36th Parliament, 1st Session

L251a - Wed 26 Nov 1997 / Mer 26 Nov 1997




































The House met at 1332.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): While all concerned citizens continue the fight to save the education system in Ontario by opposing Bill 160, another important educational institution is being threatened by Mike Harris.

TVOntario, which has a proud 27-year history of providing exceptional educational television to the people of Ontario, has been chosen by the backroom boys as a candidate for privatization. But let me tell you, Speaker, people in this province are speaking out passionately in support of a publicly owned and funded TVO. At public hearings in London, Toronto and Sudbury, and in Thunder Bay last night, people were almost unanimous in their opposition to the government's plans to hand TVOntario over to the highest bidder.

The problem is that the people taking part in these hearings are concerned that this public hearing process is just a public relations exercise that will, like other consultation processes, be absolutely ignored by this government. Sheldon Levy, chair of the community forum panel, has countered this concern by stating clearly that his report will be made public and that it will be released to the public once it is presented to the minister.

Minister Sampson, let me ask you today: Will you maintain the integrity of this panel and confirm that its report will be publicly released once it hits your desk? Will you also tell the public exactly what weight this report will have in your final decision? Will you accept the offer of the non-partisan TVOntario Matters Coalition and let them hold further public meetings before you close the door on this public consultation process?

TVOntario belongs to all the people of this province.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a message today for the members for Grey-Owen Sound, Oakville South, Wentworth North, and other members of the Tory caucus who are crowing about finally having an influence on their own government on the downloading bill. I would say to them today that they had better pay attention to what's happening in their communities across the province on Bill 160, the education bill. We have more than 90,000 names on petitions that we're presenting this afternoon. I believe that's just scratching the surface of people who want this bill withdrawn.

These members had an opportunity during the committee debates, during amendment time, to give the same message to their cabinet, to their government: "We will vote against this bill unless we get some substantial changes." They didn't do that.

Those members still have an opportunity to stop their government, which is betraying the people in their communities. Stop them in their tracks now. You still have that opportunity. You found out that when you threaten the bullies that bully you and bully your communities, you actually have an impact. Go back to your Premier, go back to the members of your cabinet, and threaten the same way as you threatened not to support the downloading bill. Do it and do it today, before it's too late. Use this new-found power and show the people of Ontario that, for once, certain members of your caucus are actually listening to the people of Ontario.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I stand today to commemorate the loss of a great Canadian. As many in this chamber are aware, the Honourable Mr Justice John Sopinka passed away earlier this week. Born in Broderick, Saskatchewan, March 19, 1933, John will be remembered as a man who loved life and lived it to its fullest.

Growing up in the north end of Hamilton, he was a lover of the arts who played with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. He worked his way through university by working at Dofasco, and he played professional football with the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes.

As the son of Ukrainian parents who came to Canada in 1926, John loved to tell his story of how the son of an immigrant mother who could neither read nor write could be recognized and appointed to sit on the Supreme Court of Justice. He was truly amazed at the openness and opportunity of our Canadian democracy.

John was appointed to serve on the Supreme Court on May 24, 1988. He will be remembered as a Supreme Court justice, a successful trial lawyer, a professional athlete, an accomplished artist, a person who cared about the community in which he lived and a devoted family man. Canada has truly lost a great individual. John Sopinka will be sorrowfully missed.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): When the Harris government, after denying that Bill 160 had anything to do with initiating more and deeper cuts to education funding, finally admitted that it intends to remove another two thirds of $1 billion from the allocation for elementary and secondary schools in Ontario, how many government members were aware that this meant the elimination of at least 7,500 teachers from a growing school system and that those teaching positions would be gone permanently?

Does anyone really believe that this will not result in hundreds of schools closing across the province and the loss of program options at the secondary school level in many schools in our communities? Does anyone believe that teachers will not have less time to devote to extracurricular activities, sports programs, music, drama and interest clubs that are an integral part of school life?

All of the expensive, vicious attack ads on television and propaganda paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario will not disguise the truth: that Bill 160 represents a threat to the future of public education. Mike Harris has cemented the social contract cut of $425 million, has cut $533 million of his own from education and wants another $667 million, which incidentally is the cost of the next tax cut instalment.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to bring before the House a very important issue related to health care in Elliot Lake and the north shore of Lake Huron. As many will know, the community of Elliot Lake has been very successful in attracting many seniors to live in that community and, as a result, has the need for very well coordinated health care services.

Sister Sarah Quackenbush, the administrator of St Joseph's General Hospital in Elliot Lake, has informed me of a very important issue that should be dealt with by the provincial government. The physiotherapist at the hospital was trained in England and he has been practising in Elliot Lake. He is required, as are all professionals who receive their training overseas, to complete an exam in order to get his licence to practise in Ontario. The individual did very well on the written exam but only completed 10 of the 12 stations of the practicum, so did not get his permanent licence.

Normally when this happens, the hospital applies to extend the temporary licence until the next test, which I understand is in April. If this had been accepted, as it has been in the past, there would not be a problem. But apparently the Ministry of Health, for some reason, has refused to renew the temporary licence. The upshot of that is that Elliot Lake and the North Shore will be losing a young, well-liked and competent physiotherapist and will have to cancel --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.



Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): Last month, the owners of a manufacturing firm that has increased sales every year for 30 years and a two-man computer company that has grown to 18 employees were honoured by being named the 1997 Peterborough Entrepreneurs of the Year. Plastics manufacturer Harco Enterprises won the industrial management award, and Breken Systems was the recipient of the service and retail honours.

Harco Enterprises represents the true meaning of the words "family business" and "teamwork." Starting as a small family operation over 30 years ago, Harco has grown tremendously over the years. It is now involved in a plastics-moulding operation, specialty machining, and the wholesaling and distribution of parts and products to the dairy and pharmaceutical industries. Harco now employs 20 employees.

Breken Systems is involved in computer networking, database programming, Internet training and business consulting. In 1989, the business was started by two university students. They now employ 18 people and expect to hire more.

These are two of the many small businesses in Ontario that are succeeding. I encourage all members to join me in congratulating both of these businesses on receiving this special award honouring the true spirit of the entrepreneur.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'aimerais adresser quelques commentaires au ministre de l'Éducation concernant le projet de loi 160 et les conséquences pour les régions rurales.

Hier, mon collègue de Renfrew-Nord a demandé au ministre de l'Éducation de prendre un engagement face aux communautés rurales de l'Ontario afin de s'assurer que les petites écoles comme celles de St Bernardin, St-Eugène, Lefaivre, St-Pascal et plusieurs autres dans Prescott et Russell n'auront pas à fermer leurs portes suite à la vague de changements proposés par le projet de loi 160. Cependant, le ministre a refusé de prendre un engagement ferme envers les communautés rurales.

J'ai ici aujourd'hui dans les galéries deux élèves de huitième année de l'école St-Isidore, Mélanie Bourgon et Kevin Galipeau. Bienvenue à Mélanie et Kevin, deux élèves qui ont obtenu leur éducation primaire au sein de leur communauté, avec des gens qu'ils connaissent et à une distance raisonnable de leur foyer familial.

Dans les prochains jours, ou même les prochaines heures, nous serons appelés à nous prononcer sur le projet de loi 160. J'espère, mais je doute, que le gouvernement Harris a bien évalué les conséquences pour les communautés rurales de l'Ontario et que plusieurs de ces communautés ne perdront pas leurs écoles, qui jouent un rôle de premier plan dans l'éducation des jeunes, et qui sont le centre d'action de la vie communautaire et sociale de ces collectivités.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to bring to the attention and ensure that it doesn't escape the attention of all the Tories in this House that as we speak now, there are over 2,000 people demonstrating outside the offices of the WCB to send a message to this government. The message they are sending by being there in those kinds of numbers today is that you cannot attack injured workers in the way you have with Bill 99 without paying the ultimate political price. You cannot take $15 billion out of the pockets of injured workers and give $6 billion of that money back to your corporate pals and not expect to be held accountable.

You can't eliminate the 50% of the seats that workers and their representatives had under the NDP government that you've taken away under Bill 15, as you have. You will be held accountable for that.

The other thing is, you cannot eliminate the Occupational Disease Panel, as you have, and expect to get off scot-free. By eliminating the Occupational Disease Panel, you've made it very clear that you have no concern about injured workers, you have no concern about their families and what they go through, because that panel was there to prevent accidents in the workplace and you took it away. Those people are demonstrating today to tell you now that when we go into the next election, Ontarians will not forget what you did to injured workers.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): My statement in the Legislature today deals with fairness and integrity. I was saddened today to learn that the head of the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation, city of York district, has advised members of the federation not to take their students to Chudleigh's apple farm in my riding of Halton North for field trips because of my involvement with Bill 160.

I want to make it very clear to this Legislature that after the passing of my parents in 1959, my brother and I inherited the farm, and after graduating --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I want the members in the opposition to come to order, please. It is members' statement; they have the right to be heard.

Mr Chudleigh: I want to make it very clear that after the passing of my parents in 1959 my brother and I inherited the farm, and after graduating from university in 1965 we decided to sever our business relationship. Since that time, I have had no involvement in a business relationship with the farm operation, and do not receive any benefits whatsoever from that operation.

Tom and Carol, my brother and sister-in-law, have worked hard over a long period of time to develop a successful business in my community. I am saddened and disappointed that union leadership would undertake these unfair tactics.

I understand there are some people who disagree with our government's direction regarding the Education Quality Improvement Act. This is exactly the kind of environment that creates a strong democracy. But in this case we are dealing with two separate issues. Bill 160 is about improving the quality of all our children's education. I would encourage the public to view these tactics of union leaders as those which lack integrity and exhibit unfairness and are quite frankly wrong.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding Bill 164, An Act to implement job creation measures and other measures contained in the 1997 Budget and to make other amendments to statutes administered by the Ministry of Finance or relating to taxation matters. I've given you notice, Speaker, and have supplied you with the written point.

Bill 164 was introduced yesterday. I would have preferred to raise this issue with you at the point of the bill's introduction. Neither the standing orders nor convention of the Ontario Legislature compels the government to provide an advance copy of legislation to members of the assembly, so as a result I wasn't able to look over the bill first.

I hope you will forgive me for raising this matter later than I would have liked to raise it, but I did want to ensure that I could provide a thorough oral submission to you for your consideration. In my view Bill 164 is not in order, because it is contrary to the rules of the House that explicitly state that subject matter that has been considered during a session of the Legislature cannot be reconsidered in the same session.

Furthermore, I would argue that if the government believes that certain sections of Bill 149, An Act to continue the reforms begun by the Fair Municipal Finance Act, require amendments, then the government should refer this back to the committee of the whole House and not call it for third reading today.

The government could have chosen to introduce a new time allocation motion to send Bill 149 to committee of the whole for further consideration. A new time allocation motion would supersede the time allocation motion Bill 149 is currently under. However, the government decided to introduce a completely new bill.

Bill 164 amends changes in the Assessment Act and the Municipal Act contained within Bill 149, which has not yet passed this House, although it may receive third reading today under the time allocation motion. There are six such amendments to Bill 149 in schedule F of this bill and three amendments to Bill 149 in schedule G of this bill. There are also seven amendments to Bill 160 in schedule G of this bill.

Standing order 51 states, "No motion, or amendment, the subject matter of which has been decided upon, can be again proposed during the same session."

Erskine May also refers to bills with the same purpose as other bills considered in the same session.


I quote: "...if a decision of the House has already been taken on one such bill, for example, if the bill has been given or refused a second reading, the other is not proceeded with if it contains substantially the same provisions." That's from page 468 of Erskine May.

Bill 149 received consideration by the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. The committee had four days of public hearings, which were completed on October 23, 1997. October 28, 1997, was the deadline for members to table amendments to the bill with the clerk of the committee. This date was rigidly held to by the government in spite of the fact that the Hansard from the public hearings was not yet available.

On November 4, 1997, the committee met for clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, at which time all amendments in the original bill were considered.

Now the government tables another bill which makes amendments to the bill not yet passed by the House. This is simply the government attempting to sneak in amendments to its own legislation through the back door, legislation that was drafted in haste, legislation full of errors, and the government was so hell-bent on passing this through that it missed its own deadline for tabling all the amendments it required.

In this past year the government has had two kicks at amending both the Assessment Act and the Municipal Act. First there was Bill 106, then Bill 149. Now they're attempting a third kick at the can through Bill 164 because they cannot seem to ever get it right. Bill 164 is called Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act. The amendments to 149 contained in the bill have nothing to do with either tax credits or job creation. These amendments are nothing more than a further refinement of this government's plan to impose a market value assessment system on property assessment across the province.

Schedule F, subsection 1(1), amends the amendment in Bill 149 to subsection 3(1) of the Assessment Act, if Bill 149 is passed. Section 2 then goes on to repeal the amendment on January 1, 1998, if Bill 149 does not receive royal assent. This amendment substantially changes a decision that has already been made by the standing committee on finance and economic affairs.

That committee considered this section after hearing from a variety of presenters on the subject of exempting live theatres from property taxes. The committee passed an amendment to Bill 149 providing that theatres must be used for live theatre performances 183 days of the year. Now this bill reverses that decision to narrow the definition to theatres with less than 1,000 seats offering predominantly live performances. This issue was considered in detail by that committee, and their decision is now being changed on this issue still before the House.

Schedule F's section 3 amends the amendments in Bill 149 to section 71 of the Assessment Act. The wording of this section assumes that Bill 149 will receive royal assent. Furthermore, this section of the bill was amended in Bill 149, further amended by the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, and is being amended once again through Bill 164. Again Bill 164 is trying to change a decision of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, a decision which is still pending ratification from the members of this chamber.

Speaker, I would appreciate it if you would look into this matter and rule as soon as possible, since Bill 149 is being debated in the House today.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Mr Speaker, just to help you in your deliberations, I can assure you that when we talked to the public on Bill 149, the property tax bill, we used the order from the Legislature on timing. We said that amendments have to be in by such and such a date, and if not, they would be out of order. So all of us worked to that order from this Legislature.

The hearings assumed we were dealing with the total bill. Mr Speaker, I guarantee you that this bill will have the effect of changing values on properties by tens of millions of dollars. As soon as the bill is passed, the value of each of the bank towers two miles from here will go up by $30 million. We are talking large sums of money. The public has a right to know, when this Legislature is dealing with matters that have that profound an impact directly on their property taxes, that they have an opportunity for input and that the Legislature is following the rules it set for itself.

It is ironic that on the very day we are going to be asked to pass the bill, 24 hours earlier the government attempted to amend the bill through the back door. If you are to accept this procedure, then we should be looking at amendments to Bill 160. If the motions we pass here mean nothing, if the Legislature directs us to act in a way and then it means nothing, that the government can simply bring forward a bill and amend it, we lose our credibility.

Within the bill presented yesterday there are certain measures that have to be passed by the end of the year. So you've essentially got some hostages, things that have to be done by the end of the year, and the government will use that to attempt to force something that they could not do, if I may say so, legally through the rules you've set up.

I think it's an extremely important matter. I was astonished to get back to my office yesterday and to find, among other things, several amendments to Bill 149 -- never mentioned in the minister's remarks, of course, and hidden, as usual, at the end of a very thick bill.

Interjection: Schedule F.

Mr Phillips: Schedule F, as my colleague indicated. We'll be looking for a ruling certainly before we're asked to vote on Bill 149.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, it's an interesting point of order. We believe that the bill introduced by the finance minister yesterday is in order. However, notwithstanding whatever was introduced by the finance minister yesterday, I don't believe the concern over the validity of Bill 149 is part of the same point of order; that is, Bill 149, in my view, is totally in order and there is nothing to prevent the Legislature from considering that piece of legislation, which has been in front of it for some period of time.

Mr Speaker, as you know -- or perhaps you don't know -- we did not receive any notice of this point of order. I would only like the opportunity to present a written argument to it.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Written arguments are always in order, and I will accept them at any time.

Let's be clear on one thing: Bill 149 isn't passed yet, so really there is nothing for me to rule on at this point in time, if you appreciate the nuances, the arguments to be made. Until Bill 149 is passed, really there is nothing to rule on.

I understand what you're saying. You're going to stand as soon as it is passed and make the same arguments, and I appreciate that.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, with respect, I understand your point, but we also have to recognize that there is a time allocation motion that has been accepted by this House which determined the date by which amendments to Bill 149 had to be submitted. This piece of legislation I'm raising, Bill 164, is in essence a further amendment, which is prohibited by the time allocation motion on Bill 149. The fact is that the amendments had to be in by a certain date, and this new legislation is in fact an amendment that goes beyond the time allocation motion.


The Speaker: What we'll do is reserve on that and report back at the earliest possible time.

Mr Wildman: It is being debated today.

The Speaker: I will be clear. If I can just beg the indulgence of the leader of the third party, I still believe what we are debating, what your point of order is, is the orderliness of Bill 164. Bill 164 is neither in order nor out of order, according to your argument, until Bill 149 is passed for third reading. Right? I'm not saying I'm ruling one way or the other, but there's nothing to rule on until 149 is passed. When that happens, I appreciate that you're going to make exactly the same arguments. I'm saying to you that I accept those arguments. There's not a lot of timeliness right now for me, but I will give you my undertaking to report it back at the earliest possible moment.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Speaker, there are other serious problems with what the government is trying to do. As you know, there are several municipalities --

The Speaker: Is this a point of order?

Mr Hampton: This is a point of order. As you know, there are several municipalities across the province that have expressed an intention that they will send out with their tax notices an explanation of the downloading the government is attempting and also some of the tactics the government is trying to use with respect to setting education taxes behind closed doors. Part of the legislation that the government introduced yesterday would in effect censor municipalities. It would have the effect of censoring any attempt by municipalities to communicate with municipal taxpayers.

My own sense is that any attempt to censor democratic speech would fall outside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Just looking at this, I cannot imagine how any court would rule that the government has this power, since everything I've read says that democratic speech, freedom of speech that is about democracy and about government, is to be encouraged and is to be protected. The government here is trying to shut that down, so I can't imagine how a court would let this pass.

Let me tell you what the problem is. The government is attempting, through this legislation, to shut down this exercise of freedom of speech by municipalities in the next short while. If this legislation passes, it would take time for a municipality to go to court and get a ruling from a court that the government is indeed infringing on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Speaker, I'm asking you for some guidance here. It's very clear when you read the sections that the government is trying to censor what information municipalities can make available to their municipal taxpayers. I think even a cursory reading of recent court cases would say that this government can't do that, that it would be a complete infringement of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet this government wants this to pass this Legislature, knowing that if it can get it past the Legislature and have it in effect for two weeks, it will have the effect of censoring those municipalities. We need some guidance here, because I don't think this Legislature can be part of this strategy.

The Speaker: First off, at this point you may be at the point of debating the bill in fact, and I appreciate the points you're making.

Second, although your arguments could be compelling in a court, they're difficult for me to grasp, being the Speaker. You know full well that I have no right to rule on the legality of a piece of legislation, nor, I'm certain, would you want me to. It's difficult for me to grasp exactly -- you're looking for direction. I offer no direction other than what you've done in the past, which is that when you've felt legislation was against the law, you've taken it to court and either won or lost the case. It was nothing for me to argue about. I can't even begin to get my mind around the constitutionality of the legislation.

I appreciate your input, but it's not really a point of order of the Legislature. It is something you should be making as an argument in a court of law.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will take this opportunity to introduce some guests in the gallery. I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the Honourable Dale Lovick, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Welcome, sir. You picked the right week to be here, actually.



Mr Hastings moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 165, An Act to amend the Human Rights Code to enhance Equal Opportunity in Employment in the Municipal and Non-Profit Sectors / Projet de loi 165, Loi visant à modifier le Code des droits de la personne de manière à accroître l'égalité des chances d'emploi dans le secteur municipal et celui des entreprises exploitées sans but lucratif.

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

Mr Hastings?

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): The bill amends the Human Rights Code to prohibit employers from collecting and using information that classifies their employees and applicants for employment on the basis of any prohibited ground of discrimination. Persons in possession of information collected in contravention of the amendment are required to destroy the information.

These restrictions are deemed to be a condition of every contract entered into by or on behalf of any municipality, any local board of a municipality, or any not-for-profit corporation, and of every subcontract entered into in the performance of the contract.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier. Part of the whole turmoil around Bill 160 is the plan to dump social costs on to property taxpayers. From the start, Premier, you will know that when you first introduced this in January, we said that you were dumping extra costs on to the property taxpayers.

Municipalities agreed with that. We now find we are just days away from the bill that will dump those services on to property taxpayers, sensitive services like social housing, child care and ambulance services, and we now find that you are $660 million short of its being revenue-neutral. You are adding $660 million to the property taxpayers.

Will you today admit that you were wrong in saying it was revenue-neutral, and will you now table the figures that will demonstrate that you are prepared to put more money into this issue and make sure that it is revenue-neutral to our property taxpayers?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, it is exactly revenue-neutral, or slightly in favour of the municipalities. The issue you talk about is one of removing from property tax a substantial portion of what I would consider one of the biggest and most important social costs, that of education, and the balance of that is the trade.

Your leader said on February 1, 1997, on the issue of removing education from the property tax, "That's a good thing to do." I hope you agree.


Mr Phillips: This is getting embarrassing for you, Premier. Every municipality in the province of Ontario says that you are dumping costs --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Scarborough East, member for Ottawa-Rideau, I believe. I could be wrong. I'm sorry. I certainly don't want to point you out if you're not out of order. Order.

Mr Phillips: Every municipality in Ontario knows that you are dumping cost on to property taxpayers. You selected Dave Crombie to do your study. He said: "You are wrong, don't do it. Don't push social housing on to property taxes." You are dumping $660 million of new costs on to the property taxpayers. Those are your own numbers that you put out in May, Mr Premier.

The question is, will you now admit that those numbers in May were wrong and will you table new numbers showing the municipalities that you have decided to put additional funds into helping them cover the costs you're dumping on to the property taxpayers?

Hon Mr Harris: The numbers were accurate then and the numbers are accurate now, and there's no need to put any other dollars on the table. Municipalities have indicated that if we would deal with the Who Does What exercise, if we would assist them, they could honour the commitment they made and we made in the understanding two years ago that we would phase out the unconditional grants of $667 million. We have come up with a plan and a proposal to do that. It involves, as you know, giving substantial tax capacity by removing 50% of the education taxes from property taxes, something that your leader said was a good thing to do.

At that point in time your leader said, "We have to start coming up with our own ideas September 6," and then on October 18, "We don't have any specific policies right now." I wonder if you could share with us what you think property taxes should cover to the tune of $2.5 billion, since your leader is very, very supportive of our taking that education portion off the property tax.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Phillips: Premier, you are short $660 million, no matter how you cut it. You're going to have to come clean. The people of Ontario demand an answer from you. You are dumping $660 million of new costs on to municipalities. Those are your own numbers. Property taxpayers have to pick up the problems you're dumping on them.

You may next week announce one-time-only funds, but what we want from you today is a guarantee that you are going to make this revenue-neutral, you are going to put in added funds over and above what you've said you're going to provide, and they will not be simply one-time funds for 1998 and 1999, and then you abandon the property taxpayers and leave them holding the bag that you don't want to hold any longer. Will you make that commitment? Will you table the numbers and will they be long-term neutral revenue? Will you agree that we'll have an independent organization look at the numbers and confirm what no one believes from you any longer: that it is revenue-neutral?

Hon Mr Harris: As we were phasing our the final portion of the unconditional grants, the $667 million, what we committed to do through the Who Does What exercise was two things. We said, number one, we will shift to the property taxpayers $2.5 billion of new costs. That will be downloading to the municipalities $2.5 billion of new costs. We will upload and take $2.5 billion worth of education costs and take that off the property taxpayer and put that on the provincial taxpayer. That is exactly and precisely what we are doing.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Education. Minister, in rural and northern Ontario, one of the ongoing concerns is the fate of these small schools that have been well established over the decades in communities like Calabogie and Killaloe, Wanup and Alban and Maxville and St-Bernardin, to name but six of several communities.

Minister, one of the ways that small schools have been kept open in rural and northern Ontario is by having principals who teach in some cases up to or more than 50% of the time. How is it that small communities in the Ottawa Valley and elsewhere are going to be able to keep these small, rural schools open under the provisions of your Bill 160, which to say the least make it very difficult for school administrators to keep teaching principals in these small centres?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I think on the contrary that the reforms, not only through Bill 160 but through the funding formula reforms, will actually make it easier for schools in many parts of Ontario that traditionally have not had access to the same funding, let's say, that many boards in large, urban areas have had access to. There are many parts of Ontario where the funding has been $1,000 per pupil or $1,500 per pupil less than some of the big boards.

These small boards in rural Ontario, perhaps eastern Ontario, perhaps northern Ontario, will have the same kind of access to funding as the large boards. Our students in the small areas will have the same kind of financial support as students in larger urban areas, and the principals will still be able to teach, as they have taught in the past.

Mr Conway: The issue remains not so much the funding formula, which is important and we will judge that formula when we see it. Let me tell you, in Maxville and Calabogie and Wanup they will look very carefully to see if you are as good as your intent and your word.

But the question remains. The way we have kept small schools operating in places like Wilno and Westmeath in the Ottawa Valley or Alban or Markstay in northern Ontario is by having teachers who are also principals. Principals, teachers and administrators, to a person, have told the legislative committee and are telling members of the assembly that it is very unlikely, because of the changes you are making to principals and vice-principals -- that these people cannot be part of the bargaining unit -- that it is almost certain that you are going to aggravate the situation in these small and rural communities to a point where keeping those schools open is going to be difficult if not impossible. How are you specifically going to address that problem, Minister?

Hon David Johnson: I'm here to reassure the member opposite, if he's not had the opportunity to read Bill 160, that principals will still be members of the College of Teachers, that principals will still be able to teach in the schools as they've done before.

Simply, what we've done is to ask our teachers in our classrooms to spend the same amount of time in the classroom as teachers in other jurisdictions. The principals can still teach, the teachers will still be in the classroom. Indeed, they'll be in the classroom to the extent of their colleagues in other provinces. If anything, I think Bill 160 may assist small, rural areas in terms of meeting their teacher requirements, and the funding formula will be of further assistance.

Mr Conway: Minister, I think it is plain to everyone in the province that you and your colleagues intend to fix the unions, but I don't think people expected, as you fix the unions, that you were going to be effectively, or perhaps inadvertently, closing small schools in places like Wilno and Wanup, and moreover that you were in fact going to be creating an educational marketplace that was going to make it difficult if not impossible to retain and develop new educational leadership.

Would you not agree that your Bill 160 has created a new educational marketplace where many people who are now principals and vice-principals will want to opt back into the bargaining unit, if for no other reason than there is some protection there, and moreover you will not be able, as minister or as a local school administrator, to tell people, particularly in these small communities, that you're going to be able to get new leadership for these schools in these communities?


Hon David Johnson: First of all, I would discourage the member opposite from fearmongering. I think it's most unfortunate when a member of this House speculates on a school that may be closed. Certainly this ministry is not going to be closing schools. The Ministry of Education will be providing fair, equitable funding to all the school boards to address their needs. School boards will make decisions within the fair and equitable funding they have.

This ministry will be going the route, and the government is proposing through Bill 160 to go the route, that the principals and vice-principals will no longer be in the union, just as the two other largest provinces in Canada have done. British Columbia and Quebec do not have the principals and vice-principals in the union. But the principals and vice-principals will be as eligible and as welcome to teach in the classrooms as they are today. The fair and equitable funding will mean that small boards, underfunded boards, will have the same ability as the large boards to provide an excellent quality of service to our students.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. Yesterday you introduced legislation which takes taxation without representation to new heights. As you know, many municipalities across the province have expressed their intention to include in the next property tax notices explanations of how your government is going to be setting education taxes behind closed doors and how your government is going to be downloading and the impact that's going to have on people's property taxes. Yesterday in the legislation you introduced, you intend to censor municipalities. You intend to stop municipalities from being able to communicate that basic information to their citizens.

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

Mr Hampton: Premier, this is bully behaviour beyond belief. What is it that your government has against free speech? Why would you want to interfere with municipalities --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I wasn't here yesterday and I didn't introduce any legislation yesterday.

Mr Hampton: I take it from that that the Premier doesn't feel he's responsible for his government's legislation. Let me read to you what it says, Premier. It says you're going to amend the Municipal Act and you're going to prohibit municipalities from sending out information with their property tax notices to their citizens. It says, "A municipality shall not include other information on the notice unless expressly authorized to do so by the minister."

Premier, that is censorship. That is censorship by your government. You are trying to prevent municipal governments from communicating to their taxpayers what you're doing to education taxes and what you're doing via downloading to their property taxes. It is pure and simple censorship, nothing else. It is complete interference with the freedom of speech. What is it that your government has against freedom of speech? What's your problem with freedom of speech?

Hon Mr Harris: I can only repeat a couple of things. I wasn't here yesterday, I did not introduce a bill yesterday, and I'm a great believer in freedom of speech.

Mr Hampton: If I were the Premier, I would be embarrassed by my answers here. I would be embarrassed.

This is what the government tried to do. This is the size of this bill. They try to say to people that it is something about tax credits, but if you read the nitty-gritty of this, a number of sections here will have the effect of censoring regions like Halton region, censoring municipalities across this province, stopping them from communicating information about the downloading of policing, stopping them from communicating information about the downloading of ambulance services, the downloading of public health, stopping them from communicating all this information in their tax notices, which citizens have a right to know. Citizens have a right to know what it is that's going to drive up their property taxes, how it is that education taxes are being set behind closed doors without any democratic participation whatsoever.

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Hampton: How do you justify this incredible interference with freedom of speech? How do you justify trying to censor municipal governments when they try to communicate --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Harris: I think the Minister of Finance can respond.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): We went through this question yesterday, actually, and I thought I answered the question to the leader of the third party.

The reality is, until all the information is in with respect to property tax assessment and reassessment in Ontario, certain decisions cannot be made. We are hopeful that those decisions will all be made and communicated to the public and to municipalities before the House adjourns. I think that's going to happen.

With respect to people having input and with respect to the level of taxation, we went through that yesterday. I'm not so sure the leader of the third party wants to go through it again, but if he does, between 1985 and 1995 education property tax mill rates in this province went up 82%, the amount of revenue went up 120%, and I am assuring you that they are not going to go up in 1998.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Eves: We are going to cap them and stop this ridiculous growth and feeding off the taxpayers of the province --

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

Mr Hampton: My next question is to the Premier, and I would say to the government that this is all about censorship. This is all about trying to stop municipalities from communicating --


The Speaker: Member for Ottawa-Rideau, come to order, please.


The Speaker: Member for Ottawa-Rideau, I'm not warning you again.

Mr Hampton: This is all about trying to stop municipalities from communicating legitimate information to their taxpayers. This is despicable in a democracy.

I want to ask the Premier about his change of mind about municipal support grants. It would now appear that you're not going to wipe out municipal support grants this year, that you're going to continue the $667 million in municipal support grants this year.

Is it just a coincidence that the amount of money you are going to restore to municipalities by means of the municipal support grant is the amount the Deputy Minister of Education is obliged to cut from our schools, $667 million? Is that just a coincidence, Premier?


Hon Mr Harris: The figures that are presented have absolutely no bearing or no relevance to any of the legislation we are dealing with, to any of the grants we are dealing with, to any of the mitigation funds we are dealing with, anything to do with education. You just made up a whole bunch of numbers and asked me to respond to them. They're so silly they don't even deserve response.

Mr Hampton: You always know that when the Premier doesn't have an answer he refers to his favourite book -- Mr Silly. The government confessed some months ago that the value of the municipal support grant, which they determined they were going to cut, was $667 million a year. Now we find out that the government is going to put in this $667 million a year to tide over the municipalities. Well, Premier, if you are going to restore some of the municipal support grant or if you are going to do it through transition funds, let me ask you this: If it's important to do it for municipalities, don't you think it's also important to do it for our children in our schools, that they should have the $667 million you are going to take from them restored as well?

Hon Mr Harris: It is difficult for me to answer and I might say that I was not referring to my favourite book but my favourite leader -- same title. I want to say this: We indicated two years ago in meetings, in conferences, in speeches -- the Minister of Finance, certainly I did, the Minister of Municipal Affairs -- that the municipal support grant of $667 million would be phased out over the next few years. That was 2.7%, roughly, of what municipalities were or would be spending after Who Does What.

Municipalities said: "We understand. We are with you. We can find those savings." We said there is absolutely no point in our having well-run municipalities and a bankrupt province, which we had under the Liberals and the NDP, and they said to us: "We are prepared to do our share. We are prepared to find some savings." They asked for some time and they asked for Who Does What, an exercise to assist them. We have been giving them all of these options. They fully understand that. That is exactly what we have said two years ago, a year ago, last month, last week --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier.

Mr Hampton: We've discovered a few important things here today: Mr Silly is the Premier's favourite book -- I understand, as he was talking earlier, that he wrote it or it's something like that. And we've discovered something else: that the government has now decided that instead of cutting the municipal support grants off this year, you're going to cut them off at a future date. This is known as the "Get the Members Through the Next Election Campaign" shuffle. That's what it's known as. However you describe it, Premier, it's clear that you've changed your mind on this.

I'm asking you to change your mind with respect to your cuts to education as well. Your Minister of Education got a letter from educational finance people earlier in October. It said: "If the funding model for education is to achieve the government's goals and objectives, the model must provide sufficient funds to enable boards to provide adequate programs and services to meet the needs of students. The development of such a model will take time."

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Hampton: Premier, will you reconsider the $667-million cut to education? Will you reconsider that, just as you've reconsidered the municipal support --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Harris: I want to be very, very clear. We have not reconsidered 2.7%, $667 million, to municipalities. They know that. There has been no reconsideration of that amount of money. That is where municipalities understand and know they'll end up.

I would say that you've told them that it's $1 billion or $2 billion or $3 billion. Some have said it's going to have disastrous impacts. They understand quite fully that they have to find, on average across the province, 2.7 cents of every dollar they spend in efficiencies and savings over the next couple of years. They clearly understand that and absolutely nothing has changed in that.

When it comes to education, we are asking school boards to find efficiencies without affecting the classroom: numbers of trustees --


Hon Mr Harris: We were clearly quite up front about that. We felt there was waste in the number of bureaucracy, trustees, school boards administration, and we are asking them to find savings along that.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: I hear all the Liberals interjecting. As late as October 29, 1997, your leader said, "Everybody, I think, believes you can find room for improvement in education." You --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier. New question.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Premier. If you're saying the municipalities are with you, I wonder why they're taking out one-page ads asking specific questions about the financial implications of all the downloading, questions they still don't have any answers to.

We all know there's a very close connection between Bill 160, the power grab for education so you can control it here from Queen's Park, and the downloading that's taking place. You've been saying throughout that it's revenue-neutral. AMO doesn't agree with you; the municipal leaders don't agree with you; nobody agrees with you.

What I'm asking you is quite simple. Municipalities are concerned about their tax rate and what taxes they're going to levy next year. I simply want to know, will you commit to a guarantee in writing that if as a result of all these downloading changes there's a shortfall, you will make it up to each and every municipality? That's the question. Put it in writing.


Hon Mr Harris: What I have been very clear on and the Minister of Finance has been very --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Harris: What we've indicated all along -- what I've indicated, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Finance -- is that there are required collectively of municipalities across the province efficiency savings of, on average, 2.7%, which comes to $667 million. Those dollars are not going to be there two years from now. We've clearly indicated that to them.

What we did say was that to assist them to get through, there was an $800-million fund that we announced and is available to assist them as they restructure and as they find those savings. To date, there has been absolutely nothing we have indicated that has changed that commitment. Municipalities understand that. Municipalities understand and have said, "We are prepared to find that 2.7% on average."

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: I can assure you that, if they can find 2.7% efficiencies, property taxes will not go up. In fact, they'll --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Gerretsen: Premier, the question wasn't about the municipal support grants. The question related to the relationship between Bill 160, your power control grab for education, and the downloading in Bill 152. It is quite simple: As a result of this, the finances of municipalities are going to change. Will you guarantee in writing that once all the changes have taken place and a municipality has a shortfall, you will make that up? This is totally outside of municipal support grants.

Will you make that up? Will you give a guarantee in writing that you will make up any shortfall a municipality is going to have? That's what they're asking about in these ads, where they say, "Hey Mike, show us the real numbers." Why don't you provide that information to them? Give it to them in writing that you'll make up a shortfall.

Hon Mr Harris: I'm a little surprised the Liberal Party wants us to take over and micromanage municipalities. I'm actually quite shocked by that.

I am quite confident that municipalities will (a) be able to manage their own affairs and (b) will not only be able to contribute $667 million to our balancing our budget, as we asked them to do and as they have collectively agreed to do, but I think many will be able to find tax reductions as well.

You stand up and you say "every municipality." Well, let me tell you, the new regional chair in Ottawa-Carleton, Bob Chiarelli, says there will be no tax increases. If you don't believe Bob Chiarelli, why don't you ask his campaign manager and his new chief of staff, Brendan McGuinty --


The Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

New question; third party.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Premier. I have a letter written to the Premier by Eileen Lennon, president of the Ontario Teachers' Federation. In this letter, dated November 24, she asks the Premier to apologize for comments that he made to a Conservative fund-raiser on November 20, in which he accused teachers of having brought forward no alternatives to Bill 160. The Premier said, "Since they've offered no amendments and no alternatives and offered no more discussion, it's going to pass as is."

The Premier was wrong. The teachers of Ontario have made a whole series of proposals for amendments to the bill. I'd like to send them over to the Premier now. These amendments refer to a whole list of critical issues in education. For instance, the teachers have proposed an increase in the time kids spend in the classroom. The teachers have made proposals. Will the Premier admit he was wrong and apologize?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the Minister of Education can respond.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): The president of the OTF and the various teachers' unions did put forward certain proposals, but they did wish, for example, to continue negotiating the class size.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Downwards.

Hon David Johnson: No, I have to say to the member opposite they wanted to continue to be able to negotiate the class size.

This government has said, "We've had enough of class sizes going up." In the elementary level, class sizes have been going up for about the last seven years. We can't allow that to carry on. We can't allow the teachers' unions to carry on negotiating class sizes up. This has happened, frankly, in too many boards over the last couple of years.

They did not bring forward any sort of feasible resolution at all in terms of the amount of time in the classroom that our students would have, preferring to add about five minutes per session rather than lengthening the number of days, as all other jurisdictions do across the nation.

Mr Wildman: Instead of responding to the amendments that the teachers' federations have put forward, the government has simply engaged in attack ads that have attempted to paint the teachers as uncaring and not concerned about the education of students in the province.

In the Premier's speech, he said that the teachers have not wanted any further discussions. In her letter Ms Lennon says: "For almost two weeks I have been attempting to meet with Minister Johnson. We have made repeated requests through his staff. We have been told that he was unavailable. His staff offer no meeting date until after the passage of the legislation." That is Bill 160.


Why is the Premier stating that the teachers don't want to meet with this government when in fact it's the minister who doesn't want to meet with the teachers and doesn't want to discuss anything about Bill 160 until after it's law?

Hon David Johnson: The facts are quite simple. We were in discussions. I was in discussions with the OTF, with the leaders of the various unions. They broke off those discussions, and they clearly said this in the media. There's no question about this. They said it's not fruitful for them to carry on the discussions any more. They broke it off. That's a matter of fact; that's a matter of record.

Recently they've been attempting to reopen discussions again. I've said, "Fine." As a matter of fact, we have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. This meeting was mutually agreed to last week, that this would be the time we would get together. I fully intend to honour that meeting. I'll be more than happy to meet with the OTF and any other representative at any time we can both find available.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): My question is for the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. It relates to the issue of the continuation of police enforcement in the new city of Toronto after January 1, 1998, given that the Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board has made a decision to probably change its logo and other insignia, on its summons forms as well.

Several police officers in 23 division of the Metropolitan Toronto Police would like to know, will the changes in the format that the police services board will probably introduce in 1998 still have the continuation of the effect of law, given that somebody could be charged under the Provincial Offences Act or for other related offences, such as drunk driving? Will it continue to have the effect of law under their existing insignia?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I thank the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale for the question and assure him that the government has foreseen the situation he describes. In fact, the City of Toronto Act, 1997, provides that the new city "stands in the place of the old municipality for all purposes" -- emphasis on "all." I am advised that this includes policing purposes, and that therefore such a ticket would be valid. I also want to point out that, as the member knows, policing has been delivered on a unified basis for 40 years in Toronto and that in general the interests of public safety and efficient use of taxpayers' dollars have been well served by a single police service up to this date.

Mr Hastings: My supplementary relates to a similar but somewhat unrelated concern regarding firefighters in the new amalgamated city of Toronto Fire Department. In what ways will the fire marshal's office help to facilitate the amalgamation of the six existing fire departments within Metropolitan Toronto to ensure the same general and effective level of fire protection that we've had for the last 50 years?

Hon Mr Runciman: The government has provided Toronto city hall with the tools it needs to improve fire safety in the new city. As a result of these changes, the people of Toronto will be served by one fire chief instead of six. The fire department will be able to find administrative efficiencies through central purchasing. These changes will allow the fire department to focus on front-line fire services. I should add that the Ontario fire marshal and his staff will be available to the city of Toronto and the new fire chief to assist in any way they can.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. It seems that you are determined to push through the bill that will give you total control of education, but you still don't want anyone to know exactly what you're going to do with the power you will have. You are going to be in total control of all educational funding, but you refuse to release the funding formula that will show us where your cuts are going to be. We know there will be cuts -- of that there is no doubt -- we just don't know how much and where.

The public school trustees have been told that their boards will lose $1 billion. The deputy minister's draft performance contract showed you were looking for an overall reduction of $667 million. The Premier says you should be able to find that much just by cutting waste. You have recently said exactly the same thing, but nobody knows how you define "waste." Before you pass Bill 160 and take total control of educational spending, will you release the funding formula and show us what cuts you're going to make and where you're going to make them?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): In terms of the final debate on Bill 160, the government House leader will be determining when the most appropriate date for that is to occur. I can only say that in terms of the funding formula, I'm working on it in a very determined fashion, having almost daily sessions in an attempt to make sure it is fair and equitable to every board under every circumstance, in rural areas and urban areas, for special needs, for transportation, for all the different components that have to be treated fairly within that formula.

This government has committed to getting the funding formula out as soon as possible this year. I'm certainly working towards that and very much hope to achieve that. I think the school boards will be satisfied when it does come out that it is fair. It treats everybody and every student in the province fairly.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, if you're not prepared to tell the public where your cuts are going to come, let me make it clear what we already know. We know that you cannot find $667 million by cutting waste. You could cut the entire administration out of every board in the province of Ontario and you would still find $667 million. We know that you are not planning to provide any new funding for the 25,000 new students who will come into our educational system next year and every year after that. We know that when you try and maintain your class sizes with 25,000 new students a year, boards are going to be forced to cut small remedial classes and they're going to be forced to close those small rural schools that you were asked about earlier today.

We know that with 5,000 or 6,000 fewer secondary school teachers, high school programs will be cut and small high schools may not survive at all. We know you will not fund junior kindergarten, and that will make it impossible for boards to offer it. Those will be the results of your taking control of educational funding. If you say it isn't true, show us the funding formula and proof.

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite claims that these are all things she knows, they're facts. Yesterday, for example, she was complaining about the dropping of the word "advisory" from advisory school councils, yet we found the Liberal red book, and what does the Liberal red book call these school councils? Does it call them advisory? Absolutely not. It calls them local school councils. This is the kind of knowledge we're dealing with.

There will be no reason for various classes to be dropped; there will be no reason for schools to be closed. There will be every reason for every board and every school across the province of Ontario to deliver a high-quality education program of excellence, one with a focused curriculum, one with better testing, one with better report cards, one with limited class sizes, where the class sizes won't continue to go up. I look forward to the --

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


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. There is increasing concern among parents, especially regarding a section of Bill 160 that creates something known as the Ontario education number. One clause of the bill, 266.3(4), says, "The minister and a prescribed educational or training institution may collect, use, disclose or require the production of a person's Ontario education number for purposes related to the provision of financial assistance associated with the person's education."

While parents recognize the need for a number for academic information to travel with the students, they're worried about this provision. The bill gives the cabinet the power to decide on purposes other than those described in the Ontario education number and to decide who will have access to it, all behind closed doors.

Is the government's intention that the Ontario education number may be disclosed to local welfare authorities or eligibility review officers for use in determining a parent's eligibility for social assistance --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): The government's intention through the education number is to assist in providing information within the education system. I might say this number will be maintained in a fully secure environment in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It will allow educational institutions to transfer information. As students transfer, it allows students to have their information more readily when they need it, and that sort of thing. It's intended as an improvement within the education system.

Mr Wildman: I understand the minister's comment, but the bill gives the minister or a prescribed institution the authority to collect personal information about a student either directly or indirectly. Despite what he says, the bill exempts this collection of personal information from a section of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that requires notice to be given to the individual that the information is being collected and what it will be used for. Exactly what information does the ministry intend to collect and why is it so important that this information collection not be subject to the safeguards in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act with regard to notice?


Hon David Johnson: The member opposite had asked what is the intention of this particular number, and I can only reiterate that it is a number that will operate in a secure environment, that it is a number that is intended to assist students, to assist our educational institutions in terms of the flow of information, to assist in terms of analysis, in terms of support within the education system where support is needed, and that sort of thing. I can only reiterate that the database and the numbers will be operated in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As you can appreciate, purchasing a car represents probably the largest single investment that an individual or a family can make after buying a home. In the past, there has been a great deal of concern among consumers in Ontario about consumer protection and education in the automotive industry. As part of our initiative to protect consumers this government passed Bill 59 and provided consumers with rate relief with their auto insurance. However, consumers are still concerned about being treated fairly when they purchase a vehicle.

What is your ministry doing to ensure that consumers are protected and treated fairly when purchasing a vehicle in Ontario?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for the question. Yes, it is true that in 1996 we gave the ability to some of the industries that are mature enough and ready enough to get into self-management. I want to make it clear, though, that the government continues to regulate these industries.

Bill 54 provides certain functions to some of these industries to really take on more of a role, including licensing, administration, enforcement and also handling consumer complaints. They have developed a business plan to deal with consumer complaints. This is very important for all of us. They have set up an appeals committee to handle the appeals, which is being chaired by one of the concerned members.

I just want to name a couple of the initiatives here. First, telephone inquiry waiting times have been reduced from 11 to 15 minutes down to two minutes. You get a real person when you call, which is kind of nice and a refreshing change, but also, after two minutes on hold, all the phones ring so you have to answer it, and I think that's kind of a neat thing to have. Second, they've initiated a pilot Web site to provide easy access to information to the consumer.

Mr Pettit: Minister, at the time Bill 54, the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act, 1996, was being developed -- I might add that the Provincial Auditor yesterday in his report spoke very highly of your ministry's handling and implementation of their recommendations -- but at the time that act was being developed many in the automotive industry felt that self-management would lead to better consumer protection.

I met and spoke with some of the car dealers in my riding high atop Hamilton Mountain when Bill 54 was being debated in the House. They indicated to me their commitment to improving business standards in the industry and looking after consumers, who are, after all, their customers. Last January the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, or OMVIC, was created to promote these goals.

Minister, can you provide the consumers of Ontario with information on whether the OMVIC is better protecting the interests of those consumers who are going to purchase a new car?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Once again, I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain. We have some interesting updates in terms of figures. Between April 6 and August 15, 1996, the ministry only handled 113 written complaints, which resulted in the return of $33,000 to consumers. In the same period in 1997, OMVIC handled 455 written complaints, which resulted in the return of $297,500 to the consumer. Quite a change, and over 160 charges have been laid since the end of May.

On November 19, 1997, OMVIC announced that 54 individuals and companies had been found guilty of illegal sale of motor vehicles in Ontario. One hundred and fifty new investigations have been launched resulting in charges such as selling vehicles without valid registrations. OMVIC has also increased the number of dealer inspections by 30%.

I want to take the time right now to indicate, of course, that industries have shown they have been able to manage themselves in a far more effective manner and I want to applaud the efforts of OMVIC in this.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a question for the Minister of Education. The minister would know that Bill 160 gives him total control of education funding. The bill also gives him total control of education taxation. In short, Bill 160 gives the minister total control of education.

In my hand I have a good report from the Adult Education Centre in Elliot Lake. The principal is Murray McDonald. Murray reports that in Elliot Lake, Blind River and Spanish, of their 70 graduates this year, 83% were receiving some kind of government assistance before they went back to school. Afterwards, upon graduation, 42% have jobs, 34% are in post-secondary education and 10% are continuing their education at the high school level.

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

Mr Michael Brown: My question to the minister is, given that only 10% are now receiving some kind of government income assistance, will the minister guarantee that the adult education course in Elliot Lake, Blind River and Spanish --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): What I will guarantee again is that through the funding formula to the various boards we will ensure that all aspects of the education system at the elementary and secondary are encompassed within the formula.

I think the member raises a point in that each board faces different circumstances. That is one of the aspects of the funding formula that require a great deal of care. It has to be studied for each board, for each region, for each set of circumstances. We are doing that. We've had a great deal of input over many months, over a long period of time. When the member sees the final funding formula I'm sure he'll be pleased with it.

Mr Michael Brown: Minister, you have total control over education. We also want you to take total responsibility for education.

I also represent many rural communities and rural schools. For example, there's Assiginack, Killarney, Webbwood and many other communities along the North Shore. In this mega-world of the minister, a world of critical mass, I want the minister to assure me that at St Joseph school in Killarney, where the children would have to go an hour and a half on a school bus every day to the closest elementary school, five- and six-year-olds will not have to make that trip and the minister will guarantee that those schools stay open.

Hon David Johnson: I think this is sort of a general, same kind of question that his colleague asked earlier.


The Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands.

Hon David Johnson: Again, there are many boards which do not have access today to the same amount of funding as some of the other boards. Many students are having to receive their education on the basis of a lower level of dollars per student than students in other jurisdictions.

What we will do is ensure that all our children in all corners of Ontario are treated fairly and equitably. Certainly in big geographic areas where transportation is a component, I can assure you that transportation is very much a significant part of the new funding formula. All aspects are being considered. That board will have access to fair and equitable funding so that its students will have the same opportunities as other students across the province.




M. Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury) : «À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que nous, les signataires de cette pétition, voulons signifier au gouvernement notre opposition au projet de loi 160 ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 exclut les parents et les enseignants du processus de decision dans le secteur de l'éducation en Ontario ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 centralise tous les pouvoirs entre les mains du gouvernement ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 accorde au gouvernement Harris le pouvoir de retrancher 660 $ millions de plus du secteur de l'éducation ;

«Nous, les soussignataires, demandons que l'adoption du projet de loi 160 soit remise et que le gouvernement entreprenne des consultations véritables et franches avec tous les groupes concernés.»

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Could I ask people to have their meetings outside, please. It's too noisy in here.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition which is signed by 95,221 people from all across this province. It's interesting to note that 95,200 is more than 10% of the total vote that the Conservatives got across Ontario in either the 1987 or 1990 election. The petition reads as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has chosen to overtly deceive the people of Ontario as to the true objectives of Bill 160; and

"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province and we have lost confidence in this government,

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election because of Bill 160."

This is from people who wish Bill 160 to be withdrawn immediately, and I submit the petition. I'll need more than one page to assist in the delivery of this petition to the table. I'm affixing my name to the petition since I also have no confidence in the government.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further petitions? The member for Durham East.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for that very special recognition.

I'm about to present a petition that was presented to me by Mr Tully Thompson, who is the principal of S.T. Worden public school in Courtice. The principal, I guess on behalf of the parents, specifically Natalie Hemstead, presented this petition, which is incomplete. However, for the record, I will read it.

"During the past two weeks, the children of our community have not attended school. The teachers have raised the red flag concerning Bill 160. We as community members know this bill is not about provincial report cards, it's not about improving curriculum and it's not about standardized testing. As community members we are demanding that Mike Harris and the government open Bill 160 to further discussion and negotiation."

Clearly the people signing this petition didn't understand, so I'm affixing this with a commitment to dialogue with every constituent in Ontario in my riding.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This is a petition against Bill 160.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Bill 160 does nothing to improve or guarantee quality in Ontario education. It is an unnecessary and vaguely worded piece of legislation.

"This government has no business controlling issues that are best decided locally. Bill 160 is not just about teacher prep time and class size; it's about giving the government absolute control over education" -- and these words are all extended in bold -- "including the ability to change anything in education without debate. There is no guarantee that centralized control over education by the government will allow our schools to keep programs such as special education and extended arts. There will be no democratic process to follow if we are unhappy with decisions made.

"We, the undersigned, being taxpayers, parents and concerned community members, believe that there are other ways of controlling costs in education without the government distributing our education tax as they see fit. We must be consulted. We want Bill 160 scrapped or amended so that control over education matters stays in the local communities with the people who know best what our students need."

I affix my signature.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has chosen to overtly deceive the people of Ontario as to the true objectives of Bill 160; and

"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province and we have lost confidence in this government,

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election forthwith.

"As parents, we are extremely concerned about Bill 160 and the way it is being pushed through the Legislature. As parents, we need more time to understand the full implications of Bill 160 and we are urging the provincial government to delay passage of third reading of Bill 160."

It's signed by people from Cochrane, Kapuskasing and Hearst. There's also a number of people from Cité des Jeunes in Kapuskasing who have signed: Theresa Bezel and other people. They're very much concerned about Bill 160 and the destruction of public education.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I have a petition today for the Ministry of Health. The people signing this petition strongly urge that the Ministry of Health strengthen its efforts to forward funding to maximize the community care services for the following reasons:

"(1) We believe that with the decrease in hospital beds, shorter hospital stays with early discharges and an aging population, individuals are requiring more extensive health care in the home than ever before;

"(2) We believe that increasing funding for health promotion and illness prevention activities in the community to prevent health problems before they occur is a more effective and efficient way to spend health care dollars; and

"(3) At the same time as hospitals are closing, funding for home care must keep up the pace with this rising demand."

I attach my name.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai ici une pétition à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Nous, les soussignés, adressons cette pétition au nom des contribuables de Prescott et Russell au Parlement de l'Ontario :

«Nous nous opposons fortement à l'augmentation des taxes proposée pour le 1er janvier, 1998. Selon un récent article paru dans le journal local, le transfert proposé des responsabilités fiscales provinciales aux municipalités dans le cadre des réformes du gouvernement progressiste-conservateur de l'Ontario laisserait les résidents de notre comté dans l'obligation de payer un déficit d'environ 19.4 $ millions. Puisque le gouvernement de l'Ontario avait promis à ces contribuables une diminution de taxes et non une augmentation, nous sommes très déçus que ces augmentations au palier municipal surpassent de beaucoup toutes les économies que nous avons pu constater jusqu'ici.

«Ainsi, d'après ce nouveau rapport, tous les propriétaires de maisons évaluées à plus de 100 000 $ auront à subir des augmentations de taxes foncières à l'ordre de 311 $ à 641 $ en 1998, et celles des résidents se situeront entre 220 $ et 320 $ par habitant.»

Ceci m'est parvenu par Evelyn Carbonari de Prescott-Russell. Merci.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a further 1,000 petitions from Liz Ruffall and Donna Brandow in addition to the thousands of others that I have submitted on their behalf and that of the people who sign them. They're from the parents and teachers of the schools of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Hillsdale, Glen Brae, Glen Echo, Glendale, G. R. Allan, Strathcona, Memorial, King George, St Columba, Holy Name, Viscount Montgomery and Ridgemount, to name a few.

The petition reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, ask you, Mr Dave Johnson, Minister of Education, to withdraw Bill 160 on the grounds that it is flawed legislation that will (a) allow uncertified teachers to teach in the classroom; (b) cause a loss to kids of thousands of teachers and increase class sizes; (c) reduce teacher preparation time, which translates into less teachers and less time for students; and (d) allow the provincial government to set the educational tax rate without provision for debate in the Legislature or at the local school board level."

As I'm in support of this, I affix my signature to it also.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take up to an addition $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove up to 10,000 teachers from the classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

It's signed by approximately 10 or 11 of my constituents.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): This is to the assembly of Ontario, and it is signed by hundreds of people from the west end of Toronto. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has decided to hire uncertified teachers in kindergartens, libraries, for guidance, physical education, the arts and technology; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate working conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove at least 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has become the sole decision-maker on class size, preparation time and the length of the school day; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to take decision-making powers out of the hands of locally elected community-minded trustees,

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government to repeal Bill 160 and create an accessible public consultative process for students, parents, teachers and school board administrators to study alternative solutions that have universal appeal and will lead to an improved educational system."

I'm signing my name to this document.


Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): I have a petition signed by hundreds of people from the Windsor area and it reads as follows:

"We, the Windsor taxpayers, petition to keep our hospital rooms open and not to close entire floors due to a lack of funds from our government. With a population of 200,000 people and a new casino and other industry on its way, we as Windsor residents have a right to the same health care for our tax dollars as London, Toronto and other cities in Ontario. Our city is growing and we feel very strongly about keeping our hospital rooms open.

"We ask the minister to take this matter seriously and respond by reopening all the closed floors of the hospitals and designate adequate funding for nurses so that we may be taken care of as taxpayers. Allowing hundreds of empty beds to stay closed while people are put in hallways for numerous days is a disgrace.

"As you will see by the names, this will not be forgotten and will not disappear. We want our hospital rooms to be open and ready to care for the sick."


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I have a petition here that the Red Cross homemaker service of Niagara wanted me to read in the House. It's to Jim Flaherty, Minister of Labour, Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Health, and MPP Frank Sheehan.

"The Red Cross homemaker service is so vital in Ontario communities. At this time we, the Red Cross homemakers of Niagara, would be willing to forfeit the pay equity increase that has been legislated in order that this valuable service stay competitive and not have to cease. Please help us save our jobs within this organization."

As I am in agreement with it, I affix my signature.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over our public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

This is signed by hundreds and hundreds of thoughtful citizens in the riding of York South and I affix my name to this petition to signify my agreement.



Mr Snobelen moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 139, An Act to promote the conservation of fish and wildlife through the revision of the Game and Fish Act / Projet de loi 139, Loi visant à promouvoir la protection du poisson et de la faune en révisant la Loi sur la chasse et la pêche.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Natural Resources): The proposed Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will help ensure conservation and management of the province's abundant fish and wildlife resources. It will contribute to the sustainability of the environment, social and economic benefits associated with those resources, and it will give Ontario tougher fish and wildlife enforcement provisions.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act would replace the Game and Fish Act, a patchwork piece of legislation that contains outdated language and inadequate provisions to protect this province's fish and wildlife. Improvements to the management of our fish and wildlife resources are a priority for our ministry. That is why I am pleased to be moving ahead with our government's promise to modernize fish and wildlife legislation.

Ontario supports a rich and diverse ecological base, including extensive forests, fresh water and coastal wetlands, 250,000 lakes and thousands of kilometres of rivers. The diversity of wildlife and fish supported by these habitats is equally rich. Ontario is home to more than 140 species of fish, 80 species of amphibians and reptiles, 85 species of mammals and 400 species of birds. Millions of people participate in activities related to fish and wildlife in this province. Recreational fishing alone provides employment for more than 55,000 people and contributes $2.4 billion annually to the economy.

The Ontario government is committed to both the responsible management of the province's fish and wildlife resources and to national and international conservation efforts. The new act includes positive legislative changes in three major areas. It toughens and strengthens enforcement provisions, it protects and manages a broader range of species, and it provides improved client service.

I will detail each of these areas today, but first I'd like to review the current legislative framework in order to illustrate the need for this act.

The Game and Fish Act is the major provincial legislation providing for the management, perpetuation and rehabilitation of fish and wildlife resources in Ontario. In addition, a number of provincial and federal laws are used in Ontario for the management of the province's fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. These laws include the Endangered Species Act, the Provincial Parks Act, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

For a very long time it has been recognized that the current Game and Fish Act was not adequately providing for the conservation of Ontario's fish and wildlife, either now or in the future. The consensus on the need for changes to the act has been clearly demonstrated through consultations over the last several years with a wide variety of client groups.

The courts have also signalled the need for change. In a decision on a wildlife issue in 1987, an Ontario Court of Appeal judge commented that the Game and Fish Act is "unclear and confusing" and that it "cries out for review and revision by the Legislature."

In recognition of the need for action several important revisions have been made to the Game and Fish Act. One of the first steps in 1996 was the creation of a special purpose account to ensure that every dollar of fishing and hunting revenues goes back into fish and wildlife programs. This was an important commitment by this government to the hunting and angling communities.

In 1996 the ministry established the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board to provide advice on the management of this special purpose account and on other fish and wildlife matters. The advisory board is a good example of how this government is keeping its promise to restore public accountability.

At the same time, a commitment was made to ensure legislative changes to address other issues related to the sound management of Ontario's fish and wildlife resources. In the spring of 1996, MNR formed a project team to address that need. The result of their work is the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

The legislative changes contained in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act are based on input received through extensive consultations with client groups conducted over the last several years. Meetings were held in the fall of 1996 with more than 20 major client groups. They represented a wide variety of interests, including recreational hunting and fishing, commercial fish and wildlife industries, animal welfare, agriculture, naturalists, zoos, and tourist operators.


When ministry staff met with the client groups last fall, they received strong support for the proposals I'm about to highlight for members. I'm pleased to say that there was also strong support for the first reading of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act this past June.

I would like to describe now how the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act addresses long-standing concerns with the current Game and Fish Act. I'll begin with the enforcement capacity.

Ontarians place a high value on this province's fish and wildlife resources. I'm happy to say that the new act reflects that value. This bill, if passed, will bring our enforcement provisions in line with updated fish and wildlife legislation in other jurisdictions. It will also be in line with other fish and wildlife legislation, such as the Migratory Birds Convention Act, which is enforced by our conservation officers.

Offenders under the proposed act will face the toughest penalties in Ontario's history. For example, the fine for commercial offences will be increased to a maximum of $100,000, four times the previous maximum of $25,000. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will provide for jail terms as a potential penalty for any offence. In addition, the courts will have increased powers to suspend or cancel licences and to order violators to take training courses.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Point of order, Madam Speaker: I know this is an extremely important bill that the people of Ontario are just crying out for. I think there should be at least a quorum in the House to ensure that all the members can listen to the eloquence of the minister. Would you check if there's a quorum?

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Yes, I will. Is there a quorum?

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Deputy Speaker: Minister?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thank the member opposite for his comments on both the importance of the legislation and the eloquence of the delivery.

The limitation period on prosecutions will be increased to two years from six months. This will allow our conservation officers to better address the complex resource violations and to work more effectively on joint undertakings with enforcement staff in other jurisdictions.

Enforcement provisions will be more effective because the provisions in the new act reflect modern technology. For instance, as a part of the inspection provisions of the act, a conservation officer may access computer systems to examine information related to fish and wildlife.

Enforcement is a priority for this government. Maintaining the number of enforcement staff, coupled with the new enforcement provisions in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, will help us to more effectively protect and manage our fish and wildlife resources.

The new act protects a broader range of species, more effectively and efficiently than ever before, and includes provisions for the protection and management of species of particular concern to the public. Additionally, the new act builds on and complements Ontario's efforts to protect and rebuild endangered species populations.

This province has one of the best endangered species programs in Canada. Ontario has demonstrated its leadership through the Endangered Species Act, which protects endangered animals and their habitats, and through its strong participation in the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

In addition, Ontario is involved in recovery programs for threatened species, and in land owner incentives such as the conservation land tax reduction program, which encouraged protection and conservation of endangered species habitats. The new act enhances these protective efforts by affording protection to many additional species of vulnerable and threatened wildlife.

The current Game and Fish Act focuses mainly on game species. The new act, however, responds to client groups and members of the public who want a legislative basis for protecting and managing a broader range of species. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will continue to address a diverse array of game species, including fur-bearing mammals, game animals and game birds.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will provide for the protection and management of specially protected species of concern to the public, including mammals such as the eastern chipmunk and the northern short-tailed shrew, raptors such as the bald eagle and other specially protected birds such as the gray jay and the belted kingfisher, reptiles such as the blue racer snake and the eastern massasauga rattler, amphibians such as the Fowler's toad and the eastern tiger salamander, and invertebrates including the spicebush swallowtail butterfly. I know the Speaker is particularly concerned with that.

Our stewardship for these specially protected organisms will be demonstrated through a general prohibition on hunting, taking or trapping these species designated as specially protected. The species which are the primary focus of the act are clearly identified in schedules attached to the act, providing a quick and easy reference for the people using the act.

A broad range of clients have voiced support for changes to the way we manage black bear in the province. In response, the Ministry of Natural Resources has continued to make important research and data collection programs a priority. It has strengthened legislative and regulatory provisions related to the black bear. Most recently, as a result of the Ministry of Natural Resources Statute Law Amendment Act, changes were made to the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the sale of black bear parts, regardless of their place of origin, and to limit bear hunters to one licence per year.

The new act will contain a number of additional improvements for the protection and management of this species. Black bear will receive additional protection through a prohibition on interfering with black bears in dens and on intentionally damaging or destroying black bear dens. Black bear will also be added to the list of species that may not be hunted while the animal is swimming.

A great deal of concern has been expressed at both the international and local levels about the illegal trade in animal parts, especially bear gall bladders. Under the new act, there will be a prohibition on possession of a black bear gall bladder separated from the carcass. There will also be a general prohibition on the sale of animal parts that are represented to be bear parts.

In addition to this special protection for black bear and bear parts and as part of our commitment to international conservation efforts, there will be an additional prohibition in the new act on possession of wildlife invertebrates and fish that have been illegally taken in another jurisdiction. The new act clearly provides for strong, effective controls that will help ensure the long-term conservation of Ontario's wildlife, including its black bear populations.

The new act not only clarifies relationships with our clients, it is also presented in a well-organized format that makes it easier for both clients and administrators to read, use and understand. The new act takes into consideration the important services provided by volunteers, whose work is strongly supported by the public. It provides a much-needed legal framework to recognize the efforts of volunteers who rehabilitate injured, sick or immature game wildlife and specially protected wildlife.

Many volunteers collect data on our behalf about species of concern and their habitats. To assure these volunteers that the data they provide us will not be misused or fall into the wrong hands, the new act proposes that the Minister of Natural Resources be given the authority to refuse to disclose, by amending the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, information that could reasonably be expected to jeopardize fish and wildlife species at risk.

In updating the old act, we have also clarified the issue of nuisance animal control. The Game and Fish Act included a general prohibition on hiring someone to hunt on your behalf. In most cases this made sense, but it didn't take into account situations where a property owner wanted to hire an animal control agent to deal with a nuisance wildlife situation. To address this, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will clearly allow a property owner to hire an authorized animal control agent.


The proposed Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act includes additional provisions to make it broader and more effective than the existing Game and Fish Act. For example, legal barriers in the Game and Fish Act had made it difficult for the government to enter into resource management partnerships with our clients. The new act includes a provision to facilitate new business relationships. For instance, plans are under way for the Ontario Commercial Fisheries Association to take on greater responsibility for the administration of the commercial fisheries. Legislative changes contained in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will help make this partnership an effective one.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will also include provisions to protect from harassment those people who legally hunt, fish or trap. Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in North America that does not already have this type of protection in place. These measures would make it illegal, for instance, to interfere with lawful hunting by tampering with a firearm or other hunting device, by disturbing wildlife in order to prevent it from being legally hunted.

We have listened to the concerns of Ontario citizens regarding fish and wildlife management in this province, and we have responded with the development of the new Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. This legislation will help to ensure the sustainability of the province's fish and wildlife resources and provide Ontarians with the social and economic benefits associated with these resources. I believe this proposed legislation provides a solid foundation for the conservation and management of wildlife and fish in Ontario well into the next century, and I encourage all members to assist with the speedy passage of this bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Gerretsen: Let me first of all say that I don't think there's anybody in this House who doesn't agree that this is an important piece of legislation. But I'm just wondering, with everything else that's going on in this province right now, whether the people we've got in the gallery today came here to listen to a debate on Bill 139 or whether they thought they were going to hear a debate on Bill 149, which deals with the total reassessment situation that's going to happen in the province. Or did they come here to listen to Bill 160, the education bill, about which all of us have received numerous telephone calls and numerous pleas to please do something about it? Or did they come here to listen to a debate on Bill 152, which is the municipal downloading bill? I think that's what the people of Ontario want to hear about at this time. They want to know what's going to happen in education, what the future of education is in this province. They want to know how much they're going to be paying next year in property taxes.

Today the Premier wouldn't even guarantee the taxpayers of this province that as a result of all the new financial arrangements that are going to be made between the province and the municipalities when you look at the education taxes and the downloading, taxes won't go up in different municipalities.

As a matter of fact, we've had municipal leaders having to take out full-page ads asking the Premier some basic questions that should have been answered for them without having to go to a public ad campaign to get the answers, and they still don't have them.

This is probably commendable legislation, although we'll have a lot to say about that, but surely there are more important pieces of legislation to deal with in this House than Bill 139.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Briefly on the comments of the Minister of Natural Resources, we have a piece of legislation that is going to change the name of the Game and Fish Act, and they're saying now it's going to be better right across the province for protection of wildlife.

At the same time, people right across this province will realize that when this government got elected, one of the first things they did was to lay off between 900 and 1,000 MNR employees. How are you going to bring in legislation and enforce the rules under the Game and Fish Act or any new name you give to the act if you're going to lay off all the employees and decimate some of the communities that depended so much on MNR people being there?

I listened to what the minister was saying, that he's looking for support on this legislation. I didn't hear him say very much about public hearings, how long we're going to have public hearings and where the committee is going to travel when we have public hearings on Bill 139, the new Game and Fish Act. There are concerns out there. People would like to have a dialogue and bring ideas and suggestions forth on amendments and changes of certain wordings in the new piece of legislation. That's going to be interesting. I'll wait for the response from the minister on whether we're going to have the hearings in northern, northwestern and northeastern Ontario or just in his own riding in Mississauga. If that's all we're going to have, there aren't that many bears and fish and wildlife in that particular area, Mississauga. We need travelling throughout the north.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act will, when passed by this Legislature, replace the Game and Fish Act. The act will provide for the conservation and management of wildlife species in Ontario. It will also allow the Ministry of Natural Resources to allow for better protection and management of the broad range of species we have and enjoy here in Ontario. The bill will provide for the protection and management of both game species, such as moose, wild turkey and black bear, and specifically protected species and non-game wildlife, such as the northern flying squirrel, which I'm sure many people in Ontario don't realize is a species in Ontario; the peregrine falcon; the milk snake and some of the other species the minister mentioned in his opening comments; along with the gray jay, which is rare in Ontario and is generally only seen out by the Lakehead; and the giant swallowtail, which is again protected. If anyone has ever seen a giant swallowtail, they will agree with this bill and that that beautiful bird should be protected under this new legislation.

Mr Gerretsen: What does it look like? Draw us a picture.

Mr Chudleigh: I could draw the member from Kingston a picture. In fact, you can find it located north of Kingston in the Rideau Lakes, which is a natural habitat, as rare as it might be. I know the member from Kingston may not be out birding as often as some of his constituents, because he's obviously always busy in the House, but I can assure him that many of his constituents enjoy this particular sight in his riding.

This bill will also identify as specially protected under the bill those animals specifically that are not to be hunted or trapped. That will allow the Ministry of Natural Resources to provide for better management in Ontario.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I want to indicate to the minister that his job may be a little bit easier than his previous one: The crisis has already been created in the Ministry of Natural Resources, so he need not manufacture it.

In speaking to this bill, I found it passing strange that the minister did not talk about the development of this bill over a long period of time. If the minister understands, it has been about 15 to 20 years in the making, under a Conservative government, then a Liberal government and then an NDP government. We're very happy to see it here before us today so we can discuss it.

As a matter of fact, we had asked that this be heard in June. Instead of the government's agenda of education downloading and education control, instead of the municipal downloading, instead of all those bills that we have spent an inordinate amount of this place's time on and that many people disagree with, this is a bill that I think most Ontarians can support. This is the kind of legislation that will do good things for Ontario, so I'm commending the minister for finally getting it out here so we can debate it. But they've wasted a considerable amount of time. I was briefed on this bill back in June by the ministry. I understood what the issues were. I've been receiving correspondence about this bill over time, but basically we could have dealt with this bill long ago in a short period.

I think that the minister in his reply should acknowledge the hard work of the people in the ministry and the former ministers of natural resources, who have put so much time and effort into finding, mostly, a consensus on this bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Minister, you have two minutes to sum up.


Hon John Snobelen: I do note with some interest that the members opposite have shown the same kind of interest in this bill as the last bill I introduced for second reading in this House a matter of five or six weeks ago.

I concur with the observations of the members opposite that this bill has been developed after many years of political parties of various stripes being in power in the province, that it reflects a concern that has come forward over the course of very many years and a whole series of consultations with various stakeholders across the province.

I think everyone in this chamber wants to make sure that we have the legislation necessary to protect the fish and wildlife in the province, and I am very pleased and glad to present this bill to the Legislature for second reading today. I think it's an important improvement in our ability to protect for future generations the wildlife and the fish in this province.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Michael Brown: I think it is important that we're dealing with this bill in a timely fashion. It would have been better to have dealt with it back in June, but at least it is here today to begin the process of second reading. I want to make it clear from our position in opposition that there are still some problems with this bill, that there are still some groups that need to be heard, that some public hearings need to be held so that people have some level of comfort that their particular concerns with various parts of this bill have been heard.

One must look at this bill, however, within the context of what's going on with the Ministry of Natural Resources today. It is just one part of a very large picture. There are things going on in the Ministry of Natural Resources that I don't believe any Ontarian can support. We have seen a downsizing of this ministry that is grotesque. We are now seeing about only half the ministry employees that we had some time ago.

What does that mean? It means a great deal. It means that the ministry's ability to enforce this act or any act is highly suspect. We used to have a couple of thousand more good people on the crown lands and in southern Ontario in our provincial parks and throughout the province that had fish and game, wildlife, as one of their primary concerns. They're gone.

One of the things that many of us decry is the fact that I never visit an MNR office where I don't learn of another senior employee about to take early retirement. The institutional memory in this ministry has all but been cut off. Good people with long experience in dealing with issues are now retired or were pink-slipped some time ago now.

What that means -- and you would enjoy this if you are thinking about conflict of interest, and I think this is one thing we should understand -- is that in, for example, the forest companies of Ontario, you can look down their list of employees and find large numbers of ex-MNR employees. They are good people, they are quality people, they are expert foresters, they are good managers, they are tremendous people. But one would somehow be at least a little concerned to know that their relationship with the ministry is probably sometimes, one might say, a conflict position. They are dealing with their friends, people they had worked with for 20 or 25 years. It is not the kind of arm's-length relationship that one would want to see, at least in terms of transparency, in the management of Ontario's resources.

Take, for example, conservation officers. Although we have, and the minister will tell you, the same number of conservation officers in the province, many of those folks are not in the forests of Ontario; they are riding desks. That's where they are. They are in offices doing administrative work. They are not out seeing what's going on in our forests, with our wildlife. They are riding a desk.

For the ones who are in the field, the minister will tell you he is very proud of the fact that we bought 50 new trucks for our officers. That's good. We needed new trucks. But I'm told by conservation officers that they have a limit on how much money they can spend for fuel, for maintenance of those trucks and for meals if they are away from home. If you know anything about MNR conservation officers, you will know that they are away from home or their office most of the time. I am told that in many cases, for sometimes the last week or so of the month they can't go anywhere. They have expended what they have to expend for the month. If someone is violating the law, doing something in contravention of this act or any other act, they can't police that. That is truly, truly unfortunate.

When we talk about managing for game, for fish and wildlife, we talk about their habitat. We talk about where it is they live and where they will flourish. We have in the province now -- and I suspect that only a minority of the people here today in this Legislature know this -- a government program going on today called Lands for Life. Lands for Life has tremendous implications for wildlife, something this bill doesn't address whatsoever.

Do members know that 45%, maybe closer to 50% of the land mass of the province of Ontario is about to be divided up? There is to be a plan for 45% of the land mass of the entire province --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: It was our understanding that Bill 149 was supposed to be on the order paper today. Is it going to be on, or what is the ruling on that? Has a ruling taken place?

The Deputy Speaker: It is my understanding that that is not a point of order. The House leader has the liberty to call whatever he wants. That's the rule.

Mr Colle: I understand there was a ruling of the Speaker on the member for Algoma's point.

The Deputy Speaker: No. I have been told by the clerks. Obviously, I wasn't in the chair at that time, but no, there hasn't been a ruling, and this is not a point of order. This has been called and that's what we are debating now.

Mr Colle: So Bill 149 isn't before us?

The Deputy Speaker: No.

Mr Colle: Is it going to be later?

The Deputy Speaker: I don't know. I don't know what's going to be later. We won't know that until 6:30 or later this afternoon. Member for Algoma-Manitoulin.

Mr Michael Brown: As you recall, I was speaking to a government program that speaks directly to habitat, directly to where game and fish are. I have before me one of the publications involving Lands for Life. This one in particular isn't a ministry document but is printed by someone or a group that is very concerned about the direction of Lands for Life, and they are having meetings across this province, across all of northern Ontario and I believe in some parts of southern Ontario. But the public is not really understanding this. For southern members, you have to understand how big this is. This is close to half the province of Ontario. It's like drawing an official plan, only in much of these areas there are no people. That's the reality, and in many of those areas that's the way we want to keep it.


But the fact that we have this huge undertaking going on by government, with very few people understanding that it's even going on and people not understanding at all what the impact is, is of great concern to fish and wildlife management in the province of Ontario. I was very surprised that the minister in his comments didn't even allude to such a program.

Lands for Life: Who would be involved? What interests might be involved in this particular exercise? There are a number. There are people who are interested in provincial parks. There are people who are interested in preserving and protecting more of Ontario, and that's a good thing. I think we all say that. There are people and industries that are interested in harvesting the timber of this great province, and that's a good thing. There are people who are interested in remote tourism, where you have a camp on a lake and you don't want everybody having access because that would diminish your opportunities for fishing, for some hunting etc. They don't want encroachments by the logging companies, so they have a very particular interest.

We have the huge group of hunters and anglers across this province. I don't know what the latest numbers are, but there are 80,000 or 90,000 people in the OFAH and there are thousands more, probably tens of thousands, who take advantage of Ontario's angling opportunities and hunting opportunities. They have a very particular interest in this Lands for Life exercise.

We have our first nations. They have a very particular interest in this Lands for Life exercise.

Yet as I look around, I don't see very much concern about managing the land base and our water so that we can actually do what this Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act purports to do, and that's to protect fish and wildlife. If anything -- I'm putting this out before the members. This is something you need to understand. This is something that is a big issue that has not, for whatever reason, received the kind of public attention it should have received across the province.

For a moment I think I'll just go back and discuss the fish and wildlife act itself. Having been through the Bill 162 exercise under the former government, we knew that there were a number of sections of that bill that encouraged some debate. We knew, for example, that there was a great deal of concern about the farming of wildlife and the importation of other species of wildlife, those concerns for the environment in Ontario, and at the same time the business opportunities that a deer farmer, for example, might bring. Many people in the farming community were very concerned that they would be shut out of what is a lucrative business.

What does this act do? This act doesn't answer the question. This act does not decide the issue. This will be decided, apparently, somewhere down the road by a panel. That might be good and it might be a decision we can all support, but what it means is that the Legislature will never get another look at what the answer to this question on deer farming or any type of farming of wildlife might mean.

We need to have some committee hearings so the members of the Legislature will at least understand the point of view of the farmers who are interested in pursuing this particular line and the concerns of conservationists and of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and others that also have concerns about whether a deer might escape, whether some wildlife might bring disease, whether we might have a mutation of a herd, whatever. There are concerns on both sides of this issue and they need to be brought forward.

I'm saying to the minister that we need some hearings so that we can understand from those affected parties how just that one particular issue -- and that one sticks in my mind as one of the big hangups as to why 162 was never finally taken through the Legislature. It was very difficult to find the resolution. It seems to me that I'm seeing a softening of positions from the various groups involved and that a consensus may arise on how this may be done, but I am telling the members that here in this bill there is not a resolution to that particular issue.

I also have a letter, actually a number of letters. But I have one from Hinds and Associates, who work very closely with the aquaculture community. This is the community that represents the fish farmers of Ontario. It is a growing industry. It is getting to be a huge industry. Mr Speaker, you would appreciate that they also supply smoked fish at many of their establishments.

But this is a serious issue because aquaculture, the farming of fish, is becoming a large and important employer. They produce quality products that many of us have seen in the restaurants across this province and others. I think particularly of rainbow trout. In the constituency of Algoma-Manitoulin, we are probably at the leading edge of aquaculture in the province. I've lost track, but we have a number of first-rate companies supplying fresh fish, frozen fish and smoked fish to the province.

In many ways, when our lakes and rivers are under pressure from competing interests, whether they be commercial fishermen versus anglers etc, this is an expanding industry because, run properly, it will provide great opportunity and a valuable product to our people. It employs, as I say, a growing number of people within the province.

The aquaculture industry has some very large concerns with this act and they want to understand how they fit into this act. I think that's important for all of us to know, that there are a lot of competing interests when you start talking about fish and wildlife conservation.

I also have a number of letters, and I note that this was a significant issue as we dealt with the previous bill. This is from the Ontario Hawking Club and it brings their concerns before us. As you know or as many people would know, as I guess one would say a hobby, but I think it's more like a calling, people keep hawks and falcons and those kinds of things, raptors, for hunting purposes. It's a long tradition, thousands of years old in our society, in our civilization. They are extremely concerned with this act and they should have a right, they need the right, to come before a legislative committee and put their particular point of view in front of the people of Ontario so that legislators have some sense of how they might be further accommodated if, indeed, the regulations, or the bill itself, do not, at this point, do that.


Those are but a few. I'm certain that the first nations communities also have concerns. I have discussed it with a number of the chiefs and they would like to make some submissions in committee because they are wondering about certain sections and how it impacts first nations people.

While I would say, on the whole, this act is one that most of us could support, it does need the careful consideration of public hearings and it does need the careful consideration of all points of view.

The minister, in his opening remarks, talked a little about the special account for fish and wildlife licensing revenues, and we applaud the government for establishing that. But I want to make it perfectly clear we also have some problems with the operation of that particular special account. The first thing people should know, and the hunters and anglers of this province would know, is that it does not mean more money. There is actually no more money being spent on the management of fish and wildlife in this province than there ever was. As a matter of fact, it is slightly below levels of six or seven years ago.

While they have a special account, and there are good people supervising that special account, it does not mean there is, in total, more money being expended in this particular account. That's something that really has to be made clear, because I hear some nervousness on behalf of the hunting and angling community that what they're about to see is increases in their fees, increases in their licences so that the government will have more money. The government share, which is now about 20% of the fish and wildlife budget, that money will no longer come from government but will totally come from the people who pay the fees.

I suppose there could be a debate about that, but many people are concerned that that's the direction that this government's going. That would mean that the people of Ontario who have a vested interest in maintaining fish and wildlife, not just for a particular part of the community, that is, the people who hunt and fish, but for everyone, would therefore not have any investment in maintaining those. All Ontarians believe that the management of fish and wildlife goes far beyond the particular purposes of anglers and hunters and perhaps commercial fishing. That's just there.

The other concern I mentioned, and this is really interesting: The government in that account is maintaining a balance of $15 million to $20 million at all times. There's always $15 million to $20 million in that account, all the time. The government is paying the lowest possible interest rate on that amount of money that can be paid. They use a 30-day money market average where -- because large portions of the money are always there, meaning $15 million to $20 million -- you could easily negotiate, with any institution, a far better return for the anglers and hunters of this province. But the government has been negligent about that.

I had an undertaking at the estimates committee that the former Minister of Natural Resources would look at this issue -- because I know the members on the other side understand these issues -- and that 2% or 3% additional on $15 million or $16 million is real money, and it adds up. It would be helpful and it doesn't cost the taxpayers any particular sum; it costs us money when we don't manage effectively and efficiently the assets that we have. If I were an angler and hunter or a commercial fisherman who's paying fees into this fund, I would like to know -- I think the word they use in the financial community is that the money is managed a little bit more aggressively, so that we get the kind of return that's there on those kinds of funds.

One of the things I really find interesting, though, is that the government itself is probably the borrower. Maybe I'm contradicting myself when I say that I guess the taxpayers of Ontario do benefit because they're borrowing money at about 1% or 1.5% instead of the normal 6% or 7% on the market. The way this is set up is pretty shoddy over there for a group that insists they're business people and insists they understand business.

The way this account operates may certainly provide the province a good deal because they're not paying the interest, or it's paying the people who put the licensing fees in here and expected a bigger return a far poorer return than they should get. Maybe the back bench, when you're talking to the minister, should say, "Get with the tour; maybe there's something in this act we could do to fix that," and insist that the return on investment from that special account set up for fish and wildlife is actually invested and then spent on management tools in the fish and wildlife area.

I have some other concerns when we talk about managing our fish and wildlife. One of those of course is, and anyone would tell you, the biggest single determinant of the fish population, for example, is water quality. That is not rocket science. Yet we have a minister who has refused to enforce the federal Fisheries Act. He's got a spat going on with Ottawa. That's fine, if you want to have a spat. But don't stop enforcing those federal fisheries regulations until you resolve it. Holding the water quality hostage while you have a jurisdictional dispute with another level of government is not, in my view, good public policy.

If you can resolve it with the federal fisheries minister, that's great. I've actually written the federal fisheries minister myself to say, "Try to work it out with these guys; try to find a solution." The province of Ontario, like other provinces, has been enforcing this act for a decade. This new government here in Ontario, which is obviously very strapped for cash these days, thinks the federal government should pay some more money for that. If that's the case, that's the case. But don't stop doing it; don't go on strike and stop enforcing a Fisheries Act that protects the habitats that our fish need. That's what you've done, and every Ontarian would have great problems with that.

I'm saying to you over there, think about what you do once in a while. Make sure that you tell your new Minister of Natural Resources -- because maybe he'll take a more enlightened view; I'm not so sure he will, but tell him -- to enforce the law as he proceeds to try to get a new agreement with the federal government. That would make far more sense than to have our fish populations in danger because the minister will not enforce the regulations under the fisheries.

In Canada, being a federation, we obviously have different acts of different provinces and federal statutes, and one of the goals that Ontario should have is to be a leader in fish and game management. We should be the best. We should do this better than anyone else. This act that we see before us, one might say, is more an act that brings us to average. We've compiled things, we've simplified much of the wording, we've assimilated a number of acts together, and all that's good, but I'm not very certain that it takes us to the forefront of protecting wildlife and fish in this province because it doesn't address, as I said, many of the habitat issues that we have here in Ontario.


The World Wildlife Fund, for example, has a program called Endangered Spaces. Under Endangered Spaces, they were asking that 10% of the province be placed in protected areas. In 1989 -- I believe that was the initiation of the World Wildlife Fund initiative -- Ontario was at the forefront. It was the best. On our report card in that year, we in Ontario proudly got an A. Last year the province proudly got an F. "Proudly" is obviously the wrong word. If we're getting an F, ladies and gentlemen on the other side, we are obviously going to have to do better.

I come back to Lands for Life. Lands for Life has the opportunity to do better but it is a hornets' nest of competing interests. I talked to some of what you could call the interest groups -- I know you like to call people interest groups over there -- the various interests that have to do with the forests of Ontario, and they have told me that this particular initiative, Lands for Life, rather than attempting to solve and provide for endangered spaces, has turned many of the groups upon one another. Just slightly below the surface, if you scratch the surface, there's a battle royal going on that most Ontarians don't know about.

Mr Speaker, I know, as someone who loves to fish, you would want in your particular area of the world -- I believe around Mattawa somewhere, if I recall -- some input into the crown lands that surround you because obviously it affects you. You're one of the many special interest groups. You're someone who cottages on the lakes, using the land that is largely crown in Ontario. The government considers you obviously to be a special interest group, and that's true. Cottaging in Ontario and in northern Ontario in particular has great potential and needs to be done right.

I want the members over there to understand, and I know many of you have some municipal background, what it would be like to be providing an official plan for 50% of the province when local input in many places is hard to get because there aren't any locals. If you go to the local community itself, they may give you a slightly different take than if you took that over a larger area.

I'm challenging the minister, the parliamentary assistant and the ministry to get some more information out there about Lands for Life and probably slow this process down a little bit, given the lack of public knowledge about it, so that we as Ontarians can understand about our resources, because the stewardship of our resources is one of the most important things we do.

I represent an area where forestry is the major industry. The largest centre in the present constituency -- it's not the largest centre, the second-largest centre -- is Espanola. We have the E.B. Eddy mill there. Just down the road a little bit at Nairn Centre we have the E.B. Eddy sawmill. Much of the land in our part of the world is under SFL, sustainable forest licences, to E.B. Eddy. Then there are large tracts of land at present which are crown units, we call them, that are under the --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Management.

Mr Michael Brown: That's a good word -- under the management of the MNR at present, but soon to be under the management of somebody else. Who that somebody else is is quite a problem. As we try to sort through these, what we're finding is that the large companies are in control through the SFLs of more and more of the land base because they are now, under law, having to provide the plans. The company itself draws up the plan, the company itself shows what they're going to harvest, what they're going to protect, who is going to be allowed to have a resort over here, who is going to be allowed to go fishing over there and all that nitty-gritty sort of stuff. It goes out to public review and there is hopefully input on that, but the problem is, at the end of the day, the MNR is no longer there at all.

It used to be that MNR had the authority. They would be in the forests of Ontario and they would not only watch what the forestry companies were doing -- I'll tell you, our forestry companies are probably the most responsible in the world but even they at moments have lapses. So to have the forestry people from MNR out there made sure that people could monitor what was going on. But they're not there any more, which means the enforcement of other acts like --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Speaker: Is the clock operating correctly?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Would you please continue.

Mr Michael Brown: I think you were speaking to my speaking style, member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: Not at all. I was going to help you.

Mr Michael Brown: I was speaking about the lack of crown employees who are now in the forests of Ontario. Those crown employees, while they were not charged particularly with the enforcement of the fish and wildlife act, the old Game and Fish Act, they obviously communicated with their counterparts who were. If they saw something out in the forests of Ontario that was not particularly good, they would report to their colleagues. They are not there any more. It doesn't happen. There are 2,000 people no longer in the forests of Ontario who were there to protect not only the fish and wildlife but also the uses of the land. That concerns me, because while we see an act that has much to commend it here, we also have to look at whether it will be enforced, whether the provisions of the sustainable forestry licences that foresters work under will be enforced.

I bet the members on the other side don't know that MNR does not even audit the forest companies to see that they did what they said they were going to do in terms of the forest. Who audits them? A third party that the company contracts with to provide us with the audit. But who audits the auditor? There is no one there who does that. When you consider that about 1% of the forests of Ontario are actually under any kind of extensive management at any given time, in other words, there might be some logging or whatever going on in that area, that means there are huge expanses where our fish and wildlife are unsupervised. Maybe that's the way it should be, but I think we have to come to grips with the fact that this government does not seem to give particular weight to the province protecting our future resources.

I have much more to say but the point I would like to make to you today --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Before my colleague winds up, I think he should have a quorum and I don't believe one is present.

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

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.


Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin.

Mr Michael Brown: I enjoyed the minute or two I was sitting down because I realized I had neglected to speak, in terms of this bill, in terms of moose and deer tags, which are a continuing concern across Ontario. We've had review after review of this system and yet we have had no action. The former minister promised we would deal with the allocation of moose and deer tags in a more appropriate manner. I don't suppose there's a member of the Legislature who hasn't been stopped on the street and asked why he or she didn't get a moose tag. I'm sure, Mr Speaker, in your constituency, you've had people say, "Why didn't I get that deer tag?" or "Why didn't I get that moose tag?"

I can recall back in the 1990 election, and there are many things about the 1990 election I would sooner forget, being chased down the street in Elliot Lake about 9 o'clock at night. We were just finishing off our canvassing for the evening. A fellow actually came running -- it was just getting dark -- down the street, probably for two blocks, to tell me that he would never vote for me because I had not gotten him a moose tag. You've maybe had the same experience, Mr Speaker. Maybe not.

In northern Ontario, and also in eastern Ontario and in many parts of southwestern Ontario, people are very concerned about the fair and proper allocation of deer tags. They understand there's a need for quotas, that you can't just let everybody go out and shoot everything. As the minister once said, and I agree, game management is more the management of people than it is of game.

We certainly have to find a better way of allocating these tags because I don't enjoy getting those calls in my office. I had a fellow, actually, who wrote me. I think he was 79 years old and for the first time in his life he was not going to be able to go on the moose hunt. For the first time in probably 60 years of hunting, he wasn't going to be able to go on the moose hunt. He'd done what he was supposed to do. He'd formed the party, everything the regulations called for, but his group, for whatever reason, did not get a tag and he was unable to hunt, and he was extremely disappointed that he didn't have the opportunity and the comradeship of the hunting experience.

You've got to deal with that. Successive governments have made changes. I was talking to the former minister about this one day and he said: "Part of the problem is the hunters of Ontario don't understand it. There's a group that just doesn't know how the system works and therefore they don't get tags." I said to him, "That's probably true," but there are also a number of hunters in this province who understand it all too well. They've learned to make the system work for them and they've learned to make sure that those who know how to make the system work for them get tags.

I see the Minister of Health. She probably has people approach her in her constituency office about how difficult it is to get a moose tag in certain areas. She's smiling but I know it's a concern even in Waterloo.

We have to learn to manage better. The act that's before us will not do that in and of itself. It will need thoughtful people and it will need input at committee from the various groups I've enumerated and others, so that legislators can make considered decisions on a bill that will have some controversial areas.

I'm asking the minister and suggesting to the minister that we will need to have hearings in committee so that we can resolve some of the contentious issues in the interests of all Ontarians. I'm suggesting to the minister that he now has an opportunity to rebuild the proud tradition of the people in the Ministry of Natural Resources.

There is much to be done. There are as many issues as ever in the crown lands of Ontario; there are as many issues as ever in southern Ontario. We have seen the decimation of conservation authority money. Their funding has all but evaporated. They are under extraordinary pressure as conservation authorities to make very difficult decisions. We're looking, I suspect, at probably more sales of conservation lands in southern Ontario to provide people at the authority with the money to continue operating. I for one find the sale of our legacy in order to operate in the present to be something that is offensive in the least.

I want to suggest to the minister that he has an opportunity, as he sets about his Lands for Life exercise, to slow it down, to make sure people understand what's going on. The minister wants to try to etch this in stone. My goodness, I think that is a very dangerous concept. While we certainly want to protect areas, we also have to understand that by making some decisions we can preclude future generations from many opportunities.

The mining companies in Canada and Ontario often find it difficult to operate in our jurisdiction. The forest companies find some problems in operating in our jurisdiction. Certainly the tourist operators have problems operating in certain parts of our jurisdiction. The people who want to camp and cottage have difficulty in many parts of this province meeting regulations on land use. But we have a responsibility as legislators to make sure we can pass our inheritance on to our children and that the natural resources that have built this province will continue to be the sound base upon which we based our growth over a couple of centuries.


The government, in its disdain for supervision of public assets, in laying off a couple of thousand good people, in retiring early the institutional memory of the proud Ministry of Natural Resources, is coming to a crossroads. The new minister has the opportunity to set a new direction, a direction that means we can be prosperous but that knows we have to reinvest.

I suppose you don't know over there, but one of the great things that has been happening is that ever since Bill 171, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, came in your revenues have gone way up. You're dragging millions upon millions, hundreds of millions of dollars actually, out of the natural resources of this province that were never taken before. This is the first time. It's a good business for you guys, and you're not reinvesting any of that money back in either the ministry or northern Ontario, where it came from. You're not doing that.

My goodness, you're not even putting the money in the heritage fund these days. For goodness' sake, the heritage fund was set up, I believe, in 1988. It was supposed to be for 12 years. For 12 years governments were supposed to put $30 million a year into a heritage fund. That money was coming from our resources. Those resources were in northern Ontario. Northern Ontario was paying that money. It was their money.

That $30 million was contributed in 1988, in 1989, in 1990, in 1991, in 1992, in 1993, in 1994 and in 1995. Then the previous government took $60 million out of it, and then you put $60 million back, but there has never been a dime since. The way I count it, you're about $90 million short.

That wouldn't be a big deal if you were actually using some of the money that was sitting there, the money that came from Ontario's natural resources for the benefit of those people who live in northern Ontario, out on the crown lands, among the crown lands, the people who look after the crown lands, and frankly have higher costs because the distances are greater and we don't have the critical mass. There are all kinds of reasons. But we never ask for anything special. We just ask that some of the revenue that's being produced from the resources we have -- it was coming back to us. You, as the government, have decided you don't want to do that anymore.

At some point, and I suspect the heritage fund is going to start to spend money in about six months, you're going to change your criteria and all of a sudden the projects that were not viable before are going to become viable, because you've got the trust money that's been there, accumulated from northern resources. It's been accumulating up until 1995, but you haven't dispersed it. It's still there. So you've got this great wad of money to start buying votes with.

I look at the election calendar, I look at the time of government we're at and I can say, as a northern member, that it's about time you started to try to buy it. The money's there. It won't cost you anything. I have spoken to a member of the northern Ontario heritage fund and I've said to him: "Look, John, you good Conservative, you guys won't have any chance up here in northern Ontario. You'd better start spending that heritage fund money. You'd better get it out."

I suggested to him that about six months from now would be the time to do it. There are a lot of good projects. There are a lot of good business opportunities. There is a lot of infrastructure work. There is a tremendous number of places that will to invest the money that will bring the north jobs and a higher standard of living, but to this point you have been unwilling to spend somebody else's money.

If there weren't the opportunities, I'd say you're right. If there weren't places to spend it that made sense, were good investments for the people of Ontario, I'd say, "Don't spend it." But I can't imagine there are no good places to spend it. There are very few projects that have any approval under the heritage fund.

The point of all this is that money is coming from the resources of Ontario and came from resources of Ontario from 1988 through to 1995. That's where the money came from. It didn't come from Bay Street. It didn't come down where I was born, from Sarnia. It came primarily from our forests. The mining revenues did not flow to that fund to the same extent. It was originally put there because of a forest surtax, as I recall.

If we are going to consider managing Ontario's wildlife, we have to think in a bigger and broader scope. We have to give it more consideration. We have to understand that some of this will cost some money. I know that's a frightening concept, but some things do cost some money and sometimes you have to use the money you have more carefully and more appropriately to make sure there actually are policemen in the forests of Ontario. The policemen in this sense are conservation officers to enforce this act. The stewardship of the land base and the stewardship of the water are important factors because without that kind of stewardship, all of this in this act doesn't mean very much.

That's why I am saying to you, listen to people like the World Wildlife Fund, like other groups that have suggested you get on with fulfilling the mandate of the parks in Ontario, get on with making sure we have protection for all the unique features, and at the same time make sure that the other groups, especially the first nations, the forest companies, the tourist operators, the cottagers, the hunters and anglers etc have an opportunity to optimize their use of the forests.

I think that's possible, but I don't think it's possible if we believe this can be done just by bringing in an act that reads a little better. While this act does many things, the most important is that most people can understand this act. It's not 25 years old, or 30 or whatever it is that the old act was. It's now been put all together in one act so that it's more easily understood by the people on the crown lands, and actually all through Ontario, that our fish and wildlife actually could be supported.

But basically this is just a compilation of a number of acts put into simpler English and French so that the ordinary person stands a better chance of understanding that. While this is important, incredibly important, it is not in itself any kind of panacea. It does nothing more than encapsulate what we already know.

We are supporting this act. We look forward to the minister in his wisdom coming forward before us and saying to us, "Yes, we want to have second reading in an expeditious time, and therefore we will continue to debate this bill for the next three or four weeks" -- well, maybe not three or four weeks -- "three or four days so that we can get a quick second reading on this." He will set everything else on the government agenda aside so we can deal with this particular bill. Having all that other not-so-good legislation set aside, we can take this down to committee, hear from the groups and individuals who have particular concerns with particular sections of the bill. We can get it resolved. We can come back here, get third reading, the Lieutenant Governor can sign it and it can be proclaimed.

What happens to this act won't be the same as what happened to Mr Kerrio's version or Mrs McLeod's version or Mr Hampton's version or Mr Wildman's version or Mr Hodgson's version, and Mr Snobelen's version will finally make it through the Legislature and actually come to a decision. I think it's important that happens.

I have certainly given my commitment to the people of Ontario that the Liberal Party will do everything it can to make sure this moves thorough this place in an expeditious fashion.


We in June indicated we would move in June on this act so we could get second reading, get it out to committee hearings, probably in the summer for a day or two -- I don't think it probably would take more than that -- and then we could have given it third reading in August when the Legislature came back. We've wasted some considerable time, some two and a half years of the government's mandate, so now that we are dealing with it, I want to indicate how quickly and expeditiously we want this through this House. But of course we need those couple of days, some time anyway, to hear from the groups around the province so we can make any amendments that will improve the bill and then we can come back here before Christmas, get third reading, and this act will not go the way of the dodo bird, as previous incarnations did.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for permitting me a little bit of time to speak to this bill. I know it is complicated and is one that you are particularly interested in. With that, I will sit down so there's a little bit of opportunity for people to comment on this little intervention.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Len Wood: I want to congratulate the member for Algoma-Manitoulin on his comments on Bill 139. We know there are a lot of changes to the Game and Fish Act, including the title, where the title is changed to Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

We also have to understand that one of the first things this government did when they became government was to eliminate up to 900 jobs within MNR right across northeastern and northwestern Ontario, all for the sake of being able to give a 30% tax break to the upper-income people, the 10% of the wealthiest people in this province. They laid off hundreds of people, and the number might even be up to 1,000. The last figure I heard was well over 900 that they had laid off.

We're very supportive of this bill as well, but there has to be some commitment on the part of the government that there will be public hearings held, because you're talking about a bill that takes in 60 pages when it's all condensed into one and it covers 126 sections, some of them, as far as section 15, talking about how hunters must wear the proper colour when they're out hunting, orange colour, and they can't hunt in unsafe areas with rifles or shotguns. We don't have a problem with that because safety is very important.

Hunting and fishing is very important to the way of life of people in northern Ontario, northeastern Ontario and northwestern Ontario. I know for a fact that over the years large numbers of people have left northern Ontario and come down to southern Ontario and, as the member has pointed out, like to go hunting moose and hunting deer, and they're unable to get tags. So they should be doing something about that as well.

Mr Chudleigh: I was interested in the member for Algoma-Manitoulin's comments. I was disappointed, however, when he talked about the northern heritage fund. I know there are 10 or 12 volunteers who work for a dollar a year who sit on that board --

Mr Len Wood: They've done nothing.

Mr Chudleigh: -- and for the member for Algoma-Manitoulin to impugn their motives, such as those members, it saddens and disappoints me that he would take that tack.

The public hearings that he refers to, this piece of legislation has been out and consulted with a large, broad group of people who are involved in the fish and game business: Animal Alliance of Canada, including the Canadian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. We've consulted with Ducks Unlimited, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Ontario Aquaculture Association, which the member made reference to in his talk, the Ontario Fish Producers' Association, the Ontario Fur Managers Federation, the Ontario Hawking Club -- again, which you made reference to -- the Professional Association of Wildlife Exclusion Specialists, and Zoocheck Coalition Canada. There are over 20 groups that we've consulted with in this, so it's been a broad group, along with consultations with other ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

To say those consultations haven't taken place is perhaps not being completely forthwith as to the consultation and how we've arrived at this place and time. As to further comments the member made about the Lands for Life being a hornet's nest -- I think it was a reference that he used -- I would agree that it's a massive undertaking, but that should not deter someone from going out and attempting to take that responsibility to task.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I'd like to commend the member for Algoma-Manitoulin on his wisdom and input that he's put here today in regard to Bill 139, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

In the early part of his debate today, he spoke about the cuts within MNR. I know people have concerns about lack of staffing not only within the Ministry of Natural Resources, but other ministries as well. It's been a comment that has come to me from constituents that oftentimes they don't get to speak to a real person. They dial a 1-800 number that's provided by the government and they talk to what we are now becoming very familiar with, a term called voice mail, and they never really get to speak to someone. Their calls are slow in return coming back from the government. I know the member for Grey-Owen Sound had a resolution before this House in regard to 1-800 numbers and I think, by extension, voice mail, and the fact that the people of Ontario think they get better service when they can actually talk to someone on the other end of the line when they're discussing issues of great importance.

The member talked about Lands for Life and the great land mass that we have in Ontario which in general would be described as northern Ontario. The people of southern Ontario have great pride in the north. Some have never travelled to the north, but in many cases are aware of it through books and television. I know that even though they may not have travelled to the north or spent very much time in the north, they want it protected, they want it preserved, they want the government to do everything it can to maintain what we know is our great northern heritage in Ontario.

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): I'm sure the persons who live in Windsor and who are members of the Beaver Lake Hunt Club will be interested in knowing of the member for Algoma-Manitoulin's support for Bill 139, because they provided me with a petition that I read yesterday in the Legislature with respect to black bear hunting and protection of their hunting heritage in Ontario and to ensure that the government of Ontario continues to support all forms of black bear hunting. So they'll be happy to hear there has been some progress made as a result of their petition being read here in the Legislature yesterday.

It's all well and good for the new minister, who we wish luck in his new role -- hopefully he's more successful in getting this bill through than the last bill he had to deal with. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin talked about how important it is to protect fish and wildlife habitat in Ontario, and I think that's something we all agree with. But in order to do that, we need to have the resources available. We need the people, we need the money and we need the enforcement mechanisms in place in order to do that.

The Provincial Auditor in his report yesterday had some severe criticism with respect to this government's ability to enforce the laws, and even with the people they are able to convict of offences, they don't actually do anything to try and collect the fines. Those are the sorts of things that need to be done to make sure the fish and wildlife habitats in Ontario are protected. I think this is something of such significance that we really do need some public hearings with respect to this bill once the second reading debate is completed, and I hope the minister will commit to that today.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin, you have two minutes.

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the comments of the members for Cochrane North, Halton North, Windsor-Riverside, and my good friend the member for Essex-Kent.


I was, however, a little bit disturbed by the comments from the member for Halton North. I was not attempting to impute the motives of the heritage board; all I was trying to do was to point out that the revenues that come from northern Ontario have turned into a huge cash cow for the province -- hundreds of millions of dollars. I was just trying to point out that with the exception of paying back the $60 million that have been taken out by the previous government --

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): Point of order, Mr Speaker: I fail to see a quorum.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Would you see if there's a quorum present.

Acting Clerk at the Table (Ms Tonia Grannum): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. You have about 45 seconds left.

Mr Michael Brown: I was just saying that I was disappointed in the member for Halton North believing that I imputed the heritage board; I did not. What I said was they have not contributed one dime to the heritage front, although the revenues from forestry and other related activities in northern Ontario are absolutely huge. They're increasing, they're now in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and there is not any money.

I am suggesting to him in a very friendly fashion that the heritage board decide to disburse some of the dollars that have been accumulated by previous governments in the heritage fund in a way that's of benefit to the people of northern Ontario; there's a good political opportunity for them.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Sudbury East.

Ms Martel: Mr Speaker, I'm next in the rotation. Comments and questions were finished.

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. Further debate?

Ms Martel: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm pleased to participate in the debate on Bill 139 today, which is the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, but I have to tell you that I am a little curious about the timing of this bill this afternoon. As opposition critics for the Ministry of Natural Resources indicated to the former minister some long time ago, in fact in the session that ended before June, we were prepared to deal with this particular piece of legislation. We recognize there has been a great deal of public input with respect to this bill and a great number of stakeholders who would like to see this bill go forward.

Then again, in the session from mid-August until mid-October we were asked by the former Minister of Natural Resources if, as opposition critics, we would be prepared to move forward on this bill, and again my colleague from Algoma-Manitoulin and I indicated to the former minister that we were very much prepared to do so. He, however, wanted us to guarantee that the debate would be completed in a single afternoon. We would not commit to that, because we believe that while this an important bill and there is support for it in the province and in this House, there are a number of members from each side of the Legislature who would want to speak not only with respect to the actual provisions of the bill, but also have some time to talk about what we fear will be the inability of this ministry to enforce this bill because of the huge, significant, deep cuts to the Ministry of Natural Resources, particularly to those staff who deal with protection of fish, wildlife, aggregate resources and forestry resources in this province.

We would not give an undertaking to the former minister to complete the debate on second reading in a single day. Again we saw that the bill did not come forward -- obviously, it was not a priority at that time -- and we could not continue with it even though we had given that kind of undertaking.

This afternoon I note, in terms of the agenda the government had proposed to all of us, that we were to debate Bill 149, the son of Bill 106 -- I believe that is the correct bill -- which is the first and second part of MVA. I believe the reason we are now not debating that bill this afternoon but the government has had to very rapidly bring forward Bill 139 is because our House leader raised a point of order with respect to the appropriateness of the government proceeding with the bill and whether it could, given the time allocation that was already in place. About seven minutes before question period ended, Bill 149, which was supposed to be debated this afternoon, was yanked and we were asked if we would now proceed with Bill 139.

I am pleased to do so, but I am very curious about the government agenda to date with respect to this matter and what kind of priority they have placed on this bill; why it is that it was so quickly yanked from the agenda this afternoon and why Bill 139 was put in to replace it. I won't comment on the ability of the government to deal with its legislative business, only to say that I think we are correct in terms of our point of order which was raised this afternoon and the government has now had to cope with that.

So here we are. We have a bill that has a long history in terms of consultation with many stakeholders across this province under now three different governments. In the last 10 years or so, there have been quite significant, quite broad consultations with respect to how to amend the Game and Fish Act, in some ways to bring it into line with other provincial jurisdictions in terms of what they do, and in other respects to enhance enforcement so that Ontarians can be very clear and feel very confident that their fish and wildlife resources are being protected in the province and that those who would not have respect for fish and wildlife resources would suffer significant penalties and be liable for their action. There were a number of parties involved. There were three different political parties also involved, and various ministers.

Having said there has been debate, I want to make it clear to you that the same groups that the member for Halton North talked about as having participated in the consultations are also the same sorts of groups which have asked the ministry, the minister and the opposition parties for some public consultation on this bill, for some public hearings. Three of those groups you mentioned -- specifically, the Animal Alliance of Canada, the Ontario Hawking Club, and the Ontario Aquaculture Association -- have indicated concerns with the bill to the opposition members and to the minister, both the former and current minister, and all have asked that members in this assembly support public hearings on this bill, even if they are limited, so they can express their concern.


I was a little concerned when I heard the two-minute response of the member for Halton North to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. I was a little bit concerned to hear him say that the member for Algoma-Manitoulin might have misrepresented some of his facts and some of his concerns with respect to this bill, that people were generally satisfied with it. They are, but it is also truthful to say that those three groups in particular have also asked for some public hearings.

I didn't hear the Minister of Natural Resources commit to public hearings on this bill today. I would like to hear him commit to the same, because I think the bill represents an opportunity to significantly improve fish and wildlife protection legislation in the province, fish and wildlife management legislation in the province. It would be a shame if the government was to lose the opportunity of responding to some of those very legitimate concerns of some of these well-respected groups who were also part and parcel of the consultations that led to this new bill.

In the time I have, I want to focus on a couple of things. I want to go through some of the concerns of the Animal Alliance of Canada, of the Ontario Hawking Club and of the Ontario Aquaculture Association. I want to talk a little about the contradiction I see between this government's bill to protect fish and wildlife, fish in particular, and then what this very same government has done with respect to the federal Fisheries Act and Ontario's role in enforcing section 35, because there is a huge contradiction for a government that claims to want to protect Ontario fish and wildlife.

Finally, I want to talk a little about the ability of the Ministry of Natural Resources to actually enforce this new legislation. The minister made a number of comments about how there will be dramatic new enforcement measures under the bill, and in print it is true that those enforcement measures do appear. I question the ability of this ministry to actually enforce the legislation, given the very deep cuts to the staff undertaken by the former Minister of Natural Resources.

Let me begin by talking a little about Animal Alliance, because they have written to a number of members, certainly to the opposition MNR critic, with respect to this bill. They did that as long ago as August 18. In a letter from Liz White, the director, she says the following:

"We are pleased with many aspects of this long overdue legislation, including (1) the ban on possession of bear gall; (2) the prohibition on interfering with black bears in their dens or intentionally destroying or damaging their dens; (3) the recognition of wildlife rehabilitation as a legal activity; (4) the ban on the possession of wildlife if the wildlife was taken in contravention of the laws of another province or jurisdiction; and (5) improved wildlife law enforcement provisions."

Then she goes to say: "However, certain aspects of the bill require an opportunity for broader public debate. Please help us ensure that this debate occurs by contacting the House leader and requesting that Bill 139 receive second reading during this session," which has already passed, "and that the bill goes to committee for public input this fall."

I would not normally presume to speak on behalf of the Animal Alliance, but I do believe that some of their concerns with respect to bear hunting which require some broader public debate would include the following, and this has directly to do with the research capability of the Ministry of Natural Resources with respect to Ontario's bear population:

Frankly, there are many in this organization and many individuals across the province who do not think that the Ministry of Natural Resources has an adequate or fair understanding of the population dynamics of bears.

Second, many people believe that the MNR has a very poor understanding of the effects of management practices on bear populations.

Third, this organization and many others continue to be concerned that the Ministry of Natural Resources has a poor understanding of the habitat loss on bear populations; and

Finally, that the ministry, because of inadequate research and now because of inadequate numbers of staff to undertake that research, also has a poor understanding of the effects of increased trapping and, in cases, poaching on fur and bear parts.

I believe that those concerns are legitimate because I am not convinced that the Ministry of Natural Resources has the research background or now the staff capability to do the research necessary to deal with what has been a controversial issue in this province, which is bear hunting, particularly a spring bear hunt.

While the organization Animal Alliance of Canada sees that the ministry has moved forward, and I agree that the ministry has with respect to protection of the bear population in a number of significant areas, that overall concern about our understanding as a province of the bear resource in this province leads them to ask for public hearings, for a broader public debate, on those issues.

That is one of the reasons I think we should have public hearings, because there have been any number of members in this House who have read petitions, on both sides of the issue: (a) to support the spring bear hunt; (b) to get rid of the spring bear hunt. It is an issue that the committee should have some broader public hearings on so that all committee members, indeed all members in this House, can understand what the capabilities the MNR has and whether we feel comfortable that the MNR has a real grip on and a grasp of and understanding of this population, this significant resource and how we can manage it for use by future generations.

The second group that has a number of concerns -- and these have been relayed to the minister, and I gather that members of the association were also to meet with ministry staff some time in September -- comes from the Ontario Hawking Club.

A little bit of background about the association, if I might: I had the opportunity to meet with three representatives of this particular association on October 2, specifically for the purpose of going through their concerns with respect to this bill and why it was they wanted some public hearings on the issue before this bill was passed. It is quite a small organization in the province. There is a membership of about 50, which fluctuates, because it is an expensive proposition and an expensive -- I don't want to use the word "sport" but maybe that is the best word -- sport to become involved in. They are affiliated with a number of groups both in Canada and in the United States.

It was interesting that everywhere else falconry is practised, falconry is also regulated. In 47 out of the 50 states in the US where the practice is carried out, it is regulated by state legislatures, enshrined in law what the rules and regulations will be. In other jurisdictions in Canada, namely Manitoba, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta, the provincial legislatures in those cases also regulate falconry under provincial law. When falconry is regulated, a number of things kick into place.

First, there are qualifications that are listed very clearly outlining who can participate in this sport, this venture, and how they have to participate.

Second, in each of the jurisdictions a permit is required from that provincial government and from the ministry that regulates natural resources to own and to have and to keep a bird used for falconry purposes.

Third, in each jurisdiction it is clearly outlined what the rules and regulations are, in legislation, to be sure that people who participate also have secure facilities for their birds.

In Ontario, even though falconry is practised, it is not regulated and never has been, even though there have been decades and decades and decades of a history of it being practised here. In the province of Ontario, for example, you only need a hunting licence to participate as a falconer. You are subject to all the rules pertaining to hunting in Ontario -- seasons etc -- but that is the beginning and the end of the rules. Nothing is said about qualifications, no need to have a particular permit for a particular bird, no need to prove to the ministry what the secure facilities are, indeed no rules and regulations to outline what those should be.


It's true that the ministry has been talking about regulating this practice since the early 1960s. The group that came to see me, which has participated in the consultations over a number of years, wants to see this practice regulated. They view Bill 139 as an opportunity to regulate falconry in Ontario; they view it as a golden opportunity for the government to follow the example of the 47 jurisdictions in the US and those in Canada that do. They are quite concerned that in a number of areas in Bill 139, the government has fallen far, far short of establishing the same kinds of codes of practice or rules and regulations that would be in place for the practice of falconry in other jurisdictions. They wonder why that is and why the ministry would not be interested in ensuring that it would do so when it has this particular opportunity.

Let me outline to members, if I might, some of the concerns that were raised by the group with me. I know these concerns have been raised with the MNR in a meeting that took place, although I do not know what the outcome was and if the ministry will heed some of the concerns and make some of the changes in law.

First, their concerns with respect to the regulations: They have clearly been advised that the Ministry of Natural Resources intends to severely restrict the species of captive-bred, native raptors that falconers can hunt with. The ministry proposes to list these in regulation. The ministry proposes to have four species that can be used for these purposes, to keep, to train and to breed in terms of the birds that can be in that position.

Second, in the regulations the MNR intends to restrict the use of non-native raptor species. That, the group tells me, represents a very significant shift from what the past practice has been for a number of years at the MNR.

The problems that flow from those two very significant changes to past practice are the following: Many of the 50 or so falconers who participate in falconry in Ontario have, over a number of years, imported birds from other jurisdictions. Many of them have had those species of birds for some time now. It is not uncommon for falconers to have the same birds to use in falconry for up to 10 years or more. What are they supposed to do with those species that they have imported which are now not listed as species the ministry will recognize for the purpose of falconry in the province? Their question to the MNR was: "Do we destroy these birds? Do we destroy the investment we have made in terms of training, breeding and using them to participate in falconry?" The ministry has no answer to that important question.

The ministry also has no answer about why it is they want to limit the number of species that can be used in this practice. As members of the group told me, there are only seven or eight species of birds that can actually be used in falconry anyway by anyone who is interested in participating. The ministry proposes to limit that to half, to only four, but the ministry has refused to give any explanation for these two restrictions to the group, and again they have yet to know what they are supposed to do with birds they already have, in some cases have had for 10 years now, when the regulations come into effect.

The club members very legitimately ask: "Why are the restrictions in place in the regulations? Why can the Ministry of Natural Resources not provide any rationale for the changes from the current practice? What do falconers do now in Ontario with those birds which they have had for some time which are not listed in the regulations?" Those questions have not been answered by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The second problem in the regulations has to do with any number of rules the ministry wishes to set out for people who want to practise falconry, specifically rules on propagation of the species, on buying of raptors, on the selling of raptors, on the licensing conditions for the birds. There are a number of problems in the regulations around all those issues which again need some clarification and which again the ministry has not clarified. The group is quite concerned about those issues in the regulations, and the group does not want to see the bill passed before those issues can be clarified, because they're not convinced that once the bill is passed there will be any significant, important changes in the regulations. Certainly the regulations won't be out here for public scrutiny. That will all be done behind closed doors.

Their second concern has to do with the clause in the bill that they have defined as the "similar species clause." That appears under section 6.9 under part I, which is entitled the application and the interpretation. It reads as follows, if I might: "An animal or invertebrate that is not easily distinguishable from any animal or invertebrate to which this act applies shall be deemed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to belong to the same species to which this act applies."

Falconers know that "animal" in this case also refers to raptors, but what they are concerned about is that MNR staff do not have the expertise, do not have the experience, in dealing with identification of these birds and that what this will lead to will certainly be an inappropriate seizure of birds under section 92 by people who have no experience in how to deal with them. What that also will do is put at risk what is private property of falconers now and may well lead to either the wounding of the same birds or actually death of the same. They are quite concerned that MNR will not have the experience to identify those birds of prey and that there should be a different and separate section dealing with their birds of prey particularly.

Thirdly, the section with respect to inspection and seizure of fish and wildlife by MNR staff: Under section 90 of the bill, a conservation officer can inspect any building or any other place that may contain raptors. The concern of members of the falconry association is that the inspection itself may interfere with their raptors that are breeding at a critical stage in that cycle. They are very worried that because of MNR inexperience in dealing with these birds, they will not be sensitive to either their characteristics, their nature or their breeding patterns and that breeders will make a significant investment in birds of prey and will watch that investment go down the tubes because of inappropriate timing of seizure by MNR if MNR has concerns about either security or other matters with respect to the birds. That has not been addressed by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Under the section "Proof of hunting," which is section 107, another concern is that a falconer will not be able to train or exercise their birds without being open to prosecution under the legislation. They do not believe that is in the best interests of either themselves or their birds and that there should be an exemption of raptors with respect to this section.

They have a concern with respect to the prohibition on the limited use of immature wild native raptors and nuisance raptors in sport falconry. Under this section, those involved in falconry cannot, for example, take birds that are under a specific year. They are saying that anyone who is involved in this practice of course is not interested in taking immature species to either train or breed. It is the adult species that they are interested in being able to acquire, so they are very concerned about why this even appears in the legislation.

Finally, through the legislation, a landowner has the ability to capture or kill a nuisance bird of prey. The argument of this association is that they have people who are experienced in dealing with birds of prey, should be allowed to capture these nuisance animals and keep them so that they will not be destroyed. They don't see a reason why the MNR would not allow that to happen.

Here is a group that has participated in the consultations, but comes away from the consultations with some very serious concerns about the legislation as it's currently written and why the MNR has not put into place any number of rules and regulations that currently apply to the sport of falconry in other jurisdictions.

I would say to the parliamentary assistant and the minister, it is incumbent upon you to have some public hearings so that some of these can be resolved. It's an opportunity to regulate the sport for the first time in the history of the province. It is an opportunity that should be carried out properly.

Third, all of us I believe have received correspondence from the Ontario Aquaculture Association with respect to its concerns regarding the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Again I had an opportunity to speak to and then meet with different representatives of this particular association with respect to their concerns. Their concerns are similar to the previous group in the sense that we have an opportunity to improve a piece of legislation which is an important one, and we should ensure that the Ministry of Natural Resources takes the time to do that properly.


Again in this case, this particular group was part of the consultations that led to Bill 139 but came away from that process concerned that the ministry has actually backtracked on a number of protections that they already had in place through MNR policy. Not only are these protections not enshrined in the bill, but there is actually a reduction or a moving back from some of the policy protections they have had in place over the last two or three years.

If you look at the significance of this industry, it is important for the MNR to recognize these concerns, because fish farming in the province had a value in 1995 of some $14 million, and the potential to use this industry, particularly in rural Ontario, to increase the number of jobs and economic benefits in those communities is quite enormous. There are a large number of communities, a large number of areas in this province where fish farming is quite practical, environmentally sound and would enormously benefit any number of our rural communities. In order to ensure that people want to make that kind of investment, there needs to be some protection for this industry in this legislation, and it doesn't appear.

In fact, some of the concerns that have been outlined to us are as follows:

Specifically, the guidelines that fish farmers currently operate under, which were set in place in 1995 by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the aquaculture interim policy directives, are completely ignored in this bill. For example, under the policy guidelines it clearly states that property rights of fish farmers need to be recognized and need to be respected. In fact, if I might, it says very clearly in the interim policy guidelines under "Possession": "The fish in an aquaculture facility are not common property but the qualified property of the individual who is licensed to culture the fish. Fish farmers have qualified property rights for fish confined in the licensed facility." That does not appear in the bill. There is no recognition of property rights of owners of farmed fish, even though it appears in the interim guidelines under MNR right now.

Second, under the interim guidelines there are qualifications around search and seizure, the destruction of farm fish, labelling, spoilage etc. Very specifically, the policy, section 4, says, "Section 32 of the Fisheries Act regarding the offence of destruction of fish does not apply to fish raised on a fish farm." Again, "Section 31 of the Game and Fish Act regarding the offence of allowing flesh to spoil does not apply to fish raised on a fish farm." Finally, "Fish farms are exempted from the Game and Fish Act section 84 requiring all receptacles containing fish to be marked when destined for export."

Under Bill 139 the exemptions that we see in the interim policy guidelines do not apply. The ministry has not applied its own policy guidelines to the new legislation. In fact, there is no exemption of farm fish from the sections of the act that concern labelling, spoilage and destruction of fish.

Third, with respect to the contradiction between the policy guidelines in place at MNR now and the actual text of the bill, there is no recognition that waters in fish farms and constructed ponds on private property that have physical barriers to prevent the escape of fish are not Ontario waters. The policy guidelines under the section marked "Escapement" say the following: "Fish farmers and owners of farm-raised fish shall report escapes and/or an accidental release of fish raised on a farm.... OMNR will consider proposals for retrieval of farmed fish on a case-by-case basis and may permit recapture where practical, or require their destruction where they pose a risk to existing fish populations in receiving waters."

On fish farms in a constructed pond there is a separation between the water that the fish are raised in, are farmed in, and other natural Ontario waterways. There has clearly been that recognition in the interim guidelines in place since 1995, but in the bill there is no recognition of that. There is no exemption.

People who are involved in the industry, a $14-million industry in the province, are very concerned that the MNR will come on to their private property and confiscate fish in the name of conservation when under the current guidelines, which everyone operates under now, they cannot do that. That is a significant issue for all these people, because the investment they make in this particular industry on their private property is quite significant. They are concerned that it must be protected, and that there cannot be search and seizure and inspection just on a whim, on their private property, by MNR officials.

Secondly, the association makes it very clear that the treatment of fish farming in this bill is not consistent as it pertains to other ministries in the Ontario government or as it applies to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources itself. Very specifically, under OMAFRA, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, fish farming is defined as an agricultural activity. It's defined in the bill that is before us with respect to the Farm Practices Protection Act. Very clearly that bill recognizes that fish farming is an industry. OMAFRA itself, as I understand, actually contributes about $1 million every year to that industry.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in its statement under the Planning Act also recognizes fish farming as an agricultural activity, yet the Ministry of Natural Resources, another ministry of this same government, refuses in this legislation to recognize fish farming as an agricultural activity. So neither the association nor I can understand that kind of contradiction or discrepancy between what two other ministries of this government now have in place as a practice, that appears in policy statements or legislation, and this Ministry of Natural Resources which refuses to put that definition into Bill 139.

The second discrepancy: The bill recognizes that the MNR has no jurisdiction over farm animals held in captivity, but it does not extend this to farmed fish.

The third discrepancy comes with respect to how the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources deals with other fish-related matters in the province. Bill 139 requires licensing of fish farms, but it does not require any kind of licence for the importation of fish into the province, no licence with respect to the ministry's own fish culture stations, no licence for the aquarium trade and no licence for bait fish.

We clearly have within the same ministry a contradiction between how ministry staff would deal with farmed fish and ensuring they have a licence, but would not require a licence for any operator involved in any of those other activities: importation, the ministry's own fish culture stations, bait fish and the aquarium trade. One has to ask why that discrepancy exists and why the ministry would allow that discrepancy to continue to exist in this legislation.

The third set of concerns is the bill itself actually increases the control and regulation of fish farms to new levels which are not attached to other farmed animals which are defined and appear in the bill.

The example the association raises here is that other farmed animals that appear in the bill are clearly exempted from the provisions which involve destruction, spoilage or labelling of containers. Other farmed animals that are defined and appear in the bill are all defined in a schedule, but farmed fish do not appear at all. Thirdly, there are significant increases in some of the licensing conditions for farmed fish which now do not appear under the current Game and Fish Act, nor do they appear under the interim policies under which this industry operates.

There are a number of concerns the association has that instead of making it easier for people to become involved in this important industry, what the ministry is doing through this bill is making it much more difficult for people to make a decision to make an investment, especially in rural communities.


The members of the association had a chance to meet with MNR staff and express these concerns, and they were extremely disappointed that the ministry response was very negative. In fact, in a letter back from the minister, dated September 9, he said clearly to them, "You will be advised that we cannot accommodate proposed changes to the bill, including removing the requirement for licensing."

Second: "My staff have been instructed to ensure that implementation of the new act through regulations and policies is consistent with the interim aquaculture policy." I made it clear earlier that in fact it is not. In a number of areas there are glaring omissions or glaring differences between the rules and regulations people have operated under since 1995 and what the government proposes to do in this bill.

The association had a chance to meet with MNR staff, worked through their concerns, and the former minister refused to do anything about those concerns.

The association has taken the time to go through a number of potential amendments to the bill which would rectify the situation, which would provide the balance between the interim policies and the new legislation and ensure that people want to get into this industry. It's my hope that the new minister will not just dismiss their concerns out of hand, as the previous minister obviously did, but will take seriously their recommendations for change.

This is an important industry in the province. It is an industry which another ministry of this government supports financially on an annual basis, and it is an industry that could have very important job implications and economic benefit implications in a number of rural communities if they could but have enshrined in law some of the protections which would allow them to make the kind of investment that needs to be made.

I encourage the minister again to have some public consultation on this in public hearings, because these are important considerations and the ministry should work with this association rather than telling them no with respect to their amendments, to be sure that the concerns can be dealt with and can be resolved.

Those are at least three of the groups who were involved in the development of this particular bill who have subsequently, after the release of Bill 139, come forward to say that not all their concerns with the bill were met. It's incumbent upon the government, after the passage of second reading, to have some kind of hearing process, even if it is limited, to be sure they can raise their concerns before a legislative committee, and I would encourage the government to do that.

I said earlier that I wanted to talk not only about the concerns of some of the groups with the bill as it appears, or with respect to their concerns about omissions in the bill as it is written, but I also want to make it very clear that I find it passing strange that there is such a huge contradiction in this bill between what the minister hopes the bill will do and what this particular ministry has done in another area of fish management in the province, namely, what the government has done with respect to its decision not to enforce particular sections of the federal Fisheries Act, particularly section 35(2).

If I might go back to the press release on June 9, where Minister Hodgson announced this bill in the Legislature, it said very specifically, "Natural Resources Minister Chris Hodgson today announced measures to toughen fish and wildlife enforcement provisions and increase protection of a wider range of species." I quote: "`The new act fulfils our promise to better manage fish and wildlife resources,' said Mr Hodgson. `The act demonstrates Ontario's commitment to conservation efforts both here in Ontario and internationally. Effective management of fish and wildlife is vital to the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of the province.'"

Finally, and I quote again: "`Both the ministry and the public have recognized for some time that significant changes were required to the Game and Fish Act to manage and sustain fish and wildlife populations,' said Mr Hodgson."

I couldn't agree more. I think most members of the public do want to feel confident that our fish and wildlife resources in the province are being both managed and protected.

That is why I was clearly amazed at the decision of this government on August 14, of the decision of the former Minister of Natural Resources, to cease to enforce subsection 35(2) of the federal Fisheries Act, which allowed MNR conservation officers to enforce federal law with respect to fish management and fish protection.

I don't understand how the government of Ontario, and particularly the former minister, can distinguish between its responsibility at a provincial level and responsibility at a federal level. This is not a constitutional issue. It's an issue about ensuring that the fish population in this province is protected and effectively managed.

MNR has had the opportunity and has had the responsibility to do that in the province of Ontario for some eight to 10 years now on behalf of the federal government. I could not believe that on the one hand the minister could introduce new legislation which he says will better protect Ontario's resources and then two months later pull the rug out from under anyone who cares about this issue by saying that the government would no longer enforce the provisions under federal law to protect the same fish species in Ontario lakes and waters.

Specifically, on August 14 all ministry staff were told by the deputy, under direction from former Minister Chris Hodgson, that they would no longer be dealing with sub 35(2), that they would no longer be enforcing that particular section. He said very specifically:

"MNR will no longer provide fish habitat mitigation advice on behalf of DFO. MNR will continue to issue work permits under provincial legislation. However, the MNR will not review or provide site-specific advice on the fish habitat impacts of projects involving work in or around the water beyond the requirements of applicable provincial legislation. MNR will also withdraw enforcement support for the fish habitat section of the federal Fisheries Act."

How can it be that the MNR will only deal with protection under provincial legislation and will not continue to uphold some responsibility under federal legislation when we're talking about the same type of destruction of fish habitat in Ontario waters? You can't have it both ways. Either you're interested in protecting and preserving and managing the resource or you're not. For the life of me, I can't understand the government's contradiction in this regard. It either has to do with their inability, because they've laid off so many staff, to actually protect the resource or there was some other issue around charges that were laid that the government is also trying to deal with. I'm not sure which it is, but I disagree fundamentally with the direction the government has taken.

We know that after this particular memorandum went out to MNR staff, the ministry also then released, particularly to the estimates committee, where I sat as critic, a listing of all the things the MNR would no longer undertake on behalf of the federal government. They were very significant in terms of responsibilities and in terms of protection of the species.

In a number of areas, the MNR will no longer review plans, permits, proposals to determine if proposed works are likely to harm, alter or destroy fish habitat. The MNR will no longer work with proponents and consultants to design fish habitat impact mitigation techniques, will no longer provide site-specific advice. The MNR will no longer conduct site inspections solely to determine the impact of work on fish habitat. In addition, MNR will no longer enforce section 35 of the Fisheries Act.

The only thing that the MNR is prepared to do, and I suspect is doing at present, is that if an Ontario conservation officer sees an infraction, he will take the following course of action: They will talk to their federal counterpart about the specific problem, warn of the potential violation and hope that the federal government does something about it.

The fact of the matter is that in the province of Ontario right now the federal government does not have any staff to deal with protection of fish resources in the province. We know that the federal government has seven biologists who work in Burlington. They deal with research with respect to fish habitat. They have absolutely no power to lay any kind of charges if charges are needed under the act in order to stop those who are destroying the resource.


We have a minister in this province who on the one hand introduces legislation and tries to convince the public that he's concerned about the protection of Ontario fisheries, and on the other hand we have a government, the same government, that then totally curtails any of their responsibility, any of their work with respect to protection of fish under the federal act, knowing full well that the federal government does not have a single person in Ontario right now who can either enforce the act or even lay charges if a violation does occur.

I asked the minister in estimates why it was that the minister would make such a move, why it was that he thought it was appropriate to tell his staff to no longer deal with enforcement of section 35(2) of the federal Fisheries Act. He tried to argue in committee that this was a constitutional issue, that the federal government somehow wanted to assume or take back responsibility for some of this protection and Ontario viewed it as a constitutional issue and Ontario had indicated its desire to get out of this process because the federal government had refused to sit down and negotiate a funding schedule to pay Ontario for the work it was doing.

This is not a constitutional issue, however the former minister might like to describe it. It is an issue of managing the resources on behalf of Ontarians. Ontario staff were doing that under a former Liberal government and under a former NDP government. It was only under this Conservative government that this minister decided that was no longer appropriate to do. I think he has made a very serious mistake with respect to this issue, because clearly we know there are no federal staff who are in a position to enforce this legislation. We know now that if infractions are occurring, there is no one on the ground at the federal level who can enforce or lay charges.

There is no doubt in my mind that for some unscrupulous individuals, who would at every opportunity try to break the law, that has meant free rein for any number of people and that there has been destruction of fish habitat occurring as a consequence of this decision.

I also asked the minister during estimates what Ontario was expecting with respect to what kind of agreement they wanted to arrive at and what kind of compensation they were looking for with respect to actually carrying out the work on behalf of the federal government. The Ontario government's position in the negotiations is the following: that Canada and Ontario would agree to develop a revised Canada-Ontario fisheries agreement, to be finalized and executed by September 30; and that Canada and Ontario agree also to develop a subsidiary fish habitat management agreement which shall be finalized and executed by October 31.

In the negotiations that were set out, it is clear what the financial obligations of Canada are and what the financial obligations of Ontario are. With respect to Canada: to provide to Ontario $40 million over three years to go towards fish management habitat activities; to provide an additional $5.1 million in support of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission; and to provide $35 million over five years to support commercial fish quota acquisition. Ontario, for its part, would agree: to put in $10 million annually for fish habitat management activities; to provide staff resources in support towards Great Lakes activities; to work with the Great Lakes stakeholders in developing partnerships to augment the sea lamprey control program funding and level; and finally, to negotiate purchase of fish quota as well.

Unfortunately as of November 18 we are in a position in Ontario where the draft document, the interim agreement, has not been formalized. The new minister has indicated to me that discussions are continuing and that if an agreement is reached, we'll all be advised accordingly. But in the interim, when there is no one on the ground on the federal side enforcing federal law, Ontario and this government put fish resources at risk. That's what they do, and they do that despite a backdrop of having a bill that we are debating today that talks about protecting those same resources.

The contradiction is very clear, it's very apparent, it's very blatant, and yet the former minister say nothing wrong in the action he took. It leads to the question of just why that minister took the action he did, because this has nothing to do with the Constitution or a constitutional amendment or constitutional rights. I believe it has everything to do with the ability, or better stated the inability of this particular ministry to enforce its own law. I don't believe that this ministry has the staff on the ground in Ontario any more to either enforce the federal Fisheries Act or, frankly, to effectively monitor any other provincial legislation that appears under this ministry's purview.

That leads to the final concern I wanted to raise with respect to this bill. It has everything to do with the ability of this particular minister and this ministry to actually sustain the bill, to actually be able to deal with the enforcement mechanisms in the bill.

I listened to the minister's opening comments on second reading.

The Acting Speaker: There will have to be a break. I was wondering if this would be a good time to do it.

The House adjourned at 1757.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.