30e législature, 3e session

L121 - Thu 25 Nov 1976 / Jeu 25 nov 1976

The House met at 2 p.m.


Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House today that the amendment to The Highway Traffic Act, section 62, subsection 1, contained in Bill 129 passed last year, will be proclaimed in force on January 1, 1977.

This section at present covers the wearing of approved helmets by persons operating motorcycles.

The amendment will also make the wearing of such helmets mandatory for moped drivers.

For the past year, my ministry has been studying various types of helmets to select one suitable for wearing by persons operating a moped, or motor-assisted bicycle.

As the hon. members are aware, we did this with a view toward making the wearing of helmets compulsory once one was chosen which met the ministry’s safety specifications.

Mr. Cassidy: It took eight months.

Hon. Mr. Snow: We examined moped helmets of many designs and materials, including those used in other countries.

In the end, we did not feel that any of them possessed significant advantages over the helmets currently worn by motorcycle riders, and hence the same helmet standards will apply to both types of vehicles.

According to the most recent ministry statistics, four moped drivers were killed and 203 injured on Ontario roads during the first nine months of 1976. Happily, these figures represent a 50 per cent decline in fatalities and a 53 per cent drop in injuries over the previous year.

However, the select committee on highway safety wrote to me a few weeks ago voicing the feelings of representatives of all three Ontario political parties and very strongly urging that the government, without delay, take action on the compulsory wearing of helmets by moped drivers.

I am announcing a change to The Highway Traffic Act, making it mandatory, effective January 1, 1977, for all who drive mopeds or motor-assisted bicycles to wear helmets of the type approved as motorcycle helmets.

In The Highway Traffic Act, an approved motorcycle helmet meets the standards of the Canadian Safety Association, Snell Memorial Foundation, the British Standards Institute or the United States of America Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.

Such helmets must bear the appropriate monogram or certificate identifying them clearly as one of the four approved motorcycle helmets.

Hopefully, this change in the law will help bring about an even greater reduction in the number of deaths and injuries experienced among moped drivers thus far this year.


Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I wish to announce funding levels for 1977-78 for the universities and colleges of applied arts and technology and to announce an adjustment to fees.

With regard to funding the university system, I have accepted the advice of the Ontario Council on University Affairs. We will provide operating funds of $703 million in 1977-78, a $52 million increase over this year’s projected expenditures of $651 million.

The colleges will receive operating grants totalling $250 million, up from $230 million in the current year.

We believe the increased costs faced by universities and colleges should be borne in part by the students who use them and in part by the taxpayer. Consequently, we have suggested that universities increase their tuition fees for a two-term academic year by $100. Tuition fees for a similar period in the colleges of applied arts and technology will be increased by $75. This will be the first increase in five years.

Average academic fees in the universities have been frozen at slightly less than $600 since 1972. The increase I am asking for in 1977 will result in an average annual increase over five years of 3.2 per cent.

In the colleges, fees have been fixed at $250 since 1972. Next year’s increase to $325 will mean an annual average increase over five years of 5.4 per cent.

These figures, 3.2 per cent for the universities and 5.4 per cent for the colleges, compare to an annual average increase in the consumer price index of 8.1 per cent.

Looking at it another way, fees currently make up 14.4 per cent of universities’ incomes from fees and grants, down from more than 17 per cent following the 1972 fee increase. The 1977 increase will result in tuition fees amounting to 16.1 per cent of this income.

This means that even after the increase university students will only be paying, on average, about 16 per cent of their educational costs. Taxpayers will continue to pay about 80 per cent with the remainder coming from private sources.

Similarly, in the colleges, fees were roughly 13 per cent of income in 1972 and they are about 10 per cent of income in the current year. After the increase next year, students will again be paying 13 per cent of the costs of their education.

This increase in tuition fees does not change the government’s commitment to ensure that students’ access to post-secondary education is not limited by their financial resources.

As in the past, students who can’t pay their full share of education costs may apply for financial assistance from the Ontario Student Assistance Programme.

Mr. Bain: They will never get it.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Higher tuition fees will be taken directly into account in assessing these students’ financial needs. The assistance programme’s budget for grants provided by the province will be increased from $61 million in the current year to $74 million in 1977-78.

Currently students are required to borrow $1,000 before they can receive non-repayable funds from the province. I am pleased to confirm that this level of required borrowing will not have to be increased.

The fee increase is dictated by two obligations: First, the obligation to maintain a responsible attitude toward public expenditures; and second, the obligation to maintain the quality of the post-secondary education system so that it will continue to meet the needs of the people of Ontario.

The province’s financial situation does not permit us to meet necessary funding levels wholly from provincial revenues. We can see no acceptable alternatives to the one we have chosen. In the circumstances, I believe the taxpayers of Ontario, the institutions and the students themselves are best served by the moderate fee increase we have proposed.

In conclusion, I will emphasize again that we intend, through the Ontario student assistance programme, to continue our firm policy that no deserving student will be denied, for financial reasons, a place in Ontario’s post-secondary educational system.

Mr. Cassidy: More and more of them have been turned away.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I will meet with the student council presidents in two weeks’ time to reassure them about this policy and to discuss any other concerns that they may have at that time.

Mr. Cassidy: They can’t go, because they can’t get jobs. It’s true; 20 per cent of them can’t get jobs. There were none, that’s why.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, on November 10 the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith) asked for an explanation of the land speculation tax exemption that was granted to the Ronto Development Company on its sale of lands in the city of Brantford to George Wimpey Canada Limited.

When this question was raised, I indicated that since the matter had occurred some months earlier and was quite complex, I would like to refresh my memory before reporting to the House. I am now prepared to make a complete report.

The grant of exemption to Ronto was made under Ontario Regulation 340/76, dated April 15, 1976. Since that time, it appears that the merits of the action taken in the Ronto case have been somewhat obscured in various media reports of the matter. I am pleased, therefore, to have this opportunity to explain the matter fully so that the House may be assured that the exemption was justified.

Mr. Sargent: Sure it was!

Hon. Mr. Meen: At the outset, I would like to say that exemptions granted by way of a regulation for a specific transaction, such as the one involving the lands sold by Ronto, are uncommon. Such a grant of exemption is considered only where there are extenuating circumstances not specifically covered by the legislation and where the grant of exemption is in conformity with the main intent of the legislation and serves the public interest.

One important aspect of the land speculation tax legislation is that an exemption from the tax may be earned by an owner who services or develops land for residential purposes or for other beneficial uses prior to sale. An exemption for such servicing or development, subject to certain conditions, was specifically provided by the Legislature in section 4(k) of The Land Speculation Tax Act.

Mr. Sargent: The first thing you have to be is a Conservative.

Hon. Mr. Meen: An alternative way of stating this principle is to say that the legislation was not intended in any way to impede the servicing or development of land for residential or other beneficial purposes. Indeed, since the land speculation tax was not designed primarily to raise revenue for the province, we could be criticized if the legislation were not applied in a positive way to remove any unintended impediments to development.

This point is worth stressing. Although there was, in the Ronto case, the possibility that some or all of the land speculation tax payable by Ronto might be added to the eventual cost of the housing, a more basic justification for the exemption was the need to ensure that the extenuating circumstances in this case, for which there was no specific provision in the legislation, would not impede the important objective of expanding the supply of housing.

Mr. Bullbrook: You can’t be serious with this.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Let me outline briefly what these extenuating circumstances were. Ronto first came to the attention of the Revenue officials shortly following the death of Mr. Ron Todgham in December 1975. Mr. Todgham had been the chairman of the corporate partnership carrying on business under the name of the Ronto Development Company and in that capacity was intimately involved in its management.

Up to that time, Ronto had been proceeding to develop the lands in question with a view to selling these lands to builders as fully serviced lots. Had the development work been completed, there was every expectation that the eventual disposition of the lands by Ronto would have fully qualified for the automatic exemption provided in the land speculation tax legislation.


Indeed, by December 1975, the development work had been underway for some time. For example, to facilitate the annexation of the land by the city of Brantford, Ronto had participated in the preparation of the economic base studies and had assisted in the preparation of other official plan amendments. A draft approval of a plan of subdivision had been received from the city and Ronto’s engineer had prepared the engineering designs and specifications for servicing the subdivision and had received approval for these from the city. Development had, in fact, proceeded to the state where Ronto had called for tenders for the installation of services on a portion of the property.

Mr. Bullbrook: All of which increased the value.

Hon. Mr. Meen: All that was required to complete the development work was to install the services.

Mr. S. Smith: To improve the land.

Hon. Mr. Meen: However, the extensive financial involvement of Mr. Todgham at the time of his death, coupled with the requirement of his estate to liquidate his financial obligations, made it difficult if not impossible for Ronto to continue the financing of the installation of services to the point where the company could have qualified for the automatic exemption from tax.

The offer of Wimpey to buy the property and continue with the development and installation of services to the point where building permits were available, provided the assurance that Ronto’s difficulties would not unduly impede the completion of the work already in progress. Furthermore, Wimpey also gave its undertaking to the Minister of Revenue to proceed with the building of housing units on the serviced lots and to sell these units to the public. I might also mention in passing that the completion of Wimpey’s undertaking in this regard has been ensured by a lien upon the lands in favour of the Crown under a land transfer tax deferral that was granted to Wimpey in accordance with section 16(1) of The Land Transfer Tax Act. That’s order in council 892/76, dated April 7, 1976.

Given these various circumstances, I now ask the House to consider the alternatives confronting us when the matter of a possible grant of exemption to Ronto was first raised. Although Ronto had already proceeded in good faith with a substantial part of the work necessary to complete the servicing and development of the lands, the work at the time of Mr. Todgham’s untimely death had not yet reached the point where building permits would have been available, and where an automatic exemption from land speculation tax would thus have been earned by the company without the need for any special regulation.

The question, then, was whether it was in the public interest and within the intent of the Act to impose the tax strictly on the basis that building permits were not available, as was required under the automatic exemption provisions of the legislation, or to recognize the extenuating circumstances and grant a specific exemption in order to remove an unusual and unforeseen impediment to the development of housing, as was clearly authorized in the regulatory provisions of the legislation.

Thus, on the one hand, if the decision were made to deny the exemption, then, in view of the inability of Ronto to carry out the servicing and development necessary to obtain building permits, there was the prospect that either the land might not be sold quickly or that, if sold, the use of the land for housing might be considerably delayed.

On the other hand, if the decision were made to grant the exemption to Ronto, there was a firm undertaking by the purchaser, Wimpey, not only to complete Ronto’s obligations to service and develop the lands, but also to produce and sell approximately 2,300 homes to the public by June 30, 1983.

It was, of course, evident that a substantial gain would be obtained by Ronto on the sale of the property and that the exemption would provide a large tax relief. However, this relief was considered to be of secondary importance in view of the extenuating circumstances relating to Mr. Todgham’s death: the work already completed by Ronto, the inability of Ronto to continue with that work, and the certainty that the completion of the sale to Wimpey would provide Ontarians with this new stock of housing.

We concluded there was a strong case for using the power provided in the legislation to grant the exemption so that this substantial housing programme would be certain to proceed.

Mr. Nixon: Friend of the developer. Ten million dollars. Friend of the developer -- remember that phrase? Friend of the developer.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Finally, I would like to clarify one other matter raised by the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith). He suggested that Ronto had derived a profit of some $10 million from the sale of the land. Such a figure may, of course, be obtained by subtracting the consideration paid by Ronto from Ronto’s proceeds of disposition of some $12 million. These amounts are available in the public record.

However, I would like to correct any impression that $10 million would have been the amount to which land speculation tax would have applied if the exemption had not been granted. Although the conveyance of the land to Ronto was not registered until June, 1974, the land was actually acquired by Ronto in 1973.

Tax would therefore have been computed by reference to the “net taxable value,” after deducting the April 9, 1974, fair market value and all other adjustments authorized in the statute from the proceeds of disposition, including the very large expenditure to develop the land.

Mr. Bullbrook: What was that difference? How much was the difference?

Mr. Nixon: You are not concerned?

Mr. Bullbrook: Did you calculate the difference?

Mr. Speaker: Order please. The hon. minister has a statement.

Mr. Bullbrook: What value did you put on it? As of April? You didn’t even go into the April value?

Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Sarnia is out of order.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Regrettably, I am unable --


Mr. Bullbrook: He didn’t as minister. He didn’t even go into the April value.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Regrettably, I am unable to provide the specific amounts submitted to the ministry by Ronto since I am bound by the secrecy provisions of the statute.

However, I can assure this House that although the exact figures were not totally verified by ministry officials because of the granting of the exemption, the actual net taxable value to which tax would have applied would not have been anywhere close to the figure mentioned by the hon. member.

Mr. Nixon: You didn’t even find out how much you were going over.

Mr. Bullbrook: You don’t even know yourself how much you have lost.

Hon. Mr. Meen: I believe this may be obvious, in view of the escalation of land values that occurred in the months immediately prior to the introduction of the tax in April, 1974, and during which the land in question was held by Ronto.

Mr. Lewis: Before we enter the question period, could the minister read that last paragraph again?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I shall read it immediately, Mr. Speaker, if that’s in order.

However, I can assure this House that although the exact figures were not totally verified by ministry officials because of the granting of the exemption, the actual net taxable value to which tax would have applied would not have been anywhere close to the figure mentioned by the hon. member. I believe this may be obvious, in view of the escalation of land values that occurred in the months immediately prior to the introduction of the tax in April, 1974, and during which the land in question was held by Ronto.

Mr. Bullbrook: How did they know about it? You didn’t calculate your loss.

Hon. Mr. Davis: We are going to eliminate the whole thing.


Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the members that the government will be making $18 million available to municipalities for tile drainage loans in the 1977-78 fiscal year. The interest rate will be the same as it was this year -- six per cent.

Early in December I will be sending letters to the municipalities informing them of the amount that will be made available. The amount each municipality will receive is being calculated on a pro rata basis covering its borrowing for the previous three years. For the purposes of this calculation, the figure being used for the current year is the amount a municipality would have borrowed had the government restraint programme not affected the total amount available. A small part of the $18 million will be set aside in a special fund for those municipalities that have not made tile drainage loans in the past three years.

Throughout the year, Mr. Speaker, we will be reviewing these allocations and adjusting them, so that if some municipalities do not need their full allocation the money can be made available to those that need more.

For example, this year we monitored the funds in the tile drainage programme and found that about eight per cent of the budget -- approximately $1.3 million -- would not have been spent. These funds were then reallocated to municipalities requiring additional funds. We will follow the same procedure in 1977-78.

The importance of tile drainage is well recognized. It is one of the most effective single means of increasing crop yields.

I might point out, Mr. Speaker, that this is an ongoing programme and in the last three years ending March, 1977, the government will have made $45.5 million available for municipalities to lend to farmers.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, before the oral questions, I wonder if I could rise on a point of privilege?

At 10 this morning, sir, I was called by a Mr. Don Southcott, indicating that he was going to hold a press conference in the buildings here at 11:45, and I was asked to be at that press conference.

I went down to the press conference at 11:45, and although the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Henderson) gave a very brief introduction, he turned the press conference over to Mr. Don Southcott to explain his involvement in the transfer of Severn Park to the town of Grand Bend and the township of Bosanquet. Now I am wondering, Mr. Speaker, if the member is not abusing his privileges by setting up a conference --


Hon. Mr. Bernier: You were embarrassed.

Mr. Riddell: -- by setting up a press conference for one who is no longer involved in the government? Granted, he is still a member of the Conservative Party.

Mr. Cassidy: It’s like Darwin Kealey, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order please.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, on a --

Mr. Bullbrook: Sit down, the Speaker is on his feet.

Mr. Speaker: I am not familiar with the names of the gentlemen you mentioned except, of course, the one who is an hon. member of the House. I am not sure whether we have a point of privilege here. It doesn’t seem so to me but I will take it under advisement and if so, I will so advise the member in the House.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: On a point of privilege, I think the members of the Legislature should be made aware of the fact that the hon. member who just made a comment made a statement in the Legislature Tuesday afternoon that in the transfer of certain public lands to another public body in the Grand Bend area, certain political overtones were involved.

Mr. S. Smith: He asked a question.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: He made accusations --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- regarding a certain individual, a Mr. Don Southcott, indicating that there was political hanky-panky. This morning at 10 o’clock, Mr. Don Southcott was here as a citizen of this province to defend himself and to clarify that there was nothing of the kind and nothing wrong. He should be given that right.


Mr. Speaker: Order. I think I have made the only comment which is appropriate for me at this present time.

Mr. Lewis: I’ll be bringing Cliff Pilkey in tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m sure you’ve met before. He lets his views be known.

Mr. Lewis: I agree. And you can hear him for miles around.

Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.


Mr. Lewis: May I ask the Minister of Revenue, first, an opening question: Has there ever been any other specific exemption granted, under extenuating circumstances or otherwise, which was granted apart from the provisions within the Act? Is this the sole instance in which a particular exemption was granted outside the provisions that exist within the Act?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I think the answer to that question is “Yes, it is the only one. No, there have been no others.” But I would want to check that one. It certainly is the only one that comes to my recollection at the present time.

Mr. S. Smith: I have a supplementary; I intended to put it during my own question time, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister confirm that what he was basically saying about this particular exemption is that the main reason this was given was that there was an intention on the part of the company -- of which one of the principals died -- to go ahead and develop the land, and that was considered the main reason for actually exempting them from a tax which is on the statute books?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I have indicated that there was a body of reasoning and it wasn’t related to one item only. Certainly, one ingredient in all of this was that the company had not been speculating. They were in the course of developing the land for residential accommodation and had every expectation that they would have reached that in a short while. Had this exemption not been granted there was every expectation that goal of further housing in the market would not have been accomplished or would have been significantly delayed.

Mr. Makarchuk: A supplementary.

Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: I think we will allow the member for Hamilton West with his second supplementary, but --

Mr. Bullbrook: I have a supplementary, I believe.

Mr. Speaker: Well in the first place, the original question had to do with further examples, so if there really is a supplementary, I believe it would be better if the hon. member for Hamilton West would save it for his leadoff questions on that subject because it was his original question. I am sure he will want to pursue it further.

Let me see now -- did we have an answer to that? I think we had better have this supplementary. The member for Brantford.

Mr. Makarchuk: To the same minister. Is the minister aware that implied in his statement was the assumption that Wimpey bailed out Ronto? Is the minister aware that there were other buyers for that property and --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Makarchuk: -- the property was sold to the highest buyer?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. For the same reason, that is not a supplementary to this particular question.

Mr. Bullbrook: May I attempt one?

Mr. Speaker: Yes. The hon. member for Sarnia.

Mr. Bullbrook: Based on the original question which had to do with any other development of this policy, I understand that the minister’s two bedposts for coming to his conclusion were: One, the intention to develop; and two, the need for liquidity. Since when has it become a policy of this or any other government that the taxpayer’s need for liquidity is a consideration in granting an exemption?

Mr. Speaker: Order please, this would be related more to another question, which I’m sure some member will ask later.

Mr. Eakins: Let him try it.

Mr. Speaker: If we could stick to this particular question at this time, you’ll have the opportunity later.



Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, of the Minister of Energy: How is it that Ontario Hydro leased 700 acres of its land which it holds in the Niagara Escarpment to the Rose Community Development Company -- I think the principal is one Peter Lush -- for the purposes of a major development on that land, that is to say a golf course at the minimum, without once consulting with either the Beaver Valley community and the Beaver Valley official plan, or the Niagara Escarpment Commission?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I’m not familiar with the individual named by the member. I’m aware there was a lease arrangement entered into recently. I will check into more of the background as to what contacts were made. So far as I know, the firm referred to approached Hydro, months or a year or two ago, to express an interest in leasing the property to further develop its recreational programmes. I’ll get more information on it and report back.

Mr. Sargent: The minister must be aware that over the years Hydro has spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars in developing that whole area. Why does the need to help Mr. Lush out supersede the needs of Hydro?

Mr. Davidson: Because he’s a Tory.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the property in question is one which Ontario Hydro has held for a great many years and at this point has no plans whatsoever to develop. As I said in answer to the original question from the member for Scarborough West, the particular firm in question approached Hydro a long time ago -- I really don’t know how long ago; I know it’s months if not years -- and indicated an interest in leasing it, and since it is at the present time surplus to Hydro’s needs, Hydro did consider the lease proposal and did execute an agreement.

Mr. Sargent: Why weren’t the local officials notified?

Mr. Lewis: I have a further supplementary, which I would appreciate the minister checking into. Could he find out why Hydro entered into this extraordinary leasing arrangement -- $1 an acre a year, I think, for 700 acres -- when in fact there was a motion on January 18, 1973, from the Beaver Valley Planning Board, that no private development he allowed on these lands, and at no time was the advice of the Niagara Escarpment Commission sought, whose authority and obligation it is to protect those public lands from private use without at least advance consultation with the communities involved?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I’ll certainly look into that, and I think one of the points I’ll be looking for is whether that resolution to which the member refers in 1973, had to do with residential development, the development of permanent buildings, or whether it referred to any kind of development. As I understand the project, it is, in fact, recreation related in terms of cross-country skiing, golf course and so forth.

I must point out, and if the member is not aware of this I should tell him, that it is the policy of Ontario Hydro to lease Hydro right of way land to municipalities, for instance, for $1 a year, where those municipalities wish to use the land for recreational purposes. In fact, the first time that was done was in the riding of Don Mills when I was the alderman for that area and negotiated the deal on behalf of the council.

Mr. Warner: Naturally.

Mr. Cassidy: Look at you now.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That’s $1 a year for any amount of land that the municipality will take over for recreational purposes. So it’s not that unusual.

Mr. Cunningham: You guys are really something, you really are.

Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, is it not true that if this land isn’t rented to the municipality and is rented to a private enterprise it is the procedure to put it up for tender?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the land isn’t for sale.

Mr. Sweeney: Tender for lease.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Again, I’ll get all the background information, but from what I know at this point, Hydro had no plans whatsoever to sell or to lease the land; it was just sitting on it, if you will. They were approached and asked to consider and, in fact, I understand --

Mr. Davidson: That is why your government is sitting on it.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- they did an internal appraisal as to its worth for an annual rent and the amount that was offered was in excess of what Hydro’s own people advised was a reasonable annual rent.

Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Perhaps the minister will be able to tell us then how he responds to the letters which the Beaver Valley Planning Board agreed to send urgently last night to him and his colleagues, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Industry and Tourism, to find out why, when that was never the intended use of this land from Hydro’s original acquisition of it, all of this proceeded without any consultation with the Niagara Escarpment Commission or the local planning authorities. I don’t know how Hydro gets away with it, but would the minister please look at it in that context?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all I want to find out whether in fact that is correct that there has been no consultation. I think along with that, though, one must find out whether there is a requirement -- when you are not talking about permanent buildings; when you are talking about recreational land and keeping land in, if you will, an open category of use -- whether there is a requirement on them to do so.

Mr. Lewis: It is an official plan.


Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, of the Minister of Labour: Can the Minister of Labour clarify the government’s policy intentions in respect of reducing the minimum wage for those who are receiving tips in certain parts of the hotel and restaurant industry?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I can simply state that the government’s intention is no such reduction.

Mr. Cassidy: Bennett goes down the drain again. Too bad, Claude, you’ve been ditched once more.

Mr. Lewis: May I, by way of supplementary, on behalf of my caucus, thank the Minister of Labour for tightening the knot in Claude Bennett’s tie.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: It feels very comfortable.

Mr. Lewis: You will find you can breathe easier, Claude, when it is loose.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I have always breathed easier when you are asking questions, Stephen.

Mr. Lewis: I am having trouble reading my notes.

Hon. B. Stephenson: Get some glasses.

Mr. Lewis: Yes, I will.


Mr. Lewis: My last question of the Minister of Labour: Has she entered into negotiations over the workers who are losing their jobs in Fergus around the question of retraining -- it is the General Steel Wares plant, I believe -- since so much of the work force consists of people over 50 years of age?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I had inquired of the staff in my ministry the precise information about the programme which is going forward, because I am informed that the development of a joint employment adjustment committee for that purpose is being considered. I shall clarify that and report to the House.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Revenue: First of all, since it seems to be a fact that his officials did not even calculate the actual tax that would have been payable and did not actually verify the valuation that was put on the land by Ronto, is the minister now prepared to accept that this whole matter should be looked at by the public accounts committee? If not, will he accept some other form of inquiry such as a judicial or other form of public inquiry into this matter?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, the first thing I suppose I have to repeat for the benefit of the member for Hamilton West is that once cabinet has decided that an exemption from the tax is appropriate, then there is no point in going through an audit procedure to check the figures submitted by the applicants.

Mr. Bullbrook: You don’t care what you lose.

Hon. Mr. Davis: You people are going to eliminate the whole tax.

Mr. S. Smith: That would have been fairer than just eliminating it for your friends.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Certainly, they did give us some figures so that we would have an idea of what we were talking about.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister is answering the question.

Mr. S. Smith: The Premier provoked me.

Mr. Speaker: May I say in response, I was referring to all interruptions.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Had cabinet decided that exemptions from the tax was not an appropriate avenue to follow, then of course we would have carefully examined and checked the figures to determine the amount exigible. I have no objection to the figures, to the extent that they can be made public, being made public. I have done so.

Mr. Sargent: How much did the bag man get?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I have no objection to the Provincial Auditor examining these accounts in due course, when he is doing his accounting for what will be the fiscal year ended March 31, 1977.

Mr. Nixon: The whole thing should be examined.

Hon. Mr. Meen: But it does strike me as foolish and a needless waste of effort to put him or any other body through an exercise of checking out calculations at this time, when of course the exemption has been granted. I think we can be proud of the fact we have some flexibility built into this statute and that we can, where it is desirable and in the public interest, make sure that the statute does not operate to the detriment of the public.

Mr. Cassidy: That is absolute balderdash.

Mr. S. Smith: You are going to lose on this one.

By way of supplementary: Since I understood the minister to say the houses would not have been built by Wimpey and the deal would not have gone through unless Ronto had been given this exemption, and that this was one of the pressing reasons for the exemption having been granted, can the minister please explain to this House why Wimpey, or any other buyer for that matter, would give a hoot whether or not Ronto, from whom it was buying the land, would owe a certain amount of tax to the provincial government? What difference could it possibly have made to Wimpey or any other buyer in this particular deal, and how could that possibly be used as a justification for exempting this much in the way of land speculation tax?

Hon. Mr. Davis: You’ve got to be kidding.

Hon. Mr. Meen: The two aspects of this are completely different. In Wimpey’s case, it is a non-resident contractor, developer and builder, and it applied to us for an exemption under the appropriate provisions of The Land Transfer Tax Act -- nothing to do with the land speculation tax exemption subsequently granted to Ronto.

Mr. S. Smith: We’re not arguing that at the moment.

Mr. Speaker, the question is simply this: Since the two main reasons the minister gave were, first, that Ronto intended to build on the land, and second, that the minister didn’t want to delay or impede the possibility of houses appearing there, why would the company that eventually built -- it turns out to be Wimpey; it might have been any other buyer -- care a hoot whether or not Ronto was in for some taxes to have to pay the provincial government? Why wouldn’t it have gone ahead and bought the property anyway and built the houses? Why would the minister say it was going to impede the houses?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, the total transaction was on the basis of a purchase price that Wimpey was prepared to pay.

Mr. Bullbrook: How do you know that?

Mr. S. Smith: They told you that, I guess. A little bird told you that. You know what they were prepared to pay.

Hon. Mr. Meen: So therefore, the exemption under The Land Speculation Tax Act was there as part of the consideration which the Ronto organization would have to take into consideration. It was not prepared to sell at a price that would reflect the payment of tax and Wimpey was not prepared to purchase at that exalted, reflected price.

Mr. S. Smith: You know what was in Wimpey’s mind?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Ask any of your colleagues who know anything about it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Even if it had been, it’s obvious enough that that additional cost would have been reflected further in due course in the sale price of the houses produced and sold by Wimpey.

Mr. S. Smith: There is no market any more in this province, eh? The market doesn’t determine price any more?

Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: Can the minister indicate why Ronto was granted a tax remission of $677,000, supposedly for farming the land, when the land was in fact being farmed by the original owner?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I believe that’s a different question. It’s an appropriate question for later.

Mr. Renwick: Could I ask the minister what role his ministry played in working out the arrangements between Wimpey and Ronto, in order that Ronto could meet a serious liquidity-cum-tax problem and Wimpey, on the other hand, could obtain the land with the benefit of the exemption and, therefore, presumably at a lower price? What was the role of the government with respect to the reasons given by the minister for permitting this exemption to take place?


Hon. Mr. Meen: So far as I am aware, my ministry played no role in bringing the parties together or in their negotiation of the transaction. The picture was presented to my officials as a conditional agreement between the parties, as I understand it, which agreement would be consummated only in the event of the remission of any attraction of land speculation tax.

Mr. Good: They held you up to blackmail.

Hon. Mr. Meen: From Wimpey’s standpoint the deferral under The Land Transfer Tax Act --

Mr. Singer: They both came together, did they?

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- since they were prepared to undertake to construct and sell accommodation within a specific period of time, would also be part of the transaction.

Mr. S. Smith: How do you know there wasn’t another buyer who would have paid more?

Mr. Lewis: Do you mean they both came together to blackmail the government as a tax rebate?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: I wonder if the minister could clarify his answer to the question from my leader. Is he opposing the motion that may come before the House a few minutes from now -- that is a request from the public accounts committee to look into this matter thoroughly -- when the purchase price paid by Ronto was less than $1.5 million, and a bit more than a year later they received $12 million for this property, even though they are supposed to have put an increased value up to $6 million on it? Is the minister indicating the Provincial Auditor should look into this, when the cabinet, by order in council, has indicated that he should have nothing to do with it all?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I have already answered that question.

Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Did I hear the minister right? Did he say simply Ronto and Wimpey had a conditional agreement which they submitted to his officials, the essential condition being that if the remission of the tax didn’t go through the transaction wouldn’t occur, therefore driving the government into a position of capitulation to the demands of these two corporate concerns?

Mr. S. Smith: How do know somebody else wouldn’t have paid more?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I did not put it in that fashion. The agreement was submitted to my officials, as I understand it, as an application by or on behalf of Ronto, simply saying to us, “Here, look, we have worked out this agreement with Wimpey, conditional upon our -- and we are prepared to work out the agreement and complete the agreement with them provided we do not attract land speculation tax.”

Mr. Bullbrook: So you were involved.

Mr. Nixon: Wasn’t $10 million enough for them?

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr. Bullbrook: I want to reiterate the question I put before. Is the minister serious in his statement that he and his cabinet colleagues took into consideration the need for liquidity of the Todgham estate in assessing the exemption? And does the minister recognize the type of condition precedent that he is establishing here; that, in effect, taxpayers can tell the government they need liquidity to seek out an exemption? What possible justification is there for that?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I think perhaps that aspect of the statement should be clarified --

Mr. Bullbrook: Yes, it should be.

Hon. Mr. Meen: There is certainly no intention to try to bail out a company because it is in an illiquid position.

Mr. Bullbrook: But that is what you said in your statement.

Hon. Mr. Meen: No, I am saying that --

Mr. Bullbrook: No? Read your statement.

Hon. Mr. Meen: No, I am saying that Ron Todgham’s estate required to be settled. He was no longer there as chairman of Ronto. Ronto itself was in an illiquid position as a result of having to settle up with the Todgham estate.

Mr. Sargent: Quit flogging that.

Hon. Mr. Meen: In that position they were unable to continue with the financing of the construction and installation of the services. Therefore, because of that illiquidity they were going to be unable to bring these serviced lots on the market.

Mr. S. Smith: I have a new question, but on the same topic, for the Minister of Revenue. Do I understand that the minister is now establishing a precedent -- and I wish he would correct me on this -- whereby, for example, if a taxpayer intends to gift certain of his assets to members of his family to avoid succession duties, and he actually were to die before he completed the transaction, the minister would be prepared to exempt him from such succession duties? Has this become a new principle because he intended to gift members of his family, for example? The fact that they intended to build on this surely does not exempt the middle man who made this kind of profit from paying land speculation tax?


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Meen: For one thing, the hon. member is importing this kind of principle into another piece of legislation, namely The Succession Duty Act.

Mr. Nixon: You are the minister there too.


Hon. Mr. Meen: I would say that with respect to The Land Speculation Tax Act we are looking at actual acts and steps which they had taken in several cases in their course toward getting these lots on the market as serviced lots. There is not just a matter of intention. There is a matter of action that they have taken in any number of ways, from draft approvals right through the letting of tenders for the installation of services.

Mr. S. Smith: If I die with a pen in my hand I am still not going to be exempted, and you know it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Let me just remind the hon. members that one of the principles of The Land Speculation Tax Act is that we get a write-up in value in the case of the death of the holder of real estate, and this, in effect, was one of the principles that found itself in this case. The plan which was going forward was potentially frustrated by the death of their principal. Consequently, we had to look at that as another element along with all of the other factors.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Is the minister satisfied that the full benefit of the remission of tax from the ministry was passed on to Wimpey, or did some of it accrue in extra profits in Ronto?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This new question had nothing to do with Wimpey. It was a general question about exemption of tax of some kind or other having to do with the settling of an estate. It didn’t refer to Wimpey.

Mr. Cassidy: The second part of it was relevant.

Mr. Speaker: Okay, we’ll hear the supplementary.

Mr. Cassidy: Is there now a precedent that, where two companies that are unrelated reach a conditional agreement about the transfer of property, they will also be eligible for remission from the ministry from the land speculation tax?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Very simply, no.

Mr. Cassidy: We don’t believe you.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I just point out we have spent about 12, 13 or 14 minutes on this particular question. I’m sure the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) has further questions. We’ll hear a final supplementary from the member for Wilson Heights.

Mr. Singer: I wonder if the minister has established a precedent that anyone who intends to develop is entitled to get an exemption for his vendor on the basis of this theory now enunciated? How then can he draw the distinction?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Again very simply, no.

Mr. S. Smith: I sincerely apologize for the time, Mr. Speaker, but this is an important issue, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Mr. Speaker: I understand.


Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Has the government had any involvement in and, if not, will the cabinet in fact overturn the decision of the Ontario Highway Transport Board to permit some American-controlled private bus lines to operate in competition with the publicly-owned Gray Coach, owned by TTC, on certain profitable lines presently being operated by Gray Coach?

Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all, any company or any individual has the right to make an application to the Ontario Highway Transport Board for operating rights under either The Public Vehicles Act or The Public Commercial Vehicles Act. Certain applications were made some months ago to the Highway Transport Board, hearings were established and hearings were held. To be very specific, relating to what I believe was the first part of the hon. member’s question, he asked did I or did the government have any involvement with the Highway Transport Board.

Mr. S. Smith: And if not, will they overturn the decision?

Hon. Mr. Snow: May I say that I did not have any discussion with the chairman or any member of the board. I cannot speak for anyone else. As the minister responsible for the Highway Transport Board, I do not discuss cases before the board with the chairman or with any member of the board.

Mr. Conway: Did the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Henderson) hear that?

Hon. Mr. Snow: The decision was made and was rendered, I believe, on Monday of this week by the chairman of the board after very long and extensive hearings that were held some several months ago. I believe the hearings went on for some seven days.

Regarding the other part of the hon. member’s question, to my knowledge there has been no appeal made to cabinet under the terms of The Public Vehicles Act, that parties can make an appeal to the Lieutenant Governor in Council of the decision handed down by the board. Of course if this appeal should be made, it will be dealt with in the normal manner by the cabinet committee and eventually by full cabinet. I do not know whether there will be an appeal or not.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: If such an appeal does arrive before the Lieutenant Governor in Council from Gray Coach, as it appears it will, can the minister give us some assurance that he will not permit the publicly-owned Gray Coach to end up costing the taxpayers money by taking away its only profitable runs and putting them into the hands of United States private bus interests?


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, as I say, Gray Coach, like any other company, has an obligation under its licence to supply service. The criteria, when applying for a licence under The Public Vehicles Act, or The PCV Act, are based on public need, necessity and convenience -- I believe it says -- to the travelling public. As I understand it, during the hearings a great many witnesses appeared before the board giving evidence as to the service or lack of service. It was on hearing seven days of testimony, as I stated, that the board came to the decision that it did.

Now whether Gray Coach is owned publicly or by the TTC, I don’t think it releases them from an obligation to live up to the terms of their licence or to supply service. The decision, I believe, was made by the board after fully considering the evidence presented at seven days of hearings.

Mr. Philip: A supplementary: Admitting the seriousness of the minister’s interfering with a decision of the board, can the minister tell us whether he has developed any kind of criteria by which to judge when an intervention can be made or should be made by the ministry in a decision of the board?

Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker. I have no criteria as to that and I don’t believe, necessarily, that I should interfere with a decision of the board. The board issues a decision and -- granted, the Act says the minister may issue the operating licence on the certificate of the board. The certificate, as I understand it, has been issued by the board. There’s provision, as I said before, in the Act for any party to the action to make an appeal to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Whether or not that will happen, I do not know,

Mr. S. Smith: A final question to the Premier arising from the answer given by the Minister of Transportation and Communication: The Premier undoubtedly heard the minister say that the minister himself did not intervene before this board. Given, however, that the counsel for the American companies which were applying for these routes are rather well-connected to the party in power, can the Premier tell us whether any member of his government other than the minister himself, appeared or had a part in the decision which the Ontario Highway Transport Board has made? Will he assure us that he will overturn this decision and keep Gray Coach a profitable operation?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to be provocative --

Mr. Conway: Did you get rid of “the eagle” last night?

Hon. Mr. Davis: -- but as I understand the perhaps implied suggestion in the member for Hamilton West’s question -- I would like some clarification and I’m being very specific in this clarification --

Mr. Conway: As circuitous as possible.

Hon. Mr. Davis: -- is the hon. member suggesting that some member of the government did, in fact --

Mr. S. Smith: I am asking.

Hon. Mr. Davis: When he asks, he is by implication suggesting that a member of the government did contact the transport board.

Mr. S. Smith: Just answer the question.

Mr. Nixon: Why don’t you answer the question?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The answer to that is very simply no.


Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s fine, but the member should be a little careful how he phrases those questions.

Mr. S. Smith: Don’t lecture me. Just answer the question.

Hon. Mr. Davis: You people have gone down that road before.


Hon. Mr. Davis: What was the next question?

Mr. S. Smith: You are a bit touchy today, aren’t you?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m just trying to help you a little bit.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.

Mr. S. Smith: Is the Premier going to overturn it and keep Gray Coach profitable?


Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member for Hamilton West is asking me, as head of the executive council, to say that if there is an appeal, before knowing the facts and seeing what the basis for the appeal is, I will commit myself in this Legislature, even prior to the launching of the appeal; then I say that if the members for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer), and Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook) and elsewhere, even the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) -- could give this member any advice whatsoever, they would tell him that would be totally improper and I have no intention of giving such commitment until an appeal, in fact, is launched with cabinet. They are shocked at his suggestion.

Mr. Good: What’s government policy?

An hon. member: Tell it to Lorne.

Mr. Bullbrook: We are shocked at his statement.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, if I may, on a point of clarification, the hon. member for Hamilton West has referred many times during his questions to “this American company.” I would like to point out that to the best of my knowledge Greyhound Coach Lines Limited and its subsidiaries are federally chartered Canadian companies, and I believe are owned approximately 40 per cent by Canadians.

Mr. S. Smith: I said American controlled.

Hon. Mr. Snow: You said American owned.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Provincial Secretary for Social Development has the answer to a question asked previously.


Hon. Mrs. Birch: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Monday, November 22, the leader of the third party asked my colleague, the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells), about a grant to the Ontario Foundation for the Visually Impaired. It is my pleasure to notify him that statutory grants of $13,000 will be provided by the Ministry of Health, and $12,000 will be provided by the Ministry of Education, a total of $25,000, for the establishment of a developmental programme for blind children at the High Park Forest School here in Toronto.


Mr. MacDonald: A question of the Minister of Energy: Since we are within five weeks of the new year, is the minister in a position to indicate whether the government and/or Hydro have come to a decision with regard to the bulk power rates for 1977?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As the hon. member knows, after the Energy Board reported, the board of Ontario Hydro indicated that it would accept that. The government had not yet decided whether it will intervene in the process.

Mr. MacDonald: Is the government giving any consideration to providing the short-term cash flow needs of Hydro so that it might smooth the rates and reduce the burden during this period of wage restraints over the next year?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t quite catch the full question, but I think the member was asking if we are looking at the question of smoothing. I think I indicated in the House at the time the Energy Board report was considered by the House that that obviously is an option that’s open, although it does have certain implications in terms of additional borrowings, particularly in 1977, and does have the implication of making electricity rates in 1979 higher than they would be otherwise.

Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Why is the minister not prepared just to say that it looks as though he is going to bring that Hydro rate increase down and he will have a specific date on which he’ll announce it.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There are a number of things the government wants to consider, not the least of them being the projections of capital availability, of course. We also wanted to see how this would work out with some of the commissions, and it’s interesting to note that some of the commissions are projecting that if the 30.3 per cent bulk power rate increase were, in fact, to go ahead for 1977, local rates to residential consumers would go up by as little as 20 per cent. I say “as little”; that’s relative to the 30 per cent increase in bulk power rates.

Mr. Foulds: Some of them are projected much higher.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Has the minister considered sending this increase to the AIB for approval, since there is precedent for sending electrical energy rate increases to the AIB? Has he considered that option?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The officials of Ontario Hydro met with officials of the Anti-Inflation Board yesterday, and according to the Anti-Inflation Board a 30.5 per cent rate increase would be justified.


Mr. Lewis: I’m surprised they hadn’t asked you to increase it.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Natural Resources: Being that I was asked to attend the conference here in this building, conducted by a land developer from Grand Bend by the name of Don Southcott and attended by the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Henderson), I would like to ask the minister what both the Minister without Portfolio’s and Mr. Southcott’s involvement were in his decision to turn Severn Park over to the town of Grand Bend, considering that at an earlier date he turned down the request, saying that the park was too far removed from Grand Bend to suit the needs of the people for a recreational complex?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I gather the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex is smarting because of my earlier comments.

Mr. Nixon: No.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Can we get on with the answer? Thank you.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think he owes the gentleman, Mr. Southcott, a public apology.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I cannot hear the answer.

Mr. Ruston: What’s the apology for?

Mr. Breithaupt: For what? For asking a question in the House?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I want to repeat that, a public apology.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: Be a man and apologize to that individual.

Mr. Conway: Where’s Darwin Kealey?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: He should apologize.

Mr. Breithaupt: For what?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: He knows.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: He tried to destroy an individual.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, in answer to that particular question, I do believe the hon. member has misused his privilege as a member of this Legislature.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: The hon. Minister without Portfolio brought to me a strong delegation of which a certain individual in the person of Don Southcott was part. They presented me with a brief, a very detailed brief.

Mr. Nixon: So he was down to see you, was he?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, accompanied by members of the Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, very responsible and respectable people from the municipality of Grand Bend --

Mr. S. Smith: Conservatives.

Mr. Cassidy: You guys are feathering your own nests.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- who are anxious for the development of a recreational facility following their examination of other areas in the immediate area of Grand Bend.

Mr. Cassidy: Kealey, Southcott.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It was obvious to me, on a further review of that particular brief, that it made good sense to provide this particular facility, which was surplus to my ministry, to that particular municipality for the development of a recreation facility which would benefit the entire area. I’ve gone over the proposal and I am satisfied.

Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Obviously there was not desire to hear the answer so why ask it?

Mr. Nixon: I would like to ask a supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

Mr. Nixon: Why wasn’t that done before if it looks so good now that Mr. Southcott has come down with a delegation?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: The previous member asked for an answer and I just gave it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Nixon: No, he didn’t, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: The minister didn’t tell us why he turned it down before.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Mr. G. E. Smith: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services concerning the Willard report. In view of the problems that some local citizens in my area have experienced with some residents of the adult rehabilitation centre at Edgar, will the minister consider applying the recommendations of the Willard report to this facility as well?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: In response to that, I think there are a number of the recommendations which have equal applicability --

Mr. Conway: Not quite. Get the marbles out of your mouth.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- or application -- is that all right?


Mr. Breithaupt: It’s your turn next Monday.


Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister, please.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: May I say initially how much I truly appreciate the involvement of my colleague. He has certainly been a tower of strength to me --

Mr. Breithaupt: Words fail you.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- in working out problems in his riding insofar as they apply to the centre at Orillia. I may say that my ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Health in terms of defining three units which could function under The Mental Health Act; and of course there is also the one that is recommended at our facility at Penetang, which I think would accommodate the problem that concerns the member. That is being proceeded with now.

Mr. Warner: Why don’t you just resign?


Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I think we just have time for one final question.


Mr. Samis: J’aimerais poser une question au ministre de la Santé. Est-ce qu’il peut nous dire quelle priorité il accorde au rapport du Comité d’Action concernant les services en français dans le domaine de la santé et quand la population francophone d’Ontario peut s’attendre à ce que des mesures soient prises conformément aux recommandations de ce comité?

I might add, Mr. Speaker, if my Molière is proven incomprehensible, I’ve provided translation in the language of Shakespeare for the hon. minister.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Dès qu’il m’a donné la question, je n’ai pas ma réponse écrite comme lui-même mais mon avis, je vais donner la première priorité à ce rapport et je discutais hier avec mon sous-ministre et j’espère que j’aurai une réponse dans deux mois.

Mr. Nixon: Thank you, Mr. Diefenbaker.

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.



Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, may I rise on a point of privilege? When I was expressing the concerns of the people in Bosanquet township in the question I directed to the Minister of Natural Resources, in his answer he said that I was misusing my privileges here in the House. I believe I was not misusing my privileges and I think that if he is man enough he will apologize.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to apologize, if the hon. member will apologize to Mr. Southcott.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.



Mr. Speaker: Can we proceed to the next order?

Presenting reports.


Hon. F. S. Miller presented the annual reports of the Ontario Mental Health Foundation for the years 1973-74, 1974-75 and 1975-76; the annual reports of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry for the years 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975; the annual reports for the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation for the years 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974; and the annual reports of the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation for the year of 1975.

Mr. Germa from the standing public accounts committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows:

Your committee recommends:

That it be empowered to examine the sale in May, 1976 of 280 acres of land from Ronto Development Company of Willowdale to George Wimpey (Canada) Limited of Waterloo; and further that a complete record of all expenditures and disbursements in this transaction be provided to your committee.

Mr. Speaker: Shall this report be adopted?

Hon. Mr. Welch: In rising to speak to this particular motion, I’d like to make one or two observations. We will support this motion but we do so without establishing a precedent.

Mr. Nixon: How can you do that?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: You either support it or you don’t.

Hon. Mr. Welch: The hon. member who has just interjected will realize if he would give me an opportunity to express some observations here, that we find in this particular motion which is being submitted today and in the one a week ago some obvious deviation from what has become the established and traditional role of the public accounts committee, that is --

Mr. Sargent: It is all going to be changed.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Hon. Mr. Welch: -- that is to examine the audited public accounts of the province of Ontario, which is their responsibility. I am suggesting that if we are by these particular motions being asked to review the role of the public accounts committee that perhaps it would be wise for us to openly have a discussion in this House about the role of the public accounts committee.

I would feel that the public of this province are looking to the public accounts committee and this Legislature to study the public accounts. There is a matter of time and energy and if we are going to be expecting this particular committee to go on specific assignments such as these and they become more numerous, what committee in the House is going to study the public accounts? It would be a fairly practical question I think that we might want to give some consideration to.

Mr. Nixon: There is a gap in the accounts.

Hon. Mr. Welch: So I would think under the circumstances that we would --

Mr. Nixon: They are studying a revenue gap.

Hon. Mr. Welch: -- be very reluctant to stand in the way of this motion going through because we feel that this matter, in view of the question period and so on, is one which should be completely reviewed, but we would not want the opportunity to go by without raising some very serious questions and inviting some discussion at some later time as to the actual role that we see for the public accounts committee.

Mr. Germa: I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you understand that the motion presented was the will of the public accounts committee -- the majority will at the public accounts committee. I feel that precedent is not really being established because I do recall on three previous occasions when the public accounts committee, charged with dealing with certain expenditures of the province of Ontario, found that they were dealing with history while contemporary items of high public import are happening in the community.

For the benefit of the House leader, in my term of public accounts, which goes back some several years, I think there has been a rethinking of the public accounts role in the whole sphere of examining government expenditures. I think there is a public demand that those issues which are current, which are of high public import, have reason to be looked at now rather than delayed 18 months hence when the public is no longer interested, or maybe the horse is out of the barn and we are coming to close the door at a later date.

Hon. Mr. Welch: There is a 45-minute question period every day here too.

Mr. Germa: That point was also raised in our deliberations at public accounts that the question had been asked -- this particular question we are dealing with -- on two previous occasions and satisfactory answers were not forthcoming for the past two weeks. Now whether knowledge of this motion today motivated the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) to make the statement, I cannot say. Maybe the statement was coming. But I suspect that maybe knowledge of this motion coming before the House might have expedited his statement.

Mr. MacDonald: Just a coincidence.

Mr. S. Smith: He told me Monday.

Mr. Germa: I will give him the benefit of the doubt and I will say it was coincidental.

Mr. S. Smith: I just want to say that I have had a little bit of experience in this regard in the federal House inasmuch as I acted as executive assistant to a member who was chairman of the public accounts committee and a very distinguished one. I think the House leader for the government does make a reasonable point when he says that it is usually the nature of the public accounts committee to look at the audited statements of the government, rather than to be a watchdog over day to day expenditures. There are other ways to do this.

However, I think we could stretch the meaning of it to accommodate this and if it does mean we have to change the function of the committee, well, so be it. Personally, what I would prefer would be some assurance from the government that perhaps a provincial judge or some other suitable person be empowered to conduct a separate private inquiry with wide public input concerning the whole Ronto matter, in which case we don’t have to burden the public accounts with this. But since the government apparently is unwilling to do this, then I feel we ought to take the second best, which is admittedly perhaps a weak position, that is to use the public accounts committee.

In passing may I just say that the Minister of Revenue indicated to me very carefully at the beginning of this week that he did have a statement ready and I certainly will give him that credit. I am sure he restrained himself from giving the statement when the mini-budget was presented and he waited for a suitable occasion and I have no objection to that particular matter.

If you will give us another form of inquiry, Mr. House Leader, believe me we would be just as happy not to burden the public accounts committee with it. But the government can’t have it both ways.

Hon. Mr. Meen: There are just a couple of points I would like to make, and they really touch on the matter of the delivery today. I have had the statement ready since Monday in a somewhat longer form than it was as delivered today. I told the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith) that I hoped I would have it ready by Tuesday. Then, of course, as he has already indicated, we had the lengthy statements on Tuesday, which occupied most of an hour. It was for that reason it was left over to today; it wasn’t any matter of the action of the public accounts committee this morning that precipitated it, although I must say that I was glad I was ready with the statement today.

My only other observation, expressed earlier as a misgiving about referring it to the public accounts committee, is along the same lines as expressed by my House leader, namely that one begins to wonder, what is the public accounts committee supposed to be doing with its time? We have nothing to hide, and I am quite content to have this matter dealt with by the public accounts committee if that is their wish. I take it from the motion passed by them today, and the recommendation now before the House, that that is their wish. Certainly we will co-operate to the fullest extent we can within the law.

Mr. Makarchuk: As the member of the public accounts committee who initially moved the motion, I welcome the Conservative House leader’s statement to discuss the functions of the public accounts committee. I think there has to be some line drawn between bona fide investigations of public spending and going out on witch hunts or sort of far-fetched fishing expeditions. I think we probably will have to sit down somewhere and try to work out those rules. But I would like to point out that in this case this is the first year that the public accounts committee has had an opportunity not to be dominated by government members and to go out to examine some of the things that I think have to be examined.

In this particular case, one of the things that concerned me a great deal was the statement made by an official in the ministry to the effect that the statement that was filed by Ronto with the government was not audited. In other words, the minister accepted the statement at its face value. He didn’t question it, and he left it at that. That really concerned me, outside of the fact that there is a difference in terms of the selling price and the purchase price of $10 million -- the minister’s figure indicates the difference should be only $6 million -- the fact that there were certain remissions granted and so on.

I think these are the kind of things that cannot be fully answered or fully investigated during the question period. The only agency in the House that is able to do it, in my opinion, is the public accounts committee; hence, my request in the public accounts committee this morning that it should look at this particular transaction.

Mr. Reid: I rise to speak on this motion as a former chairman of the public accounts committee and to support the motion. It has been indicated that this is a new departure, but during the year and a half that I was chairman the committee dealt with the matter in regard to the Ontario Northland Railway; we got special permission from the House, and we had information that was as up to date as we could make it. The matter had been raised in public accounts, and it was a historical thing, but the House allowed us the privilege of also getting the reports from the internal auditors to bring us right up to date.

The point has been raised here -- I believe it has to be discussed, and the sooner the better -- as to what role the public accounts committee should play. Admittedly, we are waiting for the examination of the new Audit Act from the federal government to see how our Auditor should operate in the province of Ontario. But it goes without saying that the public accounts committee is the only committee that has the ability to call before it, in any great detail, civil servants and people from the deputy minister up or down, whichever one prefers, to deal with specific problems that have been pointed out and recognized by the Auditor in the province of Ontario.

I think that finally, and only finally in my nine years here, are we beginning to see the public accounts committee function as the investigative body, with the time it should have. I would like to see particular people be seconded to the public accounts to do investigative work and be able to report back to the public accounts committee. I think this is the one committee that has the ability. We don’t have that ability in question period -- ministers can refuse to answer questions. We only have the 45 minutes, which increasingly is being taken up by the leaders’ questions. We don’t have that ability in the estimates, because we don’t always have the people there, and because of the length of time we have for the estimates. The public accounts committee is the only vehicle we have in the provincial Legislature in which we can get at the background, the history, the details and have the people in front of us.

I support the motion. I would hope that the government will take some action in expanding the role of the public accounts committee.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if I may, everybody’s been very charitable today, but having been sitting on that committee I’m just a trifle more cynical, because the government members in committee this morning argued very strongly that this thing should not be brought to the House today, and, if my recollection is correct, they all voted against bringing it here. What we are facing today, I respectfully submit, is the fact that the government would be defeated on this particular motion if they did not support it, because they did not support it in committee this morning.

I think it’s a very interesting exercise in the sense that we now have an opportunity to deal with something as it is happening, or at least with some proximity in time to the actual taking place of events, just as we are doing in the case of Minaki Lodge. I personally think this is an excellent way to approach some of these critical problems. The harsh reality is that in the public accounts committee the figures are stale, we’re a year or a year and a half after the fact in reviewing all of these things, and I must say I’m very encouraged to hear the government House leader saying he is prepared to look at new ways for the functioning of the public accounts committee.

We did discuss this at the end of our committee meeting today, and there was a considerable amount of unanimity, in the very casual way that we discussed it this morning, that maybe we should be looking for new roles, that we should be looking for a way to act quickly on issues, rather than leaving them just to the post audit function.

There’s one other thing that I want to say. As I said before, the reason it’s on the floor here today is because the two opposition parties would gang up if the government did not agree. The question is if a majority government ever comes around in this province again -- and one never knows about these things -- I think that we should be looking at this bill and the new rules of this committee in terms that the opposition parties, even in a majority situation, should have the ability to discuss some of these kinds of issues, because it would be very easy for a strong government to prevent these kinds of issues from being brought forward. In my mind they’re very important, in my mind it’s a wonderful opportunity to act quickly, rather than latterly, and I think the realities of the situation have forced the government to support this motion. I’m happy for that, and I hope there’s a quick and expeditious solution to this problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t going to participate in the debate, but some of the comments which have been made caused me an immense amount of concern. I would be very loath to see the public accounts committee provided with an investigative staff, where, on its own initiative, it went out and started to investigate questions with respect to the public finance of the province of Ontario. I just happen to think that one must realize that the stability of any society in its capacity to adapt and make itself accommodating to change rests a great deal upon the confidence that people have in the financial integrity of the system under which it operates; and to provide for this assembly an investigative staff to the public accounts committee so that they could go out on their own and make investigations and bring it back to the committee seems to me to be extremely destructive in its intent, without further explanation from the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson).

Mr. Singer: Is he through, or is he fatigued?

Mr. Renwick: I want to speak very briefly about the Ronto case; not to make any comment about the merit or otherwise of that particular case, but I want to express the concern which I expressed to members of our own caucus when this matter was being discussed. I think that the --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re really discussing the matter of whether we’ll adopt this report or not, so you had better keep to it.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, if I may use the Ronto case as something called an example -- if I could perhaps use it as an example to illustrate the point -- the problem that has arisen and has been dealt with in a very intelligent way by the government and by the other two parties in the House is to recognize that there are occasions when the gap between the time when estimates are approved for expenditures by the government and the time when the results of those expenditures are examined does not always permit us to say we can allow that interval to take place.

I think it would be essential -- and I, of course, have confidence in the members of the public accounts committee in any particular circumstance to exercise the proper judgement -- that they’ve got to be satisfied that there is something which, as a lawyer, I would call a prima facie case that requires public discussion and further public disclosure in order to provide additional stability to the financial system or financial integrity of the province. I can well see that that would be necessary.

I would have hoped that we could have, without having a debate about the role of the public accounts, moved to that kind of an attitude without in any way saying that the public accounts can’t do both -- that there might well be occasions when their collective judgement on a particular matter says this requires discussion by public accounts because there’s no other forum and we can’t wait the length of time until we get the audited report.

But in view of the comments which have been made, particularly the blunt point made by the member for London Centre and to an extent, in a more facile way, referred to by the member for Rainy River (Mr. Reid), the former chairman of public accounts, I recognize now that I think it would be essential that consideration be given to the role and the scope of the public accounts committee. I, for one, would not in any way want to see the public accounts committee be transformed into some kind of a congressional investigative committee which appears to have a great deal of appeal to the member for Rainy River and the member for London Centre.

I would assume that it may well make sense for the public accounts committee to give a little bit of consideration itself so that we don’t just talk about it in a vacuum. Perhaps at a convenient time in the early stages of the next session, should the pressures of the election campaign permit, we would have an opportunity then to reflect upon this matter and it may be that the House could consider giving authority to the public accounts committee, if authority is necessary, to sit on occasion when the House is not in session, to think a little bit, not about the specifics of its work but about its role in this changing circumstance. Then we would have the benefit of their consideration when we came to discuss it perhaps early in the next session.

Mr. Bullbrook: It wouldn’t work in a majority government.

Mr. Sargent: I think that it’s a sad day when the House leader implies that if we get too investigative, if we don’t follow the rules as in years gone by, maybe he might investigate the public accounts committee.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I didn’t say that.

Mr. Sargent: The fact is that over the years we’ve had a majority government here -- and now for the first time we have a meaningful committee that can ask questions to get information and we have the votes to get that information with the permission of the House.

It’s amusing to see the panic situation now with the government members looking for bodies to protect themselves. The member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) and the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) are going to have ulcers if they continue to go through this motion of hunting for votes all the time every issue comes up.

I think to be meaningful we have to have the right somewhere along the line, as the member for Rainy River has stated, to have investigative research for the committee at times. That’ll come.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Never. We had to run around to find you guys this morning to vote.

Mr. Sargent: We were well staffed. We had all the votes we needed there.

Mr. Nixon: If you weren’t here Arthur Meen wouldn’t know how to vote.

Mr. Speaker: Order please. The member is telling us whether or not he’s going to support this particular motion.

Mr. Sargent: To listen to the government members, they say we can get the information we want from, No. 1, the question period -- that’s the biggest joke in the world -- and No. 2, we can put it on the order paper. Ask any member of the opposition who has tried to get answers by having something on the order paper.

Mr. Ruston: It would take you two years there.

Mr. Sargent: The fact remains that, for once, we can shed some light on what is going on in Queen’s Park. I think every citizen of Ontario will welcome the fact that from now on we can get to the bottom and see what the hell is going on. Thank you.

Mr. Singer: I agree generally with the principles being enunciated on all sides of the House, but I don’t think the resolution that is presently before the House goes anywhere near to satisfying what the members believe should be forthcoming. I would invite you, sir, to look at the wording of the resolution. It says that the public accounts committee be empowered to examine the sale from Ronto to Wimpey and that a record of all the disbursements and expenditures be provided to the committee.

By whom is it going to be provided? These are not government expenditures. These are not government disbursements. Is the committee being asked to look through the books of Wimpey and to look through the books of Ronto and figure out what went on? I think this is really an exercise in futility and that if anyone wants to stall what the members of the House want to get at, this kind of a motion will appropriately do it.

One comment made by the Minister of Revenue caught my fancy. He said, well, in due course the Auditor will be reporting. I wonder just what the Auditor is going to report on. Surely the Auditor is not going to report on an exercise of cabinet discretion? I would think that he is barred from doing that. If he can’t report on an exercise of cabinet discretion, what is there in the books that he can look at? There are no revenues. There is no indebtedness. There are no exigible amounts. So the Auditor really isn’t going to find anything. He can thumb through the books until he is exhausted, as is the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and he is going to find absolutely nothing there to report upon at all.

Mr. Bullbrook: That’s right.

Mr. Singer: I think if this motion is going to be reasonable at all, an amendment should be added to it to put some teeth into it. I take the Minister of Revenue at his word when he said, “I want to co-operate fully with the House so that this information can all be brought forward.” That’s what he said, and he said that just a few minutes ago. In order to assist him, sir --

Hon. Mr. Meen: Excuse me. On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I added, “to the maximum extent permitted by the law.”

Mr. Singer: All right, all right. I know, Mr. Speaker, and I would attribute no motive to my friend at all that he would not want to do anything that was illegal.

Mr. Nixon: I’m glad he made that clear.

Mr. Singer: In the amendment that I’m putting forward I would not suggest that the Minister of Revenue do anything that’s illegal, and that he only do what is provided by the law.

Mr. Singer moved that the following words be added to the committee’s recommendation.

And that the Minister of Revenue supply to the committee all documents that were filed in connection with the applications for exemption made herein, and that the appropriate officials of the Ministry of Revenue attend at the committee for the purpose of giving evidence in relation to these matters.

Mr. Singer: It would seem to me, sir, that with this clarification added to the motion as an amendment the public accounts committee then will be able to conduct the kind of inquiry that members from all sides of the House say they want to have conducted.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, before you put the motion, I feel bound to observe that here again there are certain provisions in The Land Speculation Tax Act with respect to the production of some of this information. I’m prepared to provide to the committee anything that may be produced within the context of the law. But the Act has certain provisions in it, and I must abide by those provisions. The motion put by the hon. member for Wilson Heights -- I keep wanting to come back to Downsview for some reason -- I suspect and I feel goes beyond that. If he would care to amend that motion by the addition of words, “to the maximum extent provided by the law,” or words to that effect, then I could support the motion.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Members can’t expect the minister to break the law.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am prepared to adopt those words because I don’t know how I could move a motion in this House that is contrary to the law. The words are redundant, but if it will make the minister happy I will be glad to add them to my amendment.

Mr. Germa: On the amendment, as chairman of the committee I had assumed without the amendment that this was what was really going to transpire because the committee in the past has had the power to command officials of the ministry to come before it and bring with them certain documents and evidence. So I see no difficulty with the amendment. I would further like to say that when we are getting into the legal grounds it has been the custom in the past of the committee to obtain legal opinion from the Ministry of the Attorney General. They have co-operated quite well with us, even as early as just one week ago. A legal opinion was supplied to us by the Ministry of the Attorney General as it relates to supplying the committee with information from OHIP, which is now precluded under section 44 of The Health Insurance Act, the secrecy part of the Act. It was never the intention of the committee to demand those things which would offend any law.

Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, before you call the vote, I wanted to make some comments on the entire discussion as it developed over the last 15 or 20 minutes. As my friend, the member for London Centre was saying, the debate -- he wasn’t saying this -- this afternoon for a short time had a little surrealistic quality about it, ignoring what in fact has been going on at the public accounts committee over the last several weeks. A lot of members of the government party on that committee have looked at the issues as they have come before us.

I wanted to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that in spite of the fact that last week several government members on the sum and substance in the merits of the issue before us last week, which also involved going to the current account, supported the motion at the committee --

Mr. Makarchuk: But you didn’t; you voted against it.

Mr. Grossman: That’s quite right. Last week several government members did, because they felt that that issue was timely and appropriate. This week, this morning in fact, none of the government members went along with the motion.

Mr. Wildman: I wonder why?

Mr. Grossman: I want to tell members why. If whoever said that he was listening this morning I am used to interruptions because at public accounts --

Mr. Deans: Why are we listening to this? It has absolutely no consequence to the matter before the House.

Mr. Grossman: It absolutely does. What is going on at public accounts --

Mr. Deans: On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member has a point of order.

Mr. Deans: I don’t care what the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) raised. On a point of order, the reason the member chose to vote one way or another in the public accounts committee last week is of no consequence with regard to whether or not this House should or should not adopt this motion before us.

Mr. Bullbrook: Why not?

Mr. Speaker: The debate today is whether or not we shall adopt this motion as amended.

Mr. Deans: Nobody wants to know what he did last week.

Mr. Speaker: I believe the hon. member is in order in what he is saying.


Mr. Grossman: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The reason a lot of us express reservations, in spite of the predictable bleatings of the opposition plus Sargent on this issue, was not in order to have a --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We do not refer to an hon. member by his name in this House.

Mr. Grossman: The opposition members plus the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) --

Mr. Singer: It’s unparliamentary.

Mr. Grossman: We’ve been sitting in the public accounts committee for several weeks listening to totally irrational outbursts, in essence saying what the member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) said a few minutes ago. That is, that now the opposition has momentary control, in terms of votes on the committee, we’re going to forget everything which has happened before and each Thursday morning, I might add without notice to the committee, we are going to jump into whatever we feel like talking about this morning, which is of political convenience to the opposition majority on the committee.

Some of the government members on that committee are a little tired of facing the charge that because we want to --

Mr. Nixon: You mean there might be some embarrassment to the government?


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Can we get on with this debate?

Mr. Grossman: Because we want to continue the order by study of the public accounts for 1974-75, which is what we were appointed to the committee to do, somehow we are involved in a coverup for the government.

Mr. Sargent: Sure you are.

Mr. Grossman: Out of respect for the members of the government party on that committee, who supported the motion last week, that’s entirely unfair. I’m not speaking about myself because I opposed last week’s witch hunt as well as this week’s.

Mr. Breithaupt: Do you think there’s a witch hunt?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Grossman: It is entirely unfair to say my colleagues on the committee are involved in that sort of thing.

Mr. Reid: You have convinced me to vote for the motion.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Grossman: I took a lot of time at the committee last week and this week to say -- and I want to say it right now because it is very germane to the motion --

Mr. Singer: He is imputing motives.

Mr. Grossman: I’m not imputing them, I’ll state them. I went on that committee, like other members of the committee did, not only with the public accounts book in hand but with a carefully drawn up agenda as well. It was drawn up by all of the committee last spring when we first met, setting out the dates, the orders and the items we were going to deal with out of the public accounts -- essentially those items out of the public accounts which were of interest to the opposition members on the committee. That’s how we got under way here.

What happened over the summer break was that suddenly, when the member for Grey-Bruce decided to start coming to the committee and full attendance by the NDP members started to occur, they began to see they could get away from the agenda. They could get away from the carefully set out order of business and go with what was politically advantageous for them for the time being.

Mr. Breaugh: Let him rock the boat.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, what happened subsequently was that the ordinary conduct of business, which had been carried on as the public accounts committee has historically done, was disrupted. Granted not all the members of the committee but those of us who actually read the items and studied the items prior to the meetings each Thursday morning, would arrive on Thursday morning and find a new motion had been brought up. It was not in writing, not with notice to the members of the committee, but a new item was brought up, saying, as in the case last week, “This morning we’ve decided to ask for a study of Minaki Lodge.” This morning the item was the land speculation tax issue. There was no notice to the members of the committee.

Mr. Sargent: Those things are embarrassing to you. That’s what you are saying.

Mr. Grossman: What we are saying is we had an orderly flow of business in the public accounts committee.

Mr. Nixon: You have got jugulars bleeding all over.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Grossman: It worked very well with a minority government in the spring, too. What’s happened in the fall is that a conscious decision has been taken to move for the jugular at every point in time without notice to the other members of the committee.

The reason I want to speak on this motion and address myself to the remarks of the government House leader, who says this matter has to be determined one way or another in this House, is because that’s exactly what I said in committee this morning.

Mr. Peterson: He supports it.

Mr. Singer: No more jugulars.

Mr. Grossman: I said in committee this morning that rather than banging this thing into the House this afternoon, perhaps these matters should be brought to the attention of the assembly to decide what the public accounts committee should be doing each and every week and whether or not we have an open ticket to study the current accounts henceforth. Calm members such as the member for Fort William (Mr. Angus) actually accused us of getting involved in a gross abuse and flouting of the parliamentary process. That’s how hyper they are about a simple request to come to this assembly and say to the assembly, “At least tell me what we are going to be entitled to do each Thursday morning.” I am getting tired each Thursday morning of arguing --


Mr. Grossman: -- over the propriety of going into current accounts. I would like the issue resolved once and for all by this assembly. Just tell me that I am on the public accounts committee --


Mr. Grossman: -- or the current witch-hunt accounts committee. I just want to know so I will know whether to bring my books down from the 1974-75 public accounts or not.

Mr. Breithaupt: Or your broom.

Mr. Grossman: That’s why we want it done in this assembly once and for all, then we will know what we are about.


Mr. Grossman: Some members opposite, including the former chairman of the committee, have made some very good points about the role of the committee and the role of another committee. Perhaps these are items which should be dealt with by the Camp commission or by the assembly, but let’s have that discussion in the proper forum for that determination, not in an ad hoc fight every Thursday morning in committee and every Thursday afternoon in the assembly.

I can’t conclude my remarks without referring to a remark made by the member for Grey-Bruce when he talked about my colleague and me scrambling around for votes. This morning they embarrassed their very good member, the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins). They dragged him into the committee for a total of 20 or 25 seconds. He sat down, raised his hand on instructions from the member for Grey-Bruce, and left the committee.


Mr. Grossman: That’s the type of thing that’s going on at the public accounts committee and that’s the type of behaviour, together with the behaviour of the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba) when he went over and told the member for Grey-Bruce, “Eddie, get the rest of our members in.” That’s what he told him this morning, and then the member for Victoria-Haliburton showed up.


Mr. Grossman: That’s the type of thing that’s going on in public accounts and that’s why this assembly has got to decide what we are doing in public accounts.

Mr. Sargent: On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member has a point of order.

Mr. Sargent: The member for Victoria-Haliburton isn’t even on the committee. You are wandering a bit.

Mr. Grossman: Well --

Mr. Sargent: Stutter again.

Mr. Grossman: I will tell you this, Mr. Speaker, if he isn’t, then perhaps we had better reconvene the committee and have a vote again on the issue that’s before the House. Perhaps the issue would have been lost, because the member did vote, the chairman of the committee permitted him to vote, and therefore perhaps we had better call the proceedings that ensued this afternoon entirely under question.

Mr. Sargent: Foiled you again.

Mr. Grossman: I want to conclude by saying what’s going on at the committee is nothing more than a total panic situation. We at least succeeded this morning, I believe, in imposing upon the chairman some sort of undertaking to be kind enough at least to speak to the members of his own caucus and let us other fellows know perhaps an hour or so before the committee when they intend to pull one of these 1977 witch hunts on us.

Let’s determine what public accounts does; that’s what we want to see happen.

Mr. Singer: Is everybody mean to you?

Mr. Grossman: For those reasons I heartily support the motion of the House leader. I must say the government members and the House leader have done everything they can, in the ridiculous situation we are in in that committee, to make the committee work as best as possible under the witch hunts that are going on every Thursday morning.

Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a few comments, particularly on the comments from the tired member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick. In the first place, I can’t understand why he should be tired. He is never in the committee on time.

Mr. Grossman: I show up every week.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Let’s get on with the debate on this particular item.

Mr. Grossman: I didn’t know the member for Brantford was a member.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I would point out that the hon. member has spoken on the main motion. Now he is speaking on the amendment.

Mr. Makarchuk: One of the points brought out, and which was discussed this morning, was the fact that the committee should receive a notice of motion or some notice of such character to notify the members of the government, particularly, to be there in order that they can do their best to try to prevent it from going through -- as was the effort this morning and certainly was the effort last week. I would like to enter into the record at this time an opinion that was solicited by the chairman of the committee on this matter --

Mr. Nixon: It has nothing to do with the amendment.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The amendment, if I might just remind the hon. members, has to do with the supplying to the committee of all documents that are legal to be supplied to the committee. The hon. member spoke on his reasons for supporting or otherwise the original amendment.

Mr. Makarchuk: Yes, I --

Mr. Nixon: You can’t speak twice on the same motion.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member may speak on this matter of supplying the documents which were mentioned in the amendment.

Mr. Makarchuk: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. I will be right on it, exactly as the member for St. Andrew-St Patrick was.


Mr. Makarchuk: One of the points raised in terms of defining the deal, and having the right documents and the people to explain the documents, is that the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick pointed out that he did not have notice.


Mr. Makarchuk: it has been checked out with the Clerk of the House, and the Clerk has given an opinion to the effect -- and I will read the last paragraph of the letter --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Makarchuk: “It has never been the practice” --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Makarchuk: -- “to require notice of motions in standing or select committees” --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Makarchuk: -- “and I am of the opinion that for once the committee -- ”

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I believe the hon. member heard my admonition a moment ago. The hon. member has already spoken once to the main motion, and I think he should not be repeating his remarks on that. He should stick to the amendment. The hon. member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick hadn’t spoken on either the motion or the amendment; so he was in order. The hon. member for Brantford should be addressing himself to the supply of these extra documents.

Mr. Makarchuk: I rise to speak in support of the amendment. I think it is a very necessary amendment in this case. I also wish to point out that again the committee has the right to do what it did this morning, despite what some members of this House like to say. If I may continue, this will give the committee an opportunity, as I said earlier, to do some of the things it has never been able to do before. When we are dealing with public funding and with taxpayers’ money, I think it is of a very low order to call it a witch hunt when one wants to bring about some rather reasonable and sensible spending of the public --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the hon. member has made his point.

Mr. Breithaupt: I am pleased to enter into this debate on the motion, particularly because of the involvement which I have had on the public accounts committee. I might call to the attention of the House that it was only in 1967 that an opposition member was given the chairmanship of this committee --

Hon. Mr. Meen: Now who would that be?

Mr. Breithaupt: -- and the first person to serve was Mr. James Trotter, formerly the member for Parkdale. I had the privilege of serving for the next five years as chairman of the committee --

Hon. Mr. Welch: During majority government too.

Mr. Breithaupt: -- and I think that during that time we at least were able to bring about quite a change in the approach that was taken by the committee.

Hon. Mr. Meen: That was our first mistake.

Mr. Breithaupt: As a result of the Auditor’s reports which came forward, the committee was able to encourage the Provincial Auditor to make certain value judgements and to support him in the review of various expenditures as he saw problems arising and which, in his opinion, had not been thoroughly replied to by the ministry. It would appear now that the next stage of the operation of the public accounts committee is before the House; that is, whether it should have some investigative function and whether it should have some more positive effect in discussing issues of the day rather than issues that are 18 months or so old.

Mr. Speaker: May I point out that I believe it was indicated that would be a subject for future discussion, not for this afternoon?

Mr. Breithaupt: Yes, Mr. Speaker. In my remarks I only wanted to suggest to the House that we must very carefully review what the duties of this committee are to be. We have seen in the motion brought before us that there are certain matters from time to time which are going to cause the House to vote, as I believe it will vote today, in support of the motion so that we can deal with a certain issue of the day as it may be important to the people of the province.

The rules of various committees are being reconsidered by the House, and I do agree with the comments made by the House leader of the government that the role of the public accounts committee is obviously changing. It is, in my view, changing for the better. As part of the whole review of the operations of the House, the staffing and the other contributions which the public accounts committee can make are things which I think are going to be of great use to us as we go into a new session.

I certainly support this motion, and I hope that the result of it will be a useful investigation into an issue which I believe concerns all members of the House.


Mr. Speaker: Can we confine our remarks to this particular motion and its amendments? Thank you, very much. I mean, not the general comment about the overall function of the public accounts committee.

Mr. Nixon: Don’t say anything, you are going to be out of order.

Mr. Deans: Thank you very much, I appreciate your comment.

I was particularly interested in the bleatings of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick. I want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that many a day in this House there were times, over the last nine years, when I would dearly loved to have had the vote taken on the basis of the numbers of members present, rather than the numbers of members that could and will be present at the time the vote is finally taken. We would have won a lot of votes in days gone by under those conditions.

I want to say also, with regard to the matter before us, that there’s no doubt that this is a departure from the way that the public accounts committee had operated in years gone by. But then it’s always very difficult to imagine whether what they did in the years of large majorities was suitable and adequate, over and against what now is happening at a time when there is more proportionate representation with regard to the feelings of the people of the province of Ontario.

I also want to say, in answer to the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, that the chairman of the public accounts committee -- and I think perhaps he may be aware of this, maybe not -- but the chairman of the public accounts committee did make inquiries with regard to whether it would be necessary or appropriate for notice to be given of a motion intended to be put before the committee. In a written reply, dated November 25, over the signature of the Clerk of the House, I read to you the final paragraph.

It says: “It has never been the practice to require notice of motion in standing or select committees, and I am of the opinion that for one committee to pass a motion for such a requirement in that committee only it would constitute a change in the normal procedure, which could properly only be made by an amendment to the standing order.”

Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, a point of personal privilege.

Mr. Deans: Are you up again?

Mr. Grossman: Yes.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker I want to clarify this, lest the member is left with the impression that I said the chairman of the committee had not acted properly. I never said that or suggested that he had not acted properly. I simply said that in the circumstances there was nothing terribly surprising -- I mean, if the other members of the committee didn’t think of it at 10 to 10 this morning they might let us know in the ordinary course, as a courtesy --

Mr. Reid: You acted in a surprising manner, not in an improper one.

Mr. Singer: He’s on a bleating witch hunt.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Could we base our discussion now completely on this motion? There has been a lot of strain, and we’ll get into that --

Mr. Deans: That is in fact what I’m doing.

Mr. Speaker: May I just point out that there’s a lot of discussion here this afternoon on the general question of the procedures and activities and possible future activities of the public accounts committee and that is not really what we’re dealing with today. We’re dealing with this specific motion; we’re either for it or against it, and you may state your reasons why. Thank you.

Mr. Deans: Well, I’m for it. And I assume the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick is for it too --

Hon. Mr. Welch: Next?

Mr. Givens: He changed his mind.

Mr. Nixon: The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) is for it.

Mr. Givens: He changed his mind.

Mr. Deans: -- since the government is voting with us. I want to tell you I’m for it because the statement made by the Minister of Revenue today convinced me that the standing accounts committee ought to review the matter. I felt that the statement made by the Minister of Revenue was clear and concise, and raised a sufficient number of questions in my mind about the appropriateness of the actions of the government, that it seems only proper that a committee of this Legislature should be empowered to review it and I think that we in this Legislature should, therefore, empower the public accounts committee to undertake that investigation.

Mr. Speaker: Mr. Germa, from the standing public accounts committee presented the committee’s report, which read as follows:

“Your committee recommends that it be empowered to examine the sale in May, 1976, of 280 acres of land from Ronto Development Company of Willowdale to George Wimpey (Canada) Limited of Waterloo. And, further, that a complete record of all expenditures and disbursements in the transaction be provided to your committee.”

And then we had Mr. Singer’s amendment adding the words: “That the Minister of Revenue supply to the committee all documents to the extent as provided by law” -- are those words appropriate?

Mr. Singer: “To the extent as provided by law” goes in at the end. At the end of the whole thing.

Mr. Speaker: I’m sure the Clerk or somebody will readjust the language as it’s all written here -- “that were filed in connection with the applications for exemption made herein, and that the appropriate officials of the Ministry of Revenue attend for the purpose of giving evidence in relation to these matters.”

Report, as amended, adopted.

Mr. Nixon: A point of order, Mr. Speaker, the House leader in his remarks said that as far as he was concerned this could not be a precedent. Does that make sense to you, sir?

Mr. Speaker: Well, I’m not going to answer that.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I was entitled to my own view.

Mr. Nixon: On the point of order, I would just like to say, sir, that from my point it is a precedent and it should be and it must be, and whatever the House leader of the government says about it does not change that fact. I just wanted to be sure you understood that fact

Mr. Speaker: I’ve heard and understood everything, I think --

Hon. Mr. Welch: You have been around here long enough. Was it in the motion?

Mr. Speaker: -- and I also recall that there was a suggestion that this particular matter be debated later.

Mr. Breaugh, in the absence of Mr. Lawlor, from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:

Your committee requests permission to sit concurrently with the House for its consideration of Bill 97, The Credit Unions Act, 1976.

Hon. Mr. Welch: We will support this, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Johnson, in the absence of Mr. McNeil, from the standing resources development committee reported the following resolution:

Resolved: That supply in the following amount to defray the expenses of the Resources Development Policy Field be granted Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1977:

Resources Development Policy

Resources Development Policy

Program ........................................ $3,374,000

Mr. Speaker: Motions.

Introduction of bills.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I wish to table the answers to questions 65 and 111 standing on the notice paper.

Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.


Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 131, An Act respecting Farm Income Stabilization.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before we continue this debate, I thought perhaps we would indicate that it’s our understanding that we would hope to wind up this bill sometime this evening, with a vote around 10 o’clock.

Mr. Speaker: When we were last speaking on this bill, the member for Durham East had the floor. He may continue.

Mr. Moffatt: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to take part in this debate, not that I think we will be able to put a great many new facts before the House which were not raised either in the debate last spring or during yesterday’s debate, but I do want to draw to the House’s attention some significant things that, to my way of thinking, are really important about this particular bill.

The first thing I would like to comment upon is the fact that last year, before the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) was Minister of Agriculture and Food, just shortly after the election, he was attending the world international ploughing match -- which, by the way, was in my riding, Mr. Speaker, and in case people are convinced that no members over here represent ridings which have a substantial farm community and are interested in the development of agriculture, I want to put that at rest

Anyway, the member, who was soon to be minister, was making a lot of noise at that particular time about this whole foolish idea of farm income stabilization as being proposed by the NDP, and particularly the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), and the foolishness of the plan as it existed in British Columbia at that time, and there was no way, if he had any say in it, that that kind of policy was going to be implemented in the province of Ontario. It would kill agriculture, it would ruin the farm community, it would do everything that the minister believed wrong about the kind of legislation that we have talked about today.

Oddly enough, this complete about-face was brought about shortly after he became Minister of Agriculture and Food, and as a result of the debate last spring, in which his bill at that time was returned to him as being deficient, his stance since then has been one of reluctant compliance with the wishes of this House, reluctance to bring forth the kind of policy which was directed in the reasoned amendment proposed by the member for York South.

Indeed, what ensued was a fiasco where the minister attempted to set up a dialogue with rural Ontario through the aborted telephone network. I attended one of those meetings, the one they held in Markham, and I can tell you quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, that the minister’s comments at that point were so garbled and so meaningless to everybody there that the person from the Ministry of Agriculture who was chairing the meeting had to read the prepared text so that we could understand. A translation, if you will, was provided of the minister’s comments. That was unfortunate, because that further reduced the minister’s credibility.

I think that what is happening is the same kind of thing that’s being proposed here. The same sort of political process is taking place as we saw last year around the rent review legislation that was presented. The government presented it reluctantly. The Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) noted at the time that he did not favour the bill and he would do everything he could to get rid of it. He did. He put it in the hands of another minister who now wants to get rid of it.

What’s happened is that that legislation which had a good principle, a good intent, has been destroyed. The intent and the philosophy of that legislation has been destroyed by the government’s reluctance to accept the process. They have made it as difficult for that legislation to work as they possibly could.

I listened yesterday to the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) talk about this particular bill and the fact that he has confidence in this government to implement that legislation. I would like to ask him through you, Mr. Speaker, if in fact he does have confidence in this government to run a programme of farm income stabilization, or is he simply trying to get off the hook on this whole thing because he’s sick and tired of debating it?

Yesterday the comment was made by those members speaking for the Liberal Party that it would be a good idea if we just got through this debate and got the legislation into place so that the thing can start to work and then we’ll see how it works out. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that that’s foolishness. That kind of response to this government’s legislation will simply let them run around with it and make the legislation not work, as they wish. I’m afraid that we’ll have the same fiasco occurring with regard to farm income stabilization as this government has made out of the rent review legislation.

I for one -- and I know the members of this party -- do not intend that that should happen. We intend to oppose this legislation because we think that the reluctance of the government to bring it in in a proper form in the first place will mean that now they’ll be able to say, “Well, we didn’t want to do it. It was the House that pushed us to it and, you see, when you let the opposition parties gang up on us this is the kind of bad legislation you get.” If they don’t want it to work -- and the minister has said all along that it won’t work -- if they don’t want it to work, Mr. Speaker, it won’t work.

The reason we propose to change the legislation substantially is because we want to write it so tightly that the minister will not be able to avoid the responsibilities as spelled out in the legislation. If the minister gets a chance, he’ll do exactly what they’ve done with rent review and I for one don’t want to be a part of that.

I’m interested that the member for Huron-Middlesex in the course of this debate yesterday said that somebody in here didn’t know the difference between a cow and a manure spreader. I think it’s appropriate that that member should bring the manure spreader into this particular debate.

Mr. Samis: Pitchforked, wasn’t it?

Mr. Moffatt: It looks to me as though the people in this House who have traditionally held the farm community in the palm of their hand feel, if a party comes in with some thoughts on agricultural policy, that unless the member lives in a rural riding and, indeed, has grown up on a farm and is farming today, that that person will not be able to comment sensibly about agriculture. Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the House through you that I feel that I have as much contact with agriculture as any member over there. I have engaged in the business of farming, I have engaged in it at almost every level. I haven’t been an auctioneer, Mr. Speaker --

An hon. member: Your talent is spreading.

Mr. Moffatt: -- so that precludes that particular stance of the manure spreader. But at some other time, I think that we must get down to the business of recognizing that members in this House, whether they happen to come from an industrial background, trade union, a school, from the legal profession, or from the farm community, that what the people in this House have a stake and an interest in is the good will and the good fortune of this province as a whole. You don’t have to be married to one particular part of the economy in order to have an interest in how the rest of the economy works. And I would ask this, Mr. Speaker, that members of the House disregard that kind of comment. I don’t think that that adds any credibility to any person. Those people who insist on engaging in that kind of debate are acting in a very irresponsible manner.


Mr. MacDonald: They are revealing their bankruptcy.

Mr. Riddell: Who are you trying to convince -- me or the farmers out in the rural communities?


Mr. Riddell: Let the farmers make the decision.

Mr. Samis: I am the farmer --

Mr. Moffatt: I am afraid as well, Mr. Speaker, that the problem --

Mr. Samis: -- Jack Riddell says, I am the farmer.

Mr. Riddell: Why don’t you fellows hold any rural ridings?

Mr. Wildman: We do.

Mr. Bain: I do. I hold a rural riding.

Mr. Moffatt: Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that people are forgetting that for years we have tried to implement land-use policies. This government has tried to get local municipalities to do land-use planning because they knew it was a hot issue, they didn’t want to get blamed for it.

They kept pressuring small communities to implement land-use policies; but at the same time they were getting tremendous pressure from farmers not to engage in land-use planning which would create a hardship for them if they couldn’t sell their farms. The reason the farmers wanted to sell their farms was they couldn’t make a living at the business of farming.

What we are trying to do, Mr. Speaker, is put this in a total context. You can’t have land-use planning which will preserve agricultural land -- a policy that this party happens to be committed to -- you can’t have that kind of policy unless you are prepared to make the business of farming one which will ensure that farmers don’t have to sell their land in order to continue to exist.

Anything less than a proper farm income insurance programme which will enable farmers to look forward in the future to the kind of progress that they would expect as citizens of this province, anything less than a total package like that, Mr. Speaker, will not work.

We are not going to be able to put into place the kind of proper facilities and planning for the rural parts of our province unless we are prepared to deal with this question; and you can’t deal with it from a position of reluctance, negativism and backward thinking, as the minister has attempted to do now. What we have to do is put together a package. The reasoned amendment as proposed by my colleague the member for York South makes eminent good sense.

I can’t understand, Mr. Speaker, how the party over here in third place happens to think that today they can have confidence in this particular government to implement a policy which is going to benefit the people in rural Ontario.

We are asking for changes in the legislation which will make sure that it is not patchwork, that it is going to absorb the effect of variations in the economy beyond the farmers’ control, so that those things will be compensated for in some measure, so that the people in rural Ontario will be able to look forward over the next two to three years to continuing the business of farming rather than having to go into the business of real estate in order to live. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. McKessock: As a member of the Legislature who lives on the farm and actively carries out a 100 cow-beef operation at home, it is a privilege for me to say a few words here today on the farm bill. I hesitate though to say “carry out” a beef operation. It comes easier for me to say “support” a beef operation the way the prices are these days.

I was talking to my neighbour the other day about the poor beef prices and he said that he thought he could keep himself if he didn’t have to keep the cows.

Mr. Riddell: That’s right.

Mr. McKessock: But I believe that Bill 131 is a start, and it probably won’t do anybody any harm.

Mr. Bain: It won’t do anybody any good.

Mr. McKessock: It probably won’t do anybody too much good.

Mr. Samis: Therefore you will vote against it?

Mr. McKessock: If it is used in the context of what the farmers have been asking for the last several years -- that is enabling legislation -- then it’s a start.

It is legislation to allow price protection for all farm products up to a level of 95 per cent average of the last five years, with adjustments for cost -- except for the 15 or 20 per cent of the farm products that were covered in the first Bill 96, mostly vegetables, that the government brought in. Now they have decided to cover only this 15 or 20 per cent farm products at five per cent, hoping the federal government will pick up the difference to 90 per cent. Mr. Whelan has indicated they will, if a need arises and an application is made to have these designated commodities to come under the federal stabilization programme.

Mr. Wildman: Why won’t he do anything about beef?

Mr. McKessock: We believe the federal minister will live up to this commitment but if he doesn’t we would certainly want this bill amended to cover the 15 or 20 per cent of farm products to bring them up to the 95 per cent also.

Mr. Samis: Blind faith.

Mr. Wildman: It didn’t designate beef.

Mr. McKessock: Beef is already under the federal programme.

Mr. Riddell: Beef is already covered. Why don’t you take a look at it?

Mr. McKessock: There’s one of those farmers over there speaking up again.

Mr. Samis: They grow them differently in the north.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Can we have some order, please? The hon. member for Grey has the floor; let him proceed uninterrupted.

Mr. McKessock: The trouble with the bill is it is not enough to hold the small family farm. It is going to do more for the big guy who can invest a huge amount of money and feel that the worst he can do is break even.

The fellow who invests large sums has usually got enough backing or credit to feed his family for a year or so until enough small farmers go out of business or go broke for the price to rise. He is still in there to reap the profits when the price returns.

We are really supporting the larger investors. The small family farm is a unit we shouldn’t let go. He doesn’t go out of business because he’s inefficient but because he cannot afford to break even. He hasn’t got the reserves or the credits to ride out the break-even or loss years.

The family farmer doesn’t want a lot of money nor did he ever ask for it. He is the guy who has been providing us with cheap food for the last 100 years. He will work for $1 an hour if he can meet his expenses and mortgage payments and get enough to eat and his family will help him.

Last night I heard one of the watchmen out in the hall say to one of his fellow workers, “Don’t talk to me, I’m on my break.” This statement seemed a bit strange to me, coming from a family farm, because that was the time we got our talking done, if we ever did get a break.

The family farm is disappearing very fast because expenses now, due to inflation, are too high for him to ride out the low price periods and he has no reserves and he can’t borrow money at a decent interest rate to allow him to stay in. I believe we need to supplement this plan in this area to help hold the family farm.

The government should provide loans to efficient family farm units with investments of $150,000 or less, up to $20,000 repayable over 20 years at five per cent. Over the last several months I have had a great number of farmers who are in trouble. It is the high interest rate and the price of the product that is killing them.

The bringing in of this bill emphasizes the need and the importance of seeing that agriculture remains an important industry in Ontario. It appears that the government is flip-flopping now on agriculture and the use of agricultural land.

An hon. member: Who is flip-flopping?

Mr. McKessock: A few months ago the Premier shouted across the floor that we would lose 20 seats in the next election if we froze agricultural lands. Now the Tories have had one of their members bring in a private member’s bill which would do just that.

Mr. Wildman: Now they have had one.

Mr. Eakins: They want him to test the water.

Mr. McKessock: They want him to test the water, that’s right, and then it doesn’t look so much like a flip-flop. I think they are beginning to realize that true farmers are really in favour of saving agricultural land and it is the developer and speculator who are not.

If the farmer was receiving a decent income and a return on his investment there would be no problem of retaining agricultural land because it would be passed from one generation to the next and it wouldn’t be for sale. With the continuous supply of farm products which creates an unstable, unreliable, inadequate income for most farm commodities there is no incentive to be in favour of holding agricultural lands if you are a farmer. It appears that if we had less of it we might receive a decent price for our product.

The NDP wonders why this bill doesn’t pay a profit. If it did, of course, it would create a surplus and there has been no provision in this bill for supply management.

We know that farm products must pay a profit sometime to enable farmers to stay in business but when they do pay a profit it is inevitable that a surplus will follow -- that is, if we haven’t got controlled production. When a surplus arises losses follow and some farmers must go out of business to allow the surplus to drop back and the prices to rise again.

We farmers spend a lot of time saying we are free enterprisers. Some feel that controlled production takes us out of this category. We should ask those who have supply management now to set their own price and see what they say. You will find that most of them will say they are more free than they have even been before.

First, they are free to produce without fear of over-production. Second, they are free to be efficient and the more efficient they are, the more money they make. Third, they are free to make a year’s projection in cash flow without fear of a sudden drop in price within the year. Fourth, they are free to borrow money without the bank manager saying, “What if the price should drop?” Fifth, they are free to plan for several years instead of six months.

Mr. McClellan: Are you listening, Jack?

Mr. Riddell: But we don’t want supply management under government controls. That’s what you guys want.


Mr. Bain: No, we do not.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Bain) come to order? He will have an opportunity to speak later in the debate.

Mr. McKessock: Sixth, they are free to make a planned expansion based on quota rather than to expand for an unknown market.

Even though the milk producers had controlled production imposed on them by this government across the way quite a few years back, I don’t think it has what it takes to do anything like that at this stage nor do I think it should be imposed upon the farmers. Producers of other commodities, such as broilers, turkeys and eggs, brought in their own controlled production and I think this is the way it should be. The legislation is in place for farm commodities producers to set up their own marketing boards, to control production and to set their prices -- if they want to use it.

There is one question which bothers me and that is how many farmers want controlled production of the products which are left and aren’t controlled? A lot of vocal farmers speak out against it yet I believe a large number are in favour of it. The government could help out here and do away with this guessing, first by licensing farmers so that a systematic vote could be taken to see for sure where the majority of the farmers stand. This should be done provincially.

Mr. Wildman: That’s real freedom.

Mr. McKessock: The minister’s system now of communicating with farmers through some long-distance static telephone hook-up is dreadfully inadequate. By the way, how much did that cost the taxpayers of Ontario?

Hon. W. Newman: Not enough. That’s why it wasn’t so good.

Mr. Bain: Maybe it was the content.

Mr. McKessock: I know it cost the minister a lot of votes because the farmers were thoroughly disgusted with it. I will say that your staff person, Dan Rolls, from Markdale, did a tremendous job of looking after the meeting in Flesherton. His voice came through loud and clear when he read the minister’s speech to us after we couldn’t make it out on the telephone.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the chance to say a few words on this bill. I will be supporting it with a few changes, the main change being to allow the three farm organizations to appoint directly to the commission and not have the commission appointed by the government. I believe the bill is a start. This is something we haven’t been able to get although the farmers started trying several years ago.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to get involved?

Mr. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the Farm Income Stabilization bill. This is a very important measure for the province’s farmers and especially for my own riding of Wellington-Dufferin-Peel which, as you know, is primarily agricultural. While I have not had the advantage, as some of the members in the House have had, of being a farmer, I have worked with them for the past quarter of a century.

Mr. McClellan: You are not a farmer.

Mr. Johnson: The purpose of this second reading debate is to discuss the principles of the proposed legislation. I must say at the outset that I am in full agreement with its basic principles. I also feel that the provisions of the current bill are well suited to putting those principles effectively into practice, but let us look at those principles.


The basic principle is to provide a measure of income stabilization for our farmers, and I doubt if anyone can object to that. I think that we all realize that farming is more than just an occupation or a way of earning a living. It is a way of life that makes special demands on people and gives them important rewards, only some of which are financial.

But all too often the financial rewards are much too small and I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact that just because farming is a way of life, farmers have to earn a decent income just like anyone else. Not only a decent income, but a reasonably stable income. Alternation of boom and bust may average out to reasonable levels, but surely it is better to have a basic income floor so that the gains from one good year won’t be wiped out by a disastrous year.

Even with things like crop insurance, farmers face enough uncertainty in their day to day operations and also in their long-term perspectives without having to worry about making ends meet. This bill should not only improve the farmer’s financial position, but it will also reduce uncertainties surrounding the operation of a farm and thus will lead to better long-range planning. It is also important to note that the bill will not interfere with the market mechanism, since it provides a floor for farm income, but not a ceiling.

So far I have been talking about the need for farm income stabilization in the abstract, but I may say that for the farmers in my riding this is a very real and very pressing problem. As I have said the backbone of Wellington-Dufferin-Peel is agriculture, and the basis of that agriculture is beef production and dairy operations. Farmers in both these industries have been extremely hard hit over the past while. The beef producers have suffered through years of low prices and in many cases it is only dedication and love of farming that have kept people from giving the whole thing up, as they would surely do if they based their decisions on purely economic grounds.

Mr. Nixon: Is that what it is? I haven’t been able to decide why I don’t give it up.

Mr. Johnson: Also dairy farmers have had a bad time of it lately. If they are not hit with low prices they are stymied by the quota system. It is neither fair nor is it in anyone’s best interest that in these times, when everyone is wondering whether his next salary increase will be eight per cent or 12 per cent or whatever, the farmer should have to take what amounts to a cut in pay.

Prices that the farmers have been getting have been rising very slowly, if at all. At the same time virtually all the costs of running a farm have risen almost out of sight. Machinery costs have skyrocketed. Prices have doubled in the last five years. Transportation costs are up. There is talk of a $4 an hour minimum wage, and farmers just can’t afford that.

I would also like to point out that ensuring decent returns to the farmers is not only a basic matter of economic justice, but it is important for the very future of the agriculture industry, for the urban centres and for the farming communities. If we are to continue to attract hardworking, enterprising young farmers we will have to see to it that the financial rewards are there, and that they have a degree of certainty.

The huge capital costs, the amount of work involved, the difficulty in getting help at affordable prices are only some of the difficulties encountered by young farmers. If they also have to face the uncertainty of not knowing if they will be able to get fair, stable prices for their product, then how can we expect them to even think about going into farming and making it their life’s work? If we expect the agriculture industry to survive we will have to ensure that sheer hard work is rewarded. This makes some form of income stabilization absolutely essential. In order to get a comprehensive programme, Mr. Speaker, the federal government will have to get further involved.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food has repeatedly pointed out that a truly effective scheme would have to be national in scope, and therefore federal in jurisdiction. The federal government is the only one which can effectively control needless cut-throat competition among provinces.

More important, only the federal government can negotiate international agreements to protect our farmers from massive imports of underpriced agricultural products.

Until our friends in Ottawa see the light, however, we at the provincial level will have to take up the slack. At the same time, let us remember that the bill now before us is designed to complement existing federal programmes and could easily be fitted into an expanded federal programme.

So far, Mr. Speaker, I’ve been dealing with the reasons why we need farm income stabilization, but we must be careful not to let this basically sound idea be taken too far and create a whole new set of problems. The way in which the bill is set out shows that the government is aware of this and has carefully avoided incorporating into the legislation the principle of incentive pricing. Nobody, least of all the farmers, wants that.

What we have to avoid at all costs are incentives to overproduction, which will hurt the industry, and in the long run will also hurt the consumer. Incentives of this nature would bring into the agriculture industry people who really do not know what they are doing and whose lack of experience would hurt not only themselves but other farmers as well.

More important than this, however, the possibility of overproduction brings with it the threat of supply management, of quotas, of farming by directive of government bureaucrats; in other words, socialized agriculture.

Mr. McClellan: Oh, that’s done it! The Liberals want a licence for farmers.

Mr. Johnson: Most of the farmers I know are a pretty independent lot. I suppose you have to be to make a go at farming at all. They are quite willing, provided they are protected from unfair foreign competition, to put their hard work and know-how on the line and sell for the price the market will give them, they have faith in the market. They may be disappointed and hurt by low prices, but I think they much prefer this to an unwieldy quota system, which would seriously reduce the efficiency of the market and of the industry as a whole. If there is one thing to be said about farmers it is that they want to get on with the business of farming with as little government interference as possible.

I think the bill before us is an ideal vehicle for ensuring the farmers receive an adequate return while not having their relationship with the market disturbed. It is for this same reason that I’m pleased that the farm income stabilization programme will be on a voluntary and contributory basis, If farmers do not want to join they should not be forced to do so.

I’m also pleased to see that the administrative setup in the bill would be mainly composed of farmers’ representatives, rather than Queen’s Park bureaucrats, who may be well-meaning but who do not have the same feel for the problem as the farmers.

This brings me to my last point, Mr. Speaker. The government has paid very close attention to the suggestions of the farmers and the farm groups. All along the line there’s been close consultation so that the government would know where the farming communities stood on the issue and what farmers themselves want. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that the government accepted every view put forward by the farmers’ representatives. The government is charged with the responsibility of setting policy for the entire province and everyone in it, and therefore must make decisions that will be in the best interest of Ontario as a whole.

Mr. Warner: When does that start?

Mr. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, on a major issue such as we have before us, it is impossible to please everyone --

Mr. Bain: It does not please anyone.

Mr. Johnson: -- but I submit that this bill meets -- and meets very effectively -- a very real need in the Ontario farming community. It will certainly be of great benefit to the farmers in my riding of Wellington-Dufferin-Peel.

Mr. Wildman: I rise to participate in this debate and as was the previous speaker, I will be quite honest and say that I’m not a farmer and that I don’t pretend to be an expert on agriculture. Although I grew up in a farming community and I represent a rural riding which has many farmers and I have relatives and friends who are still in farming and actively farming today, I myself did not grow up on a farm and am not a farmer. However, I want to participate in this debate because I think that farming is something we should be preserving in this province and I’m afraid that unless some changes are made in the present bill, we won’t really be doing that.

For that reason, I support the reasoned amendment because I don’t really feel that the reworked legislation proposed by the minister will really do enough to make farming in Ontario an attractive occupation for the rural people of this province. Rural people want to be farmers, but as the previous member said, if they were just looking at the proposition on the basis of economies, many of them would not be. As a result of that, I think that we should be doing something in this Legislature to ensure that farming will, indeed, be an attractive occupation and one that will attract young people to agriculture.

I think both farmers and urban residents are becoming more and more aware of the problems facing the producers of our food in this province. Farmers have always had to endure the roller-coaster, boom-bust cycles in incomes over the years. It’s not new. But the most recent changes in costs such as manufacturing, seed, feed, fertilizer, and so on, the exigencies of weather and climate, which have always been a problem for farmers, and the recent rises and falls in market prices have made farming not only a challenging profession, which it always has been, but one that is very uncertain and exceedingly risky.

The hard work and initiative of farm people has always been the backbone of the economy in society of Ontario. Farm people have always been neighbourly and self-sacrificing in co-operating with one another to help each other in times of need and to develop their communities. But over the last few years the serious growth of inflation has made it very difficult for young farmers to become established without going very deeply into debt and risking bankruptcy and ruin as a result of any natural disaster such as a serious storm just before harvest, flooding, or drought, or for that matter, any dramatic changes in the market prices.

The minister knows, after touring the north this summer, that the farmers in the north, certainly in the northwest and also in my area --

Mr. Bain: Didn’t do anything for them, though.

Mr. Wildman: -- have faced a serious drought problem and there have been some transport subsidies suggested and instituted to help them, but these sort of short-term things don’t really solve the whole overall hill and trough process of farm income.

Many hardworking young producers in my riding have had to take other jobs in recent years to keep up their payments on their farm. In other words, they make their money off the farm and they spend it on the farm; this has been a problem for farmers too long in this province, Working full-time at another job and working part-time on the farm, makes it almost impossible, no matter how much hard work goes into it, for a producer to become and to make a go of it as a full-time producer in agriculture in the province.


Increasing costs and poor prices haven’t been alleviated by the myriad of ad hoc bandage-type government subsidy programmes that have been built up over the years. As a result of this, not only the young farmer but the long established farm people, often find themselves in the position of having to sell their property if they are going to realize a decent return on their investment and their many years of labour. Low returns make it very difficult for farm people to provide funds for their retirement today, unless they sell their farms. Also because of land speculation over the last few years, the price that the property owner can obtain from selling his farm often makes it very difficult for another farmer to purchase the land or for a young man who wants to go into farming to purchase that land and keep it in production, especially if the land is anywhere near a major centre, where speculators can buy up the land and perhaps rent it out to keep it in farming so they can get the tax exemption for a few years until it becomes profitable for them to build houses on it or whatever, and the land goes out of production. It’s very difficult for farmers to compete with the kind of money these developers have.

When land in some areas is priced anywhere from $1,000 an acre and over perhaps even up to $3,000 an acre, that’s certainly not it’s agricultural value. That’s the value to a speculator. The agricultural value would be more in the range of $300 to $500. When a farmer is faced with those kinds of prices, he usually can’t afford to buy the farm or, if he does, he’s going to have to go so far into debt that it’s going to be an awful long time before he makes a go of it. As a result, many farmers, younger ones and older ones, are leaving agriculture. This has happened a great deal in my riding in the last few years, especially with the drastic drop in beef prices. I realize that the federal government has done something in beef, but it hasn’t designated the cow-calf operation. Since most of the producers in my riding are cow-calf producers and though many of them have enrolled in the provincial plan, with the support price as low as it is, they still can’t make a go of it. Many of them are leaving agriculture altogether.

It’s to retard this trend that we’ve introduced the reasoned amendment, to ensure that commodity groups and farmers who wish to participate are protected in terms of current costs by providing a comprehensive farm income insurance plan. After a lot of promises and stalling, the government finally introduced a so-called farm income stabilization bill last spring, but we all know what happened with that. It covered less than 30 per cent of farm production in Ontario and the bill was overwhelmingly rejected by Ontario’s major farm organization. As a result, the Legislature directed the government to redesign the bill to incorporate the very principles enunciated in the reasoned amendment proposed by the member for York South. It received the support of both opposition parties last spring. We gave the minister a second chance to redraw the bill, to go back and look at what should be done and to bring the bill back for passage this fall. Unfortunately, the minister doesn’t seem to have learned from the reaction last spring. Perhaps he’s a slow learner.

The Legislature last spring requested that the bill be made comprehensive, voluntary and contributory. The bill has been made voluntary and contributory, but I would debate the part of it being comprehensive. Also, we requested the minister engage in meaningful negotiations with various commodity groups to reach agreed-upon support prices for various commodities based upon cost. By that, I believe we meant current costs, not costs over the last five years. With the present rates of inflation, the costs of machinery parts, energy, feed and so on this year may not have any relation at all or very little relation to the costs over the last five years.

Instead of doing this, the minister went around this summer trying to convince farmers that what he had introduced in the spring was good and was the right thing. When that didn’t work he grudgingly decided that he would move to some kind of legislation. But he still didn’t believe in the principles of the legislation. So he had to get his ministry people to run round and figure out how they could introduce a bill that looked as if it met the instructions of the Legislature but wasn’t going to cost the kind of money that a real farm income insurance plan would cost.

So they came up with the solution that whatever commodities were designated would receive 95 per cent at whatever time the federal government designated it for 90 per cent support; that is they would piggyback their five per cent on top of that.

I made an interjection earlier regarding beef. Perhaps I was wrong but I know that in my riding certainly, the cow-calf producers are not in a situation of federal designation. So as a result of that, if this was the case, in spite of the drastically low prices these producers are getting at the market they would only get five per cent if they were registered in this plan. That’s ridiculous.

Talking about low prices for cow-calf producers: The top price at the Thessalon sale, the Algoma sale this year, was 35 cents a pound; $35 a hundredweight as a top price. The lowest prices were in the ranges of 17 and 18 cents a pound, which has no relationship whatsoever to the cost of production. If the present cow-calf plan guarantees 51 cents it’s going to be a big payout for the government sure, but that is still going to be low because it costs at least 60 some cents, and perhaps over 70 cents, to produce each pound of beef.

So offering five per cent of costs over the last five years isn’t really going to help those farmers very much and you are going to have more and more of them going out of production. More and more of them are just saying: “All right, we are going to sell off all our beef this year and are going to collect from the government under their plan. And then we are not going to go back into it anymore; we’ll produce enough beef for ourselves and perhaps a few people, friends we can sell to.”

Maybe that’s the purpose. Maybe they want the small operator who is in trouble to go out of production and keep the bigger operator in production. Maybe that’s what they want, but I don’t think that’s good for agriculture and I don’t think it’s good for the farm communities in this province. That is not how agriculture developed in this province, I don’t think that is where we should be heading.

I agree with the member who stated that we should be doing all we can to preserve the family farm as a unit of production in this province. Not only is it good for the economy of this province but it is also good for the society of this province. It would be a tragedy to see that way of life come to an end.

Anyone on the Liberal side who argues that we can depend on the federal minister to designate, and therefore the commodity groups that are participating could get the 95 per cent are ignoring the cow-calf situation; and I don’t think we can.

More important than that, is the question of cost. We can’t accept a bill that is going to have cost based on an average over the last five years. We’ve got to have a plan that deals with current costs if it isn’t to be just a stop-loss approach. Stop-loss won’t keep people in production. All it will do is let people recover most of their losses before they go out of production.

I seriously hope that the principles of the reasoned amendment will be accepted by this House so that we can stop the serious migration of people from the farm and preserve what I believe is one of the noblest professions in our society.

The member for Durham West (Mr. Godfrey) talked about farmland protection, and I want to indicate that our caucus certainly supports the recently published position of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists, that the government should be moving much more rapidly to ensure that food lands in this province are protected. But they can’t do that in a serious way unless they are also going to deal in a serious way with farm incomes.

Mr. McClellan: Yes, get serious.

Mr. Wildman: The two have got to be completed together.

Mr. Warner: Should be two bills here together.

Mr. Wildman: A bill that prevents bankruptcy on the farm doesn’t make farming attractive for rural use.

I call upon the minister to accept the amendment and to redraw this bill finally so that it incorporates the principles that we asked for last spring; so that we produce a truly comprehensive farm income insurance plan that will keep the young farmers in production and make it possible for older farmers to get a fair return on their management, investment and labour. Only by doing that will we be adjusting the situation in agriculture in this province to ensure that it prospers instead of just survives.

Mr. Spence: It’s a pleasure for me to take part in this debate on Bill 131, the farm income stabilization bill, which has been discussed considerably since last spring. I must say I don’t want to re-echo the remarks of the critic for the Liberal Party.

Mr. Bain: I wouldn’t want to either.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Spence: He has outlined very well the stand of this party. Bill 96 didn’t satisfy the farmers across this province, and I was pleased to see the minister withdraw that bill. It wasn’t a bill that would do the work that the farmers expected. Bill 131 is an improvement over Bill 96. The minister estimated Bill 96 would cost the province of Ontario $7 million, while Bill 131 will cost the government $60 million to $70 million.

I was pleased to read in this bill that it’s voluntary and it’s contributory. The farmers of this province, as we’ve heard so often, are free enterprisers.

Mr. Philip: They are going bankrupt in the free enterprise system.

Mr. Spence: I think the agriculture industry across this province is about the only industry that is a free enterprise industry. Because it has to work against all the other industries in this province that aren’t free enterprise industries, the agriculture industry faces a very serious disadvantage.

As we all know, the prices of agriculture inputs required to produce a commodity have been skyrocketing over the last number of years. I think that Bill 131, while it has a good framework, should be modified and changed in a number of places. If it is changed or amended, this bill will work to the great advantage of the agriculture industry across this province.

I was here in this House when the crop insurance bill was brought in; at that time the government named a select committee on crop insurance and I was named to that select committee. We travelled to different places across this province, but I must say the farmers weren’t interested whatsoever. At the meetings we were going to hold at different places we had to coax farmers to come and learn about crop insurance and to bring up some points that would improve crop insurance. But the government amended the crop insurance plan across this province.


Today I hear very little complaint from the farmers on crop insurance. After talking to the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Gene Whelan -- whose word is good no matter where he has been across Canada -- I think this bill can he amended so that it will be a very good step toward assisting the agriculture industry across this province.

I attended the meeting on food that the minister held in Ridgetown at the agricultural college. We heard him speak over the phone that night. I couldn’t understand it or be sure that it was the minister, but nevertheless --

Hon. W. Newman: I guess we’d better have a royal commission on the Bell Telephone Company.

Mr. Spence: That’s right. Anyway I was glad it was him, even though I could hardly understand a word he spoke. However --

Mr. Nixon: Of course. We can’t either.

Mr. Samis: You should be used to that by now, Jack.

Mr. Spence: -- at that meeting there weren’t too many farmers in attendance but there were five members of the Ontario Legislature, including my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) -- not the honourable but --

Mr. Nixon: Soon to be honourable.

Mr. Spence: But he will be, in the not-too-distant future -- the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini), the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston), and myself. We listened with great interest. What I heard that evening and on a number of other occasions was that the agricultural industry is a free enterprise industry, and farmers don’t want to stray from that sphere. I must say the farmers at that meeting left the impression they didn’t want any controls to tell them what they could grow and what they couldn’t grow. I am in favour of the principle of this bill and I think it can be improved and changed so that it will work for the benefit of the agricultural industry.

As we all know, the agricultural industry is of tremendous importance to any country and to this country of Canada. Food is the most important product that we produce. Practically 50 per cent of our population earn their livelihood from food one way or another -- processing, packaging, marketing or selling agricultural products. If a country hasn’t got a sufficient supply of food, there is not too much future in it.

I would like to see the minister amend this bill in a certain way in certain places. It then could be a very good and important bill for the agricultural industry, so I ask the minister to give every consideration to the changes. We have reached the point where there is very little profit left in producing a commodity on the farm today. We do need something.

I think if the minister makes changes in a number of places in this bill, the farmers will do the same thing with this bill as they did with crop insurance. They took no notice of the crop insurance bill for the first few years, but with changes and improvements in the bill -- I talked to a farmer and showed him this Bill 131. After looking it over he said to me that he would still stay with crop insurance. I want to know if, when the minister replies to all the speeches that have been made, he could tell us if crop insurance will still be available to the farmers if they don’t join this voluntary contributory plan. I think if we amend this bill it can be made workable and it will be of great benefit to the agriculture industry.

I am one now who believes that we are facing surpluses -- in wheat, right at the present time, we have practically reached a saturation point. If members looked at the elevators across this province in the last month and a half, I am telling them we have come practically to the point of saturation or to overproduction of corn. We can’t find markets for it. Cattle and hogs are also on the verge of overproduction. If my advice is any good to the minister I would say change this bill in certain places and amend it in others, I would say that this will be a boon and a step forward. I can’t go along with the asphalt farmers to my right because they want to put on controls. They want production controls --

Mr. Samis: We have listened to you.

Mr. Spence: -- and I will tell them this -- we can’t tell the rural area farmers what they can grow and what they can’t grow on their own farms. They are free enterprisers. If the NDP members do it, they won’t be in this House very long.

Mr. Eakins: That is good news.

Mr. Spence: Those are my remarks. My colleagues have outlined our stand. I feel we shouldn’t defeat this bill. I don’t think we should force an election on the province of Ontario on Bill 131. I think I have confidence in the Minister of Agriculture and Food here in the province and certainly I have confidence in the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Mr. Whelan, because what he has said in the past he has lived up to.

Mr. Samis: Before I start having to withstand epithets from my left about being an asphalt farmer I would like to explain to my colleagues to the left -- I listened very attentively to the member for Kent-Elgin -- that I prefer the term urban farmer or small garden farmer or small town farmer, rather than asphalt farmer. I am not a lover of asphalt particularly. I think it is a miserable crop and I would like to see less of it, not more of it, in Ontario.

Mr. Warner: Talk to them.

Mr. Nixon: Overproduction.

Mr. Samis: I must say that I listened attentively to my colleague from Kent-Elgin. I wondered if I wasn’t living in Arizona in 1952, listening to Barry Goldwater’s speech to a group of sand farmers south of Phoenix; or with a group of grape growers in southern California listening to Ronnie Reagan rev up about the great merits of free enterprise. It really makes me wonder.

I don’t claim to be nearly as knowledgeable about agriculture as those who are actively engaged in it. How many on the other side are actively engaged in a full-time way? I really wonder.

Mr. Nixon: We think we are listening to a collectivist in the Ukraine.

Mr. Samis: Oh, never.

Mr. Warner: He read all your speeches.

Mr. Samis: But I have looked at some statistics in my particular --

Mr. Nixon: A collectivist in Italy.

Mr. Samis: -- and even though I may not be a farmer I do think the statistics speak for themselves regardless of what one’s occupation is. If I look at the county of Stormont, for example, from 1966 to 1975, I see a 38.9 per cent decline in the number of farms. I see a 51.6 per cent decline in the number of people on farms. If I look just east of my particular riding to the riding now represented by my colleague from Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve), I see the number of farms in that particular county down by 37.8 per cent; I see the farm population from 1966 to 1975 down by 45.8 per cent. If I look at the county immediately west of my particular riding, the county of Dundas, I see the number of farms down 31.9 per cent, and the farm population down 42.6 per cent.

Mr. McClellan: Free enterprise.

Mr. Samis: I did have some farmers in the former riding of Stormont and I do still have some farmers in the township of Cornwall who are old-time farmers, mainly dairy farmers, so I am not totally out of contact with the farming community. When I see statistics like that and then I hear this recital of the incantation of the mythology of free enterprise, I ask myself -- is it working for the farm people? If they want to be free enterprisers to the extent suggested, where are the results of the old system? The few farmers that I do talk to don’t seem to be too happy with the system; they’re not nearly as enchanted with the mythology as suggested by some of the members on my left. And I know that the Minister of Agriculture and Food, whom I want to compliment this afternoon for his decorum, his calmness, his tranquility -- it’s much appreciated, and I’ll do nothing to upset it because I think this is a considerable improvement.

Mr. Nixon: He took a handful of Valium for lunch.

Mr. Samis: But I do know that the minister does receive valuable advice, information and insight into the plight of the farmers in eastern Ontario, especially the dairy farmers, from my good friend and colleague from Stormont-Glengarry-Dundas, whom I converse with on a regular basis, whom I find illuminating, sincere and concerned about the plight of the farmers. And when we talk about --

Mr. Nixon: Don’t overdo it.

Mr. Samis: -- our common interests in agriculture in eastern Ontario, we don’t talk about “They’re going to be free enterprisers. They’re going to survive to the end and be driven off the farm, but they’ll go down as free enterprisers.” No, that’s not what the farmer wants. He wants results. He wants to stay on the farm. He’s not so interested in the mythology, whether you call it free enterprise or something else, he just wants to make a living, stay on the farm and get a decent return for his income. And I’m sure my colleague from Stormont-Glengarry-Dundas is in full agreement with that.


Mr. Samis: You know, I think we should take ideology out of this, and sometimes, there’s no question that our party has been guilty of that as much as any other party in other domains. I willingly accept that criticism. I think the main concern should be results and protection for the farmers.

Sometimes my colleagues on the left like to really bring up this mythology about free enterprise, but I don’t hear them talk about some of the really, I think, damaging things -- if you really want to talk about free enterprise -- that are ruining the concept of free enterprise. Their federal leader, for example, has openly said the concept of the free market has now gone into the land of the dodo bird.

Mr. Nixon: No, he never said that. Oh, boy!


Mr. Warner: And he can identify with dodo birds.

Mr. Samis: If we look at the whole idea we all know that tax incentives, quotas, imports, tax writeoffs -- in fact, we saw the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) this week give another goody to his corporate friends -- obviously that’s not free enterprise in the truest sense. So that’s dead at the corporate level, and I would suggest if you look at the way things are marketed, processed, merchandised and the growth of corporate farming, we have to face the realities. The old myth of the family farm --

Mr. Nixon: That is a myth is it?

Mr. Samis: -- which has control over the whole process of production, processing, distribution and merchandising, to the average farmer is as meaningful today as the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. Taylor) trying to start up an automobile company in eastern Ontario and taking on General Motors, Ford or American Motors or Chrysler -- and the member knows it.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Keep talking, keep talking.

Mr. Warner: It’s a shame you woke him up.

Mr. Samis: We’re always glad to have the member for Prince Edward-Lennox here after his announcement of Tuesday.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Thank you.

Mr. Samis: I want to compliment the member of my party who has led the battle in this Legislature and out for a comprehensive, meaningful farm income protection plan, the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald). I know he’s frequently called the asphalt farmer from York South, but the essential thing is, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Nixon: Where is he today?

Mr. Samis: -- he has been out on the stump talking to farmers, talking to New Democrats --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: On the stump?

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. Allow the hon. member for Cornwall to continue.

Mr. Nixon: I would have thought the member for York South would be here today for this debate.

Mr. Samis: They’re getting unruly, aren’t they, Mr. Speaker?

Let me say that this so-called asphalt member has been out there fighting, speaking, persuading, cajoling and doing everything he can -- as a non-rural member, admittedly -- to get something that would help the family farm, that would help the small producer, that would help the farmers of Ontario stay in business. That’s been his contribution in this province, and he deserves an awful lot of credit and recognition for those efforts.

Mr. Good: He has been intruding.

Mr. Samis: His record is second to none in this province when it comes to fighting for farmers, whether he comes from Toronto, Elgin or you name it. His record speaks for itself and I’m proud to be associated with that man in this party.

Mr. Riddell: Trying to persuade the farmers to adopt your philosophy, which they won’t do.

Mr. Samis: Now I hear the member --


Mr. Riddell: They don’t want socialist farming, they don’t want state control.

Mr. Warner: Why don’t you go and ask them?

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the bill, if you don’t mind.


Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue debating the principle of this bill.

Mr. Good: That will be a change.

Mr. Samis: I contrast the record of the member for York South with this Minister of Agriculture and Food in terms of this bill. Although I’ve only been here two years, I do recall initial discussion of a full farm-income stabilization plan. In the last year the reaction of this particular minister was that he either pooh-poohed it or begrudged it. He said it was unworkable and all sorts of things like that. There was no real support for the concept of the plan as espoused by the member for York South.

Then we had an amazing event about 14 months ago. It was something called minority government. This minister had to swallow a fair amount and obviously brought in a bill last spring supposedly to placate both the parties on this side who were demanding legislation to this effect. But it was obvious that it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on and the farmers saw that as well as the members of this House.

Stage three was back to the drawing board. Everybody obviously wanted to do something to avoid an election, so we had the great consultation process.

Hon. W. Newman: You try to improve it.

Mr. Warner: You were doing well. Don’t spoil it.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue.

Mr. Samis: I had the pleasure of hearing the minister in a very tranquil, relatively conversational, comprehensible tone in the Kemptville meeting, in the series of meetings that were called.

Hon. W. Newman: You were there and you understood them?

Mr. Samis: I was there. I actually understood the minister and half the people in our audience --

Mr. Bain: You were bored though.

Mr. Samis: -- did understand the minister. The thing that struck me about that meeting was when the ag rep got up to explain what the minister had said to try to get it into language that they would understand, they’d keep asking, “How does it affect us?” They went over the things that would be covered under that proposed plan and it suddenly dawned on all of them that nothing they do is really going to be covered by this plan. They realized this plan really doesn’t do anything for them and is next to worthless. I’m sure these weren’t state collectivist farmers and they didn’t want any great form of collective society. They just said: “This plan ain’t worth a dime. Send it back. Improve it.” These were common-sense farmers in eastern Ontario.

Here we are at the fourth stage. Now we have this revised bill. In some ways, obviously, the minister has learned his lessons from last spring. But the thing I noticed again, if one looks at the original concept of the farm income protection plan, is that this minister has again watered it down and, even worse than that in some ways, I suppose, he’s tied it to the federal plan. I find it rather interesting, after all the criticisms in the past 14 months or so that this minister has made in this House of his federal colleague along with the rest of the front bench of the federal government --

Hon. W. Newman: You certainly haven’t been in the House very often then.

Mr. Warner: Don’t lose control.

Mr. Samis: -- of all the things he’s blamed them for, all of a sudden now he switches this plan to his great and good friend in Ottawa, the Hon. Gene Whelan. It just amazes me how, when they’re in trouble, they go to the big daddy in Ottawa, either to use him as a whipping boy or an out.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. Perhaps we could return to the principle of this bill.

Mr. Samis: I’m speaking to the principle of this bill, Mr. Speaker, the principle that this bill has to be tied to a federal plan. I sometimes chuckle when I hear that this is the same minister, who, now we’re depending on for the principle of this bill to be implemented who was out west, I think last week, lecturing the consumers and the journalists of the west about the innate and consummate relationship between beef consumption and human ferocity and human virility.

Mr. Nixon: Virility?

Mr. Samis: This is the same minister I understand my colleagues on the left are putting their faith in on the basis of a verbal agreement. They will accept the principle and the implementation of this plan because of a promise they’ve got from this same minister. I wonder if the farmers of Ontario would buy that kind of promise if they were given it by that same minister.

Mr. Riddell: They think he’s been the best minister that’s ever been in Ottawa.

Mr. Samis: We’ll see at the next election.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Warner: Say it with a smile.


Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Samis: I do give the minister credit for an interest in the general welfare of farmers in this province but I really wonder about his deep commitment to the principle of this bill. It seems to me that we have this bill here before us today as if we’ve kicked and dragged it out of him through a minority government, through rejection by the farmers, through rejection by the Legislature and a near election last spring. This is the baby we finally had to drag out of him, I get the impression that he’ll only do it because it’s forced on him and when it’s forced on him he’ll do as little as possible so that he can stick to his so-called free enterprise principles, as enunciated by my colleague from Kent-Elgin.

The fact that it’s tied to the federal plan, I think would please very few of the farmers in this province and very few people in this Legislature. In effect, the result of tying it to that extent doesn’t make it a full farm income protection plan as has been advocated by this particular party.

Although not being a farmer and not claiming to be all that knowledgeable in the field, I did notice that British Columbia, with its faults, with its shortcomings, didn’t wait for the feds to introduce their plan and implement it. The politicians there thought there was a need for it for the farmers of British Columbia and they did something to meet that need. I’ve noticed that the government of British Columbia, the present government, has not dismantled or discontinued that plan; nor has it complained that it has to wait for the feds to do something else.

Obviously that speaks for itself when we consider the vast difference in philosophy and ideology between the Socreds and the NDP in British Columbia. The government of Quebec, unlike this government and this minister, didn’t wait. There were needs in Quebec agriculture but the plan was not nearly as comprehensive as British Columbia’s --

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Where are they today?

Mr. Samis: -- however, Quebec did something. It went ahead on its own to try to meet the need.

Hon. W. Newman: What? Just tell me what?

Mr. Samis: That contrasts with this province --

Come on -- the minister knows there are four of them. This province has stalled and waited and now it can’t do that any longer we’ve watered things down and hitched up with the federal minister in Ottawa.

I was rather interested to read the comments on this bill of the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, a man whom I would respect. Some of the comments he made in his column in Farm and Country of November 16, were rather interesting. The headline was, “Who’s Bill Davis Trying to Kid?” -- obviously he’s referring to this bill.

I noticed his very first sentence, “Agriculture Minister Bill Newman and Premier William Davis do not intend to protect Ontario farmers from low prices for farm produce. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the recently introduced agricultural stabilization Act.” I know the member for York South quoted extensively from that same article in his speech on Tuesday but the fact that the president of the federation has so little confidence in the actual grass roots implementation and value of this bill, I think, is something which speaks for itself.

He says it’s quite legitimate for the Ontario government to put pressure on the federal government; no doubt it’s even considered fair game for the provincial minister to beat up on the federal minister if he wants to or if he can, but must he use Ontario farmers as the club?


Mr. Samis: I wonder why a man who is obviously dedicated to the best interests of the farmers of Ontario but who may not be in total agreement with everything this government does would use such strong language if this bill were so beneficial to the people who put him in his particular position?

While I would welcome the voluntary aspect, the contributory aspect, of the bill as a step forward and some of the modifications in the calculation of the cost of production are very obvious steps forward, I still feel that this bill is really giving the farmers of Ontario, who need something badly, a half loaf when they need a full loaf.

Mr. Nixon: I am always extremely interested in the remarks made by the member for Cornwall -- I have a high regard for him -- but there are one or two things he mentioned in his remarks which I want to refer to. I believe that being a man with his home and his main interest in the city of Cornwall he is anxious to learn other views, particularly of those associated with the agricultural industry.

One of the things he referred to was, in his words, the myth of the family farm --

Mr. Samis: No, free enterprise.

Mr. Nixon: I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I wrote it down when he said it. The myth of the family farm, particularly in his view, as opposed to the large corporate farm is really a serious misapprehension in his mind.

Mr. Samis: On a point of order.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member will state his point of order.

Mr. Samis: I said a variety of things but I am afraid that what the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is doing is taking about four words of my speech out of context and trying to switch them to say or suggest that I would be against the family farm.

Mr. Reid: That’s an NDP trick, isn’t it?

Mr. Samis: Obviously this party wouldn’t have fought for the bill if we were against family farms. That speaks for itself.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member will continue.

Mr. Nixon: If the hon. member is correcting me in that regard I certainly accept it. I invite him to look at the record because I’m as sure as I’m standing here that he said the words I wrote down. It may even have been a slip because if he said it, what he said is tantamount to a withdrawal.

Mr. Samis: That’s the context.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has the floor.

Mr. Nixon: I want to refer to his indication -- and if he didn’t say it the way I heard it, others certainly have -- that somehow or other the family farm has no place in agriculture --

Mr. Samis: I never said that.

Mr. Nixon: -- and particularly that it is the big corporate farms that are putting them out of business. Nothing could be further from the case.

There was a time, maybe a decade ago -- perhaps it was not even that long ago; perhaps the knowledge and the philosophy that the hon. member is referring to is a bit out of date -- when people were afraid for the continuation and the existence of the family farm. There were many speeches made in this House for programmes that would support it -- sometimes artificially, if necessary -- on the basis that it was a unit in the agricultural community almost as important as is the family in the social community itself.

In the experience of corporate farming, however, there has been the most tremendous waste of corporate funds and the most tremendous process of education as to how corporate approaches to farming are inadequate, wasteful, non-productive and just purely a mess. We have found in the last three years, or perhaps five years, that the family farm has come forward as the only viable agricultural unit, and anything other than that is something that does require a very special support if any government sees fit to support them. The family farm is the unit that has a real future in the agricultural economy of this province and this nation.

I would be delighted to trade whatever position I have in public life, or even in agriculture, for the situation of a man and his wife who are farming a couple of hundred acres with a milk quota and who have a son and a daughter who are interested in working with them. They’ve got one of the best kinds of lives that anyone could possibly have, and I believe that the remuneration, if they’ve got a quota, basically is about as good as it would be in any other course of reasonable endeavour.

Mr. Philip: Don’t do that, Bob.

Mr. Nixon: It’s unfortunate that not more farmers have been blessed with all of those purposes, because obviously many farmers are having a difficult time economically. I am one of the fortunate farmers with a bit of additional income from outside; the $ 15,000 indemnity I get goes very nicely with the income from our family farm.

You probably remember, following things as closely as you do, Mr. Speaker, it was in 1971 that I sold the milk quota that I had at that time; the cows had fulfilled that quota. While it was not a mistake for a number of reasons, I will tell you that on the basis of the economy those farmers who went out of dairying at that time and turned to beef as some of us did, certainly now appreciate that while it’s tough to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, there are certain compensations, particularly when the milk cheque comes at the end of the month, which should not be sneezed at

As a matter of fact, just to show how involved in farming I am, a week ago tonight I got home rather late after the session and was informed that my charming wife had been running up and down Highway 5 chasing 50 cows; she was very much in favour of getting out of the beef business without delay. However, that’s another matter.

I did want to say that while I enjoyed the comments by the member for Cornwall and I invite him to examine the record, I certainly want to be very clear that anyone who is associated with the agriculture industry is not so much afraid of the family farm as we were a decade or even five years ago. It has been shown to be the effective economic unit both now and for the foreseeable future. The old NDP myth, the myth that somehow corporate farming is going to squeeze out the family farm, that is not correct and that is not one of the major threats that the farmers face at this time.

Mr. Samis: Lots of other problems, Bob.

Mr. Nixon: The other matter that the hon. member dealt with involved references by Gordon Hill to the bill that is before us. One of the things that concerned me, since I believe this legislation has far-reaching ramifications for the future, is that nobody seems to be interested in what is going on as we debate it in this House. I don’t know whether it’s the hon. member for Cornwall or myself who has driven everybody out of the House, but there are a couple of people unfamiliar to me in the press gallery -- and I hope they are reporting for the farm publications -- I don’t see any members of the federation here. I don’t see the agriculture critic of the NDP.

Mr. Bain: You haven’t been here for the full debate either.

Mr. McClellan: Were you here, Bob?


Mr. Nixon: As a matter of fact, there’s almost a certain degree of irrelevancy when we are debating the bill under these circumstances. However, be that as it may, it is our responsibility to put forward our views. The minister is here, the deputy is here, the former deputy was in the chamber a few minutes ago -- and certain other officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and it could be the changes in the bill are going to be forthcoming before the bill receives royal assent.

Mr. McClellan: Where were you until 5:15?

Mr. Nixon: Back to the comments made by the president of the federation. Gordon Hill commands the respect of farmers and of politicians on all sides. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve known him well and we have had disagreements as well as agreement in this very field.

But I think it is important that the news release from the federation authored by Mr. Hill, and dated October 27, should be a part of the record.

Mr. Philip: We have got you on the record. That is the only reason you are not minister now.

Mr. Nixon: Because almost like politicians the leadership of the Federation of Agriculture probably finds that as time goes on their position tends to intensify and that the views expressed by Mr. Hill in the publication --

Mr. Samis: What does that mean, intensified?

Mr. Nixon: It means get stronger. The views expressed by Mr. Hill in the publication Farm and Country were extremely strong indeed compared with his official pronouncements given to all members of the Legislature under the date of October 27. I quote from what Mr. Hill says.

Mr. Hill explained: “We are very pleased with the changes the government has made in the legislation, but there are a couple of further amendments required if the programme is to be effective. 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’s an opportunity for the federal government to share the cost.”


Mr. Nixon: Now it is true that Mr. Hill went on and rather scathingly attacked the government for not providing a programme which would put more money into the agricultural community. I wish that were so, but I’m not at all sure that the money from public sources should be injected into the agricultural economy through a programme such as this.

I strongly believe that if an overall programme is going to be effective, it shouldn’t cost a dime -- that the money for the farmers and in the agricultural community has got to come from the consumers in the marketplace and that’s got to be our primary goal.

If we are prepared, as are the NDP, to attempt to have it both ways -- a phrase politicians use so often -- with rock-bottom prices in the supermarket and the farmer getting a good return as well, the only way to do that is to take money out of tax sources and give it to the farmers.

The farmers do not want that. I am a farmer and I speak for farmers and my neighbours and believe me they don’t want it. They don’t want to starve either. They don’t want to go without their fair return.

Mr. Bain: They should get into politics like you.

Mr. Nixon: I believe that the best future that the Federation of Agriculture can promote for its members -- and I happen to be a dues-paying one and I hope that many others here are as well -- is to have a good, strong, growing farm organization which in fact will become, if not the single voice for farmers in this province, what is tantamount to a single voice for farmers and see to it that from the marketplace the primary producers get the proper economic return which will give them the cost of their investment as well as a decent return on their labour.

Now for the NDP to suggest that all of that money has to come from public funds is an indication of their commitment to the control of the state in agriculture, which is unacceptable.

Mr. McClellan: Our position is the same as the OFA’s and you know it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: There is no way they can talk about cheap cost in stores and a good return to the farmers, without meaning that the state comes in with massive contributions in the programme they envisage and which we reject.


Mr. Nixon: It is a basic difference, and one that I’m proud of.


Mr. Nixon: Now the amendment to the previous bill did not mean that the minister had to return the bill with the changes that Mr. Hill referred to in his news release, and contributory aspects we’ve been talking about, and the fact that it’s not a mandatory programme, and that there will be farm input -- all of those things are acceptable and the Federation of Agriculture spokesman has accepted them.


Mr. Nixon: I would indicate as well that in the statement I referred to from Mr. Hill, he said there are three things that should be changed. I do want to refer to those three because, unfortunately, Mr. Hill and I and Mr. Hill and this party don’t agree in total in all of them.

First, says Mr. Hill: “The big problem with the bill is that for all commodities it only supports the difference between 90 per cent of the five-year average price and 95 per cent of the five-year average price. That’s okay for commodities with a federal stabilization plan but it’s extremely punishing for commodities without a federal plan. In the absence of the federal plan, the provincial plan should provide full protection.”

This is a difference of opinion which has already been expressed because there are those here who say if the Minister of Agriculture federally has not got them included in the federal plan, how do we know that he will include them in the future? It’s a valid question because it may be that the will not include them in the future.

My colleague, our agricultural critic, the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex, has indicated that he has confidence that the federal plan can be expanded quite readily to include any programme that is requested by the growers concerned. I can say to you -- and I may be naive but I don’t believe I am -- that I believe the federal programme can be expanded in such a way as well. There has been no indication in any instance where a viable request has been made of the federal authorities that has been turned down by Gene Whelan in this connection. There has been a question of what about a cow-calf operation programme? We have one already in the province of Ontario and, frankly, being associated with it myself, I would say it is a viable programme and I don’t see why Gene Whelan should stand up in the House of Commons and say: “Gosh. I don’t think those people in Ontario should be spending that money. Let us spend it for them.”

There would be no reason why Whelan, being a hard-headed farmer and taxpayer, would want to spend the money federally if somebody in the province of Ontario is going to spend it. In my view, this is the main reason why we should leave the bill as it is because there has been no indication in any statement from the federal minister and there has been nothing in our experience from the commodity groups that have requested designation under the federal programme that he would turn them down. Of course, there’s an obvious reason why I would have perhaps more confidence in Mr. Whelan than anybody else in the House. I know him well and I do have confidence in him. I do believe he is the best Minister of Agriculture that Canada has ever had.

Mr. Bain: There must have been some bad ones then.

Mr. Nixon: He has the interests of the farmers at heart and there is no reason in the world why a legitimate requested designation would be turned down.

Mr. Stokes: Does red meat make people ferocious?

Mr. Nixon: Mashed potatoes make them mild and that’s what the member has been eating.

According to Mr. Hill, he says that’s okay for commodities with a federal stabilization plan. He’s concerned that there may not be a federal plan. We in the Liberal Party are convinced that if it is needed, there will be. Let me say further that if for any reason we are disappointed, then surely this House can take whatever action is necessary to provide that designation. There is no reason why that can’t be done.

I just want to say again, going back to that cow-calf operation, the reason there isn’t a federal one of significance applying in Ontario is that we have got one. How much of our money are we using to fund it this year?

Hon. W. Newman: About $22.5 million or $21.5 million.

Mr. Nixon: About $22 million. I would say again there is no reason why Whelan should get into it because we have pre-empted it. If we pre-empt all the other programmes, he is going to say: “Great, those rich Tories in Ontario are going to pay the bills for us and that’s probably the way it should be because Ontario is a rich province.” As a member here and a taxpayer, not only in Ontario but in Canada, I would prefer to pay only one and I would prefer if possible for the money to come from Ottawa. I believe if we amend the bill along the line of Mr. Hill’s request, then we are going to interfere with federal initiative and I don’t want to do that.

Mr. Shore: Are you guys scared of Mr. Hill?

Mr. Nixon: As for the second request from Mr. Hill, I quote from his news release of October 27. He said: “Secondly, the indexing system for adjusting payments to keep up with inflation should cover all production costs rather than just the items that the farmer must buy. This could include a return for the farmer’s labour and investment.”

I believe that this bill that is before us has been improved substantially from the costs that would have been included in the bill that was before us in the spring or early summer. They do not however include the cost of investment capital. And my colleague the member for Huron-Middlesex, when he was talking about this, made some facetious reference to “his friend, Bob Nixon, who didn’t have to pay interest on his land.”

That is correct. The farm I have has been in the family for five generations, and I don’t believe any interest on the land has been paid after 1850. That is a tremendous advantage. It really is a tremendous advantage because the farmers that I compete with who have had to go for even government subsidized loans, pay very high interest rates indeed. And they have got to make those payments as well as payments in principal out of the same profits that are available to them as compared with me.

But suppose that Mr. Hill’s suggestion that it could be included was followed and a programme establishing a price, including the interest payments were payable --


Mr. Nixon: Whether or not I would be eligible I think is academic. But let us say that the payments to farmers who do not have interest payments -- and there are plenty of them in century farms; in our township half the farms are century farms, and I would predict there will be double century farms if you want to wait around long enough --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The interjections are not contributing to the debate.

Mr. Nixon: -- the payments payable to them would be unfairly high, and we would have established a programme which would be to the benefit of the larger established farmers, rather than for the young farmers who should be relying on government programmes here to give them a decent return competitively from the marketplace, rather than some sort of an equalized handout that is going to put money in my pocket -- that is an old, established farmer -- rather than somebody who is trying to move forward in the competitive arrangement.

I submit to you that that objection to Mr. Hill’s suggestion is a valid one. I referred it to a number of farmers and most of them agree with my contention. I would suggest to you that even my friend from Cornwall, a most reasonable person, who says that he really favours the family farm -- and I believe that he does, now that he knows the ramifications of his previous statement --

Mr. Samis: Don’t take my statement out of context.


Mr. Nixon: -- that even he would see that the cry from the NDP that all those interest costs have got to be included is superficial. It simply means they have not examined what will actually happen and means they are favouring a change which is going to put public money into the hands of the big farmers. Even the corporate farmers that the member for Cornwall is so concerned with.

Third -- and I quote from Mr. Hill’s release: “Finally, the support level is too rigid. The bill states that the support level must be 95 per cent of the five-year average price, adjusted for changes in some input costs. But in some commodities where overproduction is feared, producers may not want a support level that is that high.”

For an opposition member to move an amendment that the level of support should not be 95 per cent but up to it, is very readily misunderstood by people who are only superficially involved with this important matter, because they say that member doesn’t want to put money in the farmer’s pocket. But here is a main spokesman for the farm community saying in some circumstances a support level of 95 per cent will in fact be an incentive, and that is the last thing we want.

I would hope the Minister of Agriculture and Food may in fact respond to that request from Mr. Hill and if he does we will have a chance to discuss it in committee.


Mr. Nixon: I don’t know how important it is but it seems to make sense to me, because the big problem -- let’s say in one of the really strongly controlled producer items: milk -- is that if you are going to have a good price where the farmer is going to make money on it then the production capacity is almost unlimited. If the farmer can make a reasonable return on the production of milk we can just float the community away in milk. That is what has happened and what got my friend Gene Whelan into some trouble, because particularly in the manufactured milk area there were not stringent enough production controls and the price went up far higher than it is in the competitive states like New York.

Mr. Samis: It should be.

Mr. Nixon: Well, the member lives next to the border, and he knows what the people can buy milk for across the border compared with Cornwall, so I am not saying that the price of milk is too high, far from it. I am saying if the price is at an incentive level then there must be the most rigid forms of control, because any farmer, like any businessman, is going to look at the regulations and say, “Ah ha, I can put on another five cows there, or I can buy a few more tons of concentrate, or I can do something else to produce more milk,” because he wants to make money -- and there’s nothing wrong with that. That is precisely what the problem was in the milk marketing scheme over the last few months -- the price was an incentive price and the controls weren’t rigid enough.


Mr. Philip: Are you near the end of your speech?

Mr. Warner: This is just the preamble.

Mr. Nixon: Oh, no. I’ve got a long time to go yet. I just want to make another reference to one of the NDP statements which came from their agriculture critic, the member for York South. I agree with what the member for Cornwall said about the qualities of the member for York South. I’ve been at agricultural meetings where he would sit quietly in the back, ask questions when he wanted some information and where he really has done a good job on it. But he said something in his introductory remarks that really bothered me. If I were the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) I would say “there is a philosophical difference between us.” He said, and I wrote the words down as he said them: “Free enterprise does not exist in agriculture.”

If he’s right, all of the farmers in this province are wrong. And I’m telling you that they are not wrong. They are not wrong.

Mr. Samis: That is out of context.

Mr. Nixon: The context was precisely as I put it to you. He said that free enterprise does not exist in agriculture, and I would say --

Mr. Samis: Why don’t you have some free enterprise, then?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: -- that it might not exist if, heaven help us, the NDP ever imposed their programme on the farm community of this province. They will not be imposing that programme because farmers are committed to the free enterprise system which is a workable system.

Mr. Bain: You would not impose anything then?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: There are certainly controlled products. I’ve already spoken about milk. Tobacco and other important products that are grown in my constituency are rigidly controlled. It is so rigidly controlled by the vote of the farmers that the marketing board can fly over in an airplane and take a picture, they can go into the farmer’s property without his leave, measure it off with a chain and rip out the rows of tobacco for which no direct marketing board authority has been obtained. That’s just about the strictest control you could possibly have, and yet --

Mr. Warner: Where is that?

Mr. Nixon: All of the flue-cured tobacco in the province of Ontario.

Somebody just mentioned that there are violators. There are practically none, because in the farm community there is strong support for this kind of control. But even with that kind of control, the price of tobacco is low compared with the costs that the farmers have undertaken. There is real concern that even these rigid controls are not going to be sufficient to give the farmers the sort of return that they want.

The point is that if you are going to have a programme which included the points that the NDP have put forward so strongly, they would have to be accompanied by this sort of rigid control in every commodity, particularly the primary products. Milk is not a primary product. We’re particularly talking about the grain crops and so on.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Ms. Gigantes: What does voluntary mean?

Mr. Nixon: I’m telling you that the farmers in this province have got the most amazing capacity to produce products, primary and otherwise, if they can make any reasonable return on them at all. We, of course, are concerned about the retention of our productive food lands. But we are a long way from any food shortage in the market for which we grow in this province or in this country. Most of the farmers I know are idling along at about 30 per cent of what they could produce if they could make money out of what they grow. They’re quite content to leave a field of alfalfa in for another year or two rather than rip it up when it starts to thin out --

Hon. W. Newman: Winter kill.

Mr. Nixon: -- or winter kill, because the cost of the seed and so on, and what you can get for the hay or from the products of the hay just doesn’t make it worthwhile. But if we had an economy where the farmers could make a profit from using their best talents, why our production would go up by at least a factor of three and perhaps a factor of five -- maybe even more.

One of the things that attracted me to John Diefenbaker, almost enough to vote for him in 1958 -- not quite, not quite -- is when he said to those western farmers, “Alvin, we’ll sell your wheat, you just grow it.” Wouldn’t it be a marvellous thing in the farm community of Ontario if somehow somebody could say that to us and mean it, and we could believe in it? We could go out into our fields and grow. We would be able to produce food that would feed the Indian sub-continent -- I’m telling you we would -- because the production capacity of this province hasn’t even been scratched.

So we’re just talking about how unreasonable the approach from the NDP is. They’re saying it’s just voluntary. In other words, the farmers who choose to do so can make a contribution and get the kind of return they are talking about.

If there is an incentive, even a small incentive, to farmers who are very canny businessmen -- believe me, there is nothing unsophisticated about farmers who are looking after their own businesses -- they will detect that profit there. The farmers will move into it and the oversupply problem will be one which will make the oversupply problem in milk in the last few months seem like no problem at all.

I would say that we’re going to offer some amendments. My colleague, the agriculture critic in our party, has referred to the fact that we want the farmers to have direct nomination to the board.

I’m a little concerned that there’ll be one from the federation, one from the farmer’s union and one from the Christian Farmers. I don’t believe that’s fair. It might be all right for starters but if we’re going to have a farm stabilization programme which is going to exist and be meaningful and grow in its concept, I really think that commission is going to have to be directly responsible to the farmers, like the Milk Marketing Board is, by election.

I really don’t think it’s good enough to have one from the federation, one from the union -- which has 400 members, I read the other day -- and one from the Christian Farmers. They’re all very able organizations with good research and so on, but if there’s any justice at all the federation, which is by far the largest and commands the responsibility and respect of most of the farmers, surely is going to expect a larger voice in the workings of that commission.

I hope somebody can put their minds to that because we have sweated about trying to put it forward in some fair way. I would think that if this is going to be established and is going to grow and become a real presence in the agricultural economy of the future, the appointment of that commission is going to have to be something other than the very simple aspect of the amendment, which I believe my colleague will be putting forward, for a representative from each organization.

I might as well let it go at that. I believe the bill is an important one. Obviously there are many inadequacies in it but if we establish this commission which is responsive to the farmers and not to anybody else -- and I believe that’s important -- we will have taken a strong step in the right direction.

I should say that one of the things which concerns me about the responsibility of the minister is that he heads a ministry called Agriculture and Food. I believe those two things cannot go together in the sense that some people think they should. The consumers must be represented by somebody other than the Minister of Agriculture and Food, unless his job is to represent the farm industry and to assure the quality of the food and to ensure, as well, a viable farm industry economically and otherwise. If he’s not doing that, then he’s not doing his job.

All of us are concerned about the consumers. Since we sold the cows we drink more milk than we ever did before and I know about the price and all those things. We’re all concerned about the consumers, but I believe that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) ought to be worrying about the price and what happens in the middle operations and so on. I would suggest to the minister that if he wants to bring in some sort of an amendment which emphasizes that his responsibility is to the agricultural community I, for one, would support it.

Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, could I adjourn the debate?

Mr. Speaker: We won’t adjourn the debate. Could you not make a worthwhile contribution in five minutes and then continue afterwards please?

Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, I support the bill. I do not say it’s the last answer to all problems, but nevertheless a great transition has taken place since I first came here.

In 1948, I remember in our area the average farmer would have perhaps $5,000 invested in implements. Today, in a mechanical age, to keep modern --

Mr. Philip: Now he’s $100,000 in debt.

Mr. Villeneuve: -- and enlarge his operation, he’s got $150,000 invested. Therefore, he’s got to have some security because the elements, like weather, are something none of us can control. Supply and demand have control of the markets.

If we in Ontario alone took a parochial or provincial point of view, we would have no problems because we happen to have a third of the population in this country.

Mr. Samis: Not in the Ottawa Valley.

Mr. Villeneuve: Unfortunately, we’ve got to trade across the country where there are free boundaries and free access to other markets. To try to say that this should be a provincial bill without tie-ins with the federal bill is utterly impossible as I see it, because the federal government has reciprocal arrangements with the United States. They are tied with GATT contracts with the food-producing countries of the world. Therefore, there are many complicated factors that do not make it just quite as easy as it would appear.

My friend from Cornwall mentioned British Columbia. If you take it on the whole, British Columbia is a deficiency province. It doesn’t produce sufficient agricultural products to feed its population. But take Alberta, right next to it. It produces 40 per cent of the top grade beef for Canada. After all, what will apply in the one place where there is a supply and demand shortage and in other places where they have a great surplus makes a great deal of difference when one has to control it. We’ve found that out with milk.

Mr. Philip: That is why we need a marketing board.

Mr. Villeneuve: Therefore, I can understand that certainly there may be amendments that will improve the bill. I’m a free enterpriser. People opposite may think they may have the answers, but it takes the best brains in the country and we’ve got a long way to go to resolve these problems. I realize that.

In the time allotted to me -- I’ll make it as short as I can -- I would point out that there are some products here that are covered that are not covered under the federal bill.

Mr. Speaker: If the hon. member is going to get into another branch of his talk, I would recognize the clock if it would be his wish.

The House recessed at 6 o’clock.