it's a bit like, to use the analogy of the terrorists in Ireland, when an IRA terrorist puts his pistol to the head of one of his opponents and says, "I can shoot you in the head, or if you prefer, I'll kneecap you." That's what this government is now doing: They are kneecapping us.

The end result is that the opposition members of the House and all members of the House will not have the same opportunity to participate in a debate of the issues of the day and of laws that are proposed by the government and other government initiatives that they once had. Members' time will be limited. The government has argued that what these rule changes are about is enhancing the role of the members. Well, that is to say black is white. It does not enhance the role of the members at all. In fact, it limits the members. It limits the time they have to debate, it limits how long they can speak on debates in the House, it limits the number of questions they can put on the order paper and it extends the length of time the government has to respond to those kinds of questions on the order paper. How can anybody argue that is enhancing the role of individual members?

If the government were really concerned that government backbenchers were not getting enough opportunity to participate in debates, they could extend the length of time they are prepared to have debate. It's simple. Their problem is they want to rush everything through. They want to get things through, each bill, in less than three days, and that does give them a problem if they have a large number of members of their caucus who wish to speak. But if the government were prepared to have longer consideration of legislation, if they weren't in such a rush, if they were willing to hear from everyone, then all members of the House would have greater opportunity.

The government wants it both ways. They want to be able to rush things through, but they also want to have the appearance of more members being able to participate in the debate. That's what these changes are largely about. It doesn't enhance the role of the opposition or the government members who are not in cabinet. What it does is enhance the opportunity of cabinet ministers to get things through with less scrutiny. That's what it is about.

I thought it was interesting when I read in the press comments made by the Premier just in the last couple of days. According to the press, some members of the government caucus have been raising concerns about the speed with which the government is moving on a number of initiatives. They have spent some time in their constituencies over the last few weeks and they have heard from people in their constituencies that they are concerned the government is moving on so many fronts so quickly and perhaps isn't doing things in a wise and considered way. They have raised concerns and suggested that the government might rethink its approach.

Here we have members of the party supporting the cabinet ministers, supporting the government, who are themselves saying this government is moving too quickly. So how can the government argue they aren't getting things through fast enough? Their own members -- I suppose a minority of them, a minority who have the gumption to get up and say so -- are saying they are moving too quickly. It's not just their members, of course, though; it is the public. They are expressing the views of the people of Ontario.

Nobody thinks this government is moving too slowly; no one, apparently, other than the Premier and a few of his backroom boys. They want to get everything through that is difficult and controversial by the end of this calendar year so that they will have a free time to coast going into the next election. That's what these rule changes are about. They're about enabling the government to move more quickly and do things with less accountability and less scrutiny.


I suppose it is a nuisance to be questioned. I suppose it's a nuisance to come into the House and listen to opposition members get up and criticize. I suppose it's a nuisance to have difficult issues raised. That is a nuisance. It slows things down to an extent. But that's what democracy is about. Nobody could question the speed with which Stalin could move when he wanted to. He was able to get things through very quickly when he wanted to. But all of us in this House pride ourselves in the fact that we are not so-called democratic centralists, which was what Stalin used to call his system of things.

Perhaps all the power in this government is centralized in the Office of the Premier, and he wants to get things through quickly; he doesn't want to hear debate; he doesn't want to hear criticism; he doesn't want to have to answer difficult questions. But that's what our political system is based upon, that we have the opportunity to raise differing views, that we have the opportunity to disagree civilly, that we don't have to resort to the kinds of extraparliamentary initiatives that people have to use in countries that do not have democratic systems. We do not have to resort to arms, to bombs, to violence to change government policy. We use words. We use talk. We use debate. It takes a long time sometimes but it is valuable and important. It is the very basis of our political system.

People in this House have used the argument, "Well, we've got to get the trains moving on time." We know where that phrase comes from. It comes from the 1930s in Italy, and yes, Mussolini got the trains to run on time, but you'd better not disagree with him, because you had no right to disagree. That's not what we want in our system. We want to have debate, we want to have consultation, we want to have argument, and in some cases we want to have delay and reconsideration, review.

It's interesting that here we are debating amendments to the motion to change the standing orders, right after the majority in this House has passed the motion to change the standing orders. This demonstrates just exactly what I'm talking about. The government has realized that some of the things it wanted to change were not the best thing to do. There were some mistakes. There was one in here where they had four days when they meant three and they had to change it. That's what happens when the government moves too quickly, when it doesn't review carefully enough what it wants to do, when it doesn't listen to other people. We are demonstrating in this debate exactly why we have to have considered review of legislation and change.

I suppose the government considers itself to be revolutionary, and there are those who have said that in a revolution people get hurt, sometimes things happen that are not the best, but in order to bring about the desired change you have to be able to live with that and accept it. To make an omelette you have to break a few eggs. That's the kind of argument that's put forward. The fact is that in my study of politics, in my study of history, when you use these kinds of methods to force through your position, when you override the views of others in the name of some high principle, inevitably that high principle is lost. That is the tragedy of the Soviet system. That was the tragedy of the Russian Revolution. It was the tragedy of the Russian people that in using those kinds of violent dictatorial methods for high principle, the high principle was lost and those violent, dictatorial methods remained for 70 years and plagued the Russian people. All those who purport to be revolutionaries should consider that very carefully.

Once a government decides that debate, opposing views, should not be considered seriously, perhaps are even a nuisance, then that government is on the way to destroying the very basis of our political system that it says it is there to try to preserve. The speed of the political system is not as important as the ability to ensure that all views are heard and responded to; not just expressed but responded to.

I want to make it clear that in agreeing to the process for the debate this afternoon, we have not agreed to these rule changes. I want to make it clear that I support the views the member for Parry Sound expressed in June 1992, that a government cannot force through changes and expect that this House and our system will operate well. Yes, I believe that after these changes come into place, the government will be able to get its major pieces of legislation, its major initiatives through perhaps a little more quickly, not very much more quickly but a little more quickly. But mark my words: The government is not going to get its overall agenda through more quickly, because as Mr Eves, the member for Parry Sound, said in 1992, "There will be acrimony in this place."

We are being forced to swallow these rule changes, and as a result we will regurgitate debate on everything in this House. Even minor pieces of legislation, what the government may consider to be minor, will provoke lengthy debate. Your changes, which are to become the maximum times for debate in future, I predict over the rest of this session of this House, this Parliament, will become the minimums. Sure, you can meet in the evening -- we have no objection to more lengthy meetings if you wish; we object to the two-for-one days, as was expressed by the member for St Catharines -- sure you can do that, but you're not going to get things through more quickly, and things will be acrimonious and they will not operate properly and well in this House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gary L. Leadston): Further debate?

Mr Johnson has moved amendments to the standing orders. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1639 to 1644.

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


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Bassett, Isabel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Doyle, Ed

Elliott, Brenda

Fisher, Barbara

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Johns, Helen

Johnson, David

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Shea, Derwyn

Smith, Bruce

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Turnbull, David

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

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


Agostino, Dominic

Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Cleary, John C.

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Crozier, Bruce

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Grandmaître, Bernard

Gravelle, Michael

Hoy, Pat

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Lankin, Frances

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McGuinty, Dalton

Miclash, Frank

Morin, Gilles E.

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Sergio, Mario

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 51; the nays are 32.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There are a couple of points of order that we would like to raise.

I would like to begin with one seeking clarification. As a result of these rule changes, both the initial motion that was passed and this set of amendments that was just passed, both indicate that these amendments to the standing orders, except the amendment to standing order 110, take effect at midnight immediately following the day on which they are adopted.

I would like to seek clarification of when you believe these standing orders would come into effect. I would suggest to you that the day on which they are adopted being today, Wednesday, that midnight tonight is midnight of the day on which they are adopted, and therefore the midnight referred to here, "immediately following the day on which they are adopted," would mean midnight of Thursday of this week that the rules would come into effect.

I think it would be helpful for all of us in the House to have a clarification, a ruling on that. I think there is an argument that can be made with respect to --

The Speaker: As a matter of fact, we had that discussion at the meeting today and we came to the conclusion, or I came to the conclusion, that they will take effect midnight tomorrow.

Government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: Obviously that's not a case in point here right now because there's nothing before us right now that would test that, but presumably the government would have the opportunity, if it deemed appropriate, to raise that matter again, from the point of view that the matter isn't being tested here today in any way.

The Speaker: They asked for a ruling on when they come into effect and I ruled that they come into effect midnight tomorrow. As I read the drafted copy made by the government, it seemed fairly clear to me it comes into effect the day after it's adopted. The day after it's adopted is tomorrow.


Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, just in clarification, the decision that was made was in the absence of any submissions from the government in that regard.

The Speaker: The member stood on a point of order and asked me to rule on it and I got up and I ruled on it. If you wanted to make a submission, you should have got up and said, "A point of order: I'd like to make a submission," I guess. I don't know. I'm at a loss here, government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, it's very unusual. I'm not so sure I had the opportunity to do that. You stood up immediately and you said you'd consider this and I had no idea what you were going to say. You made your ruling.

The Speaker: With the greatest of respect to the government House leader, I would like to hear from you if you would care to make a submission, I keep an open mind on all these subjects and I'd be happy to hear from you. I'll hear from you if you'd like to make a submission. The point is that I need to hear from you now simply because the House is going to adjourn and there are implications involved in the future works of this place. So if you want to make a submission, please make it, and I say to you very clearly, to the government House leader, I have an open mind. I reviewed it. I heard what the member for Beaches-Woodbine said, and if you feel you didn't get an opportunity to submit, compelling arguments I'm always open to and I would like to hear those.


Hon David Johnson: I think I agree with that.

Mr Speaker, You've already made it clear that your ruling is that it comes into effect tomorrow night. I'm having a little difficulty in my mind coming to grips with the fact that any submission I might make would be very fruitful at this point, but nevertheless --

The Speaker: I could only read what I had before me, and what I had before me was as I read today. I will read it for all members so they can hear it, and if it's helpful to give you some time to formulate some thought on this, I'll read it directly:

"That these amendments to the standing orders, except the amendment to standing order 110, take effect" -- and here's obviously the most important part -- "at midnight immediately following the day on which they are adopted." If you felt I ruled hastily, I'm sorry, but it seems fairly clear to me in the written word that the government produced: "...take effect at midnight immediately following the day on which they are adopted." They're adopted today. They take effect at midnight the following day.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Gerretsen: For clarification.

Mr Preston: All right, that's exactly what I'm going to do. In the future it may be helpful to adopt "2359" or "0001," as a number of organizations worldwide have done, because midnight is ambiguous. If you said "2359 on the day of adoption," you'd know exactly when it is.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Brant-Haldimand, you can take your seat. I appreciate that submission and it could be very helpful.

Hon David Johnson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think that illustrates the point, and I have had some evidence, which I don't have before me today, not knowing that this was coming up, that in some circles midnight is considered to be in the next day. Then midnight following today would be tonight and consequently this would take effect -- the procedures --

Mr Gerretsen: We're not allowing you to change the calendar.

The Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, and I caution the members of the opposition to please come to order. I want to hear the government House leader's submission, and the same opportunity was given to the opposition. I ask that the same discretion be given to the government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: It's my submission, Mr Speaker, that it would come into effect tonight -- indeed midnight is considered after today, first thing tomorrow morning -- come into effect at that point. So in fact the rule changes would be in effect tomorrow. I believe there is a school of thought that midnight is in the subsequent day, not --

Mr Wildman: That's midnight plus a second.

Hon David Johnson: It's midnight plus one millisecond or something of that nature, so that midnight is in the next day, not in this day, as it were. So the rules would come into effect -- in effect, tomorrow they would be in effect.

The Speaker: A question to the government House leader: If in fact that was the case, would it not have been simpler to say "take effect at midnight the day they are adopted?"

Hon David Johnson: That might have been more simple, but I believe those who drafted it thought nevertheless, because of that convention in certain circles, that they were drafting the bill in the same fashion. They meant exactly the same thing. There was no reason to draft it any other way.

The Speaker: I certainly appreciate the government House leader's submission. Reflecting on the words, I could see that you could read it as you read it. The difficulty I'm faced with is, I've read this and I have to interpret these words. I've interpreted it the way I've interpreted it, which is, the words "take effect at midnight immediately following the day on which they are adopted" mean it takes effect tomorrow at midnight. That's my ruling.

Mr Wildman: On another point or order, Mr Speaker: I'll provide you with wording. I would like to bring to your attention another point of order related to the motion that was passed today amending the standing orders. According to the terms of the motion as you've just ruled, the new rules will take effect at midnight tomorrow, but the motion states that the amendment on standing order 110 will take place immediately.

The motion reads that the amendments to standing order 110 "take effect on the third sessional day after August 1, 1997, that the House meets." This is the third day in August that the House is meeting, therefore I would think that standing order 110 is effective immediately. Standing order 110(a) reads as follows: "No standing or select committee shall consist of more than nine members and the membership of such committees shall be in proportion to the representation of the recognized parties in the House."

However, in October 1995, this assembly passed a motion to set aside the then standing order and to allow up to 14 members on each standing committee. Now that the standing order has been amended, I believe you must rule that the new standing order takes precedence over the motion of the House.

How can we have decided to set aside a standing order of the House which had not even been contemplated at the time? My question is: The motion that was passed in October 1995 was in relation to the unamended standing order 110. We have now amended that standing order. My view is that this new standing order, which takes effect immediately, must take precedence over that motion. If it does take precedence over that motion, that would mean the committees that are meeting this afternoon are in violation of standing order 110.

I believe it cannot be your responsibility as Speaker to determine which of the present 13 members of the Legislature should be removed from each committee. You can't decide that. The committees are improperly constituted as per the amended standing order. The decision as to which members are on committee must be a decision of the assembly; it cannot be the decision of the presiding officer. Therefore it is my submission that standing order 110 requires the assembly to appoint new standing committees, since the existing committees are clearly in violation of the rules of the assembly which have taken place immediately. The new standing committees then will be required to select new chairs of committees, new vice-chairs of committees and new subcommittees. Until such time as that happens, I don't see how the committees can function. Therefore the amendment to standing order 110 which is now in effect makes the existing committees null and void.

So this afternoon I am seeking clarification from you. I would hope you can be of assistance. If I am correct, then the committees are no longer in existence, they have to be reconstituted by the House, and they cannot function until that is done.


The Speaker: Any more points of order on this one?

Hon David Johnson: I would just bring to your attention that in October 1995, the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations moved, and it was carried, a motion that overrode standing order 110(a) for the duration of the 36th Parliament, which would indicate that the standing committee or select committee could consist of not more than 14 members. That motion is still in effect today, and as a result of that motion, the standing committees or select committees can consist of up to 14 members. That was a motion noted in Hansard of October 17, 1995, and I believe that addresses the concern of the House leader.

Ms Lankin: I would just like to briefly respond to the government House leader's intervention on this point of order. I suggest that it would be a bizarre interpretation that a motion of the House to supersede standing order 110(a) in October of some previous year would remain in force when we have just passed a motion which substantively changes that rule of the standing orders. As you know, the previous standing order that was in effect at the time the October motion was passed stated that there could be no more than 13 members on a committee, and we said notwithstanding that, this House is going to increase that to 14.

The rules that the government has just rammed through this Legislature, and we would say without proper discussion, without proper debate, without understanding the consequences yet again, have now said -- a substantive change in that -- that there shall be no more than nine members on a committee. It's inconceivable that at the time this Legislative Assembly and the members of this House passed a motion to say notwithstanding the standing orders of the House we're going to do something different, we could have known that in two years' time the government would have changed those rules.

I think the motion that we have passed today, the changing in the rules, must be interpreted as taking precedence, and the inevitable result of that is that the committees are no longer properly constituted and, as my colleague from Algoma has said, must be reconstituted.

The counterargument would be that the committees remain in effect for the duration of the 36th Parliament, and while I would perhaps appreciate that, given that I disagree with this government's rule change, you know that is not the intent of the motion that was just passed in this House. The intent of the motion is to change that rule to downsize committees; in fact, in the case of the New Democratic Party, to take away representation where we have only two members on committees and limit us to only one. I have a lot of concerns about it, so I might like that motion of October to remain for the entire Parliament, but that's not the case and that's not the intent.

The intent is to change that rule. That must now take precedence unless this House passes another motion notwithstanding the rule. In any event, if those committees are now not properly constituted, there must be motions brought forward to reconstitute the committee membership, to reconstitute the subcommittees, to reconstitute the chairs and vice-chairs of those committees before committees can meet and continue to do any work in this Legislative Assembly.

Hon David Johnson: If the issue is, does the government intend to reconstitute the committees, then yes, indeed. The government has already made inquiries to the other two parties, and the other two parties have not come forward with their members in terms of reconstituting. The government intends to deal with that.

The fact remains that there is a motion on record in this House that indicates that notwithstanding standing order 110(a), which I understand is still standing order 110(a), for the duration of the 36th Parliament, no standing or select committee shall consist of more than 14 members. There is not a standing or select committee that consists of more than 14 members, and it's certainly not the intention of the government that there would be.

It is the intention of the government that the membership of the committees would be reconstituted at the earliest convenience and would constitute nine members, but that would be in conformance with both the motion that was passed on October 17, 1995, which we believe is in effect, and in conformance with the procedures approved by this Legislature. Indeed, nine is less than or equal to both nine and 14. The government is moving on that front. With the cooperation of the opposition members we will have that dealt with forthwith. We've already approached the opposition members in that regard.

Mr Wildman: With respect, Mr Speaker, I think you have two possible decisions. One could be to agree with the government House leader's view that the motion that was passed by the House in October 1995 amending the previous standing order 110, or superseding it, is still in effect. That says, "until the end of this Parliament," in which case I guess the committees would continue as they are until the end of the Parliament. That's not anyone's intention. It's certainly not the government House leader's intention. But if you wish to rule that way, I suppose we could all live with that.

The other choice you have before you is to not just accept the view of the government House leader that at some point in the near future we will be willing to reconstitute the committees, but that we must reconstitute the committees, because the standing order has been amended and takes precedence not only over the previous standing order which it replaces, but the motion that was passed under that standing order.

It would be impossible for you to tell us which of the 13 members who are now on those committees are still on the committees. Which nine of those 13 will remain on the committee? You cannot tell us if those nine members, when the committees are reconstituted, will choose the same person to be Chair and Vice-Chair. You can't tell us that.

It's my view that the committees must be reconstituted. We can't just have these committees that were set up under the previous motion and the previous order continue until that happens; they must be reconstituted immediately to comply with the new standing order, which according to the government motion takes effect immediately.

The Speaker: Again, I don't want to cut anyone off from points of order. I understand the Liberals haven't had one yet and I'm very interested in hearing them. I think I have a very good understanding of the issue. If you want to make it quick, I'd appreciate it.

Mr Gerretsen: Just to coincide with what's been said earlier by the House leader for the third party, the government could very easily have taken itself out of this position if in the amendments that have just been passed it had simply said, "Notwithstanding the motion that was passed in October 1995," which in effect was a notwithstanding clause to 110, "the committees will function until a certain period of time, at which point in time they will be reconstituted with nine members." It's the government motion that we just dealt with. They may pass it off and say, "The ideas came from another party," and that sort of stuff, but that's immaterial. It's the government's motion. They are the ones who are causing the uncertainty about this current situation.

It seems to me that they can't have it both ways. The motion that was passed back in October 1995 was quite explicit. It dealt with rule 110, which talks about a committee being made up of 11 members. To now say we somehow can superimpose the new rule 110 and substitute nine members instead of the 11 members that were in that particular motion, to my way of thinking is an absurdity. They can't have it both ways.

They want, according to what was just passed, a committee with only nine members immediately. That's what's there. Those are the standing orders that we passed today, not another motion: committees with nine people. If there are committees of the House currently with 14 members, those committees are not functioning legally until they're reconstituted.

Ms Lankin: I will be brief. I only have one more point that I would like you to take into consideration, Mr Speaker, and I'm sure it's complex, as we're asking you to interpret what actually takes precedence at this point in time. There was a previous standing order 110; there was a "notwithstanding" motion to that; and now there has been a rule change to 110. I would argue that not only has there been a rule change to 110, but there has been a specific reference in the motion that we passed as to when that rule comes into effect.

The government House leader is arguing that the "notwithstanding" motion with regard to the previous rule 110 remains in effect until a new motion is passed in this House to reconstitute committees. I would point out to you, on the bottom of page 16 of the original motion pointed to today, we've already talked about the fact that the amendments will come in at midnight. But it does say in that, "except the amendment to standing order 110." It's very clear in the next sentence: "That amendment to standing order 110 take effect on the third sessional day after August 1, 1997, that the House meets." That day is today. This specific motion which was passed by the majority of the House and is the expression of the majority of the House must take precedence over a "notwithstanding" motion passed by this House at an earlier time.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, there's just one point I want to make that perhaps I haven't stressed enough. The motion in October 1995, which says, "Notwithstanding standing order 110(a), and for the duration of the 36th Parliament, no standing or select committee shall consist of more than 14 members," that motion I think is very clear. It doesn't say, "notwithstanding standing order 110(a) as it is written at this present time." It doesn't say, "notwithstanding standing order 110(a) unless 110(a) is changed," or changed from 11 to nine, or anything of that nature. It makes it clear that it's "notwithstanding standing order 110(a)." There was a 110(a) then; there's a 110(a) today. They both pertain to exactly the same situation; they pertain to exactly the same issue. They both give the government, in conjunction with the opposition parties, the ability to have up to 14 members, and that should still be in effect. That's a motion that was passed by this Parliament, by the members of this House. There's no reason on earth to believe that that should not be in effect today.

Now through the new standing orders, the government does have the ability at some future time to go down to nine, but the government may want the ability to proceed with nine members at this point on some committees, may want at some point the ability during this session, during this Parliament, to have 11 or 12 or 13 members on a committee. This motion, which was passed, still gives the government that opportunity. At the present time, we're in compliance with this motion, which I submit to you has to be still in effect.

The Speaker: Thanks to the members for their submissions. I shall take a brief recess of 15 minutes.

The House recessed from 1715 to 1751.

The Speaker: Thank you for the submissions from all the members of the House.

Let me first deal with the status of the October 17, 1995, motion respecting committee membership. As I see it, the question before us is, can that motion be superseded? It can, if a subsequent motion either rescinds it, amends it or sets it aside by way of a "notwithstanding" clause.

In my view, the motion to amend the standing orders passed by this House today does none of those things. The motion applies to the duration of this Parliament regardless of what changes may be made to standing order 110. The whole House has expressed an order that despite the general provision of the standing order for this Parliament, there is a specific provision for the size of committees, which differs.

Therefore, the application of standing order 110 has been suspended. Unless and until there is a superseding motion passed by this House, that order stands and the committees are properly constituted at this time and for the life of this Parliament.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 143, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1997 / Projet de loi 143, Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 1997.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate?

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I want to take the opportunity today to debate the motion on interim supply and talk about it in the broader perspective of the government's overall financial policy, economic policy, and how it has treated the finances of the province of Ontario.

There is no doubt that Ontario had a debt and deficit crisis when the current government took office in 1995 and there is no doubt that any government would have had to have dealt in a meaningful way with those problems.

The question then becomes, how do you deal with them and what is an appropriate policy? What is a policy that will deal with the deficit, allow for reasonable maintenance of programs and services and at the same time allow the economy to function in a manner that will serve the broad public interest?

We have seen in the two years a very clear policy with respect to this, a two-pronged policy, if you will. The first part of the policy is severe cuts to government expenditures, recognizing that no government can continue to run the kind of deficits that were run subsequent to 1990. The second part of that policy was of course the tax cut, the tax cut that I believe was designed by its architects to respond to what was acknowledged to be the drag associated with the government contracting its own expenditures, the principle being that the tax cut would put money in the pockets of consumers and investors, and they in turn would invest in the economy and those investments would generate new government revenues, new growth in the economy itself, help to deal with unemployment and help to deal, in turn, with the government's deficit and eventually, when that deficit is eliminated, the debt.

We know and we believe that part of the program is wrong. The tax cut does not stimulate. The tax cut adds to the government's deficit approximately $20 billion over the life of this government, while it's in office, the debt that the people of this province will pay the interest on, and the interest in turn compounds. We believe the more prudent approach would have been to forsake the tax cut until the budget was balanced. Why? Twofold: (1) You're not increasing the debt at as quick a rate as you have been otherwise; and (2) you will be in a balanced budget position more quickly. What we know and most economists are saying is that as governments balance their budgets and we get into surpluses, the growth, the surpluses will compound as quickly as the deficits and debts did in prior years.

The objective should and ought to be to first deal with the deficit, and in our view Ontario could have had a balanced budget much more quickly. We could have been in a situation where the billions of dollars that we've cut in a variety of programs would not have had to occur and we could have been in a situation where Ontario would be on the road to fiscal recovery more quickly.

Interestingly, the federal government for the last two months has registered budgetary surpluses. For the first time, the federal government this year will be able to finance its deficit from its own cash reserves; that is, no more borrowing. That has the effect of lowering interest rates. So as we debate supply I think we need to keep in mind that the Tory policy with respect to deficit reduction and eventually debt reduction fails miserably and skews results to those who are least able to afford them.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Questions and comments? The member for St Andrew-St Patrick.

Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I move second reading of Bill 143, An Act to authorize the payment of certain --

The Speaker: Pardon me, member for St Andrew-St Patrick; these are questions and comments.

Questions and comments? Further debate? Member for St Andrew-St Patrick.

Ms Bassett: I move second reading of Bill 143, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1997.

The Speaker: 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. I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I believe we have unanimous consent to move to third reading of the bill this afternoon.

The Speaker: Consent? Agreed? Agreed.

Ms Bassett, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 143, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1997 / Projet de loi 143, Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 1997.

Hon David Johnson: We're in third reading now?

The Speaker: Yes, we are.

Hon David Johnson: Then I think the agreement was that it's now 6 of the clock.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): It's not; it's only 5:58.

Hon David Johnson: The agreement was a little bit tangled this afternoon, I admit, but I think the agreement was -- and I'm looking at the other two House leaders -- that we were to get into third reading --

The Speaker: Okay, I can see it as 6 of the clock, so I do. It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till 11 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1800.