32e législature, 3e session



























The House met at 2 p.m.




Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, many members are aware that we had a group of very distinguished visitors from the Scarborough advocacy centre at the front of the Legislature earlier this afternoon. The Scarborough Advocacy Centre for Disabled Persons and Their Families, also known as Action Awareness, is led by a most dynamic woman, Mrs. Beryl Potter. Her committee pursues a number of very laudable goals, increasing public awareness of the abilities of disabled persons and the contributions they can make and have made, both at work and in their communities.

While I am proud of our government's achievements in providing services and support to disabled persons, I and others know that further steps can and will be taken in order to strengthen our programs. This government has an excellent track record. We have the essential programs in place to assist disabled persons.

Our government provides income support, rehabilitation, education, transportation, housing, health care and other essential services. We have been guided in the development of these programs by five fundamental principles, which I am sure every member of this Legislature supports. Those principles are integration, equality, equity, independence and participation. These principles are the cornerstones on which this government's programs serving disabled persons are built.

The government of Ontario spends about $2 billion annually on programs for disabled persons and I would like briefly to outline some of these.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services spends more than $965 million on such programs as vocational rehabilitation, income maintenance through the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled program, residential programs for developmentally handicapped persons, and many other programs for children and adults.

The Ministry of Education allocates close to $240 million to school boards to enable them to provide programs in the local schools for students with special needs. These exceptional students possess physical, intellectual or behavioural characteristics which result in their requiring special education programs. The ministry also allocates $40 million to provincial schools which serve the blind, deaf and learning-disabled students.

Disabled persons often have special health needs and the Ministry of Health allocates $826 million to programs which make some special provision for these needs.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications transfers more than $7 million to municipalities for such items as parallel transit systems.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing provides approximately $21 million for assisted housing used by disabled persons.

The list goes on, totalling, as I have said, $2 billion annually. I might also add that the Workers' Compensation Board provides another $1.1 billion in awards and payments to injured workers.

Our achievements are not limited to the dollars we spend. We have made impressive gains in this province in the important area of human rights. In 1983, the Ontario Human Rights Code was amended to encompass the rights of disabled persons. Under the amended code, a person with a disability is guaranteed protection in obtaining goods and services, using facilities, entering into contracts, acquiring membership in a union, trade or occupational association, obtaining employment and seeking living accommodation.

One of the code's strongest merits is its ability to ensure that disabled persons are treated with a great degree of flexibility in order to accommodate their needs. Progress has been made in making buildings accessible. Recent changes in the building code will ensure that more premises are accessible.

The government has been listening to the needs and aspirations of our disabled citizens. We celebrated their achievements during the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981.

That year marked a watershed in terms of the public's awareness of the abilities and contributions of disabled persons in Ontario. The Provincial Secretariat for Social Development took a lead role during the international year to raise public awareness. I think many members will recall the "Label Us Able" campaign, which was extremely well received in the community.

It is our intention to keep the momentum of the international year going. We have moved ahead, we are proud of our achievements, but there is more to be done. We will continue to strive to ensure that disabled persons in Ontario lead the fullest, most productive lives possible.

Later today, my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Robinson) and I will be meeting with Beryl Potter and eight representatives of the disabled community. Together we will discuss how to build upon the accomplishments of the past to help ensure the brightest possible future for disabled people in our province.

Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry. The Minister of the Environment.


Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, it is nice to know they are all there when I need them.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Apparently copies of the statement have not been distributed.

Hon. Mr. Brandt: I believe the logistics are being looked after. May I proceed?

Mr. Speaker: Proceed, please.

2:10 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, acid rain is an important international environmental issue. It is a matter of public record that Ontario has played a leading role in the international effort to understand the causes and effects of acid rain.

In addition, Ontario has taken significant steps to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, a prime source of acid rain, from nearly four million metric tons in 1970 to less than two million in 1980. Ontario has also imposed new and tougher regulations on its two major sources of sulphur dioxide, Inco and Ontario Hydro.

Resolution of this issue, however, requires the mutual efforts of a number of jurisdictions in addition to Ontario. The Environment ministers of the eastern provinces have formed a co-ordinating committee, which I have the pleasure of chairing, to deal with this need for a co-operative effort. In this capacity Ontario has played a key role in working with the other provinces and the federal government towards developing a Canadian acid rain control program and an agreement on the fair division of responsibilities.

I am encouraged by reports that the US administration has stated its recognition of the serious damage caused by acid rain. In an earlier effort to seek bilateral action to resolve this problem, and with federal-provincial agreement, Canada made a public offer to the United States government of a 50 per cent reduction in Canada's acid-rain-causing emissions if the US would make a similar commitment to abatement.

In June of this year the eastern provinces unanimously adopted a resolution setting out the principles of a strategy to control acid rain. This strategy is based on achieving the desired level of environmental protection based on the most cost-effective means of achieving the necessary emission reductions. This least-cost targeted approach was arrived at using Ontario's innovative computer screening model.

Two weeks ago, I met in Fredericton with the federal Minister of the Environment and my counterparts from the eastern provinces under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers. The prime issue of this year's meeting was Canada's acid rain control strategy and our negotiating position with regard to the United States.

I am pleased to report that the eastern provinces and the federal government have arrived at a fair and responsible agreement. This agreement, called the Fredericton accord, demonstrates the provinces' support for the Canadian negotiating effort. Continued provincial participation will be essential in the forthcoming Canada-US negotiations.

It should be pointed out that Canada acting alone cannot reduce its emissions sufficiently to reach the desired level of environmental protection. Joint US and Canadian abatement is therefore essential. The provincial ministers from eastern Canada have given our federal minister, the Honourable Charles Caccia, a mandate to secure a responsible and effective commitment for reductions from the United States in his meeting with US officials on October 16 in Halifax.

I will keep the Legislature informed of our progress. I am not, however, presenting the details of this accord at this time, as the honourable members will realize the need for us to preserve the integrity of our negotiating position.


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief statement. Unfortunately, I do not have copies to distribute. It is really an addition to my statement of Tuesday. May I proceed?

Mr. Speaker: Is it the wish of the House? Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on Tuesday afternoon I was --

Mr. Conway: Is it true that only those people who gently and favourable interview the Premier (Mr. Davis) will receive a pass to the official opening of the James Snow Parkway?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Not for Renfrew, anyway.

Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on Tuesday afternoon I was able to make a statement advising of the signing of the contract in Santa Clara county, California, by the Urban Transportation Development Corp. for 30 double streetcars for the city of San Jose.

As I mentioned in the statement, there was an option on this tender, and I am pleased to advise the House that later on Tuesday afternoon the county of Santa Clara exercised that option, which now increases that order to 50 vehicles, with a total cost of almost $49 million US, or approximately $60 million Canadian.



Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. May I, first of all, welcome him back.

The Premier is no doubt aware of the discussions that have gone on in this province in the last two or three weeks. Indeed, he was involved somewhat before his trip. He is no doubt aware that the discussions have been going on in other provinces across the nation, and I refer specifically to Manitoba.

Given the fact that each of the parties in this Legislature has different historical positions, given the fact that numerous individuals, including senior ministers of the crown, have expressed their personal opinions on these matters, given what in my view was the triumph of leadership at the federal level when historic differences were put aside -- there was an approach to those discussions on the basis of charity and accommodation and, indeed, I believe, a resolution that was good for this country -- and given, in juxtaposition, the bitter partisan debate that has developed in Manitoba at the same time, would the Premier seize this opportunity to call a meeting with the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Rae) and myself to attempt to develop a position that would be acceptable to all parties in this Legislature and would advance the rights of francophones?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have never felt it the responsibility of the leader of the government, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, to get the leader of the community and the Liberal Party of Ontario, the party of the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), off the political hook.

I have followed very carefully the activities of the Leader of the Opposition on this important matter and if I were to express some confusion it would be an understatement. I understand the difficulty the Leader of the Opposition currently finds himself in with respect to this matter.

I am intrigued at the suggestion that I would convene a meeting involving himself and the leader of the New Democratic Party. I had a meeting once with the Leader of the Opposition on the trust company matter and we all know how that turned out.

I am always delighted to see the Leader of the Opposition on anything that would be productive for the people of this province. I could be facetious or somewhat sarcastic today and ask what position the Leader of the Opposition wishes to express at such a meeting. Is it his position as of the meeting? Is it his position as of the press conference? Is it the position of the party some weeks before that, or is it some other position that might perhaps emerge?

I gather the position of the Leader of the Opposition is that he agrees with what the government is currently doing, and if that is his position, then I see no need for a meeting or a resolution. If the member wishes to put in his name a resolution, which could be one very short sentence, "We, the Liberal Party of Ontario" -- or whatever terminology he may wish to use -- "endorse the policy of the present government of Ontario," then I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that I will prevail upon my colleagues to support unanimously that resolution.

I regret that the Leader of the Opposition wishes to prolong this as a matter. I can understand the difficulty he faces, but unless I see something more than I have seen to date, I just do not see any useful purpose in having a meeting. He knows what our policy is; he knows what our position is. I sense from his press conference that he enthusiastically endorses it. If that is the case, then what is the need for a resolution?

Mr. Peterson: That is not the case. I hope the Premier will take the opportunity to reconsider his position.

2:20 p.m.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Premier, in the absence of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes).

The first minister will be aware that today is a very important anniversary in this House. It was two years ago to the day that the Premier stood in his place and announced triumphantly that Ontario taxpayers were going to purchase a 25 per cent interest in Suncor. He will be aware that he paid, at that point, $49.77 a share on behalf of the Ontario taxpayers. For those 13-odd million shares he purchased, he spent $650 million.

He will also be aware, I am sure, that last week I personally purchased 10 shares of Suncor at the price of $15 a share. If he translates those figures out, the current market value of his holdings is $195 million, bringing to the taxpayers of this province an unrealized loss in that purchase of $455 million.

Is the Premier prepared to admit now that this was the single biggest financial mistake in the history of this province?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I read with some interest the London Free Press story. I also read what Del Bell said in the London Free Press on a totally unrelated issue. I am sure the honourable member read that little excerpt as well. I will not read it to the House; I will save that for debate on some other occasion.

I notice that the Leader of the Opposition has been working through Mr. Gary Gallon -- is that the correct pronunciation? -- who is now a member of his staff and, according to the press story, a veteran of 10 years as a company analyst in British Columbia. I am just wondering whether the company he left got any draft choices in exchange for the transfer of his services. Did he purchase the shares for the member?

I noticed one or two other interesting quotes from this analyst who is now the member's employee: "The future of heavy oils for Canada does not look bright. Major oil companies are getting out of tar sands development because it cannot be performed economically." I may have been out of touch a little bit; I confess this. My recollection, however, is that there is a rather significant undertaking proceeding in the heavy oil sands. My recollection is that Syncrude recently announced its intention of expanding its operation.

I have to confess to the Leader of the Opposition that when I was in the Far East there was a great deal of interest in the energy sector in Canada, primarily, obviously, in Alberta. There were many inquiries and great expectations with respect to the tar sands. Very few people who are knowledgeable in the field, other than Mr. Gallon, say anything other than that one of the great assets we have in this country happens to be the tar sands, which are geographically situated in our sister province.

I guess the Leader of the Opposition is taking his advice from Mr. Gallon, the former expert of 10 years' experience in British Columbia. I guess he was the one who obtained, perhaps from the member's father-in-law, the 10 shares. I am not sure where he got them.

I think it is fair to point out, Mr. Speaker, that if you review the analysts who probably have as much expertise as Mr. Gallon, perhaps have even more years' experience and perhaps have something less of a bias, you will find that the analysts who looked at this transaction when it was entered into said without hesitation that the value was there. One analyst from New York, as I recall, whose name escapes me, but who was not in the employ of the government of Ontario, Suncor or anyone else, indicated that Ontario had, in terms of the price paid at the time, transacted a deal that was probably slightly below market value.

I know this is a thing with the Leader of the Opposition. I know just a little bit about how the share transactions are done with 10 shares. I am not in a position personally to acquire these shares, under the conflict of interest rules and also because I do not have the additional cash to buy the 10 shares. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition, if one looked at this very objectively, which I know is asking too much, the government feels that value was, in fact, paid at the time of the transaction.

He will find that earnings in the past quarter are up, and while he may go out and buy another 10 shares tomorrow at $15 over the counter or through the backdoor, or whatever way he acquired them, he may get them at that $15 price again. I can only say to the honourable member that we do not accept his point of view as to its value and, with great respect, we do not accept the point of view of Mr. Gallon, in spite of his 10 years of experience on the Vancouver Stock Exchange.

Mr. Peterson: I say to the Premier that I think he is very wise not to play the stock market because if he played the market on his own account as he plays with the taxpayers' money, he would be bankrupt today. That is not my opinion of the value of those shares; that is the market's opinion.

Is the Premier aware that in addition to the $455-million unrealized loss on that share purchase there is a loss in carrying terms of $113 million? That is the interest charges this government has paid out of pocket in the last year and a half, less the increase in earnings and dividends that have come out of that company. Is he aware that the real loss -- both realized and unrealized -- at this point, after a year and a half, is $570 million? How can the government possibly purchase something for $650 million a year and a half or so ago and lose $570 million in a year and a half?

Surely even the Premier has to admit that is absolutely complete financial folly. If he wants me to bring Mr. Gallon out to tell him about that, I will.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I realize the Leader of the Opposition is sort of reiterating what Mr. Gallon probably has been trying to tell him in the last couple of days. I just wish Mr. Gallon would perhaps visit the establishment out there, talk to some people who are in the business and understand that the heavy oil business or the tar sands will continue to be developed. I think we are just very fortunate as a country that we have this great asset.

I find it very hard to understand why an employee of his -- I emphasize of his -- goes around talking in a negative fashion about one of the great potential resources this country happens to have, the tar sands. He may not like it, but I can assure the member there are a lot of people around the world who wish they had it. I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that he does not always look at this totally objectively. He singles out a particular matter -- the share price he says he has established by the acquisition of this major shareholding.

I have to tell the member that out of many millions of shares, I think most market analysts would say the 10 shares he obtained at $15 does not establish a market value. The member overlooks some of the very relevant things that have happened because of that purchase. I will not go through the list again of what has happened with respect to the refinery in Sarnia. I could ask my colleague the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Brandt) to comment on it at some length, but I will not on this occasion because it would be an abuse of the question period, but it might be more relevant than the first question the Leader of the Opposition asked this afternoon.

I will not remind the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) that Niagara Structural Steel is busily providing material to the refinery in Sarnia and that it is supplying jobs to his constituents. I will not remind the member of the number. I will not tell the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) how Crane and Westinghouse are in the process of supplying material to that refinery in Sarnia, providing many jobs to her constituents. I will not remind her of that.

I will not remind the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) that Fram is also in the process of providing material to that refinery. I will not remind him of that or of the jobs that are involved. I will not tell the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) that Graham Manufacturing is in the process of providing material to the cracker.

If one wants to get in touch with the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), E. S. Fox is providing some of the pressure vessels. I will not remind any of them of that; or the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) that there is a firm in his constituency -- he is not here today; oh, yes, he is -- that is also providing materials. The member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed) has three or four firms in his constituency supplying material to this firm, providing jobs. In the constituency of the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) -- and there are several more on the list -- I could demonstrate it is a positive economic plus in terms of employment and job creation in Ontario.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Peterson: A final supplementary to the Premier: When he announced that purchase some two years ago, he said there were three motives for the purchase: one, to participate in the federal government's goal of increasing Canadian ownership of oil companies, which obviously he did; two, to give the province a window on decision-making in the oil industry -- the Premier's window cost $650 million; my window cost $150; and, three, because he thinks the purchase is a good investment with large future profits.


Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) may want to listen to this. Surely the Premier has been so wrong in every regard on this matter that he should now have the -- I was going to use the word "integrity," but I will not use that -- at least enough common decency and respect for the public taxpayers to get up and say: "This was a terrible mistake. We are sorry and we are going to try to extricate ourselves from this terrible situation as soon as we can."

Hon. Mr. Davis: I could say something about windows, but I will not.

Mr. Speaker: I really did not hear a question. It was a statement.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Was it not a question?

Mr. Speaker: I did not hear a question.


Mr. Speaker: Did the member preface it? All right.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am so tempted to say something about the opposition leader's windows, but I am still trying to adjust to them, so I will not.

The leader casually observed to one of my colleagues after his reclamation project that he could not beat us on the issues, so he is going to try sex appeal. I did an immediate poll of one and the advice I got from that person polled said, "If he is relying on sex appeal, he will be lucky if he wins London Centre." That was a totally unbiased observer who made that observation.

Mr. Conway: Let us not be personal.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Not at all.

Mr. Conway: Stop the hypocritical lecturing to the rest of us when you come up with crap like that.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The interjection obviously was completely out of order.


Mr. Speaker: Order. I would have to ask the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) to please withdraw the use of that word.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I have no choice, notwithstanding the performance of this Premier, who lectured us about what we ought not to do. He comes back into this chamber and does immediately what he complains about in other people.

Mr. Speaker: Order.


Mr. Speaker: Order. The member is trying my patience.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The Leader of the Opposition makes personal observations about me outside this chamber. They never offend me. I know they are always in good fun and good spirit. If the member for Renfrew North does not have any sense of humour, I feel badly. His own leader does not take it seriously.

I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that relative to what was perhaps a question, I would just reiterate once again -- I assume it was a question because somebody said it was a question -- that the government made its investment. We still support the three objectives contained in that statement. If the Leader of the Opposition is opposed to the Canadianization of the resource sector in Canada, then he should say so. I would find that unfortunate, but he must disagree with that, and so be it.

I sense that he does not believe this government should be involved in the oil industry. That is a difference in philosophy, and I accept that. I find it rather strange, though, when I think back to the position of his former leader. In terms of the objectives of our investment, in terms of the economic activity it has created, the investment that is going on in the province, I would also say we are meeting the third objective as well.


Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier about the question of official languages and the question of French language rights in the province.

In the answer I heard from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) to my questions on Tuesday, I am still not clear as to what is holding the government back from making what many Canadians and many Ontarians feel would be a real contribution to national unity.

I would like to ask the Premier, is it the government's position that it does not want to move towards entrenchment because it fears the consequences of entrenchment, or is it the position of the government that it does not want to do that because it fears the reaction that might or could emerge from some people in the community? Is it the legal consequences of entrenchment the government is worried about, or is it a political concern about the impact that kind of move might or might not have on the province?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, with respect, the leader of the New Democratic Party has asked a very reasonable question. I think it is fair to state that there are differences, and legitimately understood differences I hope, between the New Democratic Party and the government of this province.

In all sincerity I still do not totally understand the position of the official opposition. I say that very advisedly. It is a matter that is of concern and has been of concern to the government for a number of years. I would point out that it was the leader of this government who insisted upon the inclusion within the Charter of Rights of the educational rights provision and prevailed on some other Premiers, I think with some success.

That was an Ontario initiative. When one is speaking about the preservation of a language or a culture, I have always felt that fundamental to any such policy of preservation or non-assimilation, education probably is more fundamental than anything else. That may be just a bias on my part, but I happen to believe it is true.

At the time of the discussions of the charter in Ottawa, I made it very clear that some in my own home province might have concerns about the inclusion. I know some other Canadian Premiers had reservations. The Premier of Quebec, for his own reasons, objected very strenuously to that being included in the charter. I hasten to point out that it was not, in my view, the inclusion of that particular section that precluded the Premier of Quebec from participating in the charter or the signing of that document.

Personally, I have not assessed any complexities from a legal standpoint as to the entrenchment of certain rights within the Canadian Constitution. I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party on this important matter for all Ontarians that this government has proceeded as it has with a steady and, I think, enlightened approach with respect to the provision of French-language services to the francophone minority of this province.

It is also important to point out that we live in a federal system where the policies and positions of the federal government can be, not different from, but where the policies of individual provinces need not reflect in their entirety the positions of the federal government. That is part of the nature of Canada. The leader of the New Democratic Party would argue for entrenchment.

I should point out that as a matter of policy this government is pursuing by way of statute something that is quite often overlooked in the Quebec press, and I feel badly about this, because there is always a tendency to concentrate on the things we are not doing and talk about entrenchment when they do not fully appreciate, in terms of the legal system, in terms of our educational system, that they are there by way of statute, which in this province has the same legal impact as if they were in the charter. That is something that sometimes is missed in terms of the Quebec press and perhaps in terms of the perception of our fellow Canadians living in that province.

2:40 p.m.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, it is not a concern with respect to the "political backlash," if one wishes to use that terminology. It is a position taken by this government whereby we have accomplished a great deal in terms of provision of services with a minimum of difficulty and a minimum of controversy. That in and by itself is something of which the government takes not pride or satisfaction, but we feel we have moved ahead in these directions in a way that has been generally accepted.

That might not be the route the leader of the New Democratic Party would go -- and I respect that; I do not quarrel with it -- but that is the position of the government. In reading Hansard, I cannot recall exactly whether he too was calling for a meeting of the three. I would sense that with the position he has taken, the policy of the government and, I guess, a lack of appreciation on my part as to what the official opposition may or may not wish to do on that the subject, he would understand that a meeting of the three of us and a resolution at this point in time would not make a great deal of sense.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I just say to the Premier, as far as I am concerned, that we are meeting right here. Our position is on the record; I think it is very clear. I do not think there is any need for us to meet anywhere else than in this Legislature with respect to this problem at this point.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Rae: As I heard the Premier's answer, I heard him say he was not preoccupied with the problem of a reaction. I also heard him say earlier in his answer that he did not have any particular legal concerns with respect to the consequences of entrenchment.

Given those two facts as I heard them, does the Premier not appreciate the very real importance to the Franco-Ontarian minority and to French-speaking people across this country of rights and services being seen in this province not as something that is given by government in response to claims or demands by a minority but as something that is recognized because of what it means to be a French-speaking Canadian by virtue of our history and the nature of our country?

Does the Premier not realize the potential consequences of refusing to move to the next logical step, which is to recognize as a matter of right the meaning of being a French-speaking citizen in Ontario and to see it as a matter of right and not as something that is being given by means of largess, or whatever one wants to call it, by the majority?

Does the Premier not perceive that there is a very real difference between those states? If he is not held back by those two things, what is it that is holding him back and what is holding the government back? I think there is a chance to make a breakthrough here and we are missing the opportunity.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I do not think we are missing any opportunity. I would not use that phrase, and I sincerely mean that. I suggest to the leader of the New Democratic Party that I said -- and it is true -- that I am not preoccupied. As head of government, I have initiated certain policies on some occasions that have not been totally acceptable to large numbers of the public of this province. That is what being in government is about.

At the same time, I think it is fair to state that I do not regard what we have done as a Legislature in terms of the legislation we have passed, in terms of the Education Act -- I can recall the former Minister of Education doing this in 1967, or whatever the date was, where we really moved the position of the elementary school system into the secondary school system of the province.

Just getting back to the problems we have in perception, I can recall not too many years ago -- I guess three years ago -- when we were discussing this matter at the Premiers' meeting in Montreal, I pointed out to the then and still Premier of Quebec that roughly 5.6 per cent of the population of Ontario -- and I think I am right in these percentages -- declared French as the mother tongue and 5.4 per cent of the children in the elementary and secondary school system were enjoying their education in the French language. I am not sure the Premier of Quebec really believed that until his own Minister of Education produced the documentation to show it was true.

I do not take any pride or satisfaction, because that is not my nature, but I think that as a government we have moved on this difficult and sensitive matter in a way that is generally acceptable. I would say to any representatives of the francophone community, if they were here, that it is not a question of government dispensing largess or a question of reacting just to pressure; it is a question of establishing by statute within this province, within our area of competence with respect to jurisdiction, legislated and policy rights for the francophone minority. I think it has worked, on balance, very well.

Mr. Rae: I wonder whether the Premier might consider having a word with his colleague the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) about certain remarks she made in estimates on October 11 with regard to what she described as "vested interests" that "create a state of disunity and attempt to promote the illusion that at any given time on any given issue a local and well-organized minority is in fact a majority." She then went on to talk about not wanting Ontario to self-destruct like the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations because of the danger of fragmentation, and she said some of these groups are focusing on issues such as religion or language.

I wonder whether the Premier would undertake to try to get some clarification from the Minister of Education with respect to exactly what she meant by those remarks. There has been much talk about divisiveness and about the danger of making inflammatory statements that do not help understanding and tolerance within this province. Given the fact that the minister's remarks could well be subject to some real misinterpretation, which I am sure the Premier would not want to see happen, could he, in an attempt to move things along a bit in this matter, try to get some clarification of exactly what she was talking about when she made those references?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I would only say that if the leader of the New Democratic Party has some concerns, I am sure the Minister of Education will be delighted to reply to a question directed to her. In my rather long relationship with the Minister of Education, the relationship being of a political nature, the minister has always followed a policy of endeavouring to bring people together to achieve a common objective. I have never found her to be encouraging any divisiveness or any unsettling circumstance within society here in Ontario. She has some strong views on some issues and, of course, she is right in those views.

2:50 p.m.


Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my new question is also for the Premier, and it concerns Ontario Hydro's plans to carry on with the construction of the Darlington nuclear reactor at a cost of about $11.7 billion. Given the fact that the projections from Ontario Hydro presented to the Ontario Energy Board last spring show that Hydro's surplus of electricity will be doubled over the next 10 years, and given the fact that, according to Hydro's own figures, if they cancelled Darlington it would save $2.7 billion on the hydro rates before 1990, can the Premier explain why the government is still pressing ahead with this project, which is entirely unnecessary and simply too expensive for the province at present?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will go back in history a little again. I can recall at the first ministers' meeting on the economy two meetings ago -- that goes back a while now, because the first minister has not held one recently -- there was a different Premier in Saskatchewan. That very distinguished gentleman, for whom I had great respect and with whom I differed on a number of issues, was urging upon all of us major capital works programs to create employment in the energy field, for example, where investments made now would pay dividends, not only in terms of employment but also in terms of security of energy supply five or 10 years down the road.

I will get Allan Blakeney to send the honourable member a copy of his submission to the first ministers' meeting because, while he did not have Darlington in there, I am sure he had some pet project at home in Saskatchewan. There is no question that Darlington fell into the same sort of classification.

I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that it is providing economic activity. Since he does not have many members any more from the ridings where some of the activity is going on, I can understand why he wishes to have Hydro cancel it. My only advice to him would be to go to all the subtrades, all the suppliers, all those men and women who are gainfully employed today producing materials for Darlington and see whether he can get them to support his point of view.

Mr. Rae: I must confess I had no idea that Allan Blakeney was personally responsible for the construction of Darlington. That is a new piece of information, entirely and novelly expressed by the Premier. I will send it to Mr. Blakeney and ask him to confirm whether it is true that he is somehow the godfather of this project or a subcontractor of some kind. I do not know what relationship the Premier is attempting to establish.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Rae: I simply say to the Premier, if he wants to have an argument about jobs, it is costing $116,947 at Darlington to create one person-year of employment. That is a pretty expensive way to create jobs.

For the same amount of money, that is, $1 billion at Darlington creating 8,550 jobs -- and I would like to ask the Premier to comment on this -- the government could be building 5,000 senior housing units, constructing 10,000 new co-op units, providing direct grant assistance for renovation and repair of existing housing, establishing 2,000 new beds and 25 new nonprofit nursing homes, providing 10,000 new fully subsidized child care spaces, establishing a homemaker program worthy of the name and accelerating capital works for municipalities.

He could be doing all those things, creating 67,200 jobs instead of 8,550 jobs, and he would not be creating the energy nightmare for the 1990s that he is creating in going ahead with Darlington.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not sure that was the view held by the professor from York who is no longer a member of the NDP caucus --

Mr. Rae: Yes, it is.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Not totally. There were some days in here when it was almost obvious to me that he was in support of Darlington, but I know he is no longer here. I know the leader of the NDP has a right to have a different point of view. I assure him that Mr. Blakeney would not consider himself to be the godfather of Darlington, but I point out to the leader of the NDP that it is important to the economic future of this province that we have an assured supply of electrical energy.

I also point out to him that Ontario Hydro has been fairly capable at marketing its power. Even with the projections before the Ontario Energy Board relative to other power producers in North America of a like nature, Ontario Hydro's rates -- and this is where it is at -- are still lower than those of all the competing jurisdictions. They are lower than those of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois -- I will not go any further than that -- and they will continue to be lower right into the 1990s. I know the member would like to stop the world and terminate Darlington, but that is not the government's view.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, would the Premier tell us whether this would not be the time to reassess the nuclear option as it relates to Darlington and take a look at the other options because of the fact that we do not know what it is going to cost to decommission nuclear plants and we still do not know what to do with the spent fuel? Given the problems of Pickering, there is a question now about the lifespan of nuclear plants.

Mr. Leader, do you not think it is time you took another good look at the options in Ontario to give the citizens of Ontario a little more meaningful alternative that could be cheaper and, in the long run, much better, as has been proved with the hydraulic system at the great city of Niagara Falls?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I just noticed a small slip in the question from the member for Niagara Falls when he referred to me as "Mr. Leader" rather than as the Premier. Is he thinking of coming across the floor?


Hon. Mr. Grossman: Not so fast. Let us take our choice.

Mr. Speaker: Now for the question, please.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I think one should analyse very carefully what the honourable member has asked. He asked whether Hydro should not take a look at the other options. I am not an expert in the field, but the other options, as I recall them, really relate to the burning of natural gas which, I think in a country such as ours and relative to our success with the nuclear system, is not a credible option. I think it would be a good option for people in the Far East, where they have a great surplus and no way of transporting it, to move to that instead of coal. The other option, of course, is coal.

I guess what the leader -- I nearly made my friend the leader --


Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member for Niagara Falls is saying that rather than Darlington we should expand Nanticoke, Lakeview, Lambton, or build a coal-fired plant, where one then has small problems like acid precipitation, plus the importation of coal and not having a handle on fuel costs, I do not regard that as being a better option.

The other option, of course, is oil. I think we all know that is not a good option.

Then one moves to the use of hydraulics for the generation of electrical energy. While the member has no trouble convincing me this is the best form for the production of electrical energy, the only problem we have is that, unfortunately, we do not have another Niagara Falls.

If the member for Niagara Falls wants to create another Niagara Falls somewhere for us at no cost to the taxpayers, I will encourage Ontario Hydro to use that resource for the generation of electrical energy. The reality of it is that there is not one; so one gets down to the use of nuclear, the use of oil, the use of gas or the use of coal. I think the decision of Ontario Hydro to move to 40 per cent of generating capacity makes great sense.

Mr. J. A. Reed: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: If the Premier dismisses the hydraulic options in such a cavalier manner, he is really misleading the House --

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the honourable member please resume his seat? With all respect, that is not a point of privilege.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, for the information of the Premier, the nuclear conversion, as was described by the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) and as has been described by Hydro, will make Ontario Hydro 70 per cent nuclear-dependent in 10 years' time, not 40 per cent.

Given the mothballing at the Wesleyville, R. L. Hearn, J. Clark Keith, Lennoxville, Thunder Bay, Lakeview and Atikokan generating stations, and with Atikokan generating station virtually mothballed two years after it was going to be commissioned, who has the mothball subcontract from Ontario Hydro?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will look into that very important question for the leader of the New Democratic Party because I know he is vitally interested in that.

As he went through all the plants, my recollection was that the contract for mothballing, if they were using mothballs, would be very limited in nature. I know that is a burning issue with the honourable member and I will have my limited research staff look into it and report back to him probably on the second Tuesday of next week.

3 p.m.

Mr. Riddell: Just before I pose my question, Mr. Speaker, I think I should draw to your attention that three quarters of this question period has been taken up by the Premier's ramblings, leaving very little time for the rest of the members.

Mr. Speaker: I am quite well aware of that.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Throughout my travels in Ontario while serving on the task force set up by my leader, and meeting, as recently as yesterday, with such prominent, long-standing and efficient beef producers as Bill Davis and Jim Cook of Bruce county, I and my colleagues have learned only too well that the red meat industry in this province is in desperate financial straits and fast heading for disaster, owing in large measure to this government's inattention and procrastination.

In his travels throughout Ontario, why has the minister not learned the very same lesson? Why is he prepared to let this government tear down its beef industry while other provinces are busy building up theirs? Let me give a couple of examples. Quebec is subsidizing cow-calf operators to the tune of $191 and feedlot operators to the tune of $168. Saskatchewan has an equally generous program for its beef producers.

When is the minister going to stop talking about a national stabilization program, as he has done over the past two years, and start putting into effect immediately a program retroactive to the last half of 1983 so that our beef producers can overcome the loss they are encountering of $100 to $150 per head of finished cattle marketed? When is he going to act and give those beef producers the attention they need?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell the honourable member that I too meet with a lot of producers. In fact, yesterday after I participated in the opening of the new hospital in Chesley, I met with about eight or 10 cattlemen in the Bruce county area equally as prominent as the two gentlemen to whom the member referred. I was pleased to tell them and I am pleased to tell him that last Thursday, at a meeting of the deputy ministers of agriculture of Canada, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, we got an agreement on a tripartite stabilization program for the red meat industry.

I have asked Mr. Whelan to call a meeting of the ministers from the provinces and himself as soon as possible in order that the ministers can put their seal of approval on the plan and have it implemented as soon as possible.

An important feature of the agreement is something I have sought from the outset; namely, an agreement by the governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan that they will phase out their programs so that the level of support from government across the four provinces will be uniform.

I should also point out that, as regards the beef industry, we four provinces represent about 90 per cent of the beef production in this country. So while, unfortunately, we do not have all 10 provinces participating at this point -- we certainly hope we will have more later on -- the four of us do represent, for all intents and purposes, the Canadian beef industry.

In my view, this plan could have been in place a long time ago. I will not take the time of this House to enter into recrimination or to say where the holdups were. Suffice to say that I am pleased those holdups appear now to be all gone and that we can proceed with the stabilization program.

Mr. Riddell: The beef producers of this province are sick and tired of listening to the minister pass the blame on to Ottawa or Ottawa pass the blame on to the province. They want to keep the bankers off their backs and they have to have an announcement immediately about some kind of a program which, again, has to be retroactive over the last half of 1983.

If we are going to hear some announcement very soon about a national farm stabilization program, will such a program be made retroactive at least for the last half of 1983? Or, if we do not see a national stabilization program come into effect immediately, can we expect some kind of subsidy from this government to keep our beef producers in business until this stabilization program kicks in?

Finally, is the minister in agreement with his deputy, who, when he was approached at the international ploughing match in the Ottawa area by a group of beef producers expressing their concerns to him, told them half of the beef producers in Ontario have to go? Is the reason the minister has been so inattentive to the problems of the farmers that he believes half the beef producers in this province have to go?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Without sounding self-serving to myself, my ministry or my government I think it is fair to say, as any objective observer of the scene would attest, that we would not have the agreement that was reached last Thursday, we would not be on the verge of introducing this significant new program, if in fact my ministry, my government and I had not taken the leadership role we took a year and a half ago. We would still be hearing the federal minister talk about red meat strategy, which I do not believe even exists and which nobody has ever seen. That is all we would have. Instead, we took concrete steps to develop the stabilization proposal and to keep it alive against very significant obstacles coming from certain other places.

I agree with the member. There is absolutely nothing to be gained for Ontario agriculture, for our Ontario farmers or for anybody involved in agriculture in this country in going on with a finger-pointing exercise between the levels of government. What we try to do is to keep the issue alive and to keep the demands of the industry current and before everyone involved, and we have been successful. It may very well bother the member that we have been successful.

Mr. Riddell: But the beef producers are dropping off. What about the retroactivity of the program?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am just about to address that, if the member will listen.

In discussing the matter with producers across the province for the last several months, I have indicated to them that in my view a retroactive payment is not in the cards. The other participants, in my view, based on our discussions, will not agree to that. What is more, I think -- and I said this to the group I met yesterday and to various other groups I have met around the province in the cattle industry -- that if we were to introduce an ad hoc payment at this time, Ontario would be accused of bargaining in bad faith and we would probably lose the stabilization program.

It does not give me any pleasure to have to say this to people, but I am very frank and very straightforward with them. I also add that this kind of subsidy, as the member has referred to it, inasmuch as we are dealing with a North American industry here -- the beef industry, I know he would agree, is a North American industry -- would probably lead us into a head-on confrontation with our American neighbours, who are significant customers, not so much for beef as for pork products from this province.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I am sure we can be forgiven on this side of the House for having a bit of scepticism about the implementation of any plan when the pork producers and the beef producers are in the situation now where they do not have any money to make the voluntary contributions to get into the plan.

Is it not true that to date the minister has used only $24 million out of the much-vaunted $80-million Ontario farm adjustment assistance program, and the total payments out of that program will not be more than $35 million by the end of the program -- end of this year for application, end of next year for payment?

Why does the minister not take some responsibility for the serious position the farmers are in and find some method to get the cash out to them now from that program, to meet some of their needs and to keep many more of them from going bankrupt?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would remind the honourable member -- I am sure if it were the reverse, he would be standing up to point it out -- that farm bankruptcies in this province this year to date are down 14 per cent. They are down, not up. Nationally they are up, but in Ontario they are down 14 per cent.

I will not claim that OFAAP and the other programs of our government are entirely responsible, but I do not think there is any question that they have helped countless farmers in this province over a very difficult period.

To date, yes, we have spent about $24 million on OFAAP between interest rate rebates and the payment of certain guarantees and interest deferral. When we discussed this matter in estimates in May and June, I pointed out to the member that when the program was introduced almost two years ago interest rates were at record highs. We had no way of knowing when and by how much they would come down, and of course in the calendar year 1983 they have come down substantially, so the original estimate was based on certain assumptions which have been proved incorrect.

3:10 p.m.

I also pointed out that probably in future, quite frankly, if I were introducing this kind of a program again, I would budget $1, because when we start that kind of program we just do not know how the economy is going to change, up or down, and the impact on the demand for the budget.

I would also point out that we have initiated a number of other proposals. I never cease to be amazed that the opposition never talks about the proposals we made on agribonds, the proposals we made for better income tax treatment of small and part-time farmers and all the other things we do. They might better spend some of their time talking about --

Mr. Speaker: That is a very complete answer. Thank you very much.


Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The minister will recall that he received correspondence going back as far as June from the regional municipality of Sudbury and from me and my colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) concerning the housing crisis in the Sudbury basin. One of the reasons we are all so concerned is that a committee called the Help committee in Sudbury was established to look into the problem of housing, especially for low- and middle-income people in the Sudbury area.

That committee consists of such luminaries as the Most Rev. Dionne, Auxiliary Bishop; Rev. Redmond Conroy, president of Sudbury and District Ministerial Association; Roland Proulx, manager of Employment and Immigration Canada; Dr. Albert Cecutti of Falconbridge; Paul Reid, past president of the chamber of commerce, and it goes on and on, including some civil servants from the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Does the minister understand the seriousness of the problem in the Sudbury area, and how does he intend to respond to the telegram which he received this morning from the chairman of the regional municipality of Sudbury, in which the chairman warns that a housing crisis in the Sudbury basin is about to erupt? When is he going to do something about the problem?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I did receive a telegram from the chairman of the regional municipality of Sudbury in relationship to the problem he perceives in the area of housing. Let us go back just for a moment or two about some of the letters I have received from the members in that area, including the member for the Conservative party.

I note that the members have misinterpreted, for their own purposes, the facts being described by Mr. LeBlanc, the federal minister reporting for housing, and my own ministry. Very clearly, I indicated we had 2,160 units allocated to Ontario for the development of nonprofit housing under the municipal nonprofit corporations. When they wrote to Mr. LeBlanc, the federal minister responded that there had been 7,000 units allocated in Ontario.

I trust the members will read into what Mr. LeBlanc was saying that the 7,000 units included the private nonprofits and the co-ops. The allocation of those units is entirely at the discretion of Mr. LeBlanc, not the government or the Ministry of Housing for Ontario.

Mr. McClellan: You should have your own program.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I beg your pardon?

Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjection.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: There are a lot of things we should have and I suppose it would come down to more money from the taxpayers to try to make some of these programs more complete. We have looked at the supply of housing in this province as well as in the other provinces and it is a co-operative deal between the provincial and federal governments, not singularly the provincial government, neither here nor in any of the other provinces.

Coming down to the telegram I received from the chairman of the Sudbury district, I am not yet completely aware of exactly what type of housing the chairman is looking for as to whether we are talking about emergency housing, or whether we are talking about housing supplied under a rent supplement program. We have indicated to him that we are prepared to get involved in 10 to 14 units under the rent supplement program in the Sudbury area.

But let me remind this House that we have already advertised in the Sudbury area for applicants from the private sector to make those units available. There have been no takers, no offers. I have told the chairman of the region of Sudbury that if he can come up with some, and he says he can, we are prepared to try to find the funding and the allocations from the federal government for 10, 12 or 14 units.

Mr. Martel: I will not go over the figures the minister and Mr. LeBlanc tossed around. Is the minister aware that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is currently sitting on sufficient numbers of units to meet the needs of those people? Would the minister not get involved in a rental supplement program without having to build any units, so that we can get the people who are currently living in motels and hotels out of those into units that are vacant now and owned by the federal government?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, if we can build units, fine. That helps the construction industry and the opportunity for employment in Ontario, in particular in the Sudbury area, which is needed. On the other hand, if there are units owned by CMHC that have been taken back as a result of some of the federal government housing programs that have failed, then obviously they would be units that could very well come under the rent supplement program.

Let me suggest there is a federal minister from that area, who has been asked by the chairman and others, and who has not yet been able to respond in a positive way -- from her government -- on supplying the units under the rent supplement program.

I have indicated they are CMHC units, not Ontario units. They must have them available for the rent supplement program through which we will participate.

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I seek your guidance on this, but I believe that under the rules of the House one member is not allowed to attribute motives to another member in this chamber. I would ask your interpretation as to whether or not the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was attributing motives when he said that we misinterpreted for our own purposes. Do you not think that is attributing motive?

Mr. Speaker: I will undertake to review Hansard and report back.


Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: Yesterday, when you introduced the pages you inadvertently indicated that Genevieve Gordon was from Sudbury, when in fact she is from Sudbury East.

Mr. Speaker: Let me correct the understanding of the honourable member. I can tell him, and he can have this list, that it is printed quite clearly as being Sudbury. However, I do accept his correction.



Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to present to the House the following petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act, because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which would have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

This petition contains five pages which I humbly submit to you.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition. I will not read the preamble. However, it is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

The above petition is signed by 74 teachers from the Fort Frances High School, Westfort High School, Rainy River High School -- by the way, 100 per cent of the teachers there -- and 15 teachers from the Ignace Secondary School.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is in the same form as was read by my leader, the member for York South (Mr. Rae). It is signed by 24 teachers from W. J. McCordic School in my riding in the city of Toronto, and I support it.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition and I believe that I will read this one in the hope that the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the New Democratic Party may be listening, in the event that they may see fit to support it.

3:20 p.m.

The petition is to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act, because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which would have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

This petition is signed by 133 teachers from the Goderich District Collegiate Institute, Seaforth District High School, Central Huron Secondary School and South Huron Secondary School.

I have a petition in a similar vein signed by the 55 teachers from the F. E. Madill Secondary School in Wingham.

Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in a similar vein to that which has just been read to you. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is sent forward from the 39 teachers of Agnes Macphail and Ainslie Wood secondary schools, and also a second petition which is from 122 teachers from Delta Collegiate, Hamilton Collegiate Institute, Parkview and Scott Park collegiates in Hamilton.

I support their petition and have always done so in this particular issue.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, similar to other members I have a petition from the teachers of the West Elgin District High School signed by 31 teachers.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by about 250 teachers in the Ottawa area, from the High School of Commerce, Ottawa Technical High School, Brookfield High School, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Ridgemont High School, Borden High School, Fisher Heights Elementary School and Carson Grove Elementary School.

I will not read it all, but it says in conclusion: "We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

Mr. Speaker, I support the petition and would like to submit it to you. I would hope that some of the petitions coming from Conservative members of the Legislature might also be presented in this chamber. I have not seen that happen yet.

Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition signed by 89 teachers from the following schools: Hawkesbury District High School, Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute, Plantagenet High School, Casselman Secondary School and Rockland Secondary School.

I have another petition signed by 64 people. This one comes from Queenswood Public School, Arlene Woods Elementary School, Carson Grove Elementary School, Riverview Public School and Dunning Faubert School.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act, because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which would have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

This petition is signed by 235 teachers from the following schools in Oshawa. Oshawa Central Collegiate Institute, R. S. McLaughlin Collegiate and Vocational Institute, G. L. Roberts Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Dr. F. J. Donevan Collegiate Institute, General Vanier Secondary School and board offices.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), who unfortunately cannot be here today, I have a petition that was sent to him. It is similar to the other petitions that have been read and it is signed by 44 teachers from the Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition similar to all the others that have been presented with regard to Bill 179 and the restoration of free collective bargaining, from teachers at Herman, Riverside and Shawnee secondary schools in Windsor-Riverside.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act, because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which would have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

It is signed by 51 teachers from Westlane Secondary School in Niagara Falls.

Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the same extent as the petition presented by my colleague the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio). It is signed by 133 teachers from Saugeen District Secondary School, Port Elgin, Kincardine-Ripley District Secondary School, Kincardine, and Walkerton District Secondary School in Walkerton.

Mr. Spensieri: Mr. Speaker, this is a petition similar in form and substance to the ones which have preceded it. It is from 290 teachers from the city of North York, from Beverley Heights Junior High School, Elia Junior High School, Emery Collegiate and Pierre Laporte Junior High School.

Mr. Worton: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which petitions the Ontario Legislature to restore free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act.

It is signed by 150 teachers of the Guelph elementary school.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

It is signed by nine additional names that I will add to the petition I presented on Tuesday.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in similar terms calling for the restoration of free collective bargaining rights, signed by 48 teachers from Waterford District High School and 37 teachers from Burford and Paris district high schools.

Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition, signed by 30 teachers from the Nipigon Red Rock District High School, from 45 teachers from the Geraldton Composite School and Régionale Secondaire du Nord-Ouest, 18 teachers from Manitouwadge High School and 40 teachers from the Lake Superior High School, which includes Manitouwadge, Marathon, Terrace Bay and Schreiber.

3:30 p.m.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, after hearing all this and the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell), I can hardly wait for the debate on the bill to see where he will be.

I have a petition. I should read the whole thing, but I will not. It comes from two schools located in the great riding of Sudbury, one called R. L. Beattie School and the other one Gatchell Senior Public School, and it is signed by 55 teachers who want some support in beating down the government on its present legislation.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. First is to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights, and whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which would have similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

The above petition is signed by 28 teachers from the Michipicoten High School in Wawa, Ontario.


Mr. Wildman: I also have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and, in particular, to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea):

"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That they present a bill before the House to amend the General Welfare Act to permit an increase to the maximum benefits payable and, further, that they review the existing act and remove the anomalies that have surfaced during the present economic recession."

This petition is signed by 3,920 people from Sault Ste. Marie and area who are concerned about the effects of the current recession on people whose unemployment insurance benefits have run out and who are unable to get welfare.

Mr. Speaker: I must point out to the member for Algoma that the last petition is out of order because it refers to the expenditure of money.


Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition which is not similar to the others that have been introduced this afternoon. It is addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly, as follows:

"We, the undersigned residents from Hamilton-Wentworth region, petition the government of Ontario to amend the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Act to provide for the direct election of the regional chairman at large.

"We further petition that the said amendments be made at a time appropriate to provide for the direct election of the regional chairman in the municipal election scheduled for 1985."

The petition is signed by 3,716 residents of Hamilton-Wentworth and I support it.

Mr. Allen: I am sure the honourable Speaker will appreciate the efforts of Hamilton to provide some variety for his ears this afternoon. I too have a petition on another subject.

"We, the undersigned residents of Hamilton-Wentworth region, petition the government of Ontario to amend the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Act to provide for the direct election of the regional chairman at large.

"We further petition that the said amendment be made at a time appropriate to provide for the direct election of the regional chairman in the municipal election scheduled for 1985."

This petition is signed by 4,019 residents of Hamilton-Wentworth.


Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to this House over 500 petitions on behalf of the affected area citizens expressing their opposition to Ontario Hydro's plan to run a high-tension electrical line from Bruce to Essa.

I support their request that opportunity be made available for further input and hearings.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the Clerk conduct a new ballot for private members' public business so that there will be no interruption between the completion of the current order of precedence and the debate on the first balloted name in the new order of precedence.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that Mr. Boudria replace Mr. Wrye on the standing committee on members' services.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the House sit in the chamber on Wednesday, November 9, 1983, with private members' public business to be taken up in the afternoon and government business in the evening, and that when the House adjourns on November 9, it stands adjourned until Monday, November 14.

Motion agreed to.



Mr. Cooke moved, seconded by Mr. Swart, first reading of Bill 89, An Act to amend the Mortgages Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to prevent a mortgagee who has repossessed or sold a mortgaged property from suing the mortgagor for the amount of the mortgage or for the difference between the amount of the mortgage and the sale price.

The purpose of this bill is obvious. In Windsor many people have lost their homes and, because the market has declined, mortgage insurance companies and mortgage companies have sued the original owners of the property for thousands of dollars.


Mr. Barlow moved, on behalf of Mr. Havrot, seconded by Mr. Piché, first reading of Bill Pr33, An Act respecting certain land in the town plot of Smyth in the district of Nipissing.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Swart moved, seconded by Mr. Charlton, that pursuant to standing order 34(a), the ordinary business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, that being the report of the hearing officers on the Niagara Escarpment plan and the subsequent final proposed plan as prepared by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, wherein the protection for the Beaver Valley will be decimated, and in many other ways the purpose of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act to maintain the Niagara Escarpment and the land in its vicinity substantially as a continuous natural environment will be undermined.

Mr. Speaker: I would like to take this opportunity to advise all members that this motion was received in the office in time at 9:35 a.m. I would be pleased to hear from the member why he thinks the ordinary business of the House should be set aside.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I am sure we are all aware that there has been a $10-million, 10-year process leading to the final step which is now confronting the government. The alleged proposal set out in the 1973 Planning and Development Act was to maintain the Niagara Escarpment and land in its vicinity substantially as a continuous natural environment and to ensure that only such development occurs as is compatible with the natural environment.

In the intervening 10 years since the act was passed, the escarpment has become a slippery slope on which the hopes of the preservationist, the naturalist and the public have skidded downhill almost to the bottom.

There are many examples of what has happened. First, more than 90 per cent of the development applications have been approved over those 10 years. One of those which was not approved was the famous Cantrakon case which the minister reversed, much to his sorrow later on. The planning area has been reduced to 37 per cent of its original size, and if the hearing officers get their way, it will be reduced to 32 per cent.

Last year the government tried to remove the four members of the Niagara Escarpment Commission who were the strongest preservationists. All in all the proposed plan was weaker than the draft plan and even that weak plan has been totally destroyed by the report of the hearing officers. The Niagara Escarpment Commission has now backed down further in its proposal, especially in its stunning reversal on the Epping Commons and similar development in the Beaver Valley.

3:40 p.m.

In the events leading up to the final proposals, there are, I suggest, some profound issues that should be raised and some serious questions that should be asked. In the Beaver Valley case, why did the Niagara Escarpment Commission do the about face without giving reasons, and at the final commission meeting, where some of the preservationists on the Niagara Escarpment Commission were not present and where no debate took place on the issue? Why was there funding of the study by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to use against the Niagara Escarpment Commission in the case of the Beaver Valley? All of this has been documented by the Beaver Valley Heritage Society.

The principals in the Epping Commons matter, which should be investigated, are well-known Conservatives, and the firm of Goodman and Goodman is the lawyers for those firms.

Did the hearing officers' report contravene the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, as charged by the Canadian Environmental Law Association? That is another question that should be answered. Yet another is the Steed and Evans pits and quarries, 125 acres of the finest land in the nation -- fruit land, the headwaters of the only spring stream, one of two in all of southern Ontario. Why did the hearing officers decide that they should not be given protection?

Then there is the Speyside pit, a quarry of some 600 acres, almost on the face of the escarpment, a recharge area for the local streams, which has also been given permission, if the hearing officers' report is adopted, to extract aggregate.

The debate is needed because the plan has strayed so far from the purpose and the objectives of the act, because there are so many unanswered questions and because we need fresh air on this whole issue. We have asked for this debate to be arranged by the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling) through his House leader in a normal way, and we have no indication that they are willing to do so in any other way except by special debate.

There is no question that we need a debate. But the basis on which you must decide, Mr. Speaker, is whether there is an emergency need for it. I submit that there is. The situation now is that we could be presented with a fait accompli any day. Even later today or tomorrow there could be an announcement from the government that it has approved the plan as prepared by the hearing officers. The minister has had the report for more than three months. There is no requirement to let anyone know when he submits the plan to cabinet for approval and no requirement for cabinet to make any public announcement before they finalize it.

The minister shakes his head. I have a copy of the act here, and if he accepts the report of the hearing officers and submits that report, there is no requirement. Therefore, this thing could be decided behind the scenes without any members of this Legislature having the opportunity to debate this report.

That is the worst scenario, but the minister has not committed himself to having it debated in the House, and we can be forgiven for being a bit sceptical about what it may take, given the past practices --

The Deputy Speaker: Time.

Mr. Swart: It is a belief of those of us in this party and, I suggest, most members that because the final proposals are in such --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member's time has expired.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, we rise in support of this motion for debate. While there may be some argument as to its emergency nature and its timing at the present time, after some due consideration we felt it was probably beneficial to get certain recommendations or suggestions from the opposition on the record before the minister makes his final decision.

Our party has been concerned about the Niagara Escarpment for a number of years. We stood in opposition to the first two plans for their various contents, and when the final recommendations of the Niagara Escarpment Commission were made public, we went on record as saying we felt it was a victory for common sense and good stewardship.

But we did have some reservations and we have some concerns. The primary concern that we are going to carry into this debate, should the Speaker grant it, is the debate over the Beaver Valley issue, the Epping Commons. We have some suggestions to put forward which we feel will address the concerns of the good citizens who represent the Beaver Valley Heritage Society and will address the concerns, we think, of those on the Niagara Escarpment Commission who turned down that proposal for the development known as Epping Commons in the past.

We are going to suggest to the minister in the debate, if he accepts the recommendations of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, as we hope he will, as opposed to those of the hearing officers, that will see to it that a development of the magnitude of the nature of the one called Epping Commons be subjected to environmental assessment. That is not a common practice for private development, but it is a minister's prerogative to be able to do that under the legislation. Perhaps the minister would check that to make sure it can be done, but we believe it can be.

There are also some other alternatives. The issue of major development on the escarpment could be referred to standing committee and it could become a matter of policy, if it is considered to be a superior way of handling the issue. Our minds are wide open here, but we do have those concerns.

We would also like to go on record as fundamentally supporting the Niagara Escarpment Commission's proposals. We feel that with all of their imperfections -- and, goodness knows, we will discover more as the years go on -- they do represent the best efforts of a group of human beings. We should be able to express that public support.

I would also like to go on record as giving the government notice that if the minister does make a decision which appears to be contrary to sound judgement in terms of the Niagara Escarpment, we will consider it very much of an emergent nature and we will be asking for an emergency debate. But we trust, the minister being in the House today, he will use his very best judgement and come to positive conclusions about this great natural resource.

I happen to have a very personal interest in the Niagara Escarpment because it runs cater-corner through the riding I have the privilege of serving. I have lived through the difficulties with the first official plan and all those responses from the public and through all the difficulties with the second one and those kinds of responses. Now with the third, I think I do have the capacity to present some sort of reflection, however inadequate, of just how those concerned citizens and land owners feel about the way the Niagara Escarpment Commission has operated and what it has presented in terms of proposals this time.

For these reasons, we can certainly support this debate at the present time, while recognizing it may not carry that emergent sense which it may carry after the minister makes his decision.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I must say as a member of this Legislature I was a bit concerned this debate would come at the expense of private members' business. I was a bit surprised this came in the form of an emergency debate. I would have thought it would be more prudent perhaps to have this debate after I had an opportunity to formulate my position on the various matters.

3:50 p.m.

I will be constrained in some ways from commenting on specific issues that may be raised by any member in the House. I might remind members that my actions in considering the proposed plan for the Niagara Escarpment are determined in a statute, the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. Subsection 10(9) of the act states: "After having received the proposed plan from the commission and after giving consideration to the recommendations of the commission and the report, or reports if there is more than one, of the hearing officer, the minister shall submit the proposed plan with his recommendations thereon to the Lieutenant Governor in Council."

For the information of the members, the Niagara Escarpment Commission submitted its recommendations on the proposed plan to my predecessor on June 29 of this year. In January of this year the hearing officers appointed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission submitted their recommendations on the proposed plan to the government through my offices.

The hearing process on which the hearing officers based their recommendations lasted over two years. I understand that altogether 9,300 people attended the hearings and there were some 1,000 applications involved in those hearings. The recommendations of the hearing officers are included in four volumes, which speaks for the considerable amount of information brought forward at the time either by submission or through examination by council.

The next steps in the process I mentioned are determined by legislation. I am required to consider the proposed plan in relation to the two sets of recommendations before me and submit to the cabinet my recommendations. To the extent that they differ from those of the hearing officers, and I can indicate to the members of the Legislature that they will differ in some manner, those recommendations will be published and 21 days will be allowed for written submissions. When these written submissions have been received and analysed, we will consider all the input and prepare a document that will go to cabinet and become the final plan for the escarpment.

At present I am carefully reviewing all the information in the two sets of reports. I have also made a special point to try to familiarize myself with the geography of the escarpment. I have studied at first hand those areas of concern that have been drawn to my attention by numerous letters received from members of the public and members of this Legislature. Among the areas I have visited are the Fonthill kame, the Speyside region in Halton, Credit Valley in the region of Peel and Beaver Valley in the county of Grey.

Having seen the many different aspects of the escarpment, I have some considerable understanding of the concerns of the members of this House for this resource. I think it is unfortunate that the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) is not here to participate in this debate. Perhaps he will join us later. I can assure this House that my prime concern is to ensure the protection of this important resource as a continuous, natural environment from Niagara Falls to Tobermory.

I would also be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedicated and excellent work of the Niagara Escarpment Commission in preparing the Niagara Escarpment plan. Having studied the experience and the material in other jurisdictions, I believe there is a real need for a special body such as the commission to advise local government and the province on the protection of the escarpment. The functions of such a body need to be further refined on my part before this matter can be submitted to cabinet.

In summary, while I have some concern or some scepticism about the emergency nature of this matter, I would welcome the debate and I would encourage members to state their positions and their views to me on what I consider to be a very important environmental matter.

Mr. Speaker: I feel compelled to share a view with all the honourable members. Frankly, I have very serious reservations about this motion, but as I listened carefully and attentively, quite obviously all three parties are in consent of a debate going ahead. The House, of course, can do as it wishes. I put the question to the House, shall the debate proceed?

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, let me first express my congratulations to the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling) for agreeing to have this debate proceed at present. As I stated previously, I would have preferred to have it arranged by the House leaders and perhaps have had more time allotted to the debate than is possible this afternoon. But having said that, I am glad it is proceeding now that I have put the motion.

I want to say I think the decision to have the debate has paid off already. If I heard the provincial secretary correctly, he indicated rather clearly his opinion that the Niagara Escarpment Commission should continue as an entity. I hope I did not misinterpret him. Certainly the hearing officers recommended that it should be disbanded. That alone at this time gives us a bit of comfort. I am glad to have that commitment made.

In my comments in promoting this debate, I raised certain points I think it is probably not necessary to repeat here. This debate is taking place because we in this party are convinced that it has been the policy of the Tory government since the act was passed some 10 years ago to downgrade the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment. I think there is plenty of evidence, which I have already given, to show that is the case.

It certainly has been the policy of the Tory government of this province to set up facades -- whether it is in the area of food land preservation, in the area of forest preservation or in the area of the Niagara Escarpment -- to make major pronouncements on preservation and to pass legislation which seemed like good legislation and then never to follow through on the implementation of either the statements or the legislation. That is our concern now with regard to the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.

If this plan proceeds, as the hearing officers have recommended, or even as the Niagara Escarpment Commission in its final report has recommended, there will be some loopholes that will permit the government to do anything other than carry out the purpose and the objectives of the act. We voted against the act in 1973 in this party precisely because we did not believe the procedures in the act were sufficient to implement the idealistic principles embodied in it.

Subsequently, I moved a private member's bill to strengthen those procedures, but that got nowhere, like most private members' bills. Now we are at the crunch. If we can anticipate what will happen from the downgrading of the act over the last 10 years, the downgrading of preservation, then I think it is the preservationists who are going to be crunched.

The hearing officers' report decimates the purpose and the objectives of the act in four ways. First, there is a broadening of permitted uses within categories, such as the escarpment natural area, where, under the hearing officers' report, development would now be allowed that would not have been allowed, at least under the original plan as proposed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, in the escarpment protection area and in the escarpment rural area. All kinds of development are permitted which should not be there.

Then it decimates the purpose by shifting many sections of the escarpment into a less restrictive category, a move from the highest protection down to second-class protection or third-class protection. It has been decimated by reducing the area of the coverage of the plan, and I mentioned that in my lead-in remarks.

The proposal in the hearing officers' report which I now understand the minister has committed himself not to support, that of abandoning the Niagara Escarpment Commission, would have provided no watchdog whatsoever.

4 p.m.

The Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment summarized the report of the hearing officers in these words: "The Niagara Escarpment plan is in tatters." Then it pointed out what it allows in the following clauses. They say:

"New lots and new houses allowed in the most sensitive areas in the escarpment;

"Rural subdivisions, including condominiums, in the protected areas;

"Unlimited expansion for minor urban areas, even on the most unspoiled escarpment land;

"Looser severance policies;

"Gravel extraction and condominiums in agricultural areas;

"Implementation of the plan by local municipal zoning bylaws without any continuing provincial overseeing role, despite the hearing officers' refusal to hear evidence on implementation of the plan;

"Approval of development in the three major individual controversies: the Speyside quarry, the Fonthill kame gravel pit, Steed and Evans and the Epping Commons condominium development in the Beaver Valley, despite sustained local opposition and expert testimony before the hearing officers; and

"The removal of the Jordan Harbour and many of the other rural areas in the Grimsby area and other areas of the escarpment from the plan."

The degree of decimation of the purpose and objectives is best exemplified, I think, by Speyside, that area north of Milton where Standard Industries has requested that quarrying be permitted in some 600 acres of land just on the top of the escarpment, which is a replenishment area for the streams below the escarpment. I have travelled in that area, and the number of beautiful homes around there that would have their value drastically reduced and the streams that would no longer flow make the recommendation of the hearing officers impossible for us to support in this party.

The Fonthill kame moraine, as I mentioned in my preliminary comments, where they propose a 125-acre gravel pit by taking that whole area out of the escarpment plan altogether, is land that is right on the face of the escarpment; it is land that will grow peaches or cherries, the very best land we have in Canada and perhaps in North America, and they are prepared to take that out. We will not tolerate that within this party either.

The changes that have been made in the Epping Commons proposal, about which my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) will have some more to say, cause us very great concern. There has been a complete reversal on the part of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

The proposal for Epping Commons was turned down by the Niagara Escarpment Commission in 1979. The rejection was upheld by the appeals officer. Then eight months later it was upheld by the minister in charge, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett). But he proposed an official plan amendment that would permit it. Although he turned it down, he was the person who suggested another route that could be followed by the pro-development forces to get their way in the Beaver Valley.

The minister went so far as to fund a study in opposition to the Niagara Escarpment Commission plan, contrary to what he had stated was his own regulation in his own ministry, and it was presented to the Niagara Escarpment Commission hearings in opposition to the plan.

The proposed plan, which was funded by the government and which was done by so-called independent consultants, was changed after it was first tabled. Now the Niagara Escarpment Commission has changed its plan. After fighting vigorously for four years against development in that part of the Beaver Valley, they have totally capitulated without giving any reasons.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I will try not to duplicate what was said by the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), who expressed a good many concerns as a result of the hearing officers' report. Perhaps I can make my message succinct and to the point.

The minister has two basic options. Most of the province, as I understand it, is really on record now as supporting the proposal of the Niagara Escarpment Commission vis-à-vis that hearing officers' report. I will deal specifically with the one concern I mentioned when we were having our predebate debate. I feel that if the government wants to accomplish something historic here, it can do so by accepting the basic premise of the commission report.

I have been around this place long enough to have been a part of the escarpment commission's first machinations and its first difficulties. I remember a gentleman by the name of Ivor McMullin, who was sent as chairman into what was a horrible hornets' nest. What had been created initially was a bureaucracy that was acting in a very autocratic manner. Instead of encouraging the help and participation of the land owners on the Niagara Escarpment and those people concerned with the escarpment, its efforts simply turned them off.

The record of cases in the riding office of Halton-Burlington is a testimony to the reaction to the initial efforts of that bureaucracy. In fairness, credit has to be given to the chairman, Mr. McMullin, who was here in the gallery this afternoon, thankfully. He recognized what was wrong and started out on a herculean effort to turn opposition into support.

While nothing of this nature, nothing that interferes with the ownership of property or the development aspirations of property owners, can be thoroughly accepted by everyone, I happen to be one who believes the commission has come to the best possible conclusion.

4:10 p.m.

I expressed the concern of my party over the kinds of proposed developments and the nature of the Epping Commons development that had been accepted by the commission. I believe that if the minister is going to accept the commission's recommendation, one thing he might do is build in some sort of mechanism so that any kind of proposal either that specific one, Epping Commons, or any in the future will be subjected to cross-examination, public participation and public scrutiny. It only makes sense.

I suggested in the opening statement that one of the options might be to order an environmental assessment on major development proposals. That might be one. It might also be the recommendation of the Beaver Valley Heritage Society; its preference would be to subject proposals of that nature, and this Epping Commons one in particular, to a standing committee of the Legislature, where some kind of objective examination of such a proposal could take place. Such a committee might in the end recommend environmental assessment. Our suggestion perhaps just carries it a little bit further. I say to the minister, our minds are wide open on that so long as whatever is laid down is a mechanism that will allow the subject at hand to be dealt with fairly and in the most complete manner possible.

There have been a number of basic concerns on the escarpment. Of course, for all of us in the province, one is the basic preservation of what has come to be called, poetically, the Giant's Ribs. Another concern that has to be addressed involves those people who live on the escarpment and make their livelihood there. Those people, who carry on all sorts of activities, have to be assured of the prospect of being able to carry them on in the future. I believe the recommendations of the commission have addressed that concern in so far as it has been humanly possible to be addressed.

I want to take a few of the remaining minutes to express my wholehearted support for the foundation that has been recommended by the Niagara Escarpment Commission to provide a basic fund of moneys for the purchase of property. Note that I say "the purchase of property" and not "the expropriation of property." I am very delighted that policy has been included in those recommendations.

The record of the provincial government on the acquisition of land on the escarpment is abysmal and it has been declining year by year since about 1975. I have had personal dealings with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and the present minister's predecessor regarding land that was available and for sale in sensitive areas on the escarpment where the ministry simply said there was no money and it did not amount to very much. That is the difficulty of having the central fund in our provincial legislation and not being able to earmark money in the general revenue. The foundation, or the Niagara Escarpment Trust, is one way of earmarking funds.

Gertler said in 1979, if my memory serves me correctly, that if $26 million were set aside at that time, all of the sensitive areas on the escarpment could be purchased. How shortsighted the government was at that time not to heed that report and to carry on with those necessary purchases for preservation.

This recommendation for a trust or foundation is one that I urge the minister to accept and to see to it that the seed money in that trust is put forward by this government so that when opportunities arise again, as they did in Halton a couple of years ago, the commission will be able to move, knowing that it has the funding there to handle the purchase.

The minister has a historic decision to make in the next few weeks or months. I urge him as strongly as I possibly can, with the provisos I have suggested, to pay most close attention to the recommendations of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to participate in the emergency debate this afternoon on an issue that is of great importance not only to people who reside within the geographic parameters of the Niagara Escarpment but also to all citizens of Ontario.

The Niagara Escarpment, as we all know too well, is one of the unique pieces of real estate in our province. This government recognized that very clearly, as was mentioned earlier this afternoon, some 10 years ago when it brought in the legislative control to ensure that the present and future multiple uses of the Niagara Escarpment are properly balanced, so that the natural beauty of the escarpment is preserved in substance and so that those who have other interests in the preservation and continuing beautification of the escarpment along with their own personal vested land interests are clearly recognized.

Perhaps in some cases differing interests have created problems over the 10-year period. The very fact that these differences prevailed in 1973 gave cause for concern at the time, and it became a feeling of this government that it had to establish a holding pattern, so to speak, whereby time would have to be set aside so that cooler heads could prevail and a meaningful and well-thought-out long-term use and, I stress, preservation of the escarpment would take place.

As the minister responsible for the legislation pointed out in the opening debate discussing the merits of this emergency debate this afternoon, clear guidelines were established under the act. Indeed, I think it is a masterful piece of legislation, which of necessity had to lay down the broadest guidelines, under which there could be the maximum amount of public participation to ensure that everyone who had any interest or concern about the preservation of the escarpment would be heard.

This has been clearly demonstrated in what has taken place over that 10-year period. In fact, I recall that there have been previous emergency debates in this chamber over the fact that too much time was being taken in the process that had been put in place by virtue of the statute and the guidelines it set out. Yet, as the minister mentioned earlier this afternoon, the public hearing process has been an unqualified success, and I have yet to hear of people who would complain that they were not given the opportunity to make their views known.

4:20 p.m.

I guess what concerns me today is not the importance of the issue -- there is no divisiveness or dissension on that point; it is an extremely important issue -- but the timing of this emergency debate this afternoon. As the minister had said, he questioned why after 10 years of process, at the eleventh hour and a half, an emergency debate should be held on the eve of the day on which he has to make further decisions.

The procedures under the act have been followed to the letter. The commission has put forward its recommendations after first receiving the report from the hearing officers. The hearing officers' report is based on the best information made available to them, based on more than 26 months of hearings involving more than 750 submissions.

Obviously, when we have two sources of reporting to put into the system we are going to have some differing points of view. I suggest it is clearly premature to draw any conclusions or to arrive at any points of view simply because there are differences expressed in the recommendations of the commission as compared to the report of the hearing officers.

The honourable member who has sponsored this emergency debate today has suggested that the whole process is at the point now where the whole concept of the preservation of the escarpment is going to be buffaloed simply because there are some differing views expressed by the hearing officers as contrasted with those of the commission.

One of the leading insurance companies has often stated that one of its mottoes is that if you deal with it you are in good hands. I can assure the member, as we all know, now that the report of the hearing officers and the recommendations of the commission are vested in the hands of the minister, that he will deal with those documents judiciously, wisely and certainly with a great deal of feeling and concern.

Surely the time one would want to suggest that there should be an emergency debate would be when the minister has put forward his final recommendations and after weighing and assessing the two different sets of documentation. With respect, I think the sponsor of the resolution before us today -- if I can use the common verbiage -- has jumped the gun and is creating a tempest in a teapot. He well knows that the minister has full charge of this matter and will be submitting his recommendations to the government and to the Lieutenant Governor.

It is clear that there can still be further public input even after the minister makes his recommendations known. It is my understanding that there is a further 21-day period following the submission of his recommendations when certain written representations can be made if, in fact, there is disagreement with the views of the hearing officers. As has been suggested by the minister, it would have been much more appropriate had this debate come after he had an opportunity to fully assess the significance of these recommendations and the report.

It is my understanding that the minister, while considering these matters very carefully, will not be dealing with them in a way that would delay the ultimate resolution of this matter, but rather that the minister full intends to deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible. I certainly look forward to his report and recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor. At that time I think we can have a more meaningful and informed debate on the issue in this chamber.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, as I rise to take part in this debate today, perhaps I should start out my comments by saying it is really unfortunate that the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) sits there and refuses to listen to what is being said. He gets up and spends half his time arguing about whether this debate should be going on today, instead of talking about the importance of this issue.

First, my colleague made it very clear when he moved his motion that we had requested the minister to arrange a fuller and larger debate on the hearing officers' report and the proposed plan. We did this through the House leaders, in a legitimate fashion, so this House could deal with the whole question. If we had got that response from the minister, this would not be occurring this afternoon.

Second, as the member for Oriole pointed out, if the minister disagrees with the hearing officers' recommendations, then there is a further 20 days. Unfortunately, the minister chose not even to give us the indication he has given us this afternoon. If he had given us that indication, again our approach might have been different.

Unfortunately for us, there was only one option that was left open to us. Because we had no response to our request for a debate to be arranged and no indication of the 20-day period or that further public input would be occurring, we felt we had no choice but to proceed now. We felt it was necessary for the members of this House, at least those who are concerned about the whole Niagara Escarpment question, to have some input with the minister prior to his decision, prior to the recommendations going to the cabinet. That is what we had requested and, unfortunately, that is not what was given to us or indicated to us prior to today.

I am pleased to hear that the minister is taking a much more open approach to this whole matter than the member for Oriole is prepared to do. I am glad that he has taken the time to visit the specific sites of concern along the escarpment in relation to both the commission proposals and the hearing officers' report.

I would like to run through and make some comments about several of these sites, because I am sure that if the minister did the visiting he ended up with very much the same feeling as many of the residents of those areas have and as I did when I visited those sites, and as my colleague from Welland-Thorold did.

When the minister visited the Speyside site, for example, I hope he went into the swamp and had a look at this area that is being proposed as a 600-acre gravel pit. It is mind-boggling. The site is not too far from your own riding, Mr. Speaker; so perhaps you are familiar with it. But the site is a swamp. The site is a recharge area. The site is an area that is so environmentally sensitive that to put a gravel pit in it is going to have an impact in terms of the operation of Mother Nature herself and, as my colleague has suggested, in terms of a number of streams that play an important role in any number of surrounding communities.

In addition to the comments my colleague and others have made about the Speyside site, even in addition to the very sensitive nature of the ecological makeup of that area, there are a number of other important aspects of opposing development on that site.

In addition to those facts which I have just set out, that site is also an ecological environment that is unique in Ontario, unique in Canada and unique on the North American continent. A number of species of wildlife -- flora and fauna or vegetable life -- exist in that site in combinations that are totally unique on this continent. For us even to consider destroying something so one, so unique, is beyond my comprehension. Yet, obviously, the whole matter of development on that site is being seriously considered, at least by some.

4:30 p.m.

I am sure when the minister paid his visit to Beaver Valley and the proposed Epping Commons site, he was made aware of a number of the concerns of local residents around that proposed development as well, specifically, the concerns of local residents about the future of the Beaver River, in addition to their concerns about the overall environmental impact of the proposed development on the site on which it will sit.

We have a situation in the Beaver Valley where at present existing recreational developments of a very much smaller scale are causing serious environmental problems. They are operating on a sewage lagoon which is totally inadequate to handle the waste that is being produced. On a fairly regular basis, that lagoon, that pond, or whatever one wants to call it, is overflowing into the Beaver River and causing some serious pollution problems and endangering the fish life in that river, which will ultimately damage the recreational viability of that whole valley.

The Speaker is aware that Beaver Valley is a very important recreational facility in this province. It is not only very naturally beautiful, but it is an area of this province where large numbers of cottagers and part-time land owners spend their recreational time during our spring, summer and early fall seasons.

The proposal for the Epping Commons development will so dramatically increase the overuse of the capabilities of that area to handle sewage, let alone the other environmental problems which will arise -- erosion and so on -- that we will surely destroy that valley and river in the process of allowing that development to go ahead.

The minister has obviously taken an interest and become involved. The Beaver Valley Heritage Society has developed a particularly useful and easily understandable presentation, including slides, maps and a number of other things. I would encourage the minister to take advantage of seeing that presentation before he makes his final decision.

I will try to wrap up my comments by saying that certainly the new proposed Niagara Escarpment plan is much more acceptable than the report of the hearing officers from the perspective of this party, but I should put on the record, and put it on as clearly as I can, that we are not totally happy with the proposed Niagara Escarpment plan either. It is our opinion that although the plan still would provide some protection along the length of the escarpment, many of the things which have been removed from the plan, many of the strengths of former plans, would be much more acceptable to us in terms of the absolute protection of the escarpment as a continuous natural area.

I want to say to the minister, who suggested he wanted to see it remain as a continuous natural area, the kind of damage we have done to the Niagara Escarpment, for example, in the city of Hamilton where I come from, is damage which is irreparable.

Mr. J. M. Johnson: I am pleased to rise in the House today and to speak on a matter so long an issue in this House and in our province and in my riding. Many years, many dollars and many man-hours have been spent in discussing and exploring options for the future of the Niagara Escarpment.

The government has now before it two comprehensive reports: one undertaken by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and the other a report of NEC hearing officers. These reports will be studied by the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development who will, in turn, make recommendations to the cabinet. I know that both reports will be seriously examined and analysed before a final proposed plan is accepted. I am sure all of us will agree that it will be a report we can all accept.

I think someone said many years ago that politics is the art of compromise. If ever there was a time that we could use the phrase "art of compromise," I think it would be in relation to this escarpment.

The plans are being presented by two diverse groups, taking two different approaches to preserve and enhance our future in this area. At the same time, it reflects on the people who live in that area. It is an encroachment on their property rights. Yet, at the same time, I think everyone would recognize the fact that we should preserve this escarpment.

As I mentioned, it is a compromise that should be worked out in a reasonable level because we cannot just simply take away property that belongs to people, some for many years, some for over a century, and say that we are preserving this for the benefit of the rest of society. If we do, we can speak then in terms of expropriation and, thus, it is even expropriation without adequate compensation. Some people talk about expropriating and paying a reasonable amount of money, but I do not think there are enough dollars to pay the amount that would be needed really to do the job that was originally planned.

Speaking on a personal note which in no way reflects the position of the government, I think the government in a reasonable period of time will make its own statements and I would like to be quite prepared to support those statements. Now I have an opportunity to express some concerns of my own in regard to the people I represent and the people, especially, who are in the Niagara Escarpment control area. In my riding I speak for the people of Caledon.

There have been concerns expressed on numerous occasions about the degree of controls that have been set out for the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Many of the people I have talked to, including the mayor of Caledon, John Clarkson, would prefer to see the controls handled by the municipality itself. They have an adequate planning office in Caledon and they can do the job. I think even the commission agrees that this could be done. I think the hearing officers' report was favourable to this concept and I certainly support it.

There was one section of the report that I did not agree with. This was in breaking the escarpment. There are two areas in the escarpment which were broken. One was in the Hamilton area and one in the Creemore area. I think the escarpment should be preserved from Niagara right through to Tobermory without any break. The areas that have been broken should be filled in, but a reasonable width.

One of the main concerns that has been expressed for the last several years has been the wide scope of the escarpment, that it encompasses land that was not even close to the escarpment. In one particular area, Dufferin, I do not believe they could even locate the escarpment, but they just assumed it was in a certain area and designated it as such.

4:40 p.m.

I mentioned earlier my concern for property rights and I think this is something we cannot take for granted. If we do want to preserve an area of this size, then we have to be prepared to fund it and to pay for any land that people are not willing to leave in abeyance. If we take away their right to develop the property, we might just as well take away the property. If we are going to do this, then we should be prepared to come up with the dollars to compensate them quite adequately for their loss.

I also feel we can be overly strict in development. I had an issue a few years ago with a proposed development; you might remember the Cantrakon proposal that did not proceed. I personally felt that it had a lot of merit. We certainly could have had a lot more control in the development. In my opinion, I do not think that to prohibit all development in this Niagara Escarpment control section would be in the best interests of the people of this province. Certain areas definitely have to be protected, but others could see some development without in any way impairing the design we have in mind for protection.

I can think of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont as two examples where states have preserved their historical scenic mountains and still allowed some commercial development; in fact, in some instances the commercial development enhances the opportunity for the people to enjoy the scenic areas. If you were to travel into the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and there were no place to stay, no campgrounds or facilities, then you would only be able to stay a few hours and then have to move into the adjacent cities.

The development in New Hampshire represents an area we could consider in this part of the escarpment. The Beaver Valley area that has been mentioned in this resolution is an area that is very strongly geared to tourist development potential. I think we should be looking at ways and means of developing tourism in this section, rather than trying to eliminate it or keep it out.

I was pleased to note in the report of the hearing officers their increased interest in agricultural activities of the area. This has been one concern that has been raised on numerous occasions, and I think all members of the House have had people who were concerned because farmers for many generations were not allowed to do the type of activities that were required to conduct their farming enterprise. This is one point that should be carried forward in the minister's report.

I remember a meeting in Orangeville -- three years ago I think it was -- when many hundreds of people expressed their displeasure over the escarpment and the commission. That represented to me a lot of people who had many dollars tied up in land that they could not make use of. I feel that is not in the best interests of this Legislature.

Personally, I have very little difficulty in supporting most of the recommendations made by the hearing officers. I would like to see the escarpment continuous from Tobermory through to Niagara. I would like to see it narrowed down as suggested in the report. I would like to see the controls turned back to the local municipalities and I would like to see us continue the Niagara Escarpment Commission for a reasonable period of time, I would think in terms of several years, as an advisory body and where necessary a control body.

The escarpment must be preserved for enjoyment and pleasure, yet it must not remain an impregnable barrier to local economic and social development. A simple straightforward system of planning, emphasizing preservation of natural lands but combined with reasonable development standards, should form the base for future planning of the Niagara Escarpment.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion by the member for Welland-Thorold. Back in 1973 this government passed the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act in which it declared its objective was to "maintain the Niagara Escarpment as a continuous natural environment." By this legislation it recognized that the escarpment is a unique ecological feature of this province. It extends for more than 300 miles from Niagara to Tobermory, and we must make sure it is preserved. I think all members of this House agree that it must be preserved, and that is why special legislation was required for it, but we differ in our concepts of how it can be preserved. That is what this debate is all about.

The escarpment is used and enjoyed by a great variety of people. It is an important recreational area for thousands of people who enjoy its natural beauty. Much of our fruit land and food land abuts the escarpment. Its aggregate resources are exploited by commercial companies. A considerable amount of housing is located on it and it has been the target of subdivision developers and hotel builders.

With so many conflicting land uses on the escarpment, it is extremely important that the province exercise overall control of the development if it is to be preserved and if the differing interests are to be reconciled. But ever since the legislation was passed, the province has been letting its powers of control be whittled away. It has allowed the area to be covered by the Niagara Escarpment plan to be drastically reduced. It has allowed the expansion of the aggregate industry operations on the escarpment. It has given the municipalities more power to decide on land uses on the escarpment and its abutting lands. It has even tried, apparently, to change the balance between conservationists and developers on the Niagara Escarpment Commission in favour of the latter.

Many of the problems which have arisen with the development control process would not have been encountered if the government had followed Professor Gertler's advice in his 1968 report on the escarpment and purchased the most sensitive areas of the escarpment. Then these areas would be beyond the developers' reach and firmly under provincial control and protection. When Mr. Gertler recommended this step in 1968 it would have cost about $31.5 million. Now it would cost a great deal more, and so, reluctantly, the province is following the development approval route instead.

The New Democratic Party in 1973 opposed the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act because we supported Mr. Gertler's proposals as a better alternative. We feared that substitution of development control would result in the rape of the escarpment during the period when the overall plan for the escarpment was being developed. I am afraid subsequent events have proved that in many cases we were right. However, we now wish to make sure that the act we have is used to protect the escarpment to the full extent that it has it as an objective.

4:50 p.m.

We have been going through a process of public hearings with public input on the final proposed plan that the Niagara Escarpment Commission has produced. The hearing officers, after extensive public hearings, have produced a report which seems to indicate that they have not listened to all of the representations made to them about the Epping Commons proposal.

This is a proposal to build a condominium and resort development in the Beaver Valley. Many of the submissions have strongly opposed this proposal on the ground that it was completely contrary to the objectives of the act. They have claimed that it would destroy the Beaver Valley for the other uses of the Niagara Escarpment that I have mentioned. I support that view.

As a user of the escarpment myself for recreational purposes, as a member of the Bruce Trail Association, I feel that the Beaver Valley would be destroyed as a recreational opportunity for the thousands who now use it. As a former Environment critic in this House, I am well aware of the dangers to the ecology and the environment which would occur if this development is allowed to go ahead.

We are now at the stage where the cabinet has to choose between the report of the hearing officers and the final proposed plan of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. In most respects we prefer the Niagara Escarpment Commission plan because it recognizes the relationship between the natural environment and the escarpment and rejects a good many of the pro-development recommendations of the hearing officers.

On the Epping Commons issue, we feel that both the hearing officers and the Niagara Escarpment Commission are wrong. We feel that the cabinet must take another look at that question and listen to the voices that were raised before the hearing officers, instead of listening, as the hearing officers appear to have listened, to the voice of Goodman and Goodman, the Tory legal firm which represents the developer for the Epping Commons proposal.

By this debate we are asking the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling) to take a clear message to the cabinet. We are telling him that approval of the Epping Commons development would be a disaster to all users of the Niagara Escarpment. We are telling him that approval of the Epping Commons development is contrary to the objectives of the Niagara Escarpment Act. We are asking cabinet to show leadership and to recognize its responsibility under the 1973 act to preserve the escarpment for future generations of this province.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the number of members who have participated before me and, with intention, I tried to hold my remarks so that I could perhaps direct some of the remarks to some of the comments made.

As I mentioned during the debate on the motion, I did say I felt constrained to take a position on specific site matters. Unfortunately, many of the remarks made within the debate referred to specific areas.

I recognize the need for a local member, such as the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel (Mr. J. M. Johnson), to state his specific interests and concerns within his riding. As I mentioned before, it is unfortunate that the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) could not be with us to express his concerns. Perhaps I will have some further remarks on that later.

I am a little disappointed in the debate. While I know the concerns and the local issues are important, I heard little constructive suggestions concerning the real issues before me. Those, of course, are the hard questions of delegation -- delegation of what powers and how that is to be achieved.

I really had hoped to get constructive assistance from some of the members here to help me come to what I consider a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps that issue is too sticky for the members to get involved in. I would prefer, if at all possible, that such an issue stayed out of the political forum because in many ways an issue such as this lasts a long time after we leave these places.

I am sure constituents are not going to remember the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development or the member for Welland-Thorold or the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel or anybody else when they are dealing with such a matter. It probably will have a lot more to do with people who come after us.

I would like to comment briefly on the remarks made by the member for Welland-Thorold. He indicated this province had not been following the legislation or that there was some deviation away from it. I want to assure him we have been following it. That is what I have been trying to do as the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. I believe a number of good, solid proposals have come forward for a plan and I hope I will be able to bring it to fruition.

I have heard that both the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) really want it both ways on the very sticky issues of delegation of power and power for the commission. On the one hand, they say, "We want to retain the Niagara Escarpment Commission and we laud the efforts of the Niagara Escarpment." On the other hand, they say they want the real power, the power of development control, delegated to municipalities or regional municipalities.

I say to them that they cannot have it both ways. They either have to come or go. If what I have read in the press associated with statements made by the member for Welland-Thorold is incorrect, I would be pleased to correct that.

In regard to the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed), he indicated to me that we have basically two options. One is an option to accept the hearing officers' report and the other is to accept the Niagara Escarpment Commission's report. I think it is clear from his comments that he supports the Niagara Escarpment Commission's report and, in fact, he confirmed that to me in a letter of August 31 of this year in which he said: "I would urge you, therefore, to look favourably upon the NEC proposal as delivered by the commission and also tell you that in my view it has the general support of almost all of the concerned groups."

Then on September 7 I heard the other option from the member for Grey, who unfortunately cannot be with us or who is not with us perhaps because this is an emergency debate. He said: "I have found that the residents of the area of the Niagara Escarpment are for the most part pleased with the hearing officers' report. They are of the opinion that after nearly two years of hearings and 743 personal submissions to the hearing officers, the report should reflect fairness and an understanding of the issue. I trust it will receive favourable consideration or favourable approval by the cabinet.

"On the other hand, the recently submitted plan by the Niagara Escarpment Commission to the cabinet has deviated somewhat from the hearing officers' report. The most unacceptable deviation is where they have allowed development control to remain in the plan. Hopefully, the cabinet will see fit to follow the hearing officers' report in the area of development control. The hearing officers have recommended that development control be eliminated from the proposed plan and that the land be protected through zoning bylaws. This is certainly a much fairer way of controlling and protecting the escarpment." Then he goes on to deal with zoning bylaws etc.

5 p.m.

I have received from the Liberal Party both options and have been encouraged to take two different options. I prefer to take the approach suggested by the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel, and that is to look at the two reports, as I am charged to do by the legislation, and come up with a reasonable compromise between them.

Unfortunately, the remarks of the member for Hamilton Mountain referred to specific issues. As I have mentioned before, since I have not formulated my recommendations, I am not in a position to take a stance on any of the specific issues he did mention.

As I said in my opening remarks, we have received a considerable number of replies and submissions from various sources across this province. I have received something like 300 different views of both the Niagara Escarpment Commission proposal and the hearing officers' report.

I have steadfastly refused to meet with any one group. I felt that if I met with one group, I would be obligated to meet with all of them. My job is clearly outlined in the legislation. I must consider the two reports, and that is what I have restricted myself to outside of this debate and reading the submissions as well as some of the submissions that have been made to the hearing officers.

I believe both the escarpment commission and the hearing officers did their best to hear the cases. They have reached different conclusions, but I believe both did so in good faith. I believe this government will come to the right conclusion after I have made my recommendations to it.

I am confident, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, that the escarpment will continue to be protected and will continue to be recognized by this government as a special place that we will not give up on. Nor will we ever let it go for our future generations.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to pay tribute to my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold for the yeoman service he has done in speaking up for those who take a longer view with respect to the heritage that is represented by the Niagara Escarpment.

I want to say to the minister that if he is disappointed in the assistance that has come from members on this side in the debate today, that is nothing compared to the disappointment many of us feel with the remarks he made today. He really has not indicated to us in any way, shape or form the government's attitude to the hearing officers' report and to the commission's report that came out in June 1983.

In that regard, I simply point out to the minister that the conclusions of the commission in June 1983 with respect to the approach taken by the hearing officers were critical and indeed devastating. I simply ask him to look at page 13 of the report of the commission, which says:

"Based on our review of the hearing officers' report, particularly the general discussions in volume 1, we have drawn the following conclusions:

"1. They did not adopt the important objective of seeking a balance between municipal interests and broader public interests (the provincial interests). Consequently their report is weighted too heavily in favour of municipal interests. This is contrary to the intent of the government's 1973 policy statement and the act.

"2. They did not accept the environmental planning concepts on which the commission based the proposed plan. As a result, they substituted for these concepts the more familiar planning approaches used by local municipalities in preparing official plans and zoning bylaws."

I simply want to put to the minister that if he sees his role as he has expressed it today, as somehow to find a compromise between the hearing officers' report and the report of the commission, he is attempting an impossible task and one that he should not be attempting to carry out.

That is not his responsibility under the act, as we see it. His responsibility under the act is to carry out the task of protecting the heritage of this province and to devise an environmental plan that respects the heritage of this province. If he finds on the basis of his own inquiries that the hearing officers in their approach have deviated significantly, if not totally, from the approach set out in the legislation, he has to reject the hearing officers' report and its findings if they follow from a philosophical approach that is faulty.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I refer the member for York South (Mr. Rae) to the legislation, My duty is clearly outlined under subsection 10(9) of the act. The act says:

"After having received the proposed plan from the commission and after giving consideration to the recommendations of the commission and the report, or reports if there is more than one, of the hearing officer, the minister shall submit the proposed plan with his recommendations thereon to the Lieutenant Governor in Council."

It does not say I have to reject anything. I think the member for York South is perhaps taking a little liberty in saying what I have to do and what I do not have to do, when in fact it is enshrined in the statute.

Mr. Rae: With great respect, Mr, Speaker, I do not mind the minister taking up my time to make a point that has to do with some privilege of his that I have taken away in something I have said. All I am suggesting is that my understanding of the act and of his responsibilities is that he has an obligation overall to uphold the letter and spirit of the act.

Mr. Stokes: And the integrity of the escarpment.

Mr. Rae: As my colleague has said, he also has an obligation to maintain the integrity of the escarpment. If the hearing officers' reports represent an attack on the integrity of the escarpment and if they represent a philosophical mistake because, in the words of the commission, they have not accepted the environmental planning concepts and they use the concepts that have more to do with municipal laws than with an overall environmental planning approach, I am simply saying that the minister has an obligation not to reach some kind of arbitrary compromise between one position and another just because he has received two reports; he has an overall obligation to maintain the integrity of the escarpment and to maintain it in a way that respects the concepts of environmental planning and is not tied to simple, short-term solutions with respect to the land.

When this House established the Niagara Escarpment Commission, we recognized that the land on the Niagara Escarpment was not simply a commodity that could be traded on the open market like other land in the province. This was a decision that was taken by this assembly. If the approach that is taken by the hearing officers fails to respect that decision of this Legislature, then the approach taken by the hearing officers should be rejected by the minister, and he should state very clearly that he is rejecting that approach because they have misunderstood the historic decision this Legislature took when it said there is something very special about the integrity of the Niagara Escarpment that all planning decisions taken have to respect.

5:10 p.m.

The minister said he was not clear on our position with respect to delegation, derogation and so on. In the brief time that is available to me, I want to respond to that to make it very clear to him what our position is. If the minister will read the private member's bill that stands in the name of the member for Welland-Thorold, I think he will see very clearly what we are saying.

What we are saying in our party is that the environmental plan, the overall plan that will eventually be adopted by the government with respect to the Niagara Escarpment, should become an integral part of the official plan of each and every municipality that is found within the Niagara Escarpment. This would mean therefore that any derogation from that plan could not simply be made by the municipality on its own accord. It could only be made after a process of appeal and a process that would allow the intervention from the commission if there were to be any derogation from the plan. That is the position we have taken. I think it is very clear.

We believe there has to be some way of allowing for a degree of flexibility within the overall approach that is taken. We also believe that flexibility has to be very closely monitored in terms of protecting the overall integrity of the escarpment. That is why we have argued that the plan which is adopted by the government should become an official part of the plan of any municipality and can therefore not be derogated from without the specific approval of the Ontario Municipal Board and ultimately, as the minister knows, by the cabinet itself upon appeal by anybody, including the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Who issues the development permit?

Mr. Rae: The development permits cannot be issued by a municipality unless they have the specific approval of the municipal board and of the cabinet. That is the whole purpose. One cannot derogate from the plan unless one has the specific approval of the Ontario Municipal Board and of the cabinet. That is the thrust of the bill that stands in the name of the member for Welland-Thorold. I think it is a bill and an approach which commends itself.

The other thing I want to say, and I think it has to be stated, is that the intervention the minister made this afternoon and the comments he made today have ignored the very real conflict, the very deep concern that exists about the approach the hearing officers took. He has ignored the decisions they made with respect to particular developments. I am sure the minister knows what they are, but since he does not want to hear about particular developments, I do not intend to take up my time by talking about them.

I think the minister has missed the boat in failing to state very clearly before the House today which approach he will adopt. Does he believe in the overall general environmental planning approach set out by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, or does he accept the much more short-term, pro-development approach, which sees land as a commodity and a need to free up land, which is set out clearly in chapter and verse in the report of the hearing officers?

I simply say to the minister that while there may always be disagreements over particular developments, and one can have a disagreement over any particular development, he cannot ignore the basic, practical differences in philosophy between those two approaches. Ultimately, he is going to have to tell us which position he is going to take and how he intends to adopt an integral approach.

I am disappointed, and the members of my party are disappointed, that he did not choose to use this debate as an occasion to let us know what is going on. Given his erstwhile responsibility for freedom of information, I might have thought he would have shared this with us at this time.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to join in the debate this afternoon because I think a couple of things should be said.

My colleague the member for Welland-Thorold has been lauded a bit this afternoon, and he deserves it. There are few people around this Legislature with his kind of bulldog determination. If the member for Welland-Thorold thinks it is an important matter that ought to be discussed by the members of this Legislature, he will make that happen in some format, in some way and at some length. I think that is a tribute to any member of the Legislature, but more so when it involves a subject such as this one which so often is given the kind of diversion we have seen here.

A noble idea such as the one put out some time ago to save the Niagara Escarpment is very often the subject of a great deal of controversy. One of the things that disturbs me, and one of the reasons I welcome the opportunity to enter the debate this afternoon, is that this government does have a wonderful ability, demonstrated consistently over a far too lengthy period of time, to say nice things and, having said the nice things, to proceed promptly at a snail's pace to do absolutely nothing. One would be hard pressed to find an example that better shows that, and better demonstrates the flaws of the Tory government, than the circumstances surrounding the Niagara Escarpment.

When the initial debate took place to set up the Niagara Escarpment Commission, there were a lot of platitudes uttered about how nice it would be to preserve a piece of Ontario that is unique in many ways, that has accessibility to a large percentage of the population and that has unique features about it in terms of geography and the flora and fauna there. Then we proceeded to see exactly how this government set out to do that. The first resource seems to be to find some eminent Tories who are not doing too much and make them part of a commission. Then one sees the wheels of other ministries grind into this.

As we listened to the debate this afternoon, I think we were able to pinpoint some of the areas where the government has had continuing problems particularly over something as controversial and as delicate as the escarpment.

We have heard members participate in the debate this afternoon and, I think in good conscience, put forward exactly what they are going to do. Members whom I respect as people with legitimate opinions different from mine said things such as, "I want to put on the record this afternoon my objections to what has happened over the escarpment."

But they also stated extremely clearly and explicitly that no matter what the government recommends, when it comes time for the minister to put forward his report to the cabinet and the cabinet adopts it, they are on side. They do not want to see what the report says. They do not want to question it at that time; they want to question it now.

They made it very clear that when the crunch arrives, when the government takes its position, whatever its position is, they are on side. That, I think, is a fault in the parliamentary system, for one thing, but also in the way these members perceive their duties.

Again this afternoon we saw the minister rise to point out, in the middle of my leader's speech on the matter, that there is an act here, that the minister has obligations that are not included in that act and that one cannot infer that he has to do this or that. But there was no sense at all that the minister responsible has an overall obligation, not to a piece of legislation but to this Legislature and to the people of Ontario, to protect something that we have said in law -- and we have said again this afternoon in speeches -- is important.

That is another serious flaw, because when it comes down to the critical decisions -- and I want to say a little bit about how we arrive at any kind of decision, which I think is important -- it is not really the betterment of the people of Ontario that is looked at; it is a specific proposal.

If there are those who will make some money, if there are those who will develop some land, if there are those who will put into place some kind of development criteria -- which are usually translated, at least in verbiage, as "jobs" -- then all of the other things will be set aside; a normal process for making money, the mechanism for making money, will happen.

There are many of us who come from similar kinds of areas, or who have been through the escarpment fairly extensively, who know what it is like to have gravel pits and to have developments that do not look had on paper but in practice cause serious problems with a particular area, such as the environment.

One thing that is fairly consistent about this government is that whenever it comes to that kind of decision, a hard-nosed dollars crunch between a developer and the concerns of the environment, this government consistently falls on the side of the developer, without question. It is a rare day, indeed -- in fact, I have not seen one yet -- when they make a decision opposite to that. Their priorities are clear. They do not say them too often, but they certainly do, in day-to-day work, follow those priorities. That, I think, is a major fault.

There are a couple of other things I want to get on the record this afternoon.

In many ways, the development of the escarpment commission and various plans for the escarpment itself are indicative of the approach taken by this government. They move with absolute glacial speed in these kinds of things. They will proceed with a great many studies. There will be investigations. But to try to get them to make decisions, and decisions that are relevant to the kind of responsibilities that I think the ministry should have, is difficult indeed. The process works against it, for one thing.

It is quite an easy thing to get this government to move with reports. It is not hard to get them to study something. But it is incredibly difficult to get them to a point where they are prepared to take a decision in the interest of a particular aspect, like the environment, and then stick with it. That is where they fall apart. That is a great weakness in the way this province has been governed for a lengthy period.

5:20 p.m.

The escarpment is something, however, that has an additional problem in terms of time. Very often, what one sees with plans of this nature is that, by simply doing nothing, the government in fact does something. By simply taking no action to put a plan into place, the government proceeds to let development happen in a variety of ways. With a piece of real estate like the escarpment, by doing nothing, by putting no plans forward, by putting no real effective mechanisms in place to block things, developments do happen.

When we are talking about environmental protection of geography like the escarpment, by doing nothing we allow a considerable amount of erosion of what we are trying to save in the first place. The absence of a plan or of an effective mechanism to actively preserve something like the escarpment very often means developments do take place, activities do happen; things which, by their very nature, cannot be reversed

In effect, that is kind of "back-doorsy," but that is precisely how this government, in a number of areas of Ontario -- and the escarpment is probably a prime example of it -- has allowed the deterioration of something that initially it said it wanted very much to preserve. There is that level of great difficulty that this province has in dealing with a matter like the escarpment and the plans that have come from it.

There is another thing I want to get on the record, because it seemed to have been implied in a number of speeches here this afternoon that those of us who want to save the escarpment want to impose some kind of great punishment on those who happen to live there; people who live in small towns, villages and farms.

If we want to make a distinction in this matter, it ought to be along these lines. There are those people who are there, and have been for a long time, whose families have farmed in and around the escarpment. I have not heard anybody this afternoon say we want to take punitive action against these folks. That is not the purpose of the exercise.

But we should also make this distinction: that is, not to say we are not prepared to defend, in a very active way, the escarpment versus, say, the developers. Those people are new to the scene. They are putting forward proposals, some of which will have dramatic effects on a piece of property such as the escarpment. For these people, I do not see that this Legislature has a great deal of obligation to break rules, to bend rules or to reinterpret rules.

For these folks, it seems to me that the Legislature of Ontario and the government of Ontario have a relatively simple goal. The goal is the preservation of something that exists, a fight against those who would try to ruin something like the escarpment.

I think there are a lot of small, practical details that have to be dealt with. I am happy that the Legislature has had an opportunity this afternoon, at least for a little while, to debate this matter. I would have been happier if the government had agreed to give the Legislature ample notice and a full-scale debate on the escarpment.

It is a matter of some priority for me and, obviously, for the members of my caucus. I think it deserves a full-scale debate in the Legislature. I think it is a useful exercise to have the Legislature do that. I do not think it is a useful exercise to have people stand and debate a matter like this and say,
"These are my concerns, but when it comes time for the government to take some action, I will be on side with the government no matter what they propose." That saddens me somewhat.

Perhaps we will get an opportunity to have this kind of debate and this afternoon's exercise will not be for nought. It will have been a useless exercise if we do not get some follow-up on it. It has, however, been a useful exercise in airing something that many of us think is extremely important.

The Deputy Speaker: Are there any other honourable members wishing to speak in this debate?

The debate on this matter having concluded, in keeping with standing order 34, and it approaching six o'clock, I do now leave the chair.

The House recessed at 5:25 p.m.