36th Parliament, 1st Session

L234b - Tue 23 Sep 1997 / Mar 23 Sep 1997



The House met at 1830.



Mr Runciman moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 102, An Act to improve community safety by amending the Change of Name Act, the Ministry of Correctional Services Act and the Police Services Act / Projet de loi 102, Loi visant à accroître la sécurité de la collectivité en modifiant la Loi sur le changement de nom, la Loi sur le ministère des Services correctionnels et la Loi sur les services policiers.

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I want to inform members of the House that I will be dividing my time with the member for Scarborough West, Mr Brown, and the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay, Mr Grimmett.

I rise this evening to speak to Bill 102. The bill is entitled An Act to improve community safety by amending the Change of Name Act, the Ministry of Correctional Services Act and the Police Services Act, but we prefer to call it the Community Safety Act because it reflects this government's commitment to the safety of our communities and the security of the public.

There are two parts to this legislation. The first section will enhance the safety of our families and our homes by helping to identify dangerous predators among us, and the second part will make it more difficult for criminals to evade justice by simply changing their names.

Bill 102 amends the Police Services Act and the Ministry of Correctional Services Act to give clear legislative authority to the police and to corrections authorities so they can inform the public in accordance with the regulations when dangerous offenders are released from custody.

The bill also provides the legislative authority for regulations which will specify, first, the information that can be disclosed; second, who that information can be disclosed to; and third, the circumstances under which information can be revealed.

The second part of Bill 102 amends the Change of Name Act to establish a process that will update criminal records to reflect a legal name change. Currently, any individual can escape the consequences of a criminal record through a relatively simple and informal process, simply by legally changing their name. Bill 102 will close that loophole.

The amendments will also allow the police to get information about previous name changes and use that data to update their records. This will make sure that accurate information is provided when police record checks are required for screening purposes.

The benefits of this legislation are so obvious that it scarcely merits debate, but I want to take a moment to explain the background to this legislation and our actions to improve public safety.

This House is well aware that the government is committed to improving our criminal justice system. We have taken many steps to protect our communities, to safeguard the rights of victims of crime, to promote crime prevention as well as crime deterrence and to increase public confidence in our criminal justice system. This legislation is in keeping with those initiatives. It is based on extensive consultations with police and correctional officers, and I have examined the experience in other jurisdictions.

Ontario needs a strong and effective criminal justice system, one that enjoys the confidence of law-abiding people everywhere, and this initiative will help to achieve those goals. It will give the police the tools they need to protect our communities and it will give our communities the information they need to protect themselves.

I should add that the purpose of the disclosure of this information is to protect vulnerable members of our society. I want to make it perfectly clear, however, that vigilante action will not be tolerated. This government does not condone people taking the law into their own hands.

Under current legislation, police and correctional officers are limited in the information they can release to the public when a dangerous offender has completed their prison term and is about to be released into the community. The only legislated authority for the release of information is the freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation. These laws prohibit the release of information unless there is a grave health and safety hazard to the public. Those sections were never designed to deal with the release of high-risk offenders, especially in cases involving sexual predators, child abusers and other violent criminals.

We are all familiar with and share the public's outrage at the inability of our laws to protect ourselves and our children from, or even to warn us about, these dangerous criminals. Law enforcement agencies are uncertain about their authority to release information in these circumstances and have asked for legislation to make their situation clear. Obviously public warnings are not required every time an offender is released from jail, but in some cases they are essential. Bill 102 will provide officers and prison officials with the guidance they need to make that distinction and the legislative authority to share essential information with their community.

This is also a balanced bill. The members of the justice committee listened to several groups who shared their concerns with respect to civil liberties and personal privacy issues. As a result, the committee passed a number of amendments to Bill 102 which safeguard privacy by spelling out the purposes for which information may be shared.

The bill, as amended, allows the disclosure of information to the public for one or more of the following purposes: protection of the public; protection of victims of crime; keeping victims of crime informed; law enforcement; correctional purposes; enforcement and compliance with another act; and keeping the public informed. The effect will be to warn our communities, when appropriate, resulting in improved public safety.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Especially if there has been a breakout.

Hon Mr Runciman: That was more of a problem in your tenure, former Mr Treasurer.

The second part of Bill 102 deals with the Change of Name Act. About 10,000 people legally change their name in Ontario each year. Of course, the vast majority of those are honest, law-abiding citizens who use the legislation for very legitimate purposes, but a small minority are criminals who have discovered that for all practical purposes a legal change of name wipes out their criminal record. Criminal records are filed by name. New name, no record; it's as simple as that. The result is a loophole in the law that allows offenders to avoid detection, evade arrest on outstanding warrants, hide driving offences, fraudulently acquire firearms and slip past programs that screen applicants for positions of trust.

For example, in a recent case in British Columbia, a school counsellor hired to teach children life skills was convicted of procuring children for prostitution, despite a criminal record for fraud and drug offences. Press reports said that he "slipped through the cracks because his criminal record was under another name."


Screening programs designed to ensure that paedophiles aren't hired to work with our Boy Scouts organizations, our day care centres or our children's aid societies will be unsuccessful if a check of police records fails to reveal their previous convictions. Bill 102 will close that loophole. It will ensure that these types of predators don't slip through the net.

Representatives of the policing community tell us that this is a very serious matter. According to Windsor detective Neal Jessop, who is also president of the Canadian Police Association, dangerous criminals who use pseudonyms can cause a lot of problems for law enforcement, and he says, "It should not even be tolerated, not for convicted murderers and other dangerous offenders."

A person has only to have read the newspapers over the past few years to see how name changes have been abused by the criminal element in our society. For example, in the December 18, 1996, edition of the Toronto Sun, we read about a former biker serving life in prison for stabbing a mother of five to death who has legally changed his name; a convicted abuser of 13 boys who has changed his name and now police can find no criminal record under his new name; a convicted cop killer whose whereabouts are not known to the authorities due to a name change; a serial rapist who threw off concerned citizens who were trying to track his location by changing his name; and another man convicted of killing a police officer who changed his name and left Canada.

We also know that, when arrested, Paul Bernardo was in the process of changing his name to Teale in order to avoid detection due to his earlier classification as a suspect in the Scarborough rape investigation. The list goes on and on. These are the types of cases we want to avoid by passing Bill 102.

Some other jurisdictions have changed their legislation to avoid the possibility of criminals using change-of-name legislation to escape their records, but Ontario has gone further and will allow police to update their records by examining previous name changes to ensure that our criminal record database remains a useful and effective tool of law enforcement. Ontario is leading the nation in this respect, and I fully expect other jurisdictions to follow our lead in this important area.

Bill 102 is an excellent demonstration of ways government can work smarter. It will have no effect on the vast majority of people who use that legislation, honest individuals who have changed their names for legitimate reasons. But it will help restore public confidence and public trust in our criminal justice system. It will have a very real effect in enhancing the safety of our communities and in frustrating the efforts of criminals who attempt to use a legal loophole to evade the scrutiny of the police and the community.

I should add that we're hearing favourable reaction to this bill. The Hamilton Spectator said, "The Ontario government is taking an overdue and necessary step by introducing legislation giving police the right to publicize the names of offenders released from prison." The Guelph Mercury called Bill 102 "a welcome change," and there have been a number of supportive articles and editorials, including the Ottawa Sun and the major Toronto newspapers.

Bill 102 is consistent with a whole range of initiatives our government has undertaken to rebalance the justice system in favour of the rights of law-abiding citizens and victims of crime, rather than criminals, such as passing the Victims' Bill of Rights, creating the victims' justice fund, expanding the victims' crisis assistance referral service to 20 sites across Ontario and creating the victims' support line, which allows victims of crime to speak with a real person for referral to local services.

The bill also dovetails with the actions the government is taking in response to the report on the Bernardo investigation by Justice Archie Campbell which recommended improved information flow and cooperation between the various components of the justice system in the ongoing efforts of the integrated justice project.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the bill responds to the recommendations of the 1993 coroner's inquest into the murder of an 11-year-old Brampton boy, Christopher Stephenson. I'm sure all members of this House will never forget the abduction and gruesome murder of this innocent child in 1988 at the hands of repeat child rapist Joseph Fredericks. The murderer was a convicted paedophile who was quietly released back into the community, where he was able to become a baseball coach. No security check was done on him.

In the wake of that terrible tragedy, the Stephenson inquest recommended greater public disclosure of information on offenders being released from custody and encouraged public cooperation with police background checks. Christopher's father, Jim Stephenson, has pointed to Bill 102 as a valuable step towards protecting children from dangerous sexual predators like Joseph Fredericks.

I would ask all members of the Legislature to remember young Christopher Stephenson as we consider Bill 102, the Community Safety Act. It is our desire as members of this Legislature to try to prevent the terrible suffering of another child, of another family or of another community from such a terrible event. That motivates us to consider Bill 102, and I would sincerely ask all members to support the passage of this bill.

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): Bill 102 is another step in our fight to make Ontario safe and to respect the rights of victims and the public. This legislation will allow police the ability to pierce the anonymity of a name change. Criminals will be tracked through name changes.

Organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters have a program in place where anyone applying goes through a police check. This procedure will accomplish little, however, if the applicant has undergone a name change to hide from a criminal past. My Protection Against Pedophiles Act, Bill 145, requires any organization, including the teaching profession, that uses adults supervising or caring for children to obtain police clearance.

Bill 102 closes the name change loophole. It's intolerable to think that a sexual predator could get access to our children simply because he took on a new identity and slipped a police screening process. These kinds of risks are completely unacceptable and we need to make certain that we close these loopholes.

Criminals ought not to be able to hide behind name changes like young offenders hide behind the anonymity guaranteed by the Young Offenders Act. One of Ontario's most notorious killers was in the process of changing his name when he was arrested. Paul Bernardo was changing his name to Paul Teale.

The man convicted of second-degree murder in the slaying of Metro Constable Sweet changed his name upon release. The man in question drank and did drugs while he watched Constable Sweet bleed to death. It simply isn't right that people can hide from heinous crimes and go on to live their lives like nothing ever happened. I met Constable Sweet. He was a good, solid citizen. His life was taken far too early.

We are committed to keeping a watchful eye on anyone who is considered a high-risk offender following their release. We are putting the balance back in the scales of justice and showing concern for the rights of victims and the public to be safe. We are ensuring that these rights come before the rights of dangerous offenders.

The faint hope clause, clause 745, conditional sentencing or house arrest and an attitude that favours the prisoner make Bill 102 necessary. While my colleague John Baird brought in a bill for Victims' Rights Week, our federal Liberal counterparts have a Prisoners' Rights Week instead. Recently they changed the name to Restorative Justice Week.


The name change legislation in Bill 102 will be helpful in other areas of law enforcement. Our police have a powerful information tool in the Canadian Police Information Centre or CPIC. The police can run a name through a computer in their police car and get a record of criminal activity. Outstanding warrants or court orders that have been imposed also show up. By linking individuals to their files, in spite of a name change, police will be better able to apprehend people who are driving while their licence is under suspension, violating a court order, abusing a spouse, stalking or a whole host of criminal activity.

The other important part of Bill 102 is the release of information on dangerous offenders who are returned into the community. This bill establishes clear guidelines for releasing information on dangerous offenders.

Terence Austin Matthews was released from Kingston Penitentiary for only six hours before invading a woman's home and beating her with a hammer. While in prison, he refused all rehabilitative treatment and the community was not warned of his release. Ten years earlier, he had been released on mandatory supervision. On that occasion, he was out two weeks before attacking two Ottawa women and raping another in a five-hour period.

Again and again, police have asked for clear standards on the release of information. The softer the federal government is on crime, the more our provincial government has to help to offset the balance.

Ontario police association administrator Dave Griffin supports this bill and urges the Ontario Legislature to pass it. He stated, "If you have people who are a threat to the community, the public has a right to be informed."

He said he has heard arguments against releasing information on offenders following their release as they claim it interferes with their transition back into society and they deserve a second chance. To this Griffin counters, "People who are on parole are people who have had their fair share of second chances." He added that people who are granted parole generally have a history within the correctional system.

Bill 102 sets out solid guidelines concerning the release of information. We're giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to protect the communities they patrol. Dr Jim Cairns, the deputy chief coroner of Ontario, has stated that "Chiefs of police have said: `We now have a dangerous offender in our community. What do we do?'" Now we're empowering the police.

It must be a haunting feeling for the police to know there is a repeat violent or sex offender in their community and not be able to warn the residents. We need to be proactive with repeat offenders and warn people of the danger, not sit back and wait for the offender to reoffend. We should do something before the damage is done.

Last week it was my privilege to speak on a private member's bill put forth by my colleague from Nepean, John Baird. The bill would declare a commemorative week for victims of violent crime. There was a breakfast meeting prior to the bill's first reading and at the meeting I met with Debbie Mahaffy, Sharon Rosenfeldt, who lost her son to child killer Clifford Olson, and Tracey Christie from my own riding, whose daughter Christie Christie was murdered after opening the door of her home to let in a 12-year-old neighbourhood boy.

Speaking with victims like these, one becomes acutely aware of an obligation that this government has to do more for them. We have a duty to ensure that we do everything we can to uphold victims' rights in Ontario. Bill 102 is one more step in that direction. We must put victims and the public first. I ask all members of this Legislature to support this important bill. It is part of this government's initiatives to make our streets safe again.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments?

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I understand there are still to be some speakers from the government side and probably we'll be next, but since we have this opportunity to comment, as I am going to at more length probably being the next speaker, I will say that the Liberal caucus will be supporting this bill.

We accept the points that the government has made that community safety is of paramount importance throughout this province and that this bill goes somewhat to cure some of the ills that are out there. As the minister mentions, our law enforcement officers have been in sort of a legal limbo as to what rights they have in alerting the community as to the release or possibly the movement of a dangerous offender into that community. It's an important matter and we've had too many occurrences of dangerous offenders reoffending not to be able to have a law such as this that would allow the community to be informed that a dangerous person is coming to their community.

There's a real balance to this. Of course, all citizens' rights should be respected. With the amendments that have been brought forward on this bill -- and all three parties worked towards bringing these amendments forward -- I think we have that balance and I think it's a good piece of legislation.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This is one of those evening sittings where it's 7 o'clock on a Tuesday. I mention that because people watching this may think it's the rerun already from this afternoon, but it's not. We're here till 9:30, and I encourage people to watch. They might also think it's a rerun because it's the same old theme being recycled over and over again by this government in terms of them being tough when it comes down to law and order.

A couple of interesting things. I heard both the Solicitor General and his colleague talk about "giving the police the tools they need to protect our community." I'm going to have a chance to speak later too, after Mr Ramsay speaks for the Liberal caucus. Mr Ramsay will be speaking in a couple of minutes. He'll be speaking for an hour or so, and I'll be speaking for at least an hour on this bill and all the related bills that it's part and parcel of in terms of a theme. I'm going to be talking about what it means to give police the tools that they need to protect our society.

We supported this bill from day one. Our caucus of course participated in the committee hearings. They were brief, but there was no objection to that. I think the committee heard from some outstanding members of the community, Alan Borovoy among them, who addressed some concerns about the bill. But the committee also heard that the bill's a fine bill and of course it should be supported, but at the end of day it has about that much to do with protecting the community against crime, that it's really not as dramatic a law-and-order step as the Solicitor General would want us to believe.

We're going to supporting the bill, not uncritically of course. I'm looking forward to speaking to it in a short while.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Thank you very much for the chance to respond to this presentation by the minister, the Solicitor General, and also the parliamentary assistant, the member for Scarborough West.

Community Safety Act, Bill 102: It's certainly refreshing to see a bill come before this House that's so well supported, both by the opposition party and the third party, not to mention so many people in the community. It has certainly been well worked through. My compliments to the minister on this particular bill.

I was a little surprised as the minister was speaking to find that the change of name is a loophole that was being closed. I found it rather hard to believe that in the past by simply changing your name you could escape the consequences of a criminal record. I just took it for granted that would follow through on a name change, that you couldn't just disappear from it that easily, but obviously that loophole was out there for criminals in the past. I find that most unfortunate and certainly not right at all.

I think as we move along, we're finding that victims have had a pretty rough time in the past and here we're giving a safeguard, some rights to victims that are long overdue. Victims have been terribly misused in the past and this is about disclosure. When we came in with the bill back a while ago, many years ago on freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation, it was never the intent that that kind of legislation would be there to protect the criminal. It's unfortunate when that happens.

Again, it's very, very refreshing to see the member from Timiskaming commenting in support of this bill, and the member of the third party. I look forward to the passage of this bill.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I too will be supporting Bill 102, as it is an excellent first step, and certainly the Solicitor General and his parliamentary assistant touched on many, many important points. As the members from Timiskaming and Thorold said, it is but a first step. It is an important step but only a first step. It may be a small step, but any step in the right direction is a good step, so obviously support of this bill must take place by all members of the House.

But you know, in expanding on the bill a little, and I hope to get to speak to it later on, I would suggest that another very, very positive way of ensuring that the Community Safety Act takes place is to ensure that we have an adequate and a happy police force in every town, in every municipality, across Ontario, because if you are a police force that is proud of the job that you are doing and know that people respect and appreciate the very, very dangerous type of work a police officer does, then certainly they will be even more proactive. When we have bills introduced such as Bill 126 and Bill 136, what we see happening is a police force mentality being developed in a negative way, because they feel the government of the day doesn't appreciate the very, very important work they do.

I would take all the steps possible to ensure that police officers across Ontario understand that community safety is extremely important and that this government, as the opposition parties are, is committed to ensuring that we appreciate their fine efforts.

The Acting Speaker: The minister from Leeds-Grenville has two minutes to respond.

Hon Mr Runciman: I appreciate the comments and the input of all of my colleagues on both sides of the House. It is somewhat less than heart-warming but certainly encouraging, I think would be an appropriate word to use, with respect to the support from all parties and representatives of all three parties in this House. It's unfortunate we don't see that level of cooperation on the majority of pieces of legislation that we have to deal with, but so be it.

I do want to thank the members and I want to thank my colleagues and the members opposite for their input as this bill went through the hearing stage. I only want to comment on the remark made by the member from Welland-Thorold with respect to the "getting tough" message he indicated.

I certainly don't want to leave anyone with the impression that the intent of this is simply getting tough. I think the intent of this piece of legislation is to close loopholes and, as the member opposite said, to improve and extend community safety in all communities in this province and to extend that safety especially to vulnerable children, whom we know have been the innocent victims of some very horrific incidents in this province in the past number of years. Because of those terrible crimes, we have moved to do what we can to try and reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Timiskaming.

Mr Ramsay: I'm pleased to be able to speak tonight on the third reading of Bill 102. I think, from some of the information that has been imparted through the speeches so far this evening, some of the people watching might wonder why we are at a point today where we're authorizing officials in both corrections and policing to be able to notify communities when a dangerous offender is coming into a certain community, because I think most people would have the experience already that this has been happening.

The reason we're doing this through Bill 102 here in Ontario is that the federal criminal law has been amended to allow federal officials to notify local police forces when a criminal or an offender has been released from a federal institution who satisfies certain criteria, that being a very dangerous offender. That has already taken place. What this bill does is to bring provincial law into line with federal law, so that if and when there is a dangerous offender being released from a provincial institution our corrections ministry officials can notify the local police that that offender is coming to the community. So we're catching up and putting our law in line with federal law.

The pressures obviously came much more quickly to the federal government, as offenders who are the most dangerous are sentenced to incarceration rates of more than two years and therefore offenders who are accused of crimes of extreme violence are sentenced to the federal penitentiary system and therefore fall under their jurisdiction.

What happens is that unfortunately in the history of an offender with what we call recidivism, and that is the repetition of offenders committing crimes, you can find yourself in the provincial system with somebody who maybe has been sentenced for a lesser crime and in this case maybe a non-violent crime, because this person who had been previously convicted and served their time for a violent act finds themselves in the provincial system and our authorities still consider this person a danger, but it just so happens that in this particular offence they were picked up by the police and convicted for something less serious. That does not lessen the fact that this person has an extremely violent record of offences, and therefore it would still be important that the community be notified that this person is dangerous to the community.

Therefore, Bill 102 really brings the provincial law and regulation into line so that our police officials in this province, both the OPP and the municipal police forces, and our correctional services employees are allowed to basically do the same, so that our local police forces or the OPP, if they're the force that is providing security for a certain municipality, are allowed to, in the way they see fit, inform the citizens of the community that a certain offender is coming into that community.

When we had our clause-by-clause study, examination, in our committee, the justice committee, there were several groups that came forward that were concerned about this bill and felt that we were erring on the side of safety versus the rights of the offender. I think all of us in the committee appreciated some of the points that were being made, and in fact, from that discussion in committee, I would say it was quite refreshing to see that really all three parties were kind of working together on this, trying to find the best balance here, and that the government was open to some of these suggestions and some amendments were made to this bill.

It was rather like a prototype of how things should work in this place. Because, I guess, the topic in itself was non-controversial, all members of this House believed in the goals of this and really in the means of this bill also. So we found a way, through amendments, to make sure that the powers given to correctional and police officials in this bill would not be abused; that instead of just being written in regulation that would come after the fact of the passage of this bill, we have specified through amendment in this bill when it is appropriate for an official from the Ministry of Correctional Services and the same for a member of the Solicitor General's office to offer up any disclosure, and those conditions are that it's of paramount protection for the public, it's the protection of victims of crime.


In many cases, a victim of crime finds himself or herself having, as they should as a good citizen, to testify in a trial that leads to a conviction of an offender, and sometimes that offender vows to come back after that good citizen who has done their civic duty in coming through to the criminal justice system and testifying as to what happened so that justice can be brought forward. Sometimes that victim has to be protected. That is one of the other protections that is offered here, so that a victim in this case would be notified that a dangerous offender was being released from custody, keeping victims of crime informed of law enforcement, judicial or correctional processes relevant to the crime that affected them.

Up until now, it has really not been the right of the victim to be informed of the progress of the criminal justice system in dealing with the perpetrator of the crime that they were a victim of. This bill now specifies that that's okay, that in order to support that person, the victim of crime should be kept informed of the progress of the disposition of the charged offender. That lays that out so that disclosure of the criminal justice process can be brought forward to the victim.

Another reason is just for law enforcement. If, for instance, a dangerous offender was going to be released into a community, maybe a community that is not usually prepared for this type of offender, that usually doesn't have the type of offence that this offender perpetrated in the past, it would be very prudent to notify that small village force that may be made up of a couple of constables, "By the way, offender X has decided to come to your village, and you should be prepared for that move."

Also for correctional purposes, they would be notified so that the receiving institution in the Ontario penal system would understand how dangerous this offender is. For the total administration of justice, this disclosure can also be made, enforcement of and compliance with any federal or provincial act, regulation or government program, and lastly, keeping the public informed of the law enforcement, judicial or correctional process respecting any individual.

As I said earlier, we are going to be supporting this bill. This one aspect of the bill is very, very important. The second aspect of the bill that the minister alluded to in his opening remarks is also very important because it closes a loophole that offenders found many years ago, whereby if they applied under the Change of Name Act, there was no CPIC search done at the time to see if the person had a criminal record.

Even if it was known, there was no authority for the people at the registrar general's office who are authorized to conclude a change of name to notify people in the criminal justice system, whether it be correctional officials, police or other government agencies, so the criminal record would be amended to show that there is now a new name for this criminal offender. That loophole will be closed with this bill, and we agree that's very important for community safety.

But as my colleague from Sudbury had mentioned, this is but one small step for community safety. We in the Liberal caucus feel there is much more we can do to protect our communities. This is a small step and a good step, and therefore we support it, but we would like to be proactive and bring forward some ideas that we would hope this government would pursue.

What we have seen from this government is really more a punitive reaction to criminality, an approach that most of the academic papers in the criminal justice system would show is not an effective deterrent to criminal offending. From what I've seen so far in the term of this government and also from the Common Sense Revolution and campaign that happened two years ago when the Conservative government won, I think the approach this government is taking is more politically motivated than it is to really get to the heart of the problem.

I think this sort of hard-nosed punitive approach is something that can be very appealing to the general public. It's what we would call in politics a hot-button issue. People are very afraid for their safety, which I guess across the board is kind of a sad situation when most violent crime is actually down in the past few years from what it had been because of better police techniques and other improvements in society. But because we are better informed of all the criminal offences that go on, and I suppose because of the unfortunate spectacular nature of some of the crimes that we hear of, we are better informed of criminal offences in society, and this generates increased fear for our safety.

Unfortunately, it does happen in this business of politics that people take advantage of that and play to the public's fears in order to get support, and taking the hard-nosed punitive approach is one way of approaching that. I would hope that the Solicitor General might really want to take an opportunity to sit down with the two critics and say that if we're really serious about trying to reduce the amount of criminal behaviour on this province, why don't we take a longer look at this, take a look at what some of the expert literature says today and really try to work together in bringing forward some of the programs that have proven to be effective.

The trouble with this approach is that it doesn't come in short little sound bites. It doesn't sound all that effective and politically strong on television, and it doesn't get accomplished in the two years left of this government, or the term of any government. All the academic research shows that to really get to the heart of criminal behaviour, you have to start to tip the balance between the advantaged and disadvantaged in society.

I don't mean by that that one has to somehow drastically redistribute income in society to try to bring up some of the people who are disadvantaged, but that it's very important to initiate some early childhood intervention programs, some as simple and as universal as a program that has been cut by this government, and that is junior kindergarten. A simple program such as junior kindergarten, an even earlier JK or even nursery school, has a profound effect on the outcome of people's lives.

There have been countless studies, the most famous being the Head Start study in the United States, which for over 30 years tracked the lives of people who had been involved in this study. Basically what they did in this study was have a nursery school and a junior kindergarten class, and they made sure that all of the children in these various communities that were chosen had also regular kindergarten, that there were two and three years of intervention before starting grade 1, regardless of the conditions of the home, the social situation in the home.

They went into some of the poorest neighbourhoods to make sure that those children had at the very beginning, maybe for only two or three hours a day before they got to grade 1, some sort of outside intervention in their lives that would, as society sees it, show them how to behave, how to interact with their fellow children, how to play, starting some academics, starting some simple skills, but basically learning at a very young age those social skills that they don't get from the inattention of a mother who may be absent in the home.


That sort of program, which was started over 30 years ago, has now shown that people being tracked over that time have less involvement in the social justice system, ie, they are not on welfare as much as other people. They have less involvement in the criminal justice system. They are more successful. They are not, on a percentage basis, into criminality as are people in the same neighbourhoods who were not part of the program. They have higher employment rates. They have better health and are therefore less a burden on the state and/or private insurance plans in the United States.

Just from those two to three years of early childhood intervention, you have a group of people, unfortunately a vast majority of whom were bound to go into those various systems, to slip through the cracks, if you will, who were given the tools to get themselves through school, through the difficult family situation, whatever it was, and get themselves on their feet and self-sufficient and self-reliant.

That's the type of thing I think we should be talking about, rather than just, "All we need to do to take care of these young offenders is give them a swift kick," ie, boot camps. That's sort of the gut reaction we've seen from this government, that if we just take these young offenders and exhaust them all day running them around a track, strict discipline, that's going to somehow cure their criminal behaviour and they will no longer reoffend and all will be well.

That is a very appealing notion, that somehow these kids just didn't get the discipline when they were being brought up in their families, and if we as the state could get hold of them and run them through a 15-week to six-month to nine-month regime of strict discipline, all would be well with the world and these kids would be straightened around and wouldn't reoffend and the world would be a safer place to live in. I wish it was that simple, because if it was that simple, I'd go for it. If the literature showed that it worked, I'd support it.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I'll guarantee it.

Mr Ramsay: One of the members says he guarantees it. I have here just about the latest issue of the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, which compiles every few months the very best of the literature that's available in any particular area of the criminal justice system. What this May edition does is put together the efficacy of boot camps, that is, how efficient are prisons and jail boot camps for changing criminal behaviour?

I must say that the vast body of literature says this is not effective. If it was effective, I wouldn't be making this speech tonight, because I, like every other member in this House, would like to see a great diminishment of criminal behaviour, especially with young offenders. It is frightening to see young offenders enter the criminal justice system, to see young people start to act out and to offend and to wreak havoc in society, to injure, to maim and to kill people, to destroy property and to steal property. We don't want to see young people doing this, but we are seeing that.

What the literature says -- and I know some of the government members don't even want to hear this -- and in my experience in dealing with young offenders, the vast majority of them are victims in their own right. When you look at the records of young offenders in our institutions, be they young women or young men, many of them have been physically abused as children. Many of them have been sexually abused as children. Many of them, because of this, are acting out in a very inappropriate and dangerous way, and we need to grab hold of them and make sure we can try to work with them in correcting this. Many of them have substance abuse problems that add to their complications and to their offending in society. It's the way they are trying to cope with the problems they have.

What is required from the very beginning is the type of programming I've talked about that Head Start offers. That's as simple as the Minister of Education standing up and saying, unlike what he does say when he stands up, that there shall be junior kindergarten in every primary school in this province. That would be a very good, positive start that wouldn't come out of the budget of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, but I'm sure he would have great support in this House for that sort of program. That is extremely important.

Looking through the literature, it is interesting to note that all of the anecdotal evidence that people have that just the application of a lot of exercise is somehow going to modify criminal behaviour is wrong. I wish it was so, and if it was so, I would say, "Let's have a heavy exercise regime in every institution in this province." If that worked, that would be great; let's go for it. But unfortunately, it's just not that simple and it just doesn't work that way.

In one paper by Mark Correia of the University of Nevada, Reno, "Boot Camps, Exercise and Delinquency," he does an analytical critique of the use of physical exercise to facilitate decreases in delinquent behaviour. The précis of his paper says:

"This article examined those disciplines most relevant to the use of shock incarceration," which is the sort of technical name for boot camps, "criminology, social psychology, psychology and physiology, and drew upon their theoretical frameworks in an effort to apply them to juvenile boot camps. It is argued that available research in these disciplines does not provide a strong rationale supporting the use of exercise to decrease criminality in juvenile offenders."

I'd certainly have to wonder, with papers such as this that have been out for quite a while -- in fact this paper, which is fairly recent, cites some very old studies to show that this type of application of exercise is just not the simple solution to reducing the offending frequency of a young offender. In this paper, another paper from 1981 is cited in which exercise has been found to increase the beta endorphins. Anybody who jogs knows that this is correct and that there is a very nice sense of wellbeing when one exercises from the beta endorphins that are released into the brain. "Research suggests that this increase may create a physiological exercise high experienced by physically active individuals, which has been credited with reductions of anxiety, tension, anger, and at times possibly confusion." But the paper goes on to say that the literature does not support any long-term behaviour modifications, especially those behaviours associated with criminality, these being based on low self-esteem, low self-control and low self-concepts.

These are the areas that need to be targeted. You will find, especially with young offenders but probably with adult offenders also, that it is characteristics of low self-esteem, low self-control and low self-concepts that are the problems in a criminal offender, and just giving a strict-discipline, high-exercise regime is not going to cure that. I wish it would. If you would show me the proof for this, I would support it tomorrow, but it doesn't show that it does.

This is really a problem, that we're going down this road thinking this is going to be a panacea and sort of trying to persuade the general electorate -- and in our case as politicians, the voters -- that somehow the Harris government has the magic bullet to solve juvenile delinquency. It's just not so.

The paper goes on to say that it's shown throughout this analysis that apparent failure of boot camp prisons can be attributed to the lack of any theoretical explanations for why exercise should decrease criminality. Juvenile boot camps have not been shown to be a magic cure-all in reducing criminality. These programs need to be thoroughly re-evaluated, especially with respect to the use of exercise and physical labour to facilitate reduction of delinquent behaviour.


I'll say to the members over there that I'd like to be a little positive and get some suggestions of what you need.


Mr Ramsay: Wait for it, because I think this is important. In order to fill the boot camp, you've taken some young offenders away from their schooling. People should know that unlike the popular notion that young offenders in provincial institutions are lying around all day watching TV, they go to school. If they are 16 and under they have to go to school, and many up to 18 go to school, because the school board provides that schooling there and they get that training. You disrupt that when you bring them into the boot camp.

What you need in a juvenile camp is some sort of practical skills training. Whether it's automobile mechanics, computer training, let's get some modern skills training so you raise the low self-esteem of those people so they're capable of providing for themselves and don't feel they're vulnerable because they didn't get the attention as children, didn't stay in school, don't have the skills and don't feel they can compete, that the only way they can compete is offending: mugging people and breaking in and destroying property. That's what we have to do, work on low self-esteem and make sure these people have the skills and, maybe for the first time in some of their lives, to show that somebody cares about these people.

I know this isn't a popular approach right now, that a caring approach is the answer. I'm just saying that the literature is showing that is the answer, that early childhood intervention is the way to prevent a lot of criminal behaviour. Even with the very young offenders, to get in there and show that you understand that many of them are victims and get to the root of those problems and then get them on the road to recovery with those problems and get them some skills so they can be self-reliant is very important in their lives.

I hope the minister doesn't start establishing boot camps throughout the province and try to convince people that all is going to be well by doing that, that that's going to be the answer, because that's just not the only answer to this.

While I have my opportunity to talk about the criminal justice system in Ontario, I would like to talk about some other matters that I think would be very important to the criminal justice system in this province.

Before I leave boot camps, I would like to say to the minister that part of the problem with his very rapid introduction of boot camps in Ontario is that he was in such a rush to fulfil this political promise that I think maybe went a fair way to getting this government elected, that somehow they had this magic bullet, in the boot camps, of getting tough with young offenders, that the government made a lot of mistakes on the way of establishing this boot camp. As we all know, it has had a very rough birth. In fact, it probably needs to be reborn, maybe rethought before it gets reborn.

In the minister's haste to bring this about, he decided to shortchange the training that correctional officers usually have running young offender facilities. In the criminal justice and corrections system in Ontario, correctional officers who are going to be working with young offenders go through quite a rigorous staff training at the Bell Cairn centre in Burlington and then they go in for three weeks of practical training with experienced, veteran correctional officers who are used to working with young offenders.

The people who were hired by Camp Turnaround to come to the boot camp went to Bell Cairn for about half the time that correctional officers usually spend there and did not get the practical, hands-on training in one of the Ontario correctional centres for young offenders. So they got up to Camp Turnaround, or Camp Breakout or whatever you want to call it, and probably for many of them the first time they saw a young offender was when he came through the door to be incarcerated in this camp, and they just had some theoretical knowledge about how to handle young offenders.

It wasn't more than a few weeks -- in fact, the day before the official opening of the boot camp -- that we had a breakout. Two young offenders busted out during the night, escaped and were free until the next day.

Even up till now, in a 32-bed facility being managed by a private company at a cost to taxpayers of $2.4 million a year, with about 33 staff people there, a one-on-one staffing arrangement to young offenders, we now also have six government correctional officers up there guarding the guards, to make sure that young offenders don't escape. We are talking about maybe only 15 inmates at the time of the breakout; they may not even have 15 in there today. There are 33 people inside and six correctional officers outside guarding all this, at an additional cost of $2,400 a day to taxpayers.

This is a monumental failure. Part of the reason is this rush to judgement by the Solicitor General that the boot camp was the answer to all the ills with young offenders, and therefore they'd better get this open fast because in the first two years they wanted to get all their promises in the Common Sense Revolution fulfilled.

I also want to bring up another issue that I brought up in question period last week, what I think is the beginning of a very disturbing trend, that I think is going to be a trend in Ontario, for two-tier policing.

I brought up the case of the town of Dundas, which is served by the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force. All the municipalities in the Hamilton-Wentworth region pay a levy to the region to supply policing to the whole region. But the good business people in downtown Dundas, in the business improvement association, had noticed over the last couple of years a 50% increase in break-ins in the downtown area. Not only that, they were beginning to notice the lack of response to those break-ins when they were called in from the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force. They were very concerned about this, not only about the great increase in the break-ins, the loss of property, the cost to their buildings and to their insurance, the inconvenience of that, but also the lack of police response to that; and not only to that particular crime but, because of that, the lack of any follow-up that might go towards preventing this increase and future break-ins.

So the business improvement association of Dundas went to the town council to say, "We're not satisfied with the police protection we're getting from the region and we want you to do something about that." The town of Dundas decided, since they couldn't get any more enforcement from the region, that they would hire their own private security guard to give extra policing to the town of Dundas. They had made many calls to the regional police, and the regional police said, "With the amount of money we have in the region, this is all the coverage we can give you." The town of Dundas decided to hire their own.

So now they've got two levels of policing. What is disturbing about this is that not every municipality could afford to do this. Especially with the downloading of police costs now, I think we're going to see many municipalities starting to realize they might not even be able to afford the very basic cost of policing. I'll touch on that in a minute, because that really affects many of the communities I represent and that many of my colleagues represent in northern Ontario, and maybe parts of rural Ontario also.


What's disturbing about this is that I as a Liberal would say and I hope everybody in this House would say that while we restructure government, there are at least a few core functions for government in society today. Probably on a par with education and health has got to be community safety. The public has to demand that the government retain full responsibility for community safety.

This government has cut $3 million over the last two years from the community safety grants that go to our municipal police forces. If we start to see that ratcheting-down of the resources to our communities for policing, we're going to start to see actions such as that of the town of Dundas in hiring private policing. You might say, "What's wrong with that, if that is a municipal responsibility anyway?"

What's wrong is that in the case of this short-term, $10,000 contract to try to alleviate this particular problem, the town of Dundas has the resources to do this, but not every municipality does. They depend on either OPP policing or maybe in other cases, where they're in regions, on the regional police force to provide policing. If they can't get the increased policing, they're just out of luck and break-ins such as this are going to be increasing. Small business people and homeowners are not going to be able to get the police to respond to calls when this happens, and this is happening throughout the province now. Police are so overworked that they're having to prioritize the types of calls they can only go to. There are calls that in the old days they always used to respond to that they no longer respond to.

One of the examples I gave in a question was an 84-year-old woman in St Catharines. In question period you can't give all the details, but I have the time now, and I was really struck by this. This 84-year-old woman -- good for her; she still has her driver's licence -- was out driving and went to get her groceries. While coming back from grocery shopping she was in a car accident. My mother's a senior too; she's 83 years old. I know she buys a lot of frozen food because that's convenient and easy. Isn't it wonderful that you can be 83 or 84 and can be self-sufficient and be in your home and provide for yourself? So you take advantage of convenience foods such as that. This woman had a lot of frozen food, and this happened in the summer in St Catharines. She was waiting for the police to respond to the accident she was involved in, which is very understandable because you want to have a police report of your accident to make sure that all the procedures are correct with your insurance. You want to make sure the police respond. Heavens to Betsy, when you're 84 years old, you're not even sure what to do next and all that, you're very upset by this situation and you would like to have the certainty of a police officer coming to render assistance. That's what the police are for.

It was three hours before, in this case, the Niagara Regional Police arrived at the scene in St Catharines. This story was reported in the St Catharines newspaper; there were letters to the editor that followed it. People were really shocked and disgusted that here was this 84-year-old citizen of St Catharines basically stuck in her car, her frozen food thawing and being ruined on a hot August afternoon, waiting for this assistance from the police.

This is the type of concern people in Ontario have, just like our health critic brings forward with people waiting for health services. Sometimes you can't wait for police services. It's very important that the government be front and centre and say that community safety, public safety, the criminal justice system, is one of the prime areas of government and that we're no longer going to be cutting here, that we're going to provide some sort of guarantee to the citizens of Ontario that the police will be there when you need them. I'd like to see that. I'd like the government to make some sort of guarantee, some sort of bill of rights for community safety, that thou shalt be entitled to the response of a police officer if thou hast been offended upon. Excuse the biblical language, but it upsets me that citizens such as this 84-year-old woman now have to wait three hours on a hot afternoon in August when she's involved in an auto accident. That's just not right, and it shouldn't happen in the Ontario we have here, as well-off as we are.

Something's wrong there. If this lack of service continues, we're going to start to see, for more affluent citizens and communities, what we fear in the health care system coming into the criminal justice system, and that is two-tier policing. You'll have the well-off, affluent neighbourhood in a town or community with its own private security service running around, like Westech provides in West LA for the well-off people there. We've already seen this from the American examples. This is the type of thing that's on its way here.

In that question last week I brought forward the other Americanism we're starting to see imported into this country already: the walled and gated community. When people start to fear for their security and their safety, when they don't believe there's adequate policing, they start to search for -- and quite frankly, who can blame them, for a senior -- a safe community. They start to go to these communities where the ads say, "We provide this extra security and safety." The code words are "peace of mind."

I don't blame those people. When you're older you're not as strong as you used to be. You get more concerned about people breaking in and your own safety. You want to be as safe as you can be. I don't blame people for looking at communities such as that, but not all of us can afford to be in such a community, and quite frankly, I don't want to see Ontario become a series of walled and gated communities, that we all lock each other up from ourselves, afraid of our neighbour, afraid of the person on the street, that we may be invaded at any moment, and afraid that if such happens the police are not going to be there when you need them. That's not the Ontario I believe in, that's not the Ontario I want to see, but I think it is the Ontario we're starting to see develop under the Mike Harris government, and I'm very concerned about that.

I would hope that the Solicitor General would be concerned about that, because I know he's a law-and-order type of guy. We always used to admire him in opposition because he used to go after all the governments, ours included, and the last government, as the tough cop, the law-and-order guy who wasn't going to stand for any disorder in Ontario. I always thought he packed his own piece and wanted to go out there and do it himself. I'm sure he's capable of it, but I know that as a law-abiding citizen he wouldn't do it. Sometimes he scares me in question period. It's a good thing he's law-abiding and staying in here and just passing laws rather than going out and trying to correct it on his own, because that would not be the way to do it.

We're all concerned. I don't want anybody out there to think that any one political party seems to have the one-up on community safety, because all of us here care about that. Maybe we have a different approach about it, but what we're looking at are the approaches that the vast majority of the literature on these problems today says is the direction we should be going in.

I'd like to get into one other area before I allow one of my colleagues also to speak, and that is police funding. This is a major problem throughout Ontario. When Bill 105, the Police Services Act, brought in the notion that all municipalities should pay for policing, I understood the principle of that and I accept that. I know that historically a vast majority of municipalities in Ontario, through the income tax their citizens pay, have been receiving OPP policing. Over time, those municipalities with a population of over 5,000 have either had to contract with the OPP at local taxpayers' expense or provide their own municipal police force. Certainly there has been an inequity in that system, so I don't blame the government for trying to bring some equality in how Ontarians pay for their policing. We all should be paying our fair share. If I was writing this out, I would be underlining "fair share," because the system the Solicitor General has brought in is the most unfair system I have ever, ever seen. What he has decided to do with those communities that up till now have been relying on OPP service is to assess those municipalities, on a per household basis, a flat fee for policing.


The trouble with that is that we have now a range in Ontario from Parry Sound district, which depending on your focus is either in southern or northern Ontario -- it's kind of in the middle of Ontario. In Parry Sound district, the households there will be required to pay $169 for OPP policing. That's probably pretty good. We had heard that possibly an average price might be around $200. I suppose that's a pretty good price to pay for the superior quality of policing that Ontarians enjoy from the OPP. They're one of the finest police forces in the world, nobody is going to dispute that, and we are well served by them. We should be paying for that service and that's a pretty good price.

But when you start to look and, ironically and unfortunately, go north of Parry Sound, the discrepancy in that per household charge is absolutely alarming. It goes from $169 in Parry Sound to, just 150 miles up the road in through the area I represent, $480 per household in Timiskaming, all the way to, in my colleague's riding of Kenora, $711 per household for OPP policing. I've got to wonder why the grave discrepancy in that household charge. Mr Speaker, I'm sure that if you put yourself in my shoes and represented people who would be paying three or four times as much as the people of Parry Sound, you'd be exercised about this also.

What's doubly galling about this is that during the war years the breweries came to the government of Ontario and said: "We need some sort of efficient system to market beer throughout the province. If we could get this sort of agency developed without any competition, we could guarantee a few things. One of the things we could guarantee would be the same price for the cost of beer in Toronto, Parry Sound and right to the Manitoba border, in Kenora." I'm using this kind of facetious example just to show how the thinking has been in the past by a Conservative government, that somehow it was right and proper and fair that Ontarians pay the same price for a case of beer. I find it absolutely stunning that the Mike Harris government believes that while it's okay, and maybe right and proper, for Ontarians to pay the same price for a case of beer throughout this province, it's not okay for households, regardless of income and how expensive that house is, to pay at least the same average price for policing. Why do we have such discrimination? That's what it is.

Ironically enough, we would find for sure that we would have people of much greater affluence, by and large, and the vast majority of them, living in southern Ontario, in the rich suburbs of many of our major centres, compared to places like Kenora district where the average incomes are much lower, all the statistics are lower when it comes to earning power, unemployment etc. So why are the people of northern Ontario paying $400, $500 and $600 more per household for the same policing than you're going to have in Parry Sound and other rural centres of southern Ontario that receive OPP policing? That's just not right. That's just not fair. I just don't understand why this government feels this is the way to go about bringing forward the cost of policing.

Do we charge people a different rate for other government services in northern or rural Ontario? We do not discriminate or charge people different rates for access to the health care system or the social service system in this province, the education system being another one, but yet for something as vitally important as all these other core government services we deliver to the people of Ontario, this Solicitor General in the Mike Harris government has decided that we are going to have discriminatory rates levied per household, specifically on households in northern Ontario, for policing. That is just not right and that is not fair. Coupled with that, at the same time the government is downloading a lot of charges to municipalities that are going to be transferred through to local tax levies that have never been there before for municipalities.

So while a rural municipality, say, in my district of Timiskaming is now going to be charged an extra $480 per household for policing, those households in many of those rural municipalities are going to find themselves caught up in the downloading of the farm tax rebate to the municipalities. That means the municipalities are going to have to make up for that loss of revenue.

I know, Mr Speaker, you live in a rural municipality and I'm sure you must be concerned about this, because you understand how this system works, that where before the municipality was able to assess the farm land at 100% of the assessment against the mill rate, knowing that the farmer received a grant directly from the provincial government, that no longer is going to take place. Therefore, the township can only assess their mill rate against 25% of the value of that farm land. But where is the township going to make up the rest of that money? They're going to have to raise the mill rate across all other classes of property within that township.

What's happening with that program, with the policing that's coming in, is that in the very township I live in, Casey township, right above Lake Timiskaming -- I was speaking to the municipal clerk the other day -- our taxes next year, in four months' time, are going to rise 159%. That's absolutely incredible, but that's the type of tax increase we are facing.

It's because the Minister of Municipal Affairs has not spoken to the Minister of Agriculture or the Solicitor General about all the other downloaded services that are going to our municipalities. In essence what they're doing is reconstructing a building without a blueprint. We agree with some reconstruction. We can always do things better. There's nobody in this House who would stand in their place here tonight and say: "We're absolutely doing everything perfectly here. It's okay, we don't have to change." We know we can do better, and in some areas we can do much better. We're not against restructuring. What we are against is restructuring this municipal building without the blueprint. You don't even know where you're getting it to, because you don't have the plan in place.

Supposedly now in another week finally the Minister of Municipal Affairs is going to give the final costs to the municipalities. This is too late for some municipalities, but better late than never. But why these figures haven't come on is because I think you're going to find that in many cases you're going to have to bail out many of these municipalities. I cannot see the township council of Casey that will be newly elected next year actually passing that bylaw, as we used to around the council table, for a 159% increase. I can't see that happening.

What is going to happen is that many municipalities are not going to contract with the OPP to get the proper standards of policing they require, because they have an option. What they could do is just have the OPP charge them on an on-call basis. In the township I live in I must tell you we have model citizens. We have very few offences going on. Occasionally, we've got somebody going through on the highway; we get a break-in from somewhere else and it happens here. The OPP respond sometimes -- not always, but they respond. They're busy and they're underresourced. But our township council has the choice of not paying the $480 per household charge.


That means we wouldn't get the OPP driving through, but they don't come through our township anyway. We don't have a built-up downtown area or a highly densely populated suburban area with them cruising through the streets. We don't get that anyway. But if ever we should have a major crime in our township, we're in big trouble. If we ever had a murder in our township and the hundreds and thousands of dollars of investigative work that would be entailed from that, we would be in real trouble and our ratepayers would be in real trouble. But many townships are now being faced with this decision and gambling on, if you will, their treasury and maybe even the safety of their citizens, because they don't know how many of our citizens are going to be able to pay the $300, $400, $500, up to $711 per household for safety.

Quite frankly, I don't think safety should be for sale. I don't think that safety protection should only be available to those who can afford it and that our poor neighbourhoods are going to be let go, like the inner-city cores of many major American cities have been let go over the last 30 years. That's just not the Ontario I believe in and that's not the Ontario I grew up in. I never expected that we would be getting to this time and this place where we might get to the point where communities could not afford proper basic policing but might have to gamble with the safety of their citizens and not contract to get the proper policing that is required. That's not the type of world we want to live in here. We pride ourselves, as Ontarians and Canadians, on having relatively safe communities.

I'd say to the viewing public out there that by and large this is a very safe country to live in. While yes, every day the newspaper is full of in some cases very spectacular offences that happen from time to time, by and large the vast majority of our citizens are safe and we are well served by our police departments. But our police departments have to be well-resourced. You can't keep cutting and cutting and cutting.

The secret of policing is having a lot of people in the community, on the ground, like it used to be, some people would say, in the old days when you had the presence of police, not necessarily even in their cars but on the beat, as they used to say, in the streets, in the stores, in the coffee shops. They joke about the police being in coffee shops. That's exactly where they should be. They should be in our stores, in the streets, in all the shops, talking to you and me, getting to know what's happening in the neighbourhood. Get them out of the isolation of their cars. Get more of them and get them into our communities. That's how you create safe communities.

That does cost money and I don't apologize for that. I think that's a core function of government, that public safety has to be up there with education and health care. There's no doubt about it, it's all part of community safety, just as health care is. It is as vitally important. It does cost money. There's no magic bullet. It just takes some effort and it does take resources.

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

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On the comments made by my colleague from Timiskaming, I think two points are really important here. The government tends to forget that when we talk about security of our communities, the important point is that we need to put reliance on community policing. The police need to be tied into our communities in a very real way so they've got their ear to the ground and they understand what's happening in the community and with that information are first of all better able to have citizens partake and participate in making our community safer, but also for them to better understand what's going on.

One of the fears I have is that part of the effect of this government's downloading exercise and the cuts the government has made to various programs at Ministry of Community and Social services, at the Ministry of Health and whatever, is really adding and fuelling a stronger presence of criminal elements in our community. All members are here in Toronto during the week and on the weekend are back home in our ridings. You notice that in Toronto there are a lot more people on the streets. I'm not saying they're out celebrating and going shopping; we're talking about people who are out on the streets we never used to see there, making us feel a little more insecure about what happens in the community of Toronto.

The point I would make is that the government needs to understand that if you're serious about dealing with crime and you're serious about making our communities safer, you can bring all the bills you want to this House; in the end it comes down to economics. If people have jobs and people have hope and people have somewhere to go during the day, it's a lot easier to make our communities safe. That would be the first point, that the government needs to understand that community policing is really making sure that everybody in the community is plugged in.

On the issue of the OPP, downloaded costs to municipalities, in the six seconds I have left, that is yet to come home to roost to the Tory government. They don't understand what this means politically.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'm pleased to make some comments on the remarks by the member for Timiskaming. I want to say, at the risk of hearing from my own colleagues later, I'm sure, that he is one of my favourite members, because he has a habit of sticking to the topic and he's very earnest in his remarks. Tonight he gave a very in-depth analysis of a lot of issues, some of them more on topic on Bill 102 and some of them not, but they certainly were in the general area of community crime issues and particularly community safety.

Of particular interest, his comments in regard to the issue of publicizing offenders' names were very well made. It was obvious that this member had read the bill in depth. He served on the committee and was involved in the discussions clause by clause and some of the changes that were brought about. As usual, his approach was not partisan; it was more a matter of trying to be practical and trying to assist the government in looking at some of the issues in community safety. I'm sure the minister will want to consider some of his recommendations in regard to community policing.

I know some of the issues he has raised in respect to township-by-township and municipality-by-municipality policing are also present in my riding, but I did think in his comments he may have sold the bill short a little bit in that this is a bill that is designed to bring into effect recommendations made by a coroner's jury. In that regard, it is one that's very much needed and one that's long overdue. It's one that focuses on public safety. It's not designed to be a huge get-tough bill; it is one that, as the minister said, is very practical in nature. But they were very good remarks.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I want to congratulate my colleague from Timiskaming. No wonder he's the critic for the Solicitor General. He talked about security or increasing the safety of our citizens in our communities; it is very important at this time. He has touched some points that should affect all the people in this province.

When we're saying that we are going to have some second-class citizens, when we look at what it is going to cost to get OPP service purchased by the municipalities -- it varies from $106 to $711.84 per household -- it's unbelievable. I'm sure the member just across the way mentioned that the Solicitor General will take a hard look at it. Let's hope he will, because I have all the figures here, how much it is going to cost for different ridings or different counties in our province. It varies too much. If I look at the district of Manitoulin, it's going to cost $360. If I look at the district of Muskoka, $203. It varies too much when I say the highest is $711. At the present time, the town of Smiths Falls has its own police force. The OPP submitted a quote after reviewing the services the municipality or the town will require and there's no way the OPP will be able to provide this service.

At the present time in my own riding I've seen people who have had break-ins being visited by the OPP three days after. I don't blame the OPP. It's because there are no resources available at the present time. When they say Prescott and Russell, the cost for Clarence and Rockland is $1.3 million. There's no way they're going to be --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further questions and comments.


Mr Kormos: I too appreciated the contribution to this debate by the member for Timiskaming. I agree that he was quite focused in his comments, so much so that when I have the opportunity to speak in a few minutes, I'm going to paint perhaps a broader picture than my colleague from Timiskaming did. While he addressed the specifics of Bill 102 with a narrow focus, I quite frankly intend to put it into the larger picture.

One of the problems we've got here is that this bill is being touted as part of this whole law-and-order campaign on the part of this government. I think one should find that whole campaign a little questionable; in fact, one should regard it with some cynicism, and that is to say, is this government interested merely in exploiting some of the very real fears that are out there in a whole lot of communities among a whole lot of people at the expense of any real and direct attack on crime and criminal behaviour?

I think that's a question many Ontarians are asking increasingly as they see this government defunding police forces, as they see, as the member for Timiskaming pointed out, communities resorting to privatized policing, be it a particular neighbourhood or a particular business district, knowing full well that the inadequacy of police funding has left public police forces, municipal or regional police forces, incapable of responding appropriately to calls for their assistance.

This government has a lot of answers to give to a lot of valid questions about whether it has a real commitment to dealing with the serious problem of crime in our communities and the impact it has on families --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Ramsay: I wish I could change the procedure of this House and surrender my time, but I know I can't, to a fellow member because I really would owe it the member for Sudbury, who I know had an important contribution to make to this particular bill that he wanted to put on the record. I just got so involved and interested in this bill that I didn't allow him some time. So I owe him that time another time because I know he's very concerned with community safety and is on top of those issues in Sudbury.

I appreciate the comments from the other members, commenting on my speech. It's nice when we can come together in this House and actually all agree on a bill. That doesn't happen all that often, but obviously in this case it's a concern we all share and the bill presents a remedy we all basically share also. While it's not perfect, I think it's what we need at this time and so therefore unreservedly we support it.

I think of many of the core functions that we are responsible for at the provincial level. Nothing can be as important as community safety. How our criminal justice system works, how our police interact with citizens in our community is a very important function of government, and in a society the way we're developing it becomes a more and more important function of government. We, as our responsibility, must ensure that we always endeavour to make sure that the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect all of us are properly supported, properly financed, so they can do the jobs to protect Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Kormos: As I indicated earlier this evening, the Solicitor General can expect support for this bill from every member of this caucus, the New Democrats, and I'm confident, as has been indicated by Liberal critic Mr Ramsay, the member for Timiskaming, he can expect their support for the bill as well.

I want to express my gratitude to Frances Lankin from Beaches-Woodbine and to Marion Boyd because they sat in on the committee for the two days the committee heard submissions and then dealt with clause-by-clause. I of course was in estimates with the Attorney General, putting questions to the Attorney General about the family support plan and Bill 82.

I suppose I'm especially grateful that it is the Solicitor General who's the sponsor of this bill. If it were, for instance, the Attorney General who was the sponsor of this bill, this bill would receive third reading and would still be sitting around for nine, 10 and 11 months without ever being utilized or applied, without any of its sections being given effect, as the Attorney General has of course, as you know, done with Bill 82 where the Attorney General talks a big game but simply can't deliver.

I'm grateful that it's the Solicitor General because I'm confident that the Solicitor General, with a far higher level of competence than the Attorney General, is going to ensure that once this bill receives third-reading passage, it's put into effect in relatively short order, very promptly.

Of course the Solicitor General and his colleague from Scarborough West, Jim Brown, paired up, teamed up on the introduction, the preliminary comments about the bill. It seems that the member for Scarborough West got sidetracked a little bit. The Solicitor General's interpretation of the impact of the bill I don't think anybody takes quarrel with.

There are a couple of things that should be noted: one in so far as this permits the Ministry of Correctional Services to release information about persons whose sentences perhaps are not over but who are being released on parole. Let's understand and point out, as did many of the commentators during the course of the one day of hearings, that we're dealing here with provincial institutions, so the persons about whom information is going to be given to the community are persons who have received custodial sentences of two years less a day. You're not going to find a large number of the serious and dangerous types of offenders who have been talked about in that category of people. You're going to find that will be the rarer occasions rather than the more common occasions.

The Change of Name Act: Not wanting people to avoid the burden of a criminal record by changing their name, who can quarrel with that? One also has to understand, however, that people can use any name they want. People don't have to undergo a formal change of name to adopt a nom de plume as such. Obviously, what this will do is cause people who are disinclined to use their real names to simply pursue other avenues or other ways of obtaining identification or drivers' licences under an assumed name. The fact is that changes of name have always been published in the Ontario Gazette in any event, so were always capable of being reviewed and being public matters.

Similarly with the power that's given to police. I suppose the one concern there is: There were some questions raised about this, in particular by Alan Borovoy, who made submissions to the committee. As you know, Alan Borovoy, highly regarded general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, had some concerns about exactly what it is that's going to be released by way of information and on what basis, what criteria.

There had been the suggestion, a very good one, and for the life of me I don't know why the Solicitor General's ministry would not have adopted the proposition that Mr Borovoy made and that the New Democratic Party moved by way of amendment, because all this does is relieve the authorities from the sanctions or controls of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. That's all it does. It creates an exception to that particular piece of legislation, and not unimportantly, I understand. Example after example has been cited of a dangerous offender released into an unsuspecting or unaware community such that people can be victimized again.


I ask at the same time -- this where I think the Solicitor General may be playing the law-and-order card a little too strongly -- how does the mere release of the information about that person protect the woman asleep in her bedroom, accessible through a balcony sliding door, from the rapist who is intent on committing another rape? I don't think that in itself carries with it a whole lot of protection. It's a little troublesome.

You should know that Mr Runciman was the beneficiary of some remarkable press recently. It was in the Toronto Star, of all places. Considering the things that hackers can do with the Internet and so on, it could have been some bright young minion in his bureaucracy who slipped this into the Star's computer on a late Sunday night, because he was the beneficiary of what I perceived as very complimentary press in the Toronto Star, with some shortcomings. Unlike his colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing -- remember the story about him and the dog? What was it, Tory or Puffy? It was a Lhasa apso, I think. Here is the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who can't even bring himself to own a Canadian dog; he has to get a Lhasa apso. I suppose that would be like the Minister of Trade driving a Mazda or a Datsun. The article about the Solicitor General didn't have some of the warm, comfy things his colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing had. There was no Bob Runciman sleeping with his dog; maybe it was edited out. But it was an incredibly flattering article, especially in the context of the Toronto Star, which isn't exactly a pro-Tory newspaper by any stretch of the imagination.

Interjection: Who wrote it?

Mr Kormos: I looked, and it wasn't Christina Blizzard who wrote it; it was Jane Armstrong. As I say, I was quite impressed by it.

What it did dwell on was the Solicitor General as a law-and-order person, tough on crime, and no two ways about it. I suppose it was welcome press after the fracas at Camp Getaway, Camp Runaway, or the various other names that have been applied to it, where the staff were oh so kind as to leave a van at the exit door for these young offenders to drive away in.

I'm also told that the van contained a whole lot of the paraphernalia that was to be used for the opening ceremonies the next day: folding chairs and disposable glasses for the champagne. I'm told that the van was filled with all this paraphernalia to celebrate the grand opening the next day.

In the aftermath of that sorry affair, the Solicitor General at one point, with great frustration, publicly said: "You don't understand. These kids are hard to handle. They're an unruly bunch." Well, of course they are. They're young offenders. What are you going to do? Go raid some of our high schools and take all the Ontario scholars and put them in boot camp so you get kids who won't be unruly, won't be hard to handle, won't be unmanageable? These are kids who need supervision and need some direction.

The government, with its boot camp philosophy, its boot camp mentality, its exploitation of a belief, mythical, mind you, that there is an increase in crime -- it was interesting with the Attorney General the other day in estimates. The Attorney General opened his comments by talking about the belief that crime is rising. He was very careful. It was a prepared speech. Of course I noted that: The Attorney General was very careful to talk about the belief that crime is rising. I said, "Attorney General, what's the reality?" The Attorney General conceded in the estimates committee that crime in fact, although not a dramatic decline, has been on a decline. I was concerned and troubled by a government that would want to exploit and perpetuate the myth rather than understand where the decline comes from and the wherefore and the why.

I suppose if you're really going to talk about crime in the community, you do things like -- I remember that when they were Toronto city councillors, Barbara Hall and Marilyn Churley did community audits. They used community members, people in respective neighbourhoods. I'm told that Marilyn Churley and Barbara Hall -- of course Barbara Hall is the mayor of Toronto now and Marilyn Churley is the member for Riverdale -- took people on tours of their neighbourhoods, on tours of their communities, identifying areas that were perceived as being dangerous, where somebody might be more capable of being victimized, addressing some very basic things like the absence or presence of, let's say, street lighting.

So simple, so fundamental, yet at the same time what a wonderfully refreshing way to address the issue of crime. You're not talking about it after the fact then, are you? You're not talking about locking them up for however long after the deed is done, after the victim has been victimized, after the injury has been imposed, and sometimes very seriously. You're talking about a truly preventive approach to crime, one which is far more productive at the end of the day than any number of boot camps, than any number of tough methods.

A comment was made earlier -- and I know it has great spin -- by the speaker who succeeded the Solicitor General, who said, "By God, if the feds are going to be soft on crime, it's up to the province to make up for their deficiencies." We've heard that before from these guys. Once again, in those same estimates a couple of weeks ago, the Attorney General came in talking a big line about the Young Offenders Act. I very specifically recall the Attorney General saying, "We need changes to the sections of the Young Offenders Act which concern the taking of statements from young offenders," because the hurdles there, the incredible barriers that exist to the police were such that too many young offenders were beating their raps and were walking away because the statements ended up being not admissible and the young offender ended up never getting tried on the merits of the case.

I thought, "That's an interesting proposition," because I remember back to the beginnings of the Young Offenders Act, when the police and all sorts of people had problems understanding how far one could go as an interrogator, as an interviewer, as a police officer, and yes, there were occasions were statements were ruled inadmissible because the rules hadn't been followed by the interrogating police officer, and you had courts of appeal interpreting and analysing particular pieces of legislation, especially as they applied to statement-taking, but it seemed to me that in relatively short order the problems were resolved. The police learned what was expected of them. A whole lot of people were resistant to the legislated rules for statement-taking, not that they were all that different from the traditional procedures, but everybody adapted.

So I said to the Solicitor General -- no, the Attorney General. Sorry, Solicitor General, because to even mention you in the same sentence as the Attorney General would do you a great injustice. I said to the Attorney General, who was on his law-and-order campaign, "Tell me what it is about the Young Offenders Act and the sections that govern the taking of statements" -- a confession; that's what we're talking about -- "that need changing." I asked, "Is it the requirement that a young offender be advised of his or her right to retain and instruct counsel without delay?" and the Attorney General said no. I said: "Okay. Is it the requirement that a young offender be advised of their right to have a parent or some other adult present?" The Attorney General said no. I wasn't going to embarrass anybody by suggesting that maybe the Attorney General advocated beating the daylights out of young kids to lure confessions out of them, but that in its own right would make a confession or admission inadmissible.

So I said, "Attorney General, please, exactly what part of the Young Offenders Act is it that you would want to see changed?" The poor Attorney General, with some -- it wasn't quite resignation, but with some frustration, said, "I'm not really sure of exactly what sections."


It left me with the distinct impression that the Attorney General really doesn't have any specific -- he talked a big game about going to the feds and leaning on them and getting the Young Offenders Act amended so statements could be more readily taken. The Attorney General doesn't know what he's talking about. He's playing the YOA card; he's playing the fear-of-crime card.

None of us should ever tolerate crime or the prospect of crime. I don't think there's anybody in this Legislature, anybody in this province, who doesn't think we should be tough on crime. But the real question is, how do you go about doing it? Do you deal with it after the fact? Do you seek out longer and longer and longer sentences? One of the considerations in sentencing for many people -- it seems to me that some judges, if not all judges, take it into consideration -- is the preponderance of a particular type of criminal activity. Heck, then shoplifting should draw the longest sentences, because it's probably the single most frequently committed crime. If you're going to use imprisonment as deterrence, well, by God, let's really sock it to shoplifters.

Of course, that's an absurd proposition. Everybody knows there are far more serious offences, although not with the same frequency as shoplifting, but which carry with them far more cost to the community, to individuals, to the victims and, sadly, to the families of those victims.

You were here last Thursday, Speaker, so you recall that we dealt with a Tory private member's bill, the issue of a week --


Mr Kormos: No, that was the boating. We dealt with that bill too, that you lose your driver's licence upon impaired driving of a boat.

We talked about a victims of crime week. It was acknowledged that it was an entirely symbolic gesture, but it served -- I recall listening to the other comments. One of my own very short comments was to the effect that upon having this victims of crime week, let's use it as an opportunity to reflect on, yes, the tragedy of violent crime and the tragedy it imposes upon the victims, their families and upon even the communities those people are from. But let's also start talking about ways we address crime in our community.

Once again, I go back to boot camps, privatized boot camps, of course. I'm told, and I don't know whether it's still going on, that the Ontario taxpayer is investing a whole lot of money in the new Tory boot camp up Barrie way, because they've had to call in correctional officers from the Ministry of Correctional Services to sort of guard the private sector guards to make sure that the private sector guards don't get lured into permitting getaways, like was done the night before the scheduled grand opening of Mr Runciman's boot camp up Barrie way.

The government says the way to go is tougher jail sentences, longer jail sentences, more of them probably, and privatize; let the private sector do it. I tell you, I disagree with the Solicitor General when it comes to the prospect of privately run jails. I think it's far too important a program and institution in our community to have them run on a for-profit basis. I think the experiences at Camp Getaway a couple of weeks ago illustrate that oh so clearly.

I think we had also better be concerned and understand that the boot camp, the jail, the tough punishment comes only after the crime has already been committed. It comes only after the hurt and the pain and the injury have already been imposed.

Let me tell you this: I think an investment in junior kindergarten, knowing the benefits it brings, would probably go a lot further in preventing crime at the end of the day than two or three or four times that investment in get-tough boot camps, which occur after the fact. Yet this government had no qualms in abolishing junior kindergarten here in the province of Ontario: another attack on kids. What's new? We've witnessed two-years-plus of it. This government had no qualms about abolishing junior kindergarten, with the incredible benefits that are attached to it.

This government had no qualms about abandoning your sons and daughters who aspire to post-secondary education, because it has done that with its new tuition increases and the cost it's handed down. That doesn't mean kids won't be going to university. Rich kids are going to be going to university, but not the children of some of those people I was with last Thursday night, some of those 600-plus CUPE workers down at the plumbers' hall who gathered to prepare some strategy around Bill 136. The people who are cleaning staff, the people who are nursing aides in seniors' homes and people who are custodian staff in schools, their kids are the ones who are going to be denied the right to go to university. I think some investment in ensuring universal access to post-secondary education may well go a lot further to preventing crime in this province of ours than any number of high-priced private boot camps, which have some popular appeal.

People don't like the proposition of criminals who are sentenced to jail being coddled, if you will. The Solicitor General showed those inmates. He took away the $10 and then the $5 allowance they received each week to buy things like toiletries and cigarettes and so on. Mind you, he didn't care about the fact that this would make it all that much more difficult for correctional officers to police those facilities because of the new underground markets, the black markets, and the potential for thievery and extortion that this would generate in a jail, where modest things become valuable commodities, where a package of cigarettes can acquire a significant value.

Quite frankly, I much prefer the attitude of people like Marilyn Churley and Barbara Hall when they said it isn't enough simply to deal with crime after the fact. They weren't alone in this endeavour. They relied on and involved the members of their community. That's the kind of people they are. That's the kind of person Barbara Hall is. She doesn't dictate from on top. Rather, she seeks out from among the grass roots people in neighbourhoods and people in her community to become involved in that type of partnership.

I suppose it's a partnership that she was involved with back when the now member for Riverdale and Barbara Hall were out doing these community audits that I read about at the time and that I've been told about since by a number of people who remember them. This evening alone, I spoke with a woman who had been involved in these, who understood that this was a community response, a grass-roots response to the problem of prospective crime and who understood that this is the kind of leadership that Barbara Hall gave and continues to give and that from time to time the member for Riverdale gives. I quite like that approach.

I mentioned early on about how grateful I was that this was the Solicitor General's bill and not the Attorney General's bill. You've got to talk about the ability of this government -- any government at any given point in time, but in this case, this government -- to administer the responsibilities that are given to it. Although Bill 102 -- I was thinking of Bill 82, which is why I almost said 182. I think I might mention Bill 82 in just a second.

Bill 102 is a modest piece of legislation. People earlier today said: "Here you've got eight, nine pages of legislation. How are you going to talk about that for an hour?" I was worried that perhaps I might find myself without further comment. But then I understood that Bill 102, although a narrow issue in itself, is really part of this broader approach, and a failed approach, I tell you, by this government in its dramatic but ineffective handling of the issue of so-called law and order.


The member for Timiskaming spoke about policing. Let me speak about policing for a little while myself. Down in Niagara region we've got one of the largest police forces in all of Ontario, and I know the Solicitor General is familiar with that police force. He has been down there at events that I've been at. I've got to tell you, I have the highest regard for the Niagara Regional Police Force, the highest regard for the women and men who serve in it, who protect their community and the people in that community.

I also have a whole lot of concern, though, and the Solicitor General should too. All the amendments in the world to the Change of Name Act aren't going to resolve the problem that policing has had foisted upon it, the crisis that has been imposed upon police forces across this province by this government. This is what bothers me. This government talks a big game about law and order, but when it comes time to deliver, we get oh so very little. We've witnessed, and continue to witness, declines in resourcing of police forces, the Niagara Regional Police Force among them.

The member for Timiskaming made but one reference to a scenario down in St Catharines. He was very careful not to blame the Niagara Regional Police, and I'll join him in that 100%. You can't fault the cops down in Niagara for what have become increasingly longer response times.

The fact is that policing is a labour-intensive activity. That's the big-ticket item, and I don't begrudge police officers their salaries. I'm concerned and I hope the Solicitor General soon will address -- I'm told, Solicitor General, that the Ontario Provincial Police have been waiting some months now for their contract negotiations to bear some fruit, for them to see some results of the negotiations with this government. They've dropped considerably, they tell me, in where they rank in the province in terms of salaried police officers. One mentioned down to around 27th in the ranking.

Solicitor General, surely -- like the Jane Armstrong article in the Star says, you're a law-and-order guy. Gosh, was it one of the Liberal members who said -- let me see what it says right here. "He's a passionate member who stands up for what he believes." That's what Chris Stockwell said about him. I'm not sure that Chris Stockwell would say that about all the members of the Conservative caucus. I'm not sure that he would say that about all the members of the Conservative cabinet. Don't forget, "He's a passionate person." I'm not sure he'd even say that about the Premier, but he says it about Bob Runciman, the Solicitor General.

They speak of him in glowing terms. They speak of him as being most committed to policing, and I'm inclined to believe it. I've known the Solicitor General from when he was a critic over here, when he was a member of the third party. I've known him for a long time and I have no doubt that he is no more pleased about the failure for there to be a contract with the Ontario Provincial Police in this province than I am or than OPP officers are.

But the sad reality is that at the end of the day it's Mike Harris and the backroom boys -- I suppose an occasional woman but, by and large, boys -- who are calling the shots. Because of an attitude of a Premier, you've got in some respects a lame duck Sol Gen here, one who means well and would like to do his very best, but a Solicitor General who gets his marching orders very much from the Premier's office.

You've got Niagara Regional Police officers increasingly being reduced in numbers rather than increased as they ought to be because of the growing population, because of the fact that it's a border community which has all the problems that border communities have: incidents of illicit drug trafficking which again are related to being in a border community. There's the casino in Niagara Falls, and although there are some police officers dedicated to the casino, probably the biggest single spinoff from the casino has not been the trickle-down by way of business but has been the crime that flows. It's the type of criminal activity that's attracted by casinos and as well by the big crowds that casinos like that one attract.

The Niagara Regional Police are becoming increasingly concerned about lengthier and lengthier response times. In many instances now they have pared away the level of services they provide so there are certain things to which the police simply won't respond. If it's a matter, like you heard about, of the octogenarian woman whose groceries melted after being involved in a fender-bender -- and it took the police three hours to respond -- in many of those types of cases you don't even expect police to respond. In fact the Niagara Regional Police will tell you, "Go home and call it into the office so you can get an incident number you can use with your insurance claim." Basically, the police are merely accommodating you. They have no intention of pursuing an investigation, simply because there are not enough police officers to go around.

Let me tell you what one senior police officer told Niagara region approximately a year ago, that is, that police forces like Niagara region have been forced into outright mistruths with the public. For months and months at a time, for instance, break-and-enters simply aren't investigated. If the victim calls up and says, "What's happening?" they'll be assured by somebody in CIB that the file is in the course of being investigated or examined, but all that is is a little bit of fluff designed to put the people off, designed to let them think that somehow something is happening with their break-and-enter file, but in fact nothing is.

Do you think the criminals don't know that? You bet your boots they know it. Criminals down in Niagara know that a break-and-enter is unlikely to ever undergo a thorough police investigation. Attendance at the scene of a break-and-enter is becoming more and more difficult, and that's an initial attendance. Police know that you blow on some fingerprint powder, and as often as not, they do it just for public relations with the homeowner, so the homeowner feels good about thinking there's a television-style investigation taking place.

Again, I tell you, the criminals know it. As often as not, if there's a resolution to a series of break-and-enters, it's because a confession was lured out of one of the parties, who then, for better or worse, turned in all of his cohorts in crime. The police have acknowledged publicly that they are so stretched in terms of their time that investigative work is becoming scarcer and scarcer. That's in addition to these protracted response times. That's not what the public had in mind when they voted for this government. I think they were sold a bill of goods. This government, once again, talks a big game about law and order, but at the end of the day simply doesn't deliver.

In this case, it's not bad legislation, it's fine legislation. It's fine to good, but how much it's going to do to prevent crime in Ontario is very, very questionable. What good does it do to publish the name of a paedophile if you don't have police officers in a position to respond to a telephone call identifying that particular paedophile in the area of, let's say, a school yard or a playground? What good does it do to have the public know who that person is if the police don't have the resources?

The peculiar thing is that both the Solicitor General and his colleague from Scarborough somewhere, Jim Brown, talked about giving the police the tools they need to protect our society, to protect our community. The fact is, this government has been either breaking the tools or taking away the tools the police need to protect our communities. Cops know it, members and citizens of communities across this province know it and, worst of all, the criminals know it.



Mr Kormos: Well, they do. They know increasingly that there are days during the week when you have so few police officers out on the road, you've got huge areas of the Niagara region with literally a couple or a few police officers available to be dispatched to an incident. Again, it's not a big secret. The police know it; they know it's a problem. The public know it; they know it's a problem. And yes, the criminals know it, and for them it's like a holiday.

This is not an environment that discourages crime. This government is creating an environment that I am convinced will encourage crime, will facilitate crime, where with all the patch-up in the world Bill 102 is not going to undo the serious damage they have done.

Let's talk about the real crimes. I indicated my pleasure that it was the Solicitor General who had carriage of this bill and not the Attorney General. Here's our Attorney General, the chief law officer of the province, and what kind of message does this government give out? On the one hand, it wants to talk law and order. What's it saying to the scofflaws who don't support their kids, the defaulters? What is the government saying to them by its abandonment of the family support plan and by its failure to implement Bill 82 -- you know, more tools?

This language is consistent; it pops up over and over again. You had the Minister of Education and the Minister of Municipal Affairs talking about toolboxes and giving the municipalities tools. We're starting to get an idea of what they're talking about as we witness Bill 136, notwithstanding what so far appears to be some major capitulation by the Minister of Labour to the point where, my God, I read in the Toronto Sun, in Linda Leatherdale's column, that there are some right-wing groups calling for Witmer's head, that's she has abandoned some of these major corporate cartels with her capitulation on Bill 136.

This government has found itself in a very peculiar position. You know the groups I'm talking about, the little groups -- I won't use any adjectives, but what are some of the groups?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Ontarians for Responsible Government.

Mr Kormos: Ontarians for Responsible Government, the billboard people.

Mr Martin: The Canadian national coalition --

Mr Kormos: Those things, yeah. They're calling for her head. They feel they've been betrayed, that Elizabeth Witmer has capitulated in the face of the promise by organized labour. I found that more than a little interesting.

But in any event, we found out that the toolbox, the tools for municipalities, are still very much going to be in Bill 136. If you listened to the Minister of Labour today addressing the committee, her wealthy Bay Street friends are going to be okay at the end of the day; no two ways about it. I mention that because of the language being used by the Solicitor General and by his colleague the member for Scarborough West. They talk about this Bill 102 being the tools the police need to protect our community, to protect our society.

The tools that cops need are adequate resources so they can properly staff their shifts and the platoons working those shifts, Solicitor General. Those are the tools that police officers need. The tools that police officers need mean having adequate staffing so that police can respond promptly to a request for assistance or to the report of a crime or to a crisis wherein life and limb could well be imperilled, so that they can respond promptly and can respond in sufficient numbers that their safety is being protected, that they are not being drawn into situations where they are vulnerable and become at risk of attack on themselves. Those are the tools they need.

Bill 102, while it's a bill that warrants -- we don't want criminals changing their names under the Change of Name Act and then carrying on the rest of their lives without carrying the burden of their criminal record. Of course not. We don't want what are truly dangerous offenders being released into the community without those communities being aware.

Hearken back, though. I got a call from out of province last week about the Victims' Bill of Rights. Again, this is your colleague the Attorney General's Victims' Bill of Rights. I cited it as a laudable piece of legislation. I think you'll agree with me, Speaker. But I said it was mentioned far more frequently in the House in the context of the violation of it than in the context of adherence to it.

Again, it was so slick. It was all part of the law-and-order stuff. Yet there have been more occasions, and specifically the member for St Catharines, Jim Bradley, and I have occasion after occasion to bring to the Attorney General's attention violations of the Victims' Bill of Rights, which includes a requirement that in the course of prosecution and/or resolving charges with an accused, the victim have an inherent role.

The prospect of advising a victim that their assaulter, their assailant, is going to be released back into the community isn't in itself repugnant. What is noteworthy is that, just as with the Victims' Bill of Rights, there is no recourse for the victim who wasn't appropriately advised even when it's a right without a remedy. What we have here with Bill 102 vis-à-vis the permission given to police services and to the Ministry of Correctional Services to release information about a perpetrator, an assailant, would appear, just as the Victims' Bill of Rights does, to create some rights for the victim, but they are rights that are accorded a victim without any remedy. That is to say, how does the victim ensure enforcement of that obligation to him or her by the police authorities or by the corrections authorities?

I suspect we are liable to find Bill 102 -- I shouldn't say "suspect." I fear that we may find it referred to, just as with the Victims' Bill of Rights, as often in the context of it not being adhered to or being misused or abused as not.

One of the other questions that came up was the criteria that will be used. One of the things that bothered me was that Alan Borovoy made some very sound suggestions to the committee, which were then reflected in a motion presented by way of an amendment by the New Democrats. That is that there be the utilization of a judge's order before information is contemplated being released by the police services boards or by correctional services, that there be a judicial review. This was at the suggestion of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. It was presented by way of an amendment and turned down flat by the parliamentary assistant who represented the minister at the hearings.

This, I should tell you, Speaker, is the new parliamentary assistant. The parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General used to be Gary Carr, the member for Oakville South, but you'll recall that back during the Bill 84 hearings, when this government was putting it to firefighters here in the province, Gary Carr, who I've known for almost as long as I've known the Solicitor General -- Gary Carr is one of the bright lights among a pretty dim group over in those Tory back benches, yet what happens to Gary Carr? Again, he had been the Solicitor General's parliamentary assistant. Gary Carr found himself being a little too concerned about the nature and the direction of Tory government policy. I'm not going to repeat to you the things Gary Carr had to say about the Premier and the government. They've been said often enough. In fact, they've been published often enough. Gary Carr didn't say them before he got ousted as the Solicitor General's parliamentary assistant; he said them afterwards. Gary Carr, who unlike some of his fellow ousted-out people kept his comments entirely within caucus but, I should tell you, during the Bill 84 hearings was showing some attention to the firefighters who were coming, found himself out, replaced by Bob Wood.


I suppose I have nothing personal against Mr Wood, but read the transcript of the committee hearings. It's two days: one day of submissions, one day of clause-by-clause. I have nothing personal against Mr Wood but, I tell you, as the parliamentary assistant he wasn't quite as responsive as he could have been to some of the questions and certainly I don't think was anywhere near as effective as Gary Carr would have been had Gary Carr still been the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General.

I mentioned Linda Leatherdale in the Toronto Sun and her reporting that some of these groups, the billboard people of one ilk or another, are looking for Liz Witmer's head. You should have heard what some of the Tory backbenchers were saying last Thursday afternoon. They clearly hadn't been briefed about the announcement, or at least the specifics of the announcement, that the Minister of Labour and her Premier, Mike Harris, were going to be making in the House. Some of the Tory backbenchers were just hopping. I heard them. By God, they figured they had really been sold out. They were worried: "What are we going to tell our small gaggle of supporters back home now? We promised them we were going to take Sid Ryan out behind the barn and give him a darned good thrashing." Some of them have been saying that to their constituents back home, and all of a sudden their Minister of Labour capitulates, says: "No way. I ain't taking on public sector unions. There are just too many people, and those people are too committed."

They are like the people I talked to at the plumbers' hall last Thursday night, wonderful people: custodians from schools, people working in health care, people working in transfer-payment agencies, a lot of them new Canadians, immigrant people who have taken it for a whole lifetime and have decided they aren't going to take it any more, least of all from these guys. And Liz Witmer, it appears, had to back down. I'm not sure yet. It remains to be seen. We'd still like to see the amendments.

Again, it's unfortunate. There was one amendment put to the committee on Bill 102 which I think would have provided the penultimate safeguard. What they've done now is they have left it up to local police services boards to determine the standards or the guidelines by which police departments will gauge themselves when it comes to deciding what information to release, and about whom. One of the concerns I had initially and that my colleagues certainly had and that a whole lot of people out in the community had was that the power as it was in the bill before amended was a pretty blanket power that could have included the power to release information about victims. Think about it, the prospect of a victim's location, whereabouts, personal data being released. Again, that wasn't the spirit of the bill; I understand that. But the door was wide open.

Now they've delineated and set a schedule for disclosure by both correctional services and police. They have set out an eight-point requirement that will control somewhat the reasons for the release of a particular bit of information. But they turned down the prospect of using a member of the judiciary as a protection of, I suppose, individual and public rights. The process as suggested was as simple as this: It was a matter of going to a judge, the way one would go to a judge for a search warrant -- a search warrant is as good an example as any -- and saying, "This is the information we want to release, and this is why," and having a judge weigh that against the act to determine whether or not that is what the act was intended to do.

I was looking at that Toronto Star article again about the Solicitor General.


Mr Kormos: No, we're okay. I hadn't highlighted any of it.

There was a malcontent out in the Brockville area. That's where the Solicitor General comes from. I've been to his community and I like the waterfront especially, some of the old stone buildings there. But there's one fellow who looks like he -- he's trying to trash Runciman; he really is, a fellow called McKenna. No wonder he lost the election, if that's as good as he can come up with in terms of vitriol. I'll wait till after, but if that's the level of energy McKenna used in attacking Runciman during the last provincial election, so much for the Liberal candidate's prospects out in Brockville. Heck, I could have said nastier things about the Solicitor General without even having known him. But here you've got a fellow, McKenna, who is still fighting the election.

Again, I suppose every time a new government gets elected, one hopes that things can be done differently. This government has demonstrated very quickly that it isn't intent on moving forward, but is prepared to turn the hands of time back to what it sees as the good old days of maybe the 1940s or 1950s, and you know what I mean, when only the rich got to university, when only the rich got health care, when women knew their place. The government sees those as the good old days, the 1940s and 1950s, when the sick could get medical treatment only if they had money.

I was hoping, I suppose, however naïvely -- and I can see that with this government it would be naïve to hope -- that maybe finally there would be a government that would embark on some true tripartite, if you will, committee activities where they didn't weight up the committee like they have, committee after committee. They did it on Bill 102 -- mind you, at the end of the day not with some of the same incredibly serious consequences that have attached to so many other pieces of legislation for the general public and general good.

We, and quite frankly OPSEU did too, Leah Casselman and correctional officers here in Ontario, had offered from day one to work with this government, any government, to talk about corrections and to do it in a very public way and perhaps to bring in some expertise and talk about places where changes can and should be made. The real issue is, one, hoping that as few people as possible have to be sent to jail. The second one, and the Solicitor General knows this and has articulated it himself, is hoping you reduce the recidivism rate; in other words, hoping that jail has had a meaningful impact, should an offender commit a serious enough crime to warrant going there. I would have welcomed and this party would have welcomed and would have participated in a very non-partisan way in a very public and candid discussion about corrections in the province of Ontario: where changes had to be made, if any, and how.

The government doesn't do things that way. Oh, it sent its three musketeers on a little trip to New York City to examine -- please. We've got to go to New York City to get lessons on policing? It really boggles the mind a little bit. Or, quite frankly, lessons on crime control: That was a weird one. I have my own views about that and the wherefore and the why of that little junket. I'll not share them here. I may never share them with the public, because -- just because.


The other issue, though, is that this government actually exploits the mythology of increasing crime when in fact they're forced to agree that crime rates have dropped, albeit by small percentages, by small numbers. Why won't they have an open and honest discussion about crime and the causes of crime and maybe some innovative or creative ways of reducing the rate of crime before the fact, not after the fact, not with mega-jails where offenders are warehoused and where they become yet more skilled criminals upon their release, but examining the whole issue of real rehabilitation or conducting the type of exercise Barbara Hall and Marilyn Churley, both as councillors for Toronto city council, did -- it must have been a heck of a long time ago, but when they were both city councillors -- when they did community audits, taking a look at what helps to make safer communities? To me, those seem like much sounder investments.

One wonders what role the Solicitor General took in cabinet on the issue of the abandonment of junior kindergarten, because we know there is all sorts of strong data -- the data's there; argue with it if you want -- talking about youngsters that had JK and how they were more inclined to complete their high school years. Come on, Solicitor General. Youngsters who are more inclined to complete high school, to go to high school even, are less inclined to find themselves in conflict with the criminal justice system, less inclined to find themselves involved in some of the rather serious crimes that I acknowledge young people are involved in. You've got to be from Mars not to know that's happening.

But there's nothing about this government's approach that can give any of us any assurance that the rate of crime is going to be reduced. Will it get tougher with offenders? It may well; I don't know. Will that have an effect on recidivism? I think not, because the American experience says very specifically that merely getting tough doesn't address the issue. When we've got escalating youth unemployment that continues, in a whole lot of this province, to be well into the double-digit figures; when we've got young people for whom the door is being slammed because of the tuition rate increases by this government, this government's desire that only the kids of rich families go to university and college; when we've got a government that won't look at crime and criminality and talk about ways of addressing it I suppose at the community level; when we've got families under attack because we've got a government here that doesn't care enough about kids and their moms to have an Attorney General with sufficient competence to get an FSP up and running or, even more so, to implement his 10 tough tools for enforcement of family support plan orders, I think you've got a government that's merely talking a big game, putting as much spin as it can and wanting to talk tough, but delivering zero.

We're going to support Bill 102, because in its own small way it will catch the occasional person. We've heard examples cited about people who are dropping through the cracks, and we're going to stop that. But Bill 102 does not address the reality of crime; it doesn't address the reality of victims of crime. Bill 102, while it may play well to the law-and-order theme, is but a scratch on the surface. I think this government had better be prepared to start talking honestly and --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Questions and comments?

Mr Galt: That was certainly entertaining. I listened very carefully to the member for Welland-Thorold speaking on, I thought, Bill 102, but it was rarely that he was on topic in making reference to it. I followed his talk quite a bit, about surprise announcements on Bill 136 and where some of the Conservatives were at that time. He then talked about Brockville and the Liberal candidate that Mr Runciman was running against. I don't care whether it was a good Liberal or a poor Liberal; Mr Runciman is going to win hands down every time. And then he talked about the good old days. The good old days you were describing didn't sound so good; they sounded like kind of nasty old days, the way you were putting it forward. You talked about trips to New York City. You talked about JK quite a bit; that had nothing to do with Bill 102. But you did lead that into serious crime, and I thought that was kind of close to being on topic. Then you talked about kids from rich families. Then you even wound up with the family support plan.

You notice how much I was following your speech. It had nothing to do with Bill 102 except on rare occasions. It's interesting that in Bill 102, when dangerous offenders are being released, it's very important that notification is being made to the community. I don't think our friend from Welland-Thorold ever even touched on that part, the disclosure of information, and I think this is pretty important, that police services boards can develop policies, come up with regulations as to the nature of information that will be disclosed and to whom that information will be disclosed and under what circumstances.

I think it is high time we had that in place. It has been far too long that various criminals -- maybe we think or they think their time has been fairly served. However, I think it is only reasonable that people in the community know when they return to the community so they can at least be forewarned.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I want to compliment the member for Welland-Thorold for his, as always, diverse remarks, a member who, no one can dispute, cares very much about what goes on in the Legislature and about a lot of the issues and manages to get them into any speech.

I want to let the members know that I support Bill 102 as well, as does our caucus. This is a good first step. There are some concerns about the actual execution of this bill in terms of the registrar general and the Solicitor General sharing information. I think the system is not yet set up in terms of the name change realities, and we have some concerns based on previous experience with programs that the government has tried to set up and hasn't put in place. But we are supportive of this bill.

I also want to use this opportunity to make reference to a letter relating to this issue that was recently sent by the Northwestern Ontario Women's Decade Council to the Solicitor General. The women's decade council is a non-partisan, volunteer-based organization composed of members of district women's groups in our area who are very concerned about a number of issues and present priorities, including violence against women and women's economic issues.

They wrote that they're very concerned about many of the aspects of the victims' crisis assistance and referral services, including issues around training, confidentiality and accountability. A general concern they expressed related to the generic design of the program to be applied to all victims of crime. Specific concerns included, among others, the use of volunteers in the area of physical and sexual assault cases. Many of these situations, they point out, are extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening to the victims and the individuals intervening at the time of the incidents and they continue to remain dangerous for lengthy periods of time. The use of volunteers for this perilous front-line work concerns them, and I wanted to express concern on behalf of the decade council and hope the minister will be replying to them in the near future.


Mr Martin: I want to congratulate the member for Welland-Thorold for a very thoughtful and reasoned presentation here this evening. It's not his typical presentation; usually he's very impassioned and speaks with some authority and you can feel the force of his argument in the way he presents. Tonight it was a different approach, but it speaks to the depth he brings to issues of this nature in this House.

I just want to comment on a couple of things. I think we need to focus sometimes on the people making the presentations. The member for Welland-Thorold is not known as a politician who falls in line lock, stock and barrel behind any ideology or leadership group. I think he showed that when he was a member of the government I was part of from 1990 to 1995. So I would suggest that people listen to what he has to say because there's an air of authority and integrity that comes with his very person.

The other point I want to comment on is the point he made about this piece of legislation not going, in any significant way, to reduce the amount of crime that's out there in our communities. This piece of legislation, even though it has some things we can support and folks around the House will support, is in fact another wallpapering of a larger agenda this government is imposing on the people of Ontario that is at the end of the day going to cause us more problems than it solves.

For example, when you push people into poverty in the way this government is pushing people into poverty, as a result you get a rise in the level of crime as people try to find the means to sustain themselves. In the September 8 copy of the Catholic Register, a newspaper some of you across the way will read because I know you've written letters to the editor, it says, "Welfare reform ghettoizes the poor." That creates more violence.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): It's always a pleasure to comment on a speech made by the member for Welland-Thorold, former key cabinet member in the Bob Rae government, who regales us with his insights. He didn't say much about Bill 102 other than that he and his caucus endorse it completely, so I can't comment on his comments on Bill 102.

However, I would like to set the record straight on a couple of other things he did say. He made a comment that this government exploits the mythology of increasing crime. To the OPP officer in Chatham who was recently beaten up by two thugs on his way home from work there's no mythology about the increase in crime. The women and children who are victimized brutally by crime don't like to hear us speak about the mythology of increasing crime. I think that was a poor choice of words on his part.

He also went on and said that our government has no qualms about abolishing junior kindergarten. What an absurd comment to make. We have not abolished junior kindergarten. All we have done, and he knows full well what we have done, is that we have said that junior kindergarten will be funded exactly the same way as any other grade. I don't believe that is abolishing junior kindergarten.

He also said this government was only interested in the kids of rich families going to university and college, another totally absurd comment. I'm sure he knows full well that in 1997-98, $1.7 billion will be paid out in student loans to students in Ontario, about the same as was paid out in 1996-97. That's $1.7 billion. Student loans are not given to children of rich families

I just wanted to make sure the member for Welland-Thorold had the record straightened out on those issues.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: I'm pleased, and I suspect the Tory caucus should be pleased, that the member for Northumberland is a veterinarian, because when I hear this porcine squealing going on over there, they may well need his services. It could be a matter not of, "Is there a doctor in the House," but, "Is there a veterinarian in the House?" The member for Northumberland is over there ready to accommodate.

Let's talk about these attempts to distract attention. I understand that my speaking style isn't one that endears me to the Tories. The minute it does, I'm going to readjust my speaking style. The fact is that I'm here to say to them things that people in Welland-Thorold and Niagara, and quite frankly in a whole lot of other parts of the province, would like to be able to say to them if they were blessed with the opportunity I have. I am telling you the things I have been able to say to them tonight about Bill 102 are the sorts of things a whole lot of folks out there would want to say, and that is that it's fine to talk a big game about law and order, but you've got to deliver.

All the talk in the world about law and order, all the Bill 102s -- relax, we're supporting it -- mean diddly squat when you call the cops at 2 in the morning and the dispatcher says, "We'll try to have somebody there in an hour or an hour and a half because we're so short-staffed tonight that we've got one or two police officers out dealing with a serious traffic accident where there's been bodily injury and there's only one other police officer left," and he or she is way the heck over on the other side of the region and is expecting a call now. All the law and order --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Maybe we should declare a week. Let's declare a week.

Mr Kormos: Yes, you can have all the police weeks you want; it ain't going to solve the problem of this government's attack on communities, its defunding of policing and imperilling police officers and citizenry in the process.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Grimmett: In the time remaining I'd like to make a few brief comments on Bill 102, and I think perhaps I'll be able to stay on topic. Maybe the people at home who have been watching this evening will see that, like the member for Timiskaming, I have read the bill and I will keep my comments to Bill 102. It's too bad the member for Timiskaming isn't here because the story I want to tell on Bill 102 has to do with the time I spent in Timiskaming riding. That's where I started my legal career as an articling student and it actually ties in with Bill 102.

What is surprising is that back in 1981, when I was in Kirkland Lake, I had a case as an articling law student on the Change of Name Act. I went before a judge. In those days you had to prepare an affidavit on behalf of the applicant and go before a judge and you had to give the reasons in the affidavit for why you needed your name changed. The client I had at that time was a nice young lady who had a reason -- I can't even remember why she needed her name changed. In those days, the Change of Name Act was about a one-page act.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Because she became your wife?

Mr Grimmett: No, she didn't become my wife. But the affidavit I put in indicated she had a criminal record. When I went before the judge -- and if the member for Timiskaming were here he would know Judge Bernstein because I believe he's still a sitting judge in Haileybury -- he said: "Counsel, your client has a criminal record. Does the Solicitor General's office approve of this application for a change of name?"

Being the bold young counsel I was and having read the act, I said: "Your Honour, that's not covered in the act. It's not necessary for me to answer the question."

Well, I got about a 10-minute tirade from Judge Bernstein, who insisted that I go down the hall. He held court up while I went down the hall. The Haileybury courthouse is a huge courthouse that had about one room that was actually being used, kind of like this building at times.

So I went down to the library, got the Change of Name Act, brought it back, read the entire act to the judge, and of course he couldn't believe the act did not require that a person with a criminal record would have to get the change of name approved by some government authority. He took it upon himself, over my objections, to require that I contact the Solicitor General's office, find out if they had any objection to the application for a change of name, and that I submit an affidavit in my own name indicating they had no objection. As it turned out, I contacted someone in the ministry and they did some kind of check on the person. It was a very minor offence, I think it was shoplifting, that the person had committed --

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): From a Canadian Tire store?

Mr Grimmett: Who knows? Maybe with a shoplifting record there were victims out there who objected to the application. In any event, I returned to the courtroom a week or two later with my client in tow, produced the affidavit, and the judge, who I think had done the proper thing even though it was not covered in the act, indicated he felt more secure granting the order and giving the change of name.

I wonder how many times that has occurred in courtrooms in other jurisdictions in Ontario, where a judge has believed it's necessary for the public to have some comment on a person changing their name when they have a criminal record.

I want in particular to support the bill and to congratulate the Solicitor General and the other two parties, which are supporting the bill, for this step which is long overdue and which from my own experience is one the public will definitely support and is very necessary to ensure continued public safety. I think it will lead to greater public safety for those communities we all care about.

It being in the vicinity of 9:30, Madam Speaker, that's where I'll end my remarks.

The Acting Speaker: It being almost 9:30 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 2130.