31e législature, 4e session

L097 - Thu 23 Oct 1980 / Jeu 23 oct 1980

The House resumed at 8:03 p.m.

House in committee of supply.


Mr. Chairman: The estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs are before the committee. Does the minister have an opening statement?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I have a few remarks I would like to put on the record.

I am particularly pleased that both of my opposition critics are here this evening because I know the next several hours will be of a great deal of interest not only to the members of this Legislature, but certainly to the people of northern Ontario.

I am particularly pleased for the fourth year in a row to introduce the spending estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I do want to recognize some very important people who are in the gallery to listen to some of the discussions and some of the debates that will go on this evening. I am particularly pleased that we have members of the Ministry of Northern Affairs staff in the public gallery, along with some NOMA representatives.

NOMA, as the honourable members well know, represents the Northern Ontario Municipal Association. We have Mr. Jones, the mayor of Dryden, with us. We have his clerk, Mr. Wilf Wake, and the councillor-elect, Craig Nuttall, who are very interested in what happens in northern Ontario. We extend a very warm welcome to them.

This past summer has been a particularly exciting one for northern Ontario and certainly for the Ministry of Northern Affairs. We have had a forest fire evacuation, a very successful Ontario Place northern exhibition, and we have seen the creation of Ontario’s first local services board. I might say that the first local services board in the northwest will be in none other than my home town of Hudson and the first to be recognized in the northeast will be in the community of Foleyet. Of course this follows on the heels of legislation that was passed by this Legislature just last year.

This year, in fact this month, also marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the cornerstone of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, and of course that was created back in 1977. The ministry itself is now well into its fourth year of advocacy and, of course, service to Ontario’s northern region.

I think it is fair to say our role as a coordinating ministry or a co-ordinating body of the north for all government services has proved a very valid and effective one. I know there are some members of the opposition parties who do not agree. Some have even advocated the demise of the very popular Ministry of Northern Affairs. I think before the debates on the estimates of this ministry are over, we will hear more about that statement and that issue.

When the Ministry of Northern Affairs was created, there were those who questioned the move. But, while we may not have had many conversions across the board, I believe there are now more members on both sides of the House who would agree that a separate Ministry of Northern Affairs can provide and is providing a focus for more rapid and meaningful change than was possible in previous years.

Working with line ministries, we have been able to concentrate and tailor the delivery of government services and programs to the needs of northern Ontario, as well as to suit the special geographic, economic and social characteristics of that vast region. In doing this, we are co-operating with and not impinging upon -- that is important, and I want to make it very clear -- we are co-operating and co-ordinate with, and not impinging on, other line ministries and their specific responsibilities.

Putting it another way, my ministry strives to fill the gaps and augment the complete spectrum of government programs and services as they apply to northern Ontario. An examination of the ministry’s budgets over the past few years indicates four main developmental thrusts. In the order of amount of expenditure, these are: Transportation and communications, community infrastructure, economic development and quality of life improvement; that is, social services such as health or cultural activities.

It is a measure of the ministry’s accomplishments, I think, that indications point to investments in the community in many community infrastructures and transportation levels as major projects are completed. These would include such long-term projects as the major sewer and waterworks improvement taken in the city of Timmins by my ministry with the federal Department of Regional Economic Expansion and the remote airport development program carried out in co-operation and co-ordination with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

While the need for expenditures in these two areas may be levelling off somewhat, the demand for increased spending in the areas of community and regional economic development are rapidly increasing. Similarly, the need for increased support for such social services as the health and welfare needs of our northern senior citizens has grown. This growth is reflected in the estimates we are going to discuss tonight.

Not all the members here tonight may be aware that the Ministry of Northern Affairs is a greatly decentralized ministry with two thirds of its staff located in the north. This complement, our delivery personnel, includes two regional offices, with assistant deputy ministers and four separate program delivery branches.

8:10 p.m.

The 29 northern affairs officers across the north have been called the eyes and the ears of the ministry and are attached to the community relations branches. They are located in our regional offices in Sault Ste. Marie and Kenora. Northern affairs officers provide information to residents of their communities on the range of government services required by the ordinary citizen. In addition, the officers act as a link between the communities and the ministry’s community relations branches to identify opportunities for community development or to carry community concerns back to the ministry. The northern affairs officers are the grass-roots base that makes the ministry really work.

In Sudbury and Thunder Bay, the Ministry of Northern Affairs maintains area officers, each with a regional and community development branch. These branches work in concert with municipalities and other ministries to develop plans to improve the quality of life in northern communities and, in particular, to respond to the local needs. The regional and community development branches are responsible for the implementation of many of the programs that I will be touching on this evening. Support for their activities comes from the financial and program planning branch of the ministry right here in Toronto.

Also in Toronto, in only a support capacity, are the information and policy department branches responsible for delivery of the ministry’s public information program and for the development of new policies respectively.

With that preamble, I would like to turn now to some of the specific activities of the ministry over the past fiscal year, with a view illustrating the programs for which the House is being asked to vote funds tonight.

As an example, I will take item 1 under vote 703: As in the past, activities aimed at economic and social development at the community level ranked high among the projects undertaken by my ministry over the past year. In contrast to the northern regions of other provinces, northern Ontario has only a small area that can be classified as the far north. Northern Ontario cities and towns were developed earlier than most northern Canadian settlements, and their maturity necessitates a more varied mix of services than would be required in Saskatchewan or Alberta.

As an example, last year we had the pleasure of hosting the northern ministers’ conference at Thunder Bay. I might say at this point that this year’s conference, one which this ministry initiated some three years ago, was held at Thompson, Manitoba. Representatives from nine provinces, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories were present.

I might say that Manitoba has made changes in its structure as it relates to northern Manitoba following much the same structure that we have here in Ontario. Saskatchewan informed us that it was moving from its total provincial responsibility to one of giving the responsibility closer to the people, in much the same way as we do in Ontario.

I was particularly pleased that Alberta spent some considerable time discussing with me personally the idea of a Ministry of Northern Alberta. As the honourable members may well be aware, that province now operates the Northern Alberta Development Council, which has a mix of provincial government representation and area representation; but they feel, after watching the success of this ministry in Ontario, that that may well be the route they would follow.

I just interject that for the member for Nipissing (Mr. Bolan), because I know he is taking notes as to the route and direction the ministry in Ontario is taking. I am sure he will be pleased to know the interest we are attracting in other parts of Canada.

These services may include such community priorities as financial assistance for the construction of a municipal sewage and water system or the funding of economic feasibility studies. Last year my ministry was involved in funding the construction of or additions to industrial parks in three northern cities: Atikokan, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

I might say at this point that we are particularly pleased to be initiating a unique program, with the co-operation and assistance of the Ministry of the Environment, which involves the installation of a low-pressure sewage system in the small community of Belle Vallée. For several years now this small community has been striving to come up with a sewage system. Because of their location in an area that has a high water table, the cost of constructing the normal type of sewage system was beyond their reach. We looked to Saskatchewan, we picked up some ideas there as to how --

Mr. Wildman: We would like you to get some more ideas from Saskatchewan.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We are not above taking some ideas and suggestions from those people in the other parts of northern Canada, but we picked up some ideas in Saskatchewan that we applied in the small community of Belle Vallée, and at the present time that sewage system is being installed with funding from the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

Our community priority activities under the northern communities assistance program embraces a range of projects, large and small. One of these, I guess, could be the Ramore heat project. At Ramore, we funded a new experiment in co-operation with the Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology. It will see the development of a greenhouse using heat from the TransCanada Pipe Lines generating and pumping station. It is a unique project, one that already has proven successful. During the first part of the experiment, they have grown a very large number of seedlings, which will be used in the Ministry of Natural Resources tree-planting program.

At the present time, they have about a quarter of an acre of greenhouse facilities under cover, and that will be expanded to about one acre. The first run of tomatoes is coming on stream right now. In fact, I had hoped to have samples of that particular product with me tonight, but maybe before the estimates are concluded I can provide the critics of both opposition parties with a little sample of the success of that experiment.

Mr. Wildman: As long as you don’t throw them at us.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am glad the member for Algoma spoke up, because it reminds me of a tremendous project we have going in Hornepayne, a $9-million town centre development. There is none to equal it in Ontario. In fact, I had the opportunity of visiting that particular facility just two or three weeks ago, and I have to say that I was most impressed.

That particular facility will house a very large number of provincial facilities, from liquor stores to libraries, high schools, a hotel, 125 apartments for CNR employees, some 25 or 30 senior citizens’ units, a Hudson Bay store and a long list of services that will be normally provided in any northern community along a main street. All these facilities in Hornepayne are under one roof with one common area that will be shared by all those involved. It was built in co-operation with the CNR and Hallmark Hotels.

The Ministry of Northern Affairs was the lead ministry in that particular development, and I just want to take a moment to compliment my own staff, particularly those people in the financial end of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, because it was they who put the package together to work out the shared costs among a number of ministries, and that was no easy task. In fact, I will have to single out the former financial director of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, Ron LeNeveu, for special consideration and special commendation, because he did an outstanding job. My present staff have picked up where Ron left off and are continuing his good work in pulling together that very exciting package for northern Ontario. I know people in many northern Ontario communities will be visiting Hornepayne to look at the success of that facility.

8:20 p.m.

I am pleased that the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) is nodding with enthusiasm. I know he shares my anxiety to get on with --

Mr. Wildman: I think the minister knows I have been involved in a number of meetings with his officials to solve some of the problems.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is truly an exciting complex, one in which we can all take pride and one which I have to say would never have come about had it not been for the Ministry of Northern Affairs taking the lead role in developing it and pulling it together. We pulled together not only the public sector but the private sector as well.

Another very interesting experiment we have going, one in which we have been very actively involved in co-operation with Shell Canada, is the Shell Woodex plant in Hearst. It will see all the wood waste in the Hearst area processed into small pellets that will be used in the generation of heat and to feed the boilers of a number of paper companies in northeastern Ontario. That plant will use all the wood waste from a number of sawmills and plywood plants in the Hearst area along with the waste that comes from the actual forest, even to the branches and bark. The wood waste is ground up into a powder form, put through a system of drying and then compressed into small pellets about the size of a lead pencil. They are very high in BTU content. I am sure this is a process that we will see developed in other parts of northern Ontario as the success of this plant is recognized.

An important aspect of the ministry’s community priority role is its responsibility to small resource-based towns that may be growing too rapidly to meet the demand on their services. Here, the Ministry of Northern Affairs is able to act swiftly and flexibly in answer to a town’s growth with funding for essential services, such as roads, water and sewage. Similarly, the ministry often has a special role to play in emergency situations.

Here I must refer to the very active role the Ministry of Northern Affairs played in the development of the very exciting new community of Field. I know the member for Nipissing was very active; he visited that community on many occasions during its very disastrous flood and raised the issue on many occasions. But here again the lead ministry concept came into operation. The Ministry of Northern Affairs took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and now we have that entire community moved to higher ground. The area that is the former location of the community will eventually be turned into a provincial park.

That area has been flooded three or four times and it suffered a hurricane at one time in its history. But now the community has been completely moved to higher ground with the assistance of substantial contributions from this government, and we can take pride as northerners that we have a new community and new homes that these people can take pride in. The financial burden on these people has not been as great as we originally feared. In fact, they moved with excitement and with a tremendous amount of co-operation.

Here again, I want to single out the staff from the Ministry of Northern Affairs in the northeastern region. Headed by my assistant deputy minister, Herb Aiken, they were most effective in putting this whole package together. The operation saw the various ministers pulling together in one direction and doing it expeditiously and without the least amount of fanfare or problems. To them I take off my hat.

I also want to compliment and congratulate my staff from the Ministry of Northern Affairs in the Kenora region. As members know, it was on the call of the Ministry of Northern Affairs that we moved into a system of evacuation of the towns of Red Lake, McKenzie Island, Cochenour and Balmertown. Thirty-six hundred people were moved out to places in Manitoba, such as Gimli, Rivers and Brandon without incident. We moved people out of the Midland Bay area, out of the Redditt area, again without incident and without any hardship and without any loss of life. Those people were all brought back and paid out-of-pocket compensation to look after those minor expenses that occur in such a disaster.

It was the first time in Ontario’s history that an evacuation of this size had ever been undertaken; so we had nothing to fall back on; no previous experience. It was done expeditiously and with finesse that I am particularly proud of. I want to compliment the staff in that region for an outstanding job on behalf of their community in the northwest.

Other applications for funds in the community priorities branch in our budget include new or expanding airport facilities. Very recently, I had the pleasure of being in northern Ontario with my colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow); we went into Algoma riding and Lake Nipigon, Mr. Speaker’s riding. We opened up new airports at Terrace Bay and Hornepayne as well as the new terminal facilities at Wawa.

I know the members opposite will agree with me that we have airport facilities second to none on the North American continent. Not only the paved airstrips but also the terminals are excellent. We have one weakness I will recognize which causes me some concern: navigational aids. That is an area where we would like the support of those members opposite who have some influence with the federal authorities; perhaps they could lean on their cousins in Ottawa a little harder.

Mr. Kerrio: They’re your kissing cousins too.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: They are my friend’s kissing cousins, or brothers or sisters.

I say to those members opposite to feel free to assist us, because I know the Minister of Transportation and Communications is constantly putting pressure on the Department of Transport to answer his requests and my requests to improve the navigational aids in northern Ontario. Their support would certainly be welcome and well received.

On this particular vote, I want to touch on the construction of physical facilities for social and cultural purposes. Here again, my ministry was instrumental in pulling together an important facility which was very much needed in the town of Dryden. We developed, in co-operation with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, a minimal care home, which is a facility between the senior citizens’ units and the homes for the aged. It was developed in the town of Dryden and it is a credit to that community and the entire area because it will serve the communities of Ignace, Sioux Lookout, Hudson, Wabigoon, Dryden, Vermilion Bay and Red Lake Road as well as the large community of Dryden.

To those members who come to the Dryden area, I would extend a very warm welcome to them to visit the Dryden minimal care home. It was developed in co-operation with the local citizens. A separate nonprofit corporation was established, made up of local individuals who had the sincere desire to develop a facility in the north comparable to what is existing in southern Ontario, and they have succeeded. To them, I extend my personal thanks and sincere congratulations.

8:30 p.m.

In this field, we can report some considerable progress with respect to the municipal advisory committees. In the northeast and the northwest, the Ministry of Northern Affairs has been given a responsibility to be the liaison with the municipal advisory committees commonly known as MAC Northeast and MAC Northwest. We have them both functioning exceptionally well.

A new constitution has been brought forward. I believe the group in the northwest has accepted that new constitution. The group in the northeast has some questions. I am concerned about that. But I think we will reach a common ground, one that will serve to meet the needs of the northeast, relatively soon.

The municipal advisory committee is a group, established under the municipalities, that can give this government a direct, grassroots feeling from the municipalities as to the direction in which they would like to see their respective areas move.

I am especially proud of this ministry’s initiatives in the area of resource development. With the Ministry of Natural Resources, we are administering the Ontario geological survey. Last year we saw returns on this program when the results of the Kirkland Lake geoscientific study was released, stimulating, I might say, a significant increase in mining exploration in that area.

Also, under this vote in that area, we embarked on a unique development in cooperation with Ontario Hydro. It is the Sultan low-head generating station.

Mr. Kerrio: Hydraulic?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. It is a hydro development which, when it comes on stream, will provide electrical power for that small community.

Mr. Kerrio: It is the only way to go.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. I agree with my friend. I am one of those people who see the 1980s being dedicated to an electrical system across this province because, in my opinion, if there is one way in which society in this province should move, it is in the direction of electricity.

Mr. Bolan: Burying waste in northwestern Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No. I want to make that correction. We have a responsibility if we have a nuclear program. As I said this afternoon in an answer during question period, we have a responsibility as citizens of this province to find a place for the waste.

Mr. Bolan: In northern Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We do not have any more or less of an obligation --

Mr. Bolan: Are you denying that you said it?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I did not say it. I certainly am denying it. What the newspapers print is their business. I cannot dictate what they print.

Mr. Bolan: Are they wrong?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I can tell my friend what I said.

Mr. Bolan: Just admit the truth.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is the truth. We have no less and no greater an obligation to look after nuclear waste than any other part of this province.

Mr. Bolan: The tape recorder misquoted you again.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am glad there is such enthusiasm with regard to the development of electrical power in this province.

Mr. Kerrio: Hydraulic. Say it: hydraulic.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is hydraulic. But I have to tell my friend, in answer to that question -- maybe I should not get into chitchat across the House -- that there is a limit as to how far we can go with regard to the hydroelectric systems in northern Ontario. We have our native population to consider. We have the environmental consideration, of course, that will have to come into the development of any hydroelectric facility.

But I think there are areas in northern Ontario where we can provide low-head generating systems, compact units that can provide electrical power for those small communities, not to go into the overall provincial grid, but to look after the needs, even if it is only on a part-year basis. It may well be that in the severe winter we cannot provide hydroelectric power, but there are standby diesels to look after that particular period. I am glad the honourable members agree with me on that issue.

With respect to vote 703, as I said earlier, many of the northern communities are well-developed towns and cities rivalling those in the rest of Ontario for size, industry and amenities. Nevertheless, the majority of this province’s unincorporated or unorganized communities are in northern Ontario. My ministry is charged with assisting these small communities in obtaining basic services, such as fire protection or a safe and secure water supply.

With the passage of Bill 122, allowing for the formation of local services boards in unorganized communities, there are now two funding avenues available to residents of these communities, the other being, of course, the isolated communities assistance fund.

The isolated communities assistance fund, as we all know, was established to meet the basic service needs of unorganized communities too removed from existing municipalities to contract with them for services or consolidate with them establishing the criteria. We have been careful to encourage local initiative and not replace any ongoing government programs. This fund covers only the capital costs of the services provided.

Complementing the ICAF program is the new local services board legislation, which for the first time makes it possible for residents of an unorganized community to create a corporate body with powers to raise moneys locally for the provision or improvement of basic services. These services could include fire protection, water supply, recreation, street lighting or even garbage collection. The important thing here is that there is now a mechanism to get these services which most of us take completely for granted in southern Ontario but which many northern communities have had to do without. An important thing also is that the cost of those services can now be shared equally among the area to be serviced by the local services board.

As I said in my opening remarks, the first two local services boards will be established within the next several weeks. In fact, the first one will be established in Hudson on November 8, when we will have an official swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Cunningham: In downtown Hudson? What time?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Downtown Hudson; it’s a great little community. Believe it or not, the town of Hudson was named “the biggest little town in Canada” back in 1939. If honourable members have a spare hour, I could tell them about the history of Hudson, because I am particularly proud --

Mr. Wildman: You were Liberal then.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Back in 1939 --

Mr. Cunningham: You were the biggest little Liberal in town.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, I think it was NDP. My riding was Liberal; it is so long ago, we even forget how long ago it was. But in 1966, I might tell honourable members, the people of Kenora riding saw the light. They were tired of being in the political wilderness. Of course, they voted a member of the Ontario government party to their team, and they have seen the results. I am confident we will be around for --

Mr. Kerrio: If you ship much nuclear waste up there, it is going to be Liberal again.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I will make sure that does not happen.

From the government’s point of view, all ministries now will be able to look to the local services board of an unorganized community as a point of contact for advice and consultation on matters that could affect that pocket of population. I will not call it a community, because in some instances I know it will not be a community, but a pocket of population -- maybe as few as 25, 30 or 40 people. Nevertheless, they will band together in a common effort to provide for themselves the basic, essential services.

Here again, I want to thank the members opposite for their support of that particular bill. I think we have a good bill. I think they will agree with it. I hope they mention this in their replies, because it is in place. The compliments and reaction I have received right across northern Ontario are most encouraging. In fact, they say it is a bill they can understand for the first time. Our effort here in the Ontario Legislature was to make sure we had a piece of legislation that was effective, workable and, of course, understandable.

Mr. Bounsall: As amended.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: There were a couple of amendments, but we are not above taking some advice or suggestions. We are not perfect on this side of the House. We are near perfect, but we are not perfect. In an imperfect society it is hard to be perfect.

Vote 703, the last item in the ministry’s estimates, is the northern community assistance program -- for which the members will be asked to vote and that covers the telecommunications facilities operated by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission on the James Bay coast. These facilities provide an essential service to the residents of such communities as Attawapiskat, Winisk and Fort Severn by bringing a basic level of telephone, radio and television service to these far-flung regions of northern Ontario, the really remote area, the real north of this great province. The ministry pays annually an operating subsidy to the ONTC for the net losses incurred in the operation of this system.

8:40 p.m.

I might say on this point that we have been exceptionally vocal on behalf of the people of northern Ontario in our efforts to try to improve the general television service in northern Ontario. We presented a very strong and forthright brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission when it held its hearings in Geraldton. It was a brief that received the support of all northern Ontario municipalities; it was very pointed and, I think, a little stronger than what we have normally come forth with. But, quite frankly, we in our ministry are a little frustrated and disturbed at the lack of direction that has been given by the federal government and the CFTC --

Mr. Kerrio: Oh, now we are going with the old “feds” stuff again.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Well, it is true.

Mr. Kerrio: What about TVOntario?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I encourage the honourable member to come to northern Ontario and to go to Geraldton, Hudson, Foleyet, Batchawana Bay and a few other places. Or let him go to Wawa and ask the people in Wawa what they think of the television service they are getting in their community. All we are asking for is a service that is comparable to that in southern Ontario -- nothing more and nothing less -- because we are entitled to it. I can tell the honourable member that the efforts of my ministry will not be lessened or stopped, and we will not sit back idly and watch this frustration go on much longer.

Mr. Kerrio: TVOntario should have gone there first.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: On that particular point, I want to tell the honourable member that my ministry, in co-operation with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and TVOntario, now has 46 dishes located in northern Ontario, in a pilot project, where we are bringing TVOntario into many of the homes and service centres in northern Ontario. It is working exceptionally well, and I was told just today that the experiment, which was to have come to a conclusion in February of next year, will be extended by 19 months; so it is good news.

There again we were involved. Sometimes it is the initiative, the creative northern atmosphere that we have in the Ministry of Northern Affairs that kind of spurs some of the other ministries to do the things we want in northern Ontario. I just hope --

Mr. Wildman: You just have to turn those dishes a little bit and you can pick up Atlanta.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I must say, as one who comes from a small northern Ontario community that has to rely totally on CBC for 12 or 14 hours a day, that I look forward to the day when I personally can buy a television dish that I can aim at the satellites. I am not particularly concerned whether it is American or Canadian television. I say that sincerely. I want the entertainment. I want the recreational experience that comes from being able to choose. The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) will agree with me when I say, when it comes to Wednesday night, I want to be able to watch a hockey game; I am not worried whether it comes off an American satellite. We have been in the wilderness too long as far as good television service is concerned, and it has to improve.

The almost incredible size of northern Ontario has been one of the greatest impediments to its development. Our regional priorities activity, under the program of the same name, comprises several avenues of approach to this particular problem. I think I can relate to honourable members the experience I had just this fall on the delivery of services to remote areas of Norway.

I receive many letters from members opposite and from people in northern Ontario advising me to go to other parts of this world to see how they are delivering their services to far-flung communities in their remote areas. I can tell honourable members that Norway is not a place that I would recommend for a holiday. It is certainly not a place to go for a junket. But it is a place to go to compare what we are doing in this province with what they are doing in Norway.

Mr. Bolan: Do they have as much unemployment as we have in northern Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they have their problems. In fact --

Mr. Bolan: Do they have the 75 per cent unemployment that we have in small communities like Moose Factory?

Mr. Chairman: Order. There will be lots of time later, after the opening statements, for questions.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: One of the questions we asked was, “How do you deal with single-industry communities?” We learned that they have experienced the same frustrations that we have here in Ontario. It is very difficult to deal with those mining communities where the ore body has been exhausted. We are dealing with several hundred firmly fixed families and to provide employment on an ongoing basis --

Mr. Wildman: You are helping them out by letting Falconbridge ship the ore over there.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is not the Falconbridges; it is the other communities. I think the Sudburys will survive, but I am concerned about the small communities like Pickle Crow, South Bay Mines, Atikokan, Kirkland Lake, Geraldton and a few of those.

We are attempting to foster the regional economic development of the north through industrial development, tourism, road construction, resource development, agriculture and the funding of social and medical services.

On this point I can refer to our efforts right here in Toronto with Ontario North Now, a $1-million-plus development. It is a northern Ontario showcase at Ontario Place that has had very close to 100,000 visitors, and it is truly the pride of northerners. There will be some constructive criticism, I hope, coming from the other side about this development, but I think the point we have to accept as northerners is that the concept was right and we did it in nine months.

We developed a theme park, a northern Ontario showcase, which has never been tried before in Canada. It has attracted the imagination of not only the municipalities of northern Ontario -- because they were involved through the Association of District Municipalities -- but also the private sector. I defy any member of this House to point to another facility that has had that kind of involvement. In fact, when the private sector contributes close to $650,000 of its own money into that facility, on top of what the government did to put the capital dollars in place, that is a true involvement by the entire community.

We have the facility there, it is second to none and it is truly a showplace. It certainly will be modified; there will be changes. We have had some good constructive criticisms from a number of people as to how we can improve our displays; maybe that could be a little bit more imaginative, and maybe we could have more animation in some of them. When these are in place the facility will truly be something the north can be proud of, and will attract the interest of those living in southern Ontario.

I can remember the attitude in this House towards the development of Ontario Place itself. The architect of that facility was criticized, laughed at and jeered at in many instances in this House, because he developed Ontario Place as it is today. But I bet every member on the other side encourages constituents to go to Ontario Place. I hope they would now take advantage of, and include, Ontario North Now.

Mr. Kerrio: We are trying to cut down on the deficit of Ontario Place. Naturally we want people to go.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: If it is in the hole, we want to share part of that expenditure and attract some of the interest to northern Ontario, I think we have been exceptionally successful so far and we will continue to be.

We have also developed the Lake of the Woods Parkway Commission, a commission that works very closely with the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, which moves traffic from New Orleans clean up to the Lake of the Woods area; it has been in place for some 25 or 30 years now. It has some international flavour. When the government of the United States pumps funds like $90 million into the development of the parkway along the Mississippi River, it is obvious we should funnel off some of that traffic into Ontario and into Canada. We are doing that with gusto and enthusiasm.

8:50 p.m.

Another area we are involved under this vote is the development of my pride and joy, one that I am sure will see members from both sides of this House visit on a very regular basis. It is one they will enjoy in the comfort and the wilderness of northwestern Ontario, one that will be a world-class resort, second to none in the world, and one that will focus tourist attention on northwestern Ontario to a degree that has never happened before. Of course, members know I am referring to Minaki Lodge.

Mr. Wildman: It has already attracted enough attention.

Mr. Kerrio: It is one of the eight wonders of the world.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is all right for the people in southern Ontario, 1,200 miles away, to point a finger at what is up in northern Ontario and to condemn it, to cast stones on it and to jeer at it. They have never seen it; they do not know what it is really like. But those people who do go to Minaki Lodge cannot believe a facility like that is there. It is so beautiful, so outstanding, that they join with us in the enthusiasm of getting it finished and getting it operational.

An hon. member: When?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: In 1982.

Mr. Bolan: Tell us about the company that’s managing it.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I will talk about the company that will be operating it. We have entered into a long-term lease with Radisson Hotels of Minneapolis. Those members who have been to Minneapolis, I am sure have visited the Radisson Hotel and --

Mr. B. Newman: You know what they did in Detroit, don’t you?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. That was Detroit. That is exactly right, and I am sure the member for Windsor-Walkervile knows very well the hotel that Radisson took over. It was a disaster from day one, but they picked up. They have an explanation, and I am sure the people in Detroit are very much aware of that hotel and the problems associated with it.

But the success of Radisson Hotels in the northwest has been unmatched and unparalleled. They have been involved with a number of resort facilities in northern Minnesota. One, incidentally, is located on a federal Indian reserve just south of Thunder Bay. It is operated by Radisson on behalf of the native people in that area. That shows the attitude and the feeling and the managerial expertise Radisson has. They have shown they can operate a facility in that type of atmosphere and that type of wilderness that is acceptable to the general public and those who own the facility.

Mr. Cunningham: Within a million, how many million?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I believe we have spent something like $6 million or $8 million to date.

Mr. Cunningham: What is the total?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We will not know until the tenders are in.

Mr. Cunningham: Ball-park.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would estimate we would have to spend at least another $10 million.

Mr. Cunningham: So we are talking about $20 million and change; right?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I make no apologies for what we are spending on Minaki Lodge.

Mr. Kerrio: Who will bid $25 million?

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: There are excellent roads, excellent transportation facilities -- there is an airport right there -- and there are year-round facilities for skiing and snowmobiling, as well as a convention centre. The honourable gentlemen opposite will all be there; they will be taking their wives and families. Their children’s children will look at Minaki Lodge as the exclusive recreational area in northwestern Ontario, believe me.

Mr. Bolan: Will all the members have a pass?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No. There will be no free rides at Minaki Lodge. It will be operated by the private sector. It will be operated at a profit.

Mr. Kerrio: No way.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: After three years it will make money. But the members opposite should not look for any gifts, a political free ride, because they will not get it at Minaki Lodge. They will pay their way, and everybody else will pay, and it will not be a cheap place to go.

The member for Algoma would love us to get involved in King Mountain. I am sure he will stand up and promote King Mountain. He should, and he has my support.

Mr. Wildman: How much investment?

Mr. Chairman: Order. Let the minister complete his remarks; then we will hear from other members.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I could go on to some other involvements we have been actively pursuing. There was the appearance of the ministry at the sports shows in many of the northern state communities and our appearance at the ski show right here in Toronto -- all designed, of course, to promote travel into northern Ontario, and I might say quite successfully too.

As part of its regional priorities commitment, the ministry undertakes joint ventures with the federal Department of Regional Economic Expansion to finance significant regional infrastructure programs aimed at enhancing economic opportunity and job creation in northern Ontario. An example of these is the Timmins water services and our assistance to the pulp and paper industries.

In areas of transportation, the regional priorities activity includes construction or improvement of airports in the remote northern communities. These airports provide year-round access, help reduce the cost of food, supplies and fuel, and improve the delivery of mail, materials and various health services.

Just this year, we completed two additional airports in northern Ontario. I hope members will give some consideration to a northern tour to look at all our facilities. The time has come for this ministry -- and I will just think out loud -- to bring some of our northern members, and even our southern members into the north to visit such places as Webequie and Bearskin Lake where we recently completed the development of two airstrips.

The Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and I were headed in to open those airports last September but, because of weather conditions, we could not reach the particular facilities and communities. We will be going back again early in 1981 to participate with the local community in heralding and signalling a new mode of transportation, a system that provides them with 24-hour service, year-round transportation access, which they never had before, and has brought in transportation services from a number of aviation companies. Many of those communities would not receive mail for two and three weeks at a time, but now they finally get daily mail service because of the airstrip development program.

We have come a long way, and I guess my only complaint is that maybe we are a few years behind and should have done it earlier. Nevertheless, it is in place, and I can see us winding up that particular program in the not-too-distant future, because practically all the remote communities of northern Ontario will be serviced with airstrips.

As I said earlier, northern Ontario’s enormous distances, coupled with its sparse population and dependence on resource industries, make effective transportation a key requirement in the region’s continuing development.

Commanding a sizeable portion of this ministry’s budget is the northern roads activities under our regional priority program. Our objective here is to provide a modern highway system of a calibre to facilitate the continued economic and social development of the north. The road program provides for the construction of King’s highways, secondary highways and tertiary roads.

We carry out the various projects in each year’s mix with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which implements the priorities determined by the Ministry of Northern Affairs. In other words, we set the highway construction program for northern Ontario after careful consideration with our regions, with our communities and, indeed, with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications engineering experts in northern Ontario.

On October 31, I will be with my colleague in northwestern Ontario to officially open the Manitou Road, the new road linking the town of Fort Frances with the town of Dryden, a 92-mile road that will be completely paved by the end of this month at a cost of close to $30 million. It is the largest transportation development project we have seen in the northwest for a number of years.

That official opening will be a gala event. The town of Fort Frances, along with the town of Dryden, is co-operating with both MTC and MNA to put on an official opening that will attract interest rights across the northwest and will spill over into the United States to assist our tourist operations and encourage many of our pulp and paper companies and sawmills to use a new connecting link to the United States and to other parts of northern Ontario.

9 p.m.

The aeroplane has played a major role in northern development and continues to shrink the vastness of that great region. In this connection, one of the real success stories of the north has been the growth of norOntair. Now serving 21 communities on a regular basis, norOntair’s passenger subsidy has dropped to $7.14 last year from $12.48 in 1975. In some months in 1980 we have been in the black. We move 125,000 passengers across northern Ontario, serving 21 communities; and we have just brought the town of Cochrane in as the twenty-first community in the system.

We have completed an in-depth study into the needs of other communities. We have prioritized six additional communities that will be coming on stream shortly. We will be co-operating closely with the private sector to make sure that if they can provide the service norOntair will not become involved.

Mr. Kerrio: What about the Northlander? You have to get something going there.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is a nice train.

Mr. Kerrio: But on the weekend you can’t get on it.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We’ll have to have a double section; that is what we should have. Maybe we will put norOntair on and you can fly out. That might be the answer.

Speaking of additional services, I am sure the honourable members are aware of the initiative taken by the Ministry of Northern Affairs to purchase two of the first Dash-8 aircraft. The aircraft is still not off the drawing board per se; it is still in the design stage. We have ordered and put a deposit on two Dash-8s. The Dash-8 is a 30-passenger, twin-engine de Havilland similar to the Dash-7.

Mr. Bolan: Where are you going to use them?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have not decided yet. There are at least three legs on which we could use the Dash-8, most of them in the northwest region at the present time, but that may change by 1983 when they come off the production line.

The initial order for those two aircraft triggered development of the Dash-8 by de Havilland. They now have orders from 18 different countries around the world, and those orders total close to 96 aircraft. The first two orders by the Ministry of Northern Affairs acted as a catalyst that assisted de Havilland in going around the world. It shows the initiative this government has in the aviation development industry in our own province and in our own country. From the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Treasurer Mr. F. S. Miller) down, all supported that particular proposal with enthusiasm.

Our hope now is that the plant to produce this aircraft will be located in Ontario. Here again, I would encourage those kissing cousins who may have some friends in Ottawa to prevail on them to look to Ontario as the site for the development of that new de Havilland plant.

Mr. Kerrio: They do not talk to us any more. You have them in your hip pocket.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is important that we keep the aviation industry in this province. We have the expertise here, the component part development industry is here, and certainly we are not unmindful of the idea that, since we put an order in for the first two aircraft, that would put us in a good position to lean on de Havilland as hard as we could to bring that particular plant to this province. With the co-operation of the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), and the Treasurer, we are well on the way to achieving that goal; I certainly hope so.

The subsidy we provide for norOntair requires no apology. One of my ministry’s most important mandates is to provide better transportation across the north through the passenger services of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

Mr. Bolan: Why are you trying to get rid of the rail services and buses?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We are not. The fact that different elements of the ONTC system have been able to make gains in passenger traffic is both encouraging to me and proof that we are moving in the right direction with our support for these services. I have just mentioned the tremendous strides we have made in norOntair and our purchases of the Dash-8 aircraft; all this is a result of the efforts of ONTC.

We went a step further this year to add a little bit of human interest to our fleet of norOntair aircraft. We named four of the eight Twin Otter aircraft we have operating in northern Ontario after those northerners who have contributed to the development of aviation in northern Ontario.

I was in Sault Ste. Marie to name two aircraft in the northeast, one after a former Deputy Minister of Lands and Forests, Frank MacDougall. It was Frank MacDougall who really triggered the development of the de Havilland Beaver aircraft. In fact, he recognized the need for a special type of Canadian bush plane.

He asked for proposals; he told the industry the type of aircraft he wanted after consultation with a number of the pilots from the Lands and Forests fleet. He asked the pilots personally: “If you designed an aircraft, what would you want in it? What type of aircraft would you want? Give me a list of all the characteristics you would want.”

He took a list of all those requirements to the industry and out came the de Havilland Beaver, and of course they bought the first 25 of those aircraft that came off the assembly line right here in Toronto.

From the de Havilland Beaver, of course, came the Otter and a number of other aircraft that we see being manufactured. It has truly made de Havilland one of the finest aircraft manufacturing companies in the world.

Those two aircraft were named in Sault St. Marie, one, as I said, after the Deputy Minister of Lands and Forests, Frank MacDougall, and another after George Phillips. George Phillips was a pilot with the Department of Lands and Forests. I might say I had the pleasure of knowing these two gentlemen personally, and I know of the contribution they have made to civil aviation in this province, in this country and particularly in northern Ontario. George Phillips was the recipient of the McKee Trophy, the highest award you can receive in the civil aviation field in Canada.

In Thunder Bay we named two aircraft; one was named after a pioneering sort of gentleman known to us as Orville Wieben. He operated Superior Airways out of Thunder Bay into the north for a number of years. He was a pioneer; there is no question about it. His experience related back to the Second World War when he was actually a test pilot for the Hawker aircraft that came off the Canada Car assembly line in Fort William, now known as Thunder Bay. From that he moved up through the ranks to his own aircraft company, which served many communities of northern Ontario and made a real contribution to opening up that part of northwestern Ontario.

Every Christmas, Orville Wieben would load up his DC3 with gifts from the city of Thunder Bay and at his own expense would fly out to the very remote areas of northern Ontario, the small Indian communities, and personally deliver toys and goodies to the Indian children of those communities. He was known as the flying Santa Claus. He has been recognized on many occasions, and it was indeed an honour for me and all those in my ministry to recognize him and to name one of our aircraft after Orville Wieben.

The fourth aircraft was named after Robert Starratt, who was very active in the development of the Red Lake gold rush. He operated in none other than my home town of Hudson and developed one of the largest small, northern aircraft companies then in Canada. In fact when he sold, he sold out to Canadian Pacific Railway, and his aircraft company actually was the foundation of what we know today as CP Air. His contribution to the development and opening up of the north has been unchallenged and unquestioned, and his legend reigns on in northwestern Ontario. In fact, his two sons are still operating an air service out of the small community of Hudson.

We have a little bit of human feeling and recognition -- and recognition does not cost that much -- but I want to take the opportunity to put on the record the contribution that these northern pioneers have made to opening up northern Ontario. I was particularly pleased that we had the opportunity to recognize them in a very positive and lasting way. I can tell the honourable members that the acceptance of the people of northern Ontario was most heartening indeed. We owe it to those people who made such a contribution in our best interests in the earlier years when things were much more difficult than they are today.

9:10 p.m.

In vote 704, another regional priorities activity that the ministry is pleased to be involved in is agricultural development and assistance to northern farmers. Not all the members are aware, I am sure, of how much arable land the north really contains and how much farming actually takes place in northern Ontario. The northeast clay belt is one of the province’s most fertile areas. We have been carrying out a number of projects there, particularly the Timiskaming pasture project, but northwestern Ontario also has its share of agricultural activity.

Mr. Kerrio: Goat farming.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I will leave that to my friends from Sudbury to comment on.

Mr. Kerrio: You mean Elie.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I regret the members for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) and Sudbury (Mr. Germa) are not here tonight to tell us about that experiment.

Mr. Wildman: The Ministry of Natural Resources estimates are on in committee.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Oh, okay. I am sure they will be here before we are finished. I hope they are.

We are working very closely with the farming community in Rainy River, as was announced and spelled out to the NOMA delegation, in trying to come up with a special program to assist it in the clearing and drainage problems that are unique and special to the Rainy River area.

I mentioned earlier the ministry’s increasing commitments in the area of medical, dental and social services. In co-operation with the Ministry of Health, we are continuing to work to provide more and better medical and dental services through the jointly funded programs.

I think the members are all aware of the funds we have been using to purchase and install medical and dental facilities throughout northern communities. We are also assisting municipalities in a capital way to provide combination medical and dental centres such as we have in Larder Lake; In fact, on Monday next the official opening of the new medical centre in the riding of the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) will take place. It is an outstanding facility that, it is hoped, will be a magnet to attract doctors into that particular area.

Last summer I had the pleasant opportunity of joining the community of Red Lake in opening its brand new medical facility. It will house at least four doctors. The officials are today down here in Toronto, moving around through the medical profession pointing out the amenities of their community and how they can provide the doctors who locate there with the finest medical facilities. We were particularly pleased to be involved in that kind of project, which I am sure is going to spread to many communities of northern Ontario.

I am sure many members are aware of the bursary program that we are involved in with the Ministry of Health. It is hoped that it will attract medical and dental students to the underserviced areas of northern Ontario. We supply them with direct financial assistance in the last two years of their medical education with the express understanding that they will spend at least two years in northern Ontario. It has been exceptionally well received. We are now extending it into the field of audiologists and speech pathologists. So we are expending our bursary program considerably to get those specialists into northern Ontario.

We are working closely with the Ministry of Health to provide incentive grants to encourage medical specialists to set up practices in the underserviced areas of northern Ontario. In addition to that, we are operating a mobile hearing clinic in northern Ontario. I am informed that something like 152 doctors and 40 dentists are practising in underserviced areas of northern Ontario this year. Next year, we hope to have the figure up to 188 doctors and 43 dentists.

In addition to this, we are working closely and in a co-operative way with the Ministry of Health in putting together a unique and interesting proposal for an air ambulance system in northern Ontario. I might say that one of the issues we examined closely while we were in Norway was the aero medic system they have established in that particular country. It is a very exciting system, one that has a tremendous volunteer contribution or public contribution from individual membership that intrigued us immensely.

We hope to have something in place in northern Ontario by the end of this year, as it relates to the announcement in the throne speech, and that we will see helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft located in northern Ontario to bring patients in need of medical care not just down to Toronto, but to the major medical facilities in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Thunder Bay. If we constantly bring our medical patients or those requiring medical attention to Toronto and such places as Winnipeg, we will never have the medical facilities that you and I want in northern Ontario.

Mr. Wildman: What about the OHIP travel costs?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We are looking at all those areas. It is an area that has attracted the attention of both the Ministry of Health and my ministry, so it is under active review and study at this time.

I think we can take comfort from the fact that once this air ambulance system is in place, all of us living in northern Ontario will be within one hour of a major medical facility no matter where we are. If we are in Pickle Lake, Red Lake, Attawapiskat or Wonaman, there will be a facility there to take us to a major medical centre. I think that is a milestone in the medical service and delivery of that service in this province.

In the field of art, we are also involved in assisting the Ontario Arts Council in looking after the special needs of northern Ontario as they relate to the exceptional costs of moving cultural facilities, art collections, and so on. The Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra is a good example. It could not move to Rainy River, Geraldton, Longlac, Manitouwadge or Red Lake without some special assistance from the Ministry of Northern Affairs. We strongly felt we should be providing some extra assistance to those communities that are so remote and do not have the opportunity of seeing and enjoying some of the cultural activities that some of us in the southern part of this province take for granted.

We have been instrumental in bringing forward a new and exciting water safety program for our native community. As the members know, there was a disaster in Big Trout Lake a year or two ago when five of one family were drowned. After the report of the coroner’s inquest came down it was obvious to us that its recommendation that there be a water safety program in the small communities of northern Ontario was a very real one, so we instituted a water safety program in co-operation with the Canadian Red Cross. Acceptance was overwhelming, a little larger than we really anticipated. The attendance by the children of those Indian communities was very heartening, and we certainly will be continuing the program next year.

As all members are aware, in 1981 we will see the Canada Games in Thunder Bay. We have been working with the secondary schools associations in attempting to get the provincial championships in northern Ontario. After many meetings and discussions -- prompted by the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) -- we were able to assist the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations with funds that will see the secondary school provincial championship track meet held in Thunder Bay for the first time.

That meet will be held two weeks prior to the Canada Games. It will see something like 2,000 secondary students move into the Thunder Bay area to compete at their level and to put the $10 million athletic facilities now being developed at Thunder Bay to a good test.

9:20 p.m.

When those students go back home, they will be much richer in a number of different ways, not only in the field of sports but also in the knowledge that there is something north of the French River, north of Barrie and that there is an opportunity and a community there that is exciting and has something to contribute. We hope, of course, that they will come back to the north.

All members will take pride in the fact that we have a world championship with respect to ski-jumping. Stevie Collins of Thunder Bay swept the world right off its feet, I guess, when he made many outstanding jumps, not only in this country but also in Europe. That was only possible because we in the Ministry of Northern Affairs provided the funds to Big Thunder Ski Jump to complete -- at least to a point -- that Olympic 90-metre ski jump. It is certainly to the credit of this province and, indeed, to this country.

That is a resumé, in general way, of a number of programs -- I have touched on only a few of them, I might say; I could go on for another couple of hours, I suppose, if I went into detail on all the facilities and programs we are involved in. I just wanted to lay out for the members on the opposite side some of the things we are doing, how we are trying to improve the quality of life and how we are trying to improve the economic activity and development of northern Ontario in a way that is in direct response to the people who live in northern Ontario.

I invite the constructive criticism of my colleagues opposite and I will try to answer their questions in the best way I know how.

Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, I was pleased to hear the various items which the minister covered in his opening remarks. It is true there are many such items to cover, and the minister could very easily go on for at least two hours discussing the many activities that are required in northern Ontario by his ministry.

On reading over the opening part of last year’s estimates, which started on April 23, 1979, I was curious to see that the minister had occasion at that time -- this is on page 1216 -- to read us his horoscope of the day.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I did?

Mr. Bolan: Yes. It was very interesting. The minister said this on page 1216: “Coming to work this morning I picked up a copy of the April 23 Toronto Sun and read my horoscope and I think it is very appropriate. My horoscope, obviously, is Leo and I think the members would be interested in knowing what it says for Leo on this date. It says: You should have ample reason to smile today because you see long-range plans starting to unfold in a very positive way.’”

That was very prophetic, but the only question I have to ask this evening is whether the prophecy of the horoscope at that time is analogous to the prophecy of today’s horoscope -- and we will read it. The Toronto Sun, Thursday, October 23, 1980, says: “Leo: Take nothing for granted today in competitive situations. Your opposition could have a bit more going for them than you first think.”

After having heard the minister’s fumbling this afternoon in question period on the question of the nuclear waste disposal in northwestern Ontario, I think he ought to look out for the opposition today.

I am also pleased to see the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck) here this evening. As the minister knows, he represents the most southerly riding of northern Ontario. Or so he thinks. In order to find out just where the member for Parry Sound fits into the scheme of Ontario, whether it is north or south, I think it is only fair once again that we go back to last year during the estimates when we were trying to define northern Ontario. I am reading from page 1217:

“In April 1977 the provincial government defined northern Ontario at that time as the land lying north from the French River to the Manitoba border,” which would exclude the riding of Parry Sound, of course. That was government policy and that definition excluded Parry Sound.

But on April 29, 1977, the Minister of Revenue, who was then just the member for Parry Sound, at the annual meeting of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, which was being held in Parry Sound, made the announcement to include Parry Sound in northern Ontario. There is no question about it, it was to get the $10 licence plate, which at that time was a very sound political move because of the political difficulties the honourable member for Parry Sound was in at the time.

We checked again today with Northern Affairs as to what the definition was of northern Ontario. For some strange reason it excludes Parry Sound. So I ask through the Chairman and the Minister of Northern Affairs to the Minister of Revenue, where is he? Is he in northern Ontario for one purpose or is he in southern Ontario for another purpose, or is he wherever it pleases him most at any particular time?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I think I’m in never-never land.

Mr. Bolan: I would agree with that, and so does Richard Thomas. In any event, it is a pleasure to be here this evening, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Minister, to discuss the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

I can’t think of a better topic with which to start my discussions of these estimates than Ontario North Now. It is a very pleasant experience. Some municipalities were pleased; others were displeased because of the fact there was no consultation with the majority of the major municipalities in northern Ontario. I think what they considered to be an affront is the fact that after the announcements were made with great fanfare that there would be an Ontario North Now, they were then asked to make contributions.


Mr. Bolan: Initially you did, oh yes, you did. They were asked to provide funds for the operating cost of the pavilion. As I say, some municipalities have contributed. The city of North Bay did not contribute because it felt it had been affronted and insulted in the manner in which the whole process of the development of Ontario North Now took place.

9:30 p.m.

One started to ask questions such as, “Why put it in Toronto?” I have heard the ministry’s explanation for it, which is not necessarily ludicrous, but rather silly, until you find out the real reason it was put in Toronto. Had the minister put it in Sudbury there would have been horrendous complaints from Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and North Bay. Had he put it in Sault Ste. Marie, he would have had tons of complaints from all the other major areas in northern Ontario. So he said: “We’ll settle that issue. We’ll put it in southern Ontario.” Isn’t that the real reason the pavilion was placed in southern Ontario?

Going back to the estimates of last year, at page 1212 -- interesting reading again -- the minister said: “Meanwhile, as a permanent contribution we are negotiating with two other ministries, Transportation and Communications and Government Services, for construction of a building at Moosonee that will serve partly as a tourist pavilion …” Was it the minister’s intention to put a pavilion in northern Ontario initially but then, when he saw that it was politically not feasible to do so, he decided to shift it down to Toronto?

I think many of the people up there would be prepared to accept it in Toronto, but again it is the way it was done. There was a lack of input from people in northern Ontario. How many people in northern Ontario were asked to bid on some of the various features that had to be erected? Nobody. No businessman in northern Ontario heard about Ontario North Now until it was announced by the ministry, and by that time everything was in place. I ask these questions of the minister, and I expect some answers from him.

The silliest thing that took place in July and August was to see these television ads with the Minister of Northern Affairs telling the people in northern Ontario to go down to southern Ontario to see what northern Ontario is all about. The minister may be able to con people in southern Ontario about that, but I think he has to admit that was pretty silly -- and I think the way he is laughing right now indicates that he agrees with that.

In any event, the fact remains that the pavilions are down here. I feel there are certain areas which his ministry overlooked, I will not say intentionally, but they were overlooked. One of the areas was the lack of a display that showed the contributions of the French-Canadian culture to northern Ontario. I am informed that some request was made at some stage for some input, but it was simply too late for anything like that to be done.

When one considers the contributions made to northern Ontario, and particularly northeastern Ontario, by the French-Canadian culture, the minister can rest assured that the French-Canadian citizens of northern Ontario feel rather insulted about the fact that there is no significant attempt by his ministry or by the government to show what role they played. They were the ones who went out in the small communities --

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Oui, oui.

Mr. Bolan: Yes, yes. Only your father’s name was pronounced the French way, whereas the minister has anglicized the pronunciation of his name. Why the change in accent, I do not know. Perhaps the minister has lost the heritage or does not want to be associated with that heritage, because I always refer to him by using the French pronunciation of his name, not the anglicized version.

In any event now that it has been drawn to his attention, I think the minister is aware that there was a significant contribution made by the French-Canadian culture in the lumber towns, the mining towns and the small communities of northern Ontario. They were the ones who pushed forward the building of the old Temiskaming and Northern Ontario and the development of the lumber camps. We see it all through the history of northern Ontario, what contribution French-Canadian culture made.

There are consistent attempts to maintain the culture and the language in the schooling system despite such obstacles as regulation 17, despite attempts by government in those days to achieve what it had set out to do, and that was the assimilation of the French culture with the English culture. In spite of all this they hung in until better people came along and saw the light.

I hope, as the minister makes adjustments to his silos, that he will put in a proper reminder to the people of Ontario and to all the visitors who go to Ontario North Now of the role and the place of French-Canadian culture in the development of northern Ontario.

Another area where I feel the ministry missed the boat, as far as the pavilion is concerned, is the trapping industry. I understand there was no display at all for the fur industry in northern Ontario. There were examples of the types of skins obtained in the north such as bear, fox and wolf, and these were in the Indian pavilion, but a significant industry like the fur industry -- and I think the member for Parry Sound will agree with me on this -- is something that again should be demonstrated to those people who go to Ontario North Now.

I just want to spend a few moments, if I may, on the fur industry and particularly on the Ontario Trappers’ Association, which has been in operation in North Bay for some 15 years. This is an association that was put together about 15 years ago and is strictly nonprofit. The money is used for paying salaries, for construction and for expansion of the facilities, but the whole purpose of the association was to be a co-operative effort for all the trappers of Canada, so that all the furs could be brought there and they would have a common place from which the furs could be sold.

Its members today are all across Canada. There are over 21,000 of them and two thirds of the registered trappers are native people. I think it is worthy to note that in 1979 the fur sales from the Ontario Trappers’ Association at North Bay totalled $33 million. There were buyers from all around the world, and the furriers there represent some 25 per cent of the wild fur crop in Ontario; it is the largest of its kind in North America. There is the Hudson’s Bay fur company, but aside from dealing with wild animals, it also deals with other types of animals.

The other significant thing about the fur industry, of which there is no reference in the minister’s silos, is that it maximizes the use of the land on which the trapping takes place. The land is used for trapping and it is only viable for that, so the land is put to the maximum use at that time. As the minister knows, the trappers have their own trap lines. That being the case, it is in their interest to manage them properly, because by doing so, it ensures the regeneration of the industry.

Other interesting points on it: The meat value alone taken from the animals that are killed has a value of over $8 million. In addition to this, there is more than $1 million in royalties paid to Ontario.

So I hope as the minister makes his readjustments and as he goes along, he will see to it there is some recognition of the trapping industry in Ontario, other than a few raunchy hides hanging around in some pavilion, because I think the benefits that flow from it are so great that all of Ontario and certainly all of the visitors to the pavilion should have the opportunity of seeing just what a significant contribution is made.

9:40 p.m.

Another area I would like to touch on is economic development in northern Ontario, and again I want to refer to the estimates of last year. At page 1209, the minister said: “I hope that during the course of examining our estimates for expenditures, members will make suggestions that will be useful to us in planning future programs and projects of benefit to the north. Anyone who has experienced or studied the north knows there are no instant or easy solutions to its problems. We are engaged in a long, costly and difficult struggle to provide the north with economic prosperity and stability, with job security, and with the social and personal amenities that southern Ontarians have learned to take for granted.”

In view of the fact that the minister is so concerned about economic development in the north, I would like to know what role he or the ministry played in granting an exemption order under section 113 of the Mining Act to Teck Corporation, which has a subsidiary mine in Cobalt. I raised a question about that in the House last Friday, and the Minister of Natural Resources attempted to give me an explanation on Monday which was entirely unsatisfactory.

Incidentally, a copy of a letter I am about to read was sent to the Minister of Northern Affairs. This is a letter from Canadian Smelting and Refining (1974) Limited. Basically what happened was that a mine in Cobalt operated by the Silverfields division of Teck Corporation applied in 1979 for an exemption order to ship flotation concentrates out of Cobalt. Those flotation concentrates at that time were being processed through the smelter in Cobalt. They were recovering all the silver. There were some of the cobalt concentrates that were not being recovered because of the fact that the Cobalt smelter did not have sufficient equipment to recover it.

I would like to read parts of the letter that was forwarded to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) by Mr. R. M. Ginn, who is the vice-president of Canadian Smelting and Refining:

“During the summer of 1979 we learned from Mr. George A. Jewett that Silverfields division of Teck Corporation had applied for an exemption under section 113 of the Mining Act to allow them to export a substantial portion of the production from their Cobalt area silver mine. I presented our position at that time in a letter dated August 21.

“Following several meetings and discussions on the matter, in which Teck stated that a matter of prime concern was that [the smelter] was unable to treat its production, your ministry (or the cabinet) declined the application by Teck...”

Subsequently, Teck entered into a contract with Canadian Smelting and Refining, and during the year 1979 paid to Teck Corporation from the Silverfields operation a total of some $12 million. The operating cost of Silverfields was slightly less than $2 million; in addition, there were other costs of $1 million in royalties paid to another mine. This left them with a profit of between $9 million and $10 million on a total gross of $12 million.

I want the minister to bear those figures in mind as we go along with this. In other words, it was not a marginal operation. It was obvious that there was a substantial profit that had been made, which is fine. That is the name of the game in the system we have today and I welcome that. But again, it is not a marginal operation.

In view of the fact that the smelter could not handle all the concentrates it received, it made application to a smelter in Europe to have the leached residues, which were just the remnants after it had been processed through the smelter, sent there. They went to the Minister of Natural Resources to try to get an exemption order and they were turned down on May 26. So we had the situation where both companies were turned down: Teck Corporation’s application to send its flotation concentrates over to Sweden was turned down in 1979 and the smelter in Cobalt’s application to send its residues to a smelter in Belgium was turned down in May.

On July 25, Silverfields heard that in the interim Teck Corporation had applied for a new exemption order and this one was granted. The second time around, the exemption order was granted and it is in effect for one year, starting July 1. I will read from this letter:

“About July 25, I learned of your having granted an exemption to Tech Corporation to export raw, untreated, flotation concentrates, an astonishing development in view of your having declined our application. I wrote you on July 25 to express my astonishment and concern and to request a meeting.

“A meeting was held on August 1 with Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Mohide and nothing was resolved. On August 13, a meeting was held with Mr. Aiken who represented your office, Mr. Jewett, the Minister of Natural Resources himself and the comptroller of the smelter, Mr. Gordon. At that time it was brought to the attention of the minister that Teck Corporation, before it was granted its exemption order, had exported a shipment of flotation concentrates the previous fall with no export approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources as required by section 113 of the mining act.

“Both you and Mr. Jewett requested that we identify the event by letter and it would be investigated,” and this was done by way of letter on August 13. “On August 28, in response to a request by Mr. Jewett, Mr. Gordon and I met with Dr. Reynolds and him. Dr. Reynolds’ whole thrust was to mediate the dispute between Teck and Canadian Smelting and Refining and he offered to arrange a meeting between Mr. Hymus, who was with Teck Corporation, and Mr. Ginn.

“On August 29, I wrote Dr. Reynolds setting out my interpretation that the problem is really one of whether the government want to protect domestic industry or achieve maximum profitability of one producer.”

I think that is the key. So the question that goes to the Minister of Northern Affairs, as a member of cabinet and as a member who presumably participated in the application that granted the exemption order, is: “Is it the policy of the government, in granting exemption orders, to look at the maximization of profits or is it to protect a local secondary industry?”

I can see a situation arise under section 113 where you have ore that is mined in a certain area and where there are no facilities to treat the ore in Ontario. I can see an exemption order being given in that case, and rightly so. But should it be done when an operation such as the smelter in Cobalt is in jeopardy? And it is in jeopardy.

9:50 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: May I comment here for a brief moment? I understand the estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources are taking place at present in committee. It would seem to me, and I am sure the member for Nipissing would agree, that this particular issue to which the member refers, and in which we all have an interest, might better be discussed in that particular minister’s estimates, because he has the direct responsibility for the issuing of an exemption under section 113.

Mr. Chairman: I appreciate the comments of the minister, and I am sure the member will govern himself accordingly.

Mr. Bolan: Thank you very much. The reason I am raising the subject, Mr. Chairman, is because of the fact that this ministry is very much interested and concerned with the economic development and growth of northern Ontario. I am raising this because it is an example where he, as the minister -- and he always likes to refer to his ministry as the lead ministry -- in this particular instance participated in a decision which affected the economy, the economic growth and the economic stability of a community.

If that does not give me the right to raise that in these estimates, then I do not know what does. The same thing will be raised with the Ministry of Natural Resources in those estimates -- tonight in fact, by the person who is the spokesman in those estimates for our party, if the minister ever gets through making his presentation. I understand he is reading something like 255 pages. Of course, he is a very slow reader; he does not read as quickly as this minister does. I must commend this minister on the manner in which he went through all of that information this evening in about an hour and a half. It was very well done.

In any event, I ask you, as a minister of the cabinet who participated in the application and in the making of such a decision, whether the policy of the present government with respect to section 113 of the act is to maximize profits or to protect a local, domestic, secondary industry. I say that to you, also asking you to bear in mind the fact that in 1979 the Silverfields division was not running a marginal operation but rather was running at a substantial profit.

This again is from the letter of Mr. Ginn to the Minister of Natural Resources:

“A matter of deep concern is Mr. Jewett’s response on August 28 to our question of what follow-up investigation and action was being taken regarding Teck’s illegal export of a container (about 20 tons) of concentrate following the denial of an exemption to section 113 in 1979. Mr. Jewett became quite belligerent and said the matter was closed because it happened more than six months ago. I am informed by our lawyers, Fasken and Calvin, that they are not aware of such limitation applicable to this section. I still await your reaction to this serious breach of the law.”

Of course, there was no reaction.

So I say these things to a minister who has participated in a cabinet decision to put in jeopardy a secondary industry in a small community like Cobalt, as if Cobalt does not have enough problems right now without facing a plant closure.

I want to assure the minister that I spoke to Mr. Ginn on Friday morning before I even asked this question of the Premier (Mr. Davis) in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources. They were relying so much on the ore which was coming from Silverfields that they were sweeping the floor to gather ore to put through the bins and to put through the smelter. There was a corporate decision to be made some time this week as to whether or not they were going to close the plant.

I say this to the minister so that he can be fully aware of it. I only hope, for the people of Cobalt and those 42 employees, that it is not closed. The minister, however, can go a long way in preventing that from happening by making representations to his cabinet to lift that exemption order. I am asking him formally at this time to request his cabinet colleagues to lift that exemption order or at least have another look at it. That does not cost anything at all.

The other item I want to touch on -- the minister did not refer to this specifically, at least I do not think he did; he said so many things I was having difficulty in getting them all down -- is the question of housing in northern Ontario. As the minister knows, in many instances, housing is a very serious matter. One program his government came out with was probably one of the better ones I have seen for a long time, and that is the Ontario home renewal program.

It is sound. It regenerates the housing stock. It prevents people from abandoning their homes, going to larger centres and looking for apartments. It takes the pressure off the tenements in other areas. It provides employment for those who work for the contractors, who do the insulation, the well digging, the well drilling, the septic tank digging, the installation of roofs, all of those things. It is a tremendous program. Why is it that when the government has a good program like that it does not put more money into it?

That program should be doubled, particularly as it applies to northern Ontario. I am sure the Minister of Revenue in his own riding is greatly affected bythe lack of OHRP funds. I have to say in all fairness to the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett), he has disposed of the funds that he has in a very fair and equitable way. He has split it right down the line. In other words, if out of the funds that he has -- let us say it is $20 million -- it only works out to each municipality getting 25 per cent or 30 per cent, then each municipality will get 25 per cent of its application. He has done it in a fair manner.

However, I feel in the rural communities of northern Ontario there should be more pressure put on the Minister of Housing and on to cabinet by the Minister of Northern Affairs and by the vice-chairman of management board -- is that right?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes.

Mr. Bolan: -- and by the vice-chairman of management board to get more money to these people. Obviously, the way the program is set up, it deals with people who are in need, otherwise it would not have the criteria it has. You must have an income of under so many dollars and all of these factors. So the program is designed to help those people who are on very low incomes -- pensioners, people of that nature who are prepared to continue living in their homes but all they want is a bloody roof. So would the minister give them the roof and would he please make representation? Again, I request the same of the vice-chairman of management board to get some more money out there, particularly in the rural areas.

On the question of transportation, I suppose one of the biggest obstacles to the industrial development of northern Ontario is freight rates. Again, this is one of the big complaints one gets from local businessmen in northern Ontario: “How can we compete with the south when we have to pay so much to bring the material up here and then ship the product back down? We just cannot do it.” If the minister is really interested in the development of an industrial base in northern Ontario, something should be done about the freight rates.

10 p.m.

I agree with everything he has said about norOntair and the reasons it should be subsidized, but I will tell him that if the government has money to subsidize an airline for civil servants, government officials, business executives and salesmen, then I also think it has some money tucked away some place, or it should have some money available, to subsidize freight rates. If we are very serious about developing an industrial base in northern Ontario, it can only be done with properly subsidized rates.

On the question of transportation, I don’t know if the Minister of Revenue will agree with me on this, but I am sure he notices the same things that I notice and that is all of these empty trucks going up to northern Ontario and empty trucks going down to southern Ontario from northern Ontario. That is because of the regulations the government has.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Support us on deregulation. You were against it.

Mr. Bolan: No. Not at all. My own critic is against me on this, I realize that, but I am speaking as a northerner. Why is it that companies have to send these trucks up empty to bring them back down full of lumber yet they cannot take anything back up north?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We tried to correct that by deregulations and you wouldn’t let us.

Mr. Bolan: If the government would be serious about deregulation then we would do something about it. At least it should be done for Highway 11 because it is the main corridor for all of northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec. That should be given consideration.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Do you support deregulation?

Mr. Bolan: I will support you. You know that. We have had this out before.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: You are going to split the party.

Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Nipissing has the floor. Order. I am listening for the remarks of the member for Nipissing.

Mr. Bolan: Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman, for being so observant and for giving me the opportunity to continue on these estimates.

Another area, again dealing with transportation, is the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the stupid decision it made last December to cancel the midnight bus run from Timmins to North Bay and then down to Toronto, and also the midnight run that left Toronto for North Bay and Timmins. I was confronted by a horde of angry bus drivers, passengers and what have you.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: The minister intervened.

Mr. Bolan: You did, but the reason I am raising it at this time is, how can you have a chairman who is so stupid as to have done that in the first place?

Mr. Bolan: I know, but I don’t say nice things about him and he knows that, too. I don’t carry a double-edged sword.

In any event, as a result of my corresponding with the minister -- and I sent him reams and reams of evidence to support the position I was taking that this particular service at that time should not be discontinued -- the chairman got very upset about this. In fact, he was seen sneaking into the bus terminal in New Liskeard one night and coming out with a bunch of documents and timetables and time sheets. The reason he said that run was being discontinued was that it was not paying for itself. When we put all the figures together we showed the minister that it was and it was carrying its weight.

What I want to know is, what is the policy on bus service? Does it have to carry its own weight? Is it subsidized? The minister made the statement that it is the function of the government to subsidize the ONTC operation. I want to know if that extends to bus service as well, because I am sure it is going to crop up again. I think that it should be settled. I am not saying we should open up a bus line or a route to carry one or two people. We have to be reasonable about these things because, after all, we are reasonable people in this House.

Mr. Kerrio: Especially on this side.

Mr. Bolan: That goes without saying. In any event, I would nice to have a statement of policy on that.

Incidentally, while I think of it, and while I pick up this sheet of paper that is before me -- you see what this place has done to me: I have to wear glasses now -- what is the ministry’s total advertising budget, and those of its agencies, boards and commissions for this fiscal year? What was the comparable advertising budget for the previous fiscal year? What advertising agencies are employed? Are tenders let for the accounts? Would the minister provide a copy of the material used in all the promotions, such as brochures, radio and television scripts, direct mailings and any other promotion material, even the one about the minister himself on Ontario North Now? In passing through the estimates, I thought I would ask this question of him. I am sure he will have an answer to that one.

The other thing I want to talk about is TVOntario. Again, I am really glad the Minister of Revenue is here tonight, because as the southern member for northern Ontario he can really help us in getting lots of these problems solved. The problem we have, as he knows, is TVOntario and the fact that everybody has been trying hard to get it but for some reason or other we cannot get it.

According to the Minister of Revenue, and he can correct me if I am wrong, the capital funds are available for TVOntario to be brought into Nipissing, Parry Sound and Muskoka. Is that right? What I would like to know is, just what kind of pressure is the Minister of Northern Affairs going to put on the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) to bring about the fruition of this attempt to get TVOntario in the Nipissing, Parry Sound, Muskoka area? The channel has been designated for something like three or four years. I think it is channel five, is it not?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Channel six.

Mr. Bolan: Channel six. It has been designated for some time, and yet every time we say, “When are we getting it?” they say, “Well, operating costs, and operating costs ... ” The thing is that the people of northern Ontario are paying for TVOntario in southern Ontario but they are not getting it in those areas.

If we are talking about trying to narrow the gap between the south and the north, this is another area I think the minister should be looking at. Both ministers should be putting pressure on the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, because if we want it badly enough, if the ministers really think it is that needed and that beneficial, there is no reason why they can’t get it, no reason at all.

10:10 p.m.

I would like to say a few words about Field. I think we all suffered with Field. This House suffered with Field. I know the Premier was up there himself. It was a very disturbing thing. This ministry did good work in Field -- I will commend the minister on that -- as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Solicitor General with the Ontario Provincial Police force, the Canadian Forces, and this ministry’s information officers in North Bay and Sturgeon Falls. I am not a bad guy! I will give credit where credit is due -- but the people who really deserve the credit are the people of Field because they are the ones who put up with it.

It is fine to say they have a new community now, but, believe me, it was rough. It was rough for that time in between the building of the new homes. Lots of these people hadn’t been out of that home, or hadn’t been any place else, for 40 years, and then all of a sudden they are shoved in a trailer or in with a relative some place down the line, and it was very hard on them. I know one couple who were in their sixties and lived in a trailer for something like six months before their home was established. So, as I say, it is fine for all of us here to take credit for whatever was done, but the real credit is for the people of Field, who were the real sufferers in this.

But do the members know the sad part about all that? The sad part is there is a report coming out, which is a joint study by the provincial and federal civil servants, the ones who screwed it up in the first place, and it is going to say there is nothing we can do to prevent something like that from happening again. That is what the study is going to say.

What I really take offence at is the way the committee was set up. It was set up with civil servants from the provincial and federal governments, and one of the goals or aims of the study was not to find blame. You have to be able to point the finger at somebody, or at some agency, or at something and say, “You are responsible for this,” but the committee has refused to inquire into what agency. Was it Hydro? Was it Natural Resources? Was it the Department of Transport, which is the federal agency responsible for the control of the dams on Lake Nipissing?

They have refused to do that. Instead, they are going to come out with a host of recommendations, and the bottom line is going to be that if there is another flood or if similar conditions come into play 10, 15 or 20 years from now, the same thing is going to happen.

I say to the minister, he should talk to Mr. Aiken about that. He is very knowledgeable on the subject, and he was one of the main people from this ministry in the whole Field operation, as the minister knows. I am very much concerned about the study and I am concerned about how the whole thing was set up. It was set up by the civil servants to protect the civil servants from blame. Again, I would ask the minister to inquire into that and see if there is anything that can be done about it.

The last thing I want to say is in the nature of a question. We are all waiting with bated breath. I want to hear the minister’s policy on nuclear waste disposal in northwestern Ontario.


Hon. Mr. Parrott: It will be a lot more consistent than that side of the House, let me tell you.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have the privilege of leading off in the debate on the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs for my party. I have some lengthy comments to make, so I will begin with some preliminary remarks this evening and complete my leadoff for our party on Monday next when we again are in committee.

I want to pick up from the last question raised by my colleague from Nipissing, because obviously the minister’s comments in the northwestern Ontario media raised some important questions, not just for clarifying his own position and the position of the government, but also for the whole approach towards development in northern Ontario of this government and this ministry.

I understand the minister has said in the House today and again this evening that he did not say northwestern Ontario should take nuclear waste any more than any other part of the province, but that we would have to find some place to put the nuclear waste in the province, and if northwestern Ontario were benefiting from the overall electric grid, there would be as much obligation on them to accept the waste as on other parts of the province. I think that is the position the minister took to clarify his comments.

Without getting into the whole issue of the report of the committee looking into Ontario Hydro affairs and the serious questions raised before that committee by the Canadian Geoscience Council about the experimental drill sites program for nuclear waste disposal, other than to point out that serious questions were raised there to the effect that without the local community having some kind of assurance from the government that an experimental site would not, in fact, become a disposal site, it would be very difficult to find a disposal site, I would like to raise one major concern that I have as a northerner. Without getting into that issue of the experimental program, its merits or demerits, and whether or not it is actually going to be successful, I have one concern that I hope the minister can answer. If -- and I underline the word “if” -- it is found at some future date that the present experimental program, or proposals for an experimental program, does lead to a viable method of disposing of nuclear waste, and if -- again if -- a site or a number of sites were found in northeastern or northwestern Ontario, how are we going to transport the waste from southern Ontario to those sites safely?

Nobody seems to be dealing with that issue very well. The minister may know that one of the determining factors on the decision of the location of the Eldorado Nuclear refinery in northern Ontario in my riding was the issue that that company was transporting waste products from its process from Port Hope back to Elliot Lake for recycling and then disposal. Many municipalities between Port Hope and Elliot Lake raised serious concerns about the safety of that transportation.

10:20 p.m.

One of the arguments used for locating the Eldorado refinery at Blind River was that it would be far closer not only to the source of the uranium but also for the transportation of the waste back to Rio Algom. That waste, as I understand it, is far less dangerous than the waste we produce from our nuclear generating stations. And that kind of concern was raised about it.

The minister is fully aware of the kind of transportation problems we have in northern Ontario and he is certainly aware of the kind of weather conditions we have in northern Ontario. When one considers the rail and trucking disasters we have had in southern Ontario and in other parts of the country, no matter how fail-safe a drilling program might be found to be, how do we get it there? If the ministry is going to locate it way up in northwestern Ontario or in some part of northeastern Ontario, it is going to have a lot of distance to cover between the source of that waste in Pickering or Bruce or wherever up to northern Ontario.

It is going to be going through a lot of communities. The minister and I both know that Highway 17, or 11 in many cases, travels right through the main streets of those small towns. Completely aside from the whole issue of whether that drilling program is a viable one, whether the experimental program will ever get off the ground, whether the local communities will be given the veto power they wish, whether they will be given the government commitment that if they do go for an experimental drill site that will not become a disposal site; completely separate from those things, how are we going to get it there?

The minister may disagree with this, but he is a northerner who tries to take an objective, honest and serious position on most issues. I think that is one that has not been dealt with very well and it is one that concerns me a great deal.

I have to be partisan, I suppose, but I regret the minister making any kind of statement like this prior to this assembly having the opportunity to debate the committee’s report on nuclear waste. I understood that was supposed to be debated this evening in this House but for some reason it has been postponed. Now I understand that next Thursday night we are going to be debating another very important report on a very important issue -- the report of the committee on constitutional reform.

When are we going to debate that portion of the Hydro committee’s report that deals with nuclear waste? We were quite willing to debate the other two portions of it last week. Everybody in the House agreed. But when it comes to the most controversial part of that report, for some reason it is being postponed. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the government may be expecting some other reports which may, in some way, help it in answering some of the major concerns that are raised in that report.

At any rate I am quite happy to be debating this tonight. I just wish the minister had waited for the debate on that report to be dealt with in this House. Had he waited, he could have the accumulated wisdom of all the members of the House, including his colleague the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), before he would have to make any comments off the cuff to the press or whatever.

As I said, I am glad to have the privilege of leading off the debate on this ministry’s estimates. I welcome the critic from the Liberal Party. I was glad to see they had a spokesman participating in this debate. I am very glad to see him because I understand the leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. S. Smith) made some interesting comments recently in Thunder Bay. He has sort of a penchant for making comments when he gets to northern Ontario. My colleague from Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Ramsay) is well aware of some of the unfortunate statements that the leader of the Liberal Party has made in the past when he has come to northern Ontario. He has some difficulty dealing with our weather conditions, I understand.

Mr. Kerrio: If you think we have difficulties, what are you going to do with your leader?

Mr. Wildman: The member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) has toured extensively in the north and I don’t think he has even made a comment about a community. He has never, to my knowledge -- nor for that matter has any member of the government -- made a statement where he completely rejected a community, a city. I think it was in Sault Ste. Marie, wasn’t it, that he said he never wanted to go back. I think one of the few things the member for Sault Ste. Marie and I could agree on is that we are quite happy that he never come back.

Mr. Kerrio: Until we had a Liberal member there, that is what he said.

Mr. Wildman: He will never come back until we have a Liberal member there? In that case, he will never come back.

Anyway, his most recent comment in Thunder Bay dealt with this ministry, and I think what he said was, if he ever had the opportunity, he would dismantle this ministry.

Mr. Bolan: No, he would dismantle the minister, that is what he would do.

Mr. Wildman: Oh, well, sometimes I might have some sympathy with that point of view, but I just want to make clear to the House that although we have more members in the north than the Liberal Party, and the Conservative Party has more members in the north as well --

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is the first time you have admitted it.

Mr. Wildman: -- that is going to change, but they have -- I think perhaps as a result of that, the Liberal Party may not have as great an understanding of the north as these two parties may have, despite our differences. I certainly want to say that we would not, at this time nor in the future, be considering the dismemberment -- I think that was the term he used -- of the minister or the ministry. We would like to move him out and move him over, but we are not going to get rid of the ministry.

While the minister is smiling so well over there, I want to make clear to him that while we would keep the ministry, we certainly don’t have the same concept of the role that appears to be held by the minister. I listened to the minister’s opening comments and he went through a long list of initiatives and projects that the ministry is involved in; he gave a long list of openings that he has attended and ones that he hopes to attend in the near future.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is performance.

Mr. Wildman: Well, it is a kind of performance; you have to know how to snip scissors. I regret not having been able to be present with the minister and his colleague at the opening in Wawa or at Hornepayne. I was with his other colleague, the Minister of the Environment, at another opening in another part of my riding the same day. When you talk about performance, three openings in one day in your riding is performance.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: You like it, don’t you? You sure do and you take credit for it too.

Mr. Wildman: Why shouldn’t I? I worked for those things. I recall, though, that at the opening in Hornepayne the minister went not just to the airport, but to the curling rink as well. This is a new facility in Hornepayne for which the local people worked very hard. They had some difficulty collecting all the local funds they had hoped to collect, but they worked very hard. I understand that at the unveiling they had the name of the wrong minister on the plaque. I wonder who was responsible for that.

Hon. Mr. Walker: It was an old plaque. Part of our cost-cutting campaign.

Mr. Wildman: It was an old plaque, was it? It had “Robert Welch”, rather than “Reuben Baetz.” Frankly, it is kind of a Hobson’s choice, but I think I would rather have Robert Welch than Reuben Baetz. At any rate, I think they are replacing that plaque.

10:30 p.m.

I started to say that the minister went through a long list of programs, a long list of openings, and talked in glowing terms about a number of initiatives that his ministry has taken. I will grant that his ministry has worked hard to deal with a number of problems with the various communities in northern Ontario. His ministry staff has been very co-operative with me, and I have tried to co-operate with it on a number of issues. However, I want to make it clear that while many of those initiatives are useful, there does not appear to be any co-ordination among them. What I am saying is that basically the ministry tends to react to a particular need in a particular community, if it can, but there is no overall regional planning. I am not talking about the whole of northern Ontario. I am talking about looking at the region and integrating those various programs in the individual communities into some kind of program that is actually going to change the economic situation we face in northern Ontario, and have faced for years.

As I said, we would keep this ministry, but we do not agree with the concept that this minister appears to have of his role. I say that advisedly, since it is very difficult to obtain a definitive statement of what that role is from him or his colleagues. We are told that the Ministry of Northern Affairs is not a line ministry, but rather its mandate is to co-ordinate the provincial government’s response to the need of the north. The minister said that again this evening.

The Deputy Chairman: Would this be a good time for the member to move the committee rise and report?

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I would say that I have a great deal more to deal with in response to the minister’s leadoff, but I would think this would be a good time to move the adjournment.

On motion by Mr. Wildman, the committee of supply reported progress.

The House adjourned at 10:33 p.m.