STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES BUDGETS DES DÉPENSES
Tuesday 8 October 2013 Mardi 8 octobre 2013
The committee met at 0901 in room 151.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): We are here to resume the consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. There is a total of 1.42 hours remaining. When the committee was adjourned, the official opposition had eight minutes remaining in their rotation. However, when we adjourned last week, we were considering Mr. Leone’s motion, so we must first dispose of the motion before we resume the review of the estimates of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Is there further debate on the motion? Everybody still has the motion in front of them? Okay. I’m going to read it into the record so that there’s no confusion.
Mr. Leone moved that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport release all correspondence delivered to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Pan Am and Parapan Secretariat related to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, to the Standing Committee on Estimates by 12 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Yes, Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: We have an amendment to propose to that motion.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): If you have an amendment, please put it forward.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: The amendment to the motion tabled would be this. I move that Mr. Leone’s motion be amended as follows: that the words “related to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, to the Standing Committee on Estimates by 12 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013” be removed and replaced with “from January 1, 2012, to October 3, 2013, related to the provincial funding of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games, as soon as possible.”
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. Having reviewed it, it appears that the amendment is in order, so we will proceed on the amendment. Any discussion on the amendment?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: We believe that this amendment is really important because we believe that the original amendment, as proposed by Mr. Leone, was nothing but a fishing exercise. It was unreasonable; the time frames were very unreasonable. And it would really take the focus of our officials away from the games, which is really what we are here for. We’ve all agreed in the past. I think MPP Jackson has said categorically that he’d like nothing more than to see the games succeed, and if you want the games to succeed, we need to make sure that the Pan Am officials can continue working on the games. Of course, we support any reasonable request for information, but we do believe that the time frames, as proposed by Mr. Leone, are quite unreasonable and that the time frame that we are suggesting is much more focused and much more relevant. It actually relates to what needs to be done. And so, Chair, we really think that this is a very, very important amendment.
If we can’t go forward with this amendment, it will be very difficult for the bureaucrats to do what they need to do to ensure that the games are successful. We do believe that it is important to narrow down the time frame as it relates to the actual funding of the Pan/Parapan Am Games from the province and not the broader one as was originally requested by Mr. Leone.
Chair, it is really frustrating for us to see that there’s an environment here where it’s really—it’s not a collaborative environment. The goal here isn’t to get to the bottom of the estimates. What we really see here is a concerted attack by the opposition. It’s really unreasonable, and what we really need to see is more collaboration and working together to get information that is really relevant to the proceedings and relevant to the estimates to go forward with the estimates. But to continue with these unreasonable requests for information, I think, Chair, is a waste of everybody’s time, especially taxpayer money. I really do believe that this is a very important amendment and I look forward to further discussion. I’d like to turn this over now to my colleague MPP Colle, who might want to say a few words.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I don’t have any other speakers, so I’ll allow that, but usually it’s the Chair who chooses who is next.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Sorry.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Good morning, everybody. I think the original amendment is a request for information, a request for all related documents, which is supportable. It’s just that I think my colleague’s amendment is asking for a more reasonable time frame so that the public servants in the ministry can get the information required in a reasonable manner, and we will get the information required.
The thing is, it depends on how much longer the minister is going to be here and the sequencing of time between the time the ministry and the staff are here and in terms of when we get this information, then what this committee does with the information. I think, in the amendment by my colleague, she’s just asking for a time frame that is much more reasonable and much more fair. I don’t see any reason why the committee can’t consider this reasonable amendment by my colleague and see if we can get the information in a more appropriate time frame.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Further debate? Seeing no further debate, we’ll call the question. All those in favour of—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair? Sorry; I’d like to ask for a 20-minute recess before the vote.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): It is in order prior to a vote.
Mr. Rob Leone: Karma.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Karma.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Before I do this, is it likely—can I just seek your indulgence?—that at the end of the 20 minutes and after the vote we are going to proceed, or should I have the minister and his staff return in the afternoon?
Mr. Rob Leone: Chair, we’re prepared to vote.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, we’d like a recorded vote on the amendment.
Mr. Mike Colle: First, let’s have a recess.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay, I’m just trying to be fair to the staff, because if we’re not going to deal with them at all this morning I would just ask them to come back this afternoon, but it appears we may get to it. Therefore, we are recessed for 20 minutes at the request of Ms. Damerla. Everybody be back here at 9:30 sharp.
The committee recessed from 0910 to 0930.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I call the meeting back to order. We will now proceed with the vote. Everybody has a copy of the amendment in front of you.
All those in favour of the amendment, please?
Mr. Dickson, I don’t believe you’re able to vote.
Mr. Joe Dickson: You’re right. I’m just so used to putting my hand up.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right. Okay.
All those opposed?
Okay, it’s up to me again.
I’m not going to support the motion. We have a motion in front of us. It’s my duty to proceed, since there is no unanimity or even consensus among those present on the committee. I’m going to vote against the amendment and revert back to the main motion.
Another problem I do have personally is that it was open-ended. The “as soon as possible” did cause me some problem.
Be that as it may, I’m casting my vote against, as I’m required to do as the Chair, and we’ll proceed to the main motion.
Further discussion on the main motion? Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, I’d actually like to propose another amendment.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You have another amendment?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Does everybody have copies? All right.
I move that Mr. Leone’s motion be amended as follows: that the words “related to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, to the Standing Committee on Estimates by 12 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013” be removed and replaced with “from January 1, 2012, to October 3, 2013, related to the provincial funding of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games, by Tuesday, November 5, 2013.”
Chair, as you can see, this amendment does address the concern that you just raised about the “as soon as possible.” We replaced that with a firmer date of Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
But I have to say, to go back to the issue of Mr. Leone’s original amendment, that it is really unreasonable to expect our hard-working—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, I don’t want to hear any argument yet. The members do not have a copy of the amendment.
I’m going to have to recess, I think, for five minutes in order that copies be made available to all members. Please don’t go too far. Once we have that, I will recognize you first to speak.
The committee recessed from 0932 to 0937.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I call the meeting back to order.
Ms. Damerla, the floor is yours.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. Now that everybody has the amendment—and I apologize for not providing them—as you can see, this amendment actually improves upon our previous amendment and addresses the concern that you had raised around the “as soon as possible.” That has now been replaced by the date “Tuesday, November 5, 2013,” which we believe is a much more reasonable date. The original date, as proposed, Thursday, October 17, 2013, was very unreasonable for our hard-working bureaucrats.
The point, Chair, is that these bureaucrats, these members of the Ontario public service, have a very important job to carry out, and that is to ensure that the games continue to be on budget. One of the wonderful things about these games is the fact that the games are on budget and are going to come in under budget.
Mr. Paul Miller: Mr. Chair, a point of order.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): On a point of order, Mr. Miller.
Mr. Paul Miller: Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, all they changed was one date: Tuesday, November 5. That’s all they changed. It’s exactly the same except for one date.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, this is a stall tactic, and this is basically just playing games here.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, no. I have to state that the motion is significantly—or not significantly, but it is different enough to qualify as a new amendment.
Mr. Paul Miller: One date?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): It’s not the same as the old one—yes.
Mr. Paul Miller: It’s exactly the same except for “Tuesday, November 5.”
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): That is correct, and that is changing the amendment.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. If you’ve ruled that way, that’s fine, but it’s very disappointing, and this is just stalling.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I will recognize you to speak next if you want to speak to that, but right now the floor is Ms. Damerla’s.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair.
As I was saying, one of the really impressive things about these games is the fact that they’re going to be coming under budget. Now, this is something no other jurisdiction that has put up any kind of games of any kind of scale has ever accomplished, and so we here should be so proud that here is a minister under whose leadership these games are—
Mr. Rob Leone: Point of order.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): On a point of order, Mr. Leone.
Mr. Rob Leone: I’m not really sure what this has to do with the motion.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Well, it’s straying a little, but I was giving some latitude for her to get to the point.
The point is your amendment, not on the pride of the Pan/Parapan Am Games, so please, to the amendment, why this is a good amendment, because that will help with the proceeding.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thanks, Chair. I was actually just trying to explain why it’s important to give the bureaucrats more time, so that they continue to focus on these games. The point I was trying to make is, given that these games are coming under budget, on time, something that no other jurisdiction—
Mr. Paul Miller: Mr. Chair, on a point of order.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): On a point of order, Mr. Miller.
Mr. Paul Miller: The speaker is assuming that it’s on target, and we have already proven there are problems, so that’s kind of like a false statement. Let’s talk about the motion. I don’t want a history about how wonderful everybody is.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Miller, you can’t accuse a member of a falsehood in this committee any more than you can do so upstairs, so I would like you to withdraw that.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay, I withdraw.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): The second thing: Ms. Damerla, his second point—please, I understand what you’re trying to say, but—
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Paul, you dropped something.
Mr. Paul Miller: It’s my crying towel.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): The issue here is the amendment. The amendment is different in that it has a date; perhaps you could talk about that or something else within the amendment that was not covered the last time.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. The reason we changed the amendment was to clarify, because as you yourself pointed out, you’re not comfortable with the wording “as soon as possible,” and so we have changed it to “November 5, 2013,” which gives the bureaucrats some more time. The reason this is important, and this is what I have not been able to express, is it’s really important to express why we need to give bureaucrats a reasonable amount of time. That is because they are working very, very hard to make sure that the games are pulled off in a manner that showcases Toronto in the best possible light. So they have a heavy, heavy workload, and that’s the point that I was trying to make when I was interrupted.
I hope that the committee will understand and appreciate the need for this important change in date, and I look forward to your support.
Mr. Mike Colle: Mr. Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Colle—oh, excuse me, I did offer the opportunity to Mr. Miller, if he wanted to actually speak to the motion, to go next.
Mr. Paul Miller: There’s nothing to say, Mr. Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay, then Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: The motion is basically asking for a couple of weeks’ difference, from as soon as possible to November 5, which I think is a reasonable time. It’s not unreasonable.
Basically, when you look at it, I’ve been trying to figure out the complexity of all these boards, the secretariat, the relationships, who’s answerable to whom, trying to weave our way through it. We’re dealing with three levels of government that have their hands in this. I don’t even know, federally, who’s responsible or who’s involved. I have no idea, yet they’re a $500-million partner, I think. I don’t know how many municipalities are involved in it; I know Toronto is and Hamilton and Milton. So I point that out because it involves them trying to get all this information that flows back and forth between everybody and all the different levels of government.
The private sector is involved in it, too. How do we get their information and their correspondence back and forth with the ministry?
Then you’ve got a unique entity here that is the neither a government board or agency; it’s a hybrid. It’s a one-time thing. I don’t know if we’ve ever had an Olympic or a Pan Am—I don’t think we’ve ever had it in Ontario—
Mr. Paul Miller: Hamilton 1936.
Mr. Mike Colle: Okay, so we have to go back to 1936 in Hamilton, and Torchy Peden was probably involved in that one there. Only you would know who Torchy Peden is. He was a great cyclist, I think, Torchy was.
But anyway, I’m pointing that out in terms of the complexity of trying to get all this information from all these interwoven levels of government and the private sector, this unique model.
I’m very anxious, also, to get an org chart, which I’ve asked for from research, and we still haven’t gotten that, to see how these different secretariats and the committee and the ministries—federally, provincially, municipally—involve themselves in this flow of information, so we can get that information. I have no idea because I haven’t gotten the org chart yet.
I’m also looking to see who are the people, these mystery people, who are on the secretariat? Who are they? I have no idea who they are.
As I’m saying, if they can’t even get us that kind of information, and we’re trying to say, “Hey, give us all the correspondence,” it just tells me we need a reasonable time frame. That’s what this motion really does. It goes to November 5 to get the information before this committee so we can see all the documentation asked for by Mr. Leone, “correspondence delivered to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Pan Am and Parapan Am Secretariat, related to the 2015 ... Games, from January 1, 2010....”
I want to see a complete list. I want to see all the correspondence between the federal, provincial, municipal and private sectors, all that information flowing back through the ministry. That’s what should be before the committee to give us a total context. If we’re going to do this properly and we’re going to ask the staff, who have to do the heavy lifting here, to do it properly, I think it’s a reasonable consideration and I think the date is not a date far off. It’s November 5 in the motion, right?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Yes.
Mr. Mike Colle: That’s what I think. It’s a most reasonable amendment for this committee to consider in the fullness of time. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Just for my own edification and clarity to the other committee members, you did state that you wanted to see all of the documentation from the private sector, from the feds, from the province. The amendment limits it to provincial funding only. Therefore, I don’t know—I just want you to be clear on what you’re voting on. That’s all.
Mr. Mike Colle: A point of clarification on that: As you know, I’ve raised this before. Mr. Chairman and to the Clerk, if it relates to provincial funding—I mean, the funding is an equal funding in many ways, so how can you separate the provincial funding by itself since it’s all contingent on partnership funding? That’s the only thing. To me, either it is an entity by itself, or somehow, how we can segment out the province’s role and the province’s powers in this, and the province’s finances by themselves—I find that quite perplexing, to separate the province out by itself, just because of the associations, financial and otherwise, that exist. And the board is made up of people of the city, the municipal sector, provincial and federal. I just find it troubling to try to get the whole picture unless we have the relationships in this whole thing. That’s all.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): And I can understand that. I assume, then, you’re speaking against the amendment.
Mr. Mike Colle: No, no, in favour—I’m in favour of changing the date.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. Mr. Bartolucci.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Thanks, Mr. Chair. I’ll keep my remarks very, very short.
I was subbed in this morning, and I come here, I think, with a very objective point of view, and not a subjective point of view. I had very little trouble with “as soon as possible.” However, that has gone through its due course. But I think we should learn from history, or else we could repeat it. I would think that to put a specific timeline on this that will allow the bureaucrats to do a complete job, a thorough job, not leaving any points out etc—and we can expand on that, but we won’t, because that would just be wasting time—I see this amendment, from a very objective point of view, as a way of accomplishing what Mr. Leone wants more thoroughly.
I always look at an amendment to any motion as strengthening that motion. If it weakens the motion, then in my world, it’s not a good amendment. This amendment, I think, strengthens the call for what the original member, Mr. Leone, wanted, so I see it as good.
I don’t know how this is going to unfold in a vote, but I do know one thing for sure: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 members are sitting here; a minister is sitting here; a bunch of bureaucrats are sitting here; all of whom—we understand we’re on this committee, that’s our job—could be doing something far more productive for the people of Ontario.
I’m suggesting that the motion is not unreasonable, that it allows, in a very real way, the bureaucrats to have a specific timeline, but a timeline that will allow for thoroughness so that we’re not leaving out any points that are relevant with regards to provincial funding of the Pan Am Games. So I see it, Paul, to disagree with you a little, as more than just a date. I see it as a date that will bring about the desired ends of the original motion.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Leone.
Mr. Rob Leone: First of all, Chair, thanks for the opportunity. But for Mr. Colle, we actually do have available some org charts, a list of bureaucrats. We can even tell you how much they’ve made. So if you would like some of that information that we have, we’d be happy to—
Mr. Mike Colle: That’s why I’m surprised I wasn’t able to get it when I asked—
Mr. Rob Leone: We’d be happy to share it with you, if that’s something that you would be interested in.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, I would.
Mr. Rob Leone: Mr. Jackson has done, I think, a tremendous job compiling all this information.
Mr. Mike Colle: I’d love to see that.
Mr. Rob Leone: Secondly, I think we’re all focused on—I’m going to speak very briefly as well. I think we should get on with the motion and the vote. But two things: I think we’re focused almost exclusively on the Tuesday, November 5, date, but we’re ignoring what I think is the much more fundamental change to this motion, which is shortening the time frame from January 1, 2010, which the original motion stated. The new amendment is proposing a date of January 1, 2012. In order to make a full, thorough investigation of what we’re looking at—actually, this amendment does weaken the main motion. It takes two years out of the investigation of what we’re trying to undercover. So this, at the end of the day, I would suggest, weakens the motion to an intent that does not allow us to get the answers. We have two years of questions that we have to debate, and I think that’s important to note.
Secondly, on the November 5, the reason why we chose October 17 originally was because we wanted to provide enough timeline, consistent with other motions that we’ve presented in estimates previously. It was a two-week turnaround. I understand the point made by the government, that we want to focus on making a great games. Well, wouldn’t getting this deadline out of the way allow everyone else to focus, for the remainder of their time, on making this a great games? That’s why I say shorten the timeline. Make sure it’s a date that’s reasonable. I’m not suggesting that we can’t be more reasonable on the date, but I would say absolutely that we have to maintain the integrity of the motion when we’re calling for documents from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, rather than amending it as this amendment does. That is, I think, the biggest part of this amendment that I have some serious objection to.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Miller and then Ms. Mangat.
Mr. Paul Miller: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In reference to the comments, I think the timeline was set because there were certain things that went on that we want to get to the bottom of. Shortening the time element certainly may help the bureaucrats with less work, but it certainly won’t expose—if there were any improprieties done or anything that happened in that period before that, it should be brought to the attention of the public as well as this Legislature. By limiting the time on your amendments, you are cutting down our research and cutting the area that we want to look at, for obvious reasons.
So I think there’s a lot more there, and there is more coming out every day, in the period that you want to eliminate. I am not in favour of that. If there’s a mistake, if something was done wrong, the people of this province have a right to know, and we have to get to the bottom of it, just like Ornge, just like eHealth, just like the gas plants. They have a right to know, and I am not going to limit our research people, I’m not going to limit the opposition’s ability to dig into areas that should be dug into, and I’m not going to expedite the process just to suit one party because they don’t want to be exposed for whatever reason. So I am not going to support that at all.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Ms. Mangat.
Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Thank you, Chair. Picking up where my colleague Paul Miller left off, yes, we all want to get into the depth of the information. The name of the game is to know everything that is going on. The request which has been put up by my colleague Dipika is fair and reasonable.
The next thing is that this committee is looking at this year’s estimates, not 2010. So in my opinion, this is outside the purview of this committee. It’s a fair amount of time which we are asking, it’s reasonable, so it should be granted. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Further debate? Further debate? Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, if there’s going to be no further debate, we’d like to ask for a 20-minute recess before the vote.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right. It’s right prior to the vote, so she’s entitled to that request. We are recessed for another 20 minutes. We will commence promptly at quarter after 10.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I’ll take that back. Mr. Bartolucci?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: And you know what—and rule me out of order, if you want, Mr. Chair—by the time we come back, it’s going to be a quarter after. We have a whole bunch of people sitting here. It’s not a good use of their time. Are we ever going to get to them today? Because if, in fact, there’s going to be another amendment, that’s going to rule out the possibility.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I have no idea whether this amendment will pass or not pass, and I have no idea if there’s another one to follow it.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: I understand.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I do know that Mr. Leone has eight minutes, which, if we vote—there would be about eight minutes left for his questioning, but I have no idea whether we’re actually going to get to him.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Okay. All right.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, I just wanted to say that if the vote doesn’t go through, we do have other amendments.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right. That being the case, if this vote does not go through and there are other amendments, I would suggest that the staff and the minister are free to go, but please return this afternoon at 3:45.
We are now recessed until about 17 minutes after 10.
The committee recessed from 0957 to 1017.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay, the meeting is now resumed, and we’re going on to the vote, which is the amendment by Ms. Damerla. All those in favour of the amendment? All those opposed to the amendment? Okay, thank you.
It is my job, again, to try to determine what is the best thing for the committee to do. I’ve had a chance in the last 20 minutes to consider what the arguments were. I was particularly persuaded, actually, by three arguments: the one made by Mr. Colle, the one made by Mr. Leone and the one, in fact, made by Ms. Mangat. They all made good points on this.
It is the Chair’s responsibility to ensure that we proceed forward. It is the Chair’s responsibility to make sure that there is always the motion forward, so even if this one fails, I’m given to understand that there will be another one and perhaps another one after that. We also have the main motion by Mr. Leone.
I am inclined not to support this. I am satisfied that the November 5 date might be right, but the statement made by Mr. Leone, that he is looking for—his original motion, intended to look for documents going from January 1, 2010, has been significantly replaced by one of January 2012, cutting out some two years of documents, which all members are entitled to have.
The point made by Ms. Mangat was that it’s within the body of the estimates, although we have in this committee in the past gone outside the estimate period, where it is a long-going action. I’m thinking mostly back to the power plants. We went beyond the estimate period and went back years before that, when it was first funded. But her point is a good one.
Last, but not least, Mr. Colle made a very important point about the provincial funding aspect of this particular amendment. Although he was speaking in favour of the amendment, his arguments were very much opposed to the amendment because what this does in fact is limit the scope of what is being requested in Mr. Leone’s original motion to those only related to provincial funding, whereas Mr. Leone’s was to all documentation and would include those things from the private sector, the federal government and others.
I’m afraid I can’t support the amendment either, and so the amendment fails.
Ms. Damerla, you have another one?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Yes.
Mr. Rob Leone: Mr. Chair, point of order.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Point of order.
Mr. Rob Leone: Perhaps it would be helpful, if the governing party has a series of amendments, to table them all at once for our consideration.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): It may facilitate, but Ms. Damerla is under no obligation to do so.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, if I may say so, the amendments really depend on the discussions; we endeavour to improve with every amendment. You can’t just table all of the amendments together, because they sort of arise from how the proceedings play out.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right. Ms. Damerla, the floor is yours.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. I move that Mr. Leone’s motion be amended as follows: that the words “related to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, to the Standing Committee on Estimates by 12 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013” be removed and replaced with “from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, related to the provincial funding of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games, by Tuesday, November 12, 2013.”
I do have copies of the amendment here for the Clerk.
Mr. Paul Miller: Point of order, Mr. Chair: Listen, this is silly. She did one week; now she’s moving in another week. It’s the exact same discussion as the last two. With all due respect—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): First of all, I’m not going to hear any argument until everybody has a copy in front of them.
Mr. Paul Miller: She just read it.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I know. She changed the week at the end, but she also changed her amendment from the last one by moving it back to 2010.
Mr. Paul Miller: It’s the same as the last one.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: No, it’s not.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, it was 2012.
Mr. Paul Miller: That’s not what she read.
Mr. Mike Colle: We added the years.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): The two years have been added back in. It is different. It’s not hugely different, but it is different.
Mr. Paul Miller: So why did we take the two out in the first place?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: When I have the floor, I’ll explain it.
Mr. Paul Miller: I’d like to hear that.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right, I’m going to give the floor back to Ms. Damerla. But we only have about two minutes and then we’re going to have to recess until this afternoon so that we can all be up in question period. Ms. Damerla, the floor is yours until the bell rings.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. As you can see, we endeavour to please you. You were not happy last time with the “as soon as possible,” so we changed it to November 5. Then later on, you expressed some concerns around the time frame and suggested that the time frame we had suggested in our previous amendment wasn’t broad enough, so we have actually gone back to the original, broader time frame.
I personally do believe that it’s a fishing expedition, and I feel that if the members opposite want to fish so much, I’d welcome them to Port Credit. It has the best salmon fishing. I’m serious about that: It really does have the best salmon fishing in Ontario.
Mr. Paul Miller: Yeah, we’ll get some mackerels. That’s for sure.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: No, you’ll get some really good Atlantic salmon, if that’s what you want to do.
But to fish over here and waste everybody’s time is unconscionable. However, just to make the committee move forward, we’ve come to this compromise, and we are suggesting—
Mr. Paul Miller: Rag the puck. You should have been a hockey player.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: I can try.
If you want to go back to the original, broader time frame that Mr. Leone had asked, then we suggest that it would be a fair compromise to at least extend the time frame now from November 5, 2013, to November 12, 2013.
Chair, I always tell my daughter that it’s important not to set yourself up to fail, and it’s really important to be fair. We have to be fair to our officials and give them a reasonable time.
If you really want estimates, if you really want this information around provincial funding from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013, as opposed to the more focused period, which is what we believe is the meat and potatoes—if you really do want that broader one, we will—I think it is fair to the Ontario public service that we give them more time. The October 17, 2013, deadline is just unreasonable. It’s trying to set them up to fail, and that is completely unfair.
I know that Mr. Leone used to be a professor, I believe. You never want to set your students up to fail. You’ve got to give them a framework to do the job well. So it’s really important, Chair, that this timeline be respected. I think we have met more than halfway. Our preference would be for a more focused look. We’ve agreed to a broader framework, so we hope that the opposition will meet us halfway. It’s really not about meeting us halfway but ensuring—
Mr. Paul Miller: Move for adjournment.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay, I’m going to have to cut you off there. I will come back to you when we come back this afternoon, back to Ms. Damerla. A couple of points: As a fisherman, I want to tell you that those are not Atlantic salmon that are caught out in the lake; they are Pacific salmon.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: No, it’s Atlantic.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, they are Pacific salmon. I want to guarantee you they are Coho. They are Pacific salmon.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: They have been restocked with Atlantic salmon.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, no. Okay, but—
Mr. Mike Colle: Can we have research verify that?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Yes, you can have research verify it. I know exactly what they are. They’re transplanted. But we will be back.
As well, if I could, before I bang the gavel, Mr. Jackson, you have documentation that was alluded to. I think all members of the committee would like to see that, which I think were the org charts and the names. I think Mr. Colle had a good point; he wanted to see those. All members will have those by the time we resume this afternoon.
We stand recessed until this afternoon at approximately 3:45.
The committee recessed from 1026 to 1603.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. We are now into orders of the day, so we can commence.
When the committee recessed this morning, the members were considering Ms. Damerla’s amendment number 3. Ms. Damerla has the floor.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. As I was saying earlier, the more reasonable approach would have been for the opposition and for Mr. Leone to have asked for documents in a more focused time frame. If from that a need would had been felt to broaden the scope, surely we could have done that, but there seems to be some insistence that from the get-go they wanted a very broad scope.
In the spirit of compromise in accommodating the opposition, because we want to make this committee work, we have now amended our amendment to go back to the original motion, which would allow for the documents to be from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013. But given the broad scope of these documents, what we are saying, Chair, is that the deadline as proposed by Mr. Leone of October 17 is just not practical.
I have to say that I’m a little disappointed at this fishing expedition approach—
Mr. Rob Leone: Point of order, Chair.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: —I think all that—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Hold on. We have a point of order. The point of order is?
Mr. Rob Leone: Maybe just a point of clarification, but—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, no, just a point of order.
Mr. Rob Leone: Is there a withdrawal of the amendment? Is that what we’re talking about now or—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: No.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, no. This is an amendment on your desk, item number 3.
Mr. Rob Leone: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): The changes, I believe, that Ms. Damerla is talking about are going back to the original date, January 1, 2010.
Mr. Rob Leone: Oh.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Which was in your motion.
Mr. Rob Leone: Thank you. I was confused
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Please proceed. That’s not a point of order, so therefore back to you.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Given the broad scope and the timeline, we feel that the five working days—Chair, that’s what it would allow. If you were to start counting from tomorrow, it would give the Ontario public service just five working days to get documents spanning over three years.
Now, Mr. Leone, if you were to go and ask any of your constituents in Cambridge, “Is this a reasonable time frame, five days?” my guess is most of them are going to say that’s not reasonable. It’s just not practical, and that’s the reason we are suggesting that we move the date to Tuesday, November 12, 2013. It’s still a very aggressive deadline, but I think it is something that we can work with, because I feel that we have a responsibility here to be responsible and find a balance between the need of legislators to hold government to account—I completely respect that, and I want accountability myself—but also to ensure that the burden we put on the Ontario public service is not excessive, which is what this five-day period would do.
I don’t think any reasonable person, any reasonable Ontarian, could demand of any set of officials that, over a five-day working period, they come up with all these documents that span nearly three years.
It is this that disappoints me, Chair, this aggressive deadline. It suggests to me that there’s some political point-scoring taking place, almost setting us up to fail. Scoring at the cost of taxpayers impresses no one, least of our constituents, and that includes the constituents of Mr. Leone, Mr. Harris, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Nicholls and Mr. Miller.
So I think we owe it to the Ontario taxpayer to ensure that the time of the Ontario public service is used in a balanced manner and that we take a balanced approach. We don’t go on fishing expeditions. Instead, we try and hold the government to account—
Mr. Paul Miller: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Point of order from Mr. Miller.
Mr. Paul Miller: She’s talking about fishing and mentioning all the members who are asking for information that’s pertinent to our whole situation here. She’s trying to minimize the content of what we require to do our job. I kind of resent that. So stick to the agenda.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. It is not a point of order, but you have made your statement.
Please continue, Ms. Damerla, and on the topic—you’ve been fairly good so far—of your amendment.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: I was just trying to explain to this committee why we think it’s really important to move the deadline from October 17, 2013, to the one we are proposing, which is Tuesday, November 12, 2013. It was in this context that I had invoked the names of some of the committee members. Certainly no disrespect intended, and certainly not trying to speak off topic.
At this point, Chair, I’ve sort of made my point as to why we think we need to extend the timeline. I think we’ve been really, really reasonable because we are agreeing to the broader scope, even though we are not sure that at this point it merits that. Our preference would have been to start off with a narrower scope for the documents that are being asked for in terms of the timeline and then to later broaden it if required. But in the spirit of co-operation, we are saying, okay, we’ll go with the broader scope, but let us give the bureaucrats enough time to do a good job.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Further debate? Ms. Jaczek.
Ms. Helena Jaczek: I’m just coming to this perhaps with fresh eyes to look at both Mr. Leone’s original motion and now Ms. Damerla’s amendment. Looking at this time frame, which obviously is the subject of the amendment, it seems to me that the request that we’re making is far more reasonable in terms of the potential volume of material.
As I understand it, it’s that the ministry should release all correspondence delivered to the ministry over a three-year period—almost three years. To expect that these documents could be provided within, as Ms. Damerla said, five business days, is, I think, completely unreasonable. Having had the experience of sitting on public accounts, where we’ve been looking and asking for correspondence related to the Ornge issue, and also my experience sitting on social policy as it relates to diluted chemotherapy, our committee has been able to come to some sort of reasonable accommodation in terms of what may be within some business practice in terms of searching records and providing them. I would say that I’m totally supportive of my colleague’s comments made this afternoon, that changing the deadline for the production of these documents to Tuesday, November 12, 2013, seems to me a far more reasonable request of the ministry.
First of all, is it physically possible? I don’t know if we’ve heard anything back from the ministry in terms of their opinion, but certainly I think any reasonable person who has had some experience in requesting correspondence and with a desire to have all the correspondence would agree that the ministry should be allowed to have several more weeks in order to accommodate the request. Thank you, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Further debate? Ms. Mangat.
Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Thank you, Chair. I said in the morning session as well that this time extension should be given. I’m sure all the members have this chart on their desks, which says “Pan/Parapan”—
Mrs. Amrit Mangat: This one. I’m sure you all have it. It looks so complex, and the time we are asking for is a very genuine request. It should be given. I reiterate my words from this morning that it must be removed and replaced with “from January 1, 2010, to October 3, 2013,” and a grant must be given by November 12, 2013, looking at the complexities of the issues. We are discussing the Pan/Parapan Am Games, which will strengthen our economy. It will create jobs and it will showcase Ontario as the best place to do business, to invest in and to visit. I think that the request by my colleagues is a genuine one and that an extension must be given.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Leone.
Mr. Rob Leone: Thank you, Chair. Just a few points of clarification. I do want the members of the committee to know that the reason why we selected Thursday, October 17 was that, at the time we tabled the motion, we were looking at it from a perspective of two weeks from that date, which was a standard practice of requests that we had made. We obviously have to put that into context with what’s happening here, which is that we’ve moved a motion, recesses have been called, filibusters have emerged, and we’re still considering whether the motion is actually going to see the light of day or not.
Even today, after spending a considerable amount of time discussing amendments and discussing the motion, we’re still in a position where we don’t actually have any degree of certainty as to the timeline.
The fact that they’re now raising the point that it’s five business days away is entirely their fault. We could have dealt with this a lot earlier and we would have been able to have a two-week time frame, which has been the time frame we’ve put on other document requests that this committee has put forth. With the greatest of respect to the members opposite, I realize that they’re trying to delay actually moving and voting on this motion. I realize that they probably don’t want to discuss the estimates of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport today because of what’s happened just down the hallway with the release of the Auditor General’s report that has pegged the cancellation costs of the Oakville and Mississauga power plants at over $1 billion.
We see here, I think, a continual attempt by the members of the governing party to delay these proceedings, and if that’s the case, perhaps maybe they would entertain adjourning for the day and let’s talk about the power plants, let that go forth, and we’ll come back tomorrow.
That’s what I think would probably be right, given the fact that we have numerous ministry officials here once again today. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to talk about the estimates today, then let’s move this to tomorrow and not waste anyone’s time.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I’m not sure what—you’ve made a suggestion, but you haven’t made a motion—
Mr. Rob Leone: I’ll move to adjourn.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: No.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): First of all, under the rules of order that are extant, a motion to adjourn takes precedence over any other motion that’s made. It is a non-debatable motion and it must be called immediately.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): If you’re seeking some clarification—I don’t want debate on whether it’s a good idea or not—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Would it be possible to seek a recess before the vote on the adjournment?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): It is a vote; yes, it is a vote. You’re entitled to a 20-minute recess, if you want one, to determine whether or not to vote for adjournment.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Is that what you’re seeking?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right. We have a 20-minute recess on the motion of whether or not to adjourn. It’s now 17 minutes after 4. Please be back at 4:37.
I would ask the minister and the staff to stay because I’m not sure where we’re going here. If this motion passes, of course you can all go. If it doesn’t, you may all go anyway because I have a feeling we may be here for a while.
We are recessed for 20 minutes.
The committee recessed from 1617 to 1637.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): We will call the meeting back to order. We have a motion of adjournment. It is without debate.
Mr. Rob Leone: Recorded vote, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. A recorded vote is in order.
Harris, Jackson, Leone, Miller.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): The motion carries. We are adjourned until tomorrow at approximately 3:45.
Just before everybody goes, a statement on the record: At 3:45, we’re going to be back here. There is still one hour and 42 minutes remaining. Given the time, I am going to indicate to the Ministry of Health that they need not attend, because if we can finish tomorrow, that will leave only a very short period of time, not enough to start the Ministry of Health.
As long as everyone understands that, we will attempt to finish this ministry tomorrow. At 3:45, we have one hour and 42 minutes remaining. We have an outstanding amendment tomorrow under the name of Ms. Damerla, which we will start with. Hopefully, we can deal with it expeditiously and go on to the purpose of this meeting, which is to do the estimates of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Meeting adjourned till tomorrow.
The committee adjourned at 1638.
Tuesday 8 October 2013
Committee business E-167
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Chair / Président
Mr. Michael Prue (Beaches–East York ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Taras Natyshak (Essex ND)
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton–Lawrence L)
Mr. Joe Dickson (Ajax–Pickering L)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Mr. Rob Leone (Cambridge PC)
Mrs. Amrit Mangat (Mississauga–Brampton South / Mississauga–Brampton-Sud L)
Mr. Taras Natyshak (Essex ND)
Mr. Rick Nicholls (Chatham–Kent–Essex PC)
Mr. Michael Prue (Beaches–East York ND)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury L)
Ms. Dipika Damerla (Mississauga East–Cooksville / Mississauga-Est–Cooksville L)
Mr. Rod Jackson (Barrie PC)
Ms. Helena Jaczek (Oak Ridges–Markham L)
Mr. Paul Miller (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek / Hamilton-Est–Stoney Creek ND)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr. Katch Koch
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Jerry Richmond, research officer,