The House resumed at 8 p.m.
JUDICATURE AMENDMENT ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I shall be brief. I understand that my colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) has provided his amendments which he will propose when this bill goes to committee stage. There is an indication that while we support this bill heartily in principle, there are some problems we foresee with it. I would like to thank the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) for the fact that he has indeed sought to meet us halfway at least, or part way, in coming to the conclusion that it is appropriate to designate certain areas within this bill. As he’s aware, my colleague doesn’t believe that enough are designated, but that is a matter not of principle, but a matter which will go to the amendments in the clause-by-clause stage.
I would like to make a very strong plea in this House, Mr. Speaker, in saying I think there can be some problems with this act and we should all be aware of those problems. I am advised by some of the members, who are francophone members of the bar, that it will take some getting used to to start pleading in their own language. I would hope that no one would judge the implementation process of this bill too harshly, but rather that we would give it ample time to sort out what may be some uneasiness and some problems in the initial stages.
I don’t think there should be a harsh judgement on it. I think we should all view it as indeed a step forward in this province. I trust that with the amendments of my colleague it will be an even better bill.
Mr. Samis: Il me plaît beaucoup de participer à cette discussion car, comme vous le savez, les franco-ontariens constituent une communauté importante dans la circonscription électorale de Cornwall. Par conséquent, ce projet de loi a de l’importance pour moi ainsi que pour mes électeurs francophones.
Mr. Kerrio: Wait until I hook you into my instant translation.
Mr. Samis: Il y a longtemps que les franco-ontariens demandent leurs droits fondamentaux dans les tribunaux provinciaux alors je me réjouis de n’importe quelle initiative qui reconnaîtrait officiellement les droits francophones qui sont joliment bien mérités et très nécessaires. Etant donné que l’Ontario avoisine de Québec, on fait souvent des comparaisons entre les deux provinces sur un véritable tas de questions diverses. Quant à moi, le record de l’Ontario en ce qui concerne l’établissement de certains services, y compris les services judiciaires, dans les deux langues officielles, est presque impossible à défendre. Sa manière d’agir envers sa minorité francophone est déplorable en comparaison de celle du Québec envers sa minorité anglophone.
Au Québec, la minorité anglaise a eu le droit d’être jugée devant un tribunal en anglais depuis la Confédération et même avant. Malgré l’arrivée au pouvoir d’un gouvernement dédié au séparatisme, ou l’indépendance, ces droits restent toujours. La minorité anglaise au Québec a apprécié ces droits pendant 111 ans bien que la minorité française en Ontario les attende toujours.
Je ne veux pas m’étendre sur le passé mais au cours de ce débat sur les droits de langue dans nos cours provinciales, il faut tenir compte de l’héritage franco-ontarien marqué d’injustice.
Tel que mentionné tout à l’heure, je me réjouis de l’introduction de ce projet de loi et j’appuie son principe fondamental, mais toujours je me demande pourquoi on a pris tant de temps pour présenter un tel projet de loi. Je suis intrigué, mais en même temps vexé du fait que 111 ans après la Confédération nous sommes en Chambre discutant les mérites d’un tel projet de loi. Nos actions aujourd’hui en disent long sur l’essentiel du manque d’unité nationale. Il est malheureux que certains événements tels que l’élection d’un gouvernement indépendantiste au Québec et les amendements récemment apportés au Code Criminel aient enfin convaincu ce gouvernement en Ontario du besoin d’un tel projet de loi.
Sans aucun doute, ce projet de loi signifie une démarche notable dans la reconnaissance officielle des droits franco-ontariens. Cependant, il est regrettable que ce projet de loi soit en train d’être discuté sans l’engagement total et officiel de ce gouvernement vis-à-vis la reconnaissance officielle de la langue française en Ontario. Le Premier ministre (M. Davis) refuse continuellement de se compromettre à la reconnaissance intégrale de la langue française. Est-ce que nous allons traiter pièce à pièce les droits de langue? J’espère que non. Combien de temps faut-il que nous nous occupions des droits des minorités dans une façon que me paraît à la fois timide et hypocrite?
Avant d’élucider mes commentaires spécifiques sur ce projet de loi, j’aimerai profiter de l’occasion pour féliciter deux membres de cette Assemblée qui ont appuyé depuis 1971 l'introduction d’un tel projet de loi au milieu d’un climat de désintéressement et d’apathie. Au membre d’Ottawa-Centre (M. Cassidy) ainsi qu’au membre d’Ottawa-Est (M. Roy), je leur en fais mes compliments. J’applaudis leur engagement et leur dévouement aux droits franco-ontariens.
C’est mon espoir sincère que l’attitude méprisable telle que représentée par le Règlement abominable numéro 17 sera enfouie par l’adoption de ce projet de loi. Je sais bien qu’il y a des gens en Ontario qui sont toujours passionnés comme autrefois par la philosophie universelle d’une langue mais heureusement, par l’intermédiaire de ce projet de loi nous, les membres de cette Assemblée, pourrons partiellement mais en même temps publiquement répudier cette philosophie d’autrefois.
Just very briefly turning to the specifics of the bill, I would like to reiterate what I just said in French. I welcome the introduction of the bill and I welcome the fact that almost two thirds of the Franco-Ontarian population in this province will be covered by the designated areas outlined on the map submitted by the Attorney General.
I would wonder if the Attorney General does not feel that the 60,000 to 100,000 French-speaking residents of Metropolitan Toronto should be included as a part of the designated area concept. I realize the general nature of Metro Toronto’s population is very diverse and heterogeneous. But if we are talking about extending rights, I believe that such a large number of people should be accorded the same opportunity to exercise their rights as their compatriots in eastern and northern Ontario.
I also believe that the designated areas should definitely be included in the bill itself. I believe this would further entrench the rights of the minorities outlined in the bill. I think it is eminently practical, since especially in the case of eastern Ontario, northern Ontario, Essex, Welland and Penetanguishene there is little or no doubt or question of uncertainty. It would be far more preferable to have the areas designated by this Legislature rather than by the Lieutenant Governor. As I said, I believe their inclusion in the bill would give an added element of security to the Franco-Ontarian population.
A third point I would like to make is that we have some reservations about section 1(5), where the bill says that the court “may” direct further hearing upon application made under subsection 3. I believe the word “may” should be replaced by the word “shall,” because there would be less discretion granted to the courts once the basic determination has been made that the proceedings will be carried out in French.
I believe the more we enshrine the rights of the minority in the actual bill itself and the less discretion it gives anyone else, the more this bill will be seen truly as protecting the rights of the minority at all stages and in all the various processes of our legal system.
I believe that my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) has done his usual thorough job in dealing with the precise legalities of the bill, but I would be interested to know from the Attorney General what plans his ministry has to increase the percentage of bilingual personnel under his jurisdiction. Maybe he would also tell us whether there are any plans to assist those already in the designated areas who are not bilingual to become more versed in the second language in order to reduce the difficulties that may arise at the lower levels and to expedite things.
In closing, I support the bill because I believe it’s long overdue. It’s something we in this party have fought for since 1969. We believe in it because it will remedy a fundamental injustice that prevails in this province -- not fully, I realize, but at least substantially.
As I said at the very outset, en français, I only wonder why it’s taken us so long to get this far. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Merci, monsieur le president.
Mr. Conway: I wanted to make a few comments with respect to this bill I certainly don’t profess to bring --
Mr. Lawlor: Did you support McKessock’s bill this afternoon?
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, will you protect me from the radical flank of the NDP? I fear --
Mr. Samis: That’s the poetic side.
Mr. Conway: I don’t profess to bring to this debate any particular legal expertise --
Mr. Lawlor: You’re one of the few bright spots in the Liberal Party.
Mr. Conway: The support which all members have indicated for the bill in principle is a support which I am very pleased to share in. For the reasons that the member for Cornwall has just pointed out, I too as an eastern Ontario member of this Legislature live in a climate where the reality of French language services to the francophone portion of the population is a very important item. Indeed, there are sections of the county of Renfrew where that francophone population is a very active part of the community. They certainly support the principle of this bill.
I want to commend the Attorney General for having brought the bill forward. Like my colleague from St. George and certainly my colleague from Ottawa East, I want to associate myself with some amendments which will encourage and add to the Attorney General’s enlightenment, because we do see areas where this bill can be significantly improved. But, I think Bill 71 is a clear indication that the Attorney General is indeed a progressive in these matters of cultural and legal import.
I think the member for Cornwall makes an excellent point when he talks of the need to the greatest extent possible to enshrine -- and I think that’s the key phrase -- enshrine minority rights as this bill endeavours to do in some respects. But as he pointed out, and as others have pointed out, significant improvements in that enshrining process can, and hopefully will, be made during the course of amendment in committee.
I was very interested, yesterday, to sit and listen to the ACFO presentations to the cabinet in one of the committee rooms here --
Mr. Samis: Without simultaneous translation.
Mr. Conway: With simultaneous translation. I invaded the public cabinet meeting because we don’t have public cabinet meetings very often. I certainly enjoyed the chemistry of that contact. The facial expressions, I suppose, told the story that really speaks to a history of much of this debate in this province.
Certain columnists in the morning and afternoon press have noted how the Premier has perhaps not yet connected to the reality of minority language and cultural rights for Franco-Ontarians at this point in time. I am sure the Attorney General understands, perhaps far more keenly than does the Premier, who I suspect is given to more immediate political concerns, the fact and the seriousness of this particular situation.
The member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) adds his worthy comments, and I know he too shares with the Attorney General a keener sense of the need to enshrine the minority language rights in our courts and in our schools.
Mr. Bradley: He had better, in his riding.
Mr. Conway: I just want to say that it has been a long time; I am sure there are many people in my part of Ontario who perhaps would question the movement into this field. We all know there is a substantial body of opinion afoot in the land which is deeply concerned about granting and, in fact, enshrining minority language or other rights.
For what it’s worth, I just want to say in response to this particular bill, Bill 71, that not only do I see the principle as being fundamental to the more effective functioning of the legal apparatus in this country, but I also see it as an indication of the direction in which this province is going to have to go.
As I sat yesterday watching ACFO make its presentation to the cabinet, I really began to wonder whether or not there were politicians in that room who understood what is going to be expected of them in terms of movement if we are going to make the French-Canadian population in this country generally, and in this province specifically, feel that they have a right and a proper place of equality in this province and in this country.
I suspect that the Premier and many politicians in this House have not yet had it visited upon themselves that major change and major accommodation are going to be required if we are going to sufficiently redress the concern, the very legitimate concern, which makes many Franco-Ontarians in my part of Ontario and in the rest of the province feel that they are second-class citizens.
I know only too well what this will mean in areas of education, what it may mean in terms of the separate school system -- and that’s a problem and another debate, and I certainly won’t enter it here. But I have to say to the Attorney General, in the way that the member for Cornwall has just said: it has taken an awful long time to come this far. It’s my feeling as a private member that we have got a very great distance to go yet in making some fundamental accommodations which I suspect have not yet been agreed to or understood by many people in this chamber if we are going to make the Franco-Ontarian population in this province feel the way they should and the way they deserve to be made felt.
I will not accept from the Attorney General, or from any one else in the government, administrative arguments that might preclude certain judicial districts which have very substantial Franco-Ontarian elements from the designated areas, as I suspect some might be, because there are not people in the court system to handle the problems. I speculate, and perhaps the Attorney General will alleviate or allay my suspicions later in the debate.
Those kinds of administrative hangups, as serious as they are -- and I know they weigh upon government far more directly than they do upon the happy and free opposition who aren’t worried about those kinds of day-to-day problems -- they are serious and they are --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The issue of accountability.
Mr. Conway: The Attorney General makes a good point and I accept that. I hope we’re all accountable. All I’m saying to him is that I hope he understands, as I suspect he does in a way that many of his colleagues might not, that this is the first step in a direction that we are going to have to continue to go and that no administrative hangup is going to be sufficient to preclude the accommodation that will have to be made if we are going to make the Franco-Ontarian population feel like the first-class citizens that they are in this province.
I read with great interest the recent speech from the Minister of Education (Mr Wells) about the future in the whole area of French-English relations. I forget the title of it, but he quoted at great length the former leader of the national Conservative party, Mr. Stanfield. I remember it and I wish I had it here tonight. Unfortunately I do not. He made some reference to the sense of urgency and expectation which governs this matter in terms of minority language rights and minority rights in general.
I am sure the government is becoming increasingly aware that there is a sense of urgency and expectation. It must be redressed seriously and it must be redressed positively. The delaying action which has characterized the government of Ontario since 1971 is no longer acceptable. We must, if we are serious, both in local and national affairs, move with some dispatch, because one of the things that concerns me about the Premier is that I don’t think he gives and lends sufficient credibility to those aspects of this debate which might be characterized as cosmetic. I don’t think the Premier understands the significance of symbols, of a cosmetic response, even as imperfect as it may be.
I think the government does not understand how important it is for the French-speaking population in this province to feel there is significant movement in the direction of enshrining minority rights. I would strongly encourage the Premier and the government to reconsider its response to many of those so-called cosmetic approaches and initiatives. Surely, they are not enough. I won’t stand here tonight and suggest that the kind of cosmetic sops which some would suggest will in any way alter the nature of accommodation that is going to be required to keep the country together and to keep Franco-Ontarians a peaceful part of this province.
In the politics of all of this, it is not only a matter of justice being done. Surely, it is a matter of justice, in terms of minority language rights, being seen to be done. I don’t need to say this to someone as learned in the law as the Attorney General. For the sake of that adage, if nothing else, I strongly encourage the Attorney General to continue in the directions of Bill 71. He must make it as clear as he possibly can to the Franco-Ontarian population in this province that it is a place to stand and a place to grow for them. After 115 years of really being made to feel uncomfortable and truly as second class citizens, they are no longer going to have to plead in a foreign language in the courts of this province. He should move with dispatch and commitment to removing those difficulties from this bill as it stands now. He should make a serious and genuine commitment to minority language rights and enshrine them in the legal apparatus of this province.
For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to join with my colleagues and support Bill 71.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Firstly, I should say that I am very appreciative of the support for the principles of this legislation. I welcome the contribution of all the members of the Legislature who have spoken on this very important legislation.
There can be no doubt that this legislation does have great historic significance in our province. It is a very important milestone in extending French language rights. Obviously, it is extending French language rights in a very critical area. Nothing can be of greater fundamental importance than the capacity of the courts to hear and understand a litigant, an accused person, in his or her own language, as will be included in the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code.
This, of course, is not possible and will not be possible for many Ontario citizens whose first language is other than French or English. We do recognize in this province the very special status of the French language, notwithstanding the debate over the so-called official status or otherwise.
As we proceed into committee, and I understand that’s not going to be tonight, there will be further discussion with respect to proposed amendments. I don’t, therefore, intend to deal specifically with all these proposed amendments tonight, because of course we are dealing with the principle of the legislation. Some of these amendments I will undoubtedly be discussing personally with some of the members opposite because I don’t think there’s any question but that we’re all ad idem, as lawyers sometimes say in Latin, as to the objectives we are hoping to accomplish within the framework of this legislation. It’s important to reflect for a few moments on the history of this legislation. This certainly dates back to a statement, a commitment, that I made in Ottawa in the late fall of 1975, when I indicated that I would be introducing French-language trials in the province of Ontario. This we have accomplished to a considerable extent at the provincial court level, the level of the court that is most relevant to the greatest number of Ontario citizens.
Mr. Conway: Didn’t the Attorney General promise them a new courthouse that day?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That may have been in lieu of a new courthouse.
Mr. Bradley: Did somebody say a new courthouse?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think it’s fair to say that a great deal has been accomplished in relation to the rights of the French language in the provincial courts in the areas where there is the greatest need.
In drafting this legislation, I’d like to remind the members that, obviously, we wanted to have as much assistance as possible in order to bring to this Legislature what we thought was the best legislation available, from a practical standpoint at this point in our history. We, therefore, drew heavily from the ranks of the practising lawyers, not only in this province but indeed in the province of Quebec.
I established an advisory committee to work very closely with myself and senior members of the ministry in the preliminary work leading up to the preparation of this legislation. On this committee, there were three francophone lawyers, all very active practitioners in the courts of this province, Mr. Pierre Genest from Toronto, Mr. Paul Belanger from Ottawa, and a gentleman from Sudbury who was recommended to me by the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). They sat on this committee because it was important that we have their insights as Franco-Ontarians who are very committed to the principles of this legislation and yet who had the practical experience that was, of course, of equal importance.
As I indicated a moment ago, we also invited the Quebec bar to nominate three members of their ranks to serve on this committee. These three people served tirelessly and were of great assistance. I should have mentioned the name of the gentleman from Sudbury, Mr. Richard Pharand, who as I said was recommended to me by the member for Sudbury East. I just repeat that because I think it’s important to indicate we’ve approached our task in relation to this legislation in a tri-partisan manner. It’s legislation that has been prepared with the hope that it would not become the subject matter of partisan politics if it could possibly be avoided. That’s not to suggest that opposition to the legislation is not something that may come about, but obviously, we want to approach this legislation with as little political partisanship as possible because of the enormous importance of the legislation and because of the sensitivity of the principles and the subject matter of the legislation.
I have to say that what we’re attempting to accomplish in this legislation, unfortunately, is somewhat misunderstood in certain parts of the province. It’s suggested, for example, that we are attempting in this Legislature to create overnight a bilingual administration of justice and that those who do not have that facility, whether they are lawyers or those who are involved in the courts in one capacity or another, will somehow suffer some discrimination by reason of the fact we are moving in this direction. Of course, this is not going to be the case.
We recognize that bilingual administration of justice in this province is not a practical consideration at this time. Notwithstanding that, we do recognize, as all members have so eloquently stated, the importance of providing bilingual courts or French-language courts where possible and where practical.
I mentioned the work of the bilingual court advisory committee. I prefer to talk in terms of bilingual courts, although we have made provision in the legislation for trials in the French language, because I think that is the practical way to approach the matter. This is really what is involved in the province of Quebec. There are bilingual trials, not English-speaking trials or French-speaking trials, but bilingual trials.
I mentioned, and I wish to highlight, the work of the advisory committee and their recommendations because they are very relevant to some of the amendments we’re asked to consider. In considering these amendments, I want to make it very clear that I’m very concerned about any amendments that, if the legislation is passed, might force us to proceed in areas where we may not have adequate resources.
I appreciate that my friend and colleague from Renfrew North has already cautioned me against using any arguments related to administration as reasons for not accepting sort of holus-bolus any of the amendments that have been proposed. But I think all members of the Legislature appreciate that nothing could discredit this legislation quicker or more effectively than to grant a legislative right in relation to having a matter heard by, say a bilingual tribunal, whether it be a court composed of a judge or a court composed of a judge and jury, and then not be able to provide that in an effective way by reason of administrative problems, or by reason of resource problems.
For example, I mentioned the problem of jury selection. Before we are going to be able to conduct jury trials in this province in the designated areas, it will be necessary to distribute the appropriate jury forms to all those who are eligible for jury duty in a particular judicial district and have these individuals, these citizens, answer certain questions in relation as to whether or not they are able to understand the French language, the English language or both; and obviously the distribution and the return of these forms are of fundamental importance with respect to the preparation of jury lists in order that panels of jurors may be drawn and so it’s possible for a court to identify jurors who are indeed bilingual.
Obviously this cannot be accomplished the day that this legislation comes into effect. We have provided for legislation to come into effect on royal assent, and this is why we have provided in the legislation the proviso that the provisions will apply to courts in certain designated areas upon the passing of the orders in council.
It’s absolutely essential that we have these resources in place; the most complex one, of course, is related to the selection of juries, and I would hope that this would be fully appreciated. It’s somewhat less complex when we are dealing with trials by judge alone. I just caution the members to consider these very practical problems which can be resolved, and will be resolved as quickly as we can, but obviously require some period of time. To amend the legislation to provide for bilingual juries in certain designated areas at the time this legislation becomes law would create nothing less than chaos. I hesitate to suggest the possibility of the government being forced to withdraw this legislation, because I think it would be very regrettable, to put it mildly.
Mr. Lawlor: Pretty close to chaos now.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That would be the case if the legislation provided, for example, bilingual trials in areas where it would just be impossible to have bilingual trials as of the time that the legislation became law of this province. I want the members opposite to consider that and to appreciate what we are talking about.
Mr. Conway: I thought this was Bill 71, not Bill 70.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Is the member talking about amendments to the Juries Act? Obviously the amendment to the Juries Act is complementary legislation and the two bills must be --
Mr. Conway: I am talking about the threat to withdraw.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I shouldn’t be provoked, I know, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Samis: Nor provocative.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and I forgot the numbers of the respective bills.
Mrs. Campbell: Bill 72 is the Juries Amendment Act.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Once again the member for St. George has assisted me. I thank her.
While that is a matter of some concern to us, at the same time I want to say I can perhaps understand the wisdom of the suggestion that we attempt to enshrine to a greater extent what we are attempting to accomplish by mentioning specifically in the legislation certain designated areas.
I am quite impressed by the arguments of the members who have spoken in this very important debate and we proposed an amendment where this will be done. But it’s absolutely essential that we separate the sections of the bill that deal with the designated districts which we can put into legislation now, as contrasted to the courts within those particular designated areas.
Obviously we will be able to implement this legislation in some courts faster than others; and I have talked about non-jury as opposed to jury trials. I think it would be impossible to proceed unless we did keep the designated areas separate from the courts in those designated areas. You just can’t throw all of the courts into one basket and say that what we can do in one court we can do in another. I think those members who are familiar with the courts will realize there are particular problems related to particular courts.
There is one other matter that concerns me in relation to the debate, and that is with respect to the matter of pleadings and pretrial proceedings. It has been suggested during the course of the debate, and by amendments that have been drawn to my attention, that it is the desire of some members at least to provide for the use of the French language in pretrial proceedings and pleadings -- and we are talking about the pleadings which are the written documents in pretrial proceedings which would normally relate to examinations for discovery or pretrial motions of one kind or another.
I would want to reiterate that it was the advice of our advisory council. I had my own views, and I have to say my views were very much in accord with that of the advisory council when the legislation arrived here in the particular form that it is. It was the unanimous advice of our advisory council that we should emphasize, at least at this particular stage, the use of French at the trial. I am not suggesting that this is the last word in legislation in relation to the French language in our courts, but they advised we should emphasize the use of the French language at the actual trial, whether it is a trial before a judge or a trial before a judge and jury. Obviously that is where the fundamental rights of the litigants before the courts are of greatest importance.
In pleadings and pretrial proceedings, basically we are talking about issues that are of greater interest to the lawyers than they are to the litigants themselves. That is not to suggest that these proceedings and pretrial examinations are not important, but as was pointed out by the member for St. George francophone lawyer colleagues themselves recognize the difficulty they will have, for example, in preparing pleadings in French at this time, simply because virtually all of them have been trained to prepare pleadings in English.
What I am very concerned about is that we don’t incorporate provisions in this act that are going to produce a real divisiveness within the legal community and needless confrontation. This is one aspect of the proposed amendments that should concern us all. Certainly with respect to the right to be heard in French before a bilingual tribunal in designated areas, which is the fundamental principle of the legislation, whether or not we should encourage, by amendments, battles that may occur in nondesignated areas between a French-speaking litigant and an English-speaking litigant as to where the trial is going to be heard, I think could produce an atmosphere that is very counterproductive in so far as the enhancement of French-language rights in our province is concerned. I think we should just bear this in mind before we proceed into committee with this legislation.
What we are trying to accomplish here, is legislation that does enshrine the basic rights and that at the same time is practical. Then it can’t be suggested that we are creating a hypocritical situation where we are providing a right by legislation but where it is impossible to provide the back-up resources to make that right a meaningful right.
I repeat, this legislation was the product, to a very considerable extent, of the advice of some very fine and distinguished francophone lawyers in our province. I’d like, again, to take this opportunity on behalf of us all to thank those lawyers and our colleagues in the province of Quebec who did dedicate a considerable amount of time and effort with respect to this legislation.
I don’t think there’s anything else I can usefully add at this particular time, other than to repeat that I appreciate the very worthwhile contributions of the members opposite. I’m confident this legislation will be passed; and with a certain continuance of the collegiality that I think recently has been a hallmark of legislation that affects the fundamental rights of the citizens of this province, certainly legislation for which I’ve been responsible, I’m confident this will persist and that this milestone we referred to earlier, this historic legislation, will be in place, hopefully, in the near future.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
JURIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 72, An Act to amend the Juries Act, 1974.
Mrs. Campbell: I am going to be brief on this one. I am saving all my fire and forces, as I have warned the Attorney General, for the amendments to the Trustee Act.
Of course, this is a companion piece. There is no question that this caucus supports the principle of the bill. I recognize, I think, the reason it is couched in the form in which it finds itself, but I wonder whether in the preparation of the rolls we would not at least make, as the minister seemed to suggest in his reference to this bill as he related it to The Judicature Act, provision for those who speak, read and understand the French language, so that we would cover the need with certainty, taking into account what he has said about the court as opposed to the designated area.
Nevertheless, it would seem to me to make some sense to ensure that the English language, the French language and bilingualism are covered in this bill. I would hope the Attorney General would have some remarks by way of reply on that matter.
All that I have said in the debate on the Judicature Act applies to this particular bill. We can’t have one without the other, we support it.
Mr. Lawlor: Like the previous speaker, this legislation is basically acceptable. I suppose the only thing I would mention is that where it makes provision for the English language within the Juries Act, I am for people who are bilingual. I suspect that is as far as we can go at this time in our history, considering the exigencies and the practicalities of the situation. Some day there will be an amendment to it where French-only juries would be selected, particularly in certain districts again, and that would be the plenitude that we look forward to in legislation of this kind.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, just very briefly, I can’t add very much to what was said by the honourable member for Lakeshore. This was a conscious policy decision, again on the advice of our advisory committee, as to how far we should go at this particular time. Again, what we’re attempting to do is to emphasize the bilingual aspect of the juries because we think it is in the broadest public interest to proceed in that manner.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CHANGE OF NAME AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 76, An Act to amend the Change of Name Act.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Does the Attorney General have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No.
Mr. Lawlor: On such an important piece of legislation? Incredible!
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I can’t believe that the Attorney General would not wish to engage in full debate on this bill. Obviously this caucus supports the bill. It’s absolutely self-evident that it should have probably been done before this, in view of the fact that we seem to have had a mixup in the age of majority in this province for some time and now we’re straightening out the matter. Since the age of majority is 18, at least at this point, and people can apply for a change of name at 18, there is no longer any reason why we should designate anyone as an infant so applying.
Mr. Lawlor: It is a wonderful change, Mr. Speaker. As the law presently stands -- and I’m sure no one in this assembly had anything to do with it -- the clause reads “where the applicant is an infant, he shall be deemed to be of full age for all the purposes of the act.” I take it to mean that some extremely astute judge said that if a five-year-old comes before him and wishes to have his name altered to the Caballero from the South or something like that, to some romantic terminology quite distinct from his parents and thereby disown them, the judge has no discretion whatsoever and must grant the application just as it stands.
In the light of the fact that my children had all heard about this and were all going to move in the courts immediately -- I’m not quite sure what they intended --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Have their name changed to Campbell.
Mr. Lawlor: I think they all want to change their name to their mother’s name, which is Jones.
In any event, we’re obliged now to move in on the situation. I don’t think we should press any further with this bill, It should go through very easily.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TRUSTEE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 1, An Act to amend the Trustee Act.
Mrs. Campbell: I had warned the Attorney General that I should speak at length on the change in the amendment to this bill whereby we are amending by striking out “be” in the 11th line and inserting in lieu thereof “by.” However, in the spirit of the collegiality, to which reference has been made, I think I shall not proceed with my very real and very earnest debate. In the spirit of goodwill, the caucus of the Liberals on this side support the amendment
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, I can’t let things go just quite so easily. Philosophically speaking -- and I am prepared for a dissertation on contemporary existentialism -- the word “be” is the most important single word in any language. Imagine “to be or not to be.” If it were not to be, then the whole problem of evil comes into this Legislature tonight. We could talk about privations of various kinds and the annulling of the good. Dialogues have been written about it, for heaven’s sake. But if the only thing you are going to do is change “be” to “by,” how could anyone possibly complain?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have nothing to add to the eloquence that has already been contributed to the record, Mr. Speaker.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
House in committee of the whole.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Chairman, now that you have taken your chair, I believe the only bill before the House in committee is the Judicature Act. I understand we were not proceeding with that in committee, but we were going to continue with certain other bills for second reading.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That’s correct, Mr. Chairman, it was agreed that we would not proceed.
On motion by Hon. Mr. McMurtry, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
Mrs. Campbell: The Attorney General has been spending his time doing athletic push-ups. What bills are we doing now?
RACING COMMISSION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Pope, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Grossman, moved second reading of Bill 69, An Act to amend the Racing Commission Act.
Mr. Breithaupt: In this bill there were four particular areas which are being attended to with respect to the racing commission. The minister’s statement on April 25 clearly set these out and they are available in Hansard for members to see.
There is only one that did concern me and that is with respect to the amendment that validates a series of procedures which have existed for some time, particularly with respect to the adoption of the rules and regulations of the Canadian Trotting Association for harness racing. It allows certain self- governing powers, in effect, to exist within that association that are, to put it kindly, then effectively rubber-stamped by the Ontario Racing Commission. I have heard of certain concerns with respect to the allowance of these discretionary powers to a subgroup, powers which might more clearly be attended to by the racing commission itself. However, I understand that as a result of certain discussions the concerns of the parties most particularly interested have been resolved and we are accordingly prepared to support this bill
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, our party also will be supporting this bill on second reading. We do, however, have two amendments to this bill, copies of which have been given to the official opposition critic and I hope have been delivered to the minister. The member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), in the absence of the minister and the parliamentary assistant, is nodding that he has them.
There are a number of concerns, of course, with the racing commission -- or the second-to-final resting place of one Charles MacNaughton, as it’s sometimes called. The record of the racing commission in some regards has been less than excellent. One of those areas is in the practice of firing some people.
I think perhaps the Damien case is one of the most tragic examples of what sometimes might happen with the Ontario Racing Commission. Mr. Damien has for three years been proceeding with a long drawn out fight against the Ontario Racing Commission, which has now ended up in a large and costly lawsuit. It arose from a situation that should never have taken place. It might lead one at times to wonder about the makeup of the Ontario Racing Commission. That is exactly the area to which our amendment addresses itself. I will speak to it in some short detail when it does go into the committee stage; and I trust it will go into committee of the whole House, there’s no need to send it out to another committee.
We think it’s very important that there be somebody on the Ontario Racing Commission who knows a little bit about labour relations. We’re suggesting that the commission be expanded by one person and that that person be a representative of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Hopefully, with that kind of a person on the commission, we won’t get into any more incidents where we have the kind of injustice done to a person that was done to Mr. Damien.
The other areas of the act to amend the Racing Commission Act are by and large housekeeping measures or measures to allow the commission the statutory power to do things that, in effect, it has already been doing.
There is one matter I have some concern about and that is the matter of subsection 2(b), which I will discuss in committee rather than now. But so that the member for Cochrane South can have some short time to think about it, I would like to know -- and I trust he could get me some kind of answer before we do get to committee -- how many incidents there have been in the past when the racing commission has held hearings they think were of a frivolous nature on charges that were frivolously made so that we can perhaps have an idea as to how necessary and how relevant a proposition it is that we should bring in and institute a $300 fine.
That’s it. We will be supporting the bill on second reading and will have two short, rather clear amendments to make when we get to committee.
Mr. Lawlor: I have had the novel experience of actually reading the bill just before I stood up. I thought I would say a word or two. There are certain aspects that puzzled and bothered me. No doubt it will go to committee.
This operation is done by way of a delegation of powers. The racing commission itself is a delegate body. Under this particular legislation, in section 1, it’s subdelegating its powers. It’s not only subdelegating, but picking up the rules and regulations of some other subordinate body into its own, et cetera; and then it goes the extra step, which I’ve never seen in a statute before and which I think will require some degree of justification.
I would think it runs directly contrary to everything McRuer has set forth. I thought the government’s legislation was designed to be in some degree of accord with that; not that that is sacrosanct holy writ or anything, but by and large, there is great good sense in what the erstwhile judge has to say about these matters.
One thing that particularly offends me is subsection (1 a)c where this subordinate body, this body under the body so to speak without becoming obscene, is given powers “to impose and collect fines, costs and other penalties for the contravention of any of the rules or procedures.” That’s unheard of. Somebody away down the line is given the power to fine somebody else, apart from this $300 business or anything else. That should be looked at very carefully by the ministry, I suggest, and gone over before the minister brings it on for the final dress rehearsal, so to speak, before the curtain rings down.
True, the minister’s answer could be there is some kind of appeal procedure back to the commission in the case of an aggrieved person, back with respect to the grievance itself and back with respect to whatever penalty has come out of the whole thing. Even if that’s the case, the thing is highly suspect. I suggest and request the minister take another look at that legislation.
Mr. Pope: A couple of points have been raised on which I think I can help the honourable members. I thank them for directing some of their concerns towards me.
Mr. Lawlor: Not towards you, at you.
Mr. Pope: Firstly, with respect to the number of instances in which punitive costs were awarded against appellants, or those applying to the Ontario Racing Commission, the number is two out of 100 hearings held over a period of seven years. I think the honourable members would agree that it has not been a power which has been abused in the past, I don’t think we have any reason to suspect that this provision will be abused in the future.
Mr. Lawlor: Exactly. That’s what Pontius Pilate said as he washed his hands. Have you got a bowl over there?
Mr. Pope: The Canadian Trotting Association last year heard approximately 20 minor appeals and the Ontario Racing Commission heard last year in excess of 40 appeals. Basically, there have been pre-existing appeal procedures, which I could review very briefly so that the honourable member for Lakeshore could have the benefit of some of the history of the government of harness racing and horse racing in Canada.
Harness racing in Canada has been self-governed nationally by the Canadian Trotting Association since 1939. Thoroughbred racing, on the other hand, has been controlled locally by the various racing commissions and associations which conduct thoroughbred racing. When the Ontario Racing Commission came into existence in 1950 by provincial statute, it directed itself towards thoroughbred racing, acknowledging its control over harness racing by simply adopting the rules and regulations of the Canadian Trotting Association as the Ontario Racing Commission roles.
In the first 10 years of its existence, the Ontario Racing Commission worked in harmony with the Canadian Trotting Association. The racing commission did not operate its own licensing function but accepted the Canadian Trotting Association’s licensing and standards as to requirements for harness racing in Ontario. In 1900, as harness racing began to grow in Ontario, the commission began to exercise its powers to govern this form of horse racing and was challenged by the Canadian Trotting Association.
As we are all probably aware, the situation was resolved by the intervention, among others, of Mr. E. P. Taylor of the Ontario Jockey Club who mediated an end to the dispute. As a result, the Ontario Racing Commission began its own licensing program in 1961 and since that time any participants in Ontario must hold a Canadian Trotting Association and Ontario Racing Commission licence.
I would say with that kind of background it’s apparent that there are a number of disputes which may arise at the racetrack in Ontario. Many of them are of a minor nature. It has been well-established practice that stewards and other officials at the racetrack would deal with the matters.
If there have been any complaints or some thought that the matter has not been properly dealt with, minor matters have been referred to the Canadian Trotting Association and other matters have been referred to the Ontario Racing Commission. This procedure has appeared to have worked. There have not been any appeals, to my knowledge, in the last year from the Canadian Trotting Association rulings. As I said, there were approximately 20 of them, including 13 denials of appeal. Except for one outstanding piece of litigation, there has not been any problem with the Ontario Racing Commission.
There was an attempt in the 1973 legislation to delegate the kind of power to the Canadian Trotting Association and other track officials. This bill is an attempt at trying to clean up some of the problems that have arisen and which are the subject matter of some litigation.
I understand the Damien case is a longstanding litigation matter and a matter that involves some certain activities that took place with a certain Mr. Damien and some admissions that were made. The only comment I can make is that it is before the courts and I think it is the proper procedure that this matter should be resolved by the courts.
With those brief comments -- and when we move to committee we can further pursue the matters -- I hope I have answered most of the questions that the members have raised. I thank them for their comments and their contribution to the discussion.
Mr. Breithaupt: If I might just ask a question of the parliamentary assistant, am I not correct with respect to the Damien matter in assuming that it has absolutely no relationship to any of these particulars that are before us this evening?
Mr. Pope: Yes, that is correct.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Pope, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Grossman, moved second reading of Bill 77, An Act to amend the Corporations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breithaupt: This bill deals with only two particular matters. The first one is with respect to the Fire Mutuals Guarantee Fund and the bill in section 2 deals with certain amendments to relate that to present provisions within the Insurance Act.
The select committee on company law will be turning its collective mind this summer to a review of the various property and casualty insurance lines within Ontario, and as well, the concerns of the various farm mutual companies. As a result, at that time we will have the opportunity of discussing other particular concerns which the farm mutual companies may have and we will be able to hear from them as to their experience, which has led to this section being included as an amendment to the Corporations Act as it appears in Bill 77.
I won’t make any further comments on that particular point, because I think that with the opportunity to discuss the matter further this summer as part of the work of the select committee we will be able to review this in case there might be some other changes which may be considered at that point.
With respect to the other item in this bill, the matter of making certain amendments to parallel the requirements of the Criminal Code, I commend the ministry on bringing forth this particular point. The reference which is involved in the bill makes the use of an incorporated social club as a common gaming house, as set out in the Criminal Code, grounds for cancellation of the letters patent.
We are well aware that there are occasions when social clubs have run afoul of the law because of certain practices being carried on. I would suspect that having as one of the penalties available the cancellation of the letters patent of a social club for such an infraction would be one of the tools available not only to the courts but, through the eventual procedure of the activities of the ministry, to deter those practices from taking place in various of the social clubs.
This will be perhaps a useful amendment that will have a certain punitive effect and I find the inclusion of it in this bill a satisfactory one. We will support the bill on second reading.
Mr. M. N. Davison: I may be suffering from some confusion, and I may have done a disservice to my colleague from Cochrane South. I understand there have been some switches in the parliamentary assistants in his caucus. Is he now the parliamentary assistant to the minister?
Mr. Pope: Yes.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Congratulations.
Mr. Sargent: Condolences.
Mr. M. N. Davison: The honourable member has my apologies for saying earlier this evening that the parliamentary assistant was absent, because clearly he is there.
Mr. Sargent: He should get a medal.
Mr. Cunningham: Five thousand dollars is $5,000.
Mr. Eakins: It helps meet the cost of living in northern Ontario.
Mr. Cunningham: You get workmen’s compensation working with Grossman.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Could I come back to the principle of the bill, which is actually rather difficult to find in a bill like this, because there are several. Indeed, perhaps it could even be an unprincipled bill.
I will address myself to the two points to which the Liberal critic didn’t address himself, the two repeal sections. While we will be supporting the bill on second reading I do have some concern over the second repeal section. The first repeal, which occurs in section 1 of the bill, is simply a change in the Corporations Act to reflect amendments that have been made in the Partnership Registration Act and as such I can see absolutely nothing wrong with it.
The other two housekeeping changes, as they have been addressed by the Liberal critic, also seem quite appropriate. As a matter of fact, I think it’s a smashing idea to alter provincial legislation to bring it into line with the Criminal Code. That’s quite clever.
The final point though cause me a bit of concern. The minister when he introduced this bill in the House on Friday, April 28, I believe, said: “Finally, as the act now reads, the minister is required to table before the House an annual report showing the extraprovincial licences issued under the act, the authorized capital of each corporation licence and the fee paid for each licence. This rather clearly explains what the current practice had been.
He then went on to say why it was being repealed. “The amendment would repeal this section, primarily because the statistical information contained in this report is available elsewhere and we feel the expenditure of time and money involved in collecting the data and producing the report could be put to more productive uses during this time of restraint.”
I understand the problems presented psychologically and politically by the restraint program. I also understand that in the western world there has been in the past several years a movement towards something called freedom of information. Admittedly, it has been a halting kind of procedure, and we move very slowly.
My colleague from Hamilton Mountain can tell you how difficult it sometimes is to get any kind of statistics from government ministries, especially, in his case, from the Minister of Revenue on tax deferrals. In that context, I wonder, if we repeal this section, how difficult it is going to be for members of the Legislature to get this information, if at some point in time it should be necessary, with these extraprovincial companies and licences.
I would hope that when we get to the committee stage, Mr. Minister, you would be in a position to give us some idea as to how difficult it might be for members of the Legislature or, through us, members of the public, to get this information that will no longer be available through the form of the report. Also, could you give us some sort of idea as to how much time and money has been involved in collecting the data? I suspect that’s the kind of study you probably would have done in the ministry before you made the decision to repeal section 382. Perhaps you can arrange to get answers to those questions before we move into committee. It would be quite useful.
With that one concern, I support the bill on second reading.
Mr. Pope: I neglected in the previous legislation to thank the members of the Ontario Racing Commission and of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for their assistance to me in preparing my very brief remarks and background to that legislation. I would like to thank them and I’d also like to thank the staff of the ministry for their assistance in this legislation.
If I could, I would like to address myself directly to the comments made by the member for Hamilton Centre. The Ontario Gazette, in its normal editions, deals with extraprovincial licences issued and cancelled. In that gazette it gives the name of the corporation, the date of its incorporation, the jurisdiction of its incorporation and the date of the issuance of the licence or the cancellation. That information, which is regularly contained in the Ontario Gazette, is further dealt with in the indexes to the Ontario Gazette, which are regularly available.
For instance, in volume 110 of the Ontario Gazette, for the period from July 1, 1977, to December 31, 1977, the index deals with extraprovincial licences issued and cancelled on page 14. Therefore, on a regular basis there is specific information already made available in a public form. This will enable anyone who might be interested in obtaining further information to go to the company’s branch and obtain more specific details about the principles of the extraprovincial licences and any other matters which may be of interest to them.
In addition, the Ontario statistics compiled by the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs deal with companies with extraprovincial licences. This again is on a yearly and a less-than-yearly basis, so that up-to-date information and running totals can be made available as to the extent of extraprovincial licences being granted and revoked. I think it’s fair to say there is information available to the public in general form, the compiling of numbers; and there is also information available as to the specifics of each extraprovincial licence that is issued or revoked. That would satisfy the concern that the member for Hamilton Centre quite rightly raised.
Regarding the time and money involved, there is a daily recording of a running total of extraprovincial licences issued and a totalling at the end of the year with specific details. I would just be hazarding a guess on time and money involved in the preparation of the report, but it would be a minimal amount, perhaps $1,000.
I would like to thank the members for Hamilton Centre and Kitchener for their support of this bill and for the comments that they have raised.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
RACING COMMISSION AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 69, An Act to amend the Racing Commission Act.
On section 1:
Mr. M. N. Davison: I have an amendment on section 1.
Mr. Pope: Mr. Chairman, I would ask your ruling on whether or not this amendment is in order, as it deals with an additional principle that is not dealt with in Bill 69 as presented to this House.
Mr. Chairman: I have not yet put the amendment to the House. I better just place it on the record. Mr. Davison moves that --
Mr. Breithaupt: Dispense.
Mr. Chairman: I appreciate the member for Kitchener’s offer. However, it might be wise to place it on the record.
Mr. Davison moves that a new section 1 be added to the bill as follows:
“1. Section 2 of the Racing Commission Act, being chapter 389 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1970, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“2. The body corporate known as the Ontario Racing Commission established under the Racing Commission Act, 1950, is continued and shall be composed of not fewer than four and not more than eight members, one of whom is to be a representative of the Ontario Federation of Labour, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council; the following sections to be renumbered appropriately.”
I appreciate the comments of the member for Cochrane South. Looking at the bill, I cannot see where this amendment is embodied in the principle of the bill. The bill here refers only to section 15 of the Racing Commission Act.
Mr. M. N. Davison: The comments you made, are they just your thoughts on the matter or do they constitute a ruling?
Mr. Chairman: I would have to say at this point they are the Chairman’s thoughts. I was giving the honourable member an opportunity to make any further comments.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Chairman, I think the motion is in order for a number of reasons.
When the ministry drew up its proposed amendments, it added, to section 15, matters dealing with the quorum, and made reference to earlier sections in the act, specifically section 6. For some reason I am not sure of, they chose not to include that as an amendment or an addition to section 6 but to tack it on to section 15. Because this amendment significantly alters the power of the commission, I think it is more than appropriate that there would be some discussion of the persons on the racing commission.
If indeed the amendment is out of order, then when I spoke at some length half an hour or 20 minutes ago on the principle of the bill, and clearly spoke about that particular aspect of the bill, I would have been out of order, But I was not informed that I was out of order at that point. It seems to me that if I wasn’t out of order then, I am not out of order now.
I think you should accept the amendment, Mr. Chairman. It is an important amendment and one that quite rightly fits into this bill.
Mr. Breithaupt: Speaking to the amendment Mr. Chairman, at this point, sitting in your place, you are unable to decide whether the member for Hamilton Centre was equally out of order on second reading as he is now. That is something which I presume only the Speaker could decide.
In any event, it appears clear to me that the suggestion of change in the membership of the commission has absolutely nothing to do with the bill as it has been brought into the House.
The four points which had been referred to in the initial statement by the minister when the bill was introduced, and which had been spoken to on second reading, are the particular areas which are being referred to.
It is clear, in my understanding of the rules of this House, that the members have the opportunity of making further amendments to sections that are already before the House. However, the simple introduction of any amendment to a bill does not, in my opinion, allow members to wander all over the place and bring in changes to any section they may be pleased to consider.
As a result, in my view, the amendment proposed by the member for Hamilton Centre is out of order and should so be ruled by the chair.
Mr. Chairman: The member for Cochrane North.
Mr. Pope: Cochrane South, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman: Sorry.
Mr. Pope: I appreciate the comparison.
Just addressing myself to the comments that the member for Hamilton Centre has made, Bill 69 deals with the quorum that is required for a specific purpose, namely, for the holding of a hearing. The intent of the proposed amendment is that the number of directors in the body corporate would be changed, and therefore, perhaps, the quorum would be changed.
I might point out that the quorum that is dealt with in the second amendment, not in this amendment, and the quorum that is discussed by the member for Hamilton Centre are for completely different purposes. The bill addresses itself to the hearings that will be held by the Ontario Racing Commission and to how many members will constitute a quorum for the purpose of a hearing. The entire intent of Bill 69 addresses itself to the hearing process and some of the problems that have arisen and how they can be resolved. In my respectful submission, the appeal process, the powers given to the Ontario Racing Commission, both with respect to quorum and the holding of a hearing, do not in any way have anything to do with any proposed composition of the Ontario Racing Commission.
I think they are two separate matters and should be considered as such. Therefore, it is an additional principle that has nothing to do with Bill 69, in my respectful submission, although I appreciate the concerns of the member for Hamilton Centre.
Mr. Chairman: I appreciate the comments and the assistance from the members of the committee who have spoken. On reviewing the amendment and the comments made, I would have to say to the member for Hamilton Centre that he made two points. Of course, the first point was that on second reading he referred to this and was not ruled out of order. However, that was under the Speaker, and this is under the Chairman of the committee of the whole House.
The other point was made very clearly, and that was the content of the amendment is in reference to the constitution of the commission and the bill before us deals only with the powers of the commission. Therefore, I feel I must rule the amendment out of order.
I believe the honourable member has another amendment.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I demur from moving my second amendment, which is an amendment to section 1(4), because what it would have done was change the wording of that section so that the quorum for a hearing would have been four rather than three. I had assumed that by the time we got to that point there was some chance we would have eight people on the commission. It would be most unfair for me, at this point, to saddle the ministry with that amendment because it wouldn’t, at this time, serve the purpose I had originally intended it to serve. I will not place that amendment.
Section 1 agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.
Bill 69 reported.
CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 77, An Act to amend the Corporations Act.
Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 4:
Mr. M. N. Davison: I think perhaps it might be useful for myself and the parliamentary assistant to engage in a short dialogue -- of course through you, Mr. Chairman.
On second reading, I raised my concern about section 4 as to the degree of difficulty members of the Legislature might have in finding out information that will no longer be available in the format of this report When the section is repealed, the report will no longer come forward. The parliamentary assistant points out two other areas from which the information can be gleaned. One was the Ontario Gazette and one was the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Section, 382(1) is the one of concern. Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, it would be worthwhile if I read that to the parliamentary assistant, because I don’t think his remarks earlier were addressed to the problem I pointed out. Section 382(1) reads as follows: “The minister shall, after the close of each fiscal year, prepare an annual report showing the licences issued under this part during such year, the authorized capital of each corporation licence and the fee paid for each licence.”
When the parliamentary assistant addressed himself as to what would appear in the Ontario Gazette, I don’t recall hearing any mention of the fee paid for the licence. I certainly don’t recall any comment or response either when addressing himself to the Ontario Gazette or TEIGA as to the authorized capital of each corporation. If the parliamentary assistant could tell me where the members of the House could get that information, and how easy or how difficult it might be, and satisfy me on that, I wouldn’t have any objection to supporting this section of the bill and the bill itself.
But if we’re only talking a very small amount of money -- I think the minister used the number $1,000 -- to do the work that is required for this report, I really don’t see much reason to get rid of the report. Every time a member wants to know what the authorized capital of a corporation is, or what the licence fee was, he would have to turn the administration upside down and cause all kinds of trouble just to find it out for one particular company. Perhaps the minister can address himself to that.
Mr. Pope: Mr. Chairman, the member for Hamilton Centre has raised the issue of a lack of information about the authorized capital and the fee paid. He’s quite right: that information is not contained in the Ontario Gazette. As I mentioned earlier, it’s just the name of the corporation, the date of incorporation and the jurisdiction of the original incorporation and the date of licence.
I neglected to add that there is also information available under the company’s information system which also gives a running total on the extraprovincial licences granted and revoked. The fees, I’m advised, are available in public accounts and the authorized capital is available on the files of every corporation at the company’s branch.
The point I was trying to make earlier to the honourable member was that should any honourable member require further additional information on any specific company who had been granted an extraprovincial licence or who had one cancelled, if they would refer to the Ontario Gazette and get the specific name of the corporation, it could be checked against information contained in the public accounts. Also, the authorized capital and the fee as well could be available on the files at the company’s branch. I think the information could be made available to the honourable member whenever he wished.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Just one final question: Not to be picky, I take it that the procedure you have outlined for getting the details on the authorized capital of a particular extraprovincial licence is not a great lengthy, terribly difficult process, but just by a simple phone call to the company’s branch, they will give it to me that afternoon or they would give it to other members. With that cleared up, I have no trouble whatsoever supporting that section of the bill.
Section 4 agreed to.
Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.
Bill 77 reported.
On motion by Mr. Pope, the committee of the whole House reported two bills without amendment
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 69, An Act to amend the Racing Commission Act.
Bill 77, An Act to amend the Corporations Act
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Charlton: I am going to spend some time tonight dealing with the budget and a number of areas which in some ways, although they are not directly a part of the provincial budget, relate to the kinds of fiscal policies that this government tends to deal with or not deal with. Through the process of the initial responses to the budget, it’s quite obvious to the government party opposite that both of the opposition parties were rather disappointed in the budget of March for somewhat different reasons.
Mr. Bradley: A real surprise.
Mr. Charlton: We in this party were for the most part disappointed in the government’s budget because the budget had absolutely nothing in terms of initiative to deal with the economic problems in the province of Ontario. It was a regressive budget in that at the same time as it proposed nothing concrete to deal with unemployment and with all of those things that stem from unemployment, it also was a budget that hit those people on pensions and low middle incomes the hardest.
Mr. Bradley: Now give them some credit. They did take the tax off storm windows.
Mr. Charlton: The way the budget was presented, the kinds of changes that the government made in its tax structure -- and I emphasize tax structure, and I think that although my friends to the right may not agree with me in terms of all of it being taxes, they certainly agreed with us on the regressive nature of the OHIP increase, for example.
Mr. Bradley: We were glad to have you with us.
Mr. Charlton: It’s fine to gloat now that we have had the OHIP increase rolled back from 37.5 per cent to 18.75 per cent --
An hon. member: At the cost of 6,000 jobs.
Mr. Charlton: -- at the cost of not only jobs, but at a cost which is going to affect the civil service and the private sector in this province as well.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s hearsay.
Mr. Charlton: We were of course happy -- happy is not the right word. We were able to accept the rollback, but it is not a satisfactory approach to the health care system and the health care tax in this province --
Mr. Bradley: But it did save you from annihilation.
Mr. Charlton: -- to roll back a tax that was so excessive it was gross in nature, and by so doing having to play the game of costing jobs in this province, both in the public and the private sectors, and by so doing, in fact worsening the economic situation that we have to face.
Mr. Bradley: Substantiate that.
Mr. Charlton: We have a situation where this government, in a somewhat progressive frame of mind a number of years ago, implemented the Ontario property tax credit. I say it was a progressive move on the part of the government. It was a good move, it was worthwhile, and it was effective initially. What has in effect happened over the past number of years, though, is that as wages moved up with inflation, and no adjustment was made in the tax credit, many of those who qualify for the tax credit and got some money back three and four years ago are no longer getting any tax credit from this government at all.
Many of those people who are in that position in terms of their relationship in the economic structure are no better off now than they were three or four years ago. There are many people in this province, in the weaker end of the organized sector and in the unorganized sector, who just have not gained. In some instances they have managed to keep up with the cost of living and in many more instances they have actually fallen behind it.
In the budget the Treasurer announced an increase in the property tax credits, an increase for which we have been screaming for two years now. Then he promptly turned around and said that that increase will not be implemented until we see the implementation of market value assessment and property tax reform.
Mr. Bradley: It’s called holding you hostage.
Mr. Charlton: That quite possibly may be never, if you take a serious look at the record of this government on its reassessment and property tax reform program.
Although for me, and I think for most of us in this province, it is a very minor thing, the obvious slip that the government made in the amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act, where they actually increased taxes on the cheapest cigars and reduced taxes on expensive cigars -- the more expensive the cigars the greater the reduction --
Mr. Bradley: We know who smokes the expensive cigars, don’t we?
Mr. Charlton: It’s certainly not me.
At any rate, although it wasn’t a significant thing for us in terms of tax dollars --
Mr. Mackenzie: The establishment that you guys support.
Mr. Charlton: It’s certainly significant in terms of a reflection of this government’s attitude towards tax policy. When you take a look at what they did with OHIP, this obvious slip on the Tobacco Tax Act and the car licence fee increases this year --
Mr. Bradley: Except in Parry Sound.
Mr. Charlton: -- it becomes very obvious that this government first of all either has no real concern for the average small taxpayer in this province or that they just don’t take the time to think really seriously about the effect of the measures they introduce in this House.
It’s rather significant, and it’s been said before and I’ll say it again, that this government in its budget had absolutely nothing dealing with the economy. The only program we have in Ontario that in any way, shape, or form has any hope of providing any kind of economic stimulation is the three per cent reduction in the sales tax; and that’s only for six months.
Mr. Bradley: They got that from the feds.
Mr. Charlton: But that program had to be initiated by the federal government. That for us is a really sad state of affairs. It’s just as sad, I suppose, that the federal government in its mad rush to find some way of dealing with the economy had to stick its nose into provincial affairs and cause a rather serious and additional dispute with the province of Quebec. That wasn’t a very well thought out move by the federal government either.
At this point, I’d like to move farther afield a bit. One of the things I’ve noticed over the past year or two and one of the things that’s bothered me quite substantially is the kind of mythology which sometimes floats around in this chamber. There are a couple of members opposite, unfortunately neither of them are here tonight, who seem to take great glee in poking fun at this caucus about socialism in Great Britain and Sweden. It’s fine if they want to have their fun, but when it comes right down to hard facts, perhaps we should have a look in a very serious way at the realities of some of the situations that they like to poke fun about.
The member for Sault Ste. Marie, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes), just yesterday or the day before was making cracks about Sweden. I don’t have all the facts on Sweden but one of the facts I do have --
Mr. Haggerty: Their unemployment rate has doubled.
Mr. Charlton: -- is that the unemployment rate in Sweden is at its highest in modern Swedish history, 2.2 per cent --
Mr. Mackenzie: It’s 2.2 per cent.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s four per cent now -- shocking!
Mr. Charlton: -- and Canada at its lowest point has never reached that low level.
Mr. Mackenzie: It’s 2.2 per cent. You want to be more up to date.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s current. Four per cent, right up to date. It increased 100 per cent.
Mr. Charlton: Two point two per cent is the accurate, up to date figure. It’s to me really significant that the government across the way, in its efforts to cover up the real problems we have, the problems they’re not able to deal with, has to poke fun in a very frivolous and unknowledgeable way about a country that has taken its own people’s best interests to heart --
Mr. Bradley: Have they still got a socialist government?
Mr. Charlton: -- and tried to deal with their economy -- and, let’s face it, in reality it’s not a socialist economy, it’s a free-enterprise economy.
Mr. Mackenzie: Unemployment went up since they got rid of it.
Mr. Haggerty: You are right, Bob.
Mr. Charlton: It’s a free-enterprise economy in which the government has taken an active role, but it’s an economy where unemployment has been dealt with as a priority and therefore kept to an absolute minimum. Also, as my colleague from Hamilton East says, it is significant that unemployment has risen to the horrendous level of 2.2 per cent since the defeat of the socialist party in Sweden.
Mr. Haggerty: It kept pace with Germany, Italy, Canada and the United States.
Mr. Charlton: The other area the government likes to poke fun at is Great Britain. Let’s just take a look at Great Britain.
Mr. Bradley: Careful or they’ll resurrect John Smith.
Mr. Mackenzie: Sure as blazes there won’t be a Liberal in that riding though, I’ll tell you that.
Mr. Charlton: Between 1968 and 1974 under the rule of the Conservative Party --
Mr. Mackenzie: I think they just made enough to get their money back, didn’t they, Brian?
Mr. Charlton: Something like that.
Under the rule of the Conservative Party in Great Britain between 1968 and 1974 they managed to push inflation in that country all the way up to 26 per cent --
Some hon. members: Shame.
Mr. Charlton: Twenty six per cent. Just ridiculous. And they pushed unemployment in that country to its highest level in modern British history, seven per cent.
Mr. Haggerty: The Labour government’s sent it up beyond that.
Mr. Charlton: The Labour government won the election in December 1974 and in the three and a half years since then have reduced the inflation level from the 26 per cent to now just over seven per cent.
Mr. Haggerty: Oh, you’re way off base on that one.
Mr. Mackenzie: How come you are so misinformed all the time?
Mr. Bradley: Nothing like striking oil.
Mr. Charlton: And at the same time, they’ve actually reduced unemployment as well, from seven per cent to five per cent.
Mr. Haggerty: It reminds me of Alberta.
Mr. Charlton: And I find it quite significant that in doing that they didn’t have to implement the kinds of stringent and lopsided and unfair controls that we have had in this country. They did it all by sitting down and socially negotiating with the different sectors in their economy -- social contracts, as the member for Hamilton East points out. That’s a very significant difference from the way we have tried in Ontario and Canada to deal with the economic ills that we have.
One of the realities is that the British today have far less of an economic base to work with than we do and they’ve done a far better job in dealing with their economy and the economic ills they have than we have. You know, in Ontario here during the same period, with very stringent controls -- lopsided controls, mind you, but very stringent controls -- we’ve managed to reduce inflation by about two per cent from around 11 to around nine.
Mr. M. N. Davison: The difference is we have Liberals and Tories here.
Mr. Charlton: Not only is that a difference, but at the same time unemployment in this province has gone up by another four per cent. One of the philosophies we seem to get continually hung up on in this country is that if you have to suffer employment in order to fight inflation, then so be it. We always deal with paper figures and fight to increase paper figures for GNP and fight to reduce inflation, which is another paper figure, and forget people in the process.
All that the kinds of controls we have had in Canada and in Ontario have accomplished is to effectively alienate and further increase the pessimism of the working people and the voting people of this country about politics and politicians. They seem to no longer believe that we are capable of doing anything effectively and in a lot of ways you can’t blame them for that. We’ve set such a good example of not being able to do anything properly.
At this point I would like to take some time to move on a bit to a project to which I alluded earlier which this government has been involved in for some eight and a half years now. It has to do in a large part with the budget and fiscal policy because it deals with market value assessment and property tax reform, all of those things very important to and very much part of this provincial government’s policy and relations with municipalities.
We set out in 1970 to try to reassess the province of Ontario at market value in order to create equity between like properties, because it doesn’t exist under the present system. We also set out to deal with the different levels of assessment in different municipalities, so that the province would have some kind of an equitable base on which to deal with transferring grants to the municipalities.
Mr. Haggerty: Tell us what manual you are using. Was it based upon the California practice of assessment?
Mr. Charlton: I have just had a comment from the member in front of me that perhaps I should ask the Speaker to call for a quorum, as we seem rather short of members at present.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Especially Liberals and Tories.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the table ascertain if there is a quorum?
There is no quorum.
Mr. Deputy Speaker called for the quorum bells.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, having received a note from in front of me, I decided it might be appropriate to do what was suggested and call for the quorum bells to be rung. Since I was just starting to talk about market value assessment and property tax reform, I felt it was imperative that such an important subject be discussed in the presence of as many members as possible.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Where’s the Treasurer?
Mr. Charlton: I’d like to start out by saying we set out in 1970 on market value assessment with a number of goals in mind. We set out to try to create equity between like properties in the property tax structure. We also set out to try to create a common base across the province between municipalities in order that the provincial government, in the distribution and transfer of its grants could more equitably deal with the whole question of whether or not municipalities were getting their fair share from the provincial government. Unfortunately, we’ve lost sight of both of these goals in the whole process that’s gone on since 1970.
When we started out on reassessment, we started out to assess every property in the province of Ontario by the same method on the same basis. We set out to assess all of the buildings in the province, whether they be residential single-family, multiresidential, commercial, industrial, institutional or farm buildings. We set out to assess them all on a replacement cost approach and we set out to assess all land in the province based on the market value of the type or use that that land was under. That entailed, for example, in the analysis of the value of that land, using only sales for that type of property --
Mr. Haggerty: I can get all that from my insurance man.
Mr. Charlton: -- between a seller and a buyer who intended to continue to use that property for that particular use.
Unfortunately, about 1974 the assessment division in the Ministry of Revenue made some policy changes which started out as partial changes and then reached the point where they were wholesale changes. What they started to do in 1974 was to decide that in the residential sector, the farm sector and the institutional sector they would assess buildings on the replacement cost approach and land based on residential sales; but in the commercial and industrial sectors, and in the multiresidential sectors, that they would have to look at assessing properties based on their income value, but only on properties where there was an income.
In 1974 they set about assessing apartment buildings on income, and commercial properties that were rented based on income. Commercial properties that were owner-occupied were still going to be assessed on the cost approach, and the same with industrial. After having gone through that process, at some point the assessment division realized that wasn’t exactly fair and that all commercial and all industrial properties had to be assessed in essentially the same way. Now they have set about -- and I would assume province-wide have now completed -- assessing all commercial, industrial and apartment properties based on their income value.
We’ve all seen the results of that even if we don’t realize it. We’ve seen assessments move from where assessments in different classes of properties reflected a fair, or reasonably fair, relationship with the other sectors to a situation, to now where we’re faced, if we implement market value assessment, with rather substantial tax shifts; especially in areas like Metro Toronto where there are large numbers of apartment buildings, for example, which will receive substantial reductions in municipal taxes and as a result cause some rather major tax shifts to the single-family residential sector.
In the past three years, we’ve got rather hung up, especially the government, in a mad quest and a mad search to find some method of tax reform in order to deal with the tax shifts that will be caused by the reassessments. The government has been very unsuccessful in terms of finding a tax reform method which will deal equitably with the shifts, therefore on political grounds it has postponed and repostponed and postponed again and again the implementation of market value assessment and tax reform.
We’ve got a three-fold problem here and we’re trying to deal with it in one step, and it won’t work. It won’t work because the shifts are not politically acceptable. The government is afraid of the shifts and afraid of implementing tax reform that will allow those shifts to happen. So are both of the opposition parties.
What we have is essentially a three-part problem. We have a problem with assessment policy because we set out to assess this province uniformly and we haven’t done that. We’re using two different methods and it can’t work. If you take, for example, the single-family residential sector and look at the kinds of values we’re coming up with, those values are based on a cost approach in market value. In the multiresidential sector and the commercial industrial sector, we have based our approach on income value. But if you relate the income value to the cost value on apartments or commercial and industrial properties, you’ll find that the income value of the property is substantially below what it cost to build the building or to replace the building.
Buyers in the multiresidential sector and the commercial industrial sector obviously, when they’re buying properties, base the price they’ll pay for that property on what they can take out of it. This is because they’re not buying it for their own use for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, in the residential sector, when people buy they’re buying from a different perspective for a different purpose and willing to pay slightly more for something they intend to make their home for the rest of their lives. But if we look realistically at the residential sector -- because we do on occasion rent single-family residential houses -- and if we were to analyse the rental value of residential houses, we would find that the rental value in no way compares to the mortgage value or the cost value of a residential property. So what we have done is create an assessment problem by using two different methods, asking the taxpayers of this province to pay their municipal taxes based on two different methods of creating the tax base. We’ve created a problem that we’re now trying to solve through a second and third step solution, which is property tax reform; that’s not the right way to solve the assessment problem.
Unfortunately, this government, when it talks about property tax reform, talks about it in isolation. We can’t, in this province, talk about property tax reform in isolation. What we’re really talking about is municipal finance. If we’re going to talk about property tax reform, we also have to talk about the grant structure and a whole package for financing municipalities. If the government is going to change one side of the coin it is going to have to change the other side as well.
The reason I’m raising this issue tonight is that we’ve gotten rather hung up over the past two or three years in this mad quest to find a suitable method of property tax reform. In fact, we should be dealing with the problems in assessment policies that have created a need for property tax reform. As a result of all of the delays that have happened over this decade, and this is something I raised with the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) on Monday in the Revenue estimates, we are in a situation now where, because of a number of rulings over the past two or three years in the assessment courts and the county courts, which have tied the current assessment levels to the actual value of the property, the courts are in the process of conducting their own reassessment of the province of Ontario. Although it is going to come more gradually than any reassessment implemented by this government, that reassessment isn’t going to be a very fair, very equitable or very desirable reassessment because it’s going to be the kind of reassessment wherein those who have the money to hire the expertise to present a good case in court are going to get their assessments reduced, and those that don’t probably won’t even appeal because they don’t even know they have grounds to appeal based on the actual value of their property.
That process is already under way. In my own city of Hamilton, for example, almost every apartment owner in the city has appealed his assessment this year. The assessments of all the major industrial and commercial properties have been appealed this year. A large number of those people are going to win their appeals.
Mr. Haggerty: Who was the assessor? It sounds like poor assessment in some way.
Mr. Charlton: It has nothing to do with poor assessment. Very simply, it has to do with an antiquated assessment system that is frozen by the province.
Mr. di Santo: It’s unfair assessment
Mr. Charlton: At the same time as the assessments are supposedly frozen, so that the assessors can’t adjust them equitably, the province has set out in legislation that all properties shall be assessed at market value or some percentage thereof; therefore, the courts have ruled that the current and existing assessments must have some relationship to their market value.
Mr. Haggerty: What percentage are they assessed at, 30 per cent?
Mr. Charlton: They are assessed at all different and varying assessments; that’s the problem. The member knows that.
Mr. Mackenzie: That’s just it; he doesn’t know that.
Mr. Charlton: It doesn’t matter what percentage they are assessed at. If industrial properties are assessed on average at 24 per cent of their market value, and everybody who happens to be assessed above the average appeals and wins, then all of a sudden for the next year the average changes and is lowered; then perhaps we can have everybody who is above the average appeal again and win and reduce the average again.
Eventually, we are going to reach a point on industrial, commercial and multiresidential properties, where the owners have the expertise or can hire the expertise to make their case for them, where the average is going to become whatever the lowest assessment is at present. That’s the kind of reassessment we don’t want to see in this province. It won’t be equitable and the guy who’s going to get hurt most is the single-family home owner, because for the most part he’s the one who doesn’t have the expertise to fight a battle in court based on appraisal and knowledge of appraisal.
Mr. Haggerty: You give him the information and he will put up a good argument.
Mr. Charlton: I will give him the information wherever I happen to talk to him personally, unfortunately I can’t talk to everybody in Ontario.
The point I am trying to make is that we have reached a crisis stage. The government has come forth with no proposals. We had a budget paper in 1976 which recommended some changes but passed the buck for further studies to the Blair commission. We have had the Blair commission report, which made specific recommendations. Those weren’t any more politically acceptable, so the Treasurer again took them under advisement and spent the whole year looking at them.
In January of this year the Treasurer came out with his white paper, slightly changing the proposals of the Blair commission -- not much, just slightly -- but saying he still wasn’t in a position to make a decision. He set up his local-provincial government committee on property tax reform, which just a few weeks ago made its report and again made a few minor changes from the white paper, but substantially produced what is still politically an unacceptable document for the government to deal with and for the opposition parties to deal with.
We’re really evading the whole question of assessment reform and of municipal finance reform. They are two separate questions, mind you, but we are evading both questions. We are not dealing with the problems in assessment policy and we are not dealing with the problems in municipal finance. We are trying to find a way to make the problems in assessment policy politically acceptable so that we can fit them into a municipal finance system that isn’t working anyway. It doesn’t make any sense.
As I’ve said, we’ve reached that crisis stage. We have reached that stage where if we don’t do something, another sector is going to do it for us and do it very badly -- and that’s the court sector. It won’t be the fault of the courts. The courts will only have to deal with those cases that come before it; it won’t have any say about the cases that don’t; and that’s a really unfortunate position for this province to be in.
We have to find solutions to that problem and we have to find them this year. I suggested to the minister, and I am going to suggest it again tonight, that if this government can’t come up with proposals for market value assessment implementation and property tax reform in the province of Ontario before this House recesses in June for the summer, then that’s going to effectively mean that this province is not going to get any property tax reform and any tax relief to municipalities next year. That effectively means this Legislature is going to be in the position of having to wait yet again.
I would suggest that if we run into the situation that the government can’t come forth with proposals before the end of June, then the government is going to have to take the veil of secrecy and uncertainty off the whole question of assessment and property taxation and invite this side of the Legislature to join with them in sitting down in one of the standing committees or in a select committee over the months of this summer to hammer out some proposals politically acceptable to everyone in this House so that we can get on with the job before it gets done for us the wrong way.
On motion by Mr. Nixon, the debate was adjourned.
Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 28, a motion of adjournment is deemed to have been made. I will recognize the member for Downsview for up to five minutes.
Mr. di Santo: On May 1, I asked the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) a question on the report of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism, a report which I thought was offensive not only to us on this side of the House but above all to the minority groups in our society. That was a report that has also been stigmatized by an editorial in the Toronto Star which called it a disgrace to our province.
There are other parts of the report I didn’t agree with and cannot accept, not only as a member of this Legislature, but as a citizen of this province, however I have to bring to the attention of the House some of the remarks which are reproachable and unacceptable.
The report says: “An uncritical endorsement of the Pitman report reflects unfavourably on a community in which there is no indication that the incidence of racism is worse than or even as bad as that found through similar studies in other cities of the United Kingdom or the United States. The danger also exists that an unqualified acceptance of the thrust of the Pitman report may do a disservice as well to the Asians themselves. If a substantial number of Toronto’s visible minorities live in fear, unwilling to use the subway system, uncomfortable and threatened in going about their activities in their own neighbourhoods the result must clearly be a polarization of hostility among the South Asians against the society which is doing a great deal to minimize this polarization.”
Not only the Pitman report and all the evidence which was brought before this commission, but also the publication of the human rights commission report, Life Together, reveals that racism is a fact of life in this society. It is increasingly creating problems in our society. The report of the human rights commission says, “The developing multicultural nature of the province increases the potential for misunderstanding, insensitivity and open intolerance.”
It goes on to say, “The best legislation in the world is rendered useless if resources are not provided to put it into action.” The streets erupt daily with incidents to remind us that concern for human rights ought to be high on the province’s list of priorities.
Political leaders have spoken out strongly against discrimination and in favour of human rights, but words alone carry no power. They can, with justice, be labelled “window dressing,” which produces frustration and resentment among the victims of discrimination, while bringing comfort to the forces that divide our communities.
As the Provincial Secretary for Social Development said in answer to my question: “I applaud them,” the advisory council on multiculturalism, “for the work that they have done in this province.” I think it is shameful. It is more than that. I think that by saying that the provincial secretary has become co-responsible for the racists in our society.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Shame on you.
Mr. di Santo: If she doesn’t have the courage to stand up and condemn those people who are the authors of acts of racism -- of racial attacks in our subways -- then she is taking the responsibility. I think that’s against the principles on which our province is based. It’s against the thrust of a multicultural society, the multicultural society that her government proclaims in words every day. But when we come to facts -- when we come to the recognition of the rights of human beings who are different from us only because of their colour and therefore we refer to them with the euphemism, “visible minority” -- I think that she is becoming responsible in the discrimination against them.
I think she should have the courage to condemn those people who are members of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism, because they have misunderstood the problem of racism and they have betrayed their own communities. They have been chosen by the minister.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. di Santo: They do not represent their communities and if she doesn’t condemn them she is responsible with them.
Mr. Warner: Political mush.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: May I speak if the other member from the NDP will be speaking?
As I’ve already said in this Legislature, I do not agree with the interpretation of the report of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism that is propounded by my friends in the NDP. I agree that I personally might not have chosen to use the word “esoteric” in describing some of the languages. Yet I remind the members that according to Webster’s the word esoteric means “designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone, of or relating to knowledge that is restricted to a small group.”
Mr. Lupusella: That’s the Tory interpretation.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Obviously, the languages are known to millions in the countries of their origins. Perhaps the word was not used as accurately as it might have been, but it is hardly an insulting term. To pick on the use of this single word is to digress from the intent of the response of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism.
Mr. Warner: It’s a wishy-washy report.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: It should be noted that the council disagreed with only five of the recommendations of the Pitman report. To keep the record straight, they agreed wholeheartedly with 20 recommendations, agreed with the intent of seven and partially agreed with five and had no comment on another four.
To turn for a moment to a statement by the leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) made in this Legislature last week, and I quote in part: “We had this very government sponsor an Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and put out a refutation to the Pitman report which is shameful.” It is not the response of the multiculturalism council that is shameful; it is the words of the Leader of the Opposition that are shameful.
The council has been in existence since the fall of 1973; there are now 26 members representing the ethnic-cultural communities of this province. This council is an independent advisory body which reports to me. Whether I agree or disagree with the council is not the issue. What is important is the council’s right to independently advise this government on the issues as its members see those issues. Four advisory councils report to me. I have not always agreed with what they have said, but I do stand by their right to speak for themselves.
In passing, I should note that the first time I read this report, as is always the case, after it was completed. I have learned since that it was the work of six council members.
I would like to put some of the words of the council on record; and the selection is taken at random. “Regrettably, in the opinion of the advisory council on multiculturalism, the Pitman report falls short of achieving the full results which might have been expected from it. The report, it appears to council, lacks historical perspective. Canada has opened its borders within the past 25 years to a greater number of immigrants, proportionately, than any other country in the western world, including refugees from prosecution in Asia, Africa and South America. More comprehensive procedures for the integration of these immigrants have been provided and are available in most countries.
“Canadians at every level of every ethnocultural group have accepted more fully than most other countries the implications of a multilingual, multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society. They have accepted and are paying for through their taxes a generous variety of instruments to encourage and develop such a society.”
Where else indeed is there a community which through a heritage language program would offer subsidized courses in such esoteric languages as Punjabi and Urdu, to mention only three of a total of 18? Where else do we find taxpayers accepting councils on multiculturalism, Heritage Ontario consultations, multicultural branches of government, manpower programs for training and retraining, grants for the preservation of folk customs and arts and crafts, archives specializing in ethno-cultural documents, urban alliances, Ombudsman, a Bill of Rights and study after study, including the Pitman report?
Ontario has a human rights commission which has established a reputation for efficacy surpassed by few, if any, jurisdictions. It has fair accommodation and fair employment legislation which by any standards is highly advanced. There is a federal anti-hate bill which at least gives legal sanction.
Mr. Speaker: The Provincial Secretary for Social Development’s time has expired.
Mr. Warner: Her time has run out.
Mr. McClellan: Run out or running on?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism has commended Walter Pitman and the task force on human relations for their deep sensitivity to concerns of the visible minorities, which must surely bring a measure of encouragement to a significant portion of our population and the assurance that indeed the community does care.
Mr. Warner: No, wonder so many people want her to resign.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You’re a disaster, David; resign.
Mr. Speaker: Since the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) is not here, he loses his opportunity to participate under standing order 27.
I will now recognize the member for Downsview, again for five minutes.
Mr. di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I don’t understand why, when we are dealing with the Minister of Labour, we have to be faced most of the time with contradictory versions of her previous speeches or with changes of position. That happens time and time again, especially when we are dealing with the Workmen’s Compensation Board. The last time she was caught saying to us something completely different from what she said on April 13 was related to the report that the minister ordered 16 or 17 months ago -- it doesn’t make much difference when the minister ordered the report.
On April 13, the minister promised the House, not in answering a question but in a spontaneous statement, that she had received the study and she was ready to distribute it to the members. Today, she said five or six chapters were missed. I wonder if they were missed because she didn’t receive them or because she sent them back to be doctored because she didn’t agree with the study.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It happens to be the truth; you never believe it anyway.
Mr. McClellan: You wouldn’t know the truth if you fell into it.
Mr. di Santo: The problem is that the minister has refused since 1975, to take into consideration the situation of the injured workers. That is the real problem. Since 1975, this is the only group in our society which has not received any increase in its benefits. Today, the widows of the workers who died or were killed on their jobs are still receiving $286. That is shameful.
Mr. Warner: It’s disgusting.
Mr. di Santo: It is disgusting indeed. There is no other group in our society, including ourselves -- we had our increase last year; why not the injured workers?
Hon. B. Stephenson: At your insistence.
Mr. Warner: Why not injured workers? Why not widows of workers?
Mr. di Santo: Why not the pensioners? Why not the widows? Of course, I am not saying the minister is callous, because that is true. It doesn’t make sense and it is stupid, because we are taking advantage of a group in our society that is unable to defend itself. That is why the minister is dealing with them in the way she is.
Another point I would like to bring up tonight is the application of section 42(5) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. During the discussion of the report two months ago, that great humanitarian, the chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, said, “Sure, we want the injured workers to go out and look for jobs and to seek signatures from the companies.”
He said that knowing the unemployment we have in Ontario and Canada, and the impossibility of getting jobs for people who are healthy and young. That is a cruel practice.
Despite that, the minister still has not clarified for this House what is the policy of the Workmen’s Compensation Board. On March 30, in answer to my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke), the minister said she would soon clarify what the policy was.
I want to tell the minister that even in respect to section 42(5) of the act, the Workmen’s Compensation Board is acting in a discriminatory way, because it is singling out a group of injured workers from 60 to 65 years and granting them a supplement that is equivalent to the old age security. There is no rule in the act which says that group of citizens should be discriminated against.
Mr. McClellan: There is nothing in the act to permit that.
Mr. Warner: Clean up that mess.
Mr. di Santo: As the minister who is responsible for the human rights commission, she should be ashamed for that. That is discrimination on the basis of age. If the minister has some self-respect, she should stand up tonight and tell us when she is going to tell the House what decisions she has made in regard to the pensioners and the injured workers --
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. di Santo: -- and she has to clarify for this House the policy of the Workmen’s Compensation Board vis-à-vis section 42(5); otherwise, the whole process is a farce.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I have listened very carefully to the hon. member for Downsview, and I think I heard him say he accused the minister of sending certain chapters of a report back so that it may be doctored. On reflection, I think the honourable member should withdraw those remarks.
Mr. McClellan: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: There is no point of privilege. I am addressing my remarks to the member for Downsview and I would ask that perhaps he might reflect upon them.
Mr. Warner: He didn’t say that, did he?
Mr. di Santo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don’t remember the exact words that I said, but I put that as a question. I said I wonder whether the report was sent back. That doubt is still in my mind.
Mr. McClellan: On a point of privilege: On a previous adjournment debate -- and I don’t recall the date -- I was accused by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) of stealing. I raised that with you on a point of privilege at the time and you told me that no point of privilege could be raised during an adjournment debate, I had no recourse and there was nothing I could do about it.
I would be grateful to know the basis of the change, although I applaud the change tonight.
Mr. Speaker: I don’t rise on points of privilege in this House. I rise to ask members if they might reflect upon something they may have said. I didn’t raise a point of privilege. I just asked if the member for Downsview might reflect upon what he said and perhaps reconsider his remarks. Obviously, he doesn’t choose to do so.
I’ll recognize the honourable Minister of Labour for up to five minutes.
Mr. McClellan: I’m sorry you didn’t do that on the previous occasion.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it will be obvious to all members of the House except those directly opposite that --
Mr. Foulds: We’re always here.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- the facts I have presented to the House are simply that; they are the facts.
The Wyatt report was requested by me in early February of 1977. I anticipated that it would be concluded by the end of June because the company did make the statement that at least the initial portion of their report would be ready by June.
As the honourable members of the House know, this did not happen because of a number of reasons, one of the major reasons being the numbers of groups of individuals, both on the employers’ side and the employees’ side, who wished to make presentations to the group doing the study for the ministry.
Mr. Lupusella: Since 1975. Come on.
Mr. Warner: Starr was busy in an election.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is unfortunate, it seems to me, that the members opposite choose to believe that prevarication is a part of my remarks. I deny that I have ever misled this House or that I have misinformed it.
Ms. Gigantes: Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I was honestly unaware, at the time I announced in the House -- and it was in response to a question; as an extrapolation, if you like, of the answer to a question -- that the major portion of the Wyatt report had been delivered to my office that day. I had not had a chance to see it. All I know is that it had approximately 400 pages.
I was informed several days later -- I think it was either the day following or two days following -- that five chapters of the total report which I had requested were not included in the volume, that The Wyatt Company was still working on them and that it would require six weeks for them to complete them. I immediately contacted my representative within the ministry who was working with The Wyatt Company and asked them to rush that report. They have promised that we will have it by the end of May, and I have promised in this House that as soon as it is available to me in toto, and as soon as it has been reviewed completely, it will be made available to the members of the House. It will be some 400 pages at that time, and I’m sure that the members of the House are not only going to find it interesting --
Mr. McClellan: Wonderful. Maybe the injured workers can eat it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- but of great value in our deliberations regarding the changes which must be made to the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Mr. Speaker, I have told the members of the House the truth. I cannot expand upon the truth.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Dovercourt for up to five minutes.
Mr. Lupusella: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know that time is quite limited so I cannot go through the particular questions which have been raised since 1975. I think the Minister of Labour should apologize to all injured workers around the province of Ontario for the terrible delay which has taken place in relation to increases in their pension. It’s not just a question of a report. If she was really interested about injured workers’ pension increases, she had a lot of time to do this damned report -- I should call it that -- because since 1975 --
Hon. B. Stephenson: You won’t understand it when you do see it, because you don’t understand anything.
Mr. Lupusella: -- the Minister of Labour and this government have been responsible for putting injured workers --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Irresponsible, my foot.
Mr. Lupusella: -- of the province of Ontario in permanent partial or total poverty, the minister is responsible for that and her government is responsible as well. I think it is time for them to clean themselves in relation to those particular issues. If I was in her place I would be ashamed, in view of all the questions that have been raised since 1975, at seeing the Minister of Labour reacting in a very insensitive way to a particular issue which is affecting the social and economic lives of the injured workers.
She should be ashamed and she should make a ministerial statement apologizing to all injured workers in the province of Ontario because they are really in grave financial hardship. Playing this mealy-mouthed game in the Legislature makes me upset and it makes my party upset. It’s time she stopped once and for all playing on words and using umbrellas like the Wyatt report which was started just 18 months ago.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It wasn’t 18 months ago.
Mr. Lupusella: Well, whenever it was.
Mr. McClellan: You couldn’t care less when it was started.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You can’t add either.
Mr. McClellan: You couldn’t care less about the Wyatt report.
Mr. Lupusella: Our particular concern about this issue of pension increases for injured workers started in 1975. In view of the limited time involved, I cannot quote the questions and answers given to the Legislature in relation to the particular concern which the minister never shows in relation to pension increases for injured workers. Injured workers are waiting for that.
Before analysing this particular point, I think it’s time for this government and for the Minister of Labour to make serious changes in the Workmen’s Compensation Act in order that this Legislature does not have to raise questions as to when we can use a comprehensive formula to tie the injured workers’ pensions to the increase in the cost of living. We introduced a particular bill about this and the government rejected our bill. Why doesn’t the minister justify to the injured workers around the province of Ontario that she is not concerned about their problems? Why doesn’t she go outside and tell them that it’s her responsibility for increasing their pensions every year?
We have other benefits which are tied up to the cost of living increase. We have the old age security pension. We have the CPP pension. I really do not understand the position of the Minister of Labour when this side of the House is raising questions in relation to pensions. Of course, we understand the answer. She wants to protect the employers of this province because the Workmen’s Compensation Board is acting as cheap insurance for employers. That is understandable from the actions of this government.
The government cannot play games with injured workers because they are starving in the province of Ontario. Especially today when the cost of living is really high, it’s time to make those comprehensive changes. I’m really upset about the minister’s reaction to those questions. We are just tired of raising those questions. She cannot use the umbrella of the Wyatt report just to delay the issue because since July 5, 1975, or whenever it was, injured workers have been waiting for those changes.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Hon. B. Stephenson: On July 5, 1975, the injured workers of Ontario did receive an increase in their pension benefits as a result of major amendments which were made to the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Mr. Lupusella: You should be ashamed to read it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I’m not a thespian and I do not emote, but I am very concerned about the plight of injured workers in the province of Ontario.
Mr. McClellan: Crocodile tears.
Mr. Warner: Measure it by deeds and not words.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There is no way I shall persuade the party opposite that that is true because they do not believe the truth. I am working diligently and, I think, responsibly on behalf of both the workers and the employers who are responsible for them. They have devised a social contract in this province which has served the workers extremely well and will continue to do so.
Mr. di Santo: It is not protecting them.
Hon. B. Stephenson: As soon as we have the factual information which is absolutely essential to the development of a responsible decision, then we shall bring in the legislation which is necessary to modify the pensions.
I have said earlier in this House that I hope it will be shortly. I hope it is within this session because that’s what I am trying to do.
Mr. Lupusella: I would be ashamed --
Hon. B. Stephenson: I will not persuade the members opposite that this is so --
Mr. McClellan: Are you saying it may not be? You promised it this session, you can’t back off now.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- because they do not like to be confused by facts at any time.
Mr. Speaker: I deem the motion to adjourn to have been carried.
The House adjourned at 10:54 p.m.