The House met at 1003.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
ADULT INVOLVEMENT IN YOUTH DRUG OFFENCES
Mr Black moved resolution 15:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that much of the criminal drug activity involving young people is initiated by adults and yet, since the abolition of the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which included an offence of “contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile,” there is no adequate legislative provision by which to discourage or punish adults who recruit children for drug-related purposes. the government of Ontario should pursue discussions with federal justice officials concerning an amendment to the Criminal Code to create a specific offence of counselling, aiding, or abetting a youth to commit any offence under the Narcotics Control Act, Food and Drugs Act, Criminal Code, or certain provincial regulatory statutes. Such an offence should carry a greater penalty than a similar offence committed by an adult in relation to another adult.
The Deputy Speaker: The member has up to 20 minutes to make his presentation and may reserve any portion of that for the windup.
Mr Black: I am pleased to have the opportunity to present this resolution and to seek the support of all members of this House.
During the time I was doing the Report of the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario, I had the opportunity to observe at first hand many of the problems which result from that particular social difficulty. I think all of us are familiar with the problems that result from that, but it is worthwhile that we should review those.
We know the fact that health care costs in this province are significantly higher because of drug-related problems. The taxpayers of this province face additional costs because of additional law enforcement. Productivity in business and industry is lower because of illegal drug use. One cannot adequately describe the amount of human suffering that takes place within our communities, the broken homes, the young people whose lives are destroyed, the marital breakdowns, all those resulting from illegal drug use.
I was told by law enforcement officers across this province that 70 per cent of property crime in Ontario can be directly or indirectly related to the use of illegal drugs. However, perhaps the most damaging statistic of all is that which deals with the potential of young people that is threatened and often destroyed by illegal drug use.
We know that young people are not the only people who abuse drugs. We know that increasingly, people in the adult community are involved in the illegal drug business and in the use of illegal substances, but the fact remains that young people, often at the most vulnerable time of their lives, become involved in criminal activity, in illegal pursuits, and they often do that because of encouragement from people in the adult community.
When I spoke to law enforcement officers from Ontario, from many communities in this province, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police, as well as municipal police forces, I was told that one of the real difficulties they face is in trying to deal with those people who counsel younger people to commit crimes.
It is worth noting that up until 1984 there was a law called the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which dealt with people who counselled young people to commit crime. That act was replaced on 12 April 1984 by the Young Offenders Act.
Returning to the Juvenile Delinquents Act, clauses 33, 34 and 35 dealt very specifically with the problem of adults who counsel young people to commit crimes. It is worth looking at that legislation as it was in 1984.
Quoting from section 33:
“Any person, whether the parent or guardian of a child or not, who knowingly or wilfully aids, causes, abets or connives at the commission by a child of a delinquency or does any act producing, promoting or contributing to a child’s being or becoming a juvenile delinquent or likely to make any child a juvenile delinquent is liable on summary conviction before a juvenile court or a magistrate to a fine not exceeding $500 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both.”
That was the law of the land until 1984. At that time, the Juvenile Delinquents Act was replaced by the Young Offenders Act. It is interesting that when the Young Offenders Act came into being, some significant changes took place.
Before discussing those changes, however, I want to talk about the land as it was under the former Juvenile Delinquents Act. I have gathered some statistics here. These statistics were gathered from the office of the Minister of Justice at the federal level and showed the following.
In 1981, 897 adults were charged under the Juvenile Delinquents Act. There were 571 convictions in Canada as a result. In 1982, the charges laid against adults totalled 732, with 509 convictions. In 1983, as the Juvenile Delinquents Act was reaching the end of its lifespan, 608 adults were charged, with 366 convictions.
The point I want to stress is that up until 1984 people were being charged and people were being found guilty under the Juvenile Delinquents Act. As of 12 April 1984 that act was no longer in force and we had new legislation, the Young Offenders Act, and some changes took place.
Those changes removed those clauses which had penalties and particular penalties for people who aided or abetted or counselled young offenders to commit illegal activity. It is interesting to note that under clause 50(1)(a) of the Young Offenders Act there continues to be a penalty that was in the earlier legislation and deals with people who counsel young people to leave institutions to which they have been committed. But there has been, since 1984, no specific legislation which deals with the question of counselling young people to commit illegal activities.
What has happened in our society since that time is that we have seen a marked increase in the illegal drug trade. Part of the problem with the illegal drug trade is that many of the people who are acting as traffickers and who are acting as spotters and runners for the traffickers are young offenders. They are people who are being counselled by adults to commit crimes. Those people who do the counselling, who encourage young people to commit crimes, do not have the potential for being charged that existed previously.
We have organized crime looking at the question of the illegal drug trade, promoting the use of young offenders, promoting the use of juveniles, promoting the use of children as young as nine and 10 years of age to participate in illegal activity.
They do that for two reasons. They do it, first, because they recognize that under the terms of the Young Offenders Act they themselves cannot be charged and that if the people who are committing the offence are charged, the penalties are likely to be very light. They do it also because having juveniles distribute drugs provides easy access to school grounds and to community and recreational centres across this land.
The purpose of my motion is to bring to the attention of people across Ontario and to the members of this Legislature the problems that exist. We now face a situation where organized crime is promoting drug use in this province as never before. We face the situation that throughout Ontario, in communities as diverse as North Bay, London, Toronto and communities across this province, organized crime is encouraging the involvement of young people in drug-related activities. That is a fact that is known to police forces across this province.
We have a situation where charges that previously could have been laid are no longer being laid; where situations are developing that encourage people in their most formative years to become involved in illegal drug activity.
In concluding the first part of my remarks, and I would like to reserve about five minutes for wrapup but leave some time for other members who may want to speak, I want to stress the fact that I had the opportunity during the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario to observe at first hand the participation and involvement of young people in these illegal activities.
I spent an evening with the Metropolitan Toronto Police force and observed in a public housing development in the northwest part of Toronto as people purchased drugs from teenagers -- young people who, I later found out, were 15 and 16 years of age. As we watched cars driving into the parking lot of that public housing development, there were younger people around the ages of nine and 10 who were riding around on bicycles as spotters and as runners, providing protection to the people who were doing the trafficking.
That problem, to me, is one that should be addressed. It can only be addressed by changes in legislation, specific changes which would once again make it an offence in this country for anyone who does counsel a younger person to be involved in criminal activity. I ask all members of this Legislature to support the resolution.
The Deputy Speaker: If I understood, you would like to reserve five minutes for your windup. Do any other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Hampton: I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak in this debate, because I think this is an important resolution and because I think there is much that needs to be done and much that needs to he worked upon in this whole area of social policy. Despite the fact that the resolution speaks in terms of the Criminal Code and speaks in terms of a criminal element in our society, I really believe that what we are dealing with here is a very broad question of social policy. The broad question of social policy is, first, how we deal with the problem of drugs in our society and, second, how we provide the type of guidance and the type of protection that children and young persons need in a society that is becoming even more complex and complicated.
I will not say that I am totally, wholly in favour of the resolution as it is specifically worded. I think the concept of the resolution and what it aims at, that is, involving the province with the federal justice authorities in some rather detailed discussions about how to get at this growing problem, is a very good one.
I am not sure, however, that merely recreating what was in the old Juvenile Delinquents Act in terms of an offence of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and that measure alone, that single specific measure, will go a long way to overcome or combat the problem that is there now.
I want to explain briefly my reason for taking that position. Basically, it is this: I think what has happened out there, and when I say out there, I refer to many of our urban communities -- this has not happened suddenly, it has happened over time, and I would suggest that we might learn something from the Americans here, because I think they are about 15 years ahead of us, 15 years ahead of us not in a progressive sense but 15 years farther down the road than we are in that they encountered some of these problems 15 years ago.
What is happening is that there seems to be a blurring of values, a loss of values in many of our communities, particularly among young persons. What can and has happened in many cases is that your capacity to make a great deal of money through the sale of drugs or through some other kind of organized crime activity may no longer be frowned upon by members of the young community, but may in fact be glorified.
That in fact is what is going on out there. Whether it is through the sale of drugs or whether through some other criminal activity, your capacity to earn a lot of money, to drive a fast car and to live a high lifestyle in itself has become glorified, and the means you use to acquire that kind of wealth and that kind of material exhibitionism seem to be no longer of much importance.
In that context, if you see the problem that way, and I would argue that that is a fundamental of the problem, merely going back to the Juvenile Delinquents Act and re-establishing some of the elements that were in the Juvenile Delinquents Act will not, I suggest, turn around what is becoming a very large problem.
If I can refer to the experience of the United States in the reign of the last President of the United States, Mr Reagan, the United States declared very openly and very aggressively a war on drugs and a war on crime. Police were given very great powers. Criminal lawyers would argue they are powers that are much superior to the powers which some of our law enforcement organizations have in Canada.
For example, there is the power to seize at customs on an almost unlimited basis where drugs are involved and the power to indict and prosecute an organization as a criminal organization under their so-called Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act; that is, where you have a legitimate business which is fronting for a drug distribution business or some other type of organized crime, they have the power not only to prosecute the criminal elements per se, but also to prosecute the legitimate business.
Despite all of those tools which have been made available to law enforcement agencies in the United States, the drug problem in that country is widely perceived to be out of control.
I think what we must note is that our provincial government and provincial governments from across the country must sit down very quickly with the federal government for a rather detailed discussion about how to deal with this very large problem. It is not just one of law enforcement authority and law enforcement officials having the tools. It is a much greater malaise than that; it is a much wider malaise than that, a much deeper one and, I would say, much more fundamental to our society in terms that we have a whole subculture whose values have been turned around or at the very least frayed to the extent that illegal activity is not only accepted but in some cases -- I would argue in many cases -- is glorified at the community level.
I regard this resolution as an important first step, but let there be no doubt that I think the measures that need to be taken are much greater. Let me just detail, for instance, some of the recent events which I believe touch on how large the problem is. The federal government has cut its contributions to education. It has cut its contributions to child care. It has cut its contributions to the kinds of social service mechanisms that we need to enrich if we are to deal adequately with the problems of young people in society.
This province has simply not done enough because the fact of the matter is that when you get done juggling all the formulas, this province has cut its portion of funding to education. Let me leave no doubt about it. I think we will accomplish as much through education in these measures as we will through empowering the police with greater prosecutorial authority or with greater investigative authority.
I am in favour of this resolution. I think it is a good first step, but it is a good first step in what needs to be a very well thought out, broad plan of action on the part of the federal government, the provincial government and even municipal governments, I would argue, and certainly would involve the whole sphere of child care, youth education and education in general.
As I say, I will be supporting the resolution. I think it is a good one but I think it is only a good first step in a very long process.
Mr Runciman: I am pleased to participate in the debate this morning as well and to indicate our support for the member’s resolution. I hope this resolution has a little more impact than his study on the drug problems in the province, which was an excellent study and I have commended him for it in the past. But the problem is that we have been dealing with, in effect, an antipolice tag team in the government of Ontario with the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the former Solicitor General, the member for London South (Mrs Smith), and we have had a great many problems --
Mr Runciman: Well, when we talk about crime in this province, much of it is drug-related. I will just put a few statistics on the record.
In Toronto between 1984 and 1988 the number of reported crimes of violence increased dramatically. Attempted murders rose by 35 per cent; sexual assaults increased by 38 per cent: other assaults were up by 68 per cent; robberies increased by 43 per cent, and weapons possession charges were up 33 per cent. I think these figures indicate very clearly that the crimes against individuals, many of them fuelled by drugs, have increased significantly and that police are faced with more criminal acts to deal with than ever before.
Of course, one of the problems the member’s resolution deals with is the problem of drug abuse and drug-related crime. This ties in with the street gang problem, and there is evidence to suggest that some street gangs are being solidified by the increasing public demand for drugs such as crack cocaine.
The member has indicated that his party has been more active in the past in terms of trying to address the very real concerns of the policemen and policewomen across this province. I want to put another example on the record.
As the member will know, the major tool available to government to control drug use and drug-related crimes is increased drug enforcement by police. The Attorney General (Mr Scott) recently showed an amazing insensitivity to the plight of police when he criticized senior officers, who had expressed displeasure with one- and two-week jail sentences a judge had handed out to drug users and sellers.
The policemen in question, who said they were going to monitor future sentences, were only expressing a frustration about the revolving door syndrome and did not deserve to be rebuked by the Attorney General of this province. That is the kind of attitude that I think is sending out very much the wrong messages to the people of this province in respect to law enforcement, and certainly the wrong messages to policemen and policewomen.
I think the action of the former Solicitor General in respect of the Lucan incident is another unfortunate situation because of the messages it sent out to the police forces. We look at the Solicitor General having an in-house investigation done by the Ontario Provincial Police of her activities that evening, but if you look at a police officer, a cop on the beat, having an allegation laid against him or her, that would require a separate, independent force to come in and take a look at those allegations.
In this incident, we had the former Solicitor General having her own force, as the top cop, taking a look at her activities that evening. It was terribly inappropriate and sent out the message that there is one requirement for the cop on the street and very clearly another requirement for the Solicitor General of this particular government
Another area I want to talk about as well is the question of the recent Race Relations and Policing Task Force. I had some difficulty with a number of the recommendations in terms of the impact they would have on police forces across this province. Again, I want to talk about some of those recommendations briefly, if I can, which have not received too much attention but will give members an indication of the kind of impact they are going to have on police forces across this province.
Permitting officers to draw their guns only when threatened with death is one of the recommendations. Previously, they could draw their guns if they were threatened with grievous bodily harm, but now, if this Liberal task force has its way, they have to be sure they are going to die.
Another proposal is to prohibit police officers from shooting at fleeing suspects. If a murderer flees the scene of a crime, he can do so with a smile and a wave at a defenceless officer.
The report also recommends that it be easier to charge officers who fire their weapons. So an officer not only has to consider the restrictions on drawing a revolver but also the consequences of firing it, if drawn -- all in a split second, of course.
The report also recommends that the race or skin colour of at-large suspects not be released. This would reduce the chances of apprehending criminals and would cripple effective programs such as Crime Stoppers.
I could go on with a whole range of recommendations that cause me concern in respect to that report. I do not think there is any doubt that all members of this Legislature would like to see police forces reflect the composition of the communities they serve. But using this report as justification for some rather dramatic changes in the way police forces operate across this province is worrying, to say the least.
I do not blame the task force especially. Establishing it was a knee-jerk reaction without giving proper time to carry out a thorough job in such a sensitive area. A concern with respect to that task force is that it was using hearsay evidence and witnesses were not subjected to cross-examination. If members have read the report, taken a look at it, some of the hearsay evidence, which is unbelievable to anyone simply scanning the pages of the report, the task force used as justification for some of the recommendations.
I will give members an example. One chap appeared before the task force in Windsor and said if there are five people walking across the street against a red light, three of whom were white and two coloured, then the two coloured pedestrians would be charged with jaywalking. That was accepted as a reason by the task force for some of the problems it perceives to exist in respect of police forces across this province in terms of their treatment of minorities.
I have a lot of difficulty with that and I am sure most police officers across this province do. But it is not surprising to see the approach of this government. Time after time, we have seen police officers killed, wounded or injured in the line of duty. I cannot recall the Solicitor General on one occasion standing up and expressing condolences or sympathy to the family of an officer killed or wounded in the line of duty. At the same time, we have witnessed the appearance of two Liberal cabinet ministers at the funeral of Wade Lawson, an individual who was shot by a police officer while driving a stolen car.
I would ask members to ponder the fact that two cabinet ministers can attend the funeral of someone shot driving a stolen car, yet the Solicitor General of this province, the top cop, cannot get up in this House on any occasion and express condolences about an officer injured in the line of duty.
No doubt the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr Black) is well intentioned in respect to this resolution and other activities he has conducted himself in regard to the drug problem in this province. We are hopeful in terms of the upcoming cabinet shuffle that perhaps he will have increased responsibilities in this area and that perhaps we will see something meaningful done in respect to improving things.
Mr Furlong: That’s a death blow.
Mr Runciman: Well, as long as Patti Starr is not on his list of contributors he has a chance. There are not too many in that group who do not have Mrs Starr on their contribution list. So on that basis, they have got to be in the running.
I am going to be optimistic. If indeed the member is fortunate enough to find himself sitting in the executive council, then I hope he is in that role because I believe he has expressed very genuine interest and concern in respect to the drug problem, especially as it affects the south of this province. So I wish him well. I am certainly trying not to be terribly partisan with respect to my concerns about the drug and crime situation in this province generally.
I promised to save a minute or so for my colleague the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham). So again, I compliment the member and wish him well with his resolution.
Mr Offer: It is a privilege and an honour for me to rise and speak on this resolution because I believe it is an extremely important resolution and one which I support, not only in its wording, but in its principle and in its objectives.
I would like at this point to compliment the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay not only on this resolution, but of course on his work to date on this matter. In his report, which is widely acclaimed and well received across this province and beyond, he has made important recommendations dealing with a problem that all persons share.
Everyone has a part to play in stopping illegal drug use: politicians at all levels, community groups, associations and individuals throughout this province, by talking together, discussing, sharing, understanding, addressing and attacking this concern, this cancer on our society. This is a resolution which has as its focus drug activity and young people.
I would like to just read part of that resolution, because it states, “That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that much of the criminal drug activity involving young people is initiated by adults...” I think that is important; it is an important focus to this resolution.
As members of this Legislature, we have both a responsibility and an opportunity to address this problem, not only by carrying on the work and recommendations of the report of the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay but in supporting this resolution. We are living in complicated and challenging times. I know that many will and can say that the complicated and challenging times today are no more or less than that of years ago, just as the challenges of the future will be no more or less than we have before us today.
Of the future, who can say? However, I believe that the pressures and challenges of today are greater than those of the past. There are greater peer pressures; there are messages from all sorts of media: television, radio and print media; there are socioeconomic factors. All play a role of unending stress and strain on many persons -- in particular, on our youth.
As a father of three girls, none of whom is yet over the age of 10, I too see and understand the stress and strains, even at that age, from so many quarters in our society. This does result, in my view, in some being more vulnerable than others, and those who are vulnerable are vulnerable to a greater degree than they otherwise would have been. It is this vulnerability which has in part resulted in a growth of drug-related activities, the likes of which I do not think we have ever seen before. This is a growth across this land; it knows no boundaries. It is not only a city problem. It strikes the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas; all have been touched. It must be viewed as a threat not only to our youth, to whom this resolution directs its mind, but also indeed to the very underpinnings of our society.
It is through this vulnerability that some people -- and I use that word reservedly -- prey on others: our youth. They exploit weaknesses. They ruin lives, either through death or dependency. I sometimes feel, in discussing and thinking about this issue, that the immensity and gravity of the problem itself is only surpassed by the cruelty of its consequences: young lives lost in many ways to all of us.
We have an opportunity to attack this problem. I say “attack” because there is no room just to address it. It must be attacked: attacked through education, police activity and resources, and the consequences of law-breaking activities. This resolution speaks, in the main, to improving the severity of consequences of law-breaking activities, and it is one which, as I have indicated earlier, I wholeheartedly support.
The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay has previously alluded to the Juvenile Delinquents Act which, prior to its repeal, included an offence of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. We know that act has been repealed. We know that it has been replaced by other provisions as well as, in the main, the Young Offenders Act.
Through previous discussions in this very House, we are aware of some of the problems with the Young Offenders Act. For instance, we are aware of the initiatives of the Attorney General in seeking change to the Young Offenders Act, change which has been well documented already.
I can only reiterate my support for this resolution. Clearly, unlawful activities by a fully mature adult, which involve leading a susceptible youth to crime or to ingest drugs, should be viewed harshly and dealt with severely by the criminal law. They pose one of the greatest threats to the protection of the public, because that youth may, as a result, become involved in criminal or other antisocial activities on a long-term basis.
In the few minutes remaining to me, let me say that I have had occasion to look through the Criminal Code of this country. It brings to light first that there are provisions which come to grips in some fashion with the subject matter of the resolution, but most important, I think it clearly shows that there is room for improvement and there must be improvement. That is why this resolution which speaks so clearly in terms of the government of this province pursuing “discussions with the federal justice officials concerning an amendment to the Criminal Code to create a specific offence of counselling, aiding, or abetting a youth,” is one which is so very necessary.
For instance, section 21 of the Criminal Code states in part, “Every one is a party to an offence who (a) actually commits it” or aids and abets, helps or encourages another person to commit a crime. In that instance, for a person who helps or encourages it is as if they have committed the crime.
The Criminal Code goes on in the very following section 22 to talk about a person counselling another person to be a party to an offence, and if that offence is committed, then that person is also guilty of that offence. Further, a third example within the code is section 464. which talks about counselling an offence which has not been committed. It talks about where a person had counselled another in the commission of an offence, whether that offence has or has not been committed, the person who has counselled is guilty of an offence too.
There are provisions in the Criminal Code that come to grips in some way with the subject matter of the resolution at hand. I read those provisions to bring forward a greater need for this resolution to be passed by all members of the Legislature, because of the encouragement, the obligation, the responsibility, the need to look at the code, to look at it in terms of addressing amendments to the code, so that there is clear criminal responsibility in terms of adult persons aiding, abetting, helping or encouraging young people in terms of drug-related activities.
This is a resolution which is important in its principle, in its objectives and its wording, not only to all members of this Legislature, but to everyone in this province, and I ask all members to support this resolution of the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay. It is one which needs and deserves our support and I look forward to this House doing so.
Mr Philip: I had a certain emotional reaction not to speak on this for the simple reason that the member for St Catharines-Brock (Mr Dietsch) feels very strongly about this matter and I know he wanted to speak and cabinet ministers are not allowed to speak or do not generally participate. This may be his last opportunity to speak in private members’ hour before the Premier appoints him to the cabinet.
Mr Dietsch: That’s it for that guy too. Thanks very much.
Mr Philip: If the Premier has any sense and knowledge of talent, then he certainly will look at that appointment.
Coincidentally, last night I received the following note -- I will not read the person’s name, but Mrs So-and-so lives in a particular housing development, and it is mentioned. The note says: “She cannot come in to see you this evening as she is working this evening, but she is afraid to come home at night because of the drugs on the street. She is afraid of her children. Can something be done?” That is a phone call that I have to return later in the day to speak to her.
In out community, we are trying to do a number of things about the drug problem. We just recently had a march against drugs. We have had some rallies, including some rock bands and various people trying to create both an intellectual and an emotional reaction against drugs.
Anything that can be done that will send out the message that there is a problem and that we have to act severely on those who are making money by exploiting young people and other people has to be supported.
I am told by one of the people I have been working with in a particular Ontario Housing development that certain young people there are actually dropping out of school because they are being paid $10 an hour to act as spotters. Spotters drive on their bicycles around the neighbourhood and when the police or the detectives are seen, they have certain whistles and codes and the drug dealers disappear.
To a young person living on family benefits in a single-parent home in Ontario Housing with very little spending money, $10 an hour means $120 a day times six, which means an awful lot of money to that young person. It means that he or she can drop out of school, buy a car and do all the kinds of things that he or she sees on TV and that are so glamorous.
Part of the problem is not just the matter of enforcement, not just backing up our police, our courts and our prosecutors, but also in looking at the problems that motivate young people to go after that fast buck, in correcting some of the problems.
There is nothing worse, in my mind, than the exploitation of children. Probably the worst case, to me, is the kiddy-porn phenomenon where young children are being exploited sexually.
There is, as has been pointed out, under the Criminal Code a fairly clear section on aiding and abetting, and under the old Juvenile Delinquents Act, there was a section. However, there were some problems with it. If the members read in the Law Society of Upper Canada Criminal Code Procedure 1983-84, it deals with that.
It says that., “If the accused can establish, for example, that the physical attributes of the child, or the general conduct of the child, or the circumstances of the particular case were such that a reasonable person could probably not know that the child was under 16 years of age, such evidence will amount to a complete defence.”
Of course, the pimps, the johns and those who exploit young children for various types of offences that I will not describe here, but which I think all members would agree are reprehensible, have used this.
None the less, what this resolution does is say, in addition to the Criminal Code, let’s add as many things as we can, give as many tools as we can, as many weapons as we can, to the police and to the crown attorney to catch those people who are using young children not just for the sale of drugs, but for other various types of illegal purposes. Therefore, one has to support that.
When I was recently in part of Latin America -- not recently, a couple of years ago -- I was kind of shocked at the number of times I was offered drugs by some young people on the street. Naturally, I did not purchase any; none the less I was quite shocked that I was offered them so many times just walking along the street. When I asked one of the guides why all these children were out there, he said the real pushers hide behind the children because the children get off and do not have anything happen to them.
We can see that in a very poor Latin American country where people will do practically anything in order to survive. We do not accept it, but we can at least see why it may happen. When it is happening here in a rich society, we have to be ashamed that such things are going on and take some steps to resolve them.
I am in support of this resolution. I think it adds an extra tool. It is not the only solution. I think if this government would spend more of its advertising dollar on lifestyle advertising attacking the drug system, the quick fix, the easy way to solve one’s problems, and showing that it is not a quick fix, that is the fastest way to degradation and to death, rather than spend its advertising dollar on what some of us might consider propaganda rather than legitimate advertising, then that would be another solution.
None the less, this is a step, and any step that can be taken that will reduce this terrible problem should be supported. That is why I urge all members of the House to support the member’s resolution this morning.
Mrs Cunningham: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to speak to this motion by the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay this morning. I would like to start by thanking the members, especially the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, for leaving me some time.
We are all very much aware of the Report of the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario. It is somewhat of a concern to many of us that we must come forth with these kinds of resolutions to support, enhance and give credibility to and to seek more action from this government with recommendations that were very well thought out and that are very necessary in support of stopping, banning and dealing with the problems of illegal drugs in Ontario.
I think all of us are very concerned about this problem, which has been described by parents as the greatest one of all in dealing with our young people. To think that in this province one would have to have a resolution such as the member’s advising us that there is no adequate legislative provision by which to discourage or punish adults who recruit children for drug-related purposes says something about our society.
First of all, we are basically openly recognizing in a very real way that this is a real problem, and that is to think that adults would use children for drug-related purposes at all is something we should all be very much ashamed of.
To have to move now, just a year after the report was released, and come forth with this notice of motion, I think, for a couple of reasons certainly, to draw more attention to the very real problem we have in Ontario and the very real concern that members in this House, and especially the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay, have for this problem, is a real issue for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Paper does not solve problems, and laws do not always solve them, but in this instance, if it gives more clout to police officers to enforce legislation, then that is exactly what we have to do, if that is the only way we have to deal with these abusers of young people. That is what they are.
So, of course, I am in support. I was very much concerned some four years ago when we saw the section in the old Juvenile Delinquents Act repealed, and when we had great discussions in the writing of the Young Offenders Act that said that this automatically and over a very short period of time would be a clause within the Criminal Code. Most of us working in the field thought that this really would have happened a long time ago.
So if it is Ontario, because of this particular resolution today, that will provide the clout to get this particular amendment into the Criminal Code so that the police will hopefully have more legislation behind their work and so that adults will find out that in fact the offences will be dealt with appropriately either by imprisonment or tremendous fines, hopefully imprisonment, then certainly this will give our young people one more opportunity, I think, to be dealt with fairly in the fact that we will be taking away one of the causes. These are adults who would do such a horrible thing as use young children to distribute drugs.
I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay in another area that I think we could be helpful in, and that is taking a look at a set of guidelines to go along with the Education Act in dealing with truants. He knows from his experience with young people and as a former administrator in a very important school system in Ontario, that what happened when he and I were working in those school systems in dealing with young people who habitually stayed away from school was that they were given counselling and guidance. Preventive matters for future truancy are not allowed to happen nowadays and in fact it is not happening.
It is fine for us to sit here and say that the school systems are dealing with it when they very clearly have advised this government that they cannot. So the home and school councils, as well as the school boards, are asking the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) to take a look at a set of guidelines or amendments to the act to assist him with the problems of truancy.
It is a pleasure to speak in favour of the resolution this morning.
Mr Black: I want to thank all members of the Legislature who have expressed their support for the resolution. I want to make one or two comments about some of the comments made by those members. I agree 100 per cent with the member for Rainy River (Mr Hampton) when he suggests that this resolution is not the total answer. All of us in this House would recognize that no single resolution, no single aspect of the problem or attempting to deal with a single aspect of the problem is the total answer. But I do believe it is one small part of the solution.
We know from our experience that controlling the problem of drug abuse is one that requires attention both to the supply aspects and to the demand aspects. We have to work at trying to reduce demand for the product and we are doing that through sound educational programs which will be improved over the next year or so. At the same time, we have to work on controlling the supply and we have to take whatever steps are necessary to allow us to do that. This resolution is one small part of that.
I am pleased with the support of the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman). I appreciate his comments. I have to say that I feel a little bit like I have been touched with the kiss of death, but hopefully that will not be the case. I must say that I categorically reject two of the things that he perhaps suggested in his comments. Since our party came to power, the solicitors general in this province in the past have done excellent jobs of providing leadership. We have one of those men in the House this morning. The most recent former Solicitor General is not here, but I want to say very clearly and without equivocation that all of us who sit on the government side of the House are proud of the performance in that role by previous people.
I also want to say that this government is taking action on the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply not valid. We have seen recommendations being implemented by the Ministry of Education. We have seen major steps taken forward in terms of providing funding for in-service programs for teachers. We have seen committees working hard to develop guidelines for board policies. Under the leadership of the Minister of Health, we have seen tremendous strides taken towards looking at treatment and counselling programs in this province. Our Attorney General has met with his provincial counterparts and with the federal Minister of Justice; they have been discussing, and I hope will continue to discuss, possible revisions to the Young Offenders Act.
Once again I want to go on the record in stating very clearly and very emphatically that this government has acted in terms of trying to address the problems of illegal drug use. Certainly, much more remains to be done. We face a very serious problem. It is a social problem that is going to be with us for some time, I would suggest. No single action by government will solve the problem. It is a problem that will require the contributions and efforts of many people in our society.
We need to involve people from all sectors. We need to involve the government sector certainly -- we can provide the leadership -- but we need to turn to the corporate or private sector and to trade unions. We need to look to service clubs, to church organizations, to parents’ groups, to health care professionals, to people throughout our communities, to unite together to form action groups which can begin the long road towards finding a solution.
I want to say that anyone who looks for quick and easy solutions will be disappointed. This is part of a major problem that faces our society today. It is not one that is limited to Ontario; it is one that is international in its scope, and its complexity is significant. But we have made progress and we will be making progress, and I can tell all members of this House that the government is and will be responding.
In conclusion, I want to simply quote one small paragraph from the report of the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario:
“Much of the criminal drug activity involving young people is instigated by adults. Yet since the abolition of the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which included an offence of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, there is no adequate legislative provision by which to discourage or punish exploitive, pernicious adults who recruit children for their sinister purposes.”
For that reason, I strongly urge the support of all members for this resolution.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): The time allotted for this ballot item has expired.
Mr Philip moved resolution 16:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Canada should implement immediately effective storm water quality management measures at Pearson International Airport to eliminate potential water quality impairment in Etobicoke Creek and Mimico Creek due to airport runoff containing deicing chemicals, spilled fuels or other waterborne pollutants generated by airport operations.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): The member will know that he has up to 20 minutes for his presentation and may reserve any portion thereof for a windup.
Mr Philip: There are federal guidelines for the discharge of effluents from airport facilities. These are set up by the federal Department of the Environment and accepted by the federal Department of Transport.
Pearson International Airport is discharging oxygen-demanding effluents hundreds of times in excess of the federal guidelines, particularly during the winter deicing months. These discharges end up in Mimico and Etobicoke creeks and they later end up in Lake Ontario. These pollutants are similar to the effect of untreated sewage from a city of 35,000 to 40,000 people.
We should commend the airports authority group of Transport Canada for a very frank and objective assessment of the existing water pollution problems due to deicing at Pearson International Airport. This report details a very serious problem, and I shall refer to it later. However, if I may, I will summarize the major issues that are before us in this resolution.
Staff-level reports from both Transport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment recognize that the present discharge of glycol-based deicing fluids at Pearson International Airport greatly exceeds environmental guidelines and that water quality impairment similar to that caused by sewage from a small city is resulting in Etobicoke and Mimico creeks as well as in the surrounding shoreline of Lake Ontario. This adds to the already overburdened aquatic environment problems in this area.
Recent news reports, which the members will probably have read, cite how municipal councils are concerned that storm water drainage contains fuel handling runoff from firefighting activities at the airport. One must admit that property containing any kind of industrial activity and significant areas of pavement can contribute to water quality and quantity problems, particularly when there is runoff into a storm sewer system. But the airport is a particular problem in the Mississauga and Etobicoke areas, and that is what we are addressing ourselves to this morning.
Transport Canada reports have demonstrated that the problems have been clearly identified and that corrective measures have been evaluated and are available. Transport Canada’s ranking of the deicer problem at Canadian airports also shows that the need for mitigation action at Pearson International Airport is great.
Treatment and, hopefully, recycling of these materials from deicing activities should not be undertaken in isolation from other existing and potential water management issues at the airport.
A comprehensive approach to storm water management planning and implementation would ensure that effective mitigation of all of Pearson International Airport’s significant water quality and quantity impacts on the Mimico and Etobicoke creeks and the Toronto waterfront can proceed.
What we are facing is a major concern of the residents of Etobicoke. The city of Etobicoke has been particularly concerned about improving control from spillage into the Mimico Creek from what has been termed as “an outdated refuelling system at the airport.” The following clause, 177-W-89, of the 10th report of the works committee, 1989, was adopted by the council at its meeting held Monday, 15 May 1989:
“That a report dated May 2, 1989, from the director, utilities division, engineering works department, advising of the appearance of contaminants in Mimico Creek resulting from jet fuel being accumulated in the storm sewer which discharges into the creek as a result of sloppy fuel handling practices, and summarizing the action taken to eliminate the contaminants, be received;
“That the city solicitor, in conjunction with the director, utilities division, works department, forward an official letter to the general manager, Pearson International Airport, putting them on notice regarding this situation;
“That the Minister of the Environment, MPs and MPPs for Etobicoke and the trimunicipal committee be apprised of the problem, the arrived-at solutions and the timetable for rectifying this problem;
“That if further violations occur, the provincial Minister of the Environment be requested to press charges against the airport under the Environmental Protection Act; and
“That a copy of the aforementioned correspondence be forwarded to the city of Mississauga with notification of Etobicoke’s displeasure regarding this matter.”
There may be some problems with the second-to-last resolution concerning whether or not there is the jurisdiction for the provincial ministry to take action against the federal authorities. We have not been able to get any clear answer out of the provincial ministry’s legal staff on this matter. Notwithstanding that, the solution is not for the federal government to wait until the province, in desperation, has to take it to court, or try to take it to court. The solution surely is that this Parliament let it be known to our federal colleagues that action must be taken immediately.
Let me speak for a moment about the deicing at Pearson International Airport. Anyone who travels out of Pearson during the wintertime has experienced what I experienced only a few months ago. I sat in an aeroplane and watched six other planes being deiced and all of this material, gallons and gallons, poured into the drain sewers.
Transport Canada, which operates Pearson International Airport, is fully aware of the extent of river and lake contamination from using deicing compounds at its facilities. The agency has recently completed two significant documents which examine the problem. The first is an environmental impact assessment which considers the environment’s fate and the toxicity of glycol-based deicers in general and examines specific impacts associated with their use at Pearson International Airport.
The second is a consultant’s report describing the feasible solutions to control the contamination of storm water drainage with these compounds. The major characteristic of the deicers is that it makes them a pollutant in their exceptionally high oxygen demand, measured as a five-day biochemical oxygen demand. When discharged into the receiving waters these deicers, like other organic materials such as sewage, degrade -- in other words, use up -- available oxygen in the aquatic ecosystems.
The actual toxicity is quite low, but the removal of the oxygen creates a major environmental problem. It is a major problem to plant, animal and fish life. During 1984-87, an average of 1,179,797 litres of this deicer was used each year by the airlines at Pearson International Airport. By 1996, Transport Canada predicts that from 1,517,000 to 1,890,000 litres will be used during the winter and spring when aircraft deicing is done. Oxygen demands in the storm water from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are, on average, several hundred times greater than the acceptable level suggested by federal guidelines.
The effects of the deicers were also recorded in waters downstream of the airport. Transport Canada staff reported that their evidence conclusively shows these deicers are the source of these high oxygen demands and that the oxygen-depleting capability is the worst significant contaminant in the storm water from Pearson International Airport.
While Etobicoke and Mimico creeks are not exactly wilderness streams but rather highly modified urban water causeways, the fact is that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has recognized that just because streams are already contaminated is no reason for us to allow further contamination and in fact that we have to start reducing contamination rather than simply writing off certain waterways.
A study undertaken by consultants for Transport Canada reviewed the treatment and control measures which are currently available to deal with these deicers. Four options out of six which are feasible for implementation at the airport were reviewed in great detail, with preliminary designs and cost estimates provided. These were a centralized deicing facility with recycling and reuse, treatment of the runoff in an aerated lagoon, treatment of apron runoff on site with a rotating biological factor and treatment of the porous pad runoff using wet air oxidization.
What I am pointing out is that the federal government, in its various measures of having independent studies, has shown that we have a problem. The federal government has admitted that we have a problem. The provincial government, in its own internal documents and studies, has admitted that we have a problem. What we need now are the solutions.
The solutions, however, have been identified already by the federal authorities. Indeed, we know that such solutions are working in other airports elsewhere. So we have a problem; we have the admission by both federal and provincial governments that it is a problem; we have identified ways of solving the problem; these ways have worked elsewhere. What we need now is for the federal government to act.
I ask all members to support this resolution in the hope that we will encourage our federal colleagues to take the action necessary to stop the contamination we are presently experiencing from Pearson International Airport.
The Acting Speaker: May I ask the member if he is reserving seven and a half minutes?
Mr Philip: I would like to reserve four minutes of that to respond to members’ questions. I believe the member for Brampton North (Mr McClelland), the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), would like to speak, and I would like, with unanimous consent, to give him some of that time.
Mrs Marland: I am pleased to speak today on this resolution calling for the implementation of effective storm water quality management measures at Pearson International Airport to eliminate potential water quality impairment in Etobicoke Creek and Mimico Creek due to airport runoff containing deicing chemicals, spilled fuels or other waterborne pollutants generated by airport operations.
May I say at the outset that the Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting this very practical resolution.
Pearson International Airport is one of Canada’s busiest airports, serving hundreds of thousands of aircraft every year. With this activity comes the very real concern that pollutants from an airport operation of this size must be affecting rivers and creeks that drain the airport property.
We already have strong evidence showing that spilled aviation fuel has been entering sewers at the airport and entering nearby creeks. A recent incident involving an accidental discharge of firefighting foam in a hangar area also led to contamination of a nearby creek. During the winter months, a very substantial amount of deicing fluids has been entering both the Etobicoke and Mimico creeks.
The significance of what goes on at Toronto’s international airport, of course, is particularly close to my own responsibilities since the airport falls totally within the geographic jurisdiction of the city of Mississauga.
Other potential water quality concerns include leaking fuel-storage tanks, contamination of ground water by solvents and other chemicals used by aircraft-related industries on airport land, runoff water quality problems related to suspended solids, runway deicing and rubber removal.
The volume of storm water drainage from such a large area must have special handling to prevent the flow of toxic chemicals into the receiving waters. I see the problem as twofold.
The first is that there are chemical handling problems at Pearson airport that need to be addressed. Outdated equipment and poor handling of chemicals has been part of the problem. Part of the solution is to deal with the discharge and contain it in a responsible manner, not just flush the problem downstream and into Lake Ontario. What we need are proper recycling and treatment facilities on site to deal with the daily pollution coming from the airport.
However, let’s look at this problem on an even broader basis. Three years ago, the Minister of the Environment announced he would bring forward an urban drainage management program to regulate the treatment of storm water. To date, he has still not told us when we will see these regulations.
The minister knows that a storm water treatment strategy is essential to keep Lake Ontario clean, as well as the beaches. It is my understanding that the urban drainage strategy has been before the minister on several occasions but has not yet been approved. The Liberal government is once again dragging its feet on a very important program that should have been initiated years ago.
The Minister of the Environment talks about his municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program and his LifeLines program. However, neither does anything for storm water management. MISA is several years behind schedule and LifeLines has been criticized for not including enough money for the municipalities.
Mr Faubert: Why don’t you blame the right jurisdiction?
Mrs Marland: The budget allocated over $40 million for water and sewer projects, but capital projects under LifeLines for infrastructure renewal will only receive one-third funding from the province--
Mr Faubert: Because the feds won’t cooperate.
Mrs Marland: -- leaving the other two thirds to be paid by the municipality.
Mr Faubert: No, it’s one third-one third.
Mrs Marland: The fact is that staff-level reports from both the Department of Transport and the provincial Ministry of the Environment have recognized the problem at Pearson. Discharges greatly exceed environmental guidelines, so much in fact that I understand the water quality impairment is similar to the impairment produced by a small city.
While Pearson International Airport is a very specific example of an industrial-type site in need of storm sewer management, we must not lose sight of the great need for a comprehensive approach to storm water management planning and implementation throughout Ontario. Special attention is required immediately where there is a proven need. Densely populated areas and industrial zones are of real concern.
I am certainly happy to notice that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr Faubert), who never seems to get a chance to speak on his own behalf, is now across the floor of the House tutoring the member for Etobicoke-Humber (Mr Henderson) who I assume will be the next speaker on this motion. It is good that kind of coaching goes on because I always find that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is great at sitting over on this side with us and giving his interjections out of his frustration about not getting to speak on his own behalf, but I am sure eventually his House leader will give him that opportunity. Nevertheless, I am sure the member he is now instructing will be able to convey his message on his behalf.
Today’s resolution does address a specific concern, a concern that cannot be ignored. Our rivers and creeks, as well as Lake Ontario, must be protected from further deterioration. Through a carefully planned and implemented environmental management program at Pearson International Airport, we can at least make a start in dealing with our water quality. Pearson airport, like any large industrial site, must have plans and facilities in place to deal with pollutants produced. We know these pollutants must be used during the operation of the airport, so why not move now to deal with the problem.
I would call on all responsible members of this Legislature to support this resolution, as I will be today. A more active role by industry, government and individuals must be taken if we are to make inroads in cleaning up our environment.
In closing, I would like to commend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) on his bringing this resolution before us this morning and in recognizing the fact that Pearson International Airport or Toronto International Airport or Mississauga International Airport, as Mayor Hazel McCallion likes to refer to it, is obviously a huge problem in this area, one that has to be recognized as the airport traffic and associated business increases.
We are now going to have our third terminal open soon. It is presently under construction. Obviously, with the growth of air transportation, commercial, private and passenger, we are looking for these plans to be in place to protect the environment before that expansion continues.
Mr Henderson: I am very happy to speak to this resolution put forward by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. There are very good reasons for supporting this resolution quite apart from the acknowledged wisdom, breadth and social conscience of the member. The Etobicoke and Mimico creeks are important waterways in and near my constituency. It is of course good to know that a fellow Etobian has chosen to seize the initiative on this matter.
I shall be supporting this resolution. I may say that I am going to bypass for the moment some of the atrocious allegations made by the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) and hope we can leave a little time for the member for Brampton North, who I am sure will want to respond.
Honourable members who make frequent use of Pearson airport will have watched, as I have watched, the deicing of aircraft in progress, watched the deicing fluid sloshing off the wings and wondered whether that fluid finds its way to storm sewers in the area.
Etobians who have seen the Etobicoke and Mimico creeks in the winter, in January or February, may have wondered why the creeks were not frozen. Only very recently did it occur to me to connect these two observations. Chemical runoff from Pearson airport is a factor in lowering the freezing point of the assorted contents of the Etobicoke and Mimico creeks. The used deicing fluids from the airport drain into storm sewers, which in turn find outlet into one or other of these waterways.
No fewer than six sampling runs of the contents of those creeks have been taken, a couple of winters ago, by our Ministry of the Environment. These samples from the streams and storm sewers were tested for various deicing and other chemical contaminants.
Ethylene glycol and associated chemicals were indeed higher in the storm sewers draining areas used for aircraft deicing. Certain of the potential contaminants much exceeded federal guidelines, and there is of course every prospect that traffic at Pearson airport is going to increase, not decrease and that the amounts of these contaminants and deicers will in turn increase as well.
Ontario’s Environment ministry accordingly recommended that the federal authorities find some way to treat the used glycol-based deicing fluids and that pending that, careful monitoring of storm sewer contents be carried out to assess the impact of these airport operations on the water quality of these two creeks.
Glycol-based deicing fluids are not the only cause for concern, however, in the airport area. Spilled aviation fuel, spilled firefighting foam and various other nonsoluble organic chemicals associated with airport machinery and maintenance have been cause for concern as well.
Leaking fuel storage tanks, leaks of various solvents and chemicals used in aircraft-related industry on airport lands, engine exhaust components, runway cleaning materials and many other substances require a real commitment to the effective management and treatment of storm sewer access and drainage and suitable measures of enforcement.
The city of Etobicoke has already expressed its concern about fuel spillage at the airport because of what it calls an outdated fuel filtering system at Pearson airport. Indeed, only this past May, the Etobicoke works committee decided to draw to the attention of the general manager of Pearson airport the presence of jet fuel and other contaminants in Mimico Creek as a result of what it calls sloppy fuel handling practices.
The city of Mississauga was notified and the provincial Minister of the Environment was asked to press charges under the Environmental Protection Act should further violations occur.
Incidentally, honourable members may be interested to know that the Department of Transport estimates that the oxygen consuming capacity of the deicing fluid presently discharged into the Etobicoke and Mimico creeks to be about equivalent to the amount of untreated sewage that could be generated in a city about the size of Barrie.
The continued release into these two small waterways in and near my constituency of glycol-contaminated storm sewage water with an oxygen demand equivalent to the sewage from about 40,000 people is, clearly, highly unacceptable. What can we do about all this?
A centralized deicing facility could be prepared with deicing fluid recycling and reuse provisions, special treatment of the airport apron runoff and an aerated lagoon could be undertaken as a standard procedure. On-site treatment of apron runoff in a suitable biological process and the treatment of porous pad runoff using a form of oxidization process have also been considered and recommended.
I am very happy to be able to offer these various observations and comments in support of this very worthy resolution put forward by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. I shall be voting in support of his resolution and I encourage my legislative colleagues of all parties to urge the Department of Transport to give these kinds of strong measures the very careful attention and consideration they deserve.
Mrs Grier: I, too, am very glad that this issue has been brought before the Legislature and that we have an opportunity to speak to it, because it is an issue, while primarily one of federal jurisdiction, that certainly involves the provincial government and the Ministry of the Environment because of the impact the airport has on provincial facilities, if that is the right word, such as the Mimico and Etobicoke creeks.
As a representative of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, I am very familiar with the airport. It is impossible to knock on doors in my riding when a plane is going overhead because you cannot hear yourself speak. My constituents find Pearson International Airport to be something of a mixed blessing. We appreciate its convenience and we appreciate the industry and commerce that has been attracted to northern Etobicoke because of the location of the airport, but the noise bothers us. We worry about a proposed incinerator to dispose of international waste and we have worried for a very long time about the contamination of the two creeks that are mentioned in the resolution before us this morning.
When I was a member of city council in Etobicoke, we had to close down the natural ice-skating ponds in Centennial Park just south of the airport because the creek that flowed in and created those ponds never froze because it was contaminated with deicing fluid. That was, I think, 10, 12, or 13 years ago, so the problem is not a recent one.
It has been highlighted by recent spills that have been alluded to by previous speakers, and in fact by increasingly bad housekeeping on the part of the federal government because the problems that have been identified are resolvable if somebody has the will to resolve them.
The problems are due to excessive amounts of deicing fluid being used and just being allowed to run into the storm sewers and thereby into the creeks, by spills that ought to be contained, by obsolete facilities that ought to have been replaced some time ago, and by firefighters, either in practice or in reality. I guess you cannot say that they cannot put whatever they spray on a fire on the tarmac, but surely there should be some way of making sure that what is sprayed on a tarmac does not reach the creeks. The airport lies directly between both Etobicoke Creek and Mimico Creek, so they are directly and immediately affected when there is a spill or when there is contaminated runoff from the airport.
Two years ago, I prepared a report on the condition of Etobicoke’s waterways that I called Fishable, Swimmable, Drinkable. It was a collection of information that had been prepared by the Ministry of the Environment and other jurisdictions on the state of the waterways that run through Etobicoke and of the waterfront, which is the southern boundary of my riding.
We were surprised, when we pulled together all those data, to find how contaminated Mimico Creek was, because the watershed, while developed, is not primarily an industrial area. It is a residential area surrounding the creek on all sides.
What was found was that the Mimico Creek water quality was generally worse than had been reported for the Humber River and was comparable to the results for Black Creek, in spite of the combined sewer outflows to the latter watercourse. The report had found that the Humber River and Black Creek, being highly industrialized waterways, were severely contaminated.
For most parameters examined on Mimico Creek, the average values for wet weather were higher than for spring runoff. In wet conditions, faecal coliforms, total phosphorous, suspended solids, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc all exceeded the provincial water quality guidelines. Trace organic compounds were found more frequently in Mimico Creek than in other Toronto watersheds. The compounds detected included benzene hexachloride, chlordane, dieldrin, oxochlordane, polychlorinated biphenyls, dicholorodiphenyldichloroethylene, 2,4-D, dicamba, HCB, tetrachlorophenal, trichlorophenal and pentachlorophenal, all organic compounds that are known to be carcinogenic.
Similar findings were found for Etobicoke Creek, which we knew was industrialized, but we were really surprised at those findings in Mimico Creek. Obviously, the primary source of those compounds has got to be the runoff for the airport, which is why I support this resolution so strongly.
All of those contaminants that flow into the Mimico and Etobicoke creeks end up in Lake Ontario and many of them remain in the sediments that are at the mouths of those creeks. If you drive along Lakeshore Boulevard, you see the silt that is built up in the mouth of Mimico Creek. When the conservation authority attempted to dredge that silt and remove it, it was told it was hazardous waste and that there was no acceptable disposal area for that sediment. All of that sediment is on a shoreline that is going to be very heavily developed in the near future. It is on a shoreline where there has been excessive landfilling to create parks, but also creating embayment so that the sediments build up.
When I said the problem we are discussing today is primarily of federal origin, my reason for pointing out that there was a provincial jurisdiction was because the jurisdiction relating to that waterfront and to the sediments that are found at the mouths of those creeks is provincial. The fact that action has been so very slow in developing a remedial action plan for the waterfront of Metropolitan Toronto is a source of great distress to me and to many people who care about our waterfront.
The Minister of the Environment has a direct responsibility to get on with a remedial action plan. It was supposed to have been completed by 1986, and here in 1989 there are still consultants, civil servants and committees looking at the nature of the problems and identifying objectives, but not moving to do anything about a very identified problem, contaminated sediments all along the shoreline of Metropolitan Toronto.
That is why I hope that in supporting this resolution today -- it is easy to do; it is easy to blame another jurisdiction and to say, yes, the federal government ought to do something -- the parliamentary assistant to the minister and other members on the government side will recognize that they too have a responsibility to move with remedial action plans and to question why, when an environmental assessment advisory committee recommended that there be an environmental assessment on the shoreline between the Humber River and the Mimico Creek before development and more lakefilling occurred, the minister refused to accept that recommendation and instead has come up with a Mickey Mouse plan that he calls an environmental management master plan, which does not even provide opportunities for public debate or public participation in the resolution of the problem.
We know there are solutions to the problems caused by the airport. The consultants have identified what could be done. They include the construction of a centralized. deicing facility, treatment of apron runoff, treatment of apron runoff on site with rotating biological compactors and treatment of porous pad runoff using wet air oxidization.
We know how to solve those problems. It is appropriate to urge the federal government to get on with it, but it is also appropriate to recognize that the fact there are problems at the airport has contributed to downstream problems, and it is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment of Ontario to do something about the downstream problems, to begin to deal with the contaminated sediments at the mouths of both of these creeks and to make sure that future developments, future plans for lake filling and expansion of existing lake fills do not make the problems worse and are not allowed to occur until we have cleaned up the problems that have been created in the past.
I welcome the support for this resolution and I hope it supports the efforts of the city of Etobicoke in getting the federal government not only to clean up but to compensate the city for the cost of the cleanup which the city has already had to undertake when spills have occurred. While the bill was sent to the federal government five or six weeks ago, the cheque, I presume, is in the mail. I hope it is, seeing that the federal Minister of Finance is also a representative of Etobicoke.
We welcome the support from members in Mississauga for this resolution and we hope the debate today will lead to some action, not just the sending of another resolution to Ottawa.
Mr McClelland: I want to say at the outset that I appreciate the courtesy of my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale in providing me with the opportunity to speak on this matter and giving me a bit of his time. I appreciate that and thank him for it, although I may not use the full time allotted.
It has been mentioned by most if not all speakers this morning on this resolution and drawn to the attention of the House that there is a significant jurisdictional component to this resolution. Indeed, the responsibility for the airport and issues surrounding the airport falls largely with the federal government, and more particularly, the Department of Transport and the Department of the Environment.
I want to say for the record, with respect to this resolution, that the Ministry of the Environment has undertaken to work very cooperatively with those two bodies over the past number of years. We have sought to encourage them to resolve this very serious matter, certainly bearing in mind that each of us has a concern about water quality and the impact that it has not only on the tributaries leading into Lake Ontario, but as has been indicated by my friend the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, the impact on the Great Lakes water system as a whole, as well.
We began working with Environment Canada and Transport Canada on this and other matters, of course, shortly after taking office in 1985. Between 4 December 1986 and 14 March 1989, we have had 16 pieces of correspondence and memoranda which we have exchanged with officials at the federal level seeking to address this problem, deal with it and get on with the solution. We feel we have co-operated extensively with them.
I might add, in fairness to our colleagues in the federal House, that they have been co-operative to the extent that they have facilitated Ministry of the Environment officials in Ontario to do water quality monitoring along the tributaries in question.
It has been said that it is a federal responsibility and the fact remains that we have very little enforcement capacity in this particular matter. But the Ministry of the Environment has done some testing in both creeks and has determined that a problem does exist. We believe very strongly that Transport Canada should take affirmative steps to address these problems. Some of them have been referred to and previous speakers have talked about possible ways of dealing with it.
Transport Canada, happily, has acknowledged that there is a problem of some severity and that corrective action and corrective measures need to be taken with the existing two terminals. I suppose if there is some good news in this scenario, it is that with the construction of Terminal 3, Transport Canada officials have indicated they will be insisting that part of the design will have holding tanks for runoff so that the contaminated runoff will be taken offsite for treatment before it is disposed of.
My friend the member for Mississauga South made many comments and I think was, in her nonpartisan way, castigating the provincial government. I want to mention again that the airport lands are primarily a federal responsibility, but we also have a tremendous concern.
My friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale mentioned a remedial action program with respect to the waterfront and the Great Lakes. Mr Speaker, as a member representing a community that borders on the Great lakes system, you would know, as would many other members -- I believe all members are aware of the fact -- that we have a Great Lakes water quality agreement with our friends in the United States. We in the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario take very seriously our obligations and responsibilities under that agreement, bearing in mind that it is an agreement between our federal colleagues and the federal government to the south. We are partners in that agreement in terms of the principles, and objectives set out in that water quality agreement.
It is difficult for us at the Ministry of the Environment to approach our friends to the south when we have concerns with respect to pollution issues arising in the Great Lakes states, when we look, as it were, in our own backyard and recognize problems such as runoff created at the Pearson International Airport running into Lake Ontario and contaminating the Great Lakes system.
I had the opportunity a few months ago in my capacity as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment, to participate in a dialogue on the Great Lakes water system in Montreal. We had in attendance representatives from the United States, the Great Lakes states, the Mohawk Nation, Environment Canada, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and other interest groups concerned with water quality in the Great Lakes and St Lawrence systems.
We have a shared responsibility at all levels of jurisdiction. Water pollution does not know boundaries; it does not recognize legislative jurisdiction. We have tremendous concern with our friends at the federal level that they get on with the serious problem before us.
I mentioned at the outset that we had considerable correspondence with our friends at the federal level, with Transport Canada and Environment Canada and airport officials. I quote a memorandum dated 29 December 1986, wherein the airport staff is recognizing the desire of the Ministry of the Environment to test and monitor what is going on and saying they would co-operate in facilitating our field trips and allowing us to work on studying the impact of airport deicing operations on the water quality of the receiving streams.
I think it is important to recognize that early on we began working with them in trying to determine, so we could bring a case to them and say we do have a problem. We set up monitoring systems along the tributaries to determine the impact of the runoff. Again, I do not think that pointing fingers and saying it is somebody else’s responsibility solves the problem. We want to work with our friends at Transport Canada and Environment Canada.
I want to make a comment with respect to a portion of a letter dated 8 January 1987. It is from Transport Canada and says the following: “Aircraft deicing is the sole responsibility of the airlines or their agents. Transport Canada, as land owners, in consultation with Canada’s airlines, through the Air Transport Association of Canada, is currently studying the environmental impact of glycol-based fluids at major federal airports, including Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson and Ottawa International.”
They have been studying that for some time, with the assistance, I might say, of the Ministry of the Environment. They have been able to determine that there are substantial problems that need to he dealt with.
It was mentioned, as well, that the city of Etobicoke has an interest in this. They too have been working with us at the Ministry of the Environment and with our federal colleagues.
This is a problem that will not go away until some significant action is taken. I join my friend from Etobicoke-Rexdale in urging our federal colleagues to work with us to continue the co-operative spirit and to ensure that a manageable process of dealing with deicing agents be undertaken immediately and this problem be dealt with in a substantial and appropriate manner.
The ongoing effect is something that is of great concern to us. I want to indicate to you that Environment Canada has said it has agreed with the conclusions of the report of the Ministry of the Environment and that it is prepared to set up a monitoring program it hopes will be under way shortly to do a daily quality testing for Terminals 1 and 2, in that area.
I want to again remind members that we are pleased with the commitment of our federal colleagues, who have said that at Terminal 3 they will ensure the runoff will be held in holding tanks and taken offsite for treatment.
As we vote as private members on this resolution, I want to again emphasize the fact that we all have a role to play. I am encouraged by the initiative taken by my friend from Etobicoke-Rexdale, thank him for bringing it to the attention of this House and hope it would help us as we proceed to work with our federal colleagues and the respective departments to have this matter dealt with and dealt with in an expeditious manner.
Mr Philip: I want to thank all members for their constructive participation and support of my resolution. I would also like to thank Lewis Yeager, who is a researcher in the employ of the legislative library. I had worked with him, expressing my concern. He pulled together a great many studies and was of great help not just to me but to the other members who had indicated they were interested in speaking; I was able to provide his excellent research to them, which was of assistance to them, and some of them have expressed to me their particular satisfaction with the work he did in this regard.
I want to thank the member for Mississauga South. I agree with her concern regarding the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement; there is no doubt that the implementation of MISA would have a positive impact on Etobicoke Creek and Mimico Creek. However, it would not affect this immediate problem, namely, the discharge from the airport; therefore, notwithstanding MISA, we still need the present action by the federal government.
I want to thank the member for Etobicoke-Humber, my colleague. He has always participated in these various debates in a nonpartisan manner, and he has added some interesting technical arguments from the Ministry of the Environment.
I want to thank my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. The member always has a great deal of information on the environment, on which she is the critic, and has performed so ably in this House. She brought particularly interesting insights stemming from her long and successful experience as a member of Etobicoke council. She points out that this is not a new problem but one that has existed for a number of years, dating back to when she was an active member of Etobicoke council. One has to ask why we have had to wait so long for a cleanup. She points out that the silt at the mouth of Mimico Creek is so disastrous that now it cannot even be disposed of elsewhere.
The remarks of the member for Brampton North were particularly appreciated. The member points out that this is a problem that affects more than the residents of Etobicoke and Mississauga. He makes a very interesting point to our federal colleagues: “How can you ask for pollution controls by the Unites States when you have such an obvious source of pollution which is directly under your jurisdiction and which you have not yet acted on and that we have waited so long for you to act on?” He deals with the issue of the credibility of the federal government in negotiating over the reduction by the Americans of environmental problems on their side of the border. Let’s clean up our own house and then we have a stronger argument to ask our friends in the United States to clean up theirs.
In conclusion, the passage of this resolution will send a clear message to our friends in Ottawa. The message will be that we have waited too long to clean up the airport pollution; the city of Etobicoke and the city of Mississauga have waited too long, and the people of Ontario have waited too long.
It sends the clear message that we accept the fact that the federal and provincial governments have done research, that the research conclusively shows that this is a major problem, and that there are solutions which are workable and which can be applied today to that problem.
In passing this resolution unanimously, we send a message to our federal government fairly clearly. I thank members for their support.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for discussion on these two ballot items. According to standing order 71(f), it states that no vote shall be taken until the clock strikes 12. However, if there would be unanimous agreement to go ahead?
ADULT INVOLVEMENT IN YOUTH DRUG OFFENCES
The Speaker: Mr Black has moved resolution 15.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: Mr Philip has moved resolution 16.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 1156.
The House resumed at 1315.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Conway: On this special day, with the Queen Mother visiting very shortly, I seek the consent of the House to reorganize routine proceedings for this day only.
The consent being requested is to allow us to have a minister’s statement, namely, that of the Attorney General (Mr Scott), with responses from the opposition, after which we will move immediately to question period and complete as much of question period as we can before our recess at 2:15. Upon the resumption of the House at 3:30, we will complete question period, revert to members’ statements, move through the remaining part of routine proceedings, then to orders of the day. That is the consent I now seek.
The Speaker: It has been requested by the government house leader that we put members’ statements between oral questions and petitions today. Is that agreed?
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Scott: Today I am pleased to announce that Mr Justice Lloyd Houlden of the Ontario Court of Appeal has been appointed by order in council to conduct a judicial inquiry into, among other things, the relationship between Patricia Starr, Tridel Corp and unelected and elected public officials. In addition, today I am releasing the terms of reference for this inquiry which have now been approved by the Chief Justice of Ontario, as is required, as well as by Mr Justice Houlden.
Mr Justice Houlden will investigate and inquire into the circumstances that are set out in the terms of reference to determine whether a benefit, advantage or reward of any kind was conferred upon any elected or unelected public official or any member of his or her family.
The terms of reference contemplate a full inquiry encompassing the role of all MPPs, members of cabinet, municipal politicians and unelected public officials at both the municipal and provincial level, in any of their dealings with Patricia Starr or Tridel Corp. The inquiry will also investigate the relationship between any other individuals or corporations and Patricia Starr or Tridel Corp in relation to elected or unelected officials.
As members may know, Mr Justice Houlden has been a distinguished member of the bench for 20 years. His experience includes an appointment as arbitrator of the York county teachers’ strike in 1972 and as the mediator in the dispute between the auditors and liquidators of the Canadian Commercial Bank and the Northland Bank. I am confident that his expertise and experience will serve the people of this province well.
I think one additional matter of great importance should be addressed now. In the last few weeks, in connection with these matters the names of a number of individuals have been prominently mentioned in the press and in the House. Some of them are public servants who made long and distinguished contributions to the life of our province. Others are private citizens who are entitled by law to their good name and reputation.
As a result of the allegations made, an extensive police investigation involving the Ontario Provincial Police and the Metropolitan Toronto Police is under way, and a commission of inquiry chaired by a judge has been appointed.
Under the Anglo-American system of justice, which is as old as Magna Carta and every bit as important, there can be no presumption of guilt without evidence. Reporters and politicians, whatever else they may be, are not judges or juries. Fairness and therefore basic human justice requires that we allow the police and the judicial inquiry to do their work and make their judgement.
The government regards it as a duty to see that the process of fairness to both those who make the allegations and those who resist them is achieved and to ensure that judgements are made not on the basis of allegations, but rather on the basis of facts proven in the way that our law for centuries has required, and we intend to see this done.
Mr B. Rae: This is the inquiry the Premier (Mr Peterson) wanted, but I want to make it clear that it is not the inquiry that we have asked for and that we ourselves want.
I wish Mr Justice Houlden well in his inquiry with respect to the activities of Mrs Starr and Tridel Corp, as well as in the terms of reference that have been described by the Attorney General (Mr Scott), “to inquire into and report upon any such circumstances or dealings where, in the opinion of the commissioner, there is sufficient evidence that a benefit, advantage or reward of any kind was conferred upon an elected or unelected public official....”
I want to make it clear that in our view and in my view, unless the commissioner has the responsibility and power to deal with the economic framework and development framework in which these activities have taken place, his inquiry will be unduly restricted and unduly limited.
I regret profoundly that the Premier and the Attorney General have decided to limit the terms of reference of this inquiry as it has been limited, because in my judgement we are not going to get the kind of airing of information -- I am not referring here to allegations; I am referring to an understanding of how the structure of this society of ours operates and how it is possible that an essentially private system of power would have grown up so extensively as to influence municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.
What we are dealing with essentially is a question of the accountability of government, the capacity of a democracy to deal not only with the formalities of debate in the Legislature, but with the realities of economic power. That in my view is the central question in this debate and in this issue and it is not the issue Mr Justice Houlden has been asked to look into. As I say, this is the Premier’s inquiry under the Premier’s terms of reference and it is not the inquiry we ourselves wanted.
I have nothing to add to the comments the Attorney General made at the end of his remarks, except to say this: We have questions that we have a right to raise in this Legislature and that we will continue to raise, as difficult and tough as some of those questions are. When information and documentation are brought to our attention and when allegations about the conduct of public business that are extremely serious are brought to our attention, we will not be put off by the Attorney General, by lectures from the Premier or by anything else, in order to bring these facts out into the open and let this democratic House itself consider and debate questions of public policy.
That is our right as the opposition. No amount of lecturing by the Attorney General and by the Premier is going to put us off our job and our task. We on this side respect the law profoundly. We respect the principles of our Anglo-American system of jurisprudence profoundly. We also respect the right of debate and the right to information.
I might point out that had it not been for a free press and for an effective opposition, these facts that have led to this inquiry never would have come to light. That is the fact of the matter. Members should not think for a moment that the Attorney General or the Premier himself would have brought these facts to light. It took a free press and an effective opposition to do that, and that is something of which I am proud. That is why we are here today.
Mr Harris: I, too, want to comment on the terms of reference of the inquiry, which are not the terms of reference my leader requested of the Attorney General at the very least, which my leader indicated in the meeting with him last week ought to be included in the terms of reference and in the scope. My leader indicated at that time, on 30 June, that this inquiry must be wide enough to restore public confidence in the government of Ontario. We believe the details announced today by the Attorney General are not wide enough to restore public confidence in the government.
I particularly say that because these are indeed the Premier’s terms of reference, or the Attorney General’s terms of reference in consultation with the Premier, to exclude those things that touch the Premier himself. I, my party and my leader have suggested that as these issues have been raised over the past four years -- this is not something that is new. This is not something that ought to come as a surprise to the Premier or the Attorney General. The Premier’s standards, his standards of ethical behaviour for members of his party, his cabinet and his caucus have been at issue ever since he has been Premier of this province.
I refer specifically to the fact that the terms of reference exclude a number of allegations that we believe ought to be put to rest, answered or explained to meet the objective of restoring public confidence in the government of Ontario.
Those allegations involve the Premier himself. They involve Heather Peterson, Jim Peterson, David Peterson and C. M. Peterson Co. They involve big, large, heavyweight, heavy-duty companies that have had special access to the Premier, as has been brought out in this House and in the media over the past month or so in dealings, contracts and negotiations with this government.
Certainly, I do not think anybody can deny the allegations of special access to the Premier and to this government in the negotiation of contracts that some have suggested are worth billions of dollars when they are finally let. My leader indicated to the Attorney General that if he is going to restore public confidence, then at the very least these matters should be included under the scope of the investigation.
As well, with regard to the lecture from the Attorney General, I would suggest and agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) that over the past period of four years, time after time after time, the methods of fund-raising, the message that has been sent out by members of this cabinet and indeed by the Premier himself and the Premier’s office has been questionable at best. That impression out there is not one that my party approves of, nor does the New Democratic Party approve as well.
I would suggest to the Attorney General that I agree that had these matters not been brought forward by the opposition parties and by the media over a sustained and lengthy period of time, these matters would have continued to have been covered up and we would not have got anywhere close to the bottom and to the answers on what actually has been going on with this government. I suggest this as well to the Attorney General on the lecture: I ask him whether the Magna Carta and the principle of innocence until proven guilty applies to Mrs DelZotto.
These people are great on lecturing. They are great on their moral, high-horse standards when they are lecturing members of the opposition and when they are lecturing members of the media, but the Attorney General and the Premier are very selective as to how they apply whatever moral standards. Obviously, the people around them and even their cabinet ministers and parliamentary assistants have not been able to determine where the line is. We are disappointed with this announcement.
The Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr Harris: We think it is a whitewash and it will not do the job of restoring confidence in the government of the day.
The Speaker: Thank you.
ENVACC RESOURCES INC
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. The Premier will know that J. M. Beatty, QC, is a senior counsel to the law firm of Gardiner, Roberts and also one of the principal advisers to Envacc Resources, and that he has met with the Premier on a number of occasions. On 10 August 1988, Mr Beatty dictated a memorandum in which he discusses a meeting he held with Mr Muzzo, himself, Donald Matthews who is the Premier’s father-in-law, Mr Matthews’s son John Matthews, and an adviser named “Maklehaney.”
This memorandum says, “We discussed our meeting with the Premier... Marco advised that he’d spoken to the Premier to tell him of the Matthews interest and asked the Premier if this would constitute a conflict of interest down the road.”
I wonder if the Premier can tell us if this is in fact the case. Did the Premier discuss the possibility of Mr Matthews investing in the consortium?
Hon Mr Peterson: As the member knows, we had two meetings with some of that group and others and there was some conversation with them. I was asked the question if Matthews should be involved and obviously I cannot support anything that would bring any kind of a conflict of interest whatsoever, under any circumstances, and I conveyed that in response to a phone call.
Mr B. Rae: According to this memorandum:
“The Premier said he would consider this and Marco advised that before making a deal with Matthews, we would clear with the Premier. This was a wise move by Marco and drew out of Matthews that he had spoken to the Premier before Marco did. The subsequent discussion confirmed that the Premier and Matthews had agreed to his involvement subject to Marco’s call and that Matthews knew of the project through the Premier.”
I wonder if the Premier can tell us precisely, what discussions did he have, not simply with the Envacc group but with his father-in-law, Mr Matthews, about this deal?
Hon Mr Peterson: I make a point of not discussing business with my father-in-law, who as my honourable friend knows is a developer. He is involved in a number of companies, as many other developers are, and obviously in my opinion it is highly inappropriate that I would discuss any business matters with him at any time.
My friend is also aware from the conflict-of-interest filings that my wife has a very minor part in some of those interests. Therefore, it is appropriate that I do not discuss these matters. I would never encourage him or anyone else to be involved in any kind of a business situation.
I can tell the member that the question was put to me in a phone call and I said very clearly that I cannot support any kind of situation with any benefit, real or perceived, to any member of my family, direct or indirect. That is the answer to my friend’s question. There was never any suggestion from me that Matthews should be part of that group.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Premier can tell us, who did he have this telephone conversation with and when did he have it?
Hon Mr Peterson: The member probably has the date in front of him on his memo. I do not know exactly.
It was Marco Muzzo who phoned me and it would be some time after those meetings. As you know, there were various changes in various groups that were putting together bids on the entire matter, various different people involved. But, to the best of my knowledge, they are not involved at this time or were not at that time.
Mr B. Rae: I am interested that the Premier’s information and knowledge of this is somewhat more detailed than when I first began asking these questions some seven months ago. It is quite a remarkable change of heart on the Premier’s part. The memo also states on page 3:
“Doug: You have told me before we do not know how big a catch we have. Marco confirmed to Matthews that there is more than enough for everybody, whereby we can negotiate on our terms each party’s involvement. We now have in Marco and Laidlaw the two most powerful developers in Canada, who recognize that there is more money in burying garbage in land than building urban development on land.”
That is precisely what I told the Premier back in January and February when we began raising these questions.
I wonder if the Premier can tell us specifically how many meetings and telephone conversations did he have with Mr Muzzo and precisely what was the date of each one of these conversations?
Hon Mr Peterson: As you know, there were two meetings with the Envacc group. There were a lot of meetings with a lot of groups. There are roughly 12 groups that are interested in some way or other in putting forward a garbage proposal. I met with a group in London called the--I believe the Norwaste proposal has some ideas on the distribution of garbage. I met with the Envacc group on two occasions. I would have to refresh my memory with respect to the specific dates.
There was one other phone call my honourable friend refers to. The meetings were in June 1988 and 12 January 1989, apparently, according to my notes. I also met with Norwaste 12 September. There was a list of meetings, very, very long, with 12 different groups who are interested in waste disposal from some point of view or other.
I should remind my honourable friend again that this is not a decision that the provincial government is going to make. As you know, this is one that is in the hands of the regional chairmen. I am sure you have seen the proposal from the five regional chairmen in the greater Toronto area. This is a plan that will be subject to an environmental assessment and with a great deal of transparency.
So my honourable friend is trying to create the impression, time after time, that there is some special “in” here and that is not the case, because it is all there in front of the public and will be. There is no decision at this point, very frankly, to proceed or not, whether it would be a public or private matter. You have listened to the regional chairmen speak on this matter, they have various different points of view on those subjects. So that a determination has not been made and I repeat to my honourable friend that it is not the provincial government that will make the final decision, it s the regional chairmen and the regional council.
Mr B. Rae: Let me be very clear. We know from a series of memoranda, which have not come to us from the Premier of Ontario, how extensive the involvement of members of his government with Envacc Resources has been and we can document this. But he says it is all out in the open. If it is out in the open, it is because we have tried to put it out in the open, not because the Premier has told us anything.
When I asked the Premier back in January and February what he knew about the principals of Envacc he did not even tell us that he had met with them in June, that he had phone calls with Marco Muzzo and that he had met with him again in January. He did not even tell us that back in January and February. So do not talk to us about how open this process is. It is a process which he has tried to cover up and close up.
That is exactly what has happened, that is exactly what has happened.
Hon Mr Scott: Follow the rules.
Mr B. Rae: I would like to ask the Premier this question. Let me repeat again, “We now have in Marco and Laidlaw the two most powerful developers in Canada, who recognize that there is more money in burying garbage in land than building urban development on land.” The Premier must understand this. This is an extraordinarily lucrative contract to be giving to a private property developer.
The Speaker: Question?
Mr B. Rae: I would like to ask the Premier why has he consistently rejected the idea that this should clearly be done in the public sector and clearly be done for the public interest and not done for the private interest of anybody in the province?
Hon Mr Peterson: The member is getting quite excited about Coming upon with a memo from somebody which I have not seen. He has every right to share it in this House, their interpretation of a particular set of events. I have no problem with that, because there is nothing that happened in those meetings or any other meeting that we are not prepared to share.
We said at those meetings -- the member should check his notes -- that everything we do will be in public. It will have to involve all sectors. It will have to involve the environmentalists. It will have to involve the regions. It will have to involve all politicians. Whatever we do will be tendered. Ultimately, it is not our decision. No decision has been made yet, whether it be private sector, public sector or what the mix will be, as I assume my honourable friend knows.
I think it is unfair of him to stand in this House and present the matter as if a decision has been made by this government. That is clearly not the case. If and when a decision is made by the regions, it will all be there. It will all be transparent. He can look at it. He can put in his views. One of the intellectual leaders in this whole matter was Richard Gilbert, who understands the nature and extent of the landfill problem. We are assuming our responsibilities to assist the regions but recognize that it is their responsibility and they have to make the final decision.
My honourable friend would not want to characterize it any other way. No one, including the Norwaste group that I met with in London to discuss its ideas has any special inside track. I say to my honourable friend that, yes, I met with them. I meet with others. I meet with labour leaders, teachers, thousands of people from time to time on all sorts of issues, and I will continue to do so.
Mr B. Rae: The memorandum states very clearly Mr Muzzo’s views with respect to the lucrativeness of the contract. He was certainly aware of how lucrative this contract was.
I want to ask the Premier this question: At the time of his conversations with Mr Muzzo -- the two meetings that were held, as well as the phone conversation that he had with Mr Muzzo in which Mr Muzzo explored the possibility of Mr Matthews being involved -- can the Premier tell us, was he personally aware of the financial interest that Mr Muzzo had in the sale of the Premier’s family company?
Hon Mr Peterson: The answer is no, because all of my shares were in a blind trust, as my honourable friend knows. I cannot tell him -- I read it in the newspaper at some particular point along the way, but I am told by the people involved that his name never came up. He was never involved in the whole matter.
SALE OF PREMIER’S FAMILY BUSINESS
Mr Runciman: My question is to the Premier as well and deals with the sale of his family business, which I asked him about last week. I am sure he will recall. At that time, he suggested that it could be referred to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. We are having some difficulty with that since the legislation was not in place at the time of the sale of his family business and he has now ruled out that transaction as part of the judicial inquiry. The Premier will be aware, I am sure, of the increasing concerns about that transaction and the involvement of Mr Muzzo. I am wondering if he is prepared to table the company’s financial statements with the House.
Hon Mr Peterson: I have an idea. Why does the honourable member not refer the entire matter to the conflict commissioner? If, by chance, he is right that the legislation does not apply, I would gladly waive that and he can take all of his concerns to the conflict commissioner. He will have the power to look into all the records of the company and anything else that went on.
I would be delighted if the commissioner, on the member’s request, would look into that and if the member would lay before the commissioner any allegations or charges he has. I think that is fair, and I think, as a man of integrity, he would want to do that.
Mr Runciman: I think the Premier may be overemphasizing his authority in respect to overriding legislation. I am not sure that is appropriate. We will certainly follow up on it.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Runciman: A loan agreement dated 28 July 1987 was entered into between the Cambridge Acceptance Corp. a family company in which the Premier (Mr Peterson) has a one-third interest, and Consolidated HCI Holdings Corp, the large development company headed by Marco Muzzo. This agreement gave a $3-million, 11 per cent interest-only loan for six months from the Muzzo company to the Peterson company. It is a matter of public record in the London land registry.
Can the Premier tell us when he first became aware of this loan and why the Peterson company would seek financing from Muzzo’s company rather than a bank or trust company?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think my honourable friend’s facts are wrong in this matter, but my honourable friend’s facts are frequently wrong. I think he owes it to himself to make sure that he knows all the details. Frankly, I do not know all of the details of this particular matter, except what I have read in the paper, and, as I told my honourable friend, my shares are in a blind trust.
But I can tell my honourable friend this: I have absolutely no reservations whatsoever in letting him take this to the conflict commissioner. He should take him his allegations and suggestions and what he thinks is wrong, because I think that is only fair, rather than standing in the House, as he does, day after day after day, making unsubstantiated allegations. He should take charge of the matter; he should take it to the conflict commissioner; he should tell him what he thinks is wrong. I would be very happy to have anybody who had anything to do with that sale there to answer to him or anybody else.
Mr Runciman: Back to the loan: A loan of this size from a large land development company to the Premier’s family totally destroys the essential appearance of an arm’s-length relationship between the Premier and those with whom he must do government business.
Again, is the Premier prepared --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Runciman: -- to table full details of this loan transaction in the Legislature, and is he prepared to direct his trustee to support only loans from banks and trust companies in the future?
Hon Mr Peterson: The member says there was a loan. That is not any information that I have on the particular matter. It was a sale; it was not a loan. But my honourable friend stands again and makes unsubstantiated allegations. He owes it, as a gentleman and a man of honour, to take his charges to the conflict commissioner.
I think he should do that because, to the best of my knowledge, my honourable friend’s information may not be correct in this matter. But if he is concerned about its transparency. he should take it there and look at all of the details. I think my honourable friend will find out that, once again, he has descended to a level that maybe he is comfortable at but most members in this House are not comfortable at.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier, who is quick to accuse the media, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B Rae) and the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) of making what he says are false allegations.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Scott: The media can’t take it to the commissioner; you can.
Mr Harris: The Premier has indicated -- and if the Attorney General (Mr Scott) would like to listen to my question instead of interrupting the proceedings, I would be happy to continue -- that he wants people to take these allegations to the commissioner. The Premier knows full well that what we are talking about here is confidence in the government. He also knows full well that all of the facts are not out. He also knows full well that nobody is making any accusations. We are saying that in the media --
Hon Mr Scott: Turn around and look at Runciman. You just haven’t got the guts to do it. You can do it in one letter but then you’d have to shut up if you were proved wrong: a terrible price to pay.
The Speaker: Order. Does the member have a question?
Mr Harris: Control the Attorney General, sir.
Hon Mr Scott: The poor Attorney General can hardly stand this. Just write a letter.
The Speaker: Order. Would the member place his question?
Mr Harris: The Premier keeps making these challenges -- and I do not think the issue is a challenge -- to make an allegation. We are not here to make allegations; we are here --
Hon Mr Scott: This is unbelievable. You’re out-Runcimaning Bob.
The Speaker: New question?
Mr Harris: No, Mr Speaker, if you cannot control the Attorney General so I can ask my question, that is not my fault.
The Speaker: Order. I think we should pause for a moment and remember that this is question period. Would you place your question?
Mr Harris: I will attempt it once again, if the Attorney General can control himself. I would like to ask the Premier this: Nobody is making allegations, we are after the facts. In order to take something to the commissioner, as the Premier knows very well, one must know all the facts to be able to make an allegation. The way to get at the facts --
The Speaker: Order. Could we discontinue the debate and the interjections and have the question, please.
Mr Harris: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
The way to get at the facts is to bring all of the information that is being questioned in the media by a number of people into the judicial inquiry. That is what the judicial inquiry is for. It is to get at the facts. Why --
The Speaker: Thank you. Fine. Finally there is a question.
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend does not know whether it is based on facts or allegations or what he is dealing with at this particular point, which is understandable. He says he does not know the facts but he is prepared to make allegations, but let me not get into that.
Let me say, look at all the facts. His friend from Ottawa has made an allegation under the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act against the Attorney General. It went there for a determination.
The member supported that act. So did we. That is what the commissioner is there for, and believe me, I have nothing to hide from my honourable friend and his allegations, be they ill-founded or not.
Why does the member not request that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner look at this? The member can take anything he knows or his interpretation of the facts and the circumstances and let it all be there. I am most comfortable with that and I think he should do that.
Mr Harris: Can the Premier answer this: He has said today and he has said in response to these questions before that he has nothing to hide, he would like all the facts out there. We have said the same thing. We think that to restore the confidence of government in general, and more specifically this government led by David Peterson, the facts must out. Why, then, will he not include in the terms of reference of the inquiry these facts being made public and coming to light?
Hon Mr Peterson: Allegations have been made and the judicial inquiry is dealing with that set of allegations. The member stands in this House and says he is not making allegations, but he does not know the facts. On the other hand, he says he wants to know the facts. He is not sure what he is saying.
I say to my friend, let me help him out. Why does he not ask the commissioner to determine the facts? Then he can make any allegations he wants based on those facts. Would he not think that is the fair thing to do in the circumstances, when he was the first one to stand in the House and say he is not making allegations and he does not know the facts? The conclusion is that he does not know what he is doing except that he is just trying to bring some allegations against the government that are ill-founded.
Mr Harris: Can the Premier explain this:
When it comes to allegations about Patti Starr, Tridel, all his cabinet ministers and all his parliamentary assistants, those are okay to be referred to the commissioner to get at all the facts. Can the Premier explain to me why when it comes to David Peterson that is not okay? Why is the Premier not prepared to treat himself the same way he is treating all of the other people who are involved in these scandals?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am. I say to my honourable friend -- I have just said to him and he has resisted the idea, but I said to him and his colleague -- take it to the conflict commissioner and get all of the facts. He is not sure if he has the facts, he is not sure if there are any allegations, he is not sure of what he is sure of today, but that is all right. I do not mind, because to the extent that I know the facts, I am prepared to let them all be there, and if I have made any mistakes, publicly or privately, I am prepared to pay the price and I am prepared to stand up and defend this government against allegations he has, whether ill-founded or not.
Let me tell my honourable friend, I have no secrets in this matter. They can all be there. The government has no secrets and we look forward to turning up all of the facts surrounding the so-called Patti Starr allegations. My colleagues will all testify and share any knowledge they have. I hope the member’s colleagues will testify and tell what knowledge they have of this matter and it will all be turned up for the public of this province to see. I think that is the appropriate approach in the circumstances.
SALE OF PREMIER’S FAMILY BUSINESS
Mr B. Rae: In his last answer to me, after I asked the Premier specifically whether he was aware of Mr Muzzo’s involvement in the purchase of his family business at the time of his meeting in June 1988, the Premier replied that he did not know that.
I wonder if the Premier would reflect. The sale of the family business took place in 1987. The law with respect to conflict of interest was changed. There were no more blind trusts because the Premier dissolved all the blind trusts. He had to file his conflict statement through the summer of 1988. I wonder if the Premier can tell us this: At some stage, he must have asked the question, “Who bought the company?” It is a company in which he had an interest --
The Speaker: And the question.
Mr B. Rae: -- for many years; it was his father’s business. When did he realize that Mr Muzzo’s company, Consolidated HCI Holdings, had a very extensive involvement with the effective purchase of the company by Avinda Video?
Hon Mr Peterson: As I told my honourable friend, I was not involved in any way in the sale of the business. I have asked those people who were involved in the sale of the business, “Have you ever heard of the name of Marco Muzzo as having some kind of an interest in this purchaser?” Nobody had ever heard his name at that point. He was not anywhere near the situation, did not negotiate the deal and no one was aware until afterwards that he had any involvement. To this point in time, frankly, I am still not aware of what his involvement was.
That is the very clear answer to my friend’s question: he was not there or visible, or any part of the purchase that any purchaser knew anything about or any vendor knew anything about
Mr B. Rae: Let me be very clear then. What the Premier is telling me now is that despite the fact of Mr Muzzo’s involvement with Mr Goldfarb and other individuals and companies involved, not only in the purchase by Avinda Video but also in the sale and leaseback arrangement, most of which is now part of the public record, he is saying that no member of his family, no one whom he spoke to was ever aware in any way, shape or form that Mr Muzzo was a principal in HCI and that he was very much involved in facilitating the purchase of this company. Is that what he is saying?
Hon Mr Peterson: The answer is absolutely, clearly yes, that he was not, to the best of my knowledge or anyone else that I have spoken to, involved in that sale, that he was even a principal or had any interest in it.
Mr Harris: Since the Attorney General wants to get into the debate, I would like to ask him a question. Yesterday my office spoke to the public trustee. He indicated to my office that today he would have a news release, releasing a document showing all the “inappropriate disbursements made by Patti Starr and the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada.” He was going to do this by way of a news conference and be available to answer questions this afternoon.
This morning we are told that the public trustee has changed his mind; he will not be having a press conference and he will not be releasing all the pertinent information. In fact, he will have a one-and-a-half-page statement. Most of the information he is not releasing. I would like ask the Attorney General, first, is the public trustee independent and acting independently on this or did the Attorney General intervene and ask him not to release that information?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member is really stooping very low, very low indeed. I want to tell him that I have not spoken to the public trustee or anybody in his office. I requested the same information as the honourable member requested today and I was told I would not get it.
The public trustee is an independent agency of government under its own statute, rather like the Ombudsman. For my honourable friend -- and I use that phrase because decorum requires it -- to assert, without the slightest evidence, with no evidence whatever, that I tried to twist that office is simply unforgivable. I may be defeated in the next election or I may be re-elected, but I did not come here to be abused by the likes of that.
Hon Mr Riddell: Get out of the gutter.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: Given the amount of cover-up that has been going on over the last four years, given how long it has taken the Premier (Mr Peterson), the Attorney General, the Deputy Premier (Mr R. F. Nixon) and others to act on a number of issues that have come forward over the period of the last four years, and given the fact that, through a substantial number of questions over days and days and substantial media coverage, we have had to get anybody to look into everything, surely the Attorney General would understand why I would ask the question, “What happened?”
If he was not involved himself, will he find out if his department was involved or will he find out what happened to the public trustee that made him change his mind between yesterday and today?
Hon Mr Scott: Until the honourable member withdraws the allegation he has made against me, I refuse to answer his question.
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Daigeler: Somewhat along the same lines as we just heard about the unfounded allegations from the Conservative Party, we also have the case where the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling), the official critic of the Attorney General, to whom I would like to place a question, has tried to turn business people across the province for some time against the Attorney General’s Trespass to Property Act.
I would like to ask the Attorney General, in view of the inflammatory rhetoric put forward by the member for Carleton, whether he could put the public at ease and outline in this House the parameters and purpose of this bill?
Hon Mr Scott: As the member knows, the bill was the result of a commission study done about access to property to which the public is invited. The conclusion of the study, incorporated in the bill, is that a person who is excluded from property to which the public is ordinarily invited, such as a mall, should be given a reason for the exclusion. The giving of the reason and the notice of objection does not prevent the exclusion; it simply provides an issue that may be tested. Every civil libertarian believes this was a fair result.
Some concerns were raised by mall owners about certain language used in the legislation. Their concern, in short, was that they would not be able to exclude people against whom a legitimate notice had been given if an objection was raised. I met with them on a number of occasions, as did my staff, and we clarified the legislation so that I believe all responsible mall owners in the province who are familiar with the changes now support the legislation. The ones who do not support it more often than not are people who do not understand it and who have been misled by the kinds of assertions to which the member refers.
Mr Daigeler: As the minister may know, in their recent recommendations the Ontario Chamber of Commerce states that the police department and school authorities must retain the right to disperse any individuals who may be perceived to pose a threat to the children’s wellbeing in schools and playgrounds. Can the Attorney General address this concern which the Ontario chamber sees as a possible implication of Bill 149?
Hon Mr Scott: That is an allegation I had not heard until the member raised it. But I want to make it perfectly clear that anybody who is saying that the trespass-to-property provisions apply to schools or playgrounds simply has not read the statute. I want to assure the member that the application of the act does not include schools and playgrounds.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Philip: I have a question to the Attorney General. The minister will be aware that one of the rationalizations used by his two ministry officials in support of Bill 113, the Sunday shopping legislation, was the claim that it would make enforcement easier, fairer and more effective.
The minister will also acknowledge that he has received information in February, March, April and May from Les Kingdon, the executive director of the People for Sunday Association of Canada, alleging that enforcement of Sunday shopping legislation is less now than before Bill 113 and that corporate offenders, repeated offenders, are being fined as little as $75.
Can the minister tell us what action he is taking to ensure that the present legislation is enforced and why he is not using his powers of injunction to stop repeat offenders from continuing to flout the law?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the enforcement of this legislation is done either on private complaint or, much more often, on police investigation in the various municipalities. The municipalities, except in those areas where the Ontario Provincial Police have municipal policing responsibilities, are controlled by Metro or other municipal police boards and difficult choices have to be made about the level of enforcement in any municipality.
We have done what we can to encourage and assist local police forces to do this work and I want to assure the honourable member that crown attorneys have been directed to prosecute with diligence.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Do you think $75 is appropriate?
Hon Mr Scott: I am well aware that not all the fines that have been levied achieve the level of fine that Mr Kingdon regards as appropriate. In those cases where the fine is judged by the crown attorney to be inadequate in all the circumstances of the case, an appeal would be launched.
Mr Philip: I might remind the minister that it was the opposition that moved for minimum fines and the Liberal government that defeated those minimum fines.
Mr Kingdon claims that the police are not laying charges on their own initiative, that companies are publicly advertising how they intend to break the law and are breaking the law and that the police are not certain how to interpret and enforce the present act. What directives has the Attorney General given to the OPP, what initiatives has he sent to the local police force to ensure that a statute of this Legislature, by his ministry, is being enforced in this province?
Hon Mr Scott: I must tell the honourable member I will be glad to look into it, but the information I have does not support the first and third conclusion that he asked us to draw, apparently on the basis of Mr Kingdon’s letter.
First of all, we are satisfied that the police are enforcing the law as regularly as they did before and consistent with their resources.
Mr Hampton: That’s the problem.
Hon Mr Scott: No, there was a very high level of enforcement before, which of course was one of the reasons there was such concern expressed in the House at Christmas and other times of the year. There is no evidence that we have that supports that first conclusion.
The second conclusion about what plans retailers have drawn to breach the law, the ministry of course does not do anything about and I find it quite unlikely that Mr Kingdon would, as he is a minister, not a retailer, so I can say nothing about that.
Mr Philip: So it’s okay, you can advertise that you’re going to break the law.
Hon Mr Scott: No. When those advertisements are brought to the attention of the police or come to the attention of the police as they read the papers, a case can be prepared and brought to the crown attorney.
I would think that if Mr Kingdon wants to make a real contribution here, what he should do is liaise with his municipal police department to bring to its attention cases that it might have overlooked.
SALE OF PREMIER’S FAMILY BUSINESS
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Attorney General. In the Legislature this afternoon, both the Premier and the Attorney General have said in response to questions from the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) and the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) that the answer to the interest of the Peterson family in the sale of that business should be referred to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.
Does the Attorney General not appreciate that this is not a question about conflict of interest or technical conflict of interest under the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act?
Hon Mr Scott: I would have said that if it is a question at all, it is clearly a question that relates to a conflict of interest, and the act, by the way, is clearly applicable to it regardless of when the sale occurred.
Mr Eves: The Premier and the government have already referred many matters that are being looked into by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to this judicial inquiry. Does the Attorney General not agree, can he not see that there is no question whatsoever out there in the public’s mind, through the media or otherwise, that the appropriate and the proper thing to do would be to refer this to the judicial inquiry as well? Why is there one standard for the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro) and another standard for the Premier?
Hon Mr Scott: I do not agree with that.
I would like to refer the honourable member to the fact that when the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) wanted to allege a conflict against me, as he did, he had very little information but he wanted to raise the matter, so he wrote a letter to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, which was the proper, appropriate and, by the way, honourable thing to do.
The trouble as far as the honourable member was concerned was that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner promptly investigated it and said, “There is no conflict here at all.” The problem with that was the honourable member for Carleton could not get up in the House day after day and repeat the bald allegation until the press left the gallery.
That is why we suggest that if the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) or the member for Nipissing has an allegation about this kind of conflict, why do they not do what the member for Carleton had the good sense and the honour to do: use the machinery to determine whether there is a conflict? That is a rhetorical question. The reason they do not do it is that they know if the answer is “There is no conflict here,” then, horror of horrors, they will all have to shut up.
ONTARIO NEW HOME WARRANTY PROGRAM
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Recently, Peter and Gloria Somer of Kitchener were presented with the 500,000th Ontario New Home Warranty Program certificate.
The Ontario New Home Warranty Program could do with some significant enhancements to its protection package. I am wondering if the minister could confirm whether any changes have taken place, and if so, what they will mean to new home buyers.
Hon Mr Wrye: I thank the honourable member for notice of the question to allow me to get the specifics. There have been two recent changes which I think are very important for those who are involved with new homes and the warranty program.
The first of these two enhancements is that the total value of coverage for the life of the warranty, which includes coverage for all major structural aspects, has been increased from $50,000 to $100,000.
The second enhancement is a real boon to consumers, and that is, the amount of the fee charged to builders, which is automatically passed on to consumers, has been reduced, cut in half, from $2 per $1,000 of home purchase to $1. Since this is passed on, it will be a saving to consumers. On a home worth $200,000, that is a saving of about $200.
I know we may be taking certain actions shortly, so I will --
Mr D. R. Cooke: As the minister is aware, the warranty program currently covers new home owners for 12 months on defects of workmanship and material, provided that the flaws are reported in time. It has been suggested that the program should increase the one-year coverage on new homes to two years. Warranties for longer than one-year periods are available on other major purchases such as automobiles, and surely they should be considered on new homes.
Can the minister inform the House if the increased extension is in fact under review and what he can do to encourage the extension of time?
Hon Mr Wrye: I can confirm that there have been a number of discussions by the board of directors of the new home warranty board.
The member should know that the act that brought the Ontario New Home Warranty Program into existence includes a plan and a program that is essentially self-regulating and a board which has a great deal of independence. It is an independent, nonprofit organization.
However, I have been encouraging and continue to encourage, and do so today, the board of directors to consider favourably such an extension from one year to two, as I think that given the availability of resources that the home warranty board has, this matter is something whose time has come. Such an extension would be appropriate and certainly would be welcomed by the consumers of this province.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to the order of the House of Wednesday 5 July 1989, I am required to interrupt the proceedings at this time and do now leave the chair until 3:30 pm.
The House recessed at 1415.
Mr Hampton: In the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio), I would like to place this question with the Deputy Premier.
I might say, by way of preamble, that we are somewhat upset because the Minister of Natural Resources knew we wanted to ask this question, he knows it is an important question, and he merely said: “I’m sorry, I don’t have time. Ask it next week.”
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Natural Resources cut the number of forest firefighting crews by 230 people and reduced the crews from five-person to three-person crews. When the government adopted this policy, the forest firefighters indicated that they thought it was unsafe and it would not be an effective way to fight fires. We also raised the issue that it would be ineffective and was potentially unsafe.
Now it is hot and dry in northwestern and north-central Ontario and fire crews are refusing to go to work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. What is the government going to do about it?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I will bring the member’s concern to the attention of my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources.
Mr Wildman: I am afraid that is not acceptable. This is a dry weekend. There are fires burning out of control now. We cannot wait until Monday to have this settled. Men have refused to work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Fires are burning and they are not being fought.
What is the government going to do? In the interim, will the government agree to have two three-man crews on duty in all firefighting situations over the weekend until this dispute can be resolved?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am not in a position to make any such agreement. I simply say that the government and the people, in my opinion, have the greatest confidence in the minister, who has not only shown his commitment to the safety of the working people and the preservation of the forests but has provided the kind of leadership for natural resources that has been wanting in this province for many years. We are very proud of him.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: I realize it is an unusual day. I wonder if the Attorney General (Mr Scott), the acting Solicitor General (Mr Scott), or the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) is planning to come back. If so, I would like to stand down our next question.
Mr Dietsch: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications. Recently, she received a letter from the Niagara-on-the-Lake local architectural conservation advisory committee concerning a resolution it passed regarding the matter of uniform signs for heritage conservation districts designated under part V of the Ontario Heritage Act, and uniform signs or plaques for structures and buildings designated throughout this province.
Could the minister please inform me as to what steps, if any, she will be taking towards the development of uniform signs which will identify heritage districts and structures throughout this province?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I would like to acknowledge the member has some very real commitment to heritage questions, and as my colleague would know, the local advisory conservation associations have a good deal of responsibility in designating buildings and making recommendations to municipalities. Unfortunately, under the Ontario Heritage Act it is the responsibility of the municipalities to provide for such plaques and they do so. I think it is fair to say that most municipalities also have a commitment to heritage.
On his question as to whether the province could provide some kind of unique signage for structures and buildings, I am certainly more than willing to take the suggestion of the Niagara-on-the-Lake LACAC. As the member would know, we are currently in the middle of a heritage review, which will have an impact on legislation in this province and would certainly also be more than willing to honour the member’s concerns.
Mr Dietsch: My riding of St Catharines-Brock has without a doubt been among the leaders in this province in preserving heritage for our future and it is my belief that uniform signs need provincial guidance, so that whether you are in St Catharines or in Niagara-on-the-Lake or whether you are in Perth or Elora, designated buildings and districts are readily identifiable among those who enjoy that type of heritage. Will the minister assist in giving either a provincial competition or some guidance to the question of uniform signs throughout this province?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I certainly take the member’s suggestion seriously and I think it is an excellent idea. As he knows, our ministry does provide plaques on request from municipalities and we do have unique provincial pins, so I certainly am more than willing to look into the suggestion and take it back to the legislative review.
Mr B. Rae: The public trustee has just made public his report with respect to the financial affairs of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Toronto section charitable foundation and the National Council of Jewish Women, Toronto section.
The Speaker: The question is to whom?
Mr B. Rae: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), I guess my question has to go to his worthy and long-trusted Deputy Premier. The public trustee’s report shows that while some money has been repaid which is judged to be for work of a noncharitable kind, the cheque dated 26 October 1987 which is described as a “housing survey (leadership training)” in the amount of $5,000 to the mother of the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro) is a required repayment of $5,000 and is still outstanding as of 30 June 1989. I wonder if the Deputy Premier can tell us what is the position of the government now with respect to these payments.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would think that any payments made illegally would be restored.
Mr B. Rae: Perhaps the Deputy Premier could tell us, if this was a genuine housing survey, why it would be required to be repaid.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I said any payments that were made illegally would be restored. Surely if this a payment made for a genuine housing survey, there might be some question as to whether it was made illegally.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Deputy Premier. When the Liberal government took office in 1985, it promised to immediately remove the radioactive soil on McClure Crescent in Scarborough and compensate the home owners. Instead, it listened to its high-priced lawyers and dragged these people through the courts, at great expense and delay to them.
The Ontario Supreme Court finally ruled in favour of the residents, but the Attorney General (Mr Scott) has now had the audacity to appeal this decision. By launching this appeal, the Liberal government has outright refused to live up to its promise of four years ago.
My question to the Deputy Premier is this:
What are the exact reasons for appealing this case and exactly why will the government not live up to its promise to remove the soil and compensate the home owners?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The government has, of course, complete confidence in the advice of the chief law officer of the crown. His examination of the findings of the court led him to recommend that the appeal be entered into. I would suggest to the honourable member that it is on a basis of the legal questions concerned and that the decisions of the courts would be for all to see and have their valid reports.
Mrs Marland: To quote one of the Deputy Premier’s colleagues: “It is clear the provincial government demonstrated negligence by knowingly constructing homes on radioactive contaminated soils and selling homes to unsuspecting residents.” That was the Liberal leader at the time, now the Premier (Mr Peterson), commenting on the McClure Crescent situation in 1983.
The Premier thought the home owners should be compensated, and the Supreme Court of Ontario verified that. The court proceedings do not start until next week, and there is still time to reconsider.
The Speaker: The question?
Mrs Marland: My question is this: Will the Deputy Premier end this ridiculous charade and abandon this appeal today?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The answer is no, but I should say that during the time when the quotes the honourable member was placing before the House were made, the defence of the then government was that the level of radioactivity did not warrant the removal of the soil. Her colleagues, some of whom are still sitting with her in the caucus, however small, were very clear that the removal of the soil was totally unnecessary and that no one’s life or health was at risk.
The situation is now before the courts and is being appealed to the courts. I think that while that, from my unlearned point of view, might be a process that is one I have commented on myself in the past, still that is the way it has gone and we will await the decision of the courts with a great deal of interest.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr Faubert: My question is for the Minister of Education.
Mr Harris: On a point of order, Mr Speaker:
We stood down a question awaiting the arrival of the Attorney General. It appears he is not here. I wonder if we could proceed to the Deputy Premier with that question.
The Speaker: I understood you were awaiting the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) or the Attorney General.
Mr Harris: Well about seven eighths of the cabinet is not here. I would like to proceed to the Deputy Premier.
The Speaker: I would ask the members of the House if they are in agreement to go forward with a question from the member for London North.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mrs Cunningham: In the absence of the acting Solicitor General, my question will be to the Deputy Premier. The topic is Sunday shopping. During the hearings across this province last summer, the government spokesperson stated a number of times that the new, proposed legislation provides a province-wide law that requires most retailers to close on Sundays. The government went further to say at every opportunity that it makes the requirement to close on Sunday stricter, fairer and more enforceable than the old law.
It was pointed out to us that the real tool was the power of injunction. We know that the law is being broken and that many stores are opening on Sundays illegally. It has been brought to the attention of many members of this House. I wonder if the Deputy Premier could tell us whether the acting Solicitor General has in fact exercised his option.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I cannot tell the honourable member that he has.
Mrs Cunningham: I can only say that when we contacted the minister’s office, the spokesperson for his office stated that the ministry will watch what the municipalities will do. Others have been given the same response to the question. We are very much concerned in this province that the real promise out there was that we would have a stricter, more enforceable law. We went along with that promise. The point is that the people of Ontario --
Hon R. F. Nixon: You remember how co-operative we were?
Mrs Cunningham: Mr Speaker, I would like to clarify my statement.
Hon R. F. Nixon: You passed it on the way.
The Speaker: Actually, the point is this is question period, so perhaps you will place your question.
Mrs Cunningham: The fact is the public of Ontario expected that they would get what the government promised, and that was a more enforceable law. How much longer will we have to wait before the acting Solicitor General in fact does wave that tool called injunction and do what he said he would do last summer?
Hon R.F. Nixon: I think the member is aware that there are many alternatives to the citizens who feel themselves inappropriately dealt with. They can bring complaints themselves and the police can make investigations. But in this connection, I feel that the law is serving the community in a very good way indeed.
I happen to be fortunate enough to live in a rural community which has opted for Sunday shopping. I can tell the member -- and I know of her intense interest in this -- that this is working very well indeed and that those people who do not prefer to involve themselves in that have every right to do otherwise. But, meanwhile, the community is extremely well served.
The honourable member should not think that somehow the morality of the province is collapsing and that the laws are not being enforced. She knows that is not the case.
Mr Faubert: My question is to the Minister of Education. Residents in my riding of Scarborough-Ellesmere have expressed to me their concern and disappointment at having missed the deadline to request a heritage languages program to be implemented beginning at the end of September 1989.
The minister may be aware that the Scarborough Board of Education has apparently refused to approve or consider any applications under the heritage languages bill until it receives royal assent; thus, even those groups that submitted their application prior to the 30 June deadline may well be denied a fall heritage language program.
Could the minister advise this House what actions he may be considering to ensure that heritage languages classes will be able to begin in the fall?
Hon Mr Ward: The member will know that Bill 5 was recently sent out to committee. During the course of the deliberations, some suggestions were put forward on the basis of input from various community groups. It is expected that legislation will receive royal assent very early next week.
Those groups that have met the deadline in a manner that is consistent with the regulations that accompany that bill, I would expect, can be assured that the programs will be delivered in a way that is consistent with the statutes and regulations.
Mr Faubert: Many groups of parents will obviously be relieved by the minister’s response, but some residents are still concerned that the board of education may not implement their heritage language requests this fall, despite the change in deadline to the end of July.
Could the minister assure the residents by advising the House that the board will be required to offer heritage language classes this fall, provided the request is received prior to the end of July 1989?
Hon Mr Ward: I can advise the member that I would expect that board of education, as well as every other board within the province, would act in a fashion that is consistent with the statutes and regulations and that they can be assured of those programs.
The Speaker: I might draw to the attention of the members that we have a guest in the lower east gallery, a member of Parliament, Jesse Flis. I believe they are on holidays right now.
Mr Philip: Six months ago, the free trade deal went into effect, but already its effects are being heavily felt. A good example is the situation in my riding with the workers who are members of Local 10 of the Graphic Communications International Union. Their employer is Photo Engravers and Electrotypers and they print the Sears catalogue.
As early as October 1988, according to the union, Local 10 members were told they must take pay cuts and make other contract concessions because the average pressroom costs in the United States were 30 per cent lower than in Canada. In December 1988, the GCIU contract expired just as the free trade deal was being signed. Sears and PE and E tabled a take-it-or-leave-it contract and moved to a lockout on 20 February, when workers voted to reject the offer.
The PE and E pressroom workers are still strong 20 weeks into this lockout. However, the situation is so serious that the Ontario Federation of Labour is organizing a boycott of Sears by encouraging Sears customers to return their credit cards with a note giving the reasons for such action and to call Sears in Toronto to explain why they are boycotting their stores. A rally to demonstrate support is being organized in front of the Mutual-Dundas location of Sears on Saturday 8 July.
The Liberal government must live up to its responsibilities to the workers of Ontario and ensure that there are programs in place to protect them. Support must be shown for the GCIU local in its struggle to stop the erosion of jobs and the rights of workers to the United States.
TAX FREEDOM DAY
Mr Harris: On the eve of tax freedom day here in Ontario, we should pause to reflect on the fact that not only has this Liberal government violated the most basic standards of ethical conduct but has also, through its tax policies, breached one of the fundamental laws of physics. Liberal taxes are heavy but are apparently immune to gravity. They go up and up and up and they never come down.
Liberal taxes are so high that the average Ontario family spends until 7 July working for the government, the longest of any province in this country. No wonder the civil service has become so bloated under this administration.
There has, however, been nothing civil about this government’s treatment of the Ontario taxpayer as it continues to bite the hand that feeds it. I am confident that some day the Ontario taxpayer will bite back and will let this government know that its tax policies are fundamentally unfair and its spending practices undisciplined and nonsensical.
In the interim, I suspect the only protection for the taxpayer from this government, this organized conspiracy against financial responsibility, lies in the government’s justifiable fear of electoral retribution and not in any sense of fiscal prudence on the part of the members opposite.
Were it not for this, I am positive that the Liberal tax juggernaut would continue to roll merrily along and would ensure, if not stopped by the electorate at the first opportunity, that we would be celebrating tax freedom day and Labour Day on behalf of those people who generate all the money at the very same time.
Mr Neumann: I rise today on a matter of national importance, the future of passenger rail service in this country. This service has a long and proud history in Canada, from the early day of nation-building right to the present. Today’s media reports of drastic cuts in the short run and of the eventual total elimination of Via Rail has made this a very sad day indeed.
The Mulroney government is about to make the most shortsighted and wrongheaded policy decision in recent memory. Coast-to-coast rail service helped to knit this great country together. Trans-Canada and intercommunity rail and transit systems are essential to well-balanced transportation plans for the future.
Considering that the Prime Minister made absolutely no mention of any plans to scrap Via Rail during the federal election campaign of last fall, the federal government should be obligated to hold full public hearings before proceeding with such a far-reaching decision that would shortchange our future.
I call upon the federal government to shelve this decision and convene full public hearings so that Canadian citizens can be heard on this important matter. Our highways, particularly in southwestern Ontario and the greater Toronto area, are heavily congested and air travel is not the answer for everyone.
According to today’s report, 55 per cent of the trains will be cut from southwestern Ontario rail service within the next few months. I ask the Premier (Mr Peterson), this government and all of my colleagues in the Legislature to make strong and persuasive representation to the federal government to reverse its unwise decision on Via Rail.
As it says on this button I received at the train station this morning, “On a besoin de nos trains. We need our trains.”
NORTHERN LIGHTS FESTIVAL BOREAL
Miss Martel: I would like to bring to the attention of this House an important event that is occurring in Sudbury this weekend. On 7, 8 and 9 July, the 18th annual Northern Lights Festival Boreal will take place at the Bell Park amphitheatre.
The festival began in 1971 as a one-day event to feature local musical artists from the Sudbury area. Over the years, the festival became more and more popular until it eventually expanded into a three-day event. Local musical artists continue to be featured, but the festival also now hosts artists from across northern Ontario, and indeed across Canada.
While maintaining a bilingual structure, the festival also promotes native culture as well as the many multicultural groups that are so intrinsic to the Sudbury area.
The Northern Lights Festival Boreal has the distinction of being the longest continuous outdoor folk festival running in Canada.
This year’s festival will not lack for an abundance of talent and spirit. Moreover, northern Ontario artists will play a key role at the festival. Some of the performers from the north include Rodney Brown, Wayne Potts, Sue Roy, Butch Bouchard, Paul Dunn, the rock group Mokombo; the rap duo of Andy Stevenson and Nick Duncan; Sudbury residents Phyllis Davison and Andrew Lowe; the Sault Ste Marie Youth Theatre; and Sudbury’s own Caledonian Dance Club.
My congratulations to all those who will work so hard to make this weekend a success. To all Sudbury residents and visitors, have a great time at the Northern Lights Festival Boreal.
Mrs Cunningham: I read with a certain amount of amusement a letter to the editor which appeared in the 28 June edition of the Toronto Star written by the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling). The minister attempted to defend a $100,000 study entitled Pathways which was recently released by his ministry.
As it turns out, Pathways is nothing more than a rehash of a study entitled Out-of-School Youth in Ontario, released by the Ministry of Skills Development in March 1987, well over two years ago. If one can believe it, the minister still does not know how to help our young people adjust to the world of work.
I quote from his letter. The minister states:
“Do I have all the answers to the challenges posed by this information? Obviously, the answer is no; ...” What is the minister’s battle plan? His letter goes on to say: “May I suggest that the Star, which has taken a leadership role on a number of important issues, identify training as a priority item.”
One simple question remains: What does the minister plan to do with all that extra time on his hands when the Toronto Star takes over the work of his ministry?
Mrs Fawcett: I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity today to recognize the accomplishments of a long-time resident of Cobourg, Clarence Ash. Last year, Mr Ash was named Senior Citizen of the Year in the town of Cobourg. Did this model citizen rest on his laurels? Not on your life. If anything, he stepped up his service to his fellow man, and as a consequence, has been named not only Senior Citizen of the Year again but Citizen of the Year for Cobourg and District as well.
The reasons why Mr Ash is deserving of these two awards are numerous. He has given a large number of fellow seniors the treasured gift of mobility. He has driven seniors to out-of-town medical appointments, delivered Meals on Wheels and generally helped seniors get around to local events.
This generous man has put in many hours of volunteer work as well and has served in various capacities on the seniors’ board of directors. Mr Ash helped found the Cobourg and District Association for the Mentally Retarded, established community care for seniors and just generally demonstrated his willingness to help where help is most needed.
Clarence Ash has made the quality of life much more enjoyable for the many citizens of Cobourg he has touched. In his letter of nomination of Clarence Ash, Reg Ward writes:
“He has been a shining example of fellowship and good citizenship for all.” The people in the Cobourg area are fortunate to have such a committed humanitarian devoted to his community. I am sure all members will join me in recognizing the efforts and achievements of Clarence Ash.
Mr McLean: It was interesting to listen to the member for Brantford (Mr Neumann) talking about the federal government. He forgets about his own government which had specific plans to lower insurance and for 60 per cent funding for schools and talked about the six conditions; there would be no free trade agreement unless they were met. There is the increased debt we have in Ontario -- $4,159 for every man, woman and child -- the $1.3-billion tax grab for two years in a row, increased gasoline tax and increased income tax. His government has increased taxes as no other government has ever done before. Why does the member not talk about that?
Mr Fleet: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario signed by 36 individuals who all appear to be teachers associated with William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in North York. The petition indicates a desire to insist that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation which will lead to a settlement equitable to teachers in respect of their pensions.
I have signed the petition as required under the standing orders.
Mr Miller: I, too, have a petition addressed to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a satisfactory dispute resolution process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
It is signed by 118 names from the riding of Norfolk and I attach my name as required.
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Dietsch: I have a petition to present on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) from the Niagara Falls Downtown Board of Management. It reads:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We request that the Ministry of the Attorney General withdraw Bill 149, An Act to amend the Trespass to Property Act, which we believe is unnecessary and without mandate.
“While we respect the rights of minorities and youth, whom Bill 149 alleges to protect, we oppose the way in which the proposed legislation will erode the ability of owners and occupiers to provide a safe and hospitable environment for their patrons or customers. We are further concerned about the legislation’s potential for increasing confrontation in the already difficult process of removing individuals who create disturbances on publicly used premises.”
I have signed this petition in accordance with the standing orders.
ANIMALS FOR RESEARCH
Mr Carrothers: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is signed by some 1,350 individuals. It requests legislation prohibiting the use of animals in cosmetic and product testing.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Mr D. R. Cooke from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 18, An Act to amend the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corporation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr Philip from the standing committee on public accounts presented the committee’s First Interim Report, 1989, and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
Mr Philip: I want to thank the members of the committee for the way in which they worked so diligently, as well as the research staff and the clerk of the committee. This report deals with problems concerning tax collection, motor fuels and tobacco tax branch, Ministry of Revenue. It also deals with inadequate monitoring procedures, general welfare assistance program. The report makes a number of recommendations that we trust the appropriate ministries will be implementing.
On motion by Mr Philip, the debate was adjourned.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr Conway moved that the chairman, clerk and research officer of the standing committee on public accounts be authorized to attend the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees conference in Edmonton, Alberta.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
LEGAL PROFESSION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Scott moved first reading of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act.
Hon Mr Scott: This bill makes a number of relatively minor amendments. The first is a series of amendments requested by the Law Society of Upper Canada respecting quorums, voting rights of retired attorneys general, a matter which is very close to my heart, and the role of ex officio benchers in the affairs of the society.
It also incorporates a provision for costs that may be obtained by salaried in-house counsel of corporations or trade unions, who under an order made by the court in a recent case, if salaried, cannot collect the costs to which their clients would be entitled if successful in litigation, a result that does not seem appropriate in the circumstances.
The third amendment, perhaps more contentious, though not for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) nor for me, is to incorporate the recommendations of the Professional Organizations Committee, which recommended that law firms should be entitled to incorporate, as they do in most other Canadian provinces and as engineers, architects and other professional groups do in Ontario now.
I want to emphasize to honourable members that we have followed the model in the other provinces and the model recommended by the Professional Organizations Committee so that the liability of solicitors in Ontario will not be reduced and so that shares cannot be made available to the hoi polloi outside the profession.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 37, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
The Chairman: Everybody is invited to make comments and questions and continue what we started yesterday. Do I see the member for Algoma finishing a fine drink of Château Toronto to make some comments?
Mr Wildman: No. I was just drinking, but it did not have anything to do with the distillers.
The Chairman: Fair enough.
Mr Morin-Strom: The minister yesterday had endeavoured to get some information that was requested with respect to tax assessments and in particular the breakdown, for the 14 municipalities involved, of the tax losses they would be facing as a result of this legislation. I wonder if the minister has collected that information and will now make it available to the committee of the whole.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: Yes, I do have the information. For the township of Thurlow, 2.51 per cent; for the city of Toronto, 0.01 percent of one per cent; the city of Scarborough, no loss, 0.00001 per cent; Etobicoke, 0.21 per cent; Brampton, 0.12 per cent; the city of Burlington, 0.09 per cent; Mississauga, no loss, 0.0001 per cent; the town of Collingwood, 2.27 per cent; the city of Hamilton, no loss; Waterloo, 0.33 per cent; the township of Woolwich, 1.24 per cent; the city of Windsor, 0.40 per cent; the township of Maidstone, 10.63 per cent, and the town of Amherstburg, 5.38 per cent. These are the 14 municipalities affected.
Mr Morin-Strom: I think our point is made, particularly with respect to the four communities that are more severely affected. The community of Thurlow faces a loss of 2.51 per cent of its assessment base; Collingwood, 2.27 per cent of its assessment base; then at a scale higher than that, Amherstburg, more than 5 per cent of its assessment base, 5.38 per cent; and then obviously the most seriously impacted would be the municipality of Maidstone, with 10.63 per cent of its assessment base lost.
Surely this is going to have a severe impact on the property taxpayers of those communities, who will have to make up the losses of those property tax revenues if services are going to be maintained in those communities. That is a tremendous penalty for other businesses and particularly for home owners in those communities to have to make up.
Surely it is unfortunate that this government has refused to compensate for the loss of that property tax base, providing only a partial compensation in the initial year and then no compensation at all after five years, so that, as in the case of Maidstone, five years down the road property taxpayers are going to be looking at increases of an additional 10.63 per cent if they are going to make up those lost revenues and maintain the services those communities have been delivering in the past.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The member for Sault Ste Marie claims there will be great losses to the four municipalities, and I agree. This is why we have introduced a compensation program for the four most affected municipalities, which are:
For the township of Thurlow, grants to the lower tier of $7,000, and to the school board $35,000, for a total of $43,000; so there is a shortfall of $15,000.
For the township of Collingwood, grants to the lower tier of $79,000, to the school boards $75,000, for a total grant of $155,000; for a shortfall of $25,000.
For Maidstone, grants to the lower tier of $58,000, to the school board $283,000, for a total of $341,000; for a shortfall of $96,000.
For Amherstburg, a grant of $63,000 to the lower tier, $86,000 to the school board, for a total of $150,000; for a shortfall of $28,238.
Mr Charlton: The minister has stood up a number of times during the course of this discussion on subclause 7(1)(a)(i) in section 1 of the bill, and he keeps repeating the grants the province will pay to these municipalities and the shortfalls. Each time he repeats those figures he fails to make it clear to the House that those figures are interim figures that run out, that the grants do not go on for ever and that five years down the road the four municipalities my colleague was just referring to each will suffer on a permanent, eternal basis the losses that have been set out by the minister today; two of them at over two per cent, one over five per cent and one over 10 per cent of their assessment base.
Those losses are permanent losses that at the end of the five years those municipalities will bear totally on their own without any grant assistance from this province. It is not appropriate to try to say that he has remedied the problem by putting in place grants that apply this year, next year, three further years down the road and then disappear. It does not address the question at all.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The member is right in saying they will suffer a permanent loss, but I would like to remind the honourable member that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs does have programs to compensate municipalities.
They have a policy, and I used it when I was Minister of Municipal Affairs, that whenever a municipality or a township loses more than, let’s say, four per cent, these municipalities can apply to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to receive additional grants. I have done it in the past, and I am sure the present Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins) will do it if they still lose, after four years or five years, more than four per cent.
Mr Charlton: I guess that is the point we have been trying to raise for the last two days, that these losses are not abnormal losses occurring for some unknown reason in these municipalities for which they may apply to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for compassionate additional consideration. These are losses resulting directly from legislative action by this government. Why is the government not prepared, in legislation, to guarantee them protection should those losses continue in the long run?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: We do say in section 2 that, “the Minister of Municipal Affairs may make grants, upon such terms and conditions as the minister considers necessary.” That is in Section 2. That section is there and they can apply to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to get fair compensation.
I would like to point out to the honourable member that the distillers have been suffering in the last four or five years. Let’s face it. If they were to close down, imagine what would happen to the townships of Thurlow, Maidstone and Amherstburg. If they were to shut down permanently, think about the damage this would do. We are trying to help these people stay in business and continue to create jobs in those small communities.
Mr Charlton: The minister has still not directly addressed the point I raised. First, this action on the part of the government, this change in the Assessment Act, is not going to save any distillery in this province that is on the verge of closing.
Second, it is high time governments in this province started to take direct responsibility for the actions they cause. The four municipalities we referred to in the initial part of this question and the other 10 municipalities affected by this legislative change should be guaranteed that they will suffer no loss as a result of actions by this provincial government in negotiations with distilleries.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The member says the distillers will not move out of Thurlow or Amherstburg. I would like to remind the honourable member that this move has already started. Right in the city of Toronto, McGuinness Distillers has closed down, and in the city of Windsor, Hiram Walker is seriously considering closing down or possibly shrinking its operation.
To be fair, we would like to keep every small, medium and large industry in business in Ontario.
Mr D. S. Cooke: If the minister were going to be fair, he would indicate that if there are problems with the profit levels of distillers in this province, it has a lot to do with the prices that have been charged because of a whole rate of taxation at the federal and provincial level, because of a shift in demand away from distilled products to coolers, wine and beer; there are a whole bunch of other factors that have been part of the change in consumer demand in this field. So to try to talk about Bill 37 in terms of saving jobs or making sure that distillers do not close down in Ontario is a bit of an exaggeration of the role of this bill.
If the minister were serious about saving jobs in this field for distillers, he would be encouraging the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) to review the whole taxation regime, at both the provincial and federal levels, for distilled products in Ontario and maybe to see whether the government has gone overboard in the level of taxation on these types of products. That might be the appropriate positive response from the minister, rather than saying that Bill 37 and the municipal taxpayers are going to solve the problem. If the minister were really concerned, he would not be imposing a solution which results in residential taxpayers paying through their property taxes for a small decrease in the level of taxation of distillers.
However, I appreciate the fact that the minister has provided us with some figures today.
I found it interesting this morning, at a meeting I attended with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the finance department head and the mayor of the city of Windsor on another subject -- Before we started our meeting I asked Mr Agnew exactly what the dollar figure was for the implications for the city of Windsor. The $263,000 the minister referred to yesterday, as I suspected, does not at all indicate the tax loss for the city. The fact of the matter is that we are talking in the neighbourhood of $870,000 in lost business taxes to the city of Windsor as a result of going from 140 per cent to 75 per cent, which is exactly the figure I used the other day when I was speaking. It is a huge amount of money.
The minister gave the figure of $263,000 yesterday; that is not the figure. The city of Windsor’s figure itself, the municipal figure, is over $800,000, nearly $900,000.
However, we understand the inequity. The minister finally provided us with some figures today, and I think we can probably move on.
Hon Mr Grandmaitre: If there are any discrepancies with the city of Windsor, I am sure the ministry will be only too pleased to go over the figures. I want to repeat that, at the lower tier, the member is absolutely right. In 1989, their loss will be $263,000, and in 1990, when it reaches the 75 per cent business rate, their loss will be $164,000, or let’s call it $165,000.
That is far from being $850,000 or $800,000. I am sure my ministry will be only too pleased to do as I used to do when I was at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. We have never turned down the city of Windsor. They used to come knocking on our door at least three times a year. I have always met with then and I have always had cordial meetings with them, and I am sure the Ministry of Revenue is willing to repeat this invitation and this offer.
If the member for Windsor-Riverside took my interpretation of Bill 37 as the lifesaver of Windsor or Thurlow or whatever, that is not my impression. He is absolutely right; with tax increases from the municipal, provincial and federal governments and in every other tax, most business people are affected by these tax increases. This is why we are introducing Bill 37, to at least try to do something for the distillers.
As I pointed out yesterday, a committee made up of the assistant deputy minister of Revenue, the administrator for the city of Sudbury and the assistant deputy minister of Municipal Affairs is now looking at a new business taxation system for this province.
The Chairman: Any more comments or questions? Are we ready to vote?
Shall sections 1 to 6, inclusive, stand as part of the bill?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Sections 1 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 22, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
The Chairman: If I remember where we left off, we were at the minister’s amendment to section 4. Mr Grandmaître has moved that subsection 2c(4) of the act, as set out in section 4 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(4) For the purposes of this section, the highway fuel consumption rating of a passenger car shall be deemed to be the lesser of,
“(a) the highway fuel consumption rating most recently published by the Department of Transport (Canada) of cars matching the description of the passenger car, if such a publication is available publicly at the date of sale of the passenger car; or
“(b) 18.1 litres per 100 kilometres.”
Would the minister like to provide a brief explanation at the beginning?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: Yes. I think now section 4 is much clearer. We will be using the Department of Transport ratings or the 18.1 litres per kilometres, whichever is less. It is really not an administrative amendment, but it makes section 4 better understood.
Mr Harris: I have a small problem here. I also have a new amendment to section 4 which I would like to move. I believe that in my absence and in the absence of the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) there were two amendments we wished to move that were ruled out of order. One was to section 3 and the other to section 4. If I may, I would like to move the one to section 4. If you rule that it is in order, Mr Chairman, I have a similar amendment to 3, for which I assume I would need consent to revert.
The Chairman: I think we should finish with this one first, whether it passes or whatever, and then we will gladly deal with yours afterwards. Is that okay with you?
Mr Harris: Sure. Heck, I’m easy.
The Chairman: Do we have copies of what you want to propose?
Mr Harris: I do have one and I will be glad to give it to you.
The Chairman: Do the minister and the other critic have copies of that also?
Mr Harris: No.
The Chairman: Do we have other members with comments or questions on the minister’s amendment?
Mr Charlton: Without having the bill in front of me, but just having heard it read, I did not follow just how it is supposed to work. Perhaps I could get a clearer explanation of exactly what the change does, as compared to the section that is before us in the bill that is being amended.
The Chairman: Minister, do you or your staff have extra copies to provide to the critics? Is the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) the critic for this?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: Strike out clause 2c(4)(a), “The highway fuel consumption rating of the car provided by the manufacturer thereof, if such rating is available to the vendor and purchaser of the car at the date of sale of the car.”
The Chairman: Minister, you moved an amendment to section 4. What you have moved still stands exactly as is. You have just mentioned what you want to remove from the current bill, right?
Hon Mr Grandmaitre: Again, to clarify the amendment, clause 2c(4)(a) in the present bill, which I have just read, is being replaced by, as mentioned, the rating of the federal Department of Transport. That is what it says. In clause (b) we add “18.1 litres per 100 kilometres.”
The Chairman: Do you understand now? Fair enough.
Are there any more questions or comments on the proposed amendment to section 4? If not, are we ready to vote on it? Is it agreed to vote?
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
The Chairman: We will wait for pages to come back with the proposed amendments.
Did I hear you correctly? Are these new types of amendments that you are proposing?
Mr Harris: Actually, they are very similar amendments to the one that was ruled out of order. While I was not here, I respect the chairman’s ruling.
I think we have been able to reword both the amendment to this section and the one to section 3 that I think you will find in order. I am quite certain that the amendments will meet the intent of the budget of the Treasurer. I would think the Minister of Revenue (Mr Grandmaitre) would want to do that, as well, in this particular piece of legislation.
I expect the page will be back shortly and I would like to move it if I can. If sections 1 to 4 are in order and acceptable to the government, then at that point I would ask if I might move a similar amendment to section 3.
The Chairman: As soon as we get it, we will gladly have a look at it. If it is deemed to be receivable with respect to the standing orders, we will be glad to do it.
Mr Charlton: Just a question for my information, since I am attempting to pick this process up at the point at which the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden) left it last week. Have we completed consideration of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the bill?
Mr Harris: Yes.
Mr Charlton: But the member is asking to reopen section 3 for an amendment?
Mr Harris: Before I ask to go back to section 3 and reopen it, I am prepared to move my amendment to Section 4, which I think we are on now. My amendment to section 3 is a very similar amendment. If the one to section 4 is in order, then I would ask unanimous consent that I might go back to section 3.
The Chairman: I have been told that sections 1, 2 and 3 were carried as amended; at least section 3. If anybody wants to revert back to section 3, we will have to have unanimous consent.
Mr Harris: I know we are moving along so quickly and I am sure everybody is going to be so delighted with the amendment to section 4 that they are going to be begging me to ask unanimous consent to go back to section 3.
While the amendments are being passed out, maybe I could go ahead and move the --
The Chairman: If the member wants to wait till we have it, then we can do it together. It is always better to do it together.
Mr Harris: Until you have it, Mr Chairman? All right.
The Chairman: Before the member can move section 3, I have to ask for unanimous consent to revert back to Section 3.
Mr Harris: I do not mind doing section 4 first. It is where we are at.
The Chairman: Section 4 first? Fair enough.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: Can I ask if the amendment to section 4 is in order?
Mr Harris: I have not moved it yet.
The Chairman: Mr Harris has not moved it yet, for one thing.
Mr Harris moves that section 4 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following:
“2c(1)(a) That all taxes collected pursuant to subsection 1 may be paid into a special recycling fund to be established in the Ministry of the Environment to be available for appropriation to support and finance recycling programs.”
Looking at standing order 15, which is usually the one, I will read it:
“Any bill, resolution, motion or address, the passage of which would impose a tax or specifically direct the allocation of public funds, shall not be passed by the House unless recommended by a message from the Lieutenant Governor.”
Mr Charlton: Mr Chairman, before you make a ruling on this question of whether these amendments are in order, could I perhaps make a few comments on that issue to you for your consideration?
The Chairman: I think right now we have to discuss whether it is acceptable to the chair to be able to discuss it.
Mr Charlton: I do not want to discuss the motion. I want to discuss the question of whether it is in order.
The Chairman: This point?
Mr Charlton: That is right.
The Chairman: Based on standing order 15?
Mr Charlton: Whether the motion directs the allocation of any funds. The motion sets no tax. The tax is set by the bill. It was announced by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) in his budget, which was published and released publicly, what the intended direction and allocation of those funds would be. So, the motion that is before this House this afternoon neither raises funds nor allocates them. It simply puts in place a mechanism to accomplish what the stated government intention was, or its message from a government minister.
The Chairman: When I look at it, obviously standing order 15 says “shall.” I notice that your resolution says “may,” which colours it a very different colour. I would have a tendency to rule it in order because of the “may” as opposed to the “shall.”
Mr Harris: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Perhaps I could then speak to use motion.
First of all, I was disappointed when my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) moved her original motion, that it was not picked up by the Minister of Revenue. The original motion certainly did not say that any new money would be collected or spent. It simply said that this new money, this new tax that is being brought about by this bill, would be spent for the purpose for which the Treasurer said he was bringing it in.
In the case of the tires and the so-called gas-guzzler tax that this amendment deals with, those were for environmental purposes. It was some sense of trying to tie the reason for this tax to environmental concerns that the disposal of tires had and of course, in this case, that the extra consumption that gas-guzzler vehicles have.
We were disappointed that the minister did not wish to move that amendment, as it would have been in order had the minister moved it. However, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this particular amendment, which I am sure parliamentarians are aware is a very soft or very weak amendment.
What this amendment will do, if it is carried, is simply permit the government, if it decides to live up to its intent that the Treasurer said, to do so. It does not direct the government to do so. It does not direct the minister to do so. If, in its wisdom and for some unknown reason, the government decides not to actually spend the money on the environment or the purposes which the Treasurer said the money would be spent for, of course, it then does not have to do it.
I would think the minister may like this amendment in that if, at some time down the road, he or his cabinet colleagues or the Treasurer decide to actually spend the money for environmental purposes, there will be a mechanism to do it. They will not have to do so, but it will be available to them should they wish.
I think it is a very forward amendment. I can tell the members that if the amendment to this particular section is acceptable, then this section of the bill will be acceptable to me and, I hope, to my caucus, even though we really are not particularly in favour of any tax increases at this time of our booming economy. We do believe that this attitude of “It’s okay to increase taxes” does nothing but encourage the free-spending extravagance that is causing us great problems. It will cause us a whole host, a multitude, of problems in the future of this province.
In spite of that, I would say that if this amendment is acceptable, then this section of the bill at least would be acceptable to me. That probably is not a good enough reason for the government to accept it. If it is not, I would ask the minister and the government House leader -- who is in the chamber today consulting with the minister, and vice versa, which is an encouraging sign, because I sense there may be some movement towards the environment by the two ministers present today -- if, in fact, getting me to vote for this section is not enough reason, and I suspect it is not, surely the environment and the possibility, now or in the future, of wanting to actually live up to what the Treasurer said the government was going to do ought to be enough reason to accept this very, very soft and permissive amendment.
Mr Charlton: I cannot say that I put myself into the same category as the member for Nipissing, although I am glad he came back in here today with these reworked amendments. As the member for Nipissing has said, the amendments are very weak, and they have been weakened from their prospective based on the chair’s ruling last week, to try to make them acceptable or in order in terms of the debate here.
I cannot say that the passage of this amendment would cause us to support this section or section 3 of the bill, should it be reopened. However, I think we could support the amendments in both cases as additions to those sections, and the only reason I am saying we can support the amendments as additions to sections that we would not support ultimately is that we have had an announcement from the Treasurer that both of these taxes were being implemented for environmental purposes. There is nothing in the law anywhere that sets that out and nothing in this bill that even makes reference to the environment as the place to which these moneys morally should be allocated in future.
At least these weak amendments would put some moral obligation on people who read the legislation from time to time to try to ensure that the money goes to the place it was promised to at first in the announcement of the original tax. For those reasons I think we could support the amendments. Even though that would not make the tax itself any more acceptable to us, I guess it would give us some comfort to know that once the tax is in place, because of a moral set of words thrown at the reader of the bill each time it is read for the purposes of determining the tax, there is some small additional possibility that the tax in fact will end up where it is supposed to be, in environmental cleanup.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I think the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr Charlton) and also the member for Nipissing said it was a weak amendment. I certainly agree with them. The government of Ontario has a strong commitment towards cleaning up the environment and I can assure members that these dollars will be committed to cleaning up the environment, as we have done in the last four years. I think in the last four years the commitment of this government has shown repeatedly, budget after budget and program after program, programs that never existed in this province.
Mr Harris: The minister seems to use its weakness as his reason for opposing this amendment; I would be delighted in view of that. I actually am happy to hear that argument. The amendment of course is as strong as I, as an opposition member, am allowed to move. We attempted to move a stronger, more solid amendment that would allow the government to show its intent to spend these funds on the environment, and of course we were ruled out of order on a controversial ruling, but we are not challenging it. I thought the original amendment was very close to being in order as I do not think it actually directed expenditures; it just put the money into that fund.
However, the minister has said it is weak; that is his reason for opposing it. I would welcome and encourage the minister to make this a very strong, sound, healthy amendment and direct that the money be spent on the environment.
My first proposal to the minister is to say I accept his challenge in that this is not strong enough for him and invite him to tighten it up and change “may” to “shall” in the wording. If he moves it, it will be in order. I, of course, will be delighted to accept that amendment. I feel quite confident that my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain would be delighted to accept that amendment as well.
If the minister is not prepared to do that, though, I would say he ought not to pretend that the government’s commitment to the environment is stronger than mine. Mine, while weak and permissive, at least makes some reference to it in the bill. Indeed, by voting against this amendment or by not strengthening it to make it a strong amendment, the government is saying this money will go into the general revenue fund, it will be allocated by the Treasurer as he sees fit from year to year and there is absolutely nothing that ties this tax back into the environment.
If the minister wants to say it is weak, I say a weak one is better than absolutely no commitment to make this new tax that he is bringing in live up to his commitment that the Treasurer has made. Dare I say that by not accepting this amendment, I think the minister is flying in the face of the Treasurer? He is saying to the Treasurer: “We don’t care what you told people on budget day. We don’t care what your press releases said. We’re not going to make sure that money goes into the environment. Even though you are on the hook, Treasurer, speaking for this government, speaking in the budget speech, we don’t care; you’re on your own in this.”
I really cannot accept the minister’s saying he is not accepting it because it is weak when he knows doggone well the only reason it is weak is that it is as strong as an opposition party can move. I challenge the minister either to support this and give an opportunity not to leave his Treasurer out there on the hook with silly statements that do not mean anything or to amend this and make it stronger. We would be happy to support it.
Mr Charlton: On the same point, in response to the minister’s comments, I wholeheartedly support the comments which the member for Nipissing has just made. Even if we had a strong amendment to this section, it would not cause me to support the section as a whole; but I would support a strong statement in the section that dealt with the placement of this money in a fund and allocated it specifically for environmental purposes.
The government cannot have it both ways. The minister cannot stand up in the House and say, “We have a strong commitment to the government,” at the same time as the Premier (Mr Peterson) says, “We are going to have open government,” and then be afraid to set up the accounting process, both for themselves and for the public, so the public can see that this tax, which the minister has said is for environmental purposes, is in fact going to environmental cleanup.
The fund would set up an accounting procedure that is clearly visible publicly to the opposition parties and to the government itself to assure everyone that the commitment in the Treasurer’s budget was being lived up to with these new tax dollars from tires and gas guzzlers and that those dollars were going for the stated intended purpose.
If the minister cannot accept this amendment or move a stronger one himself, then I think the only option the Ontario public has is to assume that the government is talking environmental rhetoric here in the Legislature and that these taxes will go into the general revenue fund, likely never to be clearly seen or identified again for any purpose other than government spending in general.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I think I have enunciated the commitment of the government I think we have proven it. I think our present minister responsible for the environment is known right across Canada for his commitment to clean up the environment and is well respected right across Canada.
We have devoted more moneys towards cleaning up the environment than any previous government. It is our intention to continue and to improve programs and to introduce new programs such as the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement and to improve the quality of municipal water and municipal sewers. We continue to improve these programs and bring on new ones.
I believe the announcement of the Treasurer when he says he will commit these dollars to improve the environment and I believe the government will follow through on this policy. I do not think the weak amendment is necessary.
The Chairman: Are there any more comments before we proceed with the vote?
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Chairman: Shall section 4, as amended, carry?
Mr Harris: Before we proceed, Mr Chairman, in view of the fact that you have ruled this amendment in order, I realize I would have to have unanimous consent to go back to section 3, and I would seek to see if that unanimous consent is available.
The Chairman: We will dispose of 4 first and then we will go back to 3.
Mr Harris: The reason I need to know is that I think I could slip this in under 4 if I had to, but I prefer to do it under section 3.
The Chairman: Fair enough. As I was saying, shall section 4. as amended, carry?
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
The Chairman: Have we unanimous consent to revert back to section 3?
Mr Harris: This amendment really does fit much more tidily under section 3. It may have taken me a fair bit of time to try to convince Mr Chairman that indeed it would have fit under 4.
The Chairman: Mr Harris moves that section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following:
“2b(1)(a) That all taxes collected pursuant to subsection (1) may be paid into a special recycling fund to be established in the Ministry of the Environment to be available for appropriation to support and finance recycling programs.”
Would the member have an introductory statement?
Mr Harris: Yes. I will not spend a lengthy time debating this, but this amendment deals with the dreaded tire tax, one of the lowest forms of taxation I have seen in a long time.
I really believe that the Treasury and/or Revenue officials -- I am not sure -- must get together and say: “What can we possibly dream up to ding the Ontario taxpayer with again? We’ve hiked the sales tax to eight per cent.”
We now have an income tax level that is approaching scary proportions in this country. When we look at the tax-freedom day statistics, we are now the highest-taxed jurisdiction in Canada. Of course, when we are dealing with the major competitor we are trying to be competitive with, we are far ahead of the United States in taxation levels.
Instead of continually trying to increase the other taxes, I think they have roundtable discussions where they probably get together for dinner and, in view of some of the things that come out of them -- I am sure the odd libation, which, quite frankly, I am not opposed to -- I believe those roundtable, think-tank types of sessions can be very productive.
I guess it is the direction that is given to the very talented civil service and individuals we left to the Liberal government. It is the questions that are given to them; the challenge. The Treasurer and the Minister of Revenue obviously say to them, “Look, figure out some way to rip these people off for more money that we can get away with.”
Indeed, if that is the direction they are given, they come up with these new ways. They say:
“We can slap $5.40 on every tire,” because of course this tax is a tax-on-tax situation. The Treasurer will recall we got into tax on tax in the last budget on telephone bills.
He said: “Look. There’s this federal tax on long distance that’s out there and our tax isn’t being slapped on the federal tax; we’re only taxing the phone calls. Could you guys figure out a way to juggle everything around so we can get tax on tax?” Of course, they plugged that so-called loophole last year. This year they have dreamed up this new one and, of course, made sure it went on the tire before the eight per cent sales tax.
This is well reflective of government policy on the national sales tax plan, where poor Michael Wilson is trying to figure out a way to have his new sales tax up front --
Hon Mr Grandmaître: And you’re going to support that?
Mr Harris: Whatever one might think of the tax, I do not want to be presumed to be defending it at this particular stage. But he is desperately looking for a way to have his tax up front. Of course, all it requires is the provincial government to say, “Sure, even though it’s our jurisdiction, go ahead. Put it on the same place as our sales tax, at the end, and then we won’t be tax on tax.”
But this greedy Treasurer and Minister of Revenue are saying no to that, I suspect for two reasons: one, because they want their tax on tax; two, because for political reasons, I would suggest, they do not want to do anything to accommodate the federal Minister of Finance.
I am straying a tad, though. I do that only in the background and context of these think tanks where they dream up these taxes. After they dreamt up the fact that we could tax tires for $5, I am sure that at that same roundtable discussion where the very inventive and obedient civil servants serving their masters came up with the idea, they also had the same advice to their political masters that: “Look, if you want to grab an extra $5.40 a tire or $21.60 for a set of tires, assuming you don’t have to get an extra one for the spare, there’s only one way you are going to be able to sell it. You must attach it to something that people feel strongly about. So Treasurer, if you’re actually going to do this one,” I am sure the same advisers came forward and said, “You’d better tie it to the environment. You know, it’s a problem disposing of tires. You’d better tie it to the environment.”
So the Treasurer accepted that advice and he tied it to the environment in his statement. The problem is that when the bill came along, of course, the Minister of Revenue either blatantly, contrary to what the Treasurer had said in his budget or to what the Treasurer would want, ignored that advice and refused to tie this tax to the environment.
There is only one of two possibilities. One is that the Minister of Revenue is doing this against his own Treasurer, which is unlikely but possible. So the only other conclusion one can draw is that the Treasurer is an accomplice in this, that he is willing to have this bill go forward not living up to his intent.
I say to the Minister of Revenue, here is an opportunity. If the Treasurer said, “Look, I know I said it’s going to be for the environment, but gosh, don’t hold me to it in case I change my mind and I want to spend it on something else,” my amendment, like the other amendment to section 4, is permissive. All it says is that if at some time in the future there is a government over there -- It does not look like it is going to be one led by this party, but things happen very quickly in politics, and as one who is very likely to be over there in 1991 or 1992, I am very cautious with the amendments I move to legislation, cognizant of the fact that should I be in government, I am going to have to live up to these amendments, so I try to be pretty responsible.
All this says is, “If at some time you want to live up to the Treasurer’s intention, you may do it.” It is a soft amendment like the other one. I call on the Liberal backbenchers to give support to the Treasurer. They should not let this Minister of Revenue carry on and not allow this money to go into the environment. They have to make a choice here. Are they going to support the Treasurer, or are they going to support the Minister of Revenue?
Mr Pelissero: Ben’s in the House right now. Ben, Ben, Ben.
Mr Harris: Let the record show, for when the Treasurer comes back. they were all yelling: “Ben, Been, Ben. To heck with the Treasurer.”
Mr Pelissero: When Bob’s back we’ll go, “Bob, Bob.”
Mr Harris: I have a note coming. I may get some good advice. It says I am late for my meeting, which the House will be happy to hear.
I really do think this permissive amendment ought to be acceptable to the minister. I say this to the backbenchers: If the minister made a secret deal with the Treasurer--”Don’t worry Treasurer, I won’t commit you to the environment” -- they have an opportunity now to make the Minister of Revenue look good. He will have lived up to that secret deal, if there is one, with the Treasurer. Yet they can all do the right thing; I give them that opportunity as well. Everybody here gets off the hook except the Treasurer. After all, was it not the Treasurer who said the tax is for the environment? We are giving him that opportunity to spend the money on the environment.
I have thought of every possible angle that might convince these rascals to support this amendment, and I think I have run out of ammunition. I hope that what I have said is enough.
Mr Charlton: I will not take very long in speaking to the amendment by the member for Nipissing, but I am so very glad we got unanimous consent to reopen section 3, because I was, unfortunately, stuck in the standing committee on resources development last week and I have some comments I would like to make on the section.
Section 3 is the section that deals specifically with the tax on tires. The Treasurer went to great lengths on a number of occasions here in the House, under questioning, and even in his original budget statement, to talk about the litter of tires around this province and the need to get specific funds to clean up the used, discarded tires in Ontario.
I support the amendment that has been moved by the member for Nipissing. This kind of amendment is the least offensive direction the government could possibly accept. As the member for Nipissing has said, for example, if they can clean up the tires for less money than they collect on new tires, it does not force them to leave all of this money allocated to tire cleanup. This amendment does not force the government to do anything other than remember from time to time the obligation it made at the outset that these funds were for environmental cleanup and specifically for the cleanup of used, discarded tires in the province.
It will not tie the hands of this government. It will not hamstring any future decisions about other useful purposes this money could be put to once all of the waste tires are cleaned up. I just urge the minister to stand behind the words he has said here in this House about this government’s commitment to the environment and support the amendment.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I would like to tell the member for Hamilton Mountain yes, we will keep the promise. We will continue to introduce new programs. We will continue to improve the environment.
I am sure the honourable member knows that at the present time we have identified close to 18 million discarded used tires in this province along our highways or stored in warehouses. They have been there for a number of years and are very difficult to discard. We cannot dispose of these tires very easily and I think that every dollar received from this tire tax will be well spent. We will not only clean up the discarded tire problems in this province but also provide any other needed program to improve the environment.
We do not support the amendment brought in by the member for Nipissing.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I just would like to make a couple of comments. This, as I understand it, is --
Mr Charlton: No, we are dealing with an amendment right now.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Okay. I will wait until you go back to the main motion.
The Deputy Chairman: I will then put the question. Mr Harris has moved that section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following:
“2b(1)(a) That all taxes collected pursuant to subsection 1 may be paid into a special recycling fund to be established in the Ministry of the Environment to be available for appropriation to support and finance recycling programs.”
All those in favour of the amendments will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.’
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Just very briefly -- I guess I could have made these comments under the amendment -- I would like to make a simple point to the minister. That is, last week I had a number of calls from down our way from people who are in the retail sector selling tires and the difficulty that they have -- and I think this is a real one -- is that they are now confronted in our area with the prospect that our local landfill has decided it will no longer accept tires; which I totally support because they take up too much room in the landfill. There is a very limited life to the future of that landfill and this will extend that life as we search for a new way of dealing with waste down in our region.
When they heard that the government was putting a $5 tax on tires they thought: “Good. Well, here is a government program that will take the money that is collected, put that money back into the economy into a recycling program and that will solve some of our waste management problems and some problems for the consumers.”
Lo and behold what they find is that they are going to have to charge this $5 tire tax and now, because there is no government program, they are going to be charging an additional $5 to $8 per tire to deal with the disposal of it; so down our way the minister is going to get his $5 per tire which is going to go into general revenue and the consumers are going to be hit with that $5 plus another $5 to $8 per tire. If you are getting a set of four, that means you could be paying $40 to $60 more for your set of four tires because there is no way of disposing of those tires and because the minister has just simply put in a tax and he has put absolutely no program whatsoever to deal with the disposal of tires.
I think if this government were to be fair and totally honest with the taxpayers of this province what it would say is that it has simply introduced a new tax to raise money and it has absolutely no relationship at all to dealing with waste management in this province.
Again, what is going to happen here is that consumers are going to be hit with a regressive tax and we are not going to see the environmental cleanup that I think is important. If dealers do not charge an additional amount of money and if they do not have a way of disposing of the tires, then what one is going to see down our way is more and more tires appearing in ditches, farmers’ fields and alleys.
So we are going to have the worst of both worlds, increased prices due to the government’s tax, and landfills that will be forced to deal with it on their own by just banning things like tires. Then this waste is going to appear all over the community with no provincial strategy of how to deal with waste. What this bill has done is bring us the worst of both worlds.
Consumers and business are rightly outraged by this government’s tax and the explanation that it is an environmental tax, when it has absolutely nothing to do with the environment at all. It has to do with another grab by this government and taxing ordinary people in a very regressive way.
Mr Philip: I simply want to express my concerns, as someone who represents a suburban riding. Many of my people do not have the option of using public transit, nor do they have the income to live in the more affluent areas of Etobicoke close to subway lines and so forth. Many of them work shiftwork; they work in Mississauga and Peel and a car is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
As the Ontario Automobile Association has pointed out, this is just one more tax on the middle-income earners. Those people who can afford to buy automobiles in the $35,000-and-up bracket can afford to pay the extra tax on tires, but for the average person who needs a vehicle for work -- many of the people in my riding are skilled tradesmen who have their own trucks and must use those vehicles for their business -- this is simply one more tax on small business, on middle-income earners and on the people who are living in areas that are not as easily accessible to public transit as the more affluent in Metropolitan Toronto, who the Treasurer thinks are the fat cats in this Ontario society.
We are not all fat cats in Metropolitan Toronto. A lot of people live in places like Rexdale, Mississauga and surrounding areas, they have to use their cars either to get to work or indeed as part of their work and the government simply is taxing them.
The other area to which the Treasurer seems to take great offence is where the city of Etobicoke has said that this budget as a whole is increasing property taxes. I can tell members that in the city of Etobicoke this is one more tax on the municipal taxpayer. The vehicles that we use, our school buses, our trucks and the various vehicles that we use to deliver simple, basic services to our residents are going to go up in price thanks to this.
There is not one stick of evidence that this money is going to be used for environmental protection. When amendments were moved to this bill that would at least guarantee and put in writing what the minister has said, and what the Treasurer said when he tried to rationalize this tax grab on the middle-income earners, they were rejected by the Liberals, which only shows what a lie it is to try to pretend that this is somehow an environmental bill rather than a tax grab.
Once again the government is socking it to the middle class and raising property taxes. The government should be ashamed of itself. It talks one line and does exactly the opposite.
Mr Charlton: I have to go back to the minister’s comments from earlier this afternoon about this government’s strong commitment to the environment and take him to task on the comment.
I will start out by saying that he referred in his comments to the member for St Catharines (Mr Bradley), the current Minister of the Environment, and the reputation which that minister has developed out there. That part of his comment was essentially correct. The correctness of his comment ends there. The environmental community in Ontario respects the minister very much. At the same time, they are saying day in and day out, every day, that the poor minister has difficulty getting money out of this cabinet and this Treasurer. That is the view in the environmental community in Ontario.
This tax on tires is not a tax that was recommended by the Minister of the Environment. The member for St Catharines did not go to the Treasurer and suggest this tax on tires because the member for St Catharines happens to be listening to the environmental community in Ontario, unlike the Treasurer. This tax has the clear earmark of the member for Brant-Haldimand. This tax has the earmark of the Treasurer. This is one that he dreamed up because he has seen some tires strewn down the side of his farm along the side road.
This has nothing to do with environmental cleanup in Ontario and perhaps I can just provide a couple of little lessons for the Minister of Revenue here this afternoon. First, there are clear and simple technologies available for the easy disposal of tires. It is a matter of somebody having the will to do it. It can be done very inexpensively and you can in fact make money in the process. It does not cost money. If this government had the courage and the foresight to set up an organization to recycle tires in this province, we could reduce for the minister’s colleague sitting behind him, the Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton), the costs of rebuilding roads in this province.
Tires, although there may be 18 million of them kicking around out there, are only a problem because we have neglected the problem, not because there is not a solution sitting out there waiting to be had at a very, very inexpensive price, a price that ultimately will make money for whoever proceeds to do it. Tires can be ground up and added to asphalt and put on to our roads. It is a proven technology that has been used in any number of jurisdictions around the world, but in Ontario we fail to see our nose for the rest of our face.
If this government were listening to environmentalists, we may have seen a tax in this budget that was a tax to be imposed on toxic chemicals. The environmental community in Ontario has been calling for a tax on toxic chemicals for many years. Never have they advocated a tax on tires, but they have advocated a tax on toxic chemicals. a graduated tax that would be based on the toxicity of the chemicals involved, the way in which they are going to be used, the ability of the company that is going to be using them to recycle those chemicals and the ability of the chemicals themselves to be destroyed or disposed of safely at the end of their useful life.
Those are the kinds of taxes we might want to seriously consider in Ontario if we want to help the environment. Those are the kinds of taxes we could put in place in this province that would do something real and concrete about what our major problem in this province is -- the wide dispersal and inability to deal with toxic chemicals once we have used them, ending up having to store them in drums, warehouses and, inappropriately, in fields in some cases, and sometimes having to saturate them into ground which we then have to excavate and remove at considerable cost to the taxpayers of this province or some municipality or whatever the case happens to be.
Those are the kinds of actions the environmental community in Ontario has been demanding for many years, but that community on no occasion has advocated a tax on tires.
The Minister of the Environment did not recommend this tax to the Treasurer. This tax on tires is a brainstorm of the Treasurer, who has decided, as was suggested earlier by my colleague, that if he wanted to have any chance of being able to sell this tax to the public as acceptable, he would have to try to attach it to something like the environment, which is what he has tried to do.
The reality for those of us in this House and others who have followed environmental issues around this province and around the world over the course of the last decade is that we know only too well that in the case of tires, a solution that is not only acceptable but also profitable is being used in numerous jurisdictions outside of the province.
We sit here ignoring that fact and griping about the fact, as the minister related to us earlier, that there are 18 million tires sitting around his province, when they could be put to a good and useful purpose by an action of this Legislature to set up a specific program to deal with them instead of adding a $5, undirected tax for their supposed cleanup.
This tax being touted as a tax for environmental purposes is a joke. This government should understand that those out there in the environmental community in the province of Ontario are laughing their behinds off at the government’s claim that this is an environmental cleanup tax.
Mr Fleet: I want to remind members that the commitment in the budget is quite clear. It indicates, “The tire tax will help fund efforts to support recycling and environmentally sound disposal.” In that respect, I want to thank the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) for providing some facts from his community which demonstrate that there is a need for environmentally sound disposal and that it does not exist now. The reality is, as he relates, that it is not appropriate to put tires into the usual dump sites and that there are used tires in the millions all over the province of Ontario.
The proposal of the government is one which I support wholeheartedly. I do not understand at all the rationale advanced by some members of the opposition who do not think you need to spend money to deal with this problem. I am hearing a suggestion today by one member that all the technology is already there to clean it up. That is interesting because, as I understand it, that has not been advanced to the government, and perhaps the member can submit all that information.
There are members within this party who advocate having tax bases that reflect the environmental problems. I advocated an environmental protection tax in this Legislature last February. The principles behind the tire tax are entirely consistent with the points that I advocated then. The reality is that the research has not yet been completed, and certainly whatever technology may be available is not yet in place. We need additional funding to do that. That is why the tax is being implemented. We are going to be able to raise funds and we are going to also have funds as a result of these and other taxes that we raise in this province that are going to be aimed at cleaning up the problems of all these old tires, an admitted problem; even the opposition admits it is a problem.
I was rather bemused at the commentary of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) suggesting that somehow this is a middle-class tax. I found it a little bit hard to understand. Let’s not imagine the $35,000 vehicle, I say to the member; consider a vehicle at, say, $10,000, a brand-new car. You would probably be hard pressed to buy one for as low as $10,000, but there are some around in that price range, I think. Four tires at $5 a tire is $20; it would represent the overwhelming amount of 0.002 per cent of the purchase price. I hardly think that is going to deter anybody from buying the car.
The reality is that this is a tax that all people who buy new tires will pay, and in that sense it relates to the use of the tire. If you use the tire and the use of the tire causes an environmental problem, surely to goodness the users ought to be contributing to the cleanup.
The principle is straightforward. It does not relate to one’s economic background; it relates to the kind of product one uses. I have made suggestions in this House specifically with other types of products. I hope the government and my colleagues and indeed my friends in the opposition will join with me in urging that we have other taxes that relate to products which are an environmental problem to dispose of, such as excess packaging.
It seems to me all of those kinds of products ought to be faced with a tax that (a) encourages people to use those products less and to substitute a more environmentally appropriate product, and (b) encourages manufacturers to move to find other alternatives. It seems to me that is an entirely sound principle of applying a tax.
I have widely distributed that point of view within my riding and elsewhere. I have yet to find anybody, when I talk to people on the street or in meetings either inside my community or elsewhere, who disagrees with the principle. They accept the principle that there are some products that are a bigger environmental problem, and to tax those products in the kind of fashion I have described is something they agree with. Nobody likes more taxes, but they are prepared to accept that this is a sound approach.
I encourage the government to consider other ways to do that, because the actual application will require a certain amount of expertise to make sure we are applying it to accomplish the desired end, As well, the tax on inefficient cars, cars that use inordinate amounts of fuel, is a similar example of that kind of principle.
I think it is one that is worth supporting. Taxes are not going to go away. We have to deal with the reality of how they are going to be applied and it seems to me that this is a very reasonable and a very widely accepted approach. It is a new approach and this government should be congratulated for having the courage to move forward in this area.
Mr Philip: I would like to respond to the inane remarks of the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr Fleet). First of all, he says that somehow this is based on the principle that the polluter must pay. if that is the principle, then why is it that this government does not tax the large corporations? Why have they failed to put a tax on Styrofoam and other major polluters? No, they only want to tax the middle-class person who needs a truck in order to do work or a car in order to commute to work because he lives in the suburbs. He cannot afford --
Mr Fleet: It is not a class-related tax. That is a fallacy.
Mr Philip: The member for High Park-Swansea wants to shout me down as usual. He tries to make up with volume for what he lacks in intelligence or argument.
Mr Fleet: That is not very nice, Ed. You don’t have to try to be mean.
Mr Philip: I mean he follows in the traditional tradition of the members for High Park-Swansea of whatever political persuasion.
I want to say to the member for High Park-Swansea that many of my constituents cannot afford to buy a $400,000 home in High Park-Swansea and live along the subway lines the way some of his constituents do. Therefore, they cannot take a subway to work. They have to commute to work in Mississauga and Peel and so forth and they need to use a car in order to do so.
Many of them are shift workers, and in particular some of the women have expressed to me their concern that even if there is public transportation. they do not like to walk from the bus to their homes at two or three o’clock in the morning. Therefore, they feel safer in taking their automobile to work if they happen to be shift workers. This is one more tax on people like that.
If this were really an anti-pollution tax, then why is the government so afraid to accept amendments that would guarantee that the money raised from this would actually go for environmental purposes? If it is not just a tax grab, then why are they afraid to put into the bill amendments that will guarantee that the money raised by this will go for the cleanup of the tires?
Mr Charlton: I think I also have to respond to the member for High Park-Swansea because he has raised a number of things that have become important illusions in this debate.
First of all, the member for High Park-Swansea has implied that the clear statement in the budget about --
Mr Fleet: I quoted from it.
Mr Charlton: The budget has absolutely no legal authority over the operation of this tax under the Retail Sales Tax Act. This government stood in this House earlier this afternoon and last week and voted against the amendments that were moved here that would have specifically, clearly, set out that clear statement from the budget in the legislation so that the intent of the tax was clear. So if the Liberals have a conscience that is also clean in terms of what this money is going to be used for, perhaps they should have thought differently before they voted against the amendments.
Second, the member for High Park-Swansea has shown his willingness to believe the Treasurer and remain in ignorance on the issue of tires and their environmental hazard, because he has not bothered to check with anybody about state-of-the-art tire disposal and reuse. The technology has existed for well over a decade. The proposition was put to the former Tory government seven years ago when I was the Environment critic for the third party at the time. It has been put to this Environment minister since. He is aware of it.
The member for High Park-Swansea obviously has not even taken the time to consult with the Minister of the Environment to ask that minister whether he thinks this tax is a useful environmental tax or whether there could have been something environmentally more useful done in this budget. If he took the time to consult with the Minister of the Environment, as some of us have, on environmental issues, I think he would find a far different view in the Ministry of the Environment than what was expressed by the Treasurer on this tax and its environmental benefit. If the member is going to tout this as an environmental tax, then at least he should know what the Minister of the Environment and the officials in his ministry think of its value: as an environmental cleanup tax.
I will end my remarks there just repeating the fact that this tax being touted as an environmental tax is a joke, and the environmental community in Ontario is chuckling heartily.
Mr Fleet: I enjoyed in some respects some of the comments that were made by the first two members, the member for Hamilton Mountain and the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Even though the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale descended to personal attacks on me to some extent, that does not particularly bother me. I guess I am now sometimes used to hearing that from that quarter.
The thing that is perhaps most difficult to bear is the suggestion that the riding I represent is filled with nothing but wealthy people who are insensitive to all other interests. It is a curious view of the New Democratic Party that that is the composition of the riding. It perhaps explains their lack of comprehension of issues in the riding in the past, in the last couple of elections in particular. It is particularly shocking in light of the composition of the riding. It is a riding with many different types of people, with a wide range of social and economic classes within all parts of the riding. To suggest somehow that the view that we ought to have this tax means that everybody in the riding is uncaring of suburban Etobicoke or some such silly point of view is really quite astounding. It does show the lack of reality, the lack of being in touch of the NDP, at least with the people in my riding, and I would think that problem still exists in other places in this province.
Somehow, I knew I was going to hear again from the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.
Mr Philip: I want to point out to the member for High Park-Swansea that I was not saying his constituents were insensitive to the problems of the suburbs. I was saying that he was insensitive to the people.
Mr Furlong: No; you said $400,000 homes.
Mr Fleet: You were talking about $400,000 homes. I will take you on a tour of the Junction where there are not any homes anything like that.
The Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, as usual, I have always listened attentively to the member for High Park-Swansea. The moment I try to make any comments, he tries to shout me down. If you cannot bring order, then I will wait until you do bring order.
Mr Philip: That is fine. If they want to play that game, they should not expect to get it through today. I can wait.
The Deputy Chairman: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has the floor. May I suggest that we move on to the bill and not have a dispute between two members.
Mr Philip: I agree. What I was trying to point out, however, was that people who live along subway lines are not as affected as those people who live in the suburbs and do not have the same options vis-à-vis public transportation.
I would like to ask the minister this question in dealing with this section. No doubt he has heard from the Toronto Transit Commission as to the additional costs it is going to have as a result of this. I wonder if he can comment on what those costs are. Has he heard from a number of municipalities and can he tell which municipalities and how much additional costs this is going to create for those municipalities, along with all the other costs that are being passed through by this government such as the $14 million on Metro for police and courthouses and so forth? Has he heard as to the additional cost in terms of, for example, the Metropolitan Toronto Police as a result of the extra $5 per tire?
All of those are taxes that are not borne by people on a progressive tax basis, but rather are passed on through municipal taxes. I wonder if he has those figures since many of the people who are leaders in these communities have commented publicly in the press, attacking the government over its budget that is passing on additional costs to the municipalities through additional transportation costs, additional policing costs and additional costs for the operating of vehicles that are owned by the city. I wonder if he would like to share those figures or share the correspondence he has had on that matter.
The Deputy Chairman: Is there further discussion? Can I now ask whether section 3, as amended, will stand as part of the bill? Agreed.
Section 4 has already been dealt with.
Mr Philip: On a point of order, Mr Chairman:
We were on section 3. I asked a number of questions of the minister. Is he suggesting that he is not prepared to answer my questions?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: No, I was waiting to close the debate and I was going to answer. I intended to reply to all of his questions or to the last three anyway. While I am on my feet, I would like to advise the honourable member that, no, I have not heard from any police commission or from any transportation commission in this province. Maybe the Treasurer has, but I have not.
Mr Philip: Then I wonder if the minister can answer this question: Has he read their comments in the press and does he agree with the statements such as statements made by various people, community leaders, councillors in the city of Etobicoke, for example, who have commented very negatively about this budget and its effect on the municipal ratepayers?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The honourable member is asking me to make a comment on something I have read in the newspaper, but I do not know what their municipal budgets are or the TTC budget or the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission budget, so I cannot comment on their figures.
Mr Philip: With respect to the minister, since the Treasurer commented and made some rather nasty remarks about the council and the mayor of the city of Etobicoke when the member for Etobicoke West (Mrs LeBourdais) asked him a question in the House, I wonder why this minister feels he might not have any comments on similar matters.
Mrs LeBourdais: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I may have misheard the member, but I did not ask a question of this minister. I asked a question of the Treasurer, I believe. I may have misinterpreted that, but I just wanted that on the record.
Mr Philip: The record will show that is what I said.
The Deputy Chairman: In any event, it is not a point of order. It is a matter of some information that could be made in the ordinary course of sequence of speeches. Minister, did you have any more to say?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: No, Mr Chairman, except that I am sure the Treasurer will answer the honourable member’s questions any time.
The Deputy Chairman: We may proceed then. Shall sections 5 to 9, inclusive, stand as part of the bill?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Sections 5 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
LAND TRANSFER TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 23, An Act to amend the Land Transfer Tax Act.
The Deputy Chairman: Could members please indicate now whether they have amendments, questions or comments with respect to particular sections and list those sections for me? Are there any from the opposition?
Mr Charlton: I have no amendments. I have comments on sections 2, 3 and 4. I believe that is all.
The Deputy Chairman: Are there any government amendments?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: No.
The Deputy Chairman: There are no amendments. Therefore, shall section 1 stand as part of the bill?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Section 1 agreed to.
Mr Philip: Could the minister tell us what research, what criteria he may have used to come up with the figure of $250,000 in section 2 as the lock-in figure?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I am sure the figure of $250,000 was not dreamed up by the Treasury people. The average home in the city of Toronto at the present time is close to $250,000. If I am not mistaken, it is $246,000. So, $250,000 is very close.
Mr Philip: With respect, the figure I read the other day is that it is over $250,000. If it is not over now, it certainly will be, even with the deflation at the present time. Even if it goes up only four per cent or five per cent this year, it will go over.
My question to the minister is this: What justification does he have to once again single out Metropolitan Toronto as another source of additional tax revenue, when the average person who happens to buy a home here is in fact going to be hit by this?
It is hard enough now for people to afford a home, without being hit by yet another government tax. Why should they be penalized when, in fact, when one looks around it is very difficult to find single, detached homes for less than that, and yet in other communities they can purchase homes at less than that?
Is it not just one more tax grab by the Treasurer from residents of the general Metropolitan Toronto area?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The only difference between pre-bill and post-bill is that there is an increase of one half per cent for single homes over $400,000. I live in the city of Vanier close to Ottawa, and there are very few homes at $400,000. I do not know about Etobicoke-Rexdale.
Mr Charlton: I go back to this question about the $250,000. I would take it, from the minister’s initial comments in response to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip), that he was hoping the $250,000 figure captured average homes in this province. The comment that he thought the average price for an average home in Metro Toronto was $246,000 implies that it was just under this limit, and therefore that people here still would be able to buy an average home without going to the higher rate. Am I correct in that assumption?
So the comment about the average price in Metro was just a red herring that he was throwing out to throw some other scent on the question. What was the reference regarding?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The question was, where did we dream up this figure of $250,000? My answer to the honourable member was that at the time of the budget it was quoted in every newspaper and by real estate people that the average home in Metro would be around $250,000. That was my answer.
Mr Charlton: What he is telling us is that he picked the $250,000 figure to try to reflect the average home. He was answering a question, where did he get the $250,000 figure from?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: What I am saying is that the only increase in the land transfer tax applies to homes over $400,000; that is what the bill is all about and that is the difference. The $250,000 remains at the same level of taxation; I do not know why it is entering the picture. There is no change in taxation.
Mr Charlton: l am trying to explain that to the minister. When one comes before the Legislature because taxes have worked their way out of date and no longer reflect current circumstances, one tries to adjust the tax to fit current circumstances. The reality is that some years ago, when the $250,000 figure was put in, every average home in the province could be bought for less than $250,000. That is no longer the case.
What the minister has told us here today is that the average price of the average home in Metro at the time of the budget was quoted as $246,000. I hope the minister understands how averages work. Averaging means going out and taking the price on every average home that is sold, adding them all together, dividing by the total number of sales and that gives the average price of $246,000. That means that approximately half of the average homes sold were sold for more than $246,000.
The point is that the minister came in with a tax increase above $400,000, but he did not do anything to try to adjust the lower tax rates to reflect the changes.
Mr Carrothers: No, read the bill.
Mr Charlton: It is the $250,000 level that is the problem. The member should listen to what is being said here instead of shrinking his mind into the minister’s argument.
The $250,000 level no longer captures all of the average homes in Ontario; $350,000 might. If it was tax policy 10 years ago that average homes should not pay the second-lowest rate, then that should still be tax policy in Ontario. If the top end of average homes is now $325,000, $330,000 or whatever, this tax bill should reflect that before one moves up to the next step in the tax structure.
The minister has not taken the time to look at any of these matters, which goes back to our objections with the bill in the first place: that it is just a way of getting money and does not reflect the imposition of economic or social policy in this province at all, which is what the tax was designed originally to do.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I would like to quote from my briefing notes. I hope that I make it very, very clear to the honourable member that there has been no change in the rates other than the $400,000 home or two single-family residences. The new rates will not affect a conveyance containing one or two single-family residences unless “the value of consideration exceeds $400,000.” I think this is very clear.
Mr Carlton: Again, the minister misses the point. The point is simple. Let me try to put it as simply as I can. An average home which three years ago sold for $240,000 would be taxed, under subclause 2(1)(c)(iii) of the bill, at 1.5 per cent. That average home is now selling for $275,000 and has been bumped up into the next category of taxation even though it is still the same average home which the same average wage earner is expected to try to buy.
The same as when inflation goes up we expect the government to adjust the seniors’ tax rebate and the property tax rebate, we expect this government to keep on top of its taxes; taxes which have staggered rates for a purpose. The staggered rates were put in this tax to reflect some benefit to the poor and some disbenefit to the less poor and the more wealthy.
These taxes should be adjusted to reflect the changes in the economy as they relate to real estate so that average home owners are not being further penalized by the value speculation that is going on out on there in the residential home real estate market.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I find it very, very strange that a New Democratic Party member is in favour of more taxes, and that is what he is trying to say.
Mr Charlton: I did not say more taxes. I said change the form in which the taxes go up; reflect the average home.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: “Change the formula and introduce new taxes.” I am repeating myself but I think it is very important for the honourable member, who is the only NDP member in the House, to be reminded that only two single-family houses over $400,000 are affected by this increase.
The Deputy Chairman: Order, please. In view of the hour and in view of the tempers here, it may be appropriate to adjourn.
On motion by Mr Charlton, the committee of the whole reported progress on one bill, one bill without amendment, and one bill with certain amendments.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Conway: Pursuant to standing order 13, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
On Monday we will consider Bill 23, the Land Transfer Tax Amendment Act, 1989, and Bill 24, the Gasoline Tax Amendment Act, 1989, along with Bill 93, the Justices of the Peace Act, 1989, in committee of the whole House. Also on Monday, we will consider any bills awaiting third reading then standing in the Orders and Notices.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we will deal with the second reading of Bill 33, the Ontario Mineral Exploration Program Act, 1989, Bill 35, the Sarnia-Lambton Act, 1989, and Bill 209, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act, 1989.
Any further business -- and there may very well be further business--will be announced after discussion among House leaders.
On Thursday in the morning, we will deal with private members’ business standing in the names of the member for Lanark-Renfrew (Mr Wiseman) and the member for Wentworth East (Ms Collins).
The House adjourned at 1803.