36th Parliament, 1st Session

L245 - Mon 17 Nov 1997 / Lun 17 Nov 1997






































The House met at 1331.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I notice there are some members who are wearing ribbons. They are out of order. I ask those members if they would remove the ribbons, unless you seek unanimous consent. If you get unanimous consent, of course they would in fact be in order.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to wear the ribbons, which are an expression of democracy.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines is seeking unanimous consent to wear their green ribbons. Agreed? I heard some noes; therefore, they're out of order. I ask the members to take them off.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Algoma, you had a point of privilege?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Yes, Speaker. I have given you the required notice. I rise to bring to your attention Progressive Conservative government advertising that was aired on television across the province over the weekend as a message from the government of Ontario. I've submitted the text of these advertisements to you. They were widely broadcast.

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, I appreciate and I want to listen, but I must caution the members who have the green ribbons that they must be removed and taken off your desks. They can't be exposed. I don't know what the green heart is. I presume that's a political expression as well.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): It's my heart.

The Speaker: Okay, sorry. I didn't know. If it is, that's fine. It appears to me that you too are wearing that green heart, so unless it's a fashion statement -- I don't think it is, as a matter of fact, so I'm going to declare that as a political statement as well.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Do you have a problem with two people wearing the same brooches?

Mr Wildman: No, but I believe that is not a fashion statement. I think it's more of a political statement, that's all. Member for Algoma.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: I'm now dealing with a point of privilege, member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: I have a point of privilege with respect to taking this off.

The Speaker: Then I'll hear it after the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: That matter, I suspect, will be dealt with subsequent to this matter.

I rose on a point of privilege to bring to your attention, Speaker, commercials that were aired widely across the province sponsored by the provincial government and paid for with taxpayers' money. I first heard these advertisements on Friday evening. I saw them again on Saturday and on Sunday, over the weekend. The language in these commercials is blatantly partisan and it is designed to put forward the message of the Progressive Conservative Party with regard to their position and their dispute with teachers' federations in this province over Bill 160. These ads are not intended to provide information to the public, to the taxpayers. In fact, they don't provide complete or correct information. They are completely one-sided and partisan in nature. I don't dispute that if the Conservative Party wished to advertise its position with regard to education in the province, or Bill 160, it would be quite proper, if the party so determined, to buy advertising time and to advertise across the province on behalf of the Conservative Party.

However, I draw your attention to the text. It says at the bottom, "A message from the Ontario government." Thus, we know the advertisement was paid for in production and distribution by the taxpayers. I ask you, if you look at the text, to determine whether or not this is an attempt to give information or to put forward a partisan political message. It starts off by saying, "Why do the Teachers' Unions Oppose Education Reform?" assuming they do oppose education reform. It then says, "The union bosses want school boards to keep the power to raise your property taxes" -- the "union bosses," hardly a tone which is used when you are attempting to get information across rather than attempting to influence in a political manner.

Then it says further, "They want the ability to increase class size through union contract negotiations." That is, the "union bosses" want to increase class size, according to this advertisement paid for by the taxpayers of this province. "They want high school teachers to spend an average of three hours and 45 minutes in the classroom." They want "higher taxes, bigger classes; less time teaching kids. That's what the union bosses want to protect; the status quo. A message from the Ontario government."

Then the other ad: "Why is Your Government Reforming Education in Ontario?" This sounds as if it might in fact be an attempt to get information across to the public in a non-partisan way, but it starts off by saying: "We want to stop school boards and union bosses from raising your taxes. We want to limit the average class sizes to no more than 25 elementary students per class." Again this is an attempt to influence public opinion in a politically partisan way against the leaders of the teachers' federations who have been engaged in a considerable dispute with this government. It is not an attempt to get information across about the government's education agenda or Bill 160.

In fact, this information is filled with innuendo and misinformation. Contrary to the claims of these advertisements, the teachers' federations and the school boards historically have been able to negotiate issues like class size and in most cases they have attempted to negotiate them downwards and put limits on them. The teachers' federations, not the union bosses --

The Speaker: Member for Algoma -- and I don't want to cut any member's point of privilege short -- I think I have a good idea about what you're driving at with respect to your point. If you want to add some more comments, I'd be interested, but I don't want to get into a political debate about the thing.

Mr Wildman: I just want to point out that that is what this is, political debate, rather than providing information. Contrary to what is in this commercial paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario, 60% of whom are opposed to Bill 160, the teachers' federations proposed a reduction in class sizes to be negotiated.

Having said that, Speaker, I recognize you have ruled on matters similar to this in the past -- this government apparently still hasn't learned from what you've indicated in this House in the past with regard to partisan advertising -- and you've indicated that your personal views on this subject are clearly on the record. You stated that on February 24, 1997, in Hansard, page 7154. You went on to say that in that particular instance you could not find a prima facie case of privilege.

I submit to you, Speaker, that if you review the content of these ads, the wording of these commercials, it goes beyond simply a matter of personal opinion but is a blatant attempt by this government to use taxpayers' money to win political points for the political party that is in power rather than disseminate information to the public about Bill 160. I ask you to rule on that matter.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, I'll save you a problem. I gave you similar notice of this and I will speak at this time and save two different points of privilege coming forward.

The concern all fairminded people would have, and I consider all members of the Legislature to be fairminded, is that in fact we have the government now escalating its advertising campaign and changing the tone of its campaign.

Previously, members of the opposition, myself included, have risen in this House to speak to this matter, that is, the use of taxpayers' dollars by the government of Ontario, through various ministries or through the auspices of the entire government, to purvey a clearly partisan political message to the people of the province.

If the Progressive Conservative Party, whose coffers are full of money these days from developers and others, wished to raise issues and pay for advertising, it seems to me that's what they should be doing, in other words, using the money of the Progressive Conservative Party, not of the taxpayers of Ontario because clearly, as the text of these ads indicates, this is not information.

If the government were to publish, for instance, direct information on the bill, many people would find it more acceptable, though I suspect the government cannot do this in an impartial way. But what we see are clearly combative pieces of advertising denouncing certain people in this province, pointing out and ascribing motives to various people in this province who are in opposition to the government.

When they say it's a message from the Ontario government, I think it's clear that's not paid for by the Progressive Conservative Party but rather by all people in Ontario. When they ask the question -- and I know you will want to get hold of the content of these ads yourself -- "Why do teachers oppose education reform?" clearly that is pointing out an interpretation by the government of the people who are in opposition to it.

I don't know why the government would say this, because it would be totally inaccurate, but it is a partisan message. If it were a partisan message by the Conservative Party, then one understands there's going to be a slant to it. We don't like it, but we understand that when the Conservative Party is putting it out, they're going to put the Conservative Party position out. This, however, is the government of Ontario. When they say that, as they call them, union bosses want school boards to keep taxes high, to keep spending a lot of money, again they are pointing out motives of people who are in opposition to them. When they talk about boards of education and teachers wanting higher taxes, surely when they point that out, they are again denouncing them.

I look at all of the content of this, and then I look at your ruling, which I think was an important ruling some time ago. This was on the city of Toronto bill. The statement you made, which all members of the Legislature should remember -- I certainly remember it -- is as follows:

"On a separate but related matter, the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, expressed concerns on Tuesday last week about the unequal access to advertising resources, as between the government and opposition." I'm quoting you now, Mr Speaker. "He asked whether the Speaker had any jurisdiction to restrict the government from disseminating allegedly self-serving, partisan advertising.

"At this point in my ruling, I want to express some personal concerns about the propriety of public funds being used to advocate, through advertising, a particular position on a matter that is before the House." Clearly, this is before the House.

"Let me be clear" -- this is the Speaker speaking -- "I am not speaking here about politically paid-for advertising, but rather about funds that are contributed to by every Ontarian regardless of his or her political view. Personally, I would find it offensive if taxpayer dollars were being used to convey a political or partisan message. There is nothing wrong with members debating an issue and influencing public opinion. In fact, it is part of our parliamentary tradition to do so. But I feel that it's wrong for a government to attempt to influence public opinion through advertising that is paid for with public funds which, I might add, are not available to the opposition, instead of through debate in the House.

"As I say, these are my personal views."

I must say, Mr Speaker, when you expressed it at that time, I was under the impression that the government was actually going to listen to that cautioning on your part. I use the word "cautioning" advisedly, because clearly you have stated in your previous ruling your objection to this. I don't know how anybody could possibly define the ads that we heard on the weekend, obviously devised by the whiz kids in the Premier's office, as being anything other than partisan political advertising paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, on September 10 you considered a similar point of privilege put forward by some of the same members who have spoken with regard to this point of privilege. You said in your decision:

"Your argument being that it isn't balanced" -- that is, the advertising or the information flow wasn't balanced -- "and reasonable, or it isn't fair, and the government has the advantage that the opposition doesn't have when it comes to reporting to the people of the province of Ontario -- whether or not that's true is academic. I as Speaker don't have any power to determine whether or not something is balanced or reasonable or information-based or not."

Mr Speaker, the opposition has one view of the information being presented; we have an opposite view of the information being presented. We believe the information to be true, correct and information which is necessary to portray and tell the people of Ontario about our position.

I do not believe that this is a point of privilege.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Monsieur le Président, sur un point de privilège : je me suis intéressé au commentaire que le leader parlementaire du gouvernement a donné sur sa position. Je veux que vous regardiez cette situation-là très clairement.

Premièrement, qu'est-ce qui est arrivé ? Le gouvernement a dépensé de l'argent public afin d'acheter des publications --

The Speaker: I think I've ruled the lapel pins out of order. I'd ask for them to be removed. I won't hear you speak while you're wearing them. I ask the other members --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I'm already in a point of privilege. I've dealt with that one already. I'm going to come back to that.


The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, I ask you to come to order right now, please. I want you to remove the ribbon. Thank you. Member for Cochrane South.

M. Bisson : Ce qui est arrivé, c'est simplement que le gouvernement provincial encore, pas pour la première fois mais pour une multitude de fois, a décidé de dépenser de l'argent public pour acheter des publications pour avancer un message politique.

Monsieur le Président, quant à moi, le Règlement de la Chambre -- les règlements de ce qu'on peut faire comme député -- est très clair. On ne peut pas prendre de l'argent public afin d'acheter des publications pour avancer un point politique. C'est pour ça qu'on a des partis politiques, c'est pour ça qu'on a des associations de comté et c'est pour ça qu'on a des partis provinciaux qui font la perception de fonds qui est nécessaire pour être capable d'avancer un message politique. Rien de mal sur ce bord-là.

Mais quand le gouvernement utilise sa présence dans le gouvernement, et son pouvoir, pour prendre de l'argent public pour faire des publications qui sont carrément politiques de nature, ça veut dire que le gouvernement, quant à moi, est en train d'abuser non seulement de son droit comme gouvernement mais son privilège comme gouvernement. Comme vous le savez, c'est non seulement pas acceptable, c'est seulement le gouvernement qui peut le faire. Je demande au Président à ce qu'il regarde à cette situation-là. Vous l'avez fait. Vous avez déjà pris une décision au mois de septembre passé.

Le dernier point, et je veux en faire seulement un autre et ça ne va prendre qu'une minute : M. Sterling, le membre qui est responsable comme leader parlementaire pour le gouvernement conservateur, s'est levé ici dans la Chambre et a dit : _Écoute, c'est strictement académique si c'est politique ou non politique._ Ce n'est pas académique. C'est très clair que le gouvernement a utilisé l'argent public pour acheter des publications à travers la province pour avancer un message politique.


The Speaker: Thank you, member for Cochrane South. As I said earlier, I don't want to cut any debate off. I think it's an important point of privilege raised by the member for Algoma and I will hear it as long as members want to submit. But if you could bring up any new points of order, I'd greatly appreciate it, rather than reiterating ones I've already heard.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Mr Speaker, I want to make one additional point to the comments already made by our House leader. I appreciate the fact that in previous rulings on the use of government funds for advertising there's sometimes a fine line between what is considered informative and what is considered partisanship. But I really believe that this new advertisement that was launched by the government this weekend crosses a very different line. I think it goes well beyond a violation of the points of privilege, the privileges of the members of this assembly, but that's the only article under which we can rise to speak to it.

If you've looked at the text of these ads and their presentation, you will realize that this is nothing short of a vicious attack being launched on a group of people who dared to oppose the government's agenda.

I say to you with as much conviction and concern as I can summon that I don't believe we have ever, in a democratic society and certainly not in this country, seen that kind of attack on opponents of a government launched by the government itself. It is unconscionable, and the fact that it is being paid for with public money is almost incidental to the fact that our democratically elected government would launch this attack at all.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I just want to respond briefly to the comments of the government House leader. At one point I guess the government House leader slipped in his remarks and said that these ads were a portrayal, and they are indeed a portrayal. They don't talk about leaders of teachers' federations or of teachers' unions. They talk about union bosses in the tone -- unfortunately, Speaker, you have the transcript but you haven't got the actual tone that was used by the announcer in making these statements. This is an attack on those leaders who represent the teachers of this province in a way that is --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Algoma. Come to order, please.

Mr Wildman: -- paid for attacking a group --

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, I warn you to come to order. I think we've entered into political debate at this point.

I will get copies of the advertising. It's TV advertising, I take it, that is at issue here. I will endeavour to get copies of the advertising and review them and report back to the House as soon as possible.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I am rising on a point of privilege with respect to your ruling that we must remove any article which you have deemed to be a political protest; in this case today, the green ribbons and the green heart which I and my colleagues were wearing on the lapels of our jackets. I'm asking you to give consideration to that ruling, not immediately, but to come back to this House perhaps, and I would like to give you a couple of reasons.

The rulings that you make in this House, we have now understood, have much broader reach than just the jurisdiction, the legislative precinct, for which you are responsible. In the last week I have had three constituents come to see me or call me and raise specific complaints about the treatment they received from members of the Ontario Government Protective Service, not here in the legislative precinct but in the Mowat Block.

Specifically, Mr Doug MacMillan, who was there with his sister-in-law and four children -- two of each had their children there -- was refused entry because he was wearing a green ribbon. Mr Speaker, he also had a poppy on: a poppy and a green ribbon. He was told by the security guard he could not enter a public building because he had a green ribbon. I understand you do not have jurisdiction for that, but that ruling by the OGPS, the Ontario Government Protective Service, comes directly from the rulings that you have made with respect to this House.

In a second incident -- I'll be very brief describing the second incident -- Anna Semple and Anne Runyan, also from my riding, with three children, parked in the underground of the Macdonald Block and were attending a parents' rally outside the Mowat Block. From the underground parking lot, you have to come up the elevators and come through the lobby. As they were coming up the elevators, they were stopped by a security guard. Their children had signs on; they were to take part in the rally. They were told that they had to give their signs to the security guard, that he was confiscating them. They asked, could they not just simply get out the door, because their intent was to go outside, and he said no, and in fact told them that if they refused, he could charge them and arrest them.

Again, I understand that you have no direct --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Beaches-Woodbine, you've got to wrap, because these aren't even under my jurisdiction.

Ms Lankin: I realize that. The reason I raise them is because the security guards who are working for the government in those government public buildings appear to be taking their directions from the rulings you have made in this Legislature.

Mr Speaker, there are many occasions when white ribbons are worn in this Legislature, when red ribbons are worn in this Legislature. I think, as opposed to political buttons, and I understand why you've ruled them out of order, which have clear messages and words on them, individual members expressing support for a cause, whatever that cause is, should not be able to be determined by the majority government, which is the case when you leave it to a ruling of unanimous consent. In this case, anything that you deem to be a political statement therefore becomes suspect.

I'll tell you, when I got up this morning, I specifically put on an apple green blouse as a political statement. I hope that you're not intending to do anything about that, and I would point out in the galleries --

The Speaker: No, I have no plans to do anything about that. Let me just say --

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Mr Speaker, on the same point --

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): Mr Speaker, on the same point, my point of privilege --

The Speaker: You've got to take your ribbon off or I'm not even going to recognize you. Member for Ottawa West --

Mr Cullen: I'm addressing the same item.

The Speaker: I heard you. I'm not recognizing you until you take your ribbon off. Member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: On the same point, Mr Speaker: Just this past month in Sault Ste Marie, two standing committees of this Legislature arrived with all the attached accoutrements, but this time, for the first time in my seven years, security at each of the doors, and as people came through to participate in the democratic process of appearing before a standing committee of the Legislature, they were accosted as they entered to see what they were wearing, if they had any buttons on.

The question I have is, how far afield does this Gestapo-like control of the way people who are exercising their democratic rights to come forward and express themselves to these committees --

The Speaker: Member for Sault Ste Marie, if you could take your seat, please.

Mr Martin: I have just been told to sit down by one of the members across the way. I would like --



The Speaker: Member for Sault Ste Marie, I'm asking you now to take your seat. If you don't take your seat -- one more warning: Please take your seat or I'll name you.


The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, come to order. Member for Lake Nipigon, heckling "Take your seat" or "Sit down" is not out of order.

If I can move on, the committees run themselves. Members run the committees. I don't have a say in how --


The Speaker: Member for Sault Ste Marie, I'm not going to warn you again. I heard your point of privilege.


The Speaker: Member for Sault Ste Marie, I'm going to name you next time you get up.

Member for Ottawa West, can I finish what I was saying, please? Thank you. I know you want to get up on the point of privilege.

With respect to the point of privilege, point of order, it's simply not a point of order for this place. It's a point of order potentially for your committee, but it's not a point of order for the Legislature.

I'm not there. I don't know what jurisdiction or what rules are made at the committee level and it's not up to me to interpret them. That's up to the committee to decide, and the committee Chair and those members of the committee.

With respect to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I don't know what happened at the Macdonald Block or the other blocks. If they take their rulings from in this place, I don't direct them to do that.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It's a government order.

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, come to order. Thank you very much.

Mr Bisson: You're welcome.

The Speaker: I can only direct to this House what it is I ruled in that 10-day filibuster, which was, there can be no buttons, ribbons etc worn. I understand that some members want to come in here and make a political statement. I think that's important that we do that, as all members should do it, in their place when they're speaking.

Anybody can come in here and ask for unanimous consent to wear any ribbon and any button on any day, but it's not a majority thing. Any member could stop any other member from wearing any button or ribbon. Any one member, as long as they didn't give consent, can stop any buttons or ribbons being worn in this place. So it's not a majority decision. All members must agree before it can be allowed to be worn. That is the one difference.

I find it just a lot simpler if I rule all ribbons and all buttons out of order, rather than start determining what is in order and what isn't in order.

Lastly, the member for Ottawa West.

Mr Cullen: On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: I've listened to your comments, but I have to draw your attention to standing order 21(a), which states quite explicitly: "Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom."

Mr Speaker, I believe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does apply here to this House. I stand here not only with a green tie, but a green ring, worn by my grandfather during the struggle for the independence of Ireland, in commemoration of a despotic government that banned the wearing of the green 150 years ago.

Mr Speaker, I can say to you therefore that wearing green, whether it is to support the parents and the teachers on Bill 160 or wearing green to recognize the struggle for independence, or wearing any other colour, I believe falls under the freedoms that are enjoyed under our rights and privileges under our Constitution.

I am proud to put this on and I believe in so doing --

The Speaker: I ask the member to take the ribbon off or I will name the member. I am only giving you one warning.


The Speaker: I understand. I name the member for Ottawa West.

Mr Cullen: Which do you want me to take off, Mr Speaker, the tie or the ring or the ribbon?

The Speaker: It's not up to me to tell you what to take off and what not to take off.

Mr Cullen was escorted from the chamber.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In view of how the Speaker is ruling, I notice a whole whack of government members wearing their silly little "I'm an MPP" buttons as if it accorded them some sort of rank or status when in fact at this point in their history as a government it's quite to the contrary. I'm not consenting to their wearing those buttons; perhaps the Speaker would rule on that as well.

Mr Bisson: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker --

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, what about the buttons? I'm not consenting to them.

The Speaker: I assume it's on the same point of order.

Mr Bisson: Exactly. On the point of privilege, Mr Speaker, I am interested in your ruling because you're --

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, is it on the same point of privilege?

Mr Bisson: I actually have two. One is related to that, and I'll come back to the other one after, separately.

You make the point --

The Speaker: Let me rule on the one first before you come back to your separate one.

Mr Bisson: I want to be clear. Mr Speaker, you're making a point that members of the assembly cannot come in here with any kind of lapel pins or brooches or ribbons, anything that signifies any kind of political campaign. I notice the government members across the way are wearing their chamber of commerce, CFIB pins. If that's not a political statement, if that's not a political message, I don't know what it is. I would like to know, is that a --

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, if you read my ruling, the ribbons and buttons ruling that I made in April, you would see right in that ruling that I spoke directly about those types of pins and buttons and I delineated between the two. So if you read the ruling, I think you'd get a very clear answer as to what it was I was ruling on.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I gather from your comments that you plan to review the material and to rule on it in the future.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Yes.

Mr Phillips: I'd just like to add a couple of thoughts as you're considering it. One is that we in the opposition look to you, Mr Speaker --


The Speaker: Could I just get some order, please? Government whip, if I could just get some order. I'm having a very difficult time hearing.


The Speaker: Member for Parkdale.

Mr Phillips: There are two things to consider while you're considering this, Mr Speaker. One is that we in the opposition, and I think the public, look to you as one of the key protectors from the abuse of power by any government. It's a difficult role but one that perhaps is your most important role. In our judgement, the advertising is a gross abuse of power. It is the state using the public's resources to attack the public.

As we look at the future, governments of any stripe cannot be allowed to abuse their power in such a way, so we are looking to you to help redress this issue both for the opposition and I think for the public.

The second point that's very important is that the public confidence in their democratic institutions in some respects is at stake here. I don't mean to overstate the issue, but I think this is a significant weakening of the confidence that people have in their democratic institutions when they see such, in our opinion, gross abuse of power where the government will so directly attack a group in our society using public funds, using language that can only be described as provoking a conflict.

For those two reasons, Mr Speaker, we are looking forward to your examination of this issue. We don't underestimate the importance of it, both protecting the opposition and the public from abuse of power by any government and helping to restore some confidence in this democratic institution.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): At the height of the civil action by the teachers, the Ontario Conservatives held a fund-raiser in Sudbury. Although it wasn't nearly a sell-out, the Premier did slither into town under cover as he drove through the estimated 3,000 people. The Premier avoided the crowd very, very capably. However, he couldn't avoid the people who were outside.

Even the most ardent Tory was upset when the Premier of this province started his presentation to the converted by saying, "I can't understand why every time I come to Sudbury they have a parade for me."

The people of my city, of my riding, found those comments to be insulting, and so do the rest of Ontarians find those comments to be insulting. That's the problem with this Premier and his band of revolutionaries: They don't listen. They wouldn't listen to the 3,000 Sudburians, the parents, the students and the teachers, who wanted to voice their concerns with Bill 160. I wonder, will he listen to the in excess of 100,000 people who signed letters and petitions? Will he listen to them as we now bring them over to him?

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

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is about protection of public education in Ontario. From day one the Mike Harris Conservatives have spun a web of confusion and half truths --

The Speaker: Stop the clock. You know what, member for Cochrane North? I think I'll just allow this to happen today. It's cutting into your statement.

The member for Cochrane North.

Mr Len Wood: From day one the Mike Harris Conservatives have spun a web of confusion and half truths about education funding. The Tory revolution pledged classroom funding for education would be guaranteed. It's been cut right across the province in every area we look at in education.

We have seen over the past few weeks' demonstrations clearly that the Conservative government has broken every promise on education. The government seriously lost credibility by rushing to seek an injunction instead of attempting to seriously negotiate a solution with the teachers. The ruling by Judge MacPherson confirms that the government was wrong.

Though the teachers are back to work, the fight continues. Last Saturday morning I helped kick off a green ribbon campaign with the parents, students and teachers We had a couple of hundred people who joined in the circle in Kapuskasing and headed out in different directions, tying ribbons on all the car aerials, all the public schools, all the public buildings and asking everybody, including the Conservative back-bench members, to wear green ribbons in support of hope for public education against what Mike Harris has decided: to cut billions of dollars out of education and destroy public education in Ontario. We will not stand for it.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am proud to rise and congratulate a constituent of mine who recently was awarded a special award for fire safety.

On November 14, Brian Robinson, a firefighter from Peterborough, as among nine individuals from across the province to receive the distinguished Fire Safety Award from the Ontario fire marshal at a special ceremony. Brian received this award for his comprehensive fire safety presentations at the Trent Child Care Centre over the past two years, teaching children how and what to do in the event of a fire.

His visits certainly had an impact on at least one little girl whose house caught fire after one of his visits. This little girl used the fire safety tips she learned from Brian to help her babysitter evacuate the home safely.

Brian's commitment to the community is truly remarkable. Not only did Brian hold those regular volunteer fire safety talks on a regular basis; he also conducted them on his day off. Brian has been quoted as saying that if you help just one person, doing these things, it's worth it.

These are words of a truly great person with a great sense of community. I ask all members of the House to join with me in congratulating Brian Robinson for helping to keep the children of my riding out of harm's way. Congratulations, Brian.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): If anyone had any doubt about who really runs the Conservative government of Mike Harris, they should read the article by Guy Crittenden in the November 1 edition of the Globe and Mail. It's entitled "The Harris Kremlin." It spells out:

"Mr Harris has played fast and loose with the democratic process. He has surrounded himself with a cadre of young, fervently ideological advisers to do his bidding. Grass-roots supporters who thought the party would emphasize democratic debate, plebiscites and local decision-making have been shocked. In the Harris Kremlin, power flows from the centre.... ministers are often kept in the dark, making them little more than salespeople for initiatives cobbled together in the Premier's office."

Voters who thought they elected members of the Legislature to reflect their views have been disillusioned to find that the whiz kids, and not their elected representatives, call the tune in Mike Harris's Ontario.

According to a Southam News story by Carolyn Abraham and Richard Brennan, "Education Minister Dave Johnson, who has been the government's prominent public face during the strike affecting 2.1 million students, is receiving many of his marching orders from the so-called whiz kids in the Premier's office.... Three weeks ago, the Premier rallied his 1995 election team to devise a strategy as he anticipated a full war with the teachers."

Here's what they advised him. They told the Premier he should -- and I quote; not my words, their words -- "Kick the teachers' asses." Indeed, this is democracy in Ontario?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): The last few weeks have been a remarkable time in the history of Ontario: that 126,000 teachers of this province would engage in a political protest, in an action of civil disobedience to protest the government's actions. People who are normally in the classroom, focused on educating our children, found themselves pushed to the wall by a plan by this government, and they responded.

Since the teachers have gone back in -- and we are thankful for the education job they did: the education of the public with respect to Bill 160 -- parents have taken up the protest. My colleagues and I have boxes like this today. There are hundreds and hundreds of letters from parents in Ontario to Tory backbenchers, asking them to please not vote in favour of Bill 160 or to absent themselves when the vote is taking place, to listen to their constituents. There are also hundreds of letters coming in from principals and vice-principals to our leader's office asking the government to withdraw the amendments.

People want an opportunity to sit down and go through public hearings where you're really listening. You've not listened to the people of Ontario. The majority, 60%, oppose you. It is time, in a democracy, for you to begin to listen.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I rise today in the Legislature to call the attention of all members of this Legislature to Sheena's Place in Toronto. Sheena's Place is a community-based centre which offers services to people suffering from eating disorders. Sheena's Place was founded in response to the 1993 death of Sheena Carpenter, a young woman suffering from anorexia nervosa.

There are currently 70,000 people in Ontario suffering from eating disorders. Most of the afflicted are women. Studies show that 15% of those diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia will die from causes directly related to the illness. Maintaining a strong sense of self-esteem in the face of day-to-day challenges is often overwhelming for those who are afflicted by eating disorders. How tragic that we are suffering an epidemic brought on by an unrealistic cultural image of what people should look like.

Sheena's Place offers support, information and services to those living with eating disorders. In addition, the facility also provides information and support to parents, siblings, friends, spouses, partners, teachers and other care providers. I would like to ask all the members of this Legislature to support this excellent organization and the vital services they provide.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Over the last three weeks my offices have been inundated with messages from parents, students and concerned taxpayers who are furious that the government of Mike Harris has trampled their democratic rights with Bill 160. They have been further frustrated that individual Conservative caucus members are not available on e-mail and that the faxes have been shut off in Conservative offices across Ontario.

In my replies to these taxpayers, I have pledged to deliver a copy of each and every one of their communications to all the members opposite. I have here packages for Mr Johnson, Mr Harris and Mr Carroll that I am sending across. The rest will be delivered by attendants to every government office. Further, I attended a meeting yesterday of 400 concerned citizens who have signed a petition demanding that the government withdraw Bill 160

Premier, I want you to know that democracy is alive and well in Chatham-Kent and Essex. I send across the petition from Concerned Citizens for Quality Education, who want you to know that democracy does not end at the ballot box, it begins there. As well, I have a petition from A.Y. Jackson school.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It's interesting that government members come into this House after a five-week break, when we know people in their constituencies have been talking to them about Bill 160 and how they're opposed, and make statements about everything else other than Bill 160.

I got a letter, unfortunately, from a group of parents, signed by Lynne Dénommée, who is one of the members of the parents' council at école Saint-Gerard in Timmins. I want to let you know that in this letter, dated November 13, addressed to Réal Laurin, who's the principal at that school, they inform the principal that the entire parents' council was resigning from their positions. Why? Because this parents' council has understood very well what the government was doing with Bill 160 and couldn't understand why a government that says it's intent on trying to make a system of education better would not take the time to speak to parents' councils or speak to parents in general about what goes on in education. It's most unfortunate that they've been put in this position.

I call on the government once again to try to do what is right: to slow down when it comes to Bill 160, to talk to the parents and the kids involved, the very people who are the ones who are going to be the victims of this bill, so that if you're going to do this, at least you take the time to listen to what parents and kids have to say and people don't have to take steps such as we're seeing here where entire parents' councils are resigning their positions because of what this government is doing. Shame on the government.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): It is my pleasure today to rise in the House to congratulate two bright young constituents of mine, Tim Farmilo and Chris Dragert.

These two exceptional students from Centennial Secondary School in Belleville are among 28 students from across Ontario who this semester will pursue their study of science using the unique facilities of the Ontario Science Centre.

A teacher, elaborating on the uniqueness of this school, said, "Having use of the equipment at the science centre to teach science makes me feel like a kid in a toy shop."

Chris and Tim will have use of such facilities as the holography lab, biotechnology lab and rotating room. As well, they will act as hosts, helping other students to find science as interesting as they do.

In operation since 1982, the school currently offers the following five OAC courses: science in society, biology, calculus, chemistry and physics. The school touts its small and informal classes, its experienced and imaginative teachers and stimulating environment. That imagination is evident in such demonstrations as the use of liquid nitrogen to make ice cream.

I want to commend both Chris and Tim for their initiative and hope that they will have further success in improving their education.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to take this opportunity in welcoming the 13th group of pages to serve in this 36th Parliament: Gregory Agate from Lincoln; Peter Ashton from Parkdale; Katherine Aukema from Brampton North; Robert Brown from Perth; Kelly Chapeskie from S-D-G & East Grenville; Graeme Crawford from Peterborough; Patricia Dickenson from Lambton; Kimberly Farrell from Norfolk; Daniel Gooch from Durham West; Melissa-Anne Lackan from Scarborough Centre; Sandra Lamon from Algoma; Kyle Marshall from Burlington South; Mora Martin from Sault Ste Marie; Ross Moncur from Essex South; David Morley from Durham Centre; Laura Poel from Oxford; Brendan Smith from Riverdale; Matthew Smith from York East; Meghan Summers from Quinte; and Alberto White from Niagara South. Welcome.



Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on social development and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 142, An Act to revise the law related to Social Assistance by enacting the Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, by repealing the Family Benefits Act, the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act and the General Welfare Assistance Act and by amending several other Statutes.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated September 16, 1997, the bill is ordered for third reading.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 149, An Act to continue the reforms begun by the Fair Municipal Finance Act, 1997 and to make other amendments respecting the financing of local governments.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated Thursday, 2 October, 1997, the bill is therefore ordered for third reading.



Mr Flaherty moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 161, An Act to provide fairness for parents and employees by providing remedies relating to the province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers between October 27 and November 7, 1997 and to make a complementary amendment to the Education Act / Projet de loi 161, Loi favorisant le traitement équitable des parents et des employés en prévoyant des recours à la suite du retrait de services par les enseignants à l'échelle de la province entre le 27 octobre et le 7 novembre 1997 et apportant une modification complémentaire à la Loi sur l'éducation.

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

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1430 to 1437.

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


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bassett, Isabel

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carr, Gary

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

DeFaria, Carl

Doyle, Ed

Ecker, Janet

Elliott, Brenda

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Harris, Michael D.

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Johnson, Ron

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

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


Agostino, Dominic

Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Caplan, David

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Cleary, John C.

Cordiano, Joseph

Crozier, Bruce

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Grandmaître, Bernard

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Hoy, Pat

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lankin, Frances

Laughren, Floyd

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McGuinty, Dalton

McLeod, Lyn

Miclash, Frank

Morin, Gilles E.

North, Peter

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Pupatello, Sandra

Ramsay, David

Ruprecht, Tony

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 75; the nays are 41.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Minister, any comments?

Hon Mr Flaherty: I propose to wait until ministry statements.


Mr Baird moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 162, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act to name Highway 416 Veterans' Memorial Parkway / Projet de loi 162, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'aménagement des voies publiques et des transports en commun pour nommer la voie publique 416 Promenade commémorative des anciens combattants.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I note that the member for Simcoe East is wearing the same tie as I. Is that a political statement, in your view?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Algoma, I know the coalition for Biway shoppers will be pleased.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing order 95(g), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 107 and 108; and that the House will commence at 11 am on Thursday, November 20, 1997, to discuss ballot item number 105 only.

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



Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): Just a few minutes ago I introduced the Fairness for Parents and Employees Act in the Legislature. This proposed legislation would --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): If you were really interested in fairness you would do something about Bill 160.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.

Hon Mr Flaherty: This proposed legislation would, first of all, provide help to working families who were adversely affected by the province-wide strike. Second, it would guarantee no workplace repercussions for those parents and guardians who missed work to care for their children during the teachers' strike. Third, it would protect teachers who chose to stay in the classroom.

Before I continue with some of the details of our proposed legislation, I would like to thank our business and employer community for their positive response to my request for fairness and flexibility in assisting their employees to cope with the difficulties caused by the teachers' strike. I am proud that both the business community and working parents and guardians demonstrated flexibility and good sense during this difficult period.

The legislation that I introduced fulfils the promises made by the government to the people of Ontario during the teachers' strike. Our proposed legislation would first provide for a payment of up $40 per family for each day that an eligible child was unable to attend school because of the strike.

For the purposes of this legislation, "eligible child" refers to school children l3 years of age or younger, or children in child care facilities or day nurseries located in schools that were closed due to the teachers' action, or special needs students in secondary schools. The money for these payments would come from the savings school boards have accumulated as a result of not having to pay striking teachers.

Second, the legislation would ensure that employees are protected from dismissal or discipline if they couldn't work because of the additional child care responsibilities during the teachers' strike.

Finally, our proposed legislation would prohibit teachers' unions from taking reprisals against any of their members --

Mr Wildman: Shame on you. You're the Minister of Labour. What's the matter with you? There was no intimidation.

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, please come to order.


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Flaherty: Finally, our proposed legislation would prohibit teachers' unions from taking reprisals against any of their members who refused to participate in this strike or who counselled or assisted others in not participating in the strike.

Our government is determined to protect the rights and interests of children, families and employees who were adversely affected by the teachers' action. We are also determined to protect teachers who chose to stay in the classroom. We made specific promises and we are keeping them.

The legislation I introduced today is important legislation which, if passed by the House, will provide fairness to Ontario families. It will also provide some remedies for the difficulties and expenses that many parents and guardians had to face because of the teachers' strike. I urge all members to fully support our legislation and to give it speedy passage.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): We are still in the midst of the single greatest education crisis in the history of this magnificent province, and this is the government's response. What they're trying to do -- and this is perfectly transparent -- is a cynical attempt to buy favour with parents, who are extremely concerned about what's happening to education in Ontario. It's nothing more than that. Apparently they're going to come up with $40 a day for babysitting costs in order to reimburse parents.

These are the questions parents are asking: How are they going to reimburse their kids for the loss of special education services since this government has been making cuts to those programs? How are they going to reimburse the 60,000 Ontario four-year-olds who have been deprived of junior kindergarten since this government stepped into power? How are they going to reimburse kids who have been deprived of the services of speech pathologists, school psychologists, librarians, ESL teachers? How are they going to help kids who are in those classrooms today where they don't even have books sufficient to meet their needs?

This government picked the fight. It picked another fight in a long series of fights. It started off by fighting with the public service, then it fought with the doctors, the nurses, the police and the firefighters. They've been fighting with our farmers, environmentalists, every single municipal representative in the province. But you know what? They lost this fight. They started out fighting with the teachers, but they didn't realize that they soon very quickly took on parents, students, trustees and every friend of public education in Ontario.

Today, rather than this sop to parents and effort to buy favour with 40 bucks a day, we should have had the Premier stand up in this House and say he was withdrawing Bill 160. Everybody now understands what Bill 160 is all about. It's about a power grab, and it's about a money grab. It's as simple as that.

This government has already cut close to $1 billion from public education in Ontario. Kids are taking it on the chin as a result of that, in special education, junior kindergarten and adult education.

This government, to its dismay, had to contend with a leak during the course of this crisis when the truth came out and we quickly discovered that what this was really all about was exactly what we'd been maintaining it was all about. It's about stealing another $700 million from public education. Parents right across Ontario now recognize that.

I still don't think Tory backbenchers understand the nature of this paragraph. We are going to run your schools from downtown Toronto. Do you really understand that? Queen's Park is now going to run your schools in your ridings. Is that what they elected you to do? You show me where that is in the Common Sense Revolution. You go back home and talk to the folks who put you here in the first place and ask them if that's in keeping with their wishes. Is that what they desire you to do here in this place, to take control of public education?

You are effectively emasculating every trustee in the province. School boards are going to have next-to-little power. You, this government -- and in fact, to be fair to the backbenchers, it's not even you who are going to get this power. It's going to come from within the centre. Read that article that was made reference to earlier by my colleague, Jim Bradley. It talks about the Harris Kremlin. That's what this is all about. You are being emasculated as well.

This is all about taking control and it's not going to be elected officials who are going to exercise that control. It's going to be unelected people -- unelected, unaccountable. That is not in keeping with the history of this province, it's not in keeping with Conservatism in this province and it's not in keeping with the wishes of the people of this province. I undertake, here and now, to revoke Bill 160 and to put into place education reform that truly meets the needs of our students.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I want to recount just a bit of recent history to this government. This government doesn't seem to understand that 126,000 teachers did not leave their classrooms and go out on a two-week protest period because that's what they wanted to do. Talk to any teacher around this province, and they want to be in their classroom. They want to be teaching children. They want to be working with children. What you've done is you have left teachers, you have left students, you have left parents with no options.

You already have taken, on an annualized basis, $800 million out of our elementary and secondary schools. Despite your attempts to stay away from the issue, to avoid telling the truth over the last month, Bill 160 and your funding formula is all about taking another $667 million away from our children, out of our elementary and secondary classrooms.

When you put in this bill this nonsense about disciplining teachers, about intimidating teachers, my God, don't try to rewrite history. Teachers went out because they believed they must go out to protect public education, to protect it from you Neanderthals. That's why they went out and that's the only reason. There was no intimidation. There was no effort by anyone to say to teachers, "You must go out." They made a decision of conscience. They made a decision of conscience against a government that has no conscience, against a government that tries to put a dollar value on everything.

I also want to point out something else that is a complete fallacy here. If you think you can now, after insulting teachers, after insulting parents, after insulting boards of education, buy support with a measly $40 a day, it indicates just how awfully misguided you are, how totally misguided you are.


Let's review something else. You have spent, by objective estimates, $3 million over the last three weeks on your objectionable and misleading propaganda campaign. People couldn't watch Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, they couldn't watch the Grey Cup game without --

The Speaker: You must withdraw "misleading propaganda," please.

Mr Hampton: What was it then? It is a propaganda campaign, Speaker. No one doubts that.

The Speaker: I would ask that you withdraw "misleading," then.

Mr Hampton: I will withdraw, for the time, "misleading." We'll investigate that part later.

The Speaker: I've been down this road before. Please just withdraw "misleading."

Mr Hampton: Other people will decide whether it's misleading. I withdraw that part.

Your propaganda campaign, which cost --

The Speaker: I'm sorry, but this is your last chance. Withdraw "misleading," please. I'm not into an argument. It's very simple, and it's a rule that's fast. Just please withdraw "misleading."

Mr Hampton: Mr Speaker, I already withdrew.

Your propaganda campaign, which cost between $2 million and $3 million out there -- that's what you spent. Let's just look at the objective evidence. You've taken $800 million from education already, and it's in the deputy minister's contract, which I revealed, that you're going to take another $667 million from elementary and secondary education. Yet you think nothing of spending $3 million on your propaganda campaign or of spending that amount of money trying to brainwash people about what this is really about.

This is about two things: This is about taking money from education so you can give more money to your wealthy friends via your tax cut, and this is about establishing top-down, centralized, almost Kremlin-like control over education in this province. You know what's so amazing about this? Eastern Europe recognized that top-down control doesn't work. They recognized that it stifles initiative, stifles creativity, stifles spontaneity. But what is the Harris Conservative government trying to do to education in Ontario? Trying to establish top-down, command-like control over our schools.

If the truth be known, this bill should be entitled "An Act by a desperate government to buy support from parents after they've blown everything that education stands for."

The Speaker: It's time for oral questions.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: November is Wife Assault Prevention Month, and traditionally the minister responsible for women's issues leads the House in all-party statements on it. That not being done, I would ask for unanimous consent that statements be made on November being Wife Assault Prevention Month.

The Speaker: Agreed? No.


Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't know who you heard, but the point of the matter is that in fairness to my two colleagues --


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, I appreciate your help. It would be more helpful if I could hear what the minister is saying.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I'm just trying to help.

The Speaker: I'm sure you are.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: In fairness to my two colleagues, I just heard now. I'd like to hear what was asked, if you don't mind.


Hon Mrs Cunningham: I'm away tomorrow. When does she want it?

The Speaker: You know what? With great respect, I put the question. It was for Wife Assault Prevention Month, seeking unanimous agreement to make statements today. I asked for consent; I heard a "no." That's all there is to it. It's time for oral questions.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Can you stop the clock, please?

Hon Mr Sterling: At the House leaders' meeting this morning, we discussed this particular matter. I was informed that they were going to ask for unanimous consent tomorrow.

The Speaker: I don't want to get into this any further. I asked for it; it wasn't there. If the House leaders want to get together and discuss it tonight, tomorrow or the next day, it's up to you. Right now we're going to oral questions.


The Speaker: Minister, I appreciate that. Thank you. It's time for oral questions.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. You will recall that at one time you said that Bill 160 was not about money, that it wasn't about any particular financial targets and that it was about improving education. Then some time during the past few weeks, of course, the truth came out. We now understand only too well that this is an exercise to, among other things, take $700 million more out of public education in Ontario.

You had a fight with the teachers. The teachers won. The public has sided with the teachers. I'm wondering, will you now listen to that huge protest, that huge inferno that has enveloped our province, and withdraw Bill 160?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'm disappointed actually to hear this member, somebody who just a few years ago brought in a bill to limit teachers' right to strike, somebody who just a few years ago made statements that this is wrong, a bill to severely limit the right to strike, the time and when they could strike. I'm very disappointed actually that this member -- on the picket line, encouraging the teachers to take the strike into a third week in fact -- now raises this issue.

The bill before the Legislature has been brought forward after about a year and a half of negotiations with trustees, with teachers, with many involved, and it is designed to protect classroom education.

The easiest thing in the world to do is cut funding. You did that; the NDP did that. The challenge is, regardless of what the level of funding is, how do you protect classroom education?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr McGuinty: I can tell you, Speaker, it's certainly a change to see the Premier in person, because for the last three weeks he has disappeared completely. I thought we had a virtual Premier for some time there, a two-dimensional guy who appeared on TV complements of taxpayers' money. He never had the guts once to attend any of the education rallies. He didn't have the guts to go into any scrums and explain where he was coming from, and he didn't assume the proper responsibility as Premier of this province to do everything he possibly could to bring this education crisis to a halt. Where the hell has this guy been?

If he's not going to listen to the teachers, he's not going to listen to the trustees, he's not going to listen to parents and he's not going to listen to students, then maybe he should start listening to his own backbenchers.

Tony Skarica said: "We've had enough public confrontations. Maybe it's time to slow down a bit." Solid advice, Premier.

Bill Murdoch says, "I for one would like to know more about this $667 million." Premier, if you're not going to listen to the public, those --

The Speaker: Thank you, leader of the official opposition. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: Of course I always listen to all members, my own backbench members, and indeed I listen to members of the public, to teachers --


The Speaker: Order. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: In addition, I also listen to members of the opposition. Indeed, I want to say I take very seriously the comments of the leader of the Liberal Party, October 29, 1997, on Humble and Fred: "Everybody, I think, believes you can find room for improvement in education. You can probably find more savings." Thank you very much, Mr McGuinty. We are looking at doing just that.


Here's what you said, member for Ottawa South, on April 24, 1992: "Somewhere along the line, in attempting to ensure that teachers and boards have full rights to negotiate wages and benefits, the system has failed the very group for whose best interests our education system has supposedly been created." I might say we listened very carefully to you.

Finally, you said this on Focus Ontario: "We don't have any specific policies right now." Well, we do. We are fixing the problems.

Mr McGuinty: You've got specific policies, all right; there's no doubt about that. The only problem is, they're the wrong ones.

Premier, I want you to do something that you don't do a lot of. I want you to stop and think about this for a moment.


The Speaker: Order. I would ask the House to come to order, both on the government side and the opposition side. It's becoming very difficult to hear the questions and answers.

Mr McGuinty: We had 126,000 teachers take to the streets, unprecedented in the history of this province, in fact in the history of North America; 2.1 million students were out of school for two weeks. Most remarkable of all, their parents supported their teachers. I want you to think about how truly amazing this is.

At the outset, public opinion was not on the side of the teachers, but as the public became better educated as to what the facts were, they clearly decided that the teachers were in the right, the parents were in the right, students were in the right and you were in the wrong.

Premier, in the light of all of that, what is it going to take, what is it really going to take, to make you stop and listen and do the right thing and withdraw Bill 160?

Hon Mr Harris: I would like to say we always listen and we listen very carefully. On April 24, 1992 -- that means you've had over five years since you made this statement to develop a policy or a response -- here's what you said: "Somewhere along the line, in attempting to ensure that teachers and boards have full rights to negotiate wages and benefits, the system has failed the very group for whose best interests our education system has supposedly been created." Over five years ago you made that statement. Five years later you said, "We don't have any specific" --


The Speaker: Order. Members for Windsor-Sandwich and Hamilton East, I'm not going to warn you again. Come to order, please. Also the member for Ottawa-Rideau.

Hon Mr Harris: Five years later you said, "We don't have any specific policies."

I'm prepared to listen. I would ask you, if you have something new, other than inciting an illegal strike to carry on into the third and fourth week, if you have something new to add to this debate, after having five years to think about it, I'd be glad to hear it.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): To the Premier: One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the way of the public supporting, in the way of everybody supporting, your Bill 160 is the $700-million grab that you're about to make. You can alleviate all that. Stand up right now, Premier, and assure us that you are not about to remove one further cent from public education, and that if you find any savings, you will then redeploy those so they best meet the needs of our students. Promise right now that you're not about to take any more money out of public education in Ontario.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the minister would be happy to respond.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Bill 160 and the education program of this government and this ministry is about three things: It's about quality, it's about accountability and it's about efficiency.

Through the provisions of this bill we will ensure that class sizes don't increase, we will ensure that our students get the proper instructional time, but at the same time there is an efficiency that is expected through the education system, through all the ministries, through the government of Ontario. We will ensure that every nickel that has to be spent on education is spent to ensure that quality. But on behalf of the taxpayers we need to ensure the financial stability of Ontario, and if there are savings that are not needed for the quality --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr McGuinty: Nobody buys that, Minister. Everybody understands that this is about money and it's about power, nothing more than that.

One of the things that was disclosed during the course of this education crisis was the performance contract for Veronica Lacey, the deputy minister. It clearly provides in this that there is a plan to remove $667 million for the 1998-99 year. Given that everybody now understands what's in this and given that before that was released, everybody on that side of the House was saying this is not about taking more money out of the system, what I want to know is, is this provision still in place? Is Veronica Lacey now still bound by the terms of this performance contract to find $667 million and to remove that from public education?

Hon David Johnson: The contract that's referred to is a draft contract that was at one point in time --


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon David Johnson: I guess spending controls and efficiency and ensuring best value for the taxpayer don't come naturally to the Liberal Party. This is a party that increased the spending in Ontario by $10 billion in three years.


We've made it clear that the education program, Bill 160, is about quality, accountability and efficiency. At one point in time there was an estimate that the kind of efficiencies that could be achieved throughout the education system would be about in the $600-million-to-$700-million range, but that will be the topic of the budget for each and every year, for the estimates process. What we will actually spend in the education system in 1998-99 will depend on the estimates for that particular year. We will ensure that every nickel that's needed to be spent to ensure a quality program is in fact spent.

Mr McGuinty: We have just received some very interesting news. Apparently this is only a draft contract. Now, let's just put that against what we heard the Premier say a couple of weeks ago, that he felt they could find another 4% to 5% in savings in public education. That's somewhere between $500 million and $700 million.

On the other hand, we have the Minister of Education saying not to worry, that this $667-million figure is only found within a draft contract.

Minister, I want you to do a couple of things now. First of all, I want to know who is right, you or the Premier. Second, if there is another contract that's now in force, I want you to table that in the House. Will you do that, Minister?

Hon David Johnson: I think the member opposite knows that the performance contracts are personal information that are not to be tabled in the House. But I would ask, is there any taxpayer in Ontario and is there any member in this House who feels that there isn't some room for efficiency within the education system, that there isn't some waste or duplication within the education system, that the government and the Ministry of Education shouldn't look as hard as they can to find that waste and duplication? That's exactly what we intend to do. I would say that it's quite conceivable that this government could find efficiencies in the 4%-to-5% range. I think that's a pretty good target. But at the end of the day, I guarantee that this government will spend exactly what it takes to ensure a high-quality education program for the students of Ontario.

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

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, we've just come through a two-week teachers' protest, which is unprecedented, as we all know. During the first week of that protest, you and your ministers insisted it wasn't about money. Then, when I leaked this copy of the deputy minister's performance contract, you started to acknowledge that it was about money. You said that you could, you felt, take another $700 million out of the education system.

Premier, why didn't you tell the parents of this province that fact right up front? Why didn't you tell them right up front that this was about taking another $700 million out of the system? Were you afraid to tell them the truth?

Hon Mr Harris: I think we were quite clear in the Common Sense Revolution and the campaign that we felt, on average, about four pennies of every dollar spent in education was being wasted with duplication and bureaucracy.

We made a second commitment -- the most important one -- that whatever savings might be able to be achieved, whatever waste could be found, must not affect the quality of education in the classroom in a negative way.

Bill 160 is the classroom protection act, to ensure that whatever the level of --


The Speaker: Order. I caution the gallery that it's out of order to speak or applaud. Please don't do that.

Mr Hampton: The boards of education across this province can show from their own budget figures that you've already taken $800 million out of the system. That's why junior kindergarten is being affected; that's why adult education is being affected; that's why special education is being affected; that's why you can go into classroom after classroom and find no textbooks.

Premier, the point is this, and I come back to it: You denied for the first week that this was about taking money out. Then, when you were confronted with the deputy minister's contract, you switched your story and you admitted that this was about taking $700 million. You didn't even have the decency to tell your own caucus. In the Toronto Star, one of your caucus colleagues is quoted as saying: "None of us knew about it. We were totally out of the loop. We were thrust into the war without any weapons." Premier, why wouldn't you even tell your own caucus members? Were you afraid they might tell the truth to the public?

Hon Mr Harris: The only actual cut to education funding came with the NDP in 1993 to 1995, $571 million. So you're pulling figures out of the air that I have no knowledge of, nor does my caucus, nor does the minister. The records and the audited statements of the school boards and the public records from the auditor and the audited statements will show that we are actually spending a little more money on education now than when we took office.

Having said that --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Harris: Having said that -- and the audited statements will verify those facts -- what I want to say is I understand why the opposition wants to talk about money, because they're the ones who were a part, over a 10-year period, of this slow decline in the quality of education in this province. It is quality of education, improving the standards, improving results, testing and giving our kids a head start and an opportunity -- that's how we measure success, not the way you measured failure.

Mr Hampton: This is a Premier who when he went to Europe a year and a half ago said to everyone in Europe: "Come to Ontario, invest. We've got a wonderful education system, a well-trained and well-educated workforce." This is a government where the Deputy Premier goes to Harvard University and tells everyone at Harvard University, "The key to Ontario's success is a good education system, a well-trained workforce."

Now the Premier wants to pretend that he's in a fairy-tale and that was all false. I suppose according to you, Premier, the bogeyman stole special education, the bogeyman stole adult education, the bogeyman came in the night and took away junior kindergarten and it's the bogeyman who has been taking the textbooks out of the classroom.

Premier, I've got a suggestion for you. This is the performance contract: Rip it up. Take Bill 160 and rip it up. Take your cuts and rip them up too. Will you do that?

Hon Mr Harris: I want to assure the leader of the New Democratic Party, who got outpicketed by the leader of the Liberal Party in this last dispute, of this: that we take our responsibility very seriously to bring long-needed reforms to the education system, reforms that were recommended by the royal commission put by your party, reforms that were recommended by the former New Democratic Party Minister of Education, reforms that are required to improve the quality of education in this province. Those are the reforms that this caucus and this cabinet and this party have had the courage to make in the face of a lot of vested interests, in the face of a lot of rhetoric, in the face of a lot of misinformation. We have finally had the courage to stand up and say, "Our kids come first."


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre and member for Cochrane North, you have to take those green ribbons off, and I see the member for Fort York and the member for Windsor-Walkerville. Last warning, member for Cochrane North. Then I have no choice but to name the member for Cochrane North.

Mr Len Wood was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, you must take the green ribbon off.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I'm wearing it in support of the teachers and parents and the education system.

The Speaker: I name the member for Hamilton Centre, Mr Christopherson.

Mr Christopherson was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: The member for Fort York.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Mr Speaker, Mike Harris has got a lot of courage --

The Speaker: Then I name the member for Fort York, Mr Marchese.

Mr Marchese was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: Member for Windsor-Riverside, I ask you to remove the green ribbon.

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I am wearing this ribbon in opposition to the --

The Speaker: Then I name the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr Lessard was escorted from the chamber.

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


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is also for the Premier and it follows on the remarks that he just made. Premier, teachers are not opposed to education change. Teachers do not oppose a new report card; they support it. Teachers do not oppose a new curriculum; they have supported different changes in curriculum over the last 20 years, many of them introduced by previous Conservative governments. Teachers do not oppose use of educational testing so long as it's used in the right way. What they object to, Premier, is you trying to say that your bill, Bill 160, is about quality education. If it is about quality education, can you explain to me why the words "quality of education" don't appear anywhere in the actual text of the bill? Can you explain that please?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Education and Training can.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Does it not enhance the quality of education that we should ensure that average class sizes should not go up? Does it not enhance the quality of education that we should ensure that our students have the same number of instructional days as students in other provinces? Does it not enhance the quality of education that professional people with good qualifications can come in and complement the teachers and add, perhaps in the computer field or in early childhood, extra quality and experience in the classroom? Are these not enhancements to the quality?

These are some of the provisions along with, I might say, involving the parents. Certainly through the parent councils, involving the parents will enhance the quality of education. That's what this bill is about in addition to achieving efficiency. That's what this bill is about and I think it will improve the quality of education in the Ontario.

Mr Hampton: I asked the Premier to defend his previous statements and it appears that he is not capable of defending them. He in fact tried to duck the question. My question was very specific: If this is about quality of education, why do the words "quality of education" not appear anywhere in the text of the bill? Why does the government have to rely on weasel words like "average class sizes," when anyone knows that those words will permit class sizes to go to 35 or higher, provided that there is something to average them down? Why does the government continue to rely on that?

Perhaps I should put it another way: You can't tell me why the words "quality of education" don't appear in the bill. Can you tell me why the word "money" appears 69 times in the bill?

Hon David Johnson: I have a copy of the bill right here and I'll just read the title: "An Act to reform the education system, protect classroom funding, and enhance accountability, and make other improvements consistent" --


Hon David Johnson: Perhaps the leader would be interested in this -- "with the Government's education quality agenda, including improved student achievement and regulated class size." This bill, in terms of protecting class size, instructional time and a number of other issues is indeed about quality. It is also about accountability, and yes, it's also about efficiency.

Mr Hampton: We just got evidence that the minister read the title of the bill. We're getting more and more evidence that he doesn't know anything about what is in the bill. He has absolutely no defence for why the word "money" appears 69 times in the bill.

Let me tell you why the word "money" appears 69 times in the bill. It appears because this is all about taking money out of the education system. This is all about finding another $667 million at the expense of our children so you can finance your tax gift to your wealthy friends. Let me put it to you in very, very straight terms: You take from our children's education in order that you can give more wealth to people who are already wealthy. That is why the word "money" appears 69 times in this bill.


My question to you is this, Minister: After 126,000 teachers left the classroom to show you that you are wrong, after literally hundreds of thousands of parents joined them on the picket lines out there, after your $3-million propaganda campaign has blown up in your face, will you admit that you are now wrong? Will you tear this up and --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: The leader of the third party seems to have a fixation with the word "money." I understand, because it was the NDP who in 1993 and 1994, through the expenditure control program, through the social contract, took $571 million out of the education system. Did you improve the education system? Were there any movements to improve the curriculum, to bring in a standard report card, to do standardized testing? Were parents happy with your quality in education? Absolutely not. That's why parents have said --


Hon David Johnson: That certainly was reflected in the results of the election, wasn't it?

Parents, through this whole period of time, have said we need to improve the quality of our education. In addition to ensuring efficiency of the system, we have brought forward those components, that testing, that curriculum, and indeed Bill 160, with the limit on class sizes.

The Speaker: Thank you very much. New question; Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. You will now know that thousands upon thousands of people have been collecting throughout the province in protest to Bill 160. You haven't listened to teachers, you haven't listened to parents, you haven't listened to students and you haven't listened to trustees. In fact, on that last note, many trustees have spoken about the dangers of big government going mad in assuming control over education in Ontario.

One trustee in particular said, "I shudder at the thought of total provincial control over education in Ontario." Do you know who said that? It was the president of the Northern Ontario Public and Secondary School Trustees' Association, Mike Harris.

You won't listen to trustees, you won't listen to parents, you won't listen to teachers and you won't listen to students. Will you listen to Mike Harris?

Hon Mr Harris: Yes.

Mr McGuinty: If you're going to listen to Mike Harris, who some several years ago warned us about the dangers of big government going mad and assuming control over education in the exact same way that Bill 160 is about to do and the way that Bill 160 is now going to assume responsibility for the minutiae of how education will be delivered in Kenora, Cornwall, Kincardine, London, Oshawa, Ottawa, Toronto, North Bay -- if you listen to that guy, what you'll do right now is stand up and withdraw Bill 160. Will you do that?

Hon Mr Harris: If I thought there was anything in the bill that would do that, I sure would.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. Your Minister of Education this past week attacked teachers for wearing the apple-green ribbons in the school. The apple-green ribbon campaign is in support of education. Can you tell me what is wrong with teachers wearing an apple-green ribbon in the classroom in support of public education?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the minister can.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): There are many values in the education system --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You know something? There's a guy with a mike up there in the gallery. You can't have the mike hanging over the edge. I think they're just explaining it now. Okay, thanks.

Hon David Johnson: There are many aspects of the education system in the province that we value dearly, and one of those aspects is the fact that our classrooms are not politicized. Indeed, school boards have policies which forbid the posting of political papers, advertising or that sort of thing.


Hon David Johnson: What I said was that obviously what the teachers do on their own time is their business. If they want to picket or protest, that's their business. But in the classroom, our parents have every right to believe that their children are sent there for learning, not to have the class politicized, particularly when you think of the young children in their formative stages in the elementary system. Is that what we want? Do we want our classrooms to be politicized for one political agenda or another? Absolutely not. I stick by that.

Mr Hampton: This is nothing less than incredible, that a teacher who would wear a green ribbon in the classroom in support of public education is classified as wrong by this government. That shows how clearly you live in the world of doublespeak, that to be in support of public education is wrong under this government in Ontario.

Minister, if that's your definition, can you explain to me how you justify your propaganda attack ads which appeared during the Grey Cup game, which appeared during Hockey Night in Canada, which appeared on television during prime time family viewing? Could you tell me how you justify your ugly propaganda campaign, your ugly, partisan attack ads when kids are watching television, and yet, according to you, it's wrong to wear a simple ribbon in support of public education in Ontario?

Hon David Johnson: The leader of the third party asks, first of all, about --

Mr Hampton: Ugly, ugly ads.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, will you come to order, please.

Hon David Johnson: I think the leader of the third party knows well that it is wrong to bring this kind of political fight into the classroom. School boards have policies which forbid that. But what happens outside of the classroom is another matter. The teachers' unions, the OTF, certainly have television advertising. The government has a right and an obligation to bring information to the general public. This is beyond the classroom, a totally different situation, and the people of Ontario have a right to expect information from the government about important issues, but not in the classroom.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. In the last few days, I've read in the local newspaper that the government's welfare fraud hotline has saved $15 million. I'd like to know as to the government's investment in this worthwhile project.


Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): One of the comments from across the way was that this was more propaganda. Only the opposition would think that saving $15 million for the taxpayers in the last two years is propaganda.

We instituted a welfare fraud hotline to get information from many people who have come in with allegations. They are investigated. There were over 2,000 cases of welfare fraud and abuse that had their benefits either terminated or reduced because of abuse of the system. There are another 8,000 cases that we are still investigating to see if they indeed also need to have their benefits stopped or reduced.

The welfare fraud hotline costs $174,000; we think an investment of $174,000 to save $15 million is a good deal for Ontario taxpayers.


Mr Hardeman: I hope these results continue. However, what we are we doing to prevent prisoners from illegally collecting welfare, and others who are double-dipping in the system?

Hon Mrs Ecker: There are a number of other steps we're taking in addition to the welfare fraud hotline. We have been doing what are called information-sharing agreements with other jurisdictions -- for example, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, the federal government -- to try and make sure that people, as they say, are not double-dipping.

In addition, we have an information-sharing agreement with the Minister of Correctional Services, and because of that activity we've saved an additional $413,000 with individuals who are collecting welfare while in jail, which they are not supposed to do.

We'll also be having further agreements with the Workers' Compensation Board, and we'll be working with the insurance industry in future, to ensure that only those who are in need are on the system and that we are protecting the credibility of the welfare system not only for the people who need it, but also for the people who pay for it.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, 126,000 teachers across this province launched an unprecedented protest against your government's planned destruction of public education. They took this courageous action for one reason only: because as teachers they are deeply committed to education and to the future wellbeing of their students, and they were determined to do everything in their power to stop your government's attack on our education system. Your response as a government has been to vilify our teachers and to take punitive action against those who dared to raise concerns about your government's agenda.

Even your amendments are punitive. Instead of trying to respond to the concerns, you're determined to create even more chaos. Your new attack on principals and vice-principals without question will destroy effective educational leadership in every classroom in this province. Why are you so determined to plunge our educational system into total, absolute chaos?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): For years parents have been asking for improvements in the education system. Bill 160 is a part of the total package which includes the more rigorous curriculum, the standardized report cards, the standardized testing, the limit on the average class size, the increased number of instructional days. Many people don't know, for example, that the average number of instructional days across Canada in the secondary level is 181 days, yet our students in Ontario only have 170 days under the present system. Through this bill we have implemented an extra 10 days at the secondary level and an extra five days at the primary levels.

In terms of the principals and vice-principals, we were assured the principals and vice-principals would be in the school in this sort of situation. The obvious fact is that they weren't. The vast majority, well over 5,000, were not in the schools, were not there to do their duties, to give safety to the children. They're in a difficult situation. They're in a conflict situation, with management responsibilities on the one hand and union responsibilities on the other.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, all of your words and any of your so-called reforms mean absolutely nothing, because the bottom line is that you cannot bring in any educational reform when you have made enemies of every teacher in this province, and you cannot bring in any positive change without effective educational leadership, and you are about to destroy that. Your attack on principals and vice-principals has nothing to do with improving education. Even your predecessor acknowledge that principals and vice-principals were important educational leaders and should stay as educational leaders in the schools.

Your change, your amendment, your attack on principals and vice-principals has nothing do with anything you heard at the committee hearings. It has everything to do with the fact that those principals and vice-principals who were so committed to education dared to come forward and attack your government, so they must be punished.. You will slap them down and you will destroy effective educational leadership, and you will plunge our education system into sheer chaos. If you won't withdraw your bill, will you at least withdraw this poorly-thought-out, draconian, punitive amendment?

Hon David Johnson: I will agree with the member opposite that improving the education system requires all members to work together. The teachers are on the front line, the principals are there on each and every school, and we certainly need the cooperation of all concerned to achieve that.

The member opposite indicates, though, that this didn't come up in the public hearings. In fact the parents' council, for example, suggested that the principals and vice-principals should not be in the union. There were a number of other people who suggested that. There is the Paroian report which suggested that the principals and vice-principals should not be in the union.

The principals and vice-principals are in a difficult conflict situation with management responsibilities, union responsibilities. Through the bill, through the amendment, we have attempted to address that.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A question to the Minister of Education: Minister, following on your last answer, the only parent council that said that principals and vice-principals should be taken out of the federations was that politically partisan outfit that you and your predecessor appointed. Every other parent council in the province said it would be wrong to take principals and vice-principals out of the federations. When you try to spin that line, at least give all the information and point out that it's only your partisan outfit.

I've got hundreds of letters here from principals and vice-principals across this province, not the so-called union bosses you talk about but the people who actually manage and run our schools. The supervisors, the people who deal with parents all the time are asking you, "Don't follow that destructive amendment, and frankly, don't impose Bill 160." If you won't listen to parents and you won't listen to the ordinary teachers, will you at least listen to the principals and the vice-principals who have many years' experience in our education system? Withraw the amendment and withdraw Bill 160. Will you do that? Will you listen to them?

Hon David Johnson: I can only say that the previous minister looked at this situation. It was put forward to him that there would not be a problem, that the conflict situation could be dealt with. It's a conflict situation that does not occur anywhere else that I can think of in terms of the importance of the principal position, the management functions associated with that position, and to have the same person in the union context is quite a conflict.

Unfortunately, during the period of the unlawful strike there was a problem. There were many principals, I suspect, who did not want to leave their schools, but with the pressure that was brought to bear, the reality was that they could not serve two masters. It's a situation that needs to be clarified and we intend to proceed.

Mr Hampton: What a bunch of nonsense. Are you trying to imply that the people who are our educational leaders, principals and vice-principals don't have the integrity, the ability to make up their own minds? Is that what you're trying to imply? Be honest about it. The reason that principals and vice-principals closed schools is because under the Education Act, if they feel they cannot operate a school safety, if they do not have enough staff in the school to provide safe supervision, they have a duty to so inform the board and to then close the school. Don't try to pass off your nonsense. All of these teachers, all of these principals and vice-principals, from one end of the province to the other can't be wrong. They all say that you are headed in the wrong direction.

Your plan to bring in your hacks, your business managers and use them to replace principals and vice-principals will be destructive of education. Will you listen to them? Will you listen to someone? Will you listen to the people who have been helping to run our schools for many years?

Hon David Johnson: Through this whole process we have listened to a great number of people, through public hearings, through consultations etc, but there is a basic concept with a senior individual, a well-respected group of people having to serve two masters, being in a management position and having management functions and responsibilities at the same time --

The Speaker: Thank you. Pursuant to standing order 30(b), it being 4 pm, it is now time for orders of the day.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Point of order, Speaker: I rise to bring to your attention a problem relating to standing order 62(a). If you'll note on the Orders and Notices paper for November 17, on pages 28 and 29 it states that, "The standing committee on estimates will meet to consider" --


The Speaker: I've had enough interjections. This is the third one. Can you clear the galleries, please. Order. Clear the galleries, please.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Just one individual and clear the galleries.

The Speaker: I'm not stopping the House every time one person wants to interrupt the Legislature. There were three times, and I clear the gallery. After three times, every time I clear the gallery.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Hey, come on.

The Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, I'm not holding up the House every time someone wants to break up.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Point of privilege, Speaker: With all due respect, I have the highest regard for your position and for you personally, but I do believe that my privileges as a member of this House and indeed the privilege of all the members here --

The Speaker: I'm sorry, we are in the middle of a point of privilege of the member for Algoma. But to comment briefly and quickly -- and I'm not going to hear many challenges or points of privilege -- the fact is, in any session I sit, there are three opportunities when the gallery interrupts. I say to all members, if you've been here at any time, I allow for three times. Once, I've warned them -- I did warn them after the second, that another time and I would clear the galleries. If you want to check Hansard, you can.


The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt, I appreciate the fact that you don't like that ruling, but the fact remains, it is consistent with every ruling I have made. I'm not debating it any longer. It is consistent --

Mr Silipo: So what? It is consistently bad.

The Speaker: I am going to name the member for Dovercourt if you don't come to order. Three times I warned them I clear the galleries. It is not my expectation to have 100 people in here and have each and every one of them interrupt the proceedings. I can't do things that way. So that's the way it's --

Mr Silipo:You can't hold the whole gallery responsible for one person's actions.

The Speaker: That is the way. And it was the third interruption, to the member for Dovercourt. Either we're obviously not going to agree on this or you're not going to agree with my ruling -- and I say to the members for Dovercourt and Beaches-Woodbine, I don't want to be interrupted again as I'm speaking, or I will name the members.


The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt, I will name you. I don't want any further debate on it. That's my rule. I've lived by the rule. I gave three warnings. I cleared the gallery. That's as simple as it gets.

The member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: Well, Speaker, every pedagogue knows that a class detention is the worst kind of discipline. Having said that, I would like to raise with you --

The Speaker: With great respect, member for Algoma, I find that tremendously offensive. With great respect, I find it --


The Speaker: To the member for Sault Ste Marie and to the member for Algoma, I go to great lengths to be fair and equitable in this House to all sides, and I find that challenge to be fundamentally unfair.

Mr Wildman: Well, I withdraw the remark, Speaker.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Speaker, I want to raise with you a point of order related to standing order 62(a). I refer you to pages 28 and 29 on the Orders and Notices paper for November 17, 1997. You'll note that on page 28 it says, "The standing committee on estimates will meet to consider the estimates...of the Ministry of Education and Training, as follows: Tuesday, 18 November, 3:30 pm," in committee room 2, and "Wednesday, 19 November, 3:30 pm," in committee room 2.

On page 29 it says, under "Time Remaining," that for the Ministry of Education and Training there are seven hours and 30 minutes, because none of the time has yet been used. In other words, we have yet to begin the estimates debate on the Ministry of Education and Training.

You will note that in standing order 62(a), it says the estimates committee will report estimates "no later than the third Thursday in November," which is this week.

As you are well aware, Speaker, and all people in the assembly are aware, we are in the centre of a tremendously serious crisis in education that relates directly to the estimates of the Ministry of Education and Training, that relates to the question of whether the government intends to take another $700 million over and above the $800 million they have already removed from classroom education in Ontario. It is imperative that this assembly have the committee debate the estimates, and for the new minister to have the opportunity to appear before the committee, along with the deputy minister whose contract has been the source of so much controversy, to defend those estimates.

Now, we have a problem. Because of the time allocation motion on Bill 160, that will be dealt with today and tomorrow in clause-by-clause to deal with amendments. We can't sit on a matter related to education in the standing committee on administration of justice to deal with Bill 160 on Tuesday and at the same time be in the standing committee on estimates dealing with the estimates of the Ministry of Education and Training. You can't deal with the same policy area in two different places at once.

What I am going to suggest, and I would ask for agreement among the House leaders and the members of the assembly, is unanimous consent to extend the deadline for the estimates so that we can have a later deadline rather than this Thursday, so that the estimates debates can proceed in the estimates committee and not have them truncated because of the time allocation motion on Bill 160 related to the standing committee on justice.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, this is, I think, the best way of dealing with this. I have already mentioned this privately to the government House leader as a possibility. I said that we in the official opposition would be prepared to accommodate the government and all members of the House by agreeing to postpone that date for the receipt of the estimates of the Ministry of Education for another week.

There are members of the Legislature, both on the government side and the opposition side, who have an interest in both proceedings, and I think it would be advantageous not simply for the opposition but for all members of the House who have an interest in education to be able to attend both the spending estimates consideration for the Ministry of Education and the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 160, which deals entirely with education and the funding of education. So I think this would be a very practical solution. I have indicated to the government House leader that I am prepared to accommodate other members of the House on the government side and our side in doing so and I look forward to the usual cooperation of the government in this matter.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): Briefly, in support of the recommendation, we obviously are anxious to have an estimates session dealing with the estimates of the Ministry of Education and Training. There have been so many issues that have been raised relating to the financing of education and the proposals for future financing of education that I think a review of their estimates is of the highest priority for the members of this House.

I would hope that the Minister of Education himself would be as interested in the clause-by-clause analysis of Bill 160 as he is in defending his estimates before the estimates committee. I think the minister himself is in a conflict if these two sessions are held concurrently. But we're obviously also in a dilemma. We don't want to ask that estimates not be held concurrently with clause-by-clause if it means we never get a chance to examine the estimates of the Ministry of Education and Training. I think Mr Wildman's suggestion is a very appropriate one and I hope it can be acted on.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Seeking consent is always in order and I will put the question now. I think basically everyone heard the arguments presented by --

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Speaker, could I just speak to that?

The Speaker: Sure.

Hon Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, this rule 62 is there for a number of reasons. Number one is that by the third week in November all of the estimates should be heard by the estimates committee and that they then are reported to the House, whether or not the estimates committee has considered all of the ministries, a few of the ministries or some of the ministries.

Following that, there is a requirement for a concurrence debate to take place. You can imagine with our legislative schedule that it's going to be very difficult for us to fit certain parts of the different processes within that period of time. I believe that we will require that necessary time to do our planning with regard to having the concurrence debate and fitting it in with the rest of our schedule. Therefore, we will follow the orders as printed and follow the intent of those orders.

The Speaker: I will still put the unanimous consent as presented by the member for Algoma. Agreed? I heard a no.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: I would just like to return to the point that I raised earlier, and not to debate with you your ruling.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm not interested in going back there. I appreciate the fact you don't agree with what I ruled, but if you want to make a quick point I will certainly hear it.

Mr Gerretsen: A very quick point. I think as part of our democratic system not only should we have the opportunity to debate issues here in a free and open way, but the people of Ontario, if they're willing to come down here, should be able to see what's going on here. The situation that we have right now -- and I certainly don't intend to centre out the people who are in the members' galleries right now. They are still there. They are part of the general public, no more and no less so than the people in the other public galleries. I would seriously suggest to you that you may want to revisit your ruling again and perhaps only deal with the gallery on a gallery-by-gallery basis. If there are noises being made in one particular gallery and you give three warnings, then perhaps -- and I don't agree with it -- you could consider clearing that particular gallery rather than looking at the entire House.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Or one by one.

Mr Gerretsen: On a one-by-one basis.

In effect, you have left two galleries the way they were before. I certainly don't want to get into any difficulty with the people who are occupying those galleries, but why should those people be allowed to stay and the rest of the people, the other 98 people who were here earlier who did not make any noise at that point in time either, be removed from this? I don't think that's a fair situation and I would strongly suggest that you revisit your ruling on that and deal with it in a different manner than you have so far.

The Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, I've got to tell you, I didn't direct this gallery to be cleared until there were interruptions. The interruptions came after I directed this gallery to be cleared.

I appreciate what you're saying, and on occasion I have had one gallery emptied as opposed to the other, much requested by the member for Dovercourt once and the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

The fact of the matter is, there were three interruptions. In a quieter moment now, to make the explanation, you're right, it is a privilege for the people of the province of Ontario to come down here and see this place as it works, and I think it's important that they do just that. But the fact remains that I can't manage this place if every 20 or 30 minutes somebody breaks into it from the gallery. I could be asking people to leave 15 or 20 times a day.

I've made a rule that if I have to ask three times, then I'm going to clear the galleries. I didn't realize that so many didn't know that, but if you check back in the record, that's what I've done. That was the third interruption, and I did warn them the second time. If you're asking me to be cognizant that this gallery is not making a noise and to clear this one, I will certainly do that in the future; that's why I didn't clear the members' galleries.

Having said that, I appreciate the opportunity now to express what I consider to be my policy. I don't think it's unreasonable, and I think it's more important that this place operate than it is to give people a forum to stand up and interrupt the proceedings of duly elected members.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Earlier today you received a letter from me giving you notice of my intention to raise a point of privilege. My point of privilege is with regard to the Harris government's undemocratic handling of Bill 160.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You know something? I did get that notice, but it's not in order. As part of the rules, you must give notice of your point of privilege you are raising; your point of privilege must be outlined in the submission you give me. Simply suggesting by note that you have a point of privilege isn't good enough. I'll just read you standing order 21(c):

"Notice to Speaker

"(c) Any member proposing to raise a point of privilege, other than one arising out of proceedings in the chamber during the course of a sessional day," which is a point of order, "shall give to the Speaker a written statement of the point at least one hour prior to raising the question in the House."

That means you must supply me, an hour before raising the question, with a written statement as to what your point of privilege is. Simply saying, "I have a point of privilege," isn't good enough according to the standing orders. My suggestion is that today you file that with my office and I'll deal with your point of privilege tomorrow. It also allows me the opportunity to know what your point of privilege is, so if there's any research to do, I can do that before I come to the Legislature.

Mr Curling: My point of privilege is about the undemocratic way Bill 160 was handled, and you're saying that's not good enough, for me to say --

The Speaker: No, I didn't.

Mr Curling: That's what was in my letter.

The Speaker: I guess what I'm trying to ascertain from your letter -- "the undemocratic way." As I recall, you didn't cite the standing order or any privilege. Simply making that broad statement, to me, doesn't live up to the terms and conditions of the standing order. You said: "I hereby provide notice of my intention to raise a point of privilege today in the Legislature. My point of privilege is in regard to the Harris government's undemocratic handling of Bill 160. It is my contention that the government's action has infringed upon my privilege as a parliamentarian in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario." What I need to know is, how did they impinge upon your privilege?

You were going to stand and tell me, but under the rules, you're supposed to submit that to me an hour before the House meets. All I know from what you sent me is that you're going to stand up because of the government's undemocratic handling of Bill 160. It's just not significant enough. I guess what I'm saying is that if you're going to file a notice of a point of privilege, you've got to give me something a little more substantive than that letter.

I have a letter from a significant number of members of your caucus and they all say the same thing, and I'm no further ahead with respect to understanding what your point of privilege is. I'll certainly expect it tomorrow. If you can file it one hour before the House meets tomorrow, I'll be happy to hear your point of privilege.

Mr Curling: I'll do that, Speaker.

The Speaker: Thank you.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of privilege, Speaker: I'm not going to belabour this and I'm not going to go on for long, but you stated earlier that it is the public's privilege to come and visit us members of the Legislature. I understood that the public had the right to do so. This is a little bit different from what I've been led to believe. Can you please explain?

The Speaker: Let's not get hung up on words. I guess what I'm saying, privilege or right, is that they have to obey the rules. That's the bottom line. If they don't, that right or privilege is revoked. That's what I'm trying to say.




Mr Harnick moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 61, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of the Attorney General / Projet de loi 61, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère du Procureur général.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I am pleased to present the Government Process Simplification Act (Ministry of the Attorney General), 1996, for third reading.

Our government is committed to reducing the legal and other costs of doing business for companies and for individuals. Measures to remove unnecessary requirements, simplify and streamline processes and improve the efficiency of our operations will result in better and less costly service delivery, savings for taxpayers, and more jobs for the people of Ontario.

In this bill we make amendments relating to the public guardian and trustee to streamline procedures, reduce costs to the public and improve efficiency. These changes will benefit the wide range of clients served by the public guardian and trustee, such as vulnerable adults, charitable institutions and the beneficiaries of estates of persons who die in Ontario without a will and without Ontario relatives able and willing to act as estate trustee. For example, our amendments will simplify procedures that the public guardian and trustee must follow to sell real estate and, in some cases, continue to act as an administrator of an estate. At present, the public guardian and trustee must obtain an order in council to get direction from cabinet. This bill does away with the current requirement to involve the cabinet in this process. This will expedite transactions and reduce costs.

We are also amending the Statutory Powers Procedure Act to clarify the details of the basic procedural rules applying to Ontario tribunals. This will serve to enhance the efficiency of the hearings process for businesses and individuals and for the tribunals themselves. As you know, the government, through its agency reform initiative, continues to look for ways to make the hearings process simpler, speedier and more cost-effective, while preserving fairness.

With this bill, we will also make several changes relating to the Assessment Review Board. The bill makes simple procedural and other amendments that will improve the board's ability to provide better service and make more efficient use of the board's hearing time. It also gives the board discretion to decide when to use hearing clerks for clerical and administrative purposes. Right now, the board has to use clerks for all its hearings, whether they are really needed or not.

In this bill we are dealing with amendments to 14 statutes. Among them are: the Assessment Act, the Assessment Review Board Act, the Municipal Act, the Charities Accounting Act, the Courts of Justice Act, the Public Guardian and Trustee Act, the Crown Administration of Estates Act, the Escheats Act, the Loan and Trust Corporations Act, the Victims' Right to Proceeds of Crime Act, the Construction Lien Act, the Estates Act, the Succession Law Reform Act, the rules of civil procedure, the South African Trust Investments Act and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, as I said.

These are the kind of amendments that are long overdue, because in fact they are all procedural in nature, they're not controversial, but they are all directed at providing better services to the public. They are long overdue amendments, and I'm very indebted, as is the Ministry of the Attorney General, to have had an opportunity to participate in the important work of the Red Tape Review Commission under the direction of Frank Sheehan, the member for Lincoln. I look forward to the third reading debate.

When I look at some of these amendments -- amendments to the Charities Accounting Act that the public and the legal profession have been asking for for a long time; the regularization of how the public guardian and trustee office works, how it is involved with the office of the accountant of the court, the ability to permit the public guardian and trustee to obtain the ease of dealing with real estate in the public guardian and trustee's possession, to complete the administration of estates.

Under the Estates Act -- let me give you an example. Subsections 49(5), (6) and (7) are repealed, and there is the provision for giving notice to the public guardian and trustee and the children's lawyer on passing of accounts. These provisions are now unnecessary, since the rules of civil procedure deal with estate procedures and address the issue of notice in the context of passing accounts. We're getting rid of things that no longer have to be there, that are duplications, that cost the public more in terms of having to deal with them. I hope my colleagues in the opposition will see that.

One of the other amendments, just to give you some example of what it is we're trying to do, is that subsection 4(1) of the bill repeals subsection 3(4) of the Construction Lien Act. This will give architects and holders of certificates of practice under the Architects Act and their employees lien rights for the supply of services and materials that enhance the value of premises. This change will bring them within the dispute resolution scheme that governs construction matters. Again, we're dealing with the kinds of things that are good for the public, that streamline the administration of justice, that get rid of duplication and that provide the public with a simplified way to deal with the public guardian and trustee, the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and a number of other acts.

I look forward to the debate that is going to take place. I can tell you that this is important legislation. It's good for the public. Stakeholders that we have been consulting with on every one of these bills are very positive about the directions we're moving in. They're very anxious to see this bill pass, and certainly we are, because it will improve the administration of justice in a number of areas that are long overdue, that are costing the public a lot of money and time. The Ministry of the Attorney General is very much committed to see this bill pass, to provide a much better process for the public to use when dealing with the 14 statutes that are being amended, because we want to simplify the process for the public who use the justice system.

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

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): It's good to hear the Attorney General speak about his keenness in improving the administration of justice. On that we can agree. Whether this government is committed to achieving just that is another matter.

Bill 61 before us does deal with a number of statutes and makes some attempt to simplify the way those statutes are implemented, but it also deals with increasing fees for consumers, new user fees in about 20 statutes, as a matter of fact. It is all about raising revenue much more than it is about delivering a system of justice that is credible. That, of course, is the main problem. We see a government that is quite keen on moving on issues that have to do with the bottom line. They're quite keen on issues that have to do with concentrating power among the few. They're not at all keen in dealing with the real issues before us.

Justice is more than simply raising new fees to make justice more cost-effective. Justice is about delivering services that are equal to all people. Justice is about ensuring that everyone in Ontario has the same access to the system of justice, whether they're rich or whether they're poor.

While I applaud the Attorney General for dealing quickly with this area, I would love to see some real action on issues of court backlogs, legal aid reform, family support plan access, the issues that affect ordinary people in this province. Hopefully, he will be able to act just as quickly on those important issues.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Let me say as well that I support this particular initiative in the sense that we're all in favour of simplifying the process, but what I have great difficulty with is that if the Attorney General, from his dissertation here today, is to be believed, that this really is good for the system, why did he wait a year and a half before passing this bill? This bill was introduced in this House on June 5, 1996, and since that time, with respect to all the red tape bills, the opposition has been speaking to the government House leader, whoever that may be from time to time, on an ongoing basis: "Bring these bills back. If you're in favour of cutting out red tape and speeding the process along, having less government interference in the aspects we're talking about here, bring the bills along so we can debate them and then implement them."

Of course that hasn't happened. We have waited a year and a half for this relatively simple bill that amends 14 statutes and that everybody agrees makes the kind of changes that are necessary for this province in the 1990s. It's taken a year and a half for this government to actually do something about it.

There may be a good reason, the reason being that the mess that occurred within the family support area, which we've all known about, was so humongous that the Attorney General simply couldn't deal with this relatively simple bill. I say to the government, bring forward your other red tape bills as well. Bring them forward as soon as possible for third reading so we can do something to help the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? Further debate.

Ms Castrilli: I seek consent to share my time with the members for Windsor-Walkerville, Parkdale and St Catharines.

The Acting Speaker: It will be done.

Ms Castrilli: I have already indicated in my previous comments that this legislation is troubling. It's troubling on a number of fronts. It seeks to change or make amendments to some 14 statutes, but it seeks to deal with what are really peripheral issues to the administration of justice. It seeks, furthermore, to impose a set of user fees in particular areas, and it seeks to downsize, sometimes without a great deal of thought.

May I say that it's rather sad that at this juncture, today of all days, when we've had considerable disruption and a great deal of interest and a lot of anguish over the issue of education, when we should be debating what is fundamentally in the mind of every Ontarian, a quality education system, which has been disrupted over the last month or so by the actions of this government, that rather than debating those very issues, rather than focusing on what are the concerns of Ontario, we find ourselves now sidestepping a very important issue and are dealing with what is essentially a technical bill.

It is unfortunate that we do not have more time to discuss Bill 160.

Hon Mr Harnick: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it's important that the public understand that while we're debating this particular bill in this chamber today, at the same time this is going on, the bill my friend refers to, Bill 160, is before a committee for clause-by-clause. Certainly I'm very interested in Bill 61, and her colleague talked about the fact that this has been around since June 1996 and he's very interested in getting it done. I think we'd do well to deal with Bill 61 now and let the clause-by-clause go on at the committee hearing, and let the public also know that we are dealing with Bill 160. It's going through clause-by-clause review as we speak in here on Bill 61.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. I take it that you're suggesting that the member for Downsview speak to this bill and I will listen with great attention to her.

Ms Castrilli: Mr Speaker, I take you at your word. It was not my intention, certainly, to digress but simply to set a framework for the discussion of this bill. I take no comfort from what the Attorney General has said with respect to the clause-by-clause discussion of this bill, Bill 160. The reality is that we have tried to ensure that there is adequate time for Bill 160 to be discussed, and that has been denied by this government. I will, however, stick to Bill 61, and more important, the performance of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Without taking anything away from the eloquence of the member for Downsview, I don't believe we have quorum here. If the Attorney General truly believes that this bill so important, there surely ought to be enough government members in the House to listen to this debate. I believe we have fewer than 20 members in the House right now, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Would you check to see if a quorum is present?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Downsview.

Ms Castrilli: As I had begun to say, Bill 61 is a piece of legislation that we will support in principle, but we would like to have seen a great deal of action in terms of this Ministry of the Attorney General and the other things that are a concern to us.

What I would like to say first off is that the focus is on the bottom line. There is no question that when we talk about issues with this government, whether they be health, education or justice, what we talk about first and foremost is money. When you look at what is happening in the administration of justice and whether we actually have a system that services its people, we have to go beyond Bill 61, but Bill 61 certainly sets the tone.

I'd like to talk about the issues that affect Ontarians -- the comments, the records, the studies that have been performed with respect to the Ministry of the Attorney General -- and to talk about the performance of the Ministry of the Attorney General in delivering a system of justice. We have many times, in this chamber, talked about the deficiencies of the ministry and we haven't been alone. We have been supported by chief justices, by lawyers, by consumers, by people everywhere who are concerned about the direction in which we are going.

I will remind you that we have still been experiencing over the last two years considerable backlogs in our courts. We have fewer crown attorneys than we've ever had and they are dealing with ever more complex cases. There have been cuts to funding which have been exorbitant, so that very credible people within the legal profession are questioning our ability to give justice to the people of Ontario. We still have delays in terms of the cases we try, and we have been told on more than one occasion that cases are threatened because they do not get to court in a timely fashion.


I have raised this issue in the House on a number of occasions because there has been a pattern which has been very difficult to ignore. I think all of us who care about the delivery of justice must take these things very seriously. I have cited here before the numbers of cases that have been either thrown out or not dealt with. Justice Peter Howden threw out a burglary charge in Newmarket; Justice John McIsaac threw out charges of theft in Newmarket; Justice Alfred Stong dismissed a Whitby sexual assault case; Justice Casey Hill threw out theft charges in Brampton; and Justice Roger Salhany threw out sexual interference charges -- all due to court delays. These are very, very serious facts for us to take into account. It has not changed to any great extent, as I will indicate during the course of my speech here today.

We have also dealt with, in this chamber, the issue of public safety. How can we justify to the public that alleged offenders, some of them potentially very dangerous, are being let back out on our streets? How can you justify alleged sexual offenders being let go again to prey on our young people? How do we deal with the constant rumours we still hear about delays throughout the province?

We have raised issues of plea bargaining. This is a system that is strapped. It is strapped for cash and it is strapped for people. When that happens we are forced into agreements, into bargaining that might not otherwise have occurred. We have raised of course the most notorious one, which was Karla Homolka, but that was only one, and even now victims who are involved with the justice system are concerned about the fact that they are not being consulted, that they are not being involved.

You may recall that this government has on many occasions talked about their commitment to victims' rights. I introduced a bill on victims' rights, which I hoped would become incorporated into the government's bill, and some of it did, but certainly not with the kind of language and the kind of strength we would have liked. The reality is that we still have situations where victims are not involved. Just before the House rose I cited yet another example of a young girl who was found dead, brutally murdered in her bed, and plea bargaining was being threatened without any kind of consultation with the family that had suffered once already through the death of their child and was suffering yet again through the action of the justice system.

We've heard about the difficulties with the legal aid program and they were so serious that a legal aid review was commissioned and John McCamus reported in a way that is really quite staggering that funding has been frozen for legal aid since 1994; that this has been causing incredible difficulties in all of the courts. The result has been that many criminal defendants are left in jail needlessly at times, but more important, there are families that are being unrepresented. In family law courts some 68% of the parties are not represented. They are typically women; they are typically women with small children; they are typically children. The most vulnerable and the weakest have no access to all the tools that are required to be able to get justice in this province.

These are very serious charges and they are not being made by the opposition; they are being made by respectable individuals who have studied the system and who are concerned about how we deliver justice in this province. The Family Lawyers' Association wrote a scathing report documenting just how difficult it is for ordinary individuals -- that is, people who don't have a lot of money -- to be able to get their cases heard, and heard well. Their comments are particularly instructive. They point out that parties involved in family law disputes deal with fundamental issues affecting their children, support and property division. Often the cases involve safety, and often the parties are unrepresented.

You have to wonder about a society that has different standards of justice for the rich and the poor. I think it was best put by now Chief Justice McMurtry, who was then Attorney General of Ontario, on May 26, 1977, when he spoke about legal aid. He spoke about the function of legal aid in a society and the role we must play in ensuring its arrival. I'd like to read that for the record, because I think it would be very instructive for members opposite to hear what their own Attorney General, a Conservative Attorney General, had to say in 1977.

"The basic purpose of the legal aid plan is, of course, to serve the public -- to serve the public by enabling each of its members to have access to the kind of legal assistance that is essential for the understanding and assertion of our individual rights, obligations and freedoms under the law.

"Every great human endeavour that is worth perpetuating draws its strength from a set of basic principles. I therefore think that it is appropriate from time to time that institutions take a moment to reflect on the principles which brought them forth and the tenets which give them strength and sustain them in their task. In this context I can think of no better statement of the principles and goals of our legal aid system than that made by the Honourable Mr Justice Martin, when he was at the bar, shortly after the inception of our present plan:

"`We live in a society that is deeply committed to improving the material welfare of all, to providing essential medical services and to ensuring equal opportunity for education. A society so committed will not tolerate the lack of adequate legal representation for those without the means to secure it for themselves.

"`The fundamental postulate of the Ontario legal aid plan is that no person should be precluded by poverty from having necessary and adequate legal services....

"`The Ontario legal aid plan was boldly and imaginatively conceived. While modifications may from time to time take place it may be confidently asserted that it is capable of making a great contribution to the administration of justice and it may well be a landmark in man's never-ending search for justice.'"

It then ends with, "`It is the corporate responsibility of a community to see that none of its members is excluded from the rule of law.'"

That's truly what's at stake here, that we have segments of our society that will be excluded from the rule of law because they can't afford the representation, because they're ignorant of the law, because they're weak and vulnerable and don't have a way to access the system of justice.

One could go on at great length on any one of these subjects, but time is short and I want to deal with some other points that are very, very difficult, and that, of course, is another area which also affects the most vulnerable, women and children by and large, the 97% of clients, if you can call them clients, of the Family Responsibility Office.

The minister will tell you that they're making great strides and that things have changed and that they're on the mend. Yet we look at the report of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is the avenue of last recourse for people who can't go anywhere else. The Ombudsman this year felt it incumbent upon herself to single out the Family Responsibility Office because it was so bad; again, an action which is not expected of an Ombudsman. It's unprecedented.


It's interesting that she would do that at this particular time. She points out some very interesting facts, some of which we have dealt with in this House. She wonders aloud how you can deliver an effective system when you shut down eight regional offices and you terminate 300 of the 352 employees while still having the same client base, in fact having a client base that is growing all the time.

As I've said, 97% of parents paying child support are men, and therefore the ones receiving it are women and children. Still 76% of family support orders are in arrears, and Ontario fathers owe well over $900 million to their children and wives.

People are being forced to get compliance orders, but they're meaningless because, quite frankly, there is not the enforcement mechanism, there are not the people to be able to enforce the compliance orders that have been granted by the courts, putting an additional burden on the courts for absolutely no reason. Ask the sheriff's office how often they can intervene, how often they will take compliance orders and enforce them. I can tell you that in my experience it doesn't happen very often.

The Ombudsman makes some very clear comments. She talks about how difficult it is for families. She talks about how during her term the situation has deteriorated; that the number of calls to her office regarding the transitions has doubled and continues to climb; that the delays continue; that some support recipients "advise my office that they were owed several instalments of support payments. Many stated that they were desperate because they could not pay their rent or their heating bills or buy necessities for their children. Their concerns were exacerbated by the fact that they could not directly contact the client. Clients often stated they had left messages which" --

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I was listening attentively to the member for Downsview. I know we're debating Bill 61 here today, which is the red tape bill dealing with the Ministry of the Attorney General. As I've gone through the bill, there's no mention about legal aid or the Family Responsibility Office or the court backlogs that were caused by the previous Liberal government that we're now fixing. I was wondering if you might get the member for Downsview to speak on Bill 61.

The Acting Speaker: When I can hear the member for Downsview over the hoedown, I find that she is not out of context of the orders, of the business of the day. I'm not saying that every word or phrase is exactly Bill 61, but I see it as quite usual debate.

Ms Castrilli: I regret that time is becoming ever shorter to deal with some of the pressing issues, but I am indeed talking about the administration of justice, which is what the Attorney General wants us to talk about, and it's what he introduced in his comments here today.

It's obvious that in another area which touches vulnerable people we have not done very well in this province because of this government's haste to cut, to downsize without consequence, without thinking of a plan and without understanding what the results and effects of their actions would be.

There's no more telling indictment than something that occurred over the weekend. It's interesting, as I've said, that none of this really comes from the opposition; it all comes from members of the legal community. You may know that this weekend the law union conference was held. About 150 judges and lawyers had the opportunity to raise several concerns about the Ontario justice system. The end result is that they were outraged at what was going on within the system.

The issue before us is quite timely, because these judges and lawyers joined the chief justices, joined the Ombudsman of Ontario, joined ordinary people in saying there is a crisis; there is a problem. In fact, the Globe and Mail said this morning, "Courts in Tatters, Judges Say." Can you imagine a more violent attack than this?

If you read some of the examples of what individual members had to say at this conference, you start to understand the real problems we have. Judges say, "What we are doing is obviously not working." Judges cite problems of overworked lawyers who cannot represent their clients because they have far too many cases and sometimes are not prepared. Judges indicate, "We are still letting people off," that alleged offenders are still not getting their day in court, bringing again the issue of public safety which I mentioned before.

The journalist starts by saying, "The Ontario court system is an assembly line staffed by disillusioned judges, harried prosecutors and often inept defence lawyers." These are very stern words indeed. The bail system is chastised. The access to justice is chastised. Ultimately, one concludes, "If there is one thing we all agree on, it is that our court system is being inappropriately used as a dumping ground for social problems."

It's obvious that in the last few years the system has deteriorated. That's their conclusion; it certainly is our conclusion. The question is, what do we do about it? When will we get some action in each of these areas, and others? When will we have some true reform of the system which allows for individuals to be dealt with fairly, which allows for a justice system that does not just focus on the rich, who can afford lawyers, who can go to court. These are significant questions. None of these are answered by Bill 61. None of these, in fact, are answered by this Attorney General at all. We keep raising the issues and we get no responses.

We all agree in this House that the hallmark of a democracy is justice. It's justice that's predicated on equality and fairness and access. It is not justice when there is no representation or little representation, when justice is delayed, when justice does not listen to those who need it most.

That's really what we have here, an attitude that focuses on the bottom line, that focuses on how we get fees, on how we take money out of the system, on how we redirect that money to tax cuts. Nowhere is there a discussion of how we serve Ontarians best. That's a question the Attorney General will have to answer and that this government will have to answer for. Ontarians will not be fooled for long. They know about the court backlogs; they know they can't have very basic services delivered by this government.

You know we're on a slippery slope, because when the justice system fails, all of us fail. I would hope that the government would take stock and move expeditiously to resolve some of the real difficulties in this province.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Thanks to my colleague for sharing her time and for her words of wisdom on one of a number of bills that are very significant from both the government's and opposition's perspectives.

As I indicated, Bill 61 is one of eight bills the government is dealing with under the guise of cutting red tape. As is the case in so much of what the government does, what the name implies and what the government says its objectives are aren't necessarily reflected in the legislation we're dealing with at hand, in this case Bill 61.

The government called these eight bills their process simplification bills, indicating that they cut red tape and make Ontario a better place to do business, when in fact these bills have less to do with red tape for business and consumers and more to do with providing new powers to implement fees and giving new powers to cabinet ministers. Where have we heard that before? My first strong recollection in the two years of the life of this Parliament was Bill 26, the bully bill, the omnibus bill, which gave sweeping new powers to the ministers of health and municipal affairs and to the cabinet. And what bill have we been debating today, not unlike this? Bill 160, yet another piece of legislation that gives new powers to the ministers and the government.


Hon Mr Harnick: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rose on the same point of order when the member's colleague was speaking. We are here to debate Bill 61. The member for Downsview started her speech by saying, "We should be debating Bill 160." That's the way the member from Windsor has started his speech. The fact is that we all know, and those who are watching this should also know, that clause-by-clause on Bill 160 is going on right now in another place in this building. To say we should be debating that --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I just took over the chair. I wasn't paying attention, but I take your word for it. I suggest you stick to the bill.

Mr Duncan: We are speaking about the concept of the government saying one thing about a bill when in fact the bill means another thing. Of course the Attorney General doesn't want to speak about 160 today. He doesn't want to speak about that, just as his government members don't want to speak about that today. They had enough trouble in their own caucus this morning with the divisions.

Yes, I agree, we should be talking about those themes, the themes of saying one thing -- calling them, in this case, process simplification bills when in fact they're bills that consolidate, and Bill 61 is one of those bills that consolidates power to the Attorney General. All these bills do that and give the government new powers to raise fees. Bill 160 is like that, so we're dealing with the same themes. We're dealing with a government that in these bills, Bill 61 in particular, which is very much like Bill 160, wants to consolidate power unto itself. It says it's doing one thing when in fact it's doing another, and not doing anything very well at all.

Yes, some of these bills do remove obsolete legislation or provide minimal amounts of government operation streamlining. For the most part, these bills implement various government downsizing projects. Again, when we talk about themes, that's what 160 is all about. It's about taking money away from our kids. It's about undermining our quality of education and has nothing to do with what the bill is supposed to be dealing with, according to the title.

We look at this Bill 61, a bill that is designed to streamline, from my understanding and reading of the bill, the public guardian and trustee, the Assessment Review Board and, lo and behold, the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. Funny: a government that shows so little respect for procedures, and when it so chooses, it changes them. We saw what they did to the procedures in this House.

The Attorney General speaks euphemistically about the clause-by-clause hearings that are going on today on Bill 160, those hearings, you'll recall, like so much else the government has done, that weren't hearings at all; they were shams. The government didn't even have its amendments in on time. Fortunately, we don't need amendments to this bill, apparently, the way we do for 160. The way they're doing it for 160 is all wrong.

We suggest that this government's agenda with Bill 61 is to consolidate power and raise new revenues. That is so much like what they've done in so many other areas. It's important, when we debate a bill like Bill 61, to consider it in the broader context of what the government is doing. With these eight bills, as they've done in so many other instances, they are saying one thing and in fact, in our view, doing something quite different.

We can't consider Bill 61 only in the context of what the government is doing with respect to its broad agenda, but also to what the government has done in other areas. We think of the family support office and family support plan and what they've done there. Despite what the Attorney General believes, we know that the problems continue to exist. What did they do with that office? They closed regional offices and consolidated power to a central bureaucracy. They moved all the decision-making from a local base to a Queen's Park base. Doesn't that sound all too familiar?

Bill 160 does the same thing. It takes all decision-making away from local authorities and concentrates it in a bureaucracy in Toronto that we know will not be efficient and will not serve the interests of students particularly, local ratepayers or parents or teachers.

The other government process simplification legislation, or the cutting red tape bills, are very much like Bill 160. They belie the government's true agenda in this area and others, and that is an agenda that consolidates power to the cabinet, to the government, removes local decision-making authority, takes away individuals' rights and vests them in the government.

We have to look at these bills very carefully. We have to understand the broad themes the government is dealing with and we also have to point out how wrong the government is in its approach. Instead of trying to raise revenues and consolidate power, the government should have done something meaningful to cut red tape, just as in education they should have done something meaningful to improve the quality of education in Ontario, not simply cut funding, not simply cut teachers and not simply remove local decision-making from education.

But this government can't seem to grasp the complexity of these issues and the difficulty in dealing with them. Like the family support plan offices, they are going to create more messes, messes that in the case of this bill will take time to clean up. We still have the messes with the family support plan, we still have the outstanding payments, and we have a centralized bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, when you mess around with education, when you tamper with the fundamentals of how we educate our children, it's not simply a matter of going back and cleaning things up afterwards. It is a matter of doing what's right in the first instance and doing what you said you'd do. You said you wouldn't cut funding from classrooms, and you have. First, when this strike started, you said it wasn't about money, and then the Premier confirmed it was about finding $700 million more, and that's on top of what you already cut.

Like Bill 61, a bill that is supposed to cut red tape but in fact deals with consolidating power and with raising non-tax revenues, Bill 160 is the same. It's not about quality education. It's about taking away local --

The Acting Speaker: Order. You're just circling around the issue. Bill 61 is the bill we're debating.

Mr Duncan: Bill 160 takes away control, just as this bill does; it consolidates power with cabinet, just as this bill does; and it pays no heed to local needs, just as this bill does. So, Mr Speaker, we are of the view that you have to consider this bill in the government's broader legislative context.


I conclude by saying that this bill, Bill 61, has no more to do with cutting red tape and simplification than 160 has to do with improving the quality of education. This bill will give the government sweeping new powers to raise revenues on the backs of the people of this province and to consolidate power, just as Bill 160 doesn't deal with education; it deals more with consolidating power and taking money out of education.

This government has a failed agenda. That's why it's losing the battle of public opinion on the education question and that's why this government will be defeated in two years.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I wanted to indicate to you, Mr Speaker, that you had earlier said you couldn't hear the speaker because of the hoedown that was taking place outside. The reason I thought was fairly simple. The noise of people who are right now demonstrating in front of the Legislature is quite loud. All of us in this chamber are able to hear essentially what's going on. In fact right now I hear that there is a microphone on with a very loud volume, and I would suspect that the teachers, the parents, the students and all those who are in favour of this demonstration are right now addressing this government. They're addressing Bill 160.

Even though I heard what the Attorney General said earlier -- that, yes, we should focus on Bill 61, and of course we will -- nevertheless I think probably what should have taken place today was a discussion on Bill 160. Of course, that was an important item.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it is important for us to have a quorum during this discussion, and I don't believe we have one.

The Acting Speaker: Would you please check if we have a quorum.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Parkdale.

Mr Ruprecht: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

I of course don't wish to belabour this point, but right now outside this Legislature we hear a substantial number of people shouting to us, to this chamber, to the Attorney General and to all of us who are here today, including the Premier, that they wish to discuss Bill 160.

I know I'm going to be criticized, saying we should be focusing in on Bill 61, which I of course will do, but I just wanted to put on this table in public that there's a crisis out there and that we should be discussing it at the same time while the amendments are taking place in committee. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for permitting me to make that point.

Bill 61: Of course we're here today to look at this particular legislation. I wanted to indicate before I make my short remarks that we are in favour of Bill 61 and that, yes, it is a step in the right direction. Of course we can do better. I think the Attorney General today will agree with that, that we can do better, although this is what we have today in front of us.

The bill clearly is to try to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the ministry. I see that this bill, as all of us know, will try to repeal 14 statutes; to what degree of course is a matter of judgement. But most of these statutes are administered by the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the purpose of the amendments is to simplify the process of government, so there will be changes, changes in the Assessment Review Board that are made to the Assessment Act and to the municipality act. There will be changes affecting the public guardian and trustee, and there will be changes that have to do with the Construction Lien Act.

There are a number of others, of course. One is a very strange one, and that's section 12 of the bill, which deals with the South African Trust Investments Act. Those who were here in 1988 will remember our discussion on this particular bill. The other ones are the Estates Act and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.

There is no doubt that we can do better. As it stands right now, the Ombudsman, as was said by the member for Downsview, had indicated that there is a crisis. We see today on the front page of the Globe and Mail the headline, "Courts in Tatters, Judges Say." "The Ontario court system" -- that's the essence of this article -- "is an assembly line staffed by disillusioned judges, harried prosecutors and often inept defence lawyers." That is a statement that should be of grave concern to the Attorney General, and I know that he will probably take this seriously. It goes on to say that judges and lawyers are citing problems. What are they? From overwork and unpreparedness of the lawyers to the vast numbers of unrepresented litigants who are overwhelming the court system. For many, the clear solution was to restore funding to the legal aid and court systems, to restore funding to the legal aid plan.

All of us who go to our constituency offices know -- mine, of course, is the one open longest in the province. My office is open from 9 o'clock until 6 every day, and Saturdays it is open from 9:30 to 12:30. I hear many of my constituents who come to my office, and they are complaining because there is a lack of legal aid certificates. It becomes clear that there is a system for the rich, who are able to afford the luxuries of a court system, and the poor, who come to my constituency office.

I know there are members on the other side who represent areas that have the same ethnocultural mix as Parkdale, and I also know that many members of the government have office hours that are almost as long as mine. I know that many members of the government do get complaints about the court system. I know that many of them get requests from their constituents to get into a legal aid plan, to get a legal aid certificate to fight the injustices that some of the residents think have been done to them. Of course, if you don't get a legal aid certificate, you are unable to enter the court system unless you've got the financial resources that are essential to get into the court system to fight for justice.

It is clear that the court system needs to change and that legal aid certificates and the whole system of financing legal aid certificates have to be looked at by the Attorney General. I hope he will do that simply because of a sense of fairness. There cannot be a system of justice based on those who can afford it and those who cannot. That is not a system of justice; that is a travesty of justice. It behooves the Attorney General to look at that specifically and to see what he can do about that.

In closing, let me simply say that the member for Downsview has made a really important and salient point. She has said that our court system is used as a dumping ground for our social problems.


If we look at the specifics we can find that in many instances -- and I'm thinking specifically about my area because we have a mental health care system in Parkdale and many of the people who are in the confines of that hospital are leaving unsupervised and ending up in our court system. They either are throwing themselves in front of streetcars or getting inebriated or, because of the specific challenges that each of them faces, ending up either in the hospital or in the courts. Our system then becomes overloaded.

The Attorney General, in Bill 61, has to look specifically at how a system can be implemented that does not necessarily bring every one of our social problems into the court system. There's got to be a way to shield people and to help people, all those who are challenged and end up in the court system. There's got to be a way to shield them from entering the court system, so that the court system is supposed to do what is designed to do; namely, to administer justice and not to look after those who have a social problem.

Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for being able to make these remarks and I hope the Attorney General will take some of my comments seriously.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I rise to address this particular bill, Bill 61, which deals with the imposition of new fees on the people of Ontario. I well recall Mike Harris when he was leader of the Conservative Party and didn't hold the title of Premier; he was leader of the third party. I asked him about user fees and he said, "Well, user fees are taxes." That's what we find in this bill. We find user fees being able to be implemented.

It is indicated in the bill that the eight government process simplification bills have less to do with the reducing of red tape for business and consumers and have more to do with providing new powers to implement fees and give new powers to cabinet ministers. I want to note that this bill allows the setting of powers under 20 different statutes for eight different increases in fees, and it removes the requirement that where the provincial guardian and trustee is the administrator of an estate it must obtain an order in council to sell real estate, since private administrators don't need such approvals. The bill also makes other administrative and housekeeping changes to the way that the provincial guardian and trustee office carries out its duties.

My main concern is that this is a vehicle for the government to collect more money into the system and to concentrate more power outside of this Legislature in the hands of my friend the Attorney General. While I may from time to time find his judgement to be reasonable, I worry that many of his colleagues are going to coerce him into suggesting that there be some significant increases in fees.

I guess the consolation could be, if there were increases in fees in this bill, then the government might be in a position where it's not going to remove $667 million more from the education system, as provided for in another bill that's in another committee at this very time. That bill, as you would know, Mr Speaker, better than anybody, is Bill 160, the bill of course that we should be debating this afternoon in terms of having more time to discuss that.

No bill before this House can be taken just by itself. We must always look at the context in which the bill is found. You would know, Mr Speaker, being a guardian of parliamentary procedure over the years, establishing a fine reputation in this regard, that this government has changed the rules of the House to enable it to put through bills of all kinds very quickly. Bill 61 is the kind of bill that ordinarily wouldn't occupy a lot of time in this House. It's less controversial than Bill 160, the education bill which concentrates so much power in the hands of the provincial government and takes it away from the local decision-making process. This bill doesn't do that to the same extent. Although there's a movement in that direction, it doesn't do it to the same extent.

Ordinarily, this debate would take place in a relatively short period of time. Under the new rules, as you know, at a certain period of time members can speak for only 10 minutes on a piece of legislation. One might say that on this piece of legislation 10 minutes might be reasonable. I think most members of the House would agree with that. But on Bill 160, one would need at least an hour to discuss, because it has well over 200 pages. Even the detrimental parts of that bill would take an hour, let alone the few items found in that bill; I'm referring to Bill 160 now. That would be a very short period of time one would take on anything in the bill that would be worthwhile.

Here we are this afternoon. The Attorney General is pinned down to the House longer than he would like to be, when it should of course be the Minister of Education here this afternoon. Heaven knows the Attorney General needs more resources to carry out his responsibilities. All they're doing here is giving the government a chance to gouge more people, to impose new user fees or increase user fees.

That's okay for people who are well off. They can afford that. But the average person is looking out there saying he or she can't afford these kinds of increases.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): What about VLTs?

Mr Bradley: I can't really bring video lottery terminals into this, unless the Attorney General says there is something in this. But you would note, Mr Speaker -- and I diverge only for a very short period of time -- the results of the last municipal election, where municipality after municipality in Ontario turned thumbs down on casino gambling, on these so-called charity casinos. I'm worried about that. I'm looking in this bill to see, is there something to do with video lottery terminals? Is there a new fee that might be imposed in this regard?

I know the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is bribing the municipalities -- and I don't use that in as negative a sense as you'd think -- by saying, "We will give you $1,500 per video lottery terminal, if only you'll put these evil devices in your community." I hope he doesn't. I don't want to dwell on that, because --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The Charities Accounting Act.

Mr Bradley: The member for Welland points out, and he's very helpful to me, that the Charities Accounting Act is found within this bill. So I'm well within my jurisdiction to talk about the placement of video lottery terminals or electronic slot machines in every bar and every restaurant on every street in every neighbourhood of every community of every village, town and city in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: You're really pushing your luck.

Mr Bradley: I am always prepared to accept a reprimand from you, Mr Speaker. When you speak, you're right, of course, but my friend from Welland-Thorold did point out this does affect the Charities Accounting Act. We know that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is trying to get the charities to write to MPPs and local councils now and say, "If you don't accept these in your community, you're not getting any of the dough." That's intimidation, I would think.

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): -- let it go to Buffalo, like now.

Mr Bradley: I hear an interjection from the other side. I'll be reporting to the Christian Reformed Church, the United Church, the Anglican Church, all the churches out there who are worried about video lottery terminals and who thought they had elected a family values crew on the other side of the House.

My friends from Scarborough, who are both from the family values coalition, or something like that, are now very worried about these video lottery terminals, I know, and will be speaking on this later on.


I want to say this: Under the rules of this House, this bill can pass very quickly. The point I'm trying to make is that this is the kind of bill that in the days before the rule changes probably would have gone through quite quickly. But with the rules changes in the House now limiting the amount of time members have on Bill 160 and other controversial bills, which should take longer, members tend to now perhaps take a little a longer than they might otherwise on Bill 61 and bills of this kind. My friend from Welland-Thorold nods in agreement with that particular contention.

This bill will no doubt pass. The government has 82 seats. It has greased the skids through its rule changes this summer to be able to put any legislation it wants through the House. It has taken away from the opposition any of the bargaining chips -- that's a gambling term so I'd better say "any of the bargaining tools" that the opposition would have have been removed. If I wanted to influence the Attorney General and say, "I think you should take two segments of this bill out," he may smile benignly and say, "We will consider that." I have no way of persuading him, through undue delay of the bill or other extraordinary parliamentary procedure, to prevent this from happening.

That's the problem with Bill 160, the companion bill to this. Now the government can just push through. May I say to you, I would have given consent for the government to open up the amendment process longer on this bill or, most assuredly, on Bill 160, so the government could bring in additional amendments which would reflect what has been heard at the committee, not by those who were sent there, not by the former Tory candidates who appeared -- I saw them, the right guard who showed up -- but by ordinary, everyday people who came to the hearings and expressed their concerns about Bill 160.

One thing I must say about this bill that is not contained in Bill 160, at least I don't see the vindictiveness in this bill, and I want to compliment the Attorney General. In Bill 160, they took the vice-principals and the principals out of the federation, even though the former minister, Mr Snobelen, said, "We don't intend to do that." He extolled the virtues of not having principals and vice-principals exempt from the teachers' federation. The Attorney General didn't do that in this case.

The Acting Speaker: Bill 61, please.

Mr Bradley: I am complimenting the Attorney General for not doing what his colleague the Minister of Education did with Bill 160, and that is, he doesn't exempt people from this. I don't see any exemptions. I don't see in here that any of the employees of the government are taken out of their federations or their unions as the principals and vice-principals have unwisely been taken out. May I compliment the Attorney General on the lack of vindictiveness in this particular bill. I hope that he will bring the message to his colleagues the Premier and the Minister of Education that they should remove from Bill 160 those most offensive parts so that we can have people working together towards improving education in every way we can as a team: as teachers, as students, as parents, as interested people. I urge the Attorney General to do that in the near future.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Kormos: I want to comment in particular on the member for St Catharines' reference to the length of time that a relatively innocuous bill, Bill 61 -- quite brief, some 12 pages in length, benign, as I say, because it would appear that it's going to have the support of all of the caucuses, all of the members here at Queen's Park -- his reference to the fact that it's taking an unseemly lengthy period of time for a modest, benign piece of legislation like this to receive passage. He of course makes reference to the fact that this government introduced those rule changes.

He has bemoaned the fact that at the time of those rules changes it was hard to get anybody particularly interested in them. They didn't have the pizzazz or the spin of a whole lot of other things that were taking place at the same time. Now, as we witness this government, in a less and less democratic fashion as each day goes by, ramming legislation through which is in itself being described as undemocratic -- for instance, like Bill 160. The government's rationale -- what was one of the things it said? Oh, by changing the rules, more backbenchers will be able to speak to legislation. But the pattern has been that backbenchers don't participate in the debate at all. They don't want their constituents to know where they stand. In the opposition, we urge Tory backbenchers to stand up and speak up and speak out, oh yes, on Bill 61, on Bill 160. Of course, the time-allocation motion is going to mean there is going to be but the briefest of debates.

I join the member for St Catharines in pointing out that this government may well have cut off its nose to spite its face with its rule changes, that it is going to wear those rule changes for a lengthy period of time.

Mr Ruprecht: I have listened to the member for St Catharines quite attentively, and I thought he made an important point when he said --

The Acting Speaker: Order. You participated in the debate, and I am told that you cannot participate in questions or comments.

Mr Bradley: I will quickly respond to the one question and comment that I had from the member for Welland-Thorold, simply to say to him that I appreciate his support for the contention that the government --

Interjection: You can't do that.

Mr Bradley: I was one of the three speakers -- that the government in fact has changed the rules of this House to ensure that government bills can get through much more quickly, with a minimum of debate. Now, if you were a corporation president, you might well want to run things that way, and perhaps that's the way a corporation should be run, but here we're dealing with a democracy and here we want enough time -- the member for London North is here. She used to be the education critic for the Conservative Party. I know she would have been beside herself at being relegated to a 10-minute speech on Bill 160, because with her knowledge of the education system, she would know how important it is to be able to look at all parts of any piece of legislation, analyse them, give a critical examination, and give compliments where the compliments are due.

But the member for Welland-Thorold has pointed out that under the rule changes that none of the editors appeared to be very interested in back in the summer when our reporters here at Queen's Park tried to file stories about this -- because they were all really interested in this issue, every one of them. They were coming to us talking to us about rule changes, and when they tried to sell it to their editors, their editors said, "Oh, no, that's an inside-the-beltway, inside-the-House story."

What they didn't look at was the fact that these rule changes affect everybody. That's what I liked the member for Welland-Thorold talking about in his question and comment to me. He understands that the worst thing this government has done so far was to change the rules of this House.

Hon Mr Harnick: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Is there one more question or comment?

The Acting Speaker: No, it's over.

Hon Mr Harnick: Isn't it four?

Mr Ruprecht: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I really seek some clarity from the Chair. I don't know what you were told just a minute ago, but it would seem very odd to me that on the one hand you are saying, "You cannot take your two minutes for comments," and on the other hand we've got a speaker who addresses himself to a question from the member for --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Parkdale, please take your chair. It's very clear. I don't have to give you an explanation, but it's very clear: How can you comment on your comments? It's as simple as that.

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think I understand what the member for Parkdale is getting at. He was a speaker as well. If the member for St Catharines could respond for two minutes, the member for Parkdale should be able to. In view of the fact that --


The Acting Speaker: No, no. I don't want to have an argument. There's no point. It's not the function of the Speaker. The member for St Catharines closed the questions and comments.



The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her office.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour did assent:

Bill 67, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Health / Projet de loi 67, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère de la Santé

Bill 99, An Act to secure the financial stability of the compensation system for injured workers, to promote the prevention of injury and disease in Ontario workplaces and to revise the Workers' Compensation Act and make related amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 99, Loi assurant la stabilité financière du régime d'indemnisation des travailleurs blessés, favorisant la prévention des lésions et des maladies dans les lieux de travail en Ontario et révisant la Loi sur les accidents du travail et apportant des modifications connexes à d'autres lois

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

Bill 112, An Act to observe two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day / Projet de loi 112, Loi visant l'observation de deux minutes de silence le jour du Souvenir

Bill 115, An Act to reduce red tape by amending or repealing certain statutes administered by the Ministry of Finance and by making complementary amendments to other statutes / Projet de loi 115, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant ou en abrogeant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère des Finances et en apportant des modifications complémentaires à d'autres lois

Bill 128, An Act to amend the Family Law Act to provide for child support guidelines and to promote uniformity between orders for the support of children under the Divorce Act (Canada) and orders for the support of children under the Family Law Act / Projet de loi 128, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le droit de la famille pour prévoir des lignes directrices sur les aliments pour les enfants et pour promouvoir l'harmonisation entre les ordonnances alimentaires au profit des enfants rendues en vertu de la Loi sur le divorce (Canada) et celles rendues en vertu de la Loi sur le droit de la famille

Bill 136, An Act to provide for the expeditious resolution of disputes during collective bargaining in certain sectors and to facilitate collective bargaining following restructuring in the public sector and to make certain amendments to the Employment Standards Act and the Pay Equity Act / Projet de loi 136, Loi prévoyant le règlement rapide des différends lors des négociations collectives dans certains secteurs, facilitant les négociations collectives à la suite de la restructuration dans le secteur public et apportant certaines modifications à la Loi sur les normes d'emploi et à la Loi sur l'équité salariale

Bill 158, An Act to amend the Education Act to allow non-resident owners or tenants of residential property to vote for members of district school boards and school authorities / Projet de loi 158, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'éducation en vue de permettre aux propriétaires ou locataires non résidents d'un bien résidentiel de voter lors de l'élection des membres des conseils scolaires de district et des administrations scolaires

Bill Pr65, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton

Bill Pr78, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough

Bill Pr84, An Act respecting Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Bill Pr87, An Act respecting the Korean Canadian Cultural Association of Metropolitan Toronto

Bill Pr90, An Act respecting the City of York.


The Acting Speaker: We will now continue the debate. It's third reading of Bill 61, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of the Attorney General. Not Bill 160; it's Bill 61.

Mr Kormos: Thank you very much, Speaker, for initiating or opening this whole business -- this is Bill 61. I appreciate that. I am entitled to an hour to speak to this. I appreciate, as I indicated earlier in my response to the comments of the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, that it's a relatively benign bill, 13 pages long. It will, I'm sure, receive the support of all of the members of the Legislature. I figure I may stray three times over the course of an hour, so I put this to you, Speaker: If we could deem for you to have admonished me three times, it would save a whole lot of time and you could just stay seated and I'll apologize three times in advance for having strayed.

In fact folks, I'm sure, have been watching the legislative channel today, always in huge numbers and I'm sure in even greater numbers today. I appreciate that it's a little difficult to hear me, but the noise from the thousands and thousands of demonstrators outside -- teachers, students, family members, parents, ratepayers, grandparents -- there are thousands of folks out there speaking, singing together, bemoaning and fearing the attack on public education that's in Bill 160, as compared to 61, which is what we're dealing with here.

There was such a high level of anticipation of what was going to happen in the Legislature today. Yesterday, for instance, down in Welland, I was over at the Ukrainian Labour Temple on Ontario Road. It was the 80th anniversary of the Ukrainian Labour Temple, the first Ukrainian Labour Temple built in this country, back in 1917; first over on Sixth Street, right by the railway tracks, and within a few years they moved it down to Ontario Road, the corner of Beatrice and Ontario Road. It burned down in 1935 and there's still a strong suspicion that it was burnt down by right-wingers.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Probably these guys again.

Mr Kormos: Well, there's still a strong suspicion that it was arson committed by right-wingers. The Ukrainian Labour Temple and its membership, the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, was and remains committed to social justice issues, always at the forefront of a struggle for trade unionism. Yes, they had enemies in that community, they certainly did, the chamber-of-commerce types of the day and indeed, quite frankly, the government. You've heard me talk about that and you've heard me talk about them in the context of the Crowland relief workers' strike. The labour temple was a focal point for a whole lot of organization and mobilization of the relief workers.

Again, considering that we're here with 61, I tell you --


Mr Kormos: Quite right. I simply want to put this in some context. The comments I received yesterday by the folks -- they had a dinner celebrating the 80th anniversary. They had people there of course from Welland, most of them oldtimers, and a lot of their kids and grandkids. There were folks down from Sudbury. There were people down from Toronto. The folks from Sudbury asked me to say hello to Shelley and I did.

Of course the room was abuzz with today's legislative sitting. These people knew that the House was returning today after a five-week hiatus, five weeks of committees travelling around, of MPPs, at least some of us, spending some time in our constituency offices talking to our constituents.

I know -- and I know I speak for my colleagues as well, all of them -- that a whole lot of time was spent talking with teachers and groups of teachers. Some time was spent on picket lines marching with teachers and walking with them side by side, sharing their fear --

Mr Wettlaufer: During an illegal strike.

Mr Kormos: A heckler from the Tory rump here once again reiterates "illegal strike." Judge MacPherson made it quite clear in response to that well-crafted application for an injunction by our Attorney General --

Mr Bisson: The Attorney General, author of 61.

Mr Kormos: The bill is sponsored by the Attorney General. When we're talking about Bill 61 and we're talking about the bill coming before this Legislature for its consideration and we recognize that it's sponsored by the Attorney General, we're reaching the point where it's impossible not to talk at least a little bit about the Attorney General, because the folks at the labour temple yesterday sure had a lot to say about the Attorney General.

Mr Bisson: What did they say?

Mr Kormos: I'm not going to repeat it. You would find much of it to be unparliamentary, Speaker. You would find much of it to offend long-standing rules of this Legislature. But you know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't have to say the words, because you and folks watching know exactly what it means when I say that what people were saying about the Attorney General yesterday, those members of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians over at the Ukrainian Labour Temple on Ontario Road in Welland, when I tell you that they would be deemed to be unparliamentary. Again, one doesn't have to use one's imagination.

As I say, there was a great deal of apprehension about what was going to happen in the Legislature today. A whole lot of people who maybe at other points in time wouldn't have been inclined to tune to the legislative channel are certainly tuned to it today. Those who are fortunate enough to be working, as compared to the 10% of unemployed in the province, if they were working a day shift, are going to be tuning in to it on the reruns tonight. They expected to hear something other than Bill 61 being debated. You know that. It's trite to indicate that to you. We only found out late this morning when the House leaders met. That's how it happens. A government House leader has the power to call whatever bill he or she wants to call. That's the nature of the beast -- not an inappropriate reference at all.


Of course Bill 160 is in committee. There's no time allocation motion on Bill 61. I anticipate that a whole lot of members may well want to debate its content, a whole lot of Tory backbenchers, now that the rule changes have given them the opportunity. That was the rationale for the rule changes, so that Tory backbenchers could have their -- I was going to say 15 minutes of fame, but no, it's only 10, because that's what backbench speeches were reduced to, a mere 10 minutes. The rationale that was used was that not enough of these Tory backbenchers were being given the opportunity to participate in debate. The rules changed. You bet your boots they changed. But where are the Tory backbenchers? I'd dearly love to hear what they have to say -- yes, about Bill 61.

Mr Bisson: Did you hear about Trevor Pettit?

Mr Kormos: No.

Mr Bisson: He condemned the Premier.

Mr Kormos: Trevor Pettit is the member for what riding? Hamilton something -- Hamilton Mountain. I'm told, it could be inaccurate, that he condemned the Premier today. I'm told the member for Hamilton Mountain was concerned about the centralization.

You heard it in question period today. You heard the references to Bill 61, just as you heard references during the course of the debate this afternoon to Bill 61. You also heard references to a style of governing that is Kremlin-like. The leader of the New Democratic Party said, "Look, it didn't work in the Soviet Union." Why would any Tory backbencher think that the Stalinist style of this government, that highly centralized, top-heavy, that abolition of grass-roots, democratic control, of democratic governance, if it didn't work for Joseph Stalin --

Mr Wettlaufer: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Calling any government in a democracy "Stalinist" betrays a total lack of understanding of history. I'm a history graduate myself, and I studied what led to the Russian Revolution --

The Acting Speaker: You don't have to go too far. Please take your chair. I'm inclined to agree with you. There's no point in using epithets or comments that are not appropriate, and I would ask the member for Welland-Thorold to be very careful. Also, I would like to remind you that the bill we're debating is Bill 61. You talked about admonishment. That's the first one. Now I want you to talk on Bill 61, nothing else but Bill 61.

Mr Kormos: I've got to tell you, a radio interview this morning with a University of Windsor law professor, repeated on CFRB, subsequent comments with CFRB, I won't repeat what that University of Windsor law professor said about the nature of this government's legislation and about which totalitarian regime he compared it to as a law professor, because undoubtedly Mr Wettlaufer --

The Acting Speaker: You have not listened to what I just said. Please debate Bill 61; that's all, nothing else but Bill 61.

Mr Kormos: Thank you kindly, Speaker. I appreciate the direction, I do. I understand that your job is very difficult, and I understand that I've made a commitment to speak to a 13-page bill for an hour, indicating that the amendments it makes to a number of pieces of legislation are amendments that are going to be supported, amendments that, as I'm told by Ms Boyd, the member for London Centre, several of them, have their origins in, heck, the last government. As I say, I understand how difficult your job is. Speaker, you've got to understand how difficult it is for me to speak for an hour on a 13-page bill which contains benign, innocuous amendments to acts which the general public has little affinity with, little interest in, unless and until it impacts on them.

I suppose one of the things that's of interest here is what it permits architects to do, and that it makes architects eligible to impose what are now called construction liens; they used to be called workmen's liens back in days gone by. It permits architects and their employees to file liens against properties. Again, I can't think of anybody who would in any way find that objectionable.

Indeed, the amendments to the Charities Accounting Act -- you heard the member for St Catharines refer to that -- are designed, as the annotations to the bill say, to simplify procedure.

I could go on. The Loan and Trust Corporations Act is being amended; the Public Guardian and Trustee Act; the Victims' Right to Proceeds of Crime Act.

Victims' rights raises a whole new broad horizon here for the purposes of debate, but I'm going to save that because obviously, you see, we're not going to --


Mr Kormos: No, we're not going to get finished with my contribution to this debate today. I was overwhelmed, as I told you yesterday, by the anticipation of the focus of the Legislature being on Bill 160 today. I was. I was over at the Ukrainian Labour Temple. Now that we are here with Bill 61 -- and I've tried to explain, not to you, because you know, but to folks who are inclined to tune in to watch, to listen, because they're interested and deathly afraid about what's happening in their Ontario. Here we are. Do you know how difficult it is, Speaker, to speak to empty galleries, to speak in a chamber to which the public has been denied access? The doors have been locked, bolted and barred to the public of Ontario. This is a sad day.

I agree we're debating Bill 61, but surely some note can be made that even during a debate about Bill 61, this legislative chamber is closed to the public of Ontario. The public are being turned away, the galleries are empty, not because people don't want to be there but because today public access to this chamber was locked, bolted and barred. Oh, there had been a heckler, a protest, not about Bill 61, which we're debating now, but during the course of question period there had been an expression of concern about Bill 160 and what it does to public education. Then there was a second and, yes, there was a third.

I know there were folks up there who were tourists from northern Ontario, and some American tourists undoubtedly. Ontario had a reputation of being a democratic community. Those folks from the States who came up here to Queen's Park today and sat in the gallery who were summarily forced out, tossed, when Queen's Park was shut down to the public on November 17, 1997, the day of the debate over Bill 61 --

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I certainly agree with the member for Welland-Thorold that we want an open Legislative Assembly and that democracy prevails and that we're very proud here in Ontario, but we certainly have rules at this Legislative Assembly. To say that they were locked out is not correct. I mean, there are rules, and if you break the rules, you're asked to leave.

The Acting Speaker: This is not quite a point of order. It has nothing to do with procedures of the House.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it ought to be said, though, that there were 100 people here. Three of the people made noises, and the other 97 were asked to leave as well.

Mr Wettlaufer: Mr Speaker, on a point of order --


The Acting Speaker: Order. It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow afternoon at 1:30.

The House adjourned at 1801.