32e législature, 1re session











































The House resumed at 2:02 p.m.


Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I wish to stand on a point of privilege. Yesterday, in response to a question regarding the province's compensation policy for the Whitedog Indian band, the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Ramsay) gave this House information that I know to be inaccurate.

With respect to the minister's answer on the matter of whether the province was cutting back on its commitment to compensate for all additional claims above $15 million to the Indian bands, which was: "We are not cutting back on anything. As I said, that is to my knowledge," I am concerned that, as the minister responsible for the negotiations, his explanation lacks credibility.

The facts are that on November 20 a cabinet committee approved an agreement stating that "Ontario will assume responsibility for provable health claims in excess of $15 million." I have a copy of that cabinet statement here in my hand.

On December 9, the cabinet approved a decision stating, "Ontario agrees that the province will assume liability for the treatment of provable health claims of minors and unborn members of the Grassy Narrows band resulting from mercury pollution. Adults should be left with their existing choice of either settling with the companies or retaining their right to sue at a later date." I have a copy of the December 9 cabinet document as well.

I submit that the change in policy, specifically the exclusion of the adult population from the original commitment to health claims compensation made by this government, is so obvious that it could not have escaped the attention of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. I am therefore at a loss to understand how he was able to state to this House yesterday that, to his knowledge, the province was not cutting back on anything. I would ask the minister to clarify this statement for me in the light of the evidence I now have in my hand.

The minister stated, and I quote: "With respect to the mediations, I would not like to think that they are definitely over as far as today is concerned." The implication is that the province is part of an ongoing mediation process.

The fact is that the Whitedog Indian band mediation ended on May 30, 1981, or 10 months after it was originally intended to be completed. The current mediation process is part of a process initiated by Mr. Justice Patrick Hartt, who chose to become involved in this issue because he felt the Indian band's offer was so fair and reasonable. Mr. Justice Hartt set the date of December 15, the third anniversary of the original mediation, as the final date.

It is essential that this House understand that the mediation process between Ottawa, Ontario, Hydro and the Whitedog Indian band was intended to be resolved long ago and that this mediation process has been dragged out because the province has chosen to drag it out.

Finally, the minister also stated yesterday:

"There has been a great deal of progress made; 34 items have been resolved and there are nine outstanding items."

The facts, according to information given to me today by the negotiator for the Whitedog Indian band, are that only one of the 34 items was specific enough, in the opinion of Mr. Justice Hartt, to be considered resolved. The other 33 items were so vague or encumbered by conditions that they could not be included in a legal agreement. Therefore, to suggest that 34 items have been resolved is incorrect.

Moreover, the nine outstanding items referred to by the minister constitute the crux of the negotiations and include all the major issues affecting the health, economics and the social wellbeing of the band. Among others, these items include health claims compensation, wild rice licensing and the contribution to a job creation fund to which the other three parties, namely, the federal government, Ontario Hydro and Great Lakes Forest Products Limited, have agreed to contribute. lam, therefore, concerned that to assert that a great deal of progress has been made in these negotiations creates a false impression.

Mr. Speaker, through you, I would ask the minister now to correct the record.

Mr. Speaker: If I may, I just want to say to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) that it is hardly a matter of privilege he has raised. It is a matter of correcting the record and of quite an obvious difference in the facts, of which I have no knowledge. If the minister wishes to reply, he may do so now.

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Yes, I would like to reply, Mr. Speaker. Ontario has always intended to assist the Islington and Grassy Narrows bands to settle their claims resulting from mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon river systems. Any liability for damages would appear to lie with those whose actions led to the presence of mercury in the water and not, I would emphasize, with the government of Ontario.

The Indian bands have taken the position that although no provable health problems have resulted from mercury contamination, they wish to leave open the opportunity to make future claims if these are later warranted. They do not wish to accept compensation in return for a release of liability for personal health damage.

However, the bands are seeking compensation through the mediation process for environmental damages from Reed Paper Limited and its successor, Great Lakes Forest Products Limited. I understand that Great Lakes Forest Products Limited, acting for both companies, is asking for a full release for all damages, including environmental and health damages.

2:10 p.m.

In order to facilitate a settlement, the government has advised the Great Lakes company that it is prepared to accept all provable health claims against Great Lakes after the company has paid a total of $15 million in voluntary and/or court awards to compensate the bands for any damages resulting from mercury pollution.

In presenting Ontario's response on December 10 to the Islington band's request to the province, in the mediation process, the wording to describe Ontario's position may have been inadequate in the area of responsibility for health claims against Great Lakes Forest Products Limited. In rereading the wording, I can see how it could lead to a misinterpretation of Ontario's true position. Therefore, I am asking that the wording of this section of Ontario's offer be revised to better express the position I have described.

I hope the band will accept my offer to clarify Ontario's position on this point, consider the revised wording and attempt to reach satisfactory agreements with all the parties in this important mediation process.


Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding, as we come down to the final hours of this session, as we were given to understand this morning, I would like to read into the record the names of the pages in recognition of the great assistance they have provided to all honourable members:

David Adames, Hamilton Mountain; Anita Arnold, Kitchener; Jacinto Borges, Dovercourt; Ginger Boyles, Halton-Burlington; Beth Campbell, Algoma; Cara Celotti, Yorkview; Lorne Gretsinger, Lincoln; Matthew Heeney, Peterborough; Brett James, Lanark; Lori Main, Waterloo North; Patti Petura, Niagara Falls; Jamie Pollock, Wilson Heights; Tracy Ann Shepherd, Windsor-Walkerville; Elizabeth Smith, Oxford; Sean Tait, Kingston and the Islands; Mike Tomaino, Erie; Martha Turner, Burlington South; Peter Van Mol, Kent-Elgin; Lauri Villeneuve, Cochrane North; Ian Wayne, St. George; Roger White, Armourdale; Tandy Yull, Ottawa South.

I ask all honourable members to join with me in thanking them very much.



Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, in November 1979, the Honourable Harry Parrott, my predecessor in this ministry, tabled the government's response to the final report, part I, of the Environmental Assessment Board, dealing with the community aspects of the proposed expansion of the uranium mining operations in Elliot Lake.

Today, I am tabling the second of this two-part response to the findings and recommendations of the board's part II report, which deals with mining, milling, tailings management and radioactivity.

I commend the Environmental Assessment Board on the comprehensiveness of its work, and I wish to thank the parties and participants in the hearings for their hard work as well. The companies brought forward an impressive group of experts to assist in explaining complex subjects. The representatives of the United Steelworkers of America contributed significantly and the Serpent River Indian band brought a special perspective to the hearings, to name only a few of the parties.

As a result of the hearings and the reports, along with the views of the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs, the Ontario government now has a clear perspective on the priorities for further action. The next step, now under way, entails working on the priorities in close consultation with the parties involved.

In addition, new information obtained since the hearings will be used in selecting specific options to implement the accepted recommendations. Also to be taken into account is the changed worldwide economic climate, which could possibly slow the earlier anticipated rate of growth of the mines. However, to fulfil our commitment to protect the environment, the government has already initiated a comprehensive environmental management program which will involve all the parties concerned.

Towards this end, the government recently appointed a co-ordinating committee to assist in clarifying functions and roles, to oversee research projects and to recommend to the government specific actions to implement the accepted recommendations. The environmental management program includes the maintenance and, in some cases, extension of the already extensive monitoring roles of the Ministries of Environment, Labour and Natural Resources.

As honourable members are aware, the government is supportive of the expansion of the mining operations and will ensure that the expansion, operation and eventual closing of the mining operations will comply with the appropriate legislation, regulations, objectives and criteria. We agree with the board that uranium mine tailings represent the greatest potential impact on the natural environment of all the activities related to the expansion of mines at Elliot Lake.

A major current obstacle to achieving some of the priorities for action set out in the report is that the control and regulation of mining operations at Elliot Lake is made complex by the lack of a clear definition of responsibilities between the federal and provincial governments. The constitutional authority of the federal government is such that very little of what is called for in this report can be achieved without the full co-operation of federal government agencies, particularly the Atomic Energy Control Board.

I wish to assure honourable members that my ministry will continue to work with the appropriate authorities to resolve jurisdictional problems. We are also co-operating fully in the formulation of a long-term tailings management strategy, including the establishment of appropriate funds to ensure proper management after the mines are abandoned or mined out.

We are already encouraged by the fact that the AECB has agreed in principle to the use of its licensing procedures so that such matters as provincial water quality objectives and other environmental concerns can be incorporated in the licensing conditions.

The government agrees with the board that timely information should be made available to the public.

Further in this regard, the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs recommended the establishment of a committee composed of representatives of the public in the Elliot Lake area, together with representatives of federal and provincial governments and the mining companies. My ministry has already implemented this recommendation and will continue to provide to the public annual reports on the air and water monitoring programs being conducted in the Elliot Lake area.

In addition, the government is committed to the development of tailings management techniques. Recommendations on the scope and nature of the research will be a responsibility of the new co-ordinating committee, whose chairman is Mr. Erv McIntyre, director of my ministry's northeastern headquarters in Sudbury.

We are proceeding with our environmental management plan, cognizant of the economic situation, so that the project can proceed with an optimum measure of environmental security at the present time.

I believe the report is straightforward, but if there are any questions concerning the details of the issues or the responses, they should be directed to the appropriate ministry concerned.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Before proceeding, I would ask all honourable members to please curtail their private conversations in the House. It is exceedingly difficult to hear the ministers' statements.


Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I wish to report to the Legislature on activities falling within my jurisdiction as the minister responsible for the implementation of freedom of information and protection of personal privacy.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Just turn in your limousine.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: I do not have a limousine, I am sorry.

Members will recall that on September 29, 1981, I announced the establishment of a task force to formulate a position paper and draft legislation on freedom of information and the protection of personal privacy. I want to assure members that this paper is near completion and will be introduced early in the new year.

As part of this ongoing process, I am pleased to announce and table with the Clerk of this House today a descriptive index of the personal information record systems currently maintained by the government.

Over the past three months, it has been the challenge of the task force and myself to address both the freedom of information and privacy protection initiatives and to attempt to strike a balance between the various interests involved.

2:20 p.m.

For a number of reasons, the freedom of information scheme has received the lion's share of commentary. In fact, the government's commitment to institute comprehensive privacy protection measures will be an equally important priority.

One of the most important interests that demand protection under freedom of information is the interest of personal privacy -- the right of each person to have confidentiality of information concerning himself respected.

Privacy protection and freedom of information are not perfectly compatible inititives; yet both are essential to a democratic society, a society in which the will of the majority is balanced by respect for individual rights.

The Ontario government is the custodian of a substantial amount of personal information. This information is collected for various programs and is employed for purposes consistent with the delivery of essential government services. Yet the existence of such information within the control of public institutions places a responsibility upon government.

First, with the introduction of freedom of information initiatives, there exists a danger that undue invasions of privacy may occur. Equally as important, the government should not be allowed to violate personal privacy through the unnecessary collection or inappropriate use of personal information. Since personal information is employed as the basis for decisions which may affect the rights of an individual, it is imperative that the government ensure that the information is accurate and complete.

It is the commitment of this government to ensure that fair and reasonable practices are followed in the collection, use, transfer and disclosure of personal information. Indeed, this commitment will be mandated through the privacy protection measures which will form an integral part of the freedom of information legislation.

One of the most important components of my proposed privacy protection measures is an informed public, a public that is aware of the personal information which the government possesses, the reasons for its collection and the purposes for which it will be used. With this knowledge, I believe that each person will be an effective guardian of his or her own interests.

Consistent with this government's commitment to both privacy protection and "openness," I have tabled a descriptive index of personal information holdings of ministries. Copies of this index will be available in the reading rooms of each ministry, several public libraries throughout the province and in the Ontario government book stores. As well, I have arranged for each member to obtain a copy.

I believe that this index will benefit all citizens. It details each existing personal record system and for each it provides the following:

1. The name of the custodian ministry, agency, division and branch;

2. The name of the personal record system, with a description of the information contained in an individual's record and the use of the information;

3. The number of individuals to which this information applies;

4. The storage medium for this information and the length of time the government maintains this information;

5. The current ministry access procedures that allow individuals to review their information; and

6. The ministry official to whom inquiries can be routed.

This index represents an impressive achievement and a positive step in the government's commitment to privacy protection. I want to take this opportunity to commend the efforts of those responsible: each ministry and agency which voluntarily submitted the information required and the chairman of Management Board of Cabinet for his staff, which undertook the co-ordination of this publication. In particular, I wish to thank Keith Bottom and Frank White.

The most important feature of this index is, of course, the information which it offers to the individual. For the first time, each person can easily identify the type of personal information used by the government, its uses and the contact points for requests for verification or review. This knowledge, combined with the privacy protection measures of the proposed legislation, will ensure the exercise of fair information practices by this government.

In closing, I wish to draw the attention of the House to two facts. A review of the index will reveal that the vast majority of the personal information is already open to subject access. I feel this argues quite strongly for the fairness of current access practices. I also want to emphasize that the index is not a one-time effort but, under the terms of the proposed legislation, will become part of an annual access publication in both French and English. As such, the personal record-keeping practices of the government will be subject to ongoing and informed public scrutiny.


Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I wish to give the honourable members an update on Ontario's efforts to stimulate moderately priced rental accommodation in our province.

I introduced the Ontario rental construction loan program last January. It is a program of incentive loans to the private development industry, designed not only to stimulate rental construction but also to improve the employment picture in the construction and related industries.

To say that I am pleased with our results would be a complete understatement. As of this morning, we estimate there is more than $500 million worth of construction activity under way across this province as a direct result of our program. There are 13,562 units being built in more than 50 municipalities from Ottawa to Fort Frances and, with those expected to start in the next week or so, we should see more than 16,500 new units begun before the end of December.

We also estimate that this activity in rental housing will generate some 57,750 person-years of employment in the related industries.

One of the conditions of this program is that developers must offer up to 20 per cent of the units in each complex for rent-geared-to-income housing in municipalities where the local housing authority feels there is a need. Some of these units are also designed especially for physically handicapped tenants. This means the program will potentially produce 3,000 new rent-geared-to-income units.

Our original intent was to have 10,000 rental units started across the province, but the response from the development industry was so positive that we increased the target to 15,000 units. The maximum per unit interest-free loan was also increased from $4,200 to $6,000 under this $90-million initiative. When we hit the 15,000 figure, fully one third of all housing starts in the province this year will have been assisted under this specific program.

I feel that this program has been an excellent example of our province working hand in hand with the development industry to provide a workable, usable scheme. For those of us who wonder what it might have cost the taxpayers of our province to get the same number of units started under the auspices of Ontario only, without private sector involvement, it would have cost us something in the range of $660 million, calculated at $40,000 per unit.

Earlier this year, I indicated that I expected about 5,000 starts in the Toronto area. The latest statistics show that there have been more than 4,700 starts in North York, Scarborough, Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga, with 1,319 of them in Metro Toronto itself.


Mr. Peterson: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Going back to an exchange in the House a couple of days ago, I was chatting with the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) with respect to the introduction and sneaking in of market value assessment in the city of Toronto. Legally, that should not be the case. I suggest the minister inadvertently misled this House and probably Toronto city council in his answers to the questions put to him from members across the floor.

In response to one question, he said, at page 4585 of Hansard, "There is a delay in section 86 municipalities, and of course those municipalities are already aware of that That is a tacit admission that he is sneaking in section 86 into the city of Toronto.

In response to another question, he said later in his answer, at page 4586 of Hansard, "It is then prorated to whatever the assessed value is of that property in the community. In many cases in Toronto, for example, it runs at about seven per cent." I suggest that establishes a very clear relationship between assessed value and market value, which is another form of market value assessment.

2:30 p.m.

In that same exchange he said that either all properties were inspected or the assessor would leave a phone number or some sort of notification that the house was going to be reassessed. The person then could get in touch with the ministry or the assessor to debate the merits of a particular assessment. A number of cases have arisen both before and after his answer in the House that prove beyond doubt that absolutely no notice was given to the occupants or owners of the various houses before these massive increases in assessment. They were done unilaterally without a chance for discussion.

The minister has an obligation to clear up these two points, on which he inadvertently misled this House. Metro council is discussing the matter at this very moment -- this very important policy matter that is emanating, apparently subversively, from the Ministry of Revenue. He should clear it up, not just for the members of this House, but for members of Metro council and all the home owners in this city.

Mr. Speaker: Again I would point out that is hardly a point of privilege but rather a point of clarification. There is obviously a difference of opinion as to the facts, and I do not have any knowledge of them. Would the minister like to respond?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would like to respond briefly.

It is just coincidental that I have in front of me a statement. Because of the length of the statements today, I was postponing correcting the record until tomorrow, based on many of the points the member opposite made that are not clear. I will be very generous and use those words. I will be responding with a statement tomorrow to those allegations today, as well as the ones made the other day that were, I am sure inadvertently, inaccurate.

Mr. T. P. Reid: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have a letter from the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Robinson) in regard to restraint devices for little children and babies in cars. As one who has one little baby at the moment, I feel quite in sympathy with the member. I wonder if I may use the words the Attorney General used in another context and ask the government how long it is going to allow lives to be unnecessarily lost?



Mr. Sweeney: A last chance is always welcome, Mr. Speaker. I would like to return to the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Ramsay) and say at the outset that his statement does not respond to the concerns we expressed. Perhaps the operable words are, "the wording to describe Ontario's position may have been inadequate." That is the understatement of the week.

The two cabinet documents to which I referred clearly indicate a change from the comments made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) on June 26 of this year and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) on June 29 of this year that all issues would be covered. Given those comments and the fact that the provincial secretary, even with this statement, has continued to deny there will be any change, what will the new wording be that he refers to in his statement? Will it include all health claims including those for adults?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give the member the exact wording at this time. In fact, it is being worked on at this very moment. However I can assure him it will include all health claims.

Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: This morning on CBC when this issue was being discussed we had the unusual situation of Great Lakes Forest Products having not been made aware of either one of the government's positions. If I remember correctly even the minister's own negotiator, Mr. Burgar, was not aware of all the positions. Will the provincial secretary explain why he failed to communicate either policy -- the November 20 or December 9 one -- to Great Lakes?

Would the minister not accept the perception that one must be led to believe that in not transmitting this information to Great Lakes he is trying to scupper this whole deal and perhaps even trying to force the Indian band to go to court? Would the minister please indicate how this has happened?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to comment on is the last statement. There is absolutely no intention of trying to have the native people go to court. That is absolutely the last thing we would like to see happen. We are trying to reach a settlement that is fair and equitable to everybody concerned. Quite personally, I resent the inference that there is any other motive.

As far as Great Lakes is concerned, I will have to admit there was a breakdown in communications. The lawyers from both parties -- the provincial lawyers and the lawyers from Great Lakes -- were supposed to meet prior to the mediation process on Wednesday. They did not get together. I will admit to a breakdown in that respect. But there were instructions for that to be done prior to Wednesday.

To take that a step further, this morning the Treasurer and myself met with Mr. Carter, the chairman of the board and president of Great Lakes, in order to make sure that the situation was completely understood and clarified.

Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, how does the provincial secretary justify sending provincial negotiators to deal with those bands that have been disadvantaged as a result of mercury pollution in the English-Wabigoon River system? How can he justify going before mediation proceedings without knowing what commitments had been made by several of the provincial secretary's cabinet colleagues? These were public knowledge, really -- known to all of us in the House who had any dealings with it. How does the provincial secretary justify sending his high-priced lawyers and mediators to those proceedings without knowing of previous commitments made by several of his cabinet colleagues?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, that is a very difficult question to answer candidly. I felt our mediator was familiar with the circumstances. As I say, the wording was inadequate, confusing and could be interpreted in different ways. I suppose if someone has to accept the responsibility for that I will accept it on the basis of not having it clarified before he left and went up to the mediation talks on Wednesday.

Mr. Sweeney: Surely the provincial secretary will have to agree that it is not just the wording, there has been a complete breakdown in negotiations all the way along the line.

Let us go on to chapter three of this. The minister will be aware that Ontario Hydro wants to settle its claims with the Indian band and as a matter of fact made an offer to them, which the Indian band is willing to accept.

I would now ask: Why is Ontario insisting that the Indian band must deed back to the province 460 acres of land which has been flooded -- some of it under as much as 40 feet of water -- before it will allow the band and Hydro to settle? Surely the minister realizes this is one more stumbling block. The federal government has settled, Great Lakes wants to settle, Hydro wants to settle. Everything is at this government's doorstep. Why do they insist on getting that 460 acres of land back?

2:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: It is my understanding that in every negotiation there is a position each party takes. The province has taken that position for numerous reasons. The band has taken another position for numerous reasons. I really felt if we could get the first matter of the health issue settled, we could settle some of these other problems down the road.

I met with the chief, with Justice Hartt and with Mr. Bruce Crofts in my office and we talked about the possibility of getting the situation cleared up once and for all with the Great Lakes paper company. Then many of these other problems would fall into place. That is exactly what we have been attempting to do.


Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker. I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson). Three weeks ago the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) promised the Ontario Federation of Agriculture's annual meeting that a farm assistance program would be introduced before this session ended. The action committee he appointed to look into recommendations of the emergency task force reported to him yesterday on its recommendations. Ontario provides the least amount of financial assistance in Canada to farmers for short- and long-term loans.

Given these facts, will the minister indicate what the action committee's recommendations were? Will he now introduce a program that will provide the necessary financial assistance, which is needed now before more farm bankruptcies occur?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, it is getting to be a very sad day in this House when there is no co-ordination in that party at all. These questions were all addressed at one o'clock today, right here in this Legislature. Had the member been here with his party, he would have known. I made it quite clear.

Mr. Sweeney: You said you hoped.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, I did not make it clear but I will.

The Treasurer spoke to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The Treasurer said there would be announcements before the end of the year and there have been major announcements. The member knows that.

Ms. Copps: The minister said before the end of the House session. This is not what you said on the steps. You said before the end of the session.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Then the member had better be in this House. They have been made here in this House.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: The cow-calf program, $20 million; the feeder program, $2 million. If the member did not hear it, there is something wrong with him.

Mr. Bradley: The minister is misinforming.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: There is no misinformation. I will put my seat against that, if the member wants to.

Mr. Peterson: You could put your seat against the wall and count --

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Come on now, put up.

That is what the Treasurer said and that is what happened. Mr. Speaker, you were here this morning. You were here at one o'clock when I told that to this House. I told the members here and I told the audience again on the front steps of the Legislature that! got the report of the task force yesterday at noon. I said I am appraising it with my staff and I promise to try and report before this Legislature closes.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I am sure the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) would like to withdraw that interjection he made.

Mr. Bradley: About misinformation?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Misinforming the House you said.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: I am not going to debate it; I am asking him to withdraw it.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw that remark.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you. A supplementary by the member for Kent-Elgin.

Mr. McGuigan: I would like to ask the minister if he can arrange to provide for a short moratorium debt period -- I must confess I am not one who would want to see a blanket moratorium -- for those people who will qualify for the help he is going to announce? Then there would be time for the paperwork to be done and they will not be out of the picture because of an imminent foreclosure. Would he provide assistance for those groups of people so they can qualify for this program he is about to announce?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, this was spoken about at noon when I met with Mr. Spencer and his organization and was brought out quite clearly. After the meeting with Mr. Spencer, I met with the members for Grey (Mr. McKessock) and for York South (Mr. MacDonald), and I explained I would try to address all the recommendations in the Biggs report before the close of the House.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, the minister always keeps me greatly puzzled as to exactly how he will "try to address all the recommendations." Can the minister give us some indication as to whether there is going to be a fairly comprehensive and total response to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture or is it going to be the ad hoc bits and pieces as we had last June in the face of the representations made at that time?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member tries to misquote --

An hon. member: Mislead.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I will not say "mislead" because he is an honourable member.

Again, my former proposal still stands. I will attempt to address the Biggs report and the special committee report before the House adjourns. I answered him quite clearly.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, could the minister please advise us why Ontario is last in Canada, according to the farm survey coordinated by the Farm Credit Corporation, both in terms of short-term and long-term support for farmers?

Under short-term liabilities with respect to provincial support, the percentage of provincial government support for Alberta is 0.6; Manitoba is 0.2; Quebec is 2.6; the Atlantic provinces are 2.7; Canada, an average of 0.4; and Ontario is 0.1. Why?

With respect to long-term liabilities; Alberta is 13.2; Saskatchewan is 4; Manitoba is 79; Quebec is 50.2; the Atlantic provinces are 41.5; and Ontario is 1.4.

In both areas we are last in Canada. Why? How are Ontario farmers supposed to compete in the agricultural market in this country when this government is supporting them the least of all provincial governments in this country?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Again, Mr. Speaker --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Order, please.

Mr. Sargent: He asked for it. Let him take it.

Mr. Speaker: I am sure the honourable member who asked the question would like an answer other than from those members of his own caucus. He asked the minister: the minister will reply.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, sitting in your chair day after day you must recognize the lack of co-ordination by that party over there.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Would the minister address the question.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I am attempting to answer the question and I will continue. Those questions were all addressed by the member's colleagues on his left. Had he been here he would have heard my response. It is on the record.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the indulgence of the House for a moment to make an urgent and short statement of great interest to the House? Do I have the unanimous permission of the House?

Mr. Speaker: Do we have the consent of the House?

Agreed to.

2:50 p.m.



Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the House will be interested to learn that I have just been advised by Mr. Bob Joyce, of the disputes advisory committee in the Irwin Toy strike, that the recommendation made by that committee has been accepted by Irwin Toy.

Mr. R, F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, that is enough to reconfirm my belief in Santa Claus.



Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Revenue, and it has to do with the arbitrary curbside assessment process he has developed. The assessment forms, as he is well aware, have only one figure on them and that is the new assessment figure people are receiving. There is no indication on that form of last year's figure. There is no indication on it of an increase in a person's assessment. Many people are still not aware of the significance of that figure on their bill, and they will not know it until they get their tax bill. I suggest that is a particularly important thing for people who have difficulty with the English language in parts of the western area of Toronto.

The appeals deadline is January 12 and difficulty. In view of this, will the minister not extend that deadline to something that is closer to the time when people will be getting their tax bill so they will be able to undertake a realistic appeal of the huge increases that are coming across at the moment?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: No, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Supplementary: Supposing we have to wait until tomorrow for his answers to this; the minister must be aware that tonight is the last night his open house is going to be on. This is the last night people are going to be able to go down and try to get some answers to their questions about why their assessments are 500 per cent higher or 300 per cent higher. Will the minister not at least extend that open house period so people can go down? Will he not, at least, suggest that people can find out by phone what other people's assessments are on their street so they will be able to undertake a realistic attack on the unrealistic appraisals that have been given to their homes?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I could be very brief and say no again, Mr. Speaker, but I think this does require more of an answer than that. As far as the open house program is concerned, if I recall correctly it does not end today; it ended yesterday. I could be out on that but I think yesterday was the last day.

The actual open house period was doubled this year from the previous practice of five days to 10, and the notices of that open house were included with all assessment notices. Along with that the fair bit of publicity given by the media in the past week or so should have alerted any people who were interested. Last but not least, people have the opportunity at any time within convenient business hours, at least as far as a contact is concerned, to call the Toronto assessment office and be put in touch with the assessor who has done their property or is responsible for their neighbourhood.

We are reluctant to carry on a great dialogue on the telephone, for obvious reasons. There is a certain amount of confidentiality in the minds of a lot of people vis-à-vis their property. One never knows, when one is talking on the telephone, whether one is talking to the owner of a property or not. I am not sure that would be a very acceptable use of the telephone by many people out there. I appreciate it would be for some and not for the others. Personal contact is much better.

Again, I want to emphasize that there have been many opportunities. I have no hesitation in people are only now just becoming aware of the saying if people are still concerned and feel they have not received an adequate answer to their legitimate concerns, they should file an appeal. They have plenty of time to do that yet, because it continues until January 12.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I understand Toronto council is discussing this issue and will come to the minister tomorrow, or possibly today, with a request for a suspension of these arbitrary and unconscionable reassessments brought in by his ministry and his assessors over the past few months. Will he consider that request positively and suspend the action he has been undertaking so everyone has a chance to develop a fair system and not have it as arbitrary and sloppy as it has been under his administration?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: It is great to be a holier-than- thou purist, the way some of the honourable members opposite purport to be. At the same time, they are the first members who will criticize whatever is out there as being unfair and inequitable.

It is too bad certain honourable members and certain members of the Toronto city council did not start to think of all the ratepayers out there and of putting some equality into the system. What it really means is that if taxpayer A is not carrying anywhere near his or her fair share, taxpayer B is paying more than his or her fair share.

There is no doubt the section 86 program would overcome many of these inequities. That has not happened yet so what we have been doing right across the province is reacting to numerous requests over the years from the municipalities to add to the assessment roll the increased values of properties due to additions, renovations, et cetera.

As late as this past year, the municipal advisory committee on assessment data supply and services, which has input from the municipalities, the school boards, et cetera -- I will not bore him with it all -- recommended that all items which add in excess of $2,500 market value should be assessed.

That is just one of many times over the last number of years this has been brought forward by municipalities individually or collectively through their respective organizations to criticize us for not keeping their assessment base up to what it should be. That is exactly what we are doing now.

If somebody in the city of Toronto with a property worth $91,000 is paying less than $200 in property tax while somebody a few blocks away is paying five, six and seven times that, I do not know where fairness and equality come in. The changes we are talking about now will at least be one further step towards bringing an equitable system across the province.

Mr. Grande: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: I do not know whether I heard the minister correctly. Is the minister encouraging people to appeal their taxes since he is obviously unwilling to extend the deadline of January 12? If the minister is encouraging people to appeal their taxes, is he not aware that in the last year appeals in Metropolitan Toronto alone have increased by 150 per cent and appeals lodged two years ago have still not been heard?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to repeat what I said before if the honourable member did not catch the context. If people still have concerns before the expiry date of the appeals time which is January 12, if they have not had an adequate explanation by contacting the assessment office and so on, then quite rightly they should file appeals. That is what the appeal system is for. That is what an assessment notice is all about.

It says: "Here is your assessment. If you do not agree with it, let us know." That is why the open houses were there and why the appeal process is there. I encourage ratepayers who are not satisfied with the equity of it to file an appeal.

Mr. Epp: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The minister is well aware he is at least 48,000 cases behind in appeals as of October --

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order.


Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, My question is for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), given the absence again of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea). It concerns the dismantling of children's mental health programs around this province. At the same time as we have massive waiting lists, we have fewer kids in care.

Does the minister deny that White Oaks which is being closed will not be replaced at CPRI and at Thistletown, that kids are going to be dumped in the community and that by December 22, 20 of those 32 kids in residence will be out in the community?

Does she deny there is another attempt to destroy the Humber Bay clinic on the grounds of Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, attempts which have been going on since 1976? Supposedly this program will be going to Thistletown Regional Centre, but it really will not be; the program will be destroyed.

3 p.m.

Is she aware that under the guise of developing a new facility, the South Shore School in Sudbury will in fact be dropping the number of children receiving care from 120 to 32 and as a result of this lack of care for kids in mental health centres, what we have is psychiatric hospitals being used improperly under the guise of assessments which are redundant in most cases -- like St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital, where they have four kids in custody at the moment and have had 16 this year, even though there are no child psychiatrists in that facility to do a proper assessment of those kids?

Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member has made a lot of allegations that have no basis in truth at all.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: It is another indication of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development being kept in the dark. Is the minister not aware that there is such a lack of co-ordination out there in terms of the placement of kids, that Thistletown, which is supposedly receiving kids from White Oaks, is turning down new applicants who want to take the White Oaks kind of program because it is not going to be offering that program as far as we can tell?

Is she aware that kids in the South Shore School in Sudbury are actually going through family placement counselling right now to move those kids out of their community in Sudbury to the south for treatment because they are expecting not to have the funding to place those extra 90 kids in programs in Sudbury?

Is that what she is going to be doing? What is the minister, who is absent again, going to be doing to look after the 1,700 kids who are on waiting lists? Are we just going to dump more of them into the community and say to the parents: "Look after your own kids. We in this province are not taking any responsibility"?

Hon. Mrs. Birch: The minister will be here tomorrow and I am only too sure he will be very happy to respond to some of the allegations the member has made. So many of them are without any basis.

The philosophy of this government is to make sure children do receive the kind of help they need in their own communities. We work very hard to ensure that does happen. I cannot accept that some of the suggestions the member has made have happened.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware there are 67 acres of well-serviced land and a team that is put together to look after this type of children at White Oaks? Why does the ministry not put good facilities at that property so we can service that area well?

Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, there are not enough children in residence to warrant the kind of money that would be required to bring that particular property up to those expectations. The children from that facility are going to be looked after in London at CPRI --

Mr. Bradley: That is not what their parents are telling us.

Hon. Mrs. Birch: Yes, they are; and in other community arrangements within their own home communities. Those children have all been very well looked after.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the minister says it is the philosophy of her government to give children the treatment they deserve and need. Keeping in mind that my colleague has indicated that not just one child but four children are in the St. Thomas adult psychiatric facility today and that 16 have been in that facility so far this year, would the minister also keep in mind that this morning when I spoke to Mr. O'Keefe, the administrator of that hospital, he indicated that they had no child psychiatrist or psychologist or social workers on staff?

He said, and I quote: "When they are sent to this hospital they are essentially in a holding pattern, because there are no other facilities for them." Does that fit in with the minister's philosophy? Why does she not get with it as the Provincial Secretary for Social Development and do some planning and provide proper care for the children who need it in this province?

Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I take great exception to that. There is nobody in this province who cares more about children than we do and we have attempted to find and provide such --

Mr. Cooke: It's all talk. It's all talk with you.

Hon. Mrs. Birch: I get a little sick of the member and his superiority, just a little tired of it.


Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I want to thank the minister for his co-operation with the events thus far today with the farmers, but the fact is the Ontario government has not kept up with assistance to agriculture the way other provinces have over the last several years, and agriculture in Ontario has fallen into a depressed state both financially and emotionally. We have a group of very energetic farmers and farmers' wives out there who want most of all to continue farming and will continue to work hard for long hours to see that they and agriculture survive in Ontario.

In view of these facts, will the minister give a commitment that he will fine-tune his proposal for tomorrow and give us an assurance that he will give rebates of interest rates back to single-digit size, which has been recommended by the Canadian Farmers Survival Association, for interest payments made in 1981? Second, will the minister provide a long-term lending program to farmers to refinance present debt at 12 per cent or less?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I did not hear the first three or four words spoken by the member, but let me respond to the portion I did hear.

The member was in the House this morning and heard my remarks at that time. He heard me agree fully with his colleague the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) that high interest rates and high costs of production are creating a problem. He heard me say the farmers are getting only two thirds of the price they should get. He heard me say that general farm produce needs to increase by 50 per cent. He heard me say that the consumers of this province have had low-priced food for a great many years.

The farm community needs an increase of 50 per cent in the farm-gate price. He heard me criticize myself as a farmer along with the rest of the farm community for not implementing a supply management system where we could help ourselves. He heard me agree to all those things.

The member heard me quite clearly and I will repeat it again. People in the galleries and members of the Liberal Party also heard me this morning. The member attended the meeting with Mr. Spencer, the member for York South and myself. He heard me say I would attempt to try to report to this House before it adjourns.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, the taxpayers of Ontario know the way those guys over there operate, the way they keep the promise. Why does the minister bring in this legislation, if he is going to bring it in, at five minutes to midnight? I do not trust those guys over there. I do not believe the minister is going to do it. He is going to bring in this legislation, whatever it is, at the last moment when we cannot debate it so it will be on the back burner until God knows when. Tomorrow is the last day.

Mr. Speaker: Do you have a question?

Mr. Sargent: My question is this: The minister says he hopes to bring it in. That is not good enough. The government spent $650 million on Suncor. We are at the bottom of the line in all Canada in this area. I think he must be the worst minister in all Canada if this is the record.

Mr. Speaker: I would draw to the member's attention that he said he was going to ask a question.

Mr. Sargent: I am going to. This is important, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: It surely is. What is your question?

Mr. Sargent: Sit down for a minute then.

Mr. Speaker: Just be very careful. That is the last time I will caution you. Now, ask your question.

Mr. Sargent: Will the minister do the same as Quebec and give a minimum of $300 million, will he make this available to people without equity and will he bring it in tomorrow when we can debate it? Why can the minister not give these people an answer today? What is the big deal about telling them he is going to do something for farmers? What is the big deal? The Treasurer said a month ago he would bring it in. Why can the minister not bring it in today?

3:10 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: Order. You have asked your question. The minister will now reply.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the member refers to $300 million in Quebec. I have reminded him on a very clear basis many times that Quebec gets $1.8 billion in equalization grants that Ontario does not get. Ontario pays $1 billion of it --

Mr. Mancini: They had their chance with $400 million and they turned it down.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I would ask the member for Essex South to remain quiet, please.

A new question -- the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Di Santo: I defer to the member for Grey-Bruce if the minister wants to answer his question.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I thank the member for Downsview for giving me the opportunity to complete my response. The taxpayers in Ontario pay $1 billion of the $1.8 billion into the federal Treasury. I want to say this while the audience is here so they realize that Ontario is paying money into the federal Treasury which is disposed of in other provinces.


Mr. Speaker: It was by consent the minister replied. Please give him an opportunity to reply.

Mr. Smith: He is not replying, Mr. Speaker. He is simply trying to arouse --

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: It should be obvious to the Speaker in the chamber that the Minister of Agriculture and Food is not trying to use his time to reply to a question that was asked, but instead is attempting to arouse anti-Quebec sentiments based on an alleged --


Mr. Speaker: Order. The honourable member is out of order. The Leader of the Opposition will please resume his seat. That is not a point of privilege. Please resume your seat.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is with regret that I must name the member for Hamilton West and ask him to withdraw for the rest of the day.

Mr. Smith was escorted from the chamber by the Sergeant at Arms.


Mr. Speaker: I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters that he brings dishonour on himself and on this House. Order.

We will have a new question from the member for Downsview. The member for Grey-Bruce will please resume his seat.

Mr. Sargent: He gave me his spot.

Mr. Speaker: We have had enough of this nonsense.


Ms. Copps: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: There is nothing out of order.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Withdraw that "nonsense."

Mr. Speaker: No, I will not.

Mr. T. P. Reid: You are going to be withdrawn before you know it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, order.

Ms. Copps: It is a point of order. Mr. Speaker, you have to hear my point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, I will listen to your point of order.

Ms. Copps: My point of order is that the minister has stated in this House that the Quebec government and its farmers survive on equalization payments. This government refused equalization payments.

Mr. Speaker: The member is out of order. That is not a point of order.


Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The member for Downsview.

Mr. Di Santo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Mancini: It is unparliamentary. It is unbecoming of the Speaker to use that kind of terminology.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I did not direct my remarks to any particular person such as the Leader of the Opposition. I addressed my remarks to all honourable members of this House.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --

Mr. Speaker: There is no point of order.

Mr. Roy: I have a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Let me hear it.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, if you expect the opposition to respect the chair it must be obvious to you that we must get equal treatment. I am saying to you --


Mr. Speaker: Order, order. Please accord the member for Ottawa East the courtesy of making his point.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, my point simply is this: It is clearly the evidence and the impression of many of us on this side that you give full discretion to cabinet ministers to abuse the time they have been allotted to answer and that in many cases you are too quick to cut off points of order, points of privilege and questions by members of the opposition.

That is sometimes difficult for us to accept. Sometimes you are intimidated by that bunch over there. We do not accept that. We are saying to you we want to respect the chair, but we want to see equal treatment. We should not be intimidated by the whip or the other members on the other side. All we want is equal treatment.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That was very interesting. It was completely out of order. There was no point of order.

Mr. Roy: I think it is --

Mr. Speaker: Your opinion is different from mine, you see.

Mr. Roy: You are a servant of the House, not the government.

Mr. Speaker: I would suggest, with all respect to the member for Ottawa East, that he peruse at his leisure the standing orders of this House. I am sure he will find that the allegations he has chosen to make are completely false and without foundation. The very fact I listened to him was an indication of my fairness. Does the member for Downsview still have a question?

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I regret that I caused the Minister of Agriculture and Food to generate all this chaos, but I will now ask my question.

3:20 p.m.


Mr. Di Santo: I have a question of the Minister of Health. The minister is aware that the Ontario health insurance plan offices will relocate in Kingston on June 30, 1982. As he knows, a number of employees, because of family obligations, housing problems or for other reasons, do not wish to relocate in Kingston. Can the minister indicate how many employees have already told the ministry they do not wish to relocate in Kingston? For how many of them has the minister found alternative employment within the civil service in order to allow them to stay in Toronto? What concrete plans does the minister have at this time?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker. I certainly am aware of that. As the member knows, the announcement of the move to Kingston was made almost five years ago. One of the reasons, of course, that we gave so much advance notice was to be able to afford opportunities to make other arrangements to those individuals who, as the member already pointed out, did not want to move to Kingston, or could not, for family or personal reasons.

Let me just mention that as of July 9, 1980 -- the date a number of ministers were in Kingston to confirm various aspects of the move -- 625 incumbents in the OHIP head office were subject to relocation. As of November 30, almost three weeks ago -- and I do not have any more recent figures -- of those 625, 250 have made various arrangements. In some cases, people have retired or taken long-term income protection because of medical ailments. Some have transferred to other ministries. Some have transferred to other parts of the Ministry of Health.

About 15 of those positions that were originally thought to be going to Kingston were removed, and about 40 or so have made commitments to go to Kingston. I cannot remember the exact number but about 30 or 40 are in Kingston now, so that brings it down to 375 as of the end of November.

We have established a relocation unit at the OHIP head office. I visited the OHIP head office on Monday of this week. I went around to several of the floors and talked to the staff, particularly those in sections of OHIP which are subject to relocation and who are, understandably, apprehensive because they have not as yet made other arrangements.

I discussed a number of their concerns with them, which I have taken back to my staff. It seems to me I made it very clear to my staff that the relocation unit we have established should act as the advocate for those people to assist them in making alternative arrangements, especially those who want to relocate to other ministries. By the way, the government imposed a hiring freeze many months ago for the most common categories for that staff, in order that we could try to facilitate their moves to other ministries in the capital area.

I told the staff when I met with them, including one or two of the stewards, that if they had any specific suggestions as to how we could improve the job we are trying to do for them through the relocation unit, I would be more than happy to hear, because that is very much on my mind.

Mr. Di Santo: The minister said he set up a relocation unit, but does he understand that the relocation unit operates only as an applicant right now for employees to the other ministries? In other words, they do not give any assurance at all that employees who do not want to relocate in Kingston will get employment within the civil service.

In view of the fact that the number of people who do not want to relocate is rather high, from what the minister said just now, will he undertake to make a commitment right now that he will raise the issue with Management Board of Cabinet and make sure that those employees who do not want to relocate or who cannot relocate in Kingston will find employment within the civil service, especially those employees who have a very high seniority?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I can assure the honourable member that every reasonable effort has been made to assist, and what is more, I repeat, I made the offer to them that if they had any specific suggestions as to how we could do the job better, we would do so.

What I cannot say to the member, and what I could not say to them, is that I would have any authority to say everybody is absolutely guaranteed a position after the date that those portions of the ministry transfer to Kingston. I do not have the authority to do that and I know I would not be given the authority to do that.

What we will continue to do is assist, in whatever way we can, those who want to transfer to other parts of our ministry or to other parts of the government in the capital area. When I met with the staff the other day, I indicated to them that in previous situations where we have closed or moved facilities, we have found by and large we have been able to, through similar processes, be of assistance to all but a very small number in relocating.

Mr. Di Santo: I would like to ask the minister if he does not think that making arrangements for people who do not want to relocate really means either quitting the civil service or finding alternative employment? That is a hardship the government should not put on employees who have been with it for 15 or 20 years. If the minister is serious, why does he not make a commitment that he will find employment for them within the civil service?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think it behooves us to facilitate the process whereby they would apply for the vacancies that exist. I remind members again that we have applied a hiring freeze in the Metro Toronto area for those categories which most of these people fall into.

Mr. Di Santo: You will have 50 people applying for one job.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: You are not interested? I said, in fact, to several of them the other day, "Would you really have us take the available jobs and assign you to them?" Of course, the answer was no, because in most cases what we might assign them to would be something they would not want to do at all.

As I said, if there is some way we can do it better, we will try to do so. Our job is to try to facilitate getting people into a position to apply for the available vacancies.


Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to draw to your attention, as I am sure I have made available to all members of the House this afternoon, a suggestion --

Mr. Martel: Question.

Mr. Robinson: I do have a question.

Mr. Speaker: Well, please let us have the question.

Mr. Robinson: My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I made available to members of the House this afternoon a publication that the minister provided through his ministry dealing with child restraint for young individuals in automobiles. Is he prepared to reassure the House this afternoon that the legislation to give effect to mandatory child restraint in Ontario will be a priority very early in the new session?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, I am, Mr. Speaker. In fact, during my estimates this morning in committee, I stated I had now received cabinet approval of this particular policy and I would be having the legislation prepared following the first of the year, and that the legislation would be introduced early in the spring session. I expect by the time I have the legislation introduced the federal regulations will have been published and the whole package will have been put forward in an orderly manner.

I would like to say that the honourable member, in the letter that he distributed, has helped me out with my Christmas shopping list because, having had a new granddaughter born this morning at 8:30, I will take the member's advice and see that a proper child restraint device is under the tree for her next week.

3:30 p.m.

Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of the Liberal Party to congratulate the minister on the birth of his granddaughter.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Maybe the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) would let his colleague the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) complete his question.

Mr. Bradley: Just worry about interjections from over there.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Question period is coming down to the final minutes, and I am sure the member for Parkdale has an important question he would like to ask.


Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) is not here; so I would like to ask the Minister of Housing a question.

The minister will surely be aware that under Bill 191, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Amendment Act, this bill will require the islanders to pay market rents and to bring existing homes up to current building code standards.

The minister must be aware that the cumulative effect of these two types of activities will be very detrimental to many of the islanders. I have a list here that indicates that within two to three months up to 145 people will have to leave the islands because the prices and the rents will simply be too high. My question is simply, is this action under Bill 191 designed to create a preserve for the rich, and is it designed to clear out the islanders?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right; the bill is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. But I trust that what the member is really saying is that this government should make sure that any housing provided on the islands, or wherever else it is, will meet the building standards of the municipality in which it happens to be located, and that is exactly what Bill 191 is reiterating.

Mr. Ruprecht: Here we have an anomaly. We have the Minister of Housing saying that downtown Toronto is only for the rich, and he is doing the same darned thing for the islanders. He did not answer the question. Is the minister prepared to agree to phase in rent increases over three years instead of doing it all at once?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I direct that question to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The bill will be under discussion later this afternoon, and that will be the appropriate time to get the information.


Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I wonder what the Minister of Health would like me to tell a constituent of mine, Mr. Alexander Nixon, who moved into West Acres senior citizens' apartments to be close to his wife, who was to have been at Kipling Acres nursing home. Since October 2, he has been driving 31 miles a day to visit his wife at Peel Memorial Hospital. It has cost this man $150 a month for gasoline and parking.

When I spoke to Kipling Acres, I was informed that 25 residents would have to pass on to their great reward in the sky before Mrs. Nixon could be admitted, and this means a minimum of at least four months' waiting. Is this the kind of health care system the minister wants to develop? And what kind of Christmas gift is he going to give to the Nixons, since they have spent all their money driving back and forth to Peel and cannot afford any?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first, I would be very surprised if anybody having anything whatsoever to do with a nursing home would use the expression that a number of residents "would have to pass on to their great reward." A great many residents of nursing homes, I am pleased to tell the honourable member, are discharged back to their family homes or other settings.

Second, would the honourable member have me force 25 people out to place this individual? Obviously not.

Third, I am surprised that as a member of the board of the Etobicoke General Hospital, which was given approval recently to build a nursing home on that site, which is even closer to Brampton than is the Kipling Acres nursing home, the member would not have told his constituent that, and that, as a member of the board, he would not see that project is expedited.


Mr. R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Although you directed the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) to look at Hansard, I ask you if you will please review Hansard in terms of the response by the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Too many times we have heard this remark about equalization payments as they affect Quebec. We never hear it about Tory regimes in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and other areas. Those kind of extraneous, provocative --

Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order, with all respect.

Mr. Martel: But it is factual. It is bloody well factual.

Mr. Speaker: Maybe it is, but it is not a point of order. I ask the member for Sudbury East to contain himself.

Mr. Martel: It is always anti-Quebec. They play the game in every answer. They never make another comparison.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Martel: Why don't they compare it with Saskatchewan? They are doing something out there that is really different.

Mr. Laughren: Why is it always Quebec?


Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the Minister of Agriculture and Food, the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) and the member for Nickel Belt please refrain?


Mr. Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 28, the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) has given notice that he is dissatisfied with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). The matter will be debated at 10:30 this evening.



Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from the Concerned Farmers' Wives of Grey and Bruce counties and the Canadian Farmers' Survival Association.

The undersigned petition the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly to take immediate action to help alleviate the present economic situation in the rural areas of Ontario where many farmers are going into receivership or bankruptcy and leaving the farms.

I am sure this petition will add great strength to the concerns raised here today.



Mr. Shymko from the standing committee on social development reported the following resolution:

That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Labour be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1982:

Ministry administration program, $8,101,500; industrial relations program, $3,088,000; women's program, $1,004,000; occupational health and safety program, $22,631,400; employment standards program, $3,419,000; manpower commission program, $1,174,000; human rights commission program, $3,667,000; labour relations board program, $2,809,000.


Mr. Treleaven from the standing committee on administration of justice reported the following resolution:

That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Correctional Services be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1982:

Ministry administration program, $5,724,300; institutional program, $103,388,100; community program, $20,643,400.

And that supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Correctional Services be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1982:

Institutional program, $4,000,000.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that, notwithstanding any standing order, Bill 178, if reported from standing committee today or tomorrow, be allowed to be called for subsequent stages of debate tomorrow.

3:40 p.m.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, in spite of the abuse we have taken from that side in the last little while -- and I will not comment about anything emanating from the chair -- I will say that the Attorney General showed some flexibility last evening under the prodding of my colleagues in the Liberal Party who were not prepared to give carte blanche and absolute unfettered power to the police.

But at the same time, and this should go on the record to show the intent of this party, our feelings are like those of the government on this matter. If people at a certain level of alcohol consumption become a threat to the public, we in no way want to delay such legislation.

Having seen the Attorney General's flexibility in curbing and putting limits on the power of the police, we in this party are prepared to co-operate to see this pass into law.

Motion agreed to.



Mr. Mancini moved, seconded by Mr. Nixon, first reading of Bill 206, an Act to amend the Election Finances Reform Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, the bill sets out expenditure ceilings of 90 cents per voter for candidates and 35 cents per voter for parties subject to annual adjustments on the basis --


Mr. Mancini: Will you guys shut up for a minute and let me finish, and I can leave?

Mr. Speaker: Order. I know exactly how the member feels. Will members please accord the courtesy to this member to explain his bill?

Mr. Mancini: These expenditure ceilings will be subject to annual adjustments on the basis of the Statistics Canada consumer price index. Contributions may be made only by individuals and not by corporations or trade unions.

Candidates, parties and constituency associations may not use campaign funds to make contributions to municipal candidates. Taxpayers are permitted to designate up to $5 of income tax refunds as contributions or may add a similar amount to taxes payable and the Treasurer of Ontario will make payments on their behalf.

Candidates and constituency associations may engage in campaign advertising for the 21-day period preceding polling day and may devote all or any part of their permitted expenditures to advertising. Advertising of government programs is prohibited during the election period.


Mr. Cooke moved, seconded by Mr. Charlton, first reading of Bill 207, An Act to provide for a Moratorium on Mortgage Payments for Persons affected by an Interruption of Employment.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, this bill allows home owners affected by Layoffs to defer payments of their mortgages until three months after the layoff has ceased.


Mr. Swart moved, seconded by Mr. MacDonald, first reading of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Milk Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my bill permits a form of minimum and maximum retail price control of milk similar to legislation in Quebec.

This bill would accomplish three things. It would prevent the massive discounting of milk by as much as 30 per cent, which supermarkets demand and get from the dairies; the dairies in turn charge a higher wholesale price to other distributors and retailers. Milk could no longer be used as a loss-leader, with serious overall repercussions. The retail price of milk could be reduced by reducing the markup between the farm price and the price to the consumer.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answer to question 269 standing on the Notice Paper. (See Hansard for Friday, December 18).




Mr. Stokes moved, seconded by Mr. Martel, resolution 33:

That in the opinion of this House the government should take immediate steps to reduce retail sales tax for those Ontario residents who live north of the French River from the present rate of seven per cent to three per cent and to reduce the ad valorem tax on gasoline from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.

Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I want to start out with a quotation from John Stuart Mill on liberty: "The majority being satisfied with the ways of mankind as they now are, for it is they who make them what they are, cannot comprehend why those should not be good enough for everybody."

Northern Ontario has not reached its potential for economic development, because northerners have not been treated fairly by our laws and institutions. A new and more enlightened approach to northern development is needed, one sensitive to the hardships of northern living and one that treats northerners with equity and fairness.

3:50 p.m.

Canada's economic development was influenced enormously by her frontier regions. This fact remains unchanged after 114 years of Confederation, although the frontier has receded somewhat. Today, that northern frontier is northern Canada and northern Ontario.

Major economic, social and political challenges facing Ontario in the 1980s will only be resolved through the use of resources and space in northern Ontario and, more important, with the co-operation of northern residents. There are two ways of securing their co-operation and hence of influencing northern development: through unilateral legislative and declaratory powers, or through negotiation, compromise and a respect for minority rights of northerners.

Ontario politicians must realize that policies designed to win votes for those living in large cities -- the urban majority -- but showing little consideration for the values and aspirations of those living in northern Ontario, will hurt all of Ontario both economically and politically.

We question the wisdom of allowing urban sprawl to absorb increasing shares of the province's wealth while northern Ontario, and indeed Ontario's future, remains neglected. Ontario's future is inextricably tied to northern development. The key to successful northern development is a strategy based on equity and fairness for northerners.

On February 7, 1957, the Right Honourable John George Diefenbaker stated:

"Insofar as northern Canada is concerned, there can be no question whatever that in the territories there has not been a policy of vision in keeping with the tremendous potentialities of that area. In that area, there are vast resources that should be developed, with the state making possible that development by providing the means and the climate for private industry to develop and to expand.

"I can see this northland of ours with developments envisaged by D'Arcy McGee in his magnificent speech at the time of Confederation as he saw that great Canada. I can see cities in northern Canada and on the Arctic Circle. I can see cities really in northern Ontario. There are vast power potentialities in that area. I can see cities developing there as they are developing today in Norway, if only the government would catch the vision of the possibilities."

On March 3, 1980, the following quotation appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail in an article entitled "Regional Fences No Match for Urban Sprawl," authored by Michael Keating:

"Ten years after the Ontario government announced a major plan to stop urban sprawl from choking the Toronto region, Toronto is growing as fast as ever."

The cold climate in the north has a major impact on both the lifestyle and the bank accounts of northern residents. Average temperatures are colder, and the number of frost-free days are fewer in northern Ontario than in the rest of the province.

Living costs attributed to colder weather are difficult to quantify. We can compare prices in the north with prices in urban centres, but we also need to know what quantities of different goods are purchased. For example, northerners must purchase extra home insulation, extra clothing, extra blankets and extra fuel for their automobiles and their furnaces. An automobile's life is shortened by cold weather, snow, ice and gravel roads.

All northerners are also culturally isolated. They endure harsh environmental conditions and pay higher prices for goods and services. They are entitled to tax relief.

The provincial sales tax and the ad valorem tax on gasoline discriminate against northerners. After allowing for the purchase of essentials, such as food, clothing, shelter, fuel, transportation, health care, et cetera, northerners with families of equal size earning the same gross income have smaller net incomes than their counterparts in southern Ontario.

Where one lives in this province affects one's ability to pay. Since living essentials cost significantly more in the north than in other areas of Ontario, then on grounds of equity and fairness all northern residents should be granted relief from the provincial sales tax and the ad valorem tax on gasoline.

Residents of Greenland receive a special taxation privilege from the state of Denmark, and monetary incentives are offered by the central government in the Soviet Union to entice migration to northern areas; and so does Australia. Canada and Ontario are far behind.

There may be objections to tax relief for northerners from the "like it or lump it" school of thought. In other words, if people living in the north do not like the living conditions they can leave. If they do like the living conditions, why we should we compensate them? Northern residents are free to move south if they wish and if they remain where they are; it is of their own choice. Moreover, many people in the north enjoy the wilderness. Northerners living in open and unpolluted spaces are in many ways compensated for the high cost of living and cultural isolation by nature's beauty.

Their lifestyle naturally entails a degree of isolation and higher costs; why should the rest of Ontario subsidize their income through exemptions? Let me tell members why.

First, there are economic barriers: no job skills, widespread unemployment in Ontario and the cost of moving. There are also social barriers: discrimination, particularly experienced by our first citizens, a feeling of alienation because of distance and cultural differences that prevent northerners from securing employment in many Ontario urban centres. These barriers are particularly prohibitive for our native and non-status Indians. In short, northerners cannot leave very easily.

Second, urban Ontario will always need people in the north to supply its industries with resources, its homes with electricity, its cars with oil and its contractors with lumber. Northerners deserve fairer treatment.

Who is going to create the new wealth from our primary industries? Who is to keep the railways, the highways, the pipelines in operation, and backup services for them, if we simply state: "If you don't like living in the north, just move to the south"?

Retail sales taxes are discriminatory. A disproportionately high share of sales tax revenue is siphoned from the pockets of northerners, because sales tax is charged as a fixed percentage of retail prices, even though retail prices are much higher in northern Ontario than in urban centres.

Northern development is an alternative to and a necessary requirement for continued urbanization. Indeed, Canada's future is closely linked to northern development, but successful northern development requires policies founded on equity and fairness, not on exploitation. Urban Ontario has developed while northern Ontario has been ignored. Vast and sophisticated services and infrastructure are part of the natural environment in cities but considered a luxury in the north.

The cold climate, poor transportation and sparse population cause high living costs. Northern residents are isolated from the mainstream of Canadian life; their medical, communications, cultural, educational, shopping, protection and other needs are not adequately met.

The high cost of living and the isolation in northern Ontario create financial and spiritual hardships not encountered in many urban centres in Canada and in southern Ontario. Many employers in the north must therefore pay special income supplements ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 a year to attract and retain qualified skilled and professional personnel. Many northern taxpayers do not receive any special benefits but must endure northern hardships. They deserve a reduction in sales tax and gas tax.

4 p.m.

One reason northern Ontario is underdeveloped is that provincial laws and policies are not equitable. Consequently, hardships endured by northerners are not compensated for. In fact, they are compounded by a discriminatory tax system.

By way of illustration, I want to indicate some of the reasons why I think this resolution deserves the support of each and every member from all sides of the House. With regard to the ad valorem tax on gasoline, we all know of the disparity between southern and northern Ontario but, for purposes of my argument, I want to indicate how we are even discriminated against as between points in northern Ontario because of the zoning policies practised by the oil companies in the north.

If one had his car in the city of Thunder Bay and pulled up to one of the self-service gasoline stations, he would be able to fill his tank with regular leaded gasoline for 38.5 cents per litre. If one went to Nipigon, which is 70 miles east, Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Marathon or Manitouwadge, he would pay between five and six cents per litre in excess of what one can buy it for in Thunder Bay.

The gasoline companies say it is the handling and transportation costs. Being a railroader I know what it costs to move a gallon of gas. It is between one and three cents depending on the distance. Along the north shore of Lake Superior we are being asked to pay in excess of 22 cents a gallon more than people in Thunder Bay, in many cases only 70 miles away. Who is getting it in the neck?

By way of illustration, I want to indicate some research I did to support my argument for such a resolution. I took a Canadian Tire catalogue from southern Ontario that a person probably gets in his mailbox or picks up at a Canadian Tire store any place south of the French River. We get ours delivered to us in the mail. I want to quote the disparity, even with a nationally-franchised organization such as Canadian Tire where one would think the prices would be fairly equitable across the entire country, certainly, across the province.

That is not so. If one goes through the southern Ontario Canadian Tire book and sees a tennis table, it will be listed at $95.99. If he takes the same article with the same serial number that is on sale in northern Ontario in the Canadian Tire store, it is $101.97.

I even phoned the Scarborough store and asked them for the price of their tennis table. It was not the $95.99 one would normally pay in a store in southern Ontario. It was not the $101.97 that we pay in the north. It was $89.88, As well, the seven per cent sales tax that attaches to the price of any article whenever one buys it is proportionately higher in the north.

Let me give one other example. A cassette tape recorder that sells for $99.95 in southern Ontario is $119.95 if I buy that in my own Canadian Tire store in Nipigon. It is the same article. It has the same serial number. There is a difference of $20 for one cassette tape recorder and another $1.40 by way of sales tax just because we happen to live north of the French River.

Let me give the example of a water heater that sells in the south for $177.98. It sells for $194.98 in the north and, of course, the extra retail sales tax is attached to that. Who is being disadvantaged?

I could go on at great length. I have a whole list of prices by way of comparison. I do not know how much time I have left. Perhaps the table could tell me.

Clerk of the House: Four minutes.

Mr. Stokes: All right.

I think we must provide the kind of unity that must exist in this country to make it work. We all know the dialogue about unity that has been going on for many years but more intensively over the past 18 months, and what Canada means to us as residents. We must make it work for all citizens wherever they may live.

I want to express that same sentiment that exists between southern Ontario and northern Ontario, that feeling of alienation and of being neglected that northerners have. I deplore the kind of discrimination, the kind of injustice that prevails in the most regressive form of taxation we have -- the retail sales tax, which is based on the selling price of an article.

For all of the reasons I have mentioned, I hope that all members on all sides of the House will support this resolution.

Mr. McLean: Mr. Speaker, I would like briefly to comment on this resolution. The honourable member asks that the government take immediate steps to reduce the retail sales tax and the ad valorem tax on gasoline for the benefit of Ontario residents living north of the French River. I should make it clear from the outset that I am opposed to this resolution. I oppose it because of the implications its passage would have on the economy of northern Ontario, the state of the provincial treasury and I think most important, the economic unity of this great province.

I will attempt to develop my arguments not in partisan defiance of the member, since I believe my friend possesses all the good intentions that are a trademark of his party, but because of the naive, destructive elements that underlie his resolution. Allow me to list these: First, I am most concerned by the resolution's spirit.

The honourable member should recognize that such a resolution causes the balkanization of our province. Though my friend would not do this intentionally, I respectfully ask him to consider the consequences when we, as a provincial body, begin to confer selective benefit to selected members of the Ontario populace. I simply do not like the direction of that kind of initiative.

The resolution suggests we use the French River as a boundary of privilege. Those above it will get a special deal. Those south of it will not. A measure such as this would be the fuel for the fire of isolation and regionalization in this province. On this point alone I ask that we consider the advisability of such a resolution.

Second, I have doubts the benefits to the north would have been so frequently mentioned, or are really as simple as the honourable member wishes. Both theory and practice should warn us that artificial discriminatory measures will distort the economy of the north, particularly in the boundary region of the French River.

Surely we in Ontario have witnessed enough cars stampeding across our international borders in search of cheap gasoline to understand how price distortions encourage an abuse of the market system. If we as a province have a tax on gasoline and a retail sales tax let us not start to debate who should be taxed and where. Let us direct our energies towards the creation of a justified fair tax for all citizens.

Today my friend would have the French River as a significant boundary and yet, by granting such a boundary for the first time --

Mr. Stokes: That is what Northern Affairs created that boundary for.

4:10 p.m.

Mr. McLean: No, it is not. By granting such a boundary we invite someone else to come along, maybe next Thursday, to try to get his area designated as needing tax relief. No one likes to pay taxes, but fewer like to contribute to a society they deem unfair.

Finally, allow me to turn my attention towards the revenue aspects of our tax system. Retail sales tax revenues form 16 per cent of the total revenues of the province. That is more than corporation taxes, more than established programs financing, more than health insurance premiums, Liquor Control Board of Ontario profits and interest on government investments combined. Yet the honourable member, whose party has more hare-brained billion-dollar schemes than Nelson Skalbania, thinks our province does not really need a chunk of that sales tax income any longer. With that kind of logic, we would soon be as poorly off as the Argonauts or, worse yet, the Alouettes.

Quite sincerely, I take exception to the members of the third party taking it on themselves to restrict the powers of Ontario's second largest generator of revenue.

My friend is going to say that areas north of the French River do not contribute very much in retail sales tax or fuel taxes. He thinks they should be arbitrarily excluded from a responsibility that is the essence of parliamentary government. I say his oratory just is not enough.

Before designating gratuitous resolutions for him and his party, he should have some sensitivity about the consequences of his actions; in this case, the implementation simply outweighs the good intentions.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to have heard the last speaker, who I presume is parroting government policy. I do not know whether he has been instructed to say what he said or has had that speech written for him. I would be interested at some point in hearing from the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) and his views -- somebody who might know whereof he speaks.

To add to that member's limited fund of knowledge about northern Ontario, he should be aware that the government has acted in at least two cases to try to rectify the high costs of northern Ontario. One, which no doubt will strike him as rather foolish, because it struck me that way, is that they equalized the price of draft beer in northern Ontario. That was their great policy of a few years ago.

Second, just before an election -- the timing seems to have something to do with their recognition that northern Ontario exists -- the government in its largess decided that we in northern Ontario would enjoy a $10 licence fee for our automobiles as opposed to a $40 licence fee in southern Ontario. The $30 difference, as I recall, was to provide a subsidy to northern residents of roughly five cents a gallon over the year to ameliorate the higher costs of living in northern Ontario.

Mr. Stokes: For anybody who didn't drive more than 10,000 miles.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Yes -- which in northern Ontario is ridiculous, because most people do that within a very few months. The member for Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski), who does not even live in northern Ontario, does that in a day, but we will not go into that. He is not here today. He must be out driving around the Legislative Building, building up his mileage.

I want to read, from a publication called The Guelph Papers, edited by Robert F. Nixon and published in 1970, an article called "The Future of Ontario Lies in the North."! want to read one page.

"I see in the not remote distance one great nationality bound like the shield of Achilles by the blue rim of ocean. I see it quartered into many communities, each disposing of its internal affairs but all bound together by free institutions, free intercourse and free commerce." That was stated by Mr. Thomas D'Arcy McGee on a debate on Confederation in 1865 in the Legislative Assembly.

I go on further: "When the Fathers of the Confederation decided to form a nation in the northern part of the North American continent, the decision they made was a political one. Economic and other considerations certainly were examined, but the decision to unite the four provinces was essentially political. The Fathers of Confederation at that time were extremely far-sighted, but they would be a little shocked to see that the nation we know as Canada is nothing more than a strip of communities some 200 miles wide along the American-Canadian border."

That article I commend to all members. It was written by Patrick Reid, the then member for Rainy River.

We have severe problems in northern development. The biggest problem is that there is not the government will, the political will, as represented by this Legislature to do anything about northern development. The history of this province has been one where we have been exploited decade after decade by southern Ontario and the people from the east. That is a euphemism for when things started with the fur trade in Montreal, then the lumber barons and the timber barons, then the mining barons, the large companies and the mining industry.

We have always been an adjunct of southern Ontario which has taken our natural resources, usually in their primary state, to provide economic development, economic opportunities and jobs in southern Ontario.

It has been stated in this chamber many times before that northern Ontario is one of the largest contributors in terms of foreign exchange for the mining and forest resources we export from this province. It was interesting to me to learn some time ago that the forest industry provides more in foreign exchange to Canada and Ontario than any other combination of two resources or manufacturing industries in Canada. One job in 10 is related to the forest industry.

In mining, in Canada there are 44,000 direct jobs and Ontario provides 44 per cent of those. Even my friend who has left could probably figure out that comes to a large number of jobs in Ontario, all of which are located in northern Ontario.

We never will develop northern Ontario as it should be developed until the government decides to put its political will, muscle and concentration behind northern development. In the meantime, we are locked into our little ghettos of one-industry towns that this government has fostered over the years.

The result of those one-industry towns and small populations based on those one industries has been that the cost of living in these communities is extremely high. It is extremely high because of transportation costs that we do not have to go into any further. We know those already.

We have been captives of the railroads for years. They charged not on an economic basis or a reasonable profit, but on what the traffic could bear. When I was working on my graduate thesis in economics I started to do a study of freight rates in northern Ontario. It became obvious there was no economic rationale for the prices charged by those who did the transportation of goods and materials in northern Ontario. It was done on a sort of catch as catch can basis on what the traffic would bear without any rhyme or reason for the prices charged, except to extract the maximum amount of dollars.

4:20 p.m.

Our costs are partly based on transportation. Obviously, our costs are also based on the distances which are tied in with transportation. They are based on the geography and climate of northern Ontario and on the fact that we have a limited number of people in northern Ontario. In effect, anybody who is in business is not selling the same number of goods as would somebody in a retail business in southern Ontario or in any city. To use the example of my friend from Lake Nipigon, if a person can sell 1,000 ping-pong tables he can afford to sell them at $94 or $95, whereas, if they are selling 10 in a particular city in northern Ontario, given the transportation costs, handling costs and so on, he just cannot afford to sell them at the same prices.

The other aspect of that is there is not the competition in northern Ontario, because of one-industry communities and small communities. It is just not economically viable to have a number of hardware stores in a northern Ontario town because there is not the population there to provide enough commerce to be in competition. Therefore a monopoly situation has developed in most of the communities.

My party will support this resolution. It would appear the government in its wisdom has decided to block it already. I do not entirely agree. My friend from Lake Nipigon has touched on the matter that bothers me frankly, and that is that the sales tax is a regressive tax. Instead, I would commend to him and to members of the House to adopt the policy I recommended to my party some years ago in Sudbury and which was accepted I believe in our 1975 election platform. It is that all those people living north of the French River in northern Ontario be given a tax credit such as we have for senior citizens.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): The member has exhausted the time available.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I will just finish then Mr. Speaker, thank you. I would suggest there be a tax credit -- that every taxpayer, every family really, in northern Ontario be given a tax credit of between $300 and $500 to ameliorate the higher costs of living in northern Ontario.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I rise as a southerner to speak on this resolution. In fact, I guess I live about as far south as you can get in Ontario. I want to say that I am diametrically opposed to the comments made and the position taken by the member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean). If that is the position of the government, and we will find that out I suppose at about ten minutes to six, it is just another example of what a majority means.

If they cannot, three years before the next election, even pay lip service to it -- and that is about all they do to any of the proposed benefits that are put forward by the opposition -- they have reached a pretty low state indeed.

As a southerner I am even happier now than I was before he spoke, to get up and support my colleague from Lake Nipigon.

Understandably we in this party support a very wide measure of equality. Democratic socialist governments, wherever they have been in power, have brought about greater equality and greater equity. It is because we believe in that higher degree of fairness and sharing that we are opposed to the government's cutback in the Ontario health insurance plan and putting a greater load on those least able to pay.

It is one of the reasons we are opposed to the high interest rates. Mainly we are opposed to them because they are destroying the economy but also because they are causing a redistribution of income. People who have large amounts of money to invest are able to get an even higher share of the national income than those who have to borrow money and support the higher income of those who already have it.

It is the reason we in this party support greater aid to post-secondary education and measures for full employment, and it is the reason we are prepared to intervene in the economy to provide those measures.

We recognize that northern Ontario is one of the areas in this province that has not been provided with equity and fairness over the years. In fact, it has been discriminated against by this government in many ways. If anything, northern Ontario, more than any other area of this province, ought to have some kind of special financial advantages and privileges for its people.

My colleague, the member for Lake Nipigon, mentioned the cold weather the people have to put up with. Even more important is that the 700,000 or so people who live in the north provide practically all the basic resources upon which the rest of the people in this province depend for their prosperity and wellbeing. That, coupled with the shortage of amenities and the hardships they have to put up with, which we do not recognize in this part of the province, should surely dictate that they should be able to live as well as we do or even better.

My colleague made the broad case about costs being higher in the north. As an example, he took the Canadian Tire catalogue. Because I am the critic for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations I have had occasion to check out consumer prices, particularly supermarket prices. Just today I took the opportunity to check out prices in Sault Ste. Marie compared with the greater Toronto area.

Let me read a few of these into the record. These are all from Dominion Stores in Sault Ste. Marie and Toronto. Hamburger in Toronto is selling this week for $1.18 a pound. They have a special on, but there is no special in Sault Ste. Marie where it is selling for $1.48 a pound. The cheapest loaf of bread one can buy is selling for 59 cents in Toronto; in Sault Ste. Marie it costs 78 cents.

Mr. Philip: What about smoked ham? That is what the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) would understand.

Mr. Swart: About what?

Mr. Philip: Smoked ham.

Mr. Swart: Let me go on to some other things like toilet tissue. Our forest resources are in the north. Some of those resources are brought south for manufacture here, some are not, yet four rolls of Cottonelle cost $1.62 in Toronto; and in Sault Ste. Marie they cost $1.72.

Then we come to something as essential as milk, about which I presented a private member's bill today. In Toronto, a litre of two per cent milk costs 81 cents; homogenized milk costs 86 cents. In Sault Ste. Marie it is 91 cents and 94 cents. Two litres of two per cent milk is $1.59 in Toronto and $1.81 in Sault Ste Marie; homogenized milk is $1.68 and $1.83. Three quarts of two per cent milk sells in Toronto -- and has for more than a month -- for $1.89; in Sault Ste Marie it is $2.89, one dollar more. About the same range is true for homogenized milk.

Prices are substantially higher in the north. As my colleague has pointed out, this is aggravated because they have to pay the sales tax on top of those higher prices. Thus they are paying a disproportionate share of the sales tax in this province to the provincial Treasury because they must pay more and the government charges them more. The member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean) talked about balkanization and alienation. The alienation there now is due at least partly to this differential in the way they have been discriminated against.

4:30 p.m.

What my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) proposes will do more to unite than divide. It is said we cannot make this discrimination in taxation. Taxes are based on a great many things, are they not? They are based on the sizes of families, on how much we drive and the value of homes. Is it not a reasonable factor to bring in that if one lives in northern Ontario, where conditions are more difficult and prices are higher, that can be considered in the whole tax structure? Of course, it can. It can be considered just as easily as the other things.

I will conclude by saying what my colleague proposes is to make a fairer Ontario. The objective is to make it a fairer province for all its citizens and to get greater equality within our society. It also would have some real economic advantages. It is not going to cost a great deal in spite of what the member for Simcoe East said.

Less than 10 per cent of the people live in northern Ontario. One is only cutting their taxes in half. One is only cutting out about four per cent from the sales tax and the gas revenue, perhaps less than that. That is not a lot to provide greater equality. It will have economic advantages, too. The north has been disadvantaged to a substantial extent over the years in regard to a shortage of various professional people because of the disadvantages of living in the north.

We cannot change the temperature or the distances in the north, but we can change to some extent the economic conditions under which the people live and make it a part of this province where there is equality with the rest of this province and where we show the people in the north that we appreciate having them as part of this province.

Mr. Sheppard: Mr. Speaker, there are no instant or easy solutions to the problems experienced in northern Ontario. Our government is engaged in a long and costly struggle to provide the north with economic prosperity and stability. with job security and the social and personal amenities southern Ontarians have taken for granted.

Our government is committed to providing assistance until the economic and social gap between north and south is closed to create equity between these two different regions. The measures proposed by the member for Lake Nipigon will not solve the problems in the north. Reducing the retail sales tax and the ad valorem tax on gasoline will only have the effect of balkanizing the province.

Northern Ontario's unique geographic, economic and social situation is recognized in the priorities that have been established by the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier). These priorities include response to local initiatives intended to improve the economy of northern Ontario and the quality of life of communities and regions, encouragement of mining exploration and development, assistance to the forestry industry, improvement to air, road and rail transportation systems, and assistance to provide for the special needs of isolated communities for essential services such as health and fire protection.

Helping communities in the north attain social and economic development and self-sufficiency is a major priority of this government. Through the northern community services and development program, for example, assistance is provided for the promotion of industrial development such as the civic centre project in Hornepayne, road and airport construction and maintenance, provision of municipal infrastructure such as water and sewage systems, provision of social and medical service and agricultural revitalization projects.

The goal must be to reduce the inequities between the northern and southern parts of the province and to reduce the effective distance that currently exists between the two regions of the province. I am not at all convinced that the measures proposed by my friend would achieve this goal. Closing the gap requires both economic development and efficient transportation and communications links between the north and the south.

Currently, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission provides a rail, air and ferry transportation network that links northern communities with each other as well as with communities in southern Ontario.

The ONTC operates three rail passenger services: the Northland service from North Bay to Cochrane; the Polar Bear Express from Cochrane to Moosonee; and the Northlander from North Bay and Timmins to Toronto. I might add that the Ministry of Northern Affairs funds the operating deficits of the passenger service of the ONTC as a commitment to the travelling public of northern Ontario.

The automobile and passenger ferry crosses from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island, providing a necessary communications link between the northern and southern parts of the province as well as a valuable drawing card for tourists.

Mr. Stokes: Is the Bruce Peninsula northern Ontario?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.

Mr. Sheppard: As well, norOntair operates nine Twin Otters serving in 21 northern communities.

In addition to these services, the ONTC operates a system of buses, trucks and a telecommunications system that brings radio, television and telephone service to several communities. These services have come a long way in closing the physical gap between northern and southern Ontario.

Contrary to the honourable member's comments, this government is sensitive to the differences which exist between the north and the south. The lower motor vehicle licence fee for northern residents, for example, was instituted at a cost to the government of $12 million to $14 million to offset their recognition of higher transportation costs in northern Ontario.

Reduction of the retail sales tax and ad valorem tax on gasoline is not necessary. Any reductions would only have a negative effect on Ontario's economy. To arbitrarily use the simple "north of the French River" definition does not necessarily benefit those Ontarians in most need of the reduction.

The reduced retail sales tax would create inequities between the large urban centres, where retail prices are comparable to southern Ontario, and the residents of rural northern Ontario, where lower volume, high markups and high transportation costs yield higher prices.

Reduction of the retail sales tax could create unfair competition between retail outlets within and outside these tax-reduced areas. Consumers would be willing to travel considerable distances to buy high-priced merchandise at a tax saving, thus distorting the normal trading patterns in tax revenues in neighbouring areas.

Further, a retail sales tax reduction does not necessarily imply that it will benefit the designated region. Once the retail sales tax is reduced, there is no further control on the pricing or the destination of the merchandising.

Similarly, the reduction on the ad valorem tax on gasoline would create distortions in the economy which could be exploited by some to the detriment of those in most need.

In short, the honourable member's resolution does not address a cohesive package of how to meet the real needs of our northern residents. The challenge is economy, growth and prosperity.

4:40 p.m.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Lake Nipigon, who introduced this resolution, and to go on record very clearly as supporting the principle of what he is suggesting.

I am not sure, and I say this to the honourable member, whether or not the particular process he has described -- in other words, dealing with the sales tax -- is the best way to do it. I have a sense that the proposal of my colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) may have more merit to it.

But I do not think that is the point. I think the point that both the member for Lake Nipigon and the member for Rainy River are drawing to our attention, although they would arrive at the end result in different ways, is that there is a case of imbalance, a case of inequality once we get north of the French River as compared to southern Ontario.

I can remember very clearly about a year and a half ago -- it might even be two years now -- when we were talking about financing Algoma College in Sault Ste. Marie. The gentleman in the House who is affectionately known as the governor of northern Ontario and I had a bit of a debate in committee in terms of just what was the principle that was at stake here.

I remember the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier) was pointing out that Algoma was getting no less than the comparable colleges and universities in southern Ontario. But the point I tried to make to him, after having spent some time in that community and after having spent some time with the students and the faculty who attend school there and who work at Algoma College, was to indicate that we cannot use the same criteria in northern Ontario as we do in southern Ontario.

When we consider the vast distances involved, when we consider the sparseness of the population with respect to the land mass, the criteria just do not fit and, therefore, in that situation and in all other situations in northern Ontario we have to recognize that different sets of criteria must apply.

I also remind my honourable colleagues on both sides of the House that most of the people in northern Ontario, although they pay the same taxes as the rest of us -- they pay the same income taxes, the same property taxes, the same sales taxes -- do not get the same benefit from those taxes.

When one looks at the kind of health care that is available to northern Ontarians in their own area, compared with what is available in southern Ontario, there is no comparison. If a person has a serious health need he somehow has to get to southern Ontario; that cannot be met in the north.

The same thing applies with respect to post-secondary education. I used Algoma College as one small example, but the same thing is generally true. Most post-secondary students in northern Ontario who want to take specialized courses cannot get them in their own areas. They have to come down south. That is equally true for almost everything we want to speak of.

If one looks at the transportation systems that are available to northern Ontarians as compared to southern Ontarians, once again there is no comparison. Yet the people of the north are paying the same income tax, the same sales tax and the same property tax but they are not getting the benefits.

Therefore, some variation of the proposal put forward by my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon must be taken into consideration. We must recognize that if we are going to have equity and fairness with respect to the people of northern Ontario, then we have to bring something like this in.

I want to address one other point. In the last few times that I was in Sudbury, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, one of the attitudes that became very clear when I spoke to the people up there was the sense -- how can I put it? -- of being used, of being exploited by their neighbours to the south.

They sense that we in southern Ontario do not really see them as a viable community up in the north. We do not really see them as people who have chosen to live in the north. That is where they want to live. That is the kind of lifestyle they want. That is where they want to raise their families. That is where they want to be able to get the same kinds of services that we have available here.

Through measures such as the one that is being proposed now, I think we have to recognize that very essential point that the people themselves feel up there; that is their community, that is their home. They are not up there just to cut down the trees and take the minerals out of the ground and then ship them down for us to process. That is not why they are there. They sense that is the way we look at them; that is the way we perceive them, but those are not their feelings.

Therefore, it is with measures such as this where we say very clearly that we recognize some of the inequities and that we want to start balancing them out. Maybe in the early stages, as we are approaching a fairer distribution of the services that we provide to the people in the north; maybe as we approach that, then we can use measures such as have been proposed by the member for Lake Nipigon and the member for Rainy River to show our citizens in northern Ontario that we do recognize the present imbalances and the present inequalities and that we want to use something like this to work things out a little bit more clearly.

For that reason, I certainly support the spirit of the resolution. We could debate at much greater length whether or not there might not be better ways to arrive at that result.

Mr. Hennessy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I would just like to have it in the record that I asked to speak in favour of the resolution but, unfortunately, I could not secure the necessary time. I was disappointed that the member for Lake Nipigon did not at least leave me the three minutes that he had left so I could voice my support for him. I want to put that on the record.

Mr. Mancini: On the same point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I think it is very unfair for the member for Fort William to criticize the member for Lake Nipigon in the manner in which he has just done because that particular member could have replaced the previous Conservative speaker who was not from the north.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Cureatz): Let us have a round robin from all the parties.

Mr. Laughren: I would agree in one sense with the member for Fort William in that his privileges have been abused because his party did not let him speak in support of this resolution.

The Deputy Speaker: What are we doing now?

Mr. Hennessy: I will speak.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Lake Nipigon agree to that?

Mr. Stokes: No, I have three minutes left and I intend to use them.

The Deputy Speaker: That is right.

Mr. Stokes: I think it is very strange and very unusual in that the member for Fort William could have spoken in place of the member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean), or the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard). Neither he nor the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché), the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) or the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot) ever busied themselves to make sure that they had an opportunity, as was their democratic right, to speak out on this resolution that is so important to everybody in the north.

Mr. Mancini: That's not a point of order.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. Order, please. I was about to advise the member for Lake Nipigon that his three minutes would commence now. A point of order from the member for Fort William? Do not start the three minutes.

Mr. Hennessy: I would just like to tell the member for Lake Nipigon that on Tuesday, when we did have a caucus meeting, I was tied up with the Can-Car committee all day and therefore I could not attend the caucus meeting.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Three minutes for the member for Lake Nipigon, starting now.

Mr. Stokes: I will accept the honourable member for Fort William's mea culpa. If he could not get on the list and if he has indicated that he is going to be prepared to vote for the resolution, I will tell his constituents that he was the lone Conservative in all of northern Ontario, in fact in all of Ontario, who was prepared to accept in principle this concept.

I want to respond to some comments that were made by the member for Simcoe East where he said that this concept would result in the balkanization of northern Ontario from southern Ontario.

4:50 p.m.

I want to remind him that even in this Legislature we have four members who, because of the nature of their ridings, get special treatment in serving their constituents. The member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), myself and the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) get a special allowance for flying around our communities. I say that just to highlight the difference between northern Ontario and southern Ontario. If one is driving his car north of the French River, there is a special allowance of so much per kilometre because we have to travel such great distances in the performance of our duties. I have never heard such a ridiculous comment in all my life as the suggestion that this resolution would balkanize people between northern and southern Ontario.

He talks about setting up artificial boundaries. There is nothing artificial about the statistics I have tried to put on the record, supported by my colleagues from Rainy River, Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) and Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) this afternoon. We are not down here selling the members a bill of goods. We are telling them what the conditions are up there. The honourable member is suggesting that the tax is fair the way it is right now. It specifically discriminates against people in the north for all of the reasons I have mentioned.

I just want to say in closing that our future, the future of this province, is inextricably tied to development in northern Ontario that has been hampered by these discriminatory taxes. A more enlightened approach to northern development, one founded on equity and fairness for northerners, is essential for the continued prosperity of all Ontarians.


Mr. Williams, seconded by Mr. Lane, moved resolution 35:

That in the opinion of this House, the government should enact legislation to establish a fixed 30-day writ period for provincial elections.

Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, the issue before us this afternoon is not a new one. It is one that has been debated on more than one occasion in this House in recent times, although it has been debated in segments. There are two aspects to this issue that have to be taken into account. Each of them has been debated separately in its own right, yet both have to be taken into consideration in order to arrive at a decision based on a full assessment of all of the relevant factors.

Let me identify the two elements as they have been previously debated in this House. First, back in 1979, the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Ramsay) put forward the very same resolution that we are debating this afternoon. I might point out that while his resolution did specify by-elections as well, my resolution is deemed to incorporate, in the broader sense, by-elections as well as general provincial elections.

The interesting result of that debate back in 1979 was that the majority of the members of this House, by a vote of 59 to 46, did give support in principle to that resolution. It was done on the basis of knowing the current situation and the history with regard to election periods, not only within our own province but throughout the country.

I would like to review the facts with regard thereto. The current situation is that in Ontario, since about 1937, we have actually had two sets of election periods. During the period of the year between May and October, we have a 37-day writ period, while in what are commonly known as the winter months, November through to April, we have a longer 45-day period, which all of us recall all too well as a result of the most recent election held in March of this year.

Historically, however, this province has had both longer and shorter election periods. From the time of Confederation to the early 1900s, I am advised the election period was a mere 23 days and could have been as long as 27 days. From the early 1900s to 1918, there was a complete reversal of that short election period when, apparently, a change was made with the coming of universal suffrage to establish a 72- to 76-day election period.

There was a moderating of those extremes when, some time following 1918 through to 1924, a new election period was established of 41 to 71 days and no differential was made between the winter or summer months. It was following that time the province decided to revert to a shorter election period through the period 1924 to approximately 1937 when, it is my understanding and advice, the election period could take between a minimum of 32 days and a maximum of 67 days. Of course, we have the current situation as I have described it.

Let us compare the Ontario situation as it has fluctuated to what the current situation is with other provinces of Canada. Today, at least half the provinces in Canada have election periods shorter than the one at present in place in Ontario.

For the record, I will cite them. Newfoundland has a 21-day election period; Prince Edward Island, 26 days; Alberta, 28 days; Quebec, 28 days; Saskatchewan, 28 days. Those five provinces have an election period that is even shorter than what is being asked in this resolution.

It is interesting to note the federal government as well has seen the justification in moving to a shorter election period. It is my understanding there is at present a bill in the federal Parliament that would provide for the reduction of the current federal 60-day election period to 47 days.

I well recall the arguments used both in favour and against the resolution that the member for Sault Ste. Marie put in 1979. I felt the sponsor of the resolution at that time put his case very well. He highlighted the significant changes that have occurred in recent times that give justification to seriously considering a shorter election period.

It is fundamentally important that if there is to be a shortening of the election time, it in no way prejudice the rights of the voters and the public at large in this province so that they can cast their ballots on a fully informed basis in a general election or a by-election. That is the ultimate concern and those privileges and rights must be preserved.

I am fully satisfied that in no way would the rights of the citizenry be prejudiced by shortening the election period from 37 to 30 days.

One of the reasons cited by the member for Sault Ste. Marie at that time to justify it was that there have been great improvements made and a great sophistication has evolved with regard to two things.

First, the modes and facilities of transportation within the province allow candidates, particularly those seeking the leadership of their parties and representing the parties in this Legislature, to move about the province at ease, and within a matter of hours rather than days to any region or part of this province. Certainly, the individual members running in the individual ridings too, can more readily get about their ridings than heretofore has been the case in the earlier part of this century.

5 p.m.

Further, there has been the sophistication in the field of the news media. What is said in Port Arthur at 10 o'clock at night is news in southwestern Ontario on the 11 o'clock news that night. The matter of getting the issues and the activities of the candidates running for election reported anywhere in the province is no longer a problem or a concern. There is almost instantaneous reporting. Because of that, we tend to hear the issues more frequently, and we realize that as far as the voters are concerned they are being besieged with repetitious debate that they have already heard but that in earlier days may not have been made known to them because of the less sophisticated means of disseminating the news and stating the issues.

I do not make the appeal today on the basis of it being easier for the candidates. I think every one of us in this House can campaign for just so long as is necessary under any given ground rules. But I think we do have to be mindful and considerate of two other groups of people: first of all, the citizenry at large and, second, those people who volunteer their time to work so hard and without any remuneration, but simply out of conviction for the candidates they agree to go out and work with from day to day, from the time the election writ is issued until we go to the polls.

But consideration should be given to the general public because of the fact that they become besieged with the issues. It is repeated to them time and time again. Because of the lengthy election period, most candidates will go out and do not one, not two, but perhaps three canvasses in their own ridings. If there are four or five candidates running -- say those representing the traditional parties in this House, along with independents -- and each one of them went out and knocked on the door of each voter in their riding two or three times, and we multiply that by the number of candidates, I think the citizens' tolerance of the election process starts to wear thin.

I think there can be an excessive amount of electioneering and it does a disservice to the general public. More important is the fact that because people have a commitment to the candidates and will go out and work for them, consideration should be given to the fact that they give their time and their efforts to go out and work with their candidates in the field strictly on a voluntary basis.

I do not think there is a member in this House who will not acknowledge the fact that so often, as we get into the third or fourth week of the campaign, the volunteers will say: "I think everything has been said that has to be said. We have been out and we have talked to your voters in this riding." For them to have to go out and do it again simply because we have an extra couple of weeks and we have to get the message back a second and third time really is hard to justify to those volunteers. Not that they will not do it, but they seem to feel there is an unnecessary repetition.

In those two respects, some consideration would be given to the general public at large, and to those who actively involve themselves in the election campaigns, by shortening the election period.

The arguments have been made by those who have opposed this proposal in the past that the government members have an advantage and therefore more time must be given to the opposition members to go out and campaign. That is not true, in my judgement, because the opposition parties are as mindful of what is happening in an election year as the members on the government side of the House.

They watch government activity, and they know within a day or two when the election is coming, as do the back-benchers on the government side. I have heard it said that the opposition found out before we did when the actual election date was going to be. I do not know where they get their clairvoyance from, but I have heard it stated.

In the last general election in this province, my recollection is that there were more candidates nominated for the official opposition party than there were members of the government party as the writ was issued. So to say the opposition parties are at a disadvantage and are not prepared is a fallacy.

The other argument made by those opposed to the suggestion of shortening the election period is that the incumbents have an advantage. There may be some truth there, but that is not necessarily the basis on which to argue against shortening the election period. If we use that argument, there should have been more opposition members in the House after the last election than there are government members. At the time of dissolution of the House before the last election, there were more opposition incumbents than there were government incumbents. It was not a question of numbers.

That myth can easily be destroyed by exemplifying what happened last March 19. It was a question not so much of quantity of incumbent members but rather of the quality of candidates. This party clearly demonstrated it had better quality candidates, a better platform and better programs. As a result, it is clear that majority government was restored quite justifiably by the people of this province to the Conservative Party.

One of the other arguments that has been used is that in the larger rural ridings, especially in the far north, it is more difficult for candidates to get around and that they need more time in order to visit all parts of their ridings. It is interesting to note that one of the members who represents one of those far northern ridings, the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), supported the resolution in that debate of 1979.

I assume he felt it was not really a problem, in servicing a far northern riding, to get out and meet the constituents and convey the issues to all the people who want to exercise their franchise. In fact, no fewer than 10 members from the opposition parties who are still members of this Legislature supported the resolution at that time.

There is another aspect to this issue that is less political and more mechanical; it is more a matter of logistics. This is the issue that was dealt with at the time my colleague the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey) introduced a resolution to this House, which stated that there should be a permanent voter registration system set up in this province. That debate was of considerable interest, because if we are to shorten the election process we have to find a mechanism by which to do it.

It is not so much a question of campaigning, because clearly from past experience most of the real politicking is done in the last two weeks of an election period in any event. The real difficulty and challenge is the need to organize the enumeration of the voters. It is in this area that we have to address ourselves to that consideration.

5:10 p.m.

The options are basically twofold. One is to remain with the traditional system of enumeration we have today, which can be made even more sophisticated as a result of the recent amendments that have been made to the Assessment Act and the advances in the technology of computerization.

Through those two means combined, it is clear that the time in which it is necessary to do an enumeration can be significantly shortened to perhaps as much as one third of what is now required; that is, the first weeks of an election period.

If the powers were given to the chief election officer to conduct an assessment at random, as provided for at present under the Assessment Act, an enumeration could be done prior to the issuance of an election writ, thereby reducing the amount of time needed to complete that part of the election process.

In the debates that we had with regard to the voter registration concept, it was made clear at that time that a number of studies have been done on this subject. It was also drawn to the attention of the members that a number of countries in the world have had this type of system in place for some period of time. I direct attention to Britain, the United States, West Germany, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland, to name but a few.

In Britain, there is permanent voter registration system of a fixed nature in the sense that an enumeration is done once every year, starting in the fall and concluding in mid-February of the following year. That list remains in place for a full year. A big disadvantage is that if an election is called eight or nine months away, the list is outdated.

I suggest, however, that if we go to a continuous roll system such as is used in Australia, whereby the list is being updated by reason of the fact that people are required at law to register, the list can be kept current in that fashion. I am suggesting that a system of this nature could be introduced into Ontario as an alternative to the present system that we have. This would equally serve the purpose of reducing the setup time for the purpose of registering voters.

With those considerations, I suggest with this resolution that if we are to have a shorter election period in place by 1985, we must introduce such legislation in the next session of the Legislature, in 1982.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, having had the opportunity to sit in the House all afternoon and listen to the previous private member's resolution, which we just finished debating, and to compare the worthiness of that resolution, one can really see where the priorities of the Progressive Conservative members are.

Whereas the member for Lake Nipigon introduced a resolution to give relief to the people of the north, to ease some of the specific economic restraints they live under, the Conservative member for Oriole has introduced a bill which he hopes will help perpetuate the Conservative Party's hold on power in this province.

I sincerely hope that this bill will have as much effect on history as did the member for Oriole's famous topless dancers' bill, which he introduced some time ago.

Mr. Williams: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We are talking about a resolution, not a bill, before the House this afternoon.

Mr. Mancini: That was a very enlightening comment by the member for Oriole, and just what I expected. I will continue.

Mr. Williams: I hope you know the difference between a resolution and a bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The chair is listening very intently to the remarks of the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini), and I would appreciate it very much if he would continue without further interjections.

Mr. Mancini: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I see that the assistant chief election officer, Mr. Bailie, is with us today in the gallery. I want Mr. Bailie to know that there are many members of the Legislature who oppose very strongly this recommendation being put forward by the member for Oriole.

In my view, the reason for this resolution is nothing but political. The member wants to be able to secure more advantages for the government party, because this resolution would help incumbents; and I say that as an incumbent member of this House.

The member took the opportunity to mention several other provinces in Canada that have shorter election periods than does Ontario. If he is so enamoured with the legislation that is in effect in other provinces, I sincerely hope he will support the private bill I introduced today which would put restraints on election spending and change the Election Expenses Reform Act. I have worded that bill similar to the way other pieces of legislation in different provinces are worded. I hope then, if we go one step further with his logic, that he will be able to support my bill in its entirety.

We, as incumbent members of this Legislature, have many advantages over people who wish to replace us at election time. We have the opportunity to send out newsletters. We have unlimited use of the mail. We get beautiful plaques to deliver. We have the prestige of being a member in office, and because of that prestige we are invited to all kinds of public events. We are invited to speak on almost any given weekend. I am sure most of us are invited to speak at very important functions in our riding on at least two occasions every weekend. In my view, we have more than enough opportunity to get our points across, let alone having this particular advantage at election time.

Most constituency organizations have requirements in their constitutions whereby all members of the constituency association -- I am talking about the political associations in a constituency -- have to be notified at least 14 days in advance before a nominating meeting can be held. That is almost half of the time that the member wants to give the nominating candidate to have to campaign.

Granted, there are some constituency associations that waive this part of their constitution, but one still needs to give notice to the constituency association, to put proper ads in the local newspapers, to secure a building to have a meeting, and there are many other technical things that have to be done.

The member for Oriole, who has been here since 1975 and who has had to run three elections, knows what those constraints are. He knows them just as well as I do. And it would take at least a week, a bare minimum of a week to organize a nominating meeting. That means under his bill we would have 21 or 22 days left for the candidate to go about the riding and try to get himself known. It is an immense task.

What reasons does the member for Oriole give us for shortening the election period? The member says the public get tired of listening to all the candidates, there was a record number of candidates, and they get tired of all these commercials. If there was anything they got tired of, it was those silly jingles that the member's party and his government ran: "Preserve it, conserve it," "Good things grow in Ontario" and "Davis can do it." That is what the public got tired of. They probably got so tired of that nonsense that they said, "Let us vote for Davis and get all this stuff off the radio." That is probably what happened.

Ms. Fish: Okay. We'll take it.

Mr. Mancini: I know. That is the difference between the member's party and our party.

5:20 p.m.

Just before I rose to speak this afternoon, I was reading a famous document called The Guelph Papers, which my colleague the member for Rainy River gave me the opportunity to look at. He is a contributing author to that document. I was reading a contribution made by the former member for Downsview, Mr. Vernon Singer. After I got to page two, he said that basically all we get from the Tories is jingles. He made mention of the jingle, "A place to stand, a place to grow."

The policies and techniques of that party have not changed over the decades they have been in power. They just go from one jingle to another. In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was, "A place to stand, a place to grow." In the late 1970s and early 1980s, it is "Davis can do it."

I listened carefully to all the comments made by the member for Oriole. He has not given any good solid reasons as to why the election process should be curtailed. I want every person in Ontario to have every opportunity to listen to the political parties and to the candidates who represent the parties. If the election period is shortened, that opportunity for everybody is not going to be there. I do not understand why the elimination of six days from the election process is going to make our system any better. I do not understand that logic.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member for Oriole and, with much more pleasure, to the member for Essex South. I wish to contribute to the debate on the resolution by saying that I did not like the resolution to begin with but I am even more convinced it is a bad resolution after hearing the argument made by the member for Oriole. It is not that one would expect any brilliant ideas from that member, but at least I thought that, since he introduced the resolution, he would have a justification for it.

He put forward two arguments; one was that by shortening the election campaign to 30 days, we would save the citizens some trouble with the canvassers. The second point was that we would save the volunteers some work.

It is not the Conservative Party that does intense canvassing. In the last campaign many candidates, in particular the candidate who was parachuted into Downsview, did not do any canvassing at all. He did not bother with the general citizenry. On the contrary, given that he had available to him an incredible amount of money, he was able to leave all kinds of garbage at every household in the riding of Downsview. He did not really bother the citizens by informing them about the election issues. On the contrary, he created an environmental problem by polluting the riding with his propaganda leaflets.

I also do not think the volunteers should be the main concern for the Conservatives because we well know, if we look at the expenses list just published by the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, how much money the Conservative candidates spent in the last campaign for people who did any kind of work, such as putting up signs or distributing leaflets, which in our party is done by volunteers.

I can tell the member for Oriole that our volunteers come to work for us not because they are supporting a system in power but because they believe in our ideas. They are not tired of going out and knocking on doors and talking to the voters; they believe in what they are doing, while in the Conservative Party they have to find people who are paid to do the job.

I do not think that by shortening the campaign one either saves the citizens from being bothered or saves the volunteers from doing some work they do, because they like to do it. The real problem is that behind this bill there is a political consideration. The political consideration is that the Conservatives, since they have been in power for 38 years, assume they will be in power forever. The assumption behind the bill is, "Why bother at all with the elections? So let us shorten the election campaign."

I am sure that if the member for Oriole could -- and I think this is consistent with his philosophy and his reactionary mentality -- he would have said: "Okay, let's have the elections in one week; let's solve that minor problem in one week and then we can come back and do the real work."

In fact, I know they could do that, because in the last election the Conservative Party spent $9 million. We know of the intense propaganda through radio and television. I wonder whether the member for Oriole had any concern at all for the general citizenry who wanted to relax after a work day and were deluged with that propaganda. I know that is not a problem for the Conservative Party and that it would rather shorten the campaign, because that party has the money to get access to the media

That they have the money is very well known. The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) raised $148,000, and he was not even able to spend all that money, even if he made some crazy expenditures like buying a new carpet for an office that would be operated for only one month. The member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson), the Minister of Education and Colleges and Universities, had so much money she did not know how to spend it and so she organized a golf tournament. The member for Brock (Mr. Welch), the Deputy Premier, had so much money that he spent $7,000 for meals for people who worked on the campaign. That is the type of democratic process that the conservatives are in love with and would like to perpetuate to be in power forever.

An election campaign is important, because it gives to the candidates and the political parties an opportunity to bring their messages to the people. I think it is very well known, if we look at the Gallup polls -- and certainly the Conservatives know that better than we do, because they take all kinds of polls with public money for the benefit of the party.

5:30 p.m.

Under normal circumstances even the Premier of the province has a low profile. Not too many voters recognize the leaders of the political parties, the members of the Legislature or the ministers themselves. I do not know the reason but we have this crazy information system that operates in such a way that the media in general, the newspapers, radio and TV have their priorities. The political debate going on in the province is not a priority because if the people knew what the government was doing, they would probably revolt. The information system is a means of perpetuating the party in power.

Reducing the campaign to 30 days would not serve any practical purpose for the people of Ontario, certainly not in the large ridings northern Ontario but not even in the large Metropolitan areas where the candidates need to do their work. In large ridings like mine where there is a population of more than 100,000, if one does not have the kind of money that is available to the Conservative candidate one cannot even contact all the voters on the voters' list.

There are technical problems that, even with his disorderly logic, the member for Oriole mentioned himself. How does one solve the problem of enumeration? How does one solve the problem of nominations? There are parties like the New Democratic Party with processes that have to be respected.

Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I am sure it will not come as a surprise to anyone in the House that I rise in support of this resolution. As a candidate for the first time in a provincial election I was very concerned about getting my message across to all the voters in my riding. I wanted to be sure I would be able to communicate with them effectively, and also with as many of them as possible.

During my campaign I made use of all the standard vehicles to convey my position to the voters. We have all used speeches, brochures, door-to-door canvassing, meetings, election signs and advertisements in the media. This approach is used by most candidates in an election. We all want the voters to get to know us and to understand our policy positions during the course of a campaign.

I have to wonder if the modern approach to campaigning over an extended period of time does not lead to a situation of information saturation as far as the voters themselves are concerned. Surely the objective of our election system should be to ensure all eligible voters are made aware of the competing policy positions advanced by the various parties involved.

The voters must be able to absorb and digest the information provided to them by the various campaign vehicles to make what we always hope and are sure in Ontario is a rational and informed decision on election day.

When an individual is subjected to a flow of information of such volume he is no longer willing to absorb it, an unconscious process begins to take over. It is a process that becomes one of information selection. The voter begins to block out or turn off when confronted by further demands on his information processing capacity. In this way the volume of the very information on which he is going to be asked to make that kind of rational choice actually prevents him from making one that is fully informed and fully reasoned.

In my opinion a shorter election period would substantially increase the ability of voters to reach a fully informed and comprehensive opinion concerning the issues of leadership and policy. A truly effective democracy depends on a completely informed and interested electorate. I am sure no member would suggest elections be conducted under circumstances which make it difficult for voters rationally to examine all policies available.

I want to make it clear I have no quarrel with the normal campaign vehicles used by all the parties in this House. These are not the source of the potential overload that I was speaking of. My concern tends to be centred on the treatment of elections by the broadcast and the print media. It is from here I believe there is the greatest possibility for excessive information flow and it is from this source the flow can be most created.

We all know elections become what are called media events. There have been times in the past years when we have had three or four of these media events, one jammed hot on the heels of another. There are also times when we may go for three or four years without an election at all and, unless natural circumstances overtake us, the media does not have the opportunity to develop an event of this magnitude.

But elections are good news for radio, television and newspapers. During a campaign the media are provided daily with information from which they fashion all manner of news reports, commentaries, analyses, background papers, opinions and editorials. As a former journalist myself, I can say there is never any easier time to get the news than during election campaigns. The parties and the workers and the chairmen of all the local ridings are falling over themselves to make sure the press has every scrap of information possible at their disposal.

The volume of this information generated by the news media, of whatever quality it may be, is not and should not be subjected to political control. However the time during which the electorate is bombarded with its information deluge is an appropriate matter of concern for this House.

As I said before, I do not think the normal campaign advertisements, brochures and canvassing contribute to this potential problem. If a voter does not want to read a brochure -- he might receive two or three of them in a very short space of time from a number of parties -- he simply throws it away and that is the end of the matter.

Similarly I do not believe advertisements sponsored by the various political parties on radio and television contribute to the problem significantly either. But the significance of political communication and the information flow pales in comparison. Possibly the constant and often repetitive newscasts carried on by the media as often as hourly during the entire day -- not to mention the critiques, opinions and background programs, analyses and in-depth reports which are presented during the course of an election -- may be approaching the point of diminishing returns.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of repetitive and often unhelpful information may cause a reduction in voter interest and perhaps even lead to a negative voter reaction, a process where the voter will simply decide not to participate in the electoral process. That is the ultimate downside of the entire process.

For these reasons I believe a reduced election period can only be beneficial to the overall electoral process. I have some specific concerns about the security of the assessment enumeration lists which were mentioned earlier and which are being prepared or may be prepared by the assessment commissioner or the chief election officer. In 1976 the member for Armourdale touched on this point when he spoke to his resolution dealing with a permanent voters' list. I think the matter deserves further emphasis here today.

The information accumulated should not be made available to private or other non-government bodies for any reason whatsoever. Of course the assessment roll is used for many other useful purposes rather than just that of providing a municipal enumeration. However, these are all proper within the municipal framework and other frameworks and are carried out exclusively by municipal or provincial governments.

Aside from a basic concern for the rights of the individual and privacy, I believe voter co-operation with this assessment enumeration procedure would be significantly reduced if these individuals somehow started to receive junk mail from firms which might have somehow either purchased or had other access to that general list as a whole.

The member for Oriole has proposed that the chief election officer have the power to monitor and, where necessary, order a complete enumeration at any time in those ridings where he believes the assessment data is drastically out of date.

This is an excellent suggestion. In this way the provincial election office can be sure the data used in our process is always up to date and as accurate as possible. Canadians, though, are apparently very mobile people indeed. In a study prepared by Statistics Canada, entitled The Frequency of Geographic Mobility in the Population of Canada, it is noted that nearly one half of the residents of Canada changed the location of their homes between 1966 and 1971. Nearly two out of every three Canadians between the ages of 20 and 34 years changed his place of residence also between the 1966 and 1971 period. For this reason I believe the chief election officer should have the authority to order enumerations where necessary.

5:40 p.m.

I will be interested to study exactly how the chief election officer will monitor all the ridings in the province for population change or mobility and decide where an enumeration is necessary. Will he be dependent upon the assessment commissioner or will he be able to accumulate his own data? Or will he make decisions based on demographic models with built-in assumptions about population change, shift and mobility? I believe he should have the authority to seek the co-operation of the assessment commissioner as well as the municipal clerk in all these matters.

Of course I would also expect the election officer would be receptive to the concerns of the sitting member for any given riding which is coming in question. For these reasons I believe this resolution is deserving of support from all members of this House and I commend the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) for raising it.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I am sure you and the other members of the House would like to join me in welcoming the former member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) who is in the gallery. He is now on sabbatical and will soon be returning to this chamber.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I hope you are taking that off the NDP's time.

I rise to speak in opposition to this resolution which I believe is designed to give the government and the incumbents yet another advantage in the electoral process in Ontario.

On many occasions members of the government have attempted to be very critical of resolutions which are put forward on this side of the Legislature as they relate to making it a more democratic process. Witness the speeches we heard from members opposite when we talked about the election expenses and contributions and how this is a built-in advantage to the government.

I see this resolution as another attempt to find an advantage to perpetuate this government for yet another four, eight or whatever number of years they see fit. We must recognize the government has the power to carry on a high-powered advertising campaign with the taxpayers' money, as this government has done consistently before elections and most blatantly before the last provincial election.

It requires a sufficiently long campaign period to be able to counteract what this government has taken advantage of, using the taxpayers' dollars. This in itself is sufficient reason to want to defeat this resolution.

We must also recognize the government has the opportunity, should it see fit, to call a surprise election -- better known in the political jargon as a snap election. They then are able to prepare sufficiently for the election campaign, while the opposition parties, not aware the government is about to call an election, would not have that same advantage. This is yet another reason for wanting to defeat this resolution.

We recognize many of the campaign activities that take place require a lot of planning ahead of time. I think of such things as public meetings that must be called by various groups that are interested in hearing from all of the candidates. They wish to hear the candidates in person, not just listen to high-powered advertising that comes over the electronic media from those parties that have so much money to spend in an election campaign.

Mr. Kerrio: You mean that party.

Mr. Bradley: That party, in this case.

Another drawback -- and there are some who have suggested methods of overcoming it -- is that when it comes down to the technical end of it, it is very difficult to complete an enumeration in the 30-day period. It is not necessarily impossible, but very difficult to do so.


Mr. Bradley: The very fact the member for London South (Mr. Walker) is in favour of this resolution in itself would be sufficient for me to oppose it. But other than that, I think there are many reasons for being in opposition to this.

Never mind that the government has the most incumbents. Even those of us in opposition who are incumbents might enjoy an advantage to a certain extent over those candidates who want to run against us. To be fair I would like my opponents in any election campaign to have as much time as possible to put across their points of view, to show the electorate what their proposals might be for the individual constituency and for the province as a whole and to give them the same opportunity to meet the people of the riding and discuss the issues that are so important to them.

For these reasons, I feel we would be remiss if we did not express our objections to this resolution and vote against it. In this of all provinces, although there are other provinces that require the same thing, what is needed is --

Ms. Copps: A new government.

Mr. Bradley: My colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, suggests a new government. What is needed is a fairer system of electing people to this Legislature, one that breaks down many of the advantages now enjoyed by the governing party. I suspect this is probably the case in many provinces in this country and many other political jurisdictions, but it is most important in a province that has seen one-party rule for a little over 38 years at the present time and has seen that party perpetuate itself in office by a number of very questionable democratic means.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Don't criticize the people. They made the choice.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, you cautioned me not to reply to the interjections, I think.

The Acting Speaker: You are doing just fine without listening to that noise.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Ignore the interjections.

Mr. Bradley: I will ignore the interjections from the member for London South. In conclusion, so that my friends in the New Democratic Party can have yet another speaker to speak against this, although we speak and vote as individuals in the private members' hour, I suspect most of us in this party and the NDP will be speaking and voting in opposition to a resolution designed to perpetuate the Family Compact in Ontario.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. This resolution stinks and I do not think it is worthy of the support of this House. We cannot take something as complex as an election process and deal with it in this piecemeal manner with this kind of resolution, in isolation from all the other factors about controlling expenditures, dealing with election periods, and whether one had a fixed roll of voters. All those things have to be considered.

It strikes me this is the beginning of a process the Tories are probably in favour of. This time around they will shorten it to 30 days. Next time they will turn around and change it to 10 days and after that they can dispense with the election process entirely.

I would oppose this resolution.

Mr. Dean: In the few minutes that are left, I would like to speak in support of this motion. I have listened to a lot of talk this afternoon about the supposed advantage a shorter writ period would give the incumbents. As my colleague, the member for Oriole, already pointed out -- and I guess the other speakers were not listening very carefully -- prior to the recent election there were more incumbents on the other side of the House than there were on this side. That shows that is not a valid argument; those incumbents did not get returned in the same proportion. What matters is not whether one is an incumbent but whether one is an effective incumbent or candidate.

I believe a shorter election period is very desirable to ensure the public does not get turned off, supersaturated to the extent it does not listen to the genuine arguments that are made.

5:50 p.m.

The matter of the supposed difficulty of having a proper enumeration is not the difficulty it has been made out to be. It is very possible to have the enumeration on the basis of the municipal enumeration, which is done regularly in any case. If there are cases where the chief election officer believes that additional --

Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.


The following members having objected by rising, a vote was not taken on resolution 33:

Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Cousens, Dean, Eaton, Elgie, Fish, Gillies, Gregory, Henderson, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Kolyn, Leluk, McCaffrey, McCague, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Norton, Pollock, Robinson, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Williams, Wiseman -- 32.


The following members having objected by rising, a vote was not taken on resolution 35:

Bradley, Breaugh, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Di Santo, Eakins, Eaton, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, Laughren, MacDonald, Mancini, Martel, Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, Peterson, Philip, Reed, J. A., Reid, T. P., Riddell, Roy, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Stokes, Swart, Van Horne., Worton, Wrye -- 35.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the unanimous agreement of the House to revert to "Motions." It has to do with a standing committee that requires some additional time this evening.

Mr. Speaker: May we have the unanimous consent of the House?

Agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Gregory: Does someone not agree?

Mr. Di Santo: Could it be repeated? I did not understand.

Mr. Speaker: Would you please repeat it? The member said he did not understand it.



Hon. Mr. Gregory moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to meet this evening to consider Bill 178, An Act to amend The Highway Traffic Act.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: The committee has indicated it needs more time. It was not able to finish this afternoon.

Motion agreed to.

The House recessed at 5:56 p.m.