Wednesday 29 May 1991




Chair: Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)
Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South NDP)
Beer, Charles (York North L)
Eves, Ernie L. (Parry Sound PC;)
Gigantes, Evelyn, (Ottawa Centre NDP)
Harnick, Cherles, (Willowdale PC)
Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NDP)
Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)
Matheson, Irene, (Middlesex NDP)
Offer Steven (Mississauga North L)
O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa Rideau L)
Winninger, David (London South NDP)

Curling, Alvin (Scarborough North L) for Mr Beer

Brown, Harold


Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office
Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee met at 1653 in room 151.


The Chair: I would like to call this meeting of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation to order and welcome new members of the committee who have joined us, particularly Irene Mathyssen and Evelyn Gigantes, who have joined the committee.

For people who will be watching us at whatever time this meeting may by replayed over the parliamentary channel, we have obviously had difficulties in having the committee meet because of the proceedings in the House. It seems that those are now resolved and that we are in fact beginning again our regular series of meetings. I should probably just put on the record that we have agreed that we will try to meet on a somewhat regular basis on Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoons.

We have for this afternoon essentially two items to deal with, one of them dealing with a proposed conference that we have had some discussion about in the subcommittee and, second, discussing and hopefully approving a budget to propose to the Board of Internal Economy, which is meeting, I think, some time next week.

On the first item of the conference, before reading out and placing on the record the report of the subcommittee, by way of reminder to the members of the committee, and again by way of information for people watching us, I just want to reiterate that as part of the process of continuing the consultations that we had decided we would do as a committee, we had asked the subcommittee to look at the feasibility and possibility of a conference to be held some time in the fall.

Again, people will remember that we have agreed and asked and there has been agreement reached to extend the reporting time and the mandate of the committee to the end of October so that our final report, rather than being at the end of June, will be submitted to the House at the end of October. That is in an effort to allow us both the kind of time we will need to deal with the items that we need to in some degree of detail, and at the same time to ensure that we can continue to involve people in discussions with us in that process. Part of that was the suggestion of looking at a conference as a way to involve people in discussing various issues with us, so at this point I will read the report from the subcommittee dealing with that item.

"The subcommittee met on Thursday 2 May 1991 to consider the proposed conference to be hosted by the committee. The subcommittee recommends the following for the consideration of the committee.

"Purpose: To provide feedback from representative groups and individuals in the province to assist the committee in its preparation of a final report.

"Date: Subject to approval of the House Leaders: September 19-21; Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon" -- that being the week before the House resumes in September.

"Location: The subcommittee discussed having the conference either at Queen's Park or outside of Toronto and has not yet come to a decision" -- although we do have some additional information, I think, to share with the committee on that since the subcommittee's meeting. "Parliamentary public relations has been asked to provide a preliminary outline of both options for the perusal of the sub-committee.

"Who: The committee may want to ensure representation of the following: women, aboriginal groups, disabled representatives, francophones, seniors, multicultural groups, regional representatives" -- from the different regions of the province -- "youth, academics, business, union/labour" -- of course, including also the MPPs.

"In addition, the subcommittee explored the possibility of inviting a number of individuals who do not represent a specific group.

"Number: The subcommittee suggests an appropriate number of participants would be between 150-200 people."

That is the report from the subcommittee. I think we probably should have someone move that.

Mr Bisson: I move the adoption of the report.

The Chair: Mr Bisson moves adoption of the report from the subcommittee.

In terms of some of the additional information that we have from parliamentary public relations, Harold, do you want to comment on that?

Clerk of the Committee: Just briefly, some of the information that we have in the report refers to whether at Queen's Park or outside of Toronto. The results of the information we have indicates many of the possibilities outside of Toronto are either fully booked at this point for that period of time in September or they could not commit to us or they could not accommodate the numbers that we have suggested to them. Those are the results of our inquiries. For example, Deerhurst, the Queen's hotel, Horseshoe Valley and the Pillar and Post Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake can either not accommodate us or are fully booked. There are some hotels in Toronto that are fully booked at this point in time.

The Chair: Our sense was that we would be able to find space in Toronto, I think, for accommodation and so on.

Clerk of the Committee: Yes, there is accommodation to be had in Toronto, but certainly a suggestion would be that we should commit to it as soon as we can.

The Chair: Okay, so discussion on that.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am not really concerned about the location at the moment, other than that it be very accessible and perhaps be an area we did not touch as broadly as we wanted to when we travelled.

I am more concerned about the whole process. I have been reading whatever I could get my hands on since the last time we met, and that has been some time now. There are a lot of these kinds of things going on across the country, and indeed within our province, and I want to be sure before we endeavour or begin on this path that this is a legitimate activity for this committee.

I know that you are suggesting I am changing course. I have never really spoken in favour of the conference before. I do not think I have said much about this, but first of all I would want to be assured about these representative groups.

It looks to me like we are putting together what I would consider an Ontario constituent assembly. If that is the case, then I think we have to be very certain that it does not become partisan, that it continues to have an air about it that our hearings in the beginning had. I wanted to know what the subcommittee's intentions were regarding representative groups. Are we having invitations to these groups? Who provides the list of people who are invited?

I do not have enough information here to commit myself to this, and therefore I would beg that we have a chance to discuss this within our caucus and delay a decision until we meet again next Wednesday morning. I would like a lot more fill-in at that point.

I know this makes it difficult for locations, and I am not one to procrastinate, but I definitely -- and my colleagues agree with me -- do not feel we have enough here to say our full intent is in support of this particular suggestion. If you can allay some of my fears right now, that would help.


The Chair: I may or may not be able to, Ms O'Neill.

We discussed within the subcommittee some of the same issues you are raising and we have not reached any conclusions on those. I think the sense was that we wanted the conference to he one where we would be able to bring together a cross-section of people who would be representative of the different regions of the province as well as the makeup of the population of the province in the various facets that are outlined here. Hopefully, in the work that we will have done between now and the time leading up to the conference, we will have been able to develop some of the issues that we are looking at in some detail, either with some position papers or some options that we could then put before the people who would be at the conference. In effect, the main objective would be to use the conference as a way to then get some feedback on those and to get some further input for us and then use that information and that input for us to draft our report. That is the kind of thing.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: There are some very big decisions about who would be, for instance, organizing this -- we had Alpha Consultants before -- big decisions about who the presenters would be, and as you say, whether we would -

The Chair: All of those things have not been decided. All of those need to be sorted out. In fact, one of the things that I have noted for myself to raise was that whole question of how we would go about organizing it. It is clear in the discussions that the clerk and I have had with the people from parliamentary public relations that they are able to provide us with, I think, in fairness, a fair amount of assistance in terms of the technical aspects of getting the conference together, but certainly my own sense is that we would need some help from some other people who we would need to look at bringing on board. That is my own advice, my own sense to the committee, but we had not discussed in the subcommittee any further than that what we should be doing about that.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think it is premature to discuss this when we have not yet met with the deputy minister, nor have we met with our agent in Quebec. You know how I respect the witnesses who came before us, who were people who spoke with their hearts and their heads, but we have not heard any expert at this moment. We know that York is doing a lot of work for this government. So as to how we can decide and say we are going to do something on 19 September and not know what we are going to do, except we are all going to be together in some room, maybe rah-rahing, maybe not, it is very difficult to make this decision. I really do feel the subcommittee has to do more work, or this committee has to do more work, and maybe in speaking to our caucuses we will get more of an idea of direction. Those are my comments, Mr Chair.

Ms Harrington: I feel the direction Mrs O'Neill is coming from. It seems like such a great time since we were together that maybe some of the ground we covered we may have to cover again in coming to these conclusions.

I had two comments: First of all, certainly, I would believe, in the city of Niagara Falls there are quite a few facilities that would be suitable for this size of conference.

The date of the 19th I was concerned about. It seemed to me that we had talked about October before. Maybe you could answer, because I thought it was a later date.

The Chair: When the committee discussed this issue before, we were looking at September and October. When the subcommittee looked at this, the September dates and those dates in particular were chosen, or were being suggested, because we felt that it would be useful to try to do it both before the House resumed sitting and, second, if the idea was to use the conference in order to get input that we would then use to put together our final report, if we were trying to get the final report together for the end of October, we wanted to give ourselves at least a month and a bit more time between the conference and that end reporting date.

Ms Harrington: My only concern then would be that because we as a committee have been delayed, it seems like three to four weeks, this date may be difficult to get everything accomplished by the time --

The Chair: I think it is clear that the delay has sort of, as you indicated, caused us to have to go back and re-evaluate some of the things, and that is fine. I think if there are concerns about that, then we could certainly leave some time for people to think about that and perhaps use some of the time today to have some of the concerns expressed, as people have done, and then we could come back to this.

Mr Eves: I share some of Yvonne's concerns and the concerns of Margaret Harrington about the date. I would suggest that perhaps maybe some time in the next week the steering committee could manage to meet again and talk about some of these issues, because I think they are fairly substantial issues.

First, can we meet that time line now, because circumstances obviously were a lot different on 2 May than they are now?

The meeting that we are talking about -- conference, whatever you want to describe it as -- does resemble, as Ms O'Neill has said, a constituent assembly. I would think that we are going to have to want to discuss how these groups or representations are chosen. I would think that we do not want to go ahead with that without agreement among representatives of all committee members and certainly all three parties.

I am a little concerned about your statement about the possibility of inviting a number of individuals who do not represent a specific group. I think you are really going to get yourself into a lot of problems doing that. How are you going to choose who these individuals are going to be in a province of nine and a half million, to the exclusion of others?

I have one comment about the budget, and I am not here to criticize Alpha Consultants, but I can tell you that there was some concern by some members of our caucus as to the amount of money that was paid out in the initial committee hearings with respect to consultants. Those concerns were eventually allayed by Mr Harnick and myself. However, I can tell you that I do not think I would be very popular with my caucus colleagues if I went back and said that I agreed to give the committee a blank cheque for $100,000 to hire any consulting firm --

The Chair: We have not done that.

Mr Eves: No, I am just talking about the amount I see in the proposed budget.

-- without knowing exactly what those consultants were going to do and what service they could provide that perhaps intergovernmental relations cannot provide, for example.

Those are just a few of the comments I have. I would think that maybe Ms O'Neill's comments are very appropriate in that, from my point of view, the steering committee -- easy for me to say, I suppose, because I am not a member of the steering committee -- could perhaps revisit some of these issues between now and next Wednesday and we could have a fuller discussion of them next Wednesday morning, perhaps. Then we could get some input from all of our caucuses on Tuesday morning when we hold our regular caucus meeting.

Ms Gigantes: My concern is that if there is to be a conference, and I understand there was consensus earlier, if we leave it too long, then the physical possibility of getting it together is going to be gone. I think we have to probably say to ourselves that spinning it past next week would be impossible. We would have to have a pretty clear idea of whether it was a go or no-go.

Mr Bisson: I have a little bit of difficulty. I can understand what Mrs O'Neill was saying. Where I have a bit of difficulty is that it seems to me that the idea was brought forward originally by a member of your own caucus. I am not too sure if that is the way it went, but it seems to me it was an idea that was brought over from the opposition. I only say that because I am a little bit confused at this point in regard to why we are going back.

I would suggest that what we can do to try to work this out is possibly to bring it back to the subcommittee to take a look at it again and just go on from there, rather than keep on discussing it at this point.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: If I might clarify, I think the reason I suggested that I am rethinking is because I have got a lot of new knowledge, much more so than I had as far as what is going on in the rest of the country is concerned and how many conferences are taking place, some within our own city here. I do not want to reinvent the wheel.

I also know that the committee that is being formed in Ottawa will want to have us as part of its meeting as well. I am sure everyone here knows that. We have to make some accounting for our large expenditure. Is this the best way for us to spend our time and our money? I am asking the question now because a lot of things have changed in the last three or four weeks.

Mr Bisson: I respect what you say and to a certain degree I agree. The only thing I thought was happening is that I thought that all of a sudden the whole idea had gotten back somehow and that is why I was trying to clarify a little bit. We had made a decision at one point that we would look at this. A subcommittee was charged with looking at how it could be pulled off. The subcommittee went off and did what it was asked to do and now we come back and we are relooking at it. So if I understand what you are saying, it is that we bring it back to the subcommittee, we look at it in some detail with the members of the subcommittee, looking at some of the concerns that were raised, and from there come back and make a decision as a committee.

Mr Winninger: I am a little disappointed because we did strike a subcommittee many months ago in which we placed a lot of faith to deal with the practical realities of keeping our agenda for this committee going. We did suffer a fairly long setback these past few weeks in not being able to meet. While I can appreciate Mrs O'Neill's concerns that we clarify the nature of this conference that is planned for the fall and ensure that the groups that are represented there are indeed representative, I am a bit concerned that this project has been derailed at this stage. I think the idea was that we wanted the broadest possible democratic consultation here, to circumvent some of the concerns that arose out of the aborted Meech Lake process, and what could be wider --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: We have not derailed.

Mr Winninger: Can I complete my train of thought? What could be wider and more democratic than this kind of plenary conference that we were moving towards? I am a bit concerned that suddenly we seem to be derailed from this course and we do not have any constructive alternatives put forward by the members who seem to be opposing the notion of this kind of conference. If I am misinterpreting what has been said, then that is fine. We might go back and look at it a little more closely.

But if at this stage the thought is, "Well, there are other people doing other things and these haven't been specified and that is why we can't do this particular project," then that concerns me deeply, because we had momentum. We had what I thought was a broad, non-partisan interest in answering this mandate that has been conferred on us. Today I am not hearing any constructive alternatives, and I think in the absence of any constructive alternatives we should be looking at the project that has been discussed at length by the subcommittee and seeing how we might improve on that.

The Chair: I think the reality is that perhaps the fact we have not met for four weeks has, at the very least I think, caused us to lose some of the momentum, Mr Winninger, that you have quite clearly identified was there before.

From where I sit, although I know that from the staff end it certainly would make life easier the sooner we make decisions about these things, if it means that in a week's time people's heads are going to be a little clearer about this in terms of either doing it or not doing it, then I do not think it causes a major problem, as far as I see it.

If we go that route and if there are some particular concerns that people have, it would be useful to spend a bit of time now hearing about those so that when the subcommittee meets it is doing that with a basis of understanding of where people's thoughts are at right now, subject, of course, to that changing as well.

Mrs O'Neill, for example, asked the question earlier, and others have made this point, about how this looks like a form of constituent assembly. In some ways, yes, it does. The issue, though, is that if it does, is that good or bad? I think that is the kind of thing it would be useful to hear some comments on.

The other point I would also add is to remind people that we had looked at the conference also as the most appropriate avenue, in our view, to provide that additional layer of input from the public into our process, to which we committed ourselves very clearly. So again I just raise that to keep people's minds on that, that if it is not the conference, then my strong suggestion will be that there has to be some other avenue then for us to involve the public in our continuing discussion, because that, I think, was a very clear undertaking we all made and I think we were all quite serious about.

Mrs Mathyssen: I would like to reiterate what Ms Gigantes said in terms of time slipping away. I would support the idea of the conference. I was of the understanding that the purpose of it was to help focus the public's attention on our work to date so that they could have a sense of what the final report would look like.

I think the public is used to first ministers' conferences, all kinds of different conferences, where they do not get a chance to have any input, and I think that this is a significant chance for the public to have an input.

Mr Eves mentioned that there is a possibility some groups would be excluded, but by excluding everyone, I do not see that anything is achieved. So I would like to give support to this idea of the conference once again. I think it is a very important part of what this committee finally determines when it brings a report to the House.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I just want to say that I do not think I have given the intimation that I want to take this thing off the rails; I think Mr Winninger used the words. I do feel, however, that we on this committee from the very beginning have had to sell this whole process to our various caucuses. Most of them are extremely interested in this issue, and I do not think I can tell them we are having a conference if I do not know how the invitations are going to be placed, what is going to be discussed and whether papers are going to be presented. I do not have any details on this, other than the number of people and a possible amalgam of groups.

I found it very comfortable, for instance, Mr Winninger, to explain to people how we were going to go about relating to the aboriginals because you had a plan. People are very interested in this and they are going to want to look at this budget even more closely now than the first one. So I need more details before we can make a decision and I think I have to have a week to discuss this with members on this committee as well as with our general caucus. As far as alternatives are concerned, maybe we will have to modify this.

The Chair: You do not have any specific thoughts or suggestions that you want to give to us at this point on some of the things we should look at.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I do not feel that I can at this moment. I am sorry.

The Chair: Okay. That is fine.


Mr Offer: I have listened to the discussion and I think we have to put this in some sort of perspective. We had, as I recall -- and please correct me -- somewhat set a certain staging process for the committee. My recollection is that during this session in the Legislature we were going to hear from a variety of people on a certain variety of issues. I think it was then anticipated that we might have a little bit more of a public hearing stage over the summer, all of which would end up in some sort of -- I do not know how to put it -- gathering of some kind.

I think it might be necessary for us to step back, without certainly changing course, and take a look at our new time frame. In all frankness, this session is getting very close to completion. We are not going to meet now until June and we are only going to have two or three meeting days. Not that good work cannot be done, but I think we would want to see how our staging of the committee shall progress.

I am not going to speak one way or the other in terms of the 19 September matter, but I do believe it is something which we should caucus with on this particular issue. I do believe we certainly must have a little bit more information on some of the aspects of it. I have a feeling that a lot of these questions that are brought forward today are ones that might be properly addressed first in a subcommittee meeting, then caucused, and then brought back for approval. I do not expect this to be a very lengthy period of time, but I do believe that as we are sitting here and discussing it on Wednesday and not meeting in the evening, the next possible time will be obviously next Wednesday. I think a lot of good work can be done in that time period to sort of just get us on track again and let us take a look at what our new timetable is.

If September was the anticipated time of this meeting before this delay in our hearings, then it may be that the type of work we had anticipated to be done in that time frame now dictates that this type of meeting is not to be in September or potentially in October. I make no comment on that, save it is a fact that we have set up in earlier meetings some very specific time frames wherein we wanted to do what we all agreed upon was going to be very important work culminating in some sort of gathering.

On that point, however, it had in many ways been my understanding that this type of gathering, when it was first brought forward, was not to take this type of form. I do not say this in a negative sense but rather I think the germ of the idea -- and I recall the day of the germ of the idea -- was that it would be a gathering of the committees that were travelling the country, the different federal committees, the different provincial committees, having representatives of all of those committees and together sitting around and sharing some of their perceptions, thoughts and opinions on their particular work.

It seems to have evolved into something different, of course, and I think that we have to keep in mind that my recollection is that the initial thought was that this committee would be a gathering of all of the other committees and thereby get a sense as to what is going on around the country. I make that point, and in conclusion say I think what we have to do is sort of take a look at our new time frame and get this thing back on track and try to do it within the next week.

The Chair: I have Mr Eves and Mr Malkowski, and then I am going to see if we can come to a conclusion on this item.

Mr Eves: I am not going to take up that much more time. I agree with what Mr Offer has just said, and I do not think it is much different than what I have said or Mr Bisson said. I am not suggesting that we step backwards. I did not ever suggest, Mrs Mathyssen, that we exclude everybody. I said that the last sentence in here mentions "the possibility of inviting a number of individuals who do not represent a specific group" -- individuals. How are you going to choose which individuals and how many? Pick a number -- 117? What about 93? I like the number 93. How about 18? Maybe I have 18 of my constituents who I think should be representative of the rest of the province.

That is just the kind of problem you get into when you start saying we are going to invite -- the province has close to 10 million people -- so many individuals. How are you going to choose who these individuals are who are not representing a particular interest or a group without offending the other 10,997,000 people in the province? Pretty difficult, I would suggest. That is all I said. I never said that women, aboriginal groups, disabled representatives, francophones, seniors, multicultural groups, etc, should not come. In fact, I said exactly the opposite, unless there is something wrong with my ears or my tongue.

Interjection: It is a matter of opinion.

Mr Eves: Well, my tongue sometimes can get me in a little trouble.

The reality is that for whatever reason, we are three or four weeks behind, and we could debate that and disagree about that for ever. The reality, as the world is, is that the last time I checked my calendar it is 29 May now, not 2 May, and we are three to four weeks behind. Why we are three to four weeks behind is totally irrelevant to how we deal with the logistical problem of solving where we go from here step by step, keeping in mind the steps that we had all agreed we would pursue, and we will do that.

Perhaps the subcommittee or the steering committee should be looking at perhaps now 19-21 September is not realistic. Perhaps after they think about that and come back to us next Wednesday, they will either recommend that it is still achievable and this is how we could do that, or it is not achievable and more realistically we should be looking at the second or third week in October to do this.

The comment that Steve Offer made about the original germ of the idea of a conference I think is quite accurate. I think it was Charles Beer, actually, who offered that suggestion, and it was going to be a meeting of various committees from all over the country. I am not suggesting that this other suggestion is not a good one. In fact, it may be a better one. I just think that the subcommittee or the steering committee should really revisit all of these items in the next week. As I said, that is easy for me to say because I am not on the subcommittee or the steering committee, and I think it is going to he a heck of a lot of work between now and next Wednesday morning. But I think that has to be done so the committee as a whole can come to an agreement and is something we have to do by consensus. We have done everything so far. I do not see any reason why we cannot do this by consensus.

The Chair:. I think that has certainly been the intent all along. In fact, the best answer I could offer at this point in terms of who would be selecting the people who would be coming to the conference is that we would use the same approach we have used throughout. When we had in the first stage of hearings a problem with having to decide which groups we would hear and which ones we would not, given the number of groups that came before us, we did it by consensus in the subcommittee. That is the way we work, and that is certainly the way I would hope we would continue to work.

Mr Malkowski: This is to follow up on what Yvonne's concern was in terms of not knowing the definition of where we were going. I think the idea of the conference in the fall was set on -- did you have a concern about the timing or was it just the idea of the conference? I am still not quite clear from that. Second, my understanding from our past agreements in meetings was that we were going to hold the conference to take a look at the eight recommendations we had made in our interim report. Is that the focus of what we wanted to do or do we need to redefine the purpose of the conference then?

The Chair: I think, on your second point, Mr Malkowski, that as we discussed in the subcommittee, our sense of the idea of the reason for the conference was that between now and the time of the conference we would take the issues we identified in our interim report as requiring further study, do some of that further study through a combination of inviting people to come and talk to us, doing whatever research would need to be done on those issues, and then as a result of that, put together perhaps a series of positions or options or more details that would flesh out the various issues that are in our interim report. Then we would place all of that information before the people who would come together at the conference as a way, then, to get the reaction and feedback from them, and then use that information, as I said earlier, to pull together our final report. That is the process as we were looking at it.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: If Mr Malkowski wants me to try and clarify it, I thought I had made it quite clear what my concerns were. I am having difficulty knowing how we would invite members of these groups. Would they be people we have had before whom we did not feel we had heard enough from? I am having trouble determining whether it will all be invitational or whether there will be experts within the province who will want to present papers. Those are the things.

I have certainly not got the impression, as you do, that it would be only our recommendations. I think I have had an awful lot of input on the recommendations. There is no doubt you have, and I am very happy about that. But I think we have to move on to some new concepts now, building on what I consider quite a strong foundation.


The Chair: All right. Let me see if we have agreement, then, to basically defer decision on this item, and therefore on the report of the subcommittee, until next week's meeting, and in the meantime have the subcommittee meet and, as well, allow discussion to happen among the caucuses, and then we will come back to this at next week's meeting.

Mr Bisson: That is agreeable. What kinds of constraints do you have as far as time lines are concerned in being able to book places, and the logistics of this thing? What is the latest we can postpone the decision?

Clerk of the Committee: Currently we have accommodation tentatively booked at a local hotel to accommodate the numbers that are indicated here. The Macdonald Block and some adjoining satellite meeting rooms have been booked for the conference meeting area.

Mr Bisson: So by when would we have to confirm one way or another that we are going or we are not going ahead?

Clerk of the Committee: We would have to be prepared to confirm if we were confronted with the alternative that those other spaces have been asked for and are prepared to be confirmed by some other group.

Mr Bisson: So you would be looking at a decision by, when, mid-June at the very latest, the first week of June?

Clerk of the Committee: I could not put a time on it, Mr Bisson, because if somebody came along to the hotel and said, "We want to book that room tomorrow and we're prepared to put a deposit on it," then we are sunk.

The Chair: All we have done is simply put in a request. There has been no outlay of any money on our part to do that.

Clerk of the Committee: They have indicated that they would call back and say: "We have this other opportunity. Are you prepared to confirm or let it go?"

Ms Gigantes: Can I ask whether it is possible for us to discuss at least in tentative terms what the summer schedule for the committee is likely to be? If people are going back earnestly to consult with our caucuses and there is some notion about how a workload, which was reasonable leading into a September conference previously, now becomes unworkable because we have lost three weeks of meetings and we therefore cannot consider a September conference, I think as far as we can we should try and define what it is we are talking about in terms of workload, what it is that there is left to do before a conference. It will help these discussions. Otherwise we can float around this for another three weeks of meetings and by then the idea will die, not because anybody has killed it but because it has just petered out.

The Chair: Let me try again to refresh people's minds on this, and my own. I think that what we had, in a general way, agreed to was that we should expect to be meeting between now and the end of June on the basis that we have agreed to, and then anticipating that there would be not many, if any, meetings happening during July or most of July. I am not sure what exactly has been worked out or is being worked out among the three House leaders or party whips on that. But then the assumption was that we would be coming back whenever the committee schedule resumes during the adjournment, whether that would be late July or early August and, in effect, be meeting throughout that period, throughout all of August, and into early September.

Ms Gigantes: You mean on a daily basis?

The Chair: Likely on a daily basis during that time, so that we had anticipated that, in fact, the bulk of our work as a committee would be done during the month of August. That was obviously still subject --

Ms Gigantes: We were talking about a much heavier schedule of meetings than this committee has been through.

The Chair: It depends. I think for those of us who went through a month of hearings throughout the province --

Ms Gigantes: But certainly not on the kind of schedule we are looking at, not one day a week.

The Chair: No. Remember we had talked about meeting during the summer break, which meant, in effect, mostly during August and perhaps a little bit of July and a little bit in September. We were talking about, in effect, meeting almost, I would say, on a daily basis during that time, during August and in September, during the time that the House is not sitting. The fact that the House would not be sitting would allow us and, in effect --

Ms Gigantes: As long as we all understand.

The Chair: I think the understanding from our respective party whips and House leaders on this has been that they have been accommodating so far in terms of our requests for meetings and the kind of scheduling that made this committee a priority over the others in terms of commitments.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That was certainly understood at the meeting at the beginning of May, that this committee would get priority for the summer sittings.

The Chair: In that context, what we had looked at before was trying to then use the time until the end of June to begin to focus on some of the issues that deal with Quebec's future in Canada and look at some of the economic implications of Quebec's future in Canada and the possibility of separation. The additional item on that was dealing with the question of native issues and trying to invite some of the native leaders to come and talk with us about some of that, realizing that we would be doing the bulk of that also in the summer, but that we might be able to begin at least on those two issues.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Really, the contents of these papers indicate what direction we wanted to begin in.

The Chair: Then let me just again test and see whether we have agreement. Then we will proceed that way with deferring this item for a decision until next week's meeting. People will have a chance to talk in their caucuses and we will try to see if we can get a subcommittee meeting for early next week perhaps. Okay?

Mr Offer: Agreed.

The Chair: Good. If we turn to the next item, the budget, again, it may be that some of the same comments that people have made on this apply, but let me just say to you by way of background that what we have done -- "we" being the clerk and I, or essentially the clerk -- is put together a draft budget so that we could have something before us. There is some urgency in at least our putting together some kind of a budget, because the Board of Internal Economy I gather is meeting next week.

Mr Eves: Monday evening.

The Chair: Monday evening. There is probably, I am told, not likely to be a meeting following that. I am not sure.

The word we had been given was to get our budget in even if it was not complete and even if we then required additional budget requests later on. So whether we go for the amounts that are here, whether we reduce them, whether we take some parts of them out, put them on hold, my strong urging would be, let's take whatever we can from here that we can agree to today, let's agree to as much of it as we can and take that forward. Then if there are items that we need to have some discussion about, we can leave those for us to put together a supplementary budget.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I would like to ask some questions about the travel that is here. What planned travel do we have still, or is this strictly for witnesses?

The Chair: What we have is -- and again I will ask --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am looking at travel allowances, the one that contains air fare and travel accommodation.

The Chair: Yes. Remember we had talked, as part of our work, that we would in the second phase be looking at staying in direct contact with our counterpart committees in other provinces. I think in basically some arbitrary way Mr Brown has calculated some rough costs of doing that. of having a few members of the committee travel to other provinces.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: So this is interprovincial travel.

Under "Management, consulting and professional services" are "Conference consultants and media relations. $100,000." There are no decisions made on that. That is an estimate.

The Chair: Those are all rough estimates at this point.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: But you are considering having a formal co-ordinator or firm or whatever involve itself as the others did in bringing forth witnesses.

The Chair: That item, quite frankly, is there at my request because it was my sense that it was better to put that there and put it before the committee. Understand that we have not any decisions about that.

Mr Offer: Is this premised on the conference on the 19th to the 21st?

The Chair: Yes, it is premised on us needing some help with the conference. If we decide not to do it then obviously that item would not be there.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Okay. Then I just wondered about the conference, the $200,000. What does that cover? What kind of expenditures?

The Chair: That is on the second page, Mr Brown.

Clerk of the Committee: That is based on the numbers we had reflecting the cost of rooms for delegates for three nights.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: We are going to be paying for the delegates.

Clerk of the Committee: Yes, if that is the wish of the committee, but that is the kind of figure that it would reflect -- the cost of accommodations and the cost of peripheral needs for the --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: It would be the only conference I would hear of ever in my life, and I have gone to a lot of conferences, where the person sponsoring it pays the delegates' expenses totally.


The Chair: It comes back to the issue of what the purpose of the conference is. If we are inviting people to come to the conference, if the idea of the conference is to have people from across the province come and talk with us, then we are inviting them, and it was on that basis again that I asked that the amount be put in there, subject to whatever decisions we would make about that.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: So the "Contingency" there just picks up the slack. I think we really have to discuss some of that.

Mr Winninger: Just a question of clarification about the newspaper ads: If this is by invitation and the outreach is done through our consultant, I just wondered what the purpose of the newspaper ads at the bottom would be -- the three ads at $25,000 each.

Clerk of the Committee: Again, it was strictly an estimate of what the committee may feel it requires to get the word out to an advertising system. It depends also on the use of the ethnic press and the extent of the use of weeklies, which becomes a very expensive and unknown type of thing to establish.

Ms Gigantes: But that assumes that we would not be inviting people, is essentially what you are saying.

Mr Winninger: I thought at this stage we had changed things a bit and now we are focusing on consulting with umbrella organizations. I had thought that would be done in a different fashion than earlier when we had to invite people publicly to attend our hearings across the province. Maybe I am wrong in that assumption.

Mr Eves: If I may just make a couple of comments, the Board of Internal Economy meeting is this Monday, but I would be very surprised if there is not another board meeting some time before the committee starts to meet during the summer break. We have often done things by consensus, either by phone or by written documentation that is circulated among all board members if there is some urgency to it. So I just point that out. I am not saying it will not be done Monday night, but if it does not get done Monday night, that is not the end of the road. That is the only point I am trying to make.

The only other point I would make is the one I have already made. If you look at the entire conference package, if you want to put it that way, you are looking at $100,000 for consultants and media relations, $200,000 for the conference and another $100,000 for contingencies. You are looking at some pretty decent-sized numbers. If the steering committee or the subcommittee can sort of get a handle on what we are doing and if they can come to a consensus, then I think surely we can come to a consensus as a whole.

Mr Bisson: Where I am taken somewhat aback by is that we were given direction by a part of this committee as a subcommittee to go back and answer some questions. One of the things that was brought up by the committee, because of the work we did in the first stage, was the whole idea of keeping the public involved in this whole process. I think what people out there recognize is the problem around Meech Lake is that there was no consultation and people felt excluded. I guess why I am feeling a little bit taken aback is that we were asked as a subcommittee to go back and look at this whole idea. The idea was arrived at by members of all caucuses on the subcommittee, and at this point now we are having some disagreement with regard to the whole concept.

I can understand some fine-tuning. I can understand maybe changing some dates. I can understand maybe changing the makeup of what we are trying to do to a certain extent, because the longer we are involved in this, like you said quite well a little while ago, Yvonne, we learn a little bit more and maybe we change our focus somewhat. I do not know if I am reading this right, but what I am reading is that there is some reservation about the whole process of doing this conference.

All I am saying is that as a subcommittee we were charged to go back and look at this thing and to put some numbers around it, make some plans, find some dates, try to find a place to do it and do all of the organization around that. That is basically what the subcommittee did, and it had members of all caucuses. I do not want to say this facetiously to anybody, but it seems to me that your representatives on the subcommittee should have come back and explained maybe a little bit more what had happened at those meetings rather than being in a position now of debating them for two hours. That is the point I would make.

Mr Eves: You are quite correct.

The Chair: In checking with the clerk, there are probably a couple of things we can do. One is that we can just again defer consideration of the budget until after we have looked at the issue of the conference and looked at --

Mr Eves: If the steering committee reaches a consensus next Monday, then I am prepared to live with that consensus with respect to the budget.

The Chair: Well, that is the other option.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I do not have any difficulty with it either, except I do have quite a bit of difficulty with the delegates' expenses being totally paid. I feel, especially if we are bringing in representative groups, that somebody should be helping us sponsor this. The free-lunch Queen's Park is not part of my scene and I do not think it would do us any good to have a whole lot of people come here and -- almost everybody, unless they are presenting a paper at a conference, has to have somebody support them. Even when my teenaged daughters used to go to conferences, they had to collect bottles. To put people up in a Toronto hotel -- I know how important this event could be, but it is just not explainable. Even when I go to conferences, I often have to pay out of my own salary. I just do not think it is correct.

The Chair: That was actually the other option I was going to put before the committee, to remove those items on which people had some questions, to take forward the balance and then indicate to the Board of Internal Economy that we are going to come back to it after we had sorted those out. We can go any of those routes, I think.

Ms Gigantes: I would like to say a word or two on this particular subject. I think Yvonne may wish to rethink this, because a number of the people I am sure she would want to see come to such a conference would be people for whom money is a big problem. We do not want to have a gathering of people who can afford to gather. This is an important principle we want to establish. If it means that people who can afford to pay for a hotel room feel like kicking back into the budget, and you want to suggest that, fine, but I do not want to see people excluded because of their financial inability to join in. I do not want to see groups excluded because of financial difficulties. I suggest to you that you rethink this.

I am also a bit concerned about meeting at the Macdonald Block. Some of the rooms at the Macdonald Block remind me of a Soviet mausoleum. I am not subject to headaches at all, but when I go into one of those rooms I feel like I am in imminent danger of headaches.

The Chair: On that, one of the options we had looked at -- and again, we have not drawn any conclusions on those -- was to use the Macdonald Block simply for the large gatherings and then try to use the committee rooms in this place for some of those. That was on the argument that it would be useful to use this building as much as possible for a conference of this nature. The other possibility is simply to use one of the hotels, if we are going to do it in Toronto. None of those have really been finalized yet.

Ms Gigantes: I love the thought of using this building, but there is no large room for that.

The Chair: When we were looking at the Macdonald Block, we were looking also from that.

Ms Gigantes: I wonder if it is possible, during the period when the Legislature is not in session -- of course, we are talking about just the last few days before the session begins -- to put other chairs in the Legislative Assembly? That does hold 130 very big chairs.

The Chair: The clerk reminds us that is something we would have to take up with the Speaker. But I think the possibilities are there; we could canvass all those.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: If I may respond to Ms Gigantes, I certainly do not want to deny anybody admittance here, but there are rules around here and you know them as well as I. For people who cannot afford to come to present as witnesses, their expenses are paid. I certainly would like us to do that kind of thing rather than say, "Well, if you can afford it, you can pay it back." I think we should keep the same rules we have for the other committees, and if it involves overnight accommodation, fine, but people have to present that they have some kind of need. I also think that several of these groups would like to sponsor their person. It should be an honour to come to talk about this issue.

I do not think making things totally easy and free is always the way to get the best possible participation, whether that be from youth or from adults. Certainly, when we did the food bank hearings we had several groups subsidized from all over the province -- mostly their transportation, because they came and went on the same day. I think we should try to stick as close to that as possible. I just feel that we all have to be accountable and I would like to do that as much as possible.

I have a question about the previous budget, Mr Chairman. How did we manage?

The Chair: I will turn to the clerk for any details, but we certainly were under budget, even if not by a lot.

Clerk of the Committee: I think by approximately $200,000.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: This committee spent two point something already; is that right?

Clerk of the Committee: No, the full budget was $2 million.

The Chair: So we spent about $1.8 million. A lot of that, I remind people, also had to do with the fact that we were travelling across the province and that all the hearings were being televised. I say that for the benefit of people who may have forgotten or indeed people who are watching.

Clerk of the Committee: I should also mention that with the last budget some sizeable items which were provided in that budget could not be paid out of that budget because they were invoiced after the end of the year; printing, I believe, and postage for the distribution of the reports.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Sorry, two people were speaking to me at the same time. There are things that have to be presented in addition to this budget?

Clerk of the Committee: Yes, some of the budget items were not in fact paid during that fiscal year, some of the printing and the postage for distribution.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: So what are we talking about, $500,000?

Clerk of the Committee: No, probably in the order of $150,000.

The Chair: So what is the sense of what we want to do with this budget? Do we take Mr Eves's suggestion, which is to leave it in the hands of the subcommittee, and if there is consensus there, to take that forward? That was his last word to me as he left, that he is comfortable with that.

Ms Gigantes: Can I say one more thing on the question of accommodation? We all work as elected members here and if we are going to that conference our accommodation gets paid. Of course it is a privilege to come to the conference, but it is a privilege for us to go to the conference too. I think it is fair enough that if we are inviting special representatives from the public who we feel can make special contributions to the process, we look at the question of providing accommodation as a straightforward matter. I am not talking about caviar in hotel rooms or anything of this nature. There is nothing, either, in my view that is unaccountable about this. It is fully accountable. I think it makes eminent sense for us to consider very seriously the payment of expenses of people we invite specially to such a conference. I am not happy that we just put that matter aside as if it has been dealt with at this stage.

The Chair: My sense was that if people wanted to have a chance to think about it some more, it might facilitate the discussion that way. Obviously, if there is no resolution in the subcommittee, the only solution is for us to bring it back to the committee to be resolved here.

Mr Offer: Without getting into the specifics of what is contained in the budget, it seems we have a question before us, whether we move this discussion on the budget to the subcommittee to obtain consensus, if possible, or move this budget to the next full meeting of this committee. I would think we do not really have --

The Chair: Or approve parts of the budget and send that --

Mr Offer: I do not know if we have that particular latitude at this point, as Mr Eves had to be called away. I recognize it could be done, but I do think that as a matter of courtesy we would not do that. I would think at this point the question is whether we put the budget to a subcommittee or to the next meeting. We would have no problem in moving it to the subcommittee for consensus.

The Chair: The understanding is that we will try to resolve it there. If there are some problems, we will, as I say, bring them back here to the committee.

Ms Gigantes: Am I correct in understanding that there is an interest in having both the question of the conference and the question of the budget discussed with each party caucus, which occurs on Tuesday -- am I correct? -- which means that either this work gets done by the subcommittee tomorrow or Monday, or it does not get before the --

The Chair: No, my understanding is to try to get a meeting of the subcommittee together, hopefully for Monday, so we can have some discussion there, and then people can take that discussion and have whatever further discussions need to happen, and then we come back on Wednesday.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Is it correct that you will have to take this budget forward Monday night?

The Chair: If people are comfortable with leaving it so that if there is agreement within the subcommittee, we could then take that forward that evening, we would do that. Otherwise, we would bring it back.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I have no trouble with the final amount. I do have some trouble and I am still having difficulty being totally convinced by Ms Gigantes, so that item is not solved, obviously. But the total amount I have no difficulty with if you take it forward.

The Chair: That helps, if that is the same from Mr Eves and the Conservative caucus.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: He wants to talk about the subcommittee Monday.

The Chair: Then we may not have a problem in that sense. If we are talking about particular expenditures but not the total amount, that is a different matter. I think we can still deal with the time lines of the Board of Internal Economy and still leave us flexibility in the committee to deal with the issues.

Mrs Mathyssen: Might I say that if the work this committee does effects a reconciliation in this country between Canadians, I would suggest that this amount of money in this budget is a very paltry sum, if that is achieved.

The Chair: On that note, we stand adjourned until next Wednesday.

The committee adjourned at 1759.