37e législature, 3e session



Thursday 24 October 2002 Jeudi 24 octobre 2002



Thursday 24 October 2002 Jeudi 24 octobre 2002

The House met at 1845.

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Environment and Energy, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, may I ask for a five-minute recess before we call orders of the day, on the guarantee that I don't lose my sessional day?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will have a five-minute recess.

The House recessed from 1845 to 1850.



Mr Stockwell, on behalf of Mr Runciman, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 191, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act to ensure the safety of emergency vehicles stopped on a highway and people who are outside a stopped emergency vehicle / Projet de loi 191, Loi modifiant le Code de la route afin de garantir la sécurité des véhicules de secours arrêtés sur une voie publique et celle des personnes qui se trouvent à l'extérieur de tels véhicules.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the Minister of the Environment and Government House Leader.

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Environment and Energy, Government House Leader): I move second reading of Bill 187, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act to ensure the safety of emergency vehicles stopped on a highway and people who are outside a stopped emergency vehicle.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Stockwell moves second reading of Bill 187.

Hon Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seek unanimous consent for tonight to count as a sessional day if we split one hour of time equally among all parties and also defer all leadoff speeches for all parties.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? It is agreed.

The Chair recognizes the Minister of the Environment.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): Is it 187 or 191?

Hon Mr Stockwell: The order is 191; the bill is 187.

Interjection: No, it's 191.

Hon Mr Stockwell: Sorry, it's 191. My fault. Why did I say 187?

The Acting Speaker: I don't know why you said 187, but I did too. I want to correct it. It's Bill 191.

Hon Mr Stockwell: I apologize to the House leader for the third party and to the opposition. I did say 187, and it is written as 187, I say to my crackerjack staff.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga Centre): Sure, the waiter always blames it on the kitchen.

Interjection: Assume responsibility.

Hon Mr Stockwell: OK, I assume responsibility. Consider my speech spoken.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence): On a point of order: My understanding is that we were going to do the Highway Traffic Amendment Act?

Hon Mr Stockwell: That's what it is.

Mr Colle: OK. And you've got it down as 191?

Hon Mr Stockwell: 191.

Mr Colle: OK. Thank you. In speaking to this amendment to the Highway Traffic Act, I'll try to ensure that we're able to get some of the key points of this legislation before the public, to ensure they're aware of its implications.

As you know, this seems to be a piece of legislation that will enhance and be a positive aid to emergency workers in their duties in the daily performance of emergency work, especially on our highways, which are very demanding places to work. It will, I guess, deal primarily with police officers who patrol our highways -- the OPP on the 400-series highways and certainly on other major arterial roads -- where if an emergency vehicle stops and the lights are flashing, a passing motorist has to slow down.

We do support this bill, because I think it is another way of ingraining in the minds of motorists that they do slow down in situations where there may be some potential for hazard. The question is, how much do they slow down? The legislation doesn't prescribe an actual speed, but it does make sense, according to the Ontario Provincial Police Association, that probably a 10- to 15-kilometre-per-hour slowdown would suffice.

The legislation attempts to send a message, and that's why we support it. It sends a message to drivers that they are supposed to display caution in terms of an accident. I know, from driving on our roads, that it's becoming more and more apparent that we don't really know the rules of the road. One of the most common things we witness -- I'm sure all of you witness it every day -- is that when an ambulance, an EMS vehicle, goes down a street, invariably, on every occasion, it seems there is a driver in front of you who doesn't know enough to pull off to the right and stop. As I say, it's almost without exception that you will get a driver who keeps on driving, a driver who doesn't pull over, drivers who don't even dare slow down as they hear the siren on our streets. I think that's an example of where we have to give the people who are driving on our roads a better sense of what the rules are.

There are rules in terms of speed limits and rules in terms of making illegal turns and certainly in terms of flashing your indicators when you make a turn. All these are rules that we think are part of standard procedures that motorists should know automatically. But, again, this bill recognizes that in many cases we can't assume that people know what to do. This bill, I think, is attempting to put out a very strong message that if you don't slow down when an emergency vehicle is attending to a situation on the shoulder of the road, you will be subject to a fine. The fine can be between $400 and $2,000 for the first offence, from $1,000 to $4,000 for subsequent offences and, if this persists, repeat offenders can have their licences suspended. The legislation attempts to not only send a message, but also hits you in the pocketbook if you're caught not slowing down as an emergency vehicle is attending to a situation -- and it could be a variety of situations. It could be a car having a mechanical problem and a police officer sometimes will pull over and attend to that. It's not only a situation where maybe a police officer is attending to someone getting a ticket.

There are some questions in the legislation that I hope are worked out. If it says you must slow down, that assumes people are going the speed limit. In other words, if someone is doing 150 on the 400, is it adequate to slow down to 140 kilometres per hour? It is quite common now on our major thoroughfares -- I'm sure you've seen it in various parts of Ontario -- for people regularly to 150 kilometres per hour. They do that at their own peril, but they are doing it. I just hope that somehow we can get the message to these people that if they come anywhere near an accident, please don't just slow down 10 kilometres an hour -- they're not supposed to be doing 150 anyway -- slow right down and don't think that going by a potential accident scene at 130, 120 or 100 kilometres an hour is sufficient. I don't know how they are going to word it, or if there are going to be regulations or an education campaign, but that is the concern I have.

We hope to make some suggestions to make sure this is done right, because we understand the minister's attempt here to aid our emergency personnel as they are doing their work. I just hope they'll have an opportunity to have a round table on this to look at different ways and forms of making sure this is implemented in a way that's rational, understandable and fair.

I think maybe part of this legislation will be a reminder to people that on our highways it is also critically important to remember that in some cases if there is anything on the side of the road, the opposite of slowing down -- as you know, if there's an accident or some kind of unusual event, everybody will slow down much more than usual, to the point that they cause a massive traffic jam and people get frustrated and pass people because they're gawking at the fact there is a chicken or something on the shoulder. So that's another thing. When you're on the highway, it's very important to understand that there are thousands of people behind you, and whatever you do will potentially affect thousands of people behind you.


The intent of this bill is more to respect the fact that our firefighters, ambulance personnel and front-line police officers, in many cases, risk their lives on the shoulder of the road. I can remember two police officers in 13 Division -- it was near Lawrence Avenue -- who got out of their cruiser. I think it was Constable Ojo and another officer who is now retired. They got out to help someone and, wouldn't you know it, they were hit. Luckily it wasn't serious, but this was right in the middle of the city of Toronto. As they were getting out of their car to help someone, some other driver hit the car and did serious damage to the police cruiser and both police officers were hospitalized. This was a routine thing at normal speeds within the city limits. So you can imagine police officers or emergency personnel getting out of their car and somebody going 100 kilometres an hour and not slowing down and maybe not paying attention. They risk their lives every time they stop to help someone in need or perform their normal functions.

I think that in the last horrific couple of weeks we've seen on a regular basis on TV the onerous and incredible pressure put on our front-line officers -- just looking at the situation in Maryland and Washington and what they've gone through in the last couple of weeks in trying to do their job in the most horrific of stressful situations. Thankfully -- and I'm sure all Canadians will say they are breathing a sigh of relief too -- it seems they may have captured the alleged snipers in the killing and wounding of those 10 or 11 innocent Americans in the Beltway.

We've seen the amount of pressure police officers, whether they are American or Canadian, and emergency personnel on both sides of the border are under when they are doing their work. They cannot afford the luxury of working at half speed. When they get out of their cars when they stop someone or pull over to assist someone, they generally do it very quickly. They respond quickly. They don't have the luxury of slowing down to make sure nobody is coming behind them. They sometimes have to react instantaneously, and this is why I hope people begin to slow down as soon as the lights flash.

I think that maybe the best message of all is that we should all be thinking of that. Once we see those flashing lights or hear the siren, whether it be a fire truck, an EMS vehicle or a police vehicle, I would think the simple axiom would be that it is time for us to slow down; there is something going on and we can't continue to go at normal speeds. Whether you're in the city limits or out on a country road, if a vehicle is sounding its siren, moving or stationary, slow down to make sure you are not endangering the lives of personnel who are trying to do their jobs or, in many cases, trying to prevent someone from being injured or rescuing someone. These are some of the things I think we can maybe extrapolate from this bill that will go beyond just the focus of this bill.

I think the honourable member from London, Frank Mazzilli, originally talked about this. He was in the police force in London and understands this and is very attentive to this legislation because he knows the value of it. I appreciate his attention to this legislation, because he was there and he knows what has to be done and why we have to protect front-line police officers.

This bill seems to be generally supported by the professionals. I would hope that in the final details we consult not only with the police forces -- and I see the former Solicitor General there. Maybe he'll take the message to Mr Runciman that we consult with EMS stakeholders and also the firefighters and other emergency personnel stakeholders so that, if there are regulations to follow with this bill, he includes them in the discussions on how to deal with the situation of pulling over, as much as it would entail their input. I would welcome that kind of initiative on behalf of the Minister of Public Safety and Security, as the former Solicitor General is called.

More and more initiatives like this are needed to make our highways and roads safe, not only for our personnel but for the thousands and thousands of people who sometimes literally underestimate the dangers and responsibilities, the instantaneous consequences of making mistakes, we have when we're on the highways. We drive so much that we sometimes forget and become immune to the responsibilities we have to our fellow motorists who share the roads with us, to the emergency personnel and also to our passengers and ourselves. I would think other initiatives are needed that could enhance public awareness about the responsibility of appreciating the fact that we are not on the roads on our own. When we're on the highway we have to always be on the defence, always anticipating, always looking out, and also sending out messages to young people about driving a car, being in a car.

I should give a plug for our motorcycling community. A lot of people who are motorcycle riders will tell you that too often motorists do not give them the respect they should or pay attention to the fact that they have a right to be on the road too. They open doors, they cut motorcyclists off -- and also cyclists, but motorcyclists complain continually that people who are in cars sometimes do not take into account that a motorcycle has the same rights and privileges on the road as a motor vehicle. I think they deserve that kind of attention because, even though they are wearing their helmets, they are much more vulnerable than those in a car. If they fall off a motorcycle, the injuries could be extremely serious -- I think whatever we can do in terms of public service announcements, in terms of reminding students in high school especially that laws like the one we're debating here today have to include them in order to work.

It's going to be difficult to have a police officer in some cases being able to enforce this law. You're going to have to have another cruiser or another motor vehicle perhaps catching the person who didn't slow down. That's going to be a bit difficult, and I'm not sure how that's going to work. That's why I think sometimes the power of sensitivity education is much more powerful than the threat of a fine.


We definitely need to let people know that it's not as if you drive a certain way because you can avoid being detected or avoid getting a fine and you can speed up on the highway as much as you want because nobody is watching you. I think we need to put some sense of responsibility on people that when you're on the road, you have this very serious responsibility. I think all of us have to be reminded of that. None of us is without fault in terms of our driving.

I know the member from St Catharines is here. He is constantly on the wonderful QEW, driving at the speed limit or usually below the speed limit, going back and forth to the Garden City, on his way to Port Dalhousie. He will tell you that he sees some pretty strange and unusual things on our highways and byways, especially in the Niagara Peninsula, where people sometimes are very frustrated with those continually gridlocked roads that are not a good tonic for motorists.

I want to say that as a party we support the initiative. We think, hopefully, that there should be some more development of the enforcement processes and the stakeholder input on this so that it becomes a good, strong piece of legislation that helps front-line people -- in this case I think it's mostly going to be police officers -- do their job in a safer way, to make sure they come home at night and are not injured because someone was careless and going too fast as they were trying to help someone by the side of the road.

The Acting Speaker: We're going in clockwise order. Further debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I just wanted to indicate that had there not been agreement on the speaking order this evening, I would have felt compelled to speak in favour of this piece of legislation, which I think is very progressive.

The Acting Speaker: I don't think that's a point of order, but nevertheless it has been said.

Further debate?

Mr Kormos: Speaker, you will recall that when the bill was introduced for first reading I responded to the ministerial statement, and we responded in a positive way to the intent, to the spirit of the legislation. But one of our jobs here is to make sure that a bill like this, which everyone agrees serves an important public purpose, is properly drafted to ensure it does what it says it's going to do. I've read this bill very carefully since its introduction, and I've got a number of concerns.

I agree with every other speaker who would speak to this that the process of a police officer pulling a car over -- first, you've got to forgive me because, down where I come from, when we see a police car on the right-hand side of the road with the red lights turning, we slow down. What kind of idiot is going to carry on at the same rate of speed, quite frankly? Having said that, it's clear that there are those kinds of idiots on the roadways. I understand it's an extremely dangerous proposition for a police officer to be on the shoulder of a road -- I'm referring to the right-hand shoulder; it could be the left-hand on a one-way portion of the highway -- to be doing what he or she has to do in terms of attending to a car that has been abandoned or a car that's in distress, or doing ticketing and so on. Police officers have been killed; no two ways about it.

Clearly, the intent is to have motorists approaching those types of scenarios do certain things to reduce the level of risk to the police officer. I'm concerned about the requirement "shall slow down and proceed with caution," especially when it's qualified, "having due regard for traffic on and the conditions of the highway and the weather." I know what the drafter is getting at. Clearly, the argument is that if it's a snowy, wet, slippery road, slowing down means slowing down that much more than you would slow down on, let's say, a dry, well-lit piece of pavement. But one of the problems in terms of enforcement of this legislation is going to be the requirement that you merely slow down without an indication as to slowing down to what speed. If we're going to have a piece of legislation, we'd better make sure that it's effective. I, quite frankly, at the moment --


Mr Kormos: No, Mr Bisson. I, quite frankly, at the moment, can't believe that this legislation can't be improved to make it more enforceable. I'm not just talking about the point -- because you've already canvassed the area. A lot of the time, I suppose one of the reasons people are foolish enough to speed past a police car that's parked with its red lights going is that they figure that police car is not going to be moving from what it's doing. But there are scenarios where you've got multiple police cars -- for instance, in the investigation of a motor vehicle accident, where cars are pulled over by the side of the road. I really am concerned about the requirement that you slow down and proceed with caution, because I submit that could be regarded as insufficiently precise; that is to say, imprecise enough so as to not be enforceable. That's a problem.

The other area is that because it makes reference to emergency vehicles under section 62 of the Highway Traffic Act. Of course, I took a look at section 62 of the Highway Traffic Act. Understand that this doesn't apply to all emergency vehicles. I'm interested, and I wish the Minister of Public Safety were here, because I'd appreciate his response and guidance in this regard. The bill is restricted to vehicles showing red lights. Clearly, that includes ambulances, police vehicles and fire vehicles. Should this legislation include amber-lit vehicles like tow trucks? We used to have them in Ontario before 1995. Do you remember that, Speaker? Remember before 1995, if you were travelling on the Queen Elizabeth Way or on the 401, there would be yellow Ministry of Transportation vehicles travelling back and forth on the Burlington Skyway? They were particularly welcome because from time to time some poor, hapless soul from Niagara would run out of gas literally right on the crest of the skyway and, before 1995, there were the Ministry of Transportation roadside emergency vehicles that would actually -- it's true -- give you a gallon of gas to get you on your way down into Stoney Creek to gas up.

I'm simply asking the author of the bill, if the bill is only intended to apply to red-flashing-light vehicles -- police vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks -- then fine, but I'm submitting that the same safety considerations are there for a tow truck operator, for the CAA woman or man who's come to my assistance so many times, usually on the highway, the QEW, from Toronto to Welland. I don't want to admit that it's because I've run out of gas, but I have from time to time, among other things, be it a battery boost or any number of things. Again, it's incredibly dangerous, I acknowledge, for the police officer, but it's also incredibly dangerous for the tow truck operator. I don't want to diminish our concern and interest in the safety of police officers, firefighters or ambulance workers.

The restriction that it's a red light -- because of course, as you know, these other road safety vehicles don't flash red lights; they flash yellow, amber or orange lights. Go that one step further. This Legislature some time ago authorized volunteer firefighters to use green lights in their vehicles to facilitate volunteer firefighters going to and from where they're required to be. Are we contemplating any legitimate vehicle that is serving a function, be it a red, amber or green light, and should that be the vehicle for which an oncoming vehicle has to slow down and/or move over a lane?

I'm saying these are legitimate concerns. If the author of the bill can tell me the bill was never intended to include tow truck operators or other people who provide assistance along the roadside and very much put themselves into a similar sort of danger as police officers, then fine. So be it. The government, of course, has carriage of bill. It can move ahead with it as it wishes.

The other concern is the business of "slow down and proceed with caution, having due regard for traffic on and the conditions of the highway and the weather." Arguably, and however wacky this sounds, that means if I'm approaching a police vehicle stopped with its red lights flashing, doing whatever that police vehicle is doing with another vehicle on the shoulder or on a laneway, and I'm doing 120 klicks, if I slow down to 100, I've slowed down, and if I haven't caused an accident or caused any swerving, for all intents and purposes I have proceeded with caution. I think that's an incredibly subjective standard to apply.


I know what the intent is of the legislation. I know what the bill is getting at, and New Democrats support entirely what the bill is getting at. That's why I suggested the other day that maybe this is the sort of thing that should have some brief but thorough committee consideration. I'd like to hear from police officers whether they think it's imperative that this be restricted to red-light vehicles -- to wit, firefighters, police officers, ambulances -- or whether they would agree that an amber- or orange-light, along with green-light vehicles, should also be contemplated.

I would also dearly like to know from police officers whether they regard the subjective requirement that you "shall slow down and proceed with caution, having due regard for ... the conditions of the highway and the weather," as a sufficient standard that would enable a clear violation for the purpose of prosecution. Because the penalties are significant, you can bet your boots that anybody served with an offence notice under this offence is going to defend it, and if all we're doing is causing grief for prosecutors in our provincial courts with a law that can never be applied except in the most extreme circumstances, we're not doing those emergency vehicles or their operators any good whatsoever.

How many times have we seen in this Legislature an effort on the part of somebody or other to want to accelerate a bill through second and third readings without any debate? We saw it with respect to this bill. It was a Tory backbencher who stood up and wanted second and third readings in one fell swoop, without any debate. I say that would have been regrettable. My concerns about the bill may be met with a response by the minister saying, "So what? We want the bill in that form anyway." At that point, since the government has the majority, I'll have to say, "so be it. If that's what you want, that's what you're going to get. That's what you're entitled to, because that's what you're empowered to."

But I'm saying that if this is more than a public relations exercise with the police, firefighters and ambulance workers, then let's make this bill work right. I'm not aware of other jurisdictions that use this exact same model. There may well be. There may well be experience in other jurisdictions that use this exact same wording. I'm not aware of it. I'd very much like to hear about it. I invite the Minister of Public Safety, Mr Runciman, or one of his parliamentary assistants, to talk to me about this and either concur that there are some legitimate concerns about the way the bill is drafted, or that the government doesn't care whether there are concerns with how it's drafted and is ready to drive through with it in any event.

I've got to tell you, these are not leadoff speeches this evening. It's Thursday evening and we're doing effectively what are the 20-minute follow-up speeches. Our member from Timmins-James Bay is looking forward to speaking on this bill for an hour. Our member from Timmins-James Bay, who is the transportation critic, is eager because he by and large has carriage of bills that deal with Highway Traffic Act amendments. He is looking forward to his one-hour leadoff speech. I know he has a lot to say about this bill, this legislation.

You've heard the sorts of things that cause me concern and that cause me to suggest that this matter go to committee.

I also want to point out that there could well be some -- I'm glad the Attorney General is here, because he knows all about this stuff. The Attorney General may be able to answer this here and now.

Mr Frank Mazzilli (London-Fanshawe): He agrees with you.

Mr Kormos: Be careful.

In the event that there is, let's say, a charge of careless driving laid along with this charge, could the two charges stand?

Mr Mazzilli, of course, who has had a great deal of experience --


The Acting Speaker: Member for London-Fanshaw, come to order. The Chair recognizes the member for Niagara Centre. I'm sorry to interrupt.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker, but I assure you, Mr Mazzilli wasn't being a bother. As a matter of fact, he was quite amusing. Mr Mazzilli spent a lot of time in court and may, before he's an old man, spend a lot more time in court. You never can tell.

I am interested in how this would conflict, for instance, with a charge of careless driving that accompanies the same incident. I'm also interested in whether the charge of careless driving is an appropriate charge and whether or not that charge has ever been laid in circumstances where people are zooming past police cruisers that are stopped with a pulled-over vehicle, either giving a ticket or not.

One of the things I've been told is that, for instance, on Highway 401 where it's multiple lanes, four, five, six lanes -- my own experience tells me this, and I trust other people's as well -- when traffic is zooming along there at speeds well in excess of 100 kilometres an hour during rush hour, it's virtually impossible for a police officer to pull you over in any event. It simply can't be done without causing great risk to the police officer himself or herself and to other vehicles on the highway.

That's why I'm curious about this government and its abandonment of speed photography, photo radar on the highways. During the course of any committee hearings permitted around Bill 191, I would surely appreciate hearing the Solicitor General, now Minister of Public Safety and Security, address the matter of photo radar once again.

This government has embraced photo radar. This government just presented a bill, which is still in the midst of second reading, that endorses, that approves, that permits, that advocates photo radar for the purpose of catching people going through red lights at intersections. It seems to me that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I, for the life of me, can't understand why the government would say, "Oh, photo radar's OK here, but it's not OK there."

I recall the province's brief experience with photo radar. I should tell you I had some concerns and criticisms about photo radar, and I'll tell you what they are in just a minute. But the reality is that when photo radar was set up, especially on the 401, which is where I was most familiar with its application, I anecdotally noticed a marked reduction in speed. The minute photo radar was repealed, yanked, I saw that speed accelerate once again to extremely high limits.

At the end of the day, it's not speed in and of itself, though granted, when you have an accident at a high speed, it's going to be far more catastrophic than when you have an accident at a low speed. It's speed combined with drunk driving, combined with bad driving, combined with mechanically impacted motor vehicles -- bad tires, bad tie rod ends, bad brake systems, what have you -- that causes accidents. At the end of the day, the most significant factor, I'm convinced, is bad driving and bad driving habits, people weaving in and out, bobbing in and out while they are at the same time doing a high rate of speed.

Surely tailgaters have to tick you off, travelling to and from where you live, Speaker, people who crawl right up behind you. You can tell the colour of their eyes in your rear-view mirror. You're cruising along at 125 kilometres and here you've got some dough-head right up behind you. As I say, you can tell the colour of his eyes; you can count his or her eyelashes. If there's anything more dangerous than that, I don't know what it is. Or if you're not tailgating, then some dough-head cuts in -- you're trying to keep an appropriate spot between you and the car ahead of you; you read the manual and you're keeping however many car lengths for each 10 miles per hour, and then some moron cuts in front of you to fill up the space. And there you go, you're no further ahead.

I've only got three minutes and 30 seconds left for these brief comments to this bill.

This bill should go to committee. The bill can be improved. The purpose and intent of the bill is adopted by everybody in this Legislature. We're going to support the bill on second reading. We're going to have a little debate over it first. Mr Bisson from Timmins-James Bay is going to utilize his hour to full advantage, I have no doubt about it. I've raised my very specific concerns about the bill. I've indicated our support for it. I look forward to the parliamentary assistant, who I regret can't be here tonight, or to the minister, who I regret can't be here tonight, addressing the issues and concerns I've raised.

You heard one of the earlier speakers talk about traffic congestion, particularly traffic congestion down in the Niagara Peninsula. You heard me earlier today calling upon this government -- because I recall back in 1999, in the midst of a heated election campaign in Niagara Centre, when the Conservative Minister of Transportation, then Mr Clement, came down to Welland. He was at Welland city hall, as a matter of fact, and he promised -- he's on record. The folks of south Niagara, people in Welland but more importantly the folks down in Port Colborne and Wainfleet down in Mr Hudak's Erie-Lincoln riding -- Mr Clement, the Minister of Transportation for this same government, promised the extension of Highway 406 down into Port Colborne. I can't tell you how important that is for the people living down there, for jobs and for industry, especially since that industry is very much under attack. The people in Port Colborne desperately need that hookup to highway 406. The Minister of Transportation promised that was in the works. He also promised the four-laning of that highway as it travels through Welland and on down to Port Colborne.

I'm confident the member for Erie-Lincoln has used every cabinet meeting as an opportunity to impress upon the Minister of Transportation the need for that extension through into Port Colborne and for the four-laning of it. I'm sure the member from Erie-Lincoln has not only utilized every cabinet meeting but exercised every bit of clout he can muster as a cabinet minister to ensure that takes place.

Folks down there, people down in Welland and Niagara Centre but most importantly people down in Erie-Lincoln, are dearly waiting to hear from this government, either through its Minister of Transportation or through their local member, who's now the minister of consumer and commercial relations or to that effect, that indeed the government has begun the planning and is embarking, and we'd like a clear date.

Our concern is that these are but election promises -- you know what I mean? -- and that back in 1999 when the Minister of Transportation was down there making that promise, he had no intention of keeping it. I wouldn't believe that for a minute, because I know that minister to have been an honest, forthright person. So I'm anxiously awaiting a response on the status of Highway 406, its extension and its four-laning, and I'm sure Mr Hudak from Erie-Lincoln is as well.

I'm going to wrap up the debates in around 10 seconds' time. It's going to be called again, and Mr Bisson from Timmins-James Bay, our critic, is going to be addressing it for an hour. He was anxiously waiting for his turn to speak to it tonight. Unfortunately, he's not going to be able to. We look forward to when he takes the floor.

The Acting Speaker: Pursuant to the agreement, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 o'clock on Monday, October 28.

The House adjourned at 1932.