30e législature, 3e session

L120 - Tue 23 Nov 1976 / Mar 23 nov 1976

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resumption of the adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 85, An Act to reform the Law respecting Succession to the Estates of Deceased Persons.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I’m very happy to add a few comments to this Bill 85. We’re under somewhat of a handicap because --

Mr. McCague: No doubt.

Mr. Gregory: We’ve noticed that.

Mr. Singer: We’re under a handicap because of the performance of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry).

I asked him a few days ago -- I had seen a squib in the paper to the effect that Bill 85 was going to be withdrawn and a new one introduced and he said, no, no.

Well, he hasn’t really withdrawn it. He hasn’t really introduced a new bill. In fact, he has something called “reprinted for the consideration of the administration of justice committee” which, I suppose, is fair enough.

But this being a very multiple bill with a whole flock of sections and we in the opposition not having seen it -- the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and my colleague from Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and I not having seen it until now, it places us under a very severe handicap. Some 83 sections of very important statutory provisions suddenly being presented to us a couple of hours ago -- with two hours intervening for the dinner period.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Renwick: Point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Point of order.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Point of order. We indicated to the hon. members opposite that there were going to be a number of amendments. The printed bill was available only this morning in the present form. Really, it’s to accommodate the members opposite that we had it reprinted. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that there’s no change in the principle of the legislation, and the second reading is, of course, a debate on principle.

Mr. Haggerty: Just general housekeeping.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: We had these amendments incorporated in a reprinted bill for the convenience of the members of the Legislature. So I must protest the implication --

Mr. Nixon: You made a mistake, Roy.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- that we have in some way acted improperly.

Mr. Warner: He’s being mischievous. Pay no heed.

Mr. Speaker: As the hon. member, I’m sure, is aware, we’re dealing with the bill as printed, which is the original.

Any other document you might have is irrelevant as far as the discussion is concerned. We’re discussing the principle of the bill. If the hon. minister has informed the opposition or the members of the House as to changes he contemplates, however, that’s outside this point of view.

The fact is that we’re debating Bill 85 as it was originally printed in principle, and if there’s no change in principle, why, really, that’s the document we’re discussing anyway.

The hon. member for Wilson Heights may continue.

Mr. Haggerty: That’s not the bill.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, with great, great respect to what you have said, and with great respect to what the Attorney General has said, I must take exception to what you have both said -- very serious exception because, Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the Attorney General’s out of order comments on a point of order about having done something for us by way of conveniencing us, both my colleague the hon. member for Ottawa East and I received no notice at all there was going to be a redraft of the bill.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Is this a pre-marital separation that is going on over there?

Mr. Singer: No notice at all, and I’ve just consulted with him and he says he didn’t receive one and I certainly didn’t receive any such notice.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Starting the honeymoon early, Albert?

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, if you look at this bill I know you would be aware as you read it there are 85 sections in this and each one of these 85 sections enunciates a new principle of law, so it’s almost impossible to debate any one of these sections individually. I would think legitimately we could question what is before the House. I’m not prepared to do that. We want to expedite the business of the people of the province of Ontario unlike our colleague, the Attorney General.

We are prepared to take this to the committee where it will be appropriately discussed. I enunciate and underline the unfairness of the approach of the Attorney General and I hope this will be well looked at and well recorded. The Attorney General has been most unfair to us in this approach.

Mr. Nixon: Undemocratic, one might say.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Nonsense.

Mr. Singer: Just a few hours ago he presented to us a brand new bill, changed in principle --

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It’s not a new bill.

Mr. Singer: Do you know why, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Point of order. He is attempting to mislead the House -- on a point of order --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. No I don’t think that --

Mr. Singer: No, he didn’t have a point of order before.

Mr. Breithaupt: This is ridiculous.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This is not a new bill.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: You can be named for that.

Mr. Speaker: The only bill we have before the House is the original Bill 85 and the hon. member for Wilson Heights may proceed on that premise.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, since we are making such an issue out of it, I have another document in my hand that says “Bill 85, reprinted for consideration by the administration of justice committee.”

Hon. Mr. Welch: There are cubs and scouts in the gallery. Be honest.

Mr. Singer: Now which one are we debating? Are we debating this bill or the one that’s reprinted apparently for our convenience?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Bill 85.

Mr. Nixon: You put two bills 85 on our list.

Hon. Mr. Welch: What?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I have already announced --

Mr. Singer: I have to say --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There’s only one bill before the House and that’s the original Bill 85.

Mr. Nixon: Is that 85 or 85?

Hon. Mr. Welch: No, we have just shared some amendments with you.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, there is no way of intelligently discussing -- how many principles? Eighty-five different principles?

Hon. Mr. Welch: No, the finger --

Mr. Singer: By coincidence, there are 85 different principles in Bill 85. There are 85 sections. Most of them have been changed.

Hon. Mr. Welch: It’s just that the finger is different.

Mr. Nixon: It’s just pointing the wrong way.

Mr. Singer: No, the hon. House leader of the Tories again is wrong. He wasn’t very successful in the administration of justice field; nor is his successor.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Very consistent.

Mr. Singer: I’m sorry. If he wants to go back and replace the hon. Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), that’s fine, but he is not charged with the carriage of this bill, tonight.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I never go back, only forward.

Mr. Ferris: Never lost in any.

Mr. Speaker: There are 10 minutes wasted. We’ll get on to Bill 85.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, we have lots of time. If there’s anything we have here, we have time. I want to put fully before the House the fact that we are not debating the bill as it was originally put before us. We are debating a bill as suggested --

Hon. Mr. Welch: Would the member hurry up so the Attorney General can speak in his riding tonight? He is filibustering to keep the Attorney General out of his riding.

Mr. Roy: Maybe he should. That’s going to give you a few more votes.

Mr. Singer: If he wants to come it’ll do him no good but he’s welcome. We’ll give him a passport as he crosses the border. It did him no good last time and won’t do him any good this time.

An hon. member: You’ll get another thousand votes if he goes into your riding.

Hon. Mr. Welch: He is filibustering to keep the Attorney General out of his riding. Meanwhile, what point was he talking about again? It is the finger.

Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. member for Wilson Heights continue on Bill 85 as originally printed?

Mr. Singer: Would you keep the member for St. Catharines quiet?

Hon. Mr. Welch: St. Catharines? Brock.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I think it is an imposition, and I say this quite seriously --

Mr. Maeck: Why don’t you give up while you are ahead?

Mr. Singer: It is a great imposition upon us to be called upon to debate two bills at the same time. It is most unfair.

Hon. Mr. Welch: In the same day.

Mr. Singer: We are very fortunate that we have an intelligent submission put before this House by a group of very leading solicitors, important solicitors -- Malcolm Archibald of the firm of Weir and Foulds; Brule of the firm of Blaney, Pasternak; Mary Louise Dickson; David Fuller; Alex Langford; Ralph Scane who is a professor; and J. J. Wardlaw -- who have been able to convince the Attorney General and his draftspeople, some of whom are sitting over there --

Hon. Mr. Welch: Persons.

Mr. Singer: -- that the bill they originally presented to us was really inadequate and improper and should be changed in several material aspects.

Unfortunately, being presented with the revised bill just a little while ago has destroyed all of the preparation we did in connection with the 85 sections the Attorney General put in his original bill. There are many serious errors in law which --

Hon. Mr. Welch: Housekeeping.

Mr. Singer: -- fly in the face of established custom; fly in the face of equity; fly in the face of reasonableness.

Hon. Mr. Welch: You can sure recognize that

Mr. Singer: I think the Attorney General should be condemned by all of us for bringing this legislation before us in the manner he has done.


Mr. Singer: Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I don’t think that reasonable debate --

Mr. Ferris: Could we have the attention of the Attorney General, do you think?

Mr. Singer: Yes, without the intervention of the clerk. Having said that, I think it would be appropriate, as the hon. member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) pointed out, that we get this bill to committee just as quickly as we can so that --


Mr. Makarchuk: Don’t provoke him.

Mr. Singer: The member for Brock (Mr. Welch) is feeling no pain at all tonight. Let’s get on with the bill without the interjections.

Hon. W. Newman: Speak for yourself.

Mr. Makarchuk: Expedite the bill.

Mr. Singer: Having said that, let us get the bill to committee as quickly as we can so that we can have the advantage of the opinions of this committee -- a group of intelligent persons who are knowledgeable in this field of law and who are going to suggest a great number of changes. It is impossible for us to debate the revised bill before us reasonably and adequately, with all due respect, sir. The revised bill is what is before us because that is the bill the government is pushing forward. The minister may shake his head as long as he wants. That is, in fact, the bill being put before us.

There are several things which have to be said even about the revised bill. One major concern -- and I would like to hear the Attorney General’s opinion in due course -- is why the whole process of dealing with mental incompetence is not revised. Why do we have the complicated procedure of bringing an application under The Mental Incompetency Act, getting an order declaring certain persons incompetent, dealing with their estates and/or their person and then having to go to a judge of the Supreme Court to have confirmation of a plan for dealing with the estate and its management in that kind of event?

It’s a throwback, I suppose, to the old United Kingdom system. When the minister brought this package before us those ramifications were not considered by the advisers to the Attorney General. Why there has to be this double kind of review and the double kind of legal costs which result from it, I don’t know. I would like to hear, somewhere along the line, as we deal with this important part of this package why there is not some recommendation for modernizing this ancient kind of procedure.

It’s a complicated one. May I tell you, Mr. Speaker, it’s a procedure that is best known by certain administrative people in the offices of the clerk of the county court of the judicial district of York rather than the judges. When the applications go forward in their ancient form the final arbiter really is someone who has sat in that office and is knowledgeable about the procedures. It is not really the judge who leans very heavily on the administrative advice of the clerks or the assistant clerks in that office. Why that has to continue I don’t know.

All that having been done, orders having been entered and costs having been taxed, there has to be another application to a judge of the Supreme Court to confirm a plan for the management of the estate of a mental incompetent. It’s part and parcel of this kind of a concept and I think it’s most unfair and most inequitable. When the Attorney General brings before us a package supposedly to deal with all of these things, surely he should have given some consideration to that?

Let me return to a theme which I have enunciated in this House a number of times, and that is the roles of the Official Guardian and the Public Trustee. We are going to the very root of the handling of personal affairs and the affairs of the estates of people who are unable to look after themselves. What role do we expect our public officials -- the Public Trustee and the Official Guardian to continue to play?

They stand aside today. I don’t criticize the holders of these offices for a moment but by reason of the provisions of the statutes which govern their conduct and lay down the rules by which they are supposed to operate, they are able to stand aside from the needs and the requirements of people who look to public authority for assistance and guidance and care for their estates. What are the three groups of people suffering under disability -- imbeciles, incompetents and infants.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: And Liberal MPPs.

Mr. Nixon: Where do judges come in?

Mr. Roy: And a few Tories.


Mr. Singer: We have nothing really dealing with those people as we bring this package before us. Surely it would have been appropriate if, as part of this package, we have before us amendments to the Act governing the conduct and the duties of office of the Official Guardian and Acts governing the conduct and the duties of office of the Public Trustee so that there would be, really, a complete package here. So that when there were these gaps in public concern about the handling of estates -- not just who would inherit, not just what happens when there are incompetents who become beneficiaries, who looks after their interests -- the Attorney General would have been there as their guardian and he isn’t. He isn’t because he is only appearing with a part of the package.

I have raised this over many, many years in the estimates of a series of Attorneys General and it is not only the fault of the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. McMurtry). It is the fault of he and lo, his many predecessors. But I would have thought that when we had this whole package -- and if he looks at McRuer, McRuer had some views about what the Public Trustee should be doing. I don’t know how many lawyers there are in this House who tried to convince the Public Trustee and/or the Official Guardian to get into something that’s difficult, to get into something where there is a need for public protection but it is a very, very hard job.

So my second major criticism is that the package is less than complete. It is difficult, if not impossible, to enter into a debate on this statute in principle. With all due respect, we cannot debate the statute that you refer to as the one that is printed because it’s a different statute, the one that the Attorney General has presented to us, even though he says it’s for our assistance and guidance.

Yes, it’s for our assistance and guidance as presented to us by the members of this illustrious committee, Thank goodness we have them, because without them it would have been very, very difficult to enter into kind of a debate. I say we want this reform in the law. We will support it on second reading but this debate cannot go by without this kind of criticism being levelled at the Attorney General and without the urgent request and demand -- yes, demand -- from us saying to him: “What are you going to do about these other public officials?”

These are part and parcel of the whole package. What do you do about the Public Trustee? What do you do about the Official Guardian? Why aren’t these offices modernized as well as other facets of the law? When you bring in that package, you will have taken a very substantial step to modernizing this whole field of law which is most important indeed.

Mr. Cassidy: I want to raise some concerns about Bill 85 and whether it is in the new form or the old form doesn’t much matter. I know the committee will have a chance to look at the proposed amendments which have been made by the ministry after representations by the legal fraternity. I am concerned however on a more fundamental matter and that is --

Mr. Maeck: I didn’t know this bill had anything to do with rent control.

Mr. Cassidy: I should tell the member for Parry Sound --

Mr. Speaker: Ignore the interjections and back to the bill.

Mr. Cassidy: -- that rent control is not the only important issue facing the province. That’s a great concession.

Hon. Mr. Welch: What an admission from Ottawa.

Mr. Cassidy: These three bills were presented as a package and they are being debated as a package. However Bill 85 does not fit in, it seems to me, with the family law reforms which we debated yesterday and wound up debating today.

I am concerned that the principles that have been adopted about the property rights and the economic partnership of marriage which accrue to the weaker spouse, usually the woman, and which are recognized in The Family Law Reform Act which we have just debated on second reading, don’t extend to this particular bill. I would hope the minister would reply in detail as to why the government chose not to revise this bill substantially after it had decided over the summer on the principles that would be followed in The Family Law Reform Act.

Very specifically the proposals which came forward in the spring and which seem to survive substantially now are that where a person dies intestate and has one child then the kid gets half of the estate after $75,000. The child gets half of the estate after an initial amount of $75,000, assuming the estate is larger, goes to the spouse. If there is more than one child, after the first $75,000 is given to the spouse, then the spouse is only entitled to one-third of the residue.

Where there is a substantial estate then, the spouse may find himself or herself entitled to maybe as little as 30 or 35 per cent of the total value of the estate. I’m not sure whether that is adequate recognition of the economic contribution which was made to the marriage. I’m also not sure whether it makes sense to have a completely different and, I understand, older set of rules governing the disposition of the estate of somebody who dies without a will than the rules that govern what happens to the assets that have been built up by a couple under The Family Law Reform Act.

The procedures for intestate succession may or may not work. They still do guarantee a substantial proportion of the estate for the spouse. I think the minister could probably argue fairly that, if one takes into account that first $75,000, which will equal more or less the value of at least half of the family assets that most ordinary families will build up in a lifetime, then some kind of justice is done even though the rules don’t exactly correspond. However, it seems to me that things are much worse under this bill where a husband, if he is the economically richer of the two, dies and actually has a will and where the matrimonial home and the other family assets as they’ve been defined in the other bill happen to be in his name.

They are worse in particular if for years he’s been nursing a grudge against his spouse, he’s vindictive, he has a will which has been deposited with his lawyer and he has not in any way consulted with his wife. She may wake up the day the will is probated to find he has attempted to leave her literally without a penny. At that point there are suddenly enormous changes. Money isn’t available. She finds that the money has all been left to the children or else it has been given to some charitable society or else donated to his former college or something like that. The purposes to which the money may have been put may have been quite well-meaning, but her economic contribution to the partnership of marriage is not recognized.

There can be a number of situations where I think that’s important and relevant. In the first place, the courts are enjoined under section 58 and 62 to consider the support obligations, the need for support of the dependants, which include the spouse in the case where the will does not make adequate provision. I presume that will be where a spouse makes application to the court and says: “I’ve been dealt with unfairly in this will and I want you to try to correct it.”

They also have to consider the economic circumstances of the spouse who’s making that particular application. For example, they have to consider the financial resources and benefits which a defendant has and his wife could have in the future. It’s a more and more common situation to have a couple, for example, in their forties, where the children have grown up and the wife has gone back to work and has begun to earn a decent income and has prospects of a successful career through her fifties and sixties. She, therefore, doesn’t really need substantial support because she’s earning her own way. Under those circumstances a will of her husband, who nursed a grudge or for some other quixotic reason decided to cut her off without a penny and give all the money to the children or to some charity or to his brother-in-law or somebody else like that, would be perfectly in order.

I think that according to the bill as it stands, the courts would not be able to shake that will, regardless of whether or not there was any economic contribution which would be recognized in the partnership in the case that that marriage had been terminated by a marriage breakdown rather than by the death of the husband.

This would likewise be the situation where a support order was sought, but the wife or the widow had taken up with somebody else who had substantial means. It says here that if a dependant is cohabitating with another person the financial circumstances of that cohabitation are to be borne in mind when the question arises as to whether or not there should be a support order.

I am not clear whether these support orders could be varied or whether you can only have the once-in-a-lifetime kind of support order. But if there was any opportunity for variation then it means that whatever support the wife might get from an estate in a case where by will her spouse had not desired to give her support, that support would end. The need or the justification for the court order, would end at such time that the wife began to cohabit, either by remarriage or by a common-law relationship, with somebody else who was capable of supporting her.

That in turn perpetuates the view that the wife is simply a piece of baggage, a kind of property, and that her contribution to the economic partnership of marriage should not be recognized. That, it seems to me, is what this bill is still saying -- despite the fact that The Family Law Reform Act is trying to say something rather different.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that in the bill there should be protection for the spouses comparable to the protection which exists in The Family Law Reform Act. A spouse whose marriage terminates through death of the partner should not be put in any worse situation than that spouse would have been if that marriage had been terminated through marriage breakdown. It seems to me that the way that has to work is probably this: Rather than leaving to one partner the right to unilaterally dispose of the family assets and the marriage property as well as the business assets that that partner may happen to have, without any consultation or concurrence on the part of the spouse, at the very least the rules for sharing of the estate, or of the family assets that are brought in under The Family Law Reform Act, should apply on the death of one of the partners, whether or not there is a will.

Where there is a will which seeks to vary those conditions -- seeks to alter a strict splitting or a minimum split of the family assets or whatever else we succeed in getting put into the pot which is going to be divided -- where there is a will which seeks to divide it differently it seems to me that that should be by consent of the surviving spouse. Therefore, what is required is either an addition to the marriage contract or some other form of agreement by which the spouses agree to a different sharing in the case of death.

I know that the minister will say that is possible under a marriage contract -- that a contract can determine how family assets are to be divided upon death. The problem is that that is not required. That is only an option. I would suggest that it is still possible, after the economic contribution that a wife makes to marriage, for her to have absolutely no recognition under a will and for that wife to be unable to enforce any kind of equitable sharing in the courts, under the bill as it stands at this time. Thus it seems to me that that is not a thoroughly modern piece of legislation. It is a retrograde piece of legislation.

I would hope that the minister would agree that the points I raised are valid, and would agree that he will carefully consider and probably accept amendments to this effect when the bill gets into committee.

Mr. Roy: I would just like to make a few comments about the legislation. I think the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and all of us here should be very thankful to the committee members from the bar association. Their contribution is very obvious once we look at the reprinted version of Bill 85 and all the amendments.


Apart from the provisions dealing with wills, I suppose most of this legislation is of interest basically to the technicians and the lawyers involved in estate work. Those of us in the legal field who are involved with more mundane things like defending people charged with driving without care and control, driving while impaired and that sort of thing --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: And prosecuting drug cases for the federal government.

Mr. Singer: Murders.

Mr. Roy: Yes, murders, wiretapping and all of those things -- we’re not technically qualified to look into this type of legislation in any depth.

I suppose one of the major amendments in this legislation that is of interest to the public has to do with holograph wills. After this legislation is proclaimed, people will be able to write out their own will in their own handwriting and at that point it will be valid. Through the years as you know, Mr. Speaker, there has always been something mystical about wills. When people walk into your office, they’re sort of shaking; they’re looking at you with a certain amount of trepidation --

Mr. Cassidy: You guys create that mysticism.

Hon. J. R. Smith: Do you know where the prosecutor --

Mr. Roy: My God! Did I say something wrong? I’ve turned everybody on.

Mr. Ruston: You woke them up.

Mr. Cassidy: It’s the trade unionists we worry about, though.

Mr. Roy: Can’t you talk about anything else but trade unionists?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I believe the hon. member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) has the floor.

Mr. Roy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. For people in this community in the province of Ontario I think it’s a step that conforms with many other jurisdictions where they were able to do this, and I think it’s high time we allowed this to happen in Ontario. After all, the way lawyers were cranking out wills I sometimes wondered whether there was any more preciseness or, if the will was challenged, whether they would have been more help to the courts than if the testator himself had written out the will in his own handwriting.

There’s one other aspect of the bill that is of concern -- and I think the Attorney General still has an open mind on it -- and that’s the amendment that he is going to be seeking to section 1(3) of the legislation. That subsection says that in the will, unless there is an intention to the contrary, “a reference to a person in terms of a relationship to another person determined by blood or marriage shall be deemed to include a person who comes within the description notwithstanding that he or any other person through whom the relationship is traced was born outside of the marriage.”

We’re dealing here basically with illegitimate children. The wise and honoured members of the committee suggested that should be changed and should apply only to wills made after July 1, 1977. I’m not sure, but I guess their concern was that it would be too much of a burden on people right across this province who had made their wills when this particular law was not in force and then would have to go back and make some changes. Considering the outstanding citizens of this province, it would have not applied to that many in any event, nevertheless it would be of concern to some of these people who would have to go back and change their wills. Or, as suggested by the members of the committee, it might have been a problem for those who were not in a position or did not have the testamentary capacity to change their wills.

I think the amendment, as contemplated by the hon. members and as proposed by the Attorney General, is in some ways offensive to the whole package of this new legislation, the family property legislation, The Marriage Act and so on, because you know we seek, in Ontario, after this legislation, to legitimize children born out of wedlock. We proceed further to give some status and some obligations and rights to common law relationships and children flowing from that type of relationship. Yet under this we may be 50 years down the way where we’re still saying that certain illegitimate children will be denied because the wills were made before July 1, 1977.

When I look at this, I’ve yet to be convinced personally the amendment is a good one. There may well be circumstances where the testator does not have the testamentary capacity at this point, and in that case possibly an order of the courts might be required, let’s say, to make an exception. The fact remains that it just seems to me that if we’re following a principle, if we’re legitimizing children in other aspects of this legislation, if we’re giving rights and privileges to common-law unions -- illegitimate children under this section at least will be affected -- it seems to me that having taken that step, by agreeing to this amendment we’re into a position where we’re as many as 50 years down the way before, in fact, there’s full recognition of the heritage of illegitimate children, looking at people who are deemed to benefit under wills.

I look at it and I’m not sure. I say this with maybe not as much technical knowledge as the honoured members of the committee. But still I have some question about it, and I think the Attorney General has as well, whether we’re really correcting a real problem or in fact just trying to make this too neat, while at the same time offending a basic principle of this legislation.

Having raised these two matters, there’s really not that much to get excited about under the bill. I would just mention one thing -- I think it was referred to by the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) -- just to ask the minister, if this legislation will repeal The Dependants’ Relief Act what happens? Is there any recourse for a dependant or for an heir? As the minister knows, if somebody in succession now feels that he does not benefit under a will --

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It doesn’t do away with it. It incorporates it.

Mr. Roy: It incorporates it in the legislation. Possibly that answers my question, because I was just thinking: Is there something to cover that ground if we do away with The Dependants’ Relief Act? I’d be anxious to see what section it is because, as you know, there were many circumstances in which The Dependants’ Relief Act was used and I think it was a necessary piece of legislation.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Part IV.

Mr. Roy: Part IV.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I’ll be very brief because I do agree with the hon. member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) that the appropriate place to debate this bill, at this stage, would be in committee. But I will reply very briefly to one or two of the matters that have been commented upon.

First of all, the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer). I found some difficulty in sorting through his eloquence but I gathered he was speaking generally of the law relating to the administration of the estates of a mental incompetent. I think I’d like to just remind him that this law is now being dealt with by the Ontario Law Reform Commission. It will be dealt with in their forthcoming report on the administration of estates as will the role of the Official Guardian and the Public Trustee in relation to the administration of estates. We’re naturally awaiting their report with some interest.

I can’t agree with the member for Ottawa Centre that The Family Law Reform Act or the concept of sharing should be applicable on death because of our respect for the principle of freedom of testation. This has been respected in our law for about 300 years, and I’m not prepared to recommend a change at this time.

Mr. Cassidy: I hate to say it but that is inequality again.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I believe that there is adequate protection by Part IV of Bill 85 in relation to the support of dependants --

Mr. Cassidy: You are making women beg to the courts.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The Attorney General has the floor.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and by the $75,000 preferential share if there is an intestacy. I should also point out to the members that experience in Ontario has demonstrated that there is really very little problem in the area of a surviving spouse’s being cut out. As a matter of fact, our own records in the Toronto surrogate court indicate that there are applications for dependants’ relief in less than one per cent of the estates.

But in any event, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the worthwhile suggestions and the debate that will take place while this bill is in committee. I’m sure all of the members have an important contribution to make, and I look forward to hearing further from them.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for the standing administration of justice committee.

Mr. Singer: It is the only thing that saves the Attorney General.


Hon. W. Newman moved second reading of Bill 131, An Act respecting Farm Income Stabilization.

Hon. W. Newman: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Wait till I’ve picked it all up here --

Mr. Roy: It better be good, because if you want our support tonight --

Hon. W. Newman: This is a very important piece of legislation dealing with the healthy development of Ontario’s agricultural food industry. The government has made extensive revisions to its original legislation and I think we have overcome any obstacles to passage of the bill.

Certainly we all are in agreement on the bill’s main objective. We all want to ensure that our food producers don’t suffer a sharp and possibly disastrous decline in income through events beyond their control. We all agree that it’s time to help Ontario’s farmers maintain their remarkably efficient operations and to plan for the future confidently --

Mr. Warner: Despite your actions.

Hon. W. Newman: -- in spite of the teeter- totter fluctuations of world food prices.

Mr. Warner: In spite of your government.

Hon. W. Newman: The government of Ontario has consistently argued that farm income stabilization is primarily a federal responsibility.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Flower-pot farmer.

Hon. W. Newman: We have pressed our arguments from that basis in almost four years of federal-provincial negotiations and we will continue to do so.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Flower-pot farmer.

Hon. W. Newman: There may be some disagreements over details of the --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Could we have some order, please? All members of the House will have an opportunity to speak to this bill.

Hon. W. Newman: There may be some disagreements over details of the way Ontario’s Farm Income Stabilization Act will operate, but I feel sure we can reach a consensus that will enable the necessary machinery to be put in place so that we can get on with the job at hand.

Mr. MacDonald: I thought the minister might have something new to say but he really threshed a bit of old straw, with some weary rhetoric. Mr. Speaker, we shall oppose Bill 131.

Hon. W. Newman: Well, what’s new? You have tried it in the press already.

Mr. MacDonald: We shall oppose it because it is an inadequate bill --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Not only bureaucrats.

Mr. MacDonald: We are not going to oppose it just in a blind opposition fashion.

Mr. Bain: As always, we are constructive.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: A new approach for the NDP.

Mr. MacDonald: You will find on the order paper a reasoned amendment. Perhaps I should move that reasoned amendment at the outset so that you will have the context of our --

Hon. W. Newman: Why do you have to? I have it here.

Mr. MacDonald: I know you have it, I’m glad to learn that you have read it.

An hon. member: No, he just said he had it.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They got it in a brown envelope.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: If the hon. member for York South would direct his remarks to the Chair, it might avoid some of the interjections from the government benches --

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You are always so helpful.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: -- including the farm member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes).

Mr. MacDonald moved that Bill 131 be not now read a second time but be referred back to the government with instructions to incorporate therein:

(1) A formal role for farmers’ general and commodity organizations in the development of, and the determination of the terms and conditions of, any plan requested by a group of producers;

(2) Comprehensive coverage for all Ontario commodities which will provide full support up to the negotiated stabilization level irrespective of the actions of the federal government; and

(3) A provision for current costs of production to be reflected in the final stabilization price or prices under any plan with the revised bill to be reintroduced into the Legislature no later than December 1, 1976.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, there are two ways in which one could deal with a bill that is as inadequate as this. One could attempt to move amendments, and if we have no alternative but that we shall do so; but it seems to me that the bill is so inadequate that what really should be done is it should be back to the drawing board and redrafted, because of the fact that it doesn’t live up to the principles -- well the principles that this House directed the government to consider or the principles the minister on occasion has enunciated in the past.

Hon. W. Newman: But you yourself said that I conformed with all the requirements of the Legislature.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order please. The minister has had an opportunity for his opening remarks.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, to you I want to say that the minister has made a gross misstatement. I did not state that he had conformed with the directives of the Legislature; I said that he had conformed in consulting with the public, but as usual, having consulted with the public, he didn’t heed them.

Mr. Warner: He didn’t even send copies of the bill to the farm community.

Mr. MacDonald: As a matter of fact, just on this one point of whether or not it will be more appropriate to attempt a reasoned amendment to set out the guidelines for a redrafting, or attempt to amend the bill as we get into committee, I was interested in a letter I got from the National Farmers Union today, from Blake Sandford, the Regional 3 Ontario NFU director, the second paragraph of which reads simply this:

“The principle of Bill 131 is wrong, and therefore it cannot be amended in committee to a suitable form that would meet the needs of Ontario farmers. We agree it would be tidier to send it back and to draft it in a tidy fashion.” But I repeat, if we have no alternative we will deal with it in an amending fashion.

Hon. W. Newman: Is the member taking the NFU’s position?

Mr. MacDonald: We are quite willing to take essentially the NFU’s position which is not very --

Hon. W. Newman: Let the record show the member supports the NFU position.

Mr. MacDonald: -- far removed in anything except peripheral matters from the OFA’s position; but both of which are grossly removed from what the minister has presented to this House.


Mr. MacDonald: Have you a sedative for the minister, Mr. Speaker? He is obviously in need of something, and I think it’s a sedative.

Mr. Nixon: Your speech will fulfill that purpose.

Mr. Bain: He doesn’t have a good farm bill.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, before Bill 131 was introduced there were a lot of speculative news stories --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I find it passing strange that you should address me and look at the minister.


Mr. Roy: Ah, that will --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Explain that one.

Mr. MacDonald: I think we need a double set of sedatives here tonight.

Hon. B. Stephenson: He is just suffering from strabismus, that’s all.

Mr. MacDonald: There were a lot of speculative news stories before the introduction of Bill 131 suggesting the government had capitulated, that it was going to capitulate. Well in fact it didn’t. The main principles of the bill introduced in June are the main principles of this bill.

It is interesting to note that having been given some real clear directives by this House and sent hack to redraft the bill, the government virtually ignored -- and I’ll detail in which way they exceeded and in which way they ignored those directives of the reasoned amendment of last June.

And, Mr. Speaker, that was really an affront to this House. This House by a majority vote indicated to the minister what he should bring back and he didn’t bring back what he was directed to bring back.

In reality the minister has changed none of the fundamentals. It is true he has paid lip service to the principle of voluntary. I assume that in the rather mish-mash bill he brought in in June, the voluntary principle was buried there, too. It is true he now acknowledges the principle of a contributory plan which he didn’t in June -- it was spelled out in the reasoned amendment of June 15 that he should do that.

The minister has brought in a bill which is not comprehensive. He hasn’t brought in a bill which gives farmers an opportunity for meaningful participation. Therefore, on two very major aspects of the directives, he has not responded and therefore the bill is inadequate. In this Bill 131, as in the government’s bill last June, what he has done is merely supplement the federal legislation for farm income stabilization. He has declared on many occasions that the legislation in Ottawa is inadequate but he has supplemented it with an equally inadequate bill here.

That is why the bill is not what the farmers are seeking and the farmers have said so, both the NFU and the OFA. There are three main areas of concern, Mr. Speaker. Any time I appear to be looking at the minister it’s because he is so attractive that I have to gaze his way on occasion but I am really speaking through you.

An hon. member: Watch him.

Mr. MacDonald: Right. There are three main areas of concern --

Mr. Roy: Are you trying to say the Speaker is not attractive?

Mr. MacDonald: -- and these three main areas of concern -- I hope the House will grasp this if members haven’t, for example, been examining the reactions of the farm organizations. These three main areas of concern have been spelled out by both the major farm organizations in the province of Ontario. Each of them is in essential agreement on where the bill is defective and what should be done about it. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which has presented it in some detail to us, spells out three amendments and those are three amendments with which we in the New Democratic Party are in virtual total agreement. if this reasoned amendment doesn’t pass, and we have no other alternative, to make you consider a complete redrafting we will move those amendments at the appropriate time.

I acknowledge that in a letter to the minister, the OFA describes the amendments as minor. With respect, the OFA was indulging in a little bit of verbal blandishment. Its members thought perhaps they could kid the minister into believing that the amendments were minor. They aren’t minor. They are really quite fundamental changes --

Mr. Nixon: That letter said he had fulfilled all the requirements of the reasoned amendment -- the premium is voluntary and there will be consultation with the farmers.

Mr. Warner: Here comes the Tory prop.

Mr. MacDonald: Really? You ought to go back and read it.

Mr. Nixon: Read it yourself.

Mr. MacDonald: Right. I have read it. Mr. Speaker, if both of us would read it together --


Mr. MacDonald: -- we would discover, with a little bit more perception, that there’s more in the letter than the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) has been able to see.

Mr. Roy: The farmers from downtown Toronto.

Mr. Nixon: It was a very friendly letter from Gordon Hill. He’s a fine fellow.

Mr. Ferris: He is concerned about the support price on asphalt.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) will just ignore the interjections.

Mr. MacDonald: We believe the three amendments which have been proposed by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture are fundamental and we shall seek to have them implemented either though the reasoned amendment or in the committee.

Let me deal with those three areas. Bill 131 fails to provide farmers with any opportunity for a meaningful participation in the whole establishment of a farm income stabilization bill.

Hon. W. Newman: Now that’s nonsense.

Mr. Warner: You are interrupting again.

Mr. MacDonald: The minister’s bill calls for the establishment of a farm income commission which is to be predominantly of farmers. It is to be a commission of five and if it’s to be predominantly farmers --

Hon. W. Newman: Read the bill.

Mr. MacDonald: -- I presume a majority of them will be farmers, but any time I have seen a commission around here appointed by the minister it is responsible to the minister. It will be looking after the interests of the minister and it will be made up of appointees who are appointed because they are willing to respond to the directives of the minister and to protect the government’s interests. Now we don’t --

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would permit a question.

Mr. MacDonald: Sure.

Mr. Nixon: Is he aware that the letter signed by Gordon Hill, dated October 27, says in the third paragraph, “We are very pleased that the programme is to be voluntary, that farmers are to contribute, that all commodities can be covered, that there’s provision for consultation with farm organizations, and that there is an opportunity for the federal government to share the costs”?

Mr. MacDonald: Sure.

Mr. Renwick: What is the question?

Mr. Nixon: I’m asking the member if he is aware of this and how he can say that the federation has rejected the concepts in the original reasoned amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The question was: Is the member aware of that?

Mr. Nixon: Obviously he was -- is he aware that the letter from Gordon Hill says in the third paragraph --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) posed a question to the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald). He agreed to accept the question. Now please let him answer.

Mr. MacDonald: It is obvious that the Liberal Party has accepted the blandishments of the OFA as to the nature of their amendment as much as the minister. And it becomes equally obvious that the Liberal Party is about to climb into bed with the Tories on this bill.

Mr. Warner: Do you always answer for the minister?


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for York South can continue now without interruption.

Mr. Nixon: Oh, you are reading between the lines; your speech has been completely ineffective.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, you yourself will --

Mr. Nixon: We are supporting the farmers, not playing cheap politics.

Mr. Ruston: Do you know the difference between a pitch fork and a manure fork?

Mr. Nixon: So far your speech has been completely ineffectual.

Mr. Breithaupt: Does Hill’s letter --

Mr. MacDonald: You yourself will have seen that my speech is certainly not ineffectual in terms of the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. He has not been more agitated for quite some time.

Mr. Nixon: You are misquoting the federation.

Mr. MacDonald: And if he gets agitated over nothing then he --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sure the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk will enter the debate at the proper time.

Mr. Nixon: Yes, I will look forward to that

Hon. W. Newman: Now, why don’t you start over again and --

Mr. MacDonald: Let’s start with the fact I was dealing with, namely a farm income commission which is appointed by the minister but will be responsible to the minister and therefore will be protecting the government’s interest. The farmers don’t believe that it is going to be protecting the interests of the farmer.

Hon. W. Newman: I would like to hear it.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker --

Hon. W. Newman: You did not read it; you are making a lot of clap-trap. Get down to facts.

Mr. MacDonald: I don’t object to the appointment of a commission.

Mr. McCague: How would you like to be on it?

Mr. MacDonald: I don’t object to the appointment of a commission as a body to reflect and protect the government’s interests. But there is also need for another body; there is also need for a body which is genuinely reflective of and whose personnel will be appointed by general farm organizations and the commodity groups which express an interest to proceed with the development of a farm income stabilization plan, so that the two of them can sit down and negotiate as equals in terms of developing that kind of plan. There’s when you’ll have a meaningful participation on the part of the farmers.

Hon. W. Newman: Have you read the bill?

Mr. MacDonald: Yes, I have.

Mr. Warner: Keep talking; the Liberals will support you; they will back you.

Mr. MacDonald: Together the farm income commission and such a body genuinely reflective of the farmers could sit down and develop a plan. Together they could sit down and they could negotiate the appropriate price level for a commodity in any given year. That is the kind of meaningful participation that the farmers are seeking and which the minister hasn’t granted. Instead, what he has established is going to be a commission which will operate as a group of bureaucrats, like robots.

Hon. W. Newman: That’s nonsense and you know it, from the statement in the speech. You are just trying to find something to talk about.

Mr. MacDonald: They are going to follow the guidelines laid down in Ottawa and the guidelines are a simple formula that you look back on 90 per cent of the price for the last five years and you add a cost factor into it and there it is.

Mr. Breithaupt: Sounds like distortion to me.

Mr. MacDonald: I’m sorry, the provincial commission has a job; they have to figure out what five per cent is added to that. It’s a sort of a routine, robot kind of a performance.

Hon. W. Newman: You are destroying your credibility with the agricultural community.

Mr. MacDonald: That, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Bain: You destroyed yours already.

Hon. W. Newman: He is destroying his credibility. Don’t do it.

An hon. member: Why should that worry you?

Mr. MacDonald: May I say this to the minister? I started from York South and I built some credibility in the farming community; the minister started from Forest Hill Village and ever since he’s become Minister of Agriculture and Food his credibility has sunk.

Mr. Breithaupt: That is a long way from York South.

Hon. W. Newman: You know something, you don’t know what it is to work on a farm and slug your butt out.

Mr. MacDonald: With a group of bureaucrats --

An hon. member: Resign, resign.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please, I admonished the hon. member for York South to address his remarks to the Chair. As a result of your not heeding that, I’m afraid the minister is going to have apoplexy. I insist that you direct your remarks through the Chair and then perhaps the minister won’t take them as being personal and directed at him. I think it would be much more productive if you address your remarks through the Chair.

Hon. W. Newman: Come on out and I will show you how to farm some night.


Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I trust that you recognize that the word “perhaps” was spelled in capital letters throughout. However, I will attempt to address you, because you are more attractive in any case.

Mr. Germa: He’s more intelligent too.

Mr. Bain: He understands farm problems better too.

Mr. MacDonald: This group of bureaucrats that the government is going to have presiding over the destiny of agriculture is going to have farmers on the outside looking in, not having any meaningful role. That is the reason we think this bill is sadly deficient in one way.

In fact, let me put it in a farmer’s terms if the minister doesn’t think my observations are credible. For example, I happen to have here a copy of Farm and Country for October 12, which appeared after that electronic disaster that the minister organized in 10 different meetings across the province of Ontario. The report was headed “Demand Farmer Role” and the first two paragraphs read as follows:

“Many Ontario farmers want the income stabilization plan redrafted. That message rang out loud and clear at 10 general meetings held simultaneously across Ontario last week. Chief objection to Agriculture Minister William Newman’s early summer proposal is that the farmers don’t have enough say in determining support prices.

“During the electronic talkathon” -- that is a lovely description of it -- “linking the meetings with Newman’s Toronto office, Perth hog producer Wally Keller snapped that leaving price calculations to bureaucrats is completely unacceptable.” Amen. I agree. That is precisely the point that I am attempting to make.

Hon. W. Newman: Do you know something? They don’t even know what we said about the bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The minister doesn’t have to respond to everything that is said by the person who has the floor. He will be given an opportunity during the windup.

Some hon. members: Name him. Name him.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I would appreciate it if the minister would try to constrain himself.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Do you have a point of order?

Mr. Breithaupt: The minister is wound up now.

Hon. W. Newman: On a point of order. If the member will speak to the principle of the bill, I will be very happy to listen to him. But all the asides that are going on that are not accurate are another matter. If he wants to stick to the principle that we are talking about on second reading, I am prepared to sit here and listen.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order. I consider what the member is saying is addressing himself to the principle of the bill.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, if the minister doesn’t even recognize the principles of this bill, he can leave. If he hasn’t recognized them after six or eight months of attempting to promote the bill, then he might as well leave.

Mr. Maeck: Be careful.

Mr. MacDonald: Let me proceed to the second area in which this bill is very deficient. Technically, the minister says, this bill is a comprehensive bill in terms of covering all commodities. In reality it isn’t comprehensive. In fact this bill is really more defective than the bill that the government brought in last June. The bill that was brought in last June at least said that any product that isn’t covered by the federal stabilization plan, or by a marketing plan in the province of Ontario that is exercising price and commodity powers, will be covered under the government bill. This one isn’t going to cover everyone.

What this bill is relying on is Gene Whelan in Ottawa naming any product. This government is willing to accept the assurances of Gene Whelan that if a product drops below 90 per cent of the average of the last five years, then it will be named and it will come under the federal stabilization plan. The government may be willing to accept that, and the Liberal Party here may be willing to accept it.

Mr. Warner: They’ll accept anything.

Mr. MacDonald: -- but we won’t, because Gene Whelan’s verbal assurances aren’t worth the paper they are written on. The record speaks for itself.

Mr. Breithaupt: Verbal assurances aren’t written down on anything.

Mr. MacDonald: Has the minister got it written down?

Hon. W. Newman: Yes.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, if the minister has got it written down, I would like him to ponder this for a moment.


Mr. Ferris: Have you written any good verbal agreements lately?

Mr. MacDonald: The minister has stated that he has written assurance from Gene Whelan that if a product drops below 90 per cent of the average of the last five years it will be named under federal stabilization. I ask you to contemplate for a moment why it is, for example, on the cow-calf plan where the price has been away below 90 per cent and the government in Ottawa has been talking about establishing a national plan, we still are waiting for it. Why is it in many other products that have dropped below 90 per cent we are still waiting for it?

I will agree with you that Eugene Whelan would do this if he could. But Eugene Whelan has the same problem as this minister in this government has. He’s isolated; he’s alone; he doesn’t really have the backing of the Treasury Board. The Treasury Board in Ottawa won’t underwrite it and, therefore, his promises aren’t worth anything.

Hon. W. Newman: That’s not correct.

Mr. Breithaupt: Not proven.

Mr. MacDonald: The net result is that a plan that isn’t named and drops below the 90 per cent is not going to get even as good coverage as it would have received in the plan last June. Because if the market prices drop down to 60 per cent or 80 per cent of the average of the last five years, all this government is willing to do is to piggyback its extra five per cent on to that 60 per cent they get out of the marketplace; and 65 per cent isn’t going to be adequate. That is what farmers have stated, and they’ve stated very firmly.

Hon. W. Newman: No, that’s not correct. Why don’t you understand it before you talk?

Mr. Foulds: Call him to order, Mr. Speaker, you do it to us. Call him to order. Let’s have some impartiality here, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Lewis: What conceivably was wrong with that point?

Hon. W. Newman: He said 65 per cent.

Mr. Lewis: You have a hearing problem, which compounds your other problems, which are manifold.

Hon. W. Newman: I don’t have a hearing problem.

Mr. Lewis: Why don’t you return to your normal, docile habitat and listen? Listen.

Mr. MacDonald: Let me turn now to the third area in which this bill is deficient.

An hon. member: Not another one?

Mr. MacDonald: Yes, another one; three of them. No meaningful participation by farmers. The second one was that it doesn’t cover all products in a real sense, only technically does it do it. And now I’d like to turn to the third one.

There is no real mechanism for negotiation -- I alluded to this in point one -- on the part of the farmers to get a price. There is no real intent on the part of this government, as in the case of Ottawa, to pay the farmers in accordance with current costs of production, instead of the irrelevant 90 per cent of the five years that have passed. This is what the farm union condemns, out of hand, as being inadequate and fundamentally wrong in principle.

Hon. W. Newman: Why don’t you spell out current costs? Say what you mean.

Mr. MacDonald: One of the Liberal members, a week or so ago --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I don’t think a minister has ever been named in this House before, but if you press me I’ll do it. Just try to control yourself.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but on a point of order -- and I say this in all sincerity -- this bill means a great deal to me and to the farmers of this province. I just want to make sure that the facts are put forward straight, and they are straightforward as far as the principle of this bill is concerned. If that’s done then I’ll be quiet.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I have read the bill and I’m going to insist that all people who speak to it address themselves to the principle of the bill. But you can’t continue to interrupt every time an opposition member attempts to make a point. That’s not the idea of second reading of any bill in this Legislature. You don’t have the right, any more than any other member, to interject any time anybody makes a statement you happen to disagree with. I’m going to have to insist that you adhere to the rules the same as any other member of the House.

I would like, again, to admonish the member for York South: Speak to the Chair and maybe you won’t be as provocative to the minister as you have been in the past.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, if you think that will help, I’ll be glad to speak to the Chair.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Let’s try.

Mr. MacDonald: You will have noted a moment ago, when we were rudely interrupted, that the query was put to me as to what were cash costs. Interestingly enough, without me listing all of the cash costs, a week or so ago one of the Liberal members in the House asked the minister and he spelled them out. Those are the cash costs that are listed in the federal legislation and which this government has accepted totally. But what their cash costs do not include, and what farmers in both of the major general farm organizations have been seeking, is a cash cost that is realistic and covers the cost of labour -- not just hired labour, but payment for the farmer himself.

Surely the farmer is entitled to some calculation in terms of the labour he puts into production of the food that we all want. Cash costs, food, labour and some adequate return on investment -- not the inadequate kind of return that is in the calculations at Ottawa which this government, once again, has accepted totally. I repeat, what they’re doing is just supplementing the inadequate bill in Ottawa with their equally inadequate bill here in Queen’s Park.

I want to stress that there’s a fundamental difference between the New Democratic approach to farm income insurance and that of the Liberals in Ottawa and the Tories in Queen’s Park. The Tories and the Liberals are in favour of so-called farm income stabilization. Farm income stabilization is really stabilizing prices, not in terms of the reality of today but in terms of some average of years in the past -- stabilizing farm prices at a level when farmers are on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s really just saving them from bankruptcy.

Our concept of farm income protection is that farmers shall have the assurance that they’re going to be covered for their cost of production plus a fair return on their labour -- their own labour as well as their hired labour -- and a fair return on investment. That’s the fundamental difference. We stated it in June and we restate it here once again.

I acknowledge that the arguments you get constantly from the Tories and periodically from the Liberals is that if you were to set prices at that level, they would be incentive prices at which farmers would overproduce. Mr. Speaker, let me remind you this is going to be a voluntary plan. No group of farmers will come in unless they want to come in. Those farmers will negotiate the price with the farm income commission. If they aren’t willing, either because they don’t have experience with it or because they don’t feel capable or willing to become involved in supply management, then they will negotiate a lower price that won’t be an incentive price.

If, however, those farmers feel that they’re entitled to a full return for their production of food and they are willing and able to accept the obligation of supply management, they will do it. Nothing’s going to be forced upon them. They will do it just as the milk producers have done it in this province, or, for example, in the recent meetings that have been held with regard to a national marketing plan for poultry, poultry producers have indicated their willingness to implement supply management. There’s no reluctance on their part to do it. But they don’t have to do it if they don’t want to do it. They will set their price level at a level which won’t encourage overproduction and therefore require supply management.

Not only has the government failed to respond to the directives in that reasoned amendment of last June, it has also, interestingly enough, failed to respond to the principles of the bill that the minister’s been talking about. About one year ago almost to the day, the minister spoke to the banquet of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture convention in Hamilton.

Let me read a quote to you of what the minister stated at that time:

“The market price must be allowed its normal role and at no time, regardless of market predictions, must the prescribed level become an incentive price” -- here’s the old bogey; and I continue -- “nor should the price guarantee be so low as to be ineffective. A true stabilization plan must assure the farmer he will receive a price based on the production cost of the day.”

Not the production cost, if I may interject, on 90 per cent of some past time. The production cost of today. I continue the quotation from the minister: “In our view, this suggested cost should cover all the farmer’s operating costs” -- for which read “cash costs” -- “plus a certain percentage of family labour, management and net investment costs.”

Whose words? The minister’s words. And where are they in this bill? They’re not in this bill. They’re not part of cash costs. If the Liberal Party is willing to accept that definition of inadequate costs, okay. Climb into bed with the Tories. It’s not what the minister wanted a year ago and --

Mr. Bain: Marvin likes it there.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Through the Chair, please.

Mr. MacDonald: -- and it’s not what the farmers in Ontario want at the present time.

Mr. Bain: Marvin will have to move over.

Mr. MacDonald: In fact, Mr. Speaker, let me underline that once again. Here’s a quote from the minister when he was talking with regard to the cow-calf plans in Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba. I quote: “Costs of production based on the models used in the three provinces are estimated at 61.4 cents a pound in Ontario, 63 cents a pound in Manitoba, and 77 cents a pound in British Columbia. And in addition, the basis of this guarantee in Ontario is all of the operating costs, plus 70 per cent to family labour, management, and investment costs.”

In other words, the principle that the minister has been willing to put in the cow-calf plan, as his token gesture last year to farm income insurance, he has refused to put in this bill. That’s why we say it is inadequate. That’s the third area in which it’s inadequate.

I have dealt with the three areas of concern. I want to turn to three general comments with regard to the bill. I’ve been interested in the persistent assertions of the minister, and of certain editorial writers, and others, with regard to this as being state legislation, that this is going to reduce agriculture to state agriculture, socialized agriculture, and all these words and epithets are thrown in. May I repeat, Mr. Speaker -- I know you’ve grasped it but it’s just possible that other people including the minister haven’t -- since this is a voluntary plan, it’s not going to be imposed by the government. And there it ends.

To go around cackling that it is state imposed -- it won’t be imposed unless the farmers want to accept it. As for giving the farmers the power of a first-class citizen so he can sit down and he can negotiate the prices which are going to shape his destiny, if you want to describe that as socialism, I suggest it’s nonsense.

Let me give you a couple of quotations --

Mr. Ferris: Careful you don’t hyper-ventilate and drop dead.

Mr. MacDonald: On July 20 there was an interesting exchange reproduced in the Farm and Country of questions and answers -- questions that were put to Gordon Hill, and his answers with regard to certain aspects of the bill.

One of the questions put to him was this: “When you start talking about production controls to many people, it sounds as if you’re marching down the road toward socialized agriculture.” And Hill’s reply: “Well, I don’t think there is free enterprise today. For example, our people can’t compete in the beef market with Australian imports, and that’s what you would have them do if you believe in free enterprise. Farmers believe in personal initiative and rewards for their efforts. They also want a minimum of interference in their business. All these things can be incorporated into marketing plans and income protection plans. All this talk about income plans being socialist is just a red herring, an excuse for doing nothing. It’s an attempt to mislead the agricultural community.”

That was a comment that was made back in July. Gordon Hill had an updating when he responded to the editorial in the Globe and Mail just a week or so ago. Let me read you two or three paragraphs in that letter. He said to the editors: “You have also in this editorial been indulging your hobby of identifying supply management with government or state control, labelling it pure socialism. However it was William Stewart, recently retired Minister of Agriculture and Food, who oversaw the institution of marketing boards for fluid milk, eggs, broiler chickens, and turkeys -- all of which boards are run by farmers and have practised supply management through quotas on producers for a number of years. Mr. Stewart, as you know, is a Tory leader, and a free-enterprise-minded beef farmer. Surely he can’t be accused of instituting pure socialism. And the producers of these commodities, most of whom firmly support their board system, don’t think of it as socialism.”

It is a red herring. It is misleading the agricultural community. I remember going to a Federation of Agriculture convention three, four or five years ago at which the theme, which was emblazoned on a banner across the back of the head table, was “Supply Management.” Every delegate to that convention was wrestling with the problems of how to develop supply management.

I had the pleasure this year again of attending the Geneva conference of the members of the county milk committees which the OMMB convenes every year to sort of get a grassroots reaction to the policies it has been implementing or is planning for the coming year. After all the blood, sweat and tears that the milk industry has gone through in the past year with regard to quotas, one would have thought there might have been a single milk producer who would have said “Let’s chuck supply management out of the window.”

When George McLaughlin, the chairman of OMMB, called for a vote as to whether or not the milk producers of the province of Ontario were in favour of supply management, 100 per cent said yes.

Hon. W. Newman: Sure.

Mr. MacDonald: Okay. In short, the farmers recognized that supply management is a mechanism which they can enter when and if they want.

Mr. Riddell: Tell the primary producer that and see what kind of response you get.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what he is talking about.

Mr. Riddell: You can take so much of this crap.

Mr. MacDonald: I don’t know what he is talking about.

Mr. Riddell: I’m talking about supply management.

Mr. MacDonald: As a matter of fact, back on the farm there’s a lot more of what he describes as being here and he knows what it is all about.


Mr. MacDonald: I am saying the primary producers of the province of Ontario -- in milk, in the broiler industry and many other industries -- have developed supply management because they know it gives them a mechanism for orderly marketing.

Mr. Riddell: You don’t know what a primary producer is.

Mr. MacDonald: They are not in favour of disorderly marketing. The Liberals are in favour of disorderly marketing although events have forced them to acknowledge some recognition of the need for orderly marketing.

However, let me move on to a second comment and that is with regard to the blatant propaganda involved in the presentation of this bill.

The minister contends that what this bill is going to do is provide $70 million to the agricultural community. That is a piece of unmitigated nonsense. If every product in the province were covered --

Hon. W. Newman: That isn’t what I said.

Hon. B. Stephenson: He didn’t ever say that.

Mr. MacDonald: -- Ontario’s payout for the five per cent it is going to put piggyback on the 90 per cent which Ottawa will be giving might get up to $70 million. Let me remind members of a few things. In the first place --

Mr. Ferris: That is the best part of your speech -- the silence.

Mr. MacDonald: In the first place, the federal government has support programmes which are deemed to be adequate. There’s some argument over them but they are generally deemed to be adequate for industrial milk and for cream.

We have in the province of Ontario a support programme for cow-calves which is going to continue at least to the year 1980.

In addition, fluid milk, eggs and poultry are covered by support programmes and those account for approximately 27 per cent of the agricultural production in the province of Ontario. None of those would come into the picture at all.

What about the 63 per cent which, theoretically, might come into the government’s programme here? In the first place, the commodity producers of each one of these products must seek the development of a plan and seek the institution of such a plan before it will come into effect.

Secondly, every farmer in that commodity group must voluntarily join the plan and only when all of that has been done are we going to get complete coverage. We won’t have complete coverage for some years because undoubtedly there are going to be some of these commodity groups which are not going to move to getting a plan.

Once again, let me put it, if I may, in the words of one of the leading farmers of this province. Perhaps it would be as well if the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk would listen to this since he thinks that the views of the OFA --

Mr. Nixon: I am listening to everything you say.

Mr. MacDonald: -- are that this bill is a perfect bill and it implements all of the principles.

I think it is well that the record should carry a few paragraphs of Gordon Hill’s presidential article in Farm and Country, edition of November 26: It is headed: “Seventy million!! Who is Bill Davis Trying to Kid?” Amen. And it reads as follows: “Agriculture Minister Bill Newman and Premier William Davis do not intend to protect Ontario farmers from low prices for farm produce.”

Mr. Worton: Sounds as if he must be an NDP candidate.

Mr. MacDonald: “This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the recently introduced agricultural stabilization Act, 1967.”

May I interject, Mr. Speaker? I don’t know who it was -- I think I know but I don’t know exactly -- who said “he sounds as though he’s an NDP candidate.” The interesting thing is that the party for which that member sits supported the OFA position last June, and that party pretends today it is supporting the OFA position. It’s that kind of interjection that indicates they are not supporting the OFA position. They are in bed with the Tories.

Mr. Nixon: We are supporting the farmer’s position. You don’t give anybody the credit for having a mind of their own.

Mr. MacDonald: As Gordon Hill said, the minister and the Premier do not intend to protect Ontario farmers from low prices for farm produce because this bill doesn’t do it. However, let me continue to let Gordon Hill speak for himself.

“‘Facetious’ is the best adjective to describe claims that the legislation might cost the Ontario government $70 million. Indeed, as it is now written it is extremely doubtful that it will cost the government even one penny.”

Hon. W. Newman: Oh, come on. Grow up.

Mr. Lewis: That’s what it says.

Hon. W. Newman: You grow up. You were quoting, but --

Mr. MacDonald: I was quoting, Mr. Speaker. I was quoting from the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. He apparently, like me, doesn’t understand this bill and doesn’t know anything about agriculture. The minister is the quintessence of wisdom on this issue. Let me continue, Mr. Speaker.

“Why would producers of any commodity bother to develop a plan that would insure only five per cent of the producer’s five-year average price? If a plan were developed, why would any farmer bother to enrol in it considering the meagre protection it would provide?” That’s precisely the point I was making a moment ago.

“An example is corn. Where is there a federal programme covering 90 per cent of the producer’s five-year average price? How many corn growers would invest three cents per bushel before the crop was planted, knowing that there may not be a payout, the payout may be a penny or two a bushel, and the greatest possible payout could be only 10 cents a bushel?”

Hon. W. Newman: You don’t even know the price of corn this year. Look at it -- you will find what it means.

Mr. MacDonald: I continue: “A more startling example is provided by comparing the new proposal with the existing cow-calf plan.” This is very interesting. I pointed out a moment ago that this bill doesn’t even contain the principles that were contained in the cow-calf plan and it had inadequacies. Now we get some idea of how gross are the inadequacies in this bill.

“If beef calves were included in the legislation, which they are not, the maximum payout would be $2 per hundredweight. This means that if the legislation had been in effect for cow-calf producers last year and the same number of cows had been enrolled, the Ontario beef calf producers would have received only $1.7 million compared to the $22.5 million they actually received to help reduce their losses.” That just underlines so graphically the inadequacy of this bill.

Mr. Ferris: Fantastic.

Mr. MacDonald: What a storm you would have in the province of Ontario today if the cow-calf plan had been as inadequate as that. And that is how inadequate this bill is going to be for other commodities.

However, let me continue, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. W. Newman: Why don’t you use your own words?

Mr. MacDonald: “For the new legislation to cost the Ontario government $70 million, every farm commodity produced in Ontario would have to have a plan, every farmer would have to enroll his full crop production, and marketing conditions would have to be so bad that the plan would pay the maximum amount for every commodity in one year. This is not even a remote possibility.”


I will leave the rest of what Mr. Hill has to say, but perhaps both the government and the members of the Liberal Party can contemplate the adequacy of this bill in view of that comment, coming from the president of the Federation of Agriculture.

Just let me conclude this way, Mr. Speaker, if I may: This is not adequate protection for the farmers of the province of Ontario. It isn’t farm income protection. It is stabilizing prices at something of a bankruptcy or near bankruptcy level, not the kind of thing that is going to encourage farmers to stay in production.

I want to draw an analogy -- and sometimes I wonder why this government is so opposed to farm income stabilization that it can’t see, really, what it should be doing at this time. I want in conclusion just to suggest what it should be doing.

Back in 1942, the government of the day passed farm marketing legislation. Now they passed farm marketing legislation at a time when many of the farmers of Ontario weren’t particularly interested in farm marketing legislation; they really didn’t understand it, but they passed it and they said to the farmers of Ontario: “If there’s any commodity group which wants to exercise the enabling powers that are contained in this bill, to develop orderly marketing for themselves, the powers are here, take them, exercise them.”

‘What has happened down through the years? Some commodity groups, like the beef producers, haven’t yet; 35 years later. It’s voluntary; nothing is imposed upon them. Some groups have set up marketing plans -- of the 20, 22, 23, 24; how many marketing plans do we have at the present time in the province of Ontario? -- some of them have been set up with a very small exercise of power, they are little more than advertising the product so that they can get a larger share of the consumer’s dollar. But some of them have gone the full route, and they exercise full powers in terms of pricing and they exercise full powers in terms of supply management. They do it voluntarily; nobody imposed upon them.

It was done by the Tories. It provided the farmers with the mechanism with which they could protect themselves; and all I’m suggesting is that this government get its head out of the ideological sand; quit prattling about free enterprise, which doesn’t exist, particularly in the agricultural community; quit drawing all these red herrings about socialism and state agriculture; and pass a bill such as you were directed to do in the reasoned amendment of last June: a bill that would give enabling legislation to farmers to establish farm income insurance; farm income protection.

It would be voluntary, no group need take it if they didn’t want it; and even if a group took it an individual farmer doesn’t need to enrol, so that it is completely voluntary from start to finish. Make it contributory; give the farmers a meaningful role in terms of a body representative of general farm organizations and commodity groups that can negotiate with your farm income commission to develop a plan and to negotiate for the price; and finally and most important, make certain that the process of negotiation is going to be recognizing current prices, not some irrelevant years-gone-by kind of prices.

That is what the general farm organizations of the province of Ontario, representative of the overwhelming majority of the farmers, are seeking. Mr. Speaker, just let me say this before I sit down. I have knowledge that there are many farmers who don’t want farm income insurance.

Hon. W. Newman: Oh well; that’s good.

Mr. MacDonald: Right; but they don’t have to take it. If the government is willing to do in 1976 what its predecessor government did in 1942, give them enabling legislation to proceed with farm income insurance just as they were given enabling legislation to proceed with marketing plans, then farmers can move as quickly as they want.

That surely is the essence of democracy. That surely is nothing approaching so-called state agriculture. And that’s what we will seek to get, through a reasoned amendment, if we can get the support of this House; and if we can’t get it through a reasoned amendment in the redrafting of the bill we will get it through major amendments in the three areas of concern that I’ve indicated.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please, Did the hon. member move his reasoned amendment?

Mr. MacDonald: Yes, I moved it.

Mr. Speaker: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear it. I just wanted to make sure.

Mr. Roy: Now we will hear from a farmer; a primary producer right here.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the former speaker I am sure that after those remarks the price of corn has dropped $1 a bushel.

Mr. Warner: You mean you are against it?

Mr. Riddell: I would like to begin my remarks by reading a letter which is typical of the many letters and comments which I have received from farmers right across Ontario expressing their concerns with farm income stabilization legislation. This letter happens to come from a producer in Middlesex county, not too far outside of London:

“Dear Sir: Since there is so much talk about a stabilization plan for farmers I would like to make my views known, too. Who wants stabilization? The government? The opposition? The Federation? The Farmers Union? Or the farmers? I know we do not.

“Farmers who want stabilization should go and work somewhere else -- a factory for instance. That is where you are stabilized for two or three years after a contract is signed.

“I don’t know whether there was ever a definition established of a farmer. To me a farmer is a person who is not afraid of work, and dares to take chances, and then live with the result. Government takes the challenge out of farming.

“Now I am not blaming the government or the politician entirely. I know that farmers, just like the rest of the public, run to the government for help. This is where the trouble starts. Politicians do anything to please the people to win their votes. Instead they should consider carefully what is best for the province or the country as a whole, and then act accordingly. If this stabilization plan comes into being then the next thing will be quotas. Otherwise the markets will be flooded” --

Mr. MacDonald: Sounds like Bill Newman.

Mr. Riddell: “Doesn’t anybody out there understand that only supply and demand make the prices, nothing else? Right now in almost all commodities there is overproduction instead of food shortages. From there the low prices. We still do not have any complaints to make. We have had good years, and less income now is not going to hurt us. That is where money management comes in; no government needed.

“We feel the less government interferes the better. Not only in farming, but in all areas. Let people mind their own business. That is what we liked so much about Canada when we first came here: freedom. I am afraid that that has gone forever.

“We started out doing farm labour. No government cared how hard we had to work, how many hours, or how little we were paid. We were free to do as we pleased. We only had one goal in mind -- to make it in Canada. And we succeeded. We came here in 1953 unable to speak English, no education, and very little money. That proves to me that Canada is a great country. Too bad that the people and the government of any party are making a mess of it. Yours truly.”

Thank God the farmers of Ontario are still free enterprisers. I would think that is the very reason that 20 per cent of the Liberal caucus are knowledgeable, experienced farmers.

Mr. Warner: It will give them something to go back to.

Mr. Riddell: Now other farmers with whom I have spoken --

Mr. Roy: The only thing you guys know about farming is manure.

Mr. Ferrier: You make a pretty good case for that too, Albert.

Mr. Riddell: -- other farmers with whom I have spoken show very little interest in the farm income stabilization plan and many farmers say that the plan has very little to offer them, and they don’t very much care or know whether they would be even remotely interested in participating.

However, the crop insurance programme went through the same growing pains and it is certainly evident now that most farmers producing high-risk crops are participating in this programme. So it is the feeling of the Liberal Party that we should get a farm income stabilization plan established for those farmers who are not in a position to ride the vagaries of the market place.

While we are not entirely happy with the government’s plan, we have decided to support the bill and we trust that the minister will be agreeable to certain amendments which we feel are needed to make the programme more meaningful for the farmers of Ontario.

Mr. Warner: Same old story.

Mr. Riddell: At the request of opposition members, the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) took the original farm income stabilization bill, which he introduced in June of 1975, back to the drawing board to have incorporated therein principles of a farm income insurance plan which would be open to the products of all farm products on a voluntary basis, with assurance that the government provide a public forum for full discussion with the farm community before reintroduction of the bill, and with assurance that the government negotiates with legally constituted farm spokesmen.

In our opinion, the minister has met these demands inasmuch as he did consult with farmers, farm organizations and commodity boards before reintroducing the bill, and he did introduce a plan which was established on a voluntary and contributory basis. There is provision in the bill for consultation with commodity boards by the farm income stabilization commission, but we feel the legislation should definitely specify that the commission must negotiate with producer organizations and respective commodity boards for the commodity which will be covered under the stabilization programme.

Mr. Nixon: We hope the NDP will support that amendment.

Mr. Riddell: This is one of the amendments which I am sure the minister is prepared to accept.

We are pleased that the programme is to be voluntary, that farmers are to contribute, that all commodities can be covered, that there is provision for consultation with farm organizations and that there is an opportunity for the federal government to share the cost.

Mr. Wildman: They have to.

Mr. Riddell: We consider it highly irresponsible on the part of the NDP to oppose a bill which incorporated the principles which even they asked for last June. The NDP are not satisfied --

Mr. MacDonald: Oh no; it doesn’t incorporate the necessary principles.

Hon. W. Newman: You said it tonight.

Mr. Nixon: They never are.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Riddell: The NDP are not satisfied with a stop loss measure, but what it proposes is a guaranteed annual income for all farmers.

Mr. Nixon: Then say no.

Mr. Ruston: Get in the fray here.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Huron-Middlesex.


Mr. Riddell: I contend that farmers are not any more justified in being guaranteed a profit than are workers in other industrial pursuits, but they are justified in trying to make a profit, and this can only be accomplished through free enterprise and a market system where the law of supply and demand is still a governing factor.

Mr. Foulds: Very few other workers have to pay the boss for the privilege.

Hon. W. Newman: Boy, you fellows have lost your credibility over there and you know it.

Mr. Riddell: The NDP would like to control the supply of all agricultural commodities, as well as freeze all Ontario farm land to be used only for agricultural purposes. It is obvious to me that the agricultural critic for the NDP is simply expounding his party’s idealism, and it is apparent that he has not stepped outside --

Mr. MacDonald: So does George McCague.

Mr. Nixon: George is really a socialist.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Riddell: It is apparent that he has not stepped outside the urban boundaries to ascertain what the farmers really want.

Mr. MacDonald: Not the minority.

Mr. Riddell: I have some sympathy for the NDP agricultural critic, as there is not one person in that party who has agricultural experience and therefore very little expertise is available in helping the critic to make sound decisions on behalf of the farm community.

Mr. MacDonald: You don’t have to be a chicken to lay an egg.


An. hon. member: Get Pilkey to help you.

Mr. Spence: Donald’s milked a couple of cows.


Mr. Riddell: Needless to say, the dairy producer, as an example, has had his fill of government supply management --

Mr. MacDonald: Do you have an affirmative --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.

Mr. Bain: Are you going to abolish the Milk Marketing Board?

Mr. Spence: You’re interrupting our speech.

Mr. Riddell: Furthermore, any programme controlled by the government generally means steadily rising prices.

Mr. Bain: Are you against marketing boards?


Mr. Riddell: Certainly the state of the dairy industry in Canada has proved that even a federal umbrella does not ensure against overproduction.

Mr. Ferrier: Are you going to take a seat beside the member for London North (Mr. Shore)?

Mr. Riddell: It is obvious that the NDP, in opposing this bill and opposing a plan that would lead to incentive production, is trying to make inroads with the farm vote. Being a farmer myself and talking to farmers practically every day of the week --

Mr. MacDonald: We can’t make inroads with you.

Mr. Riddell: -- I can assure the NDP that the farmers do not find their proposals that attractive.

Mr. Foulds: And your proposition even less so.

Mr. Riddell: They know that such a programme is pure socialism, and farmers are the last people to want price and supply both under the control of government.

Mr. MacDonald: We want them under the control of farmers.

Mr. Riddell: Government controls have not worked with either milk or eggs to the advantage of anybody --

Mr. Foulds: Or with the AIB, for that matter.

Mr. Riddell: -- but yet the NDP is prepared to extend it to the whole agricultural industry before even a limited pilot project, such as the government farm income stabilization plan, has been proved workable.

Mr. MacDonald: You don’t even --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Only the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex has the floor.

Mr. Riddell: We in the Liberal Party are not prepared to abrogate our responsibilities by continually sending the bill back to the drawing boards. This simply denies the farmers any kind of protection while the government redrafts a bill to suit its own purposes and to appease the opposition members -- not by giving into their demands completely but by giving them enough bait to nibble on until the Premier (Mr. Davis) feels the time is right to go to the people.

Mr. MacDonald: That’s what they’ve done.


Mr. Riddell: In my opinion, the last thing the people of Ontario need is an election fought over the issue of a farm income stabilization programme.

Mr. Bain: Aren’t the farmers worth it?

Mr. Riddell: People have enough difficulty understanding what politicians on the hustings are talking about most of the time --

Mr. Foulds: Only when you speak.

Mr. Riddell: -- without pelting them with the impossible. The NDP say they would be delighted with the chance to fight an election on this issue. But they did not say, of course, how the members of that party plan to explain the programme to urban people, most of whom I would not know income stabilization from a manure spreader -- and, believe me, some farmers think there is no real difference. The NDP agriculture critic’s ecstasy could only have been short-lived once he discovered that the only place this issue will play is down on the farm --

Mr. Warner: When are you going to get to the bill?

Mr. Riddell: As I have already indicated, what he will find there is a majority of farmers opposed to the costly and counterproductive benefits that the New Democrats want added to the government bill.

Mr. MacDonald: Oppose this bill then.

Mr. Riddell: I am not suggesting that the programme is not of some importance to farmers and indirectly to consumers.

Mr. Shore: How’s the farming in Scarborough-Ellesmere?

Mr. Riddell: Whether it meets the needs remains open to question, but that is something to be settled between farm organizations and government, not voters who don’t even understand the question.

As I have indicated, the income stabilization programme has certainly had mixed reaction. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, on the one hand, pats the Minister of Agriculture and Food on the back for making the plan voluntary --

Mr. MacDonald: Then kicks him in the seat.

Mr. Riddell: -- for making provisions for farm contributions and consultations and for leaving the door open for participation by the federal government. On the other hand, the OFA president condemns the bill for only offering a five per cent payment for some commodities.

Mr. Shore: They are not talking to each other.

Mr. Riddell: Those would be ones that are covered by neither the federal government nor by a price-controlling marketing hoard. Certainly the minister was prepared to support those commodities at the 90 per cent level in Bill 96, similar to the main commodities under the federal stabilization programme. I personally fail to see why the minister is not prepared to give that kind of support to those commodities under Bill 131, considering that his estimate of cost for supporting those same commodities under Bill 96 was $7 million and under this plan the government would pay only two-thirds of that.

Mr. Nixon: Think that over.

Mr. Riddell: The minister no doubt feels that a guaranteed support level of 90 per cent of the five-year average market price for those commodities which do not come under the federal stabilization plan would give the federal agricultural minister an excuse for failing to announce stabilization plans in the future. In other words, the existing bill, according to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food, will strong-arm federal participation.

I would like to submit that there is another way of looking at this particular matter. The producers of a commodity which is not covered under the federal stabilization programme, will be required to pay a fairly substantial premium relative to the market price, if the provincial plan supported that commodity at the 90 per cent level. If that commodity was to be designated under the federal plan, then the producer would not have to pay any premium in order to receive 90 per cent of the last five years’ average market price.

It is only reasonable to assume therefore that the producer, through his producer organization, will bring pressure to bear on the federal Minister of Agriculture to designate that commodity for a support level of 90 per cent. On the other hand the federal Minister of Agriculture has apparently given a commitment to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food that he is prepared to designate any commodity at the 90 per cent level where the need arises and if the request is made.

Mr. MacDonald: We’ll see.

Mr. Riddell: The federal minister in a speech at a federal-provincial conference made a definitive statement that any agricultural commodity which is produced in sufficient quantities in Canada will be supported under the federal programme if the need for this support can be demonstrated.

Mr. MacDonald: Where’s the federal cow-calf plan?

Mr. Riddell: We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the federal minister --

Mr. MacDonald: Oh, yes we have.

Mr. Riddell: -- as he has certainly been most co-operative in the past in designated commodities such as apples, pears, prune-type plums, carrots, sweet cherries, potatoes and raspberries.

Mr. Wildman: What about cow-calf?

Mr. Riddell: Under the federal programme it is mandatory to support the main commodities including beef, sheep, hogs, industrial milk, cream, corn, soya beans, oats and barley at the 90 per cent level. It is with this reasoning in mind that we are prepared to endorse the five per cent support level for all commodities under the provincial programme. We happen to agree with the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture that all references in the bill to 95 per cent of the previous five-year average price should be made less rigid. And we would recommend that these references be changed to read “not more than 95 per cent of the five-year average price, adjusted by cost of production indexing.”

However, the minister may have justifiable reasons for specifying 95 per cent. If so, I will look forward to his comments when he replies to the leadoff speeches.

The minister could certainly amend this section of the bill if he feels it would be in the best interest of the producers. Such an amendment would allow for support at lower levels if it appears the price was leading to overproduction.

Mr. Nixon: That should be a government amendment if they want it.

Mr. Riddell: Right. Needless to say, in the absence of a federal stabilization plan for farmers, this bill would be completely inadequate, and to have any meaning, the provincial plan would have to give full protection to all farm commodities. In many ways Bill 96 was better than this bill in that it would support commodities at the same level as the federal plan for those commodities that were neither named nor designated under the federal plan.

Bill 96 would have excluded commodities already named or designated in Ottawa’s Bill C-50, and it would also have excluded commodities already regulated by the Ontario Marketing Board at set prices, and also allocate production quotas in line with market demand. I believe there has been one payment made on a named commodity under the federal plan since its implementation, and this commodity which received some support was beef. Yet our beef producers are struggling to stay in business, and even the Minister of Agriculture and Food admits it has been a very painful period of time for our beef producers.

Obviously the federal programme is inadequate, and yet Bill 96 provided a stabilization programme identical to the federal plan which the Minister of Agriculture and Food himself called inadequate. In his own words the minister said, there are inadequacies in the federal programme, and yet he was prepared to leave anything that was covered by the federal programme under the inadequacies, and set up a provincial programme that was identical.

Last year’s amendment should have had a clause in it indicating that the government should come back with a plan based on cost of production rather than the present proposal for a five-year average price. In this case, labour, investment and depreciation costs could have been taken into consideration and the support price for any one commodity set at a level which would not encourage overproduction. Costs used in Bill 131 are the same as those used in the federal plan and do not take into consideration the cost of the farmer’s own labour, investment and depreciation.

Other costs such as feed, fertilizer sprays, hired labour and interest on operating capital are fully indexed. In light of what the minister said in a speech to the annual convention of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in November, 1975, I suppose we could be somewhat critical of the plan for failing to index the cost of labour and investment. I would like to quote some part of the speech which the minister made.

Mr. MacDonald: You are repeating my speech.

Mr. Riddell: I quote: “A true stabilization plan must assure the farmer he will receive a price based on production costs of the day. In our view this adjusted cost should cover all the farmer’s operating costs plus a certain percentage of family labour, management and net investment cost.”


Mr. Riddell: I will agree that under the bill as it is written at the present time if we are to include such items as investment, labour and depreciation we are definitely going to have incentive pricing --

Mr. MacDonald: You are more Tory than the Tories.


Mr. Riddell: -- and the person who is going to benefit is the farmer who has pretty well paid off all his debts. What we are doing is playing right into the hands of that farmer and we are really not helping those who most need assistance.

Mr. Nixon: A programme which benefits the well-to-do --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Huron-Middlesex only. Thank you.

Mr. Riddell: The programme would benefit the good well-established farmers like my colleague from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).


Mr. Riddell: The fact of the matter is that we are experimenting with a farm income stabilization programme which all of us, including the minister, realizes has its shortcomings. However, I think we should set the present plan in motion without further delay. If the federal Minister of Agriculture reneges on his commitment I did receive assurance from the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food that he would be prepared to introduce the necessary amendment in order to make the bill more meaningful to Ontario producers. We on the opposition side will be prepared to see that the Minister of Agriculture and Food lives up to his commitment.

Mr. Warner: Do you hear that?

Mr. MacDonald: I thought you had learned your lesson.

Mr. Riddell: We in the Liberal Party certainly cannot support the NDP proposal, for, according to the NDP agricultural critic in a statement made by him and reported in the Ontario New Democrat information release -- I am quoting words from the agricultural critic of the NDP -- “The NDP plan would require supply management and quotas for any commodity group who wished to participate.”

Mr. Breithaupt: I have more farmers in my riding.

Mr. Riddell: I can tell the House that the NDP is not speaking on behalf of the majority of Ontario’s producers and I can also say it will be a long time, if ever, before we see state-controlled farming in Ontario.

Hon. W. Newman: There it is -- you said it.

Mr. Speaker: Order.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Riddell: I have that much confidence in the Ontario farmer.

Mr. Bain: Does he have confidence in you?


Mr. Riddell: For any plan to be effective there must be co-ordination and harmonization of federal and provincial stabilization programmes.

Mr. Warner: Too bad the coalition can’t --

Mr. Roy: Be quiet and you might learn something.

Mr. Riddell: An uncoordinated approach will have serious consequences for agriculture. These consequences include the threatening of our national approach to agricultural policy, a fragmentation of the national market for agricultural commodities, some producers gaining advantage over others --


Mr. MacDonald: Don’t support the bill then.

Mr. Riddell: -- and the threat of a competitive escalation of programmes.

Mr. Samis: Don’t yell, Jack.

Mr. Riddell: There are three important issues of principle, in my estimation. They are, firstly, whether stabilization programmes should be primarily based on market-related support prices or whether they should be primarily based on cost of production. Secondly, what are the appropriate levels of support for a continuing national stabilization programme? Thirdly, should a national programme of stabilization allow for top loading -- and if so, by whom? The fact of the matter is we are groping in the dark and trying to establish a stabilization plan which appears to have very little interest to the Ontario farmers and less interest to the urban people at the present time.

Mr. MacDonald: Why don’t you have the guts to oppose it then?

Mr. Riddell: It is the opinion of my leader and the Liberal Party that we should set the machinery in place and give the proposed plan a chance to work. If the farmers aren’t interested in participating --

Mr. Roy: That’s right.

Mr. Wildman: It’s terrible, so let it work.

Mr. Roy: You guys understand.

Mr. Riddell: If the farmers aren’t interested in participating, then we will know that either changes will have to be made --

Mr. Roy: You can rely on him any day.

Mr. Riddell: -- or the plan will have to be thrown out completely. But let us permit the farmers to make that decision.


Mr. Riddell: I will conclude my comments by saying that we support the principle of the bill.


Mr. Riddell: Let’s get the thing in motion. Let’s get it working and let’s work together to make it work and bring in the changes if need be.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, may I ask your indulgence to introduce three very distinguished guests in our gallery tonight?

Mr. Speaker: If they are not parliamentary guests, we haven’t been in the practice of doing this, so I would point out --

Hon. W. Newman: They are very highly respected parliamentary guests, Mr. Speaker -- Mr. John Wise, the MP for Elgin Ontario; Mr. George Wittaker from Okanagan, B.C.; Mr. Gordon Ritchie from Dauphin, Manitoba. They are all federal MPs that we welcome tonight.

Mr. Riddell: All good Liberals.

Mr. Moffatt: There is no such thing.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you. Now the hon. member -- order, please.


Mr. Speaker: I am not sure about the behaviour -- whether this is setting an example for our distinguished guests or not.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Port Arthur.

Mr. Foulds: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Port Arthur only.

Mr. Maeck: There is a farmer if I ever saw one.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: There is a farmer, I tell you.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, please.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I readily admit that I am not a farmer. But when I was a lad I did have occasion to keep chickens and they made a lot more sense when I went to feed them than the rabble behind me that is cackling away.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Behind you, that’s it. I would say that about Warner.


Mr. Speaker: Now may we get to the principle of the bill? Thank you.

Mr. Foulds: As a matter of fact, I want to speak specifically and directly to the principle of Bill 131, Mr. Speaker. It seems to me that a question we have to ask ourselves is why have a farm income stabilization plan? Better put, why should we have a farm income protection plan? Surely it is to do two relatively simple and praiseworthy things --

Mr. MacDonald: Which the urban consumers understand.

Mr. Foulds: One, by such a plan to make farming an attractive occupation with a fair return on labour and investment; and two, by making farming such an attractive occupation, to stop migration from the farms and to stop the land from going out of production.

This bill simply fails to do that. There is not much sense in having a farm stabilization bill that guarantees farmers guaranteed annual poverty, bare subsistence that makes them frustrated and makes them wish to go out of business, to abandon the farms.

It is interesting that this government, which has taken in the past so much delight in rattling such sabres at the federal government for its bad faith, its lack of initiative, is willing to trust the federal government to designate the necessary commodities to bring them up to the 95 per cent level.

The truth is that this Conservative government is only willing to guarantee up to a lousy five per cent, and that just is not good enough.

Mr. Samis: Right.


Mr. Foulds: If the minister is trying to use this piece of legislation as a lever on the federal government to bring in a Canada-wide plan --

Hon. B. Stephenson: “Lousy.” That’s not parliamentary.

Mr. Foulds: Does the farmer from York Mills have a contribution to make?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Indeed I do; at least I grow crops every year, which is more than you do.

Mr. Speaker: No, the hon. member for Port Arthur is making his contribution.

Mr. Foulds: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, indeed I do.

Mr. Roy: Your contribution has not been very impressive so far.

Mr. Foulds: If the minister is trying to use this legislation as a lever on the federal government to bring in a Canada-wide plan, then he is playing a rather dangerous political game and using the farmers of Ontario as pawns in that game of political one-upmanship; the farmers of Ontario deserve better than that.

We in the north view agriculture very seriously. Relatively speaking, little of our land is useful for agricultural purposes, consequently we consider and prize that land and that activity very highly.

Far too often this government has told us in the north that the kind of development that has to take place either has to be resource exploitation -- à la the Reed land grab -- or tourism. The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier), for example, said in Thunder Bay on September 7 that the north could never expect secondary industry to develop. I remember debating with the former Minister of Agriculture and Food, Hon. William Stewart, the importance of considering farming as a secondary industry in the north, as one that should be developed in order to diversify our economy. I remember he allowed during his estimates that that just might be a good idea and that we didn’t consider that seriously enough.

Mr. Ferrier: He understood the farmers in the north.

Mr. MacDonald: But not the farmer from Forest Hill.

Mr. Foulds: In my area, in Thunder Bay, there is some good, if limited, farm land.

Hon. W. Newman: Come on, you don’t know an apple from an orange.

Mr. Foulds: Most of the farmers do not belong to either the OFA, the NFU or the Christian Farmers’ Union; most of them are in fact what we call the small producer. What is there in this bill for them? Nothing.

Hon. W. Newman: That is nonsense; utter nonsense and you know it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister may reply later.

Hon. W. Newman: I am sorry, but that is utter nonsense.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. MacDonald: Name him, Mr. Speaker, name him.

Mr. Foulds: The minister is well aware of the problems that farmers in Thunder Bay have faced, particularly in the past year.

Hon. W. Newman: Sure, I have been up there.

Mr. Foulds: As a result of that my colleague the member for Fort William (Mr. Angus) and myself have on a number of occasions talked to many farmers and to a man they say this: “If I could get out and not take too much of a loss on my land, I would. I’m sure not going to encourage my kids to go into farming.”

Mr. G. I. Miller: That’s not right.

Mr. Riddell: Check with the University at Guelph; check and see how many young people are going into farming.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Port Arthur only.

Mr. Foulds: You may speak with great authority for Middlesex and Huron, but you know damn all about Thunder Bay and the problems of farming in the north, my friend.

Mr. Riddell: I have been up there.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Foulds: You don’t have a single farmer from the north.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Foulds: You only have two lousy members from the north.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.


Mr. Speaker: I think we would get on much more expeditiously with fewer interjections from the sidelines here. If the hon. member would speak through the Speaker and lower the interjections I think things would be more orderly. Thank you very much.

Mr. Bain: Control the minister.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, you must admit that I have been trying valiantly to do so and it is only with extreme provocation I turned on the rabble.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member will continue.

Mr. Roy: Try to say something more meaningful.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I admit we don’t have the greatest farm land in the world in the north. But we could have --

An hon. member: Make your speech up north.

Hon. W. Newman: You are doing a disgrace to the farmers then.

Mr. Foulds: We could have viable industry in poultry, dairy products, cow-calf, mixed vegetables and especially potatoes and hay. Does this bill do anything to ensure those crops continue to be developed and produced in northwestern Ontario? The answer from every farmer you talk to in northwestern Ontario is no.


Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on November 5 --


Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak directly to you.

Mr. Speaker: Please do.

Mr. Foulds: I would like to speak directly to you, Mr. Speaker, because I did send the minister a package of Tums earlier in the evening. It appears to have had no effect whatsoever.


Mr. Foulds: On November 5, on a Friday afternoon, I was sitting in a farm house about 25 miles outside of Thunder Bay with my colleague from Fort William (Mr. Angus) and with the federal leader of the New Democratic Party, Mr. Broadbent, talking to a group of farmers. Ironically the farm was up for sale. The farmers there were mostly in their forties, the bitterness about their condition was expressed by some of them. Resignation was expressed by others. One man was joyously undefeatable. But the man who will haunt me and impressed me the most was the man whose farm we were at and in whose house we were. Remember, his farm was up for sale.

He said to us with quiet dignity: “I came to this country just after the Second World War with my parents as an immigrant, and I have worked this land to the Slate River for 30 years. I like it here. I like farming. But you can’t go on losing money too many years in a row. You have to think of your kids. No, I am getting out if I can. It is just too hard.”

And, you know, I thought to myself, if we can’t keep that kind of man in farming if we can’t keep one of the better pieces of land in the Thunder Bay area in production, what hope do we have to diversify the north so we have a small share of the farm industry? And what hope do we have to save farming in Ontario?

No, instead of this grudgingly, curmudgeonly bill we need to have a comprehensive package to protect our food land, to protect our food supply and to protect our farmers. Mr. Speaker, this bill does not do that, and it is a pleasure to vote against it.

Mr. Ruston: I feel kind of anti-climactic after hearing the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) and the great knowledge he has of the farming community of Ontario. I sometimes think I know a little about farming, but when I hear him I realize how little I do know.

Mr. Roy: He admits it.

Mr. Samis: Is that the leader or what?

Mr. Ruston: However, I would assume though that what little I do know about farming would be a great deal more than a great many other people who are speaking on this particular bill.

Mr. Bain: Does that include the minister?


Mr. Ruston: There is much to be desired in having some form of stabilization or an insurance programme for farm commodities, because as well we know, when you are subject to export markets, as are many of the commodities grown in my area -- such as corn, soya beans and a lot of cash crop farming -- we’re subject to the whims of what might happen in the United States regarding exports and so forth.

We’ve even had one of the major unions in the United States refusing to load grain on ships to send it overseas. That had a tendency to put the price down and we felt it over here greatly. That was a case of someone in the United States wanting to keep the prices down for the non-farmers. As a result, we were forced to take a lower price, which I suppose seems rather minor to us here in Canada, but it was almost a major catastrophe in terms of our prices right at that time.

I believe that happened in Florida when some of the unions wouldn’t load the ships because they wanted to keep the commodities in the United States to force the prices down. Even the President of the United States did the very same thing on one or two occasions; he stopped exports to try to keep the price from going up because he was looking at the 90 per cent of the people who are the non-farm vote. However, during the last election campaign in the United States, the President made major changes in that philosophy, because he saw that he was losing some of the farm vote by forcing prices down.

That’s just an aside, Mr. Speaker. This bill has a very limited coverage but, however limited, I suppose it all helps. I’m reminded of a story -- and maybe I’d better not tell it -- about a ship almost grounding and some people tried to help the best way they knew how. As I say, every little bit helps.

Mr. Nixon: What did they unload?

Mr. Ruston: I was going over the support price for soya beans for 1975, which was announced some time ago. The support price for soya beans at the federal level is $4.35; if we took the basic 90 per cent, plus the 42-cent additional charge, which would bring the price up to $4.35, then five per cent of $4.35 would bring it up to around $4.55 a bushel. It wouldn’t give the farmer all that much but, on the other hand, if he does get 20 cents a bushel, I was figuring it up and it would more than pay the taxes on his farm if, for instance, he grew 100 acres of soya beans, corn or whatever and if he could pick up 15 cents or 20 cents a bushel. The philosophy there, of course, is that if you can pay in $1 and get back $3, you’re $2 ahead; so you can’t go far wrong. The thing is that I imagine when that gets built up to a certain amount, then you would stop paying into it until such time as it was drawn out. But it isn’t too bad an investment if you can invest $1 and get out $3.

In thinking about some of the meetings the minister called throughout the summer or early fall with regard to getting input from the farmers, I recall the meeting in Ridgetown. In attendance were the hon. member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. Spence); the hon. member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini); our farm expert, the hon. member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman); --I kid him about that once in a while -- and myself, as well as the member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson). I didn’t see any NDP members; I guess they didn’t have any in that area so they didn’t attend.

The meeting was a little disappointing, because there was a little problem in the sound system. It might have been better if they had played a tape recorder instead of using the telephone, because I think that probably 60 per cent or 70 per cent of the people had difficulty in hearing the minister’s remarks. There was a discussion later, however, so I think any of the things they missed were cleared up. But again it was at a time when some of the farmers were very busy in taking off their crops, and I think there were only about 60 or 70 actual farmers at the meeting. However, it did give some input, and a number of them had some questions cleared up.

I think the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) brought this out, that the main thing is to get this bill on the books, get it under way. Going back to the crop insurance programme, I recall a number of occasions the first year or two it was in operation having some pretty strong arguments with the then Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Stewart. It was a thing that the people were not quite ready to accept; they weren’t sure how it was going to work. It took a while to get ironed out.

I came down here in 1969 and if I recall correctly for the first couple of years the hon. member for Kent-Elgin and myself spent a fair amount of time in the estimates discussing crop insurance. But after the third or fourth year it has pretty well taken care of itself. People are accepting it. We don’t seem to have any letters to speak of, complaints about it or so forth.

In fact, I was just talking to a farmer the other day in my area -- I would class him as one of the better farmers -- and he was telling me the other night at the warden’s banquet that he had 50 acres of tomatoes in, and he said, “You know, it’s terrible but I had to use my crop insurance this year.” That’s the first time he has had to use it. He said, “Now mind you, you don’t make a lot of money on it, but it avoids the loss.”

He had occasion to use his crop insurance this year because of excess water at the early stage of the tomatoes. They’re very tender and if water lies on them more than 24 hours, it certainly deteriorates the plants -- I’ve had that happen in my own crop.

I recall one time when I had a field of tomatoes in -- they looked so good. I happened to be talking to a fellow after church one day and he said, “Dick, that’s the best-looking field of tomatoes I’ve seen around here.” About two weeks later it started to rain. After the first two or three hours I said to my wife, “You know, that’s a million dollar rain.”

Three days later it was still raining and my million dollars was gone. That can happen in farming --

Mr. Samis: A millionaire overnight.

Mr. Ruston: And I sure would have liked to have had crop insurance then, but they didn’t have any then, Dave.

The wife and I and whoever would volunteer to pick tomatoes had mud up three or four inches on our shoes -- that was clear clay, that wasn’t the other stuff that gets on your shoes. It would have been awful nice to have had crop insurance at that time. But that’s one of the pitfalls of farming.

With good farming, that doesn’t happen too often -- maybe I wasn’t one of the better ones. But I avoided that in the future by doing some things that probably, I should have done before.

Mr. Nixon: Go to church a little more.

Mr. Ruston: That might help.

By having this commission set up, the bill in place and meeting with commodity groups, we then can get down to the business of getting some kind of a stabilization form going.

We have many farmers now that are branching out, others trying to get started, and the price of land is real high. A 200-acre farm, even the land in our area, is somewhere in the vicinity of $250,000, $300,000 and even more now. The investment is so high, we are going to have to have some guarantee or some protection, as the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) mentioned.

There are farmers in my area who acquired their farms 15, 20 years ago and they can kind of take these hills and valleys in the prices and so forth. But I think it’s necessary that we have something on the books, that we have it available, that we have it voluntarily, contributory. One of the things that I felt very strongly about in the previous bill was that it should be contributory.

This will at least give us an area where the people will have something to come to -- if it needs revamping -- You know, I can’t think of a better thing happening than the member for Huron-Middlesex being the next Minister of Agriculture for Ontario --

Mr. Moffatt: Just don’t hold your breath.

Mr. Ruston: -- I have respect for the present Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) but after all, I’m sure that the day is coming when no doubt --

Mr. Roy: We will still talk to you, Bette. We’ll still be nice to you.

Mr. Ruston: I’m looking forward to that very much. And that’s as a Liberal member, of course.

Hon. W. Newman: Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were going to come over en masse.

Mr. Ruston: I think the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) -- I just wanted to clear up something that he said earlier; I’m sure he wouldn’t want to mislead the House. I think he said that in 1942 there was marketing board legislation put into effect. I thought I would just make clear that the Liberals were in power at that time and not the Conservatives -- just so the people would know what was going on.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Boy, what a memory you have.

Mr. Nixon: He never forgets, he never forgets.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I have any more to add. The member for Huron-Middlesex covered it very well, I think. I just want to say let’s get the bill into place. If it’s necessary to make revisions in it in six months, we’re here and we’ll do that. And let’s get on with the job of providing reasonably good protection for farmers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: It is so close to the time for adjournment that it may not be worthwhile for any other member to participate -- if the member for Durham East wants to move the adjournment of the debate.

On motion by Mr. Moffatt, the debate was adjourned.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the House leader have a statement with regard to any business? All right then, an order for adjournment is deemed to have been made, and I will now recognize the hon. member for Wentworth for five minutes.


Mr. Deans: As I just finished saying to the minister, I don’t want to engage in a political discussion here tonight about the value or non-value of rent controls. I happen to think that they are of value, and properly administered would be even of more value.

But let’s deal with the point at issue at the moment. I want the minister to tell me if he has any written legal opinion that brings him to believe that in August or September or October of 1977 or any time thereafter any tenant who is faced with a second increase within a 12 consecutive month period has any recourse to the law -- this law or any other law -- in order to gain the protection intended by the rent control legislation.

My understanding of the law, is that if the bill dies as it will on July 31, and there is a subsequent rent increase imposed upon the tenant which turns out to be the second increase within 12 months, that tenant has no recourse. Does he in fact, under a legal opinion of anyone in your ministry or the Attorney General, have recourse to a court? If so, which court, and under which law would he have that recourse? I’ve been trying for some time now to understand how a tenant could use this law after the law has expired. I can find no one who can provide me with a legal opinion that there can be any recourse under a law which has expired.

Since the rent review procedures and the rent review hearing officers presumably will, by that time -- if the government goes ahead with its intention -- be no longer in existence, then the tenant certainly cannot go to the rent review board. Therefore they would have to go to a court -- one court or another. I want to know under which law they can go to that court. That’s really all I’m asking.

And I want to stress that, notwithstanding all of the good intentions of the Legislature and of the minister, no judge is required to take into consideration what the law that was in effect intended to have happen. They’re not required to read the statements of the minister as to what he believes ought to take place. They’re not required to read the debates of the Legislature to determine what we, the Legislature, believed should take place. All they’re required to do is to look at existing law and to determine whether or not there is a breach of existing law. If that law has expired, as it will on July 31 presumably, subject to only the government’s change of heart, where does the tenant go in order to gain protection for the full 12-month period the minister claims he intends they should be protected for?


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is the hon. minister prepared to reply at this time?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I understood there was another participant in this double feature late show tonight and perhaps we could hear from him --

Mr. Deans: I would rather get an answer to my question.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- and I could respond to both of them at the same time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Deans: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The question I am asking is fairly simple and it would be much appreciated by me, for the purposes of clarity, if the minister could find the way to respond to my question now. I would very much appreciate it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The normal procedure is that the member who feels that the answer to a previous question was inadequate has the opportunity to express his point of view for five minutes; and the minister has the opportunity to reply for five minutes. The past practice has always been for it to be done in that order.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I have no objection to responding except it was my understanding that the order under which we are debating tonight was with regard to a question asked last week and not a question being put to me tonight. I don’t see why I should be called upon to respond to another question which is not the question which was the subject of the member’s dissatisfaction. The question he put to me last week was would I bring in immediate legislation and let it stand by itself? My answer to that was no, I will not. It was clear, unequivocal and not ambiguous. I don’t understand how on earth the member could be dissatisfied with it -- except that he is unhappy with it. He probably would want us to bring it in. I would like him to know --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please --

Mr. Deans: On a point of order --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: -- this is not a debate.

Mr. Deans: But the minister --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The standing order with regard to this procedure is that the hon. member for Wentworth has five minutes to make his point. It shall not degenerate into a debate. You have had your opportunity. The minister can respond in any manner that he sees fit.

Mr. Deans: On a point of order, sir -- and a point of order is always in order, if I may. The minister is, inadvertently, I am sure -- based, perhaps, on false information -- misleading the House. I did not ask for immediate legislation. The question was would the minister amend the legislation to make it clear that any arrangement between a landlord and tenant entered into between now and the termination date of July 31 would be in effect for 12 consecutive months. I didn’t ask for immediate -- I asked whether he would do that in order to make it clear and that wasn’t what he said.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I accept the hon. member’s correction. He asked me if I would amend legislation which, in my view, means bringing legislation into this Legislature. I want to explain exactly why I cannot commit the government to that. I don’t know how an NDP government would work -- hopefully I’ll never find out, if I’m lucky -- but we do it though cabinet and caucus. No single minister standing here can commit the government to bringing in legislation. I have said outside this House that the government has not yet --

Mr. Renwick: On a point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: A point of order? What is your point of order?

Mr. Renwick: My point of order is that the minister cannot use a spurious response to answer or not answer the question raised by my colleague. He’s got one alternative -- either he can answer my colleague’s question or he cannot answer. I think he’s got to deal with it in those terms and if an looks at the rules of the assembly that’s what it is.

My point of order is if the minister says that my colleague, the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans), is not asking the question which the minister thought he was to respond to, the minister’s alternative is simply not to answer. He cannot give another answer to another problem at this time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The minister can answer in any way he sees fit. The minister does have about 2½ minutes in which to complete his reply if he so desires.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I think I have almost completed my remarks. I have explained that in response to the question asked last week -- it’s the reason we are here for this special adjournment debate -- I said no, I cannot commit the government to bringing in an amendment to the legislation which now exists.

What the hon. member has asked me tonight, in my view, is a completely different question. Perhaps he would want to address it to me in the question period; I would be prepared to respond to it at that time.

I do not think the standing order under which we are debating requires me now to respond to a brand new question and that is what the hon. member has put to me tonight. I simply want to say that my answer to his question last week was no. It remains no until such time as the government is in a position to come in with legislation and, of course, it will be announced in the usual way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa Centre for no more than five minutes.

Mr. Cassidy: I would like to take up the question that was raised by the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) in particular, since the question I asked was: “Would the minister come back to the House with a legal opinion as to whether or not there was effectively any protection for tenants on short leases after August 1, 1977?” The minister replied: “No, I don’t believe I would present a legal opinion in the Legislature.”

I am certainly entitled -- and I believe the member for Wentworth was entitled too -- to ask the question which the member for Wentworth has posed in a very clear way. What is the legal opinion, if it exists -- does it exist and what is it -- as to the applicability of the law after August 1?

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, if I can pursue my own question in my own area of dissatisfaction, which is additional to the point raised by the member for Wentworth, that the answers given by the minister in the House last Thursday are not adequate because tenants cannot take a commitment to court next August and they cannot take the words of the Legislature before a judge or anybody else.

The minister himself admitted in the adjournment debate last week that there will be no protection from rent increases in August, 1977, even if the tenant had had a rent increase only a month before. All the minister was willing to say last week was that in six months from today there would still be protection for tenants. That we grant, but he dodged the question, as he has dodged so many other questions related to rent review, as to whether there would be any protection after August 1.

I would say further, Mr. Speaker, that an urgent need now exists for the government to state its intentions with regard to extension of rent review. We don’t understand how the minister can make a commitment to extend the working of the Act for tenants on short leases but also say in the course of the same question period that “no decision has been made on the question of rent review generally.” We are not satisfied because if the future of rent review is not decided before Christmas, Mr. Speaker, then tenants and landlords will both be put into an impossible position.

Next April landlords have to give tenants 90 days’ notice of rent increases to take effect on August 1 or thereafter. We can’t get legislation through this House in a reasonable, rational way if it is introduced after the Throne Speech in mid-March and if there is to be any kind of meaningful opportunity for the public to comment, whether or not there are public hearings. It seems to me that if the government is not prepared to make a commitment about the extension of rent review at this time, then they will simply be perpetuating the biased and inadequate way in which they have been administering the rent review programme. They will be demonstrating once again that they do not have the interest of tenants at heart.

So I say that we are dissatisfied with the responses of the minister. We ask what is the legal opinion and why won’t the minister bring it to this House and why will the government not commit itself to a definite statement on its intention about rent review now?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I think again my answer to the question that the hon. member put last week was quite clear that no, I do not have a legal opinion; no, I will not bring one here. I have consulted with our legal advisers. I am satisfied in my own mind that what they tell me is that there is certain protection provided for under the Act, perhaps not all the protection --

Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you share that legal opinion with the House?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: This is a verbal opinion from the law officers of my ministry. They are not inscribed in stone and there is no way I can bring them in. I take legal advice in that way. But, Mr. Speaker --


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is asking me to do is to tell him here tonight, or was asking last week when the question was asked, what are the government’s intentions.

Mr. Renwick: No.

Mr. Warner: That is not what he said.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I have repeatedly said that the government’s intention will be announced in the usual way in this Legislature by means of statement or by means of legislation and I can’t say when and I cannot now commit the government as to what that will be.

Quite frankly, I find it somewhat tiresome continually to hear the NDP claim some sort of monopolistic exclusivity on compassion and concern for people. I not only find it tiresome, I find it offensive.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: I find it offensive. It no longer washes with the people of this province.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I can adjourn the House without notice.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I think I listened quietly to the hon. member and I want him to hear what I have to say because quite frankly it is tiresome to hear that kind of posturing come forward day after day and in these late night shows in which we hear it again.

There are many of us who have spent the better part of our adult life serving our communities. We do it out of concern for people. We will continue to do it and the people of Ontario recognize it which is one of the reasons why we are here and they are over there. Mr. Speaker, when the government has policies to announce they will be announced in the usual way, not as the result of a late night adjournment debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Cornwall for no more than five minutes.


Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, the point I’m rising to speak to is the question I brought up on Friday to the Chairman of Cabinet (Mr. Brunelle) regarding the use of the French language in correspondence, which was prompted by a story in the Globe and Mail, headlined “Ontario Breaks Policy, Answers French Mail in English.”

I’m bringing this question up because my question dealt with government policy, not with the Chairman of Cabinet per se, but with all ministries and those questions were essentially: Is there a government policy? Why did something like this happen? What does the government intend to do to ensure that all ministries follow that policy?

In the response I received from the minister he referred to his ministry and said that he couldn’t answer for other members of the cabinet. I think the franco-Ontarian people of Ontario want to know: Do you have a policy; does it apply to all ministries? The essential question brought up by Mr. Levesque and his correspondence was: “Is this a right, or is this a privilege?”

Now we are living in an age when The Official Languages Act of this country says there are two official languages. We live in an age which has been, I would say, dramatically affected by what happened on Monday of last week with the election of a government which no longer just accepts B and B as be all and end all; it wants to separate completely from Confederation because of what it regards as injustices.

I think it is incumbent upon the province of Ontario, the sister province of the province of Quebec, with a minority of almost 600,000 franco-Ontarians, to treat these people in the full letter and spirit of The Official Languages Act, to adhere to the policy principles outlined by the Premier of this province (Mr. Davis) in 1971.

As the Chairman of Cabinet is the franco-Ontarian representative in the cabinet I would hope that tonight he would avail himself of this opportunity to give me a direct answer as to the policy as it relates to every single ministry, and answer the question whether franco-Ontarians can regard this as a right or a privilege; and if he can give us a clear commitment to the fact that franco-Ontarians have this right whenever they deal with the government at the ministerial level.

Hon. Mr. Auld: The hon. member has asked for a precise answer as to the policy of the government on whether communications addressed to the government and its agencies in the French language require an answer in the French language; and the short answer is “yes.”

This was stated by Hon. John Robarts in 1968 to be the policy of the government, at which time he outlined the steps to be taken by the government to increase its capacity to implement that policy.

I don’t think the House would like me to use this occasion to make a comprehensive report on the progress which has been made to provide government services in French where these are required. I can assure you, though, that this progress has been steady and is continuing.

Hon. members may recall that it was at the federal provincial conference of first ministers in Ottawa on February 5, 1968, that Mr. Robarts described the steps to which the government of Ontario was committed, in response to the report of the royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism and the important constitutional issues that were being discussed at that time.

Mr. Robarts said that the government of Ontario would provide, wherever feasible, bilingual public services, so that the people of Ontario would be able to deal in either the English or French language with the various levels of government with which they came in contact.

He described the various steps which the government was proposing to give effect to this policy, and said specifically that the government had adopted a policy that all letters received in French by the Ontario government would be answered in that language.

Mr. Robarts confirmed the government’s position in this Legislature during the Throne speech debate on February 27, 1968.

Mr. Cassidy: But you are not doing it.

Mr. Samis: It is now 1976.

Hon. Mr. Auld: This has remained the policy of the government since 1968 and I can assure the hon. members that all ministries are aware of it.

This is not to say there have not been occasions in the intervening eight years when government offices have not conformed with the policy.

Mr. Cassidy: You have a short memory then.

Mr. Roy: It is the rule more than the exception.

Hon. Mr. Auld: I know there are individual communications which have not conformed. When these are brought to the attention of the ministry I am sure that an appropriate apology has been made and corrective action taken.

Certainly when examples have been brought to the attention of my deputy minister, in his capacity as co-ordinator on bilingualism, he has referred them to the appropriate ministry and asked that a reply be given directly to the correspondent.

Mr. Cassidy: You shouldn’t have to apologize, you should just do it.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: You also have a lock on perfection, do you, Mike?


Hon. Mr. Auld: I should like to assure the members of the House, however, that these individual cases do not represent any general disregard of the government’s policy; nor should they be interpreted as an indication of any lack of concern for the rights of those who communicate with the government in French.

Mr. Cassidy: But that is how they interpret it.

Hon. Mr. Auld: While the original commitment made by Mr. Robarts referred to letters received by the government there is, of course, an equal responsibility to reply in French to those who communicate orally with government offices in that language. It is equally the intention of the government that this policy should be implemented but the capacity to do so depends upon the availability of public servants who are fluent in that language.

The government has been steadily improving its capacity to respond orally in French, giving the highest priority to the field offices in those localities in Ontario where the largest concentrations of French-speaking people reside. Improvement has been possible through emphasis on recruitment of francophone employees and through the operation of our own French-language school.

I suppose it is possible to have differing views on the government’s policy on bilingualism and the progress which has been made to implement it.

Mr. Cassidy: There is always tomorrow.

Hon. Mr. Auld: One can emphasize the positive and conclude that the approach which Ontario has taken in a field which has been seen in a different historical perspective in each of the Canadian provinces has been both responsible and progressive.

The government of Ontario’s policy, while not free of individual administrative oversight, is a policy which is executed in good faith as a measure of our responsibility as a government to provide French language service to the French-speaking citizens of our province. This policy complements some of the finest French language primary and secondary schools in any jurisdiction.

Mr. Roy: That’s where you stopped.

Mr. Samis: You are getting condescending now.

Hon. Mr. Auld: This broadening of our education and service approach is a tribute to the even-handed and balanced commitment of our province to serve all citizens fairly --

Mr. Cassidy: What a bunch you guys are.

Hon. Mr. Auld: -- and equally, without either fanfare or self-preening.

Mr. Cassidy: This should be stricken from the record for fear of damaging our relations with Rene Levesque.

Hon. Mr. Auld: Our programme is sensitive, responsible and pragmatic. Those who would be insensitive, irresponsible or unfair in either distorting or overplaying isolated administrative problems --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The minister has 10 seconds.

Hon. Mr. Auld: -- do so against the best interests of our province, its people and our nation itself. Finally, I say that in response to any distortion, be it by a member of this House, a citizen or a member of the media, responsibility in this respect, in these times, must not be the sole dominion of government.

Mr. Cassidy: There will be no detente between the Premier and Mr. Levesque after that.

The House adjourned at 10:50 p.m.