31e législature, 4e session

L132 - Thu 4 Dec 1980 / Jeu 4 déc 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the debate on the motion for the adoption of the report of the standing committee on administration of justice.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I believe the New Democratic Party had finished speaking and the natural rotation comes to us.

Mr. Speaker: It is my recollection that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) had just completed his remarks at six o’clock.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is not here, but shortly before he walked out in a huff earlier this afternoon while the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) was speaking --

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Why don’t you grow up?

Mr. M. N. Davison: I am trying as best I can. I did not know that the Conservative Party had such an antipathy towards youth. I think it is well that we in the under-geriatric age group are represented in the assembly.

Shortly before the Attorney General walked out in a huff during the comments of the member for St. George, he referenced during his 20-odd-page statement his point of view that this was one of the most important debates that had taken place during the period in which he was a member in the assembly. I suspect in a number of ways I agree with the comments he made in that single regard.

I think it is an important debate for two reasons. First, I hold the opinion that the last best hope for the Re-Mor victims in terms of getting justice is the justice committee of this assembly. I think the record has shown in this province that in like situations there is no effective remedy for them before the courts. That has been the history. If we should talk about the history -- not of the justice system and the courts in this province -- of the central player, Mr. Carlo Montemurro, I do not think they have a lot better chance through that approach either.

Second, this is an important debate in that it raises and perhaps decides the question of supremacy in this tiny room in this obscure world of ours, the Legislative Assembly. Is the government of the day responsible to the Legislature or is the Legislature responsible to the government? I think that is a fundamental and important question, even if it is a question that is not on the lips of everybody in the province. It seems to me we come down to, in the words of the Attorney General, whether the Legislature is the highest court in the province.

Hon. Mr. Pope: It is a court. They want to have a trial.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I think those were the words he used. If I am wrong I will apologize. Or does the final power reside in the Premier’s cabinet? I think that is an important distinction.

In simple and kind terms -- something I am not noted for, being a lowly and simple guttersnipe from Hamilton -- I believe this is a case in which the Legislature has seen injustice in the province and sought a remedy for that injustice. In very simple, kind and basic terms, that is what the opposition has been doing; that is what the opposition is about.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Do you think there is such a thing as an impartial committee hearing?

Mr. M. N. Davison: If the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), the minister without food terminal, will hold his peace I will turn my attention to him in just a moment and make some comment on his inane, uninformed and bizarre remarks before the supper hour.

The Legislative Assembly saw injustice and sought to provide a remedy to correct that injustice. The government has sought to defend its actions in this matter. Simply stated, that is what has happened on the two sides of the House. I think my comments are in kind terms.

The government has put forward what can be described, I think fairly, as a legalistic argument. Not only is it legalistic, it is a shifting argument and a shifting case. If there has been any change, it has not been a change of attitude but simply a movement over the period from one variety of tactics of delay to another.

I think it is noteworthy that the government has never in this session expressed its concerns in human terms, but always in the same legalistic, stuffy, dry terms.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Were charges laid?

Mr. M. N. Davison: Were charges laid in the Re-Mor case? No.

Hon. Mr. Pope: But Mr. Montemurro was not having any.

Mr. M. N. Davison: No. Have charges been laid against the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) or any of his staff in the Re-Mor case? No. Have charges been laid against anybody else in the Re-Mor case yet?

Hon. Mr. Pope: But that is what you really want.

Mr. M. N. Davison: No. They have not been laid. That was one of the inaccuracies that resulted from the colossal misinformation the member for Cochrane South is so attuned to.

Hon. Mr. Pope: He just said it.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I must admit to not having the necessary academic credentials to fully appreciate the government’s intricate cleverness in its myriad legalistic arguments. As a parliamentarian, I am impressed in a certain sense. As a parliamentarian, I admire chutzpah and nerve. That is what we have seen from the government in its hiding behind those incredible arguments. Frankly, I admire the quickness of mind with which the government has shifted ground in its arguments on this issue over the past two months. It is really a sight to behold. Those members should be up for Olympic medals in the dash.

My motivation in this matter -- and let me clarify it for people like the absent Attorney General -- has always been a motivation caused by the human element. Last night when I went back to my constituency office to do my clinic three of the constituents who came to see me were three of the Re-Mor victims.

I think about the people who have spoken on this matter today on the other side of the House -- the gentle Premier who didn’t want to be involved; the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations; the Attorney General and Solicitor General; the Minister without food terminal from Cochrane South. I don’t think they spend very many of their Wednesday evenings in their constituency offices talking to people who are among the 324 who were ripped off. If they had, maybe there would have been a more human face to the concerns expressed by people such as the Attorney General in the debate today. That does not seem to be the focus of their concern.

I cannot let go by the remarks made by the member for Cochrane South. I think his ill-informed remarks show clearly what is wrong with the government’s position in this case. He put before us in this House a position based on a dry and damned near irrelevant legal argument that shared in his capacity as understudy to the Attorney General that degree of patronizing arrogance that the Attorney General is so famous for.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Tell the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to his face that you want him charged criminally.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I’ll come back to the allegations of the member for Cochrane South that charges have been laid in the Re-Mor matter. I would be quite happy to come back to that inaccuracy.

8:10 p.m.

Comments that could only have been motivated from his colossal ignorance about the matter form part of a consistent pattern we have seen in this assembly since nearly the first day of this fall session, of coverup, of hiding, of weaselling away from everything we have tried to do in the opposition to bring this matter to public light. The member for Cochrane South finds no difficulty in associating himself with that. I think it would be great if the member for Cochrane South was concerned, as he says, about the victims of the Re-Mor scandal, but I dare say he probably cannot even name a single victim.

I was reflecting over the supper hour on the speech the member for Cochrane South made, a continual series of quotations that formed his dry, uncaring dissertation in defence of what is clearly an indefensible position his government has taken. Frankly, if I could be of some use as a speech writer to the member for Cochrane South, it might have been quite appropriate, in terms of looking for sources to quote in this indefensible position his government is in, to suggest he need not have looked so far away in time nor in physical distance, but could have looked only a few years away and only few miles away to a former president of our southern neighbour, a fellow by the name of Richard Nixon. I think he could have found some very good lines that he could have brought to the defence of his position and his government.

The matters raised by the Attorney General also form part of that continuing pattern of trying to deny the justice committee of this House and the opposition in this Legislature a chance to deal with and to try and find out what had happened in the Re-Mor case. Due to the obvious ignorance on the other side of the House, it might be wise to go back in time a little bit and let members know what brought us to the point where we have to deal with the resolution now before us.

Back in the mid-1970s, Mr. Montemurro and his associates -- Mr. Montemurro being a fellow with something less than a spotless reputation in terms of protecting the interests of people in this province -- tried to get a licence to set up a trust company in Ontario. They were unsuccessful in getting such a licence from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. They went down the street -- the street being the distance between here and Ottawa -- and were able to get such a licence from the federal government, so they were able to set up shop as a trust company in Ontario.

Some time later and as part of a series of corporations this fellow Montemurro had set up across the province, they got from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations registration --

Mr. Speaker: If I could interrupt the member at this time, I want to remind him we have allowed an awful lot of leeway in this debate since 3:30 this afternoon. The actual question before the House deals specifically with the time that something should take place. It surely does not go back to the year 1970 to resurrect all that has gone before.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I will move quickly through a very brief description of the history, Mr. Speaker. I would not have bothered to waste the time and I would not have thought it would have been necessary to put this on the record, except that clearly so many members across the way do not understand it. If they do not understand how we got to this position, I do not know how they can with any sense of confidence vote on the matter. If I stray from the topic, Mr. Speaker, please bring me to order and I will try to be brief in putting the background on the record.

They were allowed by the minister to register a company called C and M Financial Consultants. Almost from the early days of its existence C and M came under the scrutiny of various parts of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, specifically the Ontario Securities Commission, which I think is quite relevant to what is happening in this debate.

The securities commission finally, in November 1978, put a cease-trade order on Mr. Montemurro’s company, C and M Financial Consultants, on the grounds it was a mortgage company trading in securities and all of the inherent problems in that.

By February 1979, the question had moved into the Supreme Court of Ontario and the Supreme Court had appointed a receiver for the affairs of C and M, after finding out it had been trading in securities without being registered for that purpose.

On February 21, 1979, about two weeks after the Montemurro company, C and M, had been put into receivership, the ministry went ahead and registered Re-Mor. That is how we have come to where we are today.

The central issue before us and the questions to which we could not get answers dealt with that fact. Why was it one arm of the ministry was shutting down C and M which had been registered under the Mortgage Brokers Act, while another branch of the ministry was giving the same guy a licence, a registration, to set up another company? That is an amazing decision. That is a really incredible, almost unbelievable decision for the ministry to have made. The reason it is unbelievable is because of the wording of the legislation under which the registration was granted.

The Mortgage Brokers Act, if I may read briefly from section 5(1) says, “An applicant is entitled to registration or renewal of registration by the Registrar except where, (a) having regard to his financial position, the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to be financially responsible in the conduct of his business.”

If I could break there for a moment, the C and M swindles eventually ended up in what is now going before the courts as a $3.8 million fraud case. That came as early as 1978. In November, the ministry was involved in shutting that down for that purpose. That is financial responsibility.

It continues, “(b) the past conduct of the applicant affords reasonable grounds for belief that he will not carry on business in accordance with the law and with integrity and honesty.”

We come back to exactly the same point. The same people who had been involved in the C and M swindle who obviously showed they were unable to conduct their business in accordance with the law or with integrity or honesty are then, two weeks later, given a licence. Both of the conditions -- and it only takes one -- were breached. Yet the minister and his people granted that registration. That is what brings the case before us. That action perhaps made it inevitable that 824 people would lose $6 million.

If I can come to the difficulties we faced in the Legislature in trying to find some justice for our constituents in this matter, we raised this issue with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations the first day we were able to after the opening of the fall session. His response was he was not going to go ahead and do anything to help these people. We raised the matter with the minister again and again in the intervening months. We asked him if he would explain to us why on earth they gave this registration. He never explained; he never even tried to.

8:20 p.m.

One day I was so beside myself as to how to readdress the question which I had asked so many times, I even asked the minister if he could identify one single activity by Mr. Montemurro that would lead him to believe Mr. Montemurro would have been financially responsible in this matter and would have conducted his business with honesty and integrity and in accordance with the law. Even when asked in the reverse form, the minister could not identify one single occasion, one single activity or action that would make him believe Mr. Montemurro could have been expected to do that.

The 324 people still do not have their money. What did they do? They had to announce their intention to sue their own government to try to get the money back. Clearly, they were not going to get it back in any other way. They have gone ahead and given that notice of intention to sue and I think that’s shameful.

Mr. Speaker: Would the honourable member like me to refresh his memory as to the content of the motion?

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, I do not think my remarks in this important matter have strayed any further than the remarks of the Attorney General earlier this afternoon. Nor have I used any unparliamentary language. I thought I was being kind.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Not so. Not so.

Mr. Hodgson: That’s a change.

Mr. M. N. Davison: We talk straight in Hamilton Centre. We know what to call what has gone on here.

The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) consistently refused to give us any information. Finally, the matter was referred to the justice committee of the assembly which was the appropriate place for it to go. I sat here and listened very carefully as the Attorney General gave his dissertation on why the Legislative Assembly’s justice committee was not properly charged with that responsibility.

The Attorney General and I have been in this House for the same five years. I have participated in the affairs of this House and its committees; it is too bad the Attorney General did not have the same opportunity before being elevated to the cabinet. It is clear to me that he completely misunderstands how the parliamentary process works and what it is about.

The justice committee met to deal with it and again requested that the ministry give us the information. Earlier in the debate, three motions were moved by the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) to try to get some basic information. When it was apparent that no other information would be forthcoming, the justice committee moved a motion asking for your warrant, Mr. Speaker, which you were kind enough to grant to us.

I honestly believed that when the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations received a warrant for those documents, he would turn them over. When I read the warrant, I was impressed. “Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom, of Canada and her other realms and territories, Queen, head of the Commonwealth, defender of the faith; to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, greetings and then set forward the documents required by the committee.

I really believed the minister would do that. I did not know there was some process by which the minister and his government could escape the production of those documents. I really believed the committee would have the advantage of those documents in its work, work the committee will have to do whether or not it gets the documents.

Even though this committee and its representatives met with representatives of the Attorney General’s office and worked out a very complex and very clear set of guidelines as to how this would be dealt with before the committee, and even though a deadline was set without disagreement from anybody in the government, either members of the Conservatives or members of the bureaucracy, that the papers would be turned over on December 2, at midnight on Tuesday night we did not have the documents. As of that hour I believe, even if no one else around here believes, that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was at least in contempt of the standing committee on the administration of justice. It remains to be seen whether he will be in contempt of your warrant in this matter, Mr. Speaker.

The justice committee then went ahead and moved a motion in plain and simple language that you now have before you in the House requiring that those documents be produced by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning, some 12 hours from now.

It has been said that the Attorney General has come forward, at that committee meeting and today in this debate, with a compromise position. The Attorney General’s alleged reasonable compromise is that the whole matter of compliance be delayed for a week, which is part one. Part two is, what happens at the end of that week? The Attorney General graces the administration of justice committee with his presence, a rare thing indeed, and will explain to the committee and advise the committee as far as it is humanly possible how long it will take the Ontario Provincial Police to complete that part of its investigation which concerns the committee. One month, one year, 10 years? Who knows?

That is not a reasonable compromise. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is under a Speaker’s warrant for the production of documents and the Attorney General comes forward with a suggestion that would not have been a compromise position a month and a half ago. In real terms he says that the committee is unlikely ever to get those documents if we follow along with this.

The second part of the Attorney General’s request is that we allow the Attorney General and his designates a chance to sift through the evidence and the documentation; to take out the vast majority of documents from the files; to edit in any way they choose the information which will be supplied to the committee. I would not be surprised if, in the process, there were even certain tape recordings and a certain secretarial person should happen to put his or her foot in the wrong place while replaying the tapes. The most incredible kind of information could come to that committee.

The committee cannot deal with documents that are edited by the government. The committee needs all of those documents. We cannot be asked to accept some edited version of the documentation. That is why it is necessary that the committee receive all of --

Hon. Mr. Grossman: No one said that.

Mr. M. N. Davison: That is exactly what --

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know you can’t understand it. Ask Mr. Renwick to explain it to you.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. Order.

Mr. M. N. Davison: The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, the boy Minister of Industry and Tourism, has said that my view of what the Attorney General has put forward as a compromise position is not the facts. Well, let me read it so there can be no misunderstanding on the part of the minister and his fine friends across the way.

Mr. Hodgson: What was your majority?

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Fourteen, and I know every single one of them are fine people.

Mr. Hodgson: Did you say 1,400?

Mr. M. N. Davison: Fourteen votes, my friend. We waste no effort in the fine riding of Hamilton Centre.

8:30 p.m.

I am quoting from the Attorney General’s statement earlier. “Two, the committee request of the Speaker that his warrant be confined to this committee’s area of concern, i.e., documents relating to the issuance of the licence by the ministry. This request is made to alleviate my concern,” et cetera.

“Documents relating to the issuance of the licence by the ministry”; that is what the Attorney General wants to give us. Those are the edited documents. What are the documents requested by the committee and requested by the Speaker’s warrant? They are considerably different. They include all correspondence, interdepartmental memoranda, memoranda to file, application forms, notes, files and such other documents that are in the possession of any agency, board, commission, registry branch or division of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations relating to Carlo Montemurro and his related companies, particularly C and M Financial Consultants Limited, Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation, Canada Metal Recycling Labs and the Astra Trust Company.

The justice committee has asked for what may well be five truckloads of documents. The Attorney General, in his reasonable compromise, is going to give us something he can probably write on the back of a matchfolder. He cannot expect the committee to deal with that kind of information; that is not a compromise.

The Attorney General, as I said earlier, has been involved in this pattern of obstructing the work of the committee and obstructing the work of the opposition in getting to the facts in this case. That is unacceptable to us in the opposition parties.

I think we have been overly kind with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. More than a week ago, he received a warrant from the Speaker of this House with which he has failed to comply. I do not know how people in the rest of the province view these things, but where I come from in the north end of Hamilton that is contempt. That is what I think the minister and this government are involved in. I think they have an obligation to produce those documents and to produce them forthwith. The motion before this committee by way of report clearly states that those documents should be produced no later than nine o’clock tomorrow morning.

I wanted to add to that original motion in the committee an amendment that on the failure to comply with that order of the House -- and judging from the past performance of the minister and his friends this would be quite possible -- the minister be cited by the Speaker for contempt of the House. Unfortunately that amendment was not carried. There were only four votes to be mustered in the committee for it.

My concern is that we are running against the clock in this matter. The assembly will rise on December 12. We have very little time left to get those documents. I think it is important we conclude this debate shortly this evening, have a vote on the motion and then get the documents so that the committee can start to do its work.

This is my final comment in this matter. We have heard a lot about who is going to be hurt. We have heard a lot of claptrap about how, through this study by a respectable and properly constituted committee of this assembly, in some way this Montemurro fellow may get off the hook. The only people who are going to be hurt if the committee does not go ahead and do its work are the 324 Re-Mor victims, the people whom this government seems so willing to forget all about, to write off completely.

Hon. Mr. Welch: That is not true.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I say to the Minister of Energy, if that is untrue, how many people does he know are involved? How many people is he defending tonight in the Legislative Assembly?

Hon. Mr. Welch: That is not fair.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I can read him a list of 40 people I am concerned about who have come to me personally.

Hon. Mr. Welch: It is not fair to suggest we are not concerned about those people.

Mr. M. N. Davison: If he is concerned then he should quit trying to hide behind this dry legalistic claptrap. Give us the documents so we can do our work in that committee, work that is going to have to go on whether the government continues to obstruct us or not. The government is under a Speaker’s warrant to provide that information to this committee. Within the next two hours, it is going to be under a further order to provide those documents by nine o’clock tomorrow. If those documents are not provided, there are people over there who are going to be in contempt of the Legislative Assembly and who are going to be dealt with.

As I put it earlier, this motion has to pass in the Legislative Assembly this evening, because the administration of justice committee and its hearings are the last best hope for the Re-Mor victims and constitute the only way in which we will find out what really happened in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations in this unbelievable act of registration of Re-Mor. It is the only channel through which these 324 people can get some money back. It is not their fault they were ripped off and they deserve some form of compensation. The committee is the body through which they have some hope of getting it and I think the government would be wrong and arrogant in the extreme to stand in the way of the work of that committee.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous speaker, I will try to be reasonably brief and to the point -- and reasonable. I must say I sat in this Legislature for the previous speaker’s maiden speech and it was a pleasure hearing his swan song.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Do you want to come and run in Hamilton Centre?

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I do want to address this debate, which the Attorney General has quite properly described as one of the most important debates that has occurred, at least in my five years here. The reason I want to participate this evening is because I, like many other members of this assembly and other parliaments, have participated on many occasions at public forums on public platforms where I and others spoke up in defence of liberties that others less fortunate than us do not have.

I, like others, have stood on platforms and in this assembly defending with as much force as possible this democracy and the system we live under. There are a lot of members of this assembly who can give very eloquent speeches in defence of our democracy, the previous speaker this evening excepted.

I have listened as many members of all three parties represented here tonight, and representatives of parties in all assemblies in this country, have eloquently spoken in favour of the virtues and traditions that have made this the great and free country it is. Some of us find it is very easy to make those speeches when the going is easy. But the true test comes not when some of us are requested to speak in front of a rally, not when we speak to an audience of people who have lived under totalitarian government and we go there and assure them that we in this country have the protections that many oilier countries do not have -- those speeches --

Mr. Roy: Take the smile off your face when you are saying that.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: There is no smile on my face. I say to the member, tomorrow morning when he is in court practising, and standing up and defending the traditions and defending the accused, he will be relieved that this system has protected the rights, not only of the accused the member will be representing for remuneration tomorrow morning, but of those people whom the accused person has harmed. The protection to which that person is entitled was hard won in this country, even though, thankfully, there was no war. It is a hard-to- protect right and it slips away easily.

8:40 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Ottawa East who will not be with us tomorrow, and I say to others who have had the privilege of practising in the law courts as have I, we have seen many examples where our system has been stretched to its very limits in order to ensure freedom, the rights of the accused, the right to a fair trial and the right to full and complete remedy in the courts of people who have been aggrieved by someone who has committed a criminal offence.

I, like other lawyers, have watched and been involved in trials in which someone who likely was guilty went free. Why does that happen? Because our system and the American system, I might add, with well-known cases like the Miranda case in the US and many in Canada which my colleagues who have practised more recently than I could call to mind, have built-in protections that are sometimes difficult for the victim of a crime to swallow. But it is the price --

Mr. Roy: The same bull that we heard --

Hon. Mr. Grossman: My friend from Ottawa East, QC, may think it is bull but it is the first lesson he learned in law school. He probably tells his clients the same kind of “bull” but when it comes to this assembly, when he visits us, he calls it bull. It is unbecoming to the member’s profession, though not unbecoming of the member.

Mr. Roy: It is bull coming from you.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Ottawa East shows his class when the chips are down.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The system is being tested on the merits of this case. It is not easy for us on this side of the House to stand up, understanding the politics of the situation. One does not have to be terribly experienced to understand the politics here in terms of what is popular in Hamilton.

My colleague the Minister of Energy, the Deputy Premier, has to face on a daily basis many constituents who have a difficult time understanding why these documents cannot be delivered, why the problem cannot be remedied right away. It is not popular or easy for us to take the difficult position that time is required; justice has some built-in reservations, checks and balances, and a certain process that must be protected. It is easy for everyone to mouth his dedication to democracy, but sometimes that dedication is tested.

The test comes for a government, indeed for all legislators, when in the face of what are admittedly difficult politics, they must say time is required.

I have never heard of this company. I do not know the people involved. I do know some of them have been charged and I am confident that far too many innocent people have been harmed. All of that makes this a key test for this system because we have to show some resilience in order to stand up to these very difficult politics.

No one over here is happy about having to look at those people and say, “Time is required.” Why is time required? Time is required to conduct a full investigation.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The opposition says, “What have you been doing for eight months?” That tells me one thing. It tells me some members of the opposition have suddenly decided enough time has passed, in their judgment, for the investigation to have been completed.

They have listened to the Attorney General, who is charged with certain parts of the administration of justice in this province, report that the investigation is not complete. Yet some members of this assembly take it upon themselves to deem the investigation is complete and therefore to call down records which form part of an investigation that may lead to criminal charges. Some members of this assembly have decided in their own judgement, for whatever reasons -- I don’t want to be nasty enough to speculate those are political reasons -- that the investigation has gone on long enough and now they want the documents.

When those charged with the investigation and the administration of justice in this province say those documents are prematurely issued at this time, the production of those documents could threaten the prosecution the members opposite surely want to see launched, if appropriate.

I believe the precedent here is terribly important. Mr. Speaker, I want you to think about the precedent being established. We have been dealing with these events in the context of a specific investigation and in the context of a minority government

Let me pose a scenario in which there is a majority government, in which the committees are obviously controlled by the government of the day, in which the Ontario Securities Commission has an investigation underway -- nothing more than an investigation -- and someone in the government comes to realize a member opposite, or someone who is not yet a member but is about to run for a party opposite against the government member, is named somewhere in the Ontario Securities Commission’s files. Nothing has been shown; nothing has been proved.

Let me just picture the scenario. A government-controlled majority could force through this same route a Speaker’s warrant from you, Mr. Speaker, to disclose files that are confidential in forming part of an investigation and that information would come out Mr. Speaker, you and I are in politics. We all are. We understand the implications of that. Someone’s name would be besmirched. His political chances would be irreparably harmed.

They would be harmed because people sitting in this assembly decided they wanted to see all the confidential files of the Ontario Securities Commission.

8:50 p.m.

What is there that should stop this committee, or any other committee, from getting a Speaker’s warrant for all the files currently at the Ontario Securities Commission? This committee could say it is not satisfied with the conduct of the Ontario Securities Commission, it is not satisfied that it checked out the principals of these companies in every other file the Ontario Securities Commission has, and it wants to see every file and wants it all produced, including information supplied to the Ontario Securities Commission on a confidential basis by police forces literally throughout the world. That is a very severe precedent.

Mr. Laughren: I’d rather hear from George Kerr.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick is speaking. I wish all of you would give him the courtesy of listening.

Mr. Bolan: Let’s listen to something intelligent for a change.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker talked about the fact that this government was relying on what he termed dry legalistic arguments. Sometimes it is the dry and legalistic arguments and laws which are the sole protections our people have. One never knows when our democracy slips back. The democracy in this province will not disappear tomorrow. This will not become a totalitarian state tomorrow morning. Little by little some of the checks built into our system to ensure that somewhere down the road every citizen of this province -- notwithstanding the political discomfort it gives the government of the day to provide that protection -- has that protection, will be eroded.

It is not politically comfortable for this government to stand here and be pictured as defending a whole bunch of people who are subjects of an investigation, but it is our responsibility not to give in to the politics of it and to ensure that there is, in fact, a full set of laws here in place with all the checks, all the balances and all the mechanisms to ensure that precipitate action is not carelessly undertaken.

Mr. Speaker, I remind you what the issue is tonight. The Attorney General has asked for a few more days, when he might be able to report to this committee --

Mr. Bradley: He has had a month. All of a sudden he is forced against the wall.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Sure, wipe away a whole bunch of protections because you need the documents Friday, not next Wednesday.

If our democracy is so frail because certain members of this assembly --


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The Attorney General has asked for the opportunity to come to the committee next week. He believes at that time the situation will have been clarified. I simply urge it upon the members of this assembly. I understand. I, like every member of this assembly, have had people come into my constituency office, obviously not on this matter, but on a whole host of matters. I know what it is like to look across at people who are threatened, who have lost money, whose lives are suddenly made insecure, and to try to work out a remedy for them. I know what the human tug is; I understand that.

There are certain times when our system requires us to take a deep breath and consider the cost of immediate gratification. I do not want to deny the opposition members, particularly members of the legal profession, their opportunity to try to explain what they are doing to the legal and parliamentary system of this province.

I do not know, somewhere down the road, whether or not the events of this week and tonight will prove to have been important. I do know a couple of things. (1) Sooner or later, all the information in this case will be made available. (2) When legislators calmly make decisions --

Mr. Bolan: What nonsense.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: As a lawyer, the member for Nipissing ought to close it there. Some of his members are actually listening. I do not expect to change their minds but I hope that maybe, just maybe, they will listen a bit and contemplate --

Mr. Roy: It is a struggle to listen to you.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I understand that does not happen in the member’s caucus. A fiat is handed down every Tuesday and that is the way it goes.

I just hope that for a few moments, perhaps even for the last hour and a half, every one can forget the partisan politics involved here and take one step back. I say to the members opposite, particularly from the legal profession who, strangely, have been interjecting most, and I say this as a lawyer, not a legislator, it is incumbent upon them to listen to the argument and if they have a counterargument, take their turn in the speaking order and make the counterargument. Let us at least have a decent argument on the process.

The subject matter of this evening’s debate should not be the entire history of the trust company and the cast of characters, all of which has been discussed for months in committee. The subject matter of this evening’s debate is what price for getting those documents Friday instead of next Wednesday. That is the topic this evening. What price getting the documents tomorrow morning instead of next Wednesday? The price of getting those documents on Friday instead of five or six days later, next Wednesday, is quite severe. I do not know of very many countries that have intentionally stripped away their democratic protections. They trickle away.

Mr. Laughren: Thanks to Pierre Trudeau.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Nickel Belt is right. It happens over a number of years. Each move seems harmless enough.

Mr. Mancini: Ask John Rodriguez. He’ll tell you.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Essex South destroys what this place is all about. Why doesn’t he knock it off? I know he is talking about an NDP member but he destroys the integrity of this evening’s debate. He ought to knock it off. His remarks are not helpful to the process. Tonight’s debate is important.

Mr. Roy: You’re distorting the issue, that’s what you’re doing.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The issue is not being distorted, with respect, Mr. Speaker. The issue is what price Friday instead of next Wednesday. We must balance that off. I do not know at which point various things done in Ottawa by the Prime Minister have stripped our democratic process of certain protections; time will tell. I am not very close to this --

Mr. Roy: Give us one example.

Mr. Bolan: What about the price of a hearing in Cayuga?

9 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The members opposite will yap about everything but the debate tonight. They stay totally away from the merits of the issue. It might turn out to let Merle Dickerson come back.

Built into this system is the right of the Speaker to make the decision that lies before him, and he has to make it tonight or tomorrow morning. Mr. Speaker, I simply want to put this proposition to you. You may wish to take the position that you are simply bound by the decision of this House, whatever it shall be this evening. I want to say that those people who value this democracy, and surely everyone in this House does, want every single check, hurdle, lever -- whatever word one uses -- kept in this system. I hope, Mr. Speaker, you will not take the position that you are not a moderating factor, that you are not a final lever or mechanism or hurdle, but that you are there to sit blindly by if you see some part of our democratic system being threatened.

I hope you will accept your responsibilities as encompassing being the court of last resort, the last mechanism that listens to the arguments and hears the vote of the House. I do not know what the vote of this assembly might be this evening, but whatever it is, I hope you will not take that as an irrevocable direction you must follow, I have always believed the Speaker’s role is larger and greater than that. It is not one that should be exercised often, regularly or even at random. It is a right that ought to be exercised on those rare occasions when the Speaker says:

“I understand what has happened in this assembly, I understand the political motivations, the legitimate motivations, the emotionalism with which this debate has been held, but I also understand that as Speaker I am guardian of this parliament. I am guardian of a system that surely protects the differentiation and the separation of the judiciary from the legislative branch. As Speaker, I am guardian of the rights of all citizens, even when the elected parliament overreacts. As Speaker, if I am to handle this delicate democracy fairly and impartially, my job is to exercise a degree of moderation and common sense over the deliberations and the request before me to execute a warrant on Friday instead of next Wednesday.”

It seems to me the Speaker’s job in this assembly is multifold, but one of those jobs is to ensure, as far as possible, that justice prevails in this assembly, that fairness for all citizens, even when the going gets tough, prevails, and that the integrity of this system is protected.

I reflect back now on the proposal to put a bill of rights in the constitution. It seems to me that this evening’s discussion and the events of the past couple of weeks speak eloquently to the need to build as many protections as possible into the constitution and into a bill of rights in that constitution.

There are some occasions when political imperatives -- indeed to be fair to some of the members opposite -- human imperatives, result from people, friends and neighbours they know, who are frustrated. They cannot understand why the documents from these people who cheated them cannot be produced. Those imperatives, political or legitimate human imperatives, must be put aside and stood up to.

I say once again it is not a comfortable position for us. We on this side of the House who are responsible for the executive branch of this government, and the party with the most seats in this parliament --

Mr. Mancini: Ogoki Lodge is closing, Larry.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: That puts the honourable member’s contribution to this debate in perfect perspective.

I worry much more about our democracy closing a bit --

Mr. Mancini: I worry about the people in South Cayuga. For you to stand here and make that kind of a statement after you and the cabinet did that to the people of South Cayuga, you should be embarrassed.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The cameras are not on, forget it. You have been told a hundred times to wait until the camera is on.

Mr. Speaker, this sort of thing never happens at those times when troops are in the streets, when people are being jailed without due process. It is never those obvious times when our democracy is tested. It is these kinds of times. Even when it is politically uncomfortable and even when it tags the heart strings of the members from that area who have friends and neighbours who have lost money, that is when our system is tested.

It is easy to give speeches about democracy; it is easy to give speeches about the constitution; it is easy to talk about a bill of rights; it is easy to talk about how we all believe in the system and are prepared to go to the wall for it. But this is a little test of whether we, as legislators, are prepared to put up with some emotional heart tugs and some political imperatives in order to protect our system.

If this House fails to stand up to that test, Mr. Speaker, I perceive your role as the last moderate check. I believe you are not obliged, whatever the vote this evening, simply to execute the result of this vote, but to exercise your responsibility to protect this parliament and this democracy over which you, in part, preside. I make that urgent and fervent plea to you, Mr. Speaker, and I do so in the fervent hope that the Draconian events which could result every time one little brick of our democracy is taken away do not occur.

I hope I have overstated the case, quite frankly. I pray I have overstated it, but it is our job to stand up at this difficult time, we as legislators and you as Speaker, to protect our democracy in the face of political and emotional heat and pressure. This is the true test. It is not the speeches at banquets; it is not the speeches at rallies; it is whether one is prepared to stand up and be counted when the heat gets turned on. I hope this assembly and you, Mr. Speaker, will meet that challenge.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, as the member for Niagara Falls, I suppose I represent as many people as, or more people than, any other jurisdiction in Ontario that has been harmed by this involvement by these companies.

Mr. Sweeney: According to the minister, you are not supposed to be concerned about them.

9:10 p.m.

Mr. Kerrio: I am very seriously concerned as it relates to those people I represent. I think that we are all advocates, if I may use the expression, or advocates for the people we represent. I would like to say to the speaker who spoke before me that the subject matter is very clear to me even though I have not attended that great university where lawyers are turned out who are supposed to be able, in all senses, to address themselves to this very serious problem.

I have seen, in this highest court of the land, something transpire that is very difficult to believe. I saw something debated here and voted on, and then retroactive legislation put into place to cover for an inadequacy of the government. I ask the House, if a government can perform that kind of task in order to make up for an inadequacy, how can we then talk about a true democratic process? What we are talking about here is representing the people who were harmed. In all the time I have been the member for Niagara Falls I have never had as many people, on a given subject, hurt in the manner that these people were hurt. I am sure if I described the hurt that was done, I do not infringe on the sub judice of the situation. As I understand it, we should not talk about the facts that would take away from the case that is being made by the courts against Mr. Montemurro and Mr. Luciani. This I understand, and this I do not propose to do. The thing that is clearly before us, easily delineated, is the fact that we want the record so we can examine the position of the minister who granted the licence.

We understand exactly where the line is. We shall not stray across it. We want to find out why this government gave a licence to a group of people after they had gone bankrupt in another firm. It was very obvious to us that maybe that should not have been given. We want to understand the workings of a government that would do such a thing. We want to examine how we can further protect people in the future so it does not happen again. We do not, shall not and will not become involved in the case against the people in those other companies. That is not hard to understand. Whether we have been to law school or not, no one should have to explain that to us; it is all understood.

I ask again, why does this become so involved, so entangled and so hard to describe? I only want to speak to the subject matter for a few minutes. I cannot believe what has happened to those people I represent.

I saw a case of a young man and woman. The young lady was a nurse in Niagara Falls, New York. The husband was working in Canada. They lived on his wages and were putting hers into a trust account there. They found out there was some question about whether foreign deposits were protected. I think as the minister has described it, they may have been protected, and I hope so, but there was great concern expressed by that young couple as to whether their funds were protected because they were in foreign currency.

In many other instances, older people have lost their life savings. There are literally hundreds of them. I feel that this, the highest court in the land, can deal in a very fair manner with those people who have been banned, and in particular as it relates to how astute this government was in the issuing of the licence. We should see to it that it does not happen again.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak very briefly. I do so, not as a legal expert or a lawyer who can speak about the niceties of the sub judice, or whatever, but as a political scientist and historian and as one who has made a rather long life study of our parliamentary system. In this way, I suspect I join forces with some members opposite, perhaps the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) who is equally a historian and a political scientist. I would not even try to touch on all the points made in this debate, but I would like to speak for just a few minutes in a sense of, perhaps, sweet reasoning.

I think at times we touch on subjects in this House that really do rise above partisan politics. Therefore I would hope to enlist my colleagues and members of this House on all sides that we might consider the issue before us as gentlemen who have a common interest which is to maintain, develop and strengthen the parliamentary system in this great province of ours.

I do not for a moment suggest the justice committee has acted in any way like the court of Star Chamber. We know that.

Mr. McClellan: Why don’t you tell that idiot friends of yours?

Hon. Mr. Baetz: He did not say that.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Yes, he did.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I think it is unparliamentary to use that kind of language. Would the member please withdraw it?

Hon. Mr. Baetz: As my friend the member for Renfrew North knows as well as I do, throughout the development and evolution of our great parliamentary system there has been nothing more crucial than that fine division of respective responsibilities and jurisdictions of the executive council, the parliament and the courts. This has been central throughout the centuries.

As my friend from Renfrew North also knows, there has never been a darker period in the British parliamentary system than in the days of the Tudors when Parliament and the King did try to usurp, through that famous or infamous court of Star Chamber, the jurisdiction of the courts. It was the darkest period in our parliamentary history. We all know how that rather tragic episode ended, with the beheading of King Charles I.

I would simply hope that we here, in a nonpartisan fashion, address ourselves to the major question before us. Frankly, as an individual member for Ottawa West, I have been persuaded by that very articulate, reasoned, impassioned argument that the chief law officer -- and that is what the Attorney General is -- made, the appeal he made to us, to act in a sensible fashion here today. If the Attorney General had not committed himself to appear before this committee no later than next Wednesday, I would not be up here on my feet defending the position.

9:20 p.m.

It seems to me what we are really faced with here in the light of the tremendous dangers the Attorney General has presented here, the tremendous hazards if we are to proceed tonight in the fashion of the motion before the House -- if we are to proceed in that fashion and to risk those hazards -- is that we must weigh that against not stonewalling forever, nor trying to cover up; and nobody in this House -- not me, nobody over there, nobody over here -- wants to cover up. We must compare those tremendous hazards that he has articulately placed before this House, with a three-day leeway, a three-day mortgage of time in order that he can appear with some of the proper documents to present to the committee.

I have listened all afternoon and I have not heckled. I have not interjected but have listened as one who is deeply interested in the parliamentary system to see what our Attorney General had to say. I must say, as an individual member of this House, I frankly find it extremely difficult to understand, I simply cannot comprehend the risk for this House if we are to postpone our decision for three days as compared to the risk if these documents have to be presented to this House tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. I simply cannot comprehend it.

I suspect that men and women of intelligence and intellect across the House and on this side, along with me, cannot comprehend these enormous hazards if we allow the Attorney General, as he has pleaded here this afternoon, a few more days to present those documents that that committee, in its wisdom and judgement, wants and should have. What is the hazard of delaying another two or three days? I simply cannot comprehend that at all.

Finally, I would once again say there do come times to go beyond partisan politics. In this House we are all practising politicians. We know that and we all know what that implies but surely an important element and dimension of practising politicians is that at certain times in history they go above and beyond partisan politics and exercise good judgement and leadership as leaders of this province and as statesmen. I would think that surely, if there ever was a time, this is that occasion when all of us should go beyond partisan politics.

My plea would be especially to members across the House. In times of minority government the decision rests over there and that is where the decision rests tonight. I would plead to the members opposite tonight to vote as statesmen, as leaders of this province, and not to follow the partisan politics and partisan positions. If we do that, I am convinced the parliamentary system -- many hundreds of years old and over a hundred years old in this province -- will be stronger and better than ever. My plea would be that we rise above partisan politics and that the members opposite exercise their leadership tonight and we will go on to greater heights from here on.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I sat here all afternoon and listened to a variety of members, especially the lawyers on the government side, state the government case. Considering the exchanges that have flown across the floor of this House, starting, I suppose, with question period, which was somewhat lively, I must say there was some electricity in the air. I can tell the Christmas season is upon us because of the electricity of this place.

I have listened closely to the approach taken by the Attorney General in his statement and I have listened to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), who spoke about the rule of law, due process and so on. Then I listened to the member for Cochrane South, and I had some difficulty understanding what he was saying because he was reading cases most of the time. I thought he was reading his bar admission notes in the House.

I listened to the Minister of Culture and Recreation, who spoke last. I must say his contribution may have been the most helpful this afternoon and evening. I listened to the Minister of Industry and Tourism, who gave quite a performance in distorting the process that has taken place and distorting the motivation in what the justice committee is attempting to do in this case.

I do not intend to be very long, and I do not think I will be able to convince anyone. I want to say, though, that if one had sat here and not been familiar at all with the issue, certainly one would have some concern. If we listened to the approach taken by the government members, the impression is left that somehow the members of the justice committee -- these irresponsible opposition members -- were attempting to undermine due process and the rule of law.

I have talked to my colleagues; I have expressed concern during the course of this debate. I have asked: “What are we doing? Are we attempting to get involved in the case where the individuals are in fact charged, where there has been a preliminary hearing held? Are we attempting to get involved in that sort of process?”

My colleagues assure me that is not the case, they are not involved in that sort of process. I asked: “Are any other charges laid against any other individuals in this case that the hearing by the justice committee will undermine? Are any other individuals charged?” I am told there are no others.

I look to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and as far as I know there are individuals who are charged with fraud who have had a preliminary hearing, and who have been committed for trial. That is what I understand. But there have been no charges laid as far as the issuing of a licence; there have been no charges laid against anyone in the ministry. That is what the justice committee is attempting to understand.

What about my colleagues on this committee? Have they forced you, Mr. Speaker? I listened to the Minister of Industry and Tourism. He was begging with you. He was contorted. I wondered what he was attempting to perform, hoping that somehow you would not issue these warrants, that somehow the justice committee had misguided you in some way.

Mr. Breithaupt: They are already issued.

Mr. Roy: They are already issued, my colleague tells me. It is true. But there is some reluctance in obeying the warrants. We can feel it from that side.

With some measure of admiration I pay tribute to my colleague the member for St. Catharines, who throughout this process has had one question in mind, that is, what has happened at the level of the issuance of the licence? My colleague throughout has been constant and he has been direct in his motivation; that is what he wants to know. He has his constituents, as we have heard here before and I do not intend to get into that, who have lost their life savings in this process. They want to know why. That is their interest and he has been direct and constant in his motivation.

9:30 p.m.

I want to say, as well, I listened this afternoon with a great deal of admiration to the presentation made here by the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick). I thought it was excellent. I thought he covered every issue -- the question of due process, the question of the minister’s statement -- and I thought he did it with excellence and depth. He took a thorough approach to this important problem.

I join this debate because often when we in this Legislature are discussing a variety of issues, and I think this is an important issue, basically what we have is a situation where there in a conflict between the role to be played by members of this assembly, the role we are sworn to play though we are members of the opposition -- we have a job to do here -- and the tools are at our disposal; in other words, the warrant you have issued, Mr. Speaker, and the right of the public to know about this public business that has gone on in this particular situation. That is one of the issues.

Brought on by that issue, the other conflict is the right of due process. It is the administration of justice. It is the independence of the judiciary and the protection of the rights of the individuals within this community. There are times when there is a conflict. There still may be a conflict here. If we were to listen to the government members, especially the lawyers this afternoon and this evening, the members of the justice committee would be under the impression that by proceeding as we are, somehow we are going to undermine that whole criminal process, somehow we are going to undermine certain individuals who should or should not be charged. The investigation is not complete. I ask myself, is that really the case? Is that what is happening?

When it comes to the question of sub judice, the rule of law, as the Attorney General has said, we have rules in this assembly that prohibit us from dealing with matters at present before the court. We ask ourselves the first question, in the matter of the issuance of the licence, how was it a licence was issued in these circumstances? Is this a matter now before the courts I ask the House, is that before the courts? It is not before the courts.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Civilly.

Mr. Roy: The member for Brock, I think, mentions it is before the civil courts.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Two civil actions.

Mr. Roy: I say to the minister, are we talking about a civil action or are we talking about a criminal process? Not one of his colleagues all afternoon talked about the civil process. We are talking about the rule of law. We are talking about the liberty of the individual. We are talking about a criminal process. We are not talking civil law at this point.

One of the things of great concern to the members on this side is the fact the rule of law, the question of sub judice, has been abused here time and again, as my colleague the member for Riverdale has said. Time and again, issues have been put on the back burner because the government knows, as anybody knows, time is on its side. If it can put off an issue for a period of time, there will be no issue left and the public will not be interested.

Mr. Speaker, you and your predecessors in the chair have put a narrow restriction on the use of sub judice. We are very careful on this side that it is not thrown up before the members of this assembly every time we are looking at the government’s performance in relation to a particular issue.

When I hear my colleague the member for Ottawa West talking about compromise, I say to him that I hope we arrive at a compromise, because when he talks about the rule of law and sub judice, I want to mention how sometimes that rule is used conveniently by some. It is used conveniently and employed in some instances when it should not be. There are other times when there seems to be no question that interference on the part of a minister is allowed.

For instance, I say to the Minister of Culture and Recreation, who is in charge of the Ontario Heritage Act, how does he consent in November 1979 to a prosecution of the church in Ottawa in relation to what is called the Clegg House? In his consent at that time he stated that it should be left to the courts for determination. Yet on December 2, 1980, he sent a telex to Ottawa urging the city of Ottawa to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the church. How is that for interference in the due process? Where is that great defender of public freedom, that man who raises sub judice? How is that for a conflict of interest? What is the member for Ottawa West doing when he does that sort of thing to the act?

Hon. Mr. Baetz: Stick around here and you’ll get the answer. You are never here for the question period.

Mr. Roy: Any time the minister wants me to answer a question, I will answer it. In fact, if there are a few more performances like tonight’s, I will answer all his questions, because he will be on this side.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: You are not going to be checked, Albert, because you aren’t coming down here.

Mr. Roy: I find it highly improper that in November 1979 a minister in charge of an act would consent to a prosecution and in December, when the prosecution is coming up before the courts, he would tell the same people to settle out of court. Where is the Attorney General to involve the sub judice rule?

Hon. Mr. Pope: You won’t be around next year, Albert.

Mr. Roy: I hear the member for Cochrane South, who likes to talk about the rule of law. What about the rule of law in Cayuga? What is his government doing about a hearing for the people in that area?

Mr. Speaker: Order. I want to remind the member for Ottawa East that the two citations he has given to the House are really not a part of the motion that is before the House --

Mr. T. P. Reid: They certainly are.

Mr. Speaker: Order. They are not.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --

Mr. Speaker: Sit down. You sit down.

Mr. T. P. Reid: They talked about the sub judice rule all day, and that man over there just threw it out the window.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Here is what we are debating:

“Your committee requests that the House authorize Mr. Speaker to require that all material required through the provisions of the Speaker’s warrant of 24 November, 1980 be delivered to the standing committee on administration of justice forthwith and no later than Friday, 5 December, at 9 am.”

We have allowed a lot of leeway in the background to this particular issue. But we are not debating Cayuga or talking about a heritage thing over in Ottawa. Get that straight.

9:40 a.m.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the members opposite have talked all afternoon and all evening about the fact that what we are doing here with this resolution is undermining due process. In fact we were undermining the rule of law. Apparently, we are undermining the whole criminal process according to the members opposite. I have great difficulty understanding why it is that, if the justice committee should be allowed to view documents and investigate what they have undertaken to do, it should somehow affect the criminal investigation. My colleague the member for St. Catharines mentioned the precautions they are prepared to accept. It is not a criminal charge that has been laid; it is a criminal investigation that is going on.

One has to wonder, as my leader did, how it is that criminal investigation has not taken place over the last eight months. Is it a last-minute decision to have it? I fail to understand how an investigation by members of the justice committee can contaminate the criminal investigation in any way if it is done with caution. If there is some duplication and they are advised to go in camera, my colleague the member for Riverdale said they are prepared to do so if necessary.

I fail to understand how these people have so distorted the whole issue. Why has a government ministry issued a licence 13 days or so after the company had apparently gone bankrupt? Why did the government give a licence in these circumstances? How can the investigation contaminate a criminal investigation? What is there to say this investigation by the committee will somehow undermine the criminal investigation?

I hope there is a compromise. I feel one can be worked out with a certain amount of goodwill, especially on the part of the Attorney General. Somehow I suspect the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations takes his orders from the Attorney General.

In the past, the Attorney General, by invoking the sub judice rule, has shown and has convinced many of my colleagues that at times he is employing the rule in a fashion that is too facile. The issue is being delayed and members are being denied an opportunity to review such issues. I am sure that with a certain amount of respect, the members of the justice committee will show a similar respect.

I fail to understand how members of the justice committee who would be looking at certain documents would somehow be contaminating these documents for a criminal investigation. We have heard such a distortion of the issue this evening. For instance, it was said that if the justice committee looks at these documents, the criminal investigation will not be able to continue. That is not so. The lawyers of this House who have done so are distorting the facts when they take it upon themselves to paint the members of the justice committee as people who are prepared to run roughshod over the rights of the people and the accused in this province.

Many of my colleagues across the House have invited me to join in this debate. They ask: “Do you have anything to contribute? Are you not ashamed of what you are doing?” I have spoken to my colleagues on the justice committee from all parties. Perhaps the minister should speak to some of the colleagues from his party on that committee who voted in favour of the motion and who he is selling down the river today. These people are prepared to show some compromise. They are not people who are prepared to ride roughshod over the rights of certain individuals; they are people who are concerned about what has happened to many of the small people in this province.

If that investigation looks at what has happened, at how it was that certain individuals were able to get a licence in these circumstances -- if these people are allowed to investigate these circumstances and if that is called a witchhunt, as the member for Cochrane South has said, then count me in; I am on a witchhunt too, because I am joining with these people. What they are doing is in good faith.

We in the opposition have a job to do. The members on the government side did not do the administration of justice any great favour by some of the comments they made. I say to them, if a compromise is not reached, I am satisfied it will be because certain individuals on the other side are not prepared to show a certain amount of good faith and objectivity on this point.

The members opposite should be allowed to do their job, and I want to put on record that in no way should criminal charges be undermined by the legislative process, but at the same time, the legislative function, the role of members of this assembly, should not be stopped in a facile or easy fashion. The members opposite should not put up roadblocks in a minute, as if they think the sub judice rule is something magic. The honourable members have invoked it too often, and it is small wonder that many members on this side are cynical about that process.

I trust that a compromise will be arrived at. I think it is going to be in our best interest. But for the honourable members opposite to suggest -- and I do not say this to the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz), but to some of his colleagues -- that somehow these people here are prepared to undermine the whole process, is a distortion of the facts. My colleagues are acting in good faith as much as anyone opposite.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, this is not a new matter that is before the justice committee, nor is it a new matter before the House. It is not something we have invented to provide extra work for ourselves during the recess, nor is it a matter that is being raised in the Legislature for the first time.

The matter has been dealt with by the justice committee and by this House in question after question for the past eight months; so it should not come as a surprise to either the Attorney General or the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations that the justice committee has some real concerns about the operations of one ministry in one particular instance and that we want to look at that and that alone.

The Attorney General has questioned the jurisdiction of the committee. He tried to convince you, Mr. Speaker, that somehow our committee, in examining the annual report of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, could not deal with the very specific matter of the action or inaction or of the competence or possibly incompetence of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations in the issuance of a particular mortgage broker’s licence.

One must wonder where the minister has been during the past few years as committee after committee deals with very specific and concrete issues via the very route of sending the annual report of a ministry to a standing committee for investigation. One of the great accomplishments of minority government has been that we have been able to find out for the public things that a government, of whatever party and whoever was in power, might rather keep behind closed doors.

9:50 p.m.

One of the credits that the press have given this minority government is that it has been more open government. I can recall that one of our press correspondents, one of our better-known columnists, devoted a whole column to this. He said one of the things that does happen under a minority government and with the operation and expansion of the standing committee system that we have evolved over the last five years is that certain bureaucrats are more on their toes and that certain high-ranking civil servants can no longer feel easy during the summer and be able to say: “Thank heavens, I can go to the cottage on Friday afternoon. I do not have to worry about what is going on.” Certain politicians cannot take certain actions without first realizing that the annual report of a ministry can be sent to a committee and the actions of that minister or the actions of his top civil servants can be questioned and examined and the public can find out.

One must wonder where the minister has been during the past few years as committees have done this. In a very specific way, we have examined certain ministerial actions and the actions of certain boards and commissions via this route. As a result of sending the annual report of a ministry to committee for study, we have been able to show that the justice system has been expanded.

While the Attorney General in the past has argued that certain committee activities verged on sub judice, he has never once tried to present the spurious argument that the committee could not investigate any matter under its jurisdiction by sending the annual report of a ministry to the standing committee. He certainly had opportunities and his officials have often wanted committees, particularly the justice committee, or in one case the resources committee, to refrain from examining certain things that were embarrassing to this government. The Attorney General surely realizes this has been the practice and a very successful one.

A recent case I can recall from personal involvement and experience was the inquiry of the resources committee into the actions of the Ontario Highway Transport Board. An even more recent examination was that of the Ontario Housing Corporation where the annual report of the ministry was referred to committee. The minister in his foggiest fantasies never thought of bringing out the spurious argument that the committee could not examine those specific questions at that time.

The process the Attorney General wishes to attack has resulted in a secretive government opening up to the taxpayers. In the case of OHC, it resulted in making public an operations manual that members of this House had asked for over years and the government had kept secret. That operations manual had rules and regulations governing the daily lives of thousands of people in this province. Only through sending an annual report to a committee was that operations manual made public. Only through sending an annual report to that committee was it possible for the legal aid lawyers for the various tenant activist groups, for the various tenant advocacy groups and for social workers to go to that ministry or to the housing authority and say: “Here are the rules by which you govern. Here is where we say Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones is not in violation of that rule.”

Surely that has expanded the justice system. Surely it is the right of people to know what rules govern their lives and to be able to argue according to the rules. That is openness and that is justice. But that is the kind of thing the Attorney General is attacking in his opening statement on this debate.

Likewise, in the case of the Ontario Highway Transport Board, the result was changes in bringing about a much fairer and more apparently honest system in the operations of a quasi-judicial body.

I have talked to people in the industry who listened with great intensity at those hearings. They have recognized the improvements in that board as a result of using the very procedure the minister is attacking. They have recognized that this quasi-judicial body now is more open and that justice not only is done but appears to be done, which is equally important. That is the process which the Attorney General as the chief law enforcement officer of this province has been attacking in the first few pages of his opening statement

For the Attorney General to state that a procedure that has resulted in greater justice for those appearing before quasi-judicial bodies is -- and I use his word -- “surreptitious” procedure is simply ill informed at best, or irresponsible at worst, on the part of the chief law enforcement officer, whose responsibility it is to spread and expand the justice process in this province.

Members on the other side of the House have made the argument that the release of certain documents might seriously be sub judice. Members of the justice committee have heard this argument time and time again. We are aware of the sub judice rule. We have studied the rulings of the British House of Commons as well as of the Canadian House of Commons. We know that in case after case and in study after study the rule has been that the members of the elected body, the Legislative Assembly, the Parliament, are the ones who must decide.

We have read in case after case that in the interests of democracy, if there is any error to be made, one must take a chance on erring on the side of openness. That is what the cases have said in the House of Commons in both Canada and Great Britain. That is what the committees that have studied this particular problem have come forward with.

The argument of sub judice was used by the Attorney General’s officers at the time of the inquiry by the resources committee into the operations of the transport board. At that time, the Liberal transportation critic and myself wanted to look into certain operations we considered to be unjust or certainly appeared to be unjust. There was an outcry by the public, and particularly by the industry, that certain things be looked at, not because they were necessarily absolutely unfair, but because there were suspicions and because openness would possibly clear the names of those who were being talked about behind closed doors and at various conventions.

We did that. The Attorney General’s office at that time charged that the committee might well be guilty of violating the sub judice rule. We argued we were not and that we could behave in a responsible manner. Members on this side of the House are arguing now that we are going to have the same problem. I challenge these members to show me one instance where, in the case of the justice committee or any other standing committee, we have ever violated the rule of sub judice. I ask members on the other side of the House to come up with one example where anyone’s rights have been seriously injured as a result of the inquiries conducted by standing committees. I ask members on the other side of the House to weigh the other side of how justice has been expanded as a result of some of the inquiries by committees using the process we have discussed.

10 p.m.

The government called wolf at the time, but there was no violation of the sub judice rule during the hearings on the transport board. Nor have there been violations at any other time. If the government is to use the sub judice argument, it must show at least one case where this has happened. It cannot come up with a single instance. Whenever the government starts to sweat, it finds one of the most convenient fans is a fan manufactured by a company called sub judice. It certainly takes the heat off the government.

The Attorney General is requesting that the committee delay its investigation until the government’s investigation is completed. If we, as parliamentarians, accept the argument that any time something is under investigation by the government we must cease our investigations as a parliament and as a committee, I suggest that will be the easiest rule to stop any kind of investigation or anything that is controversial and even mildly potentially damaging or uncomfortable to the government.

Any time any body, any government agency, or any government ministry finds the heat is on, it can always say, “It is under investigation; you cannot look at it.” I suggest that is more damaging to the justice system than anything that has been argued in the imagination of the Attorney General.

There seems to be certain misapprehensions and misconceptions on the government side of the House. They somehow say it was the Liberals and New Democrats who moved this motion and are responsible for it. In truth, I am able to count as well as you are, Mr. Speaker. I sat in the chair as the count was taken in that committee, and I know there were a number of members on the government side of the House who voted for what is before us tonight. To say we are being irresponsible, while their own members conveniently are not, is beyond my comprehension.

What really happened in that committee was that certain government members saw there was a reasonable course of action being taken by the committee. Outside the influence of those people in the hierarchy of their party -- the ministers and the cabinet -- they made rational decisions based on the evidence that was before our committee. They voted with the Liberals and New Democrats as a committee, not as partisan people, but as somebody who said: “We have something that seems reasonable. It is a reasonable compromise. It is only fair that we go ahead with this.”

If members on that side of the House and the minister are censuring us, they had better talk to their own members who voted for this. They voted with us and they saw the reason in it. I say to the members who did vote that way, if they are going to vote differently, they had better go back to their constituents and explain why they are going to do a flip-flop tonight.

I would like to read to the members exactly what the Attorney General has promised this House and the justice committee, because there seems to be some misapprehension that somehow the Attorney General is actually promising to do something very specific for the justice committee. Some members seem to think we are going to obtain these documents mystically or some other way on Wednesday if we somehow delay the motion tonight. I would like to read from the speech of the minister earlier today because I do not want to misquote him. I want some of his own members to understand exactly what he has promised.

I am quoting from page 1555-2, of Instant Hansard, December 4, 1980. He said, “I am quite prepared to give a personal undertaking on behalf of myself and on behalf of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations that we will appear once again before that committee on Wednesday next, and I am confident that the issues pertaining to the criminal investigation which are of fundamental importance can be resolved at that time.”

That is an understanding, with the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, you should take into consideration. I am asking you to take into consideration that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has really promised us nothing. For eight months now, the minister has promised us information on the very thing we want to look at, and he has not produced it. What is there to say the Attorney General will produce anything more in three or four days?

The minister’s promises in the past have not been all that well received, and indeed have not always been kept. The minister has somehow indicated we should be satisfied with this pie-in-the-sky, Utopia-will-come tomorrow suggestion that we will get what we want next Wednesday. The question we must ask, as a committee and as a Legislature, is what happens on Wednesday when the minister comes before us and says: “I’m terribly sorry, old chap, but the investigation is still going on. I really can’t produce the documents. I have countless reasons why I cannot give you what you are asking for”? What happens on Wednesday? Are we going to be back here again? Are we going to recycle what has amounted to a very time- consuming debate, which is distracting us from other matters of importance before this Legislature?

I am alarmed at the way in which the government has operated in this particular instance. I am alarmed that the minister to whom the warrant was issued has been almost completely invisible. I am alarmed that the chief law officer of the government, a law officer who should be acting on behalf of all parties and not just the cabinet, has been acting as the chief legal adviser or lawyer to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Surely if there were reasons why the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations could not produce certain documents, it was his obligation to say to the Speaker and to the committee: “I want to meet with you. I want to give you certain reasons. I want to sit down and reason with you.” The minister has not done that. Everything has been through the circuitous route of the Attorney General’s office. When I say circuitous route, I certainly mean that. The Attorney General has tried to convey the impression to the public that he had attempted to appear before the committee to give his reasons, and we would not listen to him.

That is very far from the truth. What happened was that the minister appeared -- perhaps conveniently or perhaps simply through accident -- after the committee had no longer any business to deal with. In fact, there was not a quorum before that committee when he and some of his officers appeared. At that time, he said: “I would like to sit down and I would like to present some information to you.”

It would have been irresponsible for me to sit down at that time with the minister and hear that kind of presentation in the absence of many of the people who were most concerned, in the absence of at least one of the people who had moved the original motion, in the absence of the justice critics, and somehow pretend that an unofficial meeting was really official, that it had somehow turned into an official committee meeting, because the Hansard people happened still to be there 10 minutes after we normally would have adjourned.

There was no quorum, and it would have been as irresponsible for me to sit down with the minister at that time and listen to his arguments as it would be for you, Mr. Speaker, to call a meeting on your own, at midnight or at two o’clock in the morning, and pretend that was a legitimately constituted meeting of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

10:10 p.m.

After that, the Attorney General had several days in which he could have reported to the Speaker, to the chairman of the committee or through the clerk to me, that he wanted a meeting with us. We received no such correspondence. Instead, what happened was late one evening the clerk of my committee, after several attempts to reach officials in the Attorney General’s office, finally was able to reach someone who said the Attorney General would like to meet. At that time it was fairly clear the committee had agreed to deal with matters of substance relating to the Solicitor General’s estimates.

The critics of the Solicitor General had been very obliging to the House, to the House leaders and to the justice committee, and had cut a great number of hours off their estimates, even though they had done a considerable amount of preparation and had a large number of important issues to raise. At that time it seemed only reasonable that the two critics should have a say as to whether they would have all of their estimates destroyed, not at the request of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, to whom the Speaker’s warrant had been issued, but on the request of his attorney, his legal adviser or whatever capacity the Attorney General has been serving in this one-sided exercise of dealing only with and giving information only to one side of this House.

For us to have made a decision to cut off the Ministry of the Solicitor General’s estimates at that time would have been irresponsible to those people and indeed to certain people who were in the audience or in the galleries of the committee at that time, because they knew certain issues, issues of substantial concern to them, were to be brought up. These were issues such as women’s rights, the rights of certain individuals who were being brutalized by this society and by certain underworld elements in it, and they had come long distances to hear the questions and to supply evidence to the committee on those.

Both ministers have had all kinds of time to deal with the committee and with the Speaker. Suddenly last Friday, the Attorney General, speaking to me in the presence of the clerk of my committee, said, “Mr. Chairman, there may be problems.”

“What are the problems?” I asked.

He said, “It is possible that the securities commissioners may resign if you go ahead with this.”

I said, “Is that a threat?”

He said: “Oh no. I have no real control over them. They are very upset. They feel somehow that you are asking them to be in violation of their own act.”

I said to the Attorney General at that time, again in the presence of the clerk of my committee: “Mr. Attorney General, can we agree that this is not a matter that we need to explode? This matter for which we need quiet reasoning. Would you agree that nothing will be said publicly until such time as we can sit down, rationalize and reason through this predicament we are now in, because the justice committee clearly has bent over backwards to secure documents in a reasonable, rational, secure and safe way, in a way that is acceptable to the Attorney General and the Solicitor General?”

At that time, the minister said: “I will do my best. I will try to persuade the securities commission not to do anything unreasonable.”

Mr. Speaker, you can imagine how shocked I was when I read in the newspaper only the following day, or it may have been Sunday, the headlines, “Securities Watchdog May Resign.” It appeared over an article that said Mr. Bray is a civil servant and so forth, while the other commissioners are part-time commissioners who do not rely on the Ontario Securities Commission for their livelihood. It also said a showdown upon the matter would come on Tuesday when the warrant was returnable, and the reluctance of the commissioners to turn over the material stemmed from several concerns.

Basically, the gist of this article was the threat by the Ontario Securities Commission to the justice committee that if we continued to proceed with our inquiry all hell would break on the stock markets of this land, there would be runs on our dollar and there would be a lack of confidence in Ontario. We would be responsible for it because the securities commission would resign en masse.

Then, without any consultation with the chairman of the committee or, from what I can find out in putting the pieces together, without even any consultation with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, there was an attempt by the securities commission to meet with you, Mr. Speaker. You kindly invited me and the clerk of the committee to be in attendance.

At that meeting, the chairman of the securities commission said: “We are sorry; I never really said that. Perhaps I was misquoted. I really did not want in any way to blackmail you. I am really not threatening to resign. I accept the role of the Legislature.” That is kind of an unusual way in which to operate. Surely if the securities commission had any problems, it should have gone to the minister. The minister, clearly responsible under section 1 and section 12 of the act, should have come to the Speaker and then to the committee. But that did not happen. Instead, we have this kind of cloak-and-dagger stuff that is going on in the background.

I asked the minister: “How does one justify this kind of activity? That certainly is not open government. That is not direct government. What kind of confidence can the public have when they see this kind of wheeling and dealing?” Then I found out, through a statement the minister wanted to release, and through some information from the Liberal Party, that the leader of the Liberal Party had been invited to a private meeting along with a couple of other people, including the critic for that ministry, to meet with the Attorney General to discuss some of the concerns and problems he had. Is that the appropriate route to take?

I am pleased that the leader of the Liberal Party clearly assures us, as do other members I have spoken to in that party, that they promised the minister nothing. They said they were willing to listen, and that was an appropriate action for them to take. I am clearly convinced from everything I have heard from the Liberal Party that in no way were they negotiating anything behind the scene. I am clearly convinced that the Liberal Party in that instance acted in a very mature and highly responsible manner. But I am not so convinced about the responsibility and maturity of the minister in acting in that manner.

Surely, if the minister had some concerns and wanted to meet people, he should have asked the chairman of the committee to call together all three parties to deal with that. As chairman of the committee, I would certainly have consulted with my committee and opened myself to that kind of thing. That is the kind of open way in which to deal with it. I would have considered it unusual. because I do not consider the Attorney General was the person to contact the committee in the first place. The warrant was issued on the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

The leader of the Liberal Party issued a statement that clearly showed he also felt the method of operation by the Attorney General in this matter was somewhat unusual, to say the least. He said the statement filed by the Attorney General with the standing committee on administration of justice contained an erroneous implication which must be corrected immediately. I am pleased the Liberal Party came to me after that happened and shared with me that information long before it issued that statement.

I would like to go through exactly what happened at that meeting, because I think that is fairly clear in the release by the Leader of the Opposition. He says, “It is correct that at the Attorney General’s request my colleagues and I met with some of the Attorney General’s officials and with the chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission on Monday evening, December 1.”

10:20 p.m.

On the one hand, there is the Ontario Securities Commission trying to go through the back door to meet the Speaker. Then on Monday evening they are going hand in hand with the Attorney General -- who has no direct responsibility for them in any case; no sign again of the phantom Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- to see what they can do with the Liberal Party. The stated purpose of the meeting was to be informed of certain details of criminal investigations under way and to hear the concern about the Speaker’s warrant for the production of documents to the committee for the administration of justice.

The Leader of the Opposition says, “My colleagues and I agreed to hear the submissions without comment as to our position.” I suggest that is the very position I or my leader would have taken in that kind of situation. It was a responsible position for the Liberal Party to take.

“We were given to understand that the concern of the Ontario Securities Commission and the status of criminal investigations were such as, in effect, to preclude any legislative inquiry, at this time and for the feasible future, into the government’s performance with regard to the administration of the statutes relevant to the operations of Astra Trust, Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation and related companies.”

The Liberal Party, in a meeting with the Attorney General and the Ontario Securities Commission, concluded by that meeting -- and I use the words of the Leader of the Opposition -- “in effect to preclude any legislative inquiry at this time.”

Now we are told that somehow, mystically, we can have this legislative inquiry in three or four days if we vote against this tonight. I wonder how it is that the Attorney General can meet with the Liberals, suggest it is a long time off or some distance into the future and then suddenly jazz up that investigation. One can only conclude that he must have tremendous powers of investigation. They have had eight months to investigate. On Monday it is still a long way off and now, tonight, it is only three or four days off.

The issue here is fairly clear. The issue is between open government, which I think is just government, and closed government, which is the government that some would impose on this Legislature and this House.

We have come a long way in five years with the committee system.

Today the Premier (Mr. Davis) said: “The member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) is apparently far more knowledgeable about these things than I am and he can tell us about it. I do not know much about it. But no one on this side of the House is obstructing the fair play, the equity and the preservation of the system. We will have an opportunity to debate this later this afternoon, and the government has nothing whatsoever to hide in terms of the material requested.”

If this is the case, why hide it from a very responsible body, the justice committee, that has never violated sub judice?

Hon. Mr. Pope: Oh no.

Mr. Philip: The Minister without Portfolio says, “Oh,” but it was members on his side of the House who voted for this. Members have acted responsibly on that committee. It was not just Liberals and New Democrats; it was Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats who brought in the motion we have here today. If the minister is saying we are behaving irresponsibly, I am saying he is attacking the very members right behind him who voted for this.

I would like the members to listen to what the Premier had to say. He said: “We have nothing to hide. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has nothing to hide. We do feel we have an obligation to see that the proper judicial processes are allowed to proceed in this province. We will have a chance to debate that this afternoon.”

The judicial process of this House is not in question. No one on this committee is investigating anything directly related to something before the courts. The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) clearly showed that. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) has clearly demonstrated that in his speeches. We have a very narrow, unfair mandate as to what it is that we are after.

The importance of this debate is not that any time the government says something is under investigation it can hide it from the public. The matter before us is whether a government can say, not that we stop when a matter is sub judice, but that we stop when a matter is merely under investigation. Surely that is not what the public of Ontario wants.

I have had letters during the last few days saying over and over again: “We are the ones who have lost our life savings. We are the ones who want to know if the ministry has acted in a responsible way. We know the courts will handle the other matters of a legal nature and a judicial nature. We know you are not set up as a court and that the Legislature is not behaving in that way.”

No one can say the chairman of the justice committee has ever behaved otherwise. When there was an inquiry into the alleged actions of one member of this House, a member on the government side of the House, nobody protected his rights more than the chairman of the justice committee. No one argued that the justice committee should not act as a court. Even the member will tell you that. He came to me personally and said I had handled it in a way that was fair and that protected his rights. That member, I notice, has not spoken tonight. If that member were to speak, he would get up and say that the justice committee certainly did not do anything that denied his rights. Indeed, I have always argued that a committee of the Legislature should not go all the way that certain committees have gone in the United States where, under Joe McCarthy, individual civil liberties and rights were violated.

The former minister on that side of the House knows that. He knows my views on that. The government knows my views on that. To suggest, as did one member on that side of the House, that somehow we were a kangaroo court is simply irresponsible. We have never behaved that way, we never will and we are certainly not doing so in this instance. What we are trying to do is simply say we believe in an open government. We believe the public has a right to know the actions of the ministers when it comes to competence or incompetence in certain matters. That is the only thing before the justice committee.

The committee met the officials of the Ministry of the Attorney General and we dealt with some very specific courses of proposals that would secure the safety of the documents we would be handling. Judging from the comments of some of the members on that side of the House, it seems fairly clear they are not aware of the strict security measures we proposed.

These guidelines with respect to the documents produced pursuant to the warrant the Speaker issued and served on Monday, November 24, 1980, were procedural rules that we developed in the presence of Mr. Morton from the Attorney General’s office and in the presence of the two people who proposed the motion and myself. They were rules we took back to the committee and were approved by members of the committee, including the Conservatives. So if those measures were inadequate, then the onus was on members on that side of the House and on the Conservative Party to say so at that time, but they did not. The rules are very clear. All documents should be produced in committee by a certain date, namely, Tuesday, December 2, 1980.

10:30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The House has one of two courses open to it. Either the honourable member who has the floor will move the adjournment of the debate or I require a motion from the government House leader to sit beyond 10:30 p.m.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the House agreed to sit until 10:45 p.m.


Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I am assuming that applause was not only from the Liberal and New Democratic members but also from the other members of the justice committee who, no doubt, voted for what the committee had proposed and are entirely in support of it.

I do not know if the quality of my speech has improved as the night goes on but, certainly, the power of my voice has not.

I was dealing with the security measures we proposed. I would like to go over them.

“1. All documents should be produced to the committee by Tuesday, December 2, 1980.

“2. An inventory of all documents will be taken by officials of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. However, the taking of such an inventory should not delay the production of documents and may take place after their production.”

That is an important role, because the problem Mr. Morton pointed out to us was fairly clear. He said, “It is important that the inquiry, either by the Solicitor General or by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, not be impeded.” That is why we agreed that, while we would not be delayed by the taking of the inventory, we would allow the ministries’ officials, under the same security measures we were imposing on ourselves, to take an inventory and, where required, to photocopy certain documents and leave only the photocopy in our files.

Anyone knows when one is dealing with a security problem the more people who have access to documents the greater the security problem. That is why we, as a committee, agreed that each party should designate members who would represent the party for the duration of the hearings on this matter for the simple reason that there would be no irresponsible accidents and no negligent questions would be asked. Only members designated to represent the party were to have access to the documents. We clearly limited the access to those documents.

A member for each party would be designated as the person responsible for authorizing the researchers to have access to those documents so that, if there ever were a leak, be it a serious one or an inconsequential one but, none the less, a leak of some sort that gave some concern to the government, members of the Legislature or the Speaker, we would clearly identify who was responsible by the procedure we established. That surely was a manner of ensuring greater security for the documentation.

Photocopies of the original documents in the possession of any court could be provided to the committee rather than the original documents. Thus we overcame the problem of interfering or hampering any court proceedings in any way.

We also agreed that any original documents produced by the committee would be relinquished to the Attorney General or the Solicitor General or the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations upon the written request of that minister, with the stipulation that the photocopies remain in the hands of the committee.

The Solicitor General would provide officers of the Ontario Provincial Police to ensure the security of the documents on a round-the-clock basis, so that those documents clearly would be secured by the police force.

All original documents and original photocopies of the documents should remain in the committee documents room and would not be removed except with the consent of one of the ministers.

Another requirement of the committee was that all members of the committee and the authorized party researchers would sign a book indicating a description of the material inspected and the date and time of the inspection.

These rules we developed are clearly so strict that some of them gave some of us some apprehension, but we developed them as a way of making sure that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General could never indicate that we were not concerned about the security of these documents and about the possibility that might create some problem in the court system.

We even suggested that the OPP officer should accompany photocopies of documents being transported from the room right up to the hearing room. I do not know what more security one could possibly ask for. I dare say that if we had diamonds down in that room they would not get that kind of security.

On June 13, one of the members of this House fairly clearly brought forth some information which I think bears repeating. He asked: “Mr. Simpson, may I ask you what criteria Mr. Weinstein, the registrar of the Mortgage Brokers Act, would look to in assessing the efficacy of an application such as Montemurro’s in the context of Re-Mor? What criteria does he look to under the act?”

Mr. Simpson stated: “The criteria are clearly set out. I don’t have one of our registration statutes in front of me. They are standard in all the registration statutes and relate to matters of a likelihood of being able to carry on business with financial solvency and responsibility.”


Mr. Philip: The member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) never received such applause for his speech when he originally delivered it. I hope he is around to hear it now.

Mr. Simpson went on to say: “They look at the past; whether the individual has been bankrupt; has the individual been charged with anything, convicted of offences. They look at a whole range of matters in order to make the determinations under the general headings provided in the statute. They size up what the situation is, and what the situation is likely to be concerning the matters being carried on. They make a determination in the light of all of these circumstances.”

10:40 p.m.

It was in June 1980 that this question was asked. The justice committee and indeed the Legislature, has been dealing with it since then. It is not a new issue that is before us; it was clearly an issue then in June 1980. Even before that we were asking the questions: “What is the obligation? What are the requirements of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in dealing with a situation such as this?” Those are the questions this committee is dealing with now. It is not a matter that is before the court; it is the action of this minister that we wish to investigate.

To suggest that the committee is acting improperly in carrying out this mandate and in investigating the very questions that were asked in June 1980, and trying to find out why the government may or may not have followed, those very courses of action that Mr. Simpson clearly laid out it should be following, I say is absolutely irresponsible on the part of the government. If there was no impropriety in the question asked by the member for Wentworth North on June 13, 1980, then how can the government say there was an impropriety in the very same question the justice committee is asking at this time?

What we are dealing with is the right of the committee to investigate a matter that is clearly within its jurisdiction. The Attorney General and Solicitor General has somehow suggested we should develop Draconian methods, we should go back to the old days before 1975 when committees had no jurisdiction and the public could be kept in the dark, when inquiries by the representatives of this Legislature could actually get the information for their constituents. To go back, to subvert the evolution of the committee system because we want to do something that was clearly within our mandate and clearly asked for in June, I say is simply overkill.


Mr. Philip: I am finding it very hard to speak, Mr. Speaker, with all the interjections from members in the House. If I had known I was to give a five-hour speech, I would have prepared a five-hour speech.

Mr. Speaker: Order. If we are going to sit any longer this evening we will need further authorization.

Hon. Mr. Welch: In order to allow the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) to wind up and perhaps to summarize his conclusions in a pithy way, I would move that the House sit for another 10 minutes.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House agreed to sit until 10:55 p.m.

Mr. Kerrio: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Is that issue debatable, or do we just pass on and let the member speak?

Mr. Speaker: No. It is not debatable.

Mr. Kerrio: I am sorry it isn’t, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Cunningham: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Would it be inappropriate right now to draw your attention to the fact that question 315 in my name on the Order Paper, which was promised to be answered by November 30, has not yet been answered?

Mr. Speaker: You just did.

Mr. Cunningham: I did? May I then draw your attention to question 367 on the Order Paper, also in my name, which was promised to be answered by November 20? That was a question relating to the total advertising expenditures for the government.

Mr. Speaker: You really don’t interrupt another member when he is speaking.

Mr. Cunningham: I am sorry, sir.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I was perfectly pleased to allow the member for Wentworth North to interrupt me. He and I have been close colleagues. We have had some interesting discussions in various establishments in Washington and other places. We were both members of the select committee on the highway transportation of goods.

Since the member for Wentworth North has been denied the privilege of making a point, I think in fairness to him I will make a point for him. He has kindly provided me with a letter, which I think illustrates one of the problems we are facing and what the public thinks of what we are about.

It is addressed to Mr. Eric Cunningham, MPP for Wentforth North, P.O. Box 128, Parliament Buildings, Queen’s Park, Toronto.

Mr. Cassidy: What is the postal code?

Mr. Philip: It has no postal code. It is a typewritten letter, as members were inquiring, single-spaced, with a very small typeface. It says: “I am an investor and I have invested money with Astra Trust. The previous year, when the certificate matured, Mr. [So and So], then the trust company manager, advised me that Re-Mor was a branch office of Astra Trust and would pay 0.5 per cent more interest per year and he could sell me a certificate at 14 per cent per year, whereas Astra only paid 13.5 per cent per year.

“I asked what the difference was between the certificates, and he told me there was no difference between them, other than the mortgage certificate could be held up to three months more than the term. I would receive interest for every day of it and the certificate would be insured and principal and interest guaranteed.

“Four months later, in March, I received a letter from Re-Mor telling me that my money was invested in real estate in Buffalo. Approximately two or three weeks later, I again received a letter from Re-Mor telling me the mortgage was in error and interest could not be paid until this matter was straightened out.” If someone told me he had invested my money in Buffalo, I would certainly have second thoughts at that time, but the writer of that letter apparently did not.

The letter continues: “Since interest was not due until November, I found this very strange. Upon receiving that letter, I went to the Astra Trust office in Burlington and I asked the teller for the manager, Mr. Bentz. I was then told he had resigned but that the supervisor was on the premises and I asked to see him and he invited me into an office.

10:50 p.m.

“Then I showed him the letter from Re-Mor and asked him what it was all about. He said, ‘I am sorry’” -- excuse me, Mr. Speaker; I am going to take a drink of water because this letter is so bad, it really kind of breaks me up -- “‘I am sorry we have nothing to do with this.’ I asked him what he meant by that, because I bought the certificates there, and I also told him that Mr. Bentz told me that Re-Mor was a branch office and the certificate would be insured, and the principal and interest guaranteed. He then told me Mr. Bentz should not have told me that, because it isn’t a branch office.

“I then asked him if Mr. Bentz was moonlighting because he sold me the certificate in his office, and he said, ‘No, not really.’ I then said, ‘Astra Trust is responsible for any loss I incurred since Mr. Bentz was the manager here and must have been bonded.’ I asked him to have the matter straightened out and send me a letter. I heard nothing about the matter until May 9, when I was informed the company went bankrupt.

“Dear Mr. Cunningham, I am a merchant and my $10,000 investment represents many hours of hard work, and I thank you very much for your concern with this matter, and I hope that you can help me and other investors regain our money.”

Mr. Speaker, you have listened to what really amounts to two speeches, as have members of the House who have been here during all of it. One was probably worth listening to and the latter part I hope you found at least entertaining. I now yield and will sit down.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, at this hour I am not going to burden the members by making a speech. I am merely going to move an amendment to the motion before the House.

Mr. Speaker: Hon. Mr. Wells moves that the motion for the adoption of the report of the standing committee on administration of justice be amended by deleting from the recommendation of the committee the words “Friday, 5 December” and substituting therefor the words “Monday, 8 December”; and that the documents required by the warrant be delivered in confidence to a subcommittee of the justice committee composed of two representatives from each of the parties with one vote for each party.

Shall the motion carry?

Mr. Nixon: A point of clarification, Mr. Speaker: It should be understood, and I hope there is agreement on all sides, that the matter delivered to the subcommittee in confidence may then be handed on, by the subcommittee’s vote, to the full committee.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Under the same conditions.

Hon. Mr. Wells: That is agreeable.

Mr. Speaker: Is that clarification or addendum understood?


I declare the motion carried.

Mr. Foulds: Do you want to put the question? We just agreed to the amendment.

Mr. Speaker: I thought it was agreed unanimously.

All those in favour will please say “aye”.

All those opposed will please say “nay”.

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Report, as amended, adopted.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, although I have not had a chance to discuss this further with the House leaders, I wonder if I can have the indulgence of the House, since we have now finished this part of routine business, to extend our sitting for five minutes more so that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations can introduce the bill, which has an effective date of today, regarding pensions.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the House agreed to sit until 11 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: Do you want me to go through the routine proceedings?

Mr. Nixon: By agreement we can go to introduction of bills.



Hon. Mr. Drea moved first reading of Bill 214, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Act.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells: In the few minutes remaining, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could outline to the House the order of business. Rather than outline it for the whole week, I would like to outline the business for tomorrow and, with the consent of the House, only for next Monday and Tuesday. Next Tuesday, I will indicate the further order of business for the House from Wednesday on.

Tomorrow, in the House we will continue the consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Revenue.

On Monday, December 8, we will conclude the estimates of the Ministry of Revenue and, if any time permits in the afternoon, we will continue the budget debate.

On Tuesday, December 9, in the afternoon, we will have second reading and committee of the whole House, as required, on Bill 187, Bill 209, Bill 192, Bill 193, Bill 177, Bill 205, Bill 190, Bill 188, Bill 189, Bill 201 and Bill 204. In the evening, we will continue with legislation that has not been completed in the afternoon. As I mentioned earlier, I will then indicate to the House the order of business to be followed after next Tuesday.

At this time, it is considered the House may meet on Wednesday afternoon in addition to the regular sittings next week.

The House adjourned at 10:59 p.m.