Wednesday 28 October 1992

Dress and decorum in the House

Hon David Warner, Speaker


*Chair / Président: Duignan, Noel (Halton North/-Nord ND)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Farnan, Mike (Cambridge ND)

Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot ND)

*Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND)

*Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

*Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

Mills, Gordon (Durham East/-Est ND)

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East/-Est L)

*Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

*Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants:

*Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L) for Mrs Sullivan

*Callahan, Robert V. (Brampton South/-Sud L) for Mr McClelland

*MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton ND) for Mr Cooper

*White, Drummond (Durham Centre ND) for Mr Mills

*In attendance / présents

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)

Clerk / Greffiére: Mellor, Lynn

The committee met at 1534 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Noel Duignan): Seeing a quorum present, I call the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to order. There's one item on the agenda today, and that's the review of the wearing of buttons and members' dress code and members' conduct in the House.

I also understand the clerk will be distributing some information regarding the committee system of the Ontario Legislature.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): She has done that.

The Chair: Has she done that?

Mrs Marland: Yes, we do have copies.

The Chair: I also have notice of substitution: Bob Callahan for Carman McClelland and Mike Brown for Barbara Sullivan. We now can begin the discussion.

Mrs Marland: Perhaps you could explain to the committee who asked for the matter of the review of wearing of buttons, plus members' dress code, plus members' conduct -- who or which organization was the source of referring that to the committee.

The Chair: I don't have the copy of the referral right now, but I understand it was a referral from the House, I think from your caucus, on a situation that arose a number of weeks ago in the House regarding wearing buttons. It was during the referendum period. The question of conduct and members' dress code has arisen quite a number of times in the House and is a referral by the Speaker to this committee. Are there speakers to the question at hand?

Mrs Marland: I'm happy to lead off this discussion.

Mr Mike Farnan (Cambridge): I'm quite comfortable with that. I'm wondering whether we should talk about how we feel or how our caucuses feel or whether, if we're going to do something constructive with this, it make some sense for a subcommittee from the three parties to put something together to bring back and say, "Here are some recommendations so that we can start off by looking at something concrete."

I know it's possible for all of us to make comment about behaviour in the House. The real question is what has to be done. It would appear to me that this meeting could be very effective if we said, "Okay, we'll set up a small committee, provide a working package and then have a full discussion on it." At the moment, we'd be starting off and just going in all directions.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Let me point out, before we start to refer it to a committee, that there are precedents already in existence. I refer to Erskine May, the 21st edition. Let me read to you what it says on page 392 where it talks about members' dress: "Members are not permitted to wear decorations in the House. The wearing of military insignia or uniform inside the chamber is not in accordance with the long-established custom of the House. The Speaker has also stated that it is the custom for members to wear jackets and ties."

Let me continue. Another reference is to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, the sixth edition. At page 98, it says the following: "The standing orders of the House are virtually silent on the subject of members' dress. Standing order 17 requires that a member who wishes to speak must rise uncovered." I'm referring to a member talking with a baseball cap on his head yesterday. "While the wearing of hats in the chamber has a respectable historical tradition, Speakers in recent years have frowned on unorthodox headgear. Many Speakers have ruled that male members must wear a jacket, shirt and tie, and on rare occasions, such as Burns Day, have permitted the wearing of a kilt. In general, Speakers have enforced conservative, contemporary standards."

It goes on, also in the same chapter, that the only thing members are permitted to do is to drink water, not to eat peanuts, not to chew gum etc.

So the precedent is already there. What I would suggest is that the Speaker be informed of these regulations that are in existence and also be told that they must be implemented. That's a difficult situation, I agree, but you will recall how during the referendum the credibility and behaviour of politicians was really questioned and frowned upon by the public. The Speaker has told me that he receives, on a regular basis, hundreds of calls on the dress and the behaviour of members of Parliament. I look at my job as my responsibility, and it's part of my job -- and I have no choice other than to accept that -- to set an example. I have been elected by the public to represent them. I also know that la portée, the bearing, the result of my behaviour, will be scrutinized by the public and they will look at me and any of us as a responsible person.


We have to start right now to change the attitude of the public vis-à-vis that. How do we do this? It's by together setting an example. Tell the other members. I know some people will be totally against that idea, I know that, but at the same time, the House should be a place where a decorum is kept. It has always been proven that proper dress goes hand in hand with proper language in the House.

We saw this afternoon what happened. To me, this is not acceptable. Behaviour of the members who would bang their desks and so on I think is totally unruly. On the other hand, if we establish some rules that we all accept to agree on -- not only this, that we self-police ourselves -- in other words, if we see someone not properly dressed, we tell that individual, "You are not properly dressed." There are no reasons for a member to wear suspenders in the House, at least uncovered. There is no reason for that. There is no reason for anyone to be without shirt or tie.

This brings me to the question of women. I must say that the behaviour of women is far better than men in the House. I am there to see that. I must say also that women, as a whole, are far more decent as far as dress, and far more respectful of the House than men are. It's so visible.

Therefore, I think we have to get together and re-establish the proper decorum that should exist. Again, how do we do that? This committee is seen as being non-partisan. We have a responsibility, not only vis-à-vis us, but also vis-à-vis the public.

Mrs Marland: It's probably a little ironic that we're in here at this time this afternoon, having just had what I considered a most unpleasant afternoon in the House. I think I've risen on a point of privilege maybe on one other occasion in my seven years in the House. I rose this afternoon because I had to express how I felt my privileges had been affected by the behaviour on all sides this afternoon in the House. So this is not a partisan comment.

It's also probably a little ironic that I'm here today wearing one of these demonstration ribbons, buttons or whatever it is that we're talking about, where we're talking about the wearing of buttons. I'm in a position today where I'd like to speak about the issue from a number of perspectives.

First of all, in fairness, to respond to Mr Farnan's suggestion that we refer this to a subcommittee of this committee, I feel this is far too important an issue to give to three members in a subcommittee. I think each and every one of us, as we speak, will probably come from a slightly different perspective on the issue. After we have a discussion today, then I believe we should go back to our individual caucuses and talk about what direction collectively our caucuses would like us to represent as members of this committee, which is responsible for all services to members.

We had an experience last year where some of us on this committee took another matter to our caucuses and then, after the fact, our caucuses said they'd never heard from us. I know, in my particular case, my caucus had heard from me three times on the subject. So I know there's no system of communicating on behalf of a large number of members that's completely watertight.

But I think that when the House deteriorates to the point that it did this afternoon, we all lose. We lose as members holding prestigious elected offices. If our office, as elected members of the Ontario Legislature, is not a prestigious office, then it's because we do not regard it in the way it should be regarded. I think if we're elected to public office, it is a tremendous honour and a tremendous privilege for us as individuals.

Mr Farnan: Excuse me, Margaret. I'm wondering if I could ask the Chair, on a point of order, could we make an agreement as to the rotation of speakers or the time for each caucus so that we understand what way the division of time will take place during this committee meeting this afternoon?

The Chair: Of course the Chair is always at the disposal of the committee, as Mr Farnan well knows. It's always been the practice of this committee that every member had a right to speak and we rarely put a rotation system in effect unless we had witnesses coming forward through a hearing. If it's the wish of this committee that we divide the time and rotate between caucuses, the Chair is willing to abide by that, but I'm at the direction of the --

Mr Farnan: If, for example, we were to start off with every member having five minutes -- there are a lot of members here today with a great deal of interest in this issue -- then those members who wish to speak a second time might be able to add more to their comments at that time. Would that be agreeable as a procedure?

The Chair: It's agreeable with me if it's agreeable with the other members of the committee. Is it agreeable with the other members of the committee?

Mrs Marland: I'm not disagreeable, but I wish you had raised that point when M. Morin was speaking, in fairness.

Mr Farnan: I think he probably spoke for less than five minutes.

Mr Morin: I didn't speak that long.

The Chair: For the sake of the committee, I will simply say, why don't we limit members to five minutes at this particular point in time and let every member get his or her say in first. When that's finished, then if members again wish to make a comment, I will come back to them again. Margaret, you had the floor.

Mrs Marland: I'm not very pleased about that. I don't think what I have to say can be said in five minutes. I think what I want to illustrate is that what took place this afternoon is not an atmosphere in which I wish to work. I feel this committee, this Legislative Assembly committee, by its very name and responsibility, owes it to our members in all parties, on all sides of the House, to try to facilitate the function and the operation of the House. Also by its very nature, I believe this committee owes it to the Speaker to facilitate the function and the operation of the House, whoever happens to be in the chair.

Frankly, I think the Speaker's job is becoming an increasingly difficult job. We have two members of this committee who take the chair. Actually I guess we have three members of this committee today present who take the chair.

The Chair: I'd also like to point out to the members of the committee that the Speaker of the House is also present with us here today.

Mrs Marland: I didn't notice that the Speaker was even here.

The Chair: With the indulgence of the committee, maybe the Speaker would like to come forward and set up --


Mrs Marland: Now I'm going to have to be careful what I say. I didn't even notice the Speaker had joined us. I'm glad the Speaker is here, but I didn't realize you had joined us, Mr Speaker.

The point is that if we don't try to make the parliamentary system work within the House itself, then as far as I'm concerned, everything else falls by the wayside, and frankly, the wearing of buttons -- I'm wearing this white ribbon because I'm against pornography. It's a personal statement that I'm making. It's Anti-Pornography Week, it so happens. Actually, I don't find the wearing of a ribbon or a button distasteful by members, so I'm not hung up on that issue.

I thought it was ironical that M. Morin mentioned somebody wearing a baseball T-shirt and baseball cap yesterday, because one of his own members wore a baseball shirt yesterday.

Mr Morin: I agree.

Mrs Marland: Yes. I don't have any difficulty with somebody doing that for the purposes of a member's statement, for example, and then returning to his other clothing. But I do agree that it's inappropriate for people to sit in the House in apparel other than, for a man, a shirt and tie and a jacket, unless we have something go wrong with our air-conditioning and then they have to remove their jackets. I do agree that normally we should try to establish a benchmark of a minimum of jackets for men and suitable attire for women. I find it quite interesting because I too agree that the women in our present Legislature don't seem to have any difficulty with knowing how to dress appropriately, with respect for the chamber and where they are.

Now, setting aside clothing and the wearing of ribbons or buttons, the next subject is members' conduct. That is going to be an impossible thing for us to mandate to any single member in this House. I think the goal of this committee should be to establish what should be acceptable behaviour in the House and convey that to those who take the Speaker's chair and ensure that we support that person in the chair to the utmost of our ability through our communications within our own caucus about what is acceptable and what is totally unacceptable.

I think, if it gets to the point where the Speaker does have to start naming people because they have stepped outside the boundary and the limit that we as a committee have set in the best interests of everyone, that may have to take place for a period of time. But I can assure you that I have, in my seven years here, been appalled with some of the events that have taken place in the last two years, and particularly a complete disregard for the role of the Speaker on all sides of the House. I do not enjoy, and I'm embarrassed by that atmosphere.

Mr Drummond White (Durham Centre): We have a very timely discussion today given the events of earlier this afternoon. Frankly, we've had many events like earlier this afternoon. In my recollection, I don't know if it has been as severe, but it's the same tone. I imagine it will continue, and that's my concern.

Just as we degrade the tenure of the assembly, we degrade people's respect for us, for all of us and for the institutions which we have cherished for generations. We've seen that on Monday, where many people in our country have no respect for their elected politicians. Frankly, I think respect has to be earned time and again. It's not something that's bought on election day or earned on one occasion. No one wins with those battles; we all lose. I find that very deeply disturbing.

The issues that were mentioned here, that are tagged together, in and of themselves do not degrade our system. But on the issue, for example, of buttons, one can say sporting of a pin or a ribbon or a button is no big deal. It only indicates your respect for a particular position, people wearing Yes buttons in support of a tripartite endeavour, in support of our country, people wearing buttons in support of very important significant events such as Ms Marland was referring to. They're all worthwhile. Political, partisan events also are worthwhile, but I think, as Mr Morin has pointed out, that if we look right now at how the behaviour is going, any part of that detracts. It is too difficult to determine when the wearing of a tie, for example, is appropriate. In and of itself, it does not disparage our institutions.

But I think we have to look at the kind of behaviour we've seen. We have to take stock of that and say, "We have to pull back a little bit." If it means for a while that we have to assess what is appropriate, perhaps we should start at a level of nothing is accepted until such time as it has been discussed in our caucuses and forums like this and gradually allow ourselves to let go. But I don't think we can pull back gradually, given the kind of behaviour we've seen. We can't restrain that an iota at a time.

I think those things are connected and I think we have lost a lot of respect. It's continuing to happen. I see that from members of my party and from members of the opposition parties. It's not a partisan issue; it's an issue we are all tarred with.

I would suggest as well that when we are resorting to that kind of behaviour, what we're talking about is a paucity, a lack of thought, a lack of intent to parliamentary debate, to the processes and to the language that we have come to this place to use. When that debate is impoverished, so are our institutions and so is the respect they are due. These issues are a direct result of an impoverishment in public debate that we really need to look at seriously, to reinvigorate with language and with concern. I find it a matter of real concern.

Mr Chair is trying to get me to wind up. I still have a couple of minutes on the clock.

The Chair: You must go by a different clock than I do.

Mr White: I would suggest that we need to take these issues back to our caucus and that we need to give every individual a fair five minutes to process these issues. They are important, I think, to all of us.

The Chair: Before I go to Mr Callahan, I'm very pleased that the Speaker is here observing our debate this afternoon. If it's the wish of the committee, maybe the Speaker can join in the debate as well, or if members of the committee have a question they may wish to ask the Speaker, maybe they can direct it to the Speaker as well. Mr Callahan has the floor.

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): Let's start off by saying that I think we're all politicians. I think that oft-times clothing, in this place and in other chambers, has been an attempt to make a statement. The same thing with buttons: It's an attempt to make a statement. I think that the root cause of all this is something far greater than just the question of dress and decorum. I totally agree that if you allow the dress to become that of some other area of endeavour, you obviously bring down the discipline in the House. I believe that. That may sound terribly stuffy, but I can remember distinctly one of my sons, after they brought in those early changes to the educational system where kids could do their own thing and Dr Spock was running around doing that, went out to school one morning with the same T-shirt he'd had on when he went to bed the night before. If you don't do something about that, then, "Sloppy in dress, sloppy in mind."


I want to go to what I think is the real root cause of this, the fact that our legislative system does not provide an opportunity for members, other than those in the cabinet, to really have a say about what the policy for this province will be and to properly represent the people who duly elected them. I think that's the cause of a lot of the screaming in the House, of some people carrying on. I sat back and thought to myself -- I do it too -- but I thought to myself, "Nobody even heard that at home," and anybody in the gallery, usually if there were kids, looked down and they thought, "What a wacko he is." You don't realize it, but I think the frustration that's felt by every member of this Legislature in terms of the empowerment that you don't have is at the root of this whole thing.

So what do you do? You take it out in a way that doesn't befit any of us, really. It demeans the whole process, and whether we like it or not -- I happen to like it -- but I think traditions of the Legislature have come down to us through history, and if they've lasted that long, they must be good and there must be a reason for it. We're to represent the epitome of discipline and order. We're the people who are supposed to be keeping everybody else in order. How can that possibly be, if our decorum and our dress in the House don't meet that standard?

But I want to go back again. As I say, I think the real chestnut the Legislative Assembly is going to have to attack if it wants to solve this problem is the question of how we empower the backbenchers. How do we empower every member of this Legislature to truly and fairly represent the constituents in his or her riding? You guys and ladies over there are doing exactly the same thing our government did in the main, and I'm sure the Conservative government did, that every time you stand up and vote it looks like you're joined at the hip. Somebody made the comment that the public is upset with us because we're not dressing properly, we're wearing buttons or we're shouting in the Legislature. Let me tell you, if you think that's why the public is mad at us, I at least believe you're mistaken.

I think the reason the public is mad at us is that they don't believe we're actually representing their interests. They look at their member and they see their member voting for casinos when they don't believe in them -- that's just an example, that's just one policy -- but voting every time. Now surely to God the government can't be right all the time. That's one of the problems when you're in government.

If you're in opposition, the frustration is even greater because you see these people over there, this small group that runs the whole show, and I've said that every day in the Legislature I get a chance to speak. The Premier -- and it's the same in Ottawa, the Prime Minister -- about four cabinet ministers and about six or eight spin doctors run the whole show. Surely that creates the frustration that exists in this place, and that frustration is demonstrated by people trying to make a statement with the clothing they wear, the things they say, the buttons they wear, walking out of the House or whatever. They want to get into their local press. They want the people in their riding at least to think, "Hey, he did something today." It must have been terrible in the days of no television, because if you didn't do something outrageous like that, they probably didn't know whether you were still surviving or you'd gone off the planet.

I urge the Legislative Assembly to look very seriously at a reform of this Legislature. Just one of the small things you could do would be to make certain that a bill gets here after first reading and give the power to the committee that reviews the bill to listen to the public, first of all and, when the public has been heard, to incorporate what they've heard by way of amendments from either the opposition, the government or the third party into that bill and then leave the final responsibility of that bill with the minister to determine whether he or she is going to accept that bill in its totality or whether he or she thinks the amendments brought in were stupid.

If you do that, if you give that kind of power to backbenchers and if you take away the desire of those in government and those who are backbenchers who want to get into cabinet, so that don't do anything or they do things that they think are important to their success in getting into cabinet, I think you'll avoid a lot of these problems. We can talk all we want about tie, shirt, pants -- I mean, one of these days I expect to see people walk in there in the buff. It's not you guys who started it and it's not us who started it. I have to say it: Pierre Elliott Trudeau really came into the House with a different type of garb on and I think that set the stage.

What does that mean?

The Chair: Wind up.

Mr Callahan: Okay. I'm only a visiting member here, but I urge you to look at the root cause. It's not anything to do with the fact that people like to come in in jeans or whatever; it's because they feel so frustrated and they're trying to make a statement. If we don't get at the cancer below it, we can scrape the surface and we're not going to accomplish anything.

The Chair: Any other first-time speakers?

Mr Morin: Bob, I think you mentioned at the beginning comments that were made. I said that dress is conducive to good debate.

Mr Callahan: I agree.

Mr Morin: I also said that there were hundreds of calls received by the Speaker complaining about the dress of the members. One must remember that 85% to 90% of our job or the impression that the public has about us is perception. It's created by perception: How does that person speak in the House? How does that person comport or behave in the House? This is the image, the picture, that remains in the mind of the individual.

Bob, you may have an argument about this, saying "Fine, the backbencher's not given enough rights." I agree with you on that, but first we must start from the base: Behave properly, dress properly.

We're not reinventing the wheel; it's in the book. It's right here, and let me read it again. I'll just quit after that. It's Beauchesne, Parliamentary Rules and Forms. It's already in there; all we have to do is apply it. "A jacket and a tie are required to be worn by male members. Turtleneck sweaters are not permitted." This refers to debates of December 10, 1981. "A member wearing a turtleneck sweater has been informed that he will not be permitted to record his vote. Clergy are permitted to wear clerical collars. No member may wear a hat while addressing the House." It's all in there. All we have to do is implement it, and that's what I suggest. When we talk to our caucus, it's already there.

We must police ourselves. I heard that what happens in Ottawa is that it's not the Speaker who will call on the individual to dress properly, but it's the members themselves who will say, "The member for Lambton doesn't wear a tie" -- I'm sorry I'm using the member for Lambton -- and then immediately it's already cleared. But the Speaker can, if he wishes, not recognize that person because that person does not abide with the rules and regulations established by us.

At least let's give that to the public, the perception that we behave well, that we set an example for young people who come into the House, that our language is not profane, that our language is proper, and that we also respect the dignity. I have as much respect vis-à-vis the member for Cambridge. You're like a flag; you represent your institution, you represent your constituency. I owe you respect and vice-versa, and I should treat you accordingly. We all know that, but we have to implement it.

The Chair: Mr Brown, did you have anything?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Just briefly, Mr Chair. I'm concerned with the issue. I believe, as Bob was talking about, it's part of a larger issue, but I don't think we can address that in this forum. I think we have to talk about the decorum of our particular place. Saying that, I think it's important that we recognize that this is a political place and members do make statements by their very dress.

It could be that someone comes to the House wearing a turtleneck because he wants to be seen as a man of the people and not a stuffed-shirt, downtown Toronto lawyer, or whatever. They do that for a reason, and a political reason, a theatrical reason.

I'm not very sure that any rule of the Speaker or any group of us will be able to enforce that very well, because the first time our Speaker, Mr Warner, doesn't recognize a member with a turtleneck, that's probably why he wore it. It is probably the reason the member chose to do whatever the member chose to do. You don't have to get yourself thrown out of the House, you don't have to do anything really dramatic, but you can make a statement that you were there that day. I think we have to recognize the realities of the place.


It strikes me that from the time of the earliest British parliaments we probably had committees like this worrying about decorum, worrying about what people might say, what people might shout, what people might wear. At the end of the day, we all are answerable to our own electorate. My own personal feeling is that I've never appeared in the House dressed in anything else than a shirt and tie. I think that probably is the image I want to portray to my electorate, but that may not be what somebody else wants to portray, and I'm not sure we can do what this committee's being asked to do.

As a committee chair, like yourself, I get more disturbed at a committee room like this, when members come in wearing sports shirts and are really quite casual -- after all, it is July or August or whatever -- and the presenters from around the province sometimes wonder what group of bumpkins we really are that they've come to see. I would like to see that changed, but I'm not so sure that people are going to do it, and I'm not so sure that we can enforce it, because I think sometimes that's the reason they've done it.

I've been here, as some members on the opposite side have, through the famous all-night sittings, and I'll tell you, at 3:30 or 4 o'clock in the morning in there, the standard of dress has fallen completely apart.

Mr Callahan: So has the conduct.

Mr Brown: Yes, usually. I guess I don't know how we enforce common sense; I don't know how we enforce decency. I think we have to rely tremendously on the Speaker's judgement in terms of this being a human place. Yes, we behave badly sometimes, and often we don't do things the way they're supposed to be done, but this is about people; this isn't a high court. It's supposed to have some informality; it's supposed to be the forum of the people.

So while I support a dress code, if Mr Warner starts throwing out the first guy who wears sandals in there, I'll tell you, there will be sandals in there the next day just because he knows that Mr Warner's going to toss him. I believe the decorum of the place relies on decency and on good personal deportment, but I don't know how, as a body, we can enforce that.

The Chair: Mr Farnan, then Mr Arnott.

Mr Farnan: First of all, it's my belief that, by and large, most members are serious about their job. I think people research their work, they're dedicated. I think they're committed to representing their riding and they want to ensure that their riding gets a fair deal. Overall, I have great respect for members on all sides of the House.

On occasion, the assembly itself can range from comedy and farce, on the one hand, to reasoned debate and even moments of high drama as we discuss important issues, so it is not all bad. There is very substantive debate that takes place in the House and there is a very good exchange on many occasions between members and ministers, but there are times when the House loses that decorum and in the process, I believe, loses some respect.

We have to look at some realities. There is partisan politics that we are all part of; we are members of political parties. There is the whole drama of the House and there are the theatrics that other members have spoken to. There is the urge to get the media hit, to get that media attention almost at any cost, even to reduce the demeanour and the standards of behaviour within the House. There's the frustration of opposition or the frustration of backbench government members that's all there, but I believe we're all parliamentarians.

I believe that essentially what we're talking about here is respect for our constituents. If I come here from Cambridge, my constituents in Cambridge expect me to behave as a gentleman, to behave honourably. I think we ought to have respect for each other.

I heard a senior member of the House today talk to the Premier and never address him by "Premier." It was "he" and "his," and that is sad, that the Premier of the province would be addressed in such a way. You know, partisan politics be damned; there is no room for that. We must respect the offices of individuals.

We must have respect for each other and we must have respect for parliamentary procedure. I believe the book has been written. I don't believe it can be imposed simply by the Speaker. I would compliment the Speaker for the fine job and the patience and the encouragement that you, David, give to all members of the House throughout your tenure as our Speaker. I would say the same for your Deputy Speakers and the Chairman of the whole House. The standards in the chair are superb, in my view.

What's missing is the support of the members themselves for the Chair, not just as individuals but as caucuses. I think our whips and our House leaders and our caucuses as a whole have to get the message out that if you are going to act in an ungentlemanly or an unparliamentary manner, then you're acting in a manner that is unworthy of the Conservative caucus or the Liberal caucus or the government caucus. We have to impose that kind of discipline on ourselves.

We owe it to the people of Ontario. There is no doubt that there is some degree of cynicism, there is some degree of devaluation of the political coinage, and we can do much as individuals and as a Parliament to regain that respect if we respect each other, respect parliamentary procedures and respect the wishes of our constituents in the manner in which they demand we act.

I don't think we have to work on this issue in terms of coming up with a lot of suggestions to the Speaker. I think those suggestions are in the book. I think the Speaker tries to explain them to us and encourages us to follow them. What is required is the will, individually and collectively, to give the Speaker and his deputies that respect and support.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I'm pleased to be here this afternoon. I'm not normally a member of the Legislative Assembly committee, but I'm certainly pleased to be here.

I'd like to say that I support and endorse everything Mr Morin has said. Where I have a question is, how do we enforce these rules that we try to put to ourselves? If we look around this room, the worst offenders in the House may or may not be here. It's a difficult mechanism to try to enforce when the collective will may be here but in the chamber may not.

I've been guilty of interjections. From time to time I get upset, and I've worn a T-shirt in the Legislature and I've sung the Blue Jays song in the Legislature. So I'm an offender as well.

But today was the third day I had a question that was very, very important to me scheduled and I didn't get to place it and didn't get to do a petition because there was no time, and we know why there was no time for that sort of thing. I'm not able to do my job because of what's happening.

I think we all have to look at ourselves and look at how we can respond to it. There must be some ways we can in some measurable way improve what's happening, but it's going to be very difficult and it's going to require personal restraint on all of our parts. That's about all I have to say.

Mrs Marland: I think if the Speaker felt like making some comments, I would like to hear it from his purview, or we've heard from one Deputy Speaker and we have another Deputy Speaker here. I've only been in the chair once, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was there for four hours, there were no problems, it was a nice, peaceful --

Mr Callahan: It was midnight to 8, though.


Mrs Marland: But it was after routine proceedings. I think that's what it's all about.

Personally, I think that all the things that bother all of us in this room, the yelling, the screaming and the interjections and so forth, aren't things we can do anything about, if the members who do them elect and choose to do them at that time. But there is something that I think our committee can do, and that is, it can decide whether or not the Speaker should start enforcing his power of ejection.

I think when the Speaker stands -- if there are a whole lot of interjections and unhappiness on both sides of the House because questions are being asked and, in the view of the people asking them, perhaps the answers aren't being given or maybe statements -- whatever the role is, it doesn't matter; the roles are played out on both sides of the floor.

I think this particular Speaker has tried, knowing that the issues are difficult, and the times are difficult. This past year has been the most difficult time in terms of what's happening to my constituents in all of the seven years I've been here. These are tough times. We come into the chamber, if we are sincere, committed representatives, and don't leave our stuff in the riding. I don't even leave it in the car. I carry it with me all the time, because I'm concerned about those people who are looking for my help and my assistance.

When I come into the House, and I'm now going to ask a question -- and I think Mr Arnott has said it perfectly; he had a question today, I had a question that never got on yesterday -- it does interfere with our ability to do our job on behalf of our individual constituents. There has to be a point at which somebody takes control so that we can stop what is taking place. The only person who can take control is the Speaker, and if, when the Speaker stands, the catcalling and the interjections and all that stuff continues, then the Speaker has to start naming those people. If he has to name seven or eight people the first day, then as far as I'm concerned, so be it.

But I do not want to be part of the mayhem that we had today in the chamber. I'm quite sure, unless we're trying to make a particular demonstration, which I haven't chosen to do, that most of us would be mortified to be named by the Speaker and have to leave the chamber.

There are times when the frustration of some individuals has reached the point where they feel so strongly about what they're doing and what they're saying that they're willing to forfeit their seat for the afternoon. That's their choice, but they've got to realize that's the risk they take. When they take that risk and when they make that step, that one move over the threshold of what is acceptable behaviour in the chamber, then they take the consequences. It's like all of us. We make decisions every day of our lives to which there are consequences. It's up to us to weigh whether the consequences are worth it.

I think what we say to our Speakers, to all of them -- and I recognize that the Speaker has the most difficult time, because he does have question period. We've had some pretty cantankerous times in debate, 5:30, quarter to 6 in the afternoon. It hasn't all fallen on the Speaker; it has fallen on some of our deputies too. As soon as the Speaker stands, if it doesn't stop, then he starts naming, one by one, anyone who is continuing. In fairness, he won't be able to wait until the member for so-and-so is named and has to leave; he's going to have to name all of them.

Mr Farnan: Could I ask a point of clarification, Margaret? Are you speaking now on behalf of your caucus, that your caucus is saying that it wants people named, or is this a personal view?

Mrs Marland: No, I'm not speaking on behalf --

Mr Callahan: You're not putting a hook in there, are you, Mike?

Mrs Marland: Mike, I am not speaking on behalf of my caucus, but my caucus approved my being a member of this committee.

Mr Farnan: Yes, so it's a personal view.

Mrs Marland: As I'm sitting here right now, it's a personal viewpoint, but it's also a personal viewpoint of whether I wish to behave badly in the House. I'm simply saying that we all talk about how embarrassing it is when there are students and the public up in the gallery and they look down at this juvenile, imbecile behaviour and they can't believe that's how we do business.

I heard somebody tell us, one of the times when this committee was at another Legislature, that the Ontario Queen's Park Legislature is the second-worst House in the country. What a wonderful reputation. I didn't even bother asking who was first.

Mr Callahan: We have to try harder, I guess.

Mrs Marland: I didn't ask who was first because I was embarrassed to know that we were the second-worst-behaved House, and I think the only way it will change is if the Speaker uses the authority that he has today, and that is to name members. As I say, the first couple of days he may have to name two or three very quickly on all sides of the House.

The Chair: Margaret --

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I'm sorry. This is a very serious matter to me.

The Chair: I quite agree.

Mrs Marland: He may have to name several people all at once in order to execute the remedy and --

The Chair: Margaret, I agree with you.

Mrs Marland: I support the remedy.

The Chair: Thank you, Margaret. While I agree it's a very important topic we're talking about, I want to make sure that every member gets a say. We've still got an hour and a half, and we can go back to you again. Mr Callahan, then Mr White, and then Mr Farnan.

Mr Callahan: Well, I think we just established proof, Margaret, that it can't be done, because the Chairman of the committee tried to interfere when you were going over it. I don't say that in any pejorative fashion; I'm just giving that as an example.

Just having been invited here, I agree with Gilles about the question of decorum and dress and all the rest of it. That certainly has an impact on how we act. And I find it interesting that just because this is not on the agenda, this reform of how we do things here, that we can talk about, scratch the surface on, what is really not the problem. I strongly suggest to you that the problem is deeper. The problem is frustration. It's a frustration that I felt as a member of the government and I'm sure you feel as a member of the government. I'm sure the Tories felt it as members of the government. It's equally there in opposition -- even more so.

So if you try to say -- I know, Gilles, that you're saying the issue is dress code, decorum, but it is conduct. And conduct is not something that you're going to be able to resolve in terms of the Speaker unless you give him an M1 rifle, because it just isn't going to happen.

My view has always been that if you have a problem, you don't try to answer it on the surface; you try to go below it. I think the Legislative Assembly -- I was just looking at some of these things you're doing about committees and so on. I think that we have to recognize in this place that whether you're in government, opposition or the third party, we do have a responsibility to our electorate, and we have to move rather quickly because politicians today -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that we're probably running about a good third behind the oldest profession in the world. If we continue to do that, we're going to find that we're going to become like the dinosaurs: We'll disappear. This is how democracy is lost: It's by people losing interest and belief and trust in their politicians.

I strongly suggest to you -- and if you do it, I'd love to get on the committee -- that there has to be a very significant approach taken by this committee, which has the power, I suggest, to do it, to bring a report into the House saying that in some fashion you're going to empower all the members of this Legislature.

I always find it strange -- when I drive down here in the morning, I think to myself that I'm going down to carry out my democratic function. Well, this place isn't a democracy; the place is a bloody oligarchy. It's run by about nine people. You can go home to your people in your riding and say, "Hey, you know, I was down at Queen's Park today and we got involved in all these important issues," but you haven't done anything about it.


I don't say that because it's the NDP government. I don't say it to make you people feel I'm holier than thou. I'm just saying that's the reality of the day and that unless we start changing this whole process, what's the point? What are we? We're nothing better than glorified ombudsmen. We can do great things in our riding. We are the person who gets things done in the riding, but when you come down here you don't mean anything. You really don't; if you think about it, you don't. I sometimes wonder if, God forbid, I didn't reach the park whether I'd even be missed. My vote would be missed, but what else?

I really think that's the issue. I know this is a limited issue, but I think we're just spinning our wheels here, just wasting our time talking about how we're going to get the Speaker to enforce all this.

Margaret says throw out the first eight people, name them and throw them out of the House. What does that accomplish? So they go home for the day, they get home early, they get to be an Ombudsman in their riding a little earlier. They haven't accomplished anything in the House, and the public will look at it and say: "My God, we're paying for that? The Speaker is throwing all these people out of the House." And I think it'll get worse: After you throw the first eight out and they get the headlines the next morning in the paper, you'll have 13 the following day.

I strongly urge you to look at the real root cause of this whole thing, and I think it should be done in a very non-partisan way. I know a lot of these committees don't work on that basis, but I think it should be done in a non-partisan way.

The Chairman is now signalling me to shut up. He doesn't have an M1, so I can keep talking if I want. I could take off my shirt, tie, pants and everything else if I wanted to.

The Chair: I notice the Speaker wants to reply.

Hon David Warner (Speaker): First of all, I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I won't take much of your time, because I realize the committee members have to wrestle with this themselves and perhaps back in their caucuses. I would just like to share a few observations.

Before starting I might comment, Bob, from your earlier remarks, that we're all visitors, some longer than others, but we're all visitors. In fact, commenting on visitors, we have a special visitor who is with us for a little while and observing this. As you may know, we've been able to establish a working relationship with our neighbouring states. The executive director of the Midwestern Legislative Conference is Ilene Grossman. Ilene is here with us today and she's most welcome. She has a non-partisan role to play and she will be with us for a couple of weeks observing our system and taking back with her some ideas. We're hoping that she doesn't take back all of the ideas on all of the things she has seen.

I want to also say, before going on, that someone remarked earlier about the contribution of the occupants of the chair. They've been absolutely fantastic, Noble and Gilles in particular. Of course from the government side there have been three people: Mike and Karen Haslam have occupied that role and Dennis Drainville is currently occupying that role.

One of the most positive things I've seen in all the years I've been involved in politics is the involvement of the four people. Noble, Gilles, Dennis and I work as a team in a very non-partisan approach to trying to run the assembly. The words of praise aren't strong enough to say how deeply I appreciate the way in which Noble, Gilles and Dennis approach their job. It is with the utmost of respect to the best traditions of Parliament. They're a great credit to their parties, to their caucuses, indeed to the public, and an absolute delight to work with.

One of the things we tried to establish -- and I think we have -- is a uniformity of approach to the chair. In other words, it doesn't matter who the occupant is, the same kind of decision is going to be reached. Indeed, Margaret, you did a great job that evening you were in the chair. You did too good a job. We were afraid that one of us would lose our job if you came back and occupied the chair more often.

I'd like members to think for a moment of a chamber where, although there's a one-hour question period, the moment there are no more important questions to be placed, you stop questions, even if it's just after a half-hour; and a chamber where, during debate, the common practice is to not repeat anything which was said previously, to not have interventions, to not heckle and to not show any disrespect whatsoever.

That's not a dream world, that's in the Northwest Territories. That's their chamber and that's how they function and that's their practice. Admittedly, it's a smaller chamber, 24 members, but that's their practice and it's really quite something to watch. It's an interesting practice to not repeat anything.

I think there are a lot of reasons for the situation in which we now find ourselves in terms of the decorum in the House, and I'll just share them with you candidly. I don't have a lot of scientific basis for this, just my observation from my first term, 1975, to now and what I understand took place before then. There's a number of significant changes that have happened.

Number one, for a long period of time there was a very small turnover in the House. Successive Parliaments had a very small turnover. In the last 10 years we have seen huge turnovers, within a 10-year span three different governments, and in each case a large turnover of members. You lose continuity; you lose a certain stability. You do not have the opportunity -- if you're a brand-new member and you sit and on either side of you are rookies as well, who do you turn to for advice about the practice, the procedure, what's expected? You don't have anyone to turn to.

I'm not sure if it's valid or not, but when you go back, certainly in the 1950s and 1960s and up until 1975, to a large extent, this position was a part-time job. The House didn't sit very often. It sat perhaps a total of three months in the year. This is a full-time job, and with it comes a greater commitment. The members today work exceedingly hard. They are totally, completely involved. You know that from your work. I know it from watching the members, from all sides. They dive into their work like someone jumps into the deep end of a pool. They get wrapped up in the issues and they bring those issues here.

Add the ingredient of television. I suspect that Parliament in the very old days, when they had really tough issues, wasn't much different than what we experience, but now everybody else can see it. We have a daily viewing audience of 400,000 people. These folks see what happens. Many of the same things happened 20, 30, 40 years ago, but nobody saw it.

I'll wrap it up with a couple of comments. When I came in here, there was a standing rule that gentlemen may not wear hats. We've removed that from the standing orders. You've got to wrestle, I think, with two parts in terms of the standing orders, or perhaps three.

One, the whole notion of protest: When somebody wears a button or wears a sweater that has something to do with an issue, it's a protest. Is that appropriate? If it isn't appropriate, it has to go in the standing orders, because otherwise there's no way for the Speaker to enforce it.

Dress code? Same way. There is no dress code. If you want a dress code, you have to put it in the standing orders. Otherwise you can't enforce it.

If you want to name members, to be honest, my first response is like Bob's, and actually what Mike mentioned earlier. If somebody wears sandals and they get tossed out for it, the next day you're going to see 20 more pairs of sandals.

Mr Callahan: It will improve the sandal business.

Hon Mr Warner: It will be great for the sandal business.

I think there's an ingredient missing, and the person I remember who was most vociferous about this in the past was Bob Nixon. Bob used to say, "If a member has done something so bad as to be named by the Speaker, that member should have to apologize to the House the next day before resuming his or her seat." I really agree with that, but I don't have the luxury of making that ruling. That needs to be in the standing orders. I would be more than delighted to see that because I think that would help to curb the excesses. If somebody is named, the next day he or she appears on the floor of the House, at the bar, and apologizes to the House -- not to me, not to the Speaker, to the House.


Mrs Marland: Do they do that in some Houses?

Hon Mr Warner: I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. I believe they do. But you'd have to put it in the standing orders, otherwise you can't make it effective. Lastly, I'll do everything I can to do my part to improve the atmosphere to have a better sense of decorum in the House. I think the best discipline is self-discipline.

Mrs Marland: Naming members, Mr Speaker: When you stand and the House does not respect the fact that the Speaker is standing, that's the part I'm talking about. Do you think it would be difficult for you to name members?

Hon Mr Warner: May I have a moment to respond? If there are a lot of members all yelling, screaming, pounding the desk, throwing things or whatever, and I name you, you and you, after it's all calmed down there'll be a point of order that says: "Why did you pick that member? The one behind him or beside him was equally as bad. What you're doing is simply taking away free speech. You picked on a member and you have no right to pick on a member. All members are to be treated equally."

That's why I hesitate. Once you start down that path there's no end to it, it just gets worse and worse. It's much easier, actually, to identify one individual who happens to be the source of the problem. If, for example, you've got a great melee and you wait until it subsides, and one individual carries on after being warned, say that individual is named. But starting to name them wholesale I think would be counterproductive. I suspect, in the long run, if the caucuses find a way to encourage self-discipline, that will be the ticket; that's what will work.

It's my own observation and I leave it for the members, obviously, to wrestle with this tough problem of buttons and all the other -- my only caution about it is that no matter what you talk about, no matter what your report is, unless there's a way to change the standing orders, you're not going to have the positive effect you're looking for.

I realize that every member on this committee feels strongly about a good sense of decorum, about being properly dressed. I get the phone calls. People are watching, they see somebody in a sweater and they phone my office. I have to tell them there's no dress code and to maybe phone the member, the caucus or something, but it doesn't do any good to phone me.

Bob's right in a certain sense, and I think this committee is going to tackle the question of the power of committees, the structure of committees, what kind of useful purpose they should be serving within the parliamentary context. If done properly, I think that could give every member, regardless of which party you're in -- first, second or third place -- give more members a sense of fulfilling a useful and productive role. If the committee system was strengthened -- I understand you're going to be tackling that perhaps in the off-season. That's a great venture, because in my humble opinion, we really need some very basic reform to our committee structure, and your committee is the right group to -- after all, this is the cream of the crop from our assembly; otherwise, they wouldn't be on the leg assembly committee. I know that.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Speaker. There's an order of speakers: Mr White, Mr Farnan, Mr Callahan. Very quickly, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: Speaker, is it not correct that in the Northwest Territories they have a rather unusual setup? They elect their Premier and they elect the cabinet ministers, and if they don't like them, they re-elect them.

Hon Mr Warner: You're partly right. They choose from among themselves who the cabinet will be, and the cabinet then selects who the leader will be. It's not so much a matter of not liking, but more a sense of sharing. You're the cabinet minister for a while, and then later on Margaret will be the cabinet minister for a while and so on. It's more of a sense of the opportunity and sharing it around, rather than saying, "We don't like what you're doing."

Mr Callahan: I wonder if that perhaps proves the point that the reason that works so well without rancour and all the rest is that you don't have the things that I'm suggesting occur in the type of Legislature we have.

Hon Mr Warner: Absolutely, plus numbers; obviously, 24 members are a little easier to manage.

Mr Callahan: And if we have 400,000 viewers, perhaps we could be advertising and reduce the deficit.

The Chair: Mr Callahan, we do have a rotation of speakers, and you're third on the rotation. It's Mr White, Mr Farnan and you.

Mr White: I'd like to thank the Speaker for his very wise comments. I'd also like to agree with Mr Callahan in terms of his concerns about the issues, about the frustrations, the powerlessness we feel, but we have to also look at what we can do. If we simply said, "We are powerless in this situation," and threw up our hands, we'd become even more powerless.

Yes, we have a situation that is very difficult for us, but I don't think we should either throw up our hands or suggest that Mr Speaker is entirely responsible for all decorum. Instead, we need to look at, what is the range of things we can do? There are major issues that confront us, major global issues, communications in the post-modern era. We can go into those things in great detail, the minimalization of self and all those things that are fascinating to explore but I'm not sure would empower us at the moment or allow us to deal with the problems we have.

Right now, today, we're faced with a major question around the rule of law, which is, after all, what this assembly is about. There was a suggestion, for example, of recognition of people: If people's deportment was severely out of line, perhaps Mr Speaker wouldn't recognize them. That's a possibility. Also, I think we can do things as a caucus, like suggesting that those people not be recognized among our own caucuses. We can reinforce each other.

Also, Mr Speaker has mentioned the issue of the standing orders. Obviously, one of the things we could suggest is a reform of the standing orders, because in doing so, it would clarify, it would empower the Speaker to act where appropriate, and not to be cutting off people's right to speak.

I suggest that as a committee we should look at some of the things we need to do on a short-term basis, which is bring some of these concerns back to our caucuses, making some concrete short-term suggestions, but also some midterm or longer-term things. I don't think we should simply say it can be easily solved, because I don't think that's true. We need to do some things immediately, but we also need to look at some solutions such as have been discussed, which would take more time to work through, and then also to have perhaps some sort of review.

Right now, we have a situation where the people whom we trust to make laws, whom we respect, are not acting in a respectful way. Those people we expect to enforce laws are not. The simple rule of law is being questioned, and this is not a time for us to throw up our hands and say there's nothing we can do.

I respect very much Mr Speaker's suggestions and his temperance, something which I don't think I would be able to manage in his situation.

Mr Callahan: You're not temperate, are you?

Hon Mr Warner: Just tempered.

Mr Farnan: I'd like to make a couple of comments in response to some of Mr Callahan's statements. I don't share, Bob, some of what I perceived as a negativism or a hopelessness of our situation. You talked about the difficulty of involvement. I agree that in fact there are difficulties, but I would present them as challenges. When your party was in government or in opposition -- and our party has shared the same fate; we've been in opposition and government -- how did you work involvement?

I know that within our government there are very strong measures within our caucus to involve caucus members. We recognize we have deficiencies in terms of that involvement, but we are certainly working as creatively as we can to have that kind of involvement for all of our members so that we can participate as fully as possible in the decision-making process.


In every organization, there are different players with different roles. It's not just politics. If you're a front-line teacher or a front-line police officer, decisions are made for you, and there are different roles to be played. I think it's the same within a political party within a legislative assembly. There are those who have more important decision-making powers, but there are areas where we can be involved in that process.

As well, I would like to point out that many legislators from other jurisdictions come and visit our assembly and they are extremely impressed. They don't have a question period, and they say: "My goodness, isn't this fantastic? I just wish we had this kind of question period back in our state." Many of our American visitors comment on the positiveness of our question period, of being able to challenge ministers of the crown on a daily basis on substantive issues.

We can ask questions. They can occasionally be emotionally expressed. Sometimes members cross the boundary of acceptance, but they can be reined in if it means that a member has to be disciplined. It's not that often that a member crosses that boundary. There may be some unacceptable behaviours that can be improved, but that boundary where an individual is tossed out of the House happens very seldom and indeed usually in the heat of the moment of vigorous debate.

I think we've got a lot to be proud of. I do believe we have to take this back to our caucuses. I hope we all share the same views.

Mrs Marland: Mike, would you just excuse me for one second?

The Chair: A point of order?

Mrs Marland: I did allow you to interrupt me a moment ago.

Mr Farnan: I don't feel it's an interruption, Margaret. Please put your point on the floor.

Mrs Marland: I'm sorry I have to leave the committee at this point to go and chair the estimates committee. I apologize to the members for having to leave.

I think probably there will be a consensus of a direction that we can take that the Chairman is going to suggest to the committee, and I just want to say I support the Chairman's suggestion. I think he will perhaps summarize at the end of the meeting. Thank you for letting me interrupt you.

Mr Farnan: Not a problem. I will conclude then and simply state, as I did earlier on, that discipline is self-imposed, but it can be strengthened by the collectivity of our caucuses. I think if our caucuses, our House leaders and our whips, with a collective wisdom of our caucuses, say, "These are the kinds of behaviour we expect from you as a Liberal," or as a Conservative or as a New Democrat, that could go a long way to improving the overall demeanour in the House.

Mr Callahan: Michael, I hear what you're saying, and I'd like to inquire, how many members have you got in your caucus?

Mr Farnan: We've got 74.

Mr Callahan: You've got 74, and you're in that room on the second floor. Do you get to speak to the policy before it becomes a bill, or is the bill brought in or an announcement made by the minister and you get to talk about it and decide whether you want to do it or not?

Mr Farnan: Let me say that we struggled with process. It took some time and there were some concerns within our caucus, but there has been a very creative approach taken that allows members to deal with issues as the process of decision-making goes from beginning to end. I think we haven't perfected that, and I'm only speaking on behalf of myself at this moment, but I think we've made huge strides in terms of the involvement of our caucus in very substantive policy issues. Particularly, the caucus involvement in terms of the government is that we try to focus this on the major issues, so that on the substantive issues that will be presented on the part of the government, there has been thorough debate within the entire caucus.

Mr Callahan: I accept what you say, but I have to say that unless you sit in caucus from 9 till 9 on Tuesdays, or whatever day you sit, you're in the same conundrum.

I also have to say something that's just struck me after almost seven or eight years in this place. The reason I enjoyed committees so much was that you did get to advance ideas and kick ideas around, I think for the betterment of our constituents. You don't get that opportunity. Regardless of how you've refined your caucus approach, you don't get that opportunity to do it. In fact, I find it more delightful in committees where you can discuss them without -- with all due respect to you as a fellow Irishman, saying that question period is such a benefit because you get a chance to challenge the minister is hogwash, and you know it is.

Mr Farnan: That's a reality.

Mr Callahan: Sure it is. Most times you don't even get an answer. It's pure theatrics, and in fact it's just an opportunity for each one of us to play against the other one and try to score political points and get the headlines and so on. It doesn't advance one whit the security or the wellbeing of this province.

Mr Farnan: I would have to disagree with you, because there are very fine members of the opposition, and I can go through them and name them, who ask very well researched questions and ministers who give very knowledgeable, balanced answers. It's a difference of opinion.

The Chair: I would appreciate the members addressing the Chair.

Mr Callahan: Okay. I don't necessarily want to debate this, but the reason I raised that is the fact that for some reason, even in places such as this, the Legislative Assembly committee, where I would think we would be looking to fine-tune the way this place works so that we would get the biggest bang for the buck for our constituents, we're still playing politics in here. I'm sorry, Mike; when you talk about question period, that's what you're doing, because it's a crock.

You say police officers have to toe the line because there's got to be somebody in control. Well, I have to tell you that we as members of the Legislature --

Mr Farnan: On a point of privilege: One cannot totally discount all the questions from very fine members of your own party and very fine members of the Conservative Party who research their questions. Now, there are times when question period is less than acceptable, but believe me, if you as a member want to promote the idea that that's all it is, then it's no wonder politicians are held in poor --

The Chair: Mr Farnam, excuse me. It's not a point of privilege. It may be a point of information.

Mr Callahan: I just heard my friend who left here say we're spinning our wheels. I agree that we're spinning our wheels, because we're looking at it from the standpoint, or should be looking at it from the standpoint, of sharing our views on a totally non-partisan basis in terms of how we improve the decorum, the code of conduct and the effectiveness in the House.

I don't know if anybody agrees with me. I've told you what I think the root cause is, but I still think that when we're doing this, we should be doing it in a fashion that's not pejorative, that we're not looking to advance something as what it's not.

In any event, I have to say to you with regard to the question Mr Farnan raised about the police officer having to subject himself to the hierarchy of authority, I don't view myself that way, thank you. I don't think any member should view himself or herself that way. I was elected by the people in my riding. The Premier of this province or the ministers of this province, even if I was in the government, are not the people who elected me. There should not be that hierarchy. There should be a community of spirit -- what's the word I'm looking for -- a collectivity, where we are working for the betterment of Ontario, where we're not simply coming up with wackamamy policies simply because they're sexy to the public to get us re-elected.

We should be looking at it in terms of what's good for this province, what this province needs, and we're not doing that. I think that's the frustration I feel. I think if anybody over there really thought about it, which maybe they have, and admitted to themselves, they'd say that's exactly what the frustration is. That causes the conduct.

If I walked into the Legislature with a purple shirt on with elephants running across the front of it, I'd make quite a statement to the people watching on television. They'd say, you know, "That's Callahan, because he's the guy with the purple shirt with the elephants running across it," so I'd continue to wear it.

We've seen members in the House who wear a particular type of garb, and they're looked upon as folk heros. What are we doing to ourselves? Are we going to simply say we'll give the Speaker some way to stop us doing that? I don't think we can do that. I think you really are spinning your wheels; I think Margie's absolutely correct.

Mr Brown: I just wanted to say I don't think I share Mr Callahan's view of this place, in that I do believe the institution is important and what happens in the chamber is of vital interest to our community, at least the community I serve. I think that's not really what we're talking about. What we are talking about is wearing buttons, the members' dress code etc.

It seems to me -- and I've never been a big fan of wearing any kind of decoration in there, although I have on occasion -- that this committee should consider carefully restricting that as much as possible, at least deciding in the rules how we can do that, because sometimes we go in there looking like billboards and I'm not really too happy about that.

There are countless organizations worthy of support from all members. They all have buttons, they have ribbons, they have whatever, and you're the leper in the place if you decide not to wear one. It's not because you don't support that particular group; it's just because you don't think you want to be a billboard. So everybody puts it on just so he's not the odd man out. I think we should have a look at that. Having said that, I look over and I see the Chair wearing his poppy, and then I say, where do you draw the line?

Mr Morin: It's a different thing.

Mr Brown: Yes, it is. But how do you define that? A dress code should be there. We have it in Beauchesne; it wouldn't be a big problem to put it in the standing orders. Then you have to look at what the remedy is, and that would need some careful consideration by the committee.

Members' conduct: I firmly believe that no rules will ever change that particularly. People, caucuses will determine that. While we should look for reasonable remedies, we should understand, as I said before, that this is a human place. It's also a political place. What's appropriate sometimes is not appropriate at other times. At the end of the day, if we do something that is seen by the public to be totally outrageous, at the next election they'll probably remember. On the other hand, if they think what we've done is appropriate, they may remember that too.

So those are the considerations that all of us have. I will quit there.

The Chair: This has gone around quite a bit. It's been a very useful debate here by the members on the conduct of members and wearing various expressions in the House. However, this committee, over the course of the next couple of months and after Christmas, will be reviewing some of the standing orders and reviewing the committee structure, as I understand. So would it be appropriate at this time, just going by the Speaker's comments this afternoon, that if you're going to have a dress code or if you're going to do whatever, you've got to change the standing orders to do it, in the meantime that would give us an opportunity to go back to our caucuses and discuss what we've discussed here today. Then when we sit down in the coming months to discuss the issue of standing orders in the committees, we can come back, after having discussed it in our caucuses, with some recommendations from each caucus as to how the standing orders could be changed around this particular subject.

Mr Morin: Could you arrange for us to have a copy of what we've been discussing? I personally will distribute to each member and tell them to read this, because there will be some reaction, I know that. At least they'll understand what we've been debating and there will be more participation.

The Chair: I will make sure you've got a copy of Hansard from this afternoon and a copy of the proposed schedule of this committee from now through to the recess. Any further discussion?

Mr Callahan: I move adjournment.

The Chair: There's been a motion of adjournment. Agreement of the committee? The committee stands adjourned until next Wednesday at 3:30.

The committee adjourned at 1705.