The House met at 1330.
ARTS AND CULTURE FUNDING
Mr Morin-Strom: I would like to bring to the government’s attention serious concerns that have been expressed to the Premier directly by the Arts Council of Sault Ste Marie and District. The Premier has consistently underfunded arts and cultural activities throughout the province. I would like to reiterate their concerns as expressed in a letter to the Premier of 11 June:
“The Arts Council of Sault Ste Marie and District, representing over 70 member organizations and many thousands of individuals involved in the arts, is greatly concerned about the low priority your government places on the value of arts and cultural activities in this province. Of 27 ministries, the Ministry of Culture and Communications is ranked 25th out of 27, with a base increase in this year’s budget of only 1.85%. The only ministries to receive less are Government Services and Natural Resources.
“The arts sector has a major role to play in shaping a dynamic and productive future for Ontario. There are thousands of working people in Ontario involved in the creation of art and the complex process of bringing art to the people.
“It is vital to have a healthy and thriving cultural community in the province which can provide people with an essential sense of wellbeing, which contributes to a worthwhile lifestyle....
“The government of Ontario is requested to review the financial situation recognizing the importance of the economic and artistic value of arts and culture in Ontario.”
I very much support these concerns and hope the government will give them its greatest attention.
Mr Pollock: The Minister of Natural Resources knows that there is high unemployment in the North Hastings and Haliburton area because the mill at Harcourt is shut down. The loggers who work in the bush are sitting idle because of this sawmill shutdown.
These loggers have been in contact with the Ministry of Natural Resources officials and they indicate that there is cleanup work that could be done throughout the area. Cleanup means taking out poor-quality timber, preparing new planting areas and the general good maintenance of the forest. These loggers also have expensive equipment sitting idle. It would seem that now that the lumber market is soft it would be good common sense to do this work.
Would the Minister of Natural Resources please act on these requests from the loggers and release money for the North Hastings area so that these loggers will not lose their equipment to the banks and can be gainfully employed again?
Mr Adams: The Peterborough County Board of Education has been selected as the only board in Ontario to participate in a full-circle recycling program. Through this program, staff and students will use Hilroy paper products made from materials recycled in the schools.
In co-operation with the city of Peterborough and Scott’s Plains Recycling, the board will recover fine paper to be sent to Scott’s Plains for sorting and bailing, to Noranda Recycling in Thorold for processing and to Hilroy in Toronto for the manufacture of paper materials for schools. It is hoped that some material will be recycled a second or third time.
The Peterborough County Board of Education was chosen for this project because of well-developed recycling programs, access to Scott’s Plains Recycling and the board’s application for Ministry of the Environment funding to extend school-based recycling programs.
The board will assume a leadership role in environmental education, environmental action and care of the environment. Environmental education will be incorporated into instructional programs in all divisions. Specialized courses in environmental education will be developed. Outdoor education will be an important component of environmental education in Peterborough. The board will purchase, wherever possible, environmentally friendly products which have an acceptable level of performance. The board will also reduce, reuse, recycle and recover waste materials in all departments.
LESBIAN AND GAY PRIDE DAY
Mr R. F. Johnston: This Sunday is Lesbian and Gay Pride Day in Ontario and it is a reminder to us all, on the one hand, of how far society has come and, on the other, how far it still has to go in recognizing our gay brothers and sisters in this province in terms of their rights and sexual orientation.
It was in my first years as a member that Jim Renwick and I moved a motion to amend our Human Rights Code to put sexual orientation in as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the province. It was defeated, but I am happy to say that years later Evelyn Gigantes, a member of our caucus, was successful in bringing this government to add that prohibition to our Human Rights Code.
However, in this city, a progressive city in many ways, Mayor Eggleton has now twice in two years refused to sanction Lesbian and Gay Pride Day even though the Supreme Court of Ontario, in an Ottawa ruling, has indicated that in point of fact this is an important matter that should be dealt with. Our own Ontario Human Rights Commission said it would deal with this quickly and a year later is not prepared to make a recommendation on this, and will not do so until after this date has passed again, something which I regret a great deal.
To many members this may not seem to be a particularly important day, but I would say to them I cannot imagine any other group being denied a day and having no recourse through the human rights commission in the fashion that this group has had, and one can see that this kind of systemic discrimination continues to this day.
Mr Sterling: I would like to comment on a special 16-page feature which appears in the 25 June edition of Time magazine. This advertising feature is entitled “Global Connections: Canada and Japan -- Partners Across the Pacific.” As you flip through this article, lo and behold, there on the fifth page in living colour is a picture of our Premier. In the accompanying text, the Premier “says that the province has a lot to offer. ‘We’re very well positioned geographically. We have a highly sophisticated workforce, our unit cost of production is below the United States,’ and it’s a good tax environment.”
I think taxpayers in this province would take great issue with the Premier’s use of the term “good tax environment.” This government has implemented 33 separate tax increases since 1985. This government has doubled its income from the taxpayers in five short years. This government has increased its spending at a faster rate than any other government in North America. The employer payroll tax, loosely called a health tax, and the commercial concentration tax alone have caused many companies to abandon this province. The Premier’s use of the term “good tax environment” certainly describes the situation for that government, but it certainly does not describe the situation for the taxpayers of this province.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Sterling: I hope that the Premier’s election material is a lot more accurate --
The Speaker: Order.
GIOVANNI CABOTO DAY
Mr Cordiano: This is a special week for Canadians and for those in the Italian-Canadian community all over our great nation. This week we recognize as Giovanni Caboto Week in honour of the 15th-century cartographer, explorer and the man who discovered Canada.
On the morning of 24 June 1497, Giovanni Caboto, with a crew of 18 men in his ship, landed on the eastern coast of Canada. He arrived at what Canadians now identify as Cape Breton Island. Attempting to navigate a westward passage to the east, Caboto had happened upon this land, which he christened the New Found Land.
As we celebrate the daring exploits and deeds of this renowned Italian adventurer, it is also a time to reflect on the huge contributions Italians have made to Canada’s social, economic and cultural life. Showing the tenacity and perseverance that culminated in the discovery of our continent, Canadians of Italian descent have carved out a place for themselves in Canadian life. Today, it is impossible to think of Ontario or Canada without an Italian imprint on our society.
Therefore, on behalf of the government of Ontario, we are pleased to recognize 24 June 1990 as Giovanni Caboto Day and commend the observance of this historically relevant occasion to the Italian community and all of the people of Ontario.
Mr Farnan: For some time now, I have been requesting the government to use a percentage of lottery profits in order to provide gambling rehabilitation treatment clinics in the province of Ontario. The government is making over $500 million in profits from lotteries and at the same time there is not one gambling rehabilitation clinic in all of Canada, let alone in Ontario.
Recently we had a committee listen to a presentation from the Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling. Many individuals came forward, among whom were individuals who had the disease of pathological gambling. They gave their testimony. They are asking for help. The committee, after listening to the presentation, moved a resolution that their brief be presented to the Minister of Health and that priority funding be given to this particular issue.
Today I ask the Treasurer, this government, not to wait. There is not one clinic available. We are sending hundreds of people to the United States for treatment. There are people waiting right now for treatment. Will this government provide gambling rehabilitation clinics and provide them now?
Mrs Cunningham: My statement today is directed to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. Currently there are no provincial guidelines or regulations establishing the standards of care in rest homes. Unfortunately, we are all aware of many cases of resident abuse. Many families rely on rest homes to provide support for their elderly or physically disabled in a family-type setting they cannot find elsewhere.
A New Agenda, this report here, was released by his government on 2 June 1986. It promised that the government would take the necessary steps to ensure that rest homes are subject to appropriate regulation. The Ontario Long Term Residential Care Association and the minister’s Advisory Committee on Rest Homes also advised his government, in a report released in April 1989, that there is a pressing need for regulations to govern private rest homes and retirement homes. We were expecting to see the issue addressed in the long-term care report just recently released, but instead it completely omits the regulation of rest homes.
While these reports are sitting on desks and while he slowly reviews each one, many seniors are being underfed and subject to physical abuse. Families and patients in these facilities cannot afford to wait any longer. His government must immediately draft regulations governing private rest and retirement homes in Ontario.
WINDOW ON TECHNOLOGY CENTRE
Mr Matrundola: I am pleased to rise on this day in June 1990, seniors’ month, with an invitation to my colleagues to visit a fascinating facility, the Window on Technology Centre, which the Minister of Community and Social Services and I opened last Friday.
The Window on Technology Centre is a simulated home. It offers hands-on kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom displays and demonstrates innovations to assist in freeing seniors and disabled people from dependencies on others. The centre was developed by the program technology branch of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
This centre proves that modern technology holds the key to freeing citizens with special needs from the barriers which prevent their independence. In short, the technology demonstrated here can liberate them, because the exhibit allows everyone, especially older and disabled persons and their care givers, to touch and handle the items. This way people can become acquainted with new products and ideas, have them explained and demonstrated, and see at first hand how their lives can be improved, how they can lead freer lives.
I am very happy we have opened this centre in Willowdale, in my riding. My constituents can visit the centre and I hope all Ontarians will do the same. The displays will change as new products and concepts develop. I urge all members to visit the Window on Technology Centre from 1 pm to 7 pm, 26 to 29 June, at North York Civic Centre, 5140 Yonge Street adjacent to city hall, on the 12th floor.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Offer: I rise today to announce new initiatives in police training.
Today the traditional policing function is at a crossroads. Policing in the 1990s and into the 21st century will be measured not in terms of strength of force but in terms of strength of service. Increasingly, Ontario’s police officers are actively engaged in areas of public service, such as crime prevention, education and community relations.
It was in recognition and in support of this vision of the changing role of police that my ministry embarked on a three-phase approach to meet the challenges our officers face today.
The first phase, announced last October, was the promotion of ongoing forums for discussion and the creation of community-based liaison committees. This initiative was designed to provide continuous opportunities for the police and the community to identify and address issues of mutual concern.
The second phase began with the introduction of the Police Services Act last December. This bill provides the legislative framework for policing in the future and addresses issues such as mandatory employment equity, a special investigations unit, a province-wide system for public complaints and a clear distinction of the roles and responsibilities of police officers, chiefs of police and local boards of commissioners.
Today, I am announcing the third phase. These new police training initiatives that I am announcing today will serve to bring policing into a new era.
After a thorough review of police training which my ministry commenced last November, I am today announcing an increase of $3.6 million in the yearly budget of the Ontario Police College. This represents a 50% increase in the existing $7-million annual operating budget. This increase provides for the creation of an additional 32 staff positions at the college.
In addition, I am pleased to announce the establishment of a two-week drug investigation course.
The increase in funding will also allow us to improve race relations training. Race relations training is now being integrated into all aspects of police training from the recruit to the advanced training level. The development of race relations training is to be a co-operative venture, involving police representatives and community leaders.
It is extremely important that our officers not only receive the best training available at the recruit level but also be retrained throughout their careers. It is critical for our police officers to update their police skills, to be current in terms of the law and in other issues, such as race relations.
As a result of the funding I am announcing today, the number of officers participating in training will increase from 600 per year to 2,500 by 1992. In addition, we are reinstating six courses and expanding our police management courses.
Additional training and retraining is a major step towards our goal of fostering increased sensitivity to the community by police officers on the front lines.
This announcement today, together with the Police Services Act and our ongoing consultative process between the police and the community, will provide the direction for policing into the 1990s and the 21st century.
WATER AND SEWAGE UTILITY
Hon Mr Sweeney: Today, I have additional information about the new provincial water and sewage corporation which will provide a secure supply of clean water at reasonable cost to the people of Ontario.
The corporation will make decisions that are consistent with the government’s priorities to preserve and improve our environment, to protect the health of people and to meet the province’s objective for community planning and affordable housing.
Today, I am pleased to announce that James MacLaren, a leading environmental and water resource specialist, will head the new water and sewage utility. His appointment is effective 1 July. Mr MacLaren is with us today in the gallery. We are pleased to greet him.
Mr MacLaren’s credentials are impressive. He has a 40-year history of managing water and sewage treatment issues for clients such as the World Bank and the federal Department of the Environment. Mr MacLaren has extensive experience working with the Ministry of the Environment and municipalities in the development of a wide variety of sewer and water initiatives. He has managed projects in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and overseas. He also served as one of the three members on the Inquiry on Federal Water Policy.
Currently, Mr MacLaren is chairman of the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement Advisory Committee to the Ministry of the Environment.
I believe Mr MacLaren has the sensitivity and business acumen that the head of the new water and sewage utility requires. He has an in-depth understanding of environmental policies and issues relating to water supply and waste management combined with proven management and technical skills.
In order to have public input on the development and shape of this corporation, one of the first things Mr MacLaren will do is consult with all those who have an interest in the new utility. That includes environmental groups, municipalities and staff of the Ministry of the Environment who will be working in the new corporation.
The Ministry of the Environment will continue to set standards, regulate and monitor facilities. However, the corporation will report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs because of that ministry’s important role in community planning.
I believe Mr MacLaren’s appointment is more evidence of this government’s commitment to manage growth in such a way that both this generation and future generations will always have access to clean water.
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO SAVINGS OFFICE
Hon Mr Mancini: The Ontario government, through the Province of Ontario Savings Office, is extending new banking services to the people of northern Ontario. Six new banking agencies will be opened in northern Ontario, supported by new savings office branches in the north.
The agencies, which provide basic banking services, will be located in Pickle Lake, Virginiatown, Armstrong, Killarney, Sioux Narrows and Gogama. These agencies will offer deposit and withdrawal services, cheque cashing, travellers’ cheques, guaranteed income investment certificates and money orders. The first agency, in Pickle Lake, is scheduled to open in September 1990.
The local business people who act as agents will be supported by new savings office control branches in Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie. The first of these northern savings office branches will open in Sudbury this fall.
At present, residents of some small communities in northern Ontario must drive hundreds of kilometres to do their banking. By providing basic financial services, we will be helping the local economies in these towns as part of this government’s ongoing commitment to northern Ontario. I am proud to be part of that commitment.
The savings office has an excellent tradition of serving Ontarians, dating back to 1922. The savings office provides a 100% guarantee on every dollar on deposit, has low service charges, competitive rates and a record of excellent government service and customer service.
The new northern agencies and branches will continue in this important tradition. I am convinced that these new agencies will fill a very real need for the people of Pickle Lake, Virginiatown, Armstrong, Killarney, Sioux Narrows and Gogama.
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO SAVINGS OFFICE
Mr Pouliot: Lately we have not been privileged or blessed with much good news concerning the north. In fact, it was yesterday, Mr Speaker, as you will recall very clearly, very vividly, that some sins of omission were performed by the Minister of Transportation whereby he chose, deliberately and systematically, to favour the north vis-à-vis the needs of the south. But that was yesterday.
Today we rejoice and we commend the government on having finally listened to the lobby, the legitimate grievances of the people concerning one of the most important essential services in small communities, that of the right to make deposits and to withdraw, to conduct a banking business conducive to good economic order, conducive to growth indeed.
The community of Armstrong says thank you, echoed by the feelings of the people of Pickle Lake, for they too finally will be able to adhere to a system that, automatically and as a matter of fact, other Ontarians take for granted. A small step, but like every journey, every journey starts with a small step. This is a small step indeed, and we welcome it.
Mr Wildman: I would like to respond on behalf of our party to the statement of the Solicitor General. We welcome the setting up the community-based liaison committees and the introduction of the bill for employment equity and the definition of the role of the police in Ontario.
I particularly would like to comment, though, on the commitment of more funding for police training. It has been a serious problem in the past for municipal police forces to get training at the college because of a shortage of space. I welcome the fact that this announcement will mean there will be an increase of 600 per year to 2,500 by the year 1992 for retraining. This is long overdue.
It shows that the government at least has a commitment to improve training among our police forces and to improve the representation of the various groups within society in the police and the police’s liaison with the community.
WATER AND SEWAGE UTILITY
Mr B. Rae: Since Mr MacLaren is here, I simply want to wish him well in his new responsibilities. There may be one or two in the House who are disappointed by the announcement, but I would think that number would be very small. I think the number of those who are supportive of the announcement would be much, much greater.
I say to Mr MacLaren that we on this side of the House have been critical of the establishment of the agency, rather than keeping it under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment. The minister concluded his statement by saying that he wanted to continue to assure the people of the province that they would have clean water. I would say to the minister that he knows perfectly well the political consequences of what the government has done. That is, if there is any problem with respect to the provision of clean water to the citizens of the province, every time we ask a question of the minister, he will simply say that this is now the responsibility of the agency and there is nothing he can do about it.
Having said that, I want to wish Mr MacLaren well in his responsibilities and say that we look forward very much to continued debates in the province with respect to the provision of clean water to the citizens of Ontario.
Mr McCague: I would like to comment on the statement made by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and to thank and welcome Mr MacLaren for joining the forces of government.
I want to warn the new chairman that one of the minister’s motives may be to have the municipalities put more in the pot towards sewage and water. He may also want to take a lot more dollars out of the pockets of the developers. Mr MacLaren should be aware that this could be a hidden agenda and, of course, since he is going to be working for all the people of the province and all the people of this Legislature, he would want me to mention that to him today.
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO SAVINGS OFFICE
Mr Runciman: I would like to respond, on behalf of our party, to the Minister of Revenue’s announcement of the expansion of the Province of Ontario Savings Office to communities in northern Ontario. I am sure he may recall that a couple of years ago -- perhaps it is a year ago -- I introduced a resolution, which was supported by all members of the Legislature, calling for the expansion of POSO services into smaller rural communities that are not now being provided with financial services by the traditional institutions in this province.
I do commend him for this extension but I want to express the regret that it does not incorporate eastern Ontario. As the minister will know, he has a number of applications from eastern Ontario asking for consideration for this kind of extension. It strikes me as the sort of thing that can happen rather quickly.
We have waited some time for this expansion. I would urge the minister to take a closer look as soon as possible at a number of municipalities in eastern Ontario that are waiting for this kind of service to be provided to them as well. Let’s take a look at the east for a change, I urge the minister, but my personal congratulations.
Mr Runciman: I have a brief response to the Solicitor General with respect to his announcement of additional funding for training. Again, we welcome that announcement. We think it is a good and wise one and a sound investment for the future with respect to policing in this province.
Policing, as we all know, is becoming an increasingly complex and dangerous profession in Ontario. Certainly that is the case over the past five years with the Liberal government in power. We have seen violent crime increase in this province by 38% during the tenure of the Liberal government.
I am not attempting to lay all the increased crime problems in this province at the feet of the Liberals, but I want to say that I have indicated to the government on a number of occasions that it is not doing enough in terms of providing the necessary tools for policemen and policewomen across this province to effectively fight increasing crime, especially the influx of illicit drugs on to the streets of our communities right across this province.
This is a step in the direction of correcting those kinds of problems, but I want to say there is an awful lot more to do. We have to do something to address the very real morale problems of police officers, men and women, and provide them with the necessary tools to do an effective job in fighting crime.
The Speaker: There are quite a number of private conversations taking place. I do not know whether they are necessary or not. I would like to start question period in an orderly fashion.
Mr B. Rae: I have some questions this afternoon again for the Treasurer. We have been asking on this side of the House for several weeks now just what it is going to take before this government recognizes that there is a major recession going on in the goods producing or manufacturing sector of Ontario.
Travelling throughout the province, as the Treasurer does and as I do, he will know that in the smaller industrial towns the number of jobs that have been lost is colossal and there is a real recession going on out there in jobs. In communities like Cambridge, Listowel, Goderich, Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham and going east from Toronto to Ottawa and into northern Ontario, we have layoffs of 100, 200 and 300, in ways that are quite devastating to those communities, losing jobs that pay $8, $9, $10, $12, $14 an hour, well-paying jobs that are at the very heart of the industrial economy of Ontario.
The question I have for the Treasurer is this: What is it going to take before this government admits that there is indeed a recession going on in manufacturing in Ontario?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I appreciate the Leader of the Opposition raising this important matter. There is no doubt that the level of economic activity and real growth is lower than it has been at any time that we have measured it in the office of economic policy in the Treasury in the last four years.
The budget projected that the growth would be well below 2%. We indicated 1.7%, and it may even be lower than that. But there is not a recession by way of no or negative economic growth for three months running. I do not want to be academic about it, but that is what a recession is.
The honourable member, being a well-educated, capable person, has indicated a recession in manufacturing. It is true that there have been layoffs. We hear about them here and when we go home. That is what a reduced rate of economic growth is all about.
The honourable member, of course, does not use his energy and his undoubted talents to talk about the positive aspects of the economy. On a number of occasions, I have drawn to his attention and the attention of his colleagues the commitments made for real economic growth here with the provision of substantial jobs at high pay and with good benefits. The honourable member knows those changes, and I will not reiterate them at this time.
Mr B. Rae: The average wage in the service industries of Ontario is $300 a week. The average wage in manufacturing is $559 a week. So what the Treasurer is actually saying to the workers of Ontario is, “We are giving you growth at less than 2% and you are taking a pay cut of $259 a week if you work in manufacturing and are going into a service job.” That is what is happening to workers in Listowel, Cambridge, Sarnia, Barrie, Peterborough, east to Ottawa and all throughout northern Ontario, who have been affected by layoffs, who have jobs that are paying $12, $14, $16 an hour.
When is the Treasurer going to recognize that this is happening and what is he going to do on behalf of those workers whose lives and whose families’ and communities’ lives are being devastated by these changes?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The statistics show that going back to the benchmark of 1 January 1990, there are 45,000 more jobs operational in this province now than there were then. This is a huge increase in job opportunities and they are not all low-paying jobs.
The honourable member is aware, as he talks about northern Ontario, that Inco is investing $400 million in productivity and environmental improvements. There are pulp and paper investments, for example, of $335 million in Marathon and of $350 million in Thunder Bay. That is in northern Ontario.
When it comes to the towns in southwestern Ontario, I probably know those communities even as well as the Leader of the Opposition. Jobs are being lost and new jobs are being created. I have referred to the intention of the Ford Motor Co to invest more than $50 million in a new engine plant and another $500 million and perhaps more in Oakville. I understand that they are contemplating expansions in the Talbotville area as well.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Okay, Mr Speaker, I see that you are getting edgy. Perhaps I can continue this dissertation in a moment.
Mr B. Rae: The Treasurer refers to 45,000 more jobs in 1990. The Treasurer will also know that the point I am trying to make to him, and have been trying without any apparent success, is simply this: There are 82,000 fewer jobs in the goods producing sector now than there were last year.
The Treasurer is quite right when he says there has been growth in some areas, and I have admitted that in terms of the service sector. What I am trying to get him to admit is that in industrialized Ontario there are people who used to make $12, $14 and $16 an hour who are being asked to work at half that rate in service sector jobs. That is what is happening to these communities.
What is the Treasurer going to do to protect the workers who are affected by these changes? Does he not recognize that he is in effect asking them to take a pay cut of nearly 50% in his so-called exercise of mock job creation?
Hon R. F. Nixon: We have mature adjustment programs and we would like to make them better, in association with the government of Canada, which also has unemployment insurance as the basic safeguard. The member does his usual Trudeauesque shrugging, sneezing and winking, which I feel is quite inappropriate when he is dealing with these important matters. We are maintaining employment. As a matter of fact, the increase in unemployment was 0.08% last month. I did not like that but we still have the best employment record in Canada.
The honourable member will know also from the budget that our current cost allowance, which was a substantial infusion of dollars designed to improve employment, is surely our best defence. We have adjustment programs that we consider to be among the best in North America and we believe to be the best in Canada. I certainly would not deny that I would like them to be better but, believe me, they are very good and they meet the needs in a very real way as we go into an area of slower growth compared to the last four or five years.
Mr B. Rae: The Treasurer describes unemployment insurance, which was invented in the late 1930s, as somehow the Liberal innovation which is going to take workers through to the 1990s. It is unbelievable.
Mr B. Rae: The Treasurer also referred to tax breaks for corporations as the answer for working people who are thrown on the scrap heap by his policies. I wonder if the Treasurer can tell us why it would be in the interests of the people of the province that a corporation like the Hemlo Gold Mine, for example, which had an income in 1989 of $71.9 million, not only would not have paid any income tax in 1989 but would also have done the following: It paid to its shareholders $17.5 million in dividends and, in addition, it received a tax credit -- a gold mine receives a tax credit -- in Liberal Ontario of $1.9 million.
Can the Treasurer explain the justice of that when we have working people who are making less than $20,000 who are having to pay income tax to the Treasurer?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I want to assure the honourable member there is nobody mining gold who is making less than $20,000, and that is a fact. The development of the north has to be depending on the entrepreneurs and investors putting their money forward. Perhaps the honourable member would prefer a socialist state. That is not what we have here.
Mr B. Rae: Come on.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The member scoffs, but I will tell him this: The only reason the company is not paying taxes -- and I am not aware that it is not; I will accept the honourable member’s opinion on this -- is the programs that are available in Canada and in Ontario which encourage investment. That investment leads to high-paying jobs, particularly in the resource industries of North America. We are very proud of those particular expansions, and we in Ontario have been leading Canada in this regard.
Mr B. Rae: While the Treasurer gets worked up about how marvellous is the economy over which he is presiding, perhaps he can talk and explain to us why it is that the 1989 income of the Laurentian General Insurance Co was $7.9 million, the dividends paid to shareholders were $4.4 million and it received a tax credit of $4.7 million -- a $4.7-million transfer from the Treasury to Laurentian General. I wonder if the Treasurer can explain the justice of that to the ordinary taxpayers of this province, who are paying through the nose to the government while these companies are receiving an actual transfer of funds on their taxes from the taxpayers of the province. Let him figure that out.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Was the honourable gentleman criticizing me for getting worked up in my answers? What is turning him on about his questions, for heaven’s sake? Really, you would almost think there was an election in the air and he is trying to defend a very weak brief.
The honourable member knows that in the case of insurance companies, they are investments for people putting their money in there and they require return. That is the system. It is called the capitalist system. The honourable member does not know much about that.
When it comes to corporations paying taxes, the level of taxation paid by corporations has been growing rapidly. As a matter of fact, it has grown more rapidly than taxes paid by individuals like the honourable member and myself. This is because of the profits made by the corporations. We believe this system is good. It returns to the public Treasury substantial amounts of money which pay for the programs that all of us here want to pay for and the ones that are frequently urged on us by the Conservatives. We believe that system is fair and equitable and in reasonable balance.
Mr B. Rae: I am delighted that the Treasurer thinks this is a wonderful system. He says that the tax system is how we pay for programs. I would like to know how we are going to pay for programs when one of the wealthiest gold mines in the province is getting a $1.9-million tax credit and the Laurentian General Insurance Co is getting a $4.7-million tax credit. Just what is the justice of that system? The Treasurer says this is how capitalism works. One can have a mixed economy where everybody pays his fair share. What is wrong with everybody paying his fair share? Why is he not forcing these companies to pay their fair share precisely so that he can carry on the kinds of programs that everybody in this province wants?
The Speaker: Order. No? Well, we will just continue waiting if you want to waste the time. I think it is time you were taking stock of yourselves.
Hon R. F. Nixon: My briefing book and my assistant tell me that corporations are paying $4.8 billion. I know the honourable member opposite feels this is insufficient. He sometimes loses hope that he will ever convince me of his point of view and I have the same feeling about him. Maybe that is the way the world has to be, because we believe that legitimate expenses by corporations should be deducted from their tax requirements and that losses in the past have to be compensated for.
We have to understand it is the private sector that develops these resources, and anyone who feels that the public sector should do so has the right to put that forward and let the people decide what the best alternative is. We think this system is a good one and we think we are paying our way with a balanced budget which most people approve of. We are also providing a broad range of programs which, as Liberals, we believe move a great distance towards meeting the needs of the community of Ontario.
Mr Harris: I have a question of the Attorney General, who seems to want to get into the fray. I would be delighted to allow him to do so, I hope in a little more serious vein than he has been in so far.
Given the impasse in Manitoba and Newfoundland’s profound reservations, we are facing the growing possibility that the Meech Lake-Langevin accord will not be passed by the deadline. Obviously this tremendously significant crossroad in our history demands that alternatives be examined, that plans be made. My question to the Attorney General is, if the Meech Lake accord does not pass, what plans does this government have for Monday morning?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable leader of the third party and I have not been educated in the academic capitals of Europe, I expected a sensible question and I hope to give a reasonable answer to him in the best Ontario tradition. It is an important question. The government is looking carefully at what alternatives may be considered, as I am sure other governments in the country are.
There is every hope that the government of Newfoundland, the Legislature of Newfoundland, the House of Assembly, will be able to deal with the issue on Friday. As the honourable member knows, our Premier is there today at the invitation of the Premier of Newfoundland, one of the two invited to address the House of Assembly, and I know all honourable members who support the accord wish him well in his presentation. The issue will be decided, we expect, in Newfoundland on Friday and there will be potential, perhaps a remote possibility, for deciding it in Manitoba by Saturday. If one of those eventualities fails, all of us will have to consider other alternatives, as will the province of Quebec.
Mr Harris: I appreciate the optimism and support it for the positive scenarios that can develop. My concern, though -- and surely the Attorney General would agree that Ontarians are concerned indeed, as are Canadians -- is that without any serious consultation of the people of our province, which I am concerned about in this case, as a Canadian, we end up with these 11th- and 11th-and-a-half-hour deals, with things coming out of left field, into which the cabinet, the leaders of the opposition, the Legislature and the people of Ontario have not had an opportunity for any meaningful input.
I wonder why the Attorney General is saying we will have to develop plans. Surely this scenario is a very real possibility. I wonder if the Attorney General would share with us and the people of this province what options the government is considering and what plans we are considering so that we do not have any more surprises at the last minute with things we have not had consultation with the people of this province about.
Hon Mr Scott: It is a serious and important question and I want to treat it in every respect that way. The method of amending the Constitution is not devised by governments; it is fixed by the 1982 Constitution.
The amendments with which we are presently dealing are the first effort to use the 1982 amending formula. As I have noted, before 1982 you simply introduced a resolution in the United Kingdom Parliament, with or without provincial support. So we have been using this method provided for in the Constitution for the first time. There is a high level of dissatisfaction with it. The three-year period that the Constitution calls for is judged by many to be too long in the circumstances. The process of requiring legislative assemblies to devise their own processes for approval has not met with satisfaction everywhere, though I believe in Ontario the very full committee hearings that were bipartisan in nature were, on balance, well received by our public.
The honourable member will have to face, as I think we all do, the reality that, until the Constitution is amended, the Constitution amending process we have is the one that is there. If it should happen that Meech Lake fails on the anniversary date, it will always be possible -- indeed it will be necessary -- to begin the process over again or to abandon the exercise of constitutional amendment. It would be very difficult to abandon the amendment process, because there are other agendas, such as the western agenda, the Canada clause and the aboriginal interest, that have to be addressed.
Mr Harris: The Attorney General has said that each legislature is free to choose its process on the amending formula that was in the 1981-82 Constitution. That provides three years after the first legislature passes a resolution suggesting a change to the Constitution. Before a legislature passes that, there is more time. There could be three, four or five years’ lead time, but we know there are at least three years.
Surely the Attorney General is not suggesting we use the process that Ontario followed from 1987 to today, where it was unanimous in this House that a committee be struck to consult with the people of Ontario before our first minister went to these meetings and horse-traded unrelated items around the table. Since the Attorney General has not been specific about any plans, would he at least agree with me that the process we follow in Ontario is a bad process, a flawed process, and whether Meech Lake passes or not, we must ensure that never again does a first minister of this province attend a conference to deal with the Constitution without consulting all the options first in at least a three-year period that we know before a final commitment is made, and that our first minister does not attend these conferences without a mandate, without having consulted, whether by way of plebiscite, referendum, extensive hearings, consultation --
The Speaker: Thank you. The question has been asked.
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member will not want to overlook the fact that the constitutional process is not one we have devised; it is fixed by the Constitution.
Mr Harris: We can deal with it in our way in that three-year period.
Hon Mr Scott: The member will have to save his observation for another question. That is the way this process works.
The constitutional process is fixed by the Constitution itself. The honourable member will remember that the Meech Lake accord was initialled by the premiers of the provinces before the 1987 election, and the honourable member, I am sure, had the same experience I did when he went around in that election and we were asked questions about Meech Lake.
I had public meetings in my riding on the subject, and I know honourable members did. There was a level of concern about the accord which I believe was not addressed to the satisfaction of everybody but to the satisfaction of many Ontarians by the process that this House selected for itself to examine the accord. I believe that was not necessarily a perfect way of proceeding, but in terms of the constitutional requirement, it was a reasonable way of proceeding.
We assess that the constitutional requirement may be inappropriate. We may need a constitutional amendment about how we amend the Constitution. One of the things the honourable member will want to address -- and he will, because he was there -- is to recognize that the memorandum of agreement which was signed last week in respect of Senate reform and aboriginal issues attempts to establish a new process which we hope will work better and more in the interests of all Canadians.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. The people of Metropolitan Toronto have witnessed another tragedy on the Toronto Transit Commission. Miss Parenteau was not the first visually impaired person to fall over the edge of a subway platform on the TTC. A young woman was killed because of inadequate standards. A young woman becomes another statistic of unnecessary death. A young woman has lost her life needlessly. Her death will create fear for other visually impaired people who normally use public transit. Why are there no safeguards or standards in place to protect the visually impaired, and when will such safeguards and standards be in place?
Hon Ms Collins: I know that all members of the House are saddened by the death of this disabled woman yesterday, and it is a matter of concern to everyone in the Legislature. I can tell the member that a coroner’s jury has been looking at a previous accident of a person without a disability, and it is looking at the safety features of the subway system in Toronto. I am sure the coroner’s jury will be reporting, if it has not already done so.
Mrs Marland: I am amazed that this minister does not know that the Morrison inquest is complete and that there are already recommendations from it. In fact, there are 21 recommendations. This government, and I guess the response of this minister has just confirmed it, has a terrible record with regard to fulfilling its responsibility to the people with disabilities. I hope the public transportation safety standards will become an immediate priority and I certainly hope, when the minister has time to read the recommendations from the Morrison inquest, that she will do something to implement those on behalf of people with disabilities.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mrs Marland: At the inquest, the TTC’s open subway platforms were declared dangerous by transit specialists. Will the minister work with her colleague the Minister of Transportation to ensure that those recommendations from the Morrison inquest are adopted and implemented when she finds out what they are?
Hon Ms Collins: I am pleased to tell the member that the Minister of Transportation is looking at the safety standards within subways. I can also tell the member that much has been done in regard to transportation for people with disabilities in this province. In fact, Ontario leads the way in Canada as far as disability issues are concerned.
The Minister of Transportation just last week endorsed a TTC report, Choices for the Future, which of course the member said she wanted to see done previously. That has been endorsed, and the minister has also announced several other programs increasing funding for transportation for people with disabilities.
Mrs Marland: I am not going to waste time responding to the rhetoric of the issue of some of the points that were made last week by the Minister of Transportation.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mrs Marland: The Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons has a responsibility to ensure that the needs of disabled people are voiced and recognized in cabinet. I simply want to know if this minister has enough influence with the Minister of Transportation to ensure that by the end of today, safety strips are installed in all these stations. Will the minister guarantee that those safety strips will be installed by rush-hour this afternoon? It is not too much to ask.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Ms Collins: I can assure this House that this province is committed to ensuring the safety of people with disabilities on the transportation systems of this province. But I have to remind the member that this comes under the Toronto Transit Commission, which reports to Metro council, and that we have endorsed the requests of Metro council and of the Toronto Transit Commission. We will continue to work to ensure that there are very good programs in place as far as transportation is concerned.
Mrs Marland: I just asked a simple question.
Hon Ms Collins: That is not rhetoric. We had a commitment of increases in funding from 75% to 90% for accessible bus systems in this province. We had an endorsement of the Toronto Transit Commission report, Choices for the Future, which includes accessibility to subway systems and other transit systems. I can assure the House that we do care about people with disabilities in this province and we care about their safety as well.
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Housing.
Rick Myers a few years ago in his parish set up a pastoral aid and counselling program and very quickly discovered that his clients could not put food on the table. So he went into a food bank, which expanded and which he resented because he figured it was the responsibility of the government to make certain that those needs were met in an ongoing way. Now, unfortunately, he finds the same clients are short not only on the food side but also on the housing side. So Stop 103, his program, has gone into the housing business, and he resents that because he does not think that is his business and he thinks the problem lies with the failure of affordable housing in Ontario.
I wonder what the minister has to say to people like Rick Myers, on the food bank supplier side and in the housing effort, and to the thousands of users of food banks as to why the government has failed to provide affordable housing for those clients or even to mention housing in the 1990 budget.
Hon Mr Sweeney: To pick up on the honourable member’s last comment, I would point out to him that while the word “housing” may not have been mentioned in the preface part of the budget, the important numbers, which is what a budget is about, were very, very impressive as far as housing was concerned. The Ministry of Housing’s budget increased 26%, and if he checks the other ministries of this government, I think he will not find a higher number. On top of that, the support for subsidized housing increased 89% in that budget. Those are the two critical figures, not whether the word “housing” was mentioned in the preface part of the budget.
The second point I would make to my honourable friend is to wonder at his comment that Rick Myers is curious as to why a community organization like his should be involved in housing. I thought my honourable colleague was very supportive of the fact that by moving to the non-profit sector and to community co-op we are doing that very thing. We are enlisting the aid and the support at the request of community groups to provide supported housing, social housing, subsidized housing, to the people of this province.
Mr Allen: The minister does not appear to appreciate the pressures which the people on the supply end of all that are under. He referred to impressive figures. The impressive figures in this respect are that he and his ministry consider affordable rents to be $1,440 per month in Ottawa, $1,270 a month in Thunder Bay and $1,400 a month in Toronto, and yet a single mother with two children can make only a maximum of $1,447 under the social assistance programs. That means there is $7 in Ottawa, $177 in Thunder Bay and $47 in Toronto to meet a budget minimum request for that size of family that Agriculture Canada says must reach at least $340.
Food bank volunteers and the poor want to know how they can possibly afford the minister’s affordable housing.
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend would probably be aware of the fact that close to 200,000 families in Ontario are receiving subsidy support for their shelter at the present time. Those are families that are spending or would have spent in excess of 25% of their income for housing.
The second point I would make, and I am sure my honourable friend realizes this, is that the 60th percentile figure that he is referring to is the ceiling for affordable. It is the figure all the way down the line. He knows as well as I do that there are many, many people in this province, whether in rental housing or even in ownership housing, who are paying considerably less than that.
We have supported projects through the non-profit and private sectors, taking them to the Ontario Municipal Board, where the numbers are much, much less than the ones he quotes and the honourable member knows that.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Government Services and has to do with a decision by his ministry in respect to the public auctions warehouse in Mimico and the moving of the operations into Vaughan township. The Mimico location was very convenient. As I said, the warehouse was used for public auctions of surplus government furnishings etc. I wonder if the minister can explain why that move was undertaken, if the public was consulted and what the benefits are of making this move.
Hon Mr Ward: The member will know that the Ministry of Government Services is currently in the process of having to make a lot of decisions with regard to the location of its facilities throughout Metropolitan Toronto. Some of that of course is generated by the pressures that currently exist on the ministry for space immediately around Queen’s Park.
We have looked at various aspects of our operations and we have made some determinations for relocations. It is done on a businesslike basis in terms of the availability of property, either government-held or leased, and those judgements are made in that context.
Mr Runciman: I would like to know what is businesslike about moving from a rent-free facility to one that is going to cost taxpayers $52,000 a month, or $624,000 a year, and five years from now it goes up to over $60,000 a month, or $720,000 a year. Is that a businesslike operation?
We are talking about a convenient location that could be expanded. We are talking about an additional $1 million of taxpayers’ money going into renovating this facility. In my view, it is a scandalous and shocking misuse of tax dollars. We are talking about the economy deteriorating in this province. It is time for this government to be tightening its belt, not doling out $52,000 cheques of taxpayers’ money every month. Let’s hear some real, meaningful justification for that kind of move.
Hon Mr Ward: As usual, the member is looking at a specific item and a specific facility with tunnel vision. Surely he would recognize that in some of the moves that have to be made in terms of clearing the east of Bay lands and in terms of accommodating the pressures that exist in the Queen’s Park precinct around the Whitney Block and the Macdonald Block, obviously there will be some restructuring and some relocations. I would suggest that those decisions are being made in a prudent, cost-effective manner and will continue to be so made. He will have to look at the broader picture in order to make that determination.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Mr Mahoney: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I recently had a meeting with some potential home buyers in Mississauga who were involved in a situation where their closing dates had passed by but the subdivision was actually never given draft approval by the city and therefore the homes were never built. They tried to commence a provincial offences prosecution under the Planning Act, 1983, but were surprised to be informed that the statute of limitations, which is six months, had expired.
In light of the many examples of the sale of unregistered lots throughout the province, would the minister consider reviewing the statutes of limitations under the Planning Act, 1983, as they relate to commencing a provincial offences prosecution, with a view to possibly extending the limitation period from six months to two years?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend is correct that under the Provincial Offences Act there is a six-month limitation. At the present time, we do not have a provision within the Planning Act that would override that, but we certainly could put an extended period of time in that act. Given the fact that, as a general rule, specific pieces of legislation override general pieces of legislation, that would be one way of overriding the Provincial Offences Act. Given the other fact, as my friend has indicated, that this is not the first time this particular situation has occurred, that is something we would be prepared to look at.
Mr Mahoney: In light of the current backlog in building permits and subdivision approvals in the planning departments of many high-growth communities such as mine, an extension of the limitation period would offer the potential home buyer more protection as well as more realistically reflecting the time frames of today’s building sectors. Can the minister assure this Legislature that consideration will be given to amending the Planning Act, 1983, in order to more accurately reflect today’s market?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Yes, I would be prepared to give that consideration. But I would also draw to my colleague’s attention that the Attorney General’s office is at the present time doing a review of the various provincial prosecution policies, and it would perhaps be worth while for me to consult his office to see whether we could roll those two activities together and whether there might be a more appropriate way to deal with it; if there is not under that particular mechanism, then I would take my colleague’s request under serious consideration.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Attorney General. Last week he met with the other attorneys general as well as the Minister of Justice. On their agenda, I believe, was the issue of the new abortion law and how it was going to be implemented in the various provinces etc. I raised a question earlier with him about third-party interventions. I wonder if he has any report he would like to make to this House in terms of the outcome of those meetings, because I have seen no indication in the press and I have heard no statement in this House at this time.
Hon Mr Scott: The provincial conference of attorneys general, which the honourable member knows is an annual event, was addressed by the Attorney General of Canada. She did touch on the subject of the new abortion legislation. The points she made were really two. She gave an account of the history of the legislation and made the case that I believe she has made in the House of Commons, that she and the government of Canada believe it to be the appropriate policy response to the issue that confronted them. She went on to explain that she expected attorneys general in the provinces would enforce this law as a public matter in the same way as they enforce other laws. There were no questions of her on the subject and that was the end of the report. Following the meeting -- I will save “following the meeting” for the supplementary.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Perhaps the minister could tell us what happened following the meeting.
Hon Mr Scott: My honourable friend, in his retirement years, will be an expert at Jeopardy; there is no question about that.
Following the meeting we were asked by the press what it meant that we would apply the Criminal Code in the normal way. I made the point that while it was theoretically possible for any individual in the province to approach a justice of the peace for the purposes of swearing an information, as a matter of public policy in Ontario the Attorney General’s office takes over all such prosecutions. In the province there are no private prosecutions of significant Criminal Code matters, which would include this. I made it plain that we would continue with any prosecutions that were based on reasonable and probable grounds -- likely to lead to a conviction -- and would, as we now do, terminate all prosecutions that, either by withdrawal or stay, we believed were not based on such grounds. Our role under the Criminal Code was to enforce the law; it was not to intimidate or harass anybody.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is for the Minister of Education and Skills Development. I am looking at some Statistics Canada research that relates to full-time students at Canadian post-secondary institutions in selected disciplines.
As the minister is responsible for training young people in this province, where we are very interested in competition in the global economy and in research and development for Canada, I would ask him if he would be somewhat concerned about the numbers of full-time students at Canadian post-secondary institutions in the field of computer science. In 1983-84 there were over 12,000 students in universities and in 1987-88 just over 8,000; that is a 33% decline in growth. In colleges we are looking at the same trend, from 35,000 full-time students down to some 25,000 full-time students over a four-year period, a decline of some 27%.
Is the minister concerned about this trend, and what is he going to do about it?
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my honourable friend for a very good and timely question. Yes, I do share her concern, and the government shares the concern. That is why, over the last very few years, we have undertaken a number of very specific initiatives to improve upon the participation rate of both young men and women in areas of science, technology and engineering generally.
As a result of the Premier’s Council’s last report, as the member knows, we have proceeded with the centres of excellence and the university research incentive funding. We have just announced a number of so-called linkage arrangements, particularly between colleges and high schools, to improve the participation in high school and in college in the trades and technology area. We have just completed a very successful counselling conference. Those are four initiatives. We have got to do more, and we intend to do more.
We look forward to community-minded individuals, like my good friend from London, ensuring that attitudes change in her household, in her neighbourhood and in her community, because the government can only do so much; it must act in partnership with labour and with business. Parents have a very important role to play to ensure that their daughters and sons recognize the first-order importance of and the opportunities within science, engineering, trades and technology.
Mrs Cunningham: There is a decline in response on behalf of young people as they move into the field of computer science. That is what I was trying to say today. That is now a reality in our workplace. If we take a look at researchers in workplaces across the world, Canada is number eight, behind Japan, the United States, Norway, Sweden, France and Australia. We have only 4.3 persons per 1,000 doing research in a country that is supposed to be promoting research and development.
The minister knows we are not making gains, and the kinds of programs he is promoting are the same kinds of programs we have been promoting in Ontario for the last 10 years. As the minister responsible for skills development, what is the minister going to do in a new way to relate to the real concerns not only of parents but of students in Ontario?
Hon Mr Conway: One of the things that separates a Liberal from a Tory is that a Liberal is fundamentally more optimistic than our pessimistic Tory friends. I do not share my honourable friend’s pessimism about the capacity of individuals and communities within this Upper Canada of ours to adapt to the requirements of the 1990s and beyond.
I indicated a number of very specific initiatives that the government has already taken. I have not indicated, for example, that we are embarked upon a major restructuring of elementary and secondary education, which reform and restructuring I know my friends the member for London North and the member for Burlington South will support both here and out in the hinterland, because we recognize that right across both education and other aspects of the community we have got to prepare the way.
I tell my honourable friend that we intend to meet the challenge, and we intend to meet it in an optimistic and forward-looking way, whether she and her sad-sack Tory friends see it that way or not.
Mr Owen: I had a question for the Minister of Health, but in her absence I will direct the question to the Treasurer. The Treasurer will recall that this government has made a commitment of $60 million towards the construction of a new Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. One of the Barrie media has recently raised and conjectured what will happen when the tendering process is completed. which should happen fairly soon, as to the increased cost because of inflation.
I have tried to reassure them that we will work it out, that it has been done on other projects and that it will be done here, but that we cannot be responsible and give a blank cheque for whatever the amount may be and the complications that might have for the tendering process. Is there any comment the Treasurer could offer with regard to the question raised by the media and my response to that question?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I thank the honourable member for notice of the question, because I have had a chance to speak with the Minister of Health specifically about the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie that he refers to, and I particularly appreciate his advice in the matter.
The Minister of Health indicated that inflationary costs are carried up to the time of tendering and then beyond that when the construction is completed, depending on what the experience is. The Ministry of Health has to carry on, and always does, a discussion with the board of the hospital and come to a suitable arrangement. The approval for the hospital is without question. The honourable member would know that from the consolidated revenue fund in general there has been close to $1 billion assigned for hospital capital since 1985, so there has been a tremendous expansion during that period of time.
Mr Owen: The same media have raised another issue this week with regard to the expanded regional health review that is taking place. Everyone I have talked to is for the expanded health review, but they are suggesting that this would possibly delay the tendering of the new hospital. I have reassured them that this is not expected. I hope there will be no delay in the tendering, but certainly I have tried to reassure them that the expanded review is not going to be a factor in any delay. Again, I would ask for the Treasurer’s response to this particular question and to my response to the media with regard to the question.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I had an opportunity to speak to the Minister of Health this morning after the honourable member gave me notice of this question, and she told me that from the standpoint of the Ministry of Health the construction of the new Royal Victoria Hospital is expected to progress on its current schedule. She was as specific as that and I do not believe any additional assurances are necessary.
She did, however, tell me something that the honourable member is probably aware of, that in her duties in going out to the communities and discussing these matters, she hopes to be in Barrie in the next few weeks -- in a couple of weeks, as a matter of fact -- and will be able to make those assurances in person. In the meantime, I make them on her behalf and on behalf of the Treasury.
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Solicitor General. Some time ago Wade Lawson was shot by Peel Regional Police officers. Since the shooting, criminal charges were laid against two of those officers and those charges are still pending. Since shortly after the shooting, police officers in Peel and perhaps elsewhere began sporting or wearing buttons saying, “We support 1139 and 1191.” Those are the badge numbers of the two police officers currently facing serious criminal charges with respect to the shooting death of Wade Lawson.
Nobody is going to deny any citizen the right to support someone accused of a crime if he or she wishes, but police officers surely should not be doing so while acting in their official capacity. Police officers have persisted in wearing these buttons while acting in the course of their duties and in uniform. Does the Solicitor General consider this appropriate behaviour by those police officers wearing those buttons?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the question, I think the member will recognize that there are currently, under the Police Act under which we operate, certain limitations in dealing with matters such as the one the member quite properly brings out. I can assure him that part of this new Police Services Act, which is now before the House, deals with the whole question of police uniforms. That is an issue which we can address and which we intend to address upon the passage of the Police Services Act.
Mr Kormos: An incredibly gutless position, a non-position by this minister. The simple fact remains that any member of the public has the right to deal with a police officer without fear that the police officer has taken sides on what is a highly charged issue, yes, connected with race and allegations of racial prejudice. The fact that individuals in Peel and perhaps elsewhere have to be confronted by police officers, with those police officers appearing to have taken sides with persons charged with serious criminal offences, is an affront to any fairminded person here in Ontario.
What is this minister, what is this Solicitor General going to do to make sure that this does not continue, that these police officers are not permitted to wear those buttons or those badges, while they are on duty in uniform, supporting two criminally charged persons?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the honourable member’s question, I think he should be aware that of course we are very sensitive and recognize the concerns of those who see officers wearing buttons such as the member has illustrated, but I think it is also important for the honourable member to recognize that we have in this province a Police Act that prescribes a proper procedure.
In dealing with the specific question the member raises, it is important to note that particular question has been referred to the Ontario Police Commission, under section 58 of the Police Act, where it is and ought rightly to be decided. That is my role and responsibility as a Solicitor General, to make certain that the provisions of the Police Act are in fact complied with. We have before this House a new Police Services Act which will reflect the realities and the ongoing sophistication of policing in this province. I look forward to receiving the support of the member’s party when the Police Services Act is brought forward.
Mr McCague: I asked for and was able to obtain the assistance of the Chairman of Management Board in telling me how long it takes for each ministry to answer a letter. I note that it takes the Minister of Northern Development five weeks to answer a letter. Can he explain to me why it takes so long?
Hon Mr Fontaine: I want to remind the member for Simcoe West that northern Ontario is far away from Toronto, and the postal service is not that good. Usually it takes about 20 or 25 days to answer letters because I receive them here and then they are returned to the region. There are two regions. There is one in Sault Ste Marie and one in Thunder Bay. As the member knows, that is the time it takes my ministry. Usually it is 20 or 21 days. Sometimes it takes five weeks. That is the time.
Mr McCague: I did not ask the minister how long it took to send it or to get it there; it is how long it took him to write it. Does the minister think that now an election is imminent, he will be able to speed that up a bit?
Hon Mr Fontaine: First of all, if it is a letter for a grant, like I said a moment ago, and to repeat myself, that goes to the region. Sometimes it goes to the subregion, so it takes time. A letter to me, it is the same thing, I have to send them to the region for a reply. I do not write my own letters. As the member knows, it is somebody else. I am sorry if it took five weeks. I am going to try to do a better job in the near future.
Ms Poole: My question is for the Minister of Education. In Education Toronto, which is a newsletter put out by the Toronto Board of Education, the Toronto board recently attacked the provincial government because local taxpayers pay the entire bill of running our schools in Toronto. The Toronto board said that this is unfair and that the province should be picking up part of this tab.
Although I support the Toronto board on many of the issues it raises, particularly with its fine programming, on this one I have a great deal of difficulty. I think it is dead wrong. I would like, for the record, the minister to explain to the Toronto Board of Education why the provincial policy on education funding is fair.
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my honourable friend for her question. As I have indicated in this House on previous occasions, the basic principle of the province’s education grant formula is the principle of equalization. The province is determined to provide every child in every part of this province with an equal opportunity to a quality education. The city of Toronto, for example, is well known to have an enormous industrial and commercial assessment base. I must say that it is a much, much greater industrial and commercial assessment base than will be found in communities like Mount Forest, Parry Sound, Alliston or certainly Pembroke.
The province over the last five years has increased its operating support by over 50%, from $3 billion to $4.5 billion. It is true that in the city of Toronto, where education taxes compare very favourably, I might add, with communities like Pembroke and Mount Forest and Alliston and North Bay, the community is able to draw on one of the very strong industrial and commercial assessment bases. At the provincial level, we think that in the interest of equalization, that is not an unfair policy to have and to support.
VILLAGE OF BELMONT
Miss Roberts: I would like to present a petition signed by 77 residents of the village of Belmont, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, requesting the Lieutenant Governor in Council to commission an inquiry per section 180 of the Municipal Act, as to part II of the Public Inquiries Act, as to the improper conduct of the village of Belmont’s affairs. I affix my signature per the standing order.
Mr Miller: I have a petition from the Coalition for Religious Freedom in Education. “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the regulation pertaining to religious education in publicly funded schools was struck down by the Ontario Court of Appeal, and
“Whereas section 50 of the Education Act gives parents the right to choose what kind of religious education their children shall receive, and
“Whereas the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee equality rights to all Canadians, and
“Whereas the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been endorsed by Canada, states that ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their child, (S. 26, s. 3)’
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“We respectfully request that the government of Ontario provide publicly funded religious education programs and alternative schooling on an opt-in basis to all parents in Ontario, thus enabling them to choose the type of education which they believe to be most beneficial to their children.”
It is signed by 10 names of my constituents and is signed by myself.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr Chiarelli from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:
Bill 107, An Act to revise the Police Act and amend the law relating to Police Services.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
Mr Chiarelli from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Report of Submissions on Police Services and Race Relations.
Mr Chiarelli: On 17 May two matters were referred by the House to the standing committee on administration of justice, the first one dealing with Bill 107 and the second dealing with the task force report on police services and race relations. The second report that I just presented had to do with the observations and recommendations of some 56 deputants before the justice committee. They were just presented separately.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr Callahan from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr65, An Act respecting the Township of Plympton;
Bill Pr68, An Act respecting the Township of Front of Leeds and Lansdowne;
Bill Pr78, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.
Your committee begs to report the following bills as amended:
Bill Pr70, An Act respecting the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario;
Bill Pr88, An Act respecting the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Callahan: I want to thank the Chairman who sat in for me this morning.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL AND INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr Furlong from the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs presented the following report and moved the adoption of its recommendations:
Report on the 1990 Constitutional Agreement.
Mr Furlong: By resolution of this House on II June, our committee was asked to review the 1990 Constitutional Agreement signed on 9 June at Ottawa and to report to the House today.
The committee held public hearings in Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and Windsor. After holding the hearings, reviewing the report of the 1988 select committee on constitutional reform and reviewing the 1990 agreement. the majority of the committee supports the five recommendations contained in the report.
The committee is grateful to all of those who appeared before the committee and we thank them for their contribution. We also thank those who submitted written reports.
The committee is also very indebted to our clerk, Deborah Deller. She performed miracles over the last 10 days. We certainly applaud her and her staff for their efforts. We also appreciate the contribution of our researchers Philip Kaye and Andrew McNaught.
Finally I would like to thank the members who sat in on the hearings for their support and co-operation.
On motion by Mr Furlong, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
FIRE MARSHALS AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Offer moved first reading of Bill 228, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: I believe the minister made a statement earlier. Do you have anything further?
Hon Mr Offer: Yes, just a few remarks.
This act will amend the Fire Marshals Act to enable the fire marshal and his assistants to take more timely and effective action to address potentially serious situations affecting the environment and public safety. These amendments will fulfil the government’s commitment made in March to develop mechanisms to permit the fire marshal to intervene more immediately and effectively without the need to wait for time-consuming appeals.
Many situations that are fire hazardous could pose a threat to public safety if a fire should in fact occur. These amendments will permit effective preventive action to be taken in those circumstances.
CITY OF THUNDER BAY ACT, 1990
Mr Lupusella moved, on behalf of Mr Kozyra, first reading of Bill Pr92, An Act respecting the City of Thunder Bay.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF NORTH YORK ACT, 1990
Mr Polsinelli moved first reading of Bill Pr84, An Act respecting the City of North York.
Motion agreed to.
EMPIRE CLUB FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Mr Polsinelli moved first reading of Bill Pr87, An Act to revive the Empire Club Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
CITYOF KINGSTON AND TOWNSHIPS OF KINGSTON, PITTSBURGH AND ERNESTOWN ACT, 1990
Mr Keyes moved first reading of Bill Pr97, An Act respecting the City of Kingston and the townships of Kingston, Pittsburgh and Ernestown.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF VANIER ACT, 1990
Mr Grandmaître moved first reading of Bill Pr82, An Act respecting the City of Vanier.
Motion agreed to.
DINORWIC METIS CORPORATION ACT, 1990
Mr Miclash moved first reading of Bill Pr93, An Act to revive Dinorwic Metis Corporation.
Motion agreed to.
SIOUX LOOKOUT DISTRICT HEALTH CENTRE ACT, 1990
Mr Miclash moved first reading of Bill Pr59, An Act respecting Sioux Lookout District Health Centre.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
CONSTITUTIONAL ACCORD / ACCORD CONSTITUTIONNEL
Hon Mr Ward: Prior to moving the motion, I would like to indicate that there has been discussion among the House leaders and I would seek unanimous consent that the time be divided for the balance of the afternoon equally among the three parties and the vote take place at 5:45.
The Speaker: You have heard the request made by the government House leader that the time be divided equally and a vote be called at 5:45.
Mr Ward, on behalf of Mr Peterson, moved resolution 34:
That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario resolves that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by His Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance with the schedule hereto, but only after the Constitution Amendment, 1987 comes into force [See Votes and Proceedings for text of schedule].
M.Ward, au nom de M. Peterson, propose la résolution 34:
Que l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario a résolu d’autoriser la modification de la constitution du Canada par proclamation de Son Excellence le gouverneur général sous le grand sceau du Canada, en conformité avec l’annexe ci-jointe, son entrée en vigueur ne pouvant toutefois précéder celle de la Modification constitutionnelle de 1987 [Pour le texte de l’annexe voir les procès-verbaux].
Mr Allen: I rise to address the resolution that the government has placed before us with respect to the ratification of the agreement that the first ministers came to in a very trying series of negotiations over one week’s time in Ottawa two weeks ago.
Anyone who believes that history is the dead past and not a living thing would have had to eat his words and be shocked wide awake over the course of the last few weeks and the political and constitutional developments in this country. We have been debating for three years a major constitutional proposition that arises directly out of the historic relationship and problems between French and English-speaking peoples in Canada.
That, for those on the French-speaking side of that debate, arises in a most poignant way, out of their centuries-long attempt to establish themselves as an equal people, overcoming the psychological, cultural and political handicaps of having found themselves, in the middle and later 18th century, a conquered people delivered into the hands of another country. Even though that country was generous in its accommodation in the first years of that new regime for French and English, none the less the psychology has persisted. Indeed, as one writer in Quebec recently recounts, one could still grow up in the Saguenay Valley and not discover until one was six years of age that there were any but French-speaking people in Canada, or even discover a few years later in school that there were indeed more English-speaking than French-speaking in Canada. So on the one side of the recent debate there has been an attempt to establish legitimacy, fullness and historical recognition.
At the same time as we find ourselves towards the end of a most trying series of negotiations, we suddenly discover that the aboriginal peoples, whom both French-speaking and English-speaking dispossessed and forced to become kind of prisoners in their own land, have taken charge of the agenda, and where there appeared to be a moment of hope that there would be a breakthrough in the logjam between French-speaking and English-speaking, between English-Canada and Quebec, that now appears to be almost -- though we hope not -- a doomed prospect.
At the same time the denouement of that issue is taking place in two provinces, one with a historic unease, unusual perhaps for most Canadian provinces, but a historic unease about the nature of the presence of French in Canadian life, and, on the other hand, on an island recently associated with the country but for centuries isolated and on the periphery of the Canadian landscape.
That history is all coming together in a most dramatic and tragic moment, and we in Ontario find ourselves today in the midst of that encounter, trying to play in some significant measure through all of our parties, trying to provide some kind of bridge, some avenue, some openness, some communication which we hope may still work. That is why it is important this afternoon that we ratify this particular proposal and resolution. It is not because we are happy with the process. The Attorney General and others may say that the process was dictated by 1982, and in a certain measure that is right: it was a new constitutional amending process and it did give it over to first ministers. But one has seen how too readily the first ministers meetings have been conducted, with no required reference to public hearings, with occasional public hearings in some provinces, some more ambitious than others, but with no mandated public input into the process.
If there is one good result that may come out of this whole trying experience, it is that at least there now appears to be some universal resolve that that amending process has to be changed. There has to be required public participation. It has to be staged in and phased in with first ministers’ conferences in such as way as to allow feedback and interaction between the upper political, the legislative and the public domains.
Again in that context, we have just been through some hearings in Ontario in the last few days. Some will say -- and some are my colleagues -- that was a pointless process because the end was foreordained, predetermined. Confronted with a first ministers’ agreement such as was brought together in Ottawa and which, from my perspective at least -- and others may disagree -- appeared to be the only combination of elements that could bring forth a national position, this committee went out, perhaps in a pointless exercise because there would be no ultimate effect upon that particular position that was predetermined. But there were some at least who came before us who felt thankful to have the opportunity, if only to speak their mind and protest. There were others who said it is important that the public process of public debate be continued and be available to the public, even when it only provides opportunity for protest. Certainly some groups, like women and aboriginal organizations, came and insisted upon laying before us still further agendas of constitutional reform beyond those that they presented to us in Ontario at an earlier date.
But one cannot take the present set of hearings that are being reported to us today in a tabled document in a separate fashion from the earlier hearings in Ontario, in 1988. One would have to say that those hearings, opened up by the Legislature beyond the original mandate of the Meech Lake focus to the whole spectrum of constitutional concerns in Ontario, provided this province with a major opportunity to express their minds on the Constitution and the issues that concerned them, to which hundreds of people addressed themselves.
We passed the document, supported a document, the select committee on constitutional reform’s report in 1988, which in fact laid the groundwork for much that developed then in the rest of the country. It informed the New Brunswick Legislature and Premier’s consideration of the question, provided the basis for the Charest report and provided, I think, the early lineaments that would lead finally to the constitutional agreement in 1990.
That was a creative role to have played, and we played it. There were some elements in it that we did not anticipate becoming important to debate in substance at that time, because we expected to come back to them. One of them was the matter of the Senate. I would only say in that regard, to those who are uneasy about the Senate proposal, that there have been 11 studies of the Senate in the past 20-some years. None of them leaves Ontario with more seats in the Senate than the fallback position the Premier subscribed to and was instrumental in offering in Ottawa.
For those who are concerned about the increased status of that fallback Senate, should it become an elected institution in the far future, constitutional advisers and specialists on the subject at least tell us that a senator elected for life is no better than a senator appointed for life, because there is no feedback and exchange with an accountable constituency. In fact, he may be an even greater absurdity, and therefore there is much incentive not to pursue that option.
What I wish to say today, speaking not just for myself but for the majority of the New Democratic Party caucus, is that for all the problems we have had with the process, for all the matters that remain undone, we are convinced that there is no reason why this Legislature should delay in ratifying this resolution and in seeing ourselves through what we hope will still be the end of the Quebec round and launch ourselves into a more open process to address the major issues of aboriginal rights, women and the Constitution, multicultural groups and the issue of the Senate in future years.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): It is my understanding that there will be no questions and responses, so that we have direct time allocation. Is that agreed to?
Mr Eves: It is a pleasure to rise and speak as a member of this committee since its inception in 1987 in the Ontario Legislature, at least on my own behalf, and I think on behalf of some of my colleagues, with respect to the proposal that we see before us today.
I would like to say at the outset that our caucus will be having a free vote on this issue, as indeed we did when we voted on the last report of the select committee on constitutional reform before this Legislature on the Meech Lake accord. I feel very strongly, and I have conveyed that to my caucus colleagues on several occasions, that there are some votes in legislatures and parliamentary bodies that I think should always be free votes, that certainly rise above and beyond the issue of partisan political stripe. I cannot think of a more significant issue to do that on than the issue of one’s own Constitution in one’s own country. I can think of other moral matters that should be free votes as well, in my opinion, but we will save that for another day. Suffice it to say that I think the issue of a country’s Constitution certainly should rise above partisan politics.
I also rise today to tell members that I was one of eight members of the Ontario Legislature who voted against the Meech Lake accord in June 1988. I did so because I thought that document was severely flawed in several respects. I am here today to say that some of the recommendations that the predecessor of this committee made to the Ontario Legislature and the Ontario public, and indeed to all the first ministers in this country, have been adopted by the 1990 constitutional agreement, otherwise known as a companion resolution, which will in effect have the effect of amending the Meech Lake accord of 1987.
I can recall back to that debate in June 1988 where several individuals, including, I believe, all the first ministers of the day, indicated that not one comma, not one word in the Meech Lake accord could ever be changed. It had to be passed as is. We are here today, rather ironically, on a motion of our first minister, who also said that not one comma could ever be changed, voting on the changes that he agreed to make in Ottawa on 9 June this year.
So there is hope that we can have some impact and some effect in what we say as legislators and voice the concerns that many citizens across this province voiced to the predecessor of this committee and, in the last few days, the concerns that those who had time or notice made in the last week to the current committee of the Ontario Legislature.
I also understand the reason for the Premier and the government wanting to pass the 1990 constitutional agreement, or the companion resolution section of it at least, as an act of good faith to the two provinces that have yet to adopt the Meech Lake accord. It is interesting to note, however, that there are legally three years from the time that the first legislative body in Canada adopts the 1990 constitutional agreement for all other legislatures and all other legislative bodies in Canada to adopt the same. That is how we got the deadline of 23 June 1990 for the Meech Lake accord in the first place.
I want to say a few words about process, because I think that process is probably the most common complaint that we as legislators heard both in 1988 and in 1990. We heard that people did not really have any direct input; there was no public consultation to the process. The 11 first ministers met behind closed doors, made a deal, made a pact that it could not be changed; their job was then to go out and sell it not only to their legislatures but to their respective bodies -- the provinces or, in the case of the federal government, Canada-wide, I suppose.
We were told today in the Legislature in question period by the Attorney General that they did not invent this process, which is true. It was started in the 1982 Constitution Act. I understand that. I understand that we cannot change the Constitution without the 11 first ministers of this country meeting. But I also understand that the predecessor of this committee in June 1988, fully two years ago, recommended to this Legislature, to this government and to the people of Ontario that never again should we ever have another meeting of 11 first ministers, which we have just had about 10 or 11 days ago, where anybody went to that meeting on behalf of the province of Ontario and made a deal around a table with 10 other first ministers without first getting public input. Despite the fact that that recommendation was made over two years ago, that is exactly what happened in Ottawa about 11 days ago, with all due respect to the Premier of this province.
The report of this committee in 1988 was totally ignored by the government. That a standing committee be set up immediately in June 1988 was ignored by the government. The whole public consultation on future changes to the Constitution Act and to the Meech Lake accord was ignored by this government. We went down to the 11th hour again.
I do not blame just the first minister of this province. I blame every single one of those 11 first ministers. They did not get the message two years ago. I presume the Premier is familiar with the game of baseball. Three strikes and you will be out. Those are two strikes now that all 11 first ministers share equally. The blame is not on the Prime Minister of the country. It is on every one of those 11 first ministers equally, because they all had the opportunity to have public input, discourse and discussion about any future constitutional changes they would want to make, which they are now making and which two years ago they all swore up and down they would never make.
Now that we are getting down to the 11th and a half-hour, they are scurrying around trying to make a deal at the last minute. If they had put as much effort in the last two years to resolving the differences and concerns that Canadians had all over this country about the Meech Lake accord, we would not be scurrying around at the last minute. The aboriginal people would not be forgotten people. We would be well down the road to Senate reform. A lot of these difficulties would have been addressed in the last two years in a constructive fashion instead of trying to sell them like a used car salesman at the last moment to the people of Canada.
Mr Daigeler: You don’t believe that yourself.
Mr Eves: Yes, I certainly do believe that.
I have said enough about process. I would concur with the remarks made by my colleague the member for Hamilton West with respect to Senate reform. This committee of the Ontario Legislature is committed to Senate reform. We did not spend a great deal of time on the overall substance of comprehensive review of Senate reform in the first existence or incarnation of this committee because we were, quite frankly, more directed towards the Meech Lake accord and the particulars in it. But everybody who sat on this committee since 1988, and I believe there are at least three of us who remain consistent, knows that any Ontario government has always been committed to the idea of Senate reform.
I applaud the move that the Premier of this province made with respect to breaking the impasse in Ottawa 10, 11 or 12 days ago. I am sorry he did not have the opportunity of public input, but I have already spoken to that with respect to the process. I do believe it is important that Ontario, which has always been a leader in Confederation, remain a leader in Confederation and reach out to those perhaps less populous provinces in more diverse regions of Canada and extend to them the courtesy and the tolerance that we as Ontarians have always shown towards the rest of Canada. We have always been a leader, and I think it is very important that we continue to be so.
Moving on to the issue of aboriginal peoples, which is also addressed in the committee report just tabled this afternoon, they are truly the forgotten people in this whole process. They have been forgotten now for many years. Ontario, I must say, has always led the way with respect to native or aboriginal issues in this country. We have certainly led the way with respect to native self-determination in this country. If it was up to Ontario, we would have had native self-government in this country going back to the mid-1980s.
I know something about that because in 1985 I was the minister responsible for native affairs in this province. I was the first minister in Ontario’s history, despite the fact that the current Attorney General likes to take credit for this, to enunciate at a first ministers’ meeting and at a native affairs conference in Ontario that this province was committed unequivocally to native self-government and letting Canada’s first people determine their own way in the country which is theirs. Until we get that through our heads, we are going to continue to have difficulty with the issue of aboriginal rights in this country.
The province of Ontario, as I said, has always led the way. I am convinced, regardless of the political party in power, that we will continue to lead the way. Perhaps by bringing Quebec on stream as a full partner in the Canadian Constitution, we will have another very significant voice in it. I know Quebec is as deeply committed as Ontario to native self-determination throughout this country.
I just want to try and wrap up briefly with respect to the committee’s report regarding the Canada clause. Both in 1988 and again this time during our six days of deliberations, we have heard concerns from the multicultural community, from women’s groups, from aboriginal peoples. Surely they are all fundamental characteristics of this great country that we call Canada and they should all be incorporated in a Canada clause. That is what the recommendation of our committee is again with respect to the Constitution of this country.
I must say that although I still have some reservations about the Meech Lake accord, even as amended by this 1990 constitutional agreement, and although I have reservations about the process and the time and the way it is being put to a vote before 23 June of this year, as a Canadian I feel I have no choice but to vote for this agreement, because I think upon that hinges the future of this great country that we call Canada.
I think there are still some imperfections and, hopefully, in future rounds of constitutional debate, those will be addressed. We have been able to get a commitment of the11 first ministers of this country with respect to some of the concerns we identified and, hopefully, the others will follow.
I think we have all learned a lesson from this process. I hope that every single legislator in every single province and every single member of the House of Commons has learned that never again should we take the people of this great province or this great country for granted when we are changing their Constitution.
Mr Furlong: I am pleased to rise this afternoon to make some remarks on this very important resolution. I have been privileged to be Chair of the select committee on constitutional reform and I am delighted that we were able to come to an almost unanimous report.
Several weeks ago, before the Prime Minister and the premiers met in Ottawa, I held great concern for what might happen to this nation. I am first and foremost a Canadian. I believe that what is good for Ontario is made better by the fact that we are part of Canada. I was worried, as most others were, that a resolution would not be forthcoming. Today as I speak, I cannot say with certainty that a resolution will be forthcoming prior to 23 June.
In February, the select committee, as was already mentioned, began a consultation process on Senate reform. Like many others, I thought I knew quite a bit about the Senate. I found, however, that I was somewhat naïve. I was naïve in that I did not appreciate the significance and the perception that Senate reform had for some of the provinces of this country. I came to realize that the problems this country was facing were not only Meech Lake or the Quebec round but that we were facing many other difficulties.
When the Prime Minister and the premiers arrived at their communiqué on 9 June, like many other Canadians, I was delighted. I cannot say that I was pleased with the process, and I think it is fairly clear, based on the committee hearings we have experienced over the last week, that many other Canadians share that view. In fact, the Prime Minister and all of the premiers have also indicated that they were not in favour of the process and that they hoped it would not happen again.
We, the committee, certainly heard that position being made over and over again, statements like: “The Constitution belongs to the people. There must be a democratic process in order for it function properly.” The committee report dealt with process and has recommended the permanent establishment of a standing committee on constitutional reform. The committee has gone one step further in that it has asked that the first priority of that committee be to establish a process for future constitutional reform.
Another item surprised me at committee hearings. Although it was short notice, I am one of those who believe that the hearings were very helpful. They were helpful because I became more aware that the Meech Lake accord and the communiqué signed 9 June are not always fully understood by the population.
We had a number of citizens who came before us who did not have time to prepare formal documents so they came and spoke from the heart. What they said made an impression. They asked to be better informed and I think we as a Legislature, and the government of Canada, must in future constitutional debate do that.
The aboriginal issue, which has certainly been front and centre in the last week, particularly with the activities going on in Manitoba, was also something that perhaps I misunderstood. Certainly I have now a very strong appreciation for the concerns of the aboriginal peoples and also the aboriginal women.
In the briefs that were presented to us they were factual, their concern was real, and I am pleased that the province of Ontario has taken some initiatives in the determination of self government. I agree with comments made earlier that this process must continue and Ontario should take a lead and try to encourage all other provinces to treat our native people fairly in constitutional matters.
On the issue of Senate reform, we did hear some comments about what was talked about as a giveaway of the six Senate seats. But I think the concerns were more in the line of the consultation and the process. Citizens who appeared before us were concerned that Ontario was giving something up. We were told by experts, by those who were representatives of Ontario, who were there in an individual capacity representing themselves, who were providing advice to the Premier, that the idea of giving up the Senate seats broke an impasse and was perhaps responsible for the talks continuing, so that the final communiqué could be arrived at.
I applaud the Premier for his initiative in the situation. I am pleased that the effort that he made did show the support of Ontario, that we are committed to meaningful Senate reform, that we are not just talking. Again today, having this resolution before the House to be passed before the 23 June deadline, I think is an act of good faith to show to those provinces that we are serious. I know that New Brunswick has already introduced and passed this resolution and I understand that Nova Scotia, which is also giving up two Senate seats, will be doing the same before the end of the week.
I also want to do two more things. First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the 1988 select committee on constitutional reform. Clearly, the report of that committee formed the basis for the McKenna proposals and clearly, with the possible exception of the Ontario Senate position, all other issues were discussed and were recommended by that committee.
We have heard that perhaps the hearings over the last week were hurried and that we were talking about a done deal. The 1988 select committee perhaps felt somewhat the same. I think the result and the impact of that committee’s report is now well known, and it is my hope that the resolutions and the recommendations of this committee will also serve, at least in the area of process, and that our recommendations regarding aboriginal people will be useful in the future.
I am very pleased to be standing here today to support this resolution and I urge all members to do so.
Mr Wildman: I rise to participate in a debate in the same vein in which I participated in the debate in June 1988 in this assembly. At that time, I said that the people of Ontario. the people of English Canada, could say yes to Quebec without at the same time saying no to the aboriginal people, the people of the northern territories and the women of this country. I still maintain that position. That position has not changed as a result of the first ministers’ conference and the agreement that was reached by the first ministers on 9 June in Ottawa.
I believe we should make clear in this Legislature and once again reaffirm this province’s commitment to the legitimate demands of the people of Quebec for inclusion in the constitutional fold of this country and the linguistic duality of the nation. Having said that, I want to say, as a new member of the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs, that I do not share the views of the majority that the hearings process was in any way a useful exercise. We all know that there is no constitutional requirement that the 9 June first ministers’ agreement be ratified before 23 June by this assembly. There is not only no legal requirement but the Premier has said in the House that there is no agreement and no commitment to ratify this quickly.
The work that the committee was given was important and historic. I want to say sincerely that I congratulate the Chairman and the committee members and the clerk and staff for their work. I believe that they attempted to deal with the issues in the best way they could, considering the time frame. I want to say I respect their position while I cannot accept it.
The Premier was determined that this assembly ratify before 23 June, so the committee was then stuck with a situation where we perhaps might not have held public hearings, but if we did not, then we would be accused of not seeking the opinions of Ontarians. Yet if we did, we had such a short time frame it might not be in any way meaningful. In my view, it was not.
It was impossible for the committee to canvass the opinions of Ontarians in such a short time. The Premier’s determination that the committee should report and a vote be taken on a government motion today, in my view, perpetuated the pressure-cooker atmosphere around constitutional amendment, which is generally rejected by Canadians throughout the country.
Canadians reject the process of constitutional discussions that is carried on behind closed doors by the Prime Minister and the premiers in a crisis atmosphere of bargaining and horsetrading with little public input or accountability. As others have said, the Constitution belongs to all of the people of Canada, not just 11 politicians and their advisers. Holding five days of public hearings in Ontario after the decisions have already been reached by the first ministers, without proper advertisement and notice, did not give the people of this province any real say in this amendment of our country’s fundamental law.
In answer to a question I raised in the Legislature last Thursday, the government House leader made it clear that today the assembly would be voting on a government motion to ratify the first ministers’ agreement, not the committee’s report. Obviously the work of the committee and its report were never intended by the government to be of any great significance or relevance in the process of ratification in Ontario.
The Attorney General has argued before the committee that ratification this week by Ontario would encourage the legislators of Manitoba and Newfoundland to ratify the 1987 Meech Lake constitutional accord before the deadline. I think it is obvious to everyone that the developments in the Manitoba legislature since 11 June have certainly shown that whatever happens in this assembly has little or no relevance to whether or not that province ratifies the Meech Lake accord. There is absolutely no reason for the rush.
The representatives of the aboriginal people who appeared before the committee made it clear that aboriginals feel betrayed by this amendment process because they have been excluded. This was not a sudden discovery, or should not have been, for the committee members. We have gone through this process since the early 1980s. Today in the assembly, one of the members of the assembly got up and paid tribute to John Cabot as the discoverer of the eastern coast of North America. Right there, it shows the whole problem. Cabot did not discover America, and it is about time the assembly, the Constitution and the history books of this province recognize that the aboriginal people have been here for thousands of years. We are immigrants; they are not, and to have a Constitution that does not recognize that fact is, as the aboriginal leaders before the committee said, to include a basic lie in our Constitution.
I cannot accept that lie. It has been argued that we must fulfil and complete the Quebec round in order that we can recognize the legitimate claims of aboriginals to their rights and to self-government. The experience in Baie James does not give any aboriginal leader any confidence that the inclusion of Quebec in the Constitution will ensure the inclusion of aboriginal rights at any time in our Constitution.
The Premier has been credited with saving the discussion in Ottawa because of his offer to give up six Senate seats as a way of spurring Senate reform and giving some certainty to the provinces concerned about it. It is my contention that we, as a committee and as an assembly, cannot in any way predict what significance that offer might or might not have for this province, and the committee was not able to assess that adequately. It is time the people were consulted before first ministers of the provinces make such offers on the Constitution of this country.
I regret very much that the Premier has continued and perpetuated the pressure-cooker atmosphere around the constitutional amendment process. I regret very much that I was not able to join with the majority in the report. I regret that I dissent from that report, and that in support of my aboriginal sisters and brothers and the people of Ontario, while I welcome the inclusion of Quebec and hope for the inclusion of Quebec in the constitutional fold of this nation, I cannot support the first ministers’ agreement.
Mr Jackson: I rise today to participate in this brief but very significant debate for Ontario’s citizens and for Canada. I do that with the same degree of concern, fear and trepidation that I did when I rose in this House to speak in June 1988 on the Meech Lake accord itself. I believe that all members of this House have yet to learn that our constitutional matters are too important to be left solely in the hands of the members of this Legislature. In fact, matters dealing with the amendment of our Constitution clearly must require the legitimate input of the citizens who we serve, because I fundamentally believe that we derive the power that we are about to wield at six o’clock today purely from the consent of those we govern, and unless we are prepared to understand and give real life and meaning to that commitment, we will have failed our province, we will have failed our country, and I believe we will have failed our Constitution.
I want to suggest at the outset that I had the privilege of participating in what some have called public hearings. As several speakers have indicated, these were not public hearings for the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs. These could not be considered meaningful committee hearings to hear from the citizens of this province, because we did not advertise them. The fact is that in Toronto we listened to about 60 citizens over a course of three days. In Ottawa, in Sudbury and in Windsor we talked to fewer than 25 people in the space of less than 30 hours. In the city of Windsor, only two citizens came forward to speak at that hearing.
How can we say that is a meaningful process where we have allowed the citizens of Ontario to participate in matters relative to the changing of our Constitution, the matters that were before the committee since the Premier emerged from what some have called the insane circus behind closed doors in Ottawa? What is it that we were charged with the responsibility of discussing? We were actually charged with the responsibility of discussing something that citizens in this province have not had an opportunity to discuss: a substantive issue of Senate reform. It is what we are voting upon today. It has less to do with Meech Lake, because this Parliament has already approved the Quebec round. This Parliament gave its approval. We are now looking at a new constitutional amendment from 1990, which some have referred to as an addendum, the final communiqué. It is the document which all Canadians witnessed the 11 ministers sign in the early hours of 9 June.
The fact is that Ontario citizens have not had time to tell us, as legislators, how we should vote on this issue. I am concerned when the committee chairman, the member for Durham Centre, who speaks with pride in the accomplishment that he has produced a report, which I was just handed a matter of a moment or so ago, is proud of the fact that his province has a great record with the native peoples and he compliments the fact that the report recommends a change in process.
The truth is that this chamber was given the advice almost three years ago that we not engage in this process, yet we have another report that says, “Let’s never do this process again.” If we betrayed that advice two years ago, and we have engaged in this charade of public participation when it was meaningless, then how can the member stand in this House and reassure us that by simply recommending it in a report, something is going to change?
The truth of the matter is that our Premier is conducting himself with the Prime Minister in a fashion that was developed in 1982, and we as a nation and all of our legislatures let down the Canadian people when we allowed a process which specifically allowed a political elite in this country to make substantive decisions regarding constitutional amendment. It was made possible even further by the fact that the members of the political elite have the moral authority, in their minds, of majority governments.
The fact is that what could have become the people’s package in 1982 has become the deal that our first ministers were allowed to make behind closed doors. Every Canadian has expressed concern about this process.
Mr Haggerty: Where does the Prime Minister fit into this?
Mr Jackson: The Prime Minister and the Premier, everybody, agrees that this process was wrong, but no one is doing a darned thing about it. We know that in 1982, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau did not want to go this way. In fact, history records that the Premier of Quebec wanted a referendum approach; that is what history will tell us. But the fact remains that we have a process in place which denies people the opportunity to have the meaningful input that Canadians deserve.
So I challenge the member with the majority: If we are going to get into partisanship. which we should not --
Mr Carrothers: Oh, come on.
Mr Jackson: Then the member should not encourage the debate along those lines. All members in that room are guilty of that process, and that has been stated virtually by every speaker this afternoon.
The fact is, what we are being asked to ratify today has more to do with Senate reform than it has to do with Quebec’s five demands, and anyone willing to read this document will clearly find out that this is in fact what we are voting on today, and the fact that the roll of the dice that people are so fond of referring to had more to do, not with the environment in which it was operating, but who was actually throwing the dice.
The fact is that Ontario is being asked to surrender six of its Senate seats. We know that when the Premier rolled the dice, the number two came up and the Premier of New Brunswick said: “Well, that’s not the right roll, Premier. We want you to roll again.” He picked up the dice and he rolled it again, and what did he come up with? He came up with a number six. Then the two Premiers said: “Well, that’s fine. That’s the roll of the dice that we are looking for.”
Mr Furlong: You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Mr Jackson: The member should read today’s paper. He will see exactly what was said. I think the chairman of the committee is concerned that we are getting closer in this House to a clear understanding of what went on with respect to Ontario’s participation in Senate reform than he, as the chairman of our committee, was able to garner in its very extensive six days of hearings.
The fact is, Mr Speaker, that the Canadian people and Ontario citizens are trying to tell us what is wrong with this process. Do you realize there is not a Hansard record of these public hearings? We have not had time to get them published.
But let me help the members of the House who did not conduct public hearings in their own ridings, as I did, or were unable to attend these meetings. We had our very first speaker in Ottawa refer to “Peterson’s Senate seat sale,” which was followed by a professor who specializes in constitutional law, who called it “an insane circus behind closed doors.” It was “indecent manipulation.” I am reading directly from the quotes of citizens who came forward in those hearings. We heard about a “labour relations bargaining marathon,” as one referred to it.
But from Canada’s native people we perhaps heard the most cogent, the most sensitive and the most enlightening advice, which has yet to be shared with this House. We had an Inuit leader tell this committee that Canada is stronger than Meech. Imagine citizens of this country, after they have been excluded from constitutional discussions and told that they cannot participate in the Canada clause -- for them to come forward and say Canada is stronger than Meech.
We had a Queen’s University law professor tell us that this whole process is a threat to our national integrity because it is composed of media-spinning, coersion tactics and exclusion of popular choice by the people of this country.
We had another citizen in Sudbury talk about it as an active force, a pressure bandage, simply for the benefit of New Brunswick and Newfoundland. And we had an Indian woman who travelled hundreds of miles just to be given 15 minutes of our time to ask us why we have the right to tamper with their federal relationships. Where do we get off deciding that, as we have in this document, for the first nations people of our country?
We could learn much if we listened to those very few citizens who came forward to make presentations. I was pleased to participate in those discussions. Like the member for Algoma, I raised considerable concerns during the debate on Meech Lake. I raised the concerns of Canada’s aboriginal founding peoples and women, who had been specifically excluded from the accord. Their relationship to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was drawn into question. Like many Canadians, I share a different vision for Canada than do, perhaps, the government and the Premier of this province.
But today’s debate is not about the different visions of a strong federalist government or stronger provincial powers that may some day move our country into a federation of states, as opposed to a strong federalist government. That debate was two years ago on Meech, and that is what the essence of Meech is. Today is about Senate reform. We have been told eloquently by the member for Parry Sound that, by the Premier’s own admission, this is a symbolic gesture to assist the legislatures of Newfoundland and Manitoba. If one reads the media reports, it will become abundantly clear that both the peoples of Manitoba and Newfoundland, who incidentally have distinguished themselves by their ability to convince their elected officials that there should be a meaningful process for them to participate in, are not talking about Senate reform today, they are talking about the future of Canada. So where is the need for this symbolism to surrender these six Senate seats? History will show that it was to break a logjam during a collective bargaining environment and to save face for 11 men deciding the future of our country.
The process was wrong and those of us who would vote against it will refuse to participate further in a process which continues that wrong. As I have indicated, after having had over 100 of my constituents come to a meeting last night to talk about this final accord document, I will be voting in accordance with my conscience and at home with my constituents and be voting against this agreement. I want to say the reason I will do that is because, as I have indicated on many occasions, we cannot be influenced by the timing of a provincial election. We cannot be guided by a whipped vote on something as critical as our Constitution and 1 thank my party leader, the member for Nipissing, for again allowing those of us in our party to have a free vote according to our constituents’ wishes and our consciences.
But we all too often forget in this chamber that we derive our power purely from the consent of those we govern. Today I will vote on their behalf.
Mr Grandmaître: I am pleased to discuss the resolution that is before us, introduced by our Premier, who I think has done a great job for the province and Canada, not only in the past three years, but I think as a great Canadian has been promoting not only this province, but Canadians.
As a member of the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs, I am pleased to say that we went around this province in a limited way, but at least we showed good faith. I think it is about time that we quit playing politics. I think it is time that we should point the finger to ourselves as individuals, as Canadians.
Je crois qu’il est trés nécessaire de cesser le jeu politique qu’on joue depuis 125 ans au Canada. Ça fait cinq ans que je fais partie de cette Assemblée et ça fait cinq ans qu’on tente de pointer du doigt, de blâmer les gens.
Je crois que ce qui se passe au Canada, c’est de notre faute, individuellement, en tant que Canadiens, qui avons toujours tenu le Canada pour acquis comme une vache à lait. Le Canada a toujours bien appuyé les Canadiens, mais par contre, nous avons toujours voulu profiter du Canada. L’impasse à laquelle on fait face aujourd’hui, nous l’avons voulue.
Aujourd’hui, on a à se blamer soi-même, à s’unir. Qu’on fasse partie d’un groupe multiculturel, qu’on soit anglophone, qu’on soit autochtone, aborigène, qu’on soit femme, qu’on soit handicapé, il est grandement temps qu’on se dise qu’on aime notre pays, qu’on aime le Canada, qu’on aime notre province. C’est seulement à ce moment-là que nous allons réaliser, comme Canadiens, qu’il y a longtemps que nous n’avons pas fait nos devoirs.
En tant que francophone en Ontario, j’admire les autochtones qui cherchent à avoir du pouvoir dans notre province et partout au Canada. Je comprends comment ces gens-là se sentent ; j’en étais un jusqu’en 1986. Maintenant, nous avons une loi, la Loi 8 qui nous permet, qui nous donne des services. Je crois que c’est la responsabilité de notre gouvernement, du gouvernement de l’Ontario, et des neuf autres gouvernements au Canada ainsi que celui d’Ottawa de comprendre qu’on veut vivre au Canada uni et partager tous les bienfaits qui existent au Canada.
II faut cesser de pointer du doigt et d’accuser Pierre, Jean, Jacques. Ce sont nous les responsables ; ce sont nous qui avons la gouvernance du Canada ; ce sont nous qui avons la gouvernance de notre province. C’est à nous d’avoir un processus et une formule qui vont nous plaire, qui vont satisfaire, non seulement les Ontariens et les Ontariennes, mais tous les Canadiens.
As a member of the committee, I was pleased to meet as many people as we could in a very limited time, but I think it was a worthwhile process. Naturally, we did not satisfy every group or every individual who wanted to address the issue and the amendments that were brought on by the 8 June meetings in Ottawa. But I think it served a purpose. I think it is about time that we listened to the people outside this building and outside every government House in Canada.
I think we are to blame, not as politicians but as Canadians, for having taken Canada for granted for too long, and now we see Canada as being fragmented or very close to being fragmented. I think our committee must continue to travel, not only across this province but right across Canada, to try to unite Canada, to live as Canadians and to dream as Canadians. It is the only way that Canada will remain a great country.
M.Morin Strom : Je pense que le débat d’aujourd’hui est très important pour l’avenir du Canada. En cette période critique de l’histoire de notre pays, il est essentiel que tous les politiciens du Canada démontrent la volonté de trouver une solution pour rassembler les communautés anglophones et francophones.
En tant que député de Sault Ste-Marie, j’éprouve personnellement la responsabilité de dire «oui» au Québec et «oui» aux francophones partout au Canada. Je connais la blessure qu’a causée aux Québécois la décision de notre conseil municipal de déclarer Sault Ste-Marie unilingue anglaise. Le gâchis est immense. Je connais la blessure ressentie par les communautés francophones d’un bout à l’autre du Canada. Je connais la blessure parce que je l’ai vue à Sault Ste-Marie et parce que je l’ai vécue dans ma propre famille.
Ma communauté a été divisée sur la question linguistique et a été divisée sur l’accord du Lac Meech. Aujourd’hui, cependant, je tiens à représenter ceux et celles qui veulent lutter pour l’unité du Canada. Je crois que la seule façon de réussir est d’accueillir le Québec dans la constitution canadienne.
Je reconnais qu’il y a de sérieux problèmes avec l’accord du Lac Meech en ce qui concerne le processus utilisé par le premier ministre Brian Mulroney et avec le nouvel accord signé le 9 juin dernier. J’aurais préféré une consultation publique pendant l’été sur cette question. J’aurais aussi voulu, comme le Québec, que les dix provinces ratifient l’accord originel avant d’accepter ces ajouts supplémentaires qui vont être votés aujourd’hui. Pour moi, la question d’un Sénat efficace représente un autre niveau de gouvernement qui serait une menace pour la démocratie au Canada.
Je souhaite que ce vote ait lieu cette semaine au Manitoba et à Terre-Neuve. J’espère que notre geste, ici en Ontario, va encourager les deux provinces à assumer leurs responsabilités.
Monsieur le Président, je vous remercie de votre patience ; c’est mon premier discours prononcé en français. Mais je tiens à dire «oui» au Québec, «oui» aux francophones, «oui» à l’unité du Canada et, en tant que député de Sault Ste-Marie, je veux dire «oui» à la dualité linguistique du Canada. J’appuie la résolution présentée.
Ms Oddie Munro: The Canadian Constitution is important to all Canadians, and this province has confirmed once again its love of Canada in the five days of public hearings completed yesterday by the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs.
The task of the committee, as directed by the House, was to consider the 1990 constitutional agreement and to report back. We did so through the vehicle of public meetings. We were told by the people in their own way that the Constitution is important to them, both individually and collectively; that the Constitution is their identity; and that the changing nature of Canada must be embodied in the Constitution and the Charter of Rights. We were told, too, that any changes to the Constitution, in order to be embraced by the people, must be reflected by the people as part of a dynamic communication process involving elected representatives, first ministers and Canadian citizens from all walks of life and all geographic locations, having regard for our history, our present and our future.
I am here to comment on one of the main issues arising out of our public hearings, and that issue was process. Every committee member recognized the very real time limitations of the hearings. Every committee member, however, did his or her utmost not only to listen to the witnesses but to enter into dialogue. What we heard was the desire and necessity for grassroots opportunities to participate in constitutional issues. While recognizing and respecting the role of elected officials, federal-provincial conferences and first ministers’ conferences, the main issue was to receive and give timely information, to educate and be educated and to reflect on both the substance and value of constitutional amendments for the people.
We were told that part of the negative reaction to the constitutional process was tack of information, fearmongering and pressures. Credit was given where credit was due to all partners, including provincial premiers, but the message we got was that we have an opportunity now to open up the process. Ontario has a role to play, as we have in the past, in making our suggestions for process known to the federal government and to our sister provinces.
We heard that the process cannot be relegated to a onetime-only communication, but ongoing. Commonsense notions of communication, process and participation were heard: town hall meetings, information sessions, letters, telephone call-ins, sources of information at libraries etc.
The main point that we heard was that comprehensive process must be established so every citizen can say truthfully that the opportunity is there for me and you to be heard, that I can see my thoughts are similar to others, that you can feel that your values are or are not shared by others, that we are part of the process of conciliation and development, part of the process of nation-building, that I can talk about Canada and the nation as a normal cultural event in little towns or industrial cities, in north, south, east or west, as a member of first nations, as a recent immigrant, as a member of the French- and English-speaking nations, as women, disabled, as young, old, blue- or white-collar, so that elected officials can say truthfully that they are reflecting the public will and needs on constitutional issues such as Senate reform, aboriginal issues, amendments etc.
Canada now and in the future will have to grapple with perpetuated insensitivities, with wounds, will have to recognize the blessings of values shared, of contributions to the nation by individuals and groups, and will have to constantly be aware of the checks and balances of nationhood, of the rights of individuals and the rights of the collectivity of the respective culture and diversity and language.
I do not believe the session we went through was a sham.
Many of the concerns expressed to us were similar to those of Canadians everywhere. Many wanted to assist the Premier. Many wanted to assist us, as legislators, wanted to assist their own local communities. They realized what brothers and sisters meant. They have given to us, even in the limited time available, input on Senate reform, the “distinct society” clause, Charter of Rights, etc.
It was our task as a committee to bring their responses to members and we have suggested ratification and acceptance of the resolution. I do so and will support the resolution and would like to insist that every member of the Legislature take on his or her responsibility, in the process sense, of bringing to people in their ridings issues of constitutional amendments in the future. We will then be an even stronger nation than we have been in the past.
Mr Breaugh: I wanted to come in and participate this afternoon because I am one who has had an opportunity to consult rather widely with my constituents in the last little while. I found something surprising.
The first thing was how well they understand what is going on here. I know that many would feel that maybe people in a riding like mine have not followed the proceedings. I am surprised by how thoroughly they have. I am surprised at the number of people who have a fairly good grasp of maybe not all of the technical arguments that are in the accord, but they understand the substance of it all.
I am taken aback by the wisdom of people who sense that there is something wrong here, but it is not particularly what was agreed upon at Meech Lake or subsequently at the meeting in Ottawa last week. They understand that the basic fault is one of process.
I was reminded, in discussions with them too, of a small clip I saw and I apologize, I did not catch the gentleman’s name, but he was appearing before the federal committee in the Yukon. He said that he was very angry about what is happening to his country, and angry because it was happening at the hands of a small group of constitutional aristocrats. That phrase stuck in my mind because it goes to the heart of the matter.
If a Constitution is worth anything, it is not something that is written down for experts to analyse, or for lawyers to argue or for people in the academic world to study. If it is of any value, it is for the people of that constituency, of that nation. In a strange way, they are beginning to develop some sense of the turmoil that is going on.
At the tip of the anger is something that was best summarized to me by a woman who spoke to me this morning. She had, by the way, taken the time to come to my office and get a copy of the accord. She said in roughly these words: “I have read the accord. There is nothing in that accord that bothers me. I agree with the things that are there. But the process is surely crazy, surely backwards.” That is true.
It strikes me that we are caught in something that is a strange phenomenon. There is some turmoil going through this country now. Those of us like myself who are used to being in the midst of great turmoil I think are not as upset by others. We accept that in politics there are often many times of great controversy and great argument, and then at the end of it you survive. If what you are trying to do is worth while, you can take almost any controversy and live through it and work towards a better day.
I am struck by the ironies of it all.
Brian Mulroney with all of his power and all of his resources is now being hung out to dry by the rules that he made, by one man I happen to have met, a very quiet, shy person, an aboriginal person who is a member of the Legislature in Manitoba. He is not engaging in great, long rhetoric. He is simply doing what he was elected to do, representing his people in the best way that he can, using the tools that are available to him. There is a tremendous irony in that.
I am struck too by the number of people who -- perhaps it is because this week in Oshawa we are celebrating a presentation by our folk arts council called Fiesta Week, where all of our ethnic groups set up pavilions that explain their background and their culture to people who may not understand that. In a strange way it is what Canada is, a great leveller, for most people came to this country to escape some kind of tyranny, some kind of economic pressure, and made things happen in this country in a way they could not happen in their country of origin.
Like most Canadians, I think I am going to have participation in a great, national upchuck if I see one more of our politicians claiming to be a nation-builder. The people who built this nation are people who came here like my ancestors, like, I will bet, the ancestors of every member in this chamber. They came here to escape some kind of oppression, economic or otherwise. They built something in this country that is unique. They built this nation. They went down into the ground and built the mines. They built the transportation system. They generated the wealth in our factories, on our farms, around the coastal areas of this country.
They are the nation-builders, not the politicians. The politicians come in after the fact and we write down the words that express all of what this country is about and hopes to be. It is not that we are ever going to avoid arguments. That should not be the nature of the case.
I am struck by another irony. One of the premiers did what should have happened, and that is the Premier of Quebec, who went to his people and said, “This is what we think belonging to Canada should mean for the people of Quebec.” He wrote discussion papers about that, he held public meetings about that and he went through a general election about that, so that by the time he got to this constitutional table, his people understood thoroughly what these discussions were about and what the province of Quebec and the people of Quebec wanted. There is a person who speaks with some assurance that the people he represents have had their say. Perhaps that is one of the major flaws in this process, that others did not do that.
It is a difficult time for some, I know, in this country. It is a difficult time for politicians in particular, who seem dreadfully incapable of doing what needs to be done. I am taken aback by those who pretend to be wise, and the sad thing is they are not wise, who pretend to know more about Canada than the rest of Canadians. The sad thing is that it is apparent to all of us that they do not, that they have forgotten some very basic truths about the democratic process, that they think somehow trying to pigeonhole somebody and to pressure him into accepting this agreement will work. It cannot work. In the long run there is no hope for success in that. You could perhaps cause something to be passed in a Legislature, but that will not make it work for the nation.
Like my constituents I spoke to this morning, I have followed these proceedings with great care. There is nothing in the accord that I find offensive. There is nothing in the subsequent agreement that I find offensive. There is everything in the world that offends me about the process. For those who say, “We are stuck with this process because that is the way it was set out in the 1982 agreement,” that is a variation of the truth to which I do not subscribe. There was ample opportunity for all of the premiers to consult widely -- only one of them did -- to put forward proposals in a very public way -- only one of them did -- and to consult with their people by means of public meetings, by means of general elections, by means of discussions at all levels. Sadly that did not happen across the country.
I hope we will find our way out of this impasse. I could think, with my devious mind, of a number of procedural ways in which we could get through this dilemma. But that really is not the difficulty that is before us. That is only a technicality and that will not win or lose the day. What needs to happen, and I am really sad to report this, is that there needs to be a turnaround in the relationship between those who are elected in this country and those they purport to represent.
The people we represent feel badly betrayed by the process. They feel badly betrayed by the Prime Minister of this country and the attitude he displayed towards everybody else, because if there is a flaw in what has happened here it is very simply the strange notion that there is a small number of people who are all-wise and all-knowing, and that what they write down is perfect and what everybody else thinks is quite wrong. The reverse is quite true.
The reverse, and the truth I believe in, is that the people in this country, the people in my riding, have surprised me with how well they understand what has happened here; with how well they understand the need to approve the Meech Lake accord in some form; with how well they understand that the flaw is in the process, not with the documents; with how well they understand -- this I find, I suppose, surprising in a sense. One would have thought that in my community there would not be a great deal of sympathy for aboriginal Canadians, and there is.
If Elijah Harper came to Oshawa he could be mayor, provincial member, federal member, anything he wanted. People have watched those proceedings in a way that I find quite strange. They understand exactly what he is doing. They understand exactly what he wants and they support it. If you put the question to me in this form, “Do you want to vote for Brian Mulroney or Elijah Harper?” I would have to say, like almost 99% of my constituents, “I am with Elijah.”
Mr R. F. Johnston: Would that I had more than just a few minutes to be able to address this issue. Would that all members of the Legislature were to have a chance to participate in the constitutional debate. Would that the people of the country would be allowed to participate in a constitutional debate. But that has not been the case.
I voted against Meech Lake when it was first brought to this House. I argued against it in my party, which then agreed to go ahead with support of Meech Lake. I would be willing to support the companion resolutions that came out of the legislative committee of this Legislature, but I am not willing, again, to participate in a procedure that denies my democratic rights, that denies the involvement of the people of Canada and the people of this province in decision-making.
When the Premier of this province has the nerve to speak against the process and then comes back to us. having never raised it in this House once, with the notion that six seats in the Senate are supposedly not important and have no relevance to anything in the future and that he can use that as a card and expect me to sit back and acquiesce, he is crazy.
People may think that the Senate is irrelevant, and my party and I believe that it should be done away with, but as a result of this Meech process what we now have is an elected Senate, as sure as shooting. I do not think the people of this country want another level of government. I think they think we have more levels of government than we damned well need at this point.
I do not think the people of this province believe they want a Senate that is going to derogate from the rights and the privilege of this House, and that is exactly what that kind of Senate is going to do. These assemblies are going to become like state assemblies in the United States. They are going to become much less relevant. The senior level of government will become the Senate. As sure as shooting, that is going to take place.
When they say, “That is not going to happen,” I ask them to think about what the Premier has now done. He has now said that we will have, it looks like, a maximum of 18 elected senators. That is going to be the reality: 18 people who will represent, each of them, one eighteenth of the province, whereas we members represent one one hundred and thirtieth. We will not be able to say that we represent the people of Ontario as much as those senators will be able to say it.
Senators have the right under our Constitution to the same parliamentary rights as does the House of Parliament. The only thing that restricts them is the fact that they are nominated, not elected. That has now been done away with. Nobody has thought of the consequences of this. I just say to members that I will not stand in support of this. I will have to again vote against this process and this accord that has been brought to us again.
Mr Harris: I am not particularly pleased that we are debating this today, but given the fact that the debate is on today I am pleased to speak on this resolution.
We are debating a very important resolution at a very critical time in our nation’s history. One would like to think that such a fundamental turning point in our constitutional discussions would be cause for celebration and I, like so many other Canadians, regret that this is not the case. I, like so many other Canadians, passionately want a strong, united and whole Canada. The tremendous irony of this whole ordeal is that in the end, despite working so hard to come up with a constitutional agreement to achieve precisely that, we have somehow managed to sow the seeds for national self-destruction in the process. Clearly, if this constitutional agreement fails, it will fail because the process was flawed. It will fail because the process itself failed the people.
Even if it somehow survives, as Dalton Camp so rightly noted in this morning’s newspaper, it will survive despite the widely held view that Canadians were duped and betrayed by the process. Canadians will have lost respect for the political process. Canadians will have lost respect for our political leadership. Canadians will be very suspicious of any talk about improving the process tomorrow from the same politicians who are responsible for the agonizing experience we are dealing with today. After all it was politicians, not the people, who got us into this mess, so the people really do not have much confidence in today’s political leadership to get Canada out of this mess.
I believe that our political leadership, and specifically our first ministers, now finally understand that the process was wrong, but it was apparent to many people years ago. In fact, to Canadians from one end of this country to the other who were left out of the process, it was apparent that it was wrong from day one.
I sat on Ontario’s legislative committee that was established over two years ago to hold open public hearings on the Meech Lake accord. It was established reluctantly only after the Peterson government had made its final decision and only after the opposition parties embarrassed the Premier into action. As a member of this committee, I travelled this province. I attended meeting after meeting where people from all walks of life appeared before us to express their concerns.
Some had concerns about what was in the Meech Lake accord. Many had concerns about what was not in the accord. But almost everyone expressed concerns about the process. They were concerned about having only the visions of 11 first ministers, arbitrarily imposed upon 26 million other Canadians without ever first consulting the public. They reminded us that there were 26 million other visions out there on the future of Canada. They reminded us that in a participatory democracy, which this country supposedly embraces, people have a right to participate, not just in a token way after the fact but directly and in a meaningful way before public policy and especially constitutional decisions are made. That did not happen here in Ontario.
As a member of that committee and as someone who shares these public sentiments, I tried to address these concerns by issuing a minority opinion in conjunction with my colleague the member for Parry Sound on behalf of our party. Despite the flawed process and the lack of public input prior to Meech Lake, I felt that the outstanding concerns could be addressed by way of companion resolutions in that three-year period that was provided to us. As well we suggested a Supreme Court reference to clarify “distinct society,” and the establishment of a permanent public consultation process here in Ontario, because we knew then just as surely as we know now that these constitutional discussions are with us for at least the next 10 years and probably now for ever. That was two years ago when that report was released.
The Premier of this province refused to acknowledge that report or to listen to that report and thereby refused to listen to the public of this province. He dismissed the merits of companion resolutions. He dismissed the need for a court reference. He waited two more years before establishing a constitutional committee to provide a forum for public consultation. If there is a second irony in all of this, it is that the resolution we are debating today embraces the spirit, if not the substance of my party’s minority report that was issued two years ago.
In the meantime, while Canadians from coast to coast were discussing the Wells, the Filmon and the McKenna proposals, the Premier of Ontario sat on the sidelines. Never in the history of Canadian constitutional discussions has Ontario so badly neglected its national leadership role. Never before have the people of Ontario been forced to wonder where our Premier is, what Ontario’s role is in shaping the future of Canada, who is speaking for us and in fact who is consulting us before speaking up for Ontario.
Today many Ontarians might argue that the Premier of Newfoundland has been speaking for the people of Ontario. Some say it is the people of Saskatchewan. Others may feel it is the Premier of Quebec. What we do know, and without diminishing any constructive role the Premier of Ontario might have had behind closed doors during the first ministers’ meetings three weeks ago -- that is just the problem, because Canadians do not know what went on behind those closed doors -- is that Ontario played a role in breaking the Senate reform logjam and we know that it revolves around giving up six Senate seats. So Ontario will be known for its role in horse-trading some Senate seats as our contribution to the most historic constitutional discussions since Confederation, without any prior consultation with the cabinet, the Legislature or the people of Ontario.
I suggest that this is not the way to build a nation. Surely the people of Ontario, who have always played a significant role in our national affairs, deserve better leadership than that.
The Premier should not be surprised by the answer to the question that may well be put to the people shortly, namely, “Who do you want speaking for you in the province of Ontario at the constitutional table in the future?” because that is why provinces have leaders. The Premier of Ontario is at the constitutional table, yes, to speak for Canada, but the Premier of Ontario also has a fundamental responsibility to listen to and then speak for the province of Ontario. The Premier of Ontario, on something as important as amending our Constitution, also has a fundamental obligation to consult and reflect the needs and the aspirations of the people of Ontario who that Premier represents.
I have no sense that the Premier of Ontario today understands or is prepared to assume that responsibility in that way. I have no sense that the Premier of Ontario is fighting on behalf of our rights, our interests and our wellbeing. We have, for example, a tremendous problem with interprovincial trade barriers in Canada today. Ontario bears the brunt of that damage. Who is fighting for Ontario’s rights, for Ontario’s jobs and for Ontario’s future on this issue? Not this Premier. But he should have, he could have and he probably would have if he had the benefit of public input, if he had the benefit of public consensus or if the Premier had the benefit of a public mandate from the people of Ontario to speak for the province of Ontario.
That is where our Premier really failed the people over the last three years. We could have had public hearings on Senate reform. We could have had the hearings on Senate reform. We had ample time to identify Ontario’s priorities, be they aboriginal, women’s concerns about the Charter of Rights, the Senate, national unity, trade barriers, or anything else. We had an opportunity to implement a game plan to address those concerns. That is what this Premier, our Premier, failed to do during those three wasted years.
If we have learned anything, it is that no future Premier of this province can assume that he or she has a mandate to make deals with other first ministers on major constitutional matters without first consulting with the people of Ontario. Whether it is by way of referendum, plebiscite, hearings or a vote in the Legislature, no Premier has a mandate unless he goes through that process.
Second, never again should our first ministers be permitted to horse-trade or make significant concessions on unrelated items behind closed doors in the middle of the night. If we are dealing with Senate reform, let’s deal with Senate reform. Let’s not mix up Senate reform with aboriginal rights. If we are dealing with aboriginal rights, or women’s rights, or the Canada clause, let’s deal with them one by one, on their own merits, without diminishing one to strengthen or change the other when they are totally unrelated.
I have spoken today about the flawed process, about the importance of participatory democracy, about the need to respect the people’s vision of Canada and about the Premier’s responsibility to fight as well for Ontario’s interests. I, like so many other Canadians, have very real concerns about how we got to this stage, about where we are today and about where we go from here as a nation after 23 June.
I am concerned about the future of my country. I am concerned about the talk of separation in Quebec, but also in eastern Canada, in western Canada and here in Ontario. I believe it is more than just talk; I believe it is real. It reflects the increasingly widespread lack of public confidence not just in our political leadership but indeed in our country. The political and national climate in this country has changed as a result of this horrible constitutional experience. Much damage has been done to our sense of national identity, to our spirit, to our collective unity and to our goodwill. Whether we like it or not, simply passing Meech Lake alone will not undo that damage.
I am appalled that the Peterson government has yet to acknowledge this new reality with a plan for national reconciliation. We have yet to receive any guarantees that a formal, public constitutional process will be followed in Ontario after 23 June. Today the Attorney General acknowledged that it is up to each province on its own as to how it uses those three years that are provided in the 1981-82 document. It is up to each province as to how it uses the time leading up to those three years. We could have used that time in Ontario to consult on Senate reform, to discuss the options, to get a mandate from the people of Ontario before we went to the first ministers’ conference and offered up something that was not the first minister’s to offer up.
After having failed to do that, the Premier had a second option. Not having a mandate to fundamentally change the direction of this country from Ontario’s position vis-à-vis the Senate, the Premier had an option to go to that first ministers’ conference, as flawed as it was. My first choice would be to fight to change the process, but if that was not successful, then he had an option to commit his own personal view and to bring that back to the people of Ontario over the three-year period. He did not have the mandate and that is not the commitment he made. He made the commitment that he would use every power he can -- and with 94 seats, the people of this province know what that power is -- to have this vote, to have a short-circuited, disgraceful display of some type of input and have this vote in two weeks.
We have no indication that this government has the kind of plan in place that will be required for Ontario to deal with the many outstanding constitutional challenges that remain. Because of the flawed process, because of the diversity of opinion that exists as to just what signal this resolution will send to the people of Ontario, the members of my caucus have agreed to conclude that debate today with a free vote. In the absence of being given the three years leading up to or the three years after to consult with their people, because this is the people’s Constitution, my members have been forced into a situation without being able to consult with the people, without being able to consult with their constituents and without being able to have any meaningful input, and they have been forced today to make that decision in their own conscience having consulted, as best they can, with their constituents.
I wish to conclude by indicating that I will vote for the resolution. The signal that I am sending today with my vote is that the process is flawed and that it must be changed. I am voting in favour of public consultation and constructive public involvement in any future constitutional discussions, just as I voted two years ago, and which this government ignored when I proposed that two years ago. I am voting in support of a strong and a united Canada that, in my view, is far more important than any single item that may or may not be contained in the current constitutional package.
Quite frankly, there are some aspects of these constitutional amendments that I personally do not like. Given an opportunity to do so, I will fight to change them. I also believe that I have made it clear that I find the entire process that was inherited by the Prime Minister from Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien and then blindly followed by the Premier of Ontario, I find that whole process totally unacceptable, and that too I will fight to change.
Finally, my country is in trouble, my country’s future is in jeopardy and its people are worried. On 24 June I will begin, in concert with the people of Ontario and with help from Canadians all across this country, to fight to change that fundamental process as well. This country, my Canada, needs all of us to fight for its future, to fight for our future and to fight for our children’s future. I believe it is worth fighting for.
Mr Eves: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would move that the leader of the official opposition be given our extra 2 minutes and 58 seconds to add to his time, with unanimous consent.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Do we have unanimous consent?
Mr B. Rae: I think they stopped the clock when the applause started. I appreciate the kindness of the members of the Conservative Party in giving me just a trifle more time to express my thoughts on this occasion.
Like all Canadians, I speak with a troubled heart at the moment. I do not think any of us can look at the process and say that we are entirely happy. I think we have, over the last several weeks, come to understand how profoundly people feel excluded from the making of the Canadian Constitution. There are historical reasons for that. After all, until 1982 there was no process. The only process was that the British Parliament would pass an amendment to the British North America Act, presumably on the advice and consent of the Parliament of Canada, but again certainly not with any guarantee of the participation of Canadians.
We really did not have a Constitution to make our own until 1982. When it came to us, it came to us largely as a Constitution that was about the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government. It was, in a sense, seen as the property of those provinces and of the federal government. The Constitution was seen as belonging essentially to the premiers and to the Prime Minister. That is obviously no longer acceptable or tenable in a modern democratic state such as Canada.
That is why I said two weeks ago, when we first began to discuss the question of the new resolution in front of us, that we have to state and understand very clearly now that the Constitution belongs to the people of Canada. It is not the private property of the Premier; it is not the private property of the Prime Minister; it belongs to all the people. We have to find a way of amending and changing the Constitution so that it becomes part of our democratic life and so that it becomes part of the popular awareness and consciousness of the people of Canada.
There are a great many reasons why I could very easily vote against this resolution. I do not like the process. I have said that often enough; I have said it critically enough. I was at the conference in Ottawa as an observer outside the framework of the discussion. I am sorry the Attorney General is not here to listen to these remarks because they are addressed very personally to him.
The Attorney General told me that he deliberately excluded me and the leader of the third party from any discussion with respect to Senate reform and that he deliberately did not want us to be there at any decision-making time with respect to Ontario’s proposals on the Senate because he felt that it was a decision of the government and a political responsibility of the Premier and had nothing to do with me as Leader of the Opposition.
I suppose that if I were a resentful person or somebody who felt that personal resentment should take precedence over other priorities, I might have decided at that point to do everything in my power to make the life of the government impossible with respect to this issue. I say to the Attorney General, who is not here, and I say to the Premier, who is also not here, and I say to the Deputy Premier, who is also not here, and I say to other people who are also not here, very directly that I think it is a profound mistake to think that the reform of the Constitution is some kind of unilateral responsibility of the government of the day.
I also resented, I can say, as someone who, as the Premier well knows and as the Attorney General well knows, has in good faith, I believe, attempted to deal with this issue in a totally non-partisan way, as I have on other constitutional issues. So if I had been moved by a sense of resentment, my decision would be different. If I were moved by a sense of trying to take advantage of a sense of popular frustration, my decision would be different. However, I do not think that either of those emotions, as much as we as human beings fall prey to them from time to time, and as politicians fall prey to them perhaps more often even than others, is the basis upon which a wise decision can be made.
I have to assess the resolution entirely on its merits as it is before us. On its merits, most of the resolution deals with matters which this House has dealt with on a number of occasions in terms of add-ons to the original Meech Lake accord. The item that has not been discussed and has not been widely shared has to do with the question of Senate reform.
It is quite correct that regardless of how I vote or indeed regardless of how my colleagues vote, the Liberal Party has sufficient votes to simply carry the matter with respect to Senate reform. I could easily say, “You don’t need my vote, so I’m not going to vote for it.” However, like the Premier and like everyone in this House, I too am a Canadian, and I think I speak on behalf of all the members of the House when I say that when I think of my citizenship, I do not regard myself as a citizen of Ontario. I am a citizen of Canada.
My loyalty to the country, my loyalty to Canada comes before my loyalty to whether I live in Ontario or Alberta or Manitoba or British Columbia. It is because I see that we have to respond to this as a national issue and that we are speaking as Canadians that I say to myself: “I was not in that room. Indeed, I was excluded from all those discussions.”
However, I know from public accounts, from what has been said, that the fact that the government of Ontario was prepared to make a certain concession with respect to the Senate was critical in at least getting us to the possibility of a resolution of the impasse over Meech Lake by 23 June.
I can say that I have grave reservations, as I have expressed them. I wonder about the current wave of popular emotion on the subject of the so-called triple E Senate, which I regard as a fundamentally incoherent idea whose merits have yet to be explained to me in any fashion that I find even remotely compatible with the notion of an effective democratic state.
However, I understand that this was an important element, or at least an element, in the achievement of a kind of consensus, and we are going to find out over the next few days just what kind of consensus it was two weeks ago.
I very much want to send a message to the people of Quebec; un message à la population du Québec, qui dit clairement que n’importe ce qui arrive dans les débats au Manitoba ou à Terre-Neuve, il est clair que les Assemblées législatives du Canada anglais, dans la grande majorité, acceptent la réalité que le Québec est une société distincte, dans le Canada.
C’est pourquoi j’implore tous les Québécois de ne pas faire attention aux gens qui jouent aux jeux ridicules avec le drapeau du Québec. Ces gens-là ne représentent pas du tout la grande majorité des anglophones, des Canadiens anglais ; la majorité des Canadiens anglais acceptent la dignité et la réalité du Québec moderne et nouveau.
N’importe ce qui arrive au Manitoba, les débats sur la constitution vont continuer. Je parle pour moi-même et pour le parti que je représente ici en Ontario, en disant que nous allons continuer à participer dans ces débats avec la population de la province de Québec, comme partenaire qui essaie de construire et de refaire, encore et encore, le Canada.
We are in the middle of a painful and difficult national exercise. We are remaking and redefining our country. It is impossible for the native people of the country to accept that this process of redefining the country can take place without recognizing that long before Europeans came over -- the member for Lawrence celebrated, as we all celebrated in various celebrations this week, the arrival of Giovanni Caboto, John Cabot to those of us who went to school a little earlier --
Mr Smith: Before they discovered what his real name was.
Mr B. Rae: Before they discovered what his real name was. That is right.
Let’s not forget that when Giovanni Caboto came to Canada, there were people who had been living here for thousands of years, whose home Canada was and is and always will be. We are remaking the country and it is unconscionable for the remaking of the country to take place without the participation of our native people and without the recognition that they are the first citizens of Canada.
If I believed for an instant that voting against this resolution would somehow aid the process of including the aboriginal people in the heart of constitutional reform, I would vote against it. But I do not happen to believe that that is true. I happen to believe that the hard reality of politics today in the country is that it is going to be easier and indeed it is only really going to be possible for us to effect the kind of constitutional change that will include aboriginal people if Quebec is a willing and voluntary partner in the new Confederation.
I will be very surprised if the Manitoba Legislature is able to vote on this matter before midnight of 23 June. That is a reality. The other reality is that when this House reconvenes next week, we will be faced, as other legislatures will be faced, with a challenge and a choice. There will be those who will argue that what we should simply do is throw up our hands, talk about the death of Meech Lake and run around wondering what it is we can possibly do.
I wished and had hoped that the Premier and the Attorney General would be saying more clearly to Canadians and to the citizens of this province what it is that they think should be our perspective as we head into this weekend. What kind of leadership role will Ontario be playing? What will Ontario be doing to assure the native people of Ontario that they will be partners and parties to the process from here on in? What kind of assurances are they giving to them?
We have not heard those words yet, but I can tell you on behalf of the New Democratic Party, Mr Speaker, we are convinced that while -- and I am someone who I think I can say at some political expense because nothing would have been easier for me at various moments to have decided that this could be made into a very deep and vicious partisan issue and that I would take that course. But I say to the Premier that as of 25 June, when it comes time for us to consider where we go from here, we will be insisting on behalf of the New Democratic Party that the process be an open one.
Frankly, it is not just a question that the member for York South or the member for Nipissing be consulted and be taken seriously because of our commitments and because of our views and because we have been prepared to play this one very differently than we play most partisan issues. I do not think that has been recognized, frankly, on the government side in any serious way. I really do not. But that is as it must be.
I can tell members of the government right now that we expect this process to change and we will be insisting that this process change as of 25 June, bearing in mind all the time that the object still must be to make Canada whole by including Quebec, and yes, it is now crystal-clear to all of us, to make Canada whole by including its first citizens in the making of the new Constitution, and to make Canada whole by including those who have come from all over the world to make this country their home.
Canada is an idea and a reality that is worth fighting for. It is also worth working for and worth making compromises for, worth our rising above partisan politics in an attempt to fashion it. I shall continue to do that as Leader of the Opposition.
I say to members of the House and I say to the Deputy Premier, who was once Leader of the Opposition, I have not been able to persuade all of my colleagues that the position I am advocating is the correct one. I respect their right to voice their concerns because of their abhorrence at the process and because of the view that they have expressed today with such eloquence that they will not all of them be voting on the same side as I will be voting.
I think it is only natural, in a country that is as divided and a province that is as divided that these divisions be reflected in the life of all of our political parties. That is a reality that I have to contend with.
I want to say to all the members of the House that as much as some us might like this issue to go away, as much as some of us might like it simply to disappear and evaporate, it will neither disappear nor evaporate. We are in the middle of this.
We must find a way to bring Quebec in. We must find a way to include our native people not only in the process but also in the body and in the substance and in the language of our Constitution. We must find a way to do that together and we must find a way to do it in a way that builds trust in this place between us, as well as trust between leaders and the people of the province.
Mr Speaker, I see you are giving me a hand signal. I will very gladly pass on the torch to whomever is speaking next and say that I shall be voting in favour of the resolution.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am honoured to be able to speak on behalf of my colleagues on this important resolution. Perhaps a word of explanation should be made before all of the cognoscenti leave the room, and that is that the Premier is on his way back from Newfoundland. Whether or not it is an omen, he has been faced with substantial headwinds and will be somewhat delayed in taking his place here in the chamber. When he does, with your permission, sir, I would certainly like to surrender the floor to him. I hope that he will be here to add his views to this important debate and certainly to cast his vote, leading the government and the Liberal Party in support of the motion that is before the House.
I appreciate the fact that the two opposition parties are having what might be called a free vote in this connection. I can recall being leader of the official opposition and leader of the third party on occasions when that turned out to be the better part of valour. I understand the circumstances that when there is no choice, you might as well do it that way. The Liberals, however, are going to be unanimous in their support of the resolution, and now that I have driven the Leader of the Opposition out, I can probably relax a bit more.
I think perhaps it might be worth just a bit of a summary of the situation as we presently face it, because the honourable members are well aware of the circumstances that lead to the situation which has involved and engulfed and embroiled the nation in really three years of debate. The first two years and 10 months did not seem to catch the attention of the populace, although we had full debate here in the Legislature and, as I recall, all members of all parties supported the Meech Lake amendments, as they are called.
There has been a refinement of views as members of the Progressive Conservative Party apparently and the New Democratic Party have had some second thoughts and there is nothing the matter with that, particularly as this motion calls for some parallel matters that will be enacted once the Meech Lake accord has been accepted by all provinces, as we hope that it will be.
The debate over these many years has, in many respects, been quite productive. Most of us were active in politics at the time of the separatist government, the Parti québécois government, in the province of Quebec and most of us remember the very night on which it was elected and the feeling that in fact the division of our nation was possible. We survived that government, its changes in policy and its replacement by a government that was not dedicated to the breakup of the nation, headed by M. Bourassa, who is an outstanding leader in his own province and in the country.
But at the time of the debate and the vote on the referendum in Quebec, it was a clear commitment, given not only by the government of Canada but by politicians right across the nation, that an accommodation of Quebec heading it into full Confederation would be arrived at. We know that the government of Quebec brought forward its proposals that were discussed under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister at Meech Lake, and there was a unanimous agreement of the leaders of the provincial governments with the government of Canada at that time.
We went on to debate these matters in this House, and there was a very full debate, followed by unanimous support. That was not the case in two of the other provinces, New Brunswick and Manitoba, for reasons that we are familiar with. Newfoundland, using its independent prerogatives, rescinded its approval with the election of a new government and a new approach to these important and sensitive policies.
We now find ourselves running out of time as we approach the final decision on at least these Meech Lake amendments, and it is our hope that our position here, which accommodates essentially the government of New Brunswick and other governments in approving parallel requirements for the improvement of the Constitution, will lead to approval in all of the other legislatures and the signatures of the heads of government on these constitutional amendments.
It is difficult to determine whether that is going to be possible in the days, in fact hours, that remain in the limit. I heard the Premier of Ontario, when asked about this, say that he is an optimist. It is too early to hang crepe, and it is possible that the legislature of Newfoundland will in fact approve the Meech Lake proposals before the end of this week, that debate may very well be forthcoming in the legislature of Manitoba, and since the leader of the government there and the two opposition leaders have all indicated their support for the Meech Lake proposals with the accompanying parallel recommendations, that once it comes to a point, we can have an expectation of approval there as well. So it is possible that this is going to be accomplished before the rather artificial deadline of 23 June.
We all know, however, that even if that is achieved, there has been, as a result of the debate across the nation, a new focusing on differences rather than a commitment to uniformity in our nation. It is something that we are all going to have to deal with, whatever the outcome of the particular resolution here and in the other provinces.
One of the areas of major concern for me has to do with the role of the first nations, the Indian community, in our constitutional affairs. The members of the Legislature will undoubtedly be aware that the first nation community of Six Nations, which is the most populous in Canada, is in the constituency of Brant- Haldimand, and I have the honour to represent it. The first part of the name of the constituency itself, Brant, is from the Indian chief who led the Six Nations out of what is now largely the state of New York into this part of Ontario, and Haldimand is the name of the governor who was instrumental in granting them the very large and productive lands lying six miles on each side of the Grand River, from its mouth to its source.
This band of Indians has, in a sense, had a large degree of self-government for many years. They are progressive and run a very effective local government indeed. I will not make any comments about their party allegiances, other than to say that I have never had any reason to complain about that -- other than to say that most of them feel, under their tradition, that rather than being citizens of Canada, they are allies of the crown. In that interesting area, while they may not call themselves “distinct” are very proud of their heritage, which gives them a difference when it comes to the application, certainly, of the laws of Ontario and the special legislation before the government of Canada.
As their spokesman. I certainly want to see that their role in constitutional changes and the strengthening of the first citizens’ role in our Constitution is recognized and put in such a form that both now and in the future it will be recognized by governments at this time and their successors going down into the future of our nation.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I appreciate the fact that the member for Brantford, with his usual perspicacity and enthusiasm, applauded my last comment. He, of course, represents the city of Brantford, which was also named for the great Indian chief, and there are many of the citizens and residents of that particular first nation community who have an important role to play in the development of that great city.
We are looking at a situation where the future of our country is very much at stake. We listen to our fellow citizens as they listen to news hour by hour as the time runs out and feel, along with them, that perhaps we have heard enough of the debate and that it is time for the elected representatives, ourselves and others in other legislatures, to debate the matter; come to a conclusion and cast our votes.
There is a good deal of confidence in this chamber that in fact the submissions that were agreed to by the premiers at Meech and those that are put forward in this resolution will be agreed to and that we can put this behind us and have a piece of paper upon which the signatures of the leaders of the various provincial governments will be affixed, and we will have a sort of solution to our constitutional problems both now and in the foreseeable future.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would like to think that my statement was greeted with such a round of applause. But rather, I am very, very glad indeed to welcome the first minister of Ontario back to his seat and welcome him back from an important visit to our sister province. We listen with a great deal of anticipation and interest to his views, as I would now ask him to participate in this debate.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): It is my understanding then that the remaining 20 minutes is to the governing party. The Premier now will conclude the remarks.
Hon Mr Peterson: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and let me thank at the outset my colleague the member for Brant-Haldimand. He is not usually accustomed to speaking at such great length in this House, and I appreciate his helping me out, because I just arrived this moment.
I can share with my colleagues in the House that I have had really a very unique experience in this country being able to speak in two legislatures in the same day. I must say that I was impressed as I flew back from St John’s just now in the plane for about four and a half hours. Recognizing that I still had not covered half the country, I had a sense of the enormous expanse of this country and its obvious differences that are part of any geographic mass as big as we have in Canada.
I had time to reflect when I was in Newfoundland and meeting with Premier Wells and his colleagues in the Legislature how unique that particular province is. It is distinctive in many respects. There is a homogeneity about that province that is not similar in many other provinces. They do not have the same kind of language tensions that others have, for example New Brunswick, or the same kind of pressures that we have in dynamic, multicultural communities like Toronto and Ontario. Indeed, when I look across the country, I think one could say that about almost every province that we have.
The genius, I think, in the last 123 years is that we have been able to put that all together under one broad umbrella called Canada and that we have always been able to find more things that we have in common than that divide us.
I was struck, when I was in Newfoundland today and yesterday, with the enormous earnestness and seriousness with which the members of the Legislative Assembly are approaching the decision they are making. All of us in this room have followed the recent history of the Meech discussions, but for obvious reasons, it is a difficult decision for them and they are approaching it, I believe, with a solemnity and a seriousness of purpose and, like all members of this House, are passionately proud to be Canadians and will put the Canadian interests first.
I shared my views with them about some of the difficulties in politics -- and there is nobody who does not face those -- and of the enormous pressures from day to day, good times and bad, and there are polls almost every day that indicate one thing or another. They are different from a week ago and they are different from two weeks ago and they will be different next week and the month after that and the month after that, and next year’s poll will not have anything to do with today’s reality. The way our children view the world will not have anything to do with today’s poll, either.
So I do not view that to be the test of political leadership or the kinds of decisions that, collectively, we have to make. There are other tests that I shared with them and number one is the test of conscience, and I think they are people of great conscience in Newfoundland, who are taking their responsibilities enormously seriously.
The other test is the test of history and how the judgements of our children and grandchildren will come to bear on the decisions that we make, particularly those that affect them. The problem with Meech Lake is that next week, whether Meech is passed or not passed, it is not going to matter to an unemployed fisherman in Port aux Basques or an unemployed auto worker in Windsor. It is not going to affect in dramatic or immediate ways anybody’s life, but I believe over the long haul it potentially could have enormous consequences, political and, as a result of those, economic and otherwise, for the future of our country.
So it is in that context that we have to try to wrestle through an enormously difficult issue. There is probably no issue that this country has been more absorbed in, at least certainly that I recall -- perhaps the free trade agreement, but that was an infinitely more complex document than this one. It has been discussed, it has been committeed, it has been studied by experts, it has been written about, pro and con, it has been discussed in every coffee shop and every gas station -- even Earl’s, I suspect.
Canadians have become engaged in that debate, probably more now, latterly, than they were at the beginning. Because three years ago, when Meech Lake was originally put together, there was not a great deal of attention. Most people thought what happened then was impossible, and to the surprise of many, we were able to rectify what I considered to be not a recent problem but a problem that has bedevilled this country in many respects since the battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. That relationship between the French and the English, between provincial rights and national rights, has bedevilled some of the greatest thinkers and political leaders in this country. It is part of a dynamic and creative tension, but it is also part of the problems that, collectively, we have had to deal with. I will not take members through the recent history, because I know they are all familiar with it.
The problem with 1982 was there were two deficiencies. Even though it was a heroic achievement, the “notwithstanding” clause created great havoc after that with Bill 178 in Quebec. It is one of the things I think most members of this Legislature disagree with, although there are exceptions to that.
Then we had to wrestle, however, with the other glaring omission, which was the fact that Quebec had not signed on. We signed Meech Lake three years ago. It went to various committees of this Legislature. It was seen at the time as a heroic achievement with a high degree of popular support. Things changed quite dramatically. There was a change of elections, change of mood, change of discussion. The debate took on a lot of symbolism across this country and led to a situation that with any luck was rectified a week or so ago, not that anyone of the original signatories to Meech Lake ever contemplated that we would be going through that procedure particularly in that way.
There was, three years ago, a sense that a deal had been made, that signatures were on the line. Responsible ministers, responsible for government parties, had signed their names to a deal. I do not think it is unreasonable to take a thing like that in contemporary life at face value and say, “There is an arrangement there.”
We can all understand, I think, some of the disillusionment of Quebec, when they see that this arrangement that they participated in and were comfortable with, were happy to come back to the constitutional table with, starting to erode province by province for a variety of different reasons. It would lead a reasonable person to say, “Well, at what point can I trust a political signature?”
It is a known fact that governments change from time to time across this country, but by and large I think the operating rule -- not a strict political rule, because I recognize governments do have the right to do otherwise -- is that governments honour predecessor government’s commitments: legal, political and otherwise.
We ended up in the situation where there were three dissenting provinces that had some very strong views, which went beyond just the original intention of Meech Lake. Meech Lake had only one purpose, to bring Quebec to the table; not to solve Senate reform, not to solve aboriginal self-government, not to do a lot of other things, but just to get them there so we could go on and solve those other problems.
The members know the recent history as well as I do. We were able to sit down, starting a couple of weeks ago, with absolutely intractable positions. If you had taken at face value what was said on this side as opposed to the other side, you would have said it was absolutely impossible. I guess that is the particular genius of Canadians: a little give here and a little take there, a little compromise here and putting the national interest number one in the deliberations. An arrangement was put together that I willingly admit no one would have written on his own. It is not the kind of document Ontario would have written, or Quebec, or Newfoundland or Manitoba, but it got a consensus, like so many other things in life have to be.
Now we have problems in Newfoundland and in Manitoba. I cannot predict the outcome. All I can say is that I am hopeful, that I have great faith in the generosity of Canadians and great faith in their demonstrated love for their country, and I think it will work out. How it will work out, when it will work out, I cannot be precise about at this moment, but I had the feeling for mostly unarticulated reasons that the discussions a week or so ago would work out and indeed they did.
This Legislature did extremely good work on Meech Lake in the hearings. That document has stood the test of time. It provided the intellectual underpinnings for the changes in the new constitutional arrangements of last week, and many of the recommendations that came from here were included therein, be it gender equality, putting section 28 into section 16, changes with respect to nominations for the Supreme Court and the Senate and our aboriginal people, processes with respect to minority languages, work on a Canada clause -- an issue, as simple as it sounds, that has bedevilled at least two generations of policymakers, and I think one even could argue bedevilled our Fathers of Confederation 123 years ago as well.
The changes that we have recommended are now, I think, hopefully, going to become a reality and I think all members of this House deserve credit for the work they have done.
I apologize to the leader of the Conservative Party and the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition for not being here to hear their contributions. I just want to say again that I understand, if they have any objections or reservations, that they have every right to do so. But they were very constructive in the discussions that were held. Decisions have to be made. I have to make some of those decisions and I have to be held accountable, and I understand that as well. But I do want to say in very personal terms that I did appreciate their support and their attendance at those meetings.
I am told that there has been a lot of discussion about the process. As I said, when Meech Lake was done nobody contemplated this would be necessary to do again. We thought it had been done. All of us agree, everybody agrees, that the process is woefully inadequate.
I just remind my colleagues, and the Attorney General has made this point before, that prior to 1982 and in 1982 we did not amend our own Constitution. It went to Westminster. The amending process that was set in stone then, in 1982, was a process that we inherited and we did not have the power to unilaterally change that. So we had to deal with that, and as with any new set of constitutional arrangements as they are being litigated in the courts and judgement is being passed, or are being handled by the responsible policymakers, one learns a great deal. I think we have learned a great deal about that. I think we have learned that we want, in the future, to incorporate a much more constructive partnership with the people of this country in developing the Constitution and the various approaches.
It is obvious that there are going to be dramatically different views on almost every subject. That is a fact of life. It is also obvious that at the end of the day elected people are going to have to make decisions and take the consequences for those.
But I do believe, and I share the views of my colleagues opposite and on my side of the House as well, that we can make a number of changes. We have ideas. Other provinces have ideas.
I note that in the select committee report it is suggested we strike a standing committee immediately to deal not just with the Senate issue, an issue that I gather my colleagues support, and we had been working on that issue, but to deal with the process issue as well. Can we put forward some constructive ideas on how to build a new kind of amending process for the future? I think that idea is a particularly good one and germane and I will, with the members’ support, speak to the House leader to speak to the House leaders opposite.
Perhaps we can strike that standing committee immediately or before the end of the session. It can sit this summer, working on that additional question as well, a new process as well as the matter of Senate reform. I would like to have, with members’ blessings, ideas to present to my colleagues and involving the public, involving the people we serve, in that process.
I know, ladies and gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly, that there has been some discussion about the necessity of passing this resolution today and the answer, as I have said before, is that it is not necessary to do it today. We could do it next week. We could do it next year. We could do it the year after that or three years after that. It was only a judgement in order to show good faith with our colleagues.
One of the realities of this discussion is Mr Wells’s very strong agenda about Senate reform, and members will realize the passion he brought to the debate on that particular issue. It had been expressed before by Premier Getty and others, but it was his view that we needed not only a way to look at that question -- we have a process in place, a commission of all of the provinces looking at the principles, an elected Senate, more representation from the less populous provinces, as well as maintaining the relationships with the House of Commons -- but in addition to that it was he who needed guarantees that this would not stall.
As a response to that, Ontario, along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, put forward its proposal to, shall we say, make the distribution of the Senate more equal. Some people have problems with that; others do not. I am one of those who believe that Ontario is a strong and confident province, and that because we have unique God-given gifts in this province and are wealthy beyond the reach of many other provinces, we have a special and unique role to play in Confederation.
I do not think that is just my view. I think many of my predecessors would have taken the same view at the same time. I saw remarkable acts of leadership from many of my predecessors and I admired them all for the nation-building in which they engaged.
When you are the biggest, the richest and the most powerful, you have to help those others. I hear that cry from the regions, the less populous and the less rich provinces, to have a stronger say in the Senate. That is why they want Senate reform. They want to reshape the institutions of this country to make sure that their voices, which are often, they feel, shunted aside, are heard clearly and effectively at the centre of power in Ottawa.
I think we can respond generously and your select committee report supported that principle in general terms as well. I look forward to their labours on this issue and the work that they will share with us so that I can take it to my colleagues at a conference to be held later on this year.
I just want to say again, in conclusion, and I am extending my time perhaps more than I should, to all my colleagues opposite that I thank them for their help and their co-operation. I believe that the signal that is forthcoming from Ontario today will be a salutary one and a constructive one. I believe it will help legislators in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Manitoba come to the proper and correct decision.
Premier Wells has often told me that many people say: “You know, Clyde, you’re so much in favour of Senate reform, but you’ll never get Senate reform because it’s not in the interest of the large provinces to do that. Why would they?” Mr Wells has responded publicly, and told me privately: “You don’t understand Ontario. Every time they’ve been called upon to be generous, they always have been.” I have always found that with my colleagues in this House, and I thank them for their help.
The Speaker: As previously agreed, the House decided there would be a vote on this resolution at this time. The question now before the House is Mr Peterson’s government notice of motion 34.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I wonder if could perhaps have unanimous consent to limit this to a five-minute bell.
The Speaker: If there are no committees meeting. No? Okay.
The House divided on Mr Peterson’s resolution, which was agreed to on the following vote:
La résolution de M. Peterson, mise aux voix, est adoptée:
Ayes / Pour -- 95
Adams, Allen, Ballinger, Black, Bossy, Brandt, Breaugh, Brown, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Charlton, Chiarelli, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Cousens, Cunningham, Cureatz, Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Eves, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaitre, Grier, Haggerty, Harris, Hart, Henderson, Johnson, J. M., Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kwinter, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mahoney, Mancini, Matrundola, McCague, McClelland, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Morin, Morin-Strom, Neumann, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R.F., Oddie Munro, Offer, O’Neill, Y., Owen, Patten, Pelissero, Peterson, Philip, E., Phillips. G., Polsinelli, Poole, Pouliot, Rae, B., Ramsay, Reville, Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Runciman, Scott, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Sorbara, South, Stoner, Sweeney, Villeneuve, Ward, Wilson, Wong.
Nays/Contre -- 10
Farnan, Hampton, Jackson, Johnston, R. F., Kormos, Marland, McLean, Pollock, Sterling, Wildman.
Hon Mr Ward: Before reading the business for the following week, I would like to seek unanimous consent to revert to motions.
ORDER OF BUSINESS
Mr Ward moved that notwithstanding standing order 94 the House shall meet to consider government business on the morning of Thursday 28 June 1990.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, business for the upcoming week is as follows:
On Monday 25 June we will have second reading and committee of the whole House on Bill 220, second reading of Bill 160, committee of the whole on Bill 105, second reading and committee of the whole on Bill 164, second reading of Bill 45, committee of the whole on Bill 175 and committee of the whole on Bill 107.
On Tuesday 26 June we will have third reading of any completed bills, followed by an NDP non-confidence motion with a vote to take place at 5:45.
On Wednesday 27 June we will have third reading of any bills completed, followed by a non-confidence motion by the Progressive Conservative Party.
On Thursday 28 June we will have, in the morning sitting, a motion of the Treasurer for interim supply and in the afternoon sitting any previously unfinished business.
The Speaker: Because of a previous decision by the House, this House now stands adjourned until next Monday at 1:30.
The House adjourned at 1800.