36th Parliament, 1st Session

L220a - Wed 27 Aug 1997 / Mer 27 Aoû 1997

















































The House met at 1334.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I was alarmed to learn earlier this week that the Ontario student assistance program office in Thunder Bay is closing the doors at the end of this month to all walk-in inquiries. This decision means that from now on the only access students in Thunder Bay will have to this system is through the telephone -- read "voice mail" -- or the ministry's Web site.

All members of this House have decried the government continuing to distance itself from the people it is meant to serve, and what is becoming more clear is that government cuts to all of its services are relegating the people of this province to a voice mail world that is frustrating, costly in terms of people's time and just plain wrong.

While the latest move is enormously frustrating to all of those who have used the personal services of this office in the past, it only adds to the shock that students all across Ontario experienced when they recently learned that ownership or leasing of a vehicle is now to be assessed as part of a student's income, effectively cutting off access to OSAP for many needy students.

The dreams of many young people are being dashed by this government's hard-hearted approach. As Lisa Jostiak, a constituent of mine whose last term of academic studies is threatened by this new assessment requirement, put it: "I am not asking the government to give me money for my tuition. I simply want to borrow it, teach, and repay my debt with gratitude."

Minister, please change this decision so that thousands of students across the province are not denied access to the education they need and deserve.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Last night in my community a group titled Residents Against Gambling Expansion held a public meeting. It was very informative. They invited guests from other communities. There was Mr Don French from Barrie, who is part of Citizens Against Gambling Expansion Ontario, and Nancy Langille from Belleville, who has been spearheading the organizing drive in that community to get their local municipality to reject the imposition of many gaming clubs on that community. Person after person from my community who got to the mike said that the Mike Harris government should stop forcing these casinos on communities.

We saw the economic impacts, the social impacts; experts provided us with information about what it would mean in our own economy. In my own local community, this new gaming club that the Harris government is forcing into the Beaches is likely to take $25 million out of that neighbourhood economy. The local retailers, the local businesses, the local service clubs, all of them recognize that this is a huge threat to the integrity of the community, the economy of the community and the social fabric of the community.

I beg the government to stand back and to look, like they're doing with commercial casinos, at the option of letting communities decide for themselves. Hold a referendum. Communities can make that decision.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I'm pleased to draw attention to the fact that former Camp Hillsdale in my riding has a new life. Constituents in the riding of Simcoe East enjoyed employment and services from Camp Hillsdale until the former government, in what I consider blind wisdom, closed the minimum security facility, leaving productive land and jobs to welfare, waste and weeds.

Tomorrow morning I will accompany the Solicitor General at the official opening of Project Turnaround, a young offenders strict discipline facility designed to reduce the rate of repeat offenders.

This government is fulfilling an election promise. We promised to get tough with young offenders. Project Turnaround will do just that. Young offenders will spend their time at Camp Hillsdale in a highly structured 16-hour day developing life skills, literacy skills and problem-solving techniques with an emphasis on teamwork.

For the community, reopening this facility should mean 97 acres of farm land will again be productive and jobs are available for approximately 40 people. It is my hope that the operators will take full advantage of the agricultural opportunities at this site.

Ontarians called for tougher sanctions against youth crime, and Project Turnaround in Oro-Medonte is answering the call. The community has raised the issue with regard to security which I had, and I believe that the necessary steps have been taken to alleviate all those concerns.



Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): The ferry service between Tobermory and South Baymouth is an important transportation link for the people of Ontario. The ferry service transports tens of thousands of people in vehicles every year, saving thousands of hours, thousands of litres of gasoline and considerable traffic on our overburdened north-south highways.

It was improved in 1974 with the addition of a new ship, the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun, replacing two smaller, slower, aging ships. In 1988 the service was further upgraded with the purchase of the Nindawayma. The additional ship added valuable sailings, eliminated most waits and added both considerable revenue and, most important, reliability to the service. If the Chi-Cheemaun was disabled, the Nindawayma was able to provide and maintain adequate service while necessary repairs were made.

Since 1992 the Nindawayma has been ingloriously tied up in Owen Sound, unable to build traffic between Tobermory and South Baymouth and unable to provide backup in case of failure of the Chi-Cheemaun. On two separate occasions this summer, the Chi-Cheemaun experienced difficulties, causing grave inconvenience to the travelling public and costing the local tourist economy untold thousands of dollars. Last year the Chi-Cheemaun was taken out of service before the season ended for mechanical reasons.

Clearly the Minister of Northern Development cares little about this service. He should commit to putting the Nindawayma back in service for the 1998 season and assure the travelling public and the employees and business owners of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin of a reliable service so necessary for a growing economy.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): This week we saw here in Metropolitan Toronto yet another example of the impact of the Mike Harris cuts. The Metro reference library, a public institution which has served not just Metropolitan Toronto but the whole province well for many years, has had to shut its doors for a period of time to deal with the cuts to its budget.

While I don't expect the government to do anything to ameliorate that situation, there is one area with respect to the Metro reference library where the government can act to render some justice and to make the running of the facility a little bit easier; that is, through Bill 148, to do what even some of its government members seem to be inclined to support, and that is to maintain the unique governance structure that this institution has.

That would help at least in ensuring that there is attention paid to the needs of this particular body, a reference library that serves, as the last survey showed, people from across the province, but by and large people who are students, people who are small business, a group, by the way, which certainly this government purports to want to support; a reference library which is in fact well known throughout the province and which needs to continue to have its own governance structure rather than be amalgamated into the other public library board that is going to be created under the new city. I hope that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Culture will at least come to their senses in allowing for the governance structure that exists now to continue even into January 1 of next year.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): It is with the greatest respect and deepest admiration that I stand in this Legislature today to pay tribute to Mississauga city councillor Frank McKechnie, who died last Friday, August 22.

Frank's legacy for us all is that we will always think of him as an exemplary role model for the true meaning of community service. Throughout his record 39 years as a municipal councillor, he never changed his commitment to the people he served. He was as concerned for the little person nobody knew he was helping as he was for the president of a large corporation.

Naturally, Frank McKechnie retained his pride in his Scottish heritage as he also worked with strong allegiance for his new homeland of Canada. It was this feeling of loyalty that encouraged Frank and me to design a coat of arms for the city of Mississauga and to present it as our gift to the city. The motto on the coat of arms is "Pride in our Past, Faith in our Future." Frank lived these words in his daily life. He was always optimistic and positive in his approach to life and exuded this outlook to us all with his always cheerful smile and warm greeting.

Known as the mayor of Malton, he worked tirelessly for many organizations within that community while he served on most of the committees of Peel regional council, Mississauga city council, township of Toronto council and Peel county council.

Councillor Frank McKechnie received many awards for his public service, including Rotary International's highest honour, the Paul Harris Fellowship.

Frank's most endearing quality, which we will always cherish, was his sincere caring for people. For those of us who were privileged to know him and work with him, we will never forget this very gentle man who touched our lives and thousands of others, and always served with great dignity.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Frank's beloved wife, Annette, and their family.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Gas prices all over Ontario continue to be too high and the government of Mike Harris is doing nothing about it. The Liberals have given the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations a solution, but we see no action from the Mike Harris government.

The level of patience in consumers is running on empty and their frustration level is on full. Mike Harris is not gauging the level of anger consumers are getting at the hosing they're receiving at the gas pumps.

Added to this is the fact that the Mike Harris government will impose a new tax on northern motorists starting on September 1 when he institutes the new northern vehicle registration tax, the new Mike Harris tax on northerners.

Mike Harris just doesn't understand, but the northern Liberal caucus is proud that our leader, Dalton McGuinty, and our entire Liberal caucus does. Dalton McGuinty and a Liberal government have committed to scrapping this new tax on northerners.

We know this is an unfair tax which does not recognize the extra costs associated with driving in northern Ontario. This new tax is going to cause my fellow northerners millions of dollars. Clearly, this new tax is another Conservative government tax grab on the backs of northerners.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Recently, this government advised community care access centres of its intention to test a new computer system. Specifically, the long-term care division indicated two or three centres were needed to participate in the beta pilot testing of a new CCAC information system.

Each centre was sent a list of requirements which had to be met in order to participate as a pilot site, and the majority of these criteria make sense. But what caught my interest, and then made me very angry, was the requirement that the pilot site must be within two hours' drive of Toronto. Apparently, this is necessary so that vendors and the CCAC project team can quickly support the pilot site.

As far as I am concerned this is another example of how this Conservative government discriminates against the north. There is no good reason to exclude northern community care access centres from participating in the pilot project. In fact, it would make good sense to specifically include a northern site, to be sure the new computer system will respond to the unique needs and challenges facing northern communities and the community care access centres.

I call upon the minister without portfolio responsible for seniors and the Minister of Health to do the right thing: Quit discriminating against the north and drop this geographic requirement immediately. Select a northern site like the centre in Sudbury and make sure the computer system works right the first time and all the time.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): As children across Ontario head back to school this week, some of them will discover that school has become more challenging. This is more than just the result of facing a new year and a new grade. This change is the result of the introduction of new curriculum and rigorous performance standards to the classrooms of Ontario.

This September marks the implementation of the government's new curriculum for students in grades 1 to 8. Precise standards in both mathematics and language have been set by the provincial government and will be applied in classrooms across the province.

What will this mean for the children of Ontario? The old, vague Common Curriculum that was introduced by the last government has been replaced by strict new guidelines. These guidelines will stipulate what level of performance students are expected to achieve by the end of each school year. Parents who are interested to know what their child will be responsible for learning this year can simply refer to the curriculum's checklist.

In addition to ensuring our children receive the best possible education, a goal of this new curriculum is to provide teachers and parents with concrete tools by which to measure the progress of students. The introduction of a standardized report card will ensure that all students are measured relative to other students across the province. This also provides greater accountability to parents.

New, higher standards of education will also ensure that our children are prepared for the challenges they will meet later in life, challenges in their jobs, in colleges and universities and in the ever more complex global economy.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce in the Speaker's gallery today Mr Joseph Pararajasingham, member for Batticaloa of the Sri Lankan Parliament. Welcome.

Also, the former member in the 35th Parliament for Halton North, Mr Noel Duigan. Welcome.



Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question for the Premier. During the last election campaign you told the people of Ontario that you had the magical solutions everyone was looking for. You said you would balance the budget, cut income taxes, not close any hospitals, nor cut education budgets. But the truth is, Premier, you're a lousy magician and people are seeing a trail of broken promises everywhere.

Today you're expecting municipalities to take the blame for the promises you can't keep, and you're already blaming municipalities for not being able to absorb $670 million of additional costs that you're downloading on to them. Premier, will you admit today that municipalities will have to absorb additional costs or cut services to their citizens? Will you admit this is not a revenue-neutral exercise?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think if you will go back to the campaign and the Common Sense Revolution, we never said it would be easy. We said it would be difficult. We said there would be sacrifice. We said it would be difficult but that we would be fair, that we would be reasonable, that we could cut taxes, that we could create many more private sector jobs, that we could balance the books, and we're ahead of schedule on all of those.

Secondly, it's not $670 million. We asked municipalities, as their share of the $11.2-billion deficit fiasco that your party and the NDP gave us, to see if on their total spending they could not absorb $1.4 billion in reductions; ie, in 1995, when we took over government, there were transfers to municipalities of $1.4 billion, and we said that by the year 2000, to balance the books, we wanted to work with municipalities to eliminate those grants.

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

Hon Mr Harris: We've eliminated half of them. There have been no tax increases as a result of that. They've done a marvellous job and I'm quite confident they can carry on doing that job --

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr Cordiano: Premier, the members of AMO have little faith in your government's promises and the promises you're making. They've certainly lost faith in the consultations thus far.

I want to quote from Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga, who says, "Consultations so far have been a waste of time." Terry Mundell, outgoing head of AMO, said, "You've broken faith with municipalities." The bottom line is that they say your downloading will mean that this time next year the people all over this province will be facing increases in property taxes.

Premier, you're all over the papers today whining about the fact there's a perception out there that people don't believe you. If you're so concerned about your credibility, then come clean: Back up your claims that this will be a revenue-neutral exercise. Show us the numbers. Will you do that today?

Hon Mr Harris: As we speak or some time this afternoon, the Ministry of Finance is meeting with AMO, where they are getting both upper-tier and lower-tier numbers. Today at AMO, the new president and the first vice-president, in introducing and thanking me, said: "Thank you, Premier. We believe you; we trust you. If you say it's revenue-neutral, it's revenue-neutral."


Mr Cordiano: Maybe we should ask the Solicitor General's mother if she believes that statement.

Premier, you introduced legislation and made claims that the download will be revenue-neutral. It's simple. Today again you're telling us you haven't got the numbers to prove it. When the mayors of London, Brampton, Thunder Bay and Mississauga say that the extra cost they'll have shoulder will be in the millions, why shouldn't we believe them? Why should people believe you?

In fact, your own member doesn't believe you. He doubts your credibility. Tony Skarica said: "I won't spread lies for them or anyone else. The truth is, downloading is not revenue-neutral."

The Speaker: You can't quote second hand what you can't say first. You can't use it, I'm sorry.

Mr Cordiano: I take it back if you allow me to edit that quote and say that the Premier was far from the truth when he said what he said.

The Speaker: No --

Mr Cordiano: I take it back. I'm sorry.


The Speaker: I appreciate you've withdrawn it, I take it. Thank you.

Mr Cordiano: Will you do the right thing and withdraw your downloading legislation, or show us that this will be a revenue-neutral exercise? Do one or the other. Will you come forward with that?

Hon Mr Harris: Certainly. Of course. We are happy to share the numbers as we are sharing with AMO. I think the Liberal Party had research at AMO this morning where the standing ovation said: "Thank you, Premier. We trust you." But I would have to say this to you: Perhaps you haven't had a chance to talk to staff. We're happy to share those numbers.

Certainly the president of AMO indicated that, as I said. The first vice-president indicated that. The numbers are there on the record. I committed unequivocally and I said that this exercise -- Who Does What is to help them deal with the downloading of $1.4 billion that we started in 1995; I asked them if they could handle it. They said, "Yes, we can if you give us tools, if you give us legislation, if you work with us, if you give us time, if you give us interim money along the way."

We're happy to share that with you. I would ask you to check with your research staff. Given they haven't had anything right so far this week, maybe they don't have it right, but I'll share them with you myself.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. I believe that he is expected.

Interjection: Here he comes now.

Mrs McLeod: No. I'll stand down my question.

The Speaker: Is he expected? Is that a yes? Yes, he is. Okay, you can stand it down.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier as well. I say to the Premier it is indeed a very strange standing ovation when half the people in the audience sit on their hands. Perhaps the Premier missed that.

When you spoke to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, you tried to make it sound as if everything is fine. You tried to pretend there isn't the download of over $1.2 billion. The reality is, everybody out there in the audience, all the municipal leaders know there's a download, know that it's very severe. What really bothers them is that you don't seem to be worried about what happens to fire services. You don't seem to care about what happens to ambulances. You don't seem to be worried about public health and protection of public health. You don't seem to be worried about policing.

Premier, they are worried. They're worried about all those important services and they keep making the plea to you, "Will you hold off on this until you finally disclose the true numbers," and they can really know how bad this is going to be? Will you do that?

Hon Mr Harris: Yes.


Mr Hampton: Premier, when the new president of AMO withdraws from your implementation committee, when he says, "I'm not going to take part in this implementation committee," because of the download effect, they're trying to send you a message. When over half the delegates at the AMO convention vote against your Bill 136, they're trying to send you a message. Your talk is about consultation but your walk is all about bulldozing. That's the reality of what's going on here. Would you do this as a sign of good faith, withdraw Bill 152 until there is some agreement on the numbers? Will you withdraw that bill?

Hon Mr Harris: No.

Mr Hampton: Let's try Bill 136. People in municipalities -- you saw it. Over half of the delegates at the AMO convention are worried about the long-term labour relations in their communities, are worried about the long-term working environment. The people who provide policing services, the people who provide fire protection, the people who look after public health, the people who provide ambulance services are all very important people. The mayors and reeves out there don't want to have long-term bad labour relations. They want you to withdraw Bill 136. Instead of bulldozing ahead, will you withdraw Bill 136?

Hon Mr Harris: I had a meeting, of course, and chatted last night with the president of AMO, Michael Power, former Liberal candidate. I also talked with the outgoing president; I also talked with the first vice-president. They unanimously said: "Take your time. Make sure you get 136 right, but please, please, please, Premier, do not withdraw Bill 136. Take your time, consult with the unions, consult with us, get it right, but we need 136 or the equivalent to have good, peaceful union relations and services for the people of this province." I've respected their wishes.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: I have a question again to the Premier. I would say it's showing a sign of respect for democracy when you acknowledge that over half the delegates at the AMO convention voted against your Bill 136.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question concerns the plight of a number of workers in this province who complained to the Ministry of Labour about their health and safety conditions, about the lack of observance of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in their workplace.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): He's going to bounce this to the minister.

Mr Hampton: The Ministry of Labour replied, "Since your employer has fired you for complaining, we're not going to investigate the complaint and there's nothing we're going to do about it."

Premier, can you explain? Is this what you mean by "open for business," that workers in Ontario who are now working in a workplace that has serious health and safety concerns are told, "Because your employer has fired you, we're not going not investigate your complaint"?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The member for St Catharines suggests I refer it, and I accept that advice.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I would simply indicate to the member of the opposition that I think the situation you're talking about is a situation where complaints were received by us on July 18. Subsequently, there were eight orders that were issued and some of the employment standards complaints are being investigated at the present time. I can tell you, we are addressing the issue that I believe you're bringing to our attention.

Mr Hampton: About three weeks after the complaints were first lodged by the employees and after Ministry of Labour personnel said, "Because the employer has fired you, there's nothing we're going to do about it," the employees, or in this case the fired employees, found themselves a lawyer, and the lawyer wrote to the Ministry of Labour raising all the health and safety issues, all the obvious violations of the act. Only when that lawyer rubbed the Ministry of Labour's face in it, only then did the Ministry of Labour respond.

My question is still the same. These workers complained to their employer, then they complained to the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Labour sloughed them off. Is that the new rule in Ontario, that you have to get a lawyer to go after the Ministry of Labour before you enforce your own laws? Is that the new rule?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would advise you to take a very careful look at the sequence of events, because I would like to indicate to you that there was an investigation that did take place before any letter was received from the lawyer. In fact I have a copy of that letter here, and as I've just indicated to you, the orders were issued before the letter was received.

Mr Hampton: Minister, I invite you to make that public, because what I've got here is the letter that was written to the Ministry of Labour, written by fax on August 1, and only afterwards, August 14, do we get a handwritten investigation and report by the Ministry of Labour.

The original complaint by the employees was back on July 18, and nothing happened. Every one of those employees -- former employees now, because the employer fired them -- will tell you that they were literally told, "Nothing we can do for you because you've been fired." It wasn't until after the letter by lawyer Linda Vannucci that your Ministry of Labour people said, "Gee, we'd better get down there. This looks serious and this could be embarrassing." I'll give it to you. This is the date of your ministry's investigation and report and it is well after the letter from Linda Vannucci.

Is this the new rule in Ontario, that you have to --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister of Labour.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just respond to you one more time. There was a full and complete investigation done of the workplace and there were subsequently eight orders issued. The investigations regarding the employment standards violations are still under way.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. We're starting to see the first proof of what your taking control of education funding is going to do to kids in the classroom. In your need to take another half a billion dollars out of the education budget, you're going to shortchange the funding for heat, light and school maintenance, and that's only the beginning.

The Toronto area schools spend $6.70 per square foot to heat, light and maintain their schools. They do spend more than the provincial average, in part because 70% of their schools are more than 20 years old, because they keep their schools open to the community at night, and because they maintain 490 classrooms for child care spaces. Minister, which of these areas do you think they should cut to get down to your $5.50 funding? Should they close some of the older schools, should they lock up their schools at night, or should they shut down the child care rooms?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Once again today you present to this chamber absolute nonsense. We will be receiving a report from expert panels who have looked at the best practices for providing a safe environment for students in classrooms in Ontario. We would expect that once that expert panel has reported to us, and it has not yet, we will take their observations, their studies, their conclusions, look at what would be the case in different jurisdictions around the province and make sure that in the final analysis, when we put a funding formula together, it be fair to all students in Ontario and able to provide them with a better quality of education. That's our objective. We are on course to do that, and we are of course receiving expert opinion on how much we should spend and in what area.


Mrs McLeod: You know very well that your expert task force is about to recommend $5.50 per square foot, which is about a provincial average. And you know very well that you've not given your expert task forces the time to actually look at the unique needs of each region and that you don't actually want to understand those needs anyway. You want to fund everybody at the lowest common denominator and then blame the school boards when they can't meet the needs of their students. That's exactly what you're setting out to do.

Another example: Northern boards have high heating costs for reasons that I think should be obvious. With your $5.50 in funding, the Lakehead board in northwestern Ontario will be $1.8 million short of what it needs to maintain, to heat and to light their schools. In that region it happens that one of the needs is in the rural areas where the hydro rates are 15% higher than in the city.

I wonder whether you think that school board should solve the problem by closing the rural schools to save some of the $1.8 million, or should they just turn off the heat and the lights for kids in the country?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm shocked and appalled that the member for Fort William would be so poorly informed. We laid out very clearly, before we started down this process of improving on the general legislative grant program -- which you failed to correct although studies told you that you should have. When we started to go down this path we specifically mentioned that we know the costs will be different in different areas of the province and that we would address those, and we intend to do that.

I don't know why the member opposite insists on bringing up this conjecture, which is clearly contrary to the record of this government and our intentions that have been stated.

Mrs McLeod: This minister is always shocked, appalled and totally irresponsible, even as he takes over educational funding.

I might have thought, since you've decided to take over control of the funding, that you might have some idea of how the decisions that school boards are going to be forced to make will actually affect students in the classrooms in their areas. I would have thought you might have given some thinking to whether some boards might actually be expected to close down older schools and force more students into the classrooms that are left.

I thought you might have suggested to me, "They can solve the problem if they just slash the wages of the custodians," who make an average of $24,000 a year, because your Bill 136 will make that very easy to do. But I thought most likely you would tell me that you wanted the boards to privatize the custodial services, because that's what you wanted in the first place and you only backed away because parents were outraged at the idea.

I want to know what you, the minister responsible for funding, are going to say to parents who don't want dial-a-cleaner their schools when you force school boards to privatize custodial services.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Once again, clearly the member opposite is not well researched on this subject. We have said very clearly that our objectives are to make sure we meet the needs of every student in the province. That's why we have commissioned expert panels to look at what are the best practices in schools in Ontario and other schools, so we can make sure that at the end of the day we have the right funding formula for students.

You know that the general legislative grant system has made second-class students of some people in Ontario. It's not fair; it's not right. We're going to fix it and we're going to make sure that the dollars we spend in education make a difference with our students. That's why these expert panels are working and that's why people across Ontario are helping us make the right system for our students and for the future of this province. I'm proud of those actions, I'm proud of the people who are working on this, and we will receive their advice and we will make the system better.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is directed to the Minister of Health. I think people in this chamber realize, and some of the public, that you're actually in court this week. You're being sued by the hospitals, along with your commission. You're in court because you've abdicated some of your responsibility as minister. The public wants to know why this expensive process has been made necessary, why you haven't responded, from your own responsibilities that this government grabbed for you under Bill 26.

You're the minister who has the power to talk to hospitals. You're the minister who has decided -- you're sitting on your hands -- that you won't respond to Doctors Hospital when they tell you that Toronto General Hospital has had access to the commission, that they were not given a fair hearing. You won't respond to Women's College, and Women's College is a unique resource to this province. You will not stand up as minister and deal with them. Tell us, why are you letting Toronto Hospital set health policy in this province and why aren't you being the health minister?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The member knows that the matters are before the court and therefore it's inappropriate of me to comment to any great extent, except to say that the matter is between the commission and the hospitals and all the accusations you just mentioned are strictly between the commission and the hospitals. The government was not involved in the commission's decision-making.

Mr Kennedy: The minister would do well to read some of the affidavits coming in, would do well to pay attention to the way the commission has been allowed to operate by him. The commission doesn't have powers; it only is on loan for the minister's powers. The minister refuses to tell us once again why he is sitting on his hands. Why is he letting Toronto General, for example -- tell us today, who is the employer of your assistant deputy minister? Who does he work for, the person in charge of hospitals, in charge of restructuring, in charge of long-term care? Who is your assistant deputy minister working for, if you believe you're so far and apart from this operation that is letting Toronto General and other large hospitals set health policy through the restructuring commission?

Hon Mr Wilson: The assistant deputy minister whom I assume the honourable member is talking about, because he's the assistant deputy minister in charge of hospitals, used to work for the Ontario Hospital Association, not for one particular hospital. He's highly regarded by all hospitals in the province. He's been a tremendous asset, and we're very fortunate that just about three or four months ago he agreed to leave the Ontario Hospital Association and come work for the Ministry of Health.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I wanted to get you to help me understand the implications of the bill you introduced last week as part of the omnibus downloading bill, the part, schedule C, which affects the Day Nurseries Act.

As you know, I've asked you a number of times in this House about how we can be sure that municipalities under financial crunch don't cut back on the number of child care spaces. To my delight, you responded in this House that you were going to make the provision of child care service and service levels mandatory. I've got some quotes from you on that which I can refer to.

But in looking at the legislation, I see how you have made mandatory cost-sharing for prescribed services beyond the current subsidies -- wage subsidies and resource centres and other things. I see how you have made the delivery in terms of licensing and those sorts of things mandatory. But nowhere in the legislation do I see where you guarantee service levels, the number of spaces, or that municipalities won't, in facing budget cuts, cut back on their portion and therefore lose spaces. You said you were going to make it mandatory. Am I missing something? Is there another way in which you're going to address that?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): As the member knows, the legislation sets out the framework for the transfers of funding responsibilities etc. There is much work that obviously will be done at committee, much work that will be done in terms of the development of the regulations, and I wouldn't want to prejudge that process.

However, I would like to confirm to the honourable member what we have done, what we are doing and, assuming the legislation passes, what our intention is: that the amount of service being provided by a municipality as of the beginning of this year is the amount of service that the funding is being calculated on. I agree that we don't want to lose any financial resources in the system or any spaces that are already there. We've had an increase in licensed spaces. We want to make sure we can maintain that service, and that is certainly the policy intent of the government.

Ms Lankin: It's reassuring to hear you reiterate that. You have said that in the House before. On February 10, you said something very similar, that that's the point we're starting from, that's where we're calculating from. On June 17, you said: "We also know at the end of every year...unfortunately some municipalities have not been able to pick up their 20 cents when we've had the 80 cents on the table.... That's why we're changing the system...to make it mandatory." You're quoted in the Star as saying, "But participation in child care will be mandatory and, unlike the current situation, cities will no longer be able to cut day care programs when they face a budget crunch."

I want to work with you to make that happen, but I've looked through your bill; it's not there. You have made cost-sharing mandatory and you have made licensing delivery mandatory. You have not guaranteed the service levels. You have not made the number of spaces or the level of service mandatory. That's what you promised. Will you amend the bill to make sure that's what you deliver?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I find it passing strange that in this Legislature we're frequently told we don't listen, there isn't consultation and that somehow or other the committee process is not being used. I have indicated to the honourable member the policy intent of the government. I have indicated that this legislation will go through the process as other pieces of legislation do.

If there need to be amendments that make our intent clearer, I'm certainly prepared to consider those, although I would like to remind the honourable member that we have taken a number of steps to try to make sure the child care system that is there continues to provide the support that we know many working parents, sole-support parents, need. We have more licensed spaces now than we did two years ago. We have made a regulation change so that municipalities have more flexibility and more resources to pick up subsidies. We have also made additional money through the tax credit for low-income families, which will amount to $140 million, so they will be able to better afford the child care their families need.



M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac-Nipigon) : Un point d'ordre, Monsieur le Président : J'aimerais, avec respect, attirer votre attention sur le Règlement de l'Assemblée législative ici en Ontario, à la page 15, _Les Règles de débat :

«22(a) Tout député qui désire obtenir la parole se lève de sa place et s'adresse au Président de l'Assemblée législative, en anglais ou en français, en le désignant par son titre.»

Vous êtes certainement au courant, Monsieur le Président, comme député ici à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario, que ma langue maternelle est le français. Il y a quelques jours, le gouvernement a choisi de déposer une motion qui changeait le Règlement. J'aimerais porter à votre attention que, d'après mon humble avis, et je demande votre opinion, tout ce qui s'est produit depuis que le gouvernement a décidé de changer le Règlement n'est pas constitutionnel en vertu du manque de matériel pour que un et tous les députés puissent avoir l'opportunité de s'exprimer en français.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Cochrane South.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Sur le même point d'ordre, en tant que député néo-démocrate de Cochrane-Sud, j'ai été délégué par mon caucus à assister à l'assemblée de l'Association des municipalités de l'Ontario. Aujourd'hui c'est la première journée, comme vous le savez, que j'ai l'opportunité de venir ici à la Chambre pour participer à la période de questions.

Comme vous le savez, le point que je fais est celui-ci : le Règlement doit être imprimé en anglais et en français pour tous les députés de l'Assemblée. Le gouvernement a encore oublié les francophones. L'information a été imprimée en anglais ; elle n'est pas disponible en français. Je vous dis que ce n'est pas acceptable ; c'est bien proche à un modèle avec ce gouvernement. Je vous demande de voir à cette situation immédiatement et, si on ne l'a pas en français, que l'on ajourne jusqu'à ce qu'on puisse revenir avec l'information en français dont on a besoin pour faire notre ouvrage comme francophones ici à l'Assemblée.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On that point, Speaker, we hope that you would rule, with regard to standing order 22, that if both official languages can be used in this House, then it is proper and in order that the standing orders under which this House is constituted and operates should be provided in both official languages. Right now we only have these orders in English. These orders came into effect, supposedly on Monday, as a result of the motion that was passed in this House at the instigation of the government, which wanted to change the rules.

The question then arises, if the standing orders are not provided in both official languages which are used in the Legislative Assembly, is the House properly constituted in acting on these rules? If the House is not properly constituted, then that raises questions about all the things that have transpired in this place in the last number of days.

The question is, are we in order if we are operating under rules that are only provided in one of the languages that are appropriately used in this House? If we are not properly constituted and we are out of order because the standing orders have not been provided in both official languages, then what is the status of everything that has transpired in this House this week?

The Speaker: Government House leader.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, you've already made a ruling with regard to the standing orders, last Wednesday I guess it was. Your ruling at that point was that the standing orders would come into effect at midnight on Thursday. There was no provision in that particular ruling that the standing orders would not be in effect until translated. You ruled that they would come into effect midnight Thursday night. You did not rule that they would come into effect when a final version of the French translation was available.

The word "service" under the French Language Services Act is defined, I'm told, as "any service or procedure that is provided to the public by a government agency or institution of the Legislature and includes all communications for the purpose."

There is a clear distinction between the public and the service provider. The Legislature is the service provider, not the service recipient. Consequently, the translation is not required. However, the translation obviously is being prepared. I'm not so sure when the clerks are going to bring it forward, but it is not required for the House to carry on its activities. If any member needs assistance with translation, then that assistance is available.

I would say that in the act the only references to French-language services are the right to use English or the right to use French in the debates, but it does not require in the act that the standing orders be translated into French. Notwithstanding that, that translation is under way and my expectation -- and the clerks could respond more directly -- is that the translation will be available in the near future.

The Speaker: I'm going to have to recess just briefly to investigate a few issues. What I want to do before I leave -- you have another point of order?

Mr Bisson: On the same point of order : Je sais que vous prenez cette situation très au sérieux. Je vais vous passer un autre morceau d'information. Comme vous le savez, c'est la responsabilité du gouvernement, quand on amende des lois ici à l'Assemblée et on les reporte, que la législation soit reportée en anglais comme en français.

Je pense que cela a besoin d'être lié à cette situation. Quand ça vient au Règlement de la Chambre, le même Règlement a besoin d'avoir lieu. C'est le point que je veux additionner et auquel vous avez besoin de refléchir.

The Speaker: I want to say first and foremost that we are duly constituted. That is not what I will be ruling on, with respect to whether or not we're constituted. We are. What we have done, we've done. We are operating under the new standing orders.

I will take into consideration the comments outside of those particular issues and review them and report back in 15 minutes. Stop the clock. Thank you.

The House recessed from 1430 to 1449.

The Speaker: I'd like to thank the members for their submissions. I undertook to get a number of copies at the table for any members who would wish to have the standing orders translated for them. If they would just go to the table clerks, they'd be happy to provide them.

Further questions?


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is directed to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Yesterday in the Toronto Star the lead editorial was talking about the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library. That editorial describes this library as a jewel that most Ontarians really treasure. The editorial went on to comment that there are some 1.5 million visits to that library every year. It's my understanding that this week there's a brief closure of that particular library and it's suggested that this is because of provincial budget cuts.

Can the minister explain to the House, and possibly to the many patrons of that library, why the library is closed this week and what roles your ministry and the Ontario government had to play in this action?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I'd like to thank the member for Northumberland for his question. I find it really hard to believe that one could suggest that the provincial government is responsible for the closure of the Metro -- and I repeat "Metro" -- Toronto reference library. The Metro Toronto reference library receives 86% of its funding from the local level. In fact, my ministry only provides it with 8%. Our relationship with the reference library won't change as a result of Bill 109. Under the legislation, Bill 148, provisions have been specifically made for the retention of the reference library.

This was a point that had the support of all members of the standing committee which examined Bill 109. The reference library is a key provincial resource and that's why we continue to support it. The decision to close the library this week was made by the Metro Toronto library board.

Mr Galt: Along with that recent editorial I heard some comments down at the conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in connection with the Who Does What exercise that libraries may be very easy targets when the municipalities are looking at some of their cuts.

My constituents certainly value libraries very much and they want to keep them open. What reassurance can you give to my constituents that libraries and their important services will not be closed as a direct result of our government and its Who Does What exercise?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Obviously we don't agree with the doom-and-gloom gang across the way. When the Who Does What exercise was announced, the president of AMO at that time, Terry Mundell, commented specifically on libraries and stated that he welcomed the changes. He does not believe that budgets will be decreased as a result of those changes. We're simply saying, who better to make decisions about local library service than those in the community who use them? That's why we call them local libraries.

This government believes that municipalities will make responsible decisions. They already fund an average of 85% of local library costs. Now we're giving them greater flexibility and tools by which they can make these decisions to make sure they can operate their services more effectively.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Yesterday evening I attended, on behalf of our caucus, a memorial service to a woman who was killed as a result of a terrible accident at Steeles Avenue and Highway 404. A truck went through, came off the road, jumped the berm, smashed into this woman's home and killed her as she was doing her laundry. Last evening was the first anniversary of her tragic death.

At the time of the accident you promised speedily to deal with the issue of a berm or special wall to provide protection for that community. You have made several promises subsequent to that. My question is this: Why, after one year, has absolutely nothing been done, other than to talk about the question, to build a retaining wall or a berm to afford protection to the residents who still live in that community?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I'm disappointed with the member asking that question because I really feel it is a very partisan question and I wonder if it has anything to do with the election going on presently in that riding. I want to say this: The previous member of that riding treated it as a non-partisan issue and I want to commend her for that. I wish I could say the same thing for the member opposite.

I believe MTO has acted very admirably and acted very immediately on the concerns of the community. I believe we have done a lot of things to get us to the position that we presently are in. Again I want to say to the member, I'm disappointed that he asked such a partisan question.

Mr Duncan: You promised that community a year ago, one year ago, that you would deal with the question. You promised the community last November, and we cooperated with you. I have communicated with your office off the record on a number of occasions. We were invited by the residents of that community to attend this session, to attend the memorial and to plant a tree, and we were glad to do that. We were glad to do it but sorry that we had to do it because you failed to take action.

If this is such a partisan issue on our part, why did you send a letter to every resident in that court after you have broken five promises? In your letter you said that North York Hydro had not dealt with the questions around power. North York informed us yesterday that they've dealt with it. Let's quit talking about partisan issues.

Will your staff meet with the people of that community tomorrow and give them a plan so that that berm can be built and the retaining wall can be built and any future tragedy can be averted in this terrible situation?

Hon Mr Palladini: I am not surprised, obviously, because it is a bunch of manure. We have been in touch with the municipality. We have been in touch also with the community. We've tried to resolve the problem right the first time. In other words, we went to the drawing board and made efforts to see what was going to work, what was going to prevent a future tragedy.

We have continuously kept the municipality in touch. Councillor David Shiner says MTO has done everything they possibly could do, and it was because of the utility's relocation that we were not able to react as quickly as maybe we should have. But things are under control, and yes, North York Hydro did agree; yesterday they agreed. So contrary to what the member is saying, it is partisanship, and I am really disappointed in you, Mr Duncan.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. You're aware of the substantial increase in gasoline prices happening across the province and the country in the last couple of weeks and the hue and cry that's been raised. You've stated in this Legislature that gas pricing will probably be on the agenda of the interprovincial ministers' conference next month.

Yesterday my federal NDP colleague, John Solomon from Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, outlined an action plan which calls on the federal government to open the books on gas pricing by conducting a public inquiry. My colleague states in a press release:

"Setting energy prices is no different than regulating communications services. When Rogers cable set prices which were deemed unfair, they voluntarily rolled them back. When Bell Canada wants to increase prices, the CRTC reviews their request to ensure it is fair and justified. Gas pricing is no different. Gas prices are viewed by the public as being set unfairly and unjustifiably and they must be reviewed."

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

Mr Martin: Minister, will you today join the call for a federal inquiry on this matter?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I've got to tell you that I, like everyone else in this whole House -- we're all outraged at the prices for consumers these days with the high prices.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Why don't you do something about it?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I hear some babbling over there from the member for St Catharines, but I might remind him that he certainly had the opportunity to do something. To his credit, Mr Martin -- he stood up the other day in the House, I think it was yesterday, and indicated, as I recall, that Bob Rae was elected businessman of the year in Buffalo, because his government had the same issue and I think he concluded they did nothing. At least we're going to put this on the agenda for the interprovincial ministers conference.

We feel strongly about this. We strongly believe consumers in Ontario should get the best price, and certainly this will be a discussion we'll have, but I also remind you that this is a federal issue, as the member has recognized. I appreciate the fact that he does recognize that.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to bring to the minister's attention the effects of these price increases, particularly in northern Ontario, the economic effects this is having across the north on the cost of goods, the cost of travel, the effect on tourism and the effect on the travelling public in a part of the province where a vehicle is a necessity.

The regular price of gasoline in Dryden today is 65.9 cents a litre; in South Porcupine, 68.5 cents a litre; in Heyden, just north of Sault Ste Marie, it's 68 cents a litre; in Kapuskasing, it's 69.9 cents a litre; and in Wawa, it is 72.5 cents a litre.

We recognized when we were in government that this government could do something and we took the registration fee off motor vehicles for northern Ontario drivers. You reimposed it. You reimposed it at a time when gasoline prices are higher than they were when we took it off. Is the minister prepared to recommend to his colleagues in cabinet that northern Ontario drivers will no longer have to pay a registration fee in order to --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Algoma.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: We believe this is bad for the consumers in Ontario. We believe that by putting it on the table with the ministers across this country -- this is not an Ontario issue only -- this is a way we can address the issue finally.

I will remind the member for Algoma, though, that when the Honourable Brian Charlton was the minister under your government, sir, he indicated -- this is a quote from him; it comes from Hansard of May 27, 1992 -- "In fact he was talking about giant Canadian oil companies, and the problem to which the member for St Catharines refers" -- at least he's consistent -- "is in fact a national problem. The price increases to which he refers are not price increases that have been imposed exclusively in the province of Ontario this week; they have been imposed right across the country."

Yes, we believe it's bad for the consumer in Ontario, yes, we believe the federal government should do something and, yes, we're going to put it on the table at the interprovincial ministers conference so we can do something to protect the consumer in Ontario.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Eliminating trade barriers between the provinces has been a long-standing issue that is very important to all Canadians. Most people now recognize that the flow of products and services with our neighbours to the south is easier than confronting trade barriers between our provinces.

I have heard that the new chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has said Canada must break down interprovincial trade barriers for the sake of international as well as domestic trade, and that means jobs. I wouldn't imagine the federal Liberal government is listening to these comments, but I know Ontario is. Can the minister please tell this House what Ontario is doing to help resolve this problem between the provinces once and for all?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I want to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for his question. It's a very timely one. I have to say that resolving this issue has been a particularly challenging thing for us. We recognize the positive advantage of a more open, barrier-free trading environment in Canada.

As you know, this government is making every effort to improve the business climate. That's why our government is taking the lead in interprovincial trade. Last year we signed three bilateral trade agreements with Quebec. Two dealt with procurement in the broader public sector and one with construction labour mobility. In fact, the Quebec minister and I have offered the procurement agreement to any other interested parties. We hope to hear from them and we will pursue it.

Mr Newman: I thank the minister for his insight. I know my constituents in Scarborough Centre will be pleased to know our government is listening and acting on what they hear. Perhaps some of the other levels of government can take a lesson from our minister.

My constituents, like all Ontarians, are becoming more and more upset that nothing is being done to remove these trade barriers. Can the minister tell the House where we go from here and what can be done once and for all to eliminate trade barriers between all the provinces in Canada?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'm happy to respond to that supplementary. I want to assure the members that we're doing everything possible to move this issue towards resolution.

In April, as an example, I wrote to my trade colleagues in the other provinces and I urged them to conclude an agreement. I also wrote to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which represents 170,000 businesses in Canada. The chamber has pleaded with the federal and provincial governments to get rid of the remaining barriers. The former president indeed has commended Ontario's lead role on changing the system as far as internal trade is concerned.

There will be a trade ministers' meeting this fall and I'm sure the trade barriers will be the main issue on the agenda. I'm committed to removing interprovincial trade barriers and will continue to urge my colleagues in other provinces to agree on a solution at the trade ministers' meeting. I believe better internal trade will result in improved external trade as well. We are doing all that we can in this government to move the business environment to a much better situation.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture, not the Minister of Natural Resources, who was worried that I was going to ask him a question about the abysmal appointment to the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Harris government is about to prey upon the most desperate, the most vulnerable and often the poorest people in our society by establishing 44 permanent 24-hour-a-day casinos in 44 different neighbourhoods in Ontario. You have been very evasive when asked by members of the news media how much money the provincial government is going to get from these charity casinos, as you call them. Will you reveal today to the people of Ontario how much money the Harris government will be bleeding from the most vulnerable, the most desperate and often the poorest people in our society? Will you please not palm this question off on someone else?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Thank you for the question. I'll refer it to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I really think what we should do with this issue is put it into context for a second. If we're looking at the charity gaming clubs, the table games are being divided 50-50 between the government and the charities. We're talking about $80 million there for the charities, $80 million they didn't have before, quite frankly. We're talking about 150 video lottery terminals and a charity gaming club. That's not really a lot of machines.

To put this further into context, there are other costs that have to go into this equation, of course. There's 10% that's going to the operators -- we all know that -- and if you look at the racetracks, we're talking about 15% of the proceeds going to the operators there. We're talking about $9 million going to assist in terms of problem gambling. On top of that there are other types of undetermined costs at this time.

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

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: We have the installation of machines, a central computer system, the maintenance of the system, the regulation of the system, the ongoing monitoring. At the end of the day, the Ministry of Finance has estimates --

The Speaker: That can happen in the supplementary. Supplementary.

Mr Bradley: It's quite obvious that the government is getting the lion's share of the money, that you're simply using the charities of the province as a front to bleed more money out of desperate people to fill the coffers of the provincial government because you've chosen to give a tax break to the richest people in our society. That's what this is all about.

You're also going to have very significant impacts on a number of neighbourhoods in this province. I don't think you should be establishing these things anywhere, personally, but since you people are supposedly going to ask the people in the neighbourhoods where they're going for their permission or their acquiescence to these, are you now prepared to say that wherever one of these --

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Bradley: -- establishments, these casinos, is to be set up, you will have a local referendum to have the people judge on those?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: If you want to talk about culpability, I'd like to remind the member that his government under David Peterson brought in the three-day roving casinos.

Mr Bradley: You're missing the whole point.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: No, you're missing the point. Inherent in this whole argument is that at risk is the integrity of gaming in Ontario. To the NDP's credit, they brought in some rules to regulate gaming in this province. You did not.

I'll tell you something, since you refer to Staff Sergeant Fotia, who is with the OPP, who indicates -- let's look at the facts. This is from the Ottawa Citizen. "In the first six months of this year nine casino operators, or more than 10% of the total, have been charged with 34 separate offences under the Gaming Control Act and they face 15 gaming-related charges under the Criminal Code" because the system right now does not work. We're trying to bring some integrity to this system, which you had a chance to do. You did not.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Premier. The handwritten notes from the meeting on September 5, 1995, that were tabled, state, "Public safety not an issue, reduces urgency."

It seems to indicate that the interministerial committee and the OPP felt that the occupation of the Stony Pointers was peaceful and non-violent. The OPP is quoted as saying in the press: "Our position is to control the situation and to come to a peaceful resolution. We're not in a rush. We are not looking to ram anything through."

Premier, if this is the case, that the OPP identified no public risk and the interministerial committee meeting held that the public safety was not an issue, why did the OPP build-up occur the next day? Why did the OPP use force to enter Ipperwash Provincial Park? Was it because you had directed Deb Hutton to say, "Out of the park only -- nothing else"?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No.



Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas women's going topless in public promotes exploitation of women's sexuality and prostitution, taking away the moral and ethical values of our children and ourselves;

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

"To take this issue seriously and produce a law making it illegal for women to go topless in the province of Ontario."

That's signed by 1,030 of my constituents and constituents from S-D-G.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): "We, the undersigned concerned citizens of Ontario, Canada, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that:

"We do not agree with the proposed Tenant Protection Act, Bill 96, section 200, which would make it legal for landlords to refuse to rent to low-income people.

"Many landlords would be happy to be able to legally refuse to rent to people on welfare, FBA, disability, single mothers, seniors with low pensions and other low-income people such as large numbers of minorities people.

"This change to the Ontario Human Rights Code is a violation of the Charter of Rights which Canada signed.

"We therefore request that the words `income information' be removed from Bill 96, section 200."

I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): "Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that indeed northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition with 188 names. It reads as follows:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas at this time in the province of Ontario it is not illegal for a woman to appear topless in public, and due to the fact that this lack of restriction offends a large percentage of Ontarians;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for a woman to appear topless in any public place."


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition 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 the province;

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

Since we're in the middle of debate on Bill 136, I proudly add my name to these citizens'.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ontario Parent Council is a group of politically appointed individuals who do not have school council representation at their table; and

"Whereas the Ontario Parent Council communicates directly with the Minister of Education and Training on what they assume to be the needs and concerns of school councils across Ontario; and

"Whereas school councils of Ontario are made up of dedicated, thoughtful parent volunteers who, regardless of their political beliefs, work for the betterment of the education and welfare of their children;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to establish an elected provincial board of school councils that will speak directly to the Minster of Education and Training on issues related to school councils."

This is signed by dozens of constituents from my riding and from Thunder Bay, and I affix my own signature.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"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, Women's College Hospital."

I support this petition and I attach to my signature to it.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Criminal Code falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government of Canada;

"Whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that women have the lawful right to appear topless in public;

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to meet the needs and requirements of municipal and provincial governments in Canada and to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the government of the province of Ontario to urge the government of Canada to pass new legislation or amend existing legislation to ban appearing topless in public places."

This petition is signed by 17 people from Keswick who are constituents of my riding of Durham-York. I agree with this petition and I have affixed my name to it.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario" -- especially this month -- "and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that indeed northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax."


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

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"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, Women's College Hospital."

I will affix my signature to this petition as I fully agree with it.



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

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, has proposed the fingerprinting of all 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 Legislature 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.


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

"Petition to reprint and enact the recommendations of the Ontario Task Force on the Primary Prevention of Cancer:

"We, the undersigned, request that the Ministry of Health reprint the Report of the Ontario Task Force on the Primary Prevention of Cancer, March 1995, and that the Ontario government set up the cancer prevention network in order to enact the report's strategies and targets for reduction of site-specific cancer incidents;

"Further, we demand that primary prevention be a major focus at Cancer Care Ontario and that at least three members of its board have a prevention focus which incorporates environmental factors."

I will affix my signature to this petition as I fully support it.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I've a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that indeed northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax."

I proudly affix my signature to this petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition signed by hundreds and hundreds of people regarding the Wellesley Central Hospital Staying Alive campaign.

"We, the undersigned, are vehemently opposed to the proposed closure of the Wellesley Central Hospital.

"We see this as cutting services which will negatively affect the overall health of our community.

"We are deeply concerned about our future health care for treatment of acute illness and emergency care.

"We support the alliance between Wellesley Central Hospital and Women's College Hospital as the only solution."

I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we, the consumers, feel gas prices are too high throughout Ontario;

"Whereas we, the consumers, support the Ontario Liberal caucus's attempt to have the Mike Harris government introduce predatory gas pricing legislation;

"Whereas we, the consumers, want the Mike Harris government to act so that the consumer can get a break at the pumps rather than going broke at them;

"Whereas we, the consumers, are fuming at being hosed at the pumps and want Mike Harris to gauge our anger;

"Furthermore we, the consumers, want Mike Harris to know we want to be able to go to the pumps and fill our gas tanks without emptying our pockets;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to introduce predatory gas pricing legislation in order to control the amount of money we, the consumers, are forced to pay at the gas pumps."

I'll be affixing my signature to this.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that indeed northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax."

I have affixed my name to that petition as well.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"That the Fort Frances ambulance dispatch not be moved to Kenora."

This is signed by over 100 petitioners, and I have affixed my name as well.


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 imposes significant financial hardship 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 have affixed my name to that petition as well.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"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 Hospital 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."

This is signed by 92 citizens from all over the province, and I am proud to affix my signature.


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

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that indeed northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax."

I have affixed my name to that petition as well.




Resuming the adjourned debate on Bill 148, An Act to deal with matters relating to the establishment of the new City of Toronto / Projet de loi 148, Loi traitant de questions se rapportant à la constitution de la nouvelle cité de Toronto.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I'm pleased to be able to rejoin the debate where I started off last night. I really didn't get an opportunity to get into my speech last evening because I was interrupted by the member for Yorkview when he was using several delaying tactics to impede my ability to represent the people of Scarborough Centre here in the Legislature. I think it's quite indicative of the opposition --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe the member for Scarborough Centre imputes motives to the member for Yorkview. That is against the orders of the Legislature.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gary L. Leadston): To the member for London Centre, raising the point of order, I apologize. I was in conversation with the Clerk. I did not hear the member for Scarborough Centre or what he is alluded to have said. However, the member for Scarborough Centre, if you in fact have impugned the motives or a statement from the honourable members, I leave it to your best judgement as a gentleman of the Legislature and a member --

Mr Newman: Thank you, Speaker. I don't believe I have, but I will withdraw it none the less.

The point I was trying to make is that I sit here in my place and read the words on the wall: "Audi Alteram Partem," which means, "Listen to the other side." To me, it means not just government members listening to opposition members, but opposition members listening to government members. I think that's something that is lost in the discussion.

I also just want to put on the --

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member is talking about listening to the other side. There is no quorum in this House at this time.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum present?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough Centre.

Mr Newman: I'm pleased to re-rejoin the debate today on Bill 148, the City of Toronto Act (No. 2). The City of Toronto Act, 1997, became law in April of this year and provides the basic legislative framework to establish the new municipal corporation. It was intended to indicate the overall direction of our government and to allow the November municipal elections to go ahead as scheduled. I'm proud that our government has achieved that.

The second city of Toronto bill is a surprise to no one. Our government has said from the outset of debate on the first bill, Bill 103, that we would be introducing a second bill to deal with the administrative, technical and specific transitional matters surrounding the amalgamation process. This bill is about protecting services to the people of Metropolitan Toronto, services that they currently enjoy, services that they can expect and have begun to depend on.

What would happen to my constituent in Scarborough Centre who has to take the TTC to work on January 2, 1998, if it was not for this bill? Would the TTC continue to operate? And what about those 157,000 new jobs that have been created in the province of Ontario, many of them in Metropolitan Toronto and many of them within Scarborough and Scarborough Centre? How would these people be able to get to work? This bill ensures that services currently available to all residents will continue to be available during the transition period.

This bill is not about new powers. It is about a continuation of powers currently afforded to Metro council, powers currently afforded to Scarborough council, powers currently afforded to North York, Etobicoke, East York, Toronto and York city councils. This bill is a necessary step. It is for the most part a housekeeping bill that needs to be passed quickly to protect the residents of Metro Toronto.

I say to the members opposite, stop stalling, stop playing political games, stop looking for media hits, and let's get on with passing this bill so that my constituents in Scarborough Centre can feel secure, as they should, that their municipal services will continue after January 1, 1998.

Why are the members opposite stalling this bill? They should be fully supportive, shouldn't they? Even the member for Riverdale last night said that it's a simple bill. If I say it's a simple bill, let's pass it; let's get on with it. Let's get on to the other pieces of legislation that need to be discussed in this place. After all, they seem to think they are the only ones in this House looking out for the people of Metropolitan Toronto. Or are they?

I find it interesting that the member for Oakwood, who just happens to be spearheading Mel Lastman's campaign for mayor, would not be calling for quick passage of this bill so that his candidate could reassure the people of Metro Toronto that their services will be indeed protected during the transition. The member for York South, who is actively involved in Barbara Hall's campaign, should also be supporting this bill that protects the residents of his riding, along with every resident in Metropolitan Toronto.

We know why members are not supporting this bill even though they know full well that it is necessary and that it is correct: because they won't have a shot at getting any media hits. That's what is important to them. That type of rhetoric and political gamesmanship is what the people of Metropolitan Toronto do not need. They've had enough of it.

What the people need are hardworking politicians, politicians committed to creating a better Toronto, a stronger Toronto and a more vibrant Toronto, politicians like Scarborough councillor Paul Mushinski and Scarborough councillor Mike Tzekas, who I've had the pleasure of speaking with on numerous occasions regarding the creation of the new city of Toronto. Councillor Mushinski and Councillor Tzekas have told me that Bill 148 is needed. They didn't come to the Bill 103 hearings like many of the socialist-leaning councillors from other municipalities who, I might add, came with cameras and had pictures taken, which I'm sure will show up in campaign literature this fall.

These councillors understand that their constituents need to feel secure that their services will be protected during the transition. Councillors Mushinski and Tzekas are working hard on behalf of their constituents, working to keep them informed and working to protect their services. They are not playing political games like the members opposite and like a number of municipal politicians are. All along, councillors Mushinski and Tzekas have said they will work to make the new city of Toronto the best it can be and to ensure that their constituents retain uninterrupted services. I applaud them for that.

At this time I want to make an appeal today to every candidate running for municipal office in the new city of Toronto. I say to them, I want those candidates to pledge to the people of Metropolitan Toronto that they will do everything within their power to make the new city of Toronto work, to make the new city the most vibrant city in the world. If these candidates will not make that pledge to the residents of Metropolitan Toronto, I suspect the voters will be quick to deal with them.


I hope we'll soon have the cooperation of the opposition parties to ensure that the services provided Metropolitan Toronto's residents remain in place for a unified Toronto. It's only a hope, but I suspect that they will continue to play games as they did last night and as they did here this afternoon. It is certainly in the best interests of everyone to ensure that this bill is passed in a timely manner.

Let's examine what this bill ensures for the residents of Metropolitan Toronto.

It ensures that the operation of the TTC will continue as usual. How can the Liberals and NDP members here today be against that?

It ensures that the operation of the CNE, the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo, the Hummingbird Centre and the Guild Inn, which is in the riding of Scarborough East, will continue as usual. I say again, how can the members of the Liberal and NDP parties be against that?

It ensures that the operation of ambulance services will continue as usual. I wonder how the members opposite can be against that.

It ensures that the operation of police services and life-saving services for Toronto harbour will continue as usual. I ask you, Speaker, how can the opposition parties be against that?

It ensures that the operation of homes for the aged will continue as usual, and I wonder how the opposition parties could be against that. It ensures that the regulation of street vending will continue as usual, and I wonder how the opposition parties can be against that. It ensures that the operation of conservation authority lands will continue as usual. Again I ask myself, how can the Liberal Party and the NDP be against that? It ensures that the operation of the licensing commission will continue as usual. It ensures that the operation of the Toronto Island ferry will continue as usual.

It ensures that the new city will continue as usual to plan and act in case of emergencies. It ensures that the new city can continue to act and to enter into water supply and sewage treatment agreements. It ensures that the new city will continue as usual to receive and dispose of liquid and solid waste and that the new city will continue to establish and operate controlled access roads. It ensures that existing official plans of municipalities will continue as usual, and I wonder how the opposition parties can be against that.

It ensures that pensions and benefits of municipal and local board employees and retirees will continue as usual. I know that's something that is very important to the members on this side of the House and I would trust that the opposition members in the Liberal Party and the NDP would move to get this bill going forward so that the pensions and benefits of retired municipal and local board employees will continue as usual. It's something that I think they would want to be in favour of, but perhaps they're not. We'll see in their responses.

It will ensure the library board, the health board, the historical board and the parking authority for residents of the new city of Toronto.

I challenge the members opposite to get this bill passed and get on with the important work ahead of creating a vibrant new city of Toronto. I ask them today on behalf of the residents of Scarborough, I ask them today on behalf of the residents of the city of Toronto, I ask them today on behalf of the residents of East York, I ask them today on behalf of the residents of Etobicoke, the residents of North York and the residents of the city of York, let's have a smooth and orderly transition to this new city of Toronto where we move from seven municipalities into one municipality.

I ask the members opposite to speed it up. Let's get Bill 148 passed and we can get on to other legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I enjoyed hearing the member opposite's speech as he talked about how this bill would ensure all of the services that Metro Toronto provides currently to its citizens. The member failed to outline for the people of this great city that in fact these services were being provided before megacity was invented by this government and the only thing that's in question here is whether these services will continue to be provided after megacity.

This bill is made possible because the government moved so quickly to enact megacity, rushed right into it and is now trying to ram it down people's throats. In fact, the only reason that this bill is necessary is because the government got it wrong the first time when they brought in their megacity bill. There are gaps throughout this bill. This is a fix-it bill.

What the member failed to tell us was that this government hasn't ensured for the people of this city that property taxes won't go up as a result of their megacity bill. This bill fails to ensure that those services that people in Metro Toronto have come to appreciate and come to value and that have come to become very critical in their lives will continue to be there in the future, child care, TTC. He talked about the TTC. Service has been cut by the TTC over the years. More specifically in the last couple of years there have been cuts to those kinds of services. GO Transit is being dumped on to municipalities. Social housing is being dumped on to municipalities. The member opposite failed to tell the people of this city and this government fails to tell the people of the city how they're going to shoulder that burden for social housing and additional social costs that they're dumping on to municipalities.

That's why this legislation is being passed today. You need to fix up what you did before and that won't get you very far either.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the member for Scarborough Centre. I want to address his comments that opposition members are somehow game-playing in opposing a bill like this and it's all about media hits.

First of all, I think that should have been ruled out of order. There is a sort of imputing of motive there. But let me say to you that if you review the Hansard of my opening remarks on this bill, I think I made it clear that my opposition and that of my colleagues is because we oppose the concept of the megacity to begin with. But given that there is a megacity, I agree entirely that there is a need for this kind of a transition bill.

What the member didn't talk about, when he said on behalf of the residents of Scarborough, the residents of Toronto, the residents of Etobicoke, the residents of York, the residents of North York and the residents of East York, was the plea that I made to the government members to please acknowledge that the residents of East York really want this transition bill to address a fundamental concern of lack of democracy and lack of fair representation.

You have an opportunity through the amendments I am putting forward to this bill to pass measures either on an interim basis or on a permanent basis that will bring about the kind of fair representation that the constituents of East York deserve. I understand you have a concern that perhaps the megacity council should be making these decisions, and in three years' time they can at the next election, but in the meantime it is important that the provincial government set this up in a way that is fair to begin with. One of the versions of the amendments I'm putting forward actually allows you to do this on a transitional basis for the first term of the megacity council, which I hope addresses those concerns that the minister has raised.

I look forward to working with you on committee to see these kinds of amendments passed, to ensure that the transition to the megacity, which I think is a fundamentally flawed idea in the first place, guarantees equitable representation for the residents of the borough of East York.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'm pleased to add my comments to those of the members for Beaches-Woodbine and Lawrence in response to the speech from my colleague from Scarborough Centre. I find it not at all surprising that the member for Lawrence would suggest that somehow in all of this discussion here today we should wrap it in the context of Who Does What and bus deregulation. I'm sure there are 20 or 30 other bills we passed that he would love to wrap this into and totally avoid the fact that Bill 148 is purely related to specific technical amendments.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would beg your assistance here. I believe we are responding to the comments from the member who made the speech and I see the member for Scarborough East, as always out of order, commenting on what another member had talked about in regard to the speech. I think the standing orders are clear. He is to respond to the comments made by the speaker and I would ask you to direct him so. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The first thing we'll do is resume the hour and 20 minutes on the clock. Your point of order is well taken. I would address my remarks to the member for Scarborough East. Your comments should reflect the remarks made by the member for Scarborough Centre. Would you address your remarks to him and to the remarks in his debate. I think the Speaker has some flexibility in making this determination.


Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It's certainly a flexibility that has been stretched to the breaking point.

Mr Bisson: Mr Speaker, would you stop the clock for the member across the way? I want to be fairminded in this. The member across the way suggested to my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine that when we, the members of the opposition, debate a government bill, we are not to talk about amending a government bill in our debate. I'm wondering, is this a new rule the government wants to introduce, that members cannot move to amend a government bill or even speak about how to make a government bill better?

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order.

Mr Bisson: Or is the member again trying to make a travesty of democracy and trying to tell people we only can do things the Tory way?

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The clock resumes at the original time. The member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I'm assuming it's back up to the minute and 20.

The Acting Speaker: I've asked that the clock be reset.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you very much. I know they would love to monopolize the time in the House and demonstrate that kind of thuggery, but the bottom line is that Bill 148 is all about technical amendments.

The Acting Speaker: Order. To the member for Scarborough East, I'd ask you to withdraw that comment. It is unparliamentary.

Mr Gilchrist: It's been used a number of times before, but if it offends you, Mr Speaker, I'll be pleased to withdraw that.

Bill 148 is purely and simply the technical amendments to Bill 103 -- the technical additions to Bill 103; forgive me. The members opposite would want us to reopen the whole issue of the unification of the city. That's not going to happen. That's not part of this bill. As the member correctly pointed out, this is all about making sure that the services which currently operate -- and as was wisely pointed out by one of our members from northern Ontario, people will have the certainty they still operate on January 1. We don't govern by looking in the rear-view mirror. We are making provision that the services will continue to be there for many, many years to come, that the people of Toronto will have that peace of mind and that the municipal candidates, including the NDP municipal candidates running in this election, will have that certainty. That won't be one of the fears they face.

The bottom line: This bill is purely technical, it's necessary and it's going to make Toronto an even greater city.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): The member for Scarborough Centre talks about cooperation from the opposition parties in the House. I have to say to him that I've heard from more sources than one that there's no one out there saying that this government is going too slow. I've yet to hear that. What I suggest to the member for Scarborough Centre is that he may want to take that back to his colleagues, to cabinet, to the decision-maker, the dictator, as he's been referred to a number of times by his own caucus members, being of course the Premier, Mike Harris, that people out there are saying: "Slow down. Let us get a grasp on what you're trying to do to us."

Let the people of the city that we talk about here today, and not only that but the people of the province, review what this government is doing rather than doing everything out of the corner office of Mike Harris. It's not until the Premier and the cabinet understand that that the member for Scarborough Centre will see some cooperation, not only from other members in this House, but also from community leaders, like AMO this week, that we deal with on a regular basis. Until he and his caucus colleagues, the Premier and the cabinet, get that through to themselves, they will not receive that cooperation he talked about in his remarks to the House here today.

He talked about needing democracy. I tell you, I hear more and more from my constituents, from people in this city, from constituents across the province that there is a definite lack of democracy in this House and regarding this particular piece of legislation. To the member, until he figures that out and gets that through, there will not be the cooperation he is looking for.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough Centre.

Mr Newman: I want to begin by thanking the member for Lawrence, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, the member for Kenora and of course the member for Scarborough East. I always enjoy listening to his speeches. I think it took three opportunities for him to try to get his two minutes in with the opposition today and I thank him for really putting that effort forward.

The member for Lawrence spoke about, I believe, police services, that those will still be in effect on January 1, 1998. Well, so will the ambulance and transit if this bill is passed, and everything else that's included in this bill. We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that 72% of all municipal spending within Metropolitan Toronto today is already for amalgamated services.

To my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I know her comments regarding representation had absolutely nothing to do with redistribution and where she might be running in the next election, so I appreciate her comments on that.

To the member for Kenora, we are listening to what people are saying. I think all members should take the time to listen. Just yesterday and today I met with some residents of the Kenora riding who happen to be in Toronto for a convention, and they're very much in favour of what the government is doing. I was pleased to -- oh, the member is laughing.

Mr Miclash: Name names. Is that Craig Nuttall?

Mr Newman: Craig Nuttall is one of the people who is in town, along with several other people from the Kenora riding. Those residents of his riding are in favour of what the government is doing. They're in favour of the jobs that are being created, they're in favour of the lower taxes that are being seen across this province, the positive investment climate that's being put forward in this province. I guess anything looks fast compared to the Liberals and NDP from 1985 to 1995. The only thing they were quick to do was raise taxes.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lawrence.

Mr Cordiano: I am very happy to have this opportunity to speak to this piece of legislation, which is a fixer of the previous legislation on the megacity. It speaks to the reasons why we have this piece of legislation. The government is proceeding at such a rapid pace that it's getting things wrong. It's that simple: It's getting things all too often wrong.

There are consequences to this. We've tried to point out time and again to this government that the faster it moves, the more likely it will do serious damage to this province and its economy and its governing structures at the municipal level and at the school board level. What's the hurry? That's what people are asking now. It's reflected in the public opinion polls. They're asking why this government is moving with such rapidity.

It leads one to suspect the motives of the government. It leaves one with the impression that this government has something to hide and that it's running away from everyone. It wants to get all the difficult stuff accomplished and passed through this Legislature before anyone takes notice. So what do we have? It's quite obvious to those of us on this side of the House that the government's modus operandi is to pass legislation and ram it down the throats of everyone concerned before the public takes notice.

How did they accomplish this? To accomplish this, the government has seen fit to introduce new standing orders, new rules for this House, so that they can indeed move even faster.

In democracy today, it is critical for citizens to be even more informed than ever before. The amount of information that exists in our society, coming at people constantly, it's a barrage. We can't process that information quickly enough. That's what people are saying out there, "We need time to digest this, we need time to examine it and we also need time to be consulted," something this government is failing to do. So it leaves one with the impression that they have something to hide. What other conclusion can we come to? What other conclusion are people coming to?

It's hurting you in the polls. I'm not a great believer in polls; I don't follow them. It's sport.

Mr Gilchrist: If you had only had that in the leadership, it would have saved your fortune.


Mr Cordiano: No, I don't think so. I think the results on the leadership prove that it was a very close race and it could have gone anywhere, notwithstanding that it took all night to figure that one out.

At the end of the day, it is indicative. What the poll does tell us and what is significant about these polls currently for the government is not where the parties are in the standings, but that people are genuinely concerned that they're not being consulted, that they're not being listened to and that this government is violating their democratic right to be consulted.

That's what's fundamental about the poll results currently. So I say to the government and to the backbenchers especially, it is your responsibility to ensure that this cabinet understands, that this executive understands, that the Premier understands. You on the back bench have the moral authority, by virtue of being elected by your constituents, to demonstrate to the Premier, to the cabinet, to those who are making decisions on your behalf, which you then have to go back to your own constituencies and sell, that they have a right to be heard.

It's the same thing in the way this government operates in its caucus. They're not informing you. I know the way governments undertake to make decisions. From time to time, power is more concentrated in the Premier's office than any of us would like. That's happening all too often under Mike Harris's jurisdiction. In his administration you're beginning to see that the corner office has even greater significance.

I'm going to quote from the member for Wentworth North. I like this quote because it demonstrates very aptly what I think is going on in the Premier's corner office: "This government is controlled by the Premier's office in conjunction with a bunch of kids who I say have a college or university degree in one hand and Machiavelli's Prince in the other, and not a whole lot in between."

Ms Lankin: It's a great quote.

Mr Cordiano: I think that's a great quote. It sums it all up. It indeed demonstrates the frustration that the back bench of this government is feeling today. You're not being consulted. You're not being told what's happening within the executive ranks of the government. In fact, there's an inner cabinet that isn't even being told what's going on because it's the Premier's office that controls everything, and the more that happens, the more difficult it becomes for you.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): Tell me again what you've got against the Italian Machiavelli.

Mr Cordiano: A brilliant guy. It's the way your government is being operated. Even Tony Skarica is saying it's the way your government is being operated. It's Machiavelli's Prince, a bunch of whiz kids who are running around telling the Premier what to do. It's not even the Premier, he's suggesting. It's a bunch of whiz kids. How much more undemocratic can you get?

Bill 148 demonstrates and makes this case, that you are going too fast. You have to fix everything you introduce after the fact. You introduce a piece of legislation and then it requires numerous amendments. Bill 26 was such a piece of legislation. You went too fast, you didn't think it through and you had to come back and change it.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): That's democracy.

Mr Cordiano: It's not democracy, because you introduce the legislation and then you think about the consequences after the fact. That's what we're seeing on the download. They have introduced legislation which will see the municipalities shoulder the burden of all these additional costs, and they're not sharing the information with municipalities. They're not disclosing what the true costs of that download will be. They're not disclosing information to the general public about how much property taxes will go up.

We see this time and again. Almost every piece of legislation that's introduced is flawed, and not only because we disagree with it in principle, but there are technical flaws in almost every piece of legislation this government has introduced. We're seeing amendment after amendment. We're seeing government then come back into this House and rush further amendments. They are not proceeding at a pace any reasonable citizen would deem to be democratic, and thus you hear the cries out there that this government appears to be undemocratic, unjustifiably dictatorial.

When it comes to megacity, there's another interesting poll out today -- "Megacity to Cost More: Citizens." This is a poll that I believe was conducted by the transition team, hiring a bunch of students to do this poll. Some 4,000 Metro residents were surveyed and it found that "53% of those surveyed believed amalgamation -- and the province's decision to make municipalities pay a greater share of social services costs -- would lead to higher operating costs in the new city." Fifty-three per cent believe that. So you're not fooling anyone. You're not doing yourselves any favour by moving even quicker than you had planned.

As you hear the calls for slowdown, the calls for greater consultation with the public, you are beginning to realize that this is having an impact, which we warned you about, and in the end it will have dire consequences for the people of this city and, I believe, for municipalities across Ontario.

We will see that property taxpayers will be paying for the Mike Harris government's income tax cut. On the one hand you have cut income taxes, and you said you wouldn't close hospitals, and you said you wouldn't cut education, and you said that you could do that and at the same time balance the budget -- magic. Now we're seeing that to accomplish that you're going to have to pass on costs to municipalities which will have to increase property taxes, or in the alternative, they'll have to cut vital services to their citizens.

That's not the kind of Ontario we want. That's not the kind of Ontario people have come to appreciate over the years. The previous speaker, the member for Scarborough Centre, talked about all these great services the people of Metropolitan Toronto want to see continue to be there for them in the future. These great services were provided as a result of the foresight that previous governments had -- Conservative governments, I might add. They had great vision. They realized that to have viable cities, you had to have a quality of life that could be sustained and that would be the envy of the world. Yes, it did cost them money, there is no doubt about that, but it was sustainable.

What you are doing is undermining the ability of these municipalities to maintain that quality of life. Why is that the case? Because you're burdening them with additional social costs which weren't there before. No previous government ever conceived of the idea to pass on social costs to these municipalities, because we have paid for those services through the much more progressive system of taxation, income taxes, and there was a very good reason for doing so.

Income taxes provide a more stable base of funding, far more progressive, far more likely that those services would not be jeopardized during difficult economic times, in periods of recession. When we move to this new reality, you can see already what's going to happen. Social housing will be sacrificed. At some point in the future there won't be the necessary funding that will go into housing that has worked, and others have come to study to see how it does work.

The city of Toronto has a great number of housing projects that it put into place, and that's because we used the mixed income model of housing. This government doesn't agree with that. They have talked about bringing in shelter allowances. We haven't seen any discussion around that. We haven't seen the minister stand up and talk about that in any way, shape or form. He tells us he's lifting rent controls and that's going to spawn a building boom. At the end of the day, there will be no additional housing units on the market, social housing costs will fall on the shoulders of municipalities, they won't be able to sustain it, and when that is the reality, the private sector will move in and probably purchase these units at a huge discounted cost.


Now this leads into the agenda for privatization of social housing because at some point those units will be discounted so much that, of course, any private sector developer would love to buy those units at half or more of the original cost for those units. A great deal, and I'm sure they'll make huge profits out of that. Again, what we're doing is sacrificing the kind of quality of life that we've had in this province in municipality after municipality. That's what this is all about. This is a technical bill, but it leads back to the original piece of legislation and it ties into megacity downloading and it ties into downloading right across the province. It's all about the same thing; it's all about this government finding ways to download on to municipalities those additional costs. And why? What's the impetus for this? What's driving this is their promise to cut income taxes.

But I think the people of this province are very smart indeed. They're not going to be fooled by this, and that is why the members of AMO, municipal leaders, have sounded the alarm. They're saying, "We can't handle these additional costs." They see what's coming down the road. They see that they're going to be forced to increase property taxes and/or cut vital services; services that have made Ontario what it is today, a real envy for the rest of the world, made Metropolitan Toronto the kind of city it is, so livable. What you're doing is undermining the ability to sustain that quality of life.

This technical bill, by the way, once again speaks to the government's need to move quickly, to expedite all of these matters so that, lo and behold, six or eight months from now when we're getting into a pre-election period, the government's going to coast. They're going to say, "We did all the tough stuff." The last year of its mandate the government is going to say: "Aren't we nice? Let's reconcile our differences with the municipalities. We're doing such wonderful things. There's nothing more on the agenda that we have to deal with that will upset anyone." That's their modus operandi. Get it over with. No one pays attention. Ram it through. The consequences won't be felt for several years down the road, well after the next provincial election, and hopefully the public won't take notice. But I say to you that the people of this province understand what's going on here and they'll make a judgement. They'll make a judgement whether this is acceptable or not.

They believed Mike Harris when he said in the last election campaign that he could figure out a way to solve our problems, that he could balance the budget and cut income taxes and not close hospitals and not cut education. But they had no idea that what he meant was that property taxes would inevitably have to go up to pay for those promises. That's what we're witnessing here in this Legislature, in the course of debate over Bill 148, megacity, and all of the other downloading issues that are attached to this. We're seeing the true costs of the original revolution gone mad.

The additional costs and who's going to pay for; it's not just about who does what, it's about who is going to pay for what. It's not about doing more for less; it's about doing less and getting less. Yes, getting less. You forget to mention that to people. In the end, it isn't going to cost any less because you're passing on those costs to municipalities.

What did the Premier say to municipalities? What did he say about municipalities? He said those that are well run won't see any cost increases, they can deal with it. On the one hand, he admits that there will be additional costs, and on the other, he says: "Don't worry, it's a wash. It's revenue-neutral." What are we to believe? What are the people of this province to believe? That it is revenue-neutral? That the download this government is imposing on municipalities is in fact revenue-neutral? Or that municipalities will have to absorb the additional costs and those that know how to manage their affairs properly will find ways to cut costs? No thanks to the province, which will mean inevitably that services are reduced. They'll let go staff, jobs will be lost, that's part of the equation. That's the reality of what this government is doing.

We all know, at the end of the day, there are no magical solutions. We're not talking about operating efficiencies here. This government is talking about eliminating vital services. It's not just about making things more efficient and it's not about paying less for those same services, because you can't do that. You can't run a government like a business. As far as providing vital services to people to whom it otherwise makes no economic sense to provide those services, how can you run that as a business? You can't. Those services need to be provided by the only provider available, and that's sometimes government. That's how you sustain a quality of life that we can all be proud of in this province. When you sacrifice that, you're making people who can't afford to pay for it pay for it even more. You're saying, "Too bad, if you can't afford it, you won't get it." That's not acceptable in Ontario today.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I am pleased to comment on the 20-minute speech from the member for Lawrence on the amount of cutbacks and the effect that the son-of-megacity bill is going to have. We know that the transition team is demanding that they lay off or fire the equivalent of $450 million worth of staff in the new megacity. We know that the costs are going to be an additional $200 million in property taxes. We know that when they asked the district health council or the board of health to reduce the cost of money they spend on the street kids and the homeless people, the board of health has just told them simply to get lost.

This is an addition to the megacity bill that was dealt with here that 76.3% of the population voted against. They didn't want it. They didn't want megacity. They don't want Bill 148, although they know that when you have a Conservative majority and the bully tactics that they're using, some people in my riding are saying, "Why does Mike Harris hate the people in this province so much that he's going to punish them and he's going to take away a lot of the benefits and he's going to force property taxes up right across the province?"

We know he's allowing gas prices to go up in northern Ontario and right across the province. He's also allowing Ernie Eves to raise taxes on every single car in northern Ontario. The NDP government took off the registration fees in northern Ontario because of the high price of gasoline and now, on September 1, Mike Harris is going to put a fee back on, a tax on every single vehicle in northern Ontario. This is very similar to what's happening with megacity and Bill 148, which is a continuation of the megacity bully tactics that are being used in this House.

Mr Gilchrist: I'm intrigued that "thuggery" is out of order but "bully" continues to be accepted. It seems to me those two terms are synonymous, but I'll restrict my comments to the speech from the member for Lawrence and thank him for his comments on this issue. He's posed a number of questions.

First off, what's the rush? Well, it's fairly obvious that given that the city of Toronto comes into force on January 1, the bill handling all of the issues of pensions, of assets, of liabilities, of who owns what, and making sure those services continue to be delivered on January 1, clearly that's the rush. It's not that great a rush, but we have to move this thing forward this session.

There's no more time for further scrutiny and debate. We already held that debate. You'll recall we had 300 hours of public hearings on the issue of the amalgamation, and many people brought forward precisely the issues that we're dealing with now in these technical amendments. They talked about what would happen to the zoo and what would happen to the Guild Inn and what would happen to the TTC. Various employees came forward and said, "What will happen to my pension?" It's all spelled out in very clear detail.


I am encouraged that one more opposition speaker has stood in their place and not found fault with a single clause, not found fault with a single word in this bill. No doubt that will fuel our belief that this bill can proceed in an expeditious fashion.

You made one point that must be challenged. You said that no previous government has talked about sharing the responsibility for social costs with municipalities. From day one, welfare has involved the municipalities, but it also involved the federal government and your federal Liberal friends stopped paying the 20%. They downloaded it to the province many years ago. We had to handle that the same way we're handling over $2 billion in downloading in health care costs, downloading of the former costs of transportation. We're biting the bullet on all of those things.

This bill is technical. It has nothing to do with Who Does What. It has to do with making the city of Toronto even greater.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments.

Ms Lankin: I'm pleased to respond to the member for Lawrence. There are some times in this House when I hear comments about, "Someone downloaded to me, so therefore we can download on." It reminds me of families who use those excuses about, "This is what my dad did, so this is what I'm going to do."

I think the member for Lawrence is absolutely right when he ties the issue of this bill together with what's happening in terms of the downloading to municipalities. At this point in time, I would say, it has to be considered in the same light. The reason for that is not that the bills are inextricably linked, but the effects of the bills are.

The member for Lawrence says this is being rushed. On the megacity bill, which you all know I opposed, but now that we've got it, we've got to have transition, our caucus did come forward with what we thought was a very reasonable proposal to try and work through this over the course of a year in terms of shaping it and have the municipal elections and the effect of whatever the result of amalgamation would have been, with a better process, come into effect in a year's time. You would have had the appropriate time to deal with all of the administrative and technical detail as well.

The member points out that not all the detail is here. I actually agree with him. I think others who say it's here are wrong. Much of that detail is left to regulation, and we have yet to see what those regulations will provide. So I think there is good reason for these issues to be linked together and I agree with the member for Lawrence.

One aspect which I would have hoped the member for Lawrence would have picked up would have been a criticism of the composition of the new megacity council and the fact that the borough of East York is unfairly represented in that. There is an opportunity to address that as we go through the committee hearings. It is an amendment that I will be putting forward and I hope that my colleague from Lawrence might see fit to throw his support, as well as his caucus support, behind that.

Mr Newman: I'm pleased to respond to the member for Lawrence and his comments today. I know he mentioned rushing through a bill. Bill 148 is the second stage of Bill 103. We said right from the start there would be a second bill to follow up Bill 103, so it's a surprise to no one. Maybe to the member for Lawrence it is, I don't know, but I think the rest of us knew there was a follow-up bill coming. In fact, I quote Minister Leach:

"This legislation is necessary from an administrative and technical point of view to ensure that the new city council has the authority to continue to carry out routine duties when the new city comes into effect on January 1, 1998."

As some members have said, it's a simple bill but it may have consequences beyond that. I believe it's just a technical bill that should be passed quickly so we can get on to other pieces of legislation that the people of Ontario want to have dealt with.

I wonder how the member could be against a bill that ensures that there's one public health board, that there's one library board, that there's one historical board, that there's one single parking authority within the new city of Toronto, and especially for employees and retirees of the existing municipalities, that their pensions and their benefits would be protected. I think that's something that all members of the Legislature would want to see happen. I know we want to see that happen and I would urge the member for Lawrence to do the same.

I think all the residents of the new city of Toronto have the right to know that on January 1, 1998, when the new city comes into effect, there is a smooth and orderly transition to this new city and there's not a disruption or interruption in services that they receive today.

Mr Cordiano: Let me just comment about what I've heard backbenchers of the government say: that they'll go along with whatever the minister is proposing any time because they're backbenchers of the government. They haven't stopped to question why this bill was necessary in the first place. The point I made earlier was that Bill 148 is in fact a necessity because of Bill 103 and because of the rush to download on to municipalities all of the additional services and burdens that they will now face.

Bill 148 is a technical bill, but it exists, it's made necessary, because of the megacity being imposed on the people of this great Metropolitan Toronto and as a result of the downloading that's going on. You're going to continue to have these services; of course we support that. But we don't support the way in which you brought in this legislation. We did not support this legislation. It's fundamentally wrong, it's fundamentally flawed. You're trying to fix it now.

We're saying to you, time and again you're doing this. You bring in pieces of legislation which you subsequently have to fix. That's what Bill 148 is all about. It's fixing Bill 103, the megacity legislation. Bill 148 is a necessity because of 103 having gone wrong. That's what people are telling you out there. The public is telling you, "Take the time to consider what we're saying, consult with us." And it doesn't mean just consulting over a two-week period of time. My God, the changes you're proposing are absolutely unprecedented. This is not something you can just sweep under the rug and hope it goes away. Many people will be affected by it.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak on Bill 148, but I would like to observe that I think the government has failed once again to keep quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

Mrs Boyd: I am happy to have an opportunity to speak on Bill 148 because it is part of a process that has been going on in this place and it is an extraordinarily important part of that process, both in terms of its implications and in terms of its substance.

The bill itself, of course, as the members of the government side have said, lays out a lot of the technicalities around the transfer of responsibilities from six municipalities to the larger municipality, which they have created and forced upon the people of Metropolitan Toronto.


I find it rather offensive, as a member in this place, that there are members on the government side who suggest there's nothing to talk about in this bill. I find it rather offensive that the member for Scarborough Centre, the member for Scarborough East, continually talk about the debate on this bill being held up in this House. This is part of the problem we have with democracy in this province.

The problem we have is that the government thinks what we do in this Legislature, thinks that our representation of the views of those who are opposed to what the government is doing, is not important, that what we need to do is rush towards this abyss that this government is rapidly approaching -- like lemmings, I might say -- and not bring to this place and to the public scrutiny the real concerns we have about what they are doing.

They would be happy if we talked about just the technicalities of this bill that we do approve of. Several of our members have expressed relief and pleasure around some of the transitional phases, particularly around the planning process and in some cases around the continuation of the bylaws and the resolutions, for example, of public health boards. We have been very clear that we are not totally opposed to the detail of this bill, as it exists.

This bill, first, did not need to happen if the government had not rushed so fast with its megacity bill that it didn't have all these pieces in place in the first place, and second, this government was so inattentive to the legislative process that it lost the ability to make regulations under the megacity bill because to save themselves from the embarrassment of the Cafon Court debacle they had to withdraw the whole section of the bill that talked about regulation-making powers. That's the reality.

This bill is a necessary follow-on from the chaos this government created with the megacity bill. Of course it's a necessary follow-on, but the reality is it must be seen within the context of the chaos this government is creating all over this province with all its municipalities. There are those who would say, "Why would the member for London or Cochrane or Nickel Belt be speaking about a bill that is a technical bill around the city of Metropolitan Toronto?

There's a very good reason. The citizens in my community know that what this government began with Bill 26, has continued with the megacity situation, has now put into place with Bill 152 with the download, and with this bill, Bill 148, could happen to any municipality, and indeed as Chatham-Kent will tell you, has happened to them.

Mr Gilchrist: Rave reviews.

Mrs Boyd: Not rave reviews. The parliamentary assistant says with rave reviews. He obviously doesn't read the press that I read from southwestern Ontario, and he clearly doesn't speak to the politicians in Chatham-Kent who are very concerned about the way this government has imposed, upon that community, a government they did not consent to.

This is the very basis of democracy, that there has to be consent of the governed. One of the problems we have with this whole megacity mess is that this government is imposing the city of Toronto through its act without the consent of the governed, and it is laying up for itself in the future a great deal of difficulty.

There are those all over the province who may from time to time have felt some of the resentment that is so patently expressed by so many of the Conservative members towards Metropolitan Toronto, towards the services Metropolitan Toronto has created and has been prepared to pay for through its tax base, and there are some of those people in my community. But while they might say they are resentful of the fact that the tax base in Metropolitan Toronto has allowed for the creation and the delivery of this level of service, they do not believe the level of service should be dropped, dropped because of the kind of dictatorial actions this government has taken, coupled with the download it is creating.

The people of Ontario are basically fair people, and while there is no doubt that people all over this province have looked with some envy at the services Metropolitan Toronto has created and the services the six constituent cities of Metropolitan Toronto have created, they look with the envy of wishing they could provide the same kind of services and knowing that they don't have the same kind of resources to do so. They don't believe the lowest common denominator ought to be the rule. Quite frankly, Bill 148 and the transition team that is in place, and is urging on Metropolitan Toronto a $450-million reduction in funding of services for the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto, is urging a dropping to the lowest common denominator.

It has always been the practice in Ontario, as services have gradually evolved, to try and bring communities that do not have as high a level of service up to the level of service that's offered in other places. This is the first government in history that has taken a position that it wants to drive down the level and the quality of services -- publicly funded, publicly delivered services. That is very clearly the objective of this bill and the transition team that has been put in place in Metropolitan Toronto.

The envy that's being expressed by the members of this government is not the healthy envy of those who want to emulate the services Metropolitan Toronto has created; it is an unhealthy envy of those who do not think the citizens deserve that quality or level of service. So in the guise of technicalities there are in fact nails in the coffin of the public services that have been created in this beautiful city.

It will go down in history as a very sad occasion that the actions of this government have inexorably driven down the kind of expectations people can have of the community in which they live, and that increasingly those services that are eroded by the actions of this government will be replaced only for those who can afford to replace them through fees for service. Mr Ford, the member for Etobicoke-Humber, nodded his head and confirmed that this is indeed the intention of the government.

The reality of the actions that are happening in this bill is that this bill lays out in very great detail the destruction of many of the things that have made Toronto great. All of us of course want to have an opportunity to speak to this bill and to expose the fact that this is only one piece in a very complex -- I was going to say "scheme."

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Go ahead.

Mrs Boyd: Do you think I should? All right -- scheme by this government to erode the best services that are available in the province so it will be easier to convince municipalities all over this province that, as the download happens, it's okay to withdraw services. That's what it's all about. As long as the example of the services offered by the city of Toronto or the city of North York are there as examples of best practices, best services, and actually delivered to people in the province of Ontario, others will seek equity with those services.


It was absolutely necessary for this government to destroy the municipalities in the city of Metropolitan Toronto if it was going to succeed in its download scheme, absolutely necessary, because they need the example of: "Well, Toronto was able to consolidate everything in this way. They were able to put on to the taxpayer a lot of the costs that used to be raised through taxes. They were able to get the community interests that have driven public policy in the various constituent parts of Metropolitan Toronto, they have been able to water those down and they have been able to drive the people of Metropolitan Toronto to the lowest common denominator."

That's the whole purpose of the exercise. It's a very serious problem for those not only who live in Metropolitan Toronto, and of course to an extent all of us have a stake in that because all of us work within the city of Metropolitan Toronto and all of us experience this city every day. We should be deeply concerned about the end effect. We should be deeply concerned about the fact that what has made us great, what attracted the police association, for example, to hold its convention for 15,000 people in Toronto in the upcoming years, is the fact that we have safe streets, we have clean streets, that we have a city that operates in a smooth way, that has a residential core, that isn't the kind of devastated shell that a city like Detroit is. Of course the admiration of the world has been expressed again and again about this being the best city in the world.

What is this government's objective? Obviously their objective is to say: "That's not a good thing. We have to find a way to make it worse, because unless we make it worse, we're not going to be able to drive down the standards and the kinds of communities that people legitimately expect in this province, by shifting the tax burden to such an extent that municipalities are forced to withdraw from areas of service and to water down the kinds of services that we have come to expect."

There are, as we have said, many reasons why the individual sections of this bill are necessary to ensure a transition for this change, no question about that, but if you fundamentally disagree with the change, if you fundamentally believe that it is not appropriate for a government to impose a whole form of government on a population that clearly has in the large majority rejected that, then that is a really serious problem.

There are things that could have been included in Bill 148 that would have resolved some of the very worst problems with the megacity. The most obvious one is the one that my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine brings up again and again, and that is the inequitable representation for the people of East York. I grew up part of my life in Leaside, which is now part of East York, and I believe very strongly that the people of East York deserve the same kind of representation under this megacity, at least the same representation, as the other people in this great city, and yet they don't have that under the original legislation.

The government had an opportunity to change that. The government was aware of this, the representations were made. The government could have changed that very serious error in this bill, but they chose not to. It is really important as we debate this bill to realize that this was an opportunity to make a substantive change that would have given some kind of credibility, not much but some, to the claims that the government tries to make about simply trying to make things better.

There is no citizen in this democratic province who truly believes that a lack of representation, a reduction of representation to the extent that has happened in the megacity, could ever be a good thing. But there is certainly not one citizen in East York who believes that they should have been particularly disadvantaged in the area of representation.

I sincerely hope that the government members are prepared to accept the amendments that will be put forward by the member for Beaches-Woodbine to ensure that the citizens of East York are not even further disadvantaged than all the rest of the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto as a result of the actions of this government. At the very least, if this government has any care about the principles of democracy, we should see that happen.

Speaker after speaker will, I'm sure, be talking about the fact that this bill is not here in isolation and that the reason it needs discussion is that it needs to be put into the context of the ongoing actions of the government. Had the government allowed a referendum and had that referendum indicated that they were going in the right direction with their ideas around Metropolitan Toronto, a bill that put into effect those recommendations of the population of Metropolitan Toronto would not have been contentious. That's quite true. But for members of the government to try to suggest that an implementation bill is merely a housekeeping bill when it actually carries out the implementation of a policy, of a piece of legislation that is opposed so dramatically by people in this area, they're simply dreaming in Technicolor.

It is not appropriate and we would not be doing our job as representatives of the opposition if we did not point out that the biggest flaw in Bill 148 is the way it fits into this mosaic that the government is creating, this mosaic of a driving down of services, of demeaning the whole idea that we group together as communities, we pool the resources we have to ensure that all the citizens of our community enjoy services, not just the citizens who can afford to pay out the dollar for each bag of garbage, not just the citizens who can afford to have private policing in gated communities, but all the citizens.

That's the whole principle behind taxes. When I hear this government talk about how taxes are evil and they are the white knights because they're destroying taxes and they're lowering taxes, we have to remember that we as a community decided that the way to provide services equitably was to pool our resources through a scheme of taxation, not to require that those with few resources be able to purchase their services on the same basis as those with many.

You will hear us again and again on Bill 148 talking about it as a consequence of the overall ideology of this government, with which we do not agree and which we will continue to oppose.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions and comments?

Mr Gilchrist: If I may respond to the points put forward by the member for London Centre, I appreciate her comments and I would not want them to go unchallenged. Her comments, particularly the early part of her address, suggested again the common litany that comes from the other side that our government is not consulting, that we're not listening. Then later in her own presentation she commented about the fact that certain issues had changed. Clearly, the recognition of the number of councillors, the ability to respect the existing city boundaries for the community councils -- any number of changes were made as a result of the 300 hours of public hearings. I would contrast that to the zero hours of public hearings that were given to the social contract.


The bottom line, just to remind people who may not have caught these numbers yesterday, is that last year our government held a total of 720 hours of public hearings. The record year for the NDP was 1994, when they held 689 hours of public hearings. The most the Liberals did was 1989, when they held only 529 hours of hearings. In other words, our government gave 200 hours more.

Ms Lankin: On how many bills?

Mr Gilchrist: The member opposite asked about the number of bills. That's very interesting. In 1996, the PCs passed only 10 bills.

Ms Lankin: No. The years you just cited.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Mr Gilchrist: In 1994 -- you're right, you need the second bit of information -- 689 hours and you passed 31 bills. That's only 20 hours each. But the Liberals hold the record: 529 hours of hearings, and you know what? If you want to talk about ramming things through, if you want to talk about being dictatorial, if you want to talk about lack of accountability, they rammed through 93 bills in 1989 -- nine times more than we did -- at an average of five hours per bill. We averaged over 70 hours. That's accountability, that's consulting. You can spin the tale, but the facts speak otherwise.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'd also like to compliment the member for London Centre for her well-expressed presentation of the contents of both Bill 103 and Bill 148. Even though she's not a member from the Metro area, she has demonstrated to the House that she is well familiar with not only the contents of both bills but how they affect the people of Metropolitan Toronto. I think she has above all exposed the flaws in Bill 148 as it applies to the context of the downloading on the local municipalities.

What she has been saying is that the contents of the bills, which have various public hearings and are then brought back into the house -- while the government members on the committee listened to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, in the end the bill comes out exactly as originally introduced. Worst of all, what the government has failed to recognize during that particular process is that whatever amendments or different bills they brought in did not make any improvements on the bill whatsoever.

The member needs to be congratulated for exposing those aspects of the bill that do not reflect the will of the people at public hearing after public hearing. They said: "We want to have input. This is our city, this is our neighbourhood. We want to have a say. Please listen to us." I have to say, regrettably, it shows the government has shown contempt for democracy in not listening to the people.

Mr Laughren: I want to respond briefly to the comments made by the member for London Centre. I think she made some central points. I know that in her remarks she didn't identify the members particularly, but when members of the government express amazement that the opposition would be objecting to a government bill, it always seems strange to me that they don't seem to understand what the role of the opposition is, perhaps because they have never been in opposition. It's not their fault, but it's a fact of life.

When the member for London Centre talks about this bill flowing from Bill 103, the megacity bill, you can hardly expect us to stand in our place and applaud you for bringing in this bill which flows from the megacity bill.

As well, I very much appreciated the comments of the member for London Centre on the whole issue of East York. A place like East York can get lost in a debate such as this because of its relatively small size compared to other municipalities.

I haven't talked to government members about the amendments that are going to be proposed by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, but I suspect they would say, "If you change the representation to be more in keeping with what East York or the member for Beaches-Woodbine want, then East York will be over-represented." That would be the argument I suspect they would come back with. I would say to them, think about it for a moment. This is an existing entity now, and they will feel that what's happening to them is also happening to the other municipalities, but it's happening in spades to that little municipality of East York. I think the government should be listening to the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Mr Newman: I'm pleased to rise and respond to the member for London Centre's speech today on Bill 148. I think she spoke about the process of Bill 103 and Bill 148 and spoke about the government's ideology. I thought she might have talked more about the bill in particular and how it would allow the Toronto Transit Commission, the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo, which is located within the city of Scarborough, the Hummingbird Centre and Exhibition Place, among other things, to continue, and that we might have one single public board of health and one single library board within the new city of Toronto, one historical board and only one parking authority for this new city.

But Bill 148, or an overwhelming majority of it, deals with moving the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, the City of Scarborough Act, the Borough of East York Act, the City of Etobicoke Act, the City of Toronto Act, the City of York Act, the City of North York Act into this new Bill 148, the City of Toronto Act (No. 2). I know many members have said it's a housekeeping bill, a technical bill, and it is. Speaker, you might be interested to hear that the member for Riverdale said it was a simple bill but it could have some consequences. I just wanted everyone to know that's what she said. I might have said something a little different to that.

I really believe that what this bill does is ensure that the workers of the municipalities, the retirees who have earned their pensions, who have paid into their pensions over the number of years they have contributed to make our city a great place, will continue to receive those pension benefits. I think that's very important. To vote against this bill would be to vote against the workers, their pensions, the retirees and all the work they have put in to making our city a great place.

The Acting Speaker: Response, the member for London Centre.

Mrs Boyd: I'd like to thank the members for Scarborough East, Yorkview, Nickel Belt and Scarborough Centre for their comments. The reality is that in our debate we obviously see things quite differently, and that's the purpose of this debate. The purpose of debate is to try and expose within pieces of legislation their impact, their consequences. Obviously, given the differences between the government's and our position on the issue of the megacity, it is not surprising that we interpret things in different ways. That's what debate is all about.

It's important to debate that, because what happens as we debate on an issue of such controversy is that those in the communities affected get an opportunity to understand what the issues are, whether they be the explicit issues that the member for Scarborough Centre would like to concentrate on solely or whether it's the whole implication of how a bill fits into a government agenda. Our job as opposition is to do both those things.

I would point out to the member for Scarborough Centre that the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the member for Dovercourt have done a great deal of discussion about the very details of the bill he is so concerned about. I can understand why he is exercised that others also want to look at the very real way in which the implications and consequences of this bill affect not only the people of Metropolitan Toronto but the rest of the province. However, as the representative for London Centre, that's part of my obligation to my constituents and part of my obligation to constituents in ridings which surround me who do not have a voice because all of the government members simply say "Yes, yes, yes," to Mike Harris.

Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I'm not sure there's a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, could you check if there is a quorum.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is present, Speaker.

Mrs Boyd: Steve just walked through the door.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Further debate.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It's interesting, the previous Minister of Finance was having a little trouble adding up to 20.

I was just listening to the previous two members, the member for Lawrence and the member for London Centre, making a lot of reference to Bill 103 rather than to Bill 148 and maybe just in my opening I could make some reference similarly to 103.

For me, living outside of Toronto, Toronto was always basically the same size as what Metro Toronto is. I didn't think in terms of six cities encompassed in there. We could go through the various names, Etobicoke and the various Yorks and Scarborough etc, but to me that was always Toronto.

That's what the sign says just outside of Cobourg. It says Toronto so many kilometres to the west. As I travel west and go across the Rouge, I'm now in Toronto, and if I keep going west and sort of go by the airport, I'm out of Toronto. I think that's the way most people in Ontario really think of Toronto and that's really what Bill 103 is all about, making that one city.

I had the good fortune to live in Indonesia for a year and they really know Toronto far better than they know Ontario or maybe, for that matter, Canada. Toronto is well known and they certainly don't think of it in terms of six cities or some small section in the middle of Metropolitan Toronto. They think of it as one city in total.

It was interesting that the member for Lawrence made reference to Toronto being such a great city. His riding being totally in North York, it was almost a slight for him to be saying it that way, when in fact he wasn't talking about his own constituents, he was talking about others.

The member for London Centre was saying we're not consulting, not responding. I think it's interesting how many amendments we did bring in on Bill 103. We responded to the concerns about the old city boundaries and that was part of what was brought in as a response to the politicians, as a response to the public. We responded to the concerns of 44 representatives from the new Toronto area. Again, it was in response to consultations and the many, many hours of hearings that the member for Scarborough East made reference to. I thought originally it was quite an ideal situation whereby there would be two municipal politicians representing each federal-provincial riding in the Toronto area, but obviously that good idea was not thought to be so great. Something else was suggested and we responded to that, and now there's concern over it.

It's also interesting to note that a previous leader of the Liberal Party some 35 years ago -- I'd just like to make some comments here about the quote from John Wintermeyer, who was the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party back in 1962. Of course, 1962 was a great year. That happened to be the year that I graduated as a veterinarian and started to practise. I have many fond memories of that year.

Wintermeyer said: "There's no logical solution for Metropolitan Toronto other than total amalgamation. The metropolitan system of government is not the final solution. It is the step in between." That was in the Toronto Telegram, August 4, 1962. It appears that the Liberal Party of Ontario was more insightful 35 years ago than it is right now.

This bill, Bill 148, is really about putting the technical details in place. The previous government talked a lot about disentanglement. We're talking about Who Does What and it's really working on some of the same kinds of problems: duplication, overlap, municipalities having certain roles and the provincial government having certain roles. I'm not too sure what put them off the trail or why they gave up or why they quit, whether it was the social contract that bothered them. They had overspent and then they ran into trouble and had to do something. They introduced the social contract and disentanglement got off the rails. I give them full marks for addressing disentanglement, but they didn't carry it through. They seemed to get hung up, possibly mired in the details and weren't able to make it fly or were uncomfortable with trying to make it fly.

I like to think of the quote from Friedrich Engels. He said that one ounce of action is worth a pound of theory. What is going on is the present government is doing lots of action. We'll certainly never be criticized for inaction. We're doing our thing. However, the previous government may have got hung up on theory and never did quite get around to putting things in place. That was most unfortunate.

What we need is a goal, to get a goal established that will work out how we're going to do things and eliminate that kind of duplication and overlap. This is just one of those bills that is helping. There are many other bills that are part and parcel of doing this particular thing. Bill 148 is all about good management and a smooth transition as we move from the six cities to having one city collectively under one political roof, so to speak.

Yes, this is preparation for major change, and indeed it is major change. When you have major change like that, it's a bit disrupting to people. When that is occurring, you need to have a plan in place. This is a strategic plan to make this good transition happen in a very orderly fashion. You might refer to this as something like a roadmap that's going to guide and direct and get us through some of these troubled times as we move into this change and getting the new city going the way it should.

I'd like to point out that this bill is going to address some of the inequities that are presently in this great city, Toronto the Good. The member for Riverdale very kindly pointed that out last night. She was talking about poor kids and having to pay for swimming and going to pools. I can tell you that in Scarborough they do have to pay to go swimming in the pools. We move over to, say, areas like Beaches-Woodbine or Toronto and the swimming happens to be free. That's hardly a consistent thing across the city. You can use all kinds of examples.

This just happens to be one where the rich and disadvantaged -- there is a difference in some places. There isn't equality. With one municipal government, it can be looked at in a uniform system, in a uniform way and addressed. Granted they can have differentials in different parts of the city, but that will be up to a common government. They may want to look at a voucher system or whatever.

Right now in the present city of Toronto there are very generous social programs that it's my understanding have not been available in some of the other cities that are around Toronto. This has created a bit of a magnetic effect, I understand; again, more inequality. With a joint city that stretches all across the present Metropolitan area some of these inequalities can be addressed, can be recognized and maybe we'll have far less, and that should be what the third party is always talking about. They should be very supportive and quite enthused.

On some of the things that are going to be carried out with this new city, there are some concerns. Really this is technical, making sure that everything happens afterwards. The Toronto Transit Commission will operate. Exhibition Place, Metro zoo, Hummingbird Centre, the Guild Inn, ambulance service and so forth will all be covered once we pass January 1, 1998. My friend a few minutes ago mentioned the interest the third party must have in connection with the pensions and benefits of some 57,000 employees in the Metro Toronto area. Because of this bill, those kinds of things will be consistently carried out.

Some see things and say, "Why?" Winners dream things that never were and say, "Why not?" The negativity of the opposition party and the third party is really starting to wear pretty thin. The people of Ontario are looking for a government that will give them confidence, looking for a government with a vision and looking for a government that will produce change that will be better.

We are offering that kind of vision. We're offering change for the better and we're offering that this will be a better city in the future, that it will be a great province, it'll be one of the best nations in the world. We'll live up to the United Nations' evaluation that we have had in the last few years and we'll guarantee to continue with it.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Mr Sergio: I've enjoyed very much indeed the presentation by the member for Northumberland. I think he sounded very positive. I have to say that it's not that he didn't express some of the feelings as we see it as members from Metro or as the people from Metro expressed it during the public hearings, but as a member out of Metro, I think he has done very well and he has a good handle on some of the issues that affect the people of Metropolitan Toronto. When the member talks about making a better province or a better city, I think the people want exactly that.

Unfortunately, what is happening is the way we see it in Metropolitan Toronto, and this comes not only from the opposition, not from some individual or individual groups, not from members related to a labour group; it comes from strong members of the Conservative Party. They are saying: "This is not going to work. We want to have a say. We want to make sure that the process involves us, that we are going to be affected. We want to have our voices heard. We want to make sure taxes will not skyrocket, as everybody has been saying. We want to make sure the services we enjoy now will not disappear."

They have been saying that the representation we now enjoy will not be further away from the local communities. This is what is missing in the bill. I can appreciate the member saying, "We want to make this work and work for the better and for this to be the biggest city, the best province, and maintain the quality of life we now have." The problem is, while I concur with the member, the expectations of the people do not share those feelings, because of two things: When you cut the funds, you've got to either raise taxes or lower the services.

Ms Lankin: I'm pleased to be able to respond to the member for Northumberland. Unlike the member for Yorkview, I actually don't agree that the member for Northumberland displays an intimate knowledge of the metropolitan area of Toronto. In fact, I think he admitted it right up front when he said, "I'm someone from outside of Toronto and when I come here it's sort of like" -- you know, it's all Toronto and the various Yorks. Let me tell you, the folks from East York, the folks from the cities of York and North York will not appreciate hearing a Conservative member refer to them as "the various Yorks."

But I think it's because you don't live in Toronto and haven't experienced the life of Metropolitan Toronto and the constituent communities that you would say something like that. In fact those communities, those cities, have a life and a vitality and a culture unto themselves that has been very important to those communities and remains important. But that is the debate, as you pointed out, under the megacity bill and you have passed that and you have moved on.

The question is now, is there a way in which some of the problems that have been created can be addressed? I will come back to the point with respect to the borough of East York, a community that had its own culture, that had its own local governance, that seeks to ensure that the community council that you put in place with respect to Bill 103 will be a meaningful and effective vehicle for them to maintain some sense of local governance. In that respect, I'm hopeful that the member for Northumberland and his colleagues will give every consideration to the possibility of supporting the amendments I bring forward under this bill.

The one other point that I wanted to raise -- I understand when the member says he would like to see some equity in terms of accessibility to parks and recreation, for example, and some equity across the various municipalities. But one of the things you fail to recognize is that in the city of Toronto, for example, the inner city core, the poverty that's there, those policies are different than Scarborough and it's those differences that must be recognized.

Mr Gilchrist: I appreciate the opportunity to respond to my colleague from Northumberland. Unlike the previous speaker, I'm not going to make condescending comments about the fact that he doesn't happen to live in Toronto. The fact of the matter is that no such reference was made after the member for London Centre made her comments. It is totally inappropriate to suggest that just because we all don't live in 130 different ridings we can't pass judgement on those things. In fact, the members opposite vilify us often for having no members in the north, and now they suggest that you actually have to live somewhere in Toronto to be able to deal with that. By that criteria, we could only deal, each of us, with our own local municipalities.

She then goes on to quite condescendingly suggest -- and my colleague here said just the opposite -- that the new municipal councillors in this bill will be entrusted with a seamless transition of the pensions, of the assets and the liabilities and, yes, the challenge of taking a very different vision of social issues that have been adopted by the city of Toronto and the city of Scarborough and other parts of the current Metropolitan Toronto and melding that over the long term into a consistent, cohesive attempt to address social problems.

To suggest that the city of Scarborough has no poverty, to suggest that the people in Scarborough somehow are deserving of different treatment and that's why pools are free in Toronto and not in Scarborough, I think demonstrates the true lack of awareness of what's going on in the city of Toronto. Far too often it has been parochialism, it has been insular thinking, it has been vote buying, it has been pandering to the electorate that has generated the sort of decisions that have created these differences in municipal service delivery today.

The bottom line is the city now will have the opportunity to put together a common vision of how to best deal with all the services. This bill is purely technical. This bill addresses the potential of this great city and allows us to ensure the greatest city in the world becomes greater yet.

Mrs Boyd: I want to thank my Liberal colleagues for allowing me to give a comment in response to the diatribe I've just listened to by the member for Scarborough East, who of course was addressing issues in the comments to the speaker's comments rather than the speaker's comments themselves.

I would like to say, as a member who represents people who do not live in Toronto, that my constituents understand there are constituent parts to Toronto. My city went through a painful annexation and knows what it is like to lose their identity, not once, but over a period of time in an evolutionary way. My constituents understand the very strong feeling that is happening among citizens in Toronto because their identity is being stripped away by a government against their will with very little discussion.

My constituents know that because the last annexation that happened in London happened over a period of 11 years -- 11 years of various consultation, 11 years of efforts to try and come to a consensus, 11 years of trying to work through the details that would try to maintain some of the identities and try and live with some of the consequences.

It is true that our government, after 11 years, did put a fact-finder in, did have a recommendation and did pass a bill. But we took it out to hearings, we tried to listen to what was going on and most of all, we understood the pain and the difficulty of people in places like Lambeth, that they were losing what they called their identity.

Quite frankly, the member for Northumberland, in his comments this afternoon, will have enraged thousands of people in the city of Toronto by his lack of understanding.

Mr Galt: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the chance to have a couple of minutes' response to the various comments that have been made. Thank you to the members for Yorkview, Beaches-Woodbine and London Centre for their comments, and particularly to my fellow member from Scarborough East for his very kind comments and response.

Interjection: As always.

Mr Galt: As always.

The member for Yorkview made reference to taxes and concerns about taxes going up afterwards. I am surprised that a Liberal would express a concern over tax increases. I thought they stood for tax increases. I can tell you, with all things being equal, it will be revenue-neutral, but we can't control who is going to get elected. If municipally you elect a lot of people who like to spend money, like those in the Liberal ranks, then of course the taxes will go up. If they like to spend, of course their taxes will go up.


We see the Liberal philosophy here day in and day out, whether it's provincial or federal. They're opposed to tax cuts, they're opposed to a balanced budget and they support spending. Every time they stand up they want us to spend more and more on this, that and the other thing. I don't follow it at all.

The member for Beaches-Woodbine made reference to the fact that I don't live in Toronto. I'm neither proud of that nor do I find it upsetting or a shame. I think Toronto is a great city, and where Toronto goes, Ontario goes. It's very important to people in rural Ontario to support and ensure that Toronto is a strong, vibrant city. That's why I'm concerned and the member for London Centre who lives outside of Toronto is concerned as well. But we also recognize that if Toronto is doing well, Ontario is doing well, and if Ontario, by the way, is doing well, Canada is doing well. We've often talked about Ontario being the engine that drives Canada.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sergio: I am pleased to delve into the debate on Bill 148, but before I go into the business of discussing Bill 148, I would like to say one particular thing. Late last night, just before we were about to adjourn, due to the effects of a long day, I called for a quorum just prior to 9:30. That was done very voluntarily, because it's not my norm usually to do that. I thought it was 8:30. If we're going to do business in the House, let's do it the proper way. But since it was close to adjournment time, just a couple of minutes, I shouldn't have. I recognize that and I want to apologize to the member for Scarborough Centre.

Going back to Bill 148, since my time from yesterday to today has been cut by 10 minutes, I'll try to squash in as much as I can for the benefit of the House and the audience who normally watches the workings of the House.

We are dealing with another part of Bill 103. Bill 103 does exactly what the people didn't want and still don't want, and Bill 148 tries to apply the contents of Bill 103 in a way that the people still don't want. If we have heard one united chorus throughout the province as well -- it's not only Metropolitan Toronto, I think it's throughout the province -- they have said, "What you are doing and how you are doing it is not what we want and you should not proceed in this particular way."

But being what it is, the government did bring in Bill 103, and now we are dealing with the imposition of its contents and its imposition on the people of Ontario and Metropolitan Toronto. So we are dealing now with the administrative aspects of that particular bill. We are dealing with the administrative aspects with respect to social services, the delivery of all kinds of services. We will have to absorb the total housing component, some 80,000 to 84,000 units -- we have to deal with that as local municipalities -- and highways, byways and a number of other issues. What it says is that all of this is not the view of the people of Ontario, of Metropolitan Toronto, it is not the view of the opposition; it is the view of the government, and their view is being imposed against our will, unfortunately.

We all recall too well when the debate was raging on and we said, "You've got to make some changes because this is not going to work." We heard from over 1,000 deputants over the course of the hearings and all of them said that the way you are proposing it, the way you are going about it, we are going to see an increase in taxes. We have heard the same views from the AMO conference that was in Toronto these past few days. They said that the level of services as we know now it is going to disappear. Of course, I heard the member for Scarborough Centre, I believe, last night when he said that people are entitled to continue to receive the services they are getting are now, that they are accustomed to receiving now, and I agree. I think they should. The problem is that the way we are going about it, they will not be receiving the same services.

Why were they so concerned? Create one big local level of government, if you call it a city or megacity or whatever, and this will be true: The local politicians will be far more remote from the local people, the local communities.

I don't have to tell you. It doesn't take a big brain to say that the people from the northwest corner of the city of North York, which is Steeles and Islginton Avenue, just a stone's throw from the Humber River, they only have to drive 10 minutes to be in the city of North York, where they would receive all the services they are accustomed to and they are paying taxes for. Can you expect the same people to drive downtown to city hall? I don't think so. That is just one small aspect.

When we are dealing with the views and the implementation of those bills, the content is something else. This is part of the problem with the way we run people's business, our citizens' business here. When Bill 103 was introduced, we had public hearings on that particular bill, on that particular content. In Bill 148 there are a lot of changes. Once we approved, once the public hearings were over and the people made submissions on the contents of Bill 103, they did not have a chance to comment on the amendments brought by the government itself. They didn't have a chance. Why? Because they didn't want to. Why? Because they had their own agenda. Why? Because they didn't listen to the people.

If they would have listened to the people -- as the member for Scarborough East said, "We gave you 723 hours of hearings." Wonderful. If the government has given the people of Ontario and Metropolitan Toronto 723 hours of hearings, then what did they learn? What did they hear? What are they giving to the people of Ontario and Metropolitan Toronto? Nothing of what the people of Metropolitan Toronto said. This is unfortunate. It is seriously unfortunate, because it shows the arrogance of a government saying to the people of Ontario: "It doesn't matter if you are going to march downtown, down Yonge Street, down to Queen's Park, if you have a meeting of 15,000 people. We're not going to listen to you."

We had a referendum and the Premier says, "We aren't going to listen to it." But, darn it, they spent over $1 million of taxpayers' money to try and derail that particular referendum. What did they say? Some 78% said, "No, we don't want it." But they also recognized that we need some changes and they only wanted an opportunity to participate in the process, to have input. They said: "This is our life, these are our communities. That's where we live. That's where we raise our kids, so we want to have a say." Now that's gone and we are dealing with the aftermath of Bill 103 and the implementations of the downloading.

We have heard, for example, in the last two or three days, even AMO throughout Ontario, the local politicians. I appreciate the member for Northumberland when he says, "If taxes will go up, it depends what kind of people you are going to elect at the municipal level." I'll tell you, if I were a municipal politician presently or someone who is thinking of running in November, I would take some exception to that. Are you saying to me, local politician, that if we don't do our job in any particular way it's our problem if we have to raise taxes, or if now instead of garbage pickup twice a week, we have to go to once a week? Like Mr Leach said yesterday: "Don't blame us, municipal politicians. You're going to have an opportunity to go at us now and you're doing a good job criticizing what we are doing." My goodness, isn't that nice, that we are passing the buck. Not only the buck, but also we want to impose our views on the local politicians throughout Ontario. God forbid now.


The minister is taking this "holier than thou" attitude, that they don't want to hear the people of Ontario, that they don't want to change an iota to accommodate the people of Ontario and Metropolitan Toronto. Now they are saying: "If you're going to cut services, it's your fault. If you're going to raise taxes, it's your fault." But look at what we have given them. We have given them no tools to operate with. The only thing they know is they cut about $1 billion.

The Premier said yesterday: "Do you know what? We are very slow coming up with figures ourselves." Well, my God, Mr Premier, if you're so slow coming up with the figures, it means you don't have the right figures and you don't want to provide the people of Ontario with the right figures. If that's so, then I think you should take a second look at this legislation. Take your time and do it right.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Len Wood: I want to comment briefly on the position the member for Yorkview is taking that services are going to be cut or taxes are going to go up. You can't have both. We know that the hand-picked transition team that is going around Toronto is trying to force $450 million in cuts, layoffs and retirements out of the employees who work for the new megacity. There is also a concern that the megacity -- and this Bill 148 is an addition to the megacity bill -- is going to cost an additional $200 million.

What the people are concerned with is it looks like they're not going to have any public hearings on this. I know there are a lot of people out there in the new megacity of Toronto who would like to have public hearings so they could have a say on what they see happening. This is an example of how you have the bully tactics of the Conservative government. They ram things through even though 76.3% of the population voted against the megacity. We have Bill 148. They call it technical amendments that have to be brought in before they can go ahead with the elections that are going to be held this fall. All it is is a matter of reducing the services people have right now and at the same time raising taxes.

If this is an example of what they're doing to the city of Toronto, and that's going to happen throughout all of Ontario and throughout northern Ontario, we're going to have communities that are going to be bankrupt as a result of the property tax increases that are going to be forced on to the people in this province from Mike Harris and his Conservative government.

I had a letter from a person in Hamilton saying the whole Tory cabinet should resign and they should be prosecuted in court for what they're doing to this province. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's in a letter here that this is a feeling people are having throughout all of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired.

Mr Newman: I'm pleased to rise and respond to the member for Yorkview's presentation today. I accept his apology for last night and I know he of course meant no harm by that, and I just want to say to him, thank you for being honourable and making that comment today.

In his presentation today, the member for Yorkview spoke about the bill and I say, if you agree with the bill, then let's pass it. Let's get on. Let's get through this bill.

He also made reference to the fact of having to drive to downtown Toronto for the people of North York, or in my case the people of Scarborough. But I've suggested, and perhaps he hasn't heard my suggestion, that the former city halls be used as a one-stop shopping centre, in other words, for municipal services, so that the people of Scarborough or the people, in his case, of North York could go to their former municipal buildings and have one level of municipal government services provided in those spots.

Currently, the people in his area who want to see their Metro councillor have to go downtown to John Street in Toronto to meet their Metro councillor, as do the people in Scarborough.

To see their own city councillor, whether it be in North York or Scarborough, they would go to their existing city hall. What I'm saying is that, yes, the councillors should have a spot downtown, but they really ought to have office space provided for them in their existing city halls as we have constituency offices in our own constituencies so that the people from the existing areas can go to that one-stop shopping centre for municipal services.

The member for Cochrane North spoke about people being prosecuted. If anyone should be prosecuted, it's the former NDP government for increasing the debt of this province by $50 billion to over $100 billion.

Mr Miclash: It gives me great pleasure to rise and comment on the comments made by the member for Yorkview, who has been in this area for some 39 years. I'm sure we can all agree he knows of what he speaks when he gets up and talks about what this government is doing in terms of his city, in terms of his portion of the city which he represents. I think he put his argument quite well.

He mentioned AMO being in the city of Toronto this week and the Minister of Municipal Affairs going to listen to representatives from the other parts of the province, and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and the Premier himself going to find out that the municipal leaders up there are quite worried. They don't see what we talked about here in the House today as happening only as a Toronto thing. They're concerned about how this is going to affect their communities, their municipalities, as well.

The member for Yorkview talked about dumping and the downloading of services. Every municipal leader, every person who is even thinking about running for municipal office, as the member has indicated, is concerned about what this is going to translate to in terms of the cost to their local taxpayer. It's not going to be Mike Harris or Chris Hodgson or Al Leach who are going to be responsible at that time. It's going to be the local politician representing the municipality who is going to have to face the electorate when they give out that next tax bill. They have expressed this concern in a good number of ways. It's not just the Toronto area that concerns the people of the province; it's a concern to all our citizens, whether it be Toronto or small-town northwestern Ontario.

Mrs Boyd: I'd like to congratulate the member for Yorkview on his discussion of the way in which people perceive what is happening in terms of Bill 148. It is important for us to recognize that when members like the member for Yorkview talk about their constituents, they're talking about constituents who do not see themselves as Torontonians; they see themselves very much as citizens of a municipality that is quite different in nature, that has made different choices, made different decisions about how services are going to be offered.

When the member for Scarborough East talks about services being offered uniformally across the board and that necessarily being a good thing, the citizens who have voted for governments in the constituent municipalities that have made different decisions have to scratch their heads, because they know those local politicians, those people who live in their area and represent them on a very local basis, have made those decisions because of what is best for them as citizens of areas like Yorkview.

It is always puzzling for those who live in the six constituent municipalities that the assumption of sameness, particularly when that sameness may be at a lower level of service than they have enjoyed in the decisions made by their elected officials over many years -- it's not necessarily a positive thing. It is an effort of this government to try and sell this bill that encourages them to use trigger words like equity of services. Equity doesn't wash when it is a lower level of service.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Yorkview, you have two minutes.

Mr Sergio: I wish to thank the members who have responded to my presentation: the members for Scarborough Centre, Kenora, I believe, Cochrane North and London Centre as well.

If I may add one particular thing, it is that especially in government actions, every time there is a change, people tend to respond, either positively or negatively. I guess the government proceeds according to the way they see it or according to whatever their agenda is. The opposition responds according to the way they see it on behalf of the people they represent.

Let me say this: This has been one of those issues where the opposition have been sharing the same views with taxpayers throughout Ontario, throughout Metro here, without any difference exchange whatsoever.

Indeed, yes, when there is a change, there is a certain amount of apprehension, but when you have a government that on a continuous basis since they won, since they have taken power, has started to pound on the people who elected them, then they have reason to worry; then they have reason to be apprehensive about it. When you have a government that does not listen to the people, when you have a government that day in and day out keeps on making cuts affecting the general welfare of the residents of Ontario, when you have a government that on a continuous basis says, "We are doing what we have been told," we can't just sit idle and let the government run away. Cuts to health care, education, imposing user fees on seniors, those are the concerns that the government should be taking care --

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Laughren: I am pleased to rise in my place and take part in this debate, which basically deals with the new megacity and is an offspring of the previous megacity bill. It takes something --

Mr Gilchrist: Time on the clock.

Mr Laughren: Don't worry about the clock. You're such clock-watchers over there. Don't you believe in the work ethic? What's the matter with you?

I never thought I'd see the day when any government could bring me to a position of feeling sorry for Toronto. Very often I've felt resentment, regardless of which government was in office, about the imposition of what I would call Toronto values on the rest of the province. I've felt that and my constituents have felt that. Many people --

Mr Gilchrist: I notice all your Toronto members left.

Mr Laughren: They know my views on this. But in that regard, today I come here to praise Toronto, not to bury her. I want to speak in support of those people who feel that what's being done to the city of Toronto is most inappropriate.

I'd like to go back to first principles as to why we are faced with this. Megacity was not in the Common Sense Revolution. There was nothing prior to the last election that I know of that said there was going to be one Toronto and all of the six municipalities would become one. I don't remember that in the Common Sense Revolution, which the Tories like to refer to ad nauseam. But it wasn't there.

What is driving this need to amalgamate in the Metropolitan Toronto area? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the pointy heads in the Ministry of Finance, and I know some of them, sat down and they said, "Look, folks, if you intend to deliver the 30% tax cut and you want to get the deficit down and you don't want to raise taxes, then something's got to give." Guess what's going to give? The municipal taxpayers are going to give and give and give. That's what it's come to. That's what's behind it. Let's not pretend that anything else is driving this agenda.

In that regard, I'm indebted to my colleague from Sault Ste Marie for giving me an article that I think I'd like to share with the members opposite. Those of you who are considered neo-cons, the new Conservatives who are basically closet Reformers, would know New Jersey governor, Christine Todd Whitman, who is of course the governor of New Jersey and the source of all the intellectual fodder that sustains the Tory party in this province. This is what the headline says: "Whitman Makes Election Year Promise to Curb Rise in Property Taxes Caused by Her Own Fiscal Irresponsibility." The article goes on as follows:

"New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman has made another election year promise to reduce property taxes in New Jersey, which have soared over the past three years due to Whitman's own irresponsible fiscal policies. Whitman said yesterday that she wants to create a program to ease the property tax burden, but failed to offer specific details of her proposal. Whitman has been widely criticized for the rise in the state's property taxes, caused by her 30% income tax cut" -- sound familiar, folks? -- "which cost the state $4 billion in revenue" -- in Ontario it will be around $5 billion a year -- " and forced Whitman to cut state aid to municipalities and school districts to cover the loss. During Whitman's time as governor, the typical residential property tax bill in New Jersey increased about 12%, outpacing the 9% national rate of growth. The state's per capita property tax burden was $3,562 in 1995, the highest in the nation." That's from Associated Press.

It's pretty obvious what is happening here. They're not creating big government in Toronto because Tories instinctively like big government. Tories instinctively like small government, at least that's what they tell us, that they believe in small government. So here they go: They create a mega-government in Metropolitan Toronto. Is that the traditional Tory approach, to create big governments? There were warning signs on the horizon years ago when regional governments were created, very often over the express wishes of the local municipalities.

The Tories really are caught in a bind here. They have to do something to download on to the next level of government, and I found it passing strange, I think it was the member for Scarborough East standing up and whining -- to use the Premier's word -- about downloading from Ottawa. When we were in government and we were trying to straighten out the feds and give them a message that what they were doing was unfair to Ontario, Premier Harris stood in his place and said: "Stop your whining. You don't have a revenue problem; you have an expenditure problem." That's what he told us over and over again. So why is the neo-con Mr Gilchrist whining about cuts from Ottawa transfers to Ontario? That's what he was doing earlier this afternoon.


Mr Laughren: Maybe it was the member for Scarborough Centre, but neo-cons all look alike. Certainly one of you was whining this afternoon about the cuts in transfer payments from Ottawa, and all I'm doing is reminding you that your own Premier said you shouldn't do that, that we in Ontario shouldn't do that. "Deal with your own problem," he kept saying.

I would say to members opposite that they're going to have an interesting couple of years left in this term, and it's going to be truly fascinating to see how they rationalize everything that is being done, because very often what sounds good in theory is much different when it comes to the implementation stage, and the next two years is when all of the rubber hits the ground. It's the next two years.

The first two years have been easy for you, very easy. All you did was announce programs, announce cuts in welfare, announce downloading -- all announcements. Now it starts to happen. Now people start to feel the impact of what you are doing, and we are going to see how resolved the backbenchers are. The cabinet will hang tough, solidarity forever in the cabinet, but I can hardly wait for the backbenchers to start to really feel the heat back home. It's already starting. We've already seen a couple.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): We don't go home. We stay here in Toronto.


Mr Laughren: You don't go home. I see. Maybe the member for Wellington has got the right idea here. Don't go home. Stay down here in Toronto. You're so popular in Toronto now, you should all want to stay here for the weekends.

I must say I travel the province a little bit, not as much as I used to, and when I drop into places like Chatham-Kent and talk to the local folks in the local convenience store who are standing there playing the VLTs, they express great dismay at the policy of this government.

I think the government surprised a lot of people with their megacity bill, because it seemed to come from nowhere. In fact, we know where it came from: It came directly as a result of your 30% tax cut which is going to cost the treasury in the neighbourhood of $5 billion a year. That's got to come from somewhere. Sure, the economy is improving and that means more revenues, of course it does, but if you think you're getting that much extra to pay for this, then you've got another thought coming.

We did some arithmetic up north -- I shouldn't say "we" -- the municipalities did some arithmetic up north and it shows that if things stay the way they most recently have been announced, property taxpayers in my area will pay in the neighbourhood of $1,000 more per property. They will not take kindly to that, folks. If you think that's not raising taxes despite your promise, try and tell that to the people who are paying the taxes.

I would simply say that we in this caucus are opposed to this bill because it's basically attached to Bill 103, the megacity bill. We were opposed to that, so naturally we would be opposed to this bill as well. Some members opposite were implying there was something illogical about opposing this bill. Well, I don't think there is.

For those reasons we will be voting against this bill, just as I think there will be a few voters in the megacity of Toronto who will be voting against the Tory party come the next election. I can hardly wait for that event.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Questions and comments?

Mr Gilchrist: I'm pleased to respond to our colleague's comments. It's incredibly intriguing that in the one breath he can say that we're somehow to be derided for a solidarity of purpose and then conclude his own comments by saying, "We will all be voting against it." The herd mentality is heard from again in this House. Travelling like a pack, the NDP have decided they will all be voting against it; not individual thought being given to this, not the Toronto members maybe having a different view from others. It's just incredible.

To suggest that somehow we should take some kind of direction from the governor of New Jersey, and on the flip side, not to take any time to deal with the content of this bill itself -- I did not hear from the member one suggestion that a single clause needs to be changed and that his concern is with the pension transfer, or that any of the wording about what happens to the TTC is somehow suspect or needs to be improved upon. I won't suggest he hasn't read the bill but others may draw that conclusion. Not one opposition member yet, not one, has mentioned a single deficiency or defect in this bill.

The bottom line is, here we are after seven hours of debate, seven hours they have spent, and they've talked about other bills that are long past and long behind us. They've talked about the fact that they have a crystal ball and their vision is more doom and gloom for the province. They fly in the face of the job creation, they fly in the face of the people who have been relieved of their dependency on welfare, they fly in the face of new housing starts, increased car sales, and an increase in consumer confidence.

You know what? The people of the province aren't buying it: 57%. of the people in those same polls you referred to agree with the direction we're taking. Bill 148 is an important but very technical part of that.

Mr Sergio: I'm pleased to respond as well to the member for Nickel Belt. If there is one thing I have admired while in the House, it is that when the member speaks, he speaks with authority and speaks with true experience and is really appreciated by all the members.

I have to say that he has exposed to the House not the benefits of the bill, but the problems associated with it. If we cannot support it, it is because of the particular contents of the bill.

Just let me add to the comments of the member for Scarborough East when he says no one in the opposition --

Mr Gilchrist: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Just this very afternoon, your colleague the Acting Speaker ruled that it is totally inappropriate for a member to take any time in his comments to deal with the responses from other members and he must restrict his comments solely to the two minutes.

The Speaker: Point taken, thank you. Member for Yorkview, maintain your comments.

Mr Laughren: He didn't say "any time." That's a distortion.

Mr Gilchrist: No, it isn't.

The Speaker: I don't think the Speaker, from what I can ascertain, ruled exactly how you have interpreted the ruling.


The Speaker: Well, I'll help you. I think what the Speaker did was rule much like I ruled with the member for Mississauga South. You are supposed to maintain comments to those directed about what was said. There has been a lot of latitude with respect to that, questions and comments, in the past. As I have said in the past, including yesterday and the day before, and as I think the Speaker said today, we do our best to maintain control, but let's be clear: Everybody, on every side of the House, skirts that rule occasionally.


The Speaker: To the member for Scarborough East, I think that's what Mr Leadston ruled. I don't want to have a debate with you any more. Thank you very much. Member for Yorkview.

Mr Sergio: As I was saying, Mr Speaker, complimenting the member for Nickel Belt before I was interrupted very politely by the member for Scarborough East, in response to what has been said in the House, the opposition indeed had a number of amendments to Bill 103, and every member of the House knows what happened to those amendments. Nobody can deny that. If none of those were present or attached to the bill as we are now debating it, only blame it on the government side.

I think the member for Nickel Belt has expressed the views of most of the opposition, and that is why we cannot support this bill.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Just in case anybody across the way or anybody out there has any question as to who set the pattern for this government or who Mike Harris went to for advice in putting together the Common Sense Revolution and pouring it on the people, I'll read a piece out of the Sault Star:

"It is interesting and revealing to learn that the Mike Harris government's `Common Sense Revolution,' complete with its 30% cut in provincial personal income tax phased in over three years, was actually patterned on the successful 1993 election campaign of Christine Whitman, the present Republican Governor of New Jersey.

"An analysis of the New Jersey experience written by William Walker appeared as a three-part series in the Toronto Star.

"The author points out that in March 1994 Harris went to New Jersey to meet Governor Whitman" --

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): To play golf.

Mr Martin: Yes, to play golf -- "and to seek additional advice. Two months later the Conservative program was presented to Ontarians at a news conference.

"The appeal to `common sense' which had figured so prominently in the Whitman election campaign became the `Common Sense Revolution' of Mike Harris.

"Now that Governor Whitman is three years into her mandate, would it not be instructive to see how they are faring in New Jersey?"

That is exactly what the member for Nickel Belt tried to do here in this House this afternoon: share and shed some light on what's happening because of the Common Sense Revolution in Ontario.

"According to Walker, in order to pay for the tax cut Whitman has had to lay off thousands of civil servants, cut many health and social service programs, slash funding to municipalities and school boards, privatize many government services, and siphon more than $1 billion from the state pension fund."

I don't need to go any further, do I, Speaker?

The Speaker: Well timed. Further questions and comments?

Mr Newman: I'm pleased to rise and respond to the member for Nickel Belt. I guess I'm surprised he's sorry for Toronto. I was quite surprised to hear that. I don't know if I'm out of order in speaking about the bill when the member opposite didn't speak about the bill and I'm supposed to respond to him, but I'm going to speak about what I thought he might have wanted to say in his comments.

The Speaker: That's completely out of order. You have to talk about what he commented on.

Mr Gilchrist: He made a reference to the bill.

Mr Newman: Yes, he made a reference to Bill 148. What I'm about to say is in Bill 148, and I know he wanted to say it, but I guess he didn't have enough time to talk about the fact that this bill allows the Toronto Transit Commission and Exhibition Place to continue operating, and the Metro zoo and the Hummingbird Centre. I see the member for Algoma is --


Mr Newman: No one disagrees with it, the member for London Centre says, so why don't you let the bill pass?

It allows the Guild Inn to keep going, the ambulance services, homes for the aged, street vending, operating a licensing commission, to plan and act in the case of an emergency, to receive and dispose of liquid and solid waste which we're hearing a lot about today, to establish and operate controlled-access roads -- very important things to the people of Metropolitan Toronto -- to ensure that official plans are in place to guide land use, to provide, importantly, for pensions and benefits of municipal board employees and retirees.

I thought the member for Nickel Belt would have wanted to talk about that, because this bill ensures that those pension benefits are paid. I know he would not want to keep the people who have earned those pension benefits away from their money.

The Speaker: Response, the member for Nickel Belt?

Mr Laughren: I wish to thank those who responded to my remarks, even though they were off topic somewhat because they insisted on talking about the bill.

I must say I was a little taken aback by the comments of the member for Scarborough East talking about a herd mentality. Was he talking about the Tory back bench? No? I assume that means the Tory back bench won't all be supporting this bill then when it comes to a vote, that there will be some Tories who will vote against it. I can only assume that. You don't have a herd mentality, so some of your members will vote against this bill. That's what I heard the member for Scarborough East saying. Who would blame them?

You were very defensive about having the Common Sense Revolution imported from the United States. It's very clear that's where it came from. You shouldn't even try denying it, because the model is clear. It's as though you lifted it holus-bolus from New Jersey and brought it into Ontario. The language is the same, the motivation is the same, the ideology is the same, and guess what? The results are going to be the same as well. It's already starting to happen. We can see that.

For those members over there who said I didn't comment on the bill, I thought I made it very clear. Just as you should have withdrawn Bill 103, you should now attach this bill to 103 and withdraw both of them, cancel them both.

The Speaker: It now being marginally past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:30 of the clock later on today.

The House adjourned at 1804.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.