The House met at 1330.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would like to bring to the attention of the House and of the Minister of Education, in case he does not know about it, a large problem which is arising now in York region where parents who wish to have their children in junior kindergarten in that area are being told by their local board of education that it will not be possible, through lack of consultation between the government, which now plans to make junior kindergarten mandatory across the province, and a board which feels that its resources are being too stretched by underfunding and by the enormous growth in that area and is therefore reluctant to provide junior kindergarten.
What this means is that parents in that region are now going to be sending their children -- in fact, many have already decided to -- to North York in Metropolitan Toronto where there is junior kindergarten available. It is outrageous to me that children should have to be driven 40 to 50 minutes perhaps each morning to attend junior kindergarten because that is the desire of their parents, a policy of this government, and yet a board in the province of Ontario would restrict them from doing so.
Some of these parents are now going to try to switch their support, to transfer their fees to the North York board as an option to try to put pressure on the board of education in York region, but I would suggest that the pressure should be coming from the Minister of Education and from this government. If it believed that JK should be available, it should be telling that board of education to implement it and to provide the resources that are necessary from the province to make it happen.
Mr Pollock: As all the members know, this is Police Week and I would like to pay tribute to all the police across the province but in particular the police in the riding of Hastings-Peterborough. We have three Ontario Provincial Police detachments in the riding -- Apsley, Bancroft, and Madoc -- along with two local forces at Lakefield and Stirling. Part of the riding is covered by the OPP detachments from Peterborough, Campbellford and Belleville. They endeavour to apply law enforcement in these areas with success, because I am sure we have one of the lowest crime rates in the province.
The police officers who visit the schools and explain the VIP program -- value, influence and peers -- deserve a vote of thanks for their efforts. Value means not being involved in shoplifting and vandalism. Influence means being neat in appearance so as to demand respect. Peers means peer pressure -- not letting anyone influence one to take drugs or be involved in any other crime-related incidents.
Again this year the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police is sponsoring an Adopt-a-Cop program to raise money to send mentally handicapped people from communities to the Special Olympics. This is the fourth year that this torch run has been held and the first year when it is possible that every police force in Ontario will be involved. Eight separate relays will start from every corner of Ontario and finish in Toronto at the SkyDome on Thursday 7 June. It is easy to adopt a cop by just calling one’s force and saying, “Adopt-a-Cop.”
Mr Fleet: Visions 2020, Ontario’s Youth -- Ontario’s Future. This book was recently presented to me by active and concerned students of Humberside Collegiate Institute in my riding of High Park-Swansea. In Visions 2020, Ontario students use their own words to describe their vision for Ontario in the year 2020. They also state how they intend to participate in achieving specific environmental goals. I salute the thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas of students from all over Ontario. The fact that the students feel committed to solving problems and taking necessary actions to improve our environment is particularly encouraging.
Let me highlight an excerpt from the Humberside Collegiate contribution:
“Industries and consumers must pay for a cleanup of these sites and the government of Ontario must ensure, through legislation and enforcement, that toxic dumps are never again situated within range of polluting North American water sources. No serious vision of sustainable water reserves can discount the goal of removing, destroying or recycling the contents of every toxic waste dump site within range of polluting Ontario water supplies and the Great Lakes themselves, holders of 80 per cent of North American and 20 per cent of global freshwater reserves.”
I completely support the goal of cleaning up our waterways, including the Humber River system, Grenadier Pond and Lake Ontario. I look forward to working with students and others in achieving this end.
Mr Farnan: The Liberal government must be concerned that the board of governors of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation has decided to launch an all-affiliate, co-ordinated political action program for the next provincial election.
Teachers are no longer going to be taken for granted. Teachers -- and the government should remember that there are over 120,000 teachers in Ontario -- will cast their ballots in the upcoming election after careful reflection on this government’s record and, believe me, the votes of teachers will make a difference. They will remember the high-handed manner in which this Liberal government totally ignored the pension concerns of teachers. They will recognize that education was given short shrift -- five sentences in a 68-page budget document. Little wonder, for if inflation is taken into account, this Liberal government will be offering less money in 1993 for capital needs than it did in 1988. Far too many students spend too many years of their educational lives in portable classrooms. The government has offered no funding to back up its destreaming of full-time kindergarten programs.
In addition, this government has broken its promises to increase the provincial percentage of education funding and continues to place an unacceptably heavy burden on the backs of local taxpayers. In a nutshell, the government’s record in education has been great on words but, regrettably, weak on delivery. However, rest assured teachers will not be fooled. They see through the rhetoric and they will vote on this government s record. That is a reality that should cause some sleepless nights for Liberal members.
Mr Jackson: It is indeed true that one never needs to look too far to find real heros. The qualities of courage, bravery and self-sacrifice can be readily found in members of one’s own community. Constable Wayne Olmsted was just such a hero. As a Halton police officer who served most of his 22 years of service in Burlington, Wayne was decorated with the Ontario Medal for Bravery in 1979. He risked his life to subdue a gunman who had shot a fellow officer and had then begun to shoot at innocent passersby on a Burlington street.
In the words used by Halton Police Chief James Harding, Wayne ignored acute danger in the service of his fellow man. Constable Wayne Olmsted bravely overcame the many challenges he has faced within his own life as a police officer. However, Wayne was finally himself overcome by cancer on Friday at Hamilton’s St Joseph’s Hospital.
He leaves his wife, Jeanette, and his two children, Katrina and Troy, to whom I extend my sincere and deepest sympathies and condolences and those of each and every member of this Legislature. We are to be reminded of Wayne’s bravery, dedication and constant readiness to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty on behalf of the people he was sworn to protect.
On behalf of his colleagues in the Halton Regional Police and the citizens he served, I would like to dedicate the observance of Police Week in Halton to the memory of a real hero, Constable Wayne Olmsted.
Mr Tatham: Respect, consideration, wisdom, intelligence, comprehension, prudence, rational, sensible, fair, thoughtful, judicious, good judgement, long-headed, horse sense, clear thinking, clear-headed, understanding, awake, bright, responsible -- all these qualities are requirements for motor vehicle drivers. I believe that the vast majority of our fellow citizens who drive have these qualities.
As you drive through Toronto in the 401 express lanes, you have the choice of three lanes. Usually the posted speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour. If you are in the centre lane and proceeding at 100 kilometres an hour and a large vehicle pulls in behind you so close that unless you notice the manufacturer’s name on the grill as the vehicle pulls in behind you, the name has disappeared and all you can see in the rear view mirror is the vehicle’s grill. If the driver of that vehicle has not encouraged you to go faster, that driver will often pull out to the fast lane to pass. Three large vehicles did this to me on the 401 last Tuesday, 8 May.
We want to share the road with all licensed drivers, but we require certain qualities of these drivers. How can we encourage consideration?
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BOARD
Mr Laughren: I rise to bring to the attention of members yet again another problem with the Workers’ Compensation Board.
For years, pharmacies have billed the WCB directly when injured workers presented their prescriptions to be filled for their compensable injuries. As of 1 May 1990, pharmacies in the Sudbury region will no longer bill the compensation board but will bill the injured worker instead. When contacting some pharmacies, we found the reason was that it could take up to a year for reimbursement on a claim if there is any kind of hitch. It can still take up to four or five months if there are no problems at all. Therefore, the pharmacies are now asking injured workers to pay for the medication up front and then they must submit their bills to the WCB.
Many injured workers simply cannot afford the cost of this expensive medication out of their own pockets, nor should they have to. I have a friend, as a matter of fact, one of my best friends, who pays up to $100 a month in prescriptions and he is on a disability pension.
When the injured worker submits a bill for a prescription, he is reimbursed the cost of the medication plus the $9.50 dispensing fee to the pharmacist. There is a pharmacist where my constituency office is located in Chelmsford who has an outstanding balance of $5,000 or $6,000 this year alone, and a total of $10,000.
In the long haul, it is the injured worker who suffers yet again.
ONTARIO TRAINING CORP
Mrs Cunningham: The Ontario Training Corp was established by this government on 27 April 1988 as a self-supporting enterprise with a mandate to create an environment in which employers and individuals understand the importance of lifelong learning and training.
The Ontario Training Corp appeared recently before the standing committee on government agencies and gave some very interesting testimony. Since 1988, the OTC has received some $10.2 million in government grants; it has generated just $50,000 in revenue during that time, for a tidy rate of return of just under 0.5%. The OTC claims that it is fulfilling “broader public policy goals.” It would never measure success by a targeted return on investment. In fact, OTC brochures can say, “We take our share of revenues where we can.”
Incredibly enough, the OTC is now threatening to close up shop if its grants from government are not increased above the $6.8 million it receives annually. The Ontario Training Corp is a textbook example of government waste, with no set rate of return on investment, no desire to recover capital costs and a long-term strategic plan that had to be revised just one year into its mandate. It is little wonder that the private sector questions the efforts of the OTC and the waste of taxpayers’ money.
Mr Brown: I rise in this House today to ask all honourable members to circle the week of 21 May to 27 May on their calendars. During this week, Manitoulin Island will be hosting a display at Ontario North Now, a fascinating pavilion at Ontario Place that depicts life in northern Ontario.
In this showcase, you will be able to experience a little of the magic and mystique behind Manitoulin Island. Discover some of the island’s heritage and culture, our unique lifestyle and our excellent recreational facilities.
Many organizations from across the island have come together to recreate this little bit of Manitoulin. Come and sample a small taste of the island. This exhibition could lead to the start of a beautiful friendship. Your first trip to Manitoulin will definitely not be your last.
Several of our local artists and craftspeople will be on hand displaying their works. Watch a landscape being painted, wool being spun or a wood carver at work. On 26 May, Manitoulin Day, there will be live performances by the Burns Wharf Theatre and my favourite, the Debajehmujig, the local native theatre group.
Please be sure to take advantage of this wonderful exhibit and discover the magic that is Manitoulin.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.
Hon Mr Conway: I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House so that we might welcome our colleague the member for Nipissing in his new role.
MEMBER FOR NIPISSING
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my colleagues in the House for providing us with the opportunity, as custom and courtesy would dictate, to observe that the member for Nipissing has, as recent events have unfolded, taken on new responsibilities that I think should be formally observed here today, his first day in the chamber since the weekend event, which I know, speaking for myself, I watched with some real interest. I know other members of the assembly did as well.
On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I want to say most sincerely that we congratulate the member for Nipissing for a very successful campaign that reached its conclusion at, I think, about 5:15 last Saturday afternoon. I watched with some real interest as not just the member for Nipissing spoke, but the member for London North, whose contribution I tried to congratulate yesterday, and of course our friend the member for Sarnia, who in his inimitable way made quite a lively intervention as well.
I want to say, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Liberal caucus, that we congratulate the member for Nipissing. I have known the member for Nipissing for almost 10 years. We are neighbours out in that northeastern part of Ontario. I even represent a small portion of the district of Nipissing that is in the main represented by the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Like my friend the member for Scarborough West, I well remember the day in 1981 when the member for Nipissing arrived, along with the members for Parry Sound and Sarnia, as part of that very lively group of Conservative members elected in the campaign of 1981.
What I most remember about my friend the member for Nipissing in those early days was what a wonderful chairman he made of the standing committee on resources development, because that committee was given some very difficult and controversial legislation. As I recall, the then government’s wage restraint bills were referred to the committee for which the honourable member had responsibility.
I know my friend the member for Nickel Belt would agree that while we certainly did not agree with the policy, the member for Nipissing was an exemplary chairman. One could see that he had served as a school board chair, and he handled that delicate and difficult responsibility, I thought, in a very, very exemplary way. I remember thinking that the then member for Oxford, who was having some more difficulty next door with the standing committee on administration of justice, might have done well to have followed the good example of the member for Nipissing.
Then, of course, we all remember -- perhaps it was just those of us out in my part of the province -- that in 1985 as the leadership campaign to succeed Mr Davis began to take shape, I will tell members that I was very, very impressed by the depth of commitment that the member for Nipissing had to Frank Miller and he delivered to Frank Miller at a critical point and in a significant way. I well remember being invited by one of the networks to comment on the 1985 Tory leadership -- that was the first edition --
Hon Mr Conway: I am, Mr Speaker. I will tell you, if you have been through those leadership races, you know how lively they can be. I will tell you, the member for Nipissing delivered and supported Frank Miller in a very real and significant way. Of course, shortly thereafter he joined the cabinet and he became a senior minister in the Miller government. Some of the rest of that is history and I am not going to rehash all of that story, except to say that some time later in my responsibility as House leader I came to deal with the member for Nipissing as part of the House leaders’ panel. It was there that in a way I began to deal with him on a daily basis and found him to be a man who I thought was quite effective, very much the straight shooter, serious, direct, and quite a good conciliator. He often rescued the member for Windsor-Riverside and myself from perhaps some of our lively discussions. In that context I found the member for Nipissing to be a very competent and serious member of the Legislature who I thought represented his colleagues in an admirable fashion.
Now, of course, we have him in a new role. He has joined the very distinguished tradition of Progressive Conservative Party leaders in this province; a long tradition. I simply want to say to him that we on this side look very much forward to debating with him. I was struck by how anxious he was on Saturday night to engage the debate and I have engaged my friend from Nipissing in the debate.
Over the course of the past few weeks my colleagues and I have observed his positions on such things as the universality principle and social policies. We have observed his position in respect of tenants’ rights. We have observed his position in respect of equity issues in terms of modern, multicultural Ontario. I can assure my friend the member for Nipissing that we will be very anxious to debate with him and his version of the Conservative Party of Ontario. That is a very important part of the democratic process.
I want to wish him well in his new responsibilities. I gather he had a very busy day yesterday. Looking across the aisle today it is obvious that the new order is taking shape, as it should, consequent upon a leadership convention.
I repeat again, the member for London North has shown herself to be a spirited, lively member of that caucus with a very definite point of view. Watching the news last night I had to share a private thought that the leader of the third party probably had as well, that the leadership campaign has encouraged her to a new participation in the public debate, not just within the party but within the Legislature and the province beyond.
So I want to say in a final note that those of us in public life know the tremendous commitment that party leaders make. I know how very difficult it is to wage one of these campaigns. I know the long hours of toil and of commitment. On many an occasion over the last few months I have seen the member for Nipissing and his colleague the member for London North heading out after a busy day in the assembly to meet the good people, whether they were in Sarnia, Manotick, Pembroke or Lake Nipigon. It was, I think, a great credit to their commitment to cause. I think they waged a very good campaign.
I want to congratulate my friend the member for Nipissing, and on behalf of the Liberal Party of Ontario, the Liberal caucus in the chamber, we wish him all the best in his new and important responsibilities.
Mr B. Rae: I want to just say a few words to the new leader of the Conservative Party. First of all, I am sure the leader has already discovered some of the joys of his responsibilities, having had his couple of caucus meetings already.
I just would also say that I am sure the leader has already found what I found instantaneously upon my election over eight years ago -- is it that long? How time flies when you are having such fun -- that the only job to which it can be fairly compared is that of the manager of a baseball team because, like the manager of a baseball team, literally everyone else around you knows that he can do a better job. He will find that same joy in his decision-making and in the exercise of his authority.
I could not help observing, as one does, the fact that in the time I have been in this position the member for Nipissing is the fifth Tory leader with whom I have had good personal relations. I say to him publicly as I will say to him privately, and I hope we will have an opportunity soon for a session, that regardless of partisan differences and regardless of our philosophical differences and our differences in debate, I have always found that one of the keys to one’s sanity in this place is to establish decent and good relationships with members and leaders of other parties. I have been able to do that with each one of his predecessors.
I say to the member for Nipissing, we have had some difficult moments from time to time. I can assure him that the last conversation I had with the member for Muskoka, as he then was, was difficult. Nevertheless I hope we maintained our mutual respect. So I say to the member for Nipissing, whatever the future may hold, and as I wish him luck -- I of course do not wish him too much luck, but nevertheless a good quantity and portion -- I look forward to working with him, and all of us on this side who know a little bit about the travails of public life and about the effort and energy that was required to get him where he is today, wish him well. May all his shots be on the fairway, may he make it to the green in no more than two, and may he single-putt every time.
Mr Harris: I thank the House for the opportunity to allow people to say nice things about me. This, I am sure, will not happen every day in this Legislature or around Ontario.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Not until you retire from politics; so enjoy it.
Mr Harris: As my former colleague the House leader for the New Democratic Party -- I say “former” in the sense that we used to work as House leaders -- said, “Until you retire, this is it.” I appreciate that. I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words to my 129 friends and colleagues here in the Legislature and, indeed, those who work so hard under your auspices, Mr Speaker, to make this chamber and this Legislature work. I do not plan to take all afternoon; we have an important resolution to debate and a few questions that I want to ask as well, but I hope you will permit me to take the opportunity to say a few words and to thank a few people.
Certainly to the Minister of Education I want to say that he has been a friend. He has been a colleague. We were House leaders together. We, I think, disagreed many times. He indicated in his remarks that he had an opportunity to debate with me; that is true. We kind of sparred from time to time here in this place, in many forums. I recall, I believe, in the last election in Sudbury, where we had the opportunity to go head to head or toe to toe on a number of educational issues at that time. I thought I won that debate handily. The people of this province may have felt that way, but that was not the reason how and why they were going to vote at that particular time. The people, as I have said, are always right.
I want to say, as well, that I have used comments that the member has made in the past in this House in my election material. I am not sure today whether there was anything there that I can use in the future, but I will screen through it carefully.
I know there were a few things I cannot use. I want to tell him we are that close that I am not ashamed at all to use his endorsement and recommendation in that great riding of Nipissing, where there are quite a few Liberals. So I thank him for that.
An hon member: A lot of former Liberals.
Mr Harris: Fewer than there used to be. The member is quite right; a lot of former Liberals.
The leader of the New Democratic Party and of the official opposition is right: we, on a lot of issues, have not agreed since he came here eight years ago and I came here nine years ago. However, I have the utmost respect for his integrity, honesty and straightforwardness on behalf of his party, on behalf of his beliefs. I even agree on many issues and on many concerns. I share, I think, in common with him -- we disagree perhaps in some areas as to how we should achieve it -- why we are here and who we represent: average Ontarians, all 9.5 million of them.
I too look forward as my predecessors have passed on to me a friendship and a relationship built on trust and on those things that unite us. If I can have that trusting relationship, as my predecessors have had, I will consider myself fortunate and I will strive for that.
Let me, as well, say to the member for Sarnia -- because, as was pointed out by some of the media, I was not in the House on that day when members paid tribute to the former leader; I was on tour and, as events on Saturday would have it, it was a good thing I was still out there on tour as well -- to the member for Sarnia, let me add my words of congratulation, as were expressed by members from all sides of the House, on his humour and humanness, on his integrity, on how hard he fought for his beliefs, for his party, for this chamber. Surely all members would agree with me that whatever the future holds for our party, and I think obviously it is very bright, the member for Sarnia will be remembered for leading our party through a very, very difficult time. Certainly his role will never be minimized when the history of this Legislature and of my party are finally written long after we are gone.
I hope I will be permitted to say a couple of words as well about my friend, who indeed proved herself to be not only a fresh new face on the Ontario scene as she came to us two years ago as a fresh new face and captured our imagination, but in that freshness and newness demonstrated a depth of experience, talent, showed herself as a caring and compassionate person and tough, very tough, a worthy opponent but more than that, a close friend and now a confidant, now somebody who will go forward with me and will have an important role with our party, someone whose advice I personally and my caucus unanimously wish to take and rely on that experience as our party faces up to the challenges facing 9.5 million Ontarians. So I thank the member for London North for the opportunity that she provided to our party and the choice and to me.
Mr Speaker, I know you have always been very patient on these days, and I do want to say just a few thoughts of how I feel. I am humbled. I said that on Saturday night. I am even more humbled today. Very few are given the opportunity to lead their party, and I reflected on this Saturday, Sunday and yesterday, and today as I came into this chamber. I remember back nine years ago when I first came into this chamber with such trepidation, with some fear, with some concern. It is a long way from Callander, from Lake Nipissing, to Queen’s Park and to this chair, and I appreciate and am cognizant of the trust that has been placed in me. I do not diminish the challenge. I do not diminish the importance of that trust and I cherish it.
There were many new people who participated, my friends, on Saturday in a new and open democratic vote for the leader of our party. Somewhere in the gallery today the president of our party, Kay Wetherall, who with her team of men and women made work what many people -- some in this room, some in these chairs, some observing us -- said would not and could not work, and it worked and it worked very well and it was democratic, and I congratulate those who really did bring democracy closer to the people in a very important process, the selection of the leader of a party. There are others in this building for the very first time who are with the president. They are indeed symbolic of that process, that so many average Ontarians participated in this true democracy for the very first time.
I want to say to the Premier, who I know is delayed and will be here very shortly, and to the leader of the New Democratic Party and to my 129 friends that I have been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity and experiences in this Legislature to work in a number of capacities, one of those as House leader. I believe I understand this Legislature and how it works as well as any member. I want to say that members will find me very, very co-operative on the process here at Queen’s Park. Members will find me a staunch defender of parliamentary democracy and I will fight fiercely to protect it and to make it work.
My colleague the member for London North and I found as we travelled this province and over 500 communities in the past year and a half that there are many, many Ontarians -- I suggest to members, the majority -- who for one reason or another are fed up with the whole lot of us. So I will strive in a totally non-partisan way with the members, my 129 honourable colleagues, to try to bring parliamentary democracy back closer to the people and to try to bring the people back closer to us, to bring integrity back into the system, to have our profession -- I know all the members as individuals and I know why all of them ran. They all ran for the most noble of reasons and we are here for the most noble of reasons, but they would agree with me that our profession today is not perceived that way, and I will strive for that change.
When I leave politics, whenever that is -- hopefully voluntarily -- if it can be said that I played a small role in bringing parliamentary democracy back closer to the people, I will have felt that everything that I have done is worth while.
Mr Harris: Members can applaud that. I think that was worth while.
There is more happening around this province than just this chamber. My tour director is at this moment completing a schedule of community debates that I will send over to the Premier to see if he can fit into his schedule later this week, for I believe that we must get back to talk to the people. My colleague and I have been most fortunate to have the opportunity to do that. We were astounded at how much people are thirsting for all of us to be closer to them, not just at election time, but in a consultative fashion in how we govern.
On the issues of concern to people, the members will find me quite combative. On partisan issues, I will be partisan. I believe we are elected here at the pleasure of the electorate. We are here to serve nine million Ontarians, and I do not believe it is government’s role to be all things to all people. I do not believe that and I will fight to minimize government’s intrusion into the personal lives of individual Ontarians. We must strive to provide a competitive tax climate, fair rules for all, so that all Ontarians will have an opportunity to fulfil their dreams and, if they work hard, to succeed.
We are also elected to protect and assist the minorities, the poor, the defenceless, those who need help, those less fortunate, the elderly, the sick. Why they need help, my friends, does not matter, but government is indeed elected by all to be most generous to those who need our help. I will fight for policies and programs that indeed will provide that help in a most generous fashion.
Finally, let me say this. We politicians should take our roles very seriously; however, we ought not to take ourselves nearly so seriously. My colleague and I found that out as well when we were on the road this past period of time. Under my leadership, we will fight for all Ontarians.
Friends, today my mother cannot be here. It is her 75th birthday. I want to say, “Happy birthday, mom; your pension is secure."
PATRICIA STARR INQUIRY
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On 23 April you gave a ruling with regard to a matter that had been raised by the House leader for the third party and the implications of the Supreme Court decision coming out of the Patti Starr inquiry and the decision by the Supreme Court. In that decision you indicated that basically it was not your job to determine what the implications would be for the House or for the standing committees. It is my understanding that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly is now looking at the matter, as you recommended in your decision.
My concern is first of all that right after your decision, the clerks of the standing committees met to determine the implications of your decision on the standing committees and their procedures for this Legislature. Then the standing committee on general government met last week to look at a referral under our new rules of the 12 hours that is a portion for opposition parties. The referral was from the member for Leeds-Grenville.
It is my understanding that in the steering committee, while the matter was being considered, advice was offered by the clerk of the committee that the Supreme Court decision should be taken into consideration and what implications it might have. Now I think that while that is not a direct intervention by the clerk in terms of the implications of the Supreme Court decision, it certainly has a substantial effect on decisions that will be made by committees and how they proceed.
I would ask you, Mr Speaker, to look into this matter and I think instruction should be given to the clerks of the committees that until the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly has reported on this matter, interventions as a result of the Supreme Court decision should not be made in our standing committees, since they and we cannot determine what the implications are. That is the purpose, as your decision indicates, of the matter being studied by the Legislative Assembly committee.
The Speaker: I do appreciate the point raised by the honourable member and, as always, I certainly will review the matter and discuss it further with him.
POLICE USE OF FIREARMS
Mr B. Rae: Mr Speaker, I should tell you from the outset that I have a question for the Premier, but I will stand it down expecting him to return before the conclusion of question period. In the absence of the Premier, I have a question to the Solicitor General.
It is now over a year and a half, indeed nearly two years, since the tragic shooting of Lester Donaldson. We have heard today of yet another tragic shooting by the police of a young man who is black. I want to ask the Solicitor General why it is that really nothing has changed with respect to the kind of investigation that is taking place, the regulations with respect to the use of force by police officers, the question of police chases and the whole field of race relations.
In terms of the detailed training of police officers, I would like to ask the Solicitor General why it would be, nearly two years after the tragic shooting of Lester Donaldson, over a year since the shooting of Wade Lawson, now with this shooting of young Mr Neal, that in terms of the obligations of the police and the obligations of this government to bring in reforms that will make a difference, they have not happened.
Hon Mr Offer: Let me first say that when there is an incident such as occurred yesterday, it is both troubling and very concerning to me and, I note, to not only all members of this Legislature but everyone in the province. I would like to inform you, Mr Speaker, and all members that in this matter, charges have been laid against the officer in question dealing with criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Dealing with the Leader of the Opposition’s specific question, I would like to indicate that I think it is improper or certainly factually incorrect to say that this government has done nothing in this regard. I think that you, Mr Speaker, and all members of this Legislature will be the first to know that currently on the books of this Legislature is a new Police Services Act, Bill 107, the first change in the Police Act since 1949, changes which address investigating police through a special investigative unit, dealing with employment equity, dealing with a province-wide police complaint system where now there such a system is only available in Toronto.
I think that the Leader of the Opposition will also be aware that there is a great deal of work which is --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr B. Rae: Obviously we cannot comment on the incident in detail now because charges have been laid. I understand that. But I am talking about the responsibilities of the government and the responsibilities of the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
The hard fact of the matter is that we have had commission reports and we have had task force recommendations, which do not require changes to the Police Act. The minister could move ahead with respect to the question of the use of force and send out a very clear message as to what the policy of the government of Ontario is. He could have sent that out over a year ago, after he had the very clear recommendation from the Clare Lewis task force that the rules with respect to the use of force should be changed. He could have acted several months ago. That message could have been sent very clearly from his government. Why has that not been done?
Hon Mr Offer: I think the Leader of the Opposition again is, with respect, factually incorrect. There was a very important report which was commissioned by the Lewis task force. The Race Relations and Policing Task Force came forward with 47 very important recommendations, recommendations which the Leader of the Opposition will know we have responded to and agreed to, not only in terms of the wording of those recommendations but in dealing with the direction that those recommendations went forward in.
We are moving in all of those areas. We recognize the need that many of those recommendations do require legislative framework. That legislation is currently introduced in this Legislature. We are ready to move on that. We are ready to move on the new Police Services Act, which deals with a special investigative unit, which talks to employment equity, which talks to a province-wide police complaint system. We are ready to deal with that bill. We have addressed that and we want to continue.
Mr B. Rae: I want to say to the minister that this bill can be called any time. Enough of the bamboozle. He knows perfectly well who is responsible for calling and not calling legislation; the government is. He knows perfectly well that he could have moved on many of these recommendations without having to change the law. He knows that as well. They are matters of administration. That could change now.
Specifically on the question of the use of force, the task force recommended very clearly that no member of a police force shall draw his revolver except when he believes it may be necessary for the protection of his or her life or the life of another. That recommendation has been made very clearly. What is stopping the minister from sending out a message with respect to the use of force? This cannot be allowed to continue and it is the government, by failing to state very clearly where it is going, that has led to a widespread impression that there has been much talk but it has not been followed by enough action.
Hon Mr Offer: With respect to the question from the Leader of the Opposition, we have been ready to deal with this particular piece of legislation since I made a commitment to introduce the legislation before the new year. That is what we did in fact. I said we would introduce a new Police Services Act before the new year. We did it, and when all was said and done it was the opposition that was talking on another piece of legislation that in many ways stopped us from dealing with this particular piece of legislation.
On the member’s specific question on use of force, I think he will recognize that what we are talking about is in very large part a change to the Canadian Criminal Code, subsection 25(4). He will also know that in our response to the Lewis task force report on race relations and policing, one of our responses was to petition the federal government to call upon the Attorney General of this province to call upon the federal government to make that change. We have already done that. We are waiting for the federal government to respond so that there can be a consistent approach with respect to the use of force in this province.
POLICE COMMISSION NOMINATION
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. Last June the Premier and I had several exchanges in this House with regard to the proposed appointment of Elvio DelZotto to the Ontario Police Commission. At that time, the Premier assured me that he had looked at the files and all he had found was a letter from Mrs Starr; that apart from the letter from Mrs Starr, as far as he was concerned, there was no other correspondence or material relating to it, and that this was all there was to this particular question as to whether or not Mr DelZotto had been recommended.
It would now appear from an article which appeared this weekend in the Globe and Mail that in fact the Attorney General of the province sent a letter to the then Solicitor General, in which he stated, “I trust that you will give this nomination every consideration when a position becomes vacant.” Those are the words of the Attorney General. Can the Premier explain why he did not tell us about this letter or why he did not know about this letter when he stated to the House that all there was was a letter from Mrs Starr?
Hon Mr Peterson: Because I did not have the letter. Presumably if there is a letter, it is in the files of the Solicitor General. That is why.
Mr B. Rae: I asked the Premier very specifically about whether he had asked the Solicitor General. We had the assurances from the Premier that were very clear that, as far as he was concerned, there were no other recommendations.
The Attorney General, if I may say so, was sitting in his seat all that time. He could, it seems to me, perhaps have searched his memory as to whether this recommendation had not crossed his desk. He did not say, “Let’s have lunch some day.” He did not say, “I am sending you this letter but it doesn’t mean anything.” He said, “I trust that you will give this nomination every consideration when a position becomes vacant.”
That is a very specific recommendation from the Attorney General of the province to the Solicitor General with respect to the appointment of Mr DelZotto to the Ontario Police Commission.
I want to ask the Premier, first of all, why was he not able to find out that the Attorney General in fact had recommended DelZotto to the police commission? Why would the Premier be telling us last year that this recommendation came from nobody inside the government, that it simply came from Mrs Starr? We now have the paper trail that tells us it came from the Attorney General himself.
Hon Mr Peterson: In fact, my honourable friend misrepresents the facts. That was a form letter, as I read it, and it was not a recommendation at all.
The Speaker: Order. Final supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: Let’s have this out. First of all, the Premier says that I am misrepresenting the facts. I appreciate that comment from the Premier since it is clearly unparliamentary. But I will say to the Premier, if he is standing in his place and saying that his Attorney General, as a matter of fact, stamps every letter that comes to him from some lobbyist outside saying that so-and-so should be on the police commission, which is a position of enormous public responsibility, and that the Attorney General thinks so little of the value of his signature that no matter who that person is, despite the fact that he was named in front of a royal commission with respect to organized crime in relation to the construction industry 12 or 13 years ago --
Mr B. Rae: That is a fact.
The Speaker: Order. I recognized the member for the final supplementary question. Will you place it?
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask how it is that the Premier can seriously say, when he has a letter from the Attorney General that says, “I trust that you will give this nomination every consideration when a position becomes vacant,” that this is just a form comment. That is a comment recommending Mr DelZotto for this position.
Hon Mr Peterson: With the greatest respect, the member is factually incorrect and he is getting all exercised about an appointment that was not made. It just shows how desperate he is.
The Speaker: Order. New question, the member for Nipissing.
Mr Harris: I thank the Premier for standing to acknowledge me and I accept that as acceptance of my challenge to tour this province and debate. I know he will say at some point in time we will be doing that.
The Speaker: The question is to whom?
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier. I read with disbelief the comments of the Treasurer in a speech yesterday to the Empire Club, I believe it was. The Treasurer acknowledged, first of all, that inflation was a major problem. He acknowledged, I believe, in that speech that he supported Mr Crow’s initiatives to control inflation. He suggested perhaps a little different timetable today, but I think that was the gist of the speech.
What the Treasurer said that really stretched the limits of my credibility, or credulity in his case, was that he actually blamed federal tax increases for the jump in inflation. I would ask the Premier if he agrees with the Treasurer that tax increases are causing this pressure on inflation that is causing the difficulty with the bank rate and interest rates and all the rest of the problems we are having. If he does, how can he possibly criticize the federal government, which has increased its taxes one half as much as the Premier and the Treasurer have right here in this province?
Hon Mr Peterson: Mr Speaker, I apologize that I missed Thursday last when the former interim leader stepped down and may I just beg your indulgence for a moment to take --
Mr Brandt: Take as much time as you want.
Hon Mr Peterson: He has a lot of time on his hands now and we are prepared to reciprocate.
May I just say to my friend the member for Sarnia that I have some understanding of the difficulties of leading a political party. I think we could share that. There are certainly three or four of us in the House who know those difficulties now, and there is another new one who is going to know it very soon, if he does not know already.
But I say to my honourable friend, I think when the history of the Conservative Party is written, it is going to owe him a great debt for the great skills he brought. I know the difficulties, as I have said. He has managed to do that by remaining a popular and trusted member of this House with colleagues on all sides. Indeed, that is a rare gift that few have.
Hon Mr Peterson: Certainly my friend the member for Nickel Belt does not have that and we can see the envy coming forward from his little face at the present time.
The Speaker: Now the response.
Hon Mr Peterson: The member for Sarnia really is our favourite version of the Adult Mutant Ninja Tory and I want him to know that.
To the new leader, I cannot really say I wish him well, but I can offer him my best wishes on this occasion. He has assumed great responsibilities. He has great experience in this House, and he has many friends who like and trust him, although there are many who are not going to make his job nearly as easy now as it was before. I, like others, am looking forward to engaging in that debate starting right now, after I say something nice about the member for London North.
As I regarded that leadership, being from London, members can understand there is sort of a natural affection for anyone from London, and particularly this member, whom I have known for a very long time. I watched that campaign. I know a little bit about them. I have won one and I lost one. I know of the great commitment of heart and energy. I know the great rush of adrenalin and I know also the pain of defeat as adrenalin leaves the body as well. In my view, the member has served the process and her party very well and I congratulate my friend the member for London North.
For the first day, that was really quite a ridiculous question, let me tell my friend. My friend, who is in favour of taxing food -- this man wants to have the goods and services tax -- standing his first day in the House and defending Michael Wilson and John Crow is absolutely beyond me. The member has to learn in this business. I have a little more experience. He should cut bait when he has a chance. He is going to have to defend Mr Wilson, as he is doing right now. I want him to compare this Treasurer to Mr Wilson. This man has balanced the budget twice in the last two years. We can compare them. Mr Wilson drives up the interest rates, drives up the deficit. His excise taxes contributed almost 1% to inflation last year.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: Mr Speaker, could I go back to the original question? Does the Premier agree with the Treasurer, who (a) says tax increases are the main cause for the inflationary pressures in this country and that he supports Mr Crow’s initiatives to suppress inflation and (b) blames the federal government, which has increased its taxes half as much as the Treasurer has?
Hon Mr Peterson: Sure. The excise taxes from the federal government have had a profound influence on this. Look at this government in Ottawa. They came in with a manufacturers’ sales tax at 8%. Members can help me out if I am wrong. They increased that by 50% to 13.5%. They called it the silent killer of jobs. There is not a lot of credibility in that. Then they are moving us on to a consumer tax which is going to be highly inflationary at a very fragile time.
I say to my friend, this government has balanced the budget two years in a row and has not contributed to inflation. It is the excise taxes of Mr Wilson that are doing so. I am sure my honourable friend or his finance critic, whoever that is, understands that. Certainly the member for Nickel Belt does.
Mr Harris: I assume the Premier does agree with the Treasurer that tax increases by a government are the main cause of the inflationary pressures. I assume, since he refuses to answer, the Premier agrees with his Treasurer’s defence of Mr Crow’s policy to try to combat this, that he has no choice if governments are going to increase taxes the way they have.
Since the Premier wants to talk federal issues, I have a little chart here. What we have here is the tax revenue in 1984-85. This is the rate of inflation if we increased our tax revenue at the rate of inflation, and this is how much the Premier and the Treasurer have increased taxation in Ontario -- twice as fast as the federal government has. I want him to realize that this, cumulatively, is $46 billion new tax revenue in excess of the rate of inflation.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Harris: Where does he get off talking about the federal government? We are elected by the people of Ontario. Does he agree --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Peterson: Far be it from me to give the honourable member advice, even though he is new and I think maybe I have the right. Does the member know one of the things I first learned when I became leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition? That was, never rely on federal research. He should build his own research department. Then he will not come into the House and embarrass himself.
What he is holding up is the graph of prosperity in this province. We lead the industrialized world. What he is holding up is two balanced budgets. Mr Wilson raises the interest rates, raises the deficit. I ask the member the member any time -- and I am happy to debate with him -- to compare the books of this province and of this Treasurer with any other government resident in this province and he will see somebody who knows what he is doing here.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Nipissing.
Mr Harris: It is $46 billion of prosperity for the Premier and his friends and the friends of the Liberal Party.
The Speaker: Order. The question is to which minister?
Mr Harris: I have a new question for the Premier. The average family rips its way through about a ton of packaging a year. About 80% of it ends up in dumps or incinerators. Yesterday, the Minister of the Environment said he would be spending close to $55 million on the 3R program. So far, the minister’s plans have focused on recycling. He has effectively compromised the regulation on refillable soft drink containers to allow more waste to fuel the blue boxes. We have seen very little from the minister and the government in the way of promoting reduction and reuse, the first two, and in my view the most important of the 3Rs. How much of the $55 million will be devoted to the reduction of excess packaging?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the honourable Minister of the Environment can tell the member about his very ambitious programs. I know the member has missed them during the campaign.
The Speaker: It has been referred to the Minister of the Environment.
Hon Mr Bradley: I, as well, congratulate the member for Nipissing on his ascension to the position of leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and wish him well personally in his leadership of that party.
In regard to the question that he asked, the member may know that there have been considerable discussions that have taken place for a period of months over the issue of packaging and how best, on a national level, with all provinces making a contribution to it, we can in fact reduce that.
As a result, at the meeting which took place in Vancouver, after many months of discussions and a task force, which included people from the environmental community, people from the industry, people from various governments, including the provincial government of Ontario, we were in a position on that occasion to effect a national protocol which is supported by all of the provinces, which in fact calls for those kinds of reductions in such things as the packaging field.
That was, I think, hailed quite widely and objectively across the country. We expect, as a result of the team effort that we have put forward, along with the other provinces, which have adopted our goals of 25% and 50%, that we will achieve those kinds of results with which even the member will be impressed.
Mr Harris: I assume not one cent. The question was how much of the $55 million; I assume not one cent.
The minister talked about the national protocol on packaging that was signed in March in Vancouver. That, I understand, is voluntary for the first two years and it counts on industry to set the pace. It has been two months since the protocol was signed and the federal-provincial implementation committee was established. The first two years of this policy will deal only in a voluntary way with primary packaging; that is, from the manufacturer to the retailer. It calls for the reduction, as the minister said, of 20% by 1992, while the minister is demanding municipalities reduce the same amount of garbage to landfills by 25% in the very same period. Does the minister really believe that this stick-and-carrot approach will work when everything is voluntary, when he is leaving industries on their own and when he is falling substantially behind other provinces and other jurisdictions on this continent?
Hon Mr Bradley: I think any objective observer who has looked at this would indicate that the statement of the leader of the third party is simply not correct, because virtually every other jurisdiction is looking to what we are doing in Ontario. When we won the United Nations environment program award, for instance, there were many others who hailed what the people of Ontario, not just the government of Ontario, have been doing to work on that.
The member would also recognize, through the industrial 3Rs program that we have in the province -- and the man who now leads the party is, I think, a believer in the private sector, for instance, the initiatives in the private sector -- that this government has provided funding to those who have innovative ideas, who in fact are recycling some of the material that they produce, are reducing some of the material that they produce, are reusing some of the material that they produce in terms of the industrial sector. In the industrial sector, there have been some rather substantial volumes that have been created in years gone by.
With this program that we have dedicated to this and which I think others are now observing to adopt in many other jurisdictions, we are finding the kinds of reductions that others simply are not achieving. I would expect we will certainly meet our goals.
The Speaker: The member for Nipissing may have a supplementary and want some further information.
Mr Harris: The minister says other jurisdictions are watching Ontario. They are; they are watching and they are laughing. British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have mandatory deposit systems for non-refillable soft drink containers. In Alberta the legislation also applies to liquor and wine bottles and fruit and vegetable drink cans. In some states, sales of non-refillable glass containers are prohibited outright. They are all now ahead of Ontario and have caught up and passed this government in the last six years.
Many initiatives have been considered in state legislatures to reduce the waste from packaging. Italy is now very close to a decree on requiring all packaging and wrapping to be made of recycled fibre. Even the city of Toronto, in the absence of the government, is now planning to bring forward legislation on its own to deal with the retailers’ shelves and the percentage of non-refillable soft drink containers.
When are we going to catch up to these other jurisdictions? And how much of the $55 million is being spent on reducing the amount of garbage going into the blue boxes?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member mentions other jurisdictions. I wonder, when our ministry officials are constantly meeting with people from other jurisdictions, why they are extolling the virtues of our particular programs. For instance, we offer people in this province a choice and people are exercising that choice in great numbers in the number of products they are purchasing, which would result in reduction and reuse as well as recycling.
Our diversion goals in household waste, for instance, are unmatched in terms of the 14% diversion we are achieving at the present time and will continue to achieve and build upon. The government of Ontario itself, through the Minister of Government Services -- and I was with him when he made the announcement -- indicated that, unlike when the member’s government was in power, it is embarking upon a program through its procurement policies and through its policing of utilizing products, machines and so on which would enhance the opportunity to reduce the amount of paper we would use, for instance. We are moving decidedly in that direction, and I would expect that many other jurisdictions are going to do the same.
But I say to the member that we constantly have people coming from abroad, even from the European Community --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr R. F. Johnston: My question is of the Minister of Colleges and Universities. On 28 October, his predecessor established Vision 2000, a major review of the college system in Ontario 25 years after its establishment. The final report has been in the minister’s hands probably for as long as it has been in mine. I was impressed by some of the recommendations: to increase the general education content of the colleges; a massive change in employment equity, which puts the minister’s government to shame in terms of what it has been doing; advanced training proposals for a provincial institute; annual access and success analyses; a human resource development plan which is quite exceptional.
I was wondering how long it is going to be before the minister shares these wonderful recommendations with the general public and how long he is going to keep them all to himself.
Hon Mr Conway: Not very long at all.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am pleased and also delighted by the short answer. There are 60 quite remarkable recommendations in this report and some of them require funding from the minister, funding for preparatory courses, for the co-ordination of adult basic education, for establishing a floor below which funding must not go and an Ontario learning for life fund, as well as the establishment of an implementation committee.
Is it the minister’s intention to support those recommendations and to establish that implementation committee as soon as possible?
Hon Mr Conway: I am very pleased to have the opportunity to spend a moment talking about the report of the Vision 2000 group that has been at work over the last number of months, quite a good collaborative group that has obviously been in touch with my friend the member for Scarborough West. I can tell him that the government is very anxious not just to look to, but to act upon, a number of recommendations coming forward, by the way, not just from this group. As he knows, the Premier’s Council on technology has been busily at work as well on human resource strategy for the 1990s and beyond.
I have to say in conclusion that the Treasurer’s commitment to our college sector over the last few years, both on operating and capital, has been exemplary. That, above and beyond all else, should encourage my friend from Scarborough West about the hope for future implementation of a number of recommendations.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Last week, I asked the minister to explain his support for the province’s proposal on Harbourfront. There is no doubt that there is a great deal that has to be done with the developers to work out a deal, and there is no doubt that our party is very supportive of opening up the waterfront so that people of the greater Toronto area and of the province can enjoy those lands.
Specifically, I asked him about concessions made to developers in order to free the south side of Queen’s Quay of the development. At that time he told us that the arrangement was simply a site-by-site exchange. Yet his own report states that in addition to a free replacement site for each of the developer’s projects, the developers would each receive free title to other parcels of land that they currently lease. In effect, they are making no payments whatsoever to Harbourfront for this public land.
Since last week we asked for the details of the agreement with those developers and have not received them, I would like to ask the minister to please tell this House the exact terms of this agreement with Huang and Danczkay, the Hawley group and Ramparts.
Hon Mr Sweeney: At the present time the agreements, as the honourable member refers to them, are in the hands of the former Treasurer of Ontario, Darcy McKeough. As the member knows, he is representing the government and meeting, either personally or through others, with the various developers who were involved in this process.
Let me reiterate that the exchange of land from the water’s edge to immediately north of Queen’s Quay was that: site-for-site exchange. Another part of the arrangement, totally another part of the arrangement, was a strong recommendation from this government to the federal government that where there were long-time lease arrangements it would be preferable if those long-time lease arrangements were bought out and a cash transfer made to Harbourfront. My understanding was that that would net Harbourfront somewhere in the neighbourhood of about $15 million, but I could be a little off on that one. But that was not in any way a giveaway. It would be cashing it out; in other words, looking over the next 60-year period, putting a value on those leases, cashing it out and giving that cash to Harbourfront as a programming entity.
Mr Cousens: Without the deals being made public and shared with us as we hoped, and dealing with the information that the minister has given and we have read in the report, it would really appear that there is a sweetheart deal here and that the government has given the store away to try to get a deal.
Let’s turn to the costs involved in carrying out this proposal with the developers. The minister stated last week that the deal was done free of charge to any level of government, even though some were saying it could not be done for less than $100 million. How can the minister make such a claim, that the deal is free of charge, when according to Harbourfront officials the cost is actually $86 million in public lands and resources, not including the revenue that is lost from leasing fees and parking? How can the minister make these claims when the developers seem to be making out so well in this arrangement?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I think the honourable member is misunderstanding Harbourfront’s claim. What it is clearly saying is that there are now three sites on the water’s edge that would have been developed that will now not be developed. The value of those three sites, had they been developed and had that money accrued to Harbourfront, would have been in the neighbourhood of what he is speaking of. It is not money that went to anyone else. It is money that in fact is not going to be accrued. That land will remain as park land, under the jurisdiction of the city of Toronto, for all of the people of the province.
It is quite true that there are a number of other sites at Harbourfront that will not be developed that could have been developed and would have an accrued value were they developed. So it is not a case of anyone getting that money; it is a case of its not being transferred because the land is not going to be sold. That is where there is, as far as Harbourfront is concerned, a net loss to it. If members understand what that loss means, again, for the people of Ontario --
The Speaker: Order.
TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Chiarelli: My question is directed to the Minister of Education concerning the unfortunate elementary school teachers’ strike at the Ottawa Board of Education, which has now dragged on for some 19 schooldays. I am concerned about an apparent lack of good faith on the part of some of the trustees at the OBE. Almost since the first day of this strike, my Ottawa office has received numerous telephone calls from anxious parents stating that they have been told by trustees that if they want a solution they should call their MPP or the minister. This is irresponsible buck-passing. Can the minister indicate where the real responsibility currently rests for a solution to this problem?
Hon Mr Conway: I appreciate the honourable member’s concern and, quite frankly, that of all Ottawa-Carleton area members of the Legislature. As we all know, these kinds of difficulties, particularly as they affect students, are never easy. It is my view that both parties to this dispute have it within their power to resolve this at the table. The Education Relations Commission is monitoring the situation on a daily basis. I would like to take this opportunity to once again strongly encourage both parties to this dispute to accept their responsibilities under the collective bargaining process and under Bill 100 and to resolve this in the best interests of these students at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Chiarelli: Some of these trustees are now privately urging MPPs to prevail upon the Education Relations Commission not to deal with the question of jeopardy before the summer. This position is surprising, coming at a time when parents are feeling helpless and frustrated about the welfare of their children. Can the minister indicate for these parents the role of the Education Relations Commission on this very important matter?
Hon Mr Conway: I can tell my honourable friend that the Education Relations Commission has very clear authority and jurisdiction under Bill 100 to monitor and to assist in these kinds of disputes. Under the act, it is the exclusive responsibility of the Education Relations Commission to make a finding of jeopardy. That they have not yet done in this particular dispute at the Ottawa Board of Education. But the commission has independent authority and exclusive responsibility.
Once again, I repeat that I expect that everyone involved in this dispute would want to see this resolved in the best interests of the students concerned. It is my view that the collective bargaining process is the best process we have. I know it is not easy, I know it is sometimes difficult, but I must insist that both parties accept their responsibilities and get this resolved in the interest of those students at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer about his amazing tax system in this province. Last week, we raised with him the example of a couple of corporations, both wealthy. In 1988, Tridel earned operating income of $66 million, distributed dividends to shareholders and paid no taxes. In 1989, Bramalea had operating income of $123 million, distributed dividends to shareholders and paid no taxes whatsoever. At the same time that these companies were getting off so lightly, individuals in the province of Ontario were treated as follows: A single mother with two children, earning $22,000 a year, will be paying $850 in Ontario income tax, and a married couple with two children and one earner, making $22,400 a year, will be paying $850 a year in Ontario income tax.
Could the Treasurer tell us, is it possible that he is not having second thoughts about a tax system that lets off easily those people with the ability to pay while clobbering those people with the least ability to pay?
Mr Pouliot: Don’t tell us about incentives, please.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I was just going to talk to the honourable member about incentives. He is aware, of course, that our Corporations Tax Act parallels almost precisely the federal act; as a matter of fact, it automatically parallels it unless we take action in this House to do otherwise. He is suggesting an independent role of action there, and his leader has indicated on a number of occasions that we should be independent in our personal income tax policy as well. Those are things that are under consideration at all times, but my own view is that we have to understand that corporations must be encouraged to make capital commitments in this jurisdiction.
When it comes to the real estate area, there is a matter of special concern, particularly with the profits that the honourable member refers to, which are well known. They have had very profitable times and they continue investing in land, which is the basis of further development and expansion.
Mr Laughren: That does not explain at all why the Treasurer does not put in place, for example, a minimum corporate tax. It does not explain that at all.
I also want to know if the Treasurer would be having second thoughts about his own budget, in which he gave $140 million new money from the taxpayers to the corporate sector in the form of the current cost allowance. He makes the argument that that is to encourage investment, but at the same time he does that, instead of $140 million to those least able to pay, he offers them $38 million in the form of his tax reduction program. Does the Treasurer really think it is appropriate to give those who already have more ability to pay a $140-million windfall, while giving those with the least ability to pay only a $38-million windfall?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member is correct in his numbers but, I believe, incorrect in his conclusion, because the $38 million is added to a wide variety of other payments that are designed to help low-income people, including seniors, with the reduction of personal income tax payable. As a matter of fact, the cost of those tax concessions is about $1 billion, not $38 million.
At the same time, the honourable member, being a good socialist, wants to see that jobs are provided for people in all parts of this community, not just in Sudbury. I respect his view in that regard, which I strongly support. In this connection, we feel that improving -- in fact, doubling -- the current cost allowance improves our competitive position here so that capital that might otherwise be invested in other jurisdictions will be invested here for the strength of our own economy and developing jobs in Ontario.
TRANSPORTATION FOR THE DISABLED
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. The Ministry of Transportation recently released its fourth annual fact book on Transportation for Disabled Persons in Ontario. This book outlines basic data on special transit services offered in 70 municipalities across the province for the 1988 calendar year. Among the data is the number of unaccommodated trip requests, and that is the annual number of trip requests that cannot be accommodated at the time requested or at a reasonable alternative time on the same day due to insufficient service. The fact book indicates that disabled persons living in Toronto were refused rides on 88,942 separate occasions. I would like to know whether the minister finds this acceptable.
Hon Ms Collins: I can tell the member that improving transportation for disabled people in this province is a top priority for this government, and I think that has been shown on a number of occasions, especially in past budgets. In fact, in 1988-89 the province provided $24 million in subsidies for specialized transit systems across the province. There has also been an expansion in the eligibility criteria for use of specialized transit, which will cost the province $5.2 million by year 5 of implementation and will benefit over 22,000 new riders in the province.
Mrs Marland: l am sure this minister must be aware of the difficulties encountered by a disabled person when it comes to public transit. Rides have to be booked days in advance. Disabled persons are forced to plan their activities around the available rides, rather than having services provided to meet their needs. Now we find out that these persons have their requests for rides refused on a regular basis -- 88,942 times in Toronto for the year 1988. The final question is, what is the minister going to do to ensure that disabled persons in Ontario get the transportation services they need when and where they need them?
Hon Ms Collins: I can tell the member that the Minister of Transportation has been moving in a number of areas as far as transportation for the disabled is concerned. In fact, in the recent announcement that was made, the $5-billion announcement in transportation for Metropolitan Toronto, the minister did talk about protecting future access to the conventional transit system. There has also been an allocation of more money towards accessible taxis in the province as well. And the minister has endorsed a report prepared by the Task Force on Improved Accessibility to Conventional Transit Services for Frail and Ambulatory Disabled Persons, which recommended the introduction of over 100 features to improve the accessibility of conventional transit systems so that more disabled people can be accommodated in that system.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. My question is on trucks and trailers on Ontario highways and the identification thereof. What type of identification do they need, signing on trucks and trailers?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member would know that all vehicles, whether they are trucks or others, must have as their primary form of identification a licence plate which must be plainly visible and in sight. I understand the honourable member’s concern is that this has not always been the case, but that is certainly the primary method of identification. In addition, though, higher vehicles and vehicles over a certain weight, about 8,200 kilograms, must have the name and address of the owner printed on each side of the vehicle; again that should be plainly visible. As well, there is additional identification needed for those vehicles which are transporting goods under the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act. So all are in place, depending on the kind of vehicle, but the main identification is plate identification.
Mr Tatham: If they are not identified, what action should be taken?
Hon Mr Wrye: If they are not identified, if there is no plate identification or indeed other identification as required under a series of acts, charges can be laid. Indeed, the police are on the highway more rigorously enforcing the law than ever before. The honourable member will know that our colleague the Solicitor General has recently hired more than 100 additional Ontario Provincial Police officers to control our roads, particularly the 400 series of highways. As these matters are brought to their attention, either on the highway or at the various inspection stations, which the honourable member would know are open at various times on the 400 series of highways, charges under the Highway Traffic Act can follow.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question to the Minister of Housing. Tenants at 96 and 166 Jameson here in Toronto faced a rent increase in 1989 of 35% and in 1990 of another 50%, for a total, when compounded, of 103% on their rent. Most of the rent increase is due to renovations, renovations the tenants do not agree with. They have been given the notice that is now required under the minister’s regulations, but the fact of the matter is it has had absolutely no impact as to what the landlord intends to do. Their rents will still be going up by 103%.
An example of a rent increase is from $437.60 per month to $886.50 per month for a two-bedroom. When is the minister going to come to the realization that unless he takes real action to change the Liberal rent review law, we are going to be losing the little affordable rental housing we now have in Ontario?
Hon Mr Sweeney: As the honourable member knows, the changes in the regulations have been in effect for a relatively short period of time. We are beginning to get feedback that they are making a difference. No one indicated that it was going to be the sole answer. As a matter of fact, I indicated clearly that I would be monitoring them for at least 12 months to see what the impact would be.
I would point out to my honourable friend, as I am sure he well knows, that what in fact landlords ask for is not necessarily what they get. As a matter of fact, in the last three or four months something like about 2,000 landlords who have made applications got either 50% less than what they asked for or 25% less than what they asked for. I do not know what the situation is going to be in this particular case, but I expect that the new regulations will have an impact.
Mr D. S. Cooke: We have also raised cases in the House where a certain amount of increase has been asked by a landlord and the minister’s rent review commission comes down and gives him 75% and 80% more than he has asked for. That is how his rent review system works.
The tenants in these buildings today have gone to court because they have given up on any hope that the minister might come in and try to protect tenants of this province. Is that his solution for protection of our affordable rental housing in this province, that tenants like the people at 221 Balliol Street are going to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees in order to protect their rent and affordable housing because the minister has just sold out to the landlords and the developers of this province? Is that what the tenants are going to have to do in this province?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would suggest to the honourable member that this is not exactly the way the situation is out there. In fact, as I have indicated to him before, something like 83% of the tenants in this province get rent increases that are at the guideline; the roughly 17% who in fact go to rent review get increases on average that are about 10.5%. I have a list of requests here indicating what in fact was asked for: 46%, received 9%; 21%, received 4%; 25%, received 4%; 14%, received 7%; 195%, received 11%. The list goes on and on and on. I think there are just as many cases where in fact in the final analysis the tenants get a much lower increase than what their landlords asked for, and I think the new regulation is going to make a significant impact on that whole process.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Earlier this month he assured this House that the consumers and restaurateurs of this province would have an adequate supply of chicken over the summer. The record now shows that he did not say where this chicken would be coming from. Will the minister today tell this House what he has done in recent weeks to ensure that Ontario producers will indeed be supplying the chicken required by Ontario consumers?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am glad to be asked by the honourable member where the chickens will be coming from. Not only do I have to promise that we will have chickens, but now I have to identify the place of origin of these chickens. At this particular moment I cannot do that, but I would like to tell the member and the other members of the House that we are working diligently, day by day, on this issue. Since I last spoke to the member, I have met twice with the board and the processors. We have a meeting planned in Ottawa on 28 May with our counterparts in Quebec to talk about this situation. Believe me, we take this as the most urgent situation and challenge to supply management and we are on top of it.
Mr Villeneuve: I am glad to know that the minister is concerned, because we do have producers with lots of room and lots of capacity in their operation, we have very cheap grain here in Ontario that we cannot get rid of, and yet we do not have enough chicken to supply the market and the demand. Quebec processors right now are laughing all the way to the bank by supplying us with Quebec chicken.
Does the minister still stand by his promise to boost Ontario’s production and, if he does, how will he do it? He has had the negotiations. How is he going to proceed?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I think I should make it clear for the House that what the honourable member is speaking of, of course, is the Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency in Ottawa that allocates quota and it has allocated quota in a historical allocation that gives Ontario approximately 34.5% of that quota and Quebec 31.5% of that quota. We in Ontario feel that Ontario should have more production here because this is where the consumers are and this is where the processors are. But we are quite willing, as good Canadians, to work with our confreres in the other provinces -- I am meeting with them on Monday -- and on Friday of this week I will be bringing this matter personally to Mr Mazankowski as he comes to Toronto for an agricultural ministers’ meeting.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Treasurer. The apparel industry in this province is an important one and employs approximately 35,000 people. Bane, in my riding, is the site of one of these industries, Caulfeild.
Two years ago, the federal government stated that the tariffs on textiles were too high in this country, that they were undermining the competitiveness of the apparel industry in forcing the consumer to pay more for the final product. It has introduced a plan to spread the tariff reduction over 10 years, but that seems to be having the effect of negating any possibility of reducing the consumer price and at the same time is leading to serious problems of maintaining these plants in our province. Is the Treasurer aware of this problem and is there anything that can be done to possibly negate the effect this is having on this important sector of our economy?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I certainly am aware of the problem and I congratulate the honourable member on bringing this important matter to the attention of the House. To tell the truth, the same situation prevails in my constituency, where the apparel manufacturing business has actually largely disappeared as a result of the inadequacies of the federal policy.
Mr Owen: The apparel industry here in Ontario finds itself faced with the free trade agreement and its consequences and the changes by way of the rules of GATT and the multi-fibre arrangement. It is one of the few manufacturing industries that will feel the full impact of the pending goods and services tax, since clothing was previously exempt from federal sales tax. In other words, this particular industry is getting the full crush of all sorts of negative programs and policies from the federal government.
Can the provincial government try to get across to the federal government the effect that its policies are going to have on this particular industry and the potential loss of jobs in this particular plant in the city of Barrie?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The industry, of course, has the benefit of the rather progressive, enlightened and in some respects generous policies of the government of Ontario. The honourable member is in a position to bring those to the attention of his constituents. But I would think that the honourable member’s question would lead a number of members of the House to contact people at the federal level, particularly the members of the third party in the Legislature, to see if for once the federal initiative might be directed towards protecting our industries instead of allowing their high interest rate policy and the relatively high value of the Canadian dollar to drive them further and further into an economic difficulty which they may find it almost impossible to survive.
LIQUOR LICENCE REVENUES
Mr Farnan: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As a minister interested and knowledgeable about the affairs of his ministry, could he please give this House an approximation of the amount of additional revenue that his ministry --
An hon member: He is not there.
Mr Farnan: My apologies, Mr Speaker. I note that the minister is not present at this time. I would refer it to the Treasurer.
Could the Treasurer give this House an estimate of the approximate revenues from increased liquor licence fees during this budget year?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would be glad to get that information for the honourable member.
Mr Farnan: As a result of regulation 376/89, Peter Tsiokos, the proprietor of Scallion restaurant in Cambridge, has had his liquor licence fee increased 550%, from $80 for a two-year period to $450. We must question these types of extraordinary increases imposed not in the budget but by regulation. How can the Treasurer justify such increases, which invariably must be passed on to the consumer? It is an underhanded tax increase and puts the lie to the Treasurer’s claim of no tax increases except for tobacco.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member, as I understand it, is referring to a licence increase which is related to the ability to make a profit. I have not attended the Scallion restaurant, but I can understand that under some circumstances, the restaurant industry and the hospitality industry are suffering from substantial pressure. I am aware of that. I will certainly get the information that the honourable member has requested and see that it is sent to him directly.
The Speaker: I have already added three and a half minutes to the question period.
The Speaker: If the honourable member can place his question in one second, that is fine.
TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Sterling: Would the Minister of Education tell me what he is doing to get the kids back to school in Ottawa?
Hon Mr Conway: I would refer my honourable friend from Manotick to the answer previously provided to my colleague the member for Ottawa West.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Mr Sterling from the standing committee on government agencies presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Report on the Ontario Food Terminal Board.
The Speaker: Does the member wish to make a brief statement?
Mr Sterling: Yes, Mr Speaker. It is slightly longer than my question.
This is a report from the standing committee on government agencies dealing with the Ontario Food Terminal Board. The report comprises two parts: the recommendations of the committee plus an attached piece of legislation. I believe this is an important step in the evolution of the powers of the committees of this Legislature.
As members may recall, back in 1988 the member for Waterloo introduced An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act which dealt with the serving of papers on members of this Legislature. In spite of that being a private member’s bill, it was called by the government for third and final reading. This is the second piece of legislation that has been introduced by the chairman of the committee, me, on behalf of a committee. It is hoped that the government will treat this kind of legislation in a different manner than it normally treats private members’ legislation.
The report recommends the abolition of the monopoly given to the Ontario Food Terminal Board to determine if any competitors should be allowed to operate in York and Peel counties and therefore that sections 12 and 13 of that act be repealed. This recommendation was made in a report by the standing committee on procedural affairs in 1979 and also by the standing committee on government agencies in 1988. This committee feels it is high time that this action now be taken in the form of legislation. Therefore, later today I will be introducing a bill which will follow the instructions given to me by the committee in this report.
On motion by Mr Sterling, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
HUMAN RESOURCES PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO ACT, 1990
Mrs Cunningham moved first reading of Bill Pr70, An Act respecting the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mrs Cunningham moved first reading of Bill 166, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mrs Cunningham: The purpose of the bill is to amend the Highway Traffic Act to require helmets to be worn by bicyclists and by children being carried as passengers on bicycles. The bill would also require that a child being carried on a bicycle be carried in an approved child carrier device. I will be speaking to this important issue at the appropriate time.
ONTARIO FOOD TERMINAL AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Sterling moved first reading of Bill 167. An Act to amend the Ontario Food Terminal Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Sterling: As I said formerly, in the standing orders today, when we were talking a bout reports of the committee, I am introducing this bill on behalf of the standing committee on government agencies, which gave unanimous consent to the contents of the bill.
The bill takes out sections 12 and 13 of the Ontario Food Terminal Act. It thereby takes away the monopoly that one group of individuals -- that board -- has in controlling all the wholesale food terminals in York and Peel counties.
I would hope that the government would give this third and final reading and give me the opportunity also to debate it on second reading.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION DAY / JOUR RESERVÉ À L’OPPOSITION
FRENCH-LANGUAGE SERVICES / SERVICES EN FRANÇAIS
Mr Allen: May I have consent, in the absence of Mr Rae, to move the motion that stands in his name on behalf of our party?
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr Allen, on behalf of Mr Rae, moved opposition day motion 3:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario recognizes and affirms that:
this House supports the French Language Services Act;
in the context of our shared belief that linguistic duality is a fundamental characteristic of our country, takes pride in the fact that access for the French-speaking minority in Ontario to the courts, education, public broadcasting, proceedings of the Legislature and provincial services in designated areas has been a shared commitment of different political parties and governments over many years;
the French Language Services Act applies only to the provision of provincial government services to members of the public and can be achieved without diminishing services for the English-speaking majority;
the decision of a municipality to provide municipal services in both English and French is entirely voluntary, and
through public hearings after the spring session, the select committee on the Constitution should in its work seek the views of Ontarians and others on matters relating to the relationship between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians in Ontario, including services and education.
M. Allen, au nom de M. Rae, propose la motion no 3 relative au jour de l’opposition.
Que, de l’avis de cette Chambre, l’Assemblée législative reconnaît et affirme que:
elle appuie la Loi sur les services en français;
témoignant de notre conviction commune à l'effet que la dualité linguistique constitue une caractéristique fondamentale de notre pays, se félicite de ce que la minorité francophone ait accès à des services en français devant les tribunaux, dans les écoles, au niveau de la radiodiffusion publique, au sein de l’Assemblée législative et à d'autres services provinciaux dans les régions désignées, ce qui a traduit l’engagement des trois partis politiques et des différents gouvernements au cours des ans;
la Loi sur les services en français ne s’applique qu’aux services offerts par le gouvernement au public et ne diminue en rien les services offerts à la majorité anglophone;
qu’aucune municipalité n’est tenue de fournir des services municipaux en anglais et en français à moins d’une décision prise par ladite municipalité, et;
lors de ses audiences publiques qu’il tiendra après la session parlementaire du printemps, le comité spécial sur la constitution devrait inviter les Ontariennes et les Ontariens ainsi que les autres intéressés à venir exprimer leurs opinions sur les questions touchant les relations entre anglophones et francophones en Ontario, y compris dans le domaine des services et de l’éducation.
The Speaker: In the absence of Mr Rae, Mr Allen has moved the motion which you have just heard. I would remind all members that debate will take place for the balance of this sitting. The time will be divided equally among all three parties, and at 5:55 I will ask the House to make a decision on this matter.
Mr Allen: I rise with considerable pride in the place of my leader to introduce the debate in the House this afternoon on this resolution. I will be making a few remarks of introduction and a number of other members of our party who want to take part will be participating in the debate as the afternoon proceeds.
We have had a troubled time in Ontario this spring with regard to the standing, status and place of the French community in Ontario, which numbers 500,000 persons. We have seen a serious contest with regard to the fundamental principle of the duality of French and English as a basis of our country’s existence. We have seen some 50 municipalities move unilingual motions which, in the view of myself and my party, were unnecessary not only because they were an affront to the francophone community in their midst but because they were unnecessary with respect to the reasons given -- namely that there was some reason to object to a government insisting that they conduct their proceedings and their affairs in another language. They were not being asked to do that in either instruction or in any legislation that has ever passed this House.
So, as a party, we have wanted to do a few things in this debate this afternoon. We wanted, in the first place, to give the House an opportunity to affirm the legislation which has recently provided a compendium and a set of regulations and guidelines for the provision of French-language services in Ontario.
We have, second, wanted to affirm, and to give this Legislature an opportunity to affirm, the linguistic dualism that rests at the base of our country’s existence, and to express our pride as a party in the role that we have played and the role this Legislature has played, through all three parties in this House, in the creation of a growing network of services for the French community in this province.
We have wanted also to provide the House with an opportunity to say, once more, to those who have misunderstood, to those municipalities who have passed resolutions under mistaken impressions or perhaps under other motives, that not only has it not been the intention of this Legislature, not only has it not been the intention of the legislation, but it has not been the content of anything said or done in this House or the content of legislation to require French-language services by municipalities on any basis other than that they make their own decision to provide those services in that way.
Finally, we as a party recommend that since there will be legislative travel by a committee on the Constitution this summer, in all probability, at least according to plans as they exist, that committee should undertake to listen to and to hear reflections and points of view around the relationships of French and English in Ontario so that we may have further helpful advice from the community with regard to both our present and future in that regard.
Il faut insister sur le fait que notre pays est un pays avec un dualisme linguistique. Certaines personnes préfèrent souligner la multiplicité des langues, la multiplicité des cultures de notre pays et ces personnes ont raison. Mais le principe de base de notre pays, le fond de toutes les diversités, de toutes les opportunités multiculturelles de notre pays est le principe de la dualité des Anglais et des Français, la dualité linguistique des deux communautés fondatrices de notre pays.
II est vrai que, premièrement, il y avait au début les autochtones dans notre pays. De ces autochtones, nous avons reçu le nom de notre pays: le Canada, la cité des peuples. Mais ce sont les Français qui employaient ces termes, « Canada » et « Canadien », avant ma famille, les familles de tous les autres descendants européens et aussi des autres pays.
It is important for us always to emphasize that with all the diversity and the multiculturalism that has come to characterize our country and in spite of the fact, which we recognize, that this continent was inhabited first by aboriginal peoples to whom we have not yet done justice, it is important to recognize that the structures of this nation which provide for the diversity and opportunity of expression from so many groups rests fundamentally upon the first agreements made in the 1770s in this country that this would be a country that recognized two cultures, recognizeD two languages as the basis of the rest and what we have had in the future constitutionally in this nation has grown out of that recognition.
At every step that we have made constitutionally the central principle in question which has been in debate, whether is was in the 1770s, whether is was in 1791, whether it was in the 1840s, whether it was in 1867 or whether we came to the great debates around bilingualism or biculturalism in the 1960s, the central question has been to work out sensible relationships between French and English in Canada so that two cultures might thrive in this country.
So this province has taken its own affairs in hand in the course of these last few years, these last 22 years since Mr Robarts in the Confederation of Tomorrow conference proposed a task force which then brought forward certain recommendations for the beginnings of a major network of French-language services. One could spend some time reviewing each of the steps along the way from 1968 forward in which in one area after another, whether in the courts, whether in the domain of education, whether in the provision of social services, whether in the operation of government departments and whether in the arts, this province has developed slowly but surely under a succession of administrations a network of services which begin to look respectable for the francophone community.
It is important to recognize that we do not yet parallel, for example, the 300 primary and secondary schools that the English have at their disposal and control in the province of Quebec, where there are 10 community colleges, three English-speaking universities, totally publicly funded, two English-language dailies, 18 weeklies, 11 radio stations, three television stations, and where the English language along with French is the official language in all the courts of justice.
We are beginning to approximate and that is the important thing to note. But we want also to insist that just as the federal government, when it established a bilingual regime in the federal civil service and for the country, did not force the hands of the provinces but opened up opportunities for them to provide services, and I repeat, did not force the hand of provinces to provide a bilingual regime in their provinces. in the same way, this provincial Legislature did not intend and has not the intention to force the hands of municipalities. That is another level of government which has its own proper dictates and its own proper authority and its own proper base in democratic election and in democratic procedure. Therefore, it is only proper that they come to their own decisions. This Legislature stands ready to help them in terms of whatever those decisions would be.
The New Democratic Party at every step along the way has been very proud to play a leading role in the proposals it has put forward in this Legislature in order to provide that network of services and to give a status of appropriate respect and standing to the French community in Ontario.
Il faut noter que la Loi sur les services en français ne s’applique qu’aux services offerts par le gouvernement au public et ne diminue en rien les services offerts à la majorité anglophone. II faut aussi noter qu’aucune municipalité n’est tenue de fournir des services municipaux en anglais et en français à moins d’une décision prise par ladite municipalité.
Our objective, in closing, is quite simply that we desire that all communities that make up this province live with a proper sense of self-respect and with the power to develop and expand their cultural life. For us, as I said at the beginning, all that diversity of intention and generosity rests upon the principle of dualism, which was the foundation stone of this country as it began building itself in the late years of the 18th century.
Again, I move this motion and I look forward to the rest of the debate in the House this afternoon.
Mr Villeneuve: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity of participating in this very important debate this afternoon.
It is a bit déjà vu, as far as I am concerned, because on 2 April there was a very similar motion that came to the floor of this Legislature. For whatever reason, the official opposition and the government did not see fit to support that particular legislation. It was brought forward by our party, and I want to put it on the record just so that everyone realizes that we may have some repetition this afternoon, but I am told that we will have a change of opinion on behalf of both the official opposition and the government.
The former debate and the former motion came from the then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the interim leader, my friend and colleague the member for Sarnia. It read as follows:
“That, in the opinion of this House, while reaffirming its support for the provision of French-language services where numbers warrant, while confirming that the French Language Services Act, 1986, was not intended to apply to municipalities, recognizes the elevated tensions and misunderstandings which have developed over language issues throughout this province, and therefore calls upon the government of Ontario to establish, as soon as possible, an all-party committee of the Legislature to travel across the province to receive public input on the administrative guidelines, regulations and implementation of the French Language Services Act, 1986.”
That was debated on 2 April. What we have today is a motion to bring a number of things together, including the mixing of the language problem here in the province of Ontario with some constitutional reforms. This constitutional committee was originally set up in 1987. The constitutional committee has been in place ever since then, was mandated to look into the Meech Lake accord and is presently looking into Senate reform. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the bringing in of this particular motion and broadening, I guess, the mandate of the constitutional committee tends to bring in all sorts of mixed signals. I will give you some examples, Mr Speaker, because it concerns me very much. I am afraid there are some political games being played.
Mr Kerrio: Yes, but are there?
Mr Villeneuve: I am afraid there are. The member for Niagara Falls says, “Are there?” I am here to tell him that there are. I would not think he is so naïve as to think that our initial resolution did not bring forth this resolution, and I believe we have a government that is now saying: “Boy, we told the people we are open and, all of a sudden, we voted against democracy. We voted against having input into the situation.”
I believe their cousins over here in the official opposition saw the same thing, so they said, “Well, you know, the Tories brought in a good resolution here and, all of a sudden, I believe maybe we should. We have some remorse. Our conscience is now bothering us, so how do we get out of this? How do we get the monkey off the Premier’s back on this one? We’ll get someone to bring it forth and bring it to an existing committee of the Legislature, the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs.”
When you talk of the constitutional committee it brings forth thoughts of what is happening in our sister province in Quebec. I am not any happier than most of the people in this Legislature about Bill 101 and about Bill 78, but do you know what it is going to do, Mr Speaker? It is all going to precipitate this into this very debate. I do not like the sign language law in Quebec any more than most people here in Ontario. I do not like it at all. Bill 101 has some very severe limitations, but bringing this to a constitutional committee says, “Boy, we involve all of this.”
I represent a riding along the Ontario-Quebec border. We have individuals who are very unhappy with the way the laws apply to residents of Ontario attempting to work in the province of Quebec, and vice versa, where the residents of the province of Quebec come into Ontario and they are able to work. I have, on a number of occasions, brought this to the attention of the legislative assembly of the province of Quebec. They tell me it has to do with unions and they have 17 regions in the province of Quebec where one union cannot cross those artificial boundaries. Of course, Ontario becomes the 18th so-called region where the people who work, the workers, cannot cross. Try to explain that.
But bringing this particular matter to a constitutional committee brings all of those things into play and it is rather sad. Presently, the constitutional committee studying Senate reform has a lot of items it must address in that particular area. I will bring forth a few examples that I had right in my riding. I also wrote a letter to the Premier, away back in October 1987, requesting that a specific committee, in 1987, be set up to look into the implementation of Bill 8 because at that time there was a lot of misunderstanding. The government had not done a good job in setting forth exactly what was going to be happening as the implementation of Bill 8 unfolded.
Indeed, we had some situations that were not quite right and I am pleased to have been part of solving one of the problems: looking for an agricultural representative for the county of Glengarry. The requirements, prior to my meeting with some representatives of the Premier back in February 1990, were “advanced oral and superior written French-language skills to Ontario government standards and a good command of English.”
I spoke to many people, both French- and English-speaking, in the riding that I very proudly represent, and they did not think that was fair. Indeed, there was an admission by the Premier’s office that it was misleading and it was indeed not fair. That has been changed to “good command of both French and English,” and that is the way it should be.
That particular position has just been allocated to a gentleman who I think is very worthy, but under the old system he may not have qualified. Glen Slater is now the new agricultural representative in Glengarry county. I believe it is very important that this requirement was changed because Glen Slater may not have qualified under the former requirements for bilinguals.
It is interesting that we have only eight Liberal members, eight government members, sitting in the Legislature today in a very important debate, a debate that I believe will be historic, because they may well be setting up a mandated committee, a constitutional committee that will indeed look into what I was asking for more than three years ago. The problem is they are doing it after having turned down our request and having some feelings of remorse. It is somewhat deceiving to the public when these things occur. It leaves one wondering just where the government is.
Indeed, as we get close to an election, they are looking for a way out of this one so that they can say, “Yes, we have had some input.” I am pleased to have taken the initiative three years ago to have requested it, but I did not want to mix it up in constitutional situations that would pit French against English. I am afraid that the way the government has set this one up, the way it is intending to set this one up, will bring in the entire constitutional situation of Meech Lake, the things that we do not like that are happening in Quebec, and we will have many, many people talking about this and polarizing more.
If I would have brought to this committee, which existed back in January and February 1990 when we had the problem with advertising for a bilingual agricultural representative -- that committee was in place but it was not mandated to do this, so I had to look for someone who had some authority. I had to look for someone who was going to be able to tell the Premier, “This is not right and this is not fair.” I was fortunate to be able to find someone.
Je me fais un plaisir de participer aux débats, mais je trouve la situation très compliquée en autant que nous avons une résolution ici du Nouveau Parti démocratique qui est pratiquement identique à celle que nous avons proposée à l'Assemblée législative le 2 avril et qui a été refusée, non seulement par le gouvernement mais aussi par les néo-démocrates.
Le comité en question, le Comité spécial sur la constitution, existait à ce moment-là. Le Comité aurait pu avoir un mandat il y a déjà longtemps pour jeter un coup d’oeil sur la mise en oeuvre du projet de loi 8, aurait pu corriger nombre de choses qui ont créé des situations où les municipalités se sont déclarées unilingues anglaises. C’est dommage. Le dommage est pratiquement déjà fait, mais par contre un comité pourrait le corriger.
Le problème avec le Comité est que c’est un comité sur la constitution, un comité constitutionnel qui va mélanger l’accord du Lac Meech, la réforme du sénat et les problèmes qui se passent au Québec. ça va emmener la chose complètement à une situation de polarisation entre francophones et anglophones, et je vous assure, Monsieur le Président, que c’est la dernière chose dont nous avons besoin.
Alors, pour résumer, ça me fait plaisir de participer mais, par contre, je vois avec difficulté pouvoir appuyer telle résolution quand la même résolution aurait pu être débattue par les députés de l’Assemblée législative il y a déjà trois ans.
Alors, pour terminer, nous avions déjà le comité en place, comité qui n’avait pas le mandat de faire autre chose que d’étudier la réforme constitutionnelle.
In closing, I appreciate the fact that someone has had some remorse here. Someone has decided that, “Yes, we had better, before we go to the electorate, correct the fact that there was no public input into this very important factor of providing minority language services which we support.” It is always nice to see some people having some remorse. However, I believe the confusion that will follow will be more negative than positive.
Mr Adams: In terms of the two official languages of Canada, I think we often forget that there are only two substantial minorities in the country. One of those, of course, is in the province of Quebec, the English-speaking part of the population of the province of Quebec. The other is the francophone population of our own province, the province of Ontario.
When we think about those two minorities, I think very often we get the impression that there is a very large group in Quebec and a relatively small group in Ontario, whereas the reality is that the numbers in Quebec, as I recall, are in the order of 700,000 English-speaking Québécois, and here in Ontario we have 500,000 French-speaking Ontarians -- 500,000 versus 700,000. It is not a very great difference. They are in the same ballpark.
It is interesting to look at those two minority groups and compare them, for example, socially. The anglophones in Quebec, in terms of income, are typically above the average for the province. In terms of unemployment, they are typically below the average in the province. In terms of education, just to give one example, they are 30% more likely to go to college or university than the French-speaking citizens of the province of Quebec.
What are the equivalent measures here in Ontario? Typically, the income of our francophone population, the 500,000 French-speaking citizens we have, is below the average for the province. Typically, they have above-average unemployment. I saw a figure recently that suggested they had double the illiteracy of the general population of the province of Ontario and, generally speaking, there are more of our Franco-Ontarians supported by the social assistance programs than the average for the province as a whole.
Here we are in the richest province of Confederation, in the province which takes pride in its role in Confederation, and I wonder if we can be proud of the difference between our 500,000 francophones and the 700,000 anglophones in the province of Quebec. When I saw these differences, I wondered what sort of support the two minorities were receiving, the anglophones in Quebec and the francophones here in Ontario.
The member for Hamilton West mentioned this. Let’s just take the university level alone. In the province of Quebec there are three anglophone English-speaking universities. There is Concordia University, McGill University in Montreal and Bishop’s University in Lennoxville.
McGill University can only be compared with the University of Toronto here in Ontario. I read recently in the Toronto Star that McGill University is one of the most popular universities for Metropolitan Toronto students. Large numbers of students go from Metro to McGill to be educated, and these are anglophone students going to an English-speaking university.
Those universities have lower tuition fees than our own. Who supports those English-speaking universities in Quebec? The answer, of course, is the same as here. Those universities are supported by the taxpayers of Quebec, and we are talking of $300 million a year in Quebec paid by Quebec taxpayers for those three universities alone.
If we go beyond that, I mentioned that English-speaking Quebeckers are 30% more likely to go to college or university than their French-speaking confreres. They have -- I thought seven, but my colleague the member for Hamilton West said, I believe, 10 anglophone English-speaking colleges. They have many school boards.
In terms of access to provincial government services, what do they have there? As I discovered when I was in the Lac-Saint-Jean region quite recently, they have access to services in English virtually everywhere. When I was in Lac-Saint-Jean for a visit, less than 1% of the population had English as its first language, and they have access to government services in English. There were letters in the local newspapers criticizing M. Bourassa for providing services in an area where there were so few anglophones.
That brings me to Bill 8 which is one of the topics addressed by the resolution today. Bill 8, as you know, Mr Speaker, provides access to services in French to Franco-Ontarians. What does this bill, which has caused a certain amount of controversy in various parts of the province, really provide? As I said, it is access to services in French for our French-speaking fellow Ontarians.
These services are available not everywhere, but where at least 10 per cent -- that is 10 out of every 100 -- of the people in the region have French as their first language. So in these areas where numbers warrant, citizens can obtain services in their own language, one of the two national languages of Canada, from the government of Ontario. This is also available in localities where there is a minimum concentration of at least 5,000 French-speaking citizens.
It seems to me that for the greatest province in Canada, with the largest minority of francophone citizens, this is a modest gesture that we are making towards our fellow Ontarians, 83% of whom, by the way, live in such regions, that is to say, regions with more than 10% francophones or a concentration of more than 5,000.
Recently, as both previous speakers mentioned, a number of our municipalities have made a point, for reasons of their own, of passing resolutions declaring themselves unilingual English. The language of administration of Ontario is English. There is no reason for anyone to pass any sort of a unilingual English resolution. What is more, in Bill 8 the municipalities are specifically exempt. Why should Ontario interfere with the autonomy of our municipalities? They may of course, if they wish, pass a resolution to offer their municipal services in French but if they do not wish to do so, they need not.
There has been a good deal of talk about the sign law in the province of Quebec, which allows for French signs outside and English signs inside. I have to say, and I agree with one of the previous speakers, that I deplore that sign law. It smacks to me of petty politics, of a lack of vision of the dual-language nature of Canada, and I am sorry to see Quebec, albeit a province which I believe does provide well for its anglophone citizens, pass such a law. But I put that sign law in Quebec at the same level of dirty, crass politics as these unilingual English resolutions in municipalities around Ontario.
When we are thinking about Bill 8 and we have these concerns about it, another thing that often arises is the cost. To be honest, I do not know the full cost of the colleges, school boards, hospitals and so on that operate in the province of Quebec in English. I do not know that but I mention to members the one figure I know. For their three universities alone which are English-speaking -- and we have no French universities in Ontario; we have a couple of bilingual institutions -- $300 million every year is paid by the Quebec taxpayer.
Here we have a bill which apparently costs in the order of $15 million or $20 million a year. As you know, Mr Speaker, in this province $10 million a year is roughly $1 per head per year. So for this bill which provides services to our French-speaking compatriots here in Ontario and allows us to give a signal to the rest of Canada that Ontario is prepared to play a lead in Confederation, the cost of this bill is literally a few dollars per person per year. For that we address the needs of 500,000 people in Ontario who are generally below average by many of the measures that we use, and we show that the province of Ontario believes in Confederation and believes in the dual-language nature of Canada.
There are some who say that one of the concerns with Bill 8 is loss of jobs by the anglophone community. In Ontario, as a result of this bill, we are looking at 7% of the positions in the provincial service which will be bilingual -- bilingual, not francophone. We have at this point in time, preparing to take such jobs with the children of our francophone Ontarian friends, over 100,000 anglophone children in French immersion schools in the province of Ontario today to take the 7%. Is 7% of the jobs in our public service for 5% of the population which is francophone too much?
I feel that Ontario, which has the largest French-speaking population outside the province of Quebec, has a duty to protect the language rights of its French-speaking minority community. I believe that by providing provincial government services in French we are doing the right thing in the spirit of generosity, fairness and accommodation that has always characterized this province and its role in Confederation.
Monsieur le Président, en tant que député de la circonscription de Peterborough, c’était un plaisir de vous parler aujourd’hui. Je suis fier de dire que je suis pour la Loi 8 et pour cette résolution.
I will be voting in favour of the resolution.
Mr Laughren: I am very pleased to take pan in this debate this afternoon. I consider it to be one of those debates that will be regarded as a milestone in this Parliament and perhaps in other parliaments as well.
I do not like starting off the debate on somewhat of a sour note, but I am appalled at the fact that the Premier is not here this afternoon. We named the Premier as the minister to whom this resolution was directed, and it was another example, if I could be blunt about it, of his appalling lack of leadership on this issue. I think that the least he could have done was to have been here this afternoon.
I am also surprised at the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry in his comment that he is going to be voting against this resolution. He used as one of his arguments that it is almost the same as the one that his party had a month or so ago. If it is almost the same as the one they had a month or so ago, I fail to understand why he and his colleagues would not now be supporting this resolution. The difference between that resolution and this one is that this one is somewhat broader in its application.
There has been much to-do about the provision of government services in the French language in Ontario. We know that the francophone community constitutes about 5% of the population, but of course in communities such as the one I represent, north and west of Sudbury, it is much higher than that. My own constituency must have about 30% to 35% francophones in the population.
Bill 8, which has caused a lot of the furore, was passed in November 1986 and was given a three-year phase-in period so people could get used to it and to allow the provincial institutions to adapt to its requirements. It was passed unanimously back in 1986 so one does wonder why this resolution is necessary this afternoon, but I feel very strongly that indeed it is absolutely necessary.
The opening sentence in our resolution states that “this House supports the French Language Services Act,” and since the House supported the bill unanimously in 1986, I was hoping that we would get unanimous support for this resolution this afternoon. It appears now that will not be the case, and I regret that very much.
It seems to me that we need to remind ourselves and others from time to time that we are consistent and firm in our defence of certain basic principles, and that is how I view Bill 8. One of those principles is the recognition that linguistic duality is a fundamental characteristic of this country and of this province. Ontario has a proud history of this recognition and, quite frankly, all three political parties have played a major and a positive role in reaching out to our francophone citizens, and that surely is as it should be.
On a personal note, I was born in Quebec. I was raised and educated in Ontario, and I have worked in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba and now, of course, here in Ontario. I have always felt that there were a couple of characteristics about this country that set us apart and gave us a unique identity in the North American context. Those two characteristics, for me at least, are our linguistic duality and our generosity as a people. Our linguistic duality cannot be denied. Quebec is primarily a French-speaking province, in contrast to all the other provinces.
Our generosity, I believe, can be questioned but surely not categorically denied. We have pioneered, in North America, medicare. We have both the non-contributory old age pension and the contributory Canada pension plan. We believe in a social safety net to protect not only ourselves as individuals but our fellow citizens who may not be as fortunate as we. I believe that Ontario, as Canada’s most affluent province, must show the way both in protecting the rights of our linguistic minority and in our generosity to all citizens.
In case there are those who want to turn their backs on the linguistic duality of Canada because of a particularly offensive piece of Quebec legislation known as Bill 78, commonly known as the sign law, I should remind members of a couple of facts. In the provision of education to anglophones in Quebec, there is a provision for the complete education in English from kindergarten to university, and anglophones themselves control their own school system and school boards.
At the college level, keeping in mind that there are about half a million French-speaking citizens in Ontario -- in Quebec there are a few more than that; about 600,000 anglophones, I believe -- there is only one French-language college, and even that just recently, while in Quebec there are -- there is a dispute on numbers here. The last time I checked there were seven English-language colleges in the province of Quebec. In Ontario at the university level, there is no French-language university, while there are three English-language universities in the province of Quebec.
In the provision of health care services in Ontario under Bill 8, more health care services will be provided in French, particularly in the 22 designated areas. It should be pointed out that in Quebec under Bill 142, every English-speaking person is entitled to receive health care and social services in the English language anywhere in the province.
I realize, of course, that statistics and laws do not a nation make. I know, as well, that we cannot legislate generosity of spirit. We can legislate the provision of services, we can legislate equal treatment under the law, we can try to acknowledge the distinct nature of Quebec society under the Meech Lake accord. We can, if we choose, designate Ontario as officially bilingual. We can demonstrate all the goodwill in the world, but in the end the legislation can only provide leadership. I suspect that when the national anthem of this country, which is the national anthem of Quebec as well, is booed at major events, it does more harm to the unity of this country than any bad legislation coming out of Quebec or even any English-only resolutions that come out of Ontario.
As legislators, all we can do is provide the leadership, and we simply must lead in the demand for both more tolerance and understanding. We must lead our lives as public people so that we become not lightning-rods but beacons of hope for those who desperately want to simply retain and promote their heritage.
In conclusion, the last part of the resolution calls for the establishment of a select committee on the Constitution. Contrary to what the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry said, I believe that aspect is a terribly important part of this resolution. One of the complaints I get from my constituents -- and, quite frankly, where I live is, from time to time, a hotbed of the French-language dispute on the provision of services to the French-language community -- is the appearance that this bill was put in place in the dead of night. It is not true, of course. It was passed in 1986 and had a three-year phase-in period, but I will say this: There has been a lack of leadership on the part of the government to get information out to the municipalities and to the public at large. I think that low-bridging strategy was a mistake and I hope that has sunk in to the minister and to the Premier, although the absence of the Premier does not speak well to my concerns this afternoon.
I think it is terribly important that we have an all-party committee, that the all-party committee will travel the province, that the all-party committee will invite people so that there will be a balanced presentation to the committee and both sides of the issue will be heard. If people do not want this committee to travel and hold public hearings, I would ask them why. Why do we not want this committee to travel and hear representation from the people of the different parts of Ontario who are concerned about not just Bill 8 but the provision of education services as well?
I would ask my friends in the Conservative caucus to reconsider, because I think it is ill-advised on their part to vote against a resolution that simply reaffirms what we have already affirmed back three years ago, almost four years ago, and not only affirmed it but then said, “We feel so good about it we want to take this across the province” -- not just Bill 8, because I think that is too narrow, but also the provision of social services and education to our French-speaking citizens in the province.
I feel very strongly that this is the proper route to go, and I look forward to as many -- I really was hoping that all members of this assembly, in the spirit of the way in which the resolution was intended, would demonstrate to all of Ontario that we are concerned about the divisiveness that has occurred in some of our communities and that our job as legislators is to heal those rifts and get on with building and improving upon what I think has been a generous province.
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to bring to this debate this afternoon some of the experiences of citizens across Ontario as I have heard them in the last few weeks and months. We do, in fact, have an issue in our province, one that we are not all proud of. That is the confusion around what French-language services in the province of Ontario really mean.
I would like to have this opportunity to tell members what they mean for myself and for the Conservative Party of Ontario. We believe very strongly in the extension of French-language services in this province where numbers warrant; we believe in an implementation that is fair, that is handled carefully, and we believe in programs that are not only needed but are warranted because the public is saying, “That makes good sense and that’s what we support.” In Ontario today, I can tell members after having travelled, that is not happening. As a matter of fact, because of an implementation that is not careful, because of a bill that has not been well explained, because of a bill that has a couple of regulations that do not mean anything to the public, because there truly are no clear guidelines, we have in Ontario, for the very first time, a public that is angry.
I listened to my colleagues in the House this afternoon as they talked about English-only resolutions, about which we are all concerned. I listened to my colleagues in the House this afternoon as they talked about travelling across the province themselves and understanding what was going on. If they were truly listening, they would understand this: The only concern out there is the implementation of Bill 8 right now.
The second concern has to do with the Education Act, which is being discussed by school boards across this province in the rightful medium, with their administration, their school boards and the public. That is being discussed right now, and at the appropriate time, I feel that they will bring their concerns to this House. But right now it is our responsibility to deal with what we know about, and that is the lack of a clear implementation of Bill 8.
Having said that, I would like to speak to what is happening this afternoon in this House, and I will say this with some degree, I am sure, of passion, in that I really am quite disappointed in the process this afternoon. Everyone who has spoken so far has asked us to support a committee that would go across this province to hear the concerns of the public. I think we should be listening to the concerns of the public as they have been put to us in our constituency offices and in this House.
I know that there will be members who will want to take this opportunity to deal with maybe the second and third concerns. Those are, of course, the Education Act and how it is applied to school boards now in about the third year of implementation, just as we are seeing some problems.
But I think the very first concern is the French-language services and whether or not we should have signs on highways and where they should be; whether or not we should have signs in hospitals; whether it is appropriate across the province or otherwise; to what extent we should have bilingual civil servants, in all ministries or any ministries. That is what I heard and that is what I think we should be dealing with first.
I am disappointed this afternoon, because we put forth that resolution just a few weeks ago. We very clearly dealt with the issue, and that was the implementation of Bill 8. The public is confused enough around what the real issues in the extension of French-language services are. They are confused enough about whether or not we are talking about the Education Act and the implementation of French-language education services. And they are confused about whether we are talking about the Meech Lake accord.
We had a wonderful opportunity a few weeks ago to deal with the issue, the implementation of a bill that has no guidelines, which the public is not clear about. There is confusion as to who is paying for it, and the cost, in fact, has gone up in the last four years from some $8.7 million to a projection of over $40 million. That may not be a lot of money in some people’s views, but when you are not getting dollars for programs that municipalities and school boards think are more important, I think that was a wonderful opportunity to clarify it. If the members of the official opposition and if members of the government wanted that opportunity to make it very clear, they had that opportunity.
Now, in fact, as my colleague the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry pointed out, they are not dealing with Bill 8, which is the issue for this province in the next election. That is the issue.
Mrs Cunningham: They are muddying it up. I have travelled. They can laugh all they like; they are muddying it up.
Mr Kerrio: Mike came in on a high note; it did not take long.
Mrs Cunningham: Forget it. This was exactly the same position our party had two years ago when the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry asked for a committee before this House, and we did it again three weeks ago. We asked to travel; we asked to be specific. Right now that is not what this motion is all about. It is in fact confusing an already confused public, and I think we have a more important responsibility to them than that.
If, in fact, the members of this House are interested in implementing a very controversial piece of legislation, brick by brick, row by row, so that the public buys into it, this committee will not do that. It does not even say the committee is going to travel.
I am going to close on this note right now because I think it is very important. This resolution this afternoon will pass, but this House had a very much better opportunity to deal with the real issue. It chose not to. One of the reasons I ran for this Legislative Assembly was to bring to this House the issues of the public, and that is what I am doing right now.
Having said all of that, I can only say that I will not support this resolution. I will not support it for two reasons. It is only meant to confuse the public. What we really need are clear guidelines so that this bill can be implemented through resolutions and through guidelines that are clearly established, and right now we have an implementation by bureaucracy with no direction. I think it is sad that we had the opportunity three weeks ago. I did not get myself elected so that I could come down here and watch these little games in the Legislative Assembly.
This is only an issue of wording. We put our position clearly, and it still remains the same. We want a careful implementation of the bill, and these are just little games. They are everything I do not stand for. They are one of the reasons I ran for this House. They are little boy games and I do not want to be part of them.
Ms Oddie Munro: I am very pleased to be able to enter into the debate, and I should say at the outset that I do support the resolution. I do intend to work on a continuous basis with the minister and with the government and with all members of the Legislature to ensure that this bill is fully understood and is implemented and enjoyed to the benefit of all Ontarians.
I would like to begin my remarks by taking a look at where I come from, the riding of Hamilton Centre. Hamilton Centre is a diverse community of peoples from all walks of life, from many countries in the world, representing many cultures, languages and customs. Hamilton’s francophone community has contributed significantly to the development and heritage of Hamilton and region from pre-founding days to current times. Many cultural groups have indeed immigrated to Hamilton, and we all live side by side. Certainly the city and the region have benefited from the rich blend of background contributions and commitments.
Even to the casual observer, it is obvious that Hamilton’s people are interested in and demand effective communication on legislation, policies and programs of this government. In fact, issues have traditionally been raised and must continue to be discussed on the floor of this Legislature by MPPs, and Bill 8, the French Language Services Act, is no exception.
The purpose of Bill 8 is to provide government services to the French-speaking minority in Ontario through each one of our ministries, agencies, boards and commissions, not only in the centre of government in Toronto but also out in local communities.
Provision of services to Ontario’s francophones means that this important founding group can access information and services in its own language, a service not enjoyed prior to 1986. It does not diminish services to the English-speaking majority nor the multicultural services provided or planned by various government ministries to multicultural communities in keeping with this government’s multicultural policy introduced in 1987.
The bill, in fact, complements. It does not create the legitimacy of the francophone community. It complements, in fact, what already exists. It complements the many voluntary activities in francophone and local communities, in education, social affairs, culture, drama and professional networking.
The passing of Bill 8, the French Language Services Act, in 1986 was welcomed in this Legislature by all parties. It was welcomed across the province. Hamilton was only one of a number of communities officially recognizing the historic, economic and social importance of this legislation.
The three-year implementation leading to the act being in full force in 1989 was well known to everyone. In fact, the process issue was raised from time to time in this Legislature; for example, during question period, in estimates, in the budget. Indeed, the Ontario French Language Services Commission issued annual reports detailing progress over the three years in which it was empowered to prepare and work carefully with government agencies and communities to assist in fully implementing the bill in 1989.
What a surprise, and an unwelcome one, to witness the negative reaction of some communities after the bill was fully implemented. The actions of municipalities is indeed a case in point. We all recognize that there are complex reasons put forward by each municipal council in each community and many attempts to avoid the damaging effects of negative resolutions, and in fact this resolution we are debating today is one of these. We must all work together to make sure that the bill works, and certainly public participation is one avenue. Each one of us, in his or her own way, has to ask what we could have done better to communicate with people in our own ridings and what we can do better to allay suspicion, concerns and fears so we can all celebrate the fact that the francophone community in Ontario can now access government services not provided heretofore.
It is not a partisan issue; indeed, I have heard MPPs of all political stripes argue in favour of Bill 8, in response to concerns surfacing in communities since its implementation. I am sure each of us has seen many concerns laid to rest when we have taken the time to talk at first hand with people or taken time to answer letters and send concerns to the minister responsible for francophone affairs. The burden of responsibility for ensuring that everyone understands the bill is a very real one, and it is ours.
How did I as a member respond to the needs for information in my community? Probably not well enough, but I intend to continue to do that. I have answered letters, as other members have. I have answered phone calls and I have passed those phone calls and messages on. I have held breakfast club meetings to try to get information to professional people, to French-language groups and to students. Indeed, I have invited not only the francophone groups, but also the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada groups and various other groups which wished to be heard, wished to understand, wished to debate with everyone present.
An instance stands out in my mind where I had a town hall meeting in one of the local high schools. The member for Hamilton West attended that meeting, as did the minister responsible for francophone affairs. I can tell members that when we all get together and talk about issues and see each other’s eyes and realize that we all have the same red blood which can bleed over issues like this, then understanding starts to happen. I should tell members that the minister was on his feet for over three hours talking to a variety of people who came up, some of them very gingerly, to the microphones to ask things that they have never thought of asking before, and he answered their questions. I saw groups that were willing to then start talking to each other because they had been forced to take a stand of confrontation with each other.
Communication can work, and I think what is happening in this House today is we are saying, “We had good intentions as a government, we will continue to go across the province and we need, each one of us as a member in this Legislature, to make it work.” I am supporting the resolution and I know that it will work. All of us must consider how we communicate and how we are playing a role to make sure that the burden of this legislation does not once again fall on the backs of the Franco-Ontarians and, indeed, all other citizens. I would like to take a look at the history of this province, because I think it is through the history that we can see where we are heading in this bill.
A basic aspect of our character as a nation and as a province is a diversity of this population in Ontario. Canada and Ontario are truly a community of communities. When European traders and missionaries first arrived in the New World they encountered over 50 distinct Inuit and native cultures. The contributions of our aboriginal groups are an important part of Canada and Ontario’s rich historical and cultural heritage which we must not forget.
The English and French languages are also fundamental characteristics of Canada’s identity as a nation. As founding groups, they both occupy a special place in the evolution of this country and this province. The French presence in Ontario dates back some 350 years to the arrival of the first European settlers. Over the years the French-speaking community has made many contributions to Ontario’s historical, linguistic and cultural heritage. The subsequent arrival of settlers from other parts of Europe and the world has equally enriched the social fabric of this province.
The multicultural reality of Ontario society spans both founding language groups. English-speaking Ontarians represent numerous and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Each group has made significant contributions to the cultural mosaic of our society and will continue so to do. Over the years, Ontario’s French-speaking community has been equally enriched by the arrival of newcomers from various French-speaking nations around the world. I believe that what distinguishes our society from others is our desire, individually and collectively, to preserve and promote our cultural diversity within the broader bilingual character of our country.
Canada’s linguistic duality is a historical fact. It is a reality and it must continue to be a reality. Abroad, Canada’s bilingualism is what defines its uniqueness as a nation. Newcomers know that French and English are the official languages of this country. As Ontarians and Canadians, we should take pride in our national identity, we should appreciate what distinguishes us from others and, most important, we should fight to protect our heritage wherever and whenever it is threatened.
The recent actions of a number of municipalities passing unilingual English resolutions is one such threat. To me, the exclusion of one segment of this population, and the founders of this province at that, is a rejection of the very values that Ontario stands for; namely, tolerance, generosity and fairness. If this is the type of respect shown to a founding group, then what can other language groups expect to receive? Various ethnic groups have shown tremendous support for the government’s French-language services policy; indeed, many multicultural groups openly criticize the actions of municipalities passing unilingual English resolutions.
Ontario is home to 500,000 francophones, the largest number of French-speaking citizens outside the province of Quebec. As such, it has a responsibility to meet the needs of this population. The French Language Services Act attempts to address this need, and we must all make it work together. We must all try very hard.
The provision of French-language services is not new to this province. For over 20 years, successive Ontario governments have moved to increase French-language services to the public. What the French Language Services Act does, I repeat, is it consolidates existing policy in a provincial statute, giving Ontarians the right to receive provincial government services in French. It recognizes the contributions Ontario’s French-speaking citizens have made to this province’s historical cultural and linguistic heritage, and in the national context Ontario’s French-language policies can be viewed as this province’s contribution to the vision of a bilingual and multicultural nation. The provision of provincial government services in French enables all French-speaking Ontarians, including members of Ontario’s French-speaking multicultural communities, to participate fully in Ontario society.
It is important to understand that the Ontario government’s provision of French-language services neither limits nor reduces the provision of English-language services or the rights of English-speaking Ontarians. English remains the language of administration for the Ontario government. Nor does the legislation infringe on the rights of other linguistic and ethnic groups.
Over the years, we have been further enriched by the vibrant contributions of numerous multicultural groups. Although we are different in our own ways, a common thread binds us together, and that is our understanding for, and appreciation of, each other’s differences. Affirming our national identity does not take anything away from our recognition of and appreciation for the multicultural reality of our society. We consider the presence of peoples with diverse cultural backgrounds to be a source of enrichment and strength. This is reflected in our government's multiculturalism strategy, which provides Ontarians with public services and programs that are sensitive and responsive to cultural traditions and values.
Surely it makes sense not to deprive our province’s own founding French community of the same respect and generosity we want for ourselves and for our own children. French-language services must be seen as an enhancement of the delivery of government services to the public. It is in keeping, certainly, with this government’s tradition of providing services that are responsive to local communities and to individuals.
I would like finally, in closing, to support once again the resolution and to join with my colleagues of the House in saying that I am part of the team, I am part of this Legislature, I also was elected to respond to the needs of people in Ontario. I am very, very pleased to support the resolution of the Leader of the Opposition and to support the government and to support the minister responsible for francophone affairs.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I stand today to support this resolution, but with some sadness and regret that it has to come forward to this House as an opposition day resolution rather than as a three-party consensus. I regret that because I hate to lose any day to savage the government that is provided us under the standing orders. I regret it because the three parties and the three leaders were not able to come to the position of reinforcing our belief in the two founding nations in this province. I regret it because I listened to Tory members speak and was mildly outraged by the notion that this is gamesmanship when one recalls how the Tory motion came before this House, shortly after a leaders’ meeting in which a joint resolution was discussed with no idea that this kind of negative resolution around Bill 8 would be introduced.
Then to attack us today for bringing forward, yes, a negative resolution. I remind members to read, especially perhaps the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry in that party, the wording of that resolution, which was very negatively put, around the implementation of Bill 8. Instead, today we have before us a very positive reaffirmation of some of the values that are intrinsic to this society of ours in Ontario and to this country of ours. To have the Tories claim gamesmanship and then say they are not going to support this because it is too general or something is a pathetic pandering to a minority group in this province which does not deserve the pandering it is receiving.
I remember, a number of years ago, when as the critic for Community and Social Services I realized, for the first time in my life, that young kids with mental health problems in northern Ontario were going to Quebec for services. I remember learning that kids from Timmins and Kapuskasing who had mental health problems all were going over to La Maison Rouyn in Quebec. Some still do. I was shocked at that fact, that we could not provide services in French to people who needed them in times of psychological turmoil, especially young people in our society. As a result, I think many governments have tried over the years to move towards providing greater services for our French Canadian community in Ontario. I am happy to associate myself with those kinds of changes.
We need to get at the wider contextual roots of the malaise around Bill 8, because the concerns of anybody you talk to about Bill 8 -- and I do not know who the Tories are talking to; maybe it is a group of Tories in Ontario they are talking to -- are not specifically with Bill 8. There are fears about the implications of Bill 8, there are fears about the growing erosion of the majority’s rights, as they see it, fears which need to be dealt with directly.
In my view, the kind of statement we are talking about here, about public hearings this summer to discuss our values as a province, around the role of our two founding nations in this province, to discuss some of the very real problems we are going to face in terms of, for instance, the governance of our education system, very real ones which must be confronted by this government and by this Legislature, as a result especially of the recent Alberta Supreme Court ruling, we need to have the public involved in those kinds of discussions.
I can only say that I was delighted by the work that my leader did in pulling together this kind of resolution, in hoping to find consensus among the leaders first to bring it in in that kind of format. Given the importance of what we are talking about here today, I am disappointed frankly that the Premier is not in his seat. If he could be here for question period, for the induction of the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party here today, then I think he should have made this a priority as well, if he believes in the need for this statement of reaffirmation today, as I sense most members on the other side do.
I stand firmly in favour of this resolution as a reaffirmation of the rights of our francophone community and of the need to have discussions around the many complex questions that are arising, whether around services and municipalities or services through the Ministry of Education that should be expected by our minorities and how we can best deal with those in the province. I hope all members of this Legislature will see fit to come to an understanding of how important it is, at this stage in our history, to put away some mild partisan advantage that might be seen to be there in terms of pandering to lower expectations in our province than those which most of us in this House hold and that we will all vote together in a unanimous fashion in support of this resolution and then get the message out to the people of Ontario that the view of Ontario that is within this very positive statement is the view we all share.
Mr Cousens: I would like first of all to thank the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry for his remarks today. We are very fortunate to have such a person in that riding, who has such an insight into the needs that really go on in our province, who comes from a community in which there is a strong community of French-speaking people and also people who come from other backgrounds.
This issue before the House today is one of those major and important issues that we as a Legislature really have to deal with honestly and openly. There have been an awful lot of attempts over a period of time to try to have that kind of open debate. I felt that was part and parcel of the resolution the member for Sarnia brought forward on opposition day, and other members of this House saw fit not to support it.
Included in his motion is one point that I want to say, and say again, because some people would like to put other words in my mouth that are not there. He said, “by reaffirming our support for the provision of French-language services where numbers warrant, while confirming the French Language Services Act.” The moment someone says that anyone in this province does not want to support the services where numbers warrant, does not want to support the intention behind the French Language Services Act, when you start to think that we have a responsibility, a historical responsibility that respects the nature of our province, the heritage of our province, then we really want to see this province go forward in harmony with all peoples. In fact, that was the preamble to the motion put forward by our party back on that day.
No one can put in my mouth the words that say I am opposed to French-language services, or to the French, or to anything else. In fact I get very tired at attempts by people who try to label someone who disagrees with the government or other people as a racist or bigot or something he is not. Just because we happen to disagree with their approach we are painted into some kind of label that is really not reflective of our position. Our position may not be the same as theirs. We may be looking for a certain clarification of issues, but for other people to come along and label me and someone else who happens to disagree with them shows that they have no respect for the democratic rights that we have.
I happen to believe in the need for the French-language services that are being made available. I lived in the town of Penetanguishene for a number of years. In my experience there I came to respect and understand that there can be an excellent working relationship. I know from my experience on the school board when we brought in French-language teaching in the York Region Board of Education in 1973-74, a mandatory half-hour a day, it was the beginning of giving our children an immersion in French. We have extended that, we have confirmed it and we have built upon it. I think that we must continue to make that opportunity available for people.
Can you legislate all things for all people? I think we cannot. I think that we are in a position to provide the opportunity for all people to learn and to grow together. Here we are talking about a motion, and yet in my own local area the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board is considering the abolition of some French immersion programs because of the unavailability of money. That is a concern to the people of our community who are saying, “What can we do to provide that?” I support them in fighting for the funding that is available to help our young people to have the option of taking French immersion programs.
We are living in a marvellous place in the province of Ontario. If in fact we want to help address and resolve and respond to the questions that are being raised -- our party brought forward a resolution on our opposition day which would have called for an all-party committee to take this concern out to the province of Ontario, soliciting the views of the public as they pertain to the implementation of this Bill 8, the French Language Services Act. Why it is that the other parties did not support it?
Mr Allen: You know that is not the --
Mr Cousens: Oh come on, the member’s party did not support it, and today it comes in with another resolution that is not even going to take the members of the Legislature around the province. It is just going to be a very restrictive, government-controlled hearing that does not hear that much, not unlike many of the other hearings that have been had.
I say take it forward. Look back to the resolution that we presented. In that resolution we affirmed our support for French-language services, but we also affirmed our need to have an all-party committee of the Legislature to go out to look at this. Listen to the people of the province. Go into Sarnia, go into Thunder Bay, go into Penetanguishene, go into Cornwall. I do not care, but travel the province, and listen to the people of Ontario; if they are concerned, begin to listen to them.
I go back to the statement that was made earlier today by the honourable member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. I respect the fact that back in 1987 he asked the Premier at that time to start up a committee to begin that process so there could be some listening that goes on. We do it with the Ombudsman; we have an Ombudsman who is there serving the people of Ontario, and yet there is a standing committee on the Ombudsman that continues to monitor it so there is a court of last resort that consists of members of the Legislature. Why not have much the same kind of committee of the Legislature that is looking at the implementation of French-language services? That is something of the idea that is implicit to the suggestion that was made by the member for Sarnia.
This is an important issue, and I would like to be able to say that we are all in agreement on it. It would appear that some people were not able to agree with the motion that was put forward by the member for Sarnia. I have some real problems with the kind of committee that is being structured by this motion. This committee will be a select committee on the Constitution. It has already been said by the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry that this is not the committee that should be doing the hearing and the listening; we want to see a committee that is going to travel this province and do something about it.
We are having problems right now with the French Language Services Act, and we can deal with it if we go out there and listen to the people of Ontario and stop just listening to ourselves. I think that is where the member for London North had a message to deliver today when she said this is a little boys’ game that we are doing here in this Legislature. It would almost seem to be that, because one group has a motion one day, another group has a motion another day, and in fact we are just somehow missing the real issue. There are people out there hurting who want to be understood, who want to be listened to; let’s go out there and listen to them as we can and should.
I would hope that the Legislature is open enough to really understand that this is one of the most important issues. I happen to believe that we in Ontario can continue to build relationships and bridges between people of all cultures -- English and French, French and English -- that we can have programs that allow us to work and do things together and that we can do it without judgement. We can do it with caring. We can do it as Canadians. We have a chance to do something in this country and in this province; let’s deal with our provincial issues.
That is where we can begin to really make a difference: so those people who feel they are left out are not left out; so there is a public accounting of what is going on by this government that is not just done under a minister who has a closed book on how he is doing it, but it is instead an open book where there is a public declaration of what is going on, a public opportunity for sharing. That is what would happen with the motion that was put forward earlier by our party. That is not the suggestion that is implicit in the recommendations that are being made today.
I happen to believe that we must work together to make this a stronger province; that all of us can be working closer together. Somehow or other, with the motions that come forward and some of the little innuendoes that are brought in, we are not able to do that. I hope the day will come soon when we will all work together to make this happen; it can if we want it to.
I happen to be one who wants to support the need, the work and the opportunity for French-speaking people in our province to build on the French Language Services Act. We can do that, but we do not necessarily do it by the way in which this motion is recommending it.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Continuing with the debate, it is my pleasure to recognize the honourable minister from Scarborough-Agincourt.
Hon Mr Beer: Try York North.
The Acting Speaker: Okay. Thank you.
Hon Mr Beer: I used to live in Scarborough, and I am very proud of the time that I passed there, but I am equally proud that I represent the riding of York North.
I rise to participate in the debate and to commend my friend and colleague the Leader of the Opposition for the motion that has been presented today, which I think places the issue in the appropriate context in which it should be placed. I also rise to speak on this issue and, I think, to a certain extent go through a personal journey, if you like. This is an issue that during my adult life -- indeed, since I was at university, first at the University of Toronto and later at Université de Laval -- I have felt extremely strongly about in terms of how we find the appropriate place for the English and French languages within Canada and within our own province.
I think the strength of the motion which has been put forward today is that it does indeed situate the question in terms of our country: What is it we see to be the role of both English and French in our province and in our country? To look at that issue, the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs is the best vehicle. Those of us who sat on the select committee two years ago when we were looking at the Meech Lake accord heard from many people and travelled within the province. We had people come in to speak to us. In fact, I think we were able to receive and speak to every group that requested time. I know the intent of my honourable friend’s motion is that this committee would do some travelling to make sure that those who wanted to come before it were able to do so. I can certainly state on our behalf that would be our intention, to proceed in that manner.
What we are dealing with here is an age-old Canadian issue -- dilemma, challenge. opportunity, whatever you want to call it -- within this province, what today constitutes Ontario. There is no part of its history, save that when the native people first came, where there has not been a French presence in this area. We have, as a province and as a country since well before 1867, tried to work out the appropriate place, respect and rights of those two languages, I think in quite a proper fashion. We note that two of the fundamental characteristics of our country are the places of the English and the French languages.
It is important for us to come at the question that way when we are going out and talking with Ontarians about why we have Bill 8, why we have protection for educational rights and for minority linguistic and judicial rights. I think all of us over the course of the last years, whether we talk solely of the period from 1986 to 1989 during the implementation of the bill or later, have in our own ways -- whether as my friend and colleague the member for Hamilton Centre noted through a public meeting in her own riding, or whether because of ministerial responsibilities or other responsibilities we are going into different parts of the province to talk about Bill 8 -- talked about linguistic duality and about why we are doing this.
When I go out I try to talk with fellow Ontarians in terms of what it is we are trying to do: What kind of country do we have, and how can we accommodate within that country a respect for English and French language rights? Where does Bill 8 fit into that? What is it we are trying to do with that bill?
When I do that, I can go back to my days when I worked at Queen’s Park before I got into politics. I can remember listening to former premiers Robarts and Davis. I can remember listening to Donald MacDonald, Stephen Lewis, Michael Cassidy. I can remember listening to the member for Brant-Haldimand and Stuart Smith. When they spoke to this issue, it was, I believe, with the sense that we had to find a way of increasingly providing services, particularly to those areas of the province where francophones were in a particular concentration in number and try to make sure that there was respect for basic services.
As I said before, under John Robarts, we began with the educational changes and have moved since the mid-1960s to the point today where we are trying to put in place what I believe to be a fair and reasonable number of services to the French-speaking population of this province. This is always in the context that what we are seeking is a country in which those basic services can be protected for all who are English-speaking or French-speaking. I think that is a critical principle that we have to say we want to support and protect.
Recently I had the pleasure of being up north in Thunder Bay and in Kapuskasing where the two northern Ontario municipal associations were meeting. With both associations, as in other parts of the province, we talked not just about Bill 8 -- with respect to my friend the member for London North, that is not the issue. What people are talking about is the question of language, the place of the two languages and how we protect them. Bill 8 is an important part, but the issue is broader and hence the need, I think, for the motion that has come before us.
In the discussions I had last week, and have had with others over the course of the last couple of months, I have been struck increasingly by what is happening as we talk about this issue and as we focus on the country and where we want to see the protection of linguistic rights. In Thunder Bay, the member municipalities from the northwestern part of the province turned down a motion which would have spoken against the protection of French-language rights, and turned it down overwhelmingly, and when we spoke in Kapuskasing, there was strong support stated at the meeting from the member municipalities there for the provision of fair and reasonable French-language services.
When we look at some of the motions that have been passed, and admittedly there have been a number in which municipalities have declared themselves to be unilingual English, we must also remember that during that same period of time a very strong number of municipalities declared themselves to be bilingual and said they wanted to provide bilingual services, while other municipalities, where there was no particular French-speaking population, simply made clear that they wanted to dissociate themselves from any approach which would seem to indicate that French-speaking Canadians were not welcome.
I think there are in fact, as we have gone about this discussion, important trends, important threads, important debates that are going on where Ontarians are saying, “No, we want to find a fair and reasonable way to protect French-language rights in our province.”
Maintenant, l’autre aspect de cette question : ce n’est pas simplement la question de I’approche des anglophones mais aussi la position des francophones de notre province dans ce débat. Il y a des choses très importantes qui sont arrivées, certainement depuis mon début dans cette question, c’est-à-dire depuis les années 60 où, de plus en plus, nous voyons une communauté de langue française en Ontario, communauté dynamique qui veut se montrer ferme, pour l’appui de ses droits linguistiques, communauté francophone qui veut dire à tout le monde que nous sommes Canadiens, que nous sommes Ontariens et que, pour la plupart, nous parlons les deux langues mais que nous pensons qu’il est juste et raisonnable qu’il y ait une base de droits linguistiques garantis par notre Assemblée législative. Je pense de plus en plus que c’est exactement ce que l’Assemblée législative essaie de faire.
Par exemple, cela se voit maintenant non simplement dans le domaine de l’éducation, mais dans le domaine des garderies, dans le domaine des services sociaux, dans le domaine des services de santé, dans le domaine des affaires. Il est très important de souligner l’essor intéressant dans le domaine économique où, de plus en plus, nous voyons, que ce soit dans le nord, dans l’est ou dans le centre de notre province, un groupe dynamique de francophones, de gens d’affaires qui veulent travailler en Ontario mais qui veulent aussi s’exprimer et travailler en français.
Nous savons aussi fort bien que nous avons une base de travailleurs dans tous les domaines, qu’on parle du domaine forestier, des mines ou de l’entreprise privée. De plus en plus, les francophones s’affirment ici en Ontario comme Canadiens, comme Ontariens. Ils ont le droit à certains services linguistiques. Je pense que tout le monde dans cette Assemblée législative va appuyer cette attitude.
Une chose que je viens de faire et qui est très important pour la communauté francophone, c’est l’établissement du Conseil ministériel des affaires francophones. Il y a deux ou trois semaines, on a tenu la première réunion de ce Conseil ministériel où j’ai demandé à Gérard Raymond et à ses collègues de voir, d’une façon stratégique, où nous allons, maintenant que nous avons certains droits dans le domaine de l’éducation, dans le domaine judiciaire et dans le domaine des services provinciaux. Maintenant, où devons-nous mettre nos efforts pour nous assurer que les droits linguistiques soient vraiment garantis dans notre province?
Je pense que cette initiative inclut, je dois le dire, les anglophones et les francophones multiculturels et les francophones de souche dans cette province. Donc, ça va être un travail d’ensemble. Nous devons souligner que, ces jours-ci, à l’intérieur de cette communauté dynamique de francophones en Ontario, de plus en plus nous avons des communautés qui parlent français et qui ne viennent pas du Canada mais d’autres pays.
Donc, la réalité francophone de notre province, que ce soit à Toronto, à Ottawa ou dans d’autres centres, est de plus en plus comme la communauté anglophone, c’est-à-dire une communauté multiculturelle. Donc, on trouve, par exemple, dans le Conseil scolaire de Toronto que la moitié des représentants francophones sont de la province et que l’autre moitié vient d’autres pays.
Alors il est important, pour les francophones de notre province, d’appuyer les principes de cette motion. Je pense que nous voulons le faire. Il est très important pour nous de dire clairement à la population pourquoi nous le faisons.
One of the questions that is often raised is how we find a way for people to express concerns about the way we implement language policy. Even leaving aside those people who would prefer not to see any kind of linguistic duality in this province, I think there are very legitimate, reasonable, fair questions that people should feel very free to put forward and where by no means is anyone suggesting that somebody is a bigot or a racist simply because he raises questions. This is a democracy and it is important that we express those points of view.
I have often told the story, and some honourable members may know this one, that after former Premier Robarts had stepped down as Premier he headed the Royal Commission on Metropolitan Toronto. There was a presentation made by one individual who recommended, because Metropolitan Toronto was becoming so very much multireligious, multiracial, multicultural, that there was a need, this gentleman thought, for what he called the tower of Babel. He wanted to put this tower of Babel in North York. What would happen is that you would walk into this tower, and he said one of the problems was that people get very uptight about language issues, about religious issues, about racial issues, and so he wanted a place where somebody could go in and let that frustration off. You would go into this tower and within that area you could say whatever you wanted. When you came out, around the tower would be a kind of a tea-house or a coffee-house where you would then sit down and talk with your friend and neighbour.
While that was made somewhat tongue in cheek, I think it spoke to a particular concern where perhaps people sometimes are afraid to talk about fears they have over change. What does this changing linguistic world in Ontario and Canada mean? How does it affect me? So we do have to ensure that people can say in terms of Bill 8, “If I live in North Bay or Timmins or Sarnia or Metropolitan Toronto, what are the implications of that act for me?” I think we not only have a responsibility to answer, I think we all do, as members of the Legislature, and certainly as the minister responsible for francophone affairs, I feel that it is critical and I believe that we can do that.
When we look at the particular way Bill 8 has been implemented, I would have to say we are dealing with the various concerns that are being brought up from time to time by individuals and that members bring to my attention, and that through the kind of process that the Leader of the Opposition has suggested in his particular motion, in point of fact all of those issues can be addressed. I would say as well that I find it of interest that another place where those can be addressed is if we get into the estimates debate and look at some of the specific aspects of the French Language Services Act. I have said I am always prepared to sit down and look at what the rules and regulations of that act are, because it is not terribly confusing, it is fairly direct and straightforward and, as members know, the act itself is really quite a simple act.
So we come back, then, I believe, to the question that is raised when we address language in this country. That question is: How do we, in 1990, view our country? How do we want to see our country over the next 20 or 25 years? As a generation that is really all the time we can foresee. What has our history meant, our working together as English- and French-speaking Canadians, to whom we have added, over time, people from all sorts of other cultures and groups but who have accepted that in terms of language, we have two national languages in Canada?
What does that history mean? Is that something we are going to throw away? Is it beyond our capability to find a way within Canada, within Ontario in 1990, to respect fundamental, basic linguistic rights? I think that is the way the question has to be posed. I believe that within the context of the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs it then allows us to address that question with a broader scope and that thereby when we look at educational changes or we look at Bill 8 or various other provisions, government policy, things that we would like to see be done, I think we have a context, then, which makes clearer why Ontario should be doing these things.
What is it we are doing? One of the key things is that we have targeted our approach. We have targeted, as my colleague the member for Peterborough pointed out, some 83% to 85% of the regions of the province where the francophone population lives. We have done that through a designation of areas that follows from that which the Conservative government in the 1970s developed and that itself came from the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in the 1960s. Again, it was trying to take principle and in a pragmatic, fair and reasonable way say: “We can do this as a society. It is important that we try to ensure those rights and we do it in a way that does not take away from any English-speaking Ontarian’s rights, we do it in a way that does not in any way affect the provision of services to the English-speaking population and we do it in a way that we believe is fair and reasonable and meets the needs of the francophone community.”
That will take place in different ways in different parts of the province. If I look at my Ministry of Community and Social Services, this morning, for example, I met with my senior staff and we were looking at the progress that we had been able to make over the last six months to a year in ensuring the provision of French-language social services to the French-speaking community of Ontario in the designated areas. As my honourable friend the member for Scarborough West pointed out, when you think of some key areas that affect people directly, certainly social services and health are equally as important as education.
I am reminded of the story that the Minister of Natural Resources tells where she, at one point before she was elected, was in a hospital in Thunder Bay and while she was waiting a young girl was brought in with her family. That family did not speak English. The young girl was injured and at that time there was nobody within that hospital who was able, other than with some high school French, which the minister then used, to try to determine just what was wrong with the young girl.
I think sometimes when we personalize those situations and we say to ourselves, “What are we really trying to do?” there is a context there that really is fair and reasonable, that speaks to helping people, that underlines our respect for the rights of English- and French-speaking Ontarians and in that context that covers all of us. It is very important that we be able to do that, because most of us in this House who are English-speaking Canadians, were we to be travelling in other parts of the country, whether in Quebec or northern New Brunswick, for example, where the dominant population is certainly French-speaking, I think we would like to be able to expect that those kinds of services would in fact be available for us. That is what we are doing.
We really are going to the root of our Canadian identity. Perhaps sometimes we get so passionate about the language issue that we cannot just take a bit of a step back and say: “Hey, it’s language; it’s providing service. It is not the end of the world. We can do it. We really are capable of doing it.” When we look at all the change going on in the world, when we look at the fact that this is a country which, by and large, has been extremely tolerant and open towards differences, whether they be linguistic or cultural or racial or religious, then surely we have to say to ourselves that if we are unable to find a way to bring the English- and French-speaking populations to live in harmony together, how much more difficult is it going to be to deal with issues around multiracialism or, increasingly, multireligious issues? Surely, the route to building and ensuring a fair and tolerant society in Canada is by beginning with the respect for the two national languages and for what flows from that.
I believe that within the Leader of the Opposition’s motion is a way in which we can reaffirm our support for those protections, whereby we can make clear to municipalities that we are talking about provincial services, where we are providing through the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs a means to address these issues, and that thereby we can ensure that in Ontario we will protect minority language rights.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to thank the honourable member for York North. I apologize for erring on his riding.
Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to support the resolution by my leader affirming a matter of fairness and justice to one of the two founding groups in our country and province, Bill 8, the French Language Services Act. I would like to have time to read into the record the Ontario Federation of Labour’s statement on minority language rights, but I do not. I commend it for reading to all of the members of this House.
Let me add my own thoughts very briefly and my very strongly held feelings. I was raised in the town of Buckingham, Quebec, and I can tell the members that I soon learned that the rights and privileges of the anglo population -- I probably learned most of it after I moved out of Buckingham, as I grew up -- are much more strongly protected and entrenched than most of the rights the francophones have in the rest of this country and in this province of Ontario.
We are a nation that was really birthed on the basis of two founding races and both of us were usurpers in a land where the original aboriginal population lived. Our strength lies, and will lie, in our ability to live in brotherhood and equality and to recognize and respect the rights of both sides.
I regret the measure of intolerance that appears to exist in our society today. I regret the misinformation that has people call me and say, “Don’t you know that we are really setting the stage for the French to take over Canada?” Or those who say that you cannot get a promotion or a job if you cannot speak French. It is not true. It is not what Bill 8 does. I think all of us in this House know that.
I trust that no members of this House and no party in this House will take the low road and play to that kind of fear, intolerance and misinformation that exists in our society today.
We have here in Ontario today, as far as I am concerned, an opportunity that we simply have to grab, and that is to renew the bonds that keep our nation together. This is what I want: I want my country strong; I want it united. I do not think it is the same Canada if we do not exist with the kind of Confederation that we have today. I understand that to keep this country together we have to recognize and consider whether or not we have been fair and tolerant, and whether the rights exist to both parties to the original Confederation.
I am concerned about the future of my country. I support and hope that all who share that concern will recognize the importance of this debate we are holding here today, because I think it is the road that Ontario is taking now to make sure that this country does exist as a united Canada with full respect for both sides in this issue.
Mr Harris: I want to say a few words on this resolution. I will not go over a lot of the ground when I spoke on the previous resolution that was moved by my party some six weeks ago, when I talked extensively about some of the concerns that are around the province, about the fact that I regretted very much that some municipalities felt the need to pass the unilingual, English-only resolutions, and my desire, as I was travelling the province at the time and spoke to those municipalities, to encourage them not to do so but to take a more positive approach to the concerns that they had, essentially with this government.
The municipal resolutions, in particular, really in my view -- and I recognize that there are other concerns; the country is of great concern to me, and the constitutional discussions that are going on -- were aimed specifically at the Premier of this province and at this government for lack of consultation, for lack of discussion on a whole host of programs. The member for Scarborough West in his remarks pointed out that municipalities felt, and I agree with him, there was concern about some other hidden agenda.
I think we ought to use this opportunity to dispel that. I think we should use a committee to dispel that and I would like to hear clearly, from the government and from the opposition, that they would dispel that as well.
All members of this House have reaffirmed their support and their commitment. A recognition that there is an obligation -- and more than an obligation, indeed a desire -- to want to provide services to the minority French in our province is not in question. It is not in question. I have not heard it in question from a single member of my caucus. I have not heard it in question from a single member of the Liberal Party or a single member of the New Democratic Party, not one. Yet all the speeches today talk about this, that we want to reaffirm our commitment to this. That is not in question.
My party brought forward a resolution under the leadership of a very capable leader of this party six weeks ago asking this House to reaffirm that, and we in our caucus voted unanimously for that. The rest of the parties. for whatever reason, felt that that was not the vehicle with which they wanted to reaffirm their support and today, listening to the speeches, I understand that they plan to do it in a different way by supporting this resolution.
My colleague the member for London North has said there are a lot of games being played and it is childish and it does not look good on any of us and it does not look good to the public, and I agree with her. It does not.
When my caucus supported unanimously our reaffirmation of the obligation and the desire of our caucus to provide French-language services, we clearly are on the record in wanting to do that. The New Democratic Party will be on the record today -- I guess this is what it wanted to do, why we are debating this today -- to catch up to us and reaffirm its support as well.
I understand that and I accept that. I will not question anywhere, with any member of Ontario, the desire to reaffirm that commitment. However, what I will question is this resolution versus our resolution. What a disgrace it is that it took two days of debate and it had to come from the two opposition parties, not the government.
None of these resolutions, on the Leader of the Opposition’s part or my former leader’s part, would have been necessary at all had the government taken the initiative, listened to what had been going on across this province and listened to the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, who has been saying for three years that there are concerns out there and we had better talk about them.
It is no longer good enough for us to say we all support the provision of French-language services. We had better go out and consult, sell our position. if you like, sell that need. I think that is part of it. I am a promoter providing French-language services. Those members who have heard me speak in the past and who have listened to anything I have said will realize that.
I have said throughout the process I was involved in that there are still some services that needed to be provided that are not provided today. I pointed out those examples in my riding in many areas of northern Ontario. I have pointed out those examples in areas of eastern Ontario and I believe we should be discussing that as well. I have not talked dollars and cents, although we know that protecting minority rights costs some money.
I find it ironic and sad that it is okay for a politician to criticize the Provincial Auditor, when he is the watchdog over the rest of us, for getting a 12% or 13% increase in this past year for all his own employees, which I wanted to get on the record, by the way. It is okay. Two years in a row?
It is okay, acceptable for a politician to say, “We think you are wasting a lot of money in how you are providing educational services in this province.” Nobody comes forward and says, “Oh, that person is opposed to public education or government money going to education or the provision of those services.”
It is okay for me to stand in this place and criticize the Liberals for wasting billions of dollars on the health care system. They will not agree with me, I appreciate that, but they are. But none of them, I do not think, is going to say, “Well, obviously Harris, the leader” -- it is hard to say that word now; I am just getting used to it -- “the leader of this party is suggesting that the government should not be providing health care services.” I do not think they would attempt to say that.
Yet when somebody criticizes how they are implementing something we all agree with, the provision of services, somehow many of them want to come forward and say, “Oh, you are opposed to providing French-language services.”
Mr Jackson: That is misleading.
Mr Harris: That is very misleading, and when I spoke in this House six weeks ago, many members of both of the other parties were critical of me, saying. “Oh, you are against providing French-language services.” That is totally erroneous, very unfair and is divisive and is dishonest.
Mr Jackson: What are you afraid of?
Mr Harris: What are you afraid of is right. It is dishonest. So we all agree, and after today it will be on the record. What a sad thing it is that the government has not been forthcoming with a resolution of its own; that it took the two opposition parties to bring this to its attention and to insist that we begin to talk about the concerns that are out there. Now I assume by the government’s acceptance of this resolution today that finally, after three years, it has awoken to the fact that there is some criticism out there --
Mr McGuigan: Awoken?
Mr Harris: Awakened? Thank you.
There is some criticism of how the government is implementing Bill 8. That, indeed, is a provincial issue.
Now I want to get to the two resolutions and why I believe that our resolution made much more sense. It is a resolution we have been calling for for three years. It is the concerns that our party has been hearing and all members have been hearing in their constituency offices for three years.
When my colleague the member for London North and I toured this province and visited community after community after community, this was the concern that we heard about. We heard about mismanagement in the health care system, the disastrous policies there. We heard about mismanagement in the education dollars. We heard about high taxes. We heard about all those things and we heard about mismanagement of how this government was living up to our commitment to provide services to the francophone minority.
I heard in many areas of this province about services that were not being provided, and a certain amount of resentment that there was lots of money for a whole bunch of symbols. There was lots of money for other areas of the province, yet there was not money in some small communities, as the member for Scarborough West said, for mental health care services, for children’s services, for a speech pathologist for unilingual francophone children -- many in my riding -- who have speech impediments.
Surely members would agree with me that that has a higher priority than some signage, a symbol somewhere --
Mr Jackson: Liquor stores have it.
Mr Harris: Liquor stores, right -- a sign somewhere in downtown Toronto. Surely members would agree with me that that need, and some of the others, is not being met today. Surely the members would agree with me about the need of a unilingual widow in a small community in eastern Ontario, when her husband has passed on, her family has moved on, and she cannot find a senior citizens’ home or a retirement home where she can live out her last years and be served in the French language. These were the kinds of things I heard when I travelled this province.
I think it is quite legitimate, and obviously the members now agree with us that it is legitimate, to say: “There are some concerns. There are some problems. Maybe we better consult with the people on it.” There is no doubt about our commitment. Now members have two motions that they have had the opportunity to look at.
One motion says: “Let’s deal with the problem. Let’s travel the province. Let’s have open hearings. Let’s be up front and public about our commitments and let’s hear if there are concerns. Let’s see if some of them make sense and let’s adapt to that in our implementation, if that indeed is what we should be doing.” Then we have this motion which, I understand, had to be different from ours because the members did not want to support ours. It was our idea and we have been talking about it for three years. There is petty politics involved in this.
Mr Sterling: Silly games.
Mr Harris: There are silly games involved in this.
Now the New Democratic Party has brought forward its resolution. Do the members know what concerns me about this resolution? There are a few things that I think are sending very mixed signals across this province. One is linguistic duality. I want to know what the Leader of the Opposition means by linguistic duality. The public does not understand it.
Mr B. Rae: It is in the Meech Lake accord.
Mr Harris: The public does not understand the Meech Lake accord.
Mr B. Rae: You voted for it.
Mr Harris: I voted for it, but the public does not understand it.
Mr B. Rae: Now you are changing your mind on that too.
Mr Harris: No, I am not changing my mind on that. I think the Leader of the Opposition better explain what he means --
Mr Harris: Here come all the rabbits who want to confuse the issue. I understand that.
The Leader of the Opposition will have an opportunity to defend his motion. I would like him to explain to me what he means by linguistic duality. I can tell him what I mean, and I explain it everywhere I go. I am pleased and proud to do that. I am well on the record, in my speech six weeks ago, on what linguistic duality means to me. I think it is different from what it means to Pierre Trudeau. It is different from what it means to the majority, 90% francophones, in Quebec. I would like to know what he means by linguistic duality.
The second thing I would like explained to me is why he wants to use the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs, which I was told was struck to do one of two things. One, if Meech passes, the Constitution committee was to begin the work and send the signal out that we were prepared to begin the work on Senate reform. Send that signal out now. That would help get support for Meech Lake. Send the right signals, and if Meech Lake carries, we would deal with Senate reform.
The second reason I assume the constitutional committee was struck is that if perchance, and God forbid, our first ministers are not able to arrive at a consensus on our Constitution, we would quickly need a committee up and running to deal with the Constitution and with the issues before this country.
Why does the government want to send the implementation of Bill 8 and the concerns under provincial statute to the Constitution committee? Why does it want to muddy the waters? Let me say this, and this will get a great reaction from the government: Our commitment to provide French-language services is not conditional on Quebec. It is not conditional on Meech Lake. It is Ontario’s commitment. With or without a country, God forbid, our party will provide services to the francophone minority in this province.
They are entitled to those services. We recognize that and we want to provide them. In no way is the commitment of my party conditional on what happens with Meech Lake, the constitutional discussions, Quebec or the rest of it. If we feel Quebec has been unfair, fine, express that. But that does not mean that my party will be unfair to minorities here in this province or will be unfair to the francophone minority in this province.
We in our party have a long history of being generous to minorities. We are proud of that history. We are proud of that aspect of the heritage of our party. We are proud of those leaders who took leadership roles in providing those services. Indeed, Progressive Conservative governments were responsible for many of the services now available, including the translation of Ontario statutes, the creation of the Office of Francophone Affairs to advise government, the establishment of the office of the government co-ordinator of French-language services, the use of French in the Legislature and the courts, the opening of bilingual civil service positions and the establishment of the right of francophone children to education in this province.
Let me say to the government that our commitment is unwavering, in a commonsense way, where there is a demonstrated need, to provide those services, dependent not at all on Quebec, not on what other provinces do, not on what Canada does, not on what the country does. We are elected by the people of Ontario. That is our commitment and we will stick to it. We do not want to muddy the waters. We do not want a wishy-washy resolution. We do not want to confuse the public. The members of the public said to my colleague the member for London North and to myself that they are tired of games. They are tired of the childishness. They are tired of wishy-washiness.
They do not understand how this Legislature works. They want to know where the government stands. I hope today I have clearly put on the record our support and where we draw the line on silliness and the commonsense solution that we are looking for to the problems facing this province.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to remind the honourable member for Durham-York and the Minister of Tourism, neither of whom is in his place, that it would probably be more appropriate to have interjections when they are in the right seats. I know the minister of the crown should know better.
Mr Morin-Strom: This resolution, I believe, is a vitally important one that we are addressing here today. We are addressing one and we are being given the opportunity here in Ontario to show real political leadership on an issue that can be profoundly divisive in communities in our province and right across the country. I have seen the kind of divisiveness that can result when political leadership in a community takes a position which is supportive of those who want to foster intolerance. I am saddened today to see that the Conservatives are willing to use this kind of resolution for partisan political purposes.
This resolution has nothing in it that has not been affirmed previously by this Legislature, and all three political parties should have the will to show their support for these affirmations. Most fundamentally, we are affirming our shared belief that linguistic duality is a fundamental characteristic of our country. Beyond that, we are taking pride in the fact that access for the French-speaking minority in Ontario to the courts, education, public broadcasting, proceedings of the Legislature and provincial services in designated areas has been a shared commitment of different political parties and governments over many years.
In the recent decades when many of these initiatives came forward, in fact, it was the Conservatives who were in power in this province and it was by their initiatives under Robarts and Bill Davis that we have made important steps forward in providing important services to francophones in Ontario. We are continuing that and we have continued that with the French Language Services Act. This act applies only to the provision of provincial government services to members of the public and can be achieved without diminishing services for the English-speaking majority. It implies nothing with respect to decisions on municipal services. This is not a threat to our multicultural society in any way.
I am pleased that others in my community have supported the initiatives of this government and recent provincial governments. In fact, with respect to the multicultural nature of Canada, I have a letter from the Multicultural Association of Sault Ste Marie which says it “is extremely concerned that a resolution declaring Sault Ste Marie English-only was passed. We feel that this resolution will only cause divisiveness in the community.” They went on to say: “The Constitution states that we are a bilingual country in a multicultural framework. We are happy to see that some attempts are being made to heal the wounds in this community and hope that it will continue.”
I believe that this resolution is a way for us as a provincial government, as a Legislature, and all three parties to stand together to try to heal the wounds of divisiveness and to lead us in a direction, a future of our country that will ensure that the two fundamental linguistic groups in Canada are full partners in our association as a country.
Mr B. Rae: The origin of this resolution is of some interest. It goes back some time. I suggested, after a meeting of our caucus that was held in Cambridge, that it would be a good idea for us as a party to try to work with the other two parties in forging an all-party agreement in the face of a number of resolutions which were coming from a number of municipalities, which I felt were unnecessary. I thought they were based on a profound misunderstanding of the resolution of Bill 8, which was the law which we had all sat in this House and debated and passed, and I felt it was important for us to take a position of leadership. When I say “us,” I do not mean the New Democratic Party; I mean the members of this House.
I say with regret that I was unable to convince either the Premier or the leader of the Conservative Party of the wisdom of this approach. I say the Premier because, by his absence, by his refusal to have meetings, by his indifference to the many suggestions which were made to him and by members of my staff to his staff, he has shown me very clearly that he does not believe that it is a good idea to take a clear position, and he does not think it is a good idea for us to be continuing to take a clear position such as the one that I have tried to put forward.
The leader of the Conservative Party -- I do not mean the new leader, I mean the former leader. When we were at our one and only session to discuss this concept, as I have told the House on other occasions, I was, without any warning, at a quarter to 6 in the evening, presented with a fait accompli of a resolution from the Conservative Party saying: ‘This is being moved. It has gone up to the press gallery. This is our opposition day. We have submitted it and that is the basis upon which we are moving.” There were no discussions.
When I hear from the members of the Conservative Party about games or gamesmanship, I wish I was a better games player. Sometimes I feel I might have been more successful if I was. What we have attempted to do may not even be politically wise. It may well be --
Mr Runciman: Like the accord.
Mr B. Rae: The member for Leeds-Grenville says, “Like the accord.” I remind him that I am the leader of the official opposition and he is now a member of the third party, so I do not know what worked and what did not work.
I hope that members will hear me out on this, because I do not intend to be unduly partisan. What I want to say to the members is this: I have heard what members of the Conservative Party has had to say about this resolution, and I can understand several reasons why they might or might not be able to support it. But what I do believe -- and I still believe this -- is that, honestly, the vast majority of the members of this House, and I indeed include members of the Conservative Party, support the principle of this resolution.
The principle of the resolution, as we discussed it in our caucus several months ago, was this: that we wanted to affirm in a positive way -- not in a negative way or in a halfhearted or a halfhanded way -- a central fact about our life as Canadians and as Ontarians. We are Ontarians and we are Canadians, and we cannot think of these things as being completely separate. They are joined up with one another. A central fact of our life as Ontarians is that for hundreds of years in this community on the shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Superior, and by the banks of the Ottawa River, there have been people whose first language is French. It was French 300 years ago, it was French 200 years ago, it was French 100 years ago, it is French today and, God willing, it will be French 100 years from now. That is a fact about our life.
The other fact is that we have moved consistently, as a Legislature, together. We have moved together as a Legislature because there has been an understanding among the leadership of the province that that is how we must move because we know the history of Ontario, we know the history of division, we know the history of linguistic, racial and religious division in this province, and we know that unless we strive to overcome it by crossing over partisan boundaries and partisan barriers, we will end up dividing ourselves, dividing families and seeing a community that is more divided than it needs to be.
We felt that it was important to state categorically -- I say this as one who moved the amendment with respect to municipalities in Bill 8, and I can recall saying very clearly on that day that the message has to go to the municipalities that nothing in this legislation is forcing French down their throats. That is the expression I used, and I spoke in English on that day. What we are saying is that if a municipality wants to declare itself bilingual because of the needs of its community, this is how it can do it. But there is absolutely no requirement that that is what they should do.
The language of the majority in this province is English. It was English, it is English and it will be English. Let’s be commonsensical about it. We speak English the vast majority of the time in this Legislature. Governments do their business a vast majority of their time in English. That is not going to change. No government fiat is going to make that change. No law is going to change that. But what we are doing with Bill 8 -- and what needs to be done and continues to need to be done -- is saying to the francophone community, “You can be at home in this province, and you have a right and are entitled to services in this province.” That is what we are saying, and that is all we are saying.
Mrs Cunningham: We agree with that.
Mr B. Rae: The members of the Conservative Party say they agree with it, and that is what I am saying. I am delighted that they agree with it. I am delighted that they support it.
Mrs Cunningham: You could have voted for it six weeks ago.
Mr B. Rae: I say that the importance of this resolution is that it is positive and very specific. It talks very specifically about the French Language Services Act. It talks very specifically about how that act is supposed to work.
Mrs Cunningham: So did ours.
Mr B. Rae: I say there is a difference. If the members have difficulty supporting this resolution, I am sorry. I cannot comment on what those reasons might be. I am sorry they are not able to support it.
Mrs Cunningham: We were sorry you didn’t support ours.
Mr B. Rae: I would simply say to the member for London North, whom we welcome on the front bench, provided she hears me out this afternoon, that I think it is important that it be the select committee on the Constitution that does this work with respect to services -- very specifically mentioned -- and with respect to education. I will say why: because it is an illusion to think that the only thing the public in Ontario is concerned about now is Bill 8. It is an illusion to think that you can separate the feelings of English-speaking citizens in this province with respect to French-language rights without understanding that how we respond to those concerns itself has an impact on the Constitution of the country. We have suffered for too long from the illusion and, if I may say so, some municipalities have suffered from the illusion that they could take a decision with respect to their municipality and somehow no one else would hear about it or be affected by it.
La réalité du Canada, c’est que les décisions prises par les municipalités qui ont dit qu’elles voulaient être unilingues anglaises ont eu un impact profond sur le reste du pays, elles ont eu un impact profond sur le Québec et sur les discussions constitutionnelles.
La réalité est que, vu les communications qui existent à présent, les décisions prises par cette Législature, les décisions prises même par des municipalités et par des conseils scolaires ont un impact et des conséquences réels et importants pour l’avenir du Canada et pour l’avenir de l’Ontario.
The reason why it is, in part, a question that is worthy of consideration by the select committee on the Constitution is because no municipality is an island and no Legislature in this country is an island. If any member of this House thinks that what this Legislature does has no impact on opinion in the province of Quebec, or that what a municipal council does has no impact on the province of Quebec, or that what a municipal school board does has no impact on the province of Quebec, he is severely mistaken, he is missing the point.
I think Mr Bourassa made a mistake. I think Mr Bourassa’s mistake was to think that somehow he could bring in Bill 78 with the notwithstanding clause and somehow it would have no impact on the rest of the country, that the rest of the country would simply say: “Oh, that’s okay. That’s just Quebec.” I am sorry. I say this to Mr Bourassa -- and I have said it to him -- “The decisions that you are taking are having an impact here.”
I say to my friends in the Conservative Party that the decisions that they take here and the decisions that municipalities take here will have an impact on the future of Canada. I say to the members of the Conservative Party that there were leaders of the Conservative Party who understood that. John Robarts understood that, Leslie Frost understood that, Bill Davis understood that, and I dare say the member for Sarnia understood that.
Mr Jackson: Gary Doer doesn’t understand that in Manitoba.
Mr B. Rae: These are issues that have an impact, and we have to see it from that perspective. We have to see this from a Canadian perspective as well as from an Ontarian perspective and understand that as we move in education, as we move with respect to services, this is an issue that has something to do -- not everything, but surely at least something -- with the future of Canada and with the constitutional makeup of Canada.
Having said that, I believe profoundly that there is in this House a recognition of two things: first, that we must move ahead and, second, that there have been problems. I make no bones about the fact that I have talked to the minister and that my colleagues have talked to the minister. My colleague the member for Algoma, my colleague the member for Sudbury East and my colleague the member for Nickel Belt have spoken with the minister in some detail about concerns that have been raised by their constituents, and I think that is perfectly appropriate. I think it is perfectly appropriate that we hear from the public, but let us not confuse listening to the public with our playing footsie with every person who says, “Well, now, I am not opposed to this, but really -- ”and then you end up having a conversation and you realize that really they are opposed to absolutely every notion of protecting the rights of Franco-Ontarians in the province.
We have to understand that there are some people who are opposed to French-language rights. They have a right to express that opinion, but I dare say we must state categorically that if we were to eliminate those rights, or to play footsie with those who would eliminate those rights, it would mean the end of Canada. It is quite simple. Unless we are prepared as citizens in this province to recognize that there must be tolerance here and that there will be tolerance as a matter of law and as a matter of right, we will end up with a country that is even more divided than the one we have today and a country that cannot hold. I refuse to believe that we can separate ourselves off in this province from that debate and this discussion.
In conclusion, I want to say I have heard members of the Conservative Party say and shout out today that they are going to make this a major issue in the election campaign.
Mrs Cunningham: No, we didn’t.
Mr B. Rae: I heard that from the member for Burlington South clear as clear could be. I heard him say it.
Mr Jackson: I was talking about the Manitoba election. This was the position of the NDP, the NDP position in the next provincial election. You know that’s what I’m talking about. This is Gary Doer’s position.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: I will certainly allow the member to respond if he wishes after I have concluded.
I just want to say to all the members of this House that there is no way of predicting what the issues in an election campaign are going to be; and I say that if the question of the rights of minorities in this province are to become an issue in the election, let that be. I can tell members where I stand, where my party stands and where my party has stood. We are supporting a principle that we believe will help to hold this country together, that tolerance must be at the base of our policies, must be at the base of what we share, and if one has to go into an election campaign defending tolerance, I am is proud to go into an election campaign defending tolerance.
The Speaker: Order.
The House divided on Mr B. Rae’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
La motion de M. B. Rae, mise aux voix, est adoptée:
Ayes/Pour -- 77
Adams, Allen, Ballinger, Beer, Black, Bossy, Breaugh, Brown, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Charlton, Chiarelli, Cleary, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Farnan, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fontaine, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hampton, Hart, Henderson, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kormos, Kozyra, Kwinter, Laughren, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, Matrundola, McGuigan, McLeod, Miclash, Morin, Morin-Strom, Neumann, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Patten, Pelissero, Philip, E., Phillips, G., Polsinelli, Poole, Pouliot, Rae, B., Ray, M. C., Reville, Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Ruprecht, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, South, Tatham. Wildman, Wrye.
Nays/Contre -- 15
Cousens, Cunningham, Cureatz, Eves, Harris, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Marland, McCague, McLean, Pollock, Runciman, Sterling, Villeneuve, Wiseman.
The House adjourned at 1808.