The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Ruston: There are pretty slim pickings over there.
Mr. Wildman: Suppose they called a war and nobody came.
Mr. Stong: You’d better come up with some answers, eh, guys?
Mr. S. Smith: With respect, Mr. Speaker, I’ll withhold my questions until some of the senior ministers appear.
Mr. Peterson: The dregs on Monday morning.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: I appreciate having the chance to ask questions first off, Mr. Speaker. I hope that in future I’ll have the chance to reply to them first off.
An hon. member: Don’t hold your breath.
Mr. Peterson: Who is this guy?
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question I want to pose to the Minister of Industry and Tourism, with whom I shared a plane up to New Liskeard last week. It arises out of the rather surprising comments he had to make in the course of his speech to the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities.
In view of the minister’s comments that “the only way this part of Ontario will continue to grow is through the effort of local initiative” and that “government has a limited function,” can the minister say whether it is now government policy that the municipalities of the north are to be left alone to their own devices to seek industry; and, even granted the enormous capability of northerners, does the government feel that will be an effective economic policy to bring down unemployment and ensure a sound and prosperous economic future for northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, of course, has me at a disadvantage in that he did have the opportunity to hear my remarks. Fortunately, I was able to leave before he made his.
Mr. Warner: That was the minister’s poor judgement.
Mr. Deans: The minister might even have been fortunate if he could have left before he heard his own.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member knows full well that was not what was being said. He knows full well that the contents of the remarks were that, in conjunction with the activities of other levels of government, it always has been and always will be the initiative put forth by the people of northern Ontario that has helped them to prosper and to live reasonably well in that part of the province.
I don’t have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that northerners have not always run around with their hands out to different levels of government. They have worked hard for what they have got and they will continue to do that, and if the member has no more confidence in the people of northern Ontario than displayed by those remarks, then I hope they treat his party appropriately at the next election.
An hon. member: They don’t get much from you.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the House that in the past this government has at least had a commitment to effective planning in conjunction with local communities for northern development, even though that has not been carried out. Can the minister explain, in view of his response, exactly what it means when he said later in his speech that by and large our future depends more on what we do for ourselves and collectively as a community, than to stand aside hoping for the senior levels of government to show us the way or to come to our rescue? Is the government now pulling the plug and simply leaving northern Ontario to stand on its own without any partnership at all?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is really asking questions to which he himself knows the obvious answers. The recent conference held in Sudbury --
Mr. Swart: The government has let the north down again.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You don’t know where the north is.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- at which time this government committed itself to substantial financial involvement in the Sudbury area, indicated the amounts of money being made available to northern Ontario municipalities through the Ministry of Northern Affairs; the government intends to continue with these programs.
What I was saying in my remarks was that in conjunction with existing programs, the people in the north, in each of these municipalities -- though widely removed from each other both geographically and in some cases in what their particular goals are -- that their local initiative in each of those communities is what has made them survive so far and made them thrive in many cases; and that, combined with the efforts of both senior levels of government, can make the north continue to be a pretty desirable place in which to live.
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: Given the importance of local initiative, as the minister has pointed out, does the minister think small northern communities in general have the expertise and the financial resources to be able to do the research and analysis necessary to determine what industries will be viable in the long term for their areas unless there is some kind of major co-ordinating effort by the provincial ministry?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct when he draws to everyone’s attention that the smaller communities obviously do not have the necessary resources. It is for this reason that in my remarks I suggested they perhaps should try to work closer together, in one instance for example to get an industrial development officer who might serve more than one community.
Mr. Deans: That can’t work and you know it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Of course it can work.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On top of that I would like to think that the people who are in the ministry -- in the industrial development branch, in the tourism development branch -- that this is the reason they are out there, to work with those small communities and to help them. We are quite aware of the fact they cannot do it on their own, they don’t have the financial resources.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary: How does the minister think the last budget will help the northern communities in terms of research and development since there was absolutely nothing for research in general, and especially for northern communities and for the processing industry that may eventually be created in northern Ontario? Has the government any plan whatsoever to develop any special kind of technology which is suited to northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I think in the provincial budget, as well as in the federal budget, there were concessions made to companies that would be involved in research and development projects. Certainly we don’t have any specific technological programs designed specifically for northern Ontario’s communities, no, we don’t have that. I suggest that if a company is going to be doing research and development, if a company is looking for a place where it can do this research and development as it involves the resource industries, then certainly northern Ontario is the place to do it.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the comments, again made by the minister, and I quote, “the nature of competition for industry is now a serious game which involves the full weight of powerful governments,” as well as other matters in the international scene which he mentioned; can the minister explain why, in Ontario alone, the powerful government of this province is simply getting out of the act completely and leaving it up to small northern municipalities to try to somehow survive and make headway on their own?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That is so much hogwash and the hon. member knows it.
Mr. MacDonald: Your grandstanding is hogwash.
Mr. Eakins: You’re just a patsy, John, that’s all you are.
An hon. member: What’s hogwash?
Mr. Breaugh: You are an expert on hogwash, we’ll accept that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I want to tell you that is a good rural term.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I’ve been told a lot of things but not that.
Mr. Breaugh: Don’t get upset, John.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you people had some farm members you would understand that.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s not a good pre-election statement.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, what I was drawing to the attention of the members of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities is that Ontario, along with other jurisdictions, is suddenly faced with some very severe competition in the way of incentive grants, giveaway programs, that have been established in bordering states and in other countries.
This government has recognized that as an area at which we have to look very seriously; we have to make a value decision as to whether or not this province is going to get into that sort of bidding war that’s now going on for the sake of getting development into our jurisdiction. It may very well be we’ll have to do that --
Mr. Wildman: Are you going to do that now to attract an auto parts plant?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- but that decision has not yet been made.
Mr. Cassidy: It must have been proximity to the minister on Friday that has led me to want to direct a second question to him.
In view of the minister’s comments in the Legislature on Friday that the government is tired of waiting for the federal government to act on the buy-Canadian policy which was originally proposed by this party and subsequently taken up by the Premier (Mr. Davis) at the first ministers’ conference in February; and in view of his comments to the effect that he feels it is obvious the federal government is not going to act, can the minister now give details to the House of the nature of the buy-Canadian policy which the Ontario government intends to introduce? Can he tell the House when Ontario intends to take this initiative in order to start helping to create more jobs in Canada now?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I cannot give the House the details of the program, they are just being finalized.
Mr. Warner: You have been finalizing for the last two months.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am pleased to say I saw a copy of a Telex this morning from the Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce in Ottawa which indicates the federal government is now prepared to start into a program. They’ve asked us to make contact at the civil service level to co-ordinate the program, therefore I’d like to wait and see what the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce proposes. I believe it is much better to work together rather than as 10 individual governments across the country.
Mr. Cassidy: I find it difficult to conceal my amazement that after these many decades the federal and provincial governments are now beginning to think of some action.
Could the minister say whether Ontario will insist on the inclusion of buy-Canadian directives to governments and government agencies in this province when the buy-Canadian policy is brought in? Will directives ensure that, where price and quality are comparable, government or tax-supported agencies do buy products made in this province or this country? Would they also ensure, where a large number of purchases of foreign products are involved, that governments act in order to encourage the creation of production of those products within Canada?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, this government is certainly very much in support of a buy-Canadian policy. At the first ministers’ conference in Ottawa that was a policy adopted in a general way, I think rather conclusively, more so than in the past, by all governments attending.
I want to say to the hon. member we have attempted in the past, and we will continue, to buy Canadian wherever possible, where price and quality are comparable; but I don’t think this government, nor do I think any other government in Canada, is prepared to start following an isolationist policy.
Mr. M. Davidson: A supplementary question: Is the minister prepared then, following his statement, to consult with his colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), and ensure that the textile products being used in the hospitals of Ontario today are manufactured and produced in Canada, and preferably in Ontario? There are in use today towels, bedspreads, et cetera, being manufactured in Taiwan, Korea and various other countries.
Mr. Deans: Especially baby clothes.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, we will be having discussions with other ministries, not only the Ministry of Health, as it relates to purchasing practices. Certainly I will be having discussions with the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson) through whose ministry most of the purchasing for government is done.
The points raised by the hon. member are valid and we have been looking at them; but I must hasten to point out to hon. members that as far as the acquisition of goods made offshore and their access to Canadian markets, that is a matter dealt with under trade and tariff arrangements at the federal level. This government has made submissions to the federal government as they relate to the present negotiations that are going on regarding tariff and trade; we have said that we are concerned about the effects that any negotiations and finalized agreements may have on this province and on its industrial and manufacturing capabilities; but those policies, as far as imports are concerned, are made at the federal level.
As far as purchasing is concerned, I repeat I will certainly discuss that with my colleagues.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Premier, what have you done? There is nobody near you. Where are your colleagues?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Working.
Mr. Bradley: Have they all resigned?
Mrs. Campbell: You have it all to yourself, but you are used to that.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Is the government prepared to ensure, as part of the buy-Canadian policy as and when it comes forward, that the difficulties the consumers now experience in finding out whether goods offered in the marketplace are in fact Canadian-made or come from abroad are overcome, so that both in the store and also in advertising in catalogues there is a clear identification of Canadian-made goods?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I completely agree with the hon. member. That is a very real part of the program we are developing in Ontario: the identification, very clear identification, of products that are made in Canada. That is part of our buy-Canadian program we are developing. I will be very pleased to present that to this House when that program has been finalized; that is a very big part of what we are doing.
Mr. Speaker: Is the hon. Leader of the Opposition ready with his first question?
Mr. S. Smith: I might as well. There are a number of questions that I am sure I can reserve to another day.
Mr. S. Smith: I will ask the Minister of Government Services, with regard to the very earnest desire on the part of the city of Hamilton to move ahead with the redevelopment of the centre of town and eventually build a convention centre, hotel complex and so on, that since the office tower which has been promised, lo, these many years -- I think the last 11 years at every election -- since the office tower promised by the provincial government is the keystone to the entire project, can the minister now tell us whether, as a result of his excellent conversations with the mayor of that area and his consultations with his cabinet colleagues, the government is prepared to keep its promise and put up the full price of a 14-storey office tower so that Hamilton can go ahead with its very major redevelopment?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I made our position quite clear during the estimates, that the government was prepared to proceed provided satisfactory arrangements can be worked out through the city of Hamilton. There have been two letters back and forth between the city and myself. I have had the mayor of Hamilton in to see me, along with the deputy mayor and one of the staff from city hall, and I am confident that within a few weeks or a few months -- a few weeks, I’ll leave it that way -- we will be able to work out a satisfactory agreement with all concerned and this $35 million project will get under way. It will make work for 400 people a year for the next four years. I am very proud of the project.
Mr. S. Smith: I am very pleased to hear that. I look forward to the passage of those few weeks to which the minister refers.
Do I take it, then, that as part of that agreement the provincial government will in fact live up to its original promise to pay for the cost of the office building?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: There is no disagreement between the city of Hamilton and the government over the office building. That’s a straight responsibility of the government of Ontario.
Mr. McKessock: You didn’t answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: There’s just no disagreement between us.
Mr. Deans: There never has been, as I recall.
Supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: I would like to ask the minister whether or not, since there is no disagreement on the office tower and never was, he is prepared to raise the ante to 50 per cent of the total cost of the convention centre, as the government indicated it would in 1967?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ian, Brampton has had nothing.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I have never made that commitment.
Mr. Deans: But the government has.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will give you a legal opinion, Stuart.
Mr. S. Smith: I need a financial one and an educated one; can the Premier handle all those?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, sure.
Mr. S. Smith: I’ll ask a question of the Solicitor General, if I might. Is the Solicitor General as disturbed as some others are regarding the apparent increase in the amount of drug movement that seems to be occurring in this area? Has he read articles which refer to Toronto as the “speed capital of the world”; and which refer to multi-million dollar seizures of cocaine and amphetamines in this area?
What is the Solicitor General’s view of this situation? Has there been an increase in the amount of drug material being transported and exchanged here in the Toronto area? Has this resulted, to his knowledge, in any increase in drug usage or other reported crimes related to drugs in the Toronto area? Is there any relationship to organized crime given what seems to be an increasing number of articles appearing in the public press on this subject?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, there has always been a substantial amount of drug use in this part of the province, as well as certain other parts of the country. I think one of the main reasons we’re hearing more about it today is because of some success in police efforts to make arrests and to discover the trafficking that’s going on, particularly a certain amount of international trafficking.
When you have a large airport, for example, within the area such as Metropolitan Toronto and Malton, there is bound to be a certain amount of extraordinary activity. But the fact is that there has been a great deal of success in the last two or three weeks in making some arrests. This has been the result of a number of months of surveillance and police activity; combined forces activity involving both the RCMP, our own OPP and Metro forces, as well as other international police forces. So the positive part of it is the fact that this surveillance is resulting in arrests and resulting in the seizure of large quantities of drugs.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, has the Solicitor General asked for a report from his officers regarding whether there has been an increase in the usage of these drugs, as far as can be determined; and whether there has been an increase in the number of charges brought, not merely as the result of proficient police work but as the result of an increased amount of crime? Have these apparent seizures and other matters that have been related to the public via the media been in any way related to organized crime, to the knowledge of the minister?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: There has been no indication that the use of drugs has increased substantially in the past three or four months. There is no indication that arrests, for possession for example, have increased substantially over, say the latter part of last year. As I indicated, we are having some success in nailing the traffickers and making a substantial amount of drug cache seizures.
Organized crime is involved in drug trafficking, of course, and some of the arrests indicate recently that this is part of an organized criminal conspiracy.
Mr. Lupusella: Supplementary: Considering that drug use might very well be linked to organized crime, is the Solicitor General considering that a royal commission inquiry is appropriate at this point in time, or is he of the opinion that organized crime in the province of Ontario is under control?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Sticking to the subject of the Leader of the Opposition’s original question and the information that I have given, there have been a number of arrests and there has been some success in police investigations in recent months; and this has been done without any royal commission and the type of hearings that took place in the province of Quebec, for example. In other words, we feel that hard police investigation resulting in arrests and the picking up of large quantities of drugs is better than an open inquiry or hearing that may in fact hamper that type of police investigation.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for St. George; the final supplementary.
Mrs. Campbell: Has there been any recent report from any of the police jurisdictions -- RCMP, OPP or Metro -- as to the ongoing involvement of children in this drug trafficking? If there hasn’t, would the minister inquire as to what the status is today?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I am not aware of any extraordinary activity in that area, but I will find out.
Mr. S. Smith: With your indulgence Mr. Speaker, I would ask a brief final supplementary.
The minister says there is evidence from the arrests which have been made of what he calls an organized criminal conspiracy. He said that in response to my question about organized crime. By that, did he mean to say it involved groups that have been involved or have been suspected of being involved in more than just drug trafficking as a crime, but are involved in a number of criminal activities in the usual sense of the words “organized crime” other than simple organized drug peddling?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: No, Mr. Speaker, the information I have, and it is as a result of some of the newspaper articles that the hon. member has been referring to, has been in relation to drug trafficking -- the whole relation of trafficking and distribution -- and possession particularly on an international basis in the area of drugs.
I haven’t attempted, for example, to go back to see the source of this operation. The police investigation really hasn’t gone that far yet. There have been some arrests made; there have been charges laid; drugs have been seized. There will be further charges, I expect, but there will also be trials of the individuals who have been charged. That may well indicate that behind the people who are directly involved, or who have been arrested and charged, is some sort of international conspiracy.
HYDRO BOAT TENDERS
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. It has been brought to my attention by Richardson boat works of Meaford that Ontario Hydro is sending out invitations to tender for the building of a boat. The way these documents are worded makes it impossible for companies to tender in a responsible manner.
Is the minister aware that these invitations to tender make no mention as to the size of the boat other than that it should have a back deck of 10 feet clear space and be capable of holding five people? No mention is given of the material that is to be used, or as to whether it is to be a 20- or a 40-foot boat. Is the minister aware of that? Is this another case where the contract has already been arranged and the sending of these invitations to tender to other companies is just a formality?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of this particular incident. However, I do appreciate that it has been brought to my attention and I would like to assure the member opposite that I will look into this and report back to him directly or to this House.
Mr. McKessock: In view of the fact that these tenders close on May 3, would the minister have Ontario Hydro extend the closing date and provide the companies with specific drawings of the boat it wishes to have built so that every company can tender in a fair and responsible manner?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, since I don’t know the details of the case, I don’t know whether it is even within my mandate to expect that kind of requirement. But as I promised, I will look into this case and report back. Particularly because of the nature of the case, I will do so very quickly.
LUNG CANCER CASES
Mr. Mackenzie: To the Minister of Labour: In view of the latest shenanigans of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, would the minister inform the House as to where the buck stops in terms of the Workmen’s Compensation Board? Is the minister responsible for the policies of the board, and does the minister agree with the comments of the board chairman that he doesn’t have much time for the remarks of people he considers to be prejudiced to the decisions of the board?
Mr. Deans: That includes most of us I think.
Mr. Mackenzie: Further, would the minister table in this House the confidential company report from Eldorado, which according to Dr. Charles Stewart of the board was the basis of the decision to reject the claim for lung cancer for Ronald Hills, who died at 49 years of age after 22 years working in the Eldorado uranium refinery?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge there are no shenanigans at all at the board at this time or at any other time. They are as usual attempting to do their job responsibly.
Mr. Wildman: Nothing ever happens at the board!
Hon. B. Stephenson: The two cases of lung cancer which have been examined by the board related to Eldorado were two different diagnoses with two different lengths of exposure, and I am informed that an appeal has been launched on behalf of the widow of Mr. Hills. That appeal date I think has been set.
Mr. Warner: That is not the question.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It would be, I think, inappropriate for me to say much more about that right at the moment, except to say I have not seen the confidential information from Eldorado. I have no idea why Eldorado, which I would remind members is a federal Crown corporation, has decided this information must be kept confidential.
Mr. di Santo: It doesn’t matter.
Mr. Lewis: It is not their decision. It is the board’s decision.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is not the board’s usual position. And it is not the board’s decision --
Mr. Lewis: That is nonsense. That is absolutely wrong.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- because this was based on information which came from Eldorado related to the time exposure of the individual worker.
Mr. MacDonald: You are misleading the House again.
Mr. Renwick: You cannot hide behind that façade.
Mr. Mackenzie: According to the press reports of this morning, “Dr. Charles Stewart, chest specialist at the WCB, said that the radiation exposure for Mr. Hills was determined by Eldorado and is contained in a confidential report with the board”.
I am asking the minister, will she not file this? On whose say-so was the report not included in his file? Was it because the union was going there to take a look at the file? Since when does this kind of deceit and denial of information become a policy to replace the recommendations of James Ham that we should have an open flow of information between government, industry and workers?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, an investigation is being carried on right now by the board to find out why that piece of information disappeared.
Mr. Warner: You will do nothing.
Mr. McClellan: You have already covered it up.
Mr. Warner: The board does what it pleases.
Hon. B. Stephenson: To my knowledge it was not the board’s decision that this was to be considered confidential.
Mr. MacDonald: That is what you call shenanigans.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding that Eldorado said it was to be considered confidential, not the board.
Mr. MacDonald: And now you are trying to clean up the shenanigans.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, can the minister explain to the House how a reasonable appeal can be launched on behalf of the worker who died when the crucial piece of information is kept as confidential between the board and the company? Doesn’t it offend the minister that the board should behave in that fashion, and can she not somehow introduce an element of justice in this particular case?
Mr. Mackenzie: Deceit.
Mr. MacDonald: Shenanigans.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not at all sure that the board is responsible for the disappearance of that piece of paper, nor am I sure that indeed it was not the federal Crown corporation that was responsible for denying the public access to this piece of documentation.
Mr. Lewis: But it is at the board.
Mr. McClellan: It is in the board’s possession.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is what the investigation is about, Mr. Speaker, and when that is completed I shall be happy to report to this House. That information must be available to those who are appealing the case.
Mr. Warner: You will do nothing.
Mr. MacDonald: Obviously there were shenanigans.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask a final supplementary? Accepting this elaborate rationale from the minister, can she explain why it would be a policy of the board to accept confidential information from a company on which the board bases its decision against the worker, and then not allow the worker’s widow or the worker’s representative to have access to the same information? Does that sound fair, or does it sound like shenanigans?
Mr. Mackenzie: Deceit and denial.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I cannot explain it, and it does not sound fair, but I do not believe that the board was responsible for that statement --
Mr. MacDonald: Don’t deny that there are shenanigans then.
Mr. Warner: You offer excuses for the board.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- of confidentiality regarding that piece of information.
Mr. Lewis: But why?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It was not available to anyone in the file when it was asked for.
Mr. Warner: A special assurance by the board and it was not available to anyone.
Mr. Lewis: Clearly it was available to the board.
Mr. McClellan: The board had it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It cannot be found at the moment, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Warner: The board had it. Stop being silly.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The chairman of the board is conducting an investigation to find the piece of paper. It was information which was developed by Eldorado and not by the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Treasurer has the answer to a question asked previously.
Mr. Breaugh: Darcy’s last speech.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVIEWS
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, there have been several questions both inside and outside the House as to what the government plans are for responding to the reviews of local government that have been completed for Metropolitan Toronto, Ottawa-Carleton and Niagara. I can now inform the members, in response to those questions, that I will be releasing white papers and certain recommendations that would affect the arrangements in these local governments in the very near future.
I will release a white paper and recommendations for Metropolitan Toronto on May 4 at 10 a.m., and at 4 p.m. the same day I shall go to St. Catharines to release a white paper and recommendations for Niagara. Both statements will, of course, be tabled in the House that day.
Mr. Lewis: Then the Premier (Mr. Davis) is keeping the Treasurer, is he? The word is out.
Mr. Deans: He’s keeping him on, is he?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: On Monday, May 8, at 8 p.m., I will meet with the municipal leaders in Ottawa to release to them the white paper and recommendations affecting their regional municipality. The paper will be tabled in the House the following day. The Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) will be making statements on separate dates with respect to educational matters in Metropolitan Toronto and Ottawa-Carleton.
An hon. member: They’ll be sorry.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I can also indicate that I expect to receive the report of the review commissioners for the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth on May 10 in Hamilton.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And you should all be there.
Mr. Deans: In what capacity will he be acting by that time?
An hon. member: Minister of Southern Affairs.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Can the minister elaborate on the statement to say whether it is now the government’s intention to bring in legislation based on the white papers which he will be releasing in early May?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: One step at a time, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Lewis: That’s what they’ve been telling you these last five weeks.
Mr. Cassidy: I think I have heard that one before.
In view of the fact that municipal leaders, including the city clerks and the politicians who may be affected, will want to be making plans about whether to adapt to new arrangements or to go forward with the old arrangements, and in view of the fact that the municipal election date has been brought forward into November by action of this Legislature, can the minister say specifically whether legislation will be coming forward to be passed before we adjourn in June?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t think I can add to what I have said. Obviously we will be releasing white papers; whether they proceed to legislation and whether this Legislature proceeds to enact them, I think is speculation at this moment.
I would simply point out, with respect to the problem which certain clerks seem to be having on a number of occasions in the restructuring of local government, the Legislature has passed legislation as late as the end of June and elections have been held in October, not even in November, and the clerks seem to have coped with that problem. I do not doubt that they would be able to cope with a problem of a somewhat lesser nature this year.
Mrs. Campbell: They are very efficient.
Mr. Speaker: Before I call on the hon. member for Niagara Falls, I would like to remind hon. members that we have three distinguished visitors in our gallery. From New Zealand, we have Mr. Barry H. Brooks, the Acting Deputy High Commissioner for New Zealand, Hon. H. R. (Harry) Lapwood, the Minister of Tourism for New Zealand, and Mr. Phillip Harland, the Consul for New Zealand. Would you welcome them to our assembly?
PREMIUM ON U.S. FUNDS
Mr. Kerrio: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism, Mr. Speaker. Maybe I’ll defer it until he gets back.
Mr. Deans: Not a bad idea.
Mrs. Campbell: Here he comes.
Mr. Cassidy: He was hiding behind the arras.
Mr. Kerrio: Is the minister aware of the fact that within the bounds of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds on two occasions, one as it had to do with the Home Show a couple of weeks ago and more recently at the Blue Jays ballgame, the premium was not being paid on American funds?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: In view of the huge tourist deficit and in view of the fact we are hoping the difference on American exchange will help the tourist industry, does the minister have any plans to institute in order to encourage the industry across the province to pay the premium and thus encourage American visitors?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I thought the hon. member might be aware of an exchange that took place between myself and the Blue Jays last week, which resulted in an exchange booth being put up.
Mr. Deans: What did they get for you?
Mr. Lewis: Which box?
Mr. Deans: What did they get for you in the exchange?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I may assure the hon. member it wasn’t on the left-field side.
Mr. Breaugh: You’ve been there once, and back. Why not again?
Mr. Wildman: You’re a switch hitter.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We can only encourage these agencies -- be they attractions such as the Blue Jays or any other attraction -- to honour the exchange that is being recognized as the difference between the dollars. We don’t have any authority to force anyone. We do have a campaign going on to advise our American visitors that there is a premium to be paid on their dollar. Quite frankly, if we don’t get the co-operation from the people in the hospitality industry or the entertainment industry, then of course we’re going to look awfully foolish by telling people that there is this premium available and it’s not being paid.
It’s a problem. It was a problem last year and it will be a problem this year. If the merchants and the people who are dealing with our visitors are not going to pay that premium then, of course, we are going to lose business and we’re going to be looked upon as a very greedy people in not being prepared to offer that exchange. It’s to our benefit and to the benefit of the industry and to the province as a whole that we honour that exchange.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister consider posting at all points of entry, the daily exchange rate for American money so that the tourist coming in would know the value of his dollar and approximately the given amount of premium?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Probably not the posting as such, but I’ve been advised that all the people who work in the tourist information centres that are located at all our border crossings are aware of that
Mr. B. Newman: Not everybody stops there.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Frankly, I don’t think I’d want to get into a posting situation. That information is available. Most people are aware, I think, that there is an exchange rate. Surely to goodness, we shouldn’t have to ask our visitors to demand their exchange. Surely, the people in the industry here, in the business world here, should be aware enough of the importance of it, to give the exchange. It’s a legal exchange and it should be paid.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary: Would it be possible for the minister, in the interests of Ontario, to approach the federal government and to suggest to them that at the border crossing points we set up a banking mechanism, open 24 hours a day, that will allow people to exchange money? It would make it a lot easier and it avoids, then, the problem of having to try to get the exchange.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Certainly an exchange booth of some kind would probably be one of the best ways to do it.
Mr. Deans: Like you have at airports.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, similar to what they have at the airports. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to have the federal government do it. I would think some of the banking institutions might see some advantage to that and set them up.
Mr. Deans: Why doesn’t the minister do it then?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We’ve made that suggestion.
Hon. B. Stephenson: We don’t control the banks.
POLICE SEIZURE OF MEDIA MATERIAL
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General. I’m aware he has now received petitions from the Newspaper Guild, the Oshawa and District Labour Council, the Ontario Newspaper Photographers’ Association and the Publishers’ Association on this matter of the police seizing records, films, negatives, tapes and what not, all used by the media in preparation of material for publication. He has now been informed that all of these people disagree with that practice. Has the Attorney General so far given them a formal response in any way?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, Mr. Speaker, I haven’t replied formally to the groups that have been mentioned. I just signed a response, as a matter of fact, over the weekend to the publisher of the London Free Press who was expressing similar concerns.
Basically, what I said and what I will be saying to the groups that the hon. member has mentioned is that evidence obtained by journalists, whether it be photographs or other evidence in relation to their responsibilities, that might be relevant to a criminal trial must, of course, be available to the courts in the same manner that any other relevant evidence is available.
Obviously, the police must show some judgement -- and I think generally they show very good judgement -- when they execute search warrants in relation to obtaining photographs or other material which may be relevant to a criminal prosecution. I would like to think the hon. members would agree -- and I believe, quite frankly, that most people in the news media field agree wholeheartedly that they should be in a position no different to anybody else who might have relevant evidence in his possession. Basically, that is a position that I’ve taken in the past and must take in the future. The public interest requires that all relevant evidence be available to a court, particularly when it’s a matter of criminal justice.
Mr. Breaugh: I have a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. May I ask the Attorney General then, on what legal basis -- not saying that courts have subpoenaed any evidence or anything like that -- does the police officer go anywhere to any news agency and seize material of this kind? I want to point out in this question that when they went to Global Television they were told to go and get it themselves. They decided not to do so. But, in other instances, they apparently had material handed to them. What’s the legal basis for the police officer doing that? He has not got a court order, nor is he seeking evidence that has been subpoenaed by a court.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: A police officer has no authority without a properly executed search warrant.
Mr. Peterson: Has the Attorney General issued any guidelines about the use of that? As he is aware, there could be tremendous abuse and this kind of procedure could go on for fishing expeditions to gather evidence to lay charges when, in fact, they don’t have sufficient evidence to lay charges on their own? It’s a very sensitive matter and I understand that, but has the Attorney General issued any guidelines as to what kind of behaviour he expects from the police department?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I haven’t issued any guidelines to the police because it would be outside my authority to do so. The Solicitor General, of course, is responsible for the administration of the police departments.
Police forces in this country have had experience in these matters for a long time. We read in the press recently about evidence in relation to obtaining a search warrant from a justice of the peace. It was suggested by one witness before the McDonald inquiry that rather than mislead a justice of the peace, a particular police department decided to make these entries without search warrants.
I have to say I would not condone that conduct for one moment, and I doubt very much that police officers in this country are prepared to make false statements before a justice of the peace as to the reasonable and probable grounds that require a search warrant in so far as relevant evidence is concerned. So, as far as that is concerned, I’m satisfied that at the present time the Criminal Code is adequate protection in the obtaining of search warrants.
I don’t wish to debate the activities of any national security force, but regarding any police departments that have responsibility for criminal investigations, I think it’s fair to say there has been very little evidence over the years as to abuse of these powers in relation to the execution of search warrants.
Mr. Peterson: May I have one final supplementary? It is a very important issue.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for St. Catharines with a new question.
Mr. Bradley: My question is of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In view of the difficulty now experienced by service clubs and volunteer organizations in raising funds because of such factors as higher fees for special occasion permits, high corkage fees and competition from government-run lotteries, is the minister prepared to amend the Liquor Licencing Act to permit these groups to advertise events at which alcoholic beverages are being sold under a special occasion permit?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We have a serious problem with that. It’s a desire on the government’s part, in any event, to try to be fair to the people who are running small businesses in those same communities.
As the member might be aware, there are a large number of small businesses running licensed dining rooms who have to operate five, six or seven days a week --
Mr. Kerrio: They’re only on contract Larry.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- subject to the very rigorous requirements of the Liquor Licence Act, subject to the provisions of, in some cases, the Hotel Fire Safety Act and so forth. Those operators have to carry employees all week because they’re serving the public on a day to day basis -- two, three, four meals a day -- and they are looking after a lot of needs in the community.
What happens on the weekend is that on Friday and Saturday night -- when a lot of these small businessmen, the restaurateurs, rely upon getting the bulk of their income really, the bulk of their billing -- what happens is that some people, some legitimate organizations, have special occasion permits and are operating out of the banquet halls in the area. This drains a heck of a lot of money off of the legitimate small businessman who has been operating six and seven days a week.
There is, of course, nothing the slightest bit wrong with the Legion or anyone else getting a special occasion permit and having its members in to have a banquet on that weekend night, nothing at all wrong with it. The problem that we face is in advertising these things generally. This obviously is advertising directed either advertently or inadvertently to the public at large. Our experience has been, where that occurs, that more and more members of the public tend to gravitate, under whatever guise, to these special occasion operations and eventually they drive the very legitimate small businessman who is running a dining lounge out of the community.
We think it’s fair that the current rules continue; that is the clubs advertise to and amongst themselves, deal with their own members by way of the ordinary mail or whatever other ways they have of communicating with themselves, but that they not be allowed to be put in an advantageous position vis-à-vis the small guy who has been running a dining lounge for 10, 20 or 30 years in a local community.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: While this may have been true before the factors that I mentioned developed, such as the competition from the federal and provincial lotteries and the higher charges that are now made to these organizations -- previous to that I could certainly see that point -- would the minister not give consideration to at least allowing them to advertise with no mention of the serving of alcoholic beverages but using what is called a public service type of advertisement?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I might say we are amenable to any positive suggestion that may help us to be as fair as we can to the Legionnaries and others who for many years have relied upon this facility. We do want to be fair to them and find a way that will work but, notwithstanding any disagreement the hon. member and I may have about lotteries and the competitions for funds and so on, I might say that I don’t think we should shift the onus or the loss resulting from any of that competition, if there is one, on to the backs of the local dining lounge operator or the local restaurateur. I don’t think that would be fair either. Any positive suggestion the hon. member may have which would assist us to treat everyone fairly in the circumstances we would be pleased to entertain, of course.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: This is a two-part question. In the first place, has the minister ever considered encouraging the small restaurant operators to serve decent meals, in which case we wouldn’t have this problem?
Mr. Ruston: Send that out to every businessman.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have had several good meals at small restaurants.
Mr. Bradley: That’s not a sweeping generalization.
Mr. Makarchuk: The second point: Is the minister aware of the fact that the various service clubs, in order that they can notify their members of upcoming events -- and this has been a matter of some correspondence between the minister and me up to this point -- is he aware of the fact that it’s very expensive for the clubs to mail out every time they have an event, to put out a mailing to their members, and if they send out a club magazine, the club magazine may go out only once a month, or possibly every six weeks --
Mr. T. P. Reid: You should withdraw that, Mac.
Mr. Mancini: Withdraw.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- in which case they could not list the events that may happen or may come up in the club? Is the minister aware of those problems and what is he going to do to try and resolve them?
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Oh, I didn’t think the minister would answer that question.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say, in response to the second question, as I said earlier I am happy to receive any constructive suggestions the members might have, and indeed we are considering some of the suggestions I have heard today.
Mr. Warner: Give us beer in the ball park then. There’s a constructive suggestion, serve suds at CNE.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As the debate ensues over the entire changes that we might be proposing in the next few weeks with regard to liquor, that might be an appropriate point at which the members may want to make some constructive suggestions with regard to how we might deal with everyone.
Now, with regard to the first remark the hon. member made, may I say that all the experiences the members of my party have had in Brantford, and especially Mr. Gillies of the Premier’s office, indicate that the small operators there serve very fine food. They are very fine operators.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Hear, hear; excellent.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You can denigrate them whichever way you like --
Mr. MacDonald: When were you last there?
Mr. Makarchuk: In that case, why are you afraid of the competition?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- I would be happy to eat in any establishment in Brantford. The hon. member may not
Mr. Gaunt: Is the minister aware that the enforcement of this particular advertising requirement under the Act is being irregularly and unevenly enforced across the province? What is the ministry going to do about that?
Mr. McClellan: For the minister, it’s simply by spot check.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We are aware of the problems and, we want to be as reasonable as we can. Where we find that a Legion -- to pick one -- is inadvertently doing what it thinks is appropriate -- for example, advertising its functions in a local community -- our people are not coming down with both feet, but we do then contact them and explain the regulations. I might say we have found all those groups, without exception, to be understanding of the problem, once we’ve gone through the explanation with them. Some, in fact, are positively trying to find a way to accommodate all the problems.
SELF-SERVE GAS STATIONS
Mr. Grande: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that Petrofina, Shell Limited and Imperial Oil are right now in violation of the Employment Standards Act concerning the matter of allowing employees at their respective self-serve bars, who work on a full-time basis, on eight-hour shifts, at least one half-hour for lunch?
Is she aware that the employment standards branch has knowledge of these violations and has done nothing to find a solution, nor has it prosecuted?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, although I doubt the basis for the last portion of the hon. member’s question, I shall investigate this and report to the House.
Mr. Deans: Why do you doubt it? He wouldn’t say something that wasn’t true.
Mr. Grande: Will the minister come down with her report and investigation of this matter with speed, so that we do not have to wait for two years as I have on a similar question I asked in this Legislature about Globe Envelope, for which a solution has still not been found? Will she do it with speed?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I guess this is the reason I said I doubted the basis upon which the hon. member made his remark. Indeed a solution has been found at Globe Envelope and he knows full well it has. With the agreement of the members of the staff, the solution has been found.
I shall most certainly report to the House as rapidly as I can.
GOVERNMENT COMPUTER SERVICES
Mr. Mancini: I have a question for the Chairman of the Management Board. Can the minister verify for us the report in today’s Globe and Mail on the disbanding of the government’s centralized computer system, which gives as the reason for the system’s failure the general incompetence of the staff obtained from other ministres of the government?
Hon. Mr. Auld: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would say that what was disbanded was not the computer services division, it was the systems development services division. The computer services division is alive and well and one of the best in the country, according to people in the computer hardware industry.
It is quite correct that the services development division was disbanded as a result of a pretty thorough look at it and the fact that it was not meeting its budget as the committee on government productivity recommended it do when it was set up. As the committee on government productivity also recommended it should, it was sot able to compete in the marketplace with people outside.
It was perhaps unfortunate that the story in the Globe and Mail, if you read it, gave the impression that the staff were not competent. I don’t think that’s correct. I would say that when you go around any large organization and attempt to centralize an operation and ask for the staff from each part of that organization to be seconded back to you or transferred back to you, you will not always get the best people in every department.
On the other hand, the systems part of computers is a highly specialized business. The person who might be extremely good at devising a system for, say an accounting operation, would not be competent to devise one for an engineering operation.
Mr. Lewis: But will he make it for Treasurer?
Hon. Mr. Auld: The operation we had put together had an opportunity to prove itself and it turned out that it couldn’t. It couldn’t compete and I think that is no surprise, because the government’s requirements for computer systems are relatively narrow compared to the rest of the world out there and we found we just didn’t have enough business for it.
Mr. Lewis: We give up. Do you remember Jim Renwick comparing you to Anastas Mikoyan for longevity?
Hon. Mr. Auld: You see, there are some systems that just go on forever.
You see what happens when you centralize them. I would say it was an experiment that did not work --
An hon. member: Remo, aren’t you glad you asked?
Mr. Speaker: Does anyone recall the question?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Perhaps I could read the bit from the paper, Mr. Speaker, I have it here.
An hon. member: And you do it with such a straight face, too.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Perhaps that will satisfy the hon. member. I have more.
Mr. Deans: He is getting up to ask you to tell us the rest.
Mr. Mancini: I would like to ask the minister if it’s true, as stated in the article, that this program has lost over $2 million in the past five years; and is it also true that there are 185 staff members still left in this department which the minister intends to disperse?
Hon. Mr. Auld: No and yes; or no: no and no.
Mr. Breaugh: Or yes and no.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s an Alice-in-Wonderland type of answer.
Hon. Mr. Auld: The cost of operating --
Hon. Mr. Auld: Somehow this seems more like Friday.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired -- I don’t know about answers.
Mr. Peterson: A point of privilege -- and I believe this is very important because I believe the rules of this House are being avoided by the government on this issue.
I asked a question on February 23; an interim answer was tabled March 9 which said only that there would be a further reply to the question. It is some six weeks after that and I think it is time, Mr. Speaker, that you got involved in this to make sure that the standing orders are followed, to make sure that questions on the order paper are answered. That is question 10 that was filed some two months ago.
I would ask your advice and assistance on what should be done by opposition members who ask questions of the ministry and they decide not to answer them, which is in fact what has happened here.
Mr. Speaker: I want to advise the hon. member that the spirit of the standing order is being lived up to, and if the hon. minister is taking an inordinately long period of time to answer, people can draw their own conclusions. But I want to assure you that it is not within the power of the Chair to insist that you bring in a new provisional rule. That is up to the House collectively, if they are not satisfied with the standing orders. The spirit of it is being lived up to, and it is up to the minister to answer in any way that he sees fit within the standing orders.
Mr. Peterson: I’d like to respond to that, Mr. Speaker. I think that the spirit of it is that it be answered within 14 days. If a little extra time is required so be it, but clearly not two months. I would take issue with what you say in the sense that the spirit of the rule has been definitely violated and requires your intervention at this time.
Mr. Speaker: The only way that you can express your displeasure is by standing up on a point of privilege, but don’t ask the Chair to change the standing orders.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think your interpretation is quite right. I think I’m right in this. I try to keep an eye on the questions. This is question number 10. I think the hon. member should be realistic. I’m sure he understands that this requires a fairly lengthy answer and involves a fair amount of detail.
Just in case some members don’t know, the hon. member has asked for “an updated list of all boards, agencies and commissions to which the government makes appointments, the administrative costs of the above boards, agencies and commissions including the names of commissioners and method and amount of indemnity, and the amount of funds administered by the said boards, agencies and commissions in the current fiscal year.” I would point out to the hon. member that it does take more than just a few days to assemble that amount of information, but I am told we probably are only about a week or 10 days away from having it available, which will give him a total weekend’s reading and then some.
An hon. member: The Tory Senate.
An hon. member: Ask the Treasurer.
Mr. Peterson: The fiscal year is changed. The Premier may be aware of that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s why we’re going to have to update it.
Mr. S. Smith: By your leave, Mr. Speaker, I have been requested by certain citizens of my constituency to present a petition which has to do with their support for a private member’s bill in the name of the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) regarding the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. I present that petition.
INCREASE IN OHIP PREMIUMS
Mr. M. Davidson: I beg leave to present to the House a petition addressed to the Hon. the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:
“We the undersigned beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: That the recent proposed increase in OHIP premiums is unconscionable and should not proceed and that a less regressive method of financing Ontario health care services should be instituted,” and it’s accompanied by 1,721 signatures.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition to Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor: “We the undersigned would like to bring to the attention of the Ontario government that we are opposed to provincial Treasurer Darcy McKeough raising OHIP fees 37.5 per cent May 1, 1978. We feel that it’s an insult to our intelligence as well as an already depleted income.
“We are drained by other essentials, such as fuel costs, taxes, housing, rents, clothing and food. We would like to know why some of the sales tax cannot be used as part of the increase. This additional cost to the working class individual is an extra burden to his or her already over-taxed income.”
Mr. Rotenberg: The speech is tomorrow.
Mr. Warner: “The six per cent wage increase that most working people of Ontario will receive has already been swallowed up by the almost 10 per cent annual inflation rate, therefore the OHIP increase will be an even greater burden to the people of Ontario.” This is from several hundred more people voicing their opposition to the government.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table today the report Life Together, a report of human rights in Ontario, and apologize to the House that it had not been tabled earlier.
STANDING ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE COMMIITEE
Mr. M. Davidson, on behalf of Mr. Philip from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee recommends that Bill Pr38, An Act respecting the Borough of Scarborough, be not reported.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
HILLPORT MOTORS LIMITED ACT
Mr. Rowe, on behalf of Mr. Hennessy, moved first reading of Bill Pr16, An Act to revive Hillport Motors Limited.
Motion agreed to.
TOWNSHIP OF TILBURY WEST ACT
Mr. Ruston moved first reading of Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Township of Tilbury West.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, OFFICE OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
On vote 101, Office of the Lieutenant Governor:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Shall these estimates carry?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Any members wishing to speak on this item? The hon. member for Bellwoods.
Mr. McClellan: The opportunity presents itself in absence of other speakers. I had a few remarks that I wanted to make during this debate. It is an opportunity for some of us on the back benches to speak to the Premier directly; a rare opportunity.
We haven’t had very much time for budget debate under the new rules in this session. There are two matters that I wanted to bring directly to the Premier’s attention on behalf of my constituents --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I might remind the hon. member that these are the estimates of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. McClellan: Oh! When, may I ask you --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: When the Office of the Lieutenant Governor estimates are carried, we then move to the Office of the Premier.
Mr. McClellan: I beg your pardon, Mr. Chairman. I’m speaking on the wrong vote.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Are there any members wishing to speak on the estimates on the Office of the Lieutenant Governor?
Mr. Peterson: For my edification, Mr. Chairman, who would respond?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The Premier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m taking her estimates. It’s a great pleasure.
Mr. Peterson: The Premier would be defending? He would be very good at that.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Do you have any questions?
Mr. Peterson: No, I was just curious.
Vote 101 agreed to.
OFFICE OF THE PREMIER
On vote 301, Office of the Premier.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does the Premier have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, in view of the obvious interest in the estimates of my office and that of the cabinet office, the overwhelming attendance on the other side of the House and the great desire to ask questions, I will postpone my two-hour dissertation on the functionings of both offices --
An hon. member: We gave up after we saw nobody there.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and allow members opposite to ask whatever questions they would like. I’ll postpone my initial dissertation.
Mr. Lawlor: Postpone it until when?
Hon. Mr. Davis: In answer to the member for Lakeshore I will postpone it until whatever hour he has long enough away from his public responsibilities to sit down with me and share whatever point of view he might have.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Chairman, it is kind of nice to stand over here and have the Premier almost directly in front of me. I don’t really get this opportunity very often. During question period, we members have 24 or 26 ministers to choose from and to ask these urgent public and important questions. Not very often does a person who sits in the third row get a chance to go directly at the boss of the province. I really treasure this opportunity --
Mr. Bradley: The Treasurer is not here.
An hon. member: A Freudian slip.
Mr. Mancini: -- and I am enjoying it immensely.
Mr. Chairman, I don’t know how people from the rest of the province view it, but the people from Essex South, when they think of the Premier’s office, they usually think of big Cuban cigars, a well-dressed gentleman --
Hon. Mr. Davis: The latter part I appreciate.
Mr. Mancini: -- well-dressed chauffeurs, big blue limousines; that’s what the people of Essex South usually think of when they think of our fine friend who is the Premier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I smoke a pipe, and it’s a green car.
Mr. Mancini: Now that we are talking of big blue limousines, I was driving through the town of Kingsville one day. I was doing about 39 in a 30 mile-an-hour zone. Sure enough, as I looked behind me, there were lights flashing and I said, “Oh my God, here comes my first ticket.” The fellow pulled me over and said, “Oh, yes, you’re Mr. Mancini?” “Yes.” He started to write me up and said: “Don’t feel bad. I’ve written up the Premier.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: I want to make it very clear that he has not written up me. Now he may have written up somebody who was with me.
An hon. member: Who paid the fine?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t know. I don’t even remember.
Mr. Mancini: So that is why I say that usually the people of Essex South view the Office of the Premier as large Cuban cigars and chauffeurs and big blue cars.
Mr. Lawlor: You smoke a pipe now, don’t you?
Mr. Mancini: But getting more to the point of the Office of the Premier, we have noticed through the past year -- I have in particular --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: It is a green car and has been for several years.
Mr. Mancini: Fine, but most of the rest are blue.
Mr. Bradley: Is that a sign of hope?
Mr. J. Reed: One night I saw you go home in a blue car.
Mr. MacDonald: That proves he’s a red Tory.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Kerrio: Do you think it is because of the talk of the “big blue machine” that --
Mr. Mancini: Yes, I think that was it. But we have noticed the Premier take these wonderful trips around the world, and we are concerned at the cost of these trips, and we are concerned who you bring with you and what all these other people do.
Possibly the Premier could give an account of some of the trips he has taken outside the country during the past year, the cost of these to the public purse, the number of people that he has brought with him and possibly an explanation of what they were doing. I know the Premier likes to be around people, and I realize that is one of the reasons why he usually has quite a substantial entourage.
Secondly, the Premier has made a lot of the fact that he has gone to the province of Quebec at least on two or three different occasions in the past year, hopefully to promote national unity, and as Joe Clark calls it, national harmony. I was wondering if the Premier could give us an account of those trips, and give his own personal opinion of national unity and also what he is doing as the Premier of this province to help promote this cause.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Supporting the schools in Essex county.
Mr. Mancini: Yes, I have read your comments about the school. You said very plainly, and it was recorded, that the people of Essex were not against the school but were against the use of the extra dollars to construct one when they could have used existing facilities.
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, Mr. Chairman, because it is a very important issue and so there is no misunderstanding about what I said, my understanding of what I said, and I think I am reasonably accurate, and I hope I interpret what I sense to be the feeling --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Premier, you are rising on a point of order?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am answering as well, Mr. Chairman. I can only take one or two questions at once --
Mr. Mancini: That’s fine.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- so I am answering the second question or third question first.
I have said about the situation in Essex that in my understanding of it the people were not opposed to the French instructional program. The debate really centred on the provision of the physical facility for it, and I drew that distinction in the province of Quebec because so much had centred on the school. The feeling existed among some of the media that the people in Essex were opposed to the French language program, so that is very simply what I have said.
In response to the first question I will try to get actual figures for the hon. member, but in the fiscal year these estimates cover -- I think I am right in this -- there was probably only one trip out of the province. That would be the one to Japan, which we have discussed here. I could go on at great length if the hon. member would like me to, but I think that was the only one.
Mr. Mancini: I am sorry if I didn’t have the words exactly correct, but I am glad the Premier has stated exactly what he said --
Hon. Mr. Davis: There is a distinction.
Mr. Mancini: -- because we know in Essex we are far ahead of many counties in this province as far as French instruction is concerned, and you know the counties to which I refer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, you tell me.
Mr. Mancini: Well, you should know because you are the Premier. You should know.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I thought I would get that information from you.
Mr. Gaunt: You know, the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) is going to be very disappointed; he is missing your estimates again.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They have been scheduled for a long time.
Mr. Makarchuk: Quite often, Mr. Premier, questions have been raised in the House on your comments and also your requests to the federal government dealing with the auto pact, dealing with the pipeline and getting the inclusion of some mandatory clause to ensure that Canadian steel or Canadian supplies are being used for the oil pipeline and so on. You mentioned that you had carried on a certain amount of conversation and correspondence with other levels of government on this matter. It seems to me this is a matter of rather urgent importance now, because if you look at the auto pact there is obviously about three or four per cent of both parts and autos that should accrue to Ontario in terms of the steel and of the pipe for the Alaska pipeline. But there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that Canadian manufacturers are going to get any of the business in that area.
In the farm implement industry, again we find the situation where about 12 per cent of the farm implements used in North America is used in Canada. Yet we produce only eight per cent.
I am sure these matters concern you to an extent. These are matters that have been raised in the House on many occasions. At one time, you said you may even table some of the correspondence that has gone on about these matters.
I have lost faith and confidence in those people in Ottawa to care about either this country or the economy of this country, and I don’t think you can separate the two. You are the leader of the largest industrial province in Canada where consequently the effects fall directly upon the whole economy of the province and the people of this province in terms of everything we are so concerned about.
What have you been doing recently in order to bring this matter to a head and in order to point out if necessary to the people of Canada and the people of Ontario that those who represent us in Ottawa right now are not doing the kind of job they should at least in my opinion, to protect the industry and the economy of this country and of the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t want to be facetious but if rumour is correct, all of us will have an opportunity to say what we think about the competence of the present government fairly soon now. I’m not sure whether that will turn out to be the case or not.
There are two issues the hon. member raised. One is the supply of pipe in terms of the development that will be taking place in the west. There is no question about it. We have discussed it here in the House and I have communicated the views of the government to the government of Canada. It is also wise to point out that while one could legislate these things, that leads to reciprocal types of legislation in other jurisdictions which might not be a benefit to us. I think we have to go about these things fairly carefully to see we don’t do something as a nation that is in turn going to be to our long-term disadvantage. I am still quite optimistic, with the specifications the way they are, about the capacity of the steel industry in this country to compete and that we will get our share, and then some, in terms of the pipeline.
I don’t think the automotive industry is something that can be brought to a head overnight. What I have been doing is meeting with the manufacturers. I have meetings this week, I think, scheduled with the parts people. I don’t know whether the date has been set but I am to have a discussion with the UAW and one or two other groups. I indicated to the member’s leader that when these discussions were finished we would probably prepare some material here for members of the House to have some discussion.
It is important to point out that really what we have been talking about in some respects with the automotive industry is some of their longer-term capital expansion plans. I think -- and it causes me some concern -- that there has been an understanding abroad that the industry over the next few years was going to invest something like $50 billion -- I think that is the figure that has been used -- in new capital plants. The truth of the matter is a good part of that investment is going into altering the methods or the material used in the automobile, moving from steel to aluminum, moving from steel to plastic, et cetera. It isn’t $50 billion for an expansion of the industry per se. A lot of it is replacement of existing plant or existing facility. If you say, as a company, that you’re going to invest a billion dollars, it may be in terms of jobs or a replacement of an existing facility that may now be using steel for the engine block whereas two years from now, under the regulations, they have to move to aluminum or something of that kind.
While we want our share of that and we’re working to see what can be done to get it, I just hope the members opposite aren’t under the impression that there is going to be a major expansion in terms of total numbers of cars built and sold, et cetera. I think there’s been an annual increase over a period of 10 years. I expect this increase will continue, but I should point out that the bulk of that major investment will be for replacement of existing facilities and not for additional facilities for more production. I can only assure the hon. members that we have been working very carefully and making our views known both publicly and privately as to what we feel should happen in terms of this capital expansion.
I think it’s also important for all of us to understand that it has become a very competitive sort of field. I’m sure you have been reading some of the newspapers with the ads from some of the neighbouring states. All of them are competing, both neighbouring states and the southern states, and they are actually offering pretty generous inducements for location of the physical plant.
As the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) has pointed out, we may be getting into that sort of environment. I’m reluctant for us to get into that sort of environment. We’d like to see these decisions on capital investment made (a) in the spirit of the pact, and (b) where it makes sense in terms of geography, et cetera, but there is no question that some states and perhaps one or two provinces are very actively competing in terms of inducements.
Whether we will have to get into this, Mr. Chairman, I honestly don’t know at the moment, but as soon as we have the meetings concluded and some suggestions or some analysis, or whatever term one might wish to use, I am contemplating tabling this in the House or giving it to members of the House, and perhaps providing some time for a discussion of it. I just want to assure the member that we share his concerns. We’re working very diligently to see what can be done about it and when we have this information I shall be delighted to discuss it further.
Mr. Makarchuk: There’s no question that we will be able to pass judgement on this, but according to press reports and the discussions up there, I think there is a certain reluctance to hurry that day of judgement. I think the matters we’re touching on right now are directly related to the doubts in the Premier’s mind.
I would point out to the Premier though that it was described somewhere in an article that I read that we’re in a sense a sort of beggar nation. We always go ahead and ask: “Would you let us have a little bit of the pipeline? Would you let us have a little bit of the auto pact? Would you let us have a little bit of this or a little bit of that?
The Premier says that, of course, we don’t want to intervene. We want to let the marketplace decide and, of course, the corporations will be kind and generous and fair, et cetera, and they will locate in Ontario. That’s not the case. The corporations don’t work that way. The corporations are basically interested in making profits, that’s what they’re there for and that’s what they’re all about. They’re going to operate where and how they can to maximize their profit.
Somewhere, somebody has to intervene sometimes to ensure that there are some other methods they should consider as to where they locate. I could not think of a single developed western nation that would allow another country to build a pipeline across its soil and not insist that it get its share of the jobs and of that pipeline, except Canada. Could you imagine Britain, or Sweden, or Norway, or Germany, or France, or Italy allowing a thing of this nature to happen, or Japan for that matter? They won’t, but we do.
Here again, I admit that being a province you can speak at a certain level, but somehow I feel that in order to let the public know what we’re all about, if there has to be that kind of a thing, if, the people at the top are not doing it -- and they’re not doing it -- then at some time the Premier of Ontario has to get off his backside and tell them: “Look, we’re mad, we’re annoyed. These are the kinds of things we want and these are the kinds of things that should come into legislation.”
I don’t think you’re going to scare anybody off. It’s not going to create any great disorganization in the marketplace and it’s not going to drive General Motors, Inco, or anybody else out of the country. They’ll be here because the markets are here and the money is here and everything else is here. That’s why they’re here. What we’re doing, and what we want you to do for a change, is to insist that we’re not asking for more. We just want our share.
I think it’s a legitimate request. It’s a request that should be made by the Premier of Ontario because the Prime Minister and Allistair Gillespie and all the other ministers aren’t doing anything about it, and Jack Horner is prepared to settle for the crumbs they are going to get from the fallout when they build the pipeline. You know, there will be jobs for the dishwashers and ditch diggers; that’s what we always get. I think, again, you have to move into that situation.
The other item which concerns us, of course, is that every so often the Premier of Alberta will get up and say: “We want to export our natural gas,” and, of course, you can understand the reason. They have a surplus so they say: “Let’s sell it now because we will get the money in right now.” About the future? Well, nobody seems to be concerned.
So, again, I think that the Premier of Ontario has to make that kind of representation somewhere along the line and say: “Look, we can see your problems. We can see that certain companies would like to see their cash flow increase in Alberta, but I think you have to speak for the rest of Canada.” And I am asking you, Mr. Premier, to speak for the rest of Canada because the people in Ottawa aren’t speaking for it. You have to speak and say: “We have to look to the future. If we get rid of our cheap gas right now, what are we going to do in the future? What economic costs will we have to bear in the future? How will this country operate in the future?” In think those are the kinds of things that the Premier of the wealthiest, largest province in Canada should be saying.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t want to prolong the discussion. I think that on two of those issues our point of view has been made very clear and has been made public. I think there is a distinction between the automotive industry and what is potentially happening there in the matters of the pipeline. The only point I was making on the provision of pipe for the pipeline was that if it were to be legislated it was to be Canadian-made pipe -- and I know the hon. member would support that -- I think there are instances where pipe and steel products have been supplied by Canadian manufacturers south of the border. I am not going to argue for a moment that perhaps the American Congress has said on occasion that if any public work is going ahead the material in it will be totally American, but I am sure there are many examples where that has not been the case, and this is where I think there is some delicacy in terms of how it is handled.
With respect to natural gas, we have expressed our views on some aspects of it. I would only point out to the hon. member that three years ago we were sitting in this Legislature debating the shortage of natural gas. Since the price of natural gas has increased, further exploration has gone on. There is today a surplus. Don’t ask me how long that surplus is going to continue nor ask me to estimate what the long-term prospects are for the development of natural gas in Alberta and in the north and so on. I don’t think anybody can give that sort of figure.
While the hon. member suggests that it’s cash flow for the companies that the Premier of Alberta is talking about, I think that there is also a slight royalty payable to the government of Alberta, and that his interest isn’t totally in the cash flow for the companies supplying the natural gas. I think there is a certain amount going into the provincial revenues of that province which may also have some impact.
Mr. B. Newman: I wanted to ask the Premier about the results of his discussion with the various senior officials in the auto industry, because the Premier certainly knows the concern that we have over the potential loss of 750 jobs when Chrysler phases out the truck plant on the corner of McDougall and Tecumseh Road in the city of Windsor. He has discussed that, I understand, with some of the senior officials at Chrysler and he was given the assurance that 350 of those employees may be transferred into the new panel truck plant on Pillette Road.
But what happens to the other 400 employees of the plant being phased out? They are extremely concerned. There has been no guarantee or assurance given to them that there will be employment available to them, either by way of any additions that Chrysler may contemplate. Their only source of future employment hinges on a rising economy so that the vans would be moving substantially better than they are now and then there would be an opportunity for them to be employed in that van plant on Pillette Road.
Mr. Premier, I assume now you have met with all of the senior officials in the auto industry in the province of Ontario. What has been the results of the discussions with them?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, as a matter of fact, I pointed out to the member for Brantford that we still have two or three meetings scheduled before I can say to the House that we have completed this round of meetings. My guess is that these meetings will never totally finish; we’ll be doing this for the next three or four years, so there are two or three yet to be held.
It’s interesting to note, without singling out the companies in terms of manufacture of automobiles -- and I think this is true in Windsor -- when the market conditions have been relatively buoyant there has been a relatively steady increase in the number of people employed by the automotive manufacturers. Part of the problem is in the parts sector of the industry and they’re the ones I’m meeting with this week or early next week. I’ll be able then to give the House some better assessment.
If the hon. member looks back at the figures in Windsor -- take Chrysler, for instance -- people’s memories are very short. I guess it was three years ago when the American market was down somewhat generally and yet the Chrysler plant -- and this is part of the problem -- was building the Cordoba. The Cordoba was an extremely acceptable model that year and I guess still is, and they were operating at full capacity. I think they were having double shifts, or whatever, whereas some of the American facilities of the same company were running well below capacity. There’s always a tendency to forget the good years when there is a slack year.
I was able to inform the House, Mr. Chairman, that we were assured by Chrysler that the 350 people would be re-employed by the first of January. Just about everybody was covered by the supplement program in any event. It does, however, depend on the acceptability of whatever models a company is producing and I can’t give the member for Windsor-Walkerville a guarantee what the market share will be of any of those cars or trucks manufactured for the 1979 model year. This I can’t do. Assuming the projections are relatively accurate, assuming people will still be buying automobiles and trucks, the company is without any doubt optimistic about those 350 employees.
I do not have the capacity to guarantee either market or share of market. The automotive industry has for years been susceptible to the public’s reaction to different models, different manufacturers and my guess is that that’s not going to change very much. I think there will always be those high areas and low areas on occasion. I don’t think there’s much government can do about that.
Mr. B. Newman: Thank you, Mr. Premier. I appreciate your remarks. However, I would like you to look into this aspect of it.
Today, we look upon the auto trade pact as the balance of payments. We happen to have a surplus, I believe, as far as the manufacturing of the automobiles is concerned, but there’s a substantial deficit in the parts industry. I understand that even in vehicle manufacturing, some of the parts do come in from offshore. Some parts come from South America. I think engines coming in from Brazil has been mentioned. Once they are assembled in a Canadian car, I have been told, or I think I have been told, that is considered Canadian content. As a result, that would throw the picture off balance.
I would prefer government, rather than look at the balance of payments in the auto industry, to look at it from a jobs aspect. Let’s try to get a balance of jobs. If we produce 12 per cent of the automotive vehicles in Canada, then we should have at least 12 per cent of the jobs. If we produce 12 per cent, we have 12 per cent of the jobs, I would assume, but we consume only 10 per cent. We have a surplus of jobs then in the production end.
But there should be some way of making it up when it comes to the parts manufacturing. If we’re producing six per cent of the parts manufacturing and have only three per cent of the jobs, there is something wrong. We should try to equate job for job. We should have in all, the same number of jobs as there are vehicles consumed, including parts, in the Canadian market. Have your officials ever looked into the trade-off of job for job, rather than dollar for dollar, when it comes to the auto industry?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think there is a certain hazard in discussing some of these figures in a general way. It would be helpful if perhaps we awaited the material we will get together. There are some who would argue in the context of the auto pact, if you relate it to the market in this country as it then relates to the number of jobs, that perhaps in job terms Canada, and Ontario in particular, has been the beneficiary. We have to be fairly careful how we enunciate these things publicly and what sort of public positions we take.
Another point I have been making to the manufacturers is that in job terms -- and the figures may prove to be fairly interesting -- while there is the question of content, there is also the question of the kind of jobs. I would inform the members of the House that one of the things we have been saying to the manufacturers is “Let’s not argue numbers of people today, but let’s discuss the potential for the kinds of jobs that are available in this country.” I think there is no question but they would all acknowledge that we primarily have been the supplier of components and assemblers. I think there is no question that over the years this has been the basic thrust of the automotive industry in Canada.
I have been suggesting to the heads of the companies that we would like to see a portion -- and who can identify what percentage? -- of the more sophisticated work of the industry done in this country. I have raised this on economic grounds and I have also raised it on social grounds, if I can use that terminology. I have pointed out to these people that maybe 20 years ago one could make the argument that we might not have had the capacity, although I would have argued with them anyway in terms of the talents or abilities of our people coming on to the labour force.
There is no question today that in some technical fields with our college programs and some of the graduate work at our universities we are graduating people both with doctorates and without who can compete quite effectively with the talent in the United States. What disturbs me is that we are educating people to a higher general level and sometimes specialized level of education, yet those people are not able to find jobs in that industry here in this country.
I have urged upon the manufacturers some consideration of a certain amount of research and development being done here in Ontario. I don’t want to quote him inaccurately, but I think the head of Ford made some comment about combined provincial and federal initiatives in the research field being of some interest to his company. I don’t know how much further Mr. Bennett went in that observation, but I think my message to them has been understood.
They have counter-arguments. They will argue the question of scale and where you centralize your research and development facilities. You really can’t split research, they say, in a new engine as between Dearborn and Oakville or perhaps Windsor. My argument is you have engine research in geographic place A, but if you are going to start using plastics instead of metal, let’s have that part of the research done in this country or something of that nature.
How successful we will be, I can’t tell the hon. members. I can only tell them that this has been pressed quite aggressively with the industry for two reasons. One is economic and the other is social. I can’t predict just what results we will have, but we are not ceasing our endeavours.
Mr. B. Newman: I would hope we would reach the stage where we would equate our jobs according to our North American consumption, including research and all phases of the manufacturing aspect, so that at least if we consume 10 per cent of the North American market, we get 10 per cent of the research, we get 10 per cent of the assembly, and we get 10 per cent of the parts or more. At least there should be a balance and I would hope there would be a balance.
I hope you will do everything you can to see that we can save the jobs of those 400 employees in the Chrysler plant and if that one plant closes that at least the 400 employees are absorbed in some Chrysler facility in the city of Windsor.
Mr. Swart: I rise to pursue a little further with the Premier the matter my colleague from Brantford raised relative to the contract for the pipeline being awarded to Canadian producers.
I am dissatisfied with the action of the Premier and the Premier’s office in their approach to the federal government -- or lack of approach -- in endeavouring to assure that those contracts do go to Canada. The attitude which was taken by the provincial government and the federal government, I suggest, may have been appropriate in a time when we were not experiencing tremendously serious unemployment. If it wasn’t a fact that perhaps two-thirds of the contract for that pipe and the other facilities for the pipeline would come from Ontario, the Premier of this province might not be required to involve himself to the degree which I think he should have involved himself.
But I think that he may underestimate the possibility of this contract going elsewhere. I have faith, and he has, that our producers in this province can meet a fair competition. But if you look at what is taking place in the other nations which can produce this pipe -- such as Japan and Italy and West Germany; I’m not sure whether there are any others or not, but at least those three can produce this pipe -- we find that they’re running greatly under capacity, and that there are all kinds of ways within those countries for indirect subsidies which can hardly be proved as subsidies, not to say much lower wage rates in at least two of those countries.
The pipe producers in this nation have some concern about the competition -- and perhaps unfair competition -- but the competition may come from those countries. And as you are aware, the 700-and-some miles of pipe for the Alaska pipeline did come from Japan and therefore the Canadian producers may have some reason to be concerned.
It bothers me that your government did not make specific proposals to the federal government on Bill C-25 -- I believe that was the bill -- that set out the policy with regard to the construction of this pipeline. It seems to me that one or two clauses could have been changed there which would have given the assurance that the pipe would have been purchased in this nation.
I understand the philosophy of your government, although I don’t agree with it fully, that you’re going to always depend on competition. That is your God. You don’t want to deviate from it, even under the present conditions, even if it risks losing contracts perhaps of $1.5 billion to the producers --
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s a slight oversimplification.
Mr. Swart: -- in this province and in this nation.
But I think we should recognize that in addition to the massive unemployment we have and in addition to the fact that this pipeline is going to be constructed on Canadian soil and that perhaps two-thirds of the pipe will he coming from this province, once this pipe is in the ground the rates on the gas which is going through it are not going to be set by competition -- there’s no way of doing it. They are going to be set by the energy board and others. Surely it’s not unreasonable to say that the pipe, therefore, which goes into this pipeline should be Canadian pipe.
It can be said at the present time -- and I would agree with this -- the difference in the value of our money enhances the possibility that the bulk of the pipe contract will come to Canadian producers -- and I guess there are just two. But that can change in six months’ time; the value of our dollar could be equal again and then we would lose that advantage.
I would also point out to the Premier, and I’m sure he is aware of this, that when he said that it would be a monopoly -- I don’t want to put words in your mouth which you didn’t use, but I think you did say that if the pipe is awarded to the Canadian producers it would be a monopoly --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I didn’t say that. What I was discussing with your colleague was, shall we say, the policy of stating in the bill that it was to be exclusively a Canadian producer of the pipe. I pointed out to him that maybe the United States on occasion had done this, although I couldn’t think of any specific examples. But you just gave me one where they did not. That was with the pipe in Alaska where, as you point out, the Japanese were successful. So I guess there wasn’t a national American policy saying you had to buy American pipe.
I did not say that it would give a monopoly, if the hon. member suggested that in fact would be the result, he may be right, but I didn’t suggest it.
Mr. Swart: I think I am correct in saying that you did go so far as to say that there wouldn’t be competition if it was awarded in Canada, or much competition.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I think it is a very important issue.
Mr. Swart: We’ll check the record on that, Mr. Chairman.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Let me correct what I said, if I didn’t say it right. What I said was that I felt the Canadian producer could compete. I felt we had to be careful about having a policy that was exclusive to the extent that others might then reciprocate with the sort of policy where our producers wouldn’t be allowed to compete where I think they can effectively compete, and that is in the American market.
You draw the example of Japan. No question that their plant is under-utilized at the moment. There’s no question that could be a problem, although it is interesting to note that the government of Japan has in the last two or three days made it very clear they are going to reduce the exports of automobiles, steel, televisions, et cetera. That is within the area where, quite appropriately, with whatever international arrangements they have, if a nation is in fact dumping, if a nation is in fact selling below cost or in an unfair way, the government of Canada has every right to say that won’t happen. The American government has done it. The Canadian government has done it. I think that can be dealt with without having it in some formal bill.
Mr. Swart: I think I would be correct in saying the Premier did make some statement. We can check the record.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think it matters.
Mr. Swart: I won’t pursue it relative to it, although I may not use the words “make a monopoly for Canada.”
I wanted to point out that in Canada we perhaps have at least 33 per cent more capacity than we would be using in the two plants. Therefore, if they were bidding to get as much of the contract as they can there would be some competition, I would suggest, between them.
Even if it is a case of a negotiated price, with the circumstances that now exist with regard to unemployment I think we should be going that route rather than running the risk of losing these contracts for the pipe. In Welland alone, this will mean about 800 jobs in the pipe mill. I would point out that the Niagara Peninsula now has, according to the last report by Statistics Canada, the highest level of unemployment of any area in this province.
Mr. B. Newman: What is it?
Mr. Swart: It’s 13.4 per cent.
Mr. B. Newman: That is high.
Mr. Swart: I would point out that not only are those 800 jobs created, but -- this is very public knowledge -- it is estimated that you create another three to four jobs as a spinoff from those jobs which are actually created in the production of the pipes. It is a pretty serious matter and it bothers us that neither the government of Ontario nor the government of Canada has assured that those contracts are going to come to this country.
I just want to ask the Premier, if I may, about another company which bothers me a great deal, and that is Bell Canada, where there is a rate hearing taking place.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It bothers me so many times a day, I agree with you.
Mr. Swart: Yes, we can share that sort of concern about it. That is not really the context in which I wanted to raise the question, Mr. Premier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m sure it wasn’t.
Mr. Swart: Northern Telecom, which is a subsidiary of Bell Canada, is apparently, as near as we can find out, financed by Bell Canada. It is, I believe, 62 per cent, owned by Bell Canada and at the present time is building more and more of its productive capacity in the United States and laying off workers in this country.
In the most recent annual report of Telecom, they state they expect within five years that 45 per cent of all their production will be in the United States, something like 40 per cent in Canada and 15 per cent outside of North America.
I would like to ask the Premier if he has had any discussions with Bell Canada or any of its many subsidiaries or Northern Telecom with regard to these proposals and whether he has made any representation that more of that expansion should be taking place here in this province so that we don’t have a reduction in the number of workers in a place like Bramalea where, I believe, the number has gone down from something like 2,500 to something like 800 at the present time. That has taken place in the last seven to 10 years.
I wonder if the Premier would like to comment on this, because this is a Canadian company which is raising the money here and which is raising a great part of its capital through an increase in rates. The people of this province are providing much of the capital which appears now to be going outside of the country for investment in productive capacity in other countries, particularly the United States, whereas it should be taking place in this province and in this nation. Could we have some comments on this and particularly on whether he has made any representation to the ministry governing this?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just have a very brief comment. Part of what the hon. member is suggesting is true. I am not saying the rest of it isn’t, but part of it is speculative at the moment. Having that very large facility in my riding, I am really quite familiar with what has happened and with some of the concerns that are being expressed for the future of Northern Telecom. Part of the problem relates to the fact that a portion -- and this applies to the Bramalea facility -- of the material there is being produced for the export market.
There have been discussions and I can assure the hon. member there will be more discussions. It is not that I give any greater interest or priority to situations in my own riding than others, but it does happen to be there and I am aware of the problem. Yes, there have been discussions and there will be further discussions. It does give it a priority.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to make a number of comments to the Premier. I think it is interesting and should be recorded that these estimates of the Premier are rather different in quality both from last year and also from previous years. The Premier will recall that in the past this has been the occasion for largely political speeches on the part of the opposition parties without too much opportunity to question the Premier. Last year we seemed to go from the sublime to the more minuscule. There was questioning about the number of people working for him and whether that was more or fewer than the number of people who worked there the year before, and that kind of thing.
I want to raise a number of questions that perhaps fall in between those two levels, first, by talking a bit about the question of minority government and asking for the Premier’s comments, and then talking about a number of other issues which I think are of concern to members of this Legislature and, I believe, to the public at large, and to which the Premier might also wish to respond. This is a different kind of forum than we have in question period and, as I am sure the Premier can tell from the tone I have adopted, I am looking for some answers and not for too much in the way of rhetoric.
I would, first, like to make a comment or two about the question of the minority government. The Premier is no doubt aware that on two occasions the people of the province have spoken pretty decisively about electing a minority government They appear to prefer that outcome to either the outcome he might prefer of having a majority or the outcome we might prefer, which is forming the first New Democratic government that Ontario will have had. I was concerned since becoming leader, have been concerned in the past and remain concerned, about the degree to which the government is prepared to abide by that decision of the people of the province. We may know better in a few hours in terms of whether or not the government is preparing to bend on the question of OHIP, as to whether there is any kind of tolerance of the minority situation of the government’s side at all.
I think the OHIP question could risk being an aberration. That is why I would appreciate it if the Premier could comment on the question of the minority situation more generally. We know that with the threat of an election pending provincially and with an impending election federally, there is, to put it mildly, some substantial pressure on the government
How does the Premier see his party responding to the minority situation when as is the more normal course of events, we would hope not to have to constantly go to the wall in order to have the views of our party in opposition reflected on or responded to by the government? I guess that is the simplest way of putting it, because I believe that given the verdict of the electorate last time there is a responsibility on the government to pay heed to what the opposition parties are saying, particularly in view of the fact that they represent the majority of the electorate.
I want to say, as I said when I first became leader and spoke in the Throne debate, that we understand that in a minority situation we cannot expect to have everything we would like to see adopted by this Legislature actually go through. I think it is fair though that if we play it straight, as we intend to and always have done, that we should have our views considered. We also feel that from time to time those views should not only be considered but there should also be a response on the part of the government in a constructive way -- in other words, actions directed towards the lines which are suggested from this side of the House.
That leads me to another question which is closely connected with the spirit of minority government, although I believe it was also a problem -- I know it was a problem -- back in the bad old days when we had a majority prior to 1975. Very simply, Mr. Chairman, I want to suggest to the Premier that there has not yet been a reasonable response to the need for resources for the opposition parties in order to enable all members of this Legislature to adequately fulfil their role as legislators, as developers of policy, as participants in the increasingly complex work of this House, and the responsibilities that we carry across the province as members of the Legislature.
As the Premier knows, I have a fairly longstanding interest in this, having been part of the party that originally pushed for the creation of the Camp commission and having subsequently been a member of the select committee of the Legislature which examined the Camp commission report and made a number of consequential recommendations.
In general this is a matter where adequate response to the need of the opposition parties should be a matter of shared responsibility. The Premier says, as he has tended to say in the past, “Ultimately the buck stops on the government side and if we were to take such an action in order to give adequate resources to the opposition parties it would really be seen as being the responsibility of the government and of the government alone.”
We reject that point of view. We believe that if the government acts in conjunction with the opposition parties to implement the recommendations of the select committee report, for example, that is something which can properly be seen as being the responsibility of all three parties.
We also note the reticence the Premier has shown from time to time on this issue in the past and compare it with the much more open-handed kind of attitude the government has taken when it comes to spending in areas which are entirely within its own area of responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Such as what?
Mr. Cassidy: Such as the billion or so year increase in spending which the government is responsible for in the annual estimates.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But Michael, we are always being prevailed upon by you people to spend even more than that.
Mr. Cassidy: That is true.
Mr. Warner: Spend it more wisely.
Mr. Cassidy: I am suggesting that in the area of the resources for the Legislature from time to time it may even be in the government’s interest to drag its feet or to be reluctant to move in this particular area. This winter I think there were four or five major inquiries or standing or select committees which were working during the period of the recess between the end of December and the time when the House resumed late in February. That was a kind of demand which put enormous burdens on the members of the opposition parties and even greater burdens -- in fact, it totally exhausted the capacity to respond of the support staff, the researchers and so on, who were working with the various opposition parties. That’s an indication as to just how stretched things have become.
When the Camp commission talked about the member’s role -- and this was in its first volume -- it said, after talking about a number of aspects of the member’s role having to do with the constituency, doing casework, making speeches, doing party work and that kind of thing:
“What we have sketched about the member’s role has not stressed the demands on him” -- or her, I suppose -- “within the Legislature itself. It is there that much of the skimping and shortfall in performance is taking place. Put most brutally, government and its administration steadily increases in complexity, size and resources. Reports, studies and expertise proliferate. Few legislative proposals are simple and clear-cut. The ministries are sustained by an increasingly impressive array of talent and organizational ability to which the ordinary member of government or opposition has limited access and few ready rights of use. Surely the time has come to recognize that this balance, not so much towards the government but towards its highly knowledgeable bureaucracies, must be countered by stepping up the resources, facilities and services of the Legislature and the legislators.”
One can argue, as I would, that perhaps the Camp commission underestimated to some extent the capacity of the members of the opposition. We’ve got some pretty able people over here, and they do an excellent job; but they do an excellent job regardless of very limited resources. I believe, quite apart from the partisan aspects of our job over here, that in terms of making a contribution to the development of policy within Ontario and in terms of the improvement of legislation as put forward by the government and by the bureaucrats working for government, that we could and should be doing a better job had we more adequate support.
I could argue as well that at times the Camp commission perhaps overestimated the capacity of the officials working with the government or perhaps the judgement which is applied to those officials by the government itself. Nevertheless, the point is made, and I think it’s incumbent on the government to respond. In fact, I hope the Premier would consider responding.
The Camp commission came back to this particular argument in its second report and concluded that at the present time things are deficient in terms of providing the opposition parties with adequate funds relating to their functional requirements. They pointed out the lack of sufficient depth and professional competence in underpinning the efforts we make in the Legislature as well as the efforts that we make across the province. They recommended more adequate research capacity and, as the Premier knows, that was then followed up by the select committee of the Legislature which recommended that research assistance be provided in three ways: It recommended that it be provided through the library, it recommended that it be provided through committees and it recommended that additional research support be provided by giving a research assistant to each member of this House.
As leader of my party, I am now in a rather privileged position, as I suppose is the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith). If we snap our fingers, we tend to get support from the limited number of researchers who are there in our research group. But speaking as a one-time backbencher, an experience that the Premier may have difficulty in recalling, the fact is that for the members of my caucus --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have a very good memory.
Mr. Cassidy: You have a good memory? Okay.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: You have none.
Mr. Nixon: That was in the Premier’s previous incarnation.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am still younger than you are.
Mr. Nixon: Not for long.
Mr. Cassidy: The fact is that for members of my caucus who wish to explore or develop a particular line of inquiry, it is exceptionally difficult to do unless one can do it by means of volunteer researchers of one sort or another; and to carry out sustained knowledge and critique of what is happening in the many areas of government, given the pressures which exist on opposition members to carry out their other political responsibilities, is extraordinarily difficult.
Perhaps I can summon up, from my more recent memory as a backbencher, an experience I had about a year ago at this time. A young social worker student, Jeffrey Moore from Nova Scotia, studying at the Carleton school of social work, came to work with me for three months in the area of mental retardation. He travelled around and looked at some of the facilities. He came out with some excellent material in terms of enabling me to have a better understanding of the area of retardation in which I was interested but which I could never have found time to pursue as a front-bench opposition member without a portfolio responsibility.
That’s just one example of the kind which I think should quite properly be taking place on the opposition side but is not taking place now; and, I believe, this House, this Parliament and this province are the poorer as a result. I would appreciate some comments from the Premier when he gets a chance to reply, just talking about whether he is prepared to bite the bullet and to take the major step -- and we admit it’s a major step -- in terms of providing not just a small increase in resources for the opposition parties, but in agreeing with us that it is necessary if this Legislature is to function adequately, particularly in a minority situation, that the recommendations of the select committee at the very least should be implemented.
I think it’s fair to ask the Premier, since our efforts to get action from anybody have been so far fruitless, what his position is on the recommendations that have been made repeatedly both by the Camp commission and also by the select committee relative to the transfer of control of the legislative building to Mr. Speaker. This is a matter which could almost be called an old chestnut because it has been around for so long. But I do not believe that adequate provision will be made in order to ensure that this House works effectively and that the members can enjoy adequate working conditions, so long as the government continues to control this House and treats any of its facilities on a grace-and-favour basis. That has been the position in the past.
The Premier will recall, because finally in some embarrassment he had to ask for the lady’s resignation, that the member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener) as Minister for Government Services considered that this House was somehow an extension of the premises in which she lives in one of the better areas of her riding. The brief tenure of the present Minister of the Environment (Mr. McCague) in the position of Minister of Government Services was more positive. When he had a debate last December on the select committee’s report, he indicated that he saw no reason why control should not move over into Mr. Speaker’s hands. Alas, his tenure was too short. No action was taken.
The member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson), who is now the Minister of Government Services, alas considers, or appears to consider, that this Legislature is an extension of the premises in which he lives somewhere down in the rural areas of the great county of Lambton. I have no objection to his adopting that attitude so long as he remains the member for Lambton when he is within his particular riding; I do object to having all of this Legislature subsumed in some magical way to the point where somehow the turf on which we tread in this House becomes an extension of Lambton riding.
Mr. Nixon: You have a fantastic imagination, it seems to me.
Mr. Cassidy: It seems to me that the Premier himself can cut this Gordian knot and simply say that as a matter of policy he is prepared to see an orderly and rapid transfer of this building to the responsibility of Mr. Speaker. If the Premier wants to say, as the select committee recommended, that the premises of the Premier’s staff and of the cabinet office themselves should remain under government control through some kind of legislative condominium arrangement, obviously we are prepared to go along with that.
I would draw the Premier’s attention to the fact that as regards other central ministries of government the Treasury seems to have no difficulty, or few difficulties until recently, in performing its co-ordinating role within government from premises across the street. There are ample facilities, in the Whitney Block, I think it is, which is just across the road and is connected by a tunnel, where the various superministry secretariats could easily find a home and continue to carry out their functions without having to take up premises which should belong to us here in this House.
I would also like to raise the matter of access to information. Again, I think that’s important with relevance to the minority government situation in which we find ourselves today -- and in which we may no longer find ourselves tomorrow; but if the government can come up with an accommodation on the OHIP question we are likely to see continued until the next election; or quite possibly beyond, since I’m not prepared to say yet that when we form a government in the next election we will do so by a majority rather than by a minority.
Mr. Gregory: You will be lucky to get in.
Mr. Cassidy: I do want to suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the minority situation may, in fact, be the most appropriate time for the government to bite the bullet as regards freedom-of-information legislation.
There are very real questions in our minds over the delays, or over the continued work of the royal commission which is looking at this subject right now. We fear that that commission was set up in order to confuse the question of the privacy of the individual, of which there should be more, with the question of the privacy of government documents, of which there should be less. We think that distinction should be made very clearly. We think that the government should be prepared to commit itself now to take the appropriate action in order to have a far-reaching freedom-of-information Act, in order to make government information which is related to policy, or which is related to the ongoing workings of government, available in an open and free manner.
This has been pioneered in Europe. It is now a practice in the United States. It is the declared policy of the Conservative Party of Canada which has been pursuing this matter assiduously, with the member for Peace River, Jed Baldwin, being particularly to the fore.
Mr. Nixon: They were in favour of wage and price controls.
Mr. Cassidy: I might say it’s been resisted by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk’s federal colleagues in the Liberal Party.
Mr. Nixon: Terrible thing.
Mr. Cassidy: The only consistent position on this has been held by the New Democratic Party. That isn’t just because we’re not yet in office in either level of government, it is because we believe fundamentally is the principle of freedom of information. When we become a government we are prepared to implement it at this level, just as we are pressing for freedom-of-information legislation at the federal level where we will implement it when we become the government of Canada.
Mr. Nixon: We won’t hold our breath.
Mr. Cassidy: Just watch us at the provincial level.
Mr. Nixon: We have been.
Mr. Cassidy: We can have a fair impact at the federal level as well.
At the time this question was debated -- as a matter of fact, it was just over a year ago in this Legislature, shortly before the government pulled the plug and we went into that election which was less fortunate for the government than the Premier had hoped.
Mr. Nixon: Have another; this year it will be a lot better.
Hon. Mr. Davis: This has been such a pleasant afternoon. I was going to say “far less for yourselves.”
Mr. Cassidy: You win a few, you lose a few.
Mr. MacDonald: You missed consistently, twice.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to tell you I’m batting 1.000 right now and you’re only batting .333.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Not because of you, Michael.
Mr. J. Reed: But you’re doing it as a death wish.
Mr. Cassidy: At that time, the Attorney General brought up all sorts of spurious and specious reasons why the government --
Hon. Mr. Davis: What was that first word?
Mr. Cassidy: “Spurious” and “specious” -- reasons why the government was not prepared to go along with the excellent bill which was proposed by the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and supported by the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor). We believe now is the time to take action in this particular area. I hope that when the Premier rises to reply, he will comment on the question of freedom of information.
I want to comment next on the question of national unity. I do so in part because of the frustration we have experienced over the continued absence of any meaningful discussion on the question of the future of our country here in this Legislature. There has been no debate on the national unity question since the election of the Parti Quebecois on November 15, 1976. That is now almost 18 months ago.
In the last election there was a certain amount of debate on the question on the hustings. The Premier did everything possible in his power, it seemed to us, to try to forestall debate, suggesting that national unity was not an issue, but that if anybody was interested he was the fellow best capable of carrying the question of national unity to the people of the country.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You certainly agreed with that.
Mr. Cassidy: Pardon? No, as a matter of fact I have to say that in particular I had doubts at the time, in the campaign, and my doubts have been compounded and have been more and more justified by what has happened since that particular campaign.
The Premier said in that great rally in Welland, which they spent weeks organizing prior to the June election, that he wanted a chance to carry Ontario’s flag into these discussions and to say that we here in Ontario will spare no efforts and will leave no stone unturned in making the sacrifices and those commitments which are necessary in the broad national interest.
The Premier may have been carrying the flag around the country in order to keep the country together, but it has been very difficult for a lot of us to discern exactly what it is that he has been doing. We understand that he has become a frequent attender at the Quebec Winter Carnival, where he goes to minor hockey tournaments and that kind of thing.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s where you ought to go to campaign, I tell you that’s the grassroots. You’ll learn more from the coaches and managers and kids than you’ll learn from --
Mr. MacDonald: Quebec City, Italy, and now Greece -- those are the grassroots?
Hon. Mr. Davis: They’re not on the list yet.
Mr. Cassidy: I flew back from New Liskeard on Friday night, after having singlehandedly been up against two cabinet ministers, with a third coming in that evening, in order to attend the hockey banquet for my kids in the great riding of Ottawa Centre --
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s where it’s at.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right, and I am not leaving that particular side untouched.
What we are concerned about, though, is that the Premier has been noticeable by his absence in terms of really providing leadership in the area of national unity over the course of time since the June election. It’s not that he has said nothing; it is that he hasn’t been saying very much and he hasn’t been saying it very loud, and not many people are aware of the fact that he has been saying it at all. I suspect as well that what he has been saying has not been particularly relevant --
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s not what your predecessor said, your predecessor said that it was relevant.
Mr. Cassidy: I went down to the Holiday Inn, I believe it was some time in November of last year, in order to hear the Premier’s submission before the task force on national unity. As I have already said in this House, I was not just disappointed but gravely disappointed. At that point I was looking to the Premier to speak, not as the Conservative leader of Ontario, but --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Michael, to be fair, never mind the rhetoric or the number of speeches or how loudly one talks. Why don’t you just say specifically what your party would do?
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: Fine.
Mr. J. Reed: You don’t pick up any ideas that way.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to say that at that time the Premier had a number of specific things, but in terms of any sense of commitment --
Mr. McClellan: Let’s have the debate.
Mr. MacDonald: Let’s have the debate, exactly.
Mr. Cassidy: Let’s have the debate, that’s right. But in terms of having any sense of commitment to the country, or any sense of understanding what is happening in Quebec, I found it hard to read into what the Premier had to say in that 40- or 50-minute address that he made before the task force on national unity. I believe that those people who were there, the journalists, the observers, people who watched it on the TV clips and so on, will share that view with me, that we weren’t really seen to be present before the task force on national unity.
The member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis) went before the task force the next day and was greeted exceptionally warmly. if you look at what he had to say, it did not contain as many specifics as the Premier had in his presentation. What it did contain, though, was a sense of passion, of commitment, of warmth, and of caring and of understanding about what the country is all about and what is happening in the province of Quebec. That is what has been missing in particular from what the Premier has been saying.
If I dare say so, perhaps that is one of the contrasts between the Premier and his predecessor, Premier John Robarts, Premier Robarts occupied, and continues to occupy, a very strong position, a position which is in the hearts of the people of this country and not just in their minds. Maybe the Premier of Ontario now is seeking too much just to talk to people’s minds and not to their hearts.
New Democrats have been taking some specific action on this, because of our concern over the fact that the Legislature as a whole was being left out of the action completely. Perhaps that was a deliberate action on the part of the government. In an attempt to increase our own understanding of the situation in Quebec and in the national unity issue, five of my colleagues journeyed to Quebec over the course of the school break and spent a couple of days in Montreal and in Quebec City. Our caucus people went there with the goals of listening and learning rather than of trying to impose on Quebec a kind of prefabricated solution for what we could see would be appropriate for the needs of the country and of our desire to keep the country together. They had fruitful discussions with a variety of individuals and groups, including business as well as labour, including representatives of all three parties, including an excellent lunch with a number of MNAs from the National Assembly.
We didn’t come up with instant answers. It did give us in particular, though -- and we’ve discussed this in our caucus -- a sense of strength of nationalism in Quebec, a nationalism which not only is found within the Parti Quebecois but also is to be found within the Liberal Party, within the Union Nationale and to a lesser extent, I guess, within the Social Credit Party if it even survives.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What did you find in the New Democratic Party?
Mr. Cassidy: We didn’t find as much as we had hoped in the New Democratic Party.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You didn’t find many New Democrats.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You didn’t find the New Democratic Party.
Mr. Cassidy: We didn’t find many Conservatives either, so I wouldn’t speak too soon.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Michael, there are more Conservatives than New Democrats.
Mr. McClellan: Where’s Wagner when you need him?
Mr. Cassidy: I understand that while our force remains as it was a week ago --
Hon. B. Stephenson: You can’t subtract from zero.
Mr. Cassidy: -- the manpower of the Conservative Party from Quebec has now diminished by a third over the course of the last week.
Mr. Martel: You haven’t got very many in British Columbia either, have you?
Mr. McClellan: This is not the Premier’s strong suit. Mutual humility is called for.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will make a bet: We’ll get more seats than you will in Quebec.
Mr. Grande: You’ll become extinct in some provinces.
Mr. Martel: We’ll hold the balance of power.
Mr. McClellan: A little mutual humility on this issue is in order.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. Cassidy: We have this hope for infinite progress in the province of Quebec --
Hon. B. Stephenson: On the basis of your concern for national unity, we’re going to have retaliatory measures.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Shhh. Quiet. Don’t interrupt.
Mr. Martel: John, you tell her.
Mr. McClellan: Control her, John.
Mr. Cassidy: To take the words from the Minister of Labour, on the basis of our concern for national unity, we intend to travel again to Quebec.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Soon.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Immediately.
Mr. Cassidy: I look forward to taking part myself on the next occasion --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Soon. Take Martel.
Mr. Cassidy: Soon, as a matter of fact, yes.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Take McClellan.
Mr. Kerrio: Now that Claude Ryan has the national unity problem under control you are wasting your time.
Mr. Cassidy: In fact, very likely we will do that over the course of the next month or so, provided there is not a provincial election in this province --
Mr. Kerrio: Better hurry up, Elie. In a couple of months it will be too late.
Mr. Cassidy: -- but regardless as to whether or not there is a federal election.
Mr. MacDonald: You get it sorted out between Claude Ryan and Pierre Trudeau, and then you can be quiet.
Mr. Kerrio: That’s right. That could happen, too.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s worth noting that one of the things we discovered in Quebec was the enormous, almost total, separation that exists between what people perceive as provincial politics and what they perceive as federal politics. As a consequence, it would appear that the whole provincial scene will continue as though nothing is happening -- or just about nothing -- during the course of the forthcoming federal campaign.
We intend to pay some more visits and to spend some more time there. We have also responded positively to the initiatives which have flowed, perhaps coincidentally or perhaps as a result of our visit, from the Speaker of the National Assembly in Quebec, suggesting the pairing of ridings, suggesting a more regular program of exchange visits between legislators of our two provinces. We think those are good initiatives and they should be followed up.
I do want to express disappointment with what the Premier had to say the other day when I asked the question about forming a select committee of this Legislature in order that we could inform ourselves better and in order that there could be an ongoing debate and discussion with all parties involved on the questions of national unity.
Perhaps that gets back to some of the comments I had to make earlier on the whole minority government question. At one point we hear rumours that because it’s a hot potato the government decides it’s going to refer the question of mind-bending cults to a select committee or a standing committee of the Legislature in order to get itself off the hook. But, on the other hand, when for 18 months or more the question of the survival of our country has been at stake, the government shies away from taking that route and referring this matter to a select committee or a standing committee which could spend some time and effort in looking and in educating its members and, through its members, the Legislature as a whole. I simply put that view before the Premier again.
I have to express some reservations about the Premier’s reference, because it may be that he is reticent because he or the government doesn’t want all parties in the Legislature to have a platform or a committee from which they could be seen to be publicly studying the national unity question. It may be that when he said in the last campaign that he felt that he was the best person to speak for Ontario on the national unity question, that --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I never said that. I am too modest to say that.
Mr. Cassidy: You’re too modest? Okay.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You would say it, but I wouldn’t.
Mr. Grande: You’re leaving it up to Clark.
Mr. Cassidy: The implication was pretty strong. When that was implied, if not inferred and if not stated, the Premier decided that he would also take steps to ensure that no opposition members would be involved on a sustained basis in this particular area.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Did I discourage you from going to Quebec?
Mr. Martel: Not just to the winter carnival though; there was more to our contribution.
Mr. Cassidy: I think the initiative the New Democrats have taken has been warmly welcomed in Quebec. One of the comments my colleagues came back with was about the degree to which they were welcomed by everyone whom they met, with a view that perhaps it was about time Ontario was playing more of a role, paying more attention, making more of an effort to find out what is happening, to understand what is happening, to respond positively to what is happening and to play a major role in the future of our country.
Mr. Martel: You’ll never be Prime Minister that way.
Mr. McClellan: Crombie has got it all sewn up.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to raise some questions about the brief the Premier put forward because of the questions that it raises in our minds about what the government is actually doing. I don’t want to go through the thing in comprehensive detail, but we were surprised at a number of the statements that the Premier had. Like everyone else, the Premier has linked the economy and the national unity issues; which is fair enough, we have been doing that ourselves.
We have questions, which perhaps shouldn’t be raised at this point, about the effectiveness of the government in contributing to the continuation of a strong economy. We were surprised, however, at the rather astounding declaration on the part of the Premier suggesting that the private sector should be willing to relocate industries in the Maritimes at a lower rate of return as part of its sense of corporate responsibility. I am surprised at that because every time we have suggested there is a corporate responsibility to ensuring a more balanced pattern of development and growth, just within our own province let alone within the Maritimes or other poorer regions of Canada, we have been told by the Premier and the government that that does not coincide with their understanding of how the enterprise system happens to work.
The Premier might want to comment on that particular matter.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I hope you are making a list of all the things you want me to comment on.
Mr. Cassidy: I hope you are too. You are the fellow who is going to have to reply. I’ll do a reprise very quickly when we get to that point.
I was interested and supportive when the Premier called for the recognition of two official languages along with entrenchment of languages of education guarantees. It seems to me that the comments he made in November before the task force on national unity were, to put it mildly, rather strongly at odds with his brusque and difficult refusal to make French an official language in this province, something which in our opinion has done untold damage in terms of the way in which Ontario’s contribution is perceived in the whole question of national unity within the province of Quebec.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why don’t you just restate you are going to make French an official language of Ontario?
Mr. Cassidy: I have said it before and I have no objection to saying it again.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s where there is some difference.
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, there was some difference.
Mr. McClellan: Is there some confusion about it?
Mr. Cassidy: Given the fact that the Throne Speech has now promised initiatives in the area of providing services in French in almost every major area, given the fact that the Ontario government has now committed itself to taking federal money, which it has previously refused, in order to translate the statutes, and given all the steps that are being taken by the government; in our opinion what is left now is a step which has got enormous symbolic importance, both within this province in relation to Franco-Ontarians and within the country in relation to how French-Canadians in Quebec perceive our commitment and our willingness to make this a country in which they can continue to live.
That is why the practical implications of making French an official language are not great. The cost of such a program are minuscule. We feel that the government’s resistance and its reluctance to move at this time are having very damaging effects. We feel that it is an irrational kind of position, possibly taken for reasons of the political base to which the Premier feels he ought to respond. That is a short-sighted point of view. In the process, by failing to exercise leadership in this province, we fail to exercise leadership within the country as a whole.
I would also appreciate it if the Premier could say more specifically what he meant when he referred to the possibility of added flexibility in constitutional arrangements. He said: “One obvious idea for added flexibility is different arrangements for various provinces within Confederation.” I am not sure whether this means that the Premier is advocating some kind of special status, or what kind of arrangement, technical devices and constitutional devices he sees being used. Does that means that he therefore sees that within the context of Confederation there can be quite a different constitutional arrangement for the province of Quebec as compared with the other provinces?
I would appreciate it as well if the Premier could comment briefly on the way in which Ontario, in the person of Premier Davis, responded to the initiatives about languages of education that were taken at the Premiers’ conference in Montreal shortly before the first ministers’ conference. It was our impression -- an impression which many of the people in the media had as well -- that we were asleep at the switch when it came to protecting the rights of Ontario or other English-speaking residents of Canada who wished to transfer with their families into Quebec. Because of the fact that the agreement at the first ministers’ conference was left to the interpretation of each province there is a real risk, it seems to us, that the essential right of people now resident within Canada to be treated the same in terms of languages of instruction for their kids in Quebec as they would be treated in other provinces was lost. That frankly is a grave concern on which the Premier might want to reply.
Finally I want to say that we understand, as far as Quebec and the future of this country is concerned, that the sense of security that we have about our position in Confederation in Ontario is not yet shared within the province of Quebec. While it may seem to the Premier or to me that French language and French culture are fundamentally entrenched in that province, that is not yet the position that is felt within that province. That is one of the reasons why both Liberal and Parti Quebecois governments, as well as the Union Nationale, have all adopted positions on language policies which are rather difficult to be accepted in Ontario or other English-speaking provinces of Canada.
I believe that we have to accept in this province -- and it is one of the fundamental conditions for the continuation of a country -- that in the same way that this province has a majority language which is English, so in Quebec the majority language is and will be French. Therefore we should not be going around trying to pretend that that should be otherwise or that Quebec will somehow be different and will maintain a situation or a status quo created at a time of anglophone economic dominance when they are trying to change things.
If we accept that, then it seems that an awful lot of the other things that need to be sorted out at the constitutional level can begin. We have to begin, though, in understanding the passion, in understanding the nationalist feelings which are very strong within Quebec, in being prepared to understand that as we continue as a nation it will be different than before and not exactly the same.
I believe that just as it is important for us to have a legislative committee which is reaching out and making contact with people and with legislators in Quebec, so it is important, and we should be taking initiatives here in this province, in order to ensure that by every means possible -- whether it is trade unionists, whether it is business people, whether it is civil servants, whether it is Kiwanis clubs and Le Club Richelieu, whether it is Girl Guides and the Mouvement Scoute du Canada; at every level possible we should be encouraging as many as possible contacts between people in this province and people in our great sister province in Quebec.
That is something to which we should be prepared to devote legislative energy, funds -- Wintario money possibly -- whatever is necessary to ensure that many more of our people can breach the two solitudes of our country, can come into personal contact with what is happening in Quebec, can develop a sympathy and understanding for what is happening there, a generosity and an openness to what is happening there, which is not always seen to be existing in some of the statements and declarations of the Premier of this province.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Tell me one.
Mr. Cassidy: I beg your pardon?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Tell me one.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to suggest and I have already suggested --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, no; tell me where statements I have made have not been generous or what-have-you in terms of that province?
Mr. Cassidy: I have already stated, Mr. Chairman --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, you haven’t.
Mr. Cassidy: -- that when the Premier went before the task force on national unity --
Mr. McClellan: The Premier wasn’t listening.
Mr. Cassidy: -- that in fact the Premier blew it. That was a failure, not just on behalf of the government, but on behalf of us all. The fact that apart from the carnival the Premier has hardly set foot in Quebec since the last election, that he has not followed up the initiatives which he seemed to be prepared to take in the last election, is a failure for which we all suffer. The fact that we now sense that there is a vacuum in relation to our contacts with Quebec, and that Quebec in turn senses that there is a vacuum, is something from which we all suffer. The most news coverage that the Premier of this province has had in the province of Quebec has been where he and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) have voyaged to Quebec in order to try and defend positions which, in our opinion, are indefensible or are very difficult to defend.
Clearly, we are losing ground rather than gaining ground in terms of the positions we should be taking and in terms of reassuring Quebeckers that they can and should and will find a place in this great country of ours, and that they don’t have to go the separatist route in order to achieve their own épanouissement, their own self-development which they are so anxious to achieve.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What about the construction workers?
Mr. Cassidy: I beg your pardon?
Hon. Mr. Davis: What about the construction workers?
Mr. Cassidy: The Premier is not speaking distinctly and I wish he would repeat his comment
Hon. Mr. Davis: What about the construction workers in the Ottawa area?
Mr. Cassidy: Fine. The Premier has asked about construction workers. My answer about construction workers would be very much the same as the answer I have just given with regard to Ontario families who for various reasons wish to live in the province of Quebec, perhaps because of being transferred to Sherbrooke or to Montreal. I don’t think it is right -- and I think it is perfectly fair for us to say so -- to take a grade six child whose parent is being transferred on a permanent basis to the province of Quebec and say that that kid has got to transfer into a French-speaking school system.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You are skirting the issue.
Mr. Cassidy: No, I am stating it quite directly.
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, you are not. You are talking about one aspect.
Mr. Cassidy: That right is not guaranteed under the interpretation of the language rights guarantee which was secured at the Premiers’ conference.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Michael, you are trying to have it both ways.
Mr. Cassidy: Ontario did not speak up to that issue, it let that issue drop.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Michael, your ambivalence is showing.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Your contradiction is showing.
Mr. J. Reed: What part of the body is that?
Hon. B. Stephenson: His two faces.
Mr. Cassidy: On the question of the construction workers, this has been a question or a problem as long as I have been in the Legislature and I have no compunctions in talking about it, Mr. Chairman. The peaceful approach, the kind of quiet diplomacy or quiet negotiation which Ontario has carried out through Fern Guindon, through various Ministers of Labour up to the present one, the Hon. B. Stephenson, bas failed. It has failed utterly. The screws have been tightened progressively to the point where today it is almost impossible for an Ontario-based construction worker to work in Quebec; and effective July 1 it will be impossible for all but a very few.
Not only that, but if an Ontario worker happens to have the necessary hours to work in Quebec but then gets a job in Ontario for a year, he will not then be able to go back into that province.
Mr. Gaunt: Meanwhile, they are coming over here by the hundreds.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Thousands.
Mr. Cassidy: And we welcome them.
Mr. Gaunt: That’s right, as long as we can do the same.
Mr. Cassidy: We welcome them on this side of the border.
Mr. Gaunt: As long as we can do the same, that’s all we ask.
Mr. Cassidy: They have always been welcome. My city of Ottawa would not look the way it does --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Are we going to close the borders? That’s what you are suggesting?
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: What is happening right now is that Quebec is closing the border and we have to decide in the province of Ontario whether we are prepared to apply political pressure to Quebec to the point where they come up with a reasonable accommodation or whether we just simply sit tight while the Quebec government takes action to balkanize the country.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where was this generous spirit five minutes ago?
Mr. Cassidy: The Premier asked a question?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where was this generous spirit you were showing five minutes ago?
Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Ottawa Centre has the floor.
Mr. Cassidy: I believe the province of Ontario has demonstrated a generous spirit in ignoring completely the continued and increasing escalation of restrictions on Ontario construction workers over a period of seven or eight years.
Hon. B. Stephenson: How can you do that with the one hand and not with the other?
Mr. Cassidy: I don’t believe that to be generous means that you simply sit back as patsies; and that, I am afraid, is what has been happening.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We haven’t, we haven’t.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s why I believe, on that particular issue, we should be prepared to move. I think that the New Democratic Party has made its position clear in relation to what’s happening in Quebec and in relation to what we believe should happen in this country on sufficient occasions that where our people are suffering directly in that particular way we can be entitled to speak up on their behalf.
Those are the comments that I wanted to make, Mr. Chairman. If the Premier wants me to run though the comments briefly, I will just simply summarize. I raised some concerns about minority government and expressed the hope that the government in future will be prepared to respect the minority situation to which it’s been confirmed in the 1977 election.
I raised the matter of resources for the opposition parties. I raised the matter of freedom of information and our concern, particularly after the evidence, if I can use the words, of the “doctoring” of documents by the Health ministry in relation to some material that came before the standing committee of the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Be careful of your language; be tolerant
Mr. Cassidy: It’s a parliamentary word, and an appropriate one.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s a medical word.
Mr. Cassidy: I raised a number of questions related to national unity and to all of those I’d appreciate some response from the Premier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, I’ll try and respond, perhaps in a somewhat more limited sense than the questions that were raised.
Firstly, my response to minority government, Mr. Chairman, is that some days it works better than others.
Mr. Gaunt: You mean today it is not working very well?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think that’s a facetious observation.
An hon. member: Let’s hope it works tomorrow.
Mr. McClellan: I hope tomorrow is a good day.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t be too eager.
I find certain contradictions in the hon. member’s observations. I’ve been in government for a fairly limited period of time, admittedly.
Mr. Epp: Too many years.
Mr. McClellan: It seems like forever.
Hon. Mr. Davis: For you people, hopefully, it will seem like that -- forever, that’s right.
But I do see one or two contradictions. The leader of the New Democratic Party is talking about certain inflexibility on the part of the government. I don’t say that hasn’t some validity on occasion, but I suggest that all parties in the House are somewhat involved in that process. It’s also fair to state that perhaps -- and I only say perhaps -- there is the likelihood on some issues that the government gets both sides of the issue to a greater extent than some members opposite. I think there is a tendency, when people are opposed to something, for them to come forward and express their views to the members of the opposition -- this is the traditional route -- and there is a tendency on occasion for those who are in support not to make their views known. One has to be careful in assessing whether or not you represent, in fact, a consensus from the people of this province. One has to be fairly careful.
There are a number of issues that come to mind where this, perhaps, was not factually the case. I’m leaving the current issue out of it for the moment, but there are other examples. This is where minority government requires the reasonableness on all sides.
There’s always the traditional or sometimes ritualistic need to introduce motions of no-confidence because they’re always introduced after the Throne Speech or the budget; this I understand. I also sense there’s a tendency that things do escalate; we’re all politicians. There’s a tendency to sort of say, “If party leader so-and-so” -- or committee chairman or what have you -- “takes this position, in order to protect our credibility” -- credibility is a word that is introduced into the discussion quite often -- “we have to go that far or one step further.”
We all live in this very limited environment and my guess is that the public, generally, doesn’t understand a great deal of what goes on. I’m not in any way belittling either the press or the public, but I don’t think they are as close to it as we are, nor do they understand the process.
It’s a competitive situation. Politics has always been competitive. It will remain that way. There’s a tendency that when we get here in the House -- I could sense it on one or two occasions in fairly recent days -- sometimes attitudes develop which may not really reflect what is going on in the real world and that is one of the problems.
I would say -- and listen, none of us are immune from this -- I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that he has less immunity than some others from this sort of thing happening. I don’t say that critically. We all learn; I’m still learning and, with respect, he still has a little bit to learn.
Mr. T. P. Reid: A little?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have said this publicly and I restate it: I am committed to making minority government work. But I have to make this very clear, we still have the responsibility, under our system of government, of governing. You have always assured me that when it comes to matters of pay increases or more allocations for research for members of our parties, you are there, ready to come up on a platform and join me in any criticism. I appreciate the offer but I am also a realist. I know that whatever government does, in the minds of the public generally, whether it receives the support of the members opposite or not, it is by and large a government policy.
I am not being critical because I was on select committees and I know what goes on, but I tell you -- this may come as a great surprise to you -- I have had more reaction to some select committee activities than I have to other events in recent days, and we didn’t escape some of the blame.
I wasn’t on the select committee, I wasn’t a chairman of the committee; but they didn’t differentiate between whether it was government or non-partisan or all-party or who was chairman, the onus was on the government. That’s something we live with; it’s something that we understand and that is part of the responsibility.
I have lived with the members opposite -- some of them for some years -- and there’s no way that a member opposite, even though he believes something that government has done is good and is right, if it is going to have a political impact on his constituents is going to go home and say: “Yes, I totally defend what the government has done.”
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s not true.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, I read your column.
Mr. J. Reed: Listen, on Saturday, I just commended the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) publicly in Milton.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes you did, but I have read some of your other columns where you have not commended the government knowing in your heart that what we were doing was right.
Mr. Sweeney: He didn’t say all of them; once in a while.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, no; I am just saying it’s a very human instinct.
An hon. member: You win some and you lose some.
Mr. Sweeney: Once in a while you do something right and we say so.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You can all learn something from the member for Huron-Bruce.
Mr. Gaunt: You mean me?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, I read your columns probably more carefully than anyone else. I tell you when government is doing a good thing members opposite would almost think their colleague was a member of the government, they often would.
Mr. Gaunt: I am totally objective.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mind you, when he doesn’t think we are doing something right one can’t say that about him.
But that is a fact of life in minority government. Sure there has to be a greater degree of reasonableness, but that applies on both sides of the House. I say there is this tendency, particularly because the member for Ottawa Centre represents a very different philosophical point of view from the governing party. This is not so true of our friends who are the official opposition. There the differentiation in philosophical terms is sometimes harder to distinguish. It gets down to personalities and practical application of policies. I have said that publicly before, so I am not saying anything new.
But the member for Ottawa Centre represents a point of view that you think is essential, because your party has passed it at some policy conference and so you are married to it, you can’t vary from it here in the House. But then you expect us to be flexible, and I am saying that flexibility has to go both ways. While we don’t represent the majority of the people in the province in this House, we represent a far larger percentage of the population --
Mr. McClellan: A larger percentage.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- than your party does.
Mr. Cassidy: Somewhat larger.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say substantially larger. We can play with words, but the fact is we do. So you people have to show a greater measure of understanding as to the problems of administering a government. That’s not always perceived by us on this side of the House.
You have said to me on a number of occasions, we’ll share all the difficult things with you. Well you might, but I am not holding my breath; and I know that in terms of the ultimate responsibility of administering anything that the onus is on us.
As an example, at some point in time, hopefully Madam Minister, we will get around to some discussion of Bill 70 -- perhaps. I just point out to the members opposite that they have been reflecting a point of view that has been brought to their attention by certain groups, this I understand; but what we represent are the points of view brought by both our public service, in whom I have confidence, and by groups on both sides of these issues.
Ultimately when that bill is passed, whatever form it takes, the members opposite can rest assured that it will be the minister, the ministry, and the government who will have to assume the responsibility for its administration; and if there are problems with it, the minister isn’t going to be looking around for any of the members opposite to leap to her defence. That’s a reality we all face.
When the members opposite talk to me about how minority government is working, I honestly believe it is working relatively well. Sure, there are exceptions. There may be one at the moment. But I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party and to the leader of the Liberal Party: They always talk to us about exercising a certain degree of flexibility. It’s a two-way street. I don’t say that in any partisan sense whatsoever. It’s something that has to be understood.
Mr. Gaunt: I will report your comments objectively in my next column.
Mr. J. Reed: This is a prelude to the announcement tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You may not even find any announcement. What announcement?
You may also find, Mr. Chairman, that the leader of the New Democratic Party is arguing one day for a select committee or standing committee and the next day is suggesting to me that that is not part of our parliamentary system. I think he’s being critical of the committee headed by the member for Huron-Bruce in terms of whether or not that was a proper procedure.
I’m concerned about this. I make no bones about it. I am concerned about our system altering somewhat to reflect more of a congressional system of government than a parliamentary system of government. I think that’s something we all should be somewhat cautious about. There is a tendency to say let’s set up this committee to do this, that or the other thing. At some point in time we have to get back to the reality that we have a parliamentary system of government. I am prejudiced. I think it happens to be --
Mr. J. Reed: It’s nice to hear you say that. After all the orders in council, it’s nice to hear that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the member for Halton North -- is that it? I used to know --
Mr. Ruston: Halton-Burlington.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Halton-Burlington; whatever. I know the geography.
Mr. J. Reed: I don’t worry that you don’t get the name correct. It means my riding is safe.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We were plotting that the other day. I wouldn’t count on that for sure at all.
Mr. J. Reed: Colour it red.
Mr. Warner: We talked about Brampton.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Brampton? Great riding. Great community. I would say that, in the minority situation, we have to be careful in terms of the committee function to remember the ultimate responsibility of the House and the ultimate responsibility of the governing party to govern. One thing the public doesn’t need is a lot of instability, a lot of indecisiveness; and minority governments can sometimes lead to that sort of situation developing. That’s not what the public wants or needs at this moment.
I’m interested to see what position the opposition parties will be taking in terms of the potential of property tax reform. I can look across the House -- perhaps more so to the official opposition, although I’m not so sure -- where there are members opposite whose municipalities are saying, “We’ve got to have property tax reform tomorrow.” I’m looking at two in the back row. I’m looking at one in the second row. And there are others.
Mr. Epp: We’ve been waiting for the government to bring it in.
Mr. Sweeney: We have been waiting since 1971.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can go back in history. The Liberals make a big thing about regional government today, but it was that party, the official opposition, that was promoting regional government and county school boards in this province before it ever became a policy of our party.
Mr. Epp: Actually, Leslie Frost spoke about property tax reform in 1946.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know he did. I'm just --
Mr. Gaunt: Vern Singer was just talking about regional government in Toronto.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I see. I see. You can apologize for him all you want.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You can’t weasel out of it that way, Murray.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s an area that’s going to require some discussion here. It will be interesting to see whether there is a little bit of one-upmanship or what have you --
Mr. Sweeney: It doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to buy your version.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would only say to the hon. member who has made a comment, that it isn’t my version.
Mr. Sweeney: You’ve been living with it for seven years.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’ll tell the hon. member, if he has a great new idea, he will be the umpteenth person who has thought of the great new idea but, when it all comes out in the wash, it gets down to something pretty basic. That hasn’t altered that much, in my limited experience.
I’ll deal with one or two other issues the hon. member raised. Now that we’ve settled how minority government functions, Mr. Chairman, the question of further allocations of resources in term of research and so on. I have never been one to limit the abilities of the opposition in terms of their capacity to do their job. I haven’t noticed any great limitation. We have to be realistic as regards the resources that are available. We have, on the one hand, cries to restrain, and on the other hand suggestions to spend more on this or that program.
The leader of the New Democratic Party has mentioned this to me. There is no secret about it, I don’t have a closed mind on the subject, but I have not an open mind on the subject in terms of saying, “Yes, we will do this tomorrow.” I can’t tell him any more than that at this precise moment.
In terms of physical accommodation, I answered this in reply to a question from one of the members opposite. The Speaker has written to me. I have no territorial imperatives as part of my makeup, I want to see the right thing done.
One thing I can say is it would be somewhat ludicrous for the Premier of this province to be somewhere other than in the main legislative building, and it’s not because there aren’t other offices that are perhaps just as pleasant. As for whether the Speaker should have total control or what area he should have control of, and on the whole question of members’ accommodation, we are endeavouring to get a response to the Speaker to sort some of this out. How we will sort it out, I can’t answer that. It is something that all of us have to play a part in, but I am sure we will find some reasonable sort of solution.
With respect to the question of national unity, I have mentioned this. I am not going to get upset because the leader of the New Democratic Party doesn’t think I speak with enough emotion or passion and so on. I guess people have different ways of conveying their point of view. I can only tell him of the response I have received in a very personal way from a number of sources. This is not necessarily a response to the way it was presented. I don’t pretend to go before people I know relatively well to put on a sort of show for the TV or what have you. I went to the Pepin-Robarts task force to tell them in a very personal way some of the views I feel are important. As far as content is concerned -- and I will discuss nothing about delivery as I don’t pretend to compete with the new leader of the New Democratic Party in his emotionalism, his sincerity, his rhetoric, et cetera -- I like to think the content I use on occasion is relevant.
I think, the content of that document, was probably as significant as any document the task force has received. That’s a point of view held by a number of people.
He makes fun of the fact that I go to the Carnaval. I don’t make any bones about it; I happen to enjoy it. To me, it’s a very informal sort of way of getting to know a larger number of people. While I haven’t been to Quebec that often, I have been there a little more often than some of the public pronouncements have said. If the hon. member is suggesting that I have or this party has or the government has, any lesser sort of commitment to the future of this country -- and I don’t think he is suggesting that really. I listened very carefully to what he said, and with one exception, after I heard all the criticism, I didn’t hear anything really substantial in what he would suggest might be done.
Mr. McClellan: There was one suggestion which you ignored.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t say that critically, but I really didn’t. It’s fine for people to get up and say, “You’ve got to say more, you’ve got to talk in a louder voice.” I’ve got news for you. If you want my assessment, rhetoric isn’t going to solve the problem. It may be a part of it, but I think what will solve the problem is a recognition that some changes are going to have to take place. While there are some who are encouraged at the moment because of the polls and because maybe they sense there is less of a problem today than there was six months ago, as I think I said in a public statement a few days ago, I don’t think we should be misled by that. The problems that are there are fundamental. We as a province are prepared to play our part in terms of the change that is still necessary.
The leader of the New Democratic Party was trying to get me to say I believe in special status, perhaps for Quebec. I am very careful -- he will learn this over the years -- I don’t back myself into a corner. I am not going to get painted into saying, “Yes, I believe in special status” or “I don’t believe in special status.” Half of the difficulties we have occur because people get hung up on words or on phrases. If we really said what we are prepared to do in terms of principle, the fact is our constitution does need amendment.
Without getting into a controversy, because you know it’s emotional, as to whether or not there is special status or isn’t, why raise it? You’re not going to get me to say, “Yes, special status for Quebec.” What I will say is, “Special status for 10 provinces of Canada.”
In other words, every province has to have an equal involvement. There has to be enough flexibility in the constitution to see that these differences are accommodated. You can smile, but that happens to be factually what should be done. It has been, I think, partially because of the reluctance of the government of Canada to introduce that measure of flexibility that has led to some of the difficulty we are presently in.
The hon. member has asked me what I mean by “flexibility.” I can’t define these things for you in absolute terms, but flexibility could mean the position taken by some of the Premiers, perhaps a majority, at the Premiers’ conference in Alberta a year ago last fall, where we agreed with the proposal made by the then-government of Quebec that there be the cultural package -- the cultural package being immigration, culture and communications -- where if a province wanted to have paramountcy, say in the field of immigration, that other provinces could opt in or opt out in terms of their decision.
In the field of communications, which is very important to the province of Quebec, they wanted to have a greater measure of control. Ontario raised no objection to this, but I did make the point that I thought there was some need for a federal presence because if you haven’t got some form of federal communications policy, I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party, I think there is some difficulty.
The same is true in the field of culture. You can have responsibility in terms of culture provincially. This is what Quebec wanted. Once again, Ontario raised no objection. I did make the point, and I think it is still valid, that certainly there is a French culture and certainly there is an English culture, but I happen to be old fashioned enough to think there is something called a Canadian culture. I think you have to have a federal presence in terms of a discussion of that issue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accommodate the desires of some provinces.
I think it is also important to understand that when I talk about flexibility I’m not talking about massive decentralization. I will have no part of any constitutional discussion that totally dismembers the government of Canada. They have a role to play and it’s a very important role. But what I do see happening is a greater recognition of the capacity of the provinces to deal in federal-provincial relations.
I’m sure you’ve read very carefully Dr. Macdonald’s report and you have noticed the makeup of the committee. Mr. Chairman, I’m not going to argue today for the House of the provinces per se, but really what it is, in certain respects, is an institutionalization of the federal-provincial conference. It’s an intriguing concept, because it means that there is provincial involvement on an ongoing basis on those fundamental issues facing Canadians.
I have no reservation in saying that I think there should be greater provincial involvement in terms of federal agencies. It doesn’t offend me at all to say that in the National Energy Board there should be representation, say from the province of Alberta. It’s hard for me to understand a federal agency dealing with such an important resource as energy in terms of national policy if there isn’t some provincial input from one of the producing provinces. I have no hesitancy in accepting that as a principle. I would say the same would apply to the CRTC; and you can name another group of federal agencies where I think in our system, in our Confederation, it would make sense.
I digress, I was only going to take two or three minutes. Those are just a few of my thoughts on the subject. The only final thought I would leave with the leader of the New Democratic Party is that I am not reluctant to have a debate, I am not reluctant at all. I would hope that in any discussion of national unity in this House it wouldn’t get to be a point of saying the rhetoric hasn’t been long enough or loud enough, I would hope there would be some discussion on what the issues are and what in fact should be happening.
I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that what we’re really looking for are constructive, positive suggestions, with the full knowledge that to a great extent this discussion is going to be resolved by the people of Quebec. Let’s not minimize that, let’s not minimize that one bit as we assess it. I have no objection to a debate, but I’ve gone back through Hansard and I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party -- it’s a very important issue with him; I not only respect it I appreciate it -- but I notice that not too many members in terms of the budget debate or other opportunities to suggest some of these ideas have really said a great deal.
Mr. McClellan: There hasn’t been any budget debate.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m not saying that critically -- well, I’m going back a year, either in the Throne debate or the budget debate. I just find I am reluctant to think in terms of a select committee, particularly if the select committee will be travelling to other provinces et cetera. You know, there is one difficulty and that is that we could be interpreted as being somewhat presumptuous that a committee of this Legislature should be telling the people in the province of Quebec what the answers are.
I think one has to be careful. I have been criticized on occasion because I don’t speak loudly enough for “English Canada.” I am not sure that it hasn’t become a bit presumptuous to say that any one person speaks for “English Canada.” In fact I find that phrase somewhat questionable even in terms of the makeup of this province.
I said to a news reporter not too many days ago that I don’t think it is a question of one single person speaking up; I think it is a question of the people of the rest of the country translating in very specific terms their desire to have the people of Quebec remain within Confederation. That is one of the fundamental parts of this issue; I think it is something all of us can participate in. But to have a select committee analysing this problem and that problem, I honestly don’t know if that would be that beneficial.
I don’t have as closed a mind as you think I have on a lot of these issues. I just have not been persuaded that it would add a positive dimension to it. There is no question that there may be some suggestions coming forward from the members of the House. I am prepared to listen to them. I really don’t look at this as being a partisan situation; it shouldn’t be. I think on balance that it hasn’t been.
That’s really all I have to add. Was there any specific question that I neglected to answer that you raised?
Mr. Cassidy: You ran through most of them I think. I have a couple of comments to make.
Mr. Gaunt: I will report your comments very objectively in my report.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right.
Mr. Gaunt: I didn’t know you read my report.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, could I just simply conclude this exchange?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I thought you said you had concluded your remarks.
Mr. Cassidy: I did say I had a couple of comments to make.
Mr. Kerrio: They have had two speakers in a row.
Mr. Cassidy: I will be very brief.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That will be a switch.
Mr. Cassidy: As a matter of fact I don’t think I accused the Premier of having a closed mind. I’ll bear that in mind for future reference but I don’t believe I have ever accused the Premier of that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, I never said the leader of the New Democratic Party ever accused me of being anything but nuts.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to say --
Mr. Lawlor: Surely that is not a closed mind.
Mr. McClellan: That’s an excessively open mind.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to say to the Premier that I did make three specific recommendations which relate partly to what we can do here and partly to the tone in which we carry out our future deliberations on the question of national unity.
One is that area of acceptance. You cannot put it down in words. You can’t say, “Bill Davis has to say it exactly in this language or that language.” But what fails to come through is a real sense of understanding or acceptance for what is happening in Quebec. I record it; the Premier may wish to reply to that.
Second and third, I made some specific recommendations about contacts between this province and the people in Quebec. The Premier may wish to take that up. If the Premier wants to talk further about the question of French as an official language in this province -- he seemed to steer around that one.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You know my position and I know yours.
Mr. Cassidy: All right, we know each other’s position. The Premier however was accusing me of not making any specific recommendations --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I said apart from that one.
Mr. Cassidy: Apart from that one. All right. That has been excepted. I just want to say finally that whether it’s a debate or a committee or both, what we haven’t had in this Legislature is a focus. The Premier could have got up a couple of years ago and said, “Well, nobody talked about the budget when they got up to debate the budget.” Which is quite true because we talked about what was happening in our ridings, or a particular situation, or those kinds of things. So long as the budget debate is a kind of legislative wallpaper that goes on for many months it often does not have a focus.
The one function a select committee can have -- and I know from having been on several -- is that it does help to educate the House about important and key issues and perhaps an educated House also helps to educate the public at large. That is why I think there is a clear distinction between, say, looking into a question of cults which may create problems -- which is probably a matter of either internal action or of some kind of a special investigation or inquiry -- and a matter which is of such urgent and central concern to the future of the country as the question of national unity. That is why I think there is a strong need and justification to focus on the issue by the various devices which we have in this House.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Chairman, the afternoon is waxing on and I know there are some other speakers who would like to make some comments about the Premier’s office.
Mr. Lawlor: No, it’s waning.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s waning, not waxing.
Mr. Cassidy: It was waxing until I sat down.
Mr. J. Reed: I have waited an hour and 15 minutes, I think, for the leader of the third party to conclude his remarks. I hope I can be a little more succinct.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege: The Premier spoke for half an hour and I spoke for slightly longer than that.
Mr. Bradley: You provoked him.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It began to wane an hour and 15 minutes ago.
Mr. J. Reed: I am not going to be provocative this afternoon but until this significant moment I haven’t had the opportunity to express my thanks to the Premier and to his office. He was complaining this afternoon that with all the vagaries of the parry and thrust of opposition and government and so on, if the government does something good the opposition can’t really say it is good because they would appear to show some sort of weakness. So, I am going to go on record as thanking the Premier this afternoon. He is from a neighbouring riding and it was through his office that I got into politics in the first place.
An hon. member: How do you explain that?
Mr. J. Reed: If it hadn’t been for the Premier and the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) I wouldn’t even be here today.
Mr. Bradley: How about the Treasurer?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Are they to blame?
Mr. J. Reed: I am sure the Premier remembers the meeting well, that took place over two and a half years ago in his office. There was kind of a dirt farmer cum actor who is trying very hard --
Hon. Mr. Davis: People said you were a Tory prior to the closing of the Norval school.
Mr. J. Reed: People have said all sorts of nasty things about me.
Hon. B. Stephenson: All of them true.
Mr. J. Reed: You recall the time, I am sure.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I was very sympathetic to dirt farmers.
Mr. J. Reed: You were sympathetic and I want to thank you for that sympathy too.
Mr. Bradley: How long an audience did you get?
Mr. J. Reed: But the truth was, when the whole thing washed out, it didn’t do any good.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s right.
Mr. J. Reed: The Premier’s office, committed to the policy of bigger is better, could not see fit to keep a small three-room school open in our little village and provide the kind of education the parents really wanted for those children.
Mr. Bradley: How cruel and inhuman.
Mr. J. Reed: But I have to tell you the corollary to that story. The school closed and our children had to be bused away from the village -- into four different schools as a matter of fact -- with all its attendant effects. But when the school board finally sold that building to the municipality it was turned into a recreation centre, for which I am quite grateful. But in order to sustain it one of the rooms was taken over and is used today by the Montessori schools. So while the school building may not have been good enough for the Halton board of education, or for the kind of educational approach that was being expressed at the time --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Local autonomy.
Mr. J. Reed: -- it was good enough for Montessori. They are doing very well in it and they enjoy it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Why didn’t you run for the school board?
Mr. J. Reed: But we miss our school, Mr. Premier, and --
Hon. B. Stephenson: What kept you from being on the school board?
Mr. J. Reed: Education in Ontario has a lot to be said for it and a lot to be said against it, and I don’t want to get into an educational debate this afternoon. But I thought I would let you know how that story came out in the end; that little school is still being used as an educational institution by a very highly regarded educational system.
Mr. Sweeney: How long was that meeting?
Mr. J. Reed: I remember it was pungent with the smoke of Cuban cigars.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I had only two that day.
Mr. J. Reed: I would like to know one thing. I really am intrigued by statements of government policy. In my two and a half years here statements have been expressed, accompanied sometimes with great publicity, press releases, and so on. I would like to know what happens to old policies.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They end up in the Liberal platform.
Mr. J. Reed: Where do they go when they die? Is it the job of the Premier’s office to co-ordinate government policy or to bury dead policy?
Mr. Bradley: They resurrect it 44 years later and call it by a new name.
Mr. J. Reed: I never hear an announcement that a policy has been abandoned. All I hear are these grand announcements.
Mr. Eaton: It is like your position on things. You jump from one to the other.
Mr. J. Reed: As a matter of fact, I want to give you a couple of examples and I would like to know what happens. Around 1973, which predates my time in the House, I understand that the present Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) who was then Minister of the Environment, announced with great fanfare that Ontario was embarking on the path towards resource recovery. Resource recovery is a policy that the American federal government has announced, to its credit incidentally. They declared garbage to be a national resource and have gone ahead, put up some money and gathered together some expertise in order to make resource recovery a reality in the United States by 1981.
It seems we started out on that path in Ontario in 1973 when we announced we were going to make resource recovery a reality somehow in Ontario. I don’t know of one resource recovery plant in a municipality at this time, with the exception of the “watts from waste” program, the fuel-derived-from-refuse thing, and the $15-million Rube Goldberg invention you’ve got going out in Downsview at the present time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The deal is getting closer. It is away ahead of anything they are doing south of the border.
Mr. J. Reed: I sincerely hope it is because it’s very hard to believe. I attended a resource recovery conference in October or November with the Environment critic. We were quite impressed with what had taken place in the 18 months since the government had taken that position and simply decided to make it a reality. They had taken the initiative, they had taken a position of leadership and they were heading down that road. The reason I bring this up is that in my riding particularly as you know, there is a great controversy at the present time over the business of landfill sites. I really hate the words “landfill sites.” It’s one of these -- you might as well call it what it is -- dumps. This isn’t just a town dump. This is a consolidated dump. This is a big dump.
We really had high hopes for the policy that was enunciated by the then Minister of the Environment and we were hoping in five years something like that just might become a reality, or there might be some kind of a mechanism in place where the municipality could get hold of what is really a tough problem -- I’m sure you concede that -- and go to work and do something constructive. We are desperate in Halton right now to get into resource recovery. We have to. Yet the government’s restrictions and the kind of funding it is offering really preclude the region from making a positive decision in that regard because it dictates the technology.
I would respectfully ask the Premier to look at that policy, that was enunciated obviously with great fanfare, and look at opening up the kind of funding base that is used for resource recovery and allowing the municipalities to choose the most efficient and the best system for their particular area.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is what part of the problem is.
Mr. J. Reed: Part of the problem is that the municipalities at the present time can’t choose the kind of system that would be most beneficial in their instance. Populations vary -- population intensities -- and there’s all that business of materials handling and the logistics of taking garbage from one point to another.
I’d like you to respond to the business of that policy and where it’s going. Can we expect something tangible shortly, now, yesterday, that is going to allow Halton region to get into resource recovery in a meaningful way?
The other thing I wanted to point out to you is that here is a government policy that appears to be dead. When the hon. Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) was the Minister of Energy he was asked about Hydro’s export policy, the policy of exporting electric power to utilities outside the province of Ontario. He made a statement to the House at that time that there was no policy supporting the export of power, nor was there any policy being considered, nor was there any policy, so far as he knew, that would ever be considered because that whole concept had been abandoned.
Yet the reality of the new concept scenario with the downward load forecasts that have been revised and presented by Ontario Hydro, shows a decrease in consumption of 3,000 megawatts below the originally projected level by 1986. The government, in response to that downward forecast, has reduced the system by 1,100 megawatts as of 1986, which is a little more than one-third of the reduction.
That’s based, Mr. Premier, on a 5.5 per cent annual decrease in consumption and you know, or I’m sure you are aware or you can make yourself aware of the fact, that last year the growth of the electric power system in Ontario was 2.2 per cent. Since then, and up until this week, the growth of the demand on the power system has been something less than one per cent in reality and, on a temperature-corrected basis -- and you know the average temperature in the last three months has been about six degrees below normal -- on a temperature-corrected basis, the growth has been absolutely zero.
We also know, if we look at Hydro’s system, that it is overbuilt now; that is the reserve margin above peak is something just under 50 per cent, about 49 per cent. With all those factors being taken into consideration, one really wonders if the government hasn’t somehow, surreptitiously or quietly reactivated an export policy. Detroit Edison is running on a zero reserve and Niagara Mohawk is running on a very limited kind of reserve, and so on, and it seems that somebody, probably the Treasurer, has taken it into his head that now is a good time to get into the export business.
I would like some clarification of that kind of policy, because I see the role of the Premier’s office as being the area where that policy should be co-ordinated. It should be focused or funneled, if you like. If any policy is going to change, it should change in concert with at least the knowledge of the Premier.
There is perhaps one other policy I should mention.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You told me there would only be two. That’s okay, as long as I can remember them.
Mr. J. Reed: I did, didn’t I? I’m very sorry but my arithmetic is bad.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You went under the old system.
Mr. J. Reed: Shall we do it next --
Mr. Sweeney: All that Norval school training.
Mr. J. Reed: We’ll do it in metric.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He didn’t go to the Norval school.
Mr. J. Reed: Yes, I did. Proudly did I go to that school.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You went to Georgetown.
Mr. J. Reed: I didn’t go to Georgetown high school either.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where did you go?
Mr. J. Reed: I went to Milton, the heart of the riding of Halton-Burlington, Mr. Premier; the most beautiful riding in Ontario, I might add.
I want to just ask about this wonderful “buy-Canadian” policy that was taken and presented to the federal government and what’s happened to “buy Canadian.” I got a call today from the manufacturer of electrical fixtures and he said: “You know, the Construction Safety Association” -- I wish the Minister of Labour were here; it’s too bad she isn’t -- the Construction Safety Association has launched a program at the present time to make sure all power tools are grounded. They are using billboard advertising to promote the idea and I think it’s a wonderful idea and I support it wholeheartedly.
“However, in the visual presentation, it appears that the little gismo, the fixture that is used as the grounding mechanism -- ”
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am trying to follow your hands.
Mr. J. Reed: Would you like me to define “gismo” for you? “ -- that’s used as the grounding mechanism is actually called a Hubbell valise collector and it’s made in the United States.” It’s a funny thing that in my riding, in Georgetown, about three miles from where I live, is a company called Smith and Stone Limited --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Smith and Stone, they make great merchandise.
Mr. J. Reed: They make excellent merchandise, Mr. Premier. I just wish you would use it in your safety campaigns and I have been assured they do make these things. The president of the company also advised me that he would be prepared to supply one free of charge if you would simply use it in the campaign.
It seems to me that if you are going to co-ordinate policy from the Premier’s office and so on, this kind of thing should be taken as a matter of course. If you are going to establish a policy of “buy Canadian,” for instance, you should be able to have all of the ministries aware that when something is done it at least involves Canadian products. That’s not too much to ask, I am sure -- and I am sure the Premier will undertake to find out what went wrong there.
Those are the three, Mr. Premier; two in metric that I am really concerned about.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If we are going to debate everybody’s estimates, I want to deal with everybody equally. I have been asked three questions that may or may not come within the ambit of my estimates but I might as well answer them anyway.
Mr. J. Reed: You are the policy co-ordinator.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, with great respect, the Premier’s office has certain functions. I am not sure that policy co-ordinator really is one of them, but however I will endeavour to answer the three problems you raised.
Firstly, resource recovery: Still committed; moving ahead; we will accomplish great things; Peel maybe before Halton. Does that satisfy you? I know you have a local problem and you would love to go back to your constituents and say --
Mr. J. Reed: It might have in 1973, but this is five years later.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- “Premier commits certain funding to solve Halton’s sanitary landfill problem.” That’s what you want.
Mr. Sweeney: Say it now!
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, I haven’t said that.
The second problem. I will take it as being the second, but it was really -- yes, it was the second. Get me one of those gismos, I will see what can be done about it, all in favour of the buy-Canadian policy.
Now, export of surplus electricity. This gets to be a shade more complicated, Mr. Chairman.
I listened to the observations of the Leader of the Opposition and I assume the member for Halton-Burlington being the Energy critic probably supports it, although he should check with his colleague from Rainy River who doesn’t. I think you will find he doesn’t. The problem is very simple.
Mr. J. Reed: I don’t support overbuilding to get into the export business.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right. I am not going to argue that there will not be some excess capacity for a period of time. One can debate whether the safety margin should be a 20 per cent figure. Some will argue 10; some will argue 15. I am not competent to make that judgement; I say with respect neither is the member for Halton-Burlington. There may be an excess capacity in terms of other utilities but Ontario Hydro’s record in terms of blackouts, brownouts, whatever terminology you may wish to use, probably is about the best in North America, partially because they’ve had sufficient reserve capacity over the years. There is no question that in terms of the cost of a capital program it will have an effect, but so would the cancellation of the program.
There is no question that the development of electrical energy, which is one thing this province does extremely well and competitively can be an economic plus. There’s no question, as we try to encourage more industry to move into this province, that one of the things just about every major corporation is looking for at this precise moment is a guaranteed source of energy supply. There’s no question that the province of Ontario, compared with any competing jurisdiction, with the exception of the province of Quebec, can give that guarantee of energy supply in terms of electricity more than any state bordering us or even any southern state. It’s one of the great plusses. Not to further develop this, I think, would be a tragedy.
I’m not going to argue for a moment there will not be a period of time when perhaps there will be excess capacity. It’s not a question of changing a policy for the export of power. We have always exported interruptible power. In the United States, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and some others would have been in serious trouble this winter if we hadn’t exported power.
The leader of the New Democratic Party has left or I’d have a little fun with him about how we helped them in these terms, because this is how neighbours should act, even though there was a coal strike on.
Mr. Kerrio: He said you were a strike-breaker.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m just saying this is something I think we should do.
I think it’s also premature to be saying what the load forecast will be two years hence. I .think conservation is having an impact. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. The hon. member would argue there should be more conservation. I would argue that we should have the ability to fully exploit our electrical program in terms of economic growth. There are also jobs involved. There are many hundreds of jobs in terms of the actual construction of the physical facility.
I’m not putting this on any partisan basis, but the Liberal Party on occasion has been saying to us, “Why don’t you stimulate? Why don’t you do some public works? Why don’t you do something that will have some effect on employment?”
I ask them, if we’re going to do it, why not do it in capital plant which we know ultimately is going to prove itself economically to be viable? We’re going to build a plant today, in today’s dollars, for less than we’re going to build it five years from now. I don’t care which direction the economy goes, the fact of the matter is we’re going to get it for fewer dollars. I know about the cost of money et cetera, but the fact remains that it is not a bad investment.
A lot of the discussion at the first ministers’ conference related to investment in energy. There’s no question that the government of Canada along with Nova Scotia, I would assume, and perhaps New Brunswick, are going to be seriously studying the development of tidal power. Nova Scotia may not need that tidal power tomorrow. New Brunswick doesn’t need it. But in terms of export potential that is something, they say to the government of Canada, we should be doing to stimulate because it’s a resource that will ultimately be needed; so why not make the investment.
This is true of Newfoundland’s Gull Island. They’re probably going to move ahead in advance of absolute need. This is perhaps also true of the third plant in terms of the tar sands.
I have no hesitation in defending the decision of Ontario Hydro, if it were done with the encouragement of the government -- and I think we did give some encouragement -- in terms of going ahead with the two generators at Wesleyville, in terms of Atikokan and in terms of completing Darlington. I’m totally convinced that these are assets that are going to be in the public interest and if there is a surplus, why not export it and make some money, as long as the consumers in this province are guaranteed a secure source of electrical energy?
I understand some of the arguments opposite. I understand that some days it’s a bit of an in-thing to castigate Ontario Hydro. But, on balance, they know what they’re doing. Even with this capital investment, they will still be producing cheaper energy per kilowatt than any competing jurisdiction except Quebec.
We’re not going to meet some of Quebec’s costs, although when the James Bay project comes on stream we may become a little more competitive. But how do we compete with two-mill power coming out of Churchill Falls to Quebec under the existing contract? We can’t compete with that sort of price at this moment.
I’m not a policy co-ordinator. I was aware of the ultimate recommendation of the Minister of Energy which was announced to the House. I would hope the member for Halton-Burlington on reflection would actually see the wisdom of what is being done. We are providing jobs, we are stimulating the economy and we are building an asset that is producing something fundamental to the economic growth of this province and may have some other plusses as well.
I just can’t quite understand why you would be opposed to it. You haven’t said you are, but I sense you are.
Mr. J. Reed: I would like to answer. There’s an old folk tale I learned in public school, and I am sure you did too, even though you were a year or two ahead of me. It was called, “How much land does a man need?” I am sure you remember that. I believe it is part of Russian folklore. It simply describes the story of a policy that was set down by government that as much free land was available as you could walk around in the course of a day.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you got up early enough.
Mr. J. Reed: The man who got up early in the morning and ran most of the day was taking in a larger area than anybody else. But, as the sun set, the goal was still in the distance. As he got within a few hundred yards of it, he dropped dead. I really have to comment about the wisdom of building for the export business.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am saying what the minister said. First, we are talking about plants coming on stream six years from now. What I am saying and what the minister says is that if we find an excess in production of electrical energy, the potential is there for export. We are not saying we are building this capital plant for the specific purpose of export. I would only hope the hon. member would understand that while forecasts can be low, they can also be high. No one is going to quarrel with that possibility happening.
It is also important to understand that one of the major commitments is Darlington. You’ve been on the committee, you know how many megawatts that is.
Mr. J. Reed: It is 3,400.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Those 3,400 megawatts are crucial to the whole discussion. We’re using an energy source at Darlington that is, as you call it, indigenous to this province. It helps us in terms of balance of payments; it helps us in terms of security of supply; it makes us competitive in terms of the cost of electrical energy. Why, in heaven’s name, wouldn’t we do it?
You can argue about Wesleyville on the basis of its being a peaking plant and using heavy oil. Atikokan is partially there because of the distribution system. You can say, and I don’t think you will as a party say, that Atikokan shouldn’t be built because the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) will be up in arms. It is there partially because of geography. It is not easy to transmit from Darlington to Atikokan. I guess we don’t transmit there at all.
I know the old tale of walking for 200 yards or X hundred yards. With great respect to the intellectual capacity of the hon. member, the two are not related. We are encouraging Hydro to invest in a capital facility that will in terms of the consumers and the public pay dividends for the kind of investment that is being made. To us, it makes good sense.
Mr. J. Reed: I can only say that when the select committee was meeting there was, in the judgement of the select committee, a figure established that was reasonable and necessary as a reserve margin for thermal production of electric power. I don’t want to let this go without making just a couple of comments. If we make the investment on the basis that we’ve got a market at the present time, I agree. But If we are building on the basis that we may have that market in 10 years’ time, we don’t know what Detroit Edison is going to do.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But you can make an educated guess. What are their sources? It will be oil or gas or coal. You know what the cost factors are going to be.
Mr. J. Reed: Or nuclear.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You know the problems they are having constructing new plants.
Mr. J. Reed: Yes, I’m well aware of it. I realize there are arguments on both sides of this. But the --
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s what I was trying to say.
Mr. J. Reed: Believe me, Mr. Premier, of all things I want to be reasonable in this. But the other side of the coin is that some of that excess surplus, if you like, which hopefully is only going to be temporary, might be far better spent in terms of job creation in a concerted conservation effort. Hear me out on this because I think it’s important to know that there is a body of pretty expert opinion in the world, in North America, which can demonstrate that if there is capital availability it can be far more effectively used from an employment point of view on conservation efforts than it can on the building of large capital intensive generating equipment. The whole thing is a matter of balance and putting the thing into some kind of perspective.
For instance, we were very disappointed when the insulation program that the provincial government had announced was cancelled, because we know that there are at least 3,000 megawatts out there that could be conserved simply by application of an insulation program. It’s a very simple, very straightforward thing. If that were done, the cost of applying that would be about half the capital cost per megawatt of building generating capacity. That’s all I’m trying to get at, that there’s another side to this.
A concerted conservation effort, according to the Middleton report, would mean that by 1985 5,500 megawatts could be dropped from the demand. That’s over and above this almost natural reduction that’s taking place at the present time. So please don’t ignore that other side which has been done up to this point.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Not by us.
Mr. McClellan: I seem to recall having the floor around 3 o’clock.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You started at 3:30.
Mr. McClellan: How time flies when you’re having fun!
The debate on the Premier’s estimates, as I said, is a good opportunity and a rare opportunity for some of us in the back benches to bring matters to the attention of the Premier which are of special importance to us, and which, may I say, we feel are being neglected by the ministry.
I wouldn’t bring to the Premier’s attention, for example, the work that’s taking place within the Ministry of Community and Social Services, because number one, I have a sense that work is taking place, and, number two, I have an opportunity to raise my concerns and my differences with the ministry and have them at least listened to, taken seriously -- some accepted, some dismissed -- but at least one has a sense that work is in progress, serious work, and that the voice of the opposition member is at least listened to. That’s all we ask in this House. But there are other areas where that’s not the case and this is a good time perhaps to bring them to the head of government.
I have two issues, the first being the plight of senior citizens. I have a sense that this government is not engaged with the needs of senior citizens in Ontario. I can quote from the recent budget statements of the Treasurer which indicate a kind of shocking and cavalier indifference to the plight of senior citizens in this province. When the Treasurer makes a statement -- as he did on page 12 of the appendix that deals with relieving the burden of property tax on senior citizens -- when he can say something like the sentence, “all Ontario pensioners enjoy a comfortable standard of living” it is simply not true.
The evidence refuting that statement is contained in the Treasurer’s own budget in previous pages. I quote from page four of the same section, and I ask the Premier to pay particular attention to this sentence because it is largely unintelligible. I will translate it for him.
The sentence reads as follows: “Approximately 82 per cent of senior citizens have incomes below $10,000 and they receive only one half of the total income received by pensioners as a group.”
I am sure the Premier doesn’t know what that means. It is, as I said in another speech, bafflegab -- it is Newspeak. It has a meaning but the meaning is incredibly obscure. What the meaning is is that in Ontario, 18 per cent of pensioners receive 50 per cent of disposable income. The remaining group divide the other 50 per cent of the pie between them. That gives you some idea of the inequitable distribution of available pension income in this group.
Aside from that is the plight of pensioners on GAINS. The reality is that pensioners in Ontario who are on GAINS are living below the poverty line and the plight is particularly severe for the single pensioner who relies on OAS, GIS and GAINS as his total income source. The plight of widows -- of single woman pensioners in the province -- is particularly severe.
I don’t know why the government has seemingly abandoned its commitment to the GAINS program. The GAINS scheme is a good scheme. I would have thought it would have a special appeal for Tories. It is a selective program; it operates on the basis of an income test; the testing is sufficiently simple that we approve of it; it is a good program; and it offers a way to prevent senior citizens from falling below the poverty line.
It is my understanding -- and I stand to be corrected by the Premier -- that Ontario has not enriched its contribution to the GAINS program since January 1976. That is my understanding, but I may be wrong. At any rate the government has certainly not used the GAINS program as a way of preventing pensioners from falling below the poverty line.
I don’t have the April figures with me but the January 1978 figures for GAINS are as follows: For a single pensioner, $3,599.28 is the guaranteed income and for a couple, $7,198.56.
The most recent updating of the poverty line figures, as released by Senator Croll, indicate a poverty line based on 1976 data of $4,460 for a single pensioner and $7,760 for a family of two. Those figures are two years out of date. My figures are one quarter out of date. I don’t have the April to July figures available to me here but they haven’t gone up eight per cent, for example, whereas the figures for the poverty line figures that I have cited have gone up eight per cent since 1976.
I appeal to the Premier that it is not right for pensioners in Ontario to live below the poverty line. It is not necessary in Ontario. We have the wealth in Ontario, even if all of us have to make some other sacrifices. We have the wealth to provide a guaranteed income for senior citizens above the poverty line. I think a serious government initiative is well in order, particularly to look at the needs if it is in the spirit of the Premier’s earlier remarks about the need for this kind of government being a two-way street. If he feels that he has enormous constraints financially, look at least at the plight of the single elderly pensioner. The old adage that two can live as cheaply as one is true, by and large, but the corollary is causing enormous suffering on the part of single elderly pensioners in this province. It does not make sense that the married rate should be so much higher than the single rate, taking into account the corollary of the adage that two can live as cheaply as one.
The other item I want to bring to the Premier’s attention, and I do it with a measure of despair, is the question of the Workmen’s Compensation Board rates. I don’t understand how any government can treat injured workers the way his government has treated injured workers. It is almost the third anniversary of the last raise in the workmen’s compensation rate. During that period of time, as the Premier well knows, the cost of living has gone up something in the order of 20 per cent or more. I challenge the Premier to name one other group, one other single constituency in Ontario, which has not had a compensation of some kind in their income since the spring of 1975 to take into account the ravages of inflation. I doubt if he can name a group. I doubt very much if the Premier can name a single group in this province that has experienced that kind of financial hardship.
Mr. J. Reed: Farmers.
Mr. Kerrio: That’s right off the top of Julian’s head.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Some farmers, not all farmers.
Mr. McClellan: I think that is not entirely accurate. As the Premier rightly points out, perhaps there are some farmers who have experienced those kinds of difficulties but there are programs in place that have been adjusted and new programs have been introduced since 1975. But there has not been a single solitary cent in funds made available for an increase in the compensation rates.
I am familiar with all the arguments the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) has put forward and I don’t buy any of them, and neither do my colleagues. It is simply intolerable for the most vulnerable, the most disadvantaged and the weakest members of the society to be expected to bear the heaviest burden. I think the Premier understands that. I think he is dealing with a particularly difficult minister and a particularly difficult Treasurer (Mr. McKeough). I understand the ideological implications of the question, but I just don’t buy the rubbish that has been put forward about protecting our competitive position at the expense of injured workers.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does the member wish to conclude his remarks or to continue at the next session?
Mr. McClellan: I would like to continue, Mr. Chairman.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Davis, the committee of supply reported a certain resolution.
Mr. McClellan: When do we sit again?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Same place, same time, same day, one week hence.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her chambers.
Clerk of the House: The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour has assented:
Bill 5, An Act to amend the City of Timmins-Porcupine Act, 1972.
Bill 6, An Act to amend the Shoreline Property Assistance Act, 1973.
Bill 26, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
Bill 30, An Act to amend the Municipal Elections Act, 1977.
Bill Pr1, An Act to revive John A. Schmalz Agencies Limited.
Bill Pr5, An Act to revive Hare Transport Limited.
Bill Pr6, An Act to revive A. C. McIntyre Motors Limited.
Bill Pr8, An Act to revive Beaver Construction (Ontario) Limited.
Bill Pr11, An Act to revive White Queen Limited.
Bill Pr12, An Act to revive Salsberg’s Smoke and Gift Shop Limited.
Bill Pr14, An Act to revive MacLellan Construction Limited as P.W. MacLellan Construction Incorporated.
Bill Pr37, An Act respecting Loubill Hobbies and Sports Limited.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Davis, the House adjourned at 6 p.m.