The House met at 1330.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Mr Daigeler: Yesterday I had the honour to attend this year's Outstanding Volunteer Award ceremony in the Lieutenant Governor's suite. Dieter Kiesewalter, a personal friend of mine and eminent member of Ottawa's German Canadian community, was one of the 15 recipients from among the over 100 nominations received this year.
Dieter Kiesewalter exemplifies the best tradition of German Canadian immigration to this province. He has been the visionary behind many activities of his community over the past 20 years. Whether devoting his tremendous talents to theatre or music, to multiculturalism, to heritage-language training or to charity and church work, Mr Kiesewalter has played both a guiding and an inspirational role.
In all of his endeavours he has promoted the rich cultural heritage of German Canadians and strengthened their contribution to Canada's economic and cultural life for the benefit of all.
His extraordinary volunteer contribution and that of his whole family to the common good has touched many lives, giving them joy, new knowledge and a sense of purpose. As the award citation said, "Mr Kiesewalter personifies both the spirit and the purpose of the Outstanding Achievement Award."
I am sure my colleagues wish to join me in congratulating Dieter Kiesewalter and his family for this special recognition and in thanking him for his dedicated service.
Mr Jackson: Ontario is the only province in Canada without some form of regulation for the practice of social work. For six years, thousands of social workers, the public, a coalition of 50 province-wide social service providers and, more recently, community colleges have lobbied the government to enact legislation to protect the public.
Last June the member for York North, the former Minister of Community and Social Services, announced in the Legislature after questioning from our party that the government would move ahead with the regulation of social work and other social service practices.
A Toronto Star editorial aptly stated, "Any Tom, Dick or Jane can hang up a shingle and call him or herself a social worker, surely that's not right."
This is exemplified by the fact that a convicted child molester has legally opened a child care and counselling service in Kitchener-Waterloo. I am shocked that this horror story has not convinced the new Minister of Community and Social Services that regulation of the practice of social work is an absolute necessity.
The Premier, as leader of the third party, in 1987 supported regulation of social workers. He stated in response to an election questionnaire that, "Regulation of the social work profession is an important way to prevent adverse physical, psychological and social consequences for Ontario consumers."
Regulation of the practice of social work would go a long way towards protecting our children and families. It is tragic that public protection is not a priority for the new Premier, not a priority for this NDP government, nor for the minister responsible for protecting children in Ontario.
Mr Mills: Today is Rural Dignity Day for Rural Revitalization. I would like to take a moment to talk about the importance of community newspapers in rural and small communities and the current threat to their survival.
Living in and representing a smaller community, I know how vital community newspapers are. Often they provide the only source of local news to residents. These newspapers cover all sorts of local board meetings -- everything from school to library to police boards -- keeping them more accountable in the public eye. They also include human interest stories and news and information on current happenings.
There are approximately 350 community newspapers across Ontario which provide this valuable service. Durham East is served by the Orono Weekly Times, the Canadian Statesman, the Newcastle Independent, the Whitby Free Press, the Port Perry Star and the OshawaWhitby This Week.
Today community newspapers are facing a new threat to their survival. This month Canada Post drastically increased postal rates for weekly newspapers. The Canadian Statesman, for example, faces an immediate increase of 50%, or $35,000 a year. Other community newspapers face similar increases and may be forced to close.
In support of this, I urge all members to phone the minister responsible for Canada Post, Harvie Andre, at (613) 992-6124 to demand that these rate increases be reviewed, and I call on those members to call their friends in Ottawa to get rid of this terrible piece of legislation.
Mrs Caplan: Today the Minister of Municipal Affairs released the long-awaited report of the advisory committee to the minister on the provincial-municipal financing relationship, originally known as the Ballinger-Hopcroft committee.
It focuses on the need for greater accountability by the province and the municipal governments to the people of Ontario and a clearer definition is called for of each government's role and responsibilities.
The report makes 39 significant recommendations, including the fact that municipalities should have more responsibility for strictly local services, such as roads, that the province should pay the full share of programs which redistribute income such as welfare, and it calls for some tax restructuring.
While it took two years of consultations for this major report to be completed, the recommendations reflect the current sense of urgency municipalities have about services, costs and taxes. Regional chairmen, mayors and councillors whom I have met across the province say that they want the government to act quickly on this report.
What is the response from the minister? He has stated publicly today that the government is beginning a new six-month consultation with municipalities and school boards and the report will then go to the NDP Fair Tax Commission.
This is just a delaying tactic and a clear signal that this government is not committed to implementing the Hopcroft report. It is not listening to the critical issues and the immediate needs of the municipalities. Get on with implementing the recommendations.
Mr Arnott: Once again I want to bring to the attention of this assembly an exceptionally serious problem in my riding. The community of Mount Forest is in peril of losing one of its most critical services, the emergency department of the Louise Marshall Hospital.
As a result of a disagreement with the hospital board, four Mount Forest doctors ceased working in the emergency department at the end of December. Through a special arrangement with the Ministry of Health, locum physicians have staffed the emergency department since the beginning of this year. This arrangement will expire at the end of April. The hospital will then have little choice but to close the emergency department. Without that department, it is questionable whether the hospital itself will remain open, unless an agreement is reached.
I submit that there would not be a health care crisis in Mount Forest today if the Minister of Health were willing to recognize that in rural Ontario the challenge of providing health care services is extraordinary. Because of the unique demands placed on doctors in rural practice, small communities often have great difficulty attracting new doctors to serve their residents. Those doctors who do choose rural practice forgo the benefits of urban life and face heavy and difficult workloads. Rural hospital boards also face challenges unlike their urban counterparts. Local demands for health services have increased while Ministry of Health funding has not kept pace.
The emergency facilities at Louise Marshall are called upon to respond to critical, life and death situations, such as farm, automobile and industrial accidents. For the community of Mount Forest, often isolated in winter, with many tourists in summer and a significant Mennonite community, the demands on its health care system are significant and different.
I call upon the Minister of Health to immediately acknowledge that rural health care poses unusual challenges for rural doctors and hospitals. The minister must respond with new policies which recognize these challenges and will provide incentives consistent with this fact.
Mr Bisson: I rise today with great pleasure. A milestone happened in the community of Timmins last Sunday. For the first time in over 20 years, we have a weekly paper that is being distributed through our riding in the community of Timmins.
I think this marks a couple of interesting points. I am a firm believer in good competition and being able to get the best out of all the services, and I think it will be good for the newsworthiness in regard to the whole area, talking about the issues of the community of Timmins and the riding in general.
I note that the paper is run and operated by a group of individuals, that it is owner-operated, which is a very refreshing thing to see. People from varying journalism areas, from television, from radio and from newspapers, have got together to start up this new weekly newspaper. It is owned by the employees themselves.
I may add that the stories they carry are interesting. Because it is a weekly paper, it has the opportunity to be able to look at issues in a very concise way to inform the readers of what the issues are within our community.
I also add that they have very good choice in the selection of pictures they put in. Members will notice mine is there, so I am quite happy.
So I would like to congratulate the staff of the paper and the people who worked on a job well done, and hope and wish them the best over the next number of years to a very successful endeavour.
Mr Mahoney: As the Liberal Party critic for senior citizens' affairs, I am quite concerned about the lack of attention that this government is paying to issues of concern to senior citizens.
This morning in the media studio, the Ontario Long Term Residential Care Association conducted a press conference expressing concern about the Minister of Housing including their facilities in his green paper on rent control. They are not opposed to being regulated and they are not opposed to having a cap put on rent increases to the residents, but they are concerned about the methods of consultation, or should I say non-consultation, that seem to have become a hallmark of this government.
To date, the minister has not met with this group and it has had to fight tooth and nail to get an opportunity to be heard during some of the supposedly public consultation sessions the minister is conducting. The minister responsible for senior citizens' affairs seems to be missing in action. Perhaps it is because this government has lumped senior citizens' affairs under the banner of Citizenship and race relations and is not giving it the attention it deserves and the attention our senior citizens deserve.
I call upon the minister responsible for senior citizens' affairs to speak up on behalf of seniors. I would like to know what actions have been taken regarding long-term care, regarding recommendations of the Lowy report, indeed regarding any issues of concern to seniors. The seniors are waiting to hear from the minister and so are we in this Legislature.
Mrs Cunningham: I rise today to pay tribute to Ian Sorbie, the owner of the Il Fornello restaurant chain in Toronto. Mr Sorbie has generously underwritten the cost of a breakfast program for the children at Roden elementary school in Toronto. Each day, 168 children receive a nutritious breakfast at a cost of $150 a day, $750 a week.
It is estimated that one in six children in this province lives in poverty. Studies have demonstrated that there is a relationship between hunger and the ability of children to excel at school. Mr Sorbie, recognizing this problem, came forward and, working with teachers and administrators, established this wonderful program.
He feels that his experience can now serve as a model that could be replicated in other schools throughout the province. I agree, and during last summer's election my party endorsed the establishment of a breakfast program for elementary school children in partnership with the private sector. I encourage the minister to begin consultation with others in the business community who wish to work with educators to establish breakfast programs.
Let me once again thank Mr Sorbie for his generous commitment to the children at the Roden school. Thank you.
SUDBURY LAND RECLAMATION
Ms S. Murdock: I am so very proud to represent the riding of Sudbury, as are the member for Nickel Belt and the member for Sudbury East. Together, we form the regional municipality of Sudbury, and outsiders are finally learning that Sudbury is no longer dirty superstacks and slag. We are one of the 10 best cities in Canada in which to live, and Chatelaine has announced that to the world.
However, last Wednesday night the region honoured 80 volunteers in our city who for the past 12 years have served on the Vegetation Enhancement Technical Advisory Committee -- VETAC for short. What they have done over the past 12 years is regreen our city. They have regreened by planting one million trees over 4,000 hectares of land. They have done all kinds of reclamation and cleanup projects because of the mining and logging that have been done over the years in our region. We have won four awards in our city, the Lieutenant Governor's Award and the Canadian Award. Thank you.
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask for unanimous consent to pay tribute to a former member of the Legislature who died yesterday.
Mr Sterling: I would like to pay tribute to John MacBeth, who was a former member for York West who passed away in Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday while on vacation.
I met John when I came to this Legislature in 1977. From 1971 until 1981 he served as a member of the Ontario Legislature for the Progressive Conservative Party. He held a wide array of posts while in government. He was Minister of Labour; he also was Provincial Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General. In 1980, during one of the most important times in our history, he became chairman of the select committee on constitutional reform, which we have heard about coincidentally today.
John also served in many other public positions during his lifetime. Before coming to Queen's Park, he was reeve of Etobicoke. After he finished as member for York West for this Legislature, he became a vice-chairman of the Ontario Police Commission.
I have many, many fond memories of John MacBeth. John was a very large man who loved the outdoors and he loved life. He was extremely well liked in this Legislature, Mr Speaker, as you will remember -- you knew him yourself -- and I believe he was one of the most respected members of this House. I think this was due in fact to the manner in which he carried himself. He was a straightforward person, but he was a very fair person. Most of all, I remember John MacBeth for his class and the fact that he could best be described as one of the most outstanding gentlemen of this Legislature.
In that regard I can remember when John MacBeth was dropped from the cabinet in 1978, and the class of John MacBeth was that he was not angry at the Premier of the day. He understood the process, and I can remember seeing him after the swearing in of the successor to his post when that took place.
I am pleased to have had the chance to serve with John MacBeth for a four-year period, from 1977 to 1981, and I would like to take this opportunity to offer on behalf of my party sincere condolences to his wife, Ruth, his family and his many, many friends. Thank you very much.
Mr Conway: On behalf of my colleagues, I want to join other members of the Legislature in expressing our regret and paying tribute to the late John MacBeth.
For me, it is a bit ironic that John's passing should be observed today, on this, the occasion of the tabling of another report from another select committee on constitutional reform, because that is where I really got to know the former member for York West. It was, as my friend from Carleton has rightly observed, in the summer of 1980 that John chaired, I guess, the first select committee we have ever had here on the subject of constitutional reform, and his conduct in that very difficult matter was exemplary, as his conduct was throughout a long, very distinguished public life.
John was someone who, as the member for Carleton has rightly observed, was a kind and a courtly gentleman who, no matter how heated the debate became, was always very civilized in his response and very tolerant in his participation. I would think that of the many things that might be said of John MacBeth, surely his greatest legacy, both locally in Etobicoke and here in the province, his legacy for me, would be his commitment to and his deportment within the arena of public life.
Hon Mr Farnan: As the honourable members may be aware, John MacBeth was the Ontario Solicitor General from 1975 to 1978, and died yesterday while on vacation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
His life was one of commitment and dedication to community service. In the Second World War, he saw service with the Royal Canadian Navy. He had been president of the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society and chairman of the board of education in Etobicoke before joining the Ontario Legislature in 1971 as the representative from Etobicoke.
John MacBeth was a gentleman well respected by all parties during his distinguished legislative career. He served as Minister of Labour from 1974 to 1975 and then as Provincial Secretary for Justice before being appointed Solicitor General in 1975.
In his role as Solicitor General, John MacBeth became well known to Ontario's police community. His interest in police training and operational matters was highly respected by police officials throughout the province.
Following his retirement from the Legislature, John MacBeth was named vice-chairman of the Ontario Police Commission in 1982. His responsibilities included the operation of the Ontario Police College and the career development branch and the complaints function of the commission. In this role he also chaired a select committee that prepared the highly regarded, comprehensive report on police pursuit that laid the foundation for the tight police pursuit guidelines we have in Ontario today.
John MacBeth was a congenial man who earned the respect of all those who knew him both professionally and personally. I am sure all members of the House join me in extending to his wife, Ruth, and family our sincere sympathies.
The Speaker: Your comments about this kind and gentle man who served with distinction on behalf of the people of Ontario will be conveyed to his family.
Hon Ms Ziemba: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to have unanimous consent to observe a very important day. All agreed?
Hon Ms Ziemba: Today, 21 March, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It has been 25 years since the United Nations proclaimed this annual observance, yet racial discrimination remains deeply entrenched around the world. Ontario is no exception. One in 10 Ontarian residents is a potential target of racism as a racial minority or as an aboriginal person.
It is important for us to acknowledge that racism exists and comes in all forms. Racism is not just simply the outbursts of racial slurs or graffiti. Indeed, it is not simply the outspoken denial of jobs or housing because of colour or cultural background. It is much more than that. It is the unspoken -- the systemic denial of access, and exclusion.
In my recent trips to northern Ontario I have seen the distressing realities of racism. These realities which are faced by the first nations include deplorable housing conditions and an 80% to 95% unemployment rate in some communities. These are inequities and poverties which are not there by coincidence, but they are injustices brought on by institutionalized racism.
In major urban centres the examples of systemic barriers to employment are abundant. Some employment agencies have been able to exclude applicants on the basis of their skin colour, accent and/or cultural background. This is an example of talent which is wasted and abused.
It is both a painful and a dehumanizing experience to be on the receiving end of racial discrimination. Racism, like sexism, is about an imbalance of power. To confront systemic discrimination, we need systemic approaches.
On this landmark day, I would like to reaffirm our government's commitment to eliminate racial discrimination. Mandatory employment equity legislation, which we are working hard to bring to the Legislature in both the private and public sectors, will definitely be part of that solution. We will also be bringing to the Legislature in the very near future a comprehensive and concrete plan for combating racism. This government will act.
We should never forget that this is the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. In 1960 over 60 people were killed for demonstrating against the pass laws of South Africa. This is what racism causes.
Last Tuesday I was in Kenora where I attended the conference of Treaty 3 chiefs in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Kenora march. That march was staged to demand justice and peace based on dignity and equality. I would like to end with their message, "Let us not institutionalize racism; let us institutionalize respect."
Mr Curling: The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa. It was in 1966 that the United Nations declared that this day should be marked.
In 1983 the General Assembly of the United Nations called upon all states and organizations to participate in the program of action for the second decade to combat racism and racial discrimination.
It is important for Canadians to be aware of the nature and scope and the impact of racial discrimination in our society. As Mr Yalden, the Canadian human rights commissioner, so accurately and forcefully observes in his recent report, racism and bigotry are alive and well in Canada.
Quoting from the annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission:
"The daily chronicles of the media make it plain that we are far from immune to xenophobic attitudes.... What is one to make in 1990 of the desecration of cemeteries and places of worship? Or of the sale of pins and posters aimed expressly at promoting racial or religious intolerance? Or of white supremacist rallies that hearken back to the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan and reach the same atavistic drivel?"
There is more. People are being denied jobs because of their race, because of the colour of their skin. Students are being streamed away from the education that they need for reasons that sometimes have little to do with their abilities and potential. This is not a day for more platitudes. As I recall the Sharpeville massacre and as I look to the events of the past year described in the commission report, I am overwhelmed by sadness and anger.
Today in this House, we will be discussing the future of our Confederation. I must ask what indeed is the future of our nation if we do not wrestle this intolerance that tears us apart. This morning I attended a function in the East York community and heard young Canadians of all races from the Holy Cross school sing the anthem, "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee." I ask all members in this House to reflect on that, "We stand on guard for thee."
I do not believe that we will today or tomorrow or even the next day eliminate racial discrimination, nor do I believe that legislation can change the hearts of those who have chosen to hate. I do believe, however, that we should not allow destructive discriminatory behaviour to be rewarded. We continue to create large bureaucracies and agencies to combat racism and racial discrimination without giving them the resources or sometimes the respect necessary for them to function effectively.
What then must I make of the flippant remark made by the Vice-Chairperson of the standing committee on the Ombudsman? When asked about the committee, he said that it is not a pressing committee.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission is staffed by many dedicated and sincere people, but they are being crushed by a backlog of cases. Without new resources to deal with the backlog, we are in effect allowing discrimination to go unpunished. What kind of message is this? As Dr Martin Luther King said, and it has been quoted many times in this House: "Legislation cannot change hearts. It can only restrain the heartless."
I ask again of this House too, as we look at many of the policies and rules and regulations and laws that we bring in here for employment equity, that we must make sure that all are being addressed, not only one sector of the society, and that we do not make it the partisan situation. We will never solve it unless we all work together. It is a far road from Sharpeville to Oka.
Mr Cousens: I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus in commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The province of Ontario joins with other provinces and the federal government in acknowledging the need to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in all its forms in our society.
Today, 21 March 1991, marks the 31st anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, when peaceful anti-apartheid demonstrators were brutally wounded and killed. To mark this tragic event and to highlight the injustice of racial discrimination, the United Nations declared 21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
We in Canada and indeed in Ontario should be proud of our record in the field of human rights. As a nation we were among the first to subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
Twenty-nine years ago, Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to enact a comprehensive Human Rights Code, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, creed, colour, nationality, ancestry or place of origin. I am proud of our commitment to the promotion of equality and justice for all citizens of the world.
However, paying homage to our past commitments is not sufficient in today's ever-troubled world. Much remains to be done. Legislation is not the panacea in promoting understanding and mutual respect for all people. It is only the start. Today is a reminder to each and every one of us to renew our common commitment for freedom, justice and tolerance for all in our province, our country and throughout the world.
Mr Nixon: It is interesting that once again we have a day of singular inaction. The papers report the bankruptcy rate 100% over what it was last year. We are facing the dramatic reduction and perhaps the closing of Spruce Falls Power and Paper, Algoma Steel and Denison Mines. We hear about Stelco's credit rating difficulties. Three days ago, the Treasurer told us that we have lost 196,000 jobs since the NDP took power and that of the $700 million indicated to be spent to assist in that, $34 million will be spent this fiscal year.
This is the sixth month since the government took office and yet this week, after a three-month break, the only announcement of significance was the decision taken by the government on the moose tag lottery.
What is the Premier's strategy for reviving our moribund economy, improving competitiveness, putting people back to work and in fact using the power of this Legislature, which underpins his government, to bring about the actions that the people are waiting for in a recession that is the worst since the war?
Hon Mr Rae: It is the job of the Leader of the Opposition to always put things in a critical light. Let me try to correct the record for the benefit of the people of Ontario who are watching these proceedings.
First of all, let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that upon taking office we discovered that the financial figures upon which he ran in the last campaign were entirely and utterly inaccurate. Let me say that undaunted by that fact, the very first thing we did as a government upon our election was to determine that we were going to have the largest capital works program put in place by any provincial or federal government in Canada.
With respect to the individual companies which the Leader of the Opposition has talked about, we have established the most progressive and the most effective process of dealing with the issues that have happened. We have brought the trade unions, the business community and the financial community together in the same room at the same time as we strive to find solutions that will bring those communities together. That is what we were committed to doing, that is what we are doing and there will be more as we face this recession. We are going to be working in partnership with all the people of the province in a positive way to deal with this most serious economic crisis, and that is exactly what we are going to be doing.
Mr Nixon: The Premier has at his disposal a cash flow every working day of $180 million. Whatever the state of the budget when he took office, and we will have a chance to debate that on many occasions, he cannot say that a $43-billion budget does not contain within it the fiscal levers to do something about an economy in a tailspin. Instead of taking action, he has had a series of strong commitments through what he calls the democratic facility to review and study, to delay, to send people away on tours to gather information but to take no action.
We have heard that rent controls are going to have long-term study. Garbage disposal and the whole area of the environment, which was a principal area of concern for the government, has largely become moribund even though it is led by one of the best ministers in the government. The job guarantees that were very much put forward by the formerly vocal and activist Labour critic seem to be simmering along in some sort of review and we have heard nothing about it. Auto insurance is going to be reviewed now that the Premier has disposed of the one obstacle in the way of his getting his own policy enacted. Sunday closing, God help us, is going to be reviewed by another committee -- I cannot wait for that -- and so it goes.
I wonder if the Premier does not feel that in his own words it is time to stop polishing his glasses, trying to start the Edsel, and apply some leadership in this House and in the province to solve our problems and move the economy of the province forward and out of recession.
Hon Mr Rae: If it is the --
The Speaker: Visitors, you are welcome here, but I am afraid you are going to have to just listen quietly. Visitors --
The Speaker: Sergeant, escort them out, please.
The Speaker: All of them out, please. We will have a 10-minute break, folks. We have grave disorder.
The Speaker ordered the galleries cleared.
The House recessed at 1415.
The Speaker: I thought you folks were noisy. Before the interruption, I believe the Premier was in the midst of responding to a supplementary by the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon Mr Rae: I think I was just about to get to my feet to answer the question from the person of whom, as I say, it can fairly be said as a former Treasurer is fully aware of all the circumstances we now face as a government and the challenge we now face as a government. All I can say to the Leader of the Opposition is that there is no issue to which this government and I attach greater importance than dealing with the recession. The antirecession package we announced in November, which is over $450 million and will have produced, by the end of this fiscal year, nearly $1 billion in new investment, is, as I say, the most significant anti-recession package being implemented anywhere in Canada by any level of government, and we are working with other groups, all groups in our society, to deal with the situation we face.
We not only face a general problem across the economy which we are trying to deal with, we also face in community after community very particular problems. Just this morning, I will say to the Leader of the Opposition, I spent at least half the morning dealing with businesses and with groups of people together trying to deal constructively with the problem, with the resources of government we have, and we are going to continue to do that as effectively as we possibly can.
Mr Nixon: The implacable logic of my series of questions was somehow lost by the demonstration, and perhaps I have even lost the rush I got from my adrenal glands when the Premier started talking about their budgetary problems.
I think probably I could, in the way of a question, make a comment along the lines of the Premier's answer. I am sure he did spend all morning trying to keep the business community operating. I am sure the policy and priorities board of cabinet meets endlessly. I am sure the various cabinet meetings and special meetings must be tiring the cabinet ministers out. I am sure they are sitting around their boardroom tables with their ADMs thinking that they are governing. Nothing is happening over there. Take it from me, I know when something is happening and when it is not. Nothing is happening. They may think that they are busy but they are busy doing nothing.
I put the question to the Premier, is he not aware that there is only one authority, only one office, only one man who can make the government operate, can make the deputies and the ministers produce the material which must be brought into this Legislature which will in fact begin to fulfil the high expectations of the people who elected him, in fact fulfil the high expectations that we in opposition have had in observing the Premier and his cabinet?
It is almost unbelievable that after six months, and three months away from the Legislature, we do not have a legislative program. We feel the government members are keeping busy, as Terence Corcoran said in the Globe and Mail, with their highest priority putting off to tomorrow what they don't understand today.
I simply say again that while we can attack and criticize individual ministers, nothing works unless the leadership coming from the premiership is effective. Does the Premier not now realize that it is not effective, that it is not working, that the government is not progressing, that the economy stays in recession.
Hon Mr Rae: I think it is a little sad that someone of the experience of the Leader of the Opposition would be so entrapped in his own bitterness and negativism that he would describe a capital works program worth $1 billion as doing nothing. The Liberal government, between 1987 and 1990, wrote the book on doing nothing. That is why it was tossed out by the electorate on 6 September.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Curling: We had the fastest-growing economy of any province in this country and still he actually said we were not doing anything.
While my leader may have lost the rush, I will come with a couple of tons of information and hope we can get some answers.
My question is to the Solicitor General. I hope that today he will eliminate the rhetoric and give me some answers, because on 13 August 1990 on the CBC his illustrious leader, the Premier, promised the people of Ontario a province-wide common pause day. My question is very simple. Will the Solicitor General please tell the Legislature whether or not his government intends to establish a province-wide common pause day?
Hon Mr Farnan: The answer to the question is that after consultation with the province and after listening to the concerns of all of the interested parties, we will bring forward legislation in due course. The questioner has a problem. When he was on the inside, when he was a member of government, he had all the information. That was then. Now we have the information.
Mrs Caplan: I think the Solicitor General, in his response to the first question, again just fumbled and mumbled. We certainly did not hear clearly. We heard clearly from his leader during the election campaign in August when he promised a province-wide pause day, and until we see a clear statement from the Solicitor General, we can assume that in fact is the policy of the government and the leader. Since the issue of cross-border shopping is a very important and complex one here in the province of Ontario, if the Solicitor General is truly tuned in to the concerns of border municipalities, then he will know there is a need to address this extremely important cross-border shopping issue and to do so expeditiously.
To this point in time, his government has refused even to sit down with business and industry together to form a task force. What I am asking him today is whether or not he will outline for us the policy of his government and his ministry as it relates to cross-border shopping. Can he respond to the concerns of the retail industry in those municipalities affected by cross-border shopping in this province?
Hon Mr Farnan: First of all, in the throne speech we made a commitment to a common pause day. The government has reiterated that. Yesterday and today I have said we will have consultations. We will be meeting with those communities that are cross-border. We will be listening to their concerns and hopefully we may be able to find accommodation. I can give the honourable members guarantees that yes, we will sit down with all of the concerned stakeholders, will listen carefully and will attempt, in so far as is possible with the principle of a common pause day, to incorporate their concerns.
Mrs Caplan: I would say to the Solicitor General that his fumbling and his policy inconsistency are creating havoc in border communities across this province, that the commitment to a province-wide common pause day and the commitment to deal with the cross-border shopping issue are in fact linked and complex. We have been urging an action-oriented task force, and I would ask the Solicitor General today, will he stop the fumbling, will he stop the inaction and will he agree to an actionoriented task force to deal with cross-border shopping? What we heard today from Buffalo's chamber of commerce says that this situation will be a bonanza for Buffalo retailers. If he were an Ontario retailer, he would be very concerned about the long-term prospects.
Will he commit today to that kind of action-oriented task force and clear up this inconsistency in policy that we are hearing from him?
Hon Mr Farnan: No matter what legislation eventually comes down, we will never please everybody. I can promise the House only this, that we will bring forward the best possible legislation we can, and that a principle of that legislation will be a common pause day.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier. The select committee on Ontario in Confederation was established in part to answer the question, according to his government and his government's paper, "What does Ontario want?" This was question 8 of the discussion paper he presented. Now that the public consultations held on this document are over, I would ask the Premier if he is satisfied he has the answer to that question, and if so, I would then ask him now, what does Ontario want?
Hon Mr Rae: First of all, I appreciate the question from the leader of the third party. I want to pay tribute to all the members of the committee from all three parties and in particular I want to express my appreciation to the Chairman of the committee, the member for Dovercourt, and to other members of the committee who I think really have served us extremely well in this first stage of this constitutional consultation.
The question to me, asked by the leader of the third party, was, do I feel I have the answer? Well, I have been around long enough to no longer have any of those feelings, and I think it is important that the first phase of consultation has taken place. It is also important for the House to have the debate which is going to start this afternoon and carry on until Wednesday. I will be speaking in the debate on Wednesday afternoon and I will be making very clear the direction the government wants to follow in consultation and in discussion with other members of the House and with the committee, whose work will be ongoing.
A few things are very clear and I think they have been made very clear in the committee report. Ontario wants the country to work and very much wants the country to stay together. That is a very strong consensus. I think the committee report indicates how strongly the people of the province feel about the need for change in order to deal with the constitutional crisis we now face.
I think the people of Ontario are generous and fundamentally respect the diversity of the province and the diversity of the country. I was very heartened to see the consensus on aboriginal rights. That is a very profound statement for the province to make. I was very heartened to see there is a sense, in the report, of the need for dialogue with the province of Quebec and all the provinces and regions of the country, as we seek institutional change, as we seek a genuine change which will allow us to have the feeling we are making a new country and building a new Constitution for Canada.
I think the committee has made an important contribution. This government will see the report as an important message to us, and I can assure the leader of the third party we are going to be very, very actively involved, as actively involved as it is possible to be in keeping the country together and in making sure that we can make Canada work better.
Mr Harris: I appreciate the Premier's response. I realize it is difficult to have all the answers and nobody has them all, of course, on this complex issue. I also appreciate that given the document that Ontarians were asked to respond to, I think they responded quite well.
However, I want to suggest to the Premier -- I had discussions with him last fall and again in January and he heard my comments when the document first came out -- that leadership on the issues is more than just providing a framework or more than just saying, "Here are the six possibilities." In my view, leadership on this consultation process that the Premier says is not yet finished is also providing education and providing the right framework, if you like, so that we can have informed discussion and informed opinion. I suggest to the Premier that we did not, through this document, provide the public of Ontario with any kind of sense at all of the many options that are being called for, that are on the table, that the Premier or whoever is going to be negotiating with other provinces and the government of Canada. However that is, we know there are some fundamental things that are going to be there.
One of the aspects of that I would like to ask the Premier specifically about is what concerns me. I heard on the Spicer commission this morning that more than 50% said: "If it means giving concessions to Quebec, it is not worth it. We don't want them." One of the difficulties, when Canadians or Ontarians make that kind of statement, is a lack of understanding what that means. I would ask the Premier now, as I asked him before and was hoping would be in this document, if he has done any economic impact studies on what it means to Ontario and what it means to Canada should Quebec decide sovereignty-association is a preferred option. I think Ontarians need to know that before they flippantly say, "Oh, if they want that, let them go.
Hon Mr Rae: Let me say to the leader of the third party that I think his comments as well as his question are very constructive, and I take it in a very constructive way. Let me also say that the member for Willowdale, who I know was speaking this morning in the press conference, made a tremendous contribution to the committee's work. I think we all feel that. I accept the point entirely that there has to be a great deal of discussion and education, not just in Ontario but in the whole country about what the options and what the real costs and benefits of these options are.
I can say to the leader of the third party that of course it is only natural that this government, as well as other governments, as well as the various organizations, labour organizations and business organizations and others -- the Business Council of National Issues, for example, has published a number of reports and is doing a great deal of work; there is a study ongoing at York University which is being carried on by a number of people who are looking at these issues, and I can assure the leader of the third party that this is very much the first stage. I accept that this is the first stage. It seems to me that part of the leadership in the beginning is listening, and I want to respect that and we are listening.
I can also tell the leader of the third party that when it comes to the question of process, how we get people around a table and how we try to forge a new understanding about a new Canada, and when it comes to what those reforms might look like, I can assure him that those are precisely the kinds of discussions I want to have.
I want to say to him, and I would say it directly to the Leader of the Opposition as well, that I do not intend to negotiate on behalf of the province on my own. I do not intend to act as if this is some kind of one-person operation from this perspective. We are going to need to draw on, not just in some token way or in some minor way or in some symbolic way where one is asked to go to a meeting and never is told anything -- we are going to have to have a genuinely non-partisan process which involves the hearts and minds of the members of this Legislature and the people of the province in reaching out to other legislatures and reaching out to other people in finding a solution. We are going to have to drop all this partisan nonsense as we attack this thing together, recognizing of course that there will be comments about who is doing what and who is not doing enough. We have to do more, we will do more, but the point I want to make to the leader of the Conservative Party is that we must, in this case, do it together as Canadians.
Mr Harris: Let me say that the Premier and I have had a number of discussions on this process in the past and he knows that I agree with the consultation and that more is necessary and that I think it has to be a cooperative approach.
What I am saying to the Premier is that I find myself -- he has all the money and all the resources -- still in a bit of a vacuum, and I know that virtually every person who appeared before the committee was in a bit of a vacuum, asking to respond to issues we know will be on the table, whatever that table is, issues like the triple E Senate.
We know there is going to have to be Senate reform or western Canada is not going to agree to the new document, but Ontarians do not know, and the Premier has not given them any analysis or any study -- and he could have. I would ask him if he has any plans under way to do that now as to what does this country look like, what does it mean to Ontario when you have an effective, elected Senate, the triple E Senate?
Second, the long-standing, 25-year demand of Quebec that it have sovereignty over language issues, that language be a provincial responsibility: We need to have an analysis, an impact study. What does that mean in Ontario if the provinces have responsibility over language or, as the committee has pointed out, culture or communications or immigration? We need to know what that means. Francophones need to know what that means for their desires and aspirations in Ontario. Anglophones need to know that, in and outside of Quebec.
Native self-government is another one. They have unanimously come forward and said we have got to address native issues, but we do not know what native self-government means. I suggest to the Premier that neither does anybody else, because we have not been able to agree on it. But surely we have to give some of that kind of information saying: "If we had native self-government, here is how it would work at Nipissing No 10 Obijway band right beside North Bay. Here are the powers they would have. Here is where the money would come from."
I would ask the Premier if he would allocate those resources that I asked him to allocate last fall, and again in my criticism of this document, as soon as possible so that we can get informed input back, we can do some education and get some informed input back to help us all in making decisions on behalf of Ontario and on behalf of Canada.
Hon Mr Rae: I will try and answer briefly to the leader of the third party and say that my short answer is that resources have already been allocated, as I announced in December, to a special secretariat that has been set up in the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, which is obviously going to be preparing material and providing the kind of education he is talking about.
Let me just make one other comment to the member. I do not disagree with anything he has said. I think he is absolutely right. The only addition I would make, however, is that the committee is ongoing and if the committee feels that it itself needs more resources to conduct some of these studies, or that it wants additional information itself, I am quite happy to have the committee negotiate the kind of budget that will allow it to do that kind of work, so that kind of work would be done for the committee.
We do not have any monopoly on information; we do not have any monopoly on truth in this regard. The member is quite right that we have to get down to the short strokes and we have to get down rather quickly to doing that. I can assure him that is already under way within the government, but it is important to get it out into the public. I agree with him about that as well, and that is exactly what we are going to be doing.
I did want to wait for this report and give this committee a chance to travel across the province before making further statements on behalf of the government. I will be making a speech in this House on Wednesday. I will be speaking 10 days later, on 5 April, in Ottawa to a conference on national unity to which I have been invited to give a speech. I will be setting out there, with greater clarity, I hope, some of the directions the province of Ontario feels are going to be necessary in order to make this debate really happen and make it constructive and keep Canada together.
The Speaker: Point of order.
Mr Harris: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. My --
Mr Speaker: I am sorry, leader of the third party, there is a point of order.
Mr Sola: Mr Speaker, I have got a point of order, I think, that comes under section IV, article 16. It comes under "Order and Decorum and Conduct of Members" of the House. It says: "In the case of grave disorder arising in the House, the Speaker or Chair may, if he or she thinks it necessary to do so, adjourn the House or a committee without motion, or suspend any meeting for a time to be named by him or her."
With this in mind, I would like to ask you whether it is appropriate conduct for any member of this House, particularly ministers of the Crown, to applaud actions which result in your having to adjourn the House for disorder. I myself noticed at least two ministers applauding when the disorder took place in this House, and I await your ruling.
The Speaker: I appreciate the point of order raised by the member. I did in fact order that we recess due to grave disorder. My words may have been lost because of the volume of sound in here. It was my judgement that because of the disturbance we were not able to conduct our business as normal, and so that is what happened. The disorder was not caused by any member of the assembly.
While I am on my feet, at the time when the disturbance occurred, between then and when I announced the recess, unfortunately the clock continued to run for approximately two minutes. I would like to add two minutes back to the clock at this point. So we will continue.
Mr Sola: Mr Speaker, I think you did not answer my point of order.
The Speaker: To the member -- if he would be seated, please -- I made a ruling based on my judgement, not on a request by any member of the assembly, and in my opinion the disorder was caused by some visitors in the gallery and it was not assisted, aided or abetted by any member of the assembly. I thank you for raising your point.
The leader of the third party with his second question.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Harris: My second question is also for the Premier. He has known for the past six months that he would soon be faced with a decision regarding Sunday shopping. He has known that he would either be forced to uphold a law he had previously vigorously fought against and opposed or that there would be no law at all. In view of that, can the Premier tell us specifically what studies he has undertaken on the impact of Sunday openings and will he table them in the House with us today?
Hon Mr Rae: I think I had better refer that to the Solicitor General because he is more knowledgeable than I am in these areas.
Hon Mr Farnan: I appreciate the question. The reality of the matter is that the previous legislation, in a sense, opened up a Pandora's box. We have had to live with that legislation and in fact, as the leader of the third party knows, we have had to wait for a decision from the Court of Appeal.
The leader of the third party will also realize that major retailers had indicated that they were going to open on statutory holidays and Sunday of next week, so in the sense that the ruling of the appeal court upheld the current legislation, we welcome that. However, our position in the past was that we had made certain criticisms of that legislation, and we still believe those criticisms are valid. We are now placed in a position where we will enforce the current legislation while we continue the consultative process that has been taking place over the last several months. We have met with over 60 interested parties. I have invited to meet with me all of the major chain retail stores and we will be meeting with the municipalities of Ontario and particularly we will be meeting with those cross-border communities that have specific concerns.
It is an ongoing process of consultation. It is a consultation process, though, I would remind the leader of the third party, that we do not intend to rush; neither do we intend to drag our feet on the matter.
Mr Harris: I would suggest to the honourable member that he has dragged his feet for at least six months, as his government has for eight months. He has known there was a problem whichever way the decision went.
Both the Solicitor General and the Premier, during the campaign, during these past six months here in the House, even now, have said to us that they plan to take into account the concerns of border communities. I would ask the Solicitor General this: Given that 90% of Ontarians live within an hour and a half of Sunday shopping across a border, is he telling us that he now thinks one of the top priorities for his government is to come up with legislation on Sunday closings or on a pause day for 10% of Ontarians?
Hon Mr Farnan: As I have indicated, I am prepared to listen to those interested parties. I am prepared to listen to the leaders of the opposition parties, to their critics, to all members of this House and to those communities that are going to be affected. Not only will we listen to them, but we will carefully evaluate whether or not we can incorporate their concerns into the legislation that we bring forward. Any more than that, we cannot promise.
Mr Harris: Let me ask the minister this: We have had now in excess of eight months where Sunday openings have been self-regulating. There has been no legislation in place, so Sunday openings have been selfregulating or optional, and we now have this eight-month experience for the first time in Ontario's history. We have never had this experience before. We do not have to go out and say, "What would happen if..."; we have had eight months of experience.
I would ask the Solicitor General, during this eight months, with the exception of the complaints from the unions, has he learned anything? Can he tell us, has church attendance fallen? Has family life disintegrated? Have overhead costs risen? Have any businesses closed as a result? Can he tell us, has there, in fact, when it has been self-regulating, been wide-open Sunday shopping? Can he tell us if he has any analytical study of any of these things happening?
Hon Mr Farnan: I can tell the member this, that if I ask somebody, "Do you want to work on Sunday?" the answer will probably be no. If I say to them, "Would you like your husband or your son to work on Sunday?" the answer will probably be no. If I go to the workers in those large retail stores and ask them, "Do you want Sunday shopping?" the answer will probably be no. If I go to the Ontario Federation of Labour and ask, "Do you want Sunday opening?" the answer will probably be no. If I go to the church groups, the answer will probably be no. If I go to the small retail stores, the answer will probably be no. I know there is one group that will say yes, and that is the large retail stores.
The Speaker: I have stopped the clock for a moment. I draw to members' attention that in the first two questions for both opposition leaders and the responses which were given we have occupied almost 40 minutes. Backbench members may wish to note that. Let us continue.
HUNTING IN ALGONQUIN PARK
Mr Ramsay: I have a question today for the Minister of Natural Resources. I read very carefully yesterday his lengthy answer on the changes to the Algonquin Provincial Park management policy, but I believe his response in no way explains away the frustration and the confusion and the chaos that he is creating with the various involved and interested parties in that park. In fact, as I am sure the minister knows, the Huntsville Herald News called for his resignation yesterday, they are so angry about this -- ironic indeed in a town that he just delivered a bunch of MNR jobs to the week before.
I think the confusion was continued yesterday in the minister's response when he said that this was a unique situation to this park, where Brian Blomme, a ministry spokesperson, a couple of weeks ago said, "This new policy is also being applied in most of the other provincial parks" -- well, that is what he said -- "to create a good climate for land claims."
It may be that the minister's difficulty is that he has a conflict between his duties as minister of native affairs and Minister of Natural Resources.
The mess the minister has created, I think, begs the question further. What, if any, discussion happened in caucus before this was leaked out, or in cabinet, or was this the minister's own initiative?
Hon Mr Wildman: In response to the last comment by the member, the member knows full well that the government has made a strong statement of commitment to negotiate aboriginal land claims in this province. It also has made a strong commitment to negotiating self-government for aboriginal peoples in this province. So any decisions that have been made with regard to negotiating land claims in this province have been made in that context and they have been made in the context of full consultation in our caucus and in our cabinet.
The member will know that indeed the Algonquin situation is unique in that it deals with a particular claim that involves the whole area of the Ottawa River watershed from about Hawkesbury to Mattawa, including the whole city of Ottawa and the region of Ottawa-Carleton, of Parliament Hill, and the largest single area of crown land within that whole large claim area happens to be the jewel of the Ontario park system, Algonquin park. This is a very difficult situation. It is unique because of that claim.
At the same time, the member will know we are involved with trying to respond to the Supreme Court decisions with regard to the aboriginal right to hunt and fish, the Supreme Court decisions in the Sparrow case and the Sioui case, which recognized the aboriginal right to hunt and fish while protecting conservation of public safety and also in one case dealt with hunting in provincial parks. The two are related, of course, but they are also separate.
Mr Ramsay: I would like to congratulate the minister that the explanations are quite good; they are coming after the fact and the interest groups now are wondering why the decisions were made and why they were not consulted. He himself in his response yesterday said he did not want to conduct the consultation "in the glare of the public eye." Now I have read it today, that is what it said, and I would suggest that he go back to take a look.
Hon Mr Wildman: I said the negotiations, not the consultation.
Mr Ramsay: No, he said the consultation, and I would ask him to go back and take a look at that.
The sports operators, the tourist operators for the park and all the surrounding area are a little upset that he did cancel a meeting with them at the Sportsmen's Show this week and would like to see him.
As he knows, this subject has been reported far and wide, as far as the Miami Herald, so he is in both Heralds, Miami and Huntsville, but it is occurring at a very critical time when the tourist operators are trying to sell their tours and their trips into Algonquin park and the surrounding area and they are having a difficult time trying to explain to their clients and their potential clients with regard to the safety of those clients in that park. I would like to ask the minister, is he and his ministry and is the Minister of Tourism and Recreation doing anything to help those people explain to their clients that outfitting is safe in Algonquin park this year?
Hon Mr Wildman: The member will know, first, that the articles in the Herald are a result of some leaked material that was prepared early on in the process and was not adequately full in explanation.
The fact is, the story in the Huntsville Herald indicates quite incorrectly that the Ontario native affairs secretariat is carrying out all of the negotiations and that Ministry of Natural Resources officials are not involved. That is quite incorrect. The deputy minister, right down to the parks manager, Ernie Martelle, have been directly involved in the negotiations and have been very helpful in the negotiations.
With regard to the consultations, the initial consultations took place early on, but they were not intended to take place until we had a final position that we were going to be able to present the people to consult about. The leak occurred earlier than we anticipated and that is why it occurred before the consultations. We are participating now in consultations with the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Friends of Algonquin Park and so on.
With regard to the tourist outfitters, representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and the Ministry of Natural Resources have met with them to explain their --
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please? Okay, remove them, please. Stop the clock.
Mr Stockwell: My question is to the Premier. Could the Premier explain to this House and myself his sudden reversal, maybe a rationale for his sudden reversal, on lot levies and exactly what transpired in the last little while to change specifically his position? The question is to the Premier because I think it is important we find out exactly the rationale behind a 180-degree turn.
Hon Mr Rae: The situation that we faced on lot levies, and I hope this is a fair description of the situation, is this --
Mrs Caplan: That was then, this is now.
Hon Mr Rae: The difficulty we faced was that the legislation was in place. It was obviously one that was relied on by a number of boards of education and municipalities with respect to their funding needs. We as a government were faced with the reality that, given our own economic situation and given the overall fiscal situation we face, which is, I would say to the member for Etobicoke West, a challenge for the government, as it is for anybody else, we simply decided, on the basis of the situation which the province now faces in terms of a deficit which now stands at $3 billion and the prospects of a higher deficit in the next fiscal year, that we simply could not afford to do away with lot levies. It is as simple as that.
Mr Stockwell: I will remind the Premier of a quote from the Toronto Home Builders Association questionnaire that the Premier filled out and sent in:
"Lot levies are simply a new method devised by the Liberals to duck responsibility for the provision of important services around the province. The Liberals have not adequately funded municipalities. Lot levies are a method appealing to the Liberals because it gets them off the hook and dumps the cost on to new home buyers."
It seems to me that every time we deal with an issue where the Premier's government has reversed itself, he quotes to me the deficit. I think it is an interesting approach. He quotes to me about dollars and cents, and we all know, in my opinion, having sat on Metro council, that this is blood money. It is blackmail. We know that this is in fact a tough time, but the Premier's position was very clear, and in my opinion, pre-election, he was right. It now seems apparent and the question is that the Premier is selling his principles. It is a principle that he stood for. It is a principle that people could have affordable housing, and we know full well that affordable housing in Toronto is very difficult to find.
Could the Premier please answer this, the people of the province of Ontario have to know, what is the price on his principles? What is the price tag? They voted for these kind of principles and they are being sold out: When, how much and how often?
Hon Mr Rae: I must say there is a particular kind of charm and style to the member's questions which I think I can already detect. I now know what to expect for the next several years.
I would say to the member, first of all, let's put this in some perspective and try to be fair. With respect to the question of educational development charges relating to boards of education, the government decided, on the basis of our current financial situation and on the basis of the fact that the whole package with respect to educational financing reform is being dealt with by the Fair Tax Commission, that we could not accede to the request that we abandon willy-nilly the educational charges, so-called lot levies, with respect to educational development.
The whole issue is being looked at by the Fair Tax Commission. There are questions of fairness here. There are also questions, as the member well knows from his experience in municipal politics, of affordability. We are right up against those questions today as a government. We will continue to be. We are going to continue to do the very best that we can over the life of the government in dealing with the fairness questions. It is something which the Fair Tax Commission is going to be looking at.
As for this year, the member will know that there are certain boards whose requests for those charges have had to be met, because if we had not met them, they simply would have taken the government to court.
WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD
Mr Perruzza: My question is to the Minister of Labour. Downsview riding, which I have the honour of representing, is largely a working-class riding. The majority of my constituents work in construction, in factories and other heavy industries where the chances for work-related injuries are very high. My office -- and I am certain other offices -- has had problems regarding specific cases and has often received no response even after several messages have been left. I am concerned that many adjudicators are insensitive when dealing with injured workers, resulting in frustration and tension among injured workers and their families.
The Workers' Compensation Board is much like a dinosaur, a bureaucratic nightmare. My question to the minister is, what action is his ministry taking in the short term to ensure that injured workers are treated fairly, compassionately and efficiently by the Workers' Compensation Board?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I think the member is well aware that we are concerned about the operation of the WCB and the many problems that are coming to our attention from workers. While most claimants are treated fairly, there is a growing number who have real, legitimate complaints in terms of the operation of the board.
I can tell the member that we expect to see some significant changes in the administration of the board very shortly. The government is in the process of finding both a new chair and a new vice-chair of administration. We hope to be announcing these key positions in the very near future. Our message to this new administration is, very clear, and that is that we want resolved the problems of adjudication, the problems of delays, the problems of service to the employees of the board, and that is something we will be closely watching at the time.
I am sure the member is also aware that it is an arm's-length relationship with the board. We do not directly run it, but certainly we are aware of the problems that are developing.
Mr Perruzza: I thank the minister for his answer, but it seems to me that that is more of a short-term solution. I would like to ask the minister what they are doing in the long term to simplify the workers' compensation system so that it is easier to understand, is efficient and ensures that injured workers receive fair and equitable compensation for their injuries.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I do not think that the workers' compensation system can ever be made simple. Certainly we can improve the efficiency of the system, and that is what we are trying to do. We think the office of the worker adviser, for example, has done a commendable job, given the kind of pressure that is on it.
But we are also aware that we are really not going to solve the problems of the Workers' Compensation Board until we do a much better job of health and safety and prevention of accidents in the workplace in the province of Ontario, and that has got to be one of our main aims.
Mr Phillips: My question is to the Minister of Health. It has to do with an area that I am sure she will agree is growing. I am not exaggerating in saying it could be reaching crisis proportions. I am speaking now of longterm care. As the minister will appreciate, the former government did announce, I think about a year ago, quite a comprehensive plan for long-term care. That was then and this is now, of course.
I say it is growing to a crisis proportion for a variety of reasons. I think the minister is no doubt aware that there are literally hundreds of community groups that are waiting for action from the government. An arbitrator recently said to the union that the arbitrator was unable to reach a fair settlement with the workers because nursing homes were not adequately funded. I think it is fair to say there are a number of civil servants waiting for direction from the ministry.
I wonder if the minister today might give us specifically her timetable on when she will be announcing the government's plans for long-term care.
Hon Mrs Gigantes: I would be pleased to let the critic for the Liberal Party know that the proposal dealing with long-term care and the proposal that we will be taking to the public in consultation is now going before cabinet, so we should be able to provide him with very substantial kinds of information on that score within a short period of time.
Mr Phillips: The problem I am having is that the major consultation took place actually -- sadly for us, fortunately for this government -- about six months ago, and the people of Ontario had the major consultation, and that was of course when they voted for the NDP and voted for the Agenda for People. They spelled out in there their plans for dealing with the issues in the province.
Believe me, the people of the province are waiting for action on long-term care. What I want today from the minister is assurance that when the budget comes forward it will include the funds necessary to implement their plans for long-term care. We cannot wait for another year. We must ensure that those plans and those programs are provided for within this budget, which comes out, I believe, next month.
Hon Mrs Gigantes: The Treasurer hears the question, and I know that he understands that the financial needs for long-term care are terribly important in this province. We will make our submissions to the Treasurer, and certainly the program that this government will be placing before the Legislature and the public of Ontario will have funding attached.
Mrs Witmer: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The wage protection fund announced by the Premier last October is conservatively estimated to cost about $145 million. Ministry officials have indicated that about 10,000 laid-off workers have already applied for compensation under this yet-to-be-created program. Could the minister please indicate to this House how his government intends to finance the wage protection fund?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: The member will also know, if she has taken a look at the discussion documents that are out with some of the stakeholders in the community, that some of the issues we have to resolve and are currently now compiling our material on as a result of the input from the questionnaire are how the fund will be financed and the extent of the coverage and how fast we can move on it. We are in the process of looking at that now and will be bringing the recommendations to cabinet very shortly and hope to be in in this session of the House with a draft bill.
Mrs Witmer: I asked the minister specifically how he intends to fund the wage protection fund. I would suggest to him, at a time when there is mounting economic insecurity, at a time when people in this province are suffering from job losses and plant closings, at a time when our neighbours to the south are actively recruiting businesses and encouraging them to move south of the border, that this government do everything possible to stem that tide of businesses going south. I would suggest that the minister focus his efforts on keeping jobs in this province, I would suggest that the minister focus on skills training, and I would like him at this time to reassure the workers in this province that he is responsible for protecting their jobs, that he is responsible for providing them with compensation, that he will not allow more jobs to move south of the border. Is he prepared to make a commitment at this time to the workers that he will not introduce a payroll tax to finance his wage protection fund?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I think the member will know that when the matter is now just being drafted and not yet taken to cabinet that I am not likely to tell her specifically what we will suggest in terms of payment. I think she also must understand that we recognize the tough and severe times we are in and the fear of the business community. I can tell her also, though, that there are workers out there, from the Canada Packers, the Deilcrafts, the many other plants around this province, who have lost their jobs and now are sitting with unpaid wages and vacation that have to be taken care of. So there are a number of things that we are going to have to balance in making a decision on this matter.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: May I be allowed to correct the record, please? In response to the question that I just answered I mentioned that we had a large number of workers who are sitting without payments being made, and that is true. We have several thousand who have applied to the wage protection plan. I mentioned plant closures such as Deilcraft and Canada Packers. That was an ill-advised choice of words. I am not sure that any of their particular workers are involved in not getting money, but some of the others, as I say, several thousand, are in the province.
Mr Elston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: When the record is corrected and more information is given with respect to a question, sometimes there is supplementary time available for the questioner. I would like to propose that you allow the member for Waterloo North to pose a supplementary with respect to the corrected record. I think it is only fair.
Hon Miss Martel: Mr Speaker, my understanding of the rules is that you have a supplementary question when in fact there has been a question asked of the minister. He has come back into the House to respond. Because of the time of the question, he did not have the response. It is not my understanding that another question is permitted when in fact he has gotten up to correct the record.
The Speaker: That is correct.
Mr Elston: Just on that point, Mr Speaker, when questions are answered here, the supplementaries flow from those questions as answered by the minister. When the information is corrected after the fact, it allows the minister an unfair advantage, because the supplementary is posed in relation to material which was either incomplete or unavailable to the questioner. I am only standing to ask that my colleague from Waterloo North be allowed to examine a supplementary in relation to new information provided to her at this time. It is obviously not a partisan issue, because she is a member of a different caucus from ours, but I think it is important when new information comes that in fact any member -- and it would pertain also to a member of the New Democratic Party as well as to the Liberal caucus -- would be allowed to ask the supplementary with full knowledge of the facts and not some errant piece of information.
The Speaker: I appreciate the point of order raised by the member for Bruce. I draw to the member's attention the fact that the minister rose to simply correct the record and offered some information to correct the record, not additional information available for debate, and that is normal practice in this House. But I appreciate your raising it, and I will review the matter again, but to my knowledge that is the practice we have followed for some considerable time.
Mr Owens: My question is for the Solicitor General. In 1990 in the city of Scarborough there were 626 offences using offensive weapons, which is up from 473 in 1989. A Metropolitan Toronto committee is currently holding hearings with respect to gun control in this city. The Toronto Star today reports that the federal Minister of Justice, Kim Campbell, will introduce legislation in the next session with respect to gun control, including some of the recommendations that came from the committee studying Bill C-80. What steps is the ministry taking with respect to gun control?
Hon Mr Farnan: Firearms control is a public safety issue that I consider to be very grave, and it is also of grave concern for policing services in the province of Ontario. However, the member is quite correct, firearms legislation is under the direct responsibility of the federal government.
I have written to the federal minister, Kim Campbell, and I believe my colleague the Attorney General likewise has written in very strong terms supporting Bill C-80 and urging a national firearms amnesty that we want to participate in. We are watching very carefully the new gun control law as it goes through the Justice minister's hearings; we are looking at those hearings and the response to those hearings and we want to see that legislation coming through this session.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon Miss Martel moved that Mr Harnick and Mr Villeneuve exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business.
Motion agreed to.
BUCKHORN WILDERNESS CENTRE
Mr Drainville: It is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to present a petition on behalf of 329 citizens of the ridings of Vlctoria-Haliburton, Peterborough and Hastings-Peterborough.
We also have today Norma and George Macphail, who are in the gallery representing the 329 citizens. The issue they have petitioned this House about is the Buckhorn Wilderness Centre, which has become private property, and they would like it to become crown property.
Mr B. Ward: I have a petition signed by approximately 100 people from the city of Brantford requesting that two full-time judges be appointed to the city by 1 April.
Mrs Cunningham: I have a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
"The Ministry of Education has made evolutionism a compulsory core unit in senior OAC, previously grade 13, history and science. Since evolutionism and creationism are completed acts in the past, neither can be proven nor disproved. In fairness to all parents and students, equal time should be given in presenting the underlying assumptions of each. Through the two-model approach, the skills of critical thinking, such as recognition of bias, awareness of society's influence on one's bias and the awareness of assumptions can allow students to examine their own belief system and better appreciate an opposing view."
It has been signed by 238 people.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ONTARIO IN CONFEDERATION
Mr Silipo from the select committee on Ontario in Confederation presented the committee's interim report and requested that it be placed on the Orders and Notices paper for consideration pursuant to standing order 36(b).
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: Does the member wish to make a brief statement?
Mr Silipo: Briefly, thank you. I would just like to note two things, first of all, the thanks of the committee to all of the staff, both here in the Legislative Building and the legislative services and external staff who assisted us with the work of the committee. We know there were a great many people who helped us to pull the report together and helped us in our work and we want to express our appreciation to all of the staff.
Also, I would just note that the report is a unanimous report from the members of the committee, and in that way I also want to express my appreciation to the other members of the committee for the collaboration that was shown in the process.
Hon Miss Martel: I would ask for unanimous consent of the House to call the order for consideration of the interim report of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation.
Hon Miss Martel: There has been an agreement among the three parties to divide the time equally in this debate.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INTERIM REPORT, SELECT COMMITTEE ON ONTARIO IN CONFEDERATION / RAPPORT PROVISOIRE DU COMITÉ SPÉCIAL SUR LE RÔLE DE L'ONTARIO AU SEIN DE LA CONFÉDÉRATION
Consideration of the interim report of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation.
Étude du rapport provisoire du Comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération.
Mr Silipo: I am pleased to rise today to open debate on the interim report of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation.
As I noted earlier, this report is a unanimous report, and I think that continues a tradition which has been longstanding in this assembly on issues that relate to constitutional matters and the future of the country. The three parties have managed to come together on those issues, and I want to just again note my thanks to all of the members of the committee from the government side and from the opposition parties for the manner in which we were able to work together. I certainly was very pleased. It certainly made my life as the Chair of the committee a lot easier. But I think that above and beyond the practicalities there is that value I think we all share of being able to come together on issues as important as this and to rise above partisanship and to express our views together.
The report opens with an observation that a Constitution cannot remain static. Just as a country evolves over time, so does a document that codifies those fundamental values we have as a country, defines our national institutions and divides the exercise of the legislative powers that express what the country is all about.
I think it is in that context that we place our report, in the realization that we are at an important crossroads in our evolution as a country and that in looking at the many issues we had before us, we need to recognize that change is inevitable and that what we are contemplating in the days and months and years to come is looking at restructuring the essence of this country and how we translate that into the constitutional document and indeed into the whole other relationship between the different levels of government, and not necessarily just the federal and provincial governments but indeed the third level of government, the municipal level of government, in that aspect.
As people know, we were given a mandate as a committee to review and report on, first, the social and economic interests and aspirations of all the people of Ontario within Confederation, and second, what form of Confederation can most effectively meet the social and economic aspirations of the people of Ontario. Obviously, in our interim report we do not presume to be able to answer those questions fully, but we do believe that we have been able to at least set some clear directions and at the same time proceed from there to set the stage for the next part of our work.
Before getting into some of the issues that we address in the report, I want to note that the extensive travelling we did during this time allowed us to visit some 20 different communities across the province and I think gave us all, as members of the committee, a closer understanding of the reality of Ontario across its different regions. On a personal note, I know that being in those different regions and going through the travel we did, as a member from Toronto it certainly gave me not only an appreciation for the different parts of the province but also a much greater level of respect for my colleagues from outside the Toronto area in terms of what they need to go through on a week-to-week basis in doing their work as members of this assembly. I think it is something that perhaps can really only be known by people who in fact go through that kind of schedule on a week-to-week basis.
We heard from many individuals and groups, over 600 people, who talked to us throughout the process. For me what came out of the many people who spoke was, above all a profound interest in the kinds of things that are happening to our country and to our province and a great deal of interest by the people of the province in wanting to be involved in the process of change. People said to us very clearly that they expect leadership from government, that they expect us to take a leadership role in addressing the many issues we need to address. But they also said to us very clearly that they do not want politicians to assume or presume that we have the answers and that the public out there can be left out of the process.
If there is one message that came out very clearly it was that people intend and want us to make sure that they continue to be involved at all stages of the process. I think that is something that not only we heard but I hope we reflected very clearly in our report and will reflect in our continuing work in terms of how we structure our discussions in ensuring that as we proceed to look at some of the issues in more detail, we will also ensure that the public, in many ways, continues to be involved in that process.
In terms of some of the values that people spoke to us about and some of the things they felt bound us together as a country, we were, first of all, I think struck by the level of emotion with which people spoke. While people may not have talked to us in terms of specific details of giving us proposals that would resolve the problems that we have, there was a very strong sense that something that was very valuable to people was in jeopardy of possibly disintegrating.
I think that feeling came across to us time and time again. People talked to us about the kinds of values that they see are inherent in describing Canada -- values of tolerance, values of respect for each other, values of not only accepting but respecting and wanting to enhance the kind of diversity that exists across the country -- and talked to us about the concept of equality. People recognized within that, that equality, for it to be true, was not necessarily the same thing for everyone or the same thing for every region and that in fact there were different ways that we needed to be able to express that.
There were, as I said, a great many positive comments on the question of the cultural and racial diversity of the country and that is an inherent part of what makes us unique. There was certainly a great deal of comment about the sense of wellbeing for others that I think we share and the kind of value that people place on the social programs and some of the other underlying basic things, which we tend to take for granted sometimes but that in fact set us apart as a country from other countries. We certainly share, as a committee, that view of the majority of people who spoke before us of the tolerance and understanding and respect for the diverse elements of our society that are indeed basic values which need to form the basis of any renewal that we embark upon.
We heard also a great deal about aboriginal peoples and it was heartening I think, as has been noted and as we have been saying throughout the process, to hear the great level of consensus that there was, obviously from native peoples but also from non-native peoples, about the need for us to address the kinds of injustices that we as a society have allowed to be perpetuated against our native peoples for years in the question of land claims and the question of self-government, and that we need to come to grips with as governments and as people and that we need to address in a very fundamental way.
As we conclude that section of our report, we state that we believe the government has a very clear mandate to proceed and continue on its course, as begun indeed by the previous government, to continue to negotiate and to reach solutions with native peoples on the process of self-government and land claims, recognizing that there is obviously a great role that the federal government needs to play in that area as well, but also recognizing that Ontario can and should continue to play a major role in ensuring that the land claims issues get resolved, that the question of self-government gets addressed, that we do indeed answer the kinds of specifics of what selfgovernment means, as the leader of the third party was asking about earlier on today, and that we ensure that in the constitutional framework the issues of aboriginal peoples are right up there and up front on the agenda and dealt with in future constitutional discussions.
We also obviously heard a great deal about the question of Quebec's future in Canada. As we note in our report, this was probably the subject of some of the most passionate testimony that we heard. The feelings were at times raw on this issue. There was a strong sentiment that people wanted us to keep Quebec within Canada, but I think we also need to acknowledge that there were some people who felt that Quebec should simply be let go.
We do not agree with that latter view. As a committee, we expressed the opinion that we need to do whatever we can to ensure that Quebec remains within Canada. We believe that the potential of Quebec separating from the rest of the country is real, not something that can be taken lightly, and therefore requires a real, concerted effort on our part, on our government's part, to ensure that we are addressing that issue in a very real way.
We think that the consequences of Quebec's separation would not be very positive, to put it mildly, but would be very serious for all of us, obviously for Quebec and for the rest of us, and that everyone at the very least needs to be aware of what those consequences might be in whatever kind of level of detail we are able to. You can describe the consequences in economic terms, you can describe them in terms of the kinds of loss of trade and other kinds of possibilities, but it seemed to us that beyond those kinds of issues the potential for Canada without Quebec has implications that go to the very heart of our identity as a country. That, it seems to us, is really at the basis of any discussion that we also pursue in that area.
We obviously have not had the opportunity to be able to set out in any kind of a clear way, in any detail, the ways in which we can respond to what is happening in Quebec, but we believe very clearly that respond we need to. We will be looking during our next phase at various possibilities in which we can hopefully provide to this assembly and to others some possibilities that need to be addressed.
Je voudrais aussi dire que la question du Québec et son rôle dans le Canada, l'avenir du Québec dans le Canada, est évidemment une des questions les plus importantes que nous ayons eues devant nous. Certainement, nous savons qu'il y a ceux dans la province qui sont prêts à abandonner le Québec ou à dire que le Québec devrait se séparer mais nous, comme comité, soutenons la position qu'il faut faire tout le possible pour retenir le Québec dans le Canada.
Nous voulons un Canada uni avec le Québec là-dedans, mais nous reconnaissons que, pour en arriver à ça, il faut être prêt à contempler des changements pour que ça puisse continuer. Nous croyons que la séparation du Québec aurait des conséquences majeures et sérieuses pour le Québec, mais évidemment pour nous aussi en Ontario et pour le reste du Canada.
Donc, il faut vraiment qu'un changement se produise pour que le Québec demeure un partenaire au sein de la Confédération. Même s'il n'y a pas dans notre rapport des détails en ce qui concerne répondre aux exigences du Québec, nous espérons, et moi je l'espère sincèrement, que le Québec reste dans le Canada et que notre rapport au moins donne une idée positive, qu'il soit reçu d'une manière positive en ce qui concerne notre volonté envers le Québec et envers notre volonté de trouver des solutions, même si on n'est pas en ce moment, dans notre débat, dans une situation de pouvoir répondre d'une manière précise à cette question.
The question of the English and French languages is something that is obviously intertwined with the issue of Quebec, but is also one within which we know that there is a reality that is particular to Ontario; that is, that within that we understand the need to continue to respond to the reality of the Franco-Ontarian population within this province. In fact, there are issues affecting the FrancoOntarian population that, while they play a role in the greater debate of national unity, are also particular to the Franco-Ontarian citizens of this province.
Therefore, while we are not in a position as a committee to respond to the call for official bilingualism on the part of the francophone communities, because we believe that is an issue that requires a great deal more discussion, we do understand and appreciate the very strongly felt feelings on behalf of our Franco-Ontarian citizens of the need to continue to expand the provision of French services, particularly in the area of education. This is one area that they highlighted for us time and time again in terms of having a continuum of services from kindergarten right through to university or college. That is an area that we need to take a look at.
We also very clearly heard from a number of people who are opposed to not only any idea of official bilingualism but indeed even to the concept of Bill 8 itself. While we do not agree with those views as a committee, we certainly do recognize that there is a great deal more information that needs to be provided to people across this province and that a number of things can be done in looking at the implementation of Bill 8 to at least provide more information to people about the consequences or the implications of Bill 8 in those areas that have been designated for bilingual services, and use that as a vehicle hopefully to provide a better understanding about those issues.
We heard, as I mentioned earlier, a number of comments made about the question of multiculturalism. I think that what struck us and certainly what we reflect on and agree in our report is the issue that the multicultural diversity of the country and of the province is not a recent phenomenon, that indeed it is something that has been a part of the history and the evolution of this province and of this country and that anything that we do in terms of constitutional discussions, in terms of looking at redefining our constitutional framework, needs to keep that very much in mind.
There are great strengths that we have within our society that are reflected in the kind of tolerance that we see and that we want to continue to enhance towards the multicultural, multiracial reality of Canada, but we also got the sense that we need to be prepared to move beyond simple tolerance and acceptance and to develop a real understanding of the values that exist within our entire population as reflected again in that kind of diversity that we see within the ethnocultural makeup of the country. There are great strengths that we can draw from that on a societal level and indeed on an economic level in terms of trade and other benefits.
We heard in this process from women, and I think, if anywhere along the process, that it was when women were talking to us that the issues of process themselves became in effect very clearly put before us in terms of their importance. Women talked to us about many, many issues. As they were there as representatives of various organizations, they spoke to us of course about all of the issues that I have mentioned and that I have not mentioned. Obviously they had and continue to have a great interest and role as women and as members of our society in all of those issues that affect us as a country.
But they then talked to us very clearly also about specific needs that they have and that we need to continue to address. They underlined for us, and we agreed very much, that in the process of constitutional change we need to make sure that the kinds of gains that we have made towards gender equality not only are not jeopardized, but perhaps, it seems to me, are looked at in terms of protecting and enhancing. That is something that we need to keep very much in mind in our processes, and one of the ways of ensuring that is by making sure that women, individually and through their organizations or whatever way, are involved in all of the processes that are set in place towards constitutional reform.
We heard also from a group of people who I know we would not have heard from if the member for York East sitting next to me, who is a member of our committee, had not been also a member of our committee. We may have heard from them, but we may not have heard from them in quite the same way. That was, of course, disabled individuals. We heard from a number of deaf individuals but we heard also from people with other disabilities. I think we learned a great deal as a committee as a result of what those individuals said to us about the kinds of barriers that exist for people with particular disabilities, the kinds of barriers that those disabilities place them in in terms of their being able to fully participate in society.
While a lot of the comments that they made touched on the whole range of lack of services that they want us to improve as government, it also struck a chord with us in terms again of some of the basics that we all need as citizens to have if we want to participate in the evolution of this country. While we will be examining in more detail how the rights of disabled people can be more effectively addressed in the constitutional framework in our next stage, we certainly keep in mind very much the kinds of comments that were made to us about the needs that exist for people with various disabilities and how in fact governments need to continue to be very conscious of and to address those issues.
We were asked to look at some of the economic questions, and I think it is fair to say that this is probably one of the areas in which we have at this point the least to say. I think that again we just need to be very clear and open about that. We did not hear from the people who spoke to us a great deal in the way of specifics about how that related to the constitutional framework, with a couple of very important exceptions that I want to note.
Even before I get to that, I want to say that we certainly did hear a great deal about what was happening to people economically and how people saw that that meshed or did not mesh with anything else that we were doing other than it was something that was obviously important to them. It has often been said that we can talk about constitutional matters, but if we are not talking about the bread-and-butter issues that affect people, all of it is just an academic exercise.
People obviously talked to us and were conscious that our hearings were happening during the recession, so these issues may have been in fact more prominent in people's minds. None the less, my own sense is that they would have been in any event. But we did in hearing also begin to see some of the threads and the links that exist between the question of economics and how they affect people in a real way; what it means to people to not have jobs or what some of the economic policies of this government or the federal government might mean to them and indeed how that translates into a constitutional discussion.
One of the areas that we heard a little bit about that I know the committee will be looking at in more detail is this whole question of the relationship between economics and the Constitution, particularly as to whether we should be looking within the Charter of Rights at enlarging not only some of the basic rights and protections that we provide for individuals, but indeed some of the basic rights that we provide in there in a common way. I think again that is something that we will be trying to address in some further way in the next stage of our work.
I want to just add a couple of comments about the role that people saw that we as a province should be playing and then touch also on some of the issues related to the whole process of constitutional reform. There were certainly, as I said earlier, many comments about the role that people saw that governments ought to play and particularly the role that people thought that we as a province should be playing in the constitutional discussion.
People saw that because of our somewhat unique role in terms of being one of the larger provinces in the country, in terms of our historical links with Quebec, in terms of the kind of trade links and other kinds of links that we have with Quebec and indeed with the other regions of the country, we are in a position where we can play that kind of traditional mediator role that Ontario has played, but at the same time ensure that the issues that are important to us and to Ontarians also get put on to the discussion table.
We think that there is in fact this dual role that Ontario can and should continue to play to try to bring the different regions of the country together, but also to make sure that the various issues that were put before us are addressed and are indeed addressed in a collective fashion, not by separating them out or by saying that one is necessarily more important than the other.
Lastly, I just want to talk a little bit about the process of reform. There were many things that we heard about how we could change some of the structures, how the Senate should perhaps be reformed to a triple E Senate, how referenda should be used perhaps as another method and, when you bring those issues closer to the process of constitutional reform, how we perhaps should be looking at the concept of a constituent assembly and again the use of referenda in terms of arriving at ways of answering all the questions before us.
Whatever we may think as individuals about the value or non-value of each of those possibilities, the one thing I think that is clear above all of it is that there is a real sense out there that people want to be involved in the process of constitutional reform and that whatever structures we put in place, whatever solutions we may propose, we need to keep that very much in mind. Whether we agree that referenda at the end of this process would make sense or whether we agree that constituent assemblies make some sense in terms of looking at a way of doing business on the constitutional framework, the underlying issue is that the people of the province need to continue to be involved in the process of constitutional change, because it is not just a process of constitutional change for the sake of going through an exercise. It is in effect the very essence of the structure of the country that we are in the process of changing.
I think I would like to conclude by underscoring that in our sense as a committee, and certainly in mine as a member of that committee, Canada is at a crossroads in its history. The things that are happening now are at least as serious as are some of the kinds of issues that were under discussion at the time the country decided to come together. It is the whole process of renewing, I think, the vision of Canada and renewing the structures that reflect that vision that we are in the process of doing.
Therefore, in all of this it is essential that whatever the structures are that we put in place to help us get to those answers, we make sure that the people of the province continue to be involved and that we exercise the leadership they asked us to by making sure that as we put forward suggestions, as we put forward proposals, we continue that open line of dialogue with them.
I look forward to the next stage of our work. I look forward also to the debate in this House, because I think it is important to hear from not only the other members of the committee but the other members of the Legislature on this issue, in being able then to take also those thoughts and keep those thoughts in mind as we embark on the second stage of our work.
With that, I reiterate my thanks, as Chair of the committee, to the other members of the committee for the kind of co-operation and collaboration that was demonstrated in the process. I think it is an indication of the kind of positive attitude that we need to try to transcend even this Legislature to our relationships with the other parts of the country if we are indeed to resolve the kinds of issues that are before us as a country.
Mrs Y. O'Neill: I would just like to bring to the House's attention before I begin my formal remarks that when we began the process of hearings of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation there were three women who were appointed to that committee and, unfortunately, the two government women have had to leave because of assignment to other duties. I would like to formally congratulate one of the very strong members of the committee, who did not miss one of the 600 presentations, and that is our new Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the member for Riverdale.
Because I am the only surviving woman at this moment, I have decided that I would like to narrow the scope of my remarks today to encompass the ideas and views we heard from the women of Ontario, women who generously gave of their time and talent to share with the committee their special perspective of this important subject, its complex and far-reaching challenge.
We were privileged, as our Chairman said, to hear from women from all regions of the province, including native women, francophone women, visible-minority women, disabled women, women representing business and women representing the labour movement, rural women and urban women. I propose to share with this House today some of the views raised by the women of this province in response to the questions posed by the discussion paper, Changing for the Better.
As the committee report states, women speaking as individuals and for groups addressed the whole range of issues discussed in this report. Their perspective as women added depth to these discussions and particularly helped in our consideration of aboriginal issues, disabled, social and economic problems such as poverty and insufficient support to employment. We cannot overemphasize that the involvement of women, as our Chairman has brought to the House's attention, is key in this process of change.
Throughout my remarks I will be quoting from the presentations of many women. In the interest of brevity, however, I will not be mentioning any of their names or the organizations they represent. This information, however, is appended to my written remarks and will be available to anyone who wishes them.
Let me begin by taking questions in turn. What are the values we share as Canadians? We heard many eloquent comments on the values and visions of what it means to be a Canadian. In Ottawa, one of the presenters shared with us her moving assessment of the qualities we shared. She said:
"We believe that there is a strong Canadian identity. We are united in our desire for peace, order and good government, concerned for collective rights and individual welfare. We like to think that we are tolerant, able to compromise, value freedom of speech, social justice, caring and sharing with others. Many of us value the French language that makes us different, and we value being a middle power with a role as international peacemaker. Whenever we travel abroad, we are always very proud to be Canadian, and when we meet other Canadians, we have an instant friendship, not at all muted by whether they have a different language or a different background, because we are all Canadians abroad."
One woman from Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council told us that "As Canadians, we share many resources and programs envied worldwide." She reminded us to: "revisit our vision of the future with positive workable solutions. We must dialogue with Canadians all across the country. All Canadians, in whatever region they live, whatever ethnic background or income bracket they represent, are all equals and deserve to have a voice in the future of our nation."
A woman in Thunder Bay hopefully told us: "We face a very serious but not hopeless situation. I believe that there is a bit of a renaissance happening in Canada, and if that rebirth is encouraged, stimulated and fostered, it can be part of a developing new sense of national purpose.... It will not be easy, but most truly worthwhile efforts are not. It is important. Let's give this wonderful country our best shot for all of our grandchildren."
Ontario's women feel very deeply the frustrations as the yet unrecognized potential of this country has not been achieved. In Collingwood, the committee was told that:
"I am very proud to be a Canadian, but...I do not believe as a country we have ever reached our potential.... Part of that has to do with our complacency.... I think this is a golden opportunity to do something differently and to really bring about some significant change in our country.... This is the time when we have some potentially creative energy that we can focus and turn to dealing with the very gutsy, crunchy issue we have, which involves, in my opinion, major revision of the Constitution." Gutsy, crunchy issue from a woman of this province.
"A government...can be very strong by providing a vision, by exercising leadership, by encouraging people to really work through their differences...in other words, be catalytic leaders...team leadership, partnership and consensus building."
Professional women, too, spoke clearly about their vision of this country. A London lawyer, who is in the House with us today, spoke most movingly about her country and the solution she sees to the present constitutional difficulties. She suggested to us that:
"Before any constitutional changes are considered or recommended, we must first seek a healing in the hearts and minds of people...straight from the heart of regular people -- an expression of how they really feel about this country.
"We must get the message to Quebec and to our native peoples that we care, that we are sorry they have been hurt, but that the rest of Canada is hurting too and that we would like to sit down together and work out our differences.
"We need to pay heed," she reminded us, "to the Hebrew prophet: 'Where there is no vision, the people perish.'
"Lester Pearson, a former Canadian Prime Minister,...said that in seeking after solutions for the future, 'Patience, strength, prudence and vision are the four qualities' to guide our way.... The real struggle is to come back first, face to face, with what we are, with what we have become and with what we want to be." That is the contribution of a woman lawyer in this province.
"We need fresh vision, fresh hope, fresh courage to approach the days ahead.... Where is our leadership? The responsibility rests on more shoulders than one. We all bear the responsibility, but particularly the people in leadership positions like yourselves, and the premiers and the judges and MPs and senators of this land, and the heads of labour and industry and religion.
"I believe in the future of Canada," she said. "And I believe enough in Canadians to rally to the occasion, to forgive old grudges, to let heal the wounds of the past, to cast off cynicism and to stand up for this beautiful land. But it will take the whole country to seize the vision. It must be separate and apart from party politics or cultural or religious differences or barriers of language or race. It must be felt as one.
"We need to mobilize like we never have. We need to cast off our personal cares and stand up for the greater good."
Moving words, Mr Speaker, I am sure you would agree, words from the heart that the committee listened to with care, and words which I think most Canadians should heed as we enter into further discussions on the future of our Confederation.
In Ottawa, we had a deputation from the Council of Women of Ottawa and Area, and I would like to close this section by quoting from the preamble of a document this group sent to the 1980 constitutional commission. Its visionary words speak even more clearly to us today.
"Recognizing the vastness of our land and the diversity of its inhabitants, we realize that a federation is only possible through the triumph of our will for a common citizenship overarching, yet respecting, the differences of region, race, language and religion of our peoples.
"We honour those who have left us richly endowed: the original inhabitants; their care of the land from time immemorial, acknowledging their rights in perpetuity to some of the benefits of its lands and waters; the earlier explorers and settlers -- the French-speaking, with their abiding faith, tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds, proud possessors of their language and culture; the English-speaking, with their great courage and fortitude and traditions of parliamentary democracy; all the others who, in becoming citizens, have made Canada a mosaic of customs, languages and cultures, a country unique in this world.
"The identity of Canada is not fixed. It will evolve and be re-created by succeeding generations building on this heritage."
Now, the next question: How can we secure our future in the international economy? As our Chair has said, this is the area we have explored the least. But the women of this province spoke to our committee. We are reminded by the women that Ontario's future lies in its financial viability. Canada's future lies in the economic sharing between the have and the have-not provinces. Federal-provincial co-operation, not provincial sovereignty, will facilitate the appropriate distribution of our country's great resources. Canada will not survive as a nation without economic security for all of its partners. All Ontarians need to understand clearly and simply what the deficit is, how the deficit is caused, what is the relationship to the provincial debt and the national debt. These are questions we must ask ourselves.
In terms of the recession, we need to know the contributing factors. What part does the world economy play? What part is affected by the United States economy? and on and on, questions we know we still need to ask ourselves and to interact with others upon.
"What roles should the federal and provincial governments play?" was our next question. In the area of federal-provincial division of powers and constitutional reform, the women of Ontario shared their expertise and insight. In Sault Ste Marie, the business and professional women's club suggested that:
"In considering future amendments to the Canadian Constitution, we would urge the government to put procedures in place to ensure that any changes in the Canadian Constitution Act affirm the rights and freedoms of women, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and francophone minorities outside of Quebec, and to ensure these changes are consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canada.
"We would ask the government to develop a democratic amending process for constitutional reform, with full, prior public debate of all issues under the Constitution and full participation of all those involved."
The committee's report noted that a number of witnesses argued, particularly in the context of federalprovincial divisions of powers, that it was important that all provinces be treated equally. Other witnesses argued that recognizing the equality of the provinces does not mean treating them the same. Equality often requires instead that different groups be treated differently. This could involve recognizing, for example, particular cultural and linguistic characteristics of a region as giving rise to needs in other regions.
The committee recognizes that to achieve equality requires society to recognize and take account of the particular needs of those people who have been excluded historically from full participation in society, including aboriginal people, women, disabled individuals and visible, linguistic and cultural minorities. I and many of the women in this province agree with that position.
How do we achieve justice for Canada's aboriginal people? Some of the most heartfelt and articulate presentations we heard in our travels across the province, as our Chair has recollected, were from native women. We were told that:
"Native women have an important role. They always have and always will." We heard them state, "We are the mothers, the wives, the nurturers and the life-givers. The women in native homes are the ones who most directly feel the effects of a poor economy. They attempt to make the best of housing, feeding and clothing their families on meagre welfare allowances or, if they work, minimum wage."
These women also play a vital role in the maintenance and protection of language and culture: "Most northern women are fluent in their first language, whether that be Ojibway or Oji-Cree, and it is the women in the homes who pass this skill on to their children. Language is the basis of our culture," they said, "and a skill we must keep."
Native women also shared with us their special perspective on the concept of the Constitution and government. A perspective of Canadian history that we in the non-native population do not often hear: "The Constitution as it is designed, the Indian Act as it is designed, the policies that govern Canada, the policies that govern this province -- nowhere in those policies does it show me respect for people, respect for land, respect for animal life, respect for water and air."
Or as we heard in Dryden: "A Constitution which is built on...the acceptance and recognition of aboriginals as full and equal constitutional partners will be stable, solid and surely reflect the actual situation in Canada. If we do that together the Constitution will be more meaningful to each of us and all the more powerful."
Wise words indeed. I have no doubt that native women could teach us much. Native women correctly see themselves as the best arbiters of what is appropriate to their communities in terms of social and family-oriented services. In Kenora we were told that, "Ojibway Tribal Family Services is an existing, practising example of Indian government...where first nations assert and maintain jurisdiction and authority over areas of critical importance within our respective reserve communities."
I said then and I say now that what these women are saying is that parents are prime educators. They talked about the very explicit values of honesty, caring and loving, which we can all understand but which are much harder to practise. In short, native women, like many other women across Ontario, want, in their words: "to be treated with respect. We want to be recognized as important contributors to the existing world we live in. We want equal job opportunities. We want to live in a safe, comfortable, pollution-free environment. As northern women," they told us, "we want to be part of the decision- and policy-making consultation process that will affect our lives and most important [the lives of] our children.... Last but not least, we want a guarantee that future self-government agreements include systematic equality and a meaningful role for native women."
Then we went on to the difficult question, the roles of English and French in Canada. Most of the women who participated in the committee hearings had a strong view of the role of language in our culture. "If there is to be a new Canada then I hope it will cherish, protect and encourage one of its rights of birth that make it so special...its francophone entity."
In Dryden the group Citizens Interested in Confederation told us that: "We do believe basically that Canada is a celebration of varied cultures, and yes, there is no need to be in despair over the situation. There are Canadians, we believe, who will continue to try to persuade people that there is value to both languages, to many languages and that bilingualism is a good thing."
Quebec's future in Canada, another of our questions. Francophone women, especially in the north and the east of Ontario, have an inherent sympathy for the concerns of Quebec. We heard from a deputant in Dryden that: "Separation by Quebec or any other province would affect the country quite adversely. Our financial position in the world certainly would be in jeopardy. Other countries would not be anxious to do business with an unstable country whether the instabilities were of a financial, cultural, linguistic or constitutional nature."
In our report we agree with this view. We believe that the separation of Quebec poses significant consequences for both Quebec and the rest of the country.
An Ottawan presented the question of Quebec's future in Canada head-on. She said to us: "I am not sure what the people of Quebec want now and so I would suggest that we ask them. Is there a way in which they would like to continue being Canadians with is? If their answer is yes, then I think we should go an extra mile, try and find constitutional arrangements that would meet their needs so that they can feel secure in the development of their distinct society."
We strongly wish for Canada to remain united but substantial change must be achieved if Quebec is to stay as a partner in Confederation. We heard that often and we agree with it.
As far as the west, the north and the Atlantic region, women also saw that Ontario's place is in the larger context of Canada. In suggesting future directions a Thunder Bay deputant suggested:
"First we must develop mechanisms which can cope with change and [which] can change themselves. Clearly our brand of federalism does not work any more.
"Second, we must walk a mile in the other person's moccasins. I mean that regarding native people, but I also mean it regarding those who live in Quebec, the east and the west. It is time to start considering the common good."
"What does Ontario want?" The last question is perhaps the most difficult to address. What Ontario wants was expressed to us across this province by literally hundreds of people who expressed their desire for the future of the province and indeed the country.
We also noted in the report: "A strong sense of the equality of all Canadians was conveyed to us. Although witnesses commented on many aspects of equality, some of the most important themes were that people must have a voice in the decisions which affect them, equal access to service, equal opportunity to participate in society and equal protection of the law.
"In addition, we were reminded that the Ontario government needed to play a greater role in educating the people on the key issues which concern and divide them: the potential consequences of separation, native and language issues, cultural diversity and free trade."
I would like to conclude my remarks by leaving those wonderful remarks of women behind. I hope they will be listened to and recorded and read.
I feel because I represent the riding of Ottawa-Rideau, which is an area in the regional municipality of OttawaCarleton, that we there have particular concerns regarding Ontario's place in Confederation, so I close with those remarks. We are in a unique position in the nation's capital due to the ease of our relationship with our sister province to the east.
The border between Ontario and Quebec is not for us an intangible line on a map which separates two autonomous communities. Thousands of my eastern Ontario and western Quebec citizens cross that line every day to travel from home to workplace, to visit parents, children, brothers and sisters and to visit the excellent recreation facilities offered by both communities.
Should this line become a national border instead of a provincial one, the impact on my community would be profoundly felt both emotionally and economically. In Ottawa-Carleton, we feel the familial bond between us more strongly than perhaps anywhere else in this nation because we are truly close neighbours united by numerous bonds on a daily basis.
The working relationship that has been developed between Ottawa and Hull, between Ottawa-Carleton and the Outaouais, the overarching role of the National Capital Commission and the efforts by various municipal and regional bodies all point to the urgency of finally coming to terms with Canada's traditional difficulties with interprovincial trade barriers.
The possible effects of any major restructuring of the Canadian Confederation will impact most significantly on my area of the country. The Outaouais would suffer major dislocation of its employment, service and business sectors if the importance of links with the national capital were reduced. Federal jobs, the major contributor to the economy of the region, would likely, over the medium term at least, be relocated to Ontario or to other regions of Canada.
Certain projections suggest that both sides of Ottawa-Hull could be adversely affected if a major downsizing of the federal bureaucracy were to occur. The economic focus could easily shift to provincial capitals, leaving this area, the area I represent, with severe economic ramifications.
The National Capital Commission has done some very in-depth work on projecting the impact of various scenarios on the population, economy, transportation and availability of social programs in this region. I am very happy to see that this work has been done, as it will facilitate future planning and decision-making.
We in Ottawa-Carleton and the Outaouais are playing for very high stakes, as I said earlier this year. We are pivotal in Canada and in Ontario. The national capital is a powerful symbol, politically, economically and socially. It is a keystone of Canada's identity.
As any restructuring of Canada begins, I trust that all residents on both sides of the river will not miss our unique opportunity to be creative and visionary, as our communities are key players. Each of us residents of this area must never forget that.
Significant groups on both sides of the Ottawa River are beginning to grapple with the real issues and very possible spinoffs of redefining or restructuring of partnerships and relationships of links that are based on historical, geographic and business foundations.
I close by agreeing with the many witnesses who felt "that because of these links" -- between Ontario and Quebec -- "Ontario is in a unique position within our federation and should play a leadership role in negotiating a renewed Canada."
We must all recognize the need for Ontario to play its traditionally strong leadership role during this period of constitutional upheaval. We all recognize that, although the burden of leadership is heavy, we must bear it once again with strength and with compassion, with realism and with hope. Let each of us give it his or her best shot. This is the time for each of us to act with energy, courage and vision.
Mr Harnick: It was an honour for me to be the representative from my party on the select committee on Ontario in Confederation. It was indeed an honour for me to have the opportunity to work with the other members of the committee. I can say that all members of that committee approached their work in a non-partisan manner. The effect of that was that we worked as a cohesive unit. In a very short time I believe we accomplished a great deal, and the report, I think, is indicative of the quality of work that was done by that committee. I certainly am indebted to the other members of the committee in that regard.
In our travels we had a large entourage of people going with us from stop to stop. As a new member here I never realized the number of staff and the jobs they all did, but from the Hansard people to the television crews to the legislative research staff to the technical crews, certainly I want to offer my sincere thanks and to add that they all became an integral part of the work we were trying to do. I am indeed indebted to them in what has proved to be a challenging, onerous and fateful responsibility, which has weighed heavily on the shoulders of all the members of the committee.
We travelled across this province, in the first week alone to Kenora, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie. I never dreamed I would be in Sioux Lookout early in February at any earlier stage of my life, but it was a wonderful experience. I was told that the weather up there is very cold. The member for Cochrane South told me, "Bring your parka and make sure you bring boots." I had no boots and I had no parka, and when I got up there for that first week, there was not a day that was not sunny and above freezing, so we got lucky on several counts. I think in many ways that was a bit of a good omen.
At any rate, in dealing with this subject matter today I do not want to present my discussion of this difficult issue as kind of a travelogue or journey around Ontario. I am going to try to do this in a way that does not rehash the evidence provided to us by approximately 600 witnesses. In each place we went, not just in the north but across the rest of Ontario, all of those witnesses appeared before us and spoke to us from the heart. They spoke to us without malice. They had views we did not always agree on, but the views they held were held sincerely.
It is my intention today to try to speak within a more confined context. On 20 December last, I listened to the debate on this subject when it first came up and read and reread with interest the remarks of the former Attorney General. I might add that as a lawyer myself, I have the greatest admiration for the former Attorney General, who in the eyes of young lawyers was always held in awe. But the former Attorney General approached this topic of renewed Confederation and stated he did so with something very near despair. In a sense I can understand what he meant, because the former Attorney General has lived through this process and through the negotiations that came so close but left us so far from the goal we were trying to reach.
There is no doubt the risks we are now running are greater than the risks at any point in our history and that the options we have are narrower than at any time in terms of the constitutional context. Canadians have said it is not enough to merely approach constitutional revision narrowly. We cannot any longer look at dealing with one item at a time. We must now deal with all of the other types of constitutional arrangements, including all of the interests of all of the people who wish to see themselves in that Constitution. That makes the task before us all the more daunting.
The message from those appearing before us was clear in this regard. Issues affecting aboriginal peoples, Quebec, women, the disabled, the economy, our political institutions, among other issues, must all be brought to the table now for resolution. No longer can we look at single-issue Constitution-making, and there is no doubt that this fact has been recognized by the Premier in that the effort is being made to find a process that can accommodate this multi-issue negotiation.
Just to digress for a moment, the process in the first stage was a process whereby we asked people in 20 different communities to come before us and answer the questions that were set out in the paper that preceded our arrival in those locations. People were expected to answer very, very difficult questions that I suspect would make good subject matter for a university thesis. Those people came before us on the shortest of notice and we took considerable criticism because of that, and deservedly so.
However, those people who had short notice did not disappoint us in what they told us. They came before us and they were prepared. As I said earlier, they spoke from the heart and that is essentially how phase one of this study was set up. Unfortunately, we have never done this or proceeded in this manner before and we are really feeling our way and hoping this 11th-hour process will be an effective process, because we may not have another opportunity.
I believe the rationale behind this committee and our process has been to convey a message to the people of Ontario to come to the bargaining table with us, to listen to the disparate views of their neighbours and ultimately to recognize that in a process of negotiation everyone must give up something if we are to succeed.
It is a difficult concept to grasp and it is a concept that did not come easily to me. As we went out on the road and heard from people, I do not know if I was unique among the committee but I would say to myself, what are we gaining by having listened to 30 or 40 presentations on some given days and, I suspect, more on others? What are we gaining by going through this exercise?
The more I thought about that, the more I realized we were getting people involved. The importance was not just to get people involved to speak to us, but hopefully the people who were involved were listening to one another. If we can get people to listen to one another and understand that their view may be different from the next person's view, when we have to sit down at the table later on it may be with that understanding that is built up that people can then appreciate the need to give up something they started to hold sacred and to water it down because they recognize the necessity of finding consensus.
We must accept that there will not be perfection in the end result in that no one, if we are to be successful, can get exactly what he or she wants. But by getting the people of Ontario and hopefully people in other parts of this country involved, in a sense the responsibility is not just on the shoulders of the politicians. In fact by taking the public to the negotiating table, the public will have some responsibility to bear. I think if we can convey that, this process can be successful and it can achieve the goals that we have started out to achieve.
However, Ontario, through our Premier, must ensure the co-ordination of our provincial dialogue with that of all the other provinces, and Ontario must ensure that this process continues to move on a national basis in the right direction. To date, I have not seen these initiatives from the Premier. He has made it quite clear that he was going to wait for our report.
Our report has now been tabled, and I urge the Premier to help make the second phase of our work easier, to help open up those lines of dialogue, to make that part of the process so we can convey to other provinces the feelings that people in Ontario have expressed. I am not asking the Premier at this stage to intervene in matters of substance. I am asking him to make our work more meaningful by ensuring that it will find a place of prominence on the national stage.
In the remarks of the member for St George-St David to which I referred earlier, he said there are but four possibilities that lie before Canadians: We can maintain the status quo; we can see a unilateral declaration of independence by Quebec; we can find a solution in sovereignty-association, or we can look for a renewed federalism involving an adjustment of the section 91 and section 92 powers.
The former Attorney General was concerned that our committee would go out, listen to a whole lot of people and say, "Thank you for telling us, but we recognize that they are living for the moment in an unreal world." That has not been our experience. People genuinely recognized the need to move away from the status quo. People did not, for the most part, state, when confronted with the issue of Quebec, "Let them go." There were some, I will admit, who made that comment. But it was the young people who particularly summed up and helped me answer that question when people put it to me. Those young people, they came to the table, particularly a group in Kingston, and they looked us squarely in the eye and they said:
"We don't know anything about this. We don't know anything about politics. We don't want to know anything about it. We're not interested in it. We're not interested in politicians. What moved us to come out here is the fact that we understand our country is going to fall apart."
That kind of presentation is a presentation that lingers in one's memory. Those young people, and I am paraphrasing but I do not believe I am exaggerating, looked us squarely in the eye and they said, "How dare you create a situation where our country is faltering, to the point where our country may be falling apart?" That is pretty hard medicine to swallow, but there is no question that those young people were right.
In some areas consensus is not hard to find but admittedly in others it is difficult. With respect to native peoples, all deponents, no matter how far apart they were on other issues, came before us and they agreed that we must negotiate land questions, self-government and questions relating to justice administration, policing, education, social services and access to resources. They also acknowledged the we, the rest of society, have much to learn from aboriginal peoples, particularly regarding their societal values and particularly regarding their approach to the preservation of the environment.
I might just digress for a moment. One of the things that my leader spoke of in question period today was the necessity that this process should begin to educate people. I believe that is a very, very important thing, a concept that we have to ensure we do in the second phase of our deliberations and investigations.
One of the aspects of understanding that people should begin to realize is that native peoples have a level of leadership in their communities that is probably unparalleled in terms of every organization that came before us. The level of expertise, the level of knowledge and the capability of the native leaders who came before us to explain the nature of their society and the need for their society to be able to seek its own destiny were unparalleled. Those people, those individuals, I suspect, make the rest of our political system look shabby when it comes to the area of government leadership. I think that is one of the very important things we should be demonstrating, because our native peoples are more than capable of seeking their own destiny.
To touch on a few more areas, there is no doubt that people want reform of our political system, particularly in a manner which will permit individuals to look upon their elected representatives with respect and confidence that they can be adequately represented. This involves modifications to some of our political institutions. I would hope that in the second stage of our work we will be able, as my leader indicated earlier this afternoon, to obtain studies and models that have been prepared so that we can go to people and we can say to them: "What do you think of this study? How does this affect you? How will this kind of change to your political institutions make people in your area of the province attain better representation?" I think it is important that we embark on that type of process in our second stage.
In our travels there seemed to be a strong consensus that Canada should continue to have a strong and an effective central government, a government which would effectively be able to set national standards in areas of health care, in areas of education and in areas dealing with the delivery of social services. I believe as well that when we look at this concept we have to see what kinds of models and find out what kinds of models we can deliver to the people whom we will be seeing in the next stage, to illustrate the different powers that a federal or a provincial government should have in order to attain and achieve the goal that was so strongly pointed out to us in the first stage of our work.
Regarding the province of Quebec, one of the common themes emerging was that of equality and the recognition by people that equality does not mean everyone must be the same. People told us that as long as everyone is guaranteed equal opportunity by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our Constitution, in whatever form it takes, people can live with the idea that someone in another province, because of different circumstances, may have to have different rights. That illustrated to me that some of the models that we set out in this report have a chance indeed to find acceptance and that gives me some cause for optimism. It may well be that with the development of that sort of attitude, a form of asymmetrical Confederation can and will be achieved. Again, I refer back to what my leader stated earlier, and that would be to be able to go out into the field with the kinds of models to show people what asymmetrical Confederation would look like, so that they could provide us with their input. We have to be more specific when we get into our second stage.
There is no doubt in my mind that official bilingualism in Ontario will not contribute to a solution of our current constitutional problems. People in Ontario recognize this and they recognize that English is the language of administration in the province of Ontario, but at the same time they recognize and are tolerant of minority language rights and the need for protection of these rights.
I had the opportunity as we travelled to ask people, both anglophone and francophone, what I believed were some penetrating questions to determine how far they would be prepared to go in recognizing other language rights. I can tell members the letters keep coming to me and most of them are not all that complimentary and I can now take this opportunity to publicly apologize if I represented myself in a manner that was improper.
However, those members of, for instance, the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada, by permitting me to ask them those penetrating questions, acknowledged that they could to a degree live with the provisions contained in our Bill 8, the French Language Services Act. I had the opportunity to personally engage in a dialogue in Orillia with a gentleman who represented that association and I publicly wish to say that I personally appreciated his honesty and the fact that he was prepared to acknowledge that he could take that step and live with the provisions of Bill 8 on the assumption that those provisions would be properly explained and fairly implemented.
The report of the committee thus reflects the aforementioned conclusions with respect to language rights. This was a contentious area, but I firmly believe that Bill 8, which we have supported in the past, is the vehicle that we need in this province, and I believe it is a vehicle that, when fairly implemented and when properly discussed and explained, can meet the needs of all of the citizens of this province.
The one area that I have not yet discussed is the area of economics. This was a very difficult part of our study. I will admit that we had people who, for various reasons, came before us and said, "Look, free trade is what this whole discussion is about," but they really did not know very much about free trade. They really could not give us the conclusions that we were looking for.
In addition, people were obviously affected by the recession that is now gripping this country and other countries in the world. Unfortunately, people were not able to give us the economic answers that we wanted. But tying in with this is a discussion on the economic effect of Quebec leaving this country. My leader talked about that earlier this afternoon and he said that it was important that the Premier convey -- and I hope that he will, by way of studies which have been undertaken -- the economic impact of Quebec leaving this Confederation. This aspect of the stage 1 process, I think, struck fear into every person on that committee.
We had the opportunity to meet informally with members of the department of intergovernmental affairs at Queen's University. The time was short. We did not really have in stage 1 the opportunity to go into the economic details in any lengthy degree. But we were told that Quebec's leaving would have an impact on free trade: that agreement may not exist any more. On the surface, that may make many labour people happy, but other treaties would go the same way. The auto pact, which is a form of free trade agreement, would be gone. The GATT agreements would be in question. I might also add and reiterate what the professors from Queen's University told us. They told us -- I certainly do not have to tell my friends on the other side of the Legislature -- that the auto pact not continuing would devastate the economy of Ontario. They told us that a very significant element of our economy and a very large percentage of jobs in this province all relate to the manufacturing of automobiles. If Quebec were to leave this Confederation, the opportunity to be part of an auto pact with the United States would in all probability be lost, and that frightened me and I think it frightened every member on the committee. It frightened us all, and we wished there was some way that we could convey this message to everyone in this province. In stage 2, I hope that we have some of those impact studies and I hope that we can be in a position to convey to the citizens of this province the devastating effect that Quebec's departure would have on our economy.
There is much work that the committee must undertake in stage 2, and unfortunately our time is very short. I urge the Premier to begin a dialogue and take the lead in speaking with the rest of the country, to aid us in our task, to open the lines of communication and to enhance our ability to bring as many people to the bargaining table as we possibly can. Only in that way will people understand the necessity to give something up to get something back which is of much greater value to the whole of this country.
M. Bisson: C'est avec plaisir que je prends la parole aujourd'hui sur une question qui touche nous tous comme Canadiens, une réalité qu'on n'a jamais été capable de comprendre.
The first thing I would like to say is that I feel very privileged as an individual to be able to have served on this committee and to work on this particular issue. Not too long ago, some six, seven months ago, I was back at work in my community doing what I did best back then. As part of my life here I never dreamed of the opportunity of being able to serve on such a committee.
I think one thing that needs to be said is that the work, the things that I have learned from dealing with the various members of the committee from all parties -- from the Liberal Party, from the Conservative Party and our own, the New Democrats -- have really helped me to understand what my job as a member is and what our responsibilities are, not only as members of this Legislature but also as citizens of this province, of this country.
Je pense que le processus par lequel nous sommes passés a été pas mal unique. On a décidé qu'on était pour donner la chance et la parole aux gens de la province de l'Ontario et de dire pour une des premières fois : «Vous, citoyens de l'Ontario, dites-nous quelle direction on doit prendre, comme individus ici, sur la question de la constitution».
Ça veut dire oui, qu'à la fin de la journée c'était un peu plus difficile. On ne s'est pas assis ici à Toronto en attendant que le monde vienne nous voir. On a été chercher le monde dans les communautés partout en Ontario, de Sioux Lookout, Timmins, Ottawa, Kingston, Windsor, pour n'en nommer qu'une couple.
Pour la première fois dans l'histoire de la province de l'Ontario, on a utilisé les réseaux de télévision parlementaire pour pouvoir donner la chance à ceux à la maison de regarder ces émissions. À la fin de la journée, comme gouvernement, comme députés des législatures de toutes les provinces et du gouvernement fédéral, les gens ont besoin de commencer à penser à ces questions : c'est quoi le Canada ? Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire pour moi comme Ontarien ? Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire comme Canadien de ce pays ? Est-ce que c'est quelque chose qu'on veut regarder ? Est-ce que c'est quelque chose qui nous tient à coeur ? Est-ce que c'est quelque chose qu'on veut être capable de garder ? Est-ce qu'on veut être capable de travailler pour pouvoir ramener ensemble le peuple de ce pays une fois pour toutes et dire qu'on a tous notre place dans ce pays-ci, francophones, anglophones, autochtones, multiculturels et toutes les personnes de ce pays ?
À certains moments, c'était très dur pour moi comme francophone, comme membre du comité d'écouter ce que certaines personnes disaient. Mais je me rends compte que ces gens, en disant certaines choses, ne sont pas méchants. Ce n'est pas qu'ils veulent faire du mal au monde. C'est qu'il leur manque une certaine compréhension, comme nous tous dans notre communauté parfois. Je pense, une fois pour toutes, pour faire quelque chose de ce pays, qu'on devrait s'asseoir comme adultes, comme personnes, et dire : «Écoute, on va écouter l'un après l'autre, on va se donner la parole et puis on va commencer à parler des questions qui ont fait de nous des Canadiens : c'est quoi le pays ? Qu'est-ce qu'on définit ? C'est quoi notre culture ? C'est quoi nos valeurs et où veut-on aller ?
We spoke on many issues when people came before us. I should say people spoke to us. When you switch from one language to the other, you have got to get the language back again. People came before us and spoke on a number of issues, and I just want to highlight one thing.
One thing that was very common through these whole hearings is that people came before us and there was a lot more consensus out there than what we are willing to admit as Canadians. Sure, we sit there and argue about our differences, but that is almost a Canadian tradition. Every major historical point in the development of this country has been an argument. When a little man in Saskatchewan, who is a big man in my heart, Tommy Douglas, said let's do something about trying to provide medical care services for the people of his province, and later on the whole country, we fought as Canadians. We said: "No, no, we can't do that. All the doctors are going to run to the United States and we're going to be devastated." I do not want to debate the issue, but we fought it from both sides and at the end of the day we managed to work out a consensus. It is almost our national identity every now and then to do this kind of thing, and in almost every major thing that has happened in this country and this province, we have gone through this whole debate.
I think what we need to realize once and for all is that disagreement is not a bad thing. It is not a bad thing to have a little fight every now and then, but we must keep it civil and we must say at the end of the day that: "Yes, we need to respect each other's differences, and yes, you're different than me. I speak French, you speak English. You're a visible minority, I am not. You live in Quebec, you live in British Columbia," whatever the issue may be, but we are all people of the same country, and that is the bottom line. I am sorry, I cannot accept anything less than that, and somebody who says to me -- and I am getting a little bit emotional -- that this country has to be the same, well, I am sorry, I cannot agree with him because sameness does not promote anything other than sameness. It does not promote an understanding of differences, it does not promote --
Mr Ruprecht: You saw what happened to Peter Kormos.
Mr Bisson: Excuse me, this is not party politics. This is an issue that I think is fairly serious and let's not get into this, okay?
But sameness is not something that promotes the understanding and being able to build a tolerant society and to develop the infrastructures of the things that we need as Canadians to evolve.
What is uniquely different about this country is that when we set out, back in 1867 and before that, we said we wanted to build a different model. We were not going to be the American melting pot. We were going to go out and we were going to accept that there were some differences in building a nation and that we were going to build a certain amount of tolerance within it. No matter if you were Ukrainian, Italian, English, French, whatever, that was going to add to the benefit of this country. Then at the end of the day we would build a nation that has a certain amount of understanding so that we can go forward and build the things that we need to survive as a nation, and that is what we set out to do. We did not do as our American brothers and sisters did in the south, where they said, "We want to build a country that is the same." That is fine for them, and I respect that, but that is not the decision that we made here in this country.
I think at this particular time of our history many Canadians are confused and are somewhat concerned about what lies in the future. I think, as we all do at any time, we take a look at what is happening with our economy. Sure, it is easy to sit there and say: "I blame you, you blame me. It's the other guy down the street, it's the woman across the alley," whoever, but the reality is that we are not going to solve the problems pointing fingers at each other. We are going to solve the problems when we sit down as Canadians and start becoming proactive about building this country and building this economy. That is what is going to make the difference at the end, but I think what is underlying is that people have a certain amount of fear.
There was a woman who appeared before our committee and I wish that I could take the credit for what she said, which to me sort of exemplified maybe where Quebec is coming from. It is that they have the same fears that we as Canadians have. We as Canadians, all of us across this country from one end to the other, said that we were going to start this journey back in 1867 and we all got on to a ship and we decided we were going to give that ship some direction. Rightly or wrongly, we gave it direction and we said: "That is where we want to go. We are going to that point somewhere out there."
What has been happening over the past number of years because of a number of reasons -- because of world economic conditions, because of policies of all governments in Canada, both federal and provincial, because of what our American friends to the south have done in regard to a number of policies that they have set forward, the European Community and a number of other issues and generally just the world economy -- is that all of a sudden for some reason our direction is starting to change and it is not going in the same direction that we set out initially.
What she said was that the people of Quebec are saying: "Hold it. When we got on this ship we said we were going that way. Why are we going over there? That is not where we want to go. We want to go over there." What she said is that they are saying: "Listen, if that ship is going to go off over there and possibly hit the reef somewhere, excuse me, take the little lifeboat. I want to get in and get off. I realize that at the end of the day that ship, that lifeboat may get lost as well and we may starve and we may drown and we may hit the same rocks that the big ship is going for, but at the end of the day at least we are going to try to maintain the direction that we set in 1867."
I think that is what the people of Quebec are saying and it is hard for some of us to understand. I do not fully understand it either, but I think they are trying to say something. They are trying to say, "Let's look at that direction that we set forward and let's try to give it some vision again. Let's try to give it some direction so that at the end of the day we can all pull together as Canadians in the same direction," and that is the bottom line.
We realize that process is going to bc difficult, that we are going to disagree and we are going to fight and we are going to have our differences, but we do that every day in our Legislature, so we make some pretty good laws. No matter what government is on this side -- I am a little bit biased, but I think obviously --
Mrs Y. O'Neill: Ours.
Mr Bisson: Good one, Yvonne. But I think the thing is, a little bit of disagreement from time to time is not a bad thing. I think we need to listen to what Quebec is saying, and not only Quebec but what other regions across this country are saying. The maritime provinces, Quebec, northern Ontario, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and British Columbia and the midwest provinces are saying: "Listen, there are some problems in this nation and we feel that we're not getting proper recognition from our federal government. I'm not getting the kind of money that I need to develop my own economy in my own little part of the country. I want to be able to have some control on that, let it be if I am in British Columbia or if I am in the Maritimes or in the province of Quebec."
All that Quebec is saying is, "Let's readjust it." Sure, the scale of what they are asking to do may be unacceptable to some, but the journey has to start somewhere. Do you just sit there and say: "Well, let's hope it comes one of these days. I'd like to buy a house, so I will sit on the street corner and wait for somebody to give it?" You have to go out there and try, and that is all they are doing. They are sending a message out there and now it is our responsibility in the province of Ontario, the federal government and the rest of the provinces to say, "Well, okay, let's find out how far we have to go." At the end of the day, who knows? Maybe the stakes will be too high. Maybe it will be unacceptable. Who knows? But if we do not try, we will never find out.
A number of people said things when they came before the committee. I think one thing that was of unanimous consent when people came before us was the question of our aboriginal people, the one group of people I think that we have forgotten since before 1867.
There is a wise elder who told me one time that the only problem that happened was that when the Europeans first started coming over to Canada, or what is now Canada, they had a little bit too much of a liberal immigration policy that allowed them to get into the mess they are in now.
But the situation is that we need first of all to start addressing the needs of the aboriginal people and start recognizing what their needs are and what the problems are. We -- maybe unintentionally, maybe out of design, maybe because we did not know any better -- said, "Listen, we're not going to allow you to make decisions over your own lives," back in the 1800s. "We're going to put you on to reserves and that's going to be your little corner of the country where you can do what you want and keep your nice little cultural things and develop your own way of life." But it has not worked for them because they have not had the power to be able to control their own destiny.
I think the one thing that we heard very clearly is that the people of this province are saying enough is enough and let's once and for all sit down with the native people and ask them what they want to do and what direction they want to go. Sure, it is a direction to self-government. That is no secret. But I think what they said and what we need to respond to is that they first need to identify and define what self-government is, what the terms of reference are in regard to them as a native people, and at the end of the day we move according to their speed and we do not try to impose on them what we think we should be doing and how they should be doing it. We should give them the tools to be able to develop as a people.
Les autochtones ont dit une autre affaire que je trouve très importante : être capable de développer leur propre système, jusqu'à un certain point. C'est pas mal la même question qu'ont posée les francophones de la province de l'Ontario. Ils ont dit : «Pour nous, pour être capable de développer notre culture comme autochtones, on a besoin d'être certain que d'abord on a l'opportunité de développer notre culture à travers notre langue et protéger cette langue. C'est important d'avoir notre éducation gérée par nous-mêmes.»
C'est la même situation pour les francophones. On paie jusqu'à un certain point, et puis il y a encore un autre bout du chemin ; on parle des années. Il faut reconnaître, une fois pour toutes, qu'il y a différentes personnes dans ce pays-ci : des autochtones, des francophones, des anglophones, des multiculturels qui veulent dire : «Oui, on a besoin d'avoir certains processus en place qui protègent ce qu'on appelle ces minorités.» Moi, je leur dis qu'ils ne sont pas minoritaires, qu'ils sont égaux à tous et qu'il faut leur donner les outils pour être capables de se bâtir comme peuple. À la fin de la journée, si l'autochtone ou n'importe qui est fier de lui, il sera alors capable de se développer dans la société en tant qu'égal et concourir directement, comme tout le monde.
One thing I have to say is that before getting up to speak I really did not know what I was going to say, and maybe it shows.
An hon member: What is new?
Mr Bisson: What is new? I was saying: "How do I get up within a 20- or 30-minute period to be able to express all of the things that we have heard and to be able to try to give whatever little wisdom I have? Because I am only a part of this thing -- this thing is bigger than me -- and how do I do that?"
I have to sit back and think about some of the presentations that were given to us and the one thing that struck me through our committee meetings is those people who spoke from the heart, who said to us, "Yes, we only had two days to prepare and I only got a call yesterday about your being in town," came before us and gave presentations that I think really moved this committee. I have seen over the period of the month of February an all-party committee come together and work together like I have never seen before and be able to really sit down and try to get some answers around some of these questions.
What I am trying to say is that at the end of the day we have a long journey to go, but we need to walk it together. What we need to do is that we have to act with a certain amount of civility and a certain amount of responsibility and rise above party politics and the name-calling and the rhetoric and the pointing fingers at each other in regard to, "What are you going to do?" or, "What haven't you done?" or, "How are you going to do it?" and sit down together as Canadians and try to solve some of these problems.
It means that we as politicians and we as individuals of this province and this country and yes, the media, have to deal with this issue in a very real way and a very responsible way of not raising concerns out there and building on the fear-mongering. Because if we raise the rhetoric and start calling each other names, at the end of the day we will never get through this.
So the only wisdom -- well, I wish I had more wisdom, but the wisdom that I guess I am trying to pass on and the thought that I have is that what we need to do at the end of the day is that we have to sit down as all Canadians and try to be able to solve some of these problems together and to realize that yes, we are different, that yes, we have different languages and we look the same and we think the same, or we do not think the same and we do different things, but at the end of the day, that is what makes this country unique.
I would challenge every Ontarian and every Canadian to start thinking about that and to take a look at his brother and his sister, at his neighbour across the street, and find out what binds you together. It may surprise you, because I know my experience through this committee work and listening to what a lot of people had to say on issues that I was opposed to initially; I built a greater understanding and respect for the people of Ontario to know that we are decent people in this province, and we care.
There are people out there who are hurting on certain issues and we need to address that, and we need to do a bit of educating to make sure that people understand what bilingualism is, or whatever is, and to be able to build a certain amount of understanding so that at the end of the day we can try to solve some of the difficulties in this country and to put that ship back in the direction that we set out on in 1867 so that we can finally go on and build the things that we need to do.
Mr Beer: It is a pleasure for me now to join in this debate. I would like at the outset to also note what a pleasant experience it was for all of us, even if at times the days seemed very long, to get to know new members on both sides of the House and work closely together. I think, as a number have expressed today, that experience was extremely useful, worth while and rewarding as we tried to wrestle with some of these questions, I suppose many of which in some ways do not have a specific or simple ending.
I want to compliment the Chair of the committee and the Vice-Chair. Having had the experience once before of chairing a committee on the Constitution, there are times when it can be a little difficult. I think that they performed their duties very well.
I want also to underline, as has been noted, the work of many other people -- the Hansard reporters, the clerks, the people who were dealing with the television, because this was really a novel and new process where for the first time we were televising a committee across the province. Many people put in very long hours.
Perhaps it is something we want to note at this time as well that, because of the presence of the member for York East on the committee, we had such extensive signing that went on everywhere we went and indeed many representations from deaf people. I think all of us were somewhat in awe of the incredible work that the American sign language interpreters did over many long hours.
So I think there are a lot of people to thank and it is appropriate at this point to thank all of those people who helped make our task that much easier.
There are many elements of this debate that we can get into at this point. I think that in the time that is available to me today I would like to pick up on two or three themes which it seems to me are important that came out of our discussions with people around the province and I think can help guide us in the work that we do over the next three months; indeed can help guide the government and can help guide the discussions in the country which will go on for much longer than that.
The first point I think is to look at the state of democracy, if you will, in the province.
A number have noted today that tremendous emotion and feeling that came out of so many people who came before us, some just to speak for five minutes, some for longer, but who wanted to say what they felt about this country. The real value of the hearings in this first part, and I think it is important to underline, was not that we were going to hear from the "experts" or only those who represented province-wide associations, but rather that we were trying to get a sense, to find the pulse of Ontario, to get a snapshot in the month of February of where people were at.
In doing that, you get some comments that you do not always agree with, and indeed at times get some comments that you may quite strongly disagree with, but the importance of ensuring that people in the province can come before a committee of their Legislature to present their viewpoints is very, very important.
It is important even more so at this point in time, because I think we all recognize, and have for some time, a certain malaise in the public with respect to our political institutions, with respect to politicians, with respect to political leadership. I think that is something that as we went about the province, we learned a great deal about, and it is important that we address it head-on, that we understand that the people who talked about reforming our system of government were not just people on the fringe -- they exist; that is certain -- but for many people it was a sense of being disconnected somehow, of being alienated from the system. We recognize that in any system people are going to have those feelings, but I think what we heard and what we saw, and indeed what the Spicer commission is hearing and what is being heard in Manitoba, is that there is a need for us to really look at how well our political institutions are serving us.
I think, as has been noted by other members of the committee in speaking today, that is something that we are going to have to turn our attention to as we go forward in our work, because no Constitution, no country, is worth anything if people do not feel that they are involved with that country and that Constitution, that what they have to say matters. I think if people can feel that and believe it and it is meaningful, then the fact that a government does not always do or a political party does not always take their exact position is not what is important, but rather that they have been able to have a fair say. That is a message which I believe it is important for us to say to the people of this province that we heard, and we are going to have to look at how we can better implement that message in real terms so that people feel that what they have to say about the political system and about our democratic system in fact will occur.
The second principle that I think was very important that emerged from our hearings was what I would call the pluralism that we have in our society, the diversity, and the importance of really looking at that as a tremendous strength. Somebody was mentioning the other day that in Metropolitan Toronto we have a municipality that is the most culturally and racially diverse in the world. When you think about that, it is incredible in terms of what that means this city in which the Legislature sits is like.
We know that people can be at times frightened of change and see that kind of diversity as perhaps a threat, something that is not going to allow us to become, in some way or other, Canadian.
I think that what we heard from so many people, whether we were talking about multiculturalism, multiracialism, whether we were talking about languages, the role of English and French, whether we were talking about the place of the first nations, whether we were talking about any Canadian who had just recently arrived or who had been here for generations, is that this diversity is real, that this is not something we should be paying lipservice to, that it is real, that it is meaningful, that it is important and needs to be reflected in our Constitution, which in turn must be a reflection of who we are, what we are and what we want to be.
We could probably point to virtually any town or city that we were in where there was somebody who spoke to that theme and where you left the table at the end of the meetings and you felt better about being a Canadian because of something that was said. My colleague the member for Ottawa-Rideau earlier today I thought quoted a number of wonderful examples that spoke to that theme from a number of women who had participated in our proceedings, but I think we want to take to heart this sense of pluralism, this sense of diversity and see it as a real strength. I think we have expressed that in our report, but it is important to speak to it and to support it.
J'aimerais aussi souligner une chose qui pour moi était tellement importante : voir les francophones et surtout les jeunes francophones qui sont venus devant notre comité, et qui ont exprimé quelques désirs, quelques points de vue importants pour tous les Ontariens.
On a dit : «D'abord, on est Canadien et on est fier d'être Canadien, mais on est aussi, comme francophone, un Ontarien ou une Ontarienne». Comme on l'a dit dans notre rapport : «Ici, on est chez nous. C'est notre place en Ontario. Peu importe ce qui arrive au Québec, nous sommes Canadiens, Ontariens. Nous sommes des francophones de cette province de l'Ontario. C'est ici que nous allons rester. C'est ici que nous allons bâtir notre avenir et nous voulons le faire avec vous en tant que francophones, en tant que Franco-Ontariens.»
Je pense que c'est important, parce que trop souvent il y a des gens dans notre province qui pensent que tous les francophones sont simplement des Québécois. On n'a rien contre les Québécois, mais nous avons ici dans cette province une communauté francophone qui est canadienne et ontarienne et qui veut participer pleinement, pas simplement à son épanouissement mais à l'avenir de notre province et de notre pays.
Donc, c'est un autre aspect de la diversité dont j'ai parlée. C'est un aspect vraiment important et c'est pourquoi, dans notre rapport, nous avons dit que la protection et l'épanouissement des droits minoritaires sont si importants. Peu importe ce qui arrive, il faut s'assurer que les francophones de notre province s'épanouissent.
The third point that I think emerged and that was so important was the one that I would link with national vision, our sense of who we are as a people, and again so many came before our committee to speak to that point. When we look at Ontario and Ontario's role in the constitutional and historical development of our country, what we see are I think leaders from all walks of life, from all political parties, who have said we have a particular role to play in helping to define what that is, and one of those roles is our link with the province of Quebec. I think it is important historically for us to recognize that what we today call Ontario and what we today call Quebec, that geographic entity has been linked since the beginning of the first European settlement in what we today call Canada. We are now in what at one time was la Nouvelle France, New France.
Sometimes I think we forget about our history, we forget about what has made us the people we are today and it is very important to recognize that historically, culturally, linguistically, geographically, economically we are very much linked with our brothers and sisters in the province of Quebec. That remains very important as we go forward in trying to listen to Quebec and to understand its concerns and to understand the kinds of proposals that it is bringing forward. I think when we read in the newspaper about what is going on in Quebec and the series of demands or proposals that are being made, we need to recall that they, like us, are people living in communities, working as business people, involved in unions, involved in various social and community activities. So what we have to do now is to make sure that going from this report, we deal with those fundamental issues about how the country should be shaped but do everything we can to link and to make contact with those in Quebec.
I think our responsibility here in this Legislature is to make sure that our counterparts in Quebec are not isolated, that we can talk to them, that we find ways of ensuring that we can dialogue with them around all of the proposals that over the next series of weeks and months are going to be brought forward. While, as we underlined in our report, we are at a crossroads, we are at a very difficult time in our history, do not underestimate that element of personal leadership that each one of us here and in other parts of our province can exercise. I believe firmly and strongly that individuals can make a difference, but of course we can only make that difference when we recognize what the issues and the problems are and we reach out and we begin to talk directly to those who are involved in that discussion.
I think now as we move from our interim report, that is the challenge that we as a committee have, to try to reach out and bring people together around some of these issues and values. If we can do that -- and I believe that we can -- then I believe that over the period of the next year, year and a half, whatever it will take, we are going to find a way to ensure that at the end of the day we have a strong Canada in which Quebec can play a full part and wants to play that full part and in which, certainly in Ontario, that diversity of which I spoke will not only be seen as a strength but definitely will be a strength and will help us to go on into the next century and to meet all of those challenges.
But if there is a message from our report which I think it is important for all of us to hear, it is that the bell has rung. It is wake-up time. It is time for all of us in this province to become very much engaged in the discussion around the future of this country and I am confident that if we do that, we will be able to work with our fellow Canadians throughout this country in bringing about a solution to these various issues which will see a Canada of which we can all be proud.
It has been a pleasure to serve with everyone on this committee and I look forward to the work that we are going to do over the next three months and work we are going to do and share with our colleagues in this House as well as with others in our own ridings. Thank you for this opportunity to participate.
Mr Malkowski: This has certainly been very inspirational. It has been a real honour to be on the committee. It has been a great experience working with the various members from the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals and our own party. It has been really a great co-operative team and we have definitely maintained the team approach and it has been incredible teamwork.
While travelling across the province, going from the easternmost areas, west, hitting southern Ontario as well as the north, we have listened to a great deal of people, many presentations, people who have brought their ideas and their feelings to us, people from across Ontario who have been very honest, very up front in what they felt and how they saw Canada and what they felt about the Constitution.
Much of what they had to say expressed both negatives and positives in their views of Canada, and I think if we look back to 1867 and the founding of the Constitution in Canada, that at one point was a mirror that reflected a proud and distinguished Canada. It had self-identity and it brought together the views of those people, but now we see that the mirror frame was not hung on a hook that was stable and we have seen that the hook is no longer able to maintain the Constitution as it was. There are changes in power, cutbacks in power, economic changes that have made a dramatic impact. CBC, for example, has been cut. The cuts that we have seen -- Via Rail, which was such a national issue -- all of these issues are of grave importance to us.
Oh, wait a minute. Is there a problem with time? Well, I guess I will have to move to adjourn at this point then.
Mr Offer: Mr Speaker, if I may, my understanding is that we were going to rotate, divide the time equally. I understand, speaking with the Conservatives, that they are going to be speaking about this in continuation on Monday and that there was an extra 12 minutes on their portion of time. I think it is fair to say that we would have no objection from this side if the honourable member wishes to take some of that time period. We would have no objection to that and certainly that would not affect or interfere with the, I believe, 10 minutes of time remaining on our side. So we would have no objection to that if there is no objection to this from the Conservatives.
The Speaker: All right.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, since the 12-minute surplus was in fact ours and we have made the decision not to use it today because it was not long enough in residue time, we would be supportive of the suggestion and perhaps share equally between the government members and the official opposition members.
The Speaker: Six minutes each side. The gracious offer is obviously in keeping with the spirit that has been developed with this Confederation committee, for which all members are to be congratulated. It is excellent. The Chair is certainly most appreciative. On that understanding, the member for York East has an additional six minutes and there will be six minutes allotted to the Liberal caucus.
Mr Malkowski: I thank the member very much for allowing us to use that time. I guess that is what I mean, we certainly developed a sort of family attitude after the travels that we have been through.
The information that we collected throughout the month that we travelled dealt with some of the issues, for example, brought to us by the aboriginal people talking about their own values. I think that those of us who were together for the peace pipe smoking ceremony will remember how touching that was, the sharing of that cultural event. Throughout the province we saw native leaders bringing a message of respect, of peace, of tolerance and acceptance of other people. That was a theme that was reiterated throughout the hearings. I think their values are something we can certainly learn from.
We saw the anglophones and the francophones who came to speak to us sharing their values, talking about their heritage and their traditions and the founding of their own cultures.
We also were able to hear from a variety of minorities and multicultural groups, people who wanted to talk about how they saw their identity in Canada and the issue of multiculturalism as a value in Canada. Many of them talked, again, about respect, respect for their own values, their own heritage and language and culture. I think that one of the most important things was the issue of complete access, access for real participation in society. They talked about cultural interpreters, which was a means of allowing people to access information and to be a part of Canada. They talked about how proud they were to be Canadians.
More important, we also heard from groups such as the disabled community, which is one of the first times that committee meetings were actually accessible to the disabled community, because we had full participation from the community. We had sign language interpreters captioned on the parliamentary station so that the information was accessible to various communities. We made sure that we were in buildings that were wheelchair-accessible. There were telecommunications devices for the deaf provided so people could phone in.
We saw that people were able to actually come out and speak, and they talked about, for example, the recognition of deaf culture, their language, which is American sign language, and langue des signes québécois, which is the French sign language that is used in Canada. They talked about how having ASL and LSQ allowed them to participate fully as Canadians.
We had deaf/blind community members come out and speak and I think that made a dramatic impact on all of us, the experiences that they shared. I know one individual talked about the need for intervenors as an important way to allow deaf/blind people to access services. Right now there are only six hours of intervenor time permitted a week to people such as these. I think that they spoke out very strongly about providing real access so that services such as Braille services, teletype services, interpreting services and caption services be available to allow all people complete access.
We had people in wheelchairs, people discussing the issues of transportation as a means of accessibility to society. I think that was extremely important, that these groups came out. Again, the message was the same, "Please respect our rights, our freedom to choose to be independent, to participate fully in society."
We also heard from other groups which talked about the need for us to work together and a sharing and co-operative approach that was absolutely essential. There was talk of the need to maintain social programs, to improve economic situations, to provide training and the value that was placed on the health programs.
Again, the mirror somehow is not reflecting all of these varying groups in Canada, in Ontario. We are starting to find the pieces of that broken mirror and place them back together so they do reflect people, the natives, women's needs and issues, minority groups, the various values that all Canadians can share, issues that deal with the environment, peace and security. That shattered mirror is beginning to be put back in place and it will reflect Canadians. I think in phase 2 we are going to see the various groups getting together, the key players, the aboriginal people, women's groups, various multicultural organizations, disabled Canadians, all of these groups I think will be able to come to the table and talk about constitutional issues, the protection of their rights and how the Constitution affects them and they can be part of the mirror that reflects Canada.
One of the parts that I think has been missing is the issue of Quebec, and that is an important part of Canadian identity. They too must find a place in the Constitution, a place in Canada, and we have to have open debate with Quebec. If we can get the Quebec missing piece back into the mirror, we will see a mirror and a Constitution that reflects us all. The hook that I mentioned that was no longer stable, that broke the mirror in the first place, can be repaired. Every Canadian can look in that mirror and say:
"That's me. I'm in there. I'm a native Canadian. I'm a woman who is a Canadian. I'm deaf and Canadian. I'm disabled and Canadian. I'm there. I can look in that mirror and I am there. I reflect Canada."
We are all there, a new Canada with a new vision, and that is a goal that we are all going to work towards and I think that can become a reality in phase 2.
In closing, I think that one of the things that was very important to me was the recognition of the various groups. I think one of the most important groups that spoke to us was the disabled community, because finally they were able to participate, and they foresee a possibility of participating as full Canadians and being reflected in that identity.
Mr Offer: Let me say how pleased I am to also join in this debate on the role of Ontario in Confederation and the report of the select committee. If I might, today I would like to confine my comments to a few general themes. First, I think it is important to speak to process because from process many aspects unfolded. Second, I know that the report speaks well to the issue of values and what we heard, but I certainly want to take some time to deal with that issue. Third, I want to talk about where we go from here.
Dealing with the process, I must first indicate what a real pleasure it was for me to serve with the members on the committee, not only those who were originally selected but, of course, a number of members who very well and ably subbed in at particular points in the committee to carry on with the work which we were doing, so we must not ignore those who did take some time at certain points in the process to come forward.
Second, and I know this has been stated often before and most likely afterwards, was the tremendous work done by the legislative staff, by Hansard, the clerk's department and indeed all those around the committee. We were televised across the province. It was for us as committee members to come to the committee, to sit down, to listen and to partake. We as committee members certainly became very sensitive and appreciated that before we sat down at that table there was tremendous work in setting up the particular room, in making certain that the transmission was all in order, in making certain that the stage, if you will, was set for the continuation of our hearings.
It was long, it was hard, it was gruelling, I would imagine, in many ways because of the travel which we were doing, going through the various areas in the province. That made it even more difficult for those support staff, clerks, Hansard, to perform. Let me say, from my perspective -- and I have been a member here since 1985 -- it was extremely well done, and I use this point just to congratulate and thank them, as one member and, I trust, as representative of all the members, for that work done.
I would not like to leave this part without making note of the signers for the member for York East. I, as a member, had not had that type of experience before. It was in many ways a growing experience for me, not only as to what we heard in the committee, but the whole aspect of sign language, the whole area of the deaf culture, the whole issue of some of the barriers, some of the challenges that are experienced by the hard of hearing each and every day. I know that this is something which others physically disabled, challenged, must also experience. On that point, I would just like to state how very impressed I was with the work done by the signers in our experience.
Dealing with the process, I think back to another time. This was in a committee where many individuals came forward. I think it is important to recognize that it was not with a specific or defined focus. Yes, we had a consultation paper and, yes, there was an issue, but it was not a defined type of focus. It was people, it was associations, it was groups of individuals coming before us to talk to us about what was important to them. In some instances it was on an issue of some sort; in others it was the question of Canada and the Constitution, of Ontario's role in this country, and of their vision as to what they see the role of Quebec in Canada.
They came before us, some sitting down at a table without text, without previous experience of coming before committees, telling us what was important to them and telling us in a very real, compassionate and emotional way how they felt about their country. I was quite moved by so many of those presentations. We heard, I think it is fair to say, a variety of opinions. Some were extremely moving; some were very well-thought-out; all were characterized by an intense caring for this province and for this country.
Much has been said in other areas that we are somewhat different from our neighbours to the south, from the United States. We are different because we do not sing the national anthem as loudly as they do; we do not sing with hand over heart. But I do not believe there is a country in the world that has as many people that would almost trip over themselves to come before a committee to talk about what is important to their country, what they feel their country stands for for them and how they feel their country is viewed by others.
So let it not be said that we mark the caring of individuals for their country by how loudly they sing the national anthem or whether they do it with hand over heart. We mark it in terms of people coming before committees such as this, we mark it in terms of people unafraid to say what they feel and we mark it by tolerance and understanding and a sense of compassion. In that respect I do not believe that we are second to anyone. We stand first and foremost in that area.
In terms of the issue of values, I had occasion during the committee and I wanted very much to make personal notes from beginning to end. At the end of the committee, I added up the pages. There were 140 pages. I knew that the Clerk's office was providing us with summaries but I wanted to mark some of my impressions.
I reviewed those, and it is hard, if not impossible, to say that there was a single value; certainly there was not one which was unanimously held. But I think that there was a sense, in people who came before our committee, of accommodation. They recognized that there was some need to accommodate some of the wishes, the hopes and the aspirations of the province of Quebec, and they recognized that this had to happen if we were to remain a united country.
I for one was moved by that, because it is not an easy thing for one to come before committee to express and share. It is certainly a very noble type of value when one senses that that is the vast majority of opinion brought forward to this committee: of understanding we have heard, of tolerance, of pride in this country, how we stand with other countries, of pride in our past and certainly of hope for our future, recognizing that the challenges of our future, the challenges to a united Canada must come from a recognition that accommodation is necessary.
I think that in this report we certainly worked hard to try to convey that sense not only, in my opinion, to those within this province but to those outside the province, to send a message that, yes, we have a great deal of work to do; yes, we are going to be taking a look at a number of issues in a very focused way; yes, we are going to be taking a look at a number of implications and different models of a different form of Confederation.
But at this point and today certainly I feel it necessary to say that change is necessary, that there is a sense among people throughout this province that they are ready to go along that road to accommodate some of the required changes and to send that message not only to the people in this province of Ontario but indeed to others and especially to the province of Quebec.
I hope that those in the province of Quebec read well the report and take that message. There is much in this report to be read and to be digested, but to me the message is that change is necessary and we are certainly ready to embark on that course.
Where do we go from here? We have a number of areas which we are going to be looking at. We are going to be, as the report says, looking at the different configurations, the different economic implications, a whole variety of means. I am looking forward to that because I think that this will be valuable work.
I look forward to continuing to work in the same way with the members of the committee and with all members of the Legislature as we have on this issue in the past. We have worked hard together. We have wrestled with difficult issues together, and I trust that we will continue to do that as a committee together.
There is no question that the people of this province are looking to this province to lead the way. There is no question that they are looking to see what is the direction that the government of the province of Ontario is going to take. Is bilateral arrangement between Quebec and Ottawa something which is acceptable to the province of Ontario? Is it necessary that there should be total involvement by not only the federal government but by all provinces in this country in terms of the change that is so very necessary? People are looking to get those questions answered, and others.
There are issues to be addressed, there are needs to be met, there are challenges to be addressed. I believe that we are going to, and must, work together to not only identify but to address those issues. We must continue to work together as best we can to make certain that this country, while recognizing the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations of the province of Quebec and others, and trying as best we can to address them, remains a united country, a country which for so many is an example for others to follow. We want to preserve that and we recognize that the only way we can do that is if there is a fundamental change.
We are ready to embark on that course. The people of the province, through their submissions to our committee, have in large measure said: "We recognize accommodation is necessary. We are waiting to hear the type of change you are contemplating." I note that my time in this debate is coming to a close and will end just as I began, by thanking all members of the committee and all those involved in the committee for making these past four weeks of travel and listening to so many individuals an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
The Speaker: Before recognizing the clock, I would like to recognize the former member for London South, Joan Smith, who is in our midst and welcome her to the gallery.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Miss Martel: If I might give the House the details of the business for next week.
On Monday 25 March, Tuesday 26 March and Wednesday 27 March, we will continue with the consideration of the interim report of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation.
On Thursday 28 March, we will deal with the following, depending on our time: first, the debate on second reading of Bill 32, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton Act and the Municipal Elections Act; second, debate on second reading of Bill 25, An Act to amend the Planning Act, 1983 and the Land Titles Act; and, finally, committee of the whole, consideration of Bill 4.
The House adjourned at 1800.