The House met at 1330.
ONTARIO NEW HOME WARRANTY PROGRAM
Mr Kormos: Down in Thorold there is a house builder called B. J. Enterprises. They built several homes on Pioneer Village Crescent in Thorold, and these were purchased by young families. Sadly, these families found that their homes were not built to any acceptable standard. They were able to compile lengthy lists of deficiencies, and these were reported to the Ontario New Home Warranty Program. These young families expected that their concerns would be resolved.
They soon learned that the warranty program relies primarily on the goodwill of the builder. B. J. Enterprises is without goodwill. It is not in their vocabulary. The young families complained to the mayor, to their aldermen and finally to their MPP. Now B. J. Enterprises, rather than repairing the defects in the house, finds itself lawyers and sues two of the home owners, Charles and Marla Stiles, for slander because they had the wherewithal to complain appropriately to, among others, their MPP. A fine bit of pettifoggery.
A home is the largest single purchase that we will ever make. Slipshod builders like B. J. Enterprises have no business in the building industry. The only protection that young people like the Stileses have is for Ontario’s home warranty program to have real teeth. It has to be more than merely advisory. Maybe it is about time that shabby builders who make quick bucks off young couples face some real penalties for ripping off home buyers. Stiff fines and the prospect of a jail sentence might just do the trick.
Mr Jackson: According to the Globe and Mail of 19 July, the Treasurer has confirmed that the $850 million allocated for 4,400 new hospital beds in Ontario will now not be forthcoming.
This news is particularly cruel for the citizens of Burlington, and especially the board of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. The Burlington hospital enthusiastically accepted this government’s promise of a 180-bed expansion as it would help alleviate the severe shortage it was experiencing with its long-term care and chronic care beds.
The hospital organized a mammoth fundraising drive and raised millions of dollars to meet the community’s share of the expansion funding. As late as 23 June the Liberal member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan) was assuring the hospital that the province was close to making a decision this summer. Many hospital boards are now asking the question as to whether they have been misguided by the Ministry of Health into believing that its commitment to provide the beds was a firm one.
Ontario hospitals, unlike the Ministry of Health, acted in good faith on behalf of all those patients who would require those beds, both now and in the future. By playing into the ministry’s game of withholding approval and constant review, hospital boards have engaged in downsizing original estimates, closing beds for longer periods and putting excessive strains on emergency and life support programs.
This government is forcing hospitals to pare down the margin of health safety until it is too fragile for the patients whose wellbeing and very lives may hang in the balance.
Mr Tatham: An article in the Economist calls it “Skinner’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Sam Skinner is the new United States Secretary of Transportation. He will be presenting a national transport policy. He has a difficult job. In 1987 two thirds of urban interstate highways were officially congested during peak hours, up from two fifths in 1975. For every dollar’s worth of American exports, 25 cents is spent on transport and the cost grows with increased congestion.
There are three important issues: first, investment appraisal; second, traffic management; third, pricing. Building heavily used roads with too thin a surface; greater encouragement of car and van pooling; heavy lorries that do most damage to road surfaces are subsidized by light ones. In some states the tax system encourages lorries with fewer axles, even though road damage is proportional not to overall weight but to weight per axle.
The biggest fault of all is that prices do not rise for peak hour use. Congestion pricing would be unpopular initially, but it may be the best single solution to America’s transport worries. Sound familiar? By the way, last year Amtrak overtook the airlines as the top carrier between Washington and New York with its high-speed rail service.
1987 CONSTITUTIONAL ACCORD
Mr Allen: A year ago this Legislature passed the Meech Lake accord, along with companion resolutions recognizing multicultural and aboriginal rights as fundamental to Canada and urging the reinstatement of the aboriginal process. Since then the politics of Meech Lake have become complicated by various agendas, even though Meech Lake itself may not in fact be the problem.
The “notwithstanding” clause, for example, is a charter problem. The concerns of women’s groups are really with the courts and the charter and not with Meech Lake. Meech Lake is not opposed to naming other fundamental characteristics of Canada, such as its multicultural characteristics or its aboriginal presence, but actually opens up that possibility.
Meech Lake does not preclude a return to constitutional discussions on aboriginal rights in self-government, nor does it necessarily make new national shared-cost programs more difficult. As always, that depends on political will which the current federal government lacks in that respect.
Provincial governments do not get new powers in the proper sense of the term and the unanimity principle for amendment is only slightly extended over the 1982 agreement and only applies to federal institutions. Federal spending power as well as fiscal and economic powers remain intact, and Trudeau was prepared to offer provinces a role in naming Supreme Court judges and senators.
In almost all respects, Meech Lake remains a fair and balanced vehicle for bringing Quebec willingly under the charter and back to the table, without which we can kiss most other constitutional reforms goodbye. Why then has this government to date been so slow in promoting the accord and the approach proposed by the select committee on constitutional reform?
Mr Eves: I rise to discuss again in this House the issue of the employees at G. W. Martin Lumber Ltd at the Mattawa and Rutherglen mills. I understand that the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) is meeting today with representatives of Tembec Inc, a firm from Quebec, which is interested in buying the Mattawa mill and the licences attached thereto.
I would simply remind the minister of his commitment that he will try to see to it that those timber agreements or licences that are attached to the Mattawa mill and the Rutherglen mill do indeed become conditional upon those mills remaining open and those local employees retaining their employment.
I have heard today from representatives of Tembec and from the union of the loggers and the woodworkers to ensure that they do have the timber that is necessary to process at both of those mills, but in particular with respect to the Tembec operation, the Mattawa mill. Everybody seems to be in agreement with respect to this issue, the workers and their union and the company that wishes to purchase the mill and the timber licences.
I would urge the minister to do what be can do to ensure that sufficient volume is there to make these two mills viable operations and that local employment will be preserved in the future.
The union also points out a fact that has never made much sense to me, that some pine and spruce that have been cut in the Mattawa area for years are processed at a mill in Braeside, as opposed to being processed right where it is cut. I would appreciate it if the minister would look into that as well.
BRONTE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Mr Carrothers: I rise today to congratulate the Bronte Historical Society on its second annual heritage festival. Last weekend the streets of Bronte were closed and were alive with people. There were displays of everything from the history of Bronte to bronze casting, glass etching and weaving. In addition, youngsters could participate in a kite-flying contest and passersby were entertained by a variety of live entertainment.
The Bronte Historical Society was formed only a year and a half ago, to preserve and enhance the historical heritage of Bronte harbour. One hundred and fifty years ago, Bronte harbour began life as a fishing village and port for the farmers of Halton region and developed a very rich and varied heritage.
In recent years, the pressures of urban growth have attacked this heritage, and we have begun to lose that piece of our historical fabric. The Bronte Historical Society is to be congratulated for the work it has done in preserving historical buildings such as the old Bronte post office and the Sovereign House, which it is turning into a museum. Without groups such as the Bronte Historical Society, we in this province will lose our very rich and valuable historical heritage.
I also wish to make special mention of Bill and Dorothy Hill, who were honoured by the society for their work in preserving Bronte.
I hope that all members will take the opportunity to visit Bronte harbour this summer. They will be able to enjoy the boardwalk, the stores and the Canadian geese on the beach.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Kormos: The Minister of Food and Agriculture (Mr Riddell) demonstrated yesterday that he does not give a damn about fruit and vegetable growers in the province. These horticultural producers, among them apple growers, face serious losses as a result of last summer’s drought. Some may well lose their farms, and the province will not give them a penny of assistance.
The minister spouts cheap political sophistry and tries to pass the buck. It is interesting, though, that the minister would participate in a similar program when it came to livestock. Then he was prepared to share financial responsibility with the federal government, but not now. These farmers do not need petty political arguments; they need real help. We should be proud of those men and women who are the food producers. We should be ready to assist them when, through no fault of their own, they need help.
The free trade deal condemned our vineyards and put fruit and vegetable producers at risk. The provincial Liberals are now driving the final nail into the coffin. Is that not what the minister’s refusal to provide aid is really all about?
TABLING OF INFORMATION
Mr Harris: I rise on a point of order under standing order 88(d), Mr Speaker: Since the election of this government, it has become increasingly difficult to get information on a wide variety of matters. In addition to the difficulties we have been experiencing with the timeliness of responses to questions in Orders and Notices, many have been answered a full month past the deadline for response outlined in the standing orders. We have also had serious concerns about the quality of those responses.
Mr Speaker, you will be aware that standing order 88(d) states, “The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 days.” As of yesterday, this government failed to meet the deadline for responses under standing order 88(d) for order paper questions 23 to 25, 70, 81, 88, 89, 93, 94, 96, 125, 144, 151, 152 and 177 to 191 inclusive. That is a total of 30 overdue unanswered questions requested from 11 ministries and the Premier (Mr Peterson). The required responses to these particular questions are currently overdue by a cumulative total of 474 days, more than a full year.
The Speaker: Your point of order?
Mr Harris: This government is clearly uninterested in responding to very responsible legitimate questions, and the governing order 88(d) indicates to me that the government is not interested in being accountable or is deliberately avoiding accountability.
I know, sir, you cannot force ministers to give quality answers, you cannot force them to table reports and you cannot force them to answer freedom of information requests --
The Speaker: The point of order?
Mr Harris: -- but you do have some power in enforcing the standing orders. Therefore, Mr Speaker, l would ask you take the necessary steps to ensure that standing order 88(d) is complied with.
The Speaker: I have listened very carefully to the comments by the member for Nipissing. I believe he is correct in stating that there is a certain length of time in which those questions must be responded to. I will certainly draw the matter to the attention of the government House leader and no doubt it will be looked after.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question today for the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston). I notice from the information I have that he is going to be here. I see the whip is nodding his head; I think I can hear him do that from here.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Mr B. Rae: I will ask my other question to the Minister of Energy in the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson). l know the minister has received--because he has issued a press release--the study showing the incredible amount of energy that, according to the advisers to the Ministry of Energy, can in fact be saved by aggressive and intelligent action on conservation. We now have several reports on conservation and its potential to save us from the folly of building yet another Darlington station.
I wonder if the minister can tell us when all these studies will be referred to the Ontario Energy Board so we can have a report from the energy board on conservation, so we can have a report from it on cogeneration and so the energy board itself can be intimately and actively involved with the critical decisions of this government over the next year with respect to the future of energy supply in Ontario.
The Speaker: Thank you. The question has been asked.
Hon Mr Wong: I would like to answer by saying that after Ontario Hydro has presented to the government and to the public of Ontario its preferred plan, it is the government’s intention to make sure there is a public input mechanism. Whether this is the Ontario Energy Board, a tribunal, a committee or some other forum has not been decided yet, but I think the answer to the spirit of the question of the honourable Leader of the Opposition would be to say that that process should begin in the fall.
Mr B. Rae: I was astounded that the minister has changed his approach from what it was just a short time ago, because earlier on the minister made it very clear that he wanted the energy board to be involved and to be the government body that would have the responsibility for assessing the information that is provided to it by outside experts who should be plugged right into Hydro right now.
I want to ask the minister why he has backed off the commitment he made that the Ontario Energy Board would have the power and the authority to advise this government officially as to what conservation is possible, not accepting Hydro’s figures, and what cogeneration is possible, not accepting Hydro’s figures. Why has he backed off his commitment to give that jurisdiction to the energy board?
Hon Mr Wong: We have not backed off. Let me say that, as the honourable member has indicated, there are certain duties and tasks that, I am quite confident, the energy board could handle in a very excellent way. The question of avoided costs would be one possibility, but in addition there are other concerns, social and environmental concerns.
This government has decided to take a very thorough, comprehensive and prudent approach to determining exactly what body it should be that analyses this preferred plan that will take this province from here to the year 2010 in terms of making sure it has reliable, safe supplies of electricity.
Mr B. Rae: The minister knows full well that Hydro has incredible bureaucratic capacity, that Hydro has an extraordinary institutional view, that Hydro has a direct relationship with the Premier (Mr Peterson) and with the Premier’s office in terms of where it wants to go.
The minister is dealing with Hydro, and his predecessors have said they were mugged by Hydro in the corridors of power. That is exactly what is happening to him. The minister does not have the institutional power to deal with, to balance and to counterbalance that power of Hydro. What I am asking the minister is this: Why is he ignoring the clear authority, the capacity, the personnel, and the expertise of the Ontario Energy Board to counterbalance the extraordinary influence that Hydro is going to have on this decision?
Hon Mr Wong: In terms of institutional legislative clout, let me remind the honourable member that this government’s amendments to the Power Corporation Act have been designed to ensure that Ontario Hydro is more responsive to government policy and to public priorities. Let us ask in the area of demand management, in the area of small hydro generation, cogeneration, and parallel generation policy: What do the people in the industry say? I would be more than pleased to read this news release that came from the Independent Power Producers’ Society of Ontario, the people who speak for the private sector producers of electricity in this province, one day after we announced our parallel generation policy last week. The society writes that, “This puts Ontario’s policy 10 steps ahead of anywhere else in Canada.” l think that speaks for itself.
The Speaker: Does the Leader of the Opposition still wish to stand down his question?
Mr B. Rae: I will stand down my question, Mr Speaker, as long as I have the assurance of the government whip that in fact the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston) is going to be here today.
Mr Reycraft: I have been assured, Mr Speaker, that the Minister of Financial Institutions will be present this afternoon. He will be here very soon.
SUPPLY OF TEACHERS
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Colleges and Universities and it is related to the anticipated number of graduate tech teachers who will be coming out of college this year. The numbers that we have are that there will be 118 graduates who will be prepared to teach in those particular programs, where in fact the need that has been identified is some 370 teachers, for a shortfall of 252 technical teachers in our school system.
Is it her intention and the intention of her colleague the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) to fill those 252 positions, that she cannot fill as a result of a shortage in graduates, with either underqualified or unqualified teachers in this fall’s session of the school system?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I do believe that on earlier occasions my colleague the Minister of Education has spoken to the concerns of members of the opposition about potential teacher shortages in the future and he has provided assurances that there will be qualified teachers in our school system.
I can certainly add my assurance that we have been working very closely with the Ministry of Education to anticipate shortages and have for some past years, in fact, been anticipating those shortages and have been taking steps to increase the numbers of people who are in our faculties of education. We have increased the numbers of people in the past two years by some 10 and 13 per cent. There will be a further increase again this year as a result of our program adjustment funds.
We are confident that in fact we can respond to the need for additional numbers of teachers in the future.
Mr Brandt: The minister may be confident, but I am very concerned, as are members of my party, about the identified shortfall that is going to materialize as a direct result of the lack of preparation and the lack of planning of her government. Her Premier (Mr Peterson) constantly talks about the need to prepare the students of tomorrow for the very competitive international world of trade that we are going to be entering as a result of Europe 1992, as a result of free trade, and as a result of competition from the far east. All of these factors are becoming a reality in the world that we live in.
The Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs McLeod), the Minister of Education and particularly the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter), should be concerned about the fact that fully 60 per cent of the teachers that the Minister of Colleges and Universities is going to be needing in the high-technology area are not going to be available this year.
She talks about having all of those positions filled by qualified teachers. My question is, is she prepared to give this House the assurance today that there will be no unqualified teachers used in our system in the coming term?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think the honourable member knows that the responsibility for teacher qualifications lies with the Ministry of Education and that he is asking me to comment very specifically on an area of responsibility which is not within my ministry.
I can give the members of this House absolute assurance that we are working closely with the Ministry of Education to anticipate shortages, that we have been doing that for some time and, as I have indicated, that we have put substantial amounts of new program adjustment funds--which will total some $5.5 million this fall--into increased numbers of spaces in our teacher education faculties. That is one of the ways in which we provide support to the Ministry of Education to ensure that there will be qualified teachers available.
I think the honourable member is also aware at the same time that some years ago it was recognized that there was a concern about teacher education in Ontario, and a select committee on education was struck to review teacher education. As part of the concern about potential shortages, a committee to study supply and demand was established.
I think the member knows that as a result of that we have established a council on teacher education, which will be looking at specific subject areas, shortages in those subject areas and what we can do to address those shortages.
Mr Jackson: The Minister of Education controls qualifications, but the Minister of Colleges and Universities clearly controls the number of qualified persons who come on the market. There is a growing gulf of confidence in the perception out there as to whether her government knows how to plan adequately for the manpower needs of our post-secondary education.
According to a recent report prepared by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, clearly 30 per cent of current faculty members will need replacement over the next decade. In our universities, 7,500 PhDs will be required, and yet the demand is clearly in the neighbourhood of 16,000.
When figures such as these, which have been accurately measured, indicate that there will not be an adequate supply of qualified professors in our post-secondary institutions, how does the minister expect to produce the world-class engineers and scientists needed to keep Ontario competitive in the areas of aerospace, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries, if that is the commitment of this government to excellence?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Although the member has switched from the availability of qualified teachers in the secondary school system to the availability of qualified faculty in the post-secondary system, he still has taken a certain technology emphasis.
I am anxious to respond to the question about qualified faculty. Perhaps I should begin with that and recognize the fact that, again, I think there has been considerable foresight by this government in an earlier day, when it established a faculty renewal program at a time when in fact there was no recognized concern about future shortages; there was concern about lack of mobility.
By ensuring, through that program, that we would bring on tenured faculty, we have in fact provided some additional tenured staff that will be in place when shortages occur. At the same time, when accessibility funding was provided, I think our ministry showed considerable foresight in ensuring that those accessibility funds would extend to graduate programs. So we have in fact increased the number of people in our graduate programs by some five per cent last year, so that we are producing more trained faculty.
I cannot resist adding that it is interesting that we should focus on technology because there has been, I think--
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order. We will revert to the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr B. Rae: I know how important flow is in this business. I think the Tories are on a roll, so we will just let them go.
Mr Adams: First roll they’ve been on for a long time.
Mr Faubert: It’s all downhill.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: I would like to flow along to the Minister of Housing here. About two months ago I asked the minister about the total per-unit cost of the St Lawrence Square housing project in Toronto. For some reason, in spite of the great announcement that the minister is concerned with this project and in spire of her supposed interest, she was unable to answer that question or provide me with the information. I asked it because it has been estimated that costs may now exceed $200,000 per unit, way above the ministry’s defined affordable housing range, 25 per cent higher than the range she has imposed on municipalities.
Again today I would like to ask the minister that simple question. What is the most recent projected cost per unit of the St Lawrence housing project?
Hon Ms Hošek: That development has been proposed on a break-even basis using existing government programs. The commitment by this government on the nonprofit program represents about $215 million. The cost of the entire project will be based on the final cost, but the cost of the land, which is the single most important component, is based on the market value as of 13 July 1988, which is the date the agreement was signed.
I cannot give the member greater detail than that because the discussions going on between the city, Metropolitan Toronto and the land owners are ongoing right now. The final cost will very much depend on that and on the process of building which will take place over a number of years.
Mr Harris: I do not know anybody, other than this minister and this government, who proceeds with major projects with absolutely no idea how much they are going to cost. In the desperate bid for a headline redemption before fading in the history books, this minister has lost sight of the three things that make a mockery of government-sponsored affordable housing in this province: (1) lack of tendering, (2) lack of planning and consultation and (3) that delays and price increases are caused by her own government red tape.
In Newmarket 375 affordable units may be abandoned because they have gone up $20,000 after being stalled by her. In North Bay, provincial policy has priced the Project 3000 units, 24 units, at over $100,000 now. They are out of the affordable range and will not be able to proceed.
Does the minister not understand that by ignoring the problem and talking in headlines about the symptoms, it is indeed her own government policies that are making the affordable housing problem worse in this province?
Hon Ms Hošek: The minister understands very well that the member opposite likes to create a stew made up of six questions on 12 different topics, presented in the most confusing way possible. Let me respond to the member’s question. I do not object to people who cook, but I do object to questions of that sort that are so confused.
Let me point out something to the member. When we made our commitment on the St Lawrence project, we said it would house many people, that it would cost around $1 billion, that we would be working with the municipality and that we in the province stood behind the work of the municipality. But it was the municipality that was going to do the expropriations and do the first stage of building and that we would make a commitment to nonprofit housing units on that site. That commitment stands. When that project comes more fully into fruition, I will invite the member to come with me, take a look at the buildings that will be built there and say hello to all the people who will be very grateful to be living there.
The member has concerns about his riding in Nipissing. Let me point out to the member that in 1985 there were 16 subsidized units in his community in North Bay. The total number in 1988 was 265. The reason for that is very clear. The reason for that is because of the policies of this government, the commitment of this government and the resources of this government to build nonprofit housing where it is needed all over Ontario, including in the member’s riding in North Bay, which had 16 units when his party left office.
Mr Harris: The minister seems concerned that I ask too many questions. She never answers any of them and then she insists on talking about North Bay, where she says there are now 265 units. If she is going to spend her researchers’ time and all the staff time digging up this silly stuff in my riding, the total now is--
Mr Harris: --the total now, assisted, in my riding--
Mr Harris: Do they not want to hear the facts?
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: Order. Will the member place the supplementary?
Mr Harris: Thank you, Mr Speaker. For the minister’s information, the total in North Bay is not now 265, it is 1,560, most of which were approved or in the works before she took office.
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr Harris: To get back to the questions that we were asking, this spring’s budget states that $2 billion has been committed under the Homes Now program. I believe the taxpayers should know what projects have been approved, where they are located, when they will come on stream, how much they cost per unit--
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Harris: --how many are being tendered and what developers and consultants have been awarded. The budget provides an additional $1 billion. I think--
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: I believe the taxpayers should know if they are getting value for money.
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: You want me to ask a question.
The Speaker: Order. You just did, “Are the taxpayers getting value for their money?”
The Speaker: Order. You have asked a question.
The Speaker: Order. Minister.
Hon Ms Hošek: The Homes Now proposals which were announced in the budget before last include a $2-billion commitment to use Canada pension plan funds to build 30,000 units of nonprofit housing and a commitment to the subsidized costs of the rents of those units. In the first year we announced 21,000 of those 30,000 units. The additional resources that we have been given in the budget should make it possible for us to make sure that we build the 30,000 units that are required.
The member opposite knows very well also--
Mr Harris: Yes, they’ve gone up a billion dollars in one year, the same number of units, from $1 billion to $2 billion.
Hon Ms Hošek: If the member opposite were interested in the answer, he might be willing to listen to it.
The member opposite also knows very well that we have a procedure for making sure that our allocations are conducted appropriately, that we conduct internal audits on the value of what we are building, that we have a maximum unit price set in all the different parts of the province based on the cost of building in those different parts of the province and that we have our own internal audit process and the Provincial Auditor to make sure that we do indeed get value for money.
COULTER FINANCIAL CORP
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions. I have some questions to the minister about the receivership that was placed on the interests of various companies controlled by Mr Coulter, who is a mortgage broker, in Ottawa. The minister was asked some questions about this already, but I have some additional questions I would like to put to him.
I wonder if the minister can tell us: How many times was this company inspected by inspectors of the Ministry of Financial Institutions in 1989?
Hon Mr Elston: If I am informed correctly, I think they were in the offices there once prior to their going in now.
Mr B. Rae: The minister will know that, according to the Ottawa Citizen, an accountant’s report that was filed with the court at the time of the placing of these three companies in receiver-ship stated that 2S per cent of the mortgages that are involved here--and we are talking about 1,300 people with mortgages worth about $76 million--were either in default or at risk, which the minister will know is roughly eight times the ratio that would exist in a bank or a trust company, for example.
I wonder if the minister can tell us: Exactly what was the date of the inspection by his ministry that took place, and did the inspectors find that this figure of 25 per cent of the mortgages in default was the case when they went in prior to this month?
Hon Mr Elston: It was early in the year, obviously earlier than now. I do not know the exact date, and they did not find that 25 per cent of the mortgages were in default at that time.
Mr B. Rae: It is hard to believe that 25 per cent of your business is going to collapse in the space of three or four months. That just strikes one as being literally incredible.
Mr Coulter was appointed by the government to the board of the Ontario Mortgage Corp in March of this year, which presumably is a sign of confidence of this government in Mr Coulter’s abilities. I wonder if the minister can explain how it would be that his inspectors apparently would give approval to the activities of these three companies, apparently would find that there were no problems--l have not heard the minister state anything to the contrary--and appoint Mr Coulter to the board of the Ontario Mortgage Corp, when a short couple of months later 433616 Ontario Ltd and the two companies which it controls, Kiminco Acceptance and Coulter Financial Corp, were put into receiver-ship by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
Hon Mr Elston: The analysis that is being done now in conjunction with the bank, the receiver appointed by the court for the bank, and in conjunction with Coopers and Lybrand, which has also been placed to oversee other companies in the chain, has divulged in fact that there are problems that were not evidenced by the filings and the material which was reviewed.
The analysis being done now by the people from the Ministry of Financial Institutions, in addition to that being done by others, will tell us exactly why there were not found to be problems at that time. We will then know more about the difficulties which have surfaced now as opposed to having surfaced earlier.
Until very recently all of the payments in relation to investments were being made, and there was an ongoing financial activity that would have indicated that all was going well with the corporations.
With respect to the appointment of the gentleman to a provincial board, I think it is fair to say that the gentleman has been held in the highest regard in Ottawa, in the community. He was looked upon as being of the strongest and highest quality of character. He has been seen to be a leader in his industry, and this event that has occurred has been seen to be a major catastrophe--
The Speaker: Order. That is a fairly comprehensive answer. New question.
WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Attorney General. Once again, Robert Hétu, drug trafficker, now child molester, has lived under the witness protection program since 1983 and continues to enjoy that special status. His spouse tells me that he was never without large amounts of cash. We know that at least once, notwithstanding that he claimed protection, he returned to Montreal to spend Christmas with his parents. My question is: Just how much money did Hétu get from the province since 1983 and how much is he getting now after he pleaded guilty to molesting those children?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, this person, in order to protect him from physical injury because he gave evidence for the crown in the case of a very violent gangland murder, was admitted to the witness protection program in 1983 under terms that provided a change of name and certain other protections and advances.
Since 1985, those protections would be incorporated in a formal agreement. We have done that so there will be no confusion about what those benefits may be. Those payments have now been terminated, the time limit during which they were granted having expired.
In the meantime, Mr Hétu, who is being charged under his new name, is alleged to have committed some other offences, and is being charged. There is no suggestion of immunity or a special deal or any other protection. If he is out on bail, that is because the court has made a decision that he would be on bail pending his conviction and pending his sentencing. That is a determination made by the court, not by the ministry. My honourable friend can try to make all the mileage out of it he wants, but at the end of the day he has to deal with the facts.
Mr Kormos: Let’s deal with the facts. It is no longer an allegation; the man has pleaded guilty, to four counts of molesting young children.
Hon Mr Scott: All your clients did.
The Speaker: Order.
An hon member: Recess time.
The Speaker: It is close to that. Supplementary?
Mr Kormos: Prior to that, on a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The comment made by the Attorney General is one that is entirely improper. He knows it. Among other things, it is inaccurate. If he knew as much as he would purport to know, he would know how inaccurate it is. I would ask, in view of the nature of that comment, that the Speaker call upon the Attorney General, who should know better, to withdraw that comment.
The Speaker: You do not have a question?
Mr Kormos: Yes, I have a supplementary. We were told yesterday by the Attorney General, and we are told once again, that Hétu continues to enjoy these special rights, that notwithstanding his pleas of guilty, he is still in the witness protection program. The district court judge who is going to be sentencing Hétu in October was very specifically told that Hétu was in the witness protection program. The Attorney General, who is a lawyer, should know that that is not a particularly relevant consideration on the part of a sentencing judge. He has mentioned the agreement.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Kormos: The concern is the effect that agreement is going to have on the sentencing judge. The question is specifically: What was the agreement and what will the Attorney General do to ensure that Hétu is properly sentenced to jail and not given special consideration by virtue of that special status?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member, in the Toronto Star last week, is reported to have said, as he has been saying here: “The Attorney General should act immediately to ensure that criminals like Hétu should not continue to be shielded by the province.” Factually, that assertion is incorrect. The provisions of the agreement expired some time ago, before Mr Hétu was convicted. He is not being shielded by the province at all at the moment. The terms of the agreement have expired.
He still has the benefit of the new name that the program gave him, but he is being charged under that name. He has been convicted in a court. He pleaded guilty. There is nothing wrong with that. The courts take that into account on sentence, when a plea of guilty rather than a trial is issued. He pleaded guilty and he will be sentenced by the court in October. If he is at large now, that is not because the crown attorney wants it that way; it is because the court has decided that that is appropriate disposition of the matter.
I want to assure the honourable member that this man was charged as promptly as could be done and was dealt with in the ordinary way. A conviction was achieved without any concessions of any significance of which I am aware, and the sentencing will be dealt with in the perfectly normal way and determined by the judge in the way that we are used to having it determined in the province. He is not being shielded by anybody. In fact, we are prosecuting him as vigorously as we can.
Mr Kormos: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I give you notice, but you were here and heard the comments made earlier by the Attorney General. The comments were to the effect that I was--I think up here in Toronto they call it a dump truck. The Attorney General made a comment that was dishonest and false, and I am asking--
The Speaker: Order. It is not a point of privilege, and the member has now accused another member.
Hon Mr Scott: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I did not refer to the honourable member as a dump truck. If he took any offence from the remark I made, I apologize for it and I withdraw it.
The Speaker: Now will you withdraw, Mr Kormos?
Mr Kormos: I will withdraw the comment that it was dishonest; it was merely false.
The Speaker: Order. Under the circumstances, will you withdraw? With a yes or no.
Mr Kormos: Yes, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Okay.
The Speaker: Order. New question. The member for Carleton.
Mr Sterling: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Some hon members: Boo.
Mr Sterling: I think they want me to withdraw.
The Speaker: I believe the member for Carleton has a question. To which minister?
Mr Sterling: To the Minister for Financial Institutions.
Mr Speaker, if this House were run properly by the government House leader, we would not be here in the middle of July.
The Speaker: Is there any other member who has a question?
COULTER FINANCIAL CORP
Mr Sterling: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. He was mentioning earlier, to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B Rae), that his people went in to investigate the Coulter group of companies early in the year. I have three matters I would like the minister to relate to the Legislature in regard to that investigation. Did the ministry go in in response to a request from a disgruntled investor; what kind of investigation took place; and what did it find?
Hon Mr Elston: I have not yet gotten a full report, because the activities of my ministry have been designed to assist in dealing with the court-related matters and sorting out the issues of stability of the various investments. I cannot tell the honourable gentleman exactly all the detail he wishes now, except to say that it was a spot-check and not instigated by a complaint, as far as I know. If that is incorrect, I will advise him so at a later date. I am looking for an entire report as soon as some of the matters in the initial inspections are resolved, and I can undertake to provide that to the members, particularly in the Ottawa area or to any of those who require such information.
Mr Sterling: This investigation and this receivership have now been going on for a matter of a week or two weeks. I find it unacceptable that the minister does not have that information at his fingertips at this moment. Thirteen hundred investors in the Ottawa-Carleton area might have lost up to $76 million in this fiasco. It appears, according to the receiver, that a great deal of the money secured by Glen Coulter, Diane Coulter and the corporations involved, through promissory notes, has not been accounted for. Has the minister asked the police to assist him in his investigation of this matter?
Hon Mr Elston: I can tell the honourable gentleman that the police have in fact been involved for some time, but I am not able to give the member further details, other than to say that like the other creditors, there appeared when the spot-check was done that nothing was out of order. The involvement of the high number of authorities and representatives on behalf of creditors I think would indicate to the member that there is indeed an incredible complexity to the transactions that were occurring. We are looking for the nature of those complexities, as to what might have gone wrong, how it went wrong and what things were done to conceal the problems from people who were willing to be investors in the organization.
Again, I have to say that in the community, from what I can tell, although I do not know the gentleman personally, he was held in the highest regard, that people felt he had shown an incredibly good track record with respect to investments, having been in the business for over 15 years, and was seen to be a leader in his industry. I think that has obviously led to the considerable surprise about the catastrophe which has struck some of the investors.
DEVELOPMENT OF GOVERNMENT LAND
Mr Faubert: My question is to the Minister of Housing. Yesterday the minister, in a statement to this House on behalf of her ministry and the Minister of Government Services (Mr Patten), announced the government’s intention to apply for a local planning approval for a 9.3-acre site on the northeast comer of Ellesmere and McCowan roads in my riding of Scarborough-Ellesmere. The proposal features 540 residences and some 785,000 square feet of office space.
Yesterday, in response to that statement, the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) left the impression that the city of Scarborough had not been made aware of the province’s long-standing and public intention to provide a housing component on this site. Can the minister advise this House if the city of Scarborough officials had been made aware of the government’s plans?
Hon Ms Hošek: In April 1988 the Minister of Government Services and I announced five provincial sites in Metropolitan Toronto that were going to be released for housing. This particular site in Scarborough was one of them, and I have the news release here in which that was announced. It was 13 April 1988.
We worked closely with the municipality and there were consultations with the planning department, the local ratepayers and so on to discuss this site. So it has been part of a discussion about Housing First initiatives and housing initiatives since April 1988.
Mr Faubert: In response to the Minister of Housing’s statement, the member for Nipissing also made the comment that because the ministry wishes to proceed with its publicly announced plans to provide housing and needed office development on this site, the city of Scarborough’s bid for an aquatic facility for the 1996 Summer Olympics is somehow threatened. Can the minister advise if that statement has any validity, or is this just another inaccurate allegation by the opposition?
Hon Ms Hošek: I understand that Scarborough has proposed two sites in addition to this one for a potential aquatic centre. I also understand that the city owns about seven and a half acres just north of the site we are talking about which has been proposed for Housing First. I understand that there are at least two sites which the city itself has proposed plus the site I know about that is just a bit north of ours, which is owned by them, which might be appropriate for an aquatic centre.
If, indeed, the city of Toronto or the Toronto area does get the 1996 Olympics, and Scarborough is chosen as a site for an aquatic centre, there are at least three sites available for that purpose.
Mr Reville: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister knows that the Red Cross provides homemaker services to about 180,000 mainly elderly Ontario citizens.
Their deficit has not yet been covered by the government, which strikes me as odd given that this minister, in connection with the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), recently announced a long-term care planning process. Of the many principles noted in the process were these three: to emphasize services in people’s homes, to encourage the use of the most appropriate cost-effective service and to support care givers.
Given that this planning process will not conclude until 1990, I think it is, and given that in the meantime the deficit situation the Red Cross is facing will diminish its capacity to deliver home care services, would the minister not now agree to do what can be done to pick up the remainder of the deficit so we do not lose that capacity?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member will be aware of the fact that in the preceding year we paid, I believe, about $1 million to the Red Cross for last year’s deficit. At that time, when I made that announcement I indicated that we would also pick up the deficit for this current fiscal year. I added, however, that this would be based upon a review by my staff of what properly constituted the components of that deficit. That, in fact, has been done. We have agreed to pay $1.6 million this year towards the Red Cross.
The Red Cross, however, has indicated to us that it believes its deficit will be considerably higher than that, as a matter of fact. We have agreed to the $1.6 million. We also have agreed to review a second time further components of that, and if the second review indicates that a higher number should be allocated, then I am quite prepared to authorize that. I should say to the honourable member, however, that it is not likely that the figure the Red Cross is using is the number that will be approved.
Mr Reville: I am very relieved to hear part of the minister’s answer for sure. The Red Cross has indicated to me and, I am sure, to the minister, that it believes its deficit is going to be about $3.7 million and that the minister’s offer amounts to taking about half the water out of the boat, in terms of the bailout.
I am sure the minister also remains committed to the process of de-institutionalization that his ministry has been well known for, and to doing whatever must be done to ensure that people are cared for in their homes, as far as that is possible. I just hope he will reaffirm his commitment to looking very carefully at the elements of that deficit to make sure that the Red Cross can continue to deliver those homemaking services that people rely on.
Hon Mr Sweeney: There is no question--at least in my mind, and I believe in my colleague’s mind--as to the validity of the service the Red Cross provides.
Part of the small disagreement between us at the present time is about those components of the deficit which are add-ons to what they are currently offering. In his original question, the honourable member pointed to my recent announcement of a complete rationalization of the Ministry of Health’s and my ministry’s programs for long-term care. We have said to the Red Cross that while that rationalization is going on--and quite frankly, I am required by cabinet to have a report to them by the end of September--we did not want them to add on to their program or expand it. Quite frankly, I believe they are going to, but we want it to fit into that overall rationalization.
In the meantime we have said to them, “Please hold the line.” It is the distinction between holding the line and the desire to expand prior to rationalization that is creating the current disagreement.
Let me reiterate. We have clearly said the $1.6 million is there. There may be more than $1.6 million. I think I can say almost with certainty there will not be $3.7 million.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Villeneuve: My question is to the Treasurer, the Deputy Premier, a very powerful member of cabinet and a farmer himself. Can the Treasurer explain why, one year after the 1988 drought here in Ontario, he has not yet decided on Ontario’s participation in crop drought assistance? While the western provinces have come to an agreement with Ottawa, Ontario has not. A contributory participation of $38 million would bring $152 million--I emphasize this amount--to Ontario’s fruit, vegetable and cash crop producers. This is good business for everyone. Is it not good business for the Treasurer? What is he waiting for?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The Minister of Agriculture and Food will answer that question.
Hon Mr Riddell: During the member’s absence from the House over the last two weeks that same question has been asked four or five times, and the answer remains the same.
The honourable member knows that the crop drought relief program was announced at the time of the last federal election as being a federal program, and every article one picks up indicates very clearly that it is a federal program.
I commend the apple growers for trying to get their share of the $850 million and would ask that they continue to work with us to pressure the federal government into living up to its commitment. So I would hope members opposite would work with us, contact their local federal members of Parliament and I would even join the group in a bus trip down to Ottawa. As a matter of fact, I will be going to the federal ministers’ convention at the end of this week and once again I will put all kinds of pressure on Mr Mazankowski to live up to his commitment. If he does, then that $150 million the member is talking about--
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Villeneuve: Ontario has not done its homework. We still do not have representation on the board. In a press release dated 9 January 1989, entitled “Livestock Drought Assistance,” Ontario’s stated reason for participating was: “The program was first announced in western Canada. Producers there would have an unfair advantage over producers in Ontario if no program were offered here.”
What is the difference between livestock and cropping? There is discrimination here. Within the ministry, $55 million scheduled for Ontario agriculture went unspent last year. Now that the western provinces are receiving crop drought assistance and Ontario may not be participating, can the minister explain why he would not put in $38 million, appoint two people to the board and make sure that Ontario’s fruit, vegetable and cash crop producers--
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Riddell: Talking about my budget, I have to say once again that we have increased our budget by 78 per cent since we formed the government. When the member talks about direct transfers of payments to farmers, we have increased the budget by 100 per cent. He was the one who raised the--
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Brandt: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In response to a question yesterday, the minister said he had increased his budget 100 per cent. Which figure is correct?
The Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Hon Mr Riddell: If the member had been listening, he would have heard me say that from the standpoint of direct payments to farmers, we have increased the budget by over 100 per cent.
WORKPLACE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INFORMATION SYSTEM
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is to the Minister of Labour. Two and a half years ago a chemical fire took place at the Horticultural Technologies Ltd warehouse in Kitchener. Since that time, one fireman who was at the scene has died of a rare form of cancer. Eleven others have developed kidney, gall bladder or liver problems. A police officer who was at the scene is now suffering from kidney disease. At the time of the fire, the company’s owner could not be reached. The firefighters were forced to battle the fire without any knowledge of the possible toxicity of the chemicals that were burning.
The Kitchener Fire Department has since tried to compile a computerized list of chemicals stored in the area’s businesses, but they may run into some difficulties because companies only have to disclose this information on a voluntary basis.
Does the Minister of Labour have any plans to aid these firefighters and other emergency service workers in their attempts to create a safer workplace?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I want to tell my friend the member for Kitchener that the tragedy that happened in his community two and a half years ago is a perfect example of why this government passed Bill 79, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, legislation which was passed in this House by this Parliament some two and a half years ago under the careful guidance of my predecessor, now the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Wrye).
Not enough people know that under Bill 79 there are provisions which will come into force and effect in October 1990 which will require that every business have on file and make available to fire departments all across the province a floor plan and an inventory of all hazardous materials that are in those workplaces. It is part of the community right-to-know provisions of Bill 79 and my expectation is that once that is fully implemented, the kind of tragedy that we had in the member’s community will not happen again.
Mr D. R. Cooke: Can the minister assure us that the time frame he is setting out will be adhered to?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I believe we will be able to meet that time frame. When the bill was passed, there was some resistance to the requirement--a new requirement for employers, but we believe an extremely important one--to keep an inventory, to have a floor plan and to make that inventory and that floor plan available to the very people in the communities, like fire departments, who are there to protect public safety.
We deal with all sorts of hazardous materials and the WHMIS system, which gives the worker the right to know what it is that he or she is dealing with, has been extended under that bill to a community right-to-know provision that we think will make a dramatic difference, through better information and better knowledge, in the management of these materials in our communities right across the province.
HANDLING OF CONTAMINANTS
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Back on 11 July, I asked the minister if he was aware of the number of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated trans-formers and large amount of asbestos on the number 3 open hearth furnace site at Stelco, which is undergoing demolition, and if he could produce an order or any documentation of procedures to be used on this site. The minister said he would take the question as notice and be pleased to look into it and get back with all the necessary details at the earliest possible opportunity. Can the minister tell me if he has any answers to that question?
Hon Mr Bradley: In fact, I have directed to the member a letter on this matter. He probably does not have it yet, but as he has asked the question in the House again, I will bring forward some of the material that is contained in the letter.
First of all, the Ministry of the Environment has requested a plan from the demolition contractor for the moving of these particular transformers in a safe manner. Staff from the ministry have visited the site with the contractor to determine which transformers can safely be transferred now and which must be stored onsite until some partial demolition is in fact completed. All transformers will be transferred to an approved PCB storage site under regulation 11/82.
Triple M Construction is handling the asbestos and is licensed to do so under certificate of approval A820341 for commercial nonhazardous solid industrial waste and asbestos. I am informed that all necessary safety precautions are being followed during the bagging of the asbestos. No asbestos had been moved offsite at the time this information was provided to me, and it was being stored in a building.
The member would know that--
The Speaker: Thank you. It seemed like a fairly comprehensive answer.
Mr Mackenzie: Some of the questions that the workers have been trying to find out about is what they are doing with the transformers as they move them, and where, and what they are doing in terms of the bagging of the asbestos.
I am wondering if the minister can also tell us if he is aware of the contents of the two underground lagoons and the sludge that is beginning to radiate from those lagoons out to the ground under that particular property.
Hon Mr Bradley: That is some additional information that I will attempt to get for the member.
I have a note here that says the asbestos was removed prior to the roof being dropped; that was another factor he had raised before.
We have no specific jurisdiction over the demolition. The Ministry of Labour has that specific jurisdiction, although we are involved in a commenting way. The Environment Ontario staff are ensuring the safe storage and transport of PCB-containing waste, as well as the safe handling, transport and disposal of the asbestos.
The member had asked whether the Ministry of the Environment people had been ordered off the property. I am informed they had not been ordered off the property. I wanted to clear that up.
I will attempt to determine the additional information the member has requested.
Mr Runciman: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It has to do with the death of Sagal Samanter, age 13, several months ago, as the minister will recall, in Ottawa. In a very tragic accident, the girl had her spine severed when she was caught between an elevator floor and the frame. We were told afterwards that there was an outdated panel on that elevator which ministry staff knew about for a number of years but did not take any action on.
I would like to know today specifically what the ministry did in response to that accident in terms of increasing elevator inspections and increasing manpower.
Hon Mr Wrye: In terms of the overall manpower problem, we have received an additional resource allocation for the elevating devices branch and attempts are now under way to hire more inspectors. I will share with the honourable member quite candidly that we have staff shortages in the Ottawa area. If memory serves me correctly, we have a vacancy, and one other staff member is on long-term disability.
I say to the honourable member that we are having, as are the elevator maintenance companies, some considerable difficulty in filling the vacancies. Apparently, these very highly skilled people are in quite short supply throughout the province and indeed throughout the country. We have been given Management Board of Cabinet approval for additional staffing, but it is proving quite difficult to fill those vacancies. We are seeking to do so in the Ottawa situation. Because of our shortages, we have moved one person to Ottawa over the short term.
Mr Runciman: Effectively, what the minister is saying is they did nothing following the death of Sagal Samanter, and I think a case of negligence could be made. Two months following her death, a 71-year-old tourist also was killed in an elevator in Ottawa, in the Lord Elgin Hotel.
I might point out that this minister has doubled his personal staff, in terms of staff of Conservative predecessors in that office, despite a significant reduction in responsibilities. The minister obviously has not heard of contracting out to the private sector. If he reduced his staff to the former level, he could have approximately 10,000 inspections across this province.
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Runciman: Is the minister prepared to take action to ensure the safe operation of elevators in this province? He certainly has not done it up to this point.
Hon Mr Wrye: I do not know what the honourable member believes to be the appropriate inspection function of government, but we believe it is appropriate that government does inspections over and above the private sector. I would share with the House and with the honourable member, in case he does not know this, that the problems in terms of staff shortages and shortages of qualified individuals extends right into the private sector. Their own inspection cycles have also been reduced.
We have put together a task force. It has met twice with the private sector, and we are making ongoing efforts to ensure that the kinds of tragedies that have occurred twice in Ottawa, and that is twice too often, are not repeated.
It is an area that, quite honestly, very much concerns me and concerns the government, and we are attempting to deal with it. But I say to the honourable gentleman, it is not the simplest of tasks, particularly with the shortage of labour that is available with this particular skill. We are attempting to recruit them.
Mr D. W. Smith: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation which will lead to a settlement equitable to teachers.
That is signed by 57 names, and I have affixed my name to the bottom.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I have a petition signed by 73 people in my area whose request is similar to the petition presented by the member for Lambton.
Mr Brandt: I have a series of petitions here that are identical to the petition read by the member for Lambton. I will not take up the time of the House in reading the petition. They include some 60 names from not only my riding but ridings adjacent to the great riding of Sarnia.
Mr Reycraft: I have two petitions, and the wording of the two petitions is exactly the same as that read by the member for Lambton this afternoon. One is signed by 94 residents of the riding of Kitchener-Wilmot; the other is signed by 28 residents of the riding of York Centre. I have attached my signature to both, as required by the standing orders.
Mr Eves: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We wish to request that Highway 69 be reconstructed into a divided four-lane highway to prevent future recurrence of traffic deaths that have occurred on this unsafe stretch of highway.”
The petition is dated 25 July 1989. It has some 4,595 signatures affixed thereto, to which I also have affixed my own. I am in support of the petition, and this is in addition to an earlier petition of last fall that had 3,744 signatures affixed thereto.
Mr Henderson: “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:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to May 31, 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.
“The proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
This petition was signed by 205 Etobicoke teacher members of District 22 of the Superannuated Teachers of Ontario, and I have signed it as well.
SCHOOL OPENING AND CLOSING EXERCISES
Mrs Fawcett: I have a petition addressed to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario concerning an amendment to regulation 262 concerning the collective recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in opening or closing exercises in the public schools. I have affixed my signature in the proper manner.
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Sterling: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave lo 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 lo 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.”
That is signed by 136 people, making the total 2,422 to date, and it is signed by myself.
Mr MacDonald: I have a petition with 20 names affixed to it. It has the same wording as that of the member for Lambton (Mr D. W. Smith). So as not to take up too much time, I have affixed my signature to this, also.
Mr Ruprecht: I have a petition which is identical to that of the member for Lambton. It urges the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) of Ontario to enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. It consists of 25 names and I have affixed my signature thereto.
Mr Sterling: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference; and
“Whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
I have signed that along with 160 other people from my riding
Mr Epp: I have two petitions here; one is signed by 26 people and another by 51 people. Both regard the superannuation act and I have signed both petitions.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Philip moved first reading of Bill 56, An Act to Amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Philip: The main purpose of the bill is to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act to provide that the breach by a tenant of a provision in the tenancy agreement will not in itself be the grounds for a landlord to obtain a writ of possession.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I am expecting a bill momentarily, which I hope to introduce. I was wondering if we could have unanimous consent of the House to revert to introduction of bills when it occurs.
The Speaker: When the time comes, you might discuss that with the House leader and possibly it could be arranged.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr R. F. Nixon moved resolution 7:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing 1 August 1989 and ending 31 October 1989, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Hon R. F. Nixon: In asking for interim supply, again I simply inform the members that it is expected that in the period covered by the resolution until the end of October, the amount to be expended will be approximately $9 billion, depending on the various programs being funded. If everything is averaged out, the honourable members would be aware that we are spending from the consolidated revenue fund an average of about $105 million a day.
While the honourable members on all sides are very much concerned about the cost of government and the rising costs, we are also very much aware of many inadequacies in funding that are brought to our attention not only by representatives of the community but by members of this House, as is their duty. So all of us, in a sense, share the responsibility of this balance between the level of expenditure and the rate of increase and also, to some degree, the inadequacies that we all perceive.
It is the establishment of priorities, I suppose, that is the main responsibility of the government and is, therefore, without too much of a surprise, the main subject of concern of the opposition. I have a feeling I may be hearing some of those.
Mr Laughren: Let me say at the outset, as part of a long, rambling conclusion to this session on my part, that I accept no responsibility whatsoever for the spending habits of this government or for its priorities, for that matter.
While the Treasurer was having a little fun with his opening remarks, I do hope it is clearly understood that I do not share his sense of how the tax revenues are collected in the province, or how the priorities are established when the money is being spent.
I thought I saw the Minister of Northern Development (Mr Fontaine) here a few moments ago. The Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton) is here. I am particularly pleased that the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) is here, because I have great plans for the member for Sudbury in the next couple of months.
I can tell the members that from the beginning, when the member for Sudbury was dumped as a parliamentary assistant, I and his constituents in Sudbury were much offended by this government. I can only say to the Deputy Premier that that insult can be redressed only by his appointment to cabinet in the upcoming cabinet shuffle.
I think the people in Sudbury deserve no less than a seat at the cabinet table. For too long have the people in Sudbury been denied such representation so close to the heart of power. I trust that my words will be listened to and that the Deputy Premier will do the lobbying on my behalf, as I will not be there during those consultations in view of the fact that I have to be out of town when that is going on.
It would be good to have another municipal politician at the cabinet table, as it is the municipalities that have suffered so much under this government. I am sure the member for Sudbury would reinforce my views, in view of the fact that Sudbury itself is one of many municipalities that have felt the shop stick of the Treasurer’s policies on the sharing of revenues.
I did want to take a couple of moments not to speculate on the upcoming cabinet shuffle, because I do not think that would be useful, but to put my views on the record about the member for Sudbury and how we will be grossly insulted, not just me personally but people in that part of Ontario, if that member is not seated at the cabinet table during the upcoming shuffle. I think it would be an outrageous slight to the people in Sudbury who voted for the member for Sudbury.
The Deputy Speaker: Of course, you will relate all this to government notice of motion 7.
Mr Laughren: Indeed. The spending of money is what this motion is all about, and certainly the salaries of cabinet ministers involve the spending of a great deal of money. Another day we will talk about the salaries of cabinet members compared to other members in this assembly.
The Treasurer has learned to deal with money in a way I never thought possible. To hear the Treasurer stand up and talk about $9 billion here and $105 million a day--I never thought I would hear the Treasurer have those numbers roll off his tongue with such aplomb. I really did not think I would ever see the day. It is as though he were simply talking about paying the bills back on the farm. It is amazing how times have changed.
There was a very famous man who once said that being determines consciousness. I will not provoke the Treasurer by telling him who it was who said that, in case he does not remember. I know he is an extremely well read fellow, but I do not want to provoke him by reminding him who said that. It is not someone with whom he would agree on too many things, anyway.
Mr R. F. Nixon: “To each according to his needs”?
Mr Laughren: The Treasurer is very perceptive. That is absolutely correct.
I did want to spend a couple of moments on the problem of municipal funding, because if there is one signal that has gone out from this government in this last session since the budget, it has been to the municipalities that they are increasingly going to be on their own. Despite past promises, which I will remind the Treasurer of from time to time, the municipalities are picking up an increasing share of their expenditures, as are school bounds in Ontario.
The problem with that, of course, as we all know, is that there is only one taxpayer, as the saying goes, but there are different ways of taxpayers being allocated their share of the money that must be raised. Property taxation is a regressive method of doing so.
I did mention to the Treasurer at one time, and he looked surprised when I said it, that in Ontario local property taxes are 36 per cent higher relative to personal income taxes than the average for the other nine provinces. Compared to the personal income taxes that people pay, property taxes are 36 per cent higher in Ontario than in other jurisdictions.
The problem with the sales tax is that the very tax credits that were established to alleviate the problem of the regressivity of property taxes have not kept pace. The property tax credits, the rebates that people fill in on their tax form, have actually diminished in value since they were implemented in the 1970s. As a matter of fact, we did what I think was a fairly careful analysis of it, and it showed that they would need to be enriched by about $300 million a year simply to bring them back to the value they had when they were introduced back in the 1970s by the previous government.
I think the Treasurer is not dealing fairly with property taxpayers, because he increases property taxes and does not increase the property tax credits accordingly, which were put in place in order to ease the burden on low-income taxpayers. I think the Treasurer has not dealt fairly with property taxpayers.
The property tax increases in Ontario this year are going up substantially more than the rate of inflation, in some cases, double the rate of inflation: in Metropolitan Toronto, 12.4 per cent; in Hamilton, 8.9 percent; and in Waterloo, 10.4 per cent. These are tax increases, as I say, that are virtually double the rate of inflation, and a lot of that problem is caused by the provincial government.
On top of it all, as though to add insult to injury, the Treasurer as well froze unconditional grants and road maintenance grants to the municipalities at the 1988 level. That is equivalent to a cut. The Treasurer knows that. If the rate of inflation is between 5.5 and six per cent, and one freezes the grants at last year’s level, then one has really cut the grants to those municipalities.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has detailed 22 different provincial programs and policies which will impinge on the municipal property tax base and for which municipalities are receiving no direct increase from this government. I am talking about things such as the court security which the municipalities have to pick up now, whereas previously the provincial government picked them up. There is the whole question of pay equity, hospital funding, recycling, homes for the aged and the road assistance program which I just mentioned. Those are programs where the municipalities are picking up an increasing share, because the province is not increasing its funding to them.
The Treasurer has said--I believe he said this right in his budget this year, if I recall correctly--that grants to municipalities will increase by eight per cent; I believe that is the number he used. But that really is a deceptive figure, that is not a fair figure to use for the municipalities, because a lot of those are cost-shared programs with the province, such as welfare, transit, day care and so forth. I note as well that the Thomson report, Transitions--the Social Assistance Review Committee report, as it is sometimes called--recommended that the province pick up the tab for social assistance. That is one recommendation that the province has conveniently decided to ignore.
I want to spend a minute or so on the education costs. In 1984, the present Premier (Mr Peterson) said that a Liberal government would restore the province’s share of educational funding to 60 per cent of the total. The reverse has happened: In 1975 the province paid for 61.3 per cent of education expenditures, by 1985 it was down to 46.62 per cent, and in 1989 it has fallen to 42.9 per cent. There is a steady decline. That is the kind of decline that is easily plotted on a graph. That really is unfair.
When you hear people questioning the integrity of government, they are really talking, very often, about the tendency of this government to make grant promises and simply ignore them when the election is over and it has received its majority. It really is unfair. l know that using the word “dishonest” is not appropriate in this chamber, so I will not use it, but I want to say that if the word “dishonest” were parliamentary, that is exactly what I would accuse this government of.
To stand up and make promises and then break those promises, without any kind of apology to anybody for having made them--What would other members call that? Most of us would say that is dishonest, to make promises in the heat of a campaign and then simply forget them conveniently when you have received your majority.
As a matter of fact, I went back a little further than 1975; I went back to 19 June 1973. This is what the present Treasurer of the province had to say. I am quoting from page 3433 of Hansard: “We...believe that there should be a larger share of the cost of education paid at the central level. To give credit where it is due, since this was an issue in the 1967 election campaign, the Treasurer and his predecessors have moved toward the payment of a little over 60 per cent on the average of these costs,” meaning, of course, that the province had moved towards paying 60 per cent of the total cost of education in the province.
This is a quote that should be--l will not say where it should be put--on the Treasurer’s desk so that when he comes in every morning he sees this. This is the quote, “Until the government is paying 80 per cent, it is still a burden on the local property owners, which means that there is a complete dislocation of local financing because of the continuing heavy costs imposed for the provision of education services.”
So there was the present Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) saying in 1973 that the province should be paying 80 per cent. In 1984 the Premier said that it should be 60 per cent. My heart palpitates at the thought of what the next promise will be. It has gone from 80 per cent down to 60 per cent. In reality it is flirting with 40 per cent. I shudder to think what the next move will be on the part of the government. It really is unfair what it has done to the municipalities and to the boards of education.
I am sorry the Minister of Transportation has left. l was hoping to get to this part of my remarks before he left. I want to say that a couple of weeks ago I spent a week in the north put of my constituency. In my constituency I have to drive over roads, some of which are public and some of which are forest roads. I say without exaggeration that in some cases the forest roads were better than the public roads. These are roads built by the forestry companies to get their trees from the bush to the mills. Some of those roads were better than the public roads. Do you know what else? The public is paying for some of those forest roads for the forestry companies, through the forest management agreements. So, here we have a double insult to the taxpayers of Ontario: The roads that are being used to haul the logs back and forth are in some cases better than the public roads. It really is an outrage.
I can only speak for the part of Ontario that I represent, but I can say that the roads are worse now than when this government came into power. What kind of priority does this government have towards northern Ontario? There has to be more clout at that cabinet table for northern Ontario or the government is going to be in a lot of trouble. I personally hope it is in a lot of trouble. It is not hard to predict that it will be in trouble in northern Ontario because of the lack of services it is delivering.
I would be happy during this supply motion to have the member for Sudbury stand up and contradict what I am saying about the quality of roads in that part of the province. Where are the improvements? Where is the four-laning? It is not there--only in promises again. There is a lot to be done and we are getting somewhat weary of the large pronouncements about the greater Toronto area road system while the north gets the back of the hand.
I know our time is restricted this afternoon, but I wanted to spend a couple of moments on another project that is new and dear to my heart and that is the Sudbury neutrino observatory.
Hon R. F. Nixon: That’s the $14-million hole in the ground.
Mr Laughren: It is not a $14-million hole in the ground because it is not there yet.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The hole is.
Mr Laughren: The hole is there, yes, but the money has not yet been spent so the Treasurer does not need to talk about it in such a disparaging way. The Treasurer should hold his fire for a moment until he listens to what I have to say because all of the blame is not to be attached to the provincial government in this case.
During the last year, the scientific community got together and indicated how much money it wanted from the various groups out there, whether it was from the federal government, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ontario or the National Research Council. From the beginning, Ontario was asked for $7.2 million as its share of the total cost of $53 million. It seemed to me that out of a total cost of $53 million, allocating $7.2 million to the province was fair. I do not think that is putting an undue burden on the province--$7.2 million out of $53 million.
The province dilly-dallied, shilly-shallied, procrastinated and made no decision on it whatsoever. Other players made their commitment, including the US, $17 million; the UK made a commitment; the federal government made commitments: the people who were sitting on the sidelines. Despite the fact that the neutrino observatory was to be in this province, in this case Sudbury, the provincial government would not make a commitment.
A number of us raised that matter here in the Legislature and the government kept delaying, delaying, delaying, saying, “Well, it’s pure research; we’re not sure we want to get involved in that,” despite the fact that it would put Sudbury in the forefront of pure scientific research and I believe it would accrue some substantial benefits to the Sudbury basin and to the province over the years.
Then, on 12 July a letter was written from the federal government, namely the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, to Peter Barnes, who is the Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology here in Ontario. In that letter--it is a very important letter and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) is aware of this--they say that the commitment required from Ontario is now $15 million.
Here we have, from the very beginning, a request by all the lead funding agencies that the province put in $7.2 million. Suddenly, in the midst of all these negotiations, the federal government doubles the ante on Ontario to $15 million. It more than doubles it. I say to myself, what in the world is going on? The federal government has the nerve, in the middle of the whole process, to double the ante in Ontario.
The province deserves to have its wrist slapped as well, because if the provincial government had made its commitment six months ago, when we were pushing the provincial government to do that, it could have said, “Yes, we are in for $7.2 million over four years.” Then the federal government would not have had the opportunity to double the ante, because the province would have had its commitment in already.
What the federal government has done is absolutely outrageous, but the provincial government gave it the opening. It gave them the opportunity to double the ante, and that is why I am so fed up with the way the provincial government responded to the request from the worldwide scientific community and the local community and allowed the federal government to double the ante on the province. It is absolutely outrageous.
While I am angry at the federal government, I say to the province of Ontario, “We tried to warn you. We tried to tell you that you should make your commitment early and get in fast.” They would not listen. No, they had to wait, despite the fact they were not spending the Premier’s technology fund. It has been underspent every year since it began. They had the money there, lots of it. They have thrown more money away in a day than was being asked of them for a four-year period.
It is truly remarkable, and I regret very much that the government did not get its act together and approve this project when it was requested to do so. There is a tight time line on this. By the end of the year it is expected that if commitments are not made--as a matter of fact, even before the end of the year--this project could very well be in jeopardy. If this project is indeed in jeopardy, then it is on the heads of the two senior levels of government. Neither one is blameless.
I do hope that the Treasurer understands the gravity of the situation and the time line we are dealing with. I hope that he talks to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and to the Minister of Northern Development, who is also aware of the project. I do believe that much has to be done if this is to become a reality. I will not go through all of the benefits that would accrue to the province and to the Sudbury area if we had the neutrino observatory, other than to say that we believe that in the long term they would be substantial.
How often does the worldwide scientific community want to invest in a major project and want to do so in Sudbury? It would be a part of the ongoing diversification of the Sudbury community and would have spinoff benefits to the university there. It would attract scientists to Sudbury for years to come on a visiting basis and would spin off research initiatives at Laurentian University that would stand us in good stead for many years.
I regret very much that the Premier’s Council, the Premier, the Treasurer and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology were so hung up on the fact that we were talking about pure research rather than applied research that they lost sight of the value of pure research and how it can lead to applied research. I thought that it was an absolutely perfect project for the Premier’s Council to fund, but for some reason that escapes me, it failed to do that.
I will conclude my remarks simply by asking the Treasurer to make himself aware of that project, if he is not so already, and to get on with the funding of it because it has already become a bit of a farce the way the province responded to the federal government and how the federal government is responding back. It is like they are playing some kind of stupid game of chicken out there to see who could wait the longest. Because the province procrastinated, the federal government said, “Fine, we will double up the ante on the province then and really make them squirm.” That is the impression I get.
It annoys me a great deal. It was a project and still is a project that should be a go. The amount of $7.2 million for this province over four years is not an exorbitant amount of money and I regret very much that the province gave the federal government the opportunity to double the amount that they want from the province.
Mr Runciman: I want to apologize to you, Mr Speaker, for not wearing a jacket. It is the first time in eight and a half years in this House that I have not worn a jacket into the chamber, but it is the first time in eight and a half years that I have been sitting here on 25 July. In any event, Mr Speaker, I appreciate your not objecting to that fact.
Hon R. F. Nixon: That’s pink, isn’t it?
Mr Runciman: Yes, it is pink.
Mr Campbell: You should see the television reviews. People will be adjusting their sets.
Mr Runciman: Moderating my views.
I appreciate this opportunity to offer a few words in this debate and to talk about the spending habits of the current government; I guess they could be described as the profligate spending habits of the current government. There is certainly a significant degree of disappointment in terms of the performance of the current Treasurer, someone for whom many of us had high hopes when he assumed those responsibilities.
We knew that he was under pressures during the minority period in terms of agreements reached during the accord which committed the government to spending programs and policies that perhaps he had little control over with respect to meeting the terms of that agreement.
But now that we have entered into the majority phase with an overwhelming number of Liberal members in this House, we really have not seen the kinds of actions and initiatives undertaken by the Treasurer that we had hoped would indeed be the case, given his background, his views expressed over the years in this House with his rather small-c conservative approach to fiscal policy and his trying to express over many years in opposition his concern about the mounting deficit in this province and the national deficit, as well.
Instead we have seen him and his government adopt a spend, spend, spend and a tax, tax, tax approach. Of course he has boasted on numerous occasions about the level of the annual debt being down to $577 million. I am not sure what the accumulated deficit is at this point, but it is certainly significant. I would like to have seen him and I would like to think that he would have liked to have seen an effort made at reducing the accumulated deficit. But that is not happening and we do not know what the end result will be in terms of the annual deficit this year.
Again, he and his government colleagues have boasted on numerous occasions about increased spending in a variety of areas. I will agree that there were a number of areas that did require increased funding. But if you recall the last few years of Conservative rule, we were in difficult economic times and good fortune smiled upon the Liberal Party in assuming office in 1985 just when we were experiencing an economic upturn. They have developed some spending patterns which I feel are not in the long-term best interests of this province.
When one looks at what is going to happen when we inevitably experience a downturn in the economy, the spending levels developed by this government over the past number of years are going to be extremely difficult to sustain. Whenever that occurs, the government of the day is going to have some pretty tough decisions facing it. I am sure the Treasurer will acknowledge that. In all probability, he will be long gone from this place and will not have to bear the brunt of criticism of the government, whether it be a Liberal, Conservative or NDP government. When that occasion arises, there are some tough times ahead because, I believe, of the spending patterns and levels developed by this government.
We--in any event, all of us in this House, I think, who have been around a few years--know of waste that could be, if you take it on an individual basis, rather minor in terms of the total budget allocation of the government, but when you look at these in a cumulative way they are significant indeed. We can all point to instances.
I had an example in my constituency office just a couple of weeks ago where I received a booklet from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I am glad to see him in the House today. It was a book indicating the number of manufacturers in Ontario. It was about an inch and a half or two inches thick. I got two of those, both sent by Priority Post to my office, one with an English cover on it with English names in the interior and another with a French cover with English names on the inside.
I have to ask--and it is a modest amount of money; I do not know how many thousands of dollars we are talking about--why the minister or the bureaucrats within his ministry did not simply print one of those things with a French and English cover rather than having separate French and English covers, wasting that kind of money, shipping it by Priority Post, etc. We as members see instances like that all the time.
If there were a real desire on the put of this government to cut down on spending and reduce waste, it could be done. We know it can be done. What is going to happen, of course, is, because of the increased spending patterns of this government, whenever we do experience a serious economic downturn some tough choices are going to have to be made in some very important programs in this province. That is the dilemma. I think that over a period of time the Liberals have had a majority government it could have been moving in a whole host of areas where we see wastage that, I tend to like to believe anyway, offends all of us in this Legislature.
We can talk about waste in a whole range of areas with respect to money and recognition and appreciation of taxpayers’ dollars in this province. We have all heard about tax relief day or whatever the terminology is with respect to paying your taxes, paying the government. Ontario is the latest in the country in terms of when you finally finish paying the government and start earning money for yourself and your family. It is some day in July now, so that Ontarians are the most heavily taxed province in the country.
Of course, at the same time we are seeing this Treasurer and every ministry, since the Liberals assumed office, very quietly, behind the scenes, increasing fees and charges for virtually every-thing. Whether it is a birth certificate being increased by 500 or 1,000 per cent, any kind of registration fee or whatever you want to talk about, it has been significantly increased by this government.
On the other hand, when we talk about spending practices--l raised an issue in the House today with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Wrye) about his own personal staff levels. I was the minister in that ministry briefly and I had half the staff of the current minister, but I was also responsible for financial institutions at that time. If members go back to my predecessors in that ministry, Gordon Walker and Bob Elgie, they had half the staff of the current minister and also had financial institutions and rent control under their responsibilities.
At the same time, we have seen this minister have his responsibilities significantly decreased yet double his personal staff. At the same time, we have a crisis in terms of elevator safety in this province. If he was down at the levels of personal staff of predecessor Conservative ministers--we did a calculation on this this afternoon--we could have 10,000 elevator inspections conducted across this province, simply if he reduced his staff levels. That applies right across this government. We are not only talking about doubling personal staff levels; we are talking about significant increases in salaries as well.
Moving on to the bureaucracy, I do not know what the latest number is but I know that last year we were talking about an additional 7,000 or 8,000 new civil servants.
Mr McCague: No, 9,000 now.
Mr Runciman: I am advised by my colleague there are 9,000 new civil servants in this government since it assumed office in June 1985.
Mr McCague: Pardon me, it is 11 ,000.
Mr Runciman: It is 11,000?
Mr McCague: Yes.
Mr Runciman: Boy, we better cut this short. It is getting worse by the second. In any event, that should be a cause for concern among all Ontarians. Again, it is of some disappointment with respect to the kind of approach we were hopeful the Treasurer would be taking with respect to the operations of government. That simply has not occurred.
I see the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston) in the House and I want to talk about another effort at wastage of taxpayers’ dollars, his infamous Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. We have seen that cost the taxpayers something close to $8 million. Then we have had that board’s nose rubbed in the dirt; we have had it humiliated, spend months and months and thousands and millions of taxpayers’ dollars, not to mention the private sector dollars spent by the insurance companies in this province, $50 million to $60 million by some estimates, all thrown out the window, all disregarded; $7 million or $8 million taxpayers’ dollars disregarded. That is the kind of approach, the kind of attitude, we see consistently coming from this government and ministers of this government.
Now we have the minister saying last week that he does not know what kind of role the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board is going to play for the next few months. What does that mean? Is he going to have layoffs? Is he going to close down the board and save some money for taxpayers? What is he going to do? He is going to have them continue on. He does not see any meaningful role for them, but they are going to continue on, draining from the public purse.
I can go on and on about wastage in this government, but I have a limited amount of time to make a contribution to this debate and I want to touch on a few other areas that are of concern to my party. I want to talk about ethical standards. We have certainly talked a great deal about that over the past number of months, and I think this has to tie in with the operations of government as a whole. In that sense it is complementary to the matter before us.
I was very much involved in this in one of my critic roles, as critic for the Ministry of the Solicitor General, in the efforts of the former Solicitor General to hang on by her fingernails to her responsibilities despite an obvious breach in terms of the conduct of the Solicitor General. She not only hung on tenaciously until forced out of office by the two opposition parties; but what was even more difficult to appreciate and understand were the efforts of her leader to support her through this matter despite the very clear appreciation of the fact that precedent had been set in the past, that she had done something she should not have done and that clearly her resignation was warranted. In any event, we had to do a number of things that many of us in the opposition did not feel comfortable with to achieve that resignation.
Of course, we have discussed at length the whole multitude of stories and issues arising out of connections of members of this government with Patti Starr. We are going to hear more and more about that as the months go on and as the judicial inquiry begins its hearings.
A matter that I have raised on a number of occasions and have been severely criticized for by the Premier--he indicated that I demeaned what it means to be a member of this Legislature; I think that is one of the things he said to me in this House--was the sale of the C. M. Peterson Co. I think it is quite a legitimate matter to be brought forward in this House.
As many members of the Liberal Party will understand, it is not always easy to be an opposition critic. Some of the things you have to do and say are difficult, they are tough, and at times we feel uncomfortable, but I think we have a responsibility as members of the opposition to raise these matters, to raise these issues and to make sure that they receive a full public airing.
I think that is especially so when we are talking about the conduct of the Premier of this province. When we are looking at the sale of the C. M. Peterson Co, the involvement of one of the major land developers in this province and the fact that that land developer was also involved in trying to accomplish or achieve a significant contract with the province of Ontario and major municipalities in this province, which could number in the billions of dollars, also justify our raising this issue.
I have not raised this in the past, but I think an element of this which concerns us is the questions that were raised in many circles with respect to the value of the company. Despite the fact that the Premier had his holdings in a blind trust, I think there are some very serious questions out there that remain to be answered. We are attempting to arrive at answers as best we can but are limited in our ability to do so.
Indeed, if the sale price of that company is significantly more than the value determined by independent and objective analysts, then I think that the Premier and members of this government are going to have to face the fact that this is another matter which indeed must be referred to the judicial inquiry.
I raised an issue last week with the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) with respect to a bias against small-town Ontario. I raised it in relation to eastern Ontario and am going to confine my remarks to eastern Ontario, although I know there are some members who would raise the issue in respect to other small-town Ontario communities as well.
We saw that in respect to the upgrading of sewage treatment plants in small-town Ontario, where small municipalities were determined and deemed by the Ministry of the Environment to have critical problems, perhaps the most critical in the province, but at the same time this government is not prepared to assist them.
Instead, they are looking at large megaprojects in Ottawa, Metropolitan Toronto, London and so on. With the heavy rainfalls last week in the Ottawa River area, we had beaches closing because the Almonte treatment plant simply cannot handle sewage properly and adequately in large rainfall periods. Again, to the ministry this is a critical problem and it is saying: “We are going to look at the megaprojects. We are not going to look at helping out small-town Ontario. “
I have talked about eastern Ontario and its neglect over the years and have not tried to lay all this at the doorstep of the current government. I think it is a problem that goes back many years. There simply is no recognition of the real economic situation in eastern Ontario.
Part of the problem is that when the governments at both senior levels are doing their calculations, analyses and assessments of the situation in eastern Ontario, they all have different definitions of eastern Ontario. The Eastern Ontario Development Corp, for example, runs up to Oshawa, if members can believe it, so there is that pie being shared by a lot of people who certainly are not eastern Ontarian from an eastern Ontarian’s point of view. That applies virtually to every ministry in this province; each has a different definition of eastern Ontario.
Also, we have the Ottawa-Carleton region thrown into the mix, which distorts unbelievably the statistics related to eastern Ontario. I had a study placed in my hand two years ago which removed Ottawa-Carleton from the statistical data related to eastern Ontario. As an eastern Ontario member you will appreciate this, Mr Speaker. It indicated quite clearly that the highest percentage of individuals and families earning under $10,000 and under $5,000 per year resided in eastern Ontario. They clearly defined eastern Ontario as beginning at Napanee.
I am sure some members are aware that, in terms of the economy, there is a very serious problem that families face. Many families are living in poverty in eastern Ontario. They simply are not being recognized by this government. Again, we see continued recognition of Toronto. We have the appointment of a deputy minister to look after problems of the greater Toronto area; we have a minister for northern Ontario.
What do we have in eastern Ontario? We have three ministers out of eastern Ontario, I guess. Two of them are junior ministers and one is the government House leader, the Minister of Mines (Mr Conway), who does not seem to pay an awful lot of attention to eastern Ontario any more. He has certainly lost a significant degree of interest in eastern Ontario, in my view
In any event, I hope that this cabinet shuffle will see some positive changes in respect to representation around the cabinet table from eastern Ontario. We certainly need some strong voices which are much stronger than we are having at the moment.
Perhaps I can wish you luck, Mr Speaker. We certainly would like to see some new, energetic and aggressive people from eastern Ontario around that cabinet table. But indeed, if that does not occur, then I guess we are going to have to wait two years for the inevitable change of government, and at that point we will see some strong--
Hon Mr Conway: Did you just insult me, Bob? You know how tender I am.
Mr Runciman: I hope I did not hurt the feelings of the government House leader. I would hate to do that as we near the end of this session. I have expressed some concerns about eastern Ontario; I expressed one to him yesterday, as a matter of fact.
Hon Mr Conway: We are following up on that.
Mr Runciman: That is good to hear.
I want to talk again about this focus on Toronto, the greater Toronto area. I made reference to the opera house. I see projections of about $300-and-some million to construct this new opera house in Toronto.
Those of us who sat in public accounts will recall the estimates in dealing with the domed stadium. I see the latest figures are close to $600 million for the domed stadium, which was originally going to cost $150 million, as we will recall: $150 million, now up to close to $600 million.
Mrs Fawcett: The province hasn’t put in any more.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Runciman: We hear rumours that the ultimate cost may be in the neighbourhood of $700 million to $750 million.
Here we see again, I understand, a commitment by this government in the neighbourhood of $60 million or $70 million, taxpayers’ dollars, for an opera house in downtown Toronto. I have an awful lot of trouble with that, because the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology can go down to eastern Ontario and boast about giving $25 million to eastern Ontario and what a great thing he is doing over five years, $5 million a year for five years, $25 million, wonderful for eastern Ontario, stretching from Oshawa, I guess. At the same time, we are putting $60 million or $70 million into an opera centre in downtown Toronto.
Something is wrong. Something is wrong with the priorities of this government. We simply do not have strong enough voices around the cabinet table dealing with eastern Ontario and we do not have any adequate representation in the bureaucracy at the highest levels standing up and speaking out on behalf of eastern Ontario. It is just not happening.
I think I have eaten up enough of my colleagues’ time. I know that we want to limit debate on this to some degree.
In any event, I want to express my disappointment again in respect to the performance of the Treasurer, someone I have a great deal of respect for, someone I like personally, but indeed I do have a significant degree of disappointment in terms of his performance and in terms of his approach to government, the “spend, spend, spend, tax, tax, tax” approach, which I think is inappropriate and does not bode well for the future of this province.
Mr Philip: My relatives who live in eastern Ontario would enjoy coming to Toronto to see an opera.
I want to speak to the minister about a different kind of discrimination, and that is an economic discrimination, an economic apartheid which he has imposed with his last budget, in which he singles out the people of greater Metropolitan Toronto for more taxes than any other people earning equal incomes in other parts of the province.
In the history of this province, and indeed in the history of Canada, I know of no Treasurer who has singled out a group of people by the area in which they live to pay higher taxes than other individuals in the province. They may discriminate in terms of programs, they may discriminate in terms of other things, but they do not say, “Because you happen to live in one geographical area, you have to pay higher taxes than others.”
Mr D. R. Cooke: What about southern Ontario?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Philip: In this particular case, not only does the Treasurer’s budget not make any kind of sense in terms of fairness, but it also does not make any kind of sense in terms of the revenue that it will produce.
I give for example the tax which he is imposing called the commercial concentration levy. The commercial concentration levy tax will create real problems for the larger hotels, many of them in the riding I represent, in their competition with other cities and indeed with the US jurisdictions.
According to the hotel industry, this will mean a cost per night per room increase of $4 to $6. We have already seen that before this tax was imposed, the reservations for July and August for hotels in the greater Metro Toronto area were down some 10 per cent. This tax can do nothing more than to add to that problem.
Many of the hotels in general provide a place where a lot of people who are new to the country and who do not speak English or French can frequently find employment until such time as they develop those skills. What we are talking about is really creating a system of taxation which, in exchange for $10 million which the Treasurer is taking as a grab from the hotels in greater Metropolitan Toronto, is going to create a loss of jobs for the very workers, many of them unskilled, who are employed in those hotels.
What we are talking about is a delay in the expansion of many of these hotels in terms of capital construction, in terms of millions of dollars worth of capital construction that will either be cancelled or delayed.
The minister, I gather, has backed off some of this by saying, “Well, I am imposing only a 200,000-square-feet limit.” But of course the average hotel in Etobicoke along the airport strip is in fact over 200,000 square feet. To simply state, “Well, if you don’t charge for the parking, we are going to give you an exemption,” which I gather is another backoff position of the Treasurer, does not make sense close to the airport since people will go and park in the parking lots of those hotels rather than pay for the park-and-fly facilities, if some charge is not made.
So I say to the minister that not only is his budget discriminatory against the people and businesses of Metropolitan Toronto and area, but it is also going to create a loss of tax revenue for him. In exchange for this $10-million tax grab he will take from the hotels, he is going to create a loss of jobs; he is going to create a loss of revenue from tourism in the area, and indeed he is going to create a loss of capital construction from those hotels that had planned on expanding but will have to delay as a result of this foolish tax.
I suggest that he should reconsider this particular tax as well as the other taxes which are so discriminatory on the residents of the greater Metro Toronto area.
Mr McCague: I would not want to miss this opportunity to say a few words to the Treasurer, for a couple of reasons.
First, he is looking for authorization until 31 October, Hallowe’en day. It will more likely be a trick rather than a treat. However, that is what he has chosen as his date.
The second reason I want to say something to the Treasurer is that this may be the last chance we really have to say something about him or to him, given that there may be a cabinet shuffle in the next few days. I know that the honourable Treasurer would not be shuffled out if he did not want to be, but I think he has his eye on a high office in London, where I and we in this House know that he would make an excellent representative of Ontario as agent general.
The other thing is that he may be more reluctant to proceed down the street to the Ontario Hydro building. I say that because the Treasurer has had some very kind things to say about that building in years past, as I recall.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Where?
Mr McCague: The Hydro building.
Hon R. F. Nixon: No. It is Ontario Place. Oh, I let the cat out of the bag.
Mr McCague: Oh, is that where you are going?
Mr Breaugh: He has Patti Starr on his mind.
Mr McCague: Yes, I think the Hydro building may be too close to the stars for him.
Anyway, the Treasurer has earned anything he gets, and we could make suggestions, but we would suggest that he would make an excellent choice for agent general or chairman of Hydro, given that he could stay in that building and not have a red face.
However, what I really wanted to say to you today, Treasurer, was a bone that I have had to pick with you for some years in this House, particularly since you became Treasurer.
The Deputy Speaker: Through the Speaker, of course.
Mr McCague: Yes, of course. To the Treasurer; I am speaking through the Speaker, but it is really directly to him.
The Treasurer was wrongfully labelled the parsimonious old farmer, just about when he took over as Treasurer. He really has proven to be anything but parsimonious, except when it comes to things like treating the apple farmers fairly in this province. I do not know why the Treasurer would not see it in his heart to enter the federal program and to give some drought assistance to these people who so badly need it. The Treasurer is an understanding gentleman, and he knows that not only do the farmers need the assistance but the people of Ontario are very interested in the welfare of the farmers; of course, that is all contingent upon their need for good food locally produced.
As the Treasurer and his colleagues tomorrow look towards flood assistance in Essex and drought assistance in other parts of the province, I hope he is one who is trying to push the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) off that pedestal he is sitting on and into the pool of money I know the Treasurer wants to give. It is odd that in one case we have a bucket that is full, and in the other case we had a bucket with a leak in it. I am sure he can understand the need and that he will not be parsimonious in that decision but will help those groups out.
The real one on which I have a bone to pick with him is the way hospitals in this province have been led along by this Treasurer, the last two ministers of Health and the government in general. In the particular case I want to reiterate to the Treasurer, I am talking about the Collingwood hospital. The Premier went up to Collingwood and with great support and encouragement kicked off a fund-raising campaign they had in that community, which in fact were held in many communities across the province about two to three years ago.
The Treasurer announced in the 1987 budget that he was putting $850 million into hospital construction over five years. It was like pulling teeth to get the Treasurer to finally admit that the $850 million was not an enrichment to the funding that was normal for hospitals, but that it was really a flat-lining of $150 million over five years. He finally did admit that he was caught on that one.
That is not as bad as the way municipalities and people within this province have been misled into making pledges to their hospitals on the basis that it was going to lead to government funding and it was going to lead to new facilities or renovated facilities or whatever. What I want to say to the Treasurer is that I hope he is able in the next day to persuade his cabinet ministers that it is about time they came clean on what their intention is regarding hospital construction We have the present Chairman of Management Board, who went around the province being a good fellow; we have the now Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) who goes around the province trying to get everybody to pull in their wings, no building, we are going to have community health, we do not need the facilities and hospitals as much as we thought we did when the member for Bruce (Mr Elston) was the Minister of Health.
What we have out there are a whole lot of municipalities being held on a piece of string, hoping that some day some Minister of Health or some Treasurer or some Premier will loosen the strings and that they will get a facility built. If they are not going to do it, why not tell the municipalities and the areas and the hospital boards: “We’ve changed our mind. It’s final. We’ve changed our mind. We’ve decided we don’t need those facilities. We want to go to community-based health, health service organizations,” or whatever their plan is, and let the hospital boards and the municipalities decide what they are going to do with this money that has been pledged? Maybe the people will decide it goes into some other part of the health care system. But to keep them dangling, Mr Speaker, I suggest to you is completely unfair, even on the verge of misleading, and I think it is something that should be settled once and for all right now.
That is not to take away at all from the day this may be. It could be the Treasurer’s last day in his present portfolio during which the Legislature is sitting. He has been an honourable member of this House for many years, and if he decides to get out or if he happens to get kicked out, we wish him well, be it in London or atop the Ontario Hydro building.
Mr Villeneuve: I cannot let this opportunity go by in the short two minutes I will have to reinforce my colleague the member for Simcoe West. Certainly the Treasurer is someone we all admire. I think he has administered reasonably well a very buoyant economy, which he was fortunate enough to inherit from a government that had administered things very well prior to 1985.
I have to go back to question period this afternoon for a very short period of time during my comments here. The Minister of Agriculture and Food mentioned that I had been gone for two weeks. Mr Speaker, you were with me. We were on official business, representing the public of Ontario. I was not on holiday or on a boat; I was representing the public of Ontario.
I return to what my friend the member for Simcoe West suggested to the Treasurer, that we should look after our fruit, vegetable and cash crop producers. The Treasurer, being a farmer--and he may not be in a difficult financial position like some of us farmers happen to be--
Hon R. F. Nixon: With some off-farm income like you.
Mr Villeneuve: I am fortunate to have off-farm income; I do not know about the Treasurer.
However, it is a situation that the Treasurer, being a very reasonable person, cannot overlook. A $38-million expenditure will provide $152 million to the fruit, vegetable and cash crop farmers of Ontario who suffered severe drought last year. Our livestock producers qualified and already have their cheques in the bank and probably spent. I say to the Treasurer, as he meets around that huge table called the cabinet table tomorrow, please remember our producers out there.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I thank the honourable members for their, in most cases, constructive comments. I think that is exactly why the honourable members are here, and I know the government values their advice. We have to take certain decisions, and we do that. I am not going to spend time reviewing the recommendations, but the honourable members I think have done good service in bringing that to the attention of the members of the House.
Just on a personal note, I want to tell the honourable members that I thank them for their good wishes and suggestions as to the future disposition of my service, but to sort of misquote somebody or other, the rumours of my political demise may in fact be exaggerated. The members might as well get themselves braced for any eventuality. The one job they did not mention, although I interjected it, is the job at Ontario Place; it looks pretty nice. If they have any specific advice about that or anything else I might have overlooked, I would appreciate hearing from them, because those guys know where all the plums are.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Conway moved resolution 8:
That the provisional standing orders be ex-tended to remain in effect until 12 midnight on Monday 9 October 1989.
Hon Mr Conway: This motion really is a companion to motion 9 standing in my name. It essentially extends the provisional standing orders to midnight on Monday 9 October 1989, at which time the new orders become effective. That essentially is to leave no gap between the old order and the new. I think it is quite self-explanatory and would recommend it to my colleagues with no further comment.
Mr Reville: Speaking on behalf of the New Democratic Party, we will be supporting motion 8 on the understanding that, as we deal with motion 9, which sets out a calendar which looks like this--it is a lovely calendar--we can persuade the government to keep to it in the future. Normally the fall session would be beginning on the fourth Monday in September, I think, according to the provisions of government motion 9, but because of the extension of the sitting into the dog days of summer this year, we thought that having a little Thanksgiving dinner and then coming back might make a lot of sense for this one time only.
We will support the resolution, hoping that there will never again be any interference with the calendar that has been negotiated at such cost to many sets of negotiators over the past five years. In most respects, the negotiators have stayed the same and they have kept their good sense of humour, almost without exception.
Mr McCague: We, too, will be supporting motion 8 in the name of the House leader, but we will have some comments to make on motion 9, which is really the substantive put of all this.
Motion agreed to.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mr Conway moved resolution 10:
That in view of the fact that in 1985 the standing committee on procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions reviewed the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and made proposals for reform; that following further reviews and amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the government introduced major changes in the mandate and structure of the commission and provided substantial added resources to the commission to implement these changes; that a report was prepared recently for the Ministry of Citizenship that reviewed and responded to allegations regarding certain staffing and financial decisions made by the commission; that the chief commissioner resigned in May 1989 and Catherine Frazee has been appointed as acting chief commissioner; and that a new interim executive director has been appointed, the standing committee on government agencies is authorized to review the operation of the commission, including the report prepared for the Ministry of Citizenship, taking into consideration its new mandate, structure and increased resources and to review and assess the future mandate, role and structure of the commission with a view to making recommendations to strengthen the commission’s ability to carry out its mandate; and, for the purposes of this order, the committee has the power to retain the services of such staff as it may deem necessary and to adjourn from place to place in Ontario, subject to budgetary approval of the Board of Internal Economy, and the assembly doth command and compel the attendance before the said committee of such persons and the production of such papers and things as the committee may deem necessary for any of its proceedings and deliberations, for which the Speaker may issue his warrant pursuant to subsection 35(2) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Mr Breaugh: What happened to 9?
Hon Mr Conway: My friend the member for Oshawa wondered what happened to resolution 9.
Mr Breaugh: I have seen it disappear so many times.
Hon Mr Conway: I chatted with some of my colleagues across the way earlier this afternoon. I thought we would probably dispense with resolution 10 more quickly than 9.
I just want to indicate that government notice of motion 10 sets out the reference to the standing committee on government agencies regarding the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It is clearly indicated in the motion that is in Orders and Notices what the intent of this reference is. The whips, I know, have been busily at work arranging the time for the committee in that respect. There has been a fairly good dialogue, over the course of a number of weeks, at the House leaders’ and whips’ panel. I think the motion is fairly self-explanatory and would recommend it to my colleagues.
Mr Philip: We welcome government notice of motion 10. It has come about through a series of negotiations, indeed, a series of tragedies, including a resignation which I guess was most unfortunate, by someone who had a lot of talent but who found himself in a situation where he chose the right course of action in his resignation.
There has been a cloud over the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and I think this inquiry in an open way will help to get certain matters out into the open where we can look at them and make some recommendations to ensure that that cloud disappears.
There have been a number of irregularities--inadequate priority given to identifying candidates of visible--minority groups in hiring; no employment equity program in place at the time at which certain important recruitments were conducted; a top-down approach in staffing--which I think the committee will want to look at. Of equal importance is that there has been a very serious morale problem at the human rights commission as a result of the series of revelations we have experienced.
We have the situation where any quasijudicial body that is going to pass comment on other people’s behaviour has to be beyond reproach. That is why this inquiry is so important. Members will recall how New Democrats made a particular issue some six or seven years ago, if my memory serves me correctly, about certain hiring practices in the Office of the Ombudsman: the way in which there was a lack of due process in terms of grievance procedure and so forth. We felt the issue there was important, because we thought any Ombudsman--and in a sense, the human rights commissioner is one of Ontario’s ombudsmen--has to be beyond reproach and his conduct must set an example for others. You cannot tell other people what to do or correct their actions if you are not beyond reproach in the way you conduct your own house.
So we welcome this motion. I understand, although you cannot clearly decipher it from reading the motion, that there is an agreement--and I hope the government House leader is listening--that there will be legal counsel to the committee.
We expect that the many groups that have expressed an interest, be they civil libertarian groups or visible-minority spokespersons, will have an opportunity to come before the committee, comment and make some suggestions and proposals, which will be most helpful to us. Therefore, I look forward to participating in this dialogue. I trust the committee will take every possible action to hear from as many deputations as wish to appear, and conclude with a fairly thorough report with some very constructive proposals. I leave that with the government House leader and express our support for this motion.
Mr Cousens: I am pleased to rise in support of this resolution. Before I get into some of the points I want to make, I want to give special recognition to one of the members of our caucus who has been very helpful in bringing this issue forward and in clearly bringing out the concerns of our party for the human rights commission. I am speaking of the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland). We would not today be dealing with this resolution in which we are going to look into the human rights commission had it not been for the initiative and leadership she has given.
I quote from what she said in the Legislature on 6 June: “The integrity and the maintenance of the public confidence in the Ontario Human Rights Commission are matters of vital concern to this Legislature.”
I underscore that statement: it is. Those of us who have seen the good works that can come through the human rights commission know that we need this kind of service to people to assist them. That is why it is imperative that the services always be of the highest quality, that we continue to fine-tune the services and the abilities of the commission, so that the needs of the people are put first.
The member for Mississauga South went on to say, “In my opinion, a complete review by this House is required to restore public confidence in the human rights commission and to re-establish the commission’s ability to play a lead role in our efforts to combat every form of discrimination.”
That is where I come from as well. I wish the member for Mississauga South were here to speak on this issue. I know where she is coming from and I think that, in the interests of all the people of Ontario, it is great to have a defender such as her there for us.
There has been a problem in the human rights commission. I guess that happens periodically. There is at least one major casualty that has come out of it, there has been a resignation and there is now going to be a review. I would rather not dwell on the problems that have led up to this resolution we are now presenting. I happen to believe that does happen and you are going to have instances in the development of all institutions where they rise, then fall back a bit and then go back up again. Maybe what has happened within the commission is it has reached a plateau, it has gone as low as it could go. The morale of the staff is down. They are having problems. It is not fun for the people who are in the commission to see themselves headlined regularly and being criticized and worrying out loud that maybe there are problems.
The fact is it is unacceptable that you will have to wait five or six years for a hearing. That is not good. Indeed, that kind of thing can come through in the kind of study that is going to take place. We have got to improve the time frame in which people who have concerns can have them dealt with. Hopefully, through the mechanism of this review of the commission, there will be ways found to speed up that process. If you wait five or six years--which is an extreme, but it has happened--that, in effect, really does not cause justice to be given. It just promotes people into being rather careless, rather uninterested and uncaring about the needs that are a part of the commission.
I do not think that should be allowed. When the commission was established back in the early 1960s, it really was the amalgamation of a number of different acts: the Fair Employment Practices Act, the Female Employees Fair Remuneration Act of 1951 and the Fair Accommodation Practices Act of 1954. In 1961 these were brought together, all under the Ontario Anti-Discrimination Commission, so that in 1962, when the Ontario Human Rights Code was passed by this Legislature, we were probably the leaders in the world in recognizing the need to appreciate and understand the need for all people in our society that they might be able to go to work or participate without discrimination.
I think that is something that every one of us has to continue to reinforce in our own newsletters back in our ridings and in anything that we are doing, to recognize the needs of all people, that regardless of what it is, we are going to accept people for who they are and what they are. Therefore, there is not going to be discrimination in our society, it is not going to be tolerated. We are going to continue to be leaders who recognize that anyone, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, age, marital status, family status or handicap, that all of these people are going to be recognized freely and openly in our society. That is the only way in which those of us who are elected in this Legislature can be responsible and can be truly caring of the needs we have.
So this is not something to be taken lightly. I know that the committee, when it is looking at this with the assistance of legal counsel, will have an opportunity to explore, open up and then come back with reasoned, nonpartisan--l do not think there is any reason for anyone to start gelling totally political on this. I know that had it not been for the member for Mississauga South nothing would have happened. We would not be today having the review of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Thank goodness there is that kind of leadership within the Legislature, and hopefully this can come forward so that when we have a chance to see the recommendations, there can be a continuation of refinement and improvement.
We are not there yet. There are still people in this province who need the help of the commission, and may we, through the support and auspices of it, continue to make it better.
Our caucus will support this resolution. We believe that it is a worthwhile exercise and that the needs of all people in this province will benefit because of it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Conway moved resolution 9:
That the provisional and permanent standing orders be amended as follows and be adopted as the permanent standing orders of the House: “1. Standing order 34 be amended by adding the following clause: 34(e) If a recorded vote is requested, the division bells shall be limited to five minutes.
“Standing order 120(f) be amended by striking out ‘where the time for a vote in the House is pre-arranged by agreement of all parties’ in the first and second lines.
“Standing order 120 be further amended by adding the following clauses: (g) During the ringing of division bells as provided in clause (f), the vote may be deferred at the request of any chief whip of a recognized party in the House. The Speaker shall then defer the taking of the vote to a specified time, but not later than 6 pm on the next sessional day, at which time the bells shall be rung for not more than five minutes. “(h) Divisions requested on motions to adjourn the House or the debate, that the Chair of a committee of the whole House report progress and ask for leave to sit again or leave the chair, and for closure shall not be deferred. “2. Standing order 31 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 31 (a) A petition to the House may be presented at any time during the session by a member filing it with the Clerk of the House or in the manner set out in clause (b). (b) A member may present a petition in the House during routine proceedings under the proceeding ‘Petitions.’ The member may make a brief statement summarizing the contents of the petition and indicating the number of signatures attached thereto. (c) Every petition shall: (i) be addressed to the Parliament, Legislature or Legislative Assembly of Ontario; (ii) contain a clear, proper and respectful request that the House take some action within its authority; (iii) be written, typewritten or printed, without erasures or insertions; (iv) have its request appear at the top of every sheet, if it consists of more than one sheet of signatures; and (v) contain the names, addresses and original signatures written directly on the face of the petition and not pasted thereon or otherwise transferred to it. (d) Every member presenting a petition shall ensure that the petition conforms with the standing orders. (e) The signature of every member presenting a petition shall be affixed to the petition. (f) No debate shall be allowed on the presentation of a petition. (g) The period for ‘Petitions’ shall be limited to 15 minutes. (h) Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition. “3. Standing order 26 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 26. The routine proceedings before the orders of the day are as follows: Members’ Statements; Statements by the Ministry and Responses; Oral Questions; Motions; Petitions; Reports by Committees; Introduction of Bills.
“Standing order 38(a) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 38(a) Motions to adjourn the House or the debate may not be moved until after the oral question period except upon unanimous consent of the House. Such motions do not require notice. “4. Standing order 2 be renumbered as standing order 2a.
“The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 2(a) During a Parliament, the House shall meet: (i) from the second Monday in March to the Thursday preceding Victoria Day and from the first Monday following Victoria Day to the fourth Thursday in June; and (ii) from the fourth Monday in September to the Thursday preceding the week in which Remembrance Day falls and from the Monday of the week following Remembrance Day to the third Thursday in December. (b)(i) During the last eight sessional days in June and December, a motion to extend the hours of meeting during the remaining days in each period provided for in clause (a) may be proposed, with notice, by a minister of the crown; (ii) No such motion may specify that the House meet beyond 12 midnight; (iii) Not more than two hours after the commencement of proceedings on such a motion, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the motion. If a recorded vote is requested by five members, the division bell shall be limited to 15 minutes. (c) As soon as possible after New Year’s Day, the Clerk of the House shall publish a calendar which shows the days on which the House shall meet, according to the standing orders, and the remaining time available for committee meetings, during the calendar year.
“Standing order 2a(d) be amended by inserting after ‘meet’ in the first line ‘during the week prescribed by the regulations made under the Education Act for the school holiday in March or’.
“The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 57a. No government public bill, other than the supply bill, introduced during the last eight sessional days in June in the period provided for in paragraph (i) of standing order 2(a) or during the last eight sessional days in December in the period provided for in paragraph (ii) of standing order 2(a) shall be called for second reading in the same period. “5. Standing order 37 be deleted.
“The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 54a. (a) In each of the two periods provided for in standing order 2(a), there shall be five sessional days to be known as opposition days. (b) The opposition days referred to in clause (a) shall be distributed among the recognized opposition parties in proportion to their membership in the House. (c) On the last sessional day of a week during which the House meets, notice, having been given by a member of a recognized opposition party, shall be printed on the Orders and Notices paper specifying, (i) the day in the following week which is to be designated as an opposition day; and (ii) the text of a motion to be debated in the House or a subject-matter to be considered in the committee of the whole House. In all cases, the notice shall indicate the minister of the crown to whom it is addressed. (d) If more than one notice of an opposition day is received, the Speaker shall select one for consideration, taking into account the order in which they were received. (e) A matter to be debated or considered on an opposition day shall be taken up immediately following routine proceedings on such day. (f) The Speaker or the Chair of the committee of the whole House, as the case may be, shall apportion the time available for any matter to be debated or considered under this standing order equally among the recognized parties in the House. The time for a reply by the mover of a motion under this standing order shall be included in the time apportioned to the party of which the mover is a member. (g) Debate on a motion shall be limited to one sessional day. At five minutes before the ordinary hour of daily adjournment, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put the question without debate. If a recorded vote is requested, the division bells shall be limited to five minutes. (h) Where notice has been given of a subject-matter to be considered in the committee of the whole House, the House shall resolve itself into a committee of the whole House to consider the matter. At the time for the daily adjournment of the House, the Chair shall interrupt the proceeding before the committee of the whole House and shall rise and report that consideration of the subject-matter has concluded pursuant to this standing order. (i) No motion under this standing order may be for second or third reading of a bill. (j) No amendment may be made to a motion under this standing order. (k) Only one opposition day may be designated during any week the House meets. (l) No motion shall be debated nor subject-matter considered, (i) on any day on which the Treasurer has given notice of his intention to present the budget; or (ii) during the last eight sessional days in each of the two periods provided for in standing order 2(a). (m) No motion under this standing order shall be a motion of want of confidence in the government. “6. Standing orders 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 48. All main estimates shall be presented to the House not later than five sessional days following the presentation of the budget and shall be deemed to be referred to the standing committee on estimates. 49(a) The standing committee on estimates shall consider the estimates of not fewer than six and not more than 12 ministries and offices. (b)(i) The estimates of the ministries and offices to be considered by the committee shall be selected in two rounds by members of the committee such that in each round the members of the party forming the official opposition shall choose first, the members of a recognized party having the third largest membership in the House shall choose second and the members of the party forming the government shall choose third; (ii) In each round, the members of each party may choose the estimates of one or two ministries or offices to be considered. (c) The estimates of ministries and offices shall be considered in the order in which they were selected as provided in clause (b). (d) The time for the consideration of the estimates of each ministry or office shall be determined by the members of the committee who selected such estimates for consideration. If the members of a party choose the estimates of one ministry or office in a round not more than 15 hours shall be allocated to the consideration of the estimates of that ministry or office and if the members of a party choose two ministries or offices in a round, not more than 15 hours shall be allocated to the consideration of the estimates of both. (e) No estimates shall be considered in the committee while any matter relating to the same policy field is being considered in the House.
“50(a) All other estimates not selected for consideration by the standing committee on estimates shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be reported back to the House. (b) The report of the committee shall be deemed to be received and the estimates for the ministries and offices named in the report shall be deemed to be concurred in.
“51(a) All supplementary estimates shall be deemed to be referred to the standing committee on estimates as they are presented to the House. (b) The committee shall consider the supplementary estimates of the ministries and offices selected within the time allocated pursuant to standing order 49 for the consideration of the main estimates. (c) All other supplementary estimates shall be reported back to the House. The report of the committee shall be deemed to be received and the supplementary estimates for the ministries and offices named in the report shall be deemed to be concurred in.
“52(a) The standing committee on estimates shall present one report with respect to all of the estimates and supplementary estimates considered pursuant to standing orders 49 and 51 no later than the third Thursday in November of each calendar year. (b) In the event the committee fails to report the said estimates on the date provided for in clause (a), the estimates and supplementary estimates shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House. (c) There shall be an order for concurrence placed on the Orders and Notices paper for each of the estimates reported from the committee. A maximum of six hours shall be allotted for a debate at a later meeting on the orders for concurrence. At the expiration of six hours, or when all members who wish to take part in the debate have spoken, whichever shall come first, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the order for concurrence in supply for each of the ministries and offices named in the committee’s report. No amendment to any question may be moved, such debate shall be in the House with the Speaker in the chair and subject to the normal standing orders.
“53. The minister or person answerable for the estimates considered by the standing committee on estimates shall provide each member of the committee and the clerk of the committee with advance briefing material which shall include such information as growth rates, interim expenditures for the previous fiscal year, and an explanation of the programs and funding by particular item.
“54( a) On the first item of the first vote of each set of estimates, a representative of each recognized party may speak for not more than 30 minutes and the minister or person answerable for the estimates is allowed not more than 30 minutes for a right of reply. Thereafter, the chair of the standing committee on estimates shall ensure that the members adhere strictly to the vote and item under consideration and shall apportion the remaining time among the recognized parties on the committee. (b) When the committee has concluded its consideration of the estimates of a ministry or office or the time established for the consideration of such estimates has expired, the chair shall put without further amendment or debate every question necessary to dispose of the estimates.
“Clauses (e), (f), (g), (h), (i) and (j) of standing order 90 be renumbered as clauses (f), (g), (h), (i), (j) and (k), respectively.
“Standing order 90 be amended by adding the following clause: 90(e) Standing committee on estimates;
“Standing order 95(b) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 95(b) The chair of the standing committee on estimates shall be a member of a recognized party in opposition to the government, the chair of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs shall be a member of the party forming the government and the chair of the standing committee on public accounts shall be a member of the party forming the official opposition. “7. The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 105a. Following the election of a chair and vice-chair at its first meeting in each session, a standing committee shall appoint a subcommittee on committee business, consisting of a chair of the standing committee as chair and one member from each of the recognized parties on the committee, to meet from time to time at the call of the chair or at the request of any member thereof and to report to the committee on the business of the committee. “8. The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order thereto: 54b(a) In any calendar year, each member, other than the chair, of a subcommittee on committee business for a committee set out in clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d) of standing order 90 shall be entitled to designate, (i) matters to be considered by the committee relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of a ministry, office or agency, board or commission assigned to the committee; and (ii) the time for consideration of each matter, provided that not more than a total of 12 hours may be devoted by the committee to the consideration of matters designated by each member of the subcommittee. (b) The subcommittee shall make a report to the committee on a matter designated pursuant to clause (a) which shall include a precise statement of the matter to he considered, the time to be allocated for the consideration of the matter, the date on which consideration of a matter is to commence, and the names of any witnesses to be invited to appear before the committee. (c) A report under this standing order from the subcommittee on committee business shall be deemed to be adopted and shall take precedence over all other business before the standing committee except government public bills referred to the committee by the House. No such report shall be received by any standing committee during the last eight sessional days in each of the two periods provided for in standing order 2(a). (d) During the consideration of any matter under this standing order, the chair of the standing committee shall apportion the time among the recognized parties on the committee. At the expiration of the time provided for the consideration of the matter, the chair shall put forthwith, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of any item relating to the matter under consideration. (e) Notwithstanding clause (c), where consideration of a government bill prevents a matter from being considered by a standing committee for a reasonable time, the committee shall appoint a subcommittee consisting of the vice-chair of the standing committee as chair and one member from each of the recognized parties on the committee to hold meetings to receive evidence and to report thereon to the standing committee. “9. Standing order 27 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 27(a) A member, other than a leader of a recognized party in the House or a minister of the crown, may be recognized to make a statement for not more than one and one half minutes. (b) Up to three members from each of the recognized parties in the House may make a statement during the period for members’ statements. (c) Members shall be recognized as follows: the official opposition first, followed by other recognized opposition parties in order of their membership in the House and finally the government, and then in rotation starting with the official opposition. “10. Standing order 12 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 12(a) At the commencement of the first session of a Parliament, or from time to time as may be required, a member shall be appointed by the House to be Deputy Speaker and Chair of the committee of the whole House. (b) The Deputy Speaker shall, whenever the Speaker is absent or otherwise unable to act, perform the duties and exercise the authority of the Speaker and shall otherwise assist and relieve the Speaker as directed by the Speaker. (c) At the commencement of every Parliament, or from time to time as may be required, the House shall appoint two Deputy Chairs of the committee of the whole House, to be known respectively as the First and Second Deputy Chair of the committee of the whole House, either of whom shall, whenever the Chairman of the committee of the whole House is absent or otherwise unable to act, be entitled to exercise all the powers vested in the Chair of the committee of the whole House including those powers as Deputy Speaker. “11. The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 12a. On the advice of the House leader of each of the recognized opposition parties in the House given to the government House leader, up to two of the four preceding officers of the House shall be chosen from recognized opposition parties. “12. Standing order 17 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 17. Before a session is prorogued, the government House leader shall announce the approximate date upon which the assembly will be reconvened. “13. Standing order 25 be deleted.” 14. Standing order 29(f) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: “29(f) A minister to whom an oral question is directed may refer the question to another ministry who is responsible for the subject mater to which the question relates.” “15. Standing order 46 be amended by striking out ‘eight’ in the first line and substituting ‘six’ therefor and by deleting ‘not fewer than’ in the first line.
“Standing order 46 be further amended by adding the following clause: 46(b) Only an amendment and an amendment to the amendment may be moved to the motion for an address in reply to the speech from the throne. “16. Standing order 67 be amended by striking out ‘by the committee of the whole House’ in the first line and substituting ‘in a committee’ therefor. “17. Standing order 71(c) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 71(c) The time available for debate on each item of business under this standing order shall be apportioned as follows: (i) 10 minutes for the member moving a motion; (ii) a period of 15 minutes to be allotted in rotation for a representative or representatives of each of the recognized parties in the House. The mover of the motion may speak a second time during the time provided for a representative or representatives of the party of which he or she is a member; (iii) two minutes for a reply by the member moving the motion.
“Standing order 71 (f) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 71(f) When the time allotted for the consideration of private members’ public business has expired or at 12 noon, whichever is later, the Speaker shall put the question to the House on items on which a vote has not been blocked under clause (e). Divisions under this standing order shall be deferred and taken in succession. In such cases, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes. The House will continue to meet until the necessary votes have been completed at which time the Speaker shall leave the chair until 1:30 pm.
“Standing order 71(j) be deleted and standing orders 71(k) and 71(l) be renumbered as standing orders 71(j) and 71(k) respectively. “18. Standing order 118 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 118(a) The Speaker shall establish a reasonable sum per diem and a reasonable allowance for travelling expenses which may be paid, at the discretion of a committee or the chair thereof, to a witness summoned by a Speaker’s warrant or specifically invited to attend before any committee of the House. (b) The claim of a witness for payment shall state the number of days during which he or she was in attendance, the days necessary to travel to and from the committee meeting and the amount of his or her travelling expenses, and shall be supported by all necessary receipts. Before being paid, such a claim shall be certified by the chair and clerk of the committee before which the witness attended. “19. Standing order 131 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 131. The management of the legislative library, including the regulation of admission, hours of operation, maintenance of a catalogue of books, and security and preservation of the collection, is the responsibility of the executive director of the legislative library, subject to such orders as the executive director may receive from time to time from the Speaker or the House. “20. Standing order 108 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 108(a) Immediately after the chair of a standing or select committee has put the question on any motion, there shall be, if requested by a member of the committee, a wait of up to 20 minutes before the vote is recorded. (b) Votes shall be taken by a show of hands unless a member of the committee requests a recorded vote immediately after the question is put. (c) When a vote takes place in a standing or a select committee, the clerk of the committee shall record in the minutes of proceedings the question proposed, the name of the proposer and, if requested by a member of the committee, the vote of each member present. “21. The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 1a. The election of the Speaker shall be conducted in the following manner: (a) At the opening of the first session of a Parliament, or whenever the office of the Speaker becomes vacant, a member, other than a leader of a recognized party in the House or a minister of the crown, addressing the Clerk, shall propose some member to the House to be Speaker and shall move that such member ‘Do take the chair of this House as Speaker’. (b) A member when nominated and seconded shall inform the House whether he or she accepts the nomination. (c) The Clerk shall then ask ‘Are there any further nominations?’ and if there are no further nominations, the Clerk shall say ‘I declare the nominations closed.’ The Clerk shall then, without question put, declare the member so proposed and seconded to be elected as Speaker. Such member shall be conducted to the chair by the proposer and seconder of the motion and shall take the chair of the House as Speaker. (d) If more than one member is proposed as Speaker, the Clerk shall, after the second nomination and after each subsequent nomination, if any is made and seconded, ask, ‘Are there any further nominations?’ and if there are no further nominations, the Clerk shall say, ‘I declare the nominations closed.’ (e) Members present in the chamber shall be provided with ballot papers by the Clerk. (f) When only two members are nominated and seconded as Speaker, the election shall be conducted as follows: (i) Each member wishing to do so shall deposit in a ballot box on the table a ballot paper on which is printed the name of the candidate for whom the member votes; (ii) Once all members wishing to vote have deposited their ballot papers, the votes shall be counted by the Clerks at the table in the presence of one member of each of the recognized parties in the House. The results of the vote shall be kept in confidence by all those persons present. The Clerk Assistant shall provide the Clerk with the name of the member who has received the greater number of votes; (iii) The Clerk shall then declare such member to be selected as Speaker. (g) When more than two members are nominated and seconded as Speaker, the votes shall be conducted in the manner prescribed in clauses (e) and (f) and the member who has received a majority of the votes cast shall be Speaker. In the event of no member having received a majority of the votes cast, the name of the candidate having the smallest number of votes shall be excluded from subsequent ballots, and a further ballot shall take place. This balloting shall continue until one candidate is declared to be elected as Speaker by such majority. (h) In the event of an equality of votes, the Clerk shall cause a further ballot to be taken. (i) At any time after the result of the first ballot is declared, but before the commencement of a second or subsequent ballot, a candidate may withdraw his or her name from the election, which shall then proceed as if such member had not been nominated. Whenever at any stage a withdrawal leaves only one candidate remaining, such candidate shall, without further voting, be declared elected as Speaker. (j) During the election of a Speaker there shall be no debate and no questions of privilege may be raised. (k) No leader of a recognized party in the House or minister of the crown shall be eligible to be nominated to the office of Speaker. (1) The election of Speaker shall take precedence over all other business and no motion for adjournment nor any other motion shall be accepted while it is proceeding and the House shall continue to meet if necessary beyond its ordinary daily time of adjournment, notwithstanding any standing or special order, until a Speaker is declared elected, provided that if the House has continued to sit beyond its ordinary daily time of adjournment, the Speaker shall thereupon adjourn the House until the next sessional day. “22. Standing order 9 be repealed and the following substituted therefor: 9(a) The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of privilege and points of order. In making a decision on a question of privilege or point of order or explaining a practice, the Speaker may state the applicable standing order or authority. (b) No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House. (c) No motion may be moved which reflects on any such decision by the Speaker.
“Standing order 19(c) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 19(c) A member called to order shall sit down, but may afterwards explain. The Speaker shall decide on the case, without debate, and the decision of the Speaker shall be final.
“Standing order 102 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 102(a) The chair of a standing or select committee shall maintain order in the committee and decide all questions of order subject to any appeal by the majority of the members of the committee to the Speaker. No debate shall be permitted on any decision of the chair. (b) If the majority of the members of a standing or select committee appeal the decision of the chair of the committee to the Speaker, the chair shall at the next meeting of the House present a report which accurately states the matter on which the chair decided, the arguments raised by members of the committee and the decision made by the chair and the Speaker shall confirm or vary any decision of the chair. (c) If the House is adjourned, in recess or is not otherwise meeting on a day on which a decision of the chair of a standing or select committee is appealed to the Speaker, the chair shall deliver a copy of the report to the Speaker and shall file a copy of the report with the Clerk of the House. The decision of the Speaker shall be in writing, shall be delivered to the chair and the clerk of the committee and shall be entered in Votes and Proceedings on the first day on which the House next meets. (d) Disorder in a standing or select committee can only be censured by the House on receiving a report from the committee.
“Standing order 113 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 113(a) The Chair shall maintain order in a committee of the whole House and decide all questions or order subject to an appeal by any member to the Speaker. No debate shall be permitted on any decision of the Chair. (b) If an appeal of a decision of the Chair of the committee of the whole House is made to the Speaker, the Chair shall rise and report immediately thereon to the Speaker without any question being put to the committee. On receiving a report from the Chair and reviewing the proceedings, the Speaker shall confirm or vary any decision of the Chair. (c) Disorder in a committee of the whole House can only be censured by the House on receiving a report from the committee. “23. Standing order 119 be repealed and the following substituted therefor: 119(a) Except where all strangers have been excluded on a motion properly moved and adopted by the House or a committee of the whole House, a full Hansard service shall be provided for all sittings of the House or the committee as the case may be. (b) A full Hansard service shall be provided for all standing and select committees, except as may be otherwise ordered by a committee. “24. Standing order 35(c) be deleted and standing orders 35(d) and (e) be renumbered as 35(c) and (d) respectively.
“The standing orders be amended by adding the following new standing order: 90a(a) Standing committees set out in clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d) of standing order 90, shall, in addition to any other powers granted to them, be authorized to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the ministries and offices which are assigned to them from time to time, as well as the agencies, boards and commissions reporting to such ministries and offices. (b) The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly shall prescribe the ministries and offices assigned to the standing committees for the purposes of this standing order and shall make a report thereon to the House. Initially, it is recommended that the ministries and offices of the government be assigned to the standing committees as follows:
“Standing committee on administration of justice: Ministry of the Attorney General; Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations; Ministry of Correctional Services; Ministry of the Solicitor General.
“Standing committee on general government: Management Board of Cabinet; Ministry of Citizenship; Ministry of Culture and Communications; Ministry of Financial Institutions; Ministry of Government Services; Ministry of Housing; Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs; Ministry of Municipal Affairs; Ministry of Revenue; Ministry of Treasury and Economics; Office for Francophone Affairs; Office for Native Affairs; Office for Women’s Issues; Office of the Premier and Cabinet Office.
“Standing committee on resources development: Ministry of Agriculture and Food; Ministry of Energy; Ministry of the Environment; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology; Ministry of Labour; Ministry of Northern Development and Mines; Ministry of Natural Resources; Ministry of Tourism and Recreation; Ministry of Transportation.
“Standing committee on social development: Ministry of Colleges and Universities; Ministry of Community and Social Services; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Skills Development; Office for Disabled Persons; Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs. “25. Standing order 20(a)(iv) be amended by inserting after ‘recognized’ in the fourth line ‘opposition.’ “26. Standing order 61 (c) be amended by striking out ‘20’ in the third line and substituting ‘12’ therefor. “27. Standing order 3(a) be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the third line and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 5(b) be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ wherever it appears and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 5(c) be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the last line and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 10 be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the third line and substituting ‘meeting’ therefor.
“Standing order 14 be amended by inserting after ‘one’ in the second line ‘sessional.’
“Standing order 16 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 16. The term ‘sessional day’ means any day on which the House meets.
“Standing order 21 (b) be amended by striking out ‘day’s sitting’ in the third line and substituting ‘sessional day’ therefor.
“Standing order 29(a) be amended by striking out ‘at a later sitting’ in the ninth and 10th lines and substituting ‘on a future sessional day’ therefor.
“Standing order 35(d) be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the fifth, ninth and 10th lines and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 40(a) be amended by striking out ‘in allotted sittings’ in the fifth line and substituting ‘on allotted days’ therefor.
“Standing order 56 be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the third and fourth lines and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 70(b) be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ and substituting ‘sessional day’ therefor.
“Standing order 90 be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the first line and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 94 be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the first line and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 97 be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the third line and substituting ‘sessional’ therefor.
“Standing order 99(c) be amended by striking out ‘sitting’ in the first and sixth lines and substituting ‘meeting’ therefor.
“Standing order 100(b) be amended by striking out ‘sit’ in the second line and substituting ‘meet’ therefor.
“Standing order 32(d) be amended by inserting after ‘120’ in the first line ‘calendar.’
“Standing order 58(b) be amended by inserting after ‘second’ in the fifth line ‘sessional.’
“Standing order 63 be amended by inserting after ‘five’ in the second line ‘calendar.’
“Standing order 66(c) be amended by inserting after `second’ in the third line ‘calendar.’
“Standing order 71 (h) be amended by striking out ‘two weeks’ in the first line and substituting ‘14 calendar days.’
Standing order 88(d) be amended by inserting after ‘14’ in the first line ‘calendar.’ “28. These permanent standing orders come into force at 12 midnight on the 9th day of October, 1989. “29. The Clerk of the House is authorized and instructed to print a revised edition of the standing orders of the House, renumbering as may be deemed necessary and making such technical and consequential changes as may be necessary.”
Hon Mr Conway: I want to pick up the discussion we had surrounding motion 8 involving the provisional rules that have been in place for some time. This government motion 9 represents the efforts of a goodly number of people over the last number of weeks and I want to review very briefly this afternoon the government’s position with respect to the rules, the standing orders of this Legislature, and to remind my colleagues that it is now some six or seven weeks ago that I indicated the government’s intention to move on certain aspects of our rules because, quite frankly, we had felt for some time that it was appropriate to move on the provisionals that had been in place, as I indicated earlier, for some time.
I also indicated that, notwithstanding the fact there had been discussions over the course of many months around many tables about how we might build on the very excellent work that had been done by a number of people, and certainly one of the leaders in all that work is my very good friend and esteemed colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh), who has joined us this afternoon for this debate, one of the reasons that the government felt in early June that a time for action and decision had arrived is that, from our point of view, we felt we were facing a pattern of obstructionism that was really making this place somewhat less effective and less efficient than the people of Ontario expect it to be. I do not want to rethrash a lot of old straw, but I think my friend the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) knows what of I speak: the endless ringing of bells, the mindless reading of petitions, the challenges of the Speaker’s rulings to precipitate bell-ringing, emergency debates coming fast and furious.
Mr Villeneuve: Where did we all learn that from, anyway?
Hon Mr Conway: I say to my friend from Moose Creek it is true that over the course of the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s there had been from time to time some vigorous opposition, some of which I even participated in. I really have to believe that what we saw here through the spring of 1988 through late spring 1989 was unprecedented in so far as the traditions and the customs and the practices of this Legislature were concerned.
In June I indicated, on a pretty lively afternoon here, as I recall it, the government’s intention to deal with a number of specific concerns: a limit on bells; a limit on petitions; an abolition of emergency debates but a replacement of that mechanism with opposition days; I wanted to eliminate the challenges of the Speaker’s rulings.
I know at the time it was felt that it was a fairly direct action on my part, but I have to say that I believe that government motion 5 standing in my name was in fact very necessary and ultimately positive because it focused the mind of this place on the need to make change.
I know that my friends--
Mr Laughren: Oh, Sean.
Mr Breaugh: Time to pass out the rubber boots, Sean.
Hon Mr Conway: Well, listen, I am trying to give an indication of what it is the government has been about. I know I am going to hear from my friends opposite and they are going to want to contribute, but I want to be frank and honest in indicating the views of the government. I have to observe that since the introduction of government motion 5, I have felt that there has been a very renewed and a very real effort on all sides to look at questions about which we had been discussing a great deal but perhaps not deciding very much.
Mr Reville: Ten years, ten years.
Hon Mr Conway: My friend the member for Riverdale says that the debate has been going on for 10 years and I think that it is probably true. I think there has been a lot of progress made and a lot of people ought to share in that credit. I am looking at a number of the people who have played a very constructive role. My friend the member for Riverdale points to the member for Oshawa and rightly so.
Let me say, without embarrassing anybody, I think the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) and the member for Riverdale have been very helpful and very constructive. The member for Nipissing (Mr Harris), particularly, assisted on occasion, well I should not say on occasion, and was assisted by the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling). From my point of view I have to say the chief government whip, the very estimable member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft), has certainly done yeoman service.
Mr D. S. Cooke: He is the one who got you off the hook.
Hon Mr Conway: My friend the member for Windsor-Riverside observes that the member for Middlesex often got me off the hook and that is quite true because the member for Middlesex has a very deft and diplomatic character that I do not always match.
Mr D. S. Cooke: He is a nice guy.
Hon Mr Conway: He is a nice guy. I tell you I think that he is one of the nicest, best guys that I have ever known in this place and he is also very effective. So with his input and the input of the other members whom I have mentioned, we have now--
Mr D. S. Cooke: Even so, he is only going to be a two-tripper.
Hon Mr Conway: Actually, Michael Cassidy told me 14 years ago that I was just an overnight guest. I smarted on that occasion but I am happy to say that--
Mr Breaugh: He was never good with time.
Hon Mr Conway: I am quite serious. There has been a lot of very good work right up until this morning. I do not want to tell tales out of school, but I will tell you what happened this morning.
My good friend the member for Nipissing phoned and he said: “Listen, we’ve been working over the evening with this package and it’s this business of the 12 or 20 members. We don’t perhaps have quite the same understanding that you do. Would you take another look at it?” I indicated that since the member for Middlesex had really done that, I would talk to him and we would see what we could do. The member for Middlesex then encountered the member for Riverdale who said, “You know, we have the same memory of this that the member for Carleton has.” And I am pleased to say that later this afternoon the very fine member for Middlesex will be introducing an amendment to incorporate that change.
I see the Leader of the Opposition has joined us. Some of his staff were available well into the evening last night and they made, as well, a number of very helpful comments about what certain things might involve or what they might mean.
So government motion 9 builds on the very important principles that were incorporated in government motion 5 in June. I remember saying in June, although not everybody heard me say it, that there were some key elements that the government felt very strongly about, but we were quite prepared to add to that list. I am very pleased to say that over the course of the last number of weeks, we have been able to do that.
Mr D. S. Cooke: You can’t justify what you said. Just say you were wrong and this is the correction of that mistake.
Hon Mr Conway: I will await the input of my friend the member for Windsor-Riverside who, I repeat, has been very helpful and very constructive in these discussions. But I think it is important for me to say that the outset of this latest journey was, of course, initiated after I think something like 188 hours of bell-ringing involving one of the matters that was before the House earlier this spring. What I said at that time was that we were quite prepared to build on the key elements of the June proposal. We have now a motion which incorporates all of that and adds very substantially to that.
For those members who have not been involved very intimately with this, although I know it has been widely reported back to caucuses, what we have in government motion 9 is a limit on bells, a maximum limit of 30 minutes, and a 15-minute limit on a daily basis to the reading of petitions. We have a procedure now to have opposition days. We have established a new standing committee on estimates. We have eliminated the challenge of the Speaker’s rulings, but offsetting that is the election of the Speaker, the right of all parties to nominate a representative to the presiding team and the addition of one individual to that presiding team so that it goes from three to four.
Very important, I think, for all members is the provision in this package which creates for the first time a parliamentary calendar with, on average, a 100-day sitting, roughly 25 or 26 weeks when the House will sit.
It is very important to observe for the people who would be watching this afternoon or reading the Hansard that of course, when the House is not sitting, we expect that committees like the standing committee on government agencies, the standing committee on administration of justice and all the other standing committees will go about the very important business they have to do in examining legislation referred to them by the House. Perhaps as important or more important, in the intercessional period those committees have the opportunity to hold public hearings to give people from Glengarry, Oshawa, York South, Carleton and perhaps even Renfrew the opportunity to come to a standing committee to have their say about government legislation or other matters that would be before the committee.
Mr Villeneuve: And be listened to.
Hon Mr Conway: And be listened to, as the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry very rightly observes.
The accountability of government action is strengthened in these new rules by giving to committees the right to initiate their own investigations. The rule changes provide an opportunity for a certain number of committees to take up matters of their own choosing. I think that is a very important step forward for the Legislature generally and for individual members specifically.
I simply want to conclude my remarks by saying that these rule changes, I believe, are significant. They do move this Legislature forward, and they move it forward in a way that respects a lot of what is being done in other parliaments in the British Commonwealth. I believe they are changes that effect a fair and reasonable balance, giving to the government a clearer means by which to get on with its business.
The calendar, for example, provides a number of opportunities at the end of the spring and fall sittings for the government to get its work done. It is advantageous to government in that it ends the kind of obstruction that was causing some real concern, I think, on all sides earlier in this Parliament. It provides for the opposition new opportunities, such as opposition days, committee references, representation on the presiding team and the right to participate with all other members in the election of a Speaker. I think it will be seen to be a real benefit for the community at large and for taxpayers, who pay the freight for this railroad and expect it to be, relatively speaking--and I accept that this is a Parliament. This is not any kind of ordinary business environment, but we come here as legislators to debate issues, to have very heated arguments often on matters of very significant public concern. Surely the emphasis must be on debate, on decision, and I think we have moved forward with these proposals to meet that very laudable objective.
As I take my seat, I simply want to indicate once again how much I have appreciated the input of the members I have mentioned. This is to a very real extent a credit to their assistance and their involvement. Speaking personally, I want to thank in a very special way my colleague the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft), whom I referred to earlier. I think it is also important for me to thank the table officers, the Clerk’s office and, in a particular way, Smirle Forsyth, who has worked long and hard over the last number of weeks, particularly the last few days, in redrafting and helping us all through some of the refinements we have wanted to make.
Mr Breaugh: As the member for Renfrew North, the government House leader, made his introductory remarks, I was noticing how many members in the chamber here this afternoon have been through this exercise many times. It is perhaps the classic example that governments--of different political parties, now--never do what they ought to do, they only do what they have to do. That is perhaps another case in point.
I cannot count the number of occasions I have been quite prepared to stand here and support this motion in some form or other. I notice that the member for Renfrew North claims victory, as he is quite free to do, and that this is mainly his initiative. It was not his initiative a decade ago, but I suppose he has every right in the world to take his little piece of credit for what might be seen by some of us as a very good thing this afternoon. I do not begrudge him that, but I do think it is worthy of a little chapter and verse here.
Mr Forsyth, one of our table officers, has been drafting this motion for about a decade in various forms. It has gone through everything I can conceive of, in terms of committee reports, committee resolutions, ad hoc agreements, members talking among themselves, putting notices in Orders and Notices, preparing resolutions, preparing drafts of the standing orders. We have done it all, a million and one times in a million and one ways, in this House, in committees, in the halls and everywhere we could think of, because all of us on all sides agreed that the standing orders needed to be changed, that some things were obviously wrong with the process and that they should be changed roughly in this direction.
Some will say that this will stop abuses. I think it is only fair of me to mention this afternoon that it will not. For hundreds of years now members of Parliament have gathered like this. No matter what the standing orders are, no matter what the rules are, no matter what you try to do, if somebody in that Parliament thinks things are not right, he is going to take exception to it and he is going to find a way to do something the government thinks is really wrong, which the opposition should not do.
It is perhaps ironic this afternoon, when we finally see this motion being put to the House, that the government members who are putting the motion not so long ago were sitting, about where I am, as opposition members, applying their devious little minds as best they could to try to aggravate the government of the day, and they did that successfully.
I think we have to put on the record this afternoon that although this tries to drag this Parliament screaming into this century, unwillingly, not comfortably and not in a way it would like to do it--but it is here--it is not going to stop what some government member will consider to be an abuse of the rules. It is not going to stop what some opposition members think is really a wrongheaded government stomping all over the opposition. That is part and parcel of the parliamentary process anywhere in the world: Government members always think the opposition is being really rude and obnoxious and not doing what an upright citizen should do; opposition members think the government is really being pigheaded about all this and ramrodding something down the throats of everybody else.
That is at the heart of a parliamentary system. It is not a congressional system. It is not a process whereby the party with the most numbers knows that at the end of the day all it has to do is call a vote and win. Those of us who have watched the American system, for example, are quite confused by the process. I am confused by someone who purports to be the Speaker--in my view and in my experience here, the Speaker is always seen to be sometimes incompetent, sometimes wrong, but never someone who tries to do you harm. He is always someone who, even on the day he rules completely the wrong way, misinterprets everything you have said, all his years of parliamentary experience and he does it wrong, at least at the end of the day I always feel, “He didn’t mean to do it wrong; he just hadn’t quite figured it out yet.”
When you go south to the United States and watch the American Congress at work and see there as the Speaker--I remember being there one afternoon when Tip O’Neill was explaining the process to us. Tip said: “Well, I call the vote. As soon as I see that I have the number of votes I want, then I say, ‘That’s it.’” We said, “Tip, how can you do that?” And he said, “Well, I have a scoreboard over here, and it tells me how everybody is voting. If the vote isn’t going the way I want it, I leave the chair and I go down and work the floor until I’ve got my win. When I’ve got my win, then I bang the gavel and that’s it.”
I thought that was a little strange; that is not the way I expect a Speaker to do things, but Tip said, “That’s the way we do it.” That is maybe one way the Congress of the United States differs from what our parliaments do.
A little explanation is in order, too, about the basic principles here, because they are pretty fundamental. This rule follows the pattern that has begun almost all across Canada now and in most of the parliaments in the world. First and foremost is that you elect a Speaker. Nobody kids himself into thinking that in this Parliament, for example, where there is a huge government majority, it is very likely that an opposition member is ever going to be elected Speaker, but it is a pleasant thought that at least there will be a formal vote; that if this is about the democratic process, if this is about democracy in the free world, at some point in time we would elect our most important officer--that is, the Speaker--by means of a balloting process.
When the federal government brought this monumental change into its world not very long ago, it was quite fascinating to watch. They actually did have an election and it really worked. The Parliament of Canada has worked pretty well ever since.
I think that is a pleasant thing to bring in. Once we accept that, that the Speaker is chosen freely from among us and that it is an open election, there is an electoral process, then it is not hard to say, “That’s the one we chose.” And on the day when he really screws up, when it is going to be very difficult not to stand up and say, “I want to challenge your ruling on that,” then at least we will be able to remind ourselves that the person who made that ruling on that day is our mistake as well as everybody else’s. That is fair. We may not like it a lot, but it is fair.
Part of what is in this motion and was in previous committee reports is an attempt to utilize all of the members of this chamber. One of the great faults of a parliamentary system, as I have known it and I think as most of us have known it, is that in this chamber there are some duds--that is true--but there are also some very hardworking, energetic people who have good ideas, and a parliamentary system traditionally does not provide much of an outlet for those people. They are supposed to stand up at the right time and vote the right way, and that is it.
Let me put a little heresy on the record, too. I think it would not do our parliamentary system a lot of harm if there were members on the government side and members on the opposition side who every once in a while said: “I don’t agree with what my party is saying on this. I think differently and I want to vote differently.” Not that people want, in Canadian politics, a whole lot of open votes or free votes or things like that, but the world would not end if there was an occasion--
Mr D. S. Cooke: Tell that to Howard Pawley.
Mr Breaugh: I could tell that to Howard Pawley. You could tell a lot of things to Howard Pawley these days; it would not make much difference.
I do not think our parliamentary process would suffer if we introduced what is supposed to be here anyway, if the cabinet of any government had to actually work to get its bills passed.
If you go to Westminster, for example, the mother of all parliaments, you notice that just because Margaret Thatcher thinks something is a good idea and just because the Prime Minister of Great Britain decides that the cabinet should make this initiative, it does not necessarily mean it is going to carry the day in the House at Westminster. They then have to go out and work their members, as they have to work everybody else in society, to convince them that this is a good law. It is not a fact simply because the cabinet says it ought to be. This is heresy in our system, I know, but I do not think it is a bad heresy to start to think about.
I cannot tell the House, because most of it would be hearsay, how many times government members--of two political parties now--have told me what really happened when the government of the day took some initiative.
The theory is that the government of the day takes it to its caucus members and explains delicately and completely all the ins and outs of what the latest initiative on the part of the cabinet really is. That is the theory; it is not a very accurate theory, unfortunately. There are occasions when one person has entered the cabinet room and said, “This is what we’re doing, and we’re doing it this afternoon whether you like it or not.” It causes quite a little flurry of activity around the cabinet table, I am told, and it causes quite a little flurry of activity in the government caucus, I am told.
That is not the way things are supposed to be. If we could move the parliamentary process back to its origins so that a government had to win, first, the support of its own caucus members, would that not be a revolutionary change; if governments could not walk in and say: “Listen, you’re all on side with this initiative. Whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s stupid or not, you’re on side. If you’re not on side, you’ll never be in the cabinet, you bad little person, you’ll never get another trip outside of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, you bad little person, you’ll never become a parliamentary secretary, you bad little person, and we won’t even let you get your picture taken with the Premier in the next general election”?
I could handle all of those tragedies myself, but I know this place is just full of people who cannot.
I do not think it would be bad for our society, for our Parliament, if we said to the government--any government--on any day: “Listen, if you’ve got some initiative, fine, take it. But you have to go to your own caucus first and you can’t tell them. ‘This is the way it is, folks’; you’ve got to win it.” And when it comes time to actually have the vote on the matter, there may not be all the members on the government side who are in favour of what the government says.
I have been around here just long enough to know that there are lots of occasions when a minister of the crown--to be fair, I have seen it happen in two political parties--stands up and says, “This is what we’re going to do,” and he has not got the faintest clue in the world what it is he is going to do. He has not got the slightest bit of understanding of what he is proposing. I have seen cabinet ministers of different stripes now stand up and read speeches that they could not understand to save their souls. They had not the sweetest clue as to what they were actually proposing.
I have seen many ministers of the crown who did not know everything that was happening in their ministry. That is an impossible thing. No one can know what 30,000 civil servants are doing today, thank God. But I have seen lots of people who had a pretty good idea of what was happening in their ministry, and that is about as good as it gets. I have seen lots of ministers of the crown who really did understand what they were trying to do. Maybe they did not understand all the rules and regulations on down the line, but they knew what the purpose of the exercise was all about, and that is as good as it gets.
I hope this resolution provides an occasion for more members to do that. I think--and I have been losing this argument for a decade now--that a government which was smart enough to say to its committees: “You’re grown, rational people. You have good minds and good resources and here are some more resources for you to use. Go out and investigate this thing and tell us what we should do and then we’ll do it,” would know the basic political rule that if you do a good thing, it does not matter where it started: the last person to announce the good thing gets most of the credit for it.
I know I will go and work in a committee and make proposals and make recommendations to the House and some member of the cabinet will eventually stand up and say: “That’s a good idea. I’ll be there when they cut the ribbon, I’ll hand them the cheque and you’ll see my picture in the paper when we take that good initiative which you started a long time ago.” As an opposition member, I will not even be there to hold his hand when he does that; it will be the government of the day that takes credit for it. That is, I think, pretty basic to the process of what is being suggested here.
I heard the member for Renfrew North (Mr Conway) say that this will be the end of the ringing of the bells. Maybe, maybe not. I do not know what the next devious thing will be that somebody thinks of, but I know that in my office there is a book called Erskine May which has written down hundreds of years of devious political minds at work. It is like a little filing system for nasty things to do this afternoon, how you could really make the government look stupid, how you could interpret the rules to your own advantage. None of that is going to stop. One can write a rule which says the bells will ring for 30 minutes; that is quite possible. But I cannot say what the next devious thing will be. There are 130 little minds at work in here and if you get them all mad enough at you, they will find some way to get that out of their systems, and they are going to have to.
One of the good things about a parliamentary system, in my view, is that unlike many other political systems, it is built on this basic premise: This House is full of people who are reasonable, honourable men and women. As long as you do not forget that, you are on safe ground. The moment that slips away from you, the moment you start thinking of them as being evil persons, you are in big trouble. You are, not them. The moment you think you are better than the rest of them, you are in big trouble.
If I may slip a little aside in here, I think that has been one of the problems this government has had in the last little while. It forgot where it came from. It forgot that there are people on the opposition side who have minds too, and they are not too likely to take kindly to direction from somebody from the Office of the Premier.
That is a painful thing for the government to forget, and the pain will be on its side, not on this side. All they do, when they get a little arrogant, is provide the opposition members with lots of big targets to shoot at, and we are pretty good at that. Those of us who have been around for a while know how to take ministers off their high horse. They can have 15 staffers in the room telling them how wonderful they are; none of us is going to buy that line. We are not on their payroll. We are not here to make them look good. We are here to point out little areas where they might have a flaw or two. That is what a parliamentary system is about.
The government can write the standing orders any way it wants. We will find a way to exploit those standing orders. We will find a way to point out that the government is not quite perfect yet; that there are some things it could do that it has not done yet; that there are some ways it could spend money a little better than the way it is doing it now.
These rule changes, a long time in coming, do not do anything remarkable, but they do some things that are quite sensible. It is pretty hard for me to explain to other people in my world why it is that we do not really know whether this session is over today, tomorrow or next week. They figure that where they come from, one of the first things you would do is sit down and figure out when you are going to sit as a Parliament, when you are going to sit as committees, and when we get to see you back home. That sounds pretty basic.
Up until now, this Legislature has never resolved that. We were going along with the old idea that the boys would come in for six weeks and they would all stay at the Royal York Hotel downtown and they would do some business for a while, and then they would go back and be farmers or lawyers or teachers or whatever they were, and that was it.
This Parliament passed that about two decades ago. It only took us 20 or 30 years to figure it out; that is all. That is the only problem so far.
The calendar is a pretty sensible thing. When one stops to think of it, does one not ask people one works with: “What time do you start work? When do you end? Do you think you might have a holiday here and there? Do you think we might see you back home?”
I have been away from here for a little while. Here is the amazing thing. It always frightens me. No one in Ontario seems to know that this House is still in session. They do not even care. They think it is summer, and they are fishing, they are swimming, they are eating ice cream cones and they are doing all the things that sensible people do.
Every once in a while when I was away, I would put on the old television set and I would actually watch the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) give a speech: something I would never do if I were here. I could not figure out why he was bothering, because it was of no consequence at all, it had no direction to it and did not make any sense. The wonderful thing about television is that if it does not make any sense to you, you can always watch Huckleberry Hound or some other better speaker carry on with it.
Part of the problem is our own political selves. Sometimes we think we are a whole lot more important than the rest of the world does. I have represented a riding for 14 years. Lots of my very good friends do not know that this Legislature is located in Toronto, because they always ask me: “How are things in Ottawa?” and I always tell them they are fine. They tell me that I should criticize Mulroney and I say, “I always do.” Although I read the polls that tell me David Peterson is the most popular politician in Canada, I have got a lot of people in my riding who do not know who David Peterson is. It is okay by me; I do not try to correct them too much on that.
Sometimes we get a little carried away with ourselves here. This is a very incestuous kind of business. We read the morning newspapers--
Hon Mr Conway: For $150 you can get to see Ed and Lucille tomorrow night at the Chateau Laurier.
Mr Breaugh: The member for Renfrew North wants me to put in a plug for a dinner in Ottawa tomorrow for Ed and Lucille Broadbent, and I would recommend that highly. They are two very fine Canadian citizens.
Mr Kanter: How much does it cost?
Mr Breaugh: It is $150, but the member would not be interested because he would have to pay for it himself. Does the member want to interject a little more?
The Deputy Speaker: Get back to debate, and again through the Speaker.
Mr Breaugh: The Speaker is always interjecting. I have not elected you yet. Just hold off.
The Deputy Speaker: Out of respect, of course.
Mr Breaugh: I may get in one last challenge before the day is over.
I think these things are long overdue. All members I have talked to on all sides, if we have an agreement about anything, and we do not have much, it is that the standing orders here were not quite what we needed. I do not believe that these are perfection, because I was part of the negotiating process for a decade or so. I know there is something in here that is reasonable for all sides of the House. That is as good as it gets. It does not get any better than that.
It does not mean we have resolved all the problems. It does not mean that the animosity will dissipate all of a sudden, just because we change the standing orders. It will not. This does not have much to do with that. It does not mean that what the government calls an abuse of the rules will stop either. It will not.
For example, just to give members a little one, the government got upset because some members read petitions a lot. They did not like that, so they wrote in here that there should be a limit on the number of petitions. The day some member, man or woman, enters this chamber and says, “Mr Speaker, I’ve got a petition with 50,000 names on it,” I would not like to be the Speaker who says, “But the 15 minutes are up.” I will bet there would be somebody over there who will stand up and say, “Well, let’s just give him another 20 or 30 seconds so he can get that on the record.”
The one saving grace of the political process is the wisdom of the people who elect us. They see a system that is really different from what the members see. We see the standing orders, the cabinet, the House leader, the leader of the official opposition and the leader of the third party as being important. People who elect us see it in a whole different context. If it does not do them any good, they probably do not want to be bothered with it.
It seems to me that is fair. If it does not serve a useful purpose to them, they do not want to be bothered with it. It seems to me that is fair. If a Parliament is to be relevant to the people it serves, they should understand a little bit of the process, and they do. They understand it in a different way from those of us who are elected understand it.
I think this will provide some opportunities for members on all sides to do some good work, and I really welcome that possibility. I think it will take away some of the silly traditions that we have; not all of them, but some of them. One of the things I think members on all sides have agreed with for a couple of decades now is that our estimates process did not serve the purpose. It was an excellent opportunity for a lot of very highly paid civil servants to sit around a committee room all afternoon, afternoon after afternoon.
It was an opportunity for them to write very long speeches for cabinet ministers. I have been here for 14 years. I have never asked a question in estimates where somebody actually gave me an answer. I am accustomed to the minister of the day saying, “I’ll get right back to you with that.” I have never seen one get back to me.
Hon Mr Conway: Mike, come to mine. I’ll give you an answer.
Mr Breaugh: I may have missed my last chance to actually get an answer from somebody.
I have seen every kind of stall in the business pulled over a long period of time. I do not relish the end of the estimates process from a traditional point of view, but there has got to be a better way for us to spend our time than that. I think that some of the changes in here, if members use them, will not produce an efficient Parliament, because Parliament and efficiency really do not go together at all. This is a place to argue about things. This is a place to exchange opinions. We are not making General Motors Luminas here. This thing is not going to get a guarantee, it is not going to work perfectly and there is no dealer that you can take it back to get it fixed. This is not about that. It is about ideas. It is about policies.
When we adopt these rules, as I hope we do this afternoon, we will have changed the process just a little bit. That is as good as it gets. Although many of us, myself included, are going to try to take some credit for some of this, the truth is that these rules come about because many members in many parliaments now have decided collectively, over a long, long period of time, that the process should change. If I have learned anything about life, it is simply that. Any human process which does not change is one which is wrong.
To keep the human endeavour alive requires that basic initiative: that you have to remember that yesterday’s mistakes are the ones that you are not going to make today. You do not know what today’s mistakes are. As long as you can keep making new mistakes, you are learning a little bit. That is what this is. It is an opportunity for all of us to do some things a little differently, to make some new mistakes, to learn from yesterday’s mistakes and to learn that there may be a slightly better way to do things.
I was reminded this afternoon, as we had some yet ongoing discussions, that changing one more amendment is yet to come. We have been talking about this thing for a decade now. I cannot tell the members how many times we have written and rewritten the standing orders of this House. I cannot tell them how many hours the clerks and the table officers have put into trying to draft the words, only to find out somebody did not like those words in the end.
We are changing them again this afternoon. I expect that by the time we actually get them implemented and running for a little while, we will be right back at it again saying: “We ought to do this. We ought to change this. This isn’t really what we meant and we’ll change it again.” As long as we understand that that is an important part of our process, as long as we understand that we are not here just to feed among ourselves but we are here to serve the people in a strange way--l really hate it when people use that terminology in a noble sense. We are not noble people. We are not meant to be noble people. We are just ordinary grunts trying to do a job. That is all that a Parliament has ever been. A Parliament has never been and should never be an election of our smartest, because it is not that. If that was our guidestick, we would all be failures.
We should all remember that the first Parliament was held in a field by a bunch of folks who happened to be around that field and started to talk about things. As long as we understand that that is what a parliament is, we are on safe ground.
I commend this government motion and these changes to the standing orders because I think they are long overdue. I wish they had come earlier. I wish they had come under different circumstances. But I have been here long enough to know that when we can get it, we had better get it because it may not be there tomorrow. I commend all of these suggestions to the members. I hope that they accept them.
Finally, I hope that all members on all sides utilize the opportunities that are here in these new standing orders to make this just a little bit better place than it was when we came here, because that is what it is all about.
Mr Sterling: I guess it is with some satisfaction that we finally see the motion put forward today in the name of the government House leader, but which was realty crafted by a number of people in this Legislative Assembly.
Perhaps one of the lessons that can be learned out of this long process is that one of the committees of this Legislature had a significant contribution to make towards this very significant change in our rules. That, of course, is the standing committee on procedural affairs, as it was known in 1985. The name was later changed to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.
That committee has worked long and hard on looking at the various rules that we deal with. I think the basis of our proposals, as we developed them in the latter part of 1985, emanated out of the concern in the minority Parliament of 1985 to 1987 that the individual member be given a greater role and that the committees of our Legislature be also given a greater role in what happens in this place.
I can remember in a hotel in Albany, New York, where basically the draft report for the standing committee on procedural affairs was drafted over a cup of coffee and a few other things.
Mr Morin: New York wine too.
Mr Sterling: The member for Carleton East was a part of that. l want to give him credit where credit is due in joining us for coffee.
I think that one of the things these changes in rules do is that while they change the formal structure of what our committees can or cannot do, it will be up to a majority government party to really make committees sing and do things. It will be up to the ministers of the governing party to allow the members of their party to stray from the party line from time to time in order to breathe life not only into the Parliament of Ontario but into the committees of Ontario.
I think other parliaments which we have referred to today, larger parliaments, have allowed their members to take stances from time to time in opposing perhaps what their party has stood for. I wish that when parties and governments look at the day-to-day operation of the committees, they will look at the matter that is in front of them and say there are three classifications of matters we deal with in the Parliament of Ontario and in the committees.
There are the major issues, which are decided by the Premier and his close associates in cabinet, and on those matters, the party has to stand together. On those major issues, in the opposition party and in the third party, members must stand together. Then there are what I would call medium and smaller issues. l hope, on those issues, that the government in particular will permit its backbenchers, or a few of its backbenchers, to express a different opinion from time to time.
That is tough to do, and I think it would take a lot of leadership on behalf of the Premier of a province who had a majority of 94 members, because I know the media would attack initially and say, “This is a sign of weakness.” But if in fact the backbencher in a governing party is to be involved in legislative change, there must be some freedom given in exchange.
I am not talking, as I mentioned before, about the major issues. I am talking about the medium and the low issues, like justice issues, where partisan politics do not get played with to a very great degree. It has been amazing to me in the two minority parliaments in which I have sat, from 1977 to 1981 and from 1985 to 1987, that when justice issues came before a legislative committee, ministers constantly yielded on amendments and the world did not cave in. That legislation has basically stood the test of time, and we have gone on.
Yet during this Parliament, for instance, and I am sure from 1981 to 1985 when my party had a majority government, we tended to say, “Go in there, boys, and when I nod, you raise your hands and we vote this way, no matter what the debate.”
Hon Mr Elston: Oh, the reality of 19 March, as I recast it.
Mr Sterling: The realities of 19 March and the realities of 10 September, whatever they are, but it is unfortunate that we have not yet in this province had the leadership in the former government or in this government to allow our members to really participate.
While we are setting up and trying to strengthen the committee structure in these changes to the standing orders, l hope that we can have a change in attitude, by the governing party in particular but also by the leaders of the opposition parties, to allow individual members from time to time to take stands on non-controversial issues and issues where members of the committee legitimately are trying to seek a compromise for a better law in Ontario.
These changes came very much not only from an effort of the standing committee on procedural affairs, now the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, but also from a considerable effort by Mr Forsyth, who was at the table today. I thank him not only for his effort in drafting these orders today, but also for his past work over the last four or five years in particular, and I thank the other clerks, including Todd Decker, and such researchers as John Eichmanis, who is not with the Legislative Assembly at this time. I am sure there are others I have missed. Those individuals in particular have worked with the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh), the member for Carleton East (Mr Morin), myself and other members of the Legislature in trying to reach various conclusions on the standing orders.
I hope these standing orders will bring a more rational life to members of the Legislative Assembly. Members will note from the calendar which we have produced today that a great part of our life over the year is taken up by time that we must spend either in session here in the Legislative Assembly or outside in committees of the Legislature.
In looking over the schedule, I know that over the next two months, after we adjourn hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I will be returning here in the second week of August and will be here until 10 October, save and except for two weeks during that period of time. I think it is important for us to indicate to people in our province the significant time we have to spend on committees during the times that we are absent from the actual Legislative Assembly.
We have talked about the June government motion 5, which was introduced by the government House leader. I do not agree with his interpretation of that being necessary. The member for Oshawa, the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft) and I negotiated for over a year and a half and came up with a proposal on 12 April 1988. We waited over one year for that proposal to be answered by the government’s side of the House. That answer came in the form of the 5 June government motion 5.
Basically it took all the good parts out for the government but did not offer in return anything for the opposition. I think that was the wrong way to approach it and believe that today this government motion is a great victory for the opposition parties as they stand up to that government motion 5. I am glad to see the government has yielded to the opposition parties’ demand for a fair and proper deal in dealing with the Legislative Assembly and the rules that we are governed under.
These rules deal with many major changes to our structure. The estimates process is going to be revamped substantially. We will have opposition days in the Legislature. But there are some things we did not get. Some of the things we did not get in these amendments to the standing orders refer to individual power of the individual member.
I would have liked, for instance, that rule 71(1) of our standing orders be amended so that an individual member on private members’ business could have sent his bill as an individual out to a committee for hearings. It has been the practice of this government at this time to block such a request. I think that in terms of the freedom of an individual member, the limited amount of time and the limited amount of opportunity for him to present an individual idea in the form of legislation and have it referred out to committee should, as a matter of right, be to the individual member. Unfortunately, we were not able to negotiate that. The government will be able to continue to thwart private members from having their private members’ bills sent out to a standing committee, even though they have been passed by this Legislature.
I think that is a mistake. I think it is a very, very small price for a majority government to have to deal with in a standing committee in that it controls the numbers in a standing committee. It requires a little bit more organization for the government side to deal with a private members’ bill which has been sent out to committee, but so be it; it has not been a major problem. It has been a minor problem for the government and I think they have overreacted to it in their manner.
In fairness to the government side, they have asked for other things and they have given other things, but this was one particular matter on which I thought I should speak because it deals with private members and does not deal with party positions as such.
As I mentioned, the participation in drafting these orders has been wide. There have been a lot of members who have given a significant contribution. There have been a large number of clerks and researchers involved in it. But in the end, as the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) pointed out, it will depend on the goodwill of the people in this Legislative Assembly to try to put these into practice in a reasonable form which will allow the government to govern but will allow the opposition to do their duty of opposing in a reasonable manner.
We have urged the government over the past two years to move toward these reforms. We think it is late in coming, but we welcome it at this time.
Mr Reycraft: As the government House leader indicated earlier, we want to move an amendment to government notice of motion 9.
With the Speaker’s permission, I would like to do that now.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Reycraft moves that paragraph 26 of government notice of motion 9 be amended by adding the following:
“Standing order 32(b) be amended by striking out “20” in the fourth line and substituting “12” therefor.
Standing order 63 be amended by striking out “20” in the fifth line and substituting “ 12” therefor.
“Standing order 68(b) be amended by striking out “20” in the second line and substituting “12” therefor.
“Standing order 71 (e)(ii) be amended by striking out “Twenty” in the first line and substituting “Twelve” therefor.
“Standing order 3(c) be deleted and the following substituted therefor: 3(c) The House may meet beyond the hours set out in clause (a) on the passage of a government motion for that purpose. The question on such a motion shall be put forthwith and without debate. However, the motion shall not be voted upon if 12 members stand in their places when the question is about to be put. If a recorded vote is requested by 5 members, the division bells shall be limited to 15 minutes.”
Mr Reycraft: I want to indicate, as the House leader said earlier, that there was a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation about some of the changes that had been agreed upon. This amendment corrects that situation. There are a number of places within the standing orders where 20 members are required to do something or to prevent something from being done. In all of those cases, this reduces that number to 12. I should indicate that it does not affect the quorum of the Legislature which shall remain at 20. That quorum is established by the Constitution of Canada and therefore cannot be changed by this Legislature.
I would just briefly like to add my support to the package of amendments and to express my appreciation to members of the House who have been involved in negotiating this package, and also my appreciation to Smirle Forsyth and the other members of the table here who have also been involved in a lot of work. It is my pleasure to have been involved in the past couple of years in a process that has gone on for a much greater time than that.
The member for Carleton indicated that he felt this package of amendments was a victory for the opposition. I believe that these amendments represent a victory for the Parliament of Ontario and the people of Ontario. I think it will allow this Legislature to function more effectively and more efficiently, and that it will allow all members to participate in a more meaningful way in the process.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I want to congratulate the people who have been working on this for the last several years: the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, the member for Carleton, the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) and the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft). I think they have done a fine job. But I do think that the entire process has not been entirely acceptable and there must be some recollection of how this motion today came about.
After the last provincial election there was a report that we considered; there were negotiations that took place. Virtually all of the matters that are covered by today’s government notice of motion were in the consensus document that was worked out by the member for Middlesex, the member for Oshawa and the member for Carleton. The difficulty we had at that point was not that the opposition was resisting change. In fact, the opposition was encouraging the amendment of these rules, but the Liberal government House leader took the package to the Liberal caucus and it was rejected.
On many occasions in the past couple of years the House leader for the Conservative Party and I would show up at House leaders’ meetings on Thursday after Thursday and we would say to the government House leader: “When are we going to resurrect negotiations on changes to the standing orders? We recognize there needs to be reform. When are you going to start negotiations?” The government House leader would say, “Well, I do have a motion and the motion is to extend again the interim rules that we have.”
There was no response and no effort at all from the government to change the rules. Somehow when members read the document that was filed with the press today, entitled Government Proceeds with Rule Changes, coming out from the government House leader’s office and at the end it says “For further information, contact Sue Hanna.” l assume that she wrote it.
Hon Mr Conway: I wrote it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The government House leader wrote it. That disappoints me even more. This press release would lead one to believe that over the past couple of years it has been the government which has wanted rule changes and it has brought the opposition along kicking and screaming, and finally forced the rules to be brought into this decade.
Let me just read the first paragraph: “`The government intends to proceed today with rule changes to ensure the orderly and efficient conduct of the provincial Legislature,’ government House leader Sean Conway said today.
“`Last month I said the government would move to change the rules before the summer recess,’ Mr Conway said. ‘I believe now is an appropriate time to proceed.’”
We feel that it would have been more appropriate to proceed on rule changes a couple of years ago when the negotiations had come to an end and we had a consensus document. But in those days the Liberal cabinet and the Liberal caucus said: “No, no; there are a couple of concessions there for the opposition, and we have come back fresh from the election where we got 94 members and there ain’t going to be any changes to the standing orders that are going to give the opposition parties anything. We’ll control the committee agenda, we’ll control the government agenda in the House and we’ll put the opposition parties in their place.”
Well, over the last couple of years we have demonstrated very clearly that we do have a role to play and we do have some options under the old rules that we did utilize. When the government wanted to bring in Sunday shopping and when it had said one thing during an election campaign on Sunday shopping and something else after the election, we decided as an opposition party, as did the Conservative Party, that we were going to use every rule that was at our disposal to stop that legislation and to hold the government accountable. That was our responsibility, that was our job and that is exactly what we did.
When the government brought in Bill 162, the amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act, we had the exact same point of view. When the government had problems with the then Solicitor General and it was refusing to send the matter to committee and was refusing to release a police report, we in the opposition felt that we had a responsibility to use the standing orders of this assembly to hold the government accountable.
The government House leader has referred all along to the actions that we have taken as being irresponsible. There would not have been those types of action, there would not be bell ringing, there would not have been petitions if the government itself had fulfilled its commitments in the last election and not tried to bring in legislation to facilitate Sunday shopping. If the then Solicitor General had done the honourable thing much more quickly, there would not have been problems. We were really backed into a corner, and that is why some of those tactics were used.
We are now happy that these rule changes are going to reform the system, but I should point out that to hear the government House leader a little while ago indicate that the main reason for coming to the consensus document which is going to be passed today is because he tabled government notice of motion 5 and that forced the opposition parties to negotiate--that might be his recollection but that is certainly not what happened. When government notice of motion 5, unilateral changes to the rules, was introduced in a way that I will not repeat, because it was discussed on that particular day, the way that they were introduced to the press--which I still feel very angry about--they were unilateral changes that had never been proceeded with in that way.
I should remind the members in that original proposal by the government with no negotiations, it said, “Yes, we’ll set up an estimates committee.” I suggest the members take a look at the proposal under the original government notice of motion and today’s and see that there really is now the estimates committee as we wanted it. They were going to set up an estimates committee and the estimates to be considered would be set by the majority on the committee. That would mean that every year the committee would have sat down and decided which estimates were going to be reviewed and the majority on the committee would decide. Well, the majority on the committee means that the Liberals would have decided which estimates were to be reviewed.
Now we have proper rules in this motion that say the opposition parties--the official opposition and then the Conservative Party--will be able to select, in rotation, the estimates they would like to deal with, and then the government party. That is not the proposal that was in the government notice of motion 5. I think it was silent on the matter because what it meant was that the majority in the committee would decide, which then would mean that the Liberals would decide which estimates they wanted to do and there would not be the accountability that the Provincial Auditor and others have talked about requiring if we were going to have a proper estimates committee.
Probably the most offensive rule change under the original government proposal was they were going to take the right to challenge the Speaker away but were going to reserve the right for the government to appoint the Speaker. I do not know what other democratic body in the western world would allow a chairman of its organization to be appointed by a majority and then not have the ability to challenge the rulings and decisions of that chairman. Now we have the appropriate balance, just as we said that day when we rose on a point of order. Yes, we can agree that the Speaker should not be challenged but the balance to that obviously is that we have representation on the presiding team and that the Speaker be democratically elected. I think that is a major step forward.
I agree with the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling), who said a few moments ago that this is a victory for the opposition parties. This is the type of rule change that we have been advocating for two years now. I am happy not only that on a couple of the major political issues we were able to use the rules to hold the government accountable but that we also demonstrated by the use of the old, outdated rules that reform was needed in this place. In many respects we killed two birds with one stone.
Mr Reycraft: Careful, this will take you to turkeys.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Well, no, the member for Middlesex is not a bird.
We accomplished many things. We brought out some very weak political positions that the government has taken and we demonstrated to the government the wisdom of the position that the opposition parties took two years ago when we suggested these rule changes. It is better late than never, and our party is pleased to be part of the approving of these reforms today.
Mr Harris: I really do not want to rehash all the ground. A number of the members, clearly the member for Carleton, have put forward the points regarding the specifics of the rule changes. I have read the government House leader’s press release which puts forth the points that he wanted to put forth. The New Democratic Party has put forth a number of changes from that point of view, so l do not want to rehash all the ground of what is in it and what is not. I think we are all, as parties, pretty well on the record.
I do want to very briefly do a couple of things; first, congratulate those who have spent a considerable amount of time in working on this rule package. During the scrum today I think it was Colin Vaughan who said to me: “Really, Mr Harris, does this mean anything for the public? Does the public care?”
The truth of the matter is, they care in a general sense how the place operates, how we as parliamentarians handle ourselves. They care when there seems to be a snafu and bells are ringing, but the truth of the matter is, no, they do not understand the technicalities of these rules. As long as they do not hear that things are in some kind of state of paralysis, they do not care.
It is complicated; it is difficult; it requires a great deal of study by learned people to go through these rules, and there are a number who have devoted a considerable amount of time. The member for Carleton has done the bulk of the time, the work, the effort and the detail on behalf of our party. We have had a number of others through the period, not the least of whom were the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz) and the member for Markham (Mr Cousens). Mr Treleaven, the former member for Oxford on behalf of our party going back through that period in time, spent a considerable amount of time and effort on really trying to bring us into the 20th century, if you like, trying to bring us up to a modem age of how legislatures and parliaments work in Canada.
As members know, we have lagged behind, particularly over the last four years as the federal House and the other provincial houses have moved on to bring in changes. This particular Legislature has tagged behind, as we have in a number of other areas, and I hold this government accountable for not moving us ahead in a more timely fashion on these rule changes.
I want to congratulate, as well, the member for Oshawa, the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville) and the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) from the New Democratic Party, who, since I have been involved in the last few years, have worked hard, not only in the detail of this package but in trying to convince the government that it was time to get on with it; and of course the member for Middlesex and the member for Renfrew North, who have moved forward on the detail.
I would suggest it did take the member for Renfrew North longer than we think was necessary to realize that we must move on the real changes, but we are there now and we have a package that I think brings us into the 20th century.
Let me also thank Mr Forsyth and the chair and others who have particularly given advice to us along the way, Mr McFedries, who I think has done some drafting as well, and the team of table officers who have been with us in this and pointed out some areas where, from their perspective, we could facilitate these rules. I wanted to mention those people and congratulate and thank them for the time and effort they put in.
Nobody in the public, and very few members, I think, will appreciate how complicated the nuances of these various rules are. It can be demonstrated in this way, that the existing standing orders served us for a long time. It was a long time before bell--ringing started, I guess; in the Joe Clark days and then in the Sean Conway and David Peterson days here in Ontario. Over a period of time, rules that worked for generations and generations get looked at and scrutinized. Various idiosyncrasies in them become known and mechanisms to delay, if you like, or to stall proceedings or to get your way are developed. What was appropriate 20 years ago is then no longer appropriate today.
I mention that in two contexts. First, we think this set of rules we are putting forward--those of us who have been involved in it--will indeed facilitate the business of this House. It gives considerable opportunities to the opposition to order its own business in the committees and in the House. We have argued for this package of rule changes for the past couple of years. Many have said, “Yes, but you’re ringing bells over things.” If one thinks about those issues, had we had this package of rules, we would not have needed to ring bells.
The bell-ringing has evolved primarily when the government says: “No, you can’t look at that, you can’t study this. That will not be an order of business. We’re the majority. We don’t care what you want to do. You will not look at the Joan Smith affair. That’s none of your business. We’re going to make sure you can never took at it.”
This package of rule changes is such that when issues of importance to the opposition come along, issues on which the government may--for political reasons, obviously, and they may be sensitive--say, “No, we’re not going to give you any time to look at that or the power to look at it,” that cannot happen now with this package of rules. The bells would not need to have been rung. Indeed, we could have ordered business in that committee to deal with that matter.
It is important that the government understand what this rule package does from an opposition point of view and why we are willing to give up bell-ringing. We are willing to give up delay tactics, because, through the rule changes, we have a mechanism to make sure that a majority government--Liberal at this particular time, Conservative probably after 1991, and maybe some time the New Democratic Party; who knows?--will not be able to say, “No, that might be of concern to you, but we won’t let you look at it.” We think that is important.
Finally, I want to say this, that no set of rules in a parliamentary democracy, by itself, however good we think it will be, will last forever. No set of rules at any given point in time in a parliamentary democracy will be the complete answer. There will still need to be, and there must be, co-operation among all three parties to run the Legislature in a businesslike, democratic and forthright fashion.
I believe this package of rules will help facilitate that. I believe it will take away some of the irritations and some of the problems, because it has a balancing of powers in it. It takes some away from the opposition on a delay side and it takes some away from the government on a covering-up side, if you like, in the ordering of the business side. I think it will help, but it will still require the co-operation of the House leaders, the whips and indeed of all members of all parties.
I really hope it may reflect as well on the decorum of the Legislature. I hope it will facilitate a new spirit of co-operation. I hope it will facilitate a new spirit of decorum in this chamber so we can present to the public a more acceptable and businesslike operation of this particular chamber.
We are obviously in support of this package. We wish it had come a little sooner. We think we may have avoided some problems along the way had it been there, and we look forward with enthusiasm and optimism to making these new rules work in the future.
Mr Reville: I want to participate briefly in what I think is a momentous debate. The reason I think it is momentous is that while the member for Oshawa was speaking, I heard the heavens open, and a bolt of lightning came down very close to the chamber. As the thunder died away, I paid particular attention to the member for Oshawa explaining to us how it is.
I think this is a time when congratulations should be shared with a light heart to all those members of the Legislature who made these rule changes happen. There are a number and, of course, they have been referred to by other speakers. I think primarily of the member for Oshawa, who has had these rules on his mind for a decade, and the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) who has, perhaps, for almost as long. The member for Middlesex, a conciliatory sort of chap, who came in in the last couple of years, may have been the person who really made it happen today.
I do not know whether anybody listens to David Bromberg, who plays a mandolin and a very good electric guitar. He has a song that goes, “When I woke up this morning, I must have had somebody else’s blues.” When I woke up this morning and I saw this press release from the government House leader, I really did believe I had someone else’s blues, because this is not the way I remembered the thing happening. Of course, there was that momentary bit of grumpiness with government notice of motion 5, which basically I felt somewhere in my nose, but after we indicated to the government that we thought that was not a cheerful way to proceed, the government was very gracious and very conciliatory and quite interested in negotiating.
In fact, we have our negotiators, and now this House negotiated a package that is awfully similar to those consensus packages that were negotiated on at least two other occasions in recent history. Of course, the events of today, when even at the almost 11th hour some further amendments were negotiated, indicate the way in which members of this Legislature are able to work when they put their minds to it.
I tried to imagine what would possess the government House leader to write such a press release today, and the only thing I could come up with--l am a very inventive chap, as you may know, and I have had the opportunity to travel to Renfrew North; it is a beautiful part of the country and I love Renfrew North--is that there is a mountain, on top of which is perched the first Polish settlement in Ontario, perhaps in Canada, called Wilno. If you are lucky enough to get your car to the top of this mountain, you can pause there at the lookout just near the church where the member for Renfrew North (Mr Conway) often goes to have a chicken supper. If you look out over the hills and the forests, you actually do feel that you are Moses. Clearly, the member for Renfrew North has paused on that mountain too many times and he has said: “Now, God, get down here. I have got some rules that I am going to impose upon this Legislature.”
I forgive him, because in fact it is a breathtaking site and it does perhaps make people feel as though they are not ordinary mortals. Having listened today to the member for Wilno, I know he may have these moments when he feels sort of beatific and he has other kinds of moments as well. He has had to eat a rather large crow and it is probably inappropriate for anybody to point it out or watch him eat it and just be sort of content with the fact that it has been eaten.
Ten years of work are concluded today. I am happy for it, and I want to congratulate those members who made this happen. I urge all members to vote for it with a happy heart.
The Deputy Speaker: Do any other members wish to participate? If not, would Moses conclude?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to thank all honourable members for the colour, character and generosity of their remarks. I want to simply conclude by picking up one point that I think the member for Riverdale touched on or someone else, perhaps the member for Oshawa, earlier on this afternoon in the debate. This has to do with the calendar as it relates to the fall sitting for 1989.
Later this day or later this week, I will be introducing a motion, as I am required to under the standing orders, indicating that, once it is adjourned this summer, the House will be recalled Tuesday 10 October 1989, with the sanctions of the calendar in place. The fall sitting will be from Tuesday 10 October through Thursday 21 December 1989. There will be no constituency week in the fall of 1989, because we will be adjourning many weeks after we would normally adjourn under the calendar in the summer. Just so that everyone is clear.
There will be other aspects of implementation that our group is going to want to talk about over the course of the next few weeks, and we are going to be preparing to do that because, as I think we have all agreed, we want this to be effective for the fall sitting. The earlier order extended the provisionals to midnight 9 October; these orders, when passed today, will be effective on midnight 9 October as well. So the calendar will be in effect for the fall of this year, though we will not be coming back on the fourth Monday in September but rather on Tuesday 10 October. We will sit through until Thursday 21 December and there will be no constituency week in November of this year. I just wanted to be clear on that point.
My friend the member for Middlesex has moved an amendment that I believe addresses a concern that members have identified. Again, I really want to thank everybody for the good work and for the generosity of spirit that we have seen here this afternoon.
The Speaker: Mr Conway has moved government notice of motion 9. In turn, Mr Reycraft has moved an amendment to Mr Conway’s motion. Therefore, we will deal with Mr Reycraft’s amendment to the motion.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: We will now deal with Mr Conway’s amended motion.
Motion agreed to.
MEMBER FOR MISSISSAUGA WEST
Mr B. Rae: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wonder if I might be permitted, by the grace of the House and, if I might add, in the spirit of reconciliation which seems to pervade this place today, to make a statement.
Mr B. Rae: On 11 July 1989, I asked a question of the Premier (Mr Peterson) in the House and issued a news release entitled “Mr Mahoney, Mr Muzzo and Envacc.”
There are factual errors contained in that news release which I want to correct. The news release indicated that the purchase of the home owned by the honourable member for Mississauga West, who is in the House today, and Mrs Mahoney was financed by two mortgages given to Mrs Mahoney by Elyrin Holdings Ltd.
The registry office documents show that the first mortgage in the amount of $80,000 was held by the Toronto-Dominion Bank and not by Elyrin Holdings. What was discharged in November 1984 was not this first mortgage but a vendor’s lien.
The second mortgage for $35,000 was a vendor-takeback mortgage, which was available to other purchasers in the subdivision. While it was registered as officially discharged on 15 February 1988, as stated in the release, this mortgage was discharged as part of a refinancing with the Royal Bank in January 1988.
If these errors have led to the implication that the honourable member received any benefit or committed any illegality with respect to these mortgages, I apologize to the honourable member, Mrs Mahoney and their family for any embarrassment this may have caused.
Mr Mahoney: On the same point, Mr Speaker: I would just like to indulge the House to accept the apology offered by the honourable Leader of the Opposition and to just briefly state that I sincerely hope that no member of his family will have to go through the two weeks that we have endured. I will be instructing my lawyers to cease the action against the honourable member.
House in committee of the whole.
GASOLINE TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 24, An Act to amend the Gasoline Tax Act.
The Deputy Chairman: Members will recall that when we last dealt with this bill, we had concluded the discussion and acceptance of all amendments to the bill and we were awaiting the response of the minister to an opposition question.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: We did have two outstanding questions that were asked by the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris).
The first question concerned the indemnification for damages on the detention of vehicles at the border compounds. I am pleased to say that the legal advisers of the ministry have informed me that the courts will limit the scope of subsection 16a(4) so that the crown is protected only where due care and attention are exercised by its service.
The intent of the provision is simply to prevent frivolous claims, for example, in respect of evaporation of cargo when a tanker truck is detained or in respect of any decrease in price of cargo which might occur during detention. In this respect, the provision is identical to that in Bill 21.
Mr Harris: Very briefly on that particular point: I accept the minister’s explanation. I would add this caution, that the regulations and the directions that go out to the inspectors, the interpretation we have heard today, in reflection indeed be the one that goes out. My concern, and I think I had indicated it the other day when we dealt with it, was that even though the legislation, if one reads it, sounded like the province would be limited on liability, the quick answer I was able to get from the lawyer who advised me--who, I might divulge now, is a member of the Liberal Party, the member for Durham Centre (Mr Furlong)--was, “Look, even though that is what the minister is saying in the bill, in fact no court will allow that to take precedence over common justice,” and that in fact the province would be liable if it was negligent in looking after somebody’s impounded or confiscated property at that particular site.
So I do not think the wording is the best. However, the government seems intent that this is the wording it wants to proceed with. I am glad to have the minister’s explanation and would ask that the ministry, when it is developing the regulations, make sure that is the understanding, both from the civil service point of view and from those who must comply with the legislation, from their point of view as well.
Ms Bryden: I am glad the minister did have a response to the House leader for the PC party and his unanswered question, which was why the bill was not reported from the earlier meeting of the committee of the whole.
I would like to mention that there was another question, asked by my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr Chariton), which the minister was not able to answer. I do not know whether, since the earlier meeting on 13 July, he has been able to find an answer to that question. The question was: What was the raison d’être for removing the tax exemption from propane fuel and leaving it on the other alternative fuels--ethanol, methanol and natural gas?
Perhaps the minister could supply us with any further thinking on that question, because I think curiosity was raised when he said he did not know the answer. I understand the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) has said: “Isn’t that what all taxes are: an arbitrary decision to pay for hospitals and everything?” I do not know whether the minister agrees with that.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I thought that question came from the member for Nipissing, but I will give credit 50 per cent to the member for Nipissing and 50 per cent to the member for Hamilton Mountain: This is how we feel today. “Why tax propane?” was the question from the member for Nipissing. My most simple and most honest response to that question is that propane has become an established fuel in this province and, let’s face it, most taxi operators or larger fleets do use propane. These people who do drive those vehicles do cause congestion, and as my friend the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has said, users will pay for roads, for water, for sewers and so on. So my answer is a very simple one: 60,000 vehicles are using propane gas in this province and they have to share the cost of our infrastructure.
Ms Bryden: I thank the minister for that explanation. We in the New Democratic Party have no further comment on the minister’s proposed amendments, though we agree that copies of them perhaps should have been circulated to the opposition parties at an earlier date than they were.
I was not able to be present during the debate on the amendments--l am not going to go into discussion of all of them right now--but I would like to say that Bill 24, the Gasoline Tax Amendment Act, is one of four tax bills brought in this year to implement budget increases and changes. The New Democrats voted against all four on second reading, because we feet they are all regressive taxes. They move the province further away from a fair tax system, because they are not based on ability to pay. In my opinion this is completely inconsistent with a small-l liberal philosophy. I am explaining with that why we will be voting against this bill on third reading.
Mr Harris: I again will be brief, but I want to say that the minister’s explanation is the explanation he wants to give and it is the government line. The Treasurer said, “Try this on for size,” so that is what he has delivered to us.
I believe the real motivation is that there are substantial dollars we could go out to grab. The minister says, “The user pays,” yet there are a substantial number of vehicles using natural gas, ethanol or the other fuels mentioned by both myself and the member for Hamilton Mountain, where apparently the minister is prepared to say, “You’re using, but you don’t have to pay.”
I think the Treasurer said: “Look, there are getting to be quite a few of these propane vehicles, even though they are more environmentally sensitive and even though they are easing the use of carbon fuels. There are 60,000 of them now. Let’s go there and grab a substantial amount of money.”
It is starting to look like driving an environmentally sensitive car is a sin tax. On the one hand the government encourages them to get away from hydrocarbon fuels for the sake of the environment; then as soon as that happens, the government comes along and whacks on the tax. That is the real reason, and of course we will be opposing that.
This is my last comment; providing the minister does not provoke me, I will not rise on my feet again on this particular bill. I had made some comments during our last deliberations on this about the tardiness of the amendments. Since both of the officials of the ministry are here and no doubt prepared the amendments, I would like to say that I discovered they were circulated to the office of the Revenue critic’s office of my party some days before.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: Two weeks.
Mr Harris: “Two weeks,” the minister says, so I say to the minister, the minister’s staff and the ministry that I was in error. The amendments did not reach me. They would appreciate that we did not anticipate the government’s inability to run the House in such a way that we still would be here in July, and some of our critics had the odd day off. That is the reason I had not seen the amendments, and the critic for the New Democratic Party was unavailable that day as well.
In the spirit of co-operation, I and the member for Hamilton Mountain agreed by saying. “Let’s facilitate this and carry on without our critics.” The members can see how that may have happened. I want to acknowledge that the amendments indeed were ready. It was only our spirit of co-operation in helping the government out in the absence of our critics that caused our problem of not seeing the amendments.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I can only say that I am blessed with the best critics in this House.
Bill 24, as amended, ordered to be reported.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED) / LOI DE 1989 SUR LES JUGES DE PAIX (SUITE)
Consideration of Bill 93, An Act to revise the Justices of the Peace Act.
Étude du projet de loi 93, Loi portant révision de la Loi sur les juges de paix.
The Deputy Chairman: When last we met on this bill, we had concluded section 16. The next amendment is to section 17.
Mr Sterling: Rather than put the motion forward now, we might as well put it tomorrow and adjourn debate in this committee.
On motion by Mr Conway, the committee of the whole House reported progress on one bill and one bill with certain amendments.
À la suite d’une motion présentée par M. Conway, l’étude du projet de loi en comité plenier de la Chambre est ajournée.
The House adjourned at 1802.