Wednesday 16 June 1993

Role of the independent member

Dennis Drainville, MPP

Administration and members' services

Claude L. DesRosiers, Clerk of the House

Hon David Warner, Speaker


*Chair / Président: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln ND)

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

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

*MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton ND)

*Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

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

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

*Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

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

Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Mills, Gordon (Durham East/-Est ND) for Mr Wessenger

Clerk / Greffiére: Mellor, Lynn

Staff / Personnel:

Sibenik, Peter, procedural research clerk, committees branch, Office of the Clerk

Yeager, Lewis, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1622 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Ron Hansen): We'll open the meeting. We'll start off with Mr Dennis Drainville, MPP, on the role of the independent member. We have one half-hour starting now, Mr Drainville. Welcome.

Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): Mr Chair, on a point of order: Before we proceed with Mr Drainville, the agenda, as it was determined at our last meeting, would have had Mr Sibenik proceed before Mr Drainville. I understand that Mr Drainville's schedule has been placed in an awkward situation as a result of the House being delayed today. However, on our books from the last meeting was a motion suggesting that after Mr Drainville appeared before the committee, we should go into private session to discuss some of the issues.

My suggestion would be that that motion be changed so that after Mr Drainville has completed, we will still hear Mr Sibenik in a public forum and then move to a private session.

The Chair: Everybody in agreement? Agrees.

Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): I appreciate the opportunity to come before the Legislative Assembly committee and discuss independent members.

As the members will know, I was involved in looking at the whole role of independent members back on Thursday, June 11, 1992, when I presented a resolution to the House, which was voted upon and which was adopted by the House, dealing with some of the elements, some of the issues, that you are dealing with presently. It should be noted and underlined to this committee that the House has already given a clear indication of its support for the rights of the independent members. That resolution which was moved and passed in the House is on the first document, at the very end of the Parliamentary Reform in Ontario discussion paper, which I have provided for the committee members.

I'd like to talk a little bit about this process because in a sense, the reason the committee is now dealing with this is because it was an issue that was raised not only because there are now three independent members, but also I sent a letter to the House leaders just after my move from the government side to sit as an independent member on the opposition side. I have also given you copies of that particular letter to look at; it indicates some of the questions I have about independent members and their role in the House and the need to redress the lack of rights in that respect.

The third document I have provided you with is the issue of privilege, which I raised in the House, regarding independent members. That should give you a clear indication of what I've said on the issue and the direction I would hope the Legislature will move.

Let me just say in my prefatory remarks, in a very general way, that it seems to me the issue we're dealing with here is the issue of full representation for the people of Ontario; that is, if a person ends up in a situation where they are an independent member because they've left a party, or because they have been forced to leave a party, or if they have been elected as an independent member, they still have their role to exercise in representing the constituents of their riding. They need to have the tools, they need to have an equal voice in the Legislature, because those people cannot have their rights diminished by not having an equal voice.

How that is done is obviously the task that is set before this committee, to figure out a way to ensure that the rights of -- again I put the emphasis here: It's not just the rights of independent members we're talking about; it's the rights of the people of Ontario who are represented by independent members, that we have to maintain. To that end, I would like to draw your attention to various elements of the role of the member within the House.

The issue of statements and the issue of raising questions is not a particularly difficult thing to organize. It is organized differently in various jurisdictions. The House of Commons has been dealing with this for a long time. The National Assembly in Quebec allows independent members to ask questions and to participate. We have many different models to choose from; we don't need to worry that we are breaking new ground, necessarily, in this particular area.

We know that the House leaders got together in a meeting that was held a number of weeks ago. At that meeting, there was an unofficial understanding that independent members would be allowed to ask questions and would be allowed to make statements, but based, naturally, upon the numbers that are in the House. So it wouldn't be something that happened frequently but rather something that happened according to the discretion of the Speaker, which is similar to what is done in the House of Commons presently in Ottawa. I would also like to say that in Westminster this practice also prevails: Independent members have rights in that House for both statements and questions.

I'd like to not spend a lot of time on that, because I think it is self-evident. Obviously, members need those opportunities, and however the committee and the Legislature resolve the issue, generally speaking, I'm going to be quite amenable, because I'm not here to try to get X number of times in the House; I'm here to ensure that a right is recognized. That's the important point.

I would rather turn to two more difficult areas in which the role of independent members needs to be established, and they're more difficult because we don't have as many obvious examples within other jurisdictions, either in Canada or elsewhere. It's the issue surrounding membership on committees and the issue surrounding private members' bills.

Let's deal with the committee situation first. I will preface this particular section by saying our committee system is fraught with many significant problems. It does not work effectively. It needs a total overhaul. If you look at the reform package I put before you, I indicate a number of changes that need to be made in how committees function.


One of those problems, which affects some of the things I'm going to say to you, is the issue of numbers on the committee. We have huge legislative committees. We have six government members, we have five opposition members. There are great difficulties. The smaller the caucus is, the more difficult it is to ensure that your numbers are there, but there are great problems for the government caucus as well in ensuring that there are six members. It would be better to have smaller committees.

The reason I raise the number is that the issue comes, if you have an independent member serving on a legislative committee, how do you effect such a change?

I have in fact put down in my resolution last June, and it was voted on in the House and duly accepted by the House at that time, a particular formula. I am not saying that this is the only formula, or even the best formula, quite frankly. I'm quite open to look at many different options as to how we can do it. The one I suggested in my proposal said basically that if you have independent members, what you would do is set up a situation in which the independent member, in some form of consultation with the House or with the Clerk, would choose each session a committee he or she is to serve on and that, in a majority Parliament, one extra government member would be appointed to that committee so that the government maintained its majority in that committee.

Some people have asked, how is that fair when in some caucuses members have no right to determine what committee they're going to be part of? I'm willing to open up a discussion on that and say, "Well, that's fine." I think in fact the people should have more choice in the parliamentary system, but unfortunately it is the case that I don't think people are respected in how they are moved around and chosen for various positions and their various involvements.

I would say it's very easy to do. You can put a hat out there and you can put the names of the committees into the hat and the independent member can grab one of the names of the committees and that person can end up there. Therefore that person is not choosing a committee, if that is a particular problem to some people. I would say in that situation, it at least is fair.

The proposal I'm putting before you basically says that there are ways and means of putting an independent member on a committee. I don't think there's any doubt of that. Once a member is on the committee, they are there for the whole session. They cannot move to another committee, although, like every other member in the House, they have the privilege of sitting in on any other committee and hearing what's going on, receiving the documents of that committee, but they do not have a vote. I guess the model I'm giving to you is just one suggestion as to how we can effect the change of putting an independent member on a committee.

As to the principle, I'm quite willing to argue the principle. It seems to me that the legislative life of any member of the present system that we have in Ontario or in Canada means that committee involvement and the ability to have a full effect on whatever business comes before that committee must be primary. If I'm sitting on a committee, yes, it is certainly a great privilege and opportunity to hear what's going on and even to ask questions, but not to be able to vote on any committee means a diminishment of the role of that member. Again, what I'm here to do and here to say to this committee is that we must recognize that for them to be participating appropriately in the parliamentary process and to ensure that the people of whatever riding have their rights respected, that person must have that role defined as including full committee work and committee participation. So I would put that principle to you and I would put that particular example to you for your own investigations.

If I might move on then to the next area of concern, that is, the opportunity to put forth a private member's bill and the opportunity to participate in the debate on private members' bills, I have to say that as a structure, the present structure of private members' hour, if there was no such thing as independent members and if there was never going to be such a thing as independent members, I think works rather well. But this is a bit of a spanner thrown into the works when you have a situation where you have independent members, because you can't neatly give 15 minutes to each caucus to be able to do this. I think it would also be a problem, by the way, if we had five parties. We may never have that, but if there were, what would happen? I think we would have to change the system that we have.

I believe especially, of all places and of all times, private members' hour should be for every member of the House. By its very nature, it is the opportunity for every member of that House, regardless of political affiliation, to fulfil one of the highest callings of this political life, and that is to be a legislator, to be able to bring to the House an issue of concern and to be able to formulate laws that will help to govern the people and the society of Ontario. That's what we're called to, to be legislators.

To not provide opportunity for members because members don't happen to have a particular political affiliation is indeed to take away from those persons the opportunity to fulfil fully the function for which they were appointed or elected. So I would say to you that this is a very serious lack in the present system.

It seems to me that the way of balloting needs to be changed to reflect the role of independent members so that they do have an opportunity to be in the lottery when they are chosen, and it seems to me that the actual division of time needs to be allotted not according to party -- this is in terms of the debate now -- but according to members. Let me explain why I think that's appropriate, because what we're talking about is not party discipline. What we're talking about are the members of the House who are gathering together, who have diverse views on things, and giving them opportunities to respond to the proposal, the resolution, the bill that is being set forward by a particular member of the House.

If you did away with the giving of time to caucuses, what you would end up doing is, for instance, if you were to divide the time -- and I'm just taking a "for instance" here -- 10 minutes to the person who is proposing the resolution or the bill and then five minutes to every speaker after that, because I've gone back and looked at my own notes from private members' hour, and I've seen that the vast majority of members who speak in that time period generally take about five minutes. That is appropriate in that particular venue.

I would recommend that you shift the allocation of time, therefore, from party caucus to individual member. You would get the same number of people, with the possibility of one independent member being recognized dealing with that particular issue at that particular hour. It wouldn't be appropriate, necessarily, to recognize every independent member every hour, but it would be appropriate if there were independent members there who wanted to allow one to be part of that debate for that hour. I think there are ways and means, again, of dealing with that particular issue.

I'm going to conclude by saying that this issue is a significant issue not only because we have three members who are now independent members but because we claim to have a system which is firmly based upon democratic freedom. If indeed it is, we have to be custodians of that freedom and of that democracy and ensure that all people in the province of Ontario receive the representation they deserve to have.


Mr Mike Farnan (Cambridge): Dennis: as usual, a thoughtful presentation. The question I put to you is the same question that I put to our colleague who presented before the committee on the last occasion. I believe you were present when I put the question to him.

Mr Drainville: No, but I read your Hansard.

Mr Farnan: Obviously, if you've read it, you've given it some reflection, because it's an issue you're thinking about. How do you justify to a government or an opposition backbencher that time would be allocated, even on a basis of per member, across the board, when within their caucus they have to justify getting on, more particularly with opposition members? If you have a small caucus, let's say -- it's not that small, but let's say the Conservative caucus. I don't know how many people are in it; let's say it's 20 members. The critics there would have to fight to get on the agenda and would not necessarily get on, whereas you would be guaranteeing the independent member access. There's some tension there. I'm wondering how that backbencher would react to guaranteed time for an independent member where there are no guarantees for the members within a party.

Mr Drainville: There are lots of guarantees. The question here is how time is allotted and how questions are allotted. If you look at the caucuses and if you include -- and you have to do this -- the amount of time that's given to the leaders, there are many, many questions and supplementaries that the leaders have. The leaders have it within their power to give those questions out to various members within their caucus, and they do that sometimes, particularly if the leader can't be there. But very often, the leader tends to take, let's say, two questions and their extra supplementaries. They often take 20 to 30 minutes in doing so.

The point I'm trying to make is that every caucus has to make its decision on how it's going to use its questions. If they're not going to apportion those on a regular basis to everyone in their caucus, that's a decision they make, and they make that decision every day. What we're talking about here, and all we're talking about here, is not a member who is going to be taking up an inordinate amount of time, because, according to the statistics of 130 members, a member will get up perhaps somewhere between three to four weeks. What that means, in terms of a sitting, is maybe twice during that sitting.

As somebody who was involved in the whip's office on the government side at one time, what I noticed very often is that a lot of the same people get up on questions on the government side and a lot of the same people get a lot of statements. That is a decision that's made within that caucus, for whatever reason. They have every right to make that decision, but whether it's fair to the other members who don't often get up or, for whatever reason, don't use the opportunity to get those questions or statements, who knows?

The point I'm trying to make here is that the caucuses deal with the time allotted to them according to their wish. All I'm saying in this case is that we're not talking about an inordinate amount of time; we're talking about maybe twice during a sitting. In that, all we're doing is recognizing the right of that person to use that time appropriately, not for themselves, but for the people of their riding.

Mr Farnan: Let me put a philosophical question to you. I know you enjoy philosophical questions.

Mr Drainville: I do.

Mr Farnan: We have traditionally a system based upon party organizations within the province, within the country. The role of the private member is to a great extent an anomaly within that structure. Within a political party, there are advantages and there are some inconveniences. You will recognize the fact that within a political party, because you are a collective, very often you have an opportunity to express your view, your opinion, but that indeed the collective wisdom will prevail and that there is some obligation -- and more of an obligation on some matters than others -- to support the collective wisdom of your caucus, whether it be the government or an opposition party. There is, in a sense, a reward based upon this kind of dichotomy that exists within a political party. Maybe someone could argue that an independent member wants to enjoy all of the privileges without having any of the constraints. I would put it to you that there would be a school of thought that would say, "Okay, there are matters of discipline. In some areas the obligations are greater around some issues than around others," but there is, within that party, the opportunity to have dissent, realizing that you are part of a team.

How would you respond to the individual, not just in the House, but in the general public, and say, "This guy really wants his cake" -- I don't know what the expression is. He wants to keep it and eat it. He wants all of the good points without all of the inconveniences. How would you respond to this kind of argument?

Mr Drainville: I have no difficulty in responding to it, because it's the kind of argument, I believe, that really has no basis in reality. What I would say to you is what you're doing is putting a focus in terms of the parliamentary system only on the party, that the party is the only vehicle by which a member should have the full rights of engagement within the parliamentary process.

All I can say to you is that that kind of focus to me doesn't make any sense at all, because there have been independents throughout parliamentary history, and there were more in the days when there were two parties as opposed to three parties, but let me give you a contrary case which would prove my point. Let's say, for instance, that there was a party in Ontario that elected 11 members -- a party, mind you, that elected 11. They would not be recognized in that House. There would be 11 people with one discipline, with the same fervour and the same views, willing to put them forward on behalf of the people of Ontario, as any of the three mainline parties. But they would not be recognized as such within the parliamentary structure that we have and they would not get the moneys that would go with a party and they would not get the benefits that would go with a party.

That's fine, because we have deemed it, in this Legislature, in this province, as saying no, you have to have 12 to be a legitimate party. They would be considered independent members, all 11 of them, and they would not have the moneys that go with the caucuses and they would not have the extra things the caucuses have. There are lots of things that I don't have, extras, that you have as a member, and that's fine, because I made my decision to sit as an independent and I knew clearly what I was doing and why I was doing it, but those are things that happen to revolve around the life of the party and the caucus. I'm talking about the rights of the member to give voice to the concerns, the needs and the aspirations of the people of my constituency. Woe betide the member or the party who will stand between me and those realities.

Mr Farnan: Let me respond, because basically you've made an assumption in terms of the 12 members, but in jurisdictions where a party has elected numbers of members that didn't reach the designated goal for recognition, accommodations have been made to those groups. Accommodations have been made indeed. The Bloc québécois in the federal House is an example.

Mr Drainville: I know quite a bit about the Bloc québécois, so what are the accommodations?

Mr Farnan: Allow me to finish, Dennis, because you went on quite a ramble there. I want to suggest to you that the voting public may take a view that much of what you say makes sense, but they would say, "That makes sense for somebody who presented himself as an independent, not for somebody who in fact decides to opt out of a political party after they have already been elected as a member of that party."

I would say they would probably extend the logic of that argument and say: "You know, our good friend Dennis ran as a New Democrat. He knew what the rules were when he ran, and now that he's of an independent nature" -- I know you have a track record of speaking to this issue but I think there would be an argument among a considerable number of the public who would say, "Next time, if an individual runs as an independent" -- we don't have that example in our House at this stage and there may be some degree of consideration on the part of the public for that kind of recognition of rights for an individual who actually ran as an independent, but I suspect there would be a strong sense among the public that says: "Hey, guys, let's get real here. If you guys run as members of a political party, you know what the rules are and you want to change the rules in mid-stream."

I'm not saying there isn't need for reform; what I'm saying is that within the public there is a sense that perhaps this could be viewed as self-serving.

Mr Drainville: Let me say that I don't believe it's a matter of the public at all. I believe what you want to discuss right now is whether I should have left the government caucus, and whether by leaving the government caucus, I should not have the rights that every other member of the House has. Quite frankly, I'd love to debate that with you at great length, but because we only have two minutes, I'll leave that for the people who are watching this and others to decide the veracity of it.

But I will say this: The issue that's at stake here is representation of those members who have been elected and those members who are presently in the House, and how this committee and how this Legislature is going to ensure all members have the equality of rights they deserve.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Drainville.

Mr Drainville: Thank you, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Have a safe trip to Niagara Falls.



The Chair: Number 2 on our item is changes in the administration of the House and provision of service to members. We will have the Clerk of the House, Mr Claude DesRosiers. Welcome.

Mr Claude L. DesRosiers (Clerk of the House): Thank you, Mr Chair. It's always a pleasure to appear before this committee and to answer your questions and to give you a chance to discuss a few of the items that you might have noticed happening around the assembly since the last time I appeared before you, in December 1992, I believe.

To itemize a few of the items that have been preoccupying the administration since December, I'll just outline a few of them and then the clerk has passed around to you our "Status of Items for Discussion" list, which is our agenda at the management advisory committee.

This is the piece of paper that guides our business at the management advisory committee every week, and as you can see, it's what I call a running agenda. Those items stay on there and are discussed every week. That is to say that status reports are given on those items and when we dispose of an item, then we minute it and copies of those minutes, along with any amended "Status of Items for Discussion" list, go to the Board of Internal Economy. I'd gladly go down the list of those items for you and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate.

Some of the items that were on that list during the time I'm talking about are no longer there, because they appeared on our agenda briefly and disappeared because they were dealt with. They are the ongoing reports that we get from the joint health and safety committee. I notice that the co-chair of that committee is your research officer. Mr Yeager serves well in that capacity, and it is MAC's duty to review those reports, to oversee them and to make sure that the recommendations are gone forward with. In that sense, there has been an inspection of the legislative library, north wing, and the Whitney Block locations, and any changes that were recommended there are either in the process of being addressed or have been addressed.

There is another item that appeared on our agenda and has disappeared and you may not have heard about this. It's what we call an electronic distribution system of House documents. Most of you probably don't realize that on the feed that goes out to the various cable companies of the live distribution of the House proceedings and the committee proceedings is an electronic device that you really don't see on the screen. It uses the same cables that distribute the image, and on that cable runs, for example, the Hansard.

Someone who gets a black box in his or her office and wants to get Hansard can use that black box to decipher the coding right below the image there. It's much too electronically developed for me to explain, but Bill Somerville, I'm sure, could answer all your questions on that. That is going out and that came through MAC.

Also, an administrative policies manual has been completed and distributed, a new one. It replaces the old Manual of Administration which had been around for quite a while and which was basically a compendium of the administrative practices of the government of Ontario. Since we are not the government of Ontario -- the people who work for you here are employees of the assembly and report to the Speaker -- therefore, we felt it would be better to get our own manual. That was written by staff, it was written by a committee, and it was finally passed and approved recently.

We have been reviewing our employment equity procedures. We have also been discussing a discrimination and harassment policy.

We have been discussing various recommendations that have come to us from a committee of staff, which has been formed by management advisory committee at the suggestion of the Speaker, which is called greening Queen's Park. It is devoted to the environment in these buildings and these grounds, to try to make sure that we are addressing any problems in that sense.

Also, a very interesting project going on that you might not know about is that there is a group of staff in my office presently writing a book on procedure. As you probably know, most jurisdictions have a book of doctrine. In Ottawa, they have a book that's called Beauchesne, from the former Clerk of the House in Ottawa, and in Westminster they have Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, and that again is a former Clerk.

In this House there is no such book. We felt it would be important for members to have something they could actually get which was their own and which explained the parliamentary procedures and practices that have evolved in Ontario and are continuing to evolve. Parliamentary procedure is something that is not static; it's continually evolving, as you know.

We're trying to get a fix on that. We have a group of people busily writing. They are very busy. I hope I won't scare any of those people by saying this, but we hope that maybe in six months' time we'll have something we can produce. It might be a bit longer, but we'll take the time that's needed to produce something good and solid.

The list of items you see, just to get you acquainted with a bit of our practices at management advisory committee, this is the list, for example, that was revised on June 2, and there haven't been any changes made to it since then.

There are 13 items on there, starting with "Renovation/Restoration." I call that item at every meeting and Ms Speakman, who is responsible for restoration and renovation here, gives a report. You will see there's a column there, "Delegated to." It shows who's responsible for the item. On the right there's "Reported Status/Comments," so that members know exactly where we are on this.

"Native Cultural Display" is an item that's been on there for quite a while, but it's moved up to number 2 and that means it's getting close to fruition. The comments there say: "Opening of exhibit planned for October 1993. Curator for Woodlands Cultural Centre assisting with display."

Then you go on to number 3, which is "Review on Grounds Procedure." This is another very important aspect of the way we proceed, which is that we make sure that close communication with the caucuses is had at all times, so that we feel assured that when we do approve a policy, even if that policy only affects the staff, at least the caucuses have been consulted. In this case, review of the grounds policy, of course, affects everybody here, and that will go to the Board of Internal Economy eventually, once MAC is satisfied that it's been well reviewed.


"Political Activity for Legislative Assembly Staff" belongs to Mr Ponick, and we have a policy coming down. We have one already, but it's being reviewed to see if the one that we have is adequate.

"Task Force on the Environment": I talked about that a bit earlier.

"Employment Equity": I talked about that as well. There is a consultant meeting with focus groups, actually, in dealing with staff of the assembly.

Number 7 is "Gift to the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly." The NWT is in the process of building new Parliament buildings which will be opening on November 17 of this year. They have asked that various provincial legislatures, and the federal House as well, if they wanted to, contribute a memento to this occasion, and Ontario will be presenting a modest contribution to this.

"Classification Review": There's an ongoing group of people working on a classification review. The preoccupation there was that the classifications that apply to employees working at the assembly are those classifications that are found in the public service of Ontario, and it was felt by myself and my colleagues that it too often is far from being adequate and leads to quite a few problems. It's important that we have our own classification system that we can identify with and that will illustrate even more our separate status from government.

"Human Resources Manual": It's going on. There's a group of employees writing that, as well as reviewing the one we have already.

There's an operational review being done on the Speaker's office.

There's a discrimination and harassment policy that's been presented to management advisory committee, and that policy is under review. It's been presented to MAC, and MAC has asked that it be sent out to the senior managers for their comments.

"Access to Information": This is a project that has been presented by Mr Land, the director of the library. He has had requests for certain documentation that is produced by the library, and the question is being asked whether that should be made available to the public for fees.

"Security MOU," or memorandum of understanding: It's being negotiated. It's in the final stages, I think, and the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms will surely have more to say about that when they appear before you in that sense. But it's at the final stages, and hopefully when it's accepted and when it comes out of the ministry, it will permit us as a Legislature to permit the Speaker, who has by law responsibility over security in this institution, to get a better grip on security.

I'll surely be more than happy to answer any of the questions that you might have on this or on any other thing that might be a preoccupation to you.

Mrs Sullivan: Thank you very much. I appreciate the reports that come to this committee, and I think all members do.

I have some quite specific questions, because I think that these issues would have been on your minds in terms of planning the activities of the Office of the Legislative Assembly and those other areas that fall under the jurisdiction of the Speaker.

First of all, what will be the approach of the Office of the Legislative Assembly in terms of the aftermath of the social contract expenditure control decisions? What will be the approach in terms of negotiating? Are there unilateral budget cuts being looked at in terms of staffing? The other issue is how those controls will affect the restoration and renovation activities here.

I'd also like to ask, although it isn't the purview of this committee, that the committee receive a full report on the budgetary lines on restoration-renovation and any reallocation within that program or from other areas of the Office of the Assembly. I think that would be useful information as we look at the details of the operation around here.

I see the item on the agenda with respect to changes in the administration of the House and services, and I think we are in a very different scenario than we have been in the recent past where the demand was for expansion rather than contraction of services.

Mr DesRosiers: Thank you very much for the question. It's a very actual question, I guess. It's difficult for me to answer -- but I will give you an answer, the best answer I can give you -- because the final decisions on this do not belong to the administration. The final decisions on this belong to the Board of Internal Economy.

We are presently in the 1993-94 exercise of estimates. Estimates are prepared in this place by staff, starting some time in the fall. As a rule, in October estimates are put together for the coming fiscal year and usually around January they're pretty well finalized. It is usually hoped, by staff anyway, that the board will find time to study these estimates.

The estimates prepared for the exercise in 1993-94 were taken from a series of estimates. The base of those estimates was the 1992-93 exercise, which had produced a quite sizable cut. I don't have the exact numbers here, but an additional 5% cut -- close to that, anyway -- was proposed on those estimates. Now they are before the board. They have not been studied by the board.

I can only presume, and my presumption is that maybe the board thought it wiser to wait on the further study of those estimates, to await the social contract decisions that were to come down. You probably would know better than I where that stands as a general view, but we are awaiting the view of the board. The board has a meeting scheduled for the 23rd, for next week, and hopefully then we'll see.

In the present estimates as they stand before the board, there are no increases in positions proposed. That is a directive that we imposed upon ourselves and are following, and there you are. We're waiting to see whether the board will decide on further cuts.

On the salary side, again there are no provisions by us, as the estimates were presented and it'll be for the board to decide what those will be.

There was another very important part of your question, and it has to do with restoration-renovation. That budget again is a decision of the board. The board, I take it, decided two years ago to embark upon a roof renovation, which is now in its phase 2. It's a bit deceiving to call it just basically roof renovation, because it's more than that. It's also the upkeep of the stonework around the building.

I hesitate to call it a very old building, because it isn't. It's 100 years old, and I don't think that's very old as far as historic buildings go. But this building has not been repaired, and therefore it sometimes happens that you fix one place and it leads to another problem. There has been some of that, and it's very difficult to foresee exactly what is going to be accomplished in a given year.

We're in phase 2 of the roof repair exercise, and that is on the books. Phase 3 has been approved as well, so we're fully expecting that once phase 2, the west wing, has been finished -- the centre block is completely finished now -- then the scaffolding will be transferred to the east wing and that will proceed. The board has not decided at all yet what to do after that. It will be its decision to see whether it proceeds with further needed restoration or renovation. That will be put forward to the board.


There is a part of your question that is a very specific one, and I'll try to address that. It has to do with any transfers that might have taken place in order to address the renovation-restoration. To my knowledge, there has been one transfer to that effect with the approval of the board last year. The board approved a transfer of the use of committee funds. The exact amount I don't know; I have the figure $2 million in my head but it might be $1 million as well. We can check that easily for you. The board approved the transfer of that money, which was not going to be spent in 1992-93, to the roof renovation project.

Of course, one might ask, what was that sum of money doing in the committee budget? The answer is very simple again. Historically, and this I think you will find in most parliaments in the world, there have been amounts of money put into certain budgets, such as committees', for the very simple reason that it's very difficult to budget these exercises and usually they're budgeted on major activity years.

In order to answer the requests of the House when the House decides to answer a special circumstance, to address special needs, to create a special committee -- which might or might not be expensive, but if I think back, the last expensive special committee we had, on the Constitution, was quite an expensive exercise. Also, there's a time requirement there that the House usually makes these decisions, because there's a need for quite a lot of discussion beforehand and it usually arrives at these decisions at the last minute, which leaves very little time between the actual motion passed in the House to create the committee and the actual necessity for the committee to get under way. Therefore, if there isn't that amount of money in the budget, it becomes very problematic, because the only other way to get that money would be on supplementary estimates, which might take quite a lot of time.

Mrs Sullivan: If there are no other questions, I'll go back to this, because the Clerk just opened up the issue. That is the process of reallocating funds that have been approved for committee work within the Office of the Assembly without going back for supplementary estimates. While that's a tradition, it just seems there's something wrong with that process, that indeed the approval of specific supplementary estimates, which might in the end have the same effect of reducing allocations to a committee but increasing them for another project or another committee, is more appropriate than simply moving or basically doing a cash transfer from one account to another account.

I find that process one that is distasteful to me, because I think it's hard enough to sell publicly a project such as the renovation of the Legislature without also having what could be a side issue of sliding public funds into the renovation in a way that isn't perhaps seen to be up front.

Mr DesRosiers: We have no problems with that, contrary to other administrations, maybe. You see, we have no special programs to run; we're here at your service. As we say, this is the way it has been done historically and that's the reason it's been done historically, but we have absolutely no problems with saying to the board, for example, if the board so asks, "We'll give you a best guess of what committees are going to be and we'll factor it as a normal equivalent, and let's say we'll put $1 million instead of $3 million in the budget for committees." We have no problems with that, because the money doesn't get spent anyway.

The only time in history -- and I've researched this -- that I can find that money was transferred out of a committee budget for another purpose was last year at the special approval of the board. That's the only time. The only reason the money is there is to answer the possible requests of the House.

This is another thing in parliamentary administration which is quite different from public service administration in the sense that -- some say it's rumour and others say it's fact -- there is a perception, I'll just put it at that, that government public servants, at the end of the fiscal year, when there's money left in their budgets, go out on spending sprees. I've heard that said; I don't know.

Mrs Sullivan: He's very cautious.

Mr DesRosiers: But I can surely assure you that that does not happen here. We have no programs, and if the board decides to say, "No, we really need only $1 million in the committee budget next year," it won't change anything for us. It doesn't chop positions, it doesn't chop programs. The only thing it can affect is that if the House decided, because of an urgent necessity of an urgent nature, that it wanted to create a committee this week for next week, it couldn't because there wouldn't be any funds there.

Mrs Sullivan: The Chairman's giving me a lot of leeway here.

The Chair: The thing is there are no other members asking questions.

Mrs Sullivan: Then in terms of the process, was the reallocation of funds out of the committee budget required because there were cost overruns on the estimates for the renovation?

Mr DesRosiers: No, there weren't. The reason it was required is because we knew and we know the cost of the total project. What we don't know and what we can't gauge, because it's not a fine science -- and Mrs Speakman does a wonderful job on this; she's really on top of it; she really works very, very hard and very efficiently at this. It can't be better organized, in the sense that your best-laid plans always go awry and you can't say, "It starts on this date and it goes."

Also, there are overlaps. We know what the total cost of the project for the three phases will be, and we are well within that. The only thing that happened in that sense is that we needed money to go a bit further because we can't stop everything and say: "Okay, we'll have to wait another three weeks, guys. Cross your arms and we'll wait until we get the next." It has to flow. Otherwise, I think the people of Ontario are losing money, because if you stop work, we have contracts to respect and so on.

That was the only reason. It was just to keep the money flowing during the project. That was well explained to the board, and that's why the board said yes. Otherwise, the board, I'm sure, would have said no.

Mrs Sullivan: I think, Mr Chairman, it's useful to have that information for the public record as well as that which is presented to the board.

Just as I finish here, I think Brian Land, who is now the executive director of the library, will be soon leaving the assembly. He's provided exemplary service here, has been a leader in his own profession and I think there is a tribute to him that the Speaker or the Clerk might want to discuss with the committee.

The Chair: We have one question from Mr Johnson, who can wind up.

Mr DesRosiers: I'll come back to that. It's a very good point.

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): My question isn't nearly as profound, but it's a question nevertheless. I was wondering when the compendium that will probably no doubt be referred to as the DesRosiers will be completed and when we'll have access to that. We have a comparable compendium in Ottawa called Beauchesne.

Mr DesRosiers: First of all, let me correct you in the sense that I don't believe it will be called the DesRosiers. We haven't decided on a title, but I think we can find something a bit better than that.

It's under active work right now; the people are working very hard. I'm using the figure six months, but that might be optimistic. But you'll see it and the member for PELSH can rest assured that he'll enjoy this piece of work.

Mr Paul R. Johnson: Of course you know that you may have no control over what it eventually becomes called.

Mr DesRosiers: Well, there you are.


Mrs Ellen MacKinnon (Lambton): I don't have a question. I just wanted to make a comment, really, where I see "review on grounds procedure." I don't know what the procedures are, but they're certainly working because I think the grounds are just absolutely exquisite this spring, they really are. I noticed the pink.

Mr DesRosiers: Again, that's Mrs Speakman. Mrs Speakman's responsibilities, I guess, can be described best as she administers the contracts. Because, as you know, since 1988, I believe the date is, the Speaker now has full control over the grounds. It wasn't that way before; it was a governmental responsibility. Now we do have someone who administers those contracts and we do have a word to say in that, so, yes, Mrs Speakman does do a very good job. Thank you for that.

To get back to Brian Land, if I can, on Monday from 4 to 6 there is an activity planned to thank Brian for the wonderful service he has provided to this institution. I don't know if you know this, but Brian has been involved in parliaments not only at Queen's Park, but he was at the House of Commons before and very much a dedicated servant of parliaments. You have all been invited to this, whether you realize this or not. There is an invitation in your office someplace and I'm hoping to see as many members as we can from 4 to 6 on Monday.

The Chair: Yes, we all received that invitation.

Mr Speaker, I didn't acknowledge you earlier. I know you were in and out. I guess you were back and forth to the House there every time the bells rang.

Hon David Warner (Speaker): First of all, Barbara, I appreciate your comment about Brian. He's been here 15 years, provided some terrific leadership for the development of our library and I dare say that our library and its services are second to none in this country. In large measure, that's due to the leadership that Brian has provided. So if as many members as possible are able to come to this little farewell gathering, I know Brian would appreciate it, because the number one task which is shared by others who work here is to serve the members. So if the members come and say "thank you" and wish him well upon his retirement, I know he would be quite moved by that.

I just wanted to touch briefly on two things. One was what the Clerk was mentioning regarding electronic Hansard. We estimate that we are going to save money and trees, both of which are, I think, laudable goals, through the electronic Hansard. It means that if you have the converter and a computer, then you get the Hansard the next day. The law offices and universities and whoever else is really keen and eager about Hansard don't have to wait the three days for the mail delivery. So there's a real advantage to them to pick it up electronically.

Secondly, because many of those people now subscribe, although we have a fee, it does not cover the cost of printing. So if we can cut down on our subscriptions, then we will save money, and of course, as we cut down on the subscriptions, then there's less paper, we will save trees. We're the first Legislature in the world, I believe, to make use of this technology. I think the driving force behind this would be Bill Somerville, director of broadcast and recording, and I think it's a real tribute to him because it's utilizing modern technology in a way that is good for the environment and saves money.

The other thing I wanted to touch on briefly is, I realize that due to scheduling and so on you're not able to deal with security today and if it's at all possible, I would make a request of the committee that since next Wednesday may be the last Wednesday of this sitting, if it is possible to work this into your schedule, I would really appreciate it, because both the Sergeant at Arms and myself have some serious concerns with respect to security. We would like to show you a little tape and we would like to have a discussion and make some proposals. However, obviously we are in your hands and if you are able to organize your affairs so that you would be able to hear from the good Sergeant and myself next Wednesday, we would be absolutely delighted to be at your beck and call.

The Chair: There are a few members of the committee who could maybe bring some ideas forward or some areas that we are lacking. I think we'd enjoy getting into that discussion. I guess Bill Somerville, at the Quebec conference that we had -- a lot of this information you're bringing out here now -- a lot of the members of the House don't realize what's going on in this particular area because I'm going to be looking at putting that in my office so I haven't got the amount of paper down there, because I'll be able to store it on disc. So when I want a Hansard of a certain date -- pardon?

Mrs Sullivan: He won't let you take it in the House, though.

Hon Mr Warner: What a meanie.

The Chair: I think it's very important that the law office, or whatever office it is in Thunder Bay, receive it the next day at 9 o'clock.

Hon Mr Warner: A popular decision.

The Chair: And the cost of the mail, stuffing the envelopes and sending it out and the delay -- I think it's quite affordable. I think the decoder is around $600, but that decoder can be used for other uses for decoding other -- by setting it up. The satellite also and cable -- it's on both so everyone can receive it.

Mrs Sullivan: Can I ask one more question on that then? Will the members' budgets be increased to take into account the expenditure costs of the modem or device that allows electronic Hansard?

The Chair: I know we're not computer experts, but I understand you can be receiving it and using the computer at the same time to come into storage.

Mrs Sullivan: In order to send it out to a specific contact group, you're going to have to add another piece of equipment.

The Chair: No, you get it off your cable. It comes off the cable that's fed into your office or your satellite.

Mrs Sullivan: How do I get it out?

Hon Mr Warner: You need the decoder. The decoder is the thing you need and it's $600 approximately. To answer your question, the Board of Internal Economy basically has three choices here. As with any other item they can determine that it's an item for all of the members and therefore it does not come out of their global budget. They did that with the computers, I believe, or they can say as they did with the security devices, it's an authorized expenditure but it must come out of your global budget. Or, thirdly, they can increase the budget. We started into the process of estimates, but we have not reached that item of business yet to deal with caucus services etc. What the inclination of the board will be towards members' budgets, I haven't a clue, nor do I wish to guess, but they do have three clear choices and there are instances in all three depending on the nature of the item.

The Chair: I would say that we get Mr Somerville to come in to explain it to us.

Mrs Sullivan: I don't care how to use it; I just want to know who's going to pay for it.

The Chair: But it's actually a cost saving.

Hon Mr Warner: If the board says it's an authorized expenditure then perhaps members would have enough room within their existing budget to purchase. As with all of these items, I always encourage members to write to the board, when they have a request or something that they are interested in, to contact their House leader, because it's the House leader that's on the board, and to notify the House leader that you have a request that you want going to the board for consideration and you'd appreciate his support.

The Chair: Are there any other questions for the Speaker or the Clerk? We'll have to see about getting Peter on the agenda and see about yourself, Mr Speaker, and the Sergeant at Arms on the following Wednesday.

The committee adjourned at 1730.