The House met at 1330.
Mr Morin: I rise today on behalf of the constituents of Carleton East to express my views and their concerns about the proposal for a one-tier government for Ottawa-Carleton. My honourable colleague the member for Ottawa Centre has expressed her support for the proposal. While I respect her view in the matter, I feel that it is appropriate that her government should consult with those parties directly affected by such a change.
The city of Gloucester, the largest municipality in my riding, is in the process of establishing a system of pay-as-you-go for the services that it provides. Gloucester's priority is to be fiscally responsible and develop a sound economic base to provide a high standard of living for its residents. Gloucester has no desire to take on the debt load of larger neighbouring municipalities. The elected representatives of Gloucester have developed a close relationship with their constituents, their community and business leaders. They are in a position to speak to the challenges and the opportunities unique to their city.
When the Premier took office he promised that he would have an open government and one that would engage in consultation. I know the Premier was serious when he made that promise. I would therefore encourage the Premier that any future discussions pertaining to important regional and municipal matters be held in consultation with area MPPs, local politicians and residents of the municipalities in question.
LICENSING OF MOTOR BOAT OPERATORS
Mr McLean: Later today I will be introducing a bill that would regulate the operation of motor boats on Ontario's waterways. This bill is aimed at licensing all motor boat operators whose vessels are propelled by motors of 25 horsepower or more. This bill creates the offences of careless and impaired operation of a motor boat, and those found to be contravening the act would be subject to a maximum fine of $1,000. In some cases the operator could have a licence suspended or revoked.
Mr Speaker, you are no doubt aware that I first introduced this bill in the spring of 1989, but it died in the Orders and Notices with the call of the recent provincial election. I am reintroducing this bill and I urge my colleagues here in the House to give it speedy passage, because I want to see a drastic reduction in the number of tragic accidents and deaths that occur on our waterways each year. There are more than one million boats in Ontario and this province has more boats per capita than anywhere else in North America. Today's boats are bigger and faster than ever before, yet we do not require operators to undergo training, testing or licensing.
I urge all members to join with me in giving the police the authority to act to enforce the safe operation of motor boats on our waterways inasmuch as the Highway Traffic Act regulates the safe operation of motor vehicles on our roads.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone here a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Ms Haslam: At this festive time of year, when many large business chains are requesting their employees to work on Sundays, I rise to commend Don Thompson of the Canadian Tire store in Stratford, who does not open his store on Sundays and does not intend to.
Let me quote a recent advertisement from the Stratford Beacon-Herald:
"Having agonized over Sunday opening for years, we are keeping with our original decision at Stratford Canadian Tire. We have not opened on Sundays and do not intend to. Our employees deserve a common pause day with their families. Presently our work week is 72 1/2 hours. We are open Monday to Friday 9 am to 9 pm and Saturdays 8 am to 9 pm. Let us continue to provide you with the excellent service you are now receiving six days a week.
"Thank you for supporting us on this stance. Many of you have written letters or given us verbal encouragement. Our sales have been very strong this Christmas season. Thank you again...for your support."
I hope more consumers, not only in Stratford but everywhere, continue to voice their support for those stores which have taken a stand and remain closed to allow their employees a common pause day with their families.
Mr Offer: Last October, the Premier announced that an agreement had been reached with the federal government and the Canadian Auto Workers that resolved all outstanding claims against Varity Corp arising from the 1988 closure of Massey Combines Corp and, accordingly, allowed Varity to leave the province.
Part of the agreement provided for the payment of $12 million in termination pay to approximately 1,400 workers affected by the 4 March 1988 receivership of Massey Combines Corp. In the gallery today we have members of the Coalition for Laid-Off Workers who have been affected by this decision who are asking pertinent questions as to whether this matter has in fact been fully settled and, if so, what are the terms?
I have an article from the Windsor Star of 22 November which states:
"Described a month ago as the best severance package ever bargained by the Canadian Auto Workers, the Kelsey-Hayes deal has turned out to contain some nasty surprises.
"Workers who showed up at the Local 195 office this week discovered that instead of two years of full health coverage, including dental, their dental coverage would expire at the end of December."
It goes on to say: "In addition, workers who were on compensation were also surprised to find that in order to receive the severance payment of one and one half week's wages for each year of service, they had to sign a waiver saying they wouldn't collect compensation for workplace injuries."
I am asking the Minister of Labour to provide detailed information as to the terms of settlement of the termination pay available to those workers of Varity and to those members of the Coalition of Laid-Off Workers.
Mr Turnbull: Police and social workers estimate there are 10,000 homeless kids living on the streets in Metropolitan Toronto. Eva's Place is a needed new shelter for homeless youth in the planning stages in my riding of York Mills. The city of North York has agreed to give the land for the home.
There is unfortunately one big hitch. The land was originally owned by the Ministry of Transportation and granted to North York in 1975 but with a covenant restricting its use to park or highway purposes. Ministry staff have offered to remove the covenant, but for the price of one half of the current market value, which is approximately $800,000. We seem to have a rather bizarre situation here. One government ministry, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, is supporting a project and offering capital expenditure funding while another, the Ministry of Transportation, is demanding so much money the whole project may be doomed.
I ask the Premier, who is the boss here? Could we ask him to mediate between his two ministers? I urge him to support the vulnerable, homeless youth of Metropolitan Toronto. Let him stop the money grab by the Ministry of Transportation. Let him join Metro council in providing a reasonable funding level for Eva's Place and finally, let him make a commitment to adequate and equitable funding for all our youth shelters. Our youth need our help. Would he please respond.
I would like to wish all members a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Ms S. Murdock: I rise today to draw the House's attention to what is to me a very important link in this province's transportation network. It affects all the people of Sudbury as well as all of northern Ontario. Highway 69 north, between Sudbury and Waubaushene, is one of the two major gateways to the north. However, this glorified cow path is not just a central part of northern Ontario's economic infrastructure, it is also one of the most treacherous sections of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Between 1 January 1984 and 30 June 1989, 111 people have lost their lives on this highway in good weather. A further 134 sustained injuries. Two thirds of these fatalities took place on clear, dry roads.
In an effort to stop this carnage on the highway, citizens from Parry Sound to Manitoulin Island have banded together to push for four-laning. Already, Express-it, the joint committee of the Sudbury and District Chamber of Commerce and the Sudbury Regional Development Corp, has expressly set up a group to achieve the four-laning of Highway 69. Express-it, right now, has received 5,000 cards and signatures from the city of Sudbury alone.
Just to see how important it is to the north and how badly we need four-laning of Highway 69 north, I will be pushing to have at least one cabinet meeting in the north on the condition that they drive.
At this time I want to wish everyone a happy Hanukkah and a safe and merry Christmas.
MPP FOR A DAY CONTEST
Ms Poole: It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to introduce the winner of the MPP For a Day contest which I sponsored for students in my riding. This year's winner was chosen at the North Toronto Fall Fair on 22 September. The purpose of the contest is to provide an opportunity for a student to see what an MPP does at Queen's Park. The 1990 winner is Alison Minard, a grade 4 student at John Ross Robertson public school.
Ms Poole: I thank members for the warm welcome that they have given to Alison at Queen's Park. She is a grade 4 student who enjoys sports and poetry and excels at math, English and music. Alison has not made a career choice yet, but considering she is only nine years old, I think she is wise to leave her options open.
When asked as part of the contest what she would like to do as MPP to help change the world, Alison said she would like to help solve the pollution problem. I know that will endear her to many members.
On behalf of all members, I would like to congratulate Alison and say we hope to see her back in this House, maybe some 20 years from now, as the new member for Eglinton.
BOARD OF EDUCATION AUDIT
Mr J. Wilson: My statement is to the Minister of Education. I would like the minister to authorize the Provincial Auditor to carry out a value-for-money comprehensive audit of the Simcoe County Board of Education. In Simcoe county, 29 of 36 municipalities have passed resolutions demanding an audit of this type for the public school board. These municipalities are not political agitators; they are simply echoing the public groundswell for relief from escalating taxes. Who could blame them? Education property taxes have increased by some 28% over the last two years in Simcoe county.
Taxpayers in the county have no quarrel with paying for education, but they disagree strenuously with subsidizing administrative excesses such as the $13 million spent for the Simcoe County Board of Education's new office building in Midhurst.
I do not have to tell the minister that we are in a deepening recession, and the message of fiscal restraint must come from the top. I want the minister to send the message to all beleaguered taxpayers in Simcoe county that there is light at the end of the tunnel by authorizing a comprehensive audit of the public school board. This audit would be an effective first step towards showing that this government means to be prudent with taxpayers money and wage a war against wasteful spending.
I too would like to wish all honourable members a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Mr Wood: As many members know, I represent a part of Ontario hit harder than most others by this recession. Plant closures and layoffs are felt by every community and the families who live in them even more sharply now that Christmas draws near. But northerners are a tough breed of people. I would like to tell the House today about how one northern community has rallied massive local spirit and co-operation in a holiday celebration that has lit up the hearts for miles around. You can see the Christmas lights of Kapuskasing long before you get to town, thousands of them reflecting off the water along the whole length of the riverside park which hosts the town's third annual and biggest ever Festival of Lights.
Starting out as a modest event sponsored by the chamber of commerce, the two-month festival now includes over 110 separate displays contributed by churches, schools, homes, businesses, many other local groups and individuals. Hundreds of volunteers are involved and over 4,000 people turned out for this year's opening night of Christmas carols and celebration. The continued support and co-operation of the dedicated volunteers from the chamber of commerce, the town of Kapuskasing planning and engineering departments and citizens of Kapuskasing have assured the festival an important role and a new focus for community pride. Now six neighbouring communities are bringing home the same idea. Christmas cheer goes a long way in Ontario's north.
I would like to wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The Speaker: I trust with all the good wishes that have been coming forth during members' statements that the goodwill will carry through for the rest of question period.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM / RÉFORME CONSTITUTIONNELLE
Hon Mr Rae: The government in its throne speech said that Canada requires our best efforts. Long-standing grievances from across the spectrum of our society and nation -- in Quebec certainly but also in all provinces, our territories, among aboriginal people, linguistic minorities, new Canadians, women -- remain unsettled. The failure of the Meech Lake accord has not simply spawned the Belanger-Campeau commission in Quebec. It has created momentum towards significant constitutional change that cannot be ignored by this province or by anyone living in it.
Let me be as clear as I can about the challenges we face. Any government in Quebec will approach constitutional negotiations seeking more powers for that province. That has been true since 1960 and the failure of the Meech Lake process has made that even truer.
The official opposition in Quebec is committed to independence for Quebec but it has also said that it still wants some kind of association with the rest of Canada.
Le démantèlement de la fédération que constitue le Canada n'a aucun sens pour le gouvernement de l'Ontario et nous nous y opposons carrément. Si le processus se met en branle, personne ne peut entretenir l'illusion qu'il va être bénin ou sans douleur. Ce ne sera pas le cas. Les résidents de toutes les parties du pays vont être plus pauvres dans tous les sens du terme, si on devait envisager sérieusement un tel trauma.
Le Canada n'est pas un État unitaire ou centralisé. Les provinces disposent de pouvoirs considérables que nous exerçons indépendamment d'autres gouvernements. En ce sens, toutes les provinces du Canada possèdent la souveraineté dans certains domaines et le gouvernement fédéral dans d'autres domaines. Le fait que nous soyons membre des Nations unies, partie à des traités internationaux, de même que les dures réalités de la vie économique, tout cela signifie que la propre souveraineté du Canada n'est pas absolue non plus.
On peut toujours discuter et faire la réforme du fédéralisme canadien actuel -- je dis franchement que nous devons le faire -- de sa structure financière, de ses institutions culturelles, sociales, économiques et politiques. Mais le Canada lui-même n'est pas négociable. Nous avons fait trop de chemin pour cela.
Let me say those last words in English so they will be clearly understood. In our view, the terms of the current Canadian federalism -- its financial sharing, its cultural, social, economic and political institutions can always be discussed and reformed. Indeed, they must be reformed, because the status quo is simply not tenable. But I must also state on behalf of our government that for us, Canada itself is not negotiable. We have come too far for that.
The second point I want to make is that Ontario does not for one moment accept the proposition that the federal government somehow speaks for English Canada while the government of Quebec speaks for itself. Each government in the country speaks for itself and for the people in its jurisdiction. Other governments, particularly in western Canada, made it clear that they will come to the table with their own views on the changes necessary to make federalism work better for them, and that is as it should be.
Canada's aboriginal people have historic claims as well, and they must be heard. The territories have a grievance that cannot be ignored. Too many Canadians look to the Constitution and simply do not see themselves in that mirror. That is what must, and can, change.
It is also clear that the next round of constitutional discussions cannot be endless. It cannot just be a Quebec round, though it must be a Quebec round. But above all, it must be a Canadian round, which will include everyone. And I say to everyone in this House that we cannot afford to fail.
My government is committed to moving forward only in consultation with the people of this province to truly reflect their views in the work we do. We want the people of Ontario to answer for us a basic yet also hugely complicated question: How can Canada work better to meet the needs of its people? And in that is a tremendous opportunity for all of us in Ontario and, indeed, all of us in Canada. We have the chance to help define not simply words in a legal document called the Constitution, but to shape together a better future.
We do the people of Ontario a disservice by simply defining this as a technical matter and handing it over to constitutional experts to solve behind closed doors. Leaving it to the experts alone, as has been done too often in the past, has hardly avoided the problems that we now face. That approach flies in the face of what people now deserve from their governments: a chance to have their voices heard and to have their views count.
Federal-provincial fiscal arrangements, exclusive jurisdictions, constitutional rights, these may be the dry words that establish our system of government, but they also affect all of us, the people, in our daily lives, in our pocketbooks, in our workplaces, in our homes and in our communities.
We believe it is time that Ontarians not only were asked how they want their country to work but also were given the opportunity to put forward their interests, speak about their expectations and share their dreams about the future shape of Canada.
This is far from an arcane constitutional question. It strikes to the heart of the way our society works, the way our economy works, the way it functions, the relationships we have with each other and the way we organize our institutions. That, we believe, is our central challenge as a province, to help define our future and Canada's future together.
I have always believed and I have said I do not think this is a partisan issue, but I am compelled to say that the vacuum of leadership at the federal level in this country is hurting our people. The destruction of national institutions, whether economic or cultural, has left the realm of partisanship or ideology and, I believe, now threatens the fabric of this nation.
It used to be that when you asked, "Is our current system of federalism working?" you would hear a cry of no from a single province or a few groups in society. But if you ask the question another way, if you ask the unemployed forestry worker about our high-value-dollar policy, ask the out-of-work plant worker in Woodstock about free trade, ask the single mother in Peterborough about federal cuts to the Canada assistance plan, or ask Windsor about the denial of local public broadcast as a result of CBC cuts, ask the small business owner in Picton about interest rates, ask Ontarians if their interests are being well served, too often the answer is no. That is a form of failed federalism as well.
None of this should be terribly surprising. What was good for the country in 1867 or even in 1982 will not withstand the pressures of the 1990s and beyond. These are dynamic times with deep and fundamental changes happening around the world. They are happening around the world in politics, in the economy and in society. Canada itself is going through tremendous, and sometimes painful, change.
No province can insulate itself from these forces. But we have an obligation to ask if our current structures work for the people of Ontario, and make the case for a different approach when we find them lacking.
As this debate develops, I will be putting forward the case that we need substantial change in the way in which we in Canada share power, in the way in which we plan for the future and make economic and social decisions as governments and people.
I will argue that while there are people and regions of this country that are distinct and whose interests deserve recognition in the laws that govern our country, the Canadian people will not easily limit the debate to any one set of concerns when it comes to the realm of the Constitution. This next round of constitutional debate, however it is eventually done, must be an open and wide-ranging debate where all Canadians have their say. That is the only way we will succeed.
The flaws of the Meech Lake process -- and, of course, the ultimate failure -- have left deep wounds in Canada, but I think we can learn from that experience. Indeed, I would say we must learn from that experience. The people of Ontario must be involved. The people of Ontario will be involved.
Today I am announcing a two-step process to help us prepare for the future. Before the end of January, my government will formally release a discussion paper to the people of Ontario that challenges us to answer together that basic question: How do we want Canada to work better to respond to the needs of the people?
In that paper we will outline a number of challenges to Ontario in Confederation and ask questions seeking to better define our role. We will distribute this paper as widely as we can, seeking to involve all the people of Ontario. We will seek out the voices of Ontario and encourage as much response as possible. We want the people of Ontario to reflect on the challenges facing our economy and our society, and discuss what those mean for the structure of governments and our nation.
Are they satisfied with the current roles of their federal, provincial and municipal governments? How should fundamental decisions about our economy be made? What process of constitutional reform will allow people to participate? How can minorities participate fully in Ontario's future? How can we further the objective of aboriginal self-government in Ontario?
These are the kind of questions that must be answered as we prepare for the future.
I have spoken to the leaders of the opposition parties. We have agreed to establish a select committee on Ontario in Confederation that will hold hearings across the province in February. I encourage that committee to look at innovative ways to establish a true dialogue with as many people as possible. We will not serve the public interest if this process is reserved simply for the experts. We must hear from the widest possible range of people in our province.
Through our efforts to communicate our paper and through the committee's work, we hope to encourage a province-wide process of discussion that will inform the Legislature and the government as we prepare for the nationwide debate.
We have asked that the select committee report back to the House when it resumes in March so this Legislature can debate this issue further to assist this government's representation of Ontario's and Canada's interests in whatever process of constitutional change emerges.
This is an ambitious schedule, but as we have looked around the country and seen other parliaments planning consultative processes that do not end until either late next year or even 1992, we have concluded that we do not have that much time.
Alors, nous avons beaucoup de travail à faire ; c'est une réalité. J'ai hâte de travailler avec tous les députés de la Législature pour réaliser un objectif que nous partageons. C'est un objectif que j'espère que nous partageons aussi avec toute la population du Canada, un Canada renouvelé et plus fort.
We have much work to do. I look forward to working with all the members of the Legislature, and indeed the people of the province, towards a goal I know we all share: a renewed Canada and a stronger Canada.
Hon Mr Farnan: On behalf of the government, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to announce today that the Police Services Act will be proclaimed into law on 31 December 1990.
All members will be aware of the continuing need to rethink the manner in which policing services are delivered in this province. Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the previous government tabled a bill which later met with the support of all parties in this House.
Today, I want to indicate the government's support for the provisions of the new Police Services Act. Ontario's new Police Services Act represents the first comprehensive review of policing legislation since the Police Act was drafted some 44 years ago.
Public demands and expectations have changed dramatically over the past four decades; so too have the needs and obligations of policing. All institutions of policing are facing the pressures of dramatic and fundamental shifts in public expectations. Increasingly, the men and women of our police forces are actively engaged in crime prevention, education and community relations.
These activities have given shape and meaning to the contemporary concept of community policing and to the extensive legislative framework of the new Police Services Act. This framework supports a wide variety of new instruments and procedures, including a formal declaration of policing principles. The framework comprises:
1. an open and accountable procedure for public complaints;
2. a mandatory program of employment equity;
3. new initiatives in training;
4. procedures for the disposal of firearms;
5. an easing of trade union membership restrictions on police officers;
6. the historic creation of the position of first nations constable;
7. the establishment of municipal police services boards, and
8. the creation of the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services.
In addition, a civilian-led special investigations unit has already received proclamation.
The development of regulations which implement many of these initiatives is well under way and will continue in the weeks ahead.
Proclamation of the Police Services Act represents an important accomplishment for many members of this House. In particular, I want to acknowledge the contribution made in this regard by former solicitors general, the member for Mississauga North in particular.
As that member and all members will know, this legislation must serve many and, at times, competing interests. It must aim to meet the objectives of both the public and the police, and it must encourage and promote their mutual respect, support and partnership.
The government believes that this act represents a fundamentally solid foundation for the advancement of policing and police-community relations in Ontario.
Mr Nixon: In responding to the Premier's important announcement, may I begin on a somewhat negative note by saying I object to the fact that the staff had a briefing for the press and many others before the statement was made in the House. He might compare that to some other official pronouncements here, but my own view is that when ministerial statements are made, that should be when the public announcement is made, and any further information should be made afterwards.
I think I can say, having consulted with my colleagues, that when the motion to establish the committee is put forward, we will second it. We believe that the approach to the people of the province should be non-partisan in that it is gathering their views and information.
In the second stage referred to by the Premier, debate in this House may very well move towards assisting the government, and particularly the Premier, in establishing Ontario's position in any discussions that take place, presumably under the auspices of the government of Canada, on proposed constitutional changes.
I have already expressed my concern with the timing of this. Granted the government has been in office just a few days over two months, but still we have missed some valuable time in co-ordinating an approach to selecting the views and hearing the views of the people of the province.
The Premier referred in his statement to the fact that we have an ambitious program, and we understand that in fact the committee, when reporting to the House, will be essentially giving a report of the views that its members discern as they go about the province listening to the citizens, but I regret that we could not have got this under way sooner. We are very much in support of the Premier's initiative in getting into all parts of the community in the most effective way possible, with as much innovation as possible, soliciting the views of people in all parts.
He has referred to the native community, the aboriginals, the Indians as they are called on the reserve of the Six Nations, the largest in Canada, which I have the honour to represent. I would suggest. for example, that in cases like that the committee go right to the Indian community on its invitation, sit down in the council house and not call them into the august splendour of the Amethyst Room. I believe that an approach in this regard can be a useful one.
The second thing I want to say in this connection, and I want to leave time for my colleague, is that it is essential that this not be some sort of a lightning rod or some sort of a sounding board for those people in the community who in the past have embarrassed the people of this province, who carry a fleur-de-lis in their hip pockets so they can walk on it. There has to be some way where we do not restrict freedom of speech but we see that there is a balanced approach so that the members from all parties are going to have access to the sensible citizens of this province, which is essential if we are going to assist the government of the day and the other provincial governments in achieving our common goal, and that is not only the preservation but the strengthening of our Confederation
Mr Curling: I must say it is a pleasure today to stand in the House and see the proclamation of the Police Services Act by the NDP government. We have requested this for some time and it is the result, as members know and as he has indicated, of the hard work by the public service and also the previous Liberal cabinet minister.
But I must say that I was extremely disappointed that the Solicitor General did not fulfil his major promise made in the Legislature earlier this year: that he would proclaim the Police Services Act and also bring in the necessary regulations to the act. The Solicitor General promised to fulfil this by the end of the year and he has not done so.
He announced earlier on that new regulations would have been done today. This means that the people will not receive the new regulations on issues such as the use of police provisions for force, racially discriminatory behaviour, a province-wide public complaints system, police pursuit guidelines and employment equity. Furthermore, the Solicitor General has not fulfilled the commitment to undertake broad consultation by the end of the year.
What he has done, basically, by not even bringing in new regulations is that we have the Liberal government that brought about a new model of the Police Services Act and he then put in place an old engine.
I want to ask the Solicitor General, when will he bring new regulations into this House?
Mr Harris: I want to respond to the statement by the Premier and the announcement of the legislative committee to deal with the Constitution.
First of all, I want to congratulate the Premier on the initiative, particularly from the viewpoint of the consultation that he undertook with the leaders of the other two parties, the Liberal Party and my own.
I want to congratulate him on seeking that input and on listening to that input and on reflecting that input in the terms of reference in the motion he has drafted for us to debate before we leave this Legislature for Christmas.
I want to share with him my view, and I believe a sharing of his view, that indeed Ontario has a very strong role to play, that all parties in this Legislature seek not only what is in the best interest of Ontario, but I believe are unanimous in their conviction that a strong country from sea to sea is in the interest of this province, ahead of everything else.
The Premier disappoints me, quite frankly, in a couple of areas. The desire to move forward here in Ontario in a spirit of co-operation and non-partisanship, I have applauded. The silly partisanship in the statement today I believe takes away substantially from the tone, from the attitude of the Premier, from the perspective that Ontario should be starting forward with in this debate. I do not want to dwell on that save to say I thought it was very silly.
I also want to say that in the consultation we discussed the secretariat, the support for the committee being made available through the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, and that this support, those resources, would be made available to the committee. That was my understanding and I think the Premier will recall I was very supportive of that and thought that made a great deal of sense.
I was disappointed in the process that the leader of the Liberal Party referred to today. The deputy minister, in response to a question about the paper that would be delivered to the committee at the end of January -- would that be developed in consultation with the other two parties and in consultation with the other members of the committee? -- said, "No, that will be a government paper." I would like to suggest to the Premier that there is still plenty of time to change that. It would be my view that the committee, in a non-partisan way, ought to direct and have considerable input into what will go into that paper, that it not be a government paper, not be an NDP paper, that it be a truly non-partisan committee paper that undoubtedly will be the working document.
I applaud the two-step process. We discussed this in our consultations and I believe there is a considerable amount of education necessary. I believe that we as legislators and the public of this province have to hear more than just, "We want a strong Canada." I think they have to understand what the west wants, what Quebec wants, what the maritime provinces want, as well as come to grips with what it is Ontarians believe is important in how our country operates.
In the discussions we had we did not talk about the nature of the committee. We talked about a select committee. Just as there is still time to have the committee direct the resources of a secretariat within the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, before we debate this motion tomorrow I make this offer to the Premier, in a spirit of true non-partisanship, in a spirit of offering to this Legislature, to this province and to this country: my party's willingness to step with the Premier in this and suggest that perhaps the format of the committee, instead of the traditional committee structure, might be four, four and four, with four members of each party, with a Chairman and two co-chairmen, one from each party, so that we would indeed be viewing this work in a non-partisan fashion and could go forward together.
The Speaker: Before beginning oral questions, members may recall that there were a couple of points of order and a point of privilege arising out of yesterday's question period. I undertook to review Hansard on these matters and I would like to report to the House.
The answers provided by the Honourable Jenny Carter, the Minister of Energy, to a question and a supplementary asked by the honourable member for York East, Gary Malkowski, were well within the average for time and the subject matter did not constitute the announcement of new government policy.
I have also reviewed Hansard in relation to the matter raised by the honourable member for York Centre, Gregory Sorbara. I find that this does not constitute a matter relating to privilege. There certainly was a point of disagreement, which disagreement appears to be quite clearly on the record.
Mr Nixon: I have a question of the Premier. It is our understanding from comments made by the Minister of Transportation that cabinet made a decision not to fund the construction, that is, the provincial share of the construction of the Red Hill Creek Expressway a week ago on 12 December. The regional council was informed of this decision Monday 17 December of this week. Hamilton city council has unanimously approved a resolution condemning the provincial government for its breach of trust in this regard, and it was unanimous in that the NDP members of the regional council withdrew from the vote.
Today a prominent city councillor in Hamilton, Brian Hinkley, revealed that he was informed of the cabinet decision Friday night 14 December after a meeting with area NDP members of the Legislature in the office of the Minister of Colleges and Universities. This was three days before the announcement was made public. Will the Premier comment on what I would consider a rather serious leak of cabinet information and a breach of trust?
Hon Mr Rae: I would agree with the Leader of the Opposition if that is indeed what took place. All I can say is that I have not talked directly to Alderman Hinkley, so I do not know whether that is what he said or indeed whether that is anywhere near what happened. What I do know, from my discussions with the Minister of Transportation, my understanding from the Minister of Labour and from the Minister of Colleges and Universities, is that that is not in fact the case, that there was no leak by any of them of cabinet information.
Obviously, I will continue to inquire to see if that is true. I would share the member's view entirely if it turned out that a leak of a cabinet decision had been made. It is true to say that the cabinet decision was made last Wednesday. If it was communicated prior to the announcement to the regional council in the way the Leader of the Opposition has ascribed to in the media, it would be a cause of concern for me because obviously the announcement was intended to be made in the way in which it was made, that is to say, by the minister on Monday.
An hon member: Insider information.
Mr Nixon: My colleague behind me has interjected the phrase, "insider information." In this instance, the decision not to proceed with the expressway has ramifications of financial proportions that are enormous, since there were very large industrial complexes planned to be serviced by this particular installation. Now of course this land has lost value tremendously in the eyes of those who might be interested in development nearby, beyond the area that would otherwise not be in the control of the escarpment.
Since there are tremendous fiscal and financial involvements and since the cabinet decision was made public in an inappropriate way -- what is somewhat galling, I suppose, to some of us, only to NDP and professed NDP local politicians -- surely the Premier is going to have to take some substantial and serious action in this regard. I wonder if he would indicate what his process of investigation will be beyond simply discussing it with his colleagues, with whom surely he has discussed it before now.
Hon Mr Rae: The Leader of the Opposition has in the course of his question made two allegations. The first allegation is to repeat the assertion that some people knew or heard definitively from ministers before anybody else. I have no reason to believe that is true. The second allegation, which is implicit in his question, is that somebody benefited from the decision.
The Leader of the Opposition made these two allegations, and with respect to the second I can only say to the leader that if he has any information which would suggest that anyone, anywhere either did or was able to take unfair advantage of this, I would ask him to bring it forward. Obviously, I will make inquiries as to whether this is true at all. But I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that allegations made in this House are fine, but I think it is important for us to assess whether or not they are true.
Mr Nixon: The tenor of the Premier's defence indicates clearly that he too considers this a very serious matter, so at least we are in agreement on all sides. It is clear that a cabinet decision was communicated prematurely to a super-select group of people, perhaps even an individual in Hamilton before it was communicated to the local government, which has since entered into a breach of trust resolution.
The Premier probably should wait to read it in the local press, but I am informed by the Hamilton Spectator that Mr Hinkley has said that the Minister of Colleges and Universities told him about this information in a meeting in his office on Friday, before the Monday on which it was communicated publicly.
I have no personal knowledge of this, but surely it is my duty and the duty of others to bring this to the attention of the head of the government. He is not the first head of the government who has expressed sincere and very strong views about these important matters. It now remains on him to communicate to us and the public at large what his judgement is.
I am prepared to accept from him his comment that he will investigate it personally. But I would ask him this: If there was any indication that the cabinet information was released prematurely -- I am not saying anybody made gain; I am saying that the possibility was clearly there and the honourable member must surely accept that is a fact -- that if the information is as I have described, will he tell me what his action will be?
Hon Mr Rae: All I can say is that the leader has made particular allegations, as he is entitled to do in this House. He has repeated information that was provided to him by a particular source. All I can tell him is that I will obviously investigate as to the truth of those allegations and report back to him as soon as possible.
INVESTMENT IN ONTARIO
Mr Kwinter: My question is to the Premier. The Premier will be aware of an editorial that appeared in the 17 December issue of Barron's, a highly respected US weekly financial publication of Dow Jones and Co. It has a circulation of about one million investment-minded readers internationally. The editorial, which was titled "Ontario Hydra: in Canada, a New Socialist Threat Raises Its Ugly Head," paints a very unflattering description of the prospects for Ontario under the New Democratic Party.
This is not a partisan issue. I am sure the Premier knows that I raise this issue because of a genuine concern that I have for the economic wellbeing of Ontario. In a week where events in the Middle East, in the Soviet Union, at GATT and many others are having far-reaching and massive effects on the global economy, the one issue that Barron's decided to feature in its editorial was the negative impact of the NDP on Ontario as a place to invest.
Could the Premier tell us what he and his government plan to do to bolster Ontario's international image as a good place to invest, and what he plans to do to counteract this negative perception that will be transmitted directly to at least one million current and potential investors?
Hon Mr Rae: We are going to continue to do what we are doing.
Mr Sorbara: And we are in serious trouble.
Hon Mr Rae: The member for York Centre does not agree with that approach, but I appreciate the question from the member for Wilson Heights.
I have met with a lot more business people in the last two months than I have over the last several years, I can tell him. I have met with literally hundreds of people from within the country and from outside the country. I have met with investors from Japan, with investors from Europe, with investors in this country. I have attempted my level best to explain to them that this government was democratically elected to fulfil an agenda with respect to protecting the environment and to advancing the interests of the people of the province, but that we continue to want to do business with the rest of the world.
I think our decision, which was criticized by that party's leader, for example, with respect to the British Gas purchase of Consumers' Gas, which was a controversial decision, was a decision that signalled, I think, very clearly to the business community that provided there was a benefit for the province, a benefit for the workers and the working people and the people of this province, we are prepared to do business and we are prepared to bargain hard, well and effectively. That was certainly the message the Treasurer and I took on our trip to New York, and that is the message I am going to be taking to business people wherever I meet them, and saying as clearly as I can.
I want to say to the honourable member for Wilson Heights that I appreciate his concern. I think one has to take with a grain of salt some of the things that are said in some of these publications. We are going to do the very best we can to talk seriously to business people about the kinds of alternatives and benefits there are to doing business with the province, which is a good place to invest, which has a good skilled workforce, which has a strong commitment to education and a strong commitment to good social programs. That is the commitment we make to the people of the province and to the business community around the world.
Mr Kwinter: The agent general in New York stated on 27 October that the financial community is understandably nervous about our government. She went on to say, "There is a socialist government in Ontario and that's completely foreign to the people here." The Premier knows that he must attract new investment in Ontario because investment creates jobs, something that this province desperately needs. In a Statistics Canada report today, economist Phillip Cross stated that what is worrisome about the current recession is that the decline in business investment is happening in new plant and equipment.
It is strange that given these acknowledged fears illustrated by this Barron's editorial and in other articles such as the one by David Frum that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology has frozen advertising in the European, Pacific Rim and US markets to promote Ontario as a good place to invest.
Normally the ministry places strategic ads in business and investment publications in these markets to help develop a positive investment image for Ontario's business abroad. According to ministry officials, however, the government decided to freeze strategic ad campaigns in these publications at least until the spring of 1991. As Ontario is facing its hardest winter since the depression, the government has decided that it does not need to attract new investment and new jobs to Ontario. Could the Premier tell us why.
Hon Mr Rae: The last statement that the member made in his question is simply untrue. I do not how I can say it more clearly than that. I mean, people can say these things but it does not make them true. He can say it over and over again and it still will not make it true. The fact of the matter, as we have conveyed as clearly as we can to the business community around the world, is that we are open for business.
I would remind the member for Wilson Heights to put this in some perspective. There is a serious recession going on in the United States. There is a serious recession going on in many parts of the world. There is a dropoff in investment that has been going on for some time, under his government as well as now, with respect to the recession that is ongoing.
We have indicated the confidence we have in our economy by being committed to a $700-million program. We are asking others to come on board so that we can make it over $1 billion. We have had several meetings with respect to new investments that are ongoing, but the member's statement, when he says, for example, that we are not interested in any investment in the province is patently untrue.
Any decision with respect to advertising in other jurisdictions, I can only assume because I hear the assertion made by the member, was based on a need for us to review the strategic position because some of that was not working before and we want to make sure that it works better. But that is the principle under which we are working and that is the principle under which we will continue to work.
Mr Kwinter: The Premier should be aware that half of the international promotions budget in the ministry has not been spent because of this imposed freeze. In fact, the money was not reallocated. I can understand if he felt that because of budgetary constraints he would take that money and put it somewhere else. The money has not been reallocated. It is just sitting there in the bank.
The Premier knows of the importance of Ontario's image in international investment markets and of the fears the election of a socialist government in Ontario has raised. This is why one of the first things he did after becoming Premier was to travel to New York to soothe the fears of investors. He also knows that investment creates jobs.
What is not clear is why another one of the first things that the Premier's government did was to freeze the major vehicle for our investment image abroad, and he has frozen it until the spring of 1991. The government has withdrawn from the field. It has created a vacuum and this vacuum is being filled by fears and editorials like the one I cited that appeared in the 17 December issue of Barron's. They have put a freeze on international advertising this winter, when our image and our economy need it the most. Ontario is frozen enough. Ontario needs new investment, new jobs, now.
Does the Premier have any specific plans to address how he is going to encourage investors in the United States and other parts of the world to put their money into Ontario, given these negative signals that are being sent out by the international financial media?
Hon Mr Rae: I hope the underlying assumption behind the member's question is not that when his leader or indeed he went travelling somehow that was not to assuage any fears, that was to drum up business, but when I go travelling down to New York with the Treasurer somehow that is to assuage fears. That is a very unfair way of describing the world and it is based on an assumption that when Liberals do things, they are the only ones who are entitled to govern, but when New Democrats do their job and do the job that we have to do, somehow it is based on a policy that is not there.
Surely we are entitled to review the advertising efforts that they made to see how successful they were and to see whether they can be improved. Surely we as a government are entitled to review that. I know it is very hard for Liberals to understand that sometimes we do not have to spend money on public relations and do not want to necessarily just sort of let her rip and let that spending go, but I can tell the former minister that there is no divine right to govern on that side. There was an election on 6 September.
I would suggest that on the odd day the Liberal government got some negative editorials in various publications from time to time, we never raised it and said, "This means that the entire business community around the world is afraid to do business." I think the member has to be very careful of the way in which he is seen to portray what is taking place. We are a democratically elected government. We are going to govern on behalf of the people of this province in a way that is fair to all the people of the province.
The Speaker: This is wonderful. New question, the leader of the third party.
Mr Harris: I want to agree with the member for Wilson Heights. It was a non-partisan question. Nothing has changed since 6 September. We are into our sixth year of non-investment, non-business, non-attractive governments in this province.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier. The Treasurer, when he announced the Fair Tax Commission, indicated it would take some 12 to 18 months after it was set up -- that is what he anticipated the time would be before he would receive input from that commission. Yesterday, on my question the Premier confirmed that the Fair Tax Commission will not be ready in time to provide any meaningful input into this budget and in fact on the 18-month time line it will report some time after the Treasurer's second budget, or at about that time.
Given that obviously it will not be in a position to have any meaningful input for this budget and that the Premier and his Treasurer have consistently referred, when we have asked about taxes and new taxes and school taxes, to waiting for the report of the Fair Tax Commission, is it safe to assume there will be no new taxes in the spring budget?
Hon Mr Rae: I think I will let Floyd do it.
Hon Mr Laughren: He said "Floyd" without an adjective -- what is the word? -- anything in front of it.
An hon member: Qualifier.
Hon Mr Laughren: Qualifying adjective: that is right.
The leader of the third party is not being quite fair. When the leader of the third party was in opposition with us he was always fairminded then and I am surprised that he has changed now. Anyway, the leader of the third party should understand -- I have tried to say this before -- that when the Fair Tax Commission is being set up in January that will not allow very much time to provide us with information and advice for the 1991 -92 budget.
However, between the time it is established and the ensuing budgets leading up to the end of 1993, we are confident that there will be interim reports coming to us with advice on various tax measures. It is our determination not to wait until the three years is up, or whatever length of time it takes the commission to report, to act on various tax measures. We will be taking their advice during that period as their interim reports come through to us.
Mr Harris: The Treasurer has indicated and his Premier has indicated that there is a need for an overhaul of the tax system. I believe he said that in the campaign and his Fair Tax Commission alludes to that: one tax, several that he suggested -- I guess it was the property tax for education -- should be eliminated completely. In his past he has said sales taxes are regressive and they should be eliminated. We know he does not like the employer payroll tax and that that one should be eliminated, and others that are there. But when we have asked those questions, he has said: "You will have to wait for the Fair Tax Commission to assess it all, and we want to come up with a fair way of collecting taxes."
What I am asking the Treasurer now, since it has been referred to him by the Premier, is that given nobody, including his Premier yesterday, expects that there will be time for any meaningful input into taxes, certainly not in a comprehensive way, is, should we not expect any new taxes by way of succession duties or minimum corporation taxes or other tax revenues until we have had a chance to assess the overall picture?
Hon Mr Laughren: In response to the leader of the third party, I think it is fair to say that for the 1991-92 budget we are not going to see an entirely revamped tax system in the province of Ontario. I think that would be presumptuous on our part and it would quite frankly be foolhardy to proceed at that kind of pace.
We want to take a very serious look at the tax system, at what the alternatives are and the various kinds of tax measures. I do not think it is fair for the leader of the third party to imply that there will not be any changes in the tax system for the 1991-92 budget. I hope there will be some, but at the same time we are cognizant of the fact that we are in a recession. We are cognizant of the fact as well that as expenditures climb, we are going to need new revenues. I am sure the leader of the third party will appreciate that we are engaged in some kind of balancing act, which is always the case, particularly when we are in a recession. I can assure him that when those tax measures are introduced and brought in in the new budget, they will be designed to make the tax system even fairer than it is now.
Mr Harris: The Treasurer said that his expenditures have climbed. Could he tell us why we should automatically assume, when everybody else's expenditures are declining, his should climb?
Hon Mr Laughren: First of all, I was not aware that everybody else's expenditures were declining. I have not seen any evidence of that. But also, I think that to be fair the leader of the third party would understand that there are some programs that were introduced, such as the Homes Now program introduced by the former government, whose costs are growing in the next couple of years. They become very substantial growth factors on the expenditure side. So I do not think it is fair to imply that everybody else's expenditures are declining. That is simply not the case.
We saw this year, for example, that welfare case loads went up very, very dramatically. That is an open-ended program. In a sense it is a kind of anti-recession package as well, as people get laid off and unemployment insurance benefits run out and so forth. Those are in themselves a kind of buffer against the recession. I do not think it is appropriate to say that it is expected of us that our expenditures should be declining in a time of recession.
Mr Harris: To the Attorney General: I am sure others were as disgusted as I was to read in the papers this morning that Ontario judges have thrown out over 2,400 cases against drunk drivers in this province because of the failure of the Attorney General to deal with the problem of court backlogs. My question to the Attorney General is, since he has not been able to effectively deal with it at this point, can he tell us two things: First, does the Attorney General plan to appeal all 2,400 cases that have been thrown out, and second, what plans does he have in place now to make sure this does not happen again?
Hon Mr Hampton: I share the concern that has been expressed by the leader of the third party with this problem. I want to point out to him very directly that this problem has been growing for a number of years. In fact, the exact decision that was handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada on 18 October setting time limits during which cases may remain in the court system was a case that arose in 1984 when there was a Conservative government in this province.
I want the leader of the third party to understand that we are trying now to deal with a problem that has been in the court system for, in some cases, four and five years. It is true that government should have done something about it two years ago, three years ago, even four years ago, so we have to now make up for lost time. We have appointed 27 new provincial division judges. We have appointed over 50 new crown attorneys. We are in the process of appointing over 200 court staff to handle the problem. We have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to consider another case that will give us more complete guidelines.
I say to the leader of the third party that we are now in the process of having to try to make up for mistakes that governments have made in the past, but I think we are doing a very good job under the circumstances.
Mr Harris: Does the Attorney General plan to appeal the 2,400 cases thrown out?
Hon Mr Hampton: I have said on previous occasions and I will say again that cases that are judicially stayed or dismissed and cases that involve serious criminal charges are reviewed by the crown law office to see if there are grounds for appeal. That is what we are doing whenever we face serious charges that have been dismissed as a result of the Askov decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr Harris: I assume from the response that drunk driving charges are not serious. If they are serious the Attorney General is going to appeal them. That is what he said. I do not know why it is so difficult for him to say, yes or no, "I am going to appeal them" or "I am not." The minister has said he is not going to appeal them, that he is only going to appeal serious charges.
Can the minister tell me why the Solicitor General is spending the amount of money he is spending and why police forces across this province are spending the money they are spending on the RIDE program, on trying to reduce impaired driving, particularly in this holiday season.
Does the minister not realize how demoralized police officers are, knowing that potentially half the charges they are going to lay will be thrown out? Does he not realize how demoralizing it is for people, and the negative impact this has on people, drinking and driving, with all the money being spent? There are the gains we have made over the period of the last years, since 1984 if you want to back that far, and now people can say it is a 50-50 chance they are going to get off anyway.
Since the minister has said to me he plans to appeal all the charges that are serious, does he consider the 2,400 impaired charges that were thrown out serious? If so, is he going to appeal each and every one of them so that there will be integrity in the program and a little morale back in the police force in this holiday season?
Hon Mr Hampton: I want to acknowledge again that we certainly appreciate the seriousness of the problem. However, I want to point out to the leader of the third party that if we were to try to appeal every charge that has been thrown out, we would merely be congesting the courts even more than they already are and leading to a more serious problem further down the road. The standards are good standards. We will look at every charge that is dismissed or stayed to see if there are good grounds for appeal. If there are grounds for appeal and we think we can win on appeal, we will appeal the charge.
However, we are not going to go through a public relations exercise and try to appeal charges that are obviously out of date by Supreme Court of Canada standards. That may look good in terms of being a public relations exercise, but it will do nothing to alleviate the problem and it will lead to more court congestion further down the road.
I want to say further that while we have great difficulty in making up for problems which occurred in the criminal justice system three years ago, two years ago, a year ago, we make the guarantee both to people out there in the law enforcement sector and the public that as we go forward from here, charges that are laid now will not be stayed due to delays in the court system. We will have the resources there to do the job and we will do a better job of managing the system so it does not happen in the future.
Mr Sorbara: I for one am glad to hear about the Attorney General's guarantee and his commitment to completely clear up the court backlog by next fall. I look forward to his resignation if he does not make that target.
Mr Sorbara: My question is to the Premier. The question concerns a commitment that the Premier made, not before the election when by his own admission he was not looking forward to forming a government, but a commitment that he made after forming his first cabinet.
On a daily basis in this province we are confronted with an ongoing litany of business failures and job losses. Most of these, as we all agree, arise from the deteriorating economic conditions that we are experiencing in this province. But in the case I am concerned about some 323 full-time employees and some 120 part-time employees were dismissed as a result of the purchase of the food chain Miracle Food Mart by the A&P food conglomerate.
Those employees were so concerned and aggrieved by their treatment in conjunction with this merger and this purchase that they demonstrated here in front of this Legislature. The Premier in confronting the workers of Miracle Food Mart gave his personal undertaking to "look into the matter." My question for the Premier is simple. Has he looked into the matter, what has he done in respect of that matter and when is he going to report to the workers and to this Legislature on that matter?
Hon Mr Rae: Following that impromptu session on the steps of the Legislature, I will say honestly to the member that I did start some inquiries. I will have to get back to the member with respect to precisely what the answers are.
Mr Sorbara: It is simply not satisfactory that when a Premier of this province gives an undertaking, even if it is impromptu, he will maybe fulfil that undertaking. He, as a lawyer, knows that when a lawyer gives an undertaking the Law Society of Upper Canada requires the lawyer to fulfil the undertaking. Now he undertook with those workers to look into the matter.
I want to tell him that the workers are looking into the matter and there has been no resolution of issues relating to notice and severance. There has been no employment adjustment committee set up, generally a matter that the Ministry of Labour does as a matter of course, to assist those workers with re-employment. There has been no response from the office of the Premier to a request for funds for their own future fund that they themselves have organized to assist those workers.
Those workers will be out of work this winter. The government has done virtually nothing to help them find new employment in the greater Toronto area. Why is the Premier willing to simply give an undertaking when there is a demonstration in front of the Legislature and then let it go by as soon as he gets back to his office?
Hon Mr Rae: There may have been a failure on my part, and if there has been I apologize to the member and I apologize to the workers involved. I will look into the matter as quickly as I can. As I say, I asked that certain inquiries be made. I did make that undertaking. I have a very vivid recollection of that exchange. As far as I know, I have not heard back from the workers themselves with respect to a request for a further meeting. If there has been a further request, obviously the Minister of Labour and I will respond to that. But let me make it very clear to the member that if he feels that I have let him down or anybody else down, he has my full apology.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Premier. I would like to ask the Premier, is the government of Ontario prepared to announce today that he will meet directly with the Ontario Nurses' Association and the Ontario Hospital Association and that he is prepared to play a role in seeing that enough money is provided for nurses that they will stay on staff at our hospitals, they will be paid, they will be treated and they will be seen as the critical foundation of our health care system when it comes to our institutions? Is the Premier prepared to do that today -- yes or no?
Hon Mr Rae: I appreciate the question from the honourable member for Parry Sound who has had a long-standing interest in this, as I have. I believe that I am the first Premier of the province to have ever spoken to a convention of the Ontario Nurses' Association, which I did a few short weeks ago. It was a good meeting and I was very pleased to have been invited and I think it was a good invitation.
In answer to the question from the member, I think the process is very clear. It is certainly understood by the ONA and by the OHA. First of all, there has been absolutely no request from either group for me to play such a role. The bargaining that is taking place is the professional bargaining that takes place. The fact that the government of Ontario obviously has an ongoing interest. that we represent the taxpayer and that we also have very clear policies with respect to equity is well known by both parties. They have met with the Treasurer. The Minister of Health is obviously taking a keen interest and we are obviously looking at these negotiations with considerable and great interest, but at this stage no one has asked me to intervene and therefore it is not my intention to do so at this stage.
Mr Eves: That is an interesting response indeed, because the question I just asked the Premier is word for word the very question that he asked the Premier on 11 January 1989, standing in this Legislature, almost two years ago today. At that time he was asking the Premier of the day the very same question, to become involved one year ahead of the time the nurses' contract ran out, some 14 months before it ran out. Is he going to do what he asked the previous Premier to do -- yes or no? Put up or shut up today, please.
The Speaker: I think that the experienced and well-respected member for Parry Sound does not normally use that type of vocabulary and may wish to rephrase.
Mr Eves: If the comment, "Put up or shut up," disturbs the Premier I would gladly retract that, withdraw that from the record. The question I have is still the same: Is he going to do today what he asked the Premier to do on 11 January 1989?
Hon Mr Rae: Mr Speaker --
Mr Eves: Now put up or shut up.
Hon Mr Rae: And a very merry Christmas to the member for Parry Sound too.
I appreciate the question and I want to say to the honourable member that I do not take particular exception to the language. He is entitled to be as blunt, as far as I am concerned, as he wants to be.
Let me say directly to the member that the circumstance -- if I recall, and I hope I am being fair in my recollection -- in January 1989 had to do with a specific request that came from the Ontario Nurses' Association itself in response to problems that were being experienced in critical care with respect to nurses who were not there because they had left the profession. He is quite right that at that point both he and I, as I recall, were very blunt about what we saw as the necessary response from the Minister of Health and the Premier. What we are looking at now is, if I may say so, a slightly different situation. I think it is a fair description to say that.
Mr Scott: Ah, it sure is. You're the Premier.
Hon Mr Rae: No. I say to the member for Parry Sound that the contract is now reaching its termination point. There is going to be a serious renegotiation of the contract, which process must be allowed to continue.
Mr Eves: You were asking the Premier of the day to interrupt it 14 months before it expired.
Hon Mr Rae: At this point I will say to the member for Parry Sound as clearly as I can, if I may respond to the question, that I have not received any request from the parties to intervene. Neither has the Minister of Health, to my knowledge; neither has the Treasurer. Obviously, if and when these requests are made, they will be dealt with. That is the spirit in which I am responding to the member's question.
Mr Sutherland: Today the Minister of the Environment released the discussion paper on environmental assessment process entitled, Toward Improving the Environmental Assessment Program in Ontario. I know there are many people in Ontario, and more particularly in my riding of Oxford, who have participated in the environmental assessment process who would like to have input on the development of a new process. My question to the minister is, what opportunities will the public and the people of Oxford have to provide input on the environmental assessment process?
Hon Mrs Grier: I am pleased to be able to tell the member and the House that the environmental assessment improvement program discussion paper, which I released today and which I may say was prepared by a task force established by my predecessor -- I want to acknowledge the work done by them and by the member for St Catharines in preparing this discussion paper. I recognize the need to move very quickly to make improvements to the Environmental Assessment Act, but I have referred the discussion paper to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee and asked it to undertake a consultation process and to make recommendations to me as quickly as possible.
Mr Sutherland: My supplementary, as the minister knows, deals with the issue of solid waste management. The number of areas in the province where that is becoming of concern is growing at a fast rate. While municipalities are responding positively to the initiatives of the Ministry of the Environment to reduce waste, requests for new landfill sites will be coming forward. Many of them will be going before the environmental assessment process.
What I would like to know from the minister, and what I think the people of Oxford, particularly the people of southwest Oxford who went through this process and probably the people of Woodstock and Orangeville who will go through a similar process, will want to know is, what assurance can the minister give the public that a new environmental assessment process will be fairer and faster for all the parties involved?
Hon Mrs Grier: The recommendations contained in the discussion paper are designed to do just that. They look at shortening the time frames, at reducing the number of steps involved in the environmental assessment process, at putting the planning and consultation part of the process up front before the actual formal environmental assessment is completed. I know that the environmental assessment advisory committee has already scheduled three public meetings, one in Ottawa, one in Toronto and one in Thunder Bay, and is prepared to hold further public consultation. Certainly it is my hope that every community facing an environmental assessment, for whatever reason, will be able to take advantage of the new and improved Environmental Assessment Act before the end of next year.
Mrs Fawcett: My question is for the Minister of Energy. I would like to draw the minister's attention to the inadequacies of the agreement between Ontario Hydro and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Electrical Power Systems Construction Association of Ontario.
Is the minister aware that 65 Ontario resident journeymen were laid off from the Darlington site on 28 November and another 20 were laid off just this past week? These taxpaying residents of Ontario were laid off before those tradesmen on the job from out of province. My question is, does the minister feel that Ontario Hydro and Ontario's Minister of Energy have a moral obligation to the taxpayers and workers of this province first, especially in view of the downturn in Ontario's economy?
Hon Mrs Carter: I was unaware of the situation the member opposite is describing. If what she is saying is the case, then I would deplore it as much as she would, and I will certainly see what else I can find out about this matter.
Mrs Fawcett: I am interested that the minister is in agreement that this is a deplorable situation, but I am wondering also, is the minister aware that these many out-of-province travellers are entitled to, and in fact receive, a tax-free allowance of $31 a day for each and every day that they work? Can the minister explain why in these economically depressed times we are giving away tax-free dollars to out-of-province workers while our own workers are being laid off? This is clearly irresponsible. Once again, does the minister, indeed this government, not have a moral and economic obligation to the taxpaying workers of this province? When will the minister intercede and put our journeymen back to work?
Hon Mrs Carter: This is another matter I shall have to look into.
DEPUTY MINISTER OF CULTURE AND COMMUNICATIONS
Mr Tilson: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Communications. I am sure the minister heard the horror story this morning of the carryings-on of his deputy minister. He will be aware that his recently appointed deputy minister, David Silcox, has set an all-time expense account record for a public official since coming to the ministry in 1987. We all heard about it, of course, on the news this morning and the response to the press this morning. It was unbelievably vague and naïve.
Among other things revealed by CBC Radio, the deputy minister, Mr Silcox, ran up $45,000 in travel and entertainment expenses in 1989. He spent $5,000 for theatre tickets over 18 months. His entertaining at home was staggering, with taxpayers picking up the tab for groceries, liquor and cut flowers. The total of this public official's expenses over a 19-month period was $75,000. Mr Speaker, that is probably more than what you make.
Now Mr Silcox has apparently destroyed these expense-account records regarding much of his spending. The records have been shredded. They are gone. These expenditures are the dawning of a new Watergate for this government. Does the minister condone the spending habits of his deputy, Diamond Dave Silcox, and his deep-sixing of receipts? What specifically has he done to control this man? He is out of control.
Hon Mr Marchese: Three things: One, as I understand it, there have been expenses which have been audited and the auditor has cleared those expenses. Once that is done, those receipts are no longer kept, and that is according to the rules as I understand them. That has been done. In my opinion they are excessive, but it has been done in accordance with the rules as we all understand them.
Since I have come into this ministry, I want to tell the member across from me that I have said to my staff that I expect the staff to do things as judiciously as possible, and when we travel we are frugal. When I travel, I am. My expenses are limited to the basic needs and I expect the same of all the members. I expect and I anticipate that this is what has happened since I have been in my ministry and it will continue in that way. I do not believe that this response is either vague or naïve.
Mr Tilson: I cannot believe this minister is condoning these expenses. This deputy minister should be fired. Given the clear void in overall government policy that permitted Diamond David Silcox to cut such a wide swath through some of the finest local restaurants, theatres and hotels, not to mention his foreign travels, is he, as minister, who must be clearly embarrassed -- he has got to be embarrassed by this -- prepared to strongly recommend to his colleagues, in particular to the Chairman of Management Board, that tough new rules on expense accounts must be brought in for the entire public service, and will you endeavour to find out from your deputy the exact date that he destroyed these particular records?
Hon Mr Marchese: I do not believe that in my comments I have condoned those expenses incurred by the deputy. Much of this happened in a time prior to my time, under a previous government. What I have said in terms of what I have done is to say that once I came into this ministry, what I have said was that I expected the deputy and all the others to watch their expenses, to be frugal in their expenses and to do everything judiciously. This is what I have done.
As to the rules, I said that I would look into the guidelines and make sure that people are adhering to those guidelines, and if they need to be clarified, I will do so, and if they need to be toughened up, we will look at that. I have said that to the press and I say this to the member.
Mr Silipo: My question is for the Minister of Labour. The minister, I know, is aware of the many concerns that injured workers have with respect to the Workers' Compensation Board and I could ask a number of questions around that, but today I want to just focus in on two aspects.
One of those is section 45(a) of the Workers' Compensation Amendment Act that was passed by the previous government, the infamous deeming provisions. That section allows the WCB to reduce the benefits of seriously injured workers by pretending that these injured workers have earnings which they do not in fact have. This policy of deeming threatens to condemn injured workers to a lifetime of poverty in order to keep the WCB's costs down and also reduces the incentive to make workplaces safer.
I would like the minister to reassure workers that the hated deeming provisions of Bill 162 will be removed from the act.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I thank the member for his question. This is indeed a difficult question for our government as we were saddled with a piece of legislation, Bill 162, which we fought in opposition. Let me say without hesitation that our government feels exactly the same way about deeming now as we did while in opposition in this House. We do not like it. It is wrong. It punishes those who need help the most. We must find an alternative way to fairly compensate injured workers and get them back to productive employment.
We do not believe, however, that hasty changes to the Workers' Compensation Act are advisable. There are many things about the act that need to be changed, changes that will benefit both injured workers and employers. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past and do half a job of reform.
But I am pleased to report that the corporate board of the Workers' Compensation Board has recently adopted a policy on interpretation of section 45(a) that effectively eliminates deeming when an injury prevents a worker from returning to his or her pre-injury job. This policy will be reviewed no later than a year from now and we hope at that time to have a much better alternative to deeming and the development of future legislative action.
Mr Silipo: The minister, I am sure, also knows that it is not just fair compensation for injured workers that is important, but also rehabilitation that returns them to meaningful jobs. The minister has also heard, I know, the many complaints about the Workers' Compensation Board's poor rehabilitation efforts. Does the minister plan to push the Workers' Compensation Board into improving its rehabilitation efforts?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Both workers and employers are generally dissatisfied with the board's rehabilitation efforts, even though many of the board's rehabilitation staff are very skilled and dedicated people. I believe there are simply not enough personnel to do an effective job in this area and I hope that in the new year the new members of the board, whom we are appointing now, along with the existing board members, will come to grips with this problem.
I want to say as well that we will be closely monitoring and watching the reinstatement and re-employment provisions of the act and how they are enforced. We believe that most employers will honour their obligation to take back workers who are injured in their employment, but we will be looking for quick enforcement if an injured worker is denied these rights to re-employment. The best rehabilitation is getting a worker back to his or her job, or if that is not possible because of the injury, a comparable job with no loss of earnings.
Mr Offer: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I take exception to that type of question where the minister has responded with a clear change in policy. He has not allowed us, as the opposition or members of the third party, to respond to what is clearly a ministerial statement that is clearly a change in the existing legislation under the Workers' Compensation Act. I believe my rights as a member have been prejudiced by this type of question and answer, where the minister is being given the opportunity through the back door of indicating what might be new government policy on a very crucial matter under the Workers' Compensation Act. I do not believe that is a proper exercise of the minister's right to make a statement, nor of the member who has probably been asked to make that statement so that the minister can get that particular issue in at this time.
The Speaker: I would be pleased to review the matter. I listened quite intently above the noise, and while I do not believe it is a point of order, I will be more than pleased to take a look at Hansard and report back to you later.
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION
Mr Sola: My question is directed to the Chairman of Management Board. I bring to the attention of the House the words of Frank Rooney, the managing editor of the magazine of Ontario public sector workers. In the November edition, I quote, "OPSEU's successful ads and forums contributed to the election of the NDP government." He goes on to quote OPSEU board member Ron Martin, "Now our union enters the halls of Parliament and is treated with respect."
The kind of respect accorded OPSEU thus far is quite different from the respect this government has shown the laid-off workers of this province, the taxpayers and indeed the majority of people in this province. OPSEU gets action, where the laid-off workers get platitudes. As we have seen, OPSEU was able to meet with the Minister of Community and Social Services to demand a hold on the deinstitutionalization program, which was granted before the minister consulted with affected groups or individuals. Does the minister feel that her position as a former negotiator for OPSEU has contributed to the disproportionate attention that group is getting from cabinet, or is it because of all of OPSEU's help in electing her party?
Hon Ms Lankin: Quite frankly, my ex-colleagues from OPSEU tell me they are not getting enough attention by this new government. The assertion the member makes, I think, is invalid. I think I bring to my role in this job an understanding of a number of issues that I think is of help to the government with respect to understanding issues in the public service. I believe that I am not a unilateral person, that I have more to me than my past work experience and that I am making a valuable contribution. I believe the member's assertion is incorrect.
Mr Sola: As the person charged with representing the province's interests and protecting the public purse in negotiating with OPSEU, does the minister feel that her position poses a conflict of interest in bargaining with that group on behalf of the government and as Chairman of Management Board, and if not, why not?
Hon Ms Lankin: In fact, I do not see it as a conflict. I think I bring to this job skills in negotiations, a background and an expertise that few chairs of Management Board have had before me. I think that those skills and understanding the economic conditions, what has to go on at a bargaining table, how to arrive at a negotiated settlement, how to read the world of arbitration, in this case how to take very seriously the responsibility of taking care of the public purse, is the responsibility that has been charged to me. I ask the member to judge by my actions. I ask him to look as things unfold and we will talk about it at that point in time.
Hon Mr Rae: I have an answer that I would like to give to the member for York Centre. It turns out, as luck would have it, that my staff have been far more diligent and aware of what has been going on than I have. I would like to respond directly to his question as it has been referred to me.
Several hundred employees at the Miracle Food Mart warehouse were laid off, members of the Teamsters union. We have had correspondence from some lawyers as well as contact between my office staff and many of the individuals facing layoff, in particular Mr Payne who was in repeated contact with our office. Once it became clear that issues were related to rights enforceable under the Labour Relations Act, we referred correspondence to the Minister of Labour. The propriety of layoffs and the question of who is going to be protected and how they are going to be protected has in fact been taken to the Ontario Labour Relations Board and is now scheduled for hearing in January. As the former minister would understand, given that it is now at hearing, it is not possible for me to interfere.
From the company's point of view, there is no issue simply because it is its argument that A&P did not buy the warehouse part of the Miracle Food Mart operation. The Teamsters union, which is the union in question -- I think some of the people who have been in touch with the member are what might be described as members of the union who have a different point of view perhaps, or are at least putting forward an independent perspective. But the Teamsters union is claiming successor rights under its collective agreement, and the question of successor rights is going to be determined at a hearing in January under the Ontario Labour Relations Act.
Mr Sorbara: As it turns out, the Premier is now reporting what the situation is from the perspective of the information that the Ministry of Labour has and information given to me by some of these workers. I simply want to tell the Premier that it seems rather odd in the circumstances that notwithstanding the fact that some matters are before the Labour Relations Board under section 70 of the Labour Relations Act, the government has not taken the opportunity to do two things that it can and should be doing.
The first thing that it can and should be doing is to set up urgently the standard kind of employment adjustment committee, which the Ministry of Labour has great expertise in setting up, to assist workers who are not going back to work. The second thing that the government could be doing and probably should be doing in this case is responding positively to the workers' demands for some financial assistance to their future fund.
I am simply asking the Premier at this point to give the same sort of undertaking that he gave to those workers, and that is, would he urgently respond to the question of the workers with respect to an employment adjustment committee and some funding for their future fund that will help them in this time of very severe crisis?
Mr Curling: That's reasonable.
Hon Mr Rae: What the member is saying is not unreasonable. I will certainly discuss it with the Minister of Labour because it is clearly an area that falls under his responsibility. I certainly take his suggestions very seriously this time, as I always do.
The Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
Mr Harris: On a point of order. Mr Speaker: I believe that the member for Hamilton East, the Minister of Labour, inadvertently misled the House when he referred to the Workers' Compensation Board, that there would be new appointments made early in the new year and that they would be carrying out the new policy. It sounded to me a lot like there would be some partisan New Democratic Party appointments to the WCB. I know the Premier has said there will be a new consultative process both pre and post. I have not heard of any consultation from the Premier about these new appointments. All I have heard is that the process will not be ready till next spring, and I wonder if the Minister of Labour might want to correct the record on that.
The Speaker: That is not a point of order, but certainly is a point of interest which I gather has been heard by the Minister of Labour.
USE OF TIME IN QUESTION PERIOD
Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My point of order is this: We have just extended question period by three or four minutes and I feel that my privileges have been violated. I am wondering if in the interest of the season and the fact that I have a question I know the Premier would have wanted the opportunity to answer, you would extend the same privilege to the third party that you just extended to the government and the official opposition.
The Speaker: It is really quite fascinating. The opposition enjoys a bonus in that there is a reply and a chance for a supplementary outside of the 60 minutes allotted for questions and answers and then complains. I am sure that the member's intense interest in question period will he reflected in her attendance tomorrow.
Mr Eves: On a different point of order, Mr Speaker: Under standing order 31(a) there is a period of the day set aside for ministerial statements. Earlier this afternoon during question period, I believe the Minister of the Environment really issued a ministerial statement about the release of her discussion paper on environmental assessment review in response to a question from the member for Oxford. I would ask you to look into this matter, Mr Speaker, and see that the rules are adhered to in this place hereafter about that standing order.
Mr Elston: On the same point, Mr Speaker, I think that probably we would not be as aggressively pursuing this line of points of order if it were not that this has happened on more than one occasion and seems to be part of the strategic use of the rules of the House, or in fact misuse of the rules of the House by the governing party. They have an opportunity so that we as critics, or the critics among our party members, can have a chance to reply to these new statements, these new policy decisions made by the minister in his or her capacity as leader of a department.
The standing orders are quite clearly designed to allow the opposition parties to provide the public with a more balanced view of the announcement. They choose to use their printed and pre-set and then pre-established answers to deliver statements of policy that we as an opposition have no opportunity to critically analyse, or on occasion, as we have done in this sitting, agree with. I think it really does not sit very well with us as opposition members when we find that sort of misuse of our standing orders and the time of the House going on on a regular and now very frequent basis.
The Speaker: First of all, I am always pleased to consider every point of order raised. I will again today, as I have in the past, review the matter raised and will be more than pleased to report back to you at my earliest convenience. I think the members know full well, and it is probably of benefit to all the members of the House, that there is no rule to prevent a person from reading a question and reading a supplementary or reading an answer, reading from material for a response. There is no rule against that.
Hon Mrs Grier: Mr Speaker, I would like to respond to the point raised by the member for Parry Sound as a point of order. I would like to set the record straight. On 22 November, I informed the House that I would be releasing the environmental assessment --
Mr Eves: This is the Speaker's job, Ruth. You're not the Speaker. You're the Minister of the Environment.
Mr Scott: Not permissible under the rules.
Mr Sorbara: The government House leader speaks on these matters.
Mr Stockwell: You can't debate a point of order.
The Speaker: One moment; I am sorry. I realize that the tiredness is helping to create frayed nerves. I understand that. At the same time, I intend to maintain order in this chamber. I will entertain points of order and privilege to hear whether in fact they are points of order and privilege.
Hon Mrs Grier: In the ministerial statement in this House in November I indicated that I would be releasing a discussion paper on the Environmental Assessment Board.
Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is not a point of order.
The Speaker: Will the member for Etobicoke West take his seat, please. Our procedure in this House is to entertain one point of order at a time. I will know whether it is a point of order or not after I have heard it.
Hon Mrs Grier: I made a ministerial statement with respect to the release of the discussion paper on the environmental assessment process. The member for Oxford in his question today acknowledged the release of the paper and asked me a question concerning its contents.
The Speaker: To the Minister of the Environment, the member earlier raised the point. I said that I undertook to review it and I will report back to the House as soon as possible.
Do we have any other further points of order or can we conduct our normal business?
Mr Offer: I think we should start all over with members' statements.
The Speaker: Shall we turn the clock back and start at 1:30?
Hon Miss Martel: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On the point of order that is on the floor, I think --
Mr Sorbara: The Speaker is going to rule on it.
Hon Miss Martel: But I also have a right to make a comment before he makes a ruling, and I intend to do that because we went through this yesterday.
The Speaker: The experienced members --
Mrs Sullivan: Petitions.
The Speaker: I may start my own petition.
The experienced members may recall that the Speaker has a duty to hear from any member of the House on the same point of order before being able to ascertain whether it is a point of order and should be considered. What I would appreciate is additional information and not a repetition of anything said to this point, and that it be kept brief so that we can get on with our work.
Hon Miss Martel: The point that I wish to raise on this point of order is the following: I have noted very carefully that every time the House leader for the official opposition raises this, it happens to be in conjunction with a question on this side that appears to have gone fairly long. I think the real problem is that they are unhappy that the question has gone long and raise it through that matter.
I carefully looked at the question and answer that went on yesterday between my colleague the Minister of Energy and the person who raised the question and could not find anywhere in there any matter that related to government policy. I suggest the same is here today and that we should just get on with the business and quit whining about long questions.
The Speaker: I made the observation earlier and I also made an invitation that if the three House leaders have a concern about how question period is progressing, I would be most delighted to meet with the three House leaders in my office at their earliest convenience to discuss the length of time of questions and answers and how question period generally is developing. I am most pleased to do that today if they wish. That is an invitation open to the three House leaders.
Mr Scott: Mr Speaker, I would like to be heard on this point of order as well. I would not ordinarily do it, but the government obviously regards it as appropriate to have more than the House leaders speak to the point of order, and if this is a new regime that is satisfactory to the government and the Speaker, I think we should all be careful to take advantage of it in the appropriate place. So I am the second speaker, after the House leader --
Mr Sorbara: Third
Mr Scott: -- third, on the point of order and I intend to exercise, subject to your views, Mr Speaker, my right.
I think the point of order that was raised had nothing to do with the time expended in asking the questions or the time expended in giving the answers, though that might provide a second point of issue.
Mr Fletcher: I'm next.
Mr Scott: Yes, the member is next. That seems to be the way the new government wants to do it, except they are next, actually.
The real thrust of this point of order is that whether the question raised is in written form or not, its objectionable nature is that it is a statement of government policy presented in question period by a supporter of the government precisely to ensure that no opposition member will be in a position to comment on it. That is the danger in this process and I ask you to bear that in mind when you consider the point of order that was raised by the House leader. I want you to know, Mr Speaker, that I want to associate myself with my House leader in advancing this point and I am grateful for the opportunity to address the House in this debate.
The Speaker: To the member for St George-St David, we are not conducting a debate, but the point the member raises is central and it is something I have already given an undertaking on. I will be reporting back to the House tomorrow. I understand the seriousness of the point which is raised. I am quite prepared to --
Mr Scott: Can I respond?
The Speaker: No. What I stated very clearly before, which I guess bears repeating, is that a point of order was raised. If other members have new information to contribute, without repetition, to assist the Chair in reaching a deliberation on this, I am pleased to entertain it. On the other hand, all of us should be mindful of the clock. We have other business to conduct. Now, if members have anything additional that I have not heard about that is germane to this and can be succinct, I would be delighted to hear it.
Mr Harris: In the spirit of Christmas and having two-two-two comment on this, I will be very brief.
Mr Speaker, I thought, and perhaps I am wrong, that you were going to take under advisement whether or not the matter raised was a point of order. I would respect that. I thought the arguments that were put forward by the member for St George-St David were very cogent, if in fact it was a point of order. I would suggest that any debate now should be on whether it is a point or order or not. Once you have ruled that it is a point of order, then we can all have our cracks at whether it is a valid point. I would suggest we reserve that debate for tomorrow.
The Speaker: Stay tuned for tomorrow.
Mr Mahoney: I wish to table these petitions that are signed by 625 constituents of Mississauga West requesting financial assistance to preserve Mississauga's Creditview wetlands in their natural state.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Mr Jackson from the standing committee on estimates presented a report and moved its adoption.
The Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 59(c), the report of the committee is deemed to be received and the supplementary estimates therein are deemed to be concurred In.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT / COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES SOCIALES
Mrs Caplan from the standing committee on social development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Mme Caplan du comité permanent des affaires sociales présente le rapport suivant et propose son adoption :
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill 12, An Act to amend the Education Act.
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 13, An Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act, 1988;
Projet de loi 13, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1988 sur le Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Bill 12 and Bill 13 ordered for third reading.
Le projet de loi 13 devra passer à l'étape de troisième lecture.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF SCARBOROUGH ACT, 1990
Mr Owens moved first reading of Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF ETOBICOKE ACT, 1990
Mr Henderson moved first reading of Bill Pr15, An Act respecting the City of Etobicoke.
Motion agreed to.
ASSESSMENT STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Kormos, on behalf of Ms Wark-Martyn, moved first reading of Bill 36, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Assessment.
Hon Mr Kormos: I am sending the bill down to you with page Ryan Fortner from Welland, Mr Speaker.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Kormos: By way of explanation, this bill would allow the Ministry of Revenue to prepare the equalized assessments and equalization factors of municipalities and localities on a quadrennial basis. The first one would take place in 1993. However, if a municipality or locality experiences a major change in its tax base or merged area calculations are required to support county restructuring, the Ministry of Revenue shall then determine the relevant equalized assessment and equalization factor.
The Ministry of Revenue would no longer be required to carry out annual mini enumerations. Complementary amendments, of course, are going to be made to the Ontario Unconditional Grants Act and the provisions dealing with apportionment have been transferred once again, of course, from the Ontario Unconditional Grants Act to the Municipal Act.
CITY OF NORTH YORK ACT, 1990
Mr Harnick moved first reading of Bill Pr16, An Act respecting the City of North York.
Motion agreed to.
BOROUGH OF EAST YORK ACT, 1990
Ms S. Ward moved first reading of Bill Pr23, An Act respecting the Borough of East York.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF YORK ACT, 1990
Mr Rizzo moved first reading of Bill Pr51, An Act respecting the City of York.
Motion agreed to.
MOTOR BOAT OPERATORS' LICENSING ACT, 1990
Mr McLean moved first reading of Bill 37, An Act to provide for the Licensing of Motor Boat Operators.
Motion agreed to.
Mr McLean: The bill applies only with respect to motor boats propelled by engines of at least 25 horsepower. It prohibits the operation of such a motor boat by any person who does not have a motor boat operator's licence or by any person who has not completed a motor boat operation course. The bill requires every person to carry a licence while operating a motor boat to which the bill applies and to produce it when required to do so by a police officer. If unable or unwilling to produce the licence, the motor boat operator is required to give the police officer his or her correct name and address.
The bill creates the offences of careless operation of a motor boat and impaired operation of a motor boat. A person who contravenes any of the provisions of the bill or certain regulations made under the bill is liable to a fine not to exceed $1,000, and in some cases to have his or her motor boat operator's licence suspended or revoked.
PLANNING AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Callahan moved first reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Planning Act, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Callahan: The purpose of this bill is to give a discretion to municipal councils when a rezoning has been granted in the event that development does not proceed within a specified period of time, and if good reason is not given for that, they may consider revoking the rezoning.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 15, An Act respecting Land on Manitoulin Island, Barrie Island and Cockburn Island;
Bill 16, An Act to amend the Municipal Elections Act and certain other Acts related to Municipal Elections.
Mr Laughren moved resolution 8:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing 1 January 1991 and ending 30 April 1991, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Hon Mr Laughren: The amount that is dealt with here is approximately $14 billion.
Mr Conway: I would like to take a few moments this afternoon to participate in the interim supply motion. I will not be long; I hope to be no more than 20 or 30 minutes. I know that my friend opposite has memories of interim supply debates that took infinitely longer than I expect this one will take this afternoon.
As the old and returning members certainly will want to share with new members, this supply motion is always a very appropriate time for individual members to raise matters, as I said the other day, in the tradition of the old maxim of British parliamentary government: no supply without redress of grievances.
I might just start by observing something in connection with what the Treasurer indicated. I did not hear him, but was it $14 billion? Was that the amount? The motion reads in part, to authorize "the Treasurer to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments."
It reminded me of a discussion earlier this afternoon about the expenditures, particularly on the expense side, of certain individuals within the public service. I noticed that the leader of the government was anxious, and I thought quite rightly so, to perhaps point a finger elsewhere.
I would just begin my remarks today by encouraging the member for Nickel Belt to do as good a job as he can and better than perhaps some of his predecessors did in constraining the enthusiasm of some people within the public service, both the elected and the professional public service, when it comes to the expenditure of public dollars.
I think back to some efforts I undertook around the cabinet table in five years. I think of a couple of spectacular failures that blot my copybook in a way that will embarrass me all the days of my life, and I would encourage the Treasurer to succeed where I failed. If he wants a few specifics, I will be happy to share those with him in the privacy of another place.
I would not want to prejudice any particular individual but, listening to some of the discussions around this place over 15 years, I am always struck by how elected officials are at least held to account for what they do and do not do; some of what we have done is not always easy to explain and some of it is downright stupid, and I have done some stupid things on occasion.
By and large, our public service in this province is an extremely good and professional one, and I would not want to be misunderstood in this respect, but I can think of cases where the spending is so spectacular and so persistent, some of it in the name of -- I will not say what, because I will give away my case, but I think my friend the member for Nickel Belt knows whereof I speak. As I will vote to give him the authority to pay these accounts in the amount of $14 billion, I encourage him to do the very best job he can do in that connection.
I have just a few things to mention, some of which are old saws. Gasoline prices, I want to say again, and home heating prices are a matter of growing concern to the residents of Renfrew county, whose honour it is -- whom I represent --
An hon member: Whose honour is it?
Mr Conway: No. I am afraid that is not what I wanted to say.
An hon member: Whom we are honoured to serve.
Mr Conway: I want to say to my friend the Treasurer that people in my part of Ontario, and I suspect people in his part of Ontario, are mad about gasoline prices and about home heating prices. At home this weekend I was hearing from more than a few people who had a visit from the oil truck, which outside of wood is really the only alternative they have. They are upset about the year-over-year inflation they are experiencing; it is double-digit. It is outrageous, in some cases, what they are paying.
I happen to live in the city of Pembroke where we have the natural gas option, and that for purposes of space heating is a very attractive one, but in rural eastern Ontario and throughout much of northern Ontario people are upset about what they believe to be unacceptably high levels of gasoline and home heating costs. Statistics Canada, I think, reported the other day that the year-over-year -- November 1990 over November 1989 -- increased costs on that account are running at 25%.
The Treasurer need not be told about the inflationary push of that. I know he would have read in the December edition of Sudbury Business an article in which the editor makes very clear what the expectations are in the editorial rooms of that august northern journal and what the views of the constituents of the Sudbury basin are reported to be. I know we can expect that the Treasurer and his friend the Minister of Mines are going to do what they said they would do about moderating the prices of gasoline and home heating fuels, the costs of which are skyrocketing and the result of which is an intolerable inflation to people in eastern, northern and rural Ontario everywhere this winter when, God knows, there are a whole host of other pressures that make life difficult enough.
Enough said on that. I know I for one will be watching this account over the coming weeks and months, and I will say again that on this lifetime commitment of the northern New Democratic Party, I will expect some action beyond what the very nice member for Peterborough has had to say, which I am sure they will not want anyone repeating north of Barrie and which I promise not to repeat north of Barrie for at least the next two weeks.
In a related area, in my part of Ontario, Highway 17 has been slated for a substantial upgrade. The predecessor government indicated that while it would not be able to accede to the request of many in the community for four-laning between Ottawa and Pembroke, it was committed by the previous government that there would be four-laning of that major highway through eastern Ontario, running westward out of the national capital, to Arnprior by 1996-97.
There has been a concern in the community -- one that was expressed to me at a meeting of municipal leaders in Arnprior just a few weeks ago -- as to whether or not that commitment of the previous government would be kept. I simply wanted to convey to the Treasurer the hope and the expectation that his government will move forward with expedition and with effect over the coming weeks and months to begin to fulfil the minimum commitment of the predecessor government. There is some expectation that in fact it might even be enriched by the New Democratic Party in government.
In my part of the province, we have very limited public transit, I believe we do not have any passenger rail to speak of, there are not things like OC Transpo and there is no publicly subsidized Gray Coach. We have very few options. Our highway system is absolutely critical, both for commerce and for individual transport. The people of Renfrew county are very much hoping and expecting that the commitment to four-lane Highway 17 at least to Arnprior will be kept. I simply convey that request to my friend the Treasurer.
In talking to farmers in eastern Ontario recently, what happened in Brussels a very few days ago is very much on the minds of farmers in Renfrew county. I know the very esteemed member for Hastings-Peterborough, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, is very aware of this. But I cannot do justice to the concern of people in the dairy industry, for example, where they see and feel the results of the uncertainty and the instability in these matters of international trade where in recent times we have seen the industrial milk quota halved in its value.
The Treasurer will know only too well that there are great issues and grave concerns which attach to the failure of the talks at Brussels. I see that the Minister of Agriculture and Food has indicated he is going to be trying to arrange a meeting of ministers at the provincial and federal levels early in the new year. I would certainly encourage the government to proceed with that.
It is strange to me that so many people in the Legislature and outside do not seem to understand the gravity of the issues at risk in the Uruguay round of talks. The impacts are potentially devastating and rather immediate. We do not have a great deal of time. Certainly on behalf of the farm community in Renfrew county, I implore the Treasurer, together with his colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food and others in the executive council to take every step necessary to protect the interests of the province of Ontario in these matters, which I suspect are going to be well advanced by the time we reconvene here around Easter.
In another area of local and regional interest, I simply want to draw the Treasurer's attention to the growing concern in municipalities in eastern Ontario about social assistance costs. I do not intend to take a great deal of time on that this afternoon, but I do want to reiterate a point I made earlier, and that is that in my discussions with mayors and reeves and clerk-treasurers and welfare administrators across the county of Renfrew and throughout much of eastern Ontario, there is alarm, increased alarm, about the dramatic, almost exponential growth in the case load of their municipalities in social assistance and of course the consequent cost to the municipalities -- that is, their 20% share in most cases, I believe, and perhaps all cases in my part of the province -- of the total social assistance cost at the local level.
I was looking at an article in the Renfrew Mercury of late October and saw, for example, that in the town of Renfrew, a community which has been hard hit in recent months by layoffs and shutdowns, that the local share in 1987 was $240,000. In 1990 that local share is expected to rise to $330,000. That is an increase of $90,000 in just three years. I do not know what the percentage works out to be, but it is very, very substantial.
In another community in the county, I know that in Bromley township, which is almost entirely rural, that township spent $9,800 in 1980 in support of its share of social assistance. According to these data, the local share in 1990 is not going to be $9,800 but possibly around $32,000. That is roughly a three-and-a-half-times increase. What that does to the local tax burden in a rural township, I do not need to tell honourable members, but it produces a whopping increase in terms of the local share, as my honourable friend from Moose Creek would know better than certainly most of us and probably better than myself.
A three-and-a-half-times increase in the local share of the social assistance account in a rural municipality in a decade is a trend that I think we have to be concerned about. I do not suggest we roll back the reforms, far from it, but I think we have to understand what the provincially initiated reforms actually involve. For example, in talking to Les Parker, who is the welfare administrator for this municipality, he told me while I was in government that he felt that many in Toronto, and certainly in the senior bureaucracy of the Legislative Assembly, simply did not understand what the implications over time of the SARC implementation were going to be. We all as one voice sang Te Deums of praise to SARC, and I certainly do not intend to retreat from that now.
As I said to my friend the Treasurer the other day in the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, I would be interested to know, not now but at an appropriate time, what the best estimate of the Ontario Ministry of Treasury and Economics is of the full annualized cost of phase 1 implementation of the SARC reform. I know it is being prepared. My guess is that it will be substantially higher than a certain department suggested to the Ministry of Treasury and Economics a few years ago. There is nothing new in that. But I think we are going to have to be honest with ourselves, and more especially we are going to have to be honest with municipalities, in talking about the real cost of reforms such as this, which are universally applauded.
When the tax bills are sent out in the next little while and people start to see what the costs are going to be, I know that while everyone will expect that all politicians, local, provincial and national, are going to be animated by the higher instincts of social justice, there is going to be a real expectation that the kind of local impact that I can report from rural municipalities in Renfrew will be ameliorated to a very substantial extent by senior government because if it is not done, there is going to be a reaction at the local level that is perhaps going to set back many of the reforms in the name of social justice that I think we all want to see accomplished.
Again on a matter of health policy, I just want to make a couple of observations. On Friday, when I was driving through Pembroke to Eganville, I heard the Treasurer commenting on his meeting with the Ontario Hospital Association. I would want him to know that in the quiet of my car as the sun washed across the windshield, I smiled benignly at what the radio was purporting my friend the member for Nickel Belt as saying to the press upon the completion of his meeting with the Ontario Hospital Association.
I do not want to make too much of this except to say we have all said, and my friends on the Treasury bench perhaps more eloquently and more passionately than anyone else, that the way in which we treat nurses professionally and the way in which we pay nurses must change in this province. I agree. I will accept some criticism that perhaps we did not do as much in our time in office as we might have done; so you can imagine the anticipation that is out there with the new government -- ably led in health matters, I might add, by the very senior member for Ottawa Centre -- the level of expectation that is there, particularly in the nursing community, in respect of the whole status both professionally and in terms of salary.
I said the other day that we all know 35% to 40% of a typical hospital budget is made up of nursing salaries. I hope everybody heard that; 35% to 40% of the neighbourhood community hospital budget comprised or is made up of the nursing salary component. In my area of eastern Ontario, I met very recently with the officials from the Pembroke Civic Hospital and the Pembroke General Hospital. They are very anxious to do more for their nurses. They read the tea leaves. They hear the speeches. They understand what has to happen.
As it turns out, however, in this fiscal year, Pembroke Civic is expecting a deficit, I believe, in the neighbourhood of $500,000; Pembroke General is expecting a deficit of about $300,000, which in their case, to be fair, is largely occasioned by a rapid deterioration of the so-called Quebec revenue. They have petitioned the Minister of Health to look at that to see if some relief cannot be provided, and I know she will give that file her very serious and careful attention.
Over in Brockville, I notice that the Brockville General Hospital is reporting an in-year deficit in the order of $750,000, and the St Vincent de Paul Hospital is looking at an in-year deficit of something near $450,000. Of the hospitals in Cornwall, suffering as they are, the Cornwall Civic Hospital is looking at a deficit of about $250,000, and again I believe that is in part occasioned by a decline in out-of-province revenue, the so-called Quebec revenue.
The hospital officials with whom I have met have said: "How is it that we are going to do more for that part of our budget which is over one third, namely, the nurses, if we cannot get some relief on some of these other matters that are pushing us into deficit in the here and now? We do hear the signals from Queen's Park that we are going to have to do more for nurses, and we hear the requests from the nurses that when the current contract expires, we are going to be asked for something like a 50% increase over two years.
I will not quote the Treasurer to himself, but there was some palpitation in my heart at least when I heard his initial response to the Ontario Hospital Association on Friday. It would be unfair of me to jump to any hasty conclusions, and I will not, but I will simply repeat that hospitals in my part of Ontario -- I mentioned hospitals in Pembroke, Perth, Brockville, Cornwall and Renfrew, to name but five communities -- are currently facing significant in-year deficits.
I know the Minister of Health is going to look carefully at this and act positively in responding to some if not all of that deficit pressure. But if we are going to do more for nurses, we are going to have to understand that hospital budgets are going to have to be supported to an even greater extent than they have been in the past because, while we can expect change in the way our health care delivery system is organized, I repeat that 35% to 40% of all hospital budgets are associated with the payment of nursing salaries.
I want to say two other things, one having to do with the appointment process. I am going to wind up with this and one other final comment about the economy. I have been interested over the last couple of months to see the statements of ministers opposite, to read a number of articles in the press about a new day, a new order, a new government. I think that is as it should be.
Hon Mr Laughren: It takes you back five years.
Mr Conway: It takes me back, not five years necessarily; it takes me back 15 years in some respects. I guess I have to be very honest in indicating where I come from. In this respect I am very old-fashioned. I do believe in the notion of responsible government in both senses of the word. It is the concept of responsible government that we all learn about in our civics classes, which is not the one, by the way, that people understand by responsible government, and then there is responsible government in the sense that people understand it, which is that you elect a bunch of politicians, they make the decisions and they are prepared to accept responsibility for those decisions.
One of the things I observed in the last few years -- I must say that I have colleagues who do not share this point of view and some colleagues who might think that I perhaps am too traditional, too old-fashioned, too line fence in my perspective. I do not want to put anybody on the spot, but I see one of my friends is absent who might smile if he were here.
I guess my view on this is very simple and straightforward. I expect my friends opposite, as part of their responsibility, to select men and women representative of the contemporary Ontario community to assist them with the burdens of office. That is, I think, a cornerstone of our system. Of course if they are injudicious, if they are unwise, if they are foolish, then of course I have the opportunity to stand in my place and to criticize them directly, as I will do. Similarly, I will praise them for good appointments that I believe they might make, and I would, unlike some, praise the new government, for example, for the appointment of Bob White and Bruce Kidd to the Stadium Corp of Ontario Ltd board. I think they are excellent people.
Mr Bradley: Did that go through the committee yet?
Mr Conway: The committee is part of what I want to talk about briefly. I remember the discussions around the accord. I really do want to share briefly a little bit of experience over the past five years, because empowerment is now a very fashionable phrase and who could be opposed to empowerment? I mean, you cannot be. You have got to support it. I support empowerment. I have some friends in the academic community who have written learned essays about this.
One of the things I have observed over the last few years I want to put on the record. I have met a lot of people who really want a say in decision-making and that is as it should be, but a surprising number of people who want a say, sometimes a very big say, want no part of the responsibility for the decisions made, and I am not surprised.
In fact, it is one of the reasons why members of the executive council are paid better than private members, and that quite frankly is as it ought to be, because they have more and tougher decisions to make than I now have to make as a private member. I know something of that responsibility and it is a wonderful and joyful opportunity, but I tell members that it is worth the money they are paid to have them make those decisions.
I guess the point that really has concerned me is that in recent times, both here and elsewhere, I have seen government construct elaborate little frameworks that in some cases have now taken away from the government, from the cabinet a decision-making power that the public out there thinks it still has. I will not again name some of the instances because it might not be polite, but I know my friend the member for St Catharines is going to opine later in this debate about what the charter has meant in terms of understandable constraint on the powers of the executive branch. I think he is and I would encourage him to do that.
But coming back to the appointments process -- here I speak as a private member; I do not speak for my party, as the member for Nickel Belt can appreciate -- as a private member I expect that the New Democratic Party is going to appoint men and women who represent contemporary Ontario as it sees it, and I will be expecting many more Bob Whites and Bruce Kidds.
To be partisan for a moment, I will say now that I expect the New Democratic Party in government to be as rigorous and as professional and as thorough-going a group as Ontario has ever seen in respect of this matter. I think they will make Bill Davis and David Peterson look like amateurs. I may be wrong, but I hear, for example, how they went about filling the hundreds of positions in the ministers' offices and I have to say that I was impressed, because I know that David Peterson and Bill Davis did not subject the interviewees to the rigour of the Lewis index. I have to admire that on the part of the new government. That is their right. I make no complaint of it.
The only comment I would make is that once again -- the member for St Catharines and I get a little wound up on this subject because the only objection we have to our friends opposite is the breathtaking sanctimony of their self-appointed purity. They would like this House and everyone outside of the House to believe that they are more antiseptic, more non-partisan and more pure than our friends from the Tory or Liberal or Reform ranks. I just simply want to make the point that it is absolutely and patently not the case and that what I have seen to date makes my case. I expect over the course of the next four years and four months the file in support of my argument is going to fill to the point of brimming.
I repeat again that I am not going to quarrel because I view that as a central part of the system. I would expect them to be always prudent and wise. I would expect that women are going to be represented to a much greater extent than they were in an old Tory order. I am going to expect that labour is going to have a greater say than perhaps it had in the Peterson government. Of course there are going to be all kinds of changes, but I have no doubt at all about the partisan hue of the new administration.
I smile and chuckle when I see the Premier's statement about the standing committee on government agencies and how it is going to work.
Hon Mr Laughren: Don't be cynical.
Mr Conway: I am not cynical. I am not at all cynical.
Mr Bradley: Realistic.
Mr Conway: I am realistic and fairminded. Bob White and Bruce Kidd, what committee were they subjected to? None.
Hon Mr Laughren: It didn't exist then. Come on, be fair.
Mr Conway: Of course it does not exist, but spare me the rhetoric and spare me the window-dressing, because as I say, I am going to want to know where to go when certain appointments are made. Let me get to one that will really excite my friend opposite. The other day across my desk upstairs came an innocuous four-paragraph press release from the Ministry of Labour and it reads as follows:
"November 26, 1990 -- Minister Announces Changes at WCB:
"Labour Minister Bob Mackenzie announced today that Alan Wolfson, vice-chair and president of the Workers' Compensation Board, will step down from his post effective December 31, 1990.
"Mr Wolfson has accepted a senior position with a large financial institution. The minister and Dr Elgie, chairman of the WCB, acknowledged the outstanding work of Dr Wolfson during a period of important legislative policy and organizational change over the past four years.
"We will now begin a public recruitment process to fill the vacant position."
Mr Fletcher: Are you looking for a job?
Mr Conway: I am certainly not looking for the job. There are more jobs in the senior public sector that I would not want than my friends opposite could ever imagine. I have the only one that I can imagine ever wanting or ever having.
I want to come back to this press release. I might add to it and let me be the first to announce it: Mr Speaker, I say to you that your former colleague, your former friend and my good friend the current chair, I hear, is leaving very shortly. So not only is Dr Wolfson leaving, but Dr Elgie is leaving, I hear, very shortly. I think Bob Elgie has done wonderful service at the board. I know him. I worked closely with him over 12 or 13 years and I have the very highest regard for him.
Mr Bradley: I hope Elie is watching seeing an NDP member clapping at that.
Mr Conway: I am sure my friend the member for St Catharines would join me in fantasizing about how this set of appointments will be made, because I can tell members that I can think of no other set of appointments, no other place within the ambit of the provincial government where the enthusiasms of the New Democratic Party are more likely to be engaged, if not convulsed than on the subject of the Workers' Compensation Board.
So I simply say to my friend that I will be interested to see how Dr Elgie's replacement and Dr Wolfson's replacement -- I will just be very interested to see --
Mr Mammoliti: Give me the list.
Mr Bradley: Do you want the list? I will get the list. I will read it into the record.
Mr Conway: Which list?
Mr Bradley: Of New Democrats appointed by this government.
Mr Conway: I will tell members this: If there is one thing about being over here as compared to being over there that I am happy about, it is that I do not have that endless, interminable lineup at my door. A lot of them were my dearest friends and I will tell members that I can say without fear of any contradiction that there has never been a non-New Democrat who had more to do with the appointment of more New Democrats to good and high office in government than yours truly. I am sorry if that sounds a bit self-congratulatory. I do not mean it to be. I am proud of what I did. I have rarely if ever met such an enthusiastic group of petitioners.
Mr Ruprecht: How about the qualifications?
Mr Conway: They were well qualified, I say. I would like to have seen what at least one of them would have done before this committee. It would have been a very fascinating encounter.
I just want to say to my friends opposite, to my friend the Treasurer that the appointments process is being held up as something special. The other day the Premier was going to have us believe that the privacy commissioner was going to be appointed by some kind of new process. He forced me away from my book long enough to say that it was not so. I do not like having to contradict the leader of any government, but as I said on that occasion I well remember how the famous and former member of the Legislative Assembly for Oshawa, a fine New Democrat now in Parliament, led this chamber in the selection of a new Clerk, a successor to Roderick Lewis, QC. That will be one of Mike Breaugh's abiding legacies in this Legislature. For the Premier, the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, to forget that, to somehow inadvertently discount that part of the Breaugh legacy was more than I could bear whatever that day was last week.
I say that the previous Legislature, under Mr Breaugh's leadership, chose, selected the new Clerk, did an admirable job and what the privacy commissioner's process is going to be, according to what I read, is exactly the same. The government agencies process that is being constructed is interesting, is minimalist, and let's not kid ourselves, Carol Phillips is the person to whom you talk. If Carol is busy, you just go down to the CFTO studios and get Gerry Caplan. If Gerry is busy, you call Stephen or Michael.
Hon Ms Lankin: Sexist.
Mr Conway: Not at all. It is not sexist, I say to my friend the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I apologize if there is any suggestion. I can tell the member that there should be no confusion. I know because I talked to some people who sought some opportunities in the exempt staff category and they came away with war stories that, as I say, you cannot find the match of from the Davis or Peterson days. That is entirely the right of the new government. That is absolutely the right of the new government. I do not dispute that at all. I just want to say for the record, let's not kid ourselves.
They make a very good effort to confuse the world out there, and that is their right as well. I can just imagine the first set of appointments. This government is not stupid. I have already got a little wager as to who some of the non-conforming appointments are going to be and as to just who the candidates are. I am going to look at appointments such as to the Workers' Compensation Board to see what I expect to see. I am going to expect to see the New Democratic Party in office at all levels, and I repeat that I will expect to see a vigour and a rigour in this matter that will make predecessor governments look very amateurish by comparison.
Finally, just a word about the economy to my friend the Treasurer: Again, I cannot convey the level of concerns that I am hearing from friends and constituents in the east and elsewhere about the deterioration of the Ontario economy. I noticed today in the financial part of the Toronto Star that Ontario bankruptcies are soaring, both personal and business bankruptcies. The year-over-year statistics on this account are absolutely alarming.
There seems to be more evidence to suggest that the recession of 1990-91 is qualitatively different than the recession of 1981-83. There is the number of people who have come to me to say: "The job is gone. I am unemployed, but the job is gone." This is not like earlier experiences I have had. They would tell me where the job was lost, but on only a temporary basis. I have had scores of people tell me that the job is gone, the business is gone, the sector is disappearing.
My friend opposite will know and remember the former member for Essex-Kent, Jim McGuigan, predecessor to our friend. I was at the McGuigan farms not too many days ago getting a very interesting lecture about what was happening to the tender fruit industry in that part of Ontario. Certainly I was struck by just how rapid the deterioration had been.
In my area, for example, where lumber is very, very important, the difference in 1990 as opposed to 1981-83, when you could still sell the most valuable product we produce in the forests of Renfrew county, which is high-quality pine, to the United States and to Europe, is that you cannot sell it today. You cannot sell it for a number of reasons, the dollar being one, the export tariff being another and a very rapid deterioration in the American and the domestic Canadian housing markets being a third reason.
It is incredible to me how serious this decline has become in our resource sectors, particularly in forestry and agriculture, but in the manufacturing sectors as well. I know that the ability of the Treasurer of the Ontario government to do things is limited. I applaud some of the initiatives that have already been initiated. I think they are good steps in the right direction, but I do not want to leave any wrong impression about the impact that the current recession is having on my constituents, all of this, I might add, before the goods and services tax lands on the economy in 14 days' time.
I do not mean to be pessimistic. I hope I am not, but I cannot be very optimistic about the first couple of quarters of 1991, where all the suggestions have me believing that the decline and the deterioration are going to continue, and are going to continue perhaps in a way that is going to really complicate the budget-making process for the two members sitting opposite, two very powerful members of the executive council whose tasks are not going to be easy, as I have said on previous occasions.
I want to conclude my remarks simply by observing again that as we head into the winter of 1990-1991, the people I represent have one predominant concern and that is the economy, their jobs, their mortgages. I know that there are lots of other issues on the public agenda. I have said before, I repeat again, one of the things that I am observing is a growing interest in the community as to how the politicians are spending the several billions of dollars that they already have appropriated to them. I think there is a bit of a sea change there. I think people are getting very, very concerned about the expenditure of dollars and I know that all members are going to be sensitive to that. Judging from the Minister of Culture and Communications earlier today, he is very sensitive on that account.
Hon Mr Laughren: Would you explain "sea change" for those of us who don't know?
Mr Conway: Well, I will do it another time. I just simply want to conclude my remarks by wishing my friend the Treasurer the very best for the holiday season, because knowing, as I do, that he has the transfer payments to announce and defend in January, he more than any of us here will want a very restful Christmas and I wish him good luck and Godspeed in that endeavour.
Mr Jordan: I would like first to recognize the Ministry of Transportation for the allotment of $1 million to be spent in eastern Ontario on winter roads maintenance programs. I would ask the minister to please identify Lanark-Renfrew as being distinct from eastern Ontario when it comes to the need for roads and employment programs. Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte and Renfrew all experienced several plant closings and unemployment is at the hardship level. I would urge the minister to start preliminary work on Highway 17 in January to also help the employment situation and to progress on to bring four lanes to Arnprior. The minister only yesterday confirmed to me that the program is still in place and I have notified the mayor of Arnprior, who is extremely pleased.
The Minister of Energy could bring real life and employment opportunity to the riding by implementing construction projects to upgrade the hydro dams at Shell Falls and High Falls. These projects would not only provide employment but have a very direct effect on the supply of energy to this province.
The Ministry of the Environment has at the present time virtually brought waste management and housing to a halt in Lanark-Renfrew. Lanark county has spent over $1 million attempting to secure a land site acceptable to the government. The funding of these projects has dried up in the riding and there is no relief in sight from this government. Would the minister please send direction to the counties of Lanark-Renfrew and also indicate the funding to back it up.
The water and sewer plants in Smiths Falls, Carleton Place and Almonte are polluting the rivers. The beaches were closed all during the summer of 1990. Smiths Falls cannot raise two thirds of $16 million to start correcting the problem. A community of that size should receive 60% funding in order to proceed.
In closing, I sincerely ask the ministers involved to consider Lanark-Renfrew separate and distinct from the balance of eastern Ontario when distributing money for the projects noted.
Mr Bradley: It is my pleasure to once again participate in the debate in the Legislative Assembly on a matter related to the provision of funds. We have had a bill before the House to allow the government to borrow some $5 billion for the purposes of carrying out its activities and now we have the exercise we go through of granting interim supply to the government so that it may carry out its responsibilities such as paying its bills, which are of course important.
It is significant to note that we are in fact, with this measure, granting the permission to spend some $14 billion. Members of the Legislature may not be aware that the province of Ontario, in terms of the allocation of funds for public purposes, is very, very high on the list in North America. Subject to some correction, I would mention that we are likely the second-highest-spending jurisdiction in terms of government money in North America, that is, at a provincial or state level. In fact the federal government in the United States is first, the Canadian government second, I believe the state of California is third, and I think if you looked carefully you would see that it is the province of Ontario that is fourth.
Part of that may be attributed to the fact that they have different spending mechanisms, but as I like to emphasize to people in the province who do not recognize the amount of money that is allocated for health purposes, if you compare our budgets to American state budgets, the main difference between the two is in fact that we pay for health care services by taxpayers instead of by private plans as happens in the United States.
I think many of us view with some concern some of the discussion that has taken place in our country about moving away from that system. We recognize that it is a costly system. It consumes now fully one third of the provincial budget. I can recall, when I sat in the Management Board of Cabinet, saying to the Minister of Health that I would not mind having for the Ministry of the Environment that which was spilled on the way in to the discussions that take place in the Management Board building.
But the new Minister of Health would recognize, as she did in her previous years in the House, all of the areas of endeavour that the Ministry of Health is involved in and why that funding is necessary. There are those who will criticize the tremendous expenditure of funds in Ontario on health care services, and of course the minister and Management Board will want to look carefully at each expenditure to see that it is in fact an effective expenditure in each case. But overall, one would recognize that if we wish to have the kind of health care service that we have in the province of Ontario today, indeed a very generous share of the provincial budget must be devoted to that.
We would not want to reach a circumstance that existed a number of years ago in this country before we had government-run health insurance, or as some would like to call it, socialized medicine. Before we had that there were many people who in fact had to expend their life's savings or go into debt for the purposes of dealing with their health problems. It has always been my view, when I hear people come forward with proposals to change the system, that it is a right to health that we have in this province. While we want to be careful in our expenditures, no person in this province should be denied health care because he is unable to pay, and no person should be forced to justify at the door of the hospital or at the door of any institution which is dealing with health care in this province, or if he is indeed receiving any service outside an institution, or to show cause of a financial nature before receiving that necessary service from the province of Ontario. I think that is an important basis upon which we live in this province and I hope there would not be parties who would want to change that.
I want to deal briefly as well with a few other matters. I hesitate to mention this as I look to my left, but I was thinking of a matter -- just to show how it would be covered, not to talk about the merits of the case, but to see how something would be covered were the previous government in power -- and that is logging roads in Algonquin Park, a matter of great controversy.
I know there are members of this Legislature who have been arrested trying to block logging roads. So when I saw, as part of the $41 million being allocated for logging roads in this province, that indeed some of those logging roads would in fact be in Algonquin Park, I thought there would be people lying down in front of the tractor or whatever it is, the bulldozer, that was coming to knock down the trees and put in that road. I was fantasizing about the fact -- we have to fantasize now on this side because we cannot do the real things any more, so now we have to live in somewhat of a world of fantasy -- and I was thinking of the CBC at Six and how we could have the person who is the anchor, whoever it happens to be, come on and say: "A startling new development at Queen's Park. In a stunning reversal of policy, the new NDP government, which has claimed to be so committed to the environment, has authorized funding for the building of a new logging road in one of Ontario's most beautiful natural parks -- Algonquin Park."
But I turned on the 6 o'clock news and did I see this? Had a Liberal government been in power I might have seen this, and I might have heard some barracking from the other side.
Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like the member opposite to try to keep to the point, that we are speaking on the motion. I think it is an important motion.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Villeneuve): Please continue the debate. The debate is broad-reaching. It is on interim supply.
Mr Bradley: In fact, I could speak for about six hours on interim supply because interim supply --
Mr Bisson: Oh, no.
Mr Bradley: I am not going to do it, do not worry.
Mr Sorbara: Come on, do it.
Mr Bradley: No, no, I would not do that. I want to be relevant to the case. But I do want to say this for the explanation of members who may be new to the House, that in fact the interim supply debate is an excellent opportunity for members to talk about virtually anything, just like the throne speech debate, and the budget debate to a certain extent is that opportunity. So I will take advantage of it because the Treasurer will know -- I am his critic -- that I have asked only one question this session, made a couple of statements, because I know that in the first session the people out there who cover this place, or who watch this place, are only interested in what the new government is doing, and that you can do virtually no wrong in the first session. I know that it is virtually hopeless to try to generate some interest in the government's deficiencies, because no one wants to be told they were wrong in what they did by electing the NDP. So I am going to confirm to them, in the first session at least, that there are some things that they have done as a government, that have been done by the government, that in fact are beneficial to the province. Those are areas where they have implemented the Liberal agenda, which they have most of this session.
Hon Mr Laughren: It's like the accord all over again.
Mr Bradley: But listen, they should be happy over there, because despite all of our efforts to show where the credit should go, whenever they make the announcement, it seems to filter out that this was a Liberal initiative. Each time, I have noted, the ministers have been kind enough to pay tribute to the previous minister in bringing forward a particular initiative, announcing it. They have been kind enough to do that, but it never seems to make the story. So I know the first session, what it is like and what they are going to go through, because we went through it.
When I saw Focus Ontario this week and I watched the new Minister of the Environment being questioned, I thought it was a rather gentle session, just as when I first became Environment minister in this province it was a gentle session. So I do not attribute it to personalities or political persuasion or anything. That is the kindness with which people are treated in the first session, and that is as it should be, just as I have been so kind to the new Treasurer, and complimentary of him.
I have changed his name. There were those who used, I thought, a rather unfortunate name, calling him Pink Floyd, which I thought was not very appropriate, because as I have watched his policies this session, I in fact believe that he is Blue Floyd, not Pink Floyd. In fact, after he came back from that session where he and the Premier went on bended knee to the barons of Wall Street and put their case forward to say that they are not really socialists, they are social democrats -- and they tried to define what that was. Despite the fact the Treasurer says he wore his pink shirt down there, I think he had a blue tie on at the same time. But he went down there to explain that all those years when he was in the Waffle wing of the NDP were really not significant, and I know because I have been reading old Hansards. When you get into government, you almost hope that they would destroy Hansard after two years, the way they do the receipts of people who spend money, when they destroy those. They would hope this would happen, because I read some excellent speeches by the present Treasurer and other members of the government talking about the need to nationalize Inco.
If I were ever allowed, by the people who control the question period, I would have gotten up in the question period and asked the question, "When is this Treasurer going to nationalize Inco?" which is a matter of public policy for this member and the former member for Sudbury East. I think the new member for Sudbury East is somewhat more moderate, but the previous member for Sudbury East and one of the previous members back for Sudbury, had --
Hon Mr Laughren: Jim Gordon too.
Mr Bradley: Even the man of many colours, the previous member whose political colour seems to change over the years, a previous member for Sudbury, was difficult with Inco. But now, I did not notice either on the Agenda for People or in Orders and Notices any initiative to nationalize Inco, and I have to believe that the Treasurer has been sandbagged by such right-wingers as the member for Algoma, now the Minister of Natural Resources, and others in that cabinet who lean so far to the right that they look like Conservatives, let alone Liberals.
Hon Mr Laughren: How did you find out about that?
Mr Bradley: Well, I find these things out. Now, as I talked about the logging road, that was it --
Mr Scott: Get back to the logging road.
Mr Bradley: Well, I do not want to get too far into that, but I just wanted to point out that I know they were very concerned, and some of the members who are prepared to lie down in front of the tractors are going to find out that they are going to be building a lot more logging roads than they thought in the province of Ontario.
Here is another question. The Minister of Natural Resources would have been happy about this, because I wanted to ask this question too and I could not get on the question period list. I wanted to ask the Minister of Natural Resources if he is going to buy this lovely new tract of land in Manitoulin Island that is apparently for sale. One of the lumbering companies, I believe, has it for sale and I thought for sure that the Minister of Natural Resources would be in to see his colleagues and say he was going to purchase this, because I am sure that had he been sitting on this side of the House he would justifiably have been up demanding that.
I want to get into a couple dozen other things that I think are important. One is, as the member for Renfrew North mentioned to members earlier -- I have the former Attorney General in the House, who may or may not agree with me; sometimes he does not, sometimes he does.
Mr Scott: Usually I do.
Mr Bradley: That is a concern I am expressing in a general sense that everybody must have a concern about, but it is a difficult issue and that is the control of courts over the agenda of governments today. When the Charter of Rights was passed, I think there were a lot of people who were supportive of it because the charter is there to protect people from the whims and fantasies of popularly elected legislatures.
Now, Sterling Lyon presented the point of view that in fact an elected body should have pre-eminence and there are a lot of people in this province, perhaps in this country, who may agree with that. Others said -- and this was the majority that prevailed; Premier Davis and others agreed to this, the other premiers agreed to this on the day -- that in fact the Charter of Rights should be, I think it is called, entrenched in the Constitution, or at least a major part of our constitutional outlook, and that in fact decisions could be referred to the court with a question as to whether they fit the charter. This is very good for some people in our society, and that is the great dilemma we have as legislators.
What they are going to find out on the government side and what some of the people who are backbenchers are going to be asking the Treasurer and the Attorney General and others in the cabinet is, "Why have you made this specific decision?" A rather significant number of times, they are going to hear the answer, "Because we expect we are going to lose a case in court," or "The court has said we must do this."
The great problem with that for the Treasurer of the province, and indeed for the government, is that it distorts the priorities. Perhaps this year or perhaps in the next decade the Treasurer and the cabinet and members of government would not want to have spent funds in a specific area that the court has stipulated. They would have preferred, because of their own elected agenda, to spend it in other areas. They are elected and they have the right to say where they are going to spend it until the next election at least, and if they are confirmed by the electorate they would have it beyond there.
What I found disappointing sitting on the governing side was watching the legislative power being reined in by the courts in this country, keeping in mind that in this country, unlike the United States, we defeat judges instead of electing them, and that has been the tradition. Now we have changed that since the former Attorney General was in power. No longer are defeated candidates the primary people who are considered for judgeships. I do not know about the federal level. So defeated candidates do not always take those positions.
I am concerned that the courts are going to dictate what that government is going to do in many cases, as they did with this government. Even worse, and this is where great debates will come in cabinet, is when members of the cabinet try to anticipate the outcome of a court case and then the cabinet makes a decision based on the probable outcome of a court case.
On many occasions, I thought the cabinet should go down with guns ablazing. Sometimes they did not and sometimes they did.
Mr Conway: Now you are getting close, Bradley.
Mr Bradley: Do I want to go back to Consumers' Gas again?
Mr Conway: No.
Mr Bradley: No, not Consumers' Gas, other than to say --
Mr Scott: You might mention logging roads again.
Mr Bradley: No, I have covered logging roads. But Consumers' Gas, just in the context of free trade, because I remember sitting in a position not far from the person who now occupies the chair as Premier of this province -- who now wears the nice suits; he does not wear those corduroy jackets that the NDP used to wear with the patches on the arms, but he now wears the grey suits and the blue suits and things like that, which his handlers told him to wear during the campaign. It worked, so they have to be happy about that.
Where was I? I was on Consumers' Gas. No, I was on free trade. I heard the gentleman who is now the Premier of this province say during the campaign that he would personally put the monkey wrench in free trade, that he would undertake activities in Ontario designed to thwart the implementation of free trade.
I looked at the throne speech and said, "Well, a major initiative will be there surely," because I remember how vociferously and with what ridicule he went after the former Premier of the province for, as he said, not blocking free trade, and I have not heard how he is going to do it.
Maybe Wall Street changed his mind. Maybe when he and the member for Nickel Belt went to Wall Street they were told, "If you people start becoming too radical on the issue of free trade, there will be no investment, let alone the trickle of investment that is coming to Ontario."
That is just conjecture because the Treasurer shakes his head.
Mr Scott: Good enough for me.
Mr Bradley: Certainly the member for St George-St David seems to believe that conjecture and I think there may be some basis in truth to it. I cannot verify it, but it sounds good.
Then we get to Consumers' Gas. I remember all my good friends in the NDP, and I have lots of good friends in the NDP -- I cannot think of any names right now over on that side -- in my own constituency and elsewhere who said, "You just watch our government." They were talking about the NDP. "We will ensure that Consumers' Gas does not fall into foreign hands. You Liberals, we suspect you would let it happen, but we NDPers would not allow this to happen."
What happens? I see the press conference. There is the Premier, halo slipping just a little bit, saying: "Guess what? We are going to allow Consumers' Gas to fall into foreign hands. Those of us who were the great defenders of Canadian sovereignty, who denounced foreign ownership so vociferously in opposition, on the campaign trail and elsewhere, we are going to allow it to fall into foreign hands."
I went to Jim Laxer's book then and I said, "Well, there must be," because the present Treasurer used to be a fellow traveller of Jim Laxer at one time in the Waffle division of the NDP. I went to that and it certainly clearly indicated to me that we could expect that the NDP in fact was going to block Consumers' Gas.
The opposition has sent some water to me.
Mr Scott: Don't drink it. This is a trick.
Mr Bradley: This is encouragement.
Mr Hope: It's St Clair River water.
Mr Bradley: Well, it is good water then. There is no question about it, it is good water, and I will take a pause to drink this water. By the way, I do not drink water out of bottles. I drink tap water. I always have and I will continue to do so in the province of Ontario.
An hon member: No designer water.
An hon member: No zebra mussels.
Mr Scott: I don't drink water at all, Jim. How long have you been drinking water?
Mr Mahoney: Only when the ice melts.
Mr Bradley: The Speaker would tell me that I should not allow those interjecting to disturb me while I am in my train of thought.
Anyway, Consumers' Gas is gone. It is in foreign hands now. Maybe a future government to the left of this government will buy it back. Who knows? I do not know about that, but certainly this government has sometimes lurched right, sometimes lurched left, depending on the day of the week.
However, I thought about Varity Corp because I remember how strongly the man who is now Premier of this province pronounced on this matter and said, "All this government money, provincially and federally, has gone as a bailout and no way should you allow Varity to go to the United States."
I know many of my friends who support the New Democratic Party said: "Look, Bradley, you will never see that go to the US. Maybe if you people stay in power that would happen. It won't happen under an NDP government." Lo and behold, Varity has shuffled off to Buffalo and left little for us here.
Now I heard the apology from the Premier, from some of his friends who were prepared to apologize for him at that time. That is unfortunate because I hope that those who were so vehement in their criticism of the former Conservative government, the former provincial government and the federal government at the present time, are going to be equally vehement in standing up for the principles and be critical of this government, and not simply be apologists for this government when push comes to shove.
I know many people out there who have been critical who will not be apologists. I have that confidence. I do not think they will be there to say: "Well, because you did it, Premier Bob, it's all right. If the Liberals did it or the Conservatives it would be a nasty thing, but if you do it, Premier Bob, it's all right." I do not think that is going to happen. I think those people are going to be very critical of that and not forget it.
There is the concern about investment. I heard a lot of, perhaps, laughter today when the question came up about investment. I am a person who comes from a labour union background. I come from a family that has been involved. My father was a member of a number of different unions over the years, so I guess I have a bent that comes from that direction. I do not own shares. I do not deal in business. I am not part of the business community. I know that our family has gone through strikes, has gone through layoffs, so I know from that point of view, as I had it explained to me at home on many occasions, that there are great difficulties confronting people in the labour union movement over the years.
I know from personal experience that I have described to members of the House previously that my own father, when he worked at a place called Smith and Travers in Sudbury, which was purchased by Inco, had a strike or at least got a contract that gave them $2.17 an hour which was considered to be exorbitant, obviously, on the part of the company. The company decided that it would close down that operation as a result and the amount of notice the employees had was zero. So 22 years of service to one company and the thank you was a handshake, perhaps, but certainly nothing else.
So I know what happens. My father had to go from job to job as he moved to southern Ontario in the recession in the mid-1950s. He drove from St Catharines to Brantford on a nightly basis to work the 12-to-8 shift and then came back because he was the kind of person who wanted, as much as possible, if the opportunity were there, to provide for his family by working and not by accepting anything else, although from time to time obviously when there were layoffs our family had to exist on unemployment insurance. That is the background I come from. As I say, I am not a person involved in stocks and bonds and investments of that kind, but I do know that it is important to workers in this province that we have some future investment.
What we are seeing now is a bit of a bleeding away of the investment that is here. It is not people leaving in great numbers yet. It is not yet people taking their investment out quickly, although as a result, I contend to a large extent, of free trade, we are seeing part of that happening. The member for Welland-Thorold is here and he has experienced some of the worst examples of that at his end of the Niagara Peninsula where he has seen, I think, actions that you could see by companies that were directly attributable to free trade. Of course, if you combine that with a downturn in the economy, you are going to see this happening.
What is going to be important is that we have to have some future investment in this province. It is a tough balancing act because the government has a pretty aggressive agenda, an aggressive social agenda, an aggressive agenda in other areas, as the previous government had, and many times business is going to say that each new step it is taking is another nail in the coffin of investment.
That does not mean they have to stop those actions. It does not mean they have to abandon that agenda, by any means. What it does mean is that they pretty well have to, as a government -- as all governments do -- establish priorities and indicate to business that it is going to be attractive to invest in the province of Ontario, not by having outdated and outlandishly bad labour laws that leave employees unprotected, not by allowing environmental degradation, not by allowing those who do not benefit from the general economy to fall behind by scrimping on social services, but rather by implementing them in a staged fashion and indicating some distance into the future what its plans are, how it is going to implement them and how the province can sustain those plans. That is what we have to have, that investment in Ontario.
I sometimes wish Ontario were a fiefdom unto itself, that it was not subjected to international or American or Canadian, or beyond the American-Canadian borders, pressures and competition, but that is not the case. We are subjected to that. It used to make me angry to hear people come to me -- never to any avail, I must say -- and say, "Well, you know the laws in Michigan are much easier" -- or in New York or somewhere else -- "environmentally, so we are going to go there." They told the person responsible in that jurisdiction the same thing about Canada. They played that game. Fortunately, with the kind of discussion and dialogue and working together of adjacent jurisdictions, we all agreed as people responsible for the environment to ignore that kind of argument, and yet you had a feeling it might happen.
The member for Welland-Thorold would relate to this. There was a company that was responsible for discharging into the Anger Avenue sewage treatment plant some substance that was very bad for the environment. It was going into the Niagara River and it was owned by Pennwalt -- I cannot recall the exact company name now. The regional municipality of Niagara, along with the Ministry of the Environment, was able to detect it as the source and they said, "Well, of course, we'll have to close down."
It was a difficult decision because it always sounds good. People say, "I'm willing to sacrifice jobs for the environment." What they often mean is that they are prepared to sacrifice somebody else's job for the environment, not their own, so it is always a tough decision and the new Minister of the Environment will have a tough time. I will be sympathetic and empathetic with her as she makes these decisions because I know what she is going to go through when people do that. Largely, you have to ignore those people who say that. In this case, they did close down that division
My concern, which will be shared by the member for Welland-Thorold, the member for Niagara Falls and the member for St Catharines-Brock, who all have an interest in the Niagara River along there, is that the same company would set up in Buffalo or Tonawanda or somewhere and discharge exactly the same thing into the Niagara River.
We made a decision in this decision in this province. We said we are going to have a control-order public meeting and they said, "We're not interested in a public meeting and control order," and they shuffled off somewhere else. I hope, as I say, that the new jurisdiction will be as tough as we were on them. Those are difficult decisions for people to make.
In terms of national unity, we have a resolution before the House today. I must say that compared to coming into this House 13 years ago, the degree of optimism that permeates the Legislature must be far less than it was then. There was a lot of enthusiasm. There were a lot of good debates in here. We have had some good debaters over the years from all parties who were able to speak with some passion about national unity and about Canada.
Today it is so difficult because we see what we are confronting. In this province, to their credit, most of the candidates elected to this Legislature rejected the voices of extremism that we all hear. We have heard those voices of extremism.
It caused, I suspect, one member of the Legislature who had a distinguished career in this Legislature, a person whom I happened to admire for many of the stands he took -- I was not always in agreement with him, but I thought he was a good member of the Legislature -- the member for Sault Ste Marie, Karl Morin-Strom, to step down, to not run again as a candidate. I thought that was rather tragic. Whether he were to win or lose, it was rather tragic, but I think he felt so strongly about it and perhaps was so discouraged by the reaction to the stance he had taken, by the way a very difficult stance to take under the circumstances, that he stepped down.
One of my fears about the committee that is going to go around the province of Ontario is that the very people who show up at those committee hearings will be the voices of extremism, those who are ready to denounce, those who hate somebody else, those who are ready to point out some little deficiency somewhere else and elaborate rather substantially upon it and exaggerate it, and that in the coverage that will be on television, members can bet the excerpt which is most extreme will be that which will be picked up by some segments of the Quebec news media and spread across the province of Quebec, as the famous flag incident was in Brockville.
That is most difficult, because any one of us in here knows that it is very popular, at least in the short run. It is very popular with a significant portion of the populace to make some pretty extreme statements ourselves and we have to restrain ourselves from that. There are people who will say that we do not represent them, that we refuse to listen to them. We have to understand those points of view and why that frustration is there, but I hope that we as a province never degenerate into accepting the extreme point of view on either side.
The Premier says he hopes this can be dealt with with some degree of non-partisanship. I must say my experience in this Legislature has been that on those issues of national unity, while there have been intrusions of partisanship into them from time to time, they have largely been non-partisan. Some of the best speeches we have heard over the years in this Legislature were made, I remember, during the debate in Quebec over the referendum in Quebec. We had a special session of the Legislature and some just outstanding speeches by people from the three political parties were made on that occasion.
I hope that is the approach we will take this time. I hope that the people of the province of Quebec will accept, for instance, that we are concerned about their concerns and that for the people who have other grievances that the Premier enunciated today, a list of people who had concerns, we can meet their concerns, that people can feel part of the debate themselves and not excluded from that debate.
I must say that the feeling of optimism and buoyancy I might have had 13 or 10 or eight years ago is difficult to sustain under the present circumstances with the voices of negativism and extremism in many parts of the country seeming to come to the fore and showing themselves in some rather significant popular support.
I will deal with the environmental assessment process, the EA process, for a moment. There is one thing that annoyed the private sector in this province and my cabinet colleagues when I was in cabinet.
Mr Scott: Some of them.
Mr Bradley: Some of them. It is the environmental assessment process. The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore will find that though she has some significant support in principle for many of the initiatives she wishes to undertake, in fact when they get in the way of other ministries, that kind of support may just abate a slight bit. I wish her well as she continues on in the consultation process on how to come up with an environmental assessment process which is going to be faster than the one we have had but will still be every bit as effective. That is a very hard thing to do, to make it both faster and as effective.
One of the other concerns I have about it now that I am not the minister is the dominance of these quasi-judicial bodies by lawyers. I do not say that to put down lawyers. We have some excellent lawyers in the province of Ontario who are expert in a number of areas. But one of the real concerns I have is that no longer can the average citizen go to a hearing and put forward a point of view.
All it is today, it seems to me, is -- well, you always say expensive lawyers because you want to get the best; people feel they must have the very best lawyers, who often come with a significant pricetag commensurate with their experience and their success and so on. You have one set of lawyers and consultants arguing with another set of lawyers and consultants, and ultimately the taxpayer is paying for all of that. I do not know how we get away from that, because we have made these bodies such that they are subject more and more to legal intrusion as opposed to people putting forth -- I hate the word -- commonsense arguments, because it is a connotation of a non-expert argument, so called, but putting forth arguments that lay people can put forward without bringing in the most expensive expert from Australia or the most expensive lawyer from downtown Toronto, those whom we always think of as the top lawyers.
I hope when she works on that process -- and I wish her well in it -- and she gets the advice, in fact we can make it less of a legal and so-called expert process and more of a process in which individual people can participate. That is going to be a real challenge.
I am going to get a little bit critical here now. I know members do not like that, but let me just say I was writing down some points and I did not put them in any order so that I could say, "I will start off being nasty and end up being nice." So the nasty and nice things are just interspersed.
I was somewhat perturbed by the fact that the Premier did not decide to call the Legislature back into session at an earlier point in time. I know he had a new government, and politically the best thing to do for a new government is to give it a chance to learn what it is supposed to do. That has some logic to it. But here we are in the dying days of a Legislature with a rush of legislation --
Mr Mahoney: Not necessarily.
Mr Bradley: Not necessarily, no.
Mr Mahoney: We could be here for a long time.
Mr Bradley: I see. We could. Well, with a rush of legislation at the very least, and everybody saying: "This is the deadline for this. We must have this. We must have that." In fact, had the Legislature been convened at an earlier point we might have been able to deal with some of those. Again, this government did not get much criticism for it because it is a new government, and I like being fair to people. I know what it was like when I first had to learn about a ministry and about the workings of government. I know there are long nights. I know that the member for Algoma, now the Minister of Natural Resources and with other responsibilities, whose hair is brown today will, in fact, be grey about four and a half years from now and that the lines under his eyes will be much more pronounced and visible than they are today. I will certainly be sympathetic, but I will know that he is making much more money than I am and, as the member for Renfrew North said, justifiably so for all of that responsibility.
I want to talk a bit about transportation. The minister is not here today, but I was happy to see him come to St Catharines and I commended him, as I did the government, on following through on an initiative of the previous government to have the Pelee Island ferry built at Port Weller Dry Docks in St Catharines. I said that to the minister, and I said that publicly.
A government does not have to -- I emphasize, a government does not have to -- follow through on the initiatives begun by a previous government, and a government is justified in taking a pause to look at those initiatives. You get criticism; the member for St Catharines-Brock knows what it is like to get criticism, because she wanted to see her government look at a particular decision affecting our community. The government has every right to do that. The government wants to ensure that it is right and that the decision is going to be right because it has a new agenda over there.
Port Weller Dry Docks, which is down to some 30 employees, is a major shipbuilding operation in Ontario. Federal and provincial money went into it to support it previously. There was a consolidation of shipping in the province of Ontario. We have never been able to get our share of federal contracts, I must tell you, which seem to be assigned for various reasons, but I will not get into that right now. We have never been able to get our share of those.
I was pleased to see that the most logical place was the place where the Pelee Island ferry is being built at a cost of some $23 million to $26 million and to be negotiated further in terms of the specifications. That makes a good deal of sense. I know that our cabinet had approved those discussions to take place with the Port Weller Dry Docks people, with Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering, and that in fact it was followed through by this government. I am very pleased to see that this government has followed through on this Liberal initiative.
Another one that I was pleased with, and the Minister of Government Services is here today, is that the Minister of Government Services has indicated that the ministry, after appropriate analysis by her government, has indicated that the Ministry of Transportation will be moving to the city of St Catharines. I am so pleased to see that happening. I know it is supported by so many people.
Today I received a copy of a letter from the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society that said it supported this particular initiative that was begun by the Honourable Chris Ward and completed by the Honourable Frances Lankin. It is going to be a real boost to St Catharines. I thought the policy of decentralization was a good one because I felt that a number of communities in the province of Ontario should benefit from the location of government agencies and ministries within their boundaries.
That is one benefit, quite obviously. Those are what we call recession-proof jobs. In other words, it is not very often that governments are subjected to the ups and downs of an economy in terms of the employment opportunities within government. They are pretty stable jobs.
That will be helpful to us. I think it will be a boost to our downtown area in St Catharines. There is not a downtown in all of Ontario that does not need a boost of some kind and this is going to be very helpful to the small businesses that are there, and it will be good overall for our community. From time to time our mayor refers to St Catharines as the transportation capital of Ontario. He calls it the recycling capital of the universe as well. He does say this and I am quite delighted that he is going to be able to say this with a good deal of veracity. That will be good.
The third reason I thought it was good was that it allows smaller community thinking to permeate government. If everybody is in Toronto, we know what happens. One self-criticism I have of legislators is that we tend, like butterflies, I guess it is, to spin a cocoon around ourselves. We talk to one another in this House, we talk to the civil service, we talk to our political advisers. Somehow -- and we try as individual legislators -- we should be talking more to people in the areas outside of the major urban capital. Movement of these ministries and agencies to various areas will allow that kind of thinking to permeate the public service. I think people in the public service would tell you it is very helpful to have a good cross-section of the province of Ontario with that kind of input.
I should deal with the automotive industry. There is one industry which is key to the community that I represent, to Oshawa, to Windsor, to Oakville and, to a certain extent, to other communities like St Thomas and areas where new plants have been located. We are very, very concerned about the future of the automotive industry and we want to ensure that the investment continues in the province of Ontario. They are good jobs in that they are jobs that pay well because of the efforts of the Canadian Auto Workers union and its predecessor, the United Auto Workers union, which have won some significant contracts over the years. The working conditions are far better as a result of those initiatives on the part of the union and the leadership of the union, and the wages and the benefits are far better than they would be without those particular efforts -- and sometimes at the price of a strike, and some rather lengthy strikes.
We have some good jobs in our communities and those people spend money in our communities and we are proud of the people in the automotive industry, as I can speak of St Catharines, who have won a lot of contracts. They do not just automatically come any more. The companies have to bid from time to time against other plants and so on. We have a good, skilled workforce in our community and those who are determined to make the automotive industry successful. I hope we will continue to support it as a province and as a country through international trade agreements that are going to be protective of the automotive industry rather than leaving it to the wolves, and that we are going to be vigilant -- I guess more on a federal level, but we have to be on the provincial level as well -- of the sourcing of automotive parts in places in the world where the working conditions, the wages and the benefits are not as great as they are in the province of Ontario. If we have to take specific initiatives to boost the automotive industry when there is a real downturn in the economy, then I think we are justified in doing so.
By the way, as an environmental note, if everybody in the province bought a new car we would in fact have made a major contribution to the air quality of this province. I happen to have a car that is about eight years old so it has its catalytic converter on it, but it is an old car. Unlike the member for Algoma, who probably has a brand-new car, I cannot afford a new car, but I am going to try. Here is a radical proposal. Do members remember when the member for Hamilton Mountain made that radical proposal about fridges? I mentioned this before. People laughed at it and said, "Oh, this is crazy," and so on, but I was one who did not. It may have resulted in his not being in another place, but I thought the concept was a reasonable concept. You have to figure out what you are going to do with your old fridges, yes; you have to figure out what you are doing with the CFCs, yes; but the idea of newer equipment, much more energy-efficient equipment, much more environmentally sensitive and desirable equipment being placed in these automobiles or in these machines is certainly beneficial to the environment in this province.
I should look at a few other things. The Minister of Health is here and she would not want me to not mention, on a somewhat parochial basis, some of the needs in the Niagara region. She was kind enough to write me a reply to my letter -- I must say, a quick reply, because I know how long it takes to turn those letters over -- saying that she was giving consideration to approval for a new CAT scanner in the Niagara region. We have one at the St Catharines General Hospital for non-emergency cases. The lineup is probably six months unless you are prepared to go to Hamilton or somewhere else, if you can get in on it. We could certainly use a second CAT scanner in one of the hospitals somewhere in the Niagara region. Each one of the hospitals in my community -- St Catharines General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital, Shaver Hospital, Niagara Peninsula Rehabilitation Centre and the Niagara Peninsula Crippled Children's Centre -- could certainly use the committed funding for capital purposes and operating purposes that are required.
But the minister would be attempting to do what probably a lot of governments will attempt to do over the next few years, and that is to find the wisest possible way to spend health dollars in the province. It is never easy spending money on preventive activities in the health care field because the pressure comes on acute activities. I wish the minister well in those efforts to take the kind of preventive action which is going to improve the health care system in this province.
Some of my colleagues may wish to join in this debate -- I am not at all certain that is the case -- but I did want to go into the appointments process, because my colleague the member for Renfrew North mentioned this. One thing I always hated in opposition years ago was watching the patronage that took place. Through evolution, through public revulsion, and because a new government got elected, the last government started to make some changes in that system and the new Premier has indicated he wishes to see some changes in the system.
I remember some excellent people being appointed by the previous government. They would get applause from the other side, if they were applauding on a day like this.
When George Samis, the former member for Cornwall, was appointed to the Ontario Highway Transport Board by this government, who would object to that? He was a capable, likeable and knowledgeable individual.
When Odoardo Di Santo was appointed to the Workers' Compensation Board he was again a person who was well-respected in this House, capable of doing the job, and certainly the Liberal cabinet supported his appointment.
Elie Martel, who was appointed to the Environmental Assessment Board, long served in opposition -- he never had the opportunity to serve in government -- but certainly was a person who was knowledgeable in virtually every field because of his long experience here.
When Ross McClellan was appointed in the field of social services, few could object to that, because of his long experience and his dedication in that field.
When Donald MacDonald, a former leader of the New Democratic Party, was appointed by this government to the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses that was very well received, just as when Bob Elgie and Frank Drea and Frank Miller and Mickey Hennessy and Morley Kells and the Reverend William Davis, all of whom formerly served in this House as Conservatives, were appointed, many people applauded those appointments.
So it was very much to a large extent depoliticized, although not completely. And this government has the right, quite frankly, to make appointments as it sees fit. The Premier has indicated -- as Premier Peterson said -- he wants to have the brightest and the best people in those jobs. Many of them are going to be New Democrats. They will want people who are not going to thwart their efforts. On the other hand, they will not want them there simply because they are New Democrats. I look forward as a member of the agencies, boards and commissions committee to be participating in that process.
Mr Mammoliti: Do you want another glass of water?
Mr Bradley: I will try this glass of water.
I want to look at a couple of other items. The member for Algoma was here a moment ago, but he has gone now. Some of the tough decisions that the government is going to be making in the next few years are going to be subjected to Hansard -- and Hansard has an awful way of reminding people of past stands.
When Karl Morin-Strom, the former member for Sault Ste Marie, put forward his resolution that no garbage could go to northern Ontario and there was a round of applause over here, and when the member who is now Minister of Natural Resources made a nice speech about how Toronto's garbage should not go north, do members think everybody anticipated that since the New Democrats had put forward that resolution and voted for it, in fact there would be no entertaining of any ideas of Toronto's garbage going north?
But of course reality sets in, and what people are discovering is that rather than being virginal, the New Democratic Party is in fact the same as other parties: when it gets in power it has some tough choices to make, and it can be judged on those choices. There is no halo over the New Democratic Party despite the sanctimony that used to be heard in this House from time to time from many of my friends -- not the new people here, who never said that, but some of my friends who sat on this side at one time. People are discovering that now -- and I am not being critical of the government on that basis; I am simply saying it is similar to other governments in this regard.
I would like to talk about consumer protection, but I would rather do so when the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is here. I think he has an exciting portfolio. He will have some difficult times with insurance, because he will recognize that trying to balance cost and services is difficult. I wanted to talk about some other areas but probably next session will be a good time to talk about those. I think the minister will be aggressive in that area and I will encourage him to be so.
Another area that I have always been concerned about, and I hope they will proceed in this direction -- I know they will -- is that of assistance for the disabled. Some of the people who have often been forgotten, at least in recent years, by legislators are not being forgotten. The shunting away of mentally disabled people in the past was a true tragedy, but even today ex-psychiatric patients, in one category, and those who are mentally disabled, in another category -- they used to refer to the association as the Association for the Mentally Retarded, now called appropriately the Association for Community Living, because of the new idea of bringing people into the community and having them share experiences that others have. I always felt that these were people who were deserving of government funding. No government could be criticized, even by the most right-wing of people, for providing sufficient assistance and funding to those who are genuinely in need.
I hope that considerable money will be spent by this province on environmental initiatives. I know that the previous Treasurer of this province was kind enough to increase the budget by well over 100% in a five-year period of time, and I know that the new Minister of the Environment will look for even more resources to be able to carry out her responsibilities. I hope the Treasurer will open the vault as far as the environment is concerned, but again I know they will be balancing that against their social agenda and their other initiatives.
Saving of agricultural land is another area of interest to me. One of the reasons I got into politics on city council was to prevent the municipal government from expanding its boundaries into the best farm land. fruit land at least, in the province of Ontario. In the north end of St Catharines where I live there exists some of the best prime agricultural land because of two factors: first, the soil conditions are right; second, and every bit as significant, the climatic conditions are very unique. There are fully, on an average, 27 more growing days on the bottom of the escarpment in St Catharines than on the top of the escarpment, and we should not give up that resource easily. It will require assisting the farmer, as the new Minister of Agriculture and Food will recognize and want to do, and it will require some strong will on the part of the new government not to acquiesce to the development pressures that people are placing on it.
I am pleased to see that the Minister of Municipal Affairs has brought forward the legislation proposed by John Sweeney and announced by John Sweeney to end this last will and testament provision for getting around the planning bylaws in the Niagara region and other parts of the province. We should preserve that land, without a doubt. They are not making land any more, the last I heard, and it is good land that will serve us well into the next century, as it should. I know from the announcements and pronouncements of members of this government and others in this Legislature that they will want to save it. They will not want to allow what happened in Grey county, where we had severances issued willy-nilly by people in that area who had responsibility for that and who exercised that responsibility to give those severances -- some of the classic, bad planning decisions.
I remember watching as the planner in the area made one recommendation that was totally rejected. The planner was either fired, I believe, or quit or something, and another planner came in and made similar recommendations and had to leave. Some very interesting severances were granted in that area by people in that area. I hope that some day the government of Ontario carries out a thorough investigation of why those severances were granted, how they were granted and what the consequences of the granting of those severances were, because I think there would be some rather interesting revelations that would come forward and we want to root out anything that may not be totally appropriate.
I have to say of my own newspaper in the province of Ontario, the St Catharines Standard, that I am pleased it is one of the last independents in the province of Ontario -- not pleased that it is one of the last; I hope there will be a lot of others. This is not to say that some of the chains do not provide a service, but it is nice in a community to know that you have an independent newspaper. The Kingston Whig-Standard lost its status in that regard. I was somewhat saddened by that. I remember when the Kitchener-Waterloo Record had that. I think the London Free Press is still independent and the Stratford Beacon-Herald. What other ones?
Mr Mills: The Orono Weekly Times.
Mr Bradley: Yes. There are a few of them still independent and it is nice to see because they are community oriented, as they should be.
Another one or two sentences on another problem, rest homes: For years we have seen municipalities and the provincial government and various ministries pass the responsibility for rest homes back and forth. Somehow we have to protect the people in those rest homes -- many of them are run very well and the people are satisfied -- from those which are not appropriately run.
In the St Catharines Standard there were people such as Carol Alaimo who wrote articles on this. It is interesting the role individuals can play. John Nihol and Carol Alaimo played a very significant role in the last will and testament issue where they exposed that this was happening under the planning process as it relates to agricultural land, and Carol Alaimo did the one on rest homes in the Niagara region.
We have already talked about the GST. I think it will have dire consequences for this province, but I will not go on at great length because I am not one who believes in using the Ontario Legislature to fight federal issues at any great length, except when they impact entirely on this province. Needless to say, the goods and services tax will be very detrimental to this province, raising inflation and causing us to be less competitive, in my view.
I should wrap up to allow some of my colleagues an opportunity to speak in this particular debate. Some of my colleagues would like to see me do that, but I will promise that on further occasions in the next session, when the occasion arises, I will try to share with members some views on some other issues. I will make certain that they are relevant, as I always try to be.
I wish each member well in his new responsibilities and take this opportunity at what could be, though I cannot promise this, my last speech of 1990 to wish all members the very best of the season.
The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Drainville: I am glad to get up and speak to the resolution that has been put forward by the honourable Treasurer of Ontario and just basically to speak about a philosophy of government.
Mr Scott: Comments.
Hon Mr Wildman: Questions and comments.
The Deputy Speaker: Sorry, it is my mistake. If you want to speak in the debate, you are welcome to do it. The member for Victoria-Haliburton, do you want to debate?
Hon Mr Wildman: Questions and comments.
Mr Bisson: Questions and comments.
The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry, there are no questions and comments. It is debate.
Mr Scott: We had questions or comments to raise about this extraordinary speech.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Victoria-Haliburton have any questions or comments, or do you want to debate?
Mr Drainville: Yes, I was joining the debate.
The Deputy Speaker: So, the minister.
Hon Mr Wildman: I just wanted to express a brief comment on one of the portions of my friend's speech, the tribute he paid to my former colleague from Sault Ste Marie, and to say how much I appreciated his remarks. I think all of us in this House understand the kind of pressure that Karl Morin-Strom was going through for an ongoing period of time in the last part of the last session of the last Parliament. All of us, I think, on all sides of the House admired his tenacity and the conviction with which he expressed his views on behalf of national unity and on behalf of tolerance between the major language groups in this country and in this province.
I appreciate the comments made by my friend. I hope to be seeing Karl this weekend and I will pass along his remarks to him.
Mr Dadamo: I was in the lobby when I heard some information that the member for St Catharines was talking about the vessel that we are going to be having built at Port Weller in St Catharines. We are very proud, as I am sure he is, and I understand that the honourable members had a chance to tour the plant, I think on Monday, with our Minister of Transportation. But I would really hope that he would convince the member for Essex South, who sits two or three over from him, of that. They were pushing to have it built in Massachusetts, and we are very proud as a government to have at least 260 jobs created in Port Weller for the duration of about 18 months when, as members know and everybody knows, we are in a recession in Ontario.
We are very fortunate to have come under a bid of about $26 million to build this vessel and we are very happy that we are putting people to work in Ontario during a recessionary time. So I thank the honourable member for bringing that up in the House this afternoon.
Mr McLean: I just want to make a few brief comments with regard to the last speech that was made in this Legislature, by the honourable member for St Catharines. It leaves me with some reservations with regard to some of the comments he made within that speech with regard to the budgetary policies of this government. We are dealing with the authorization of some $5 million.
I remember the time when I had the opportunity to speak with regard to some of the budgetary policies of the previous administration, with some 33 tax increases over a period of so many years. I also noticed that he made the odd comment with regard to some of the policies of this government proposed in the Agenda for People, some of those policies which indicated the 10.5% interest that they were going to allow industry, farmers and small business to be able to have a deduction.
I have never seen any of those policies in this new Agenda for People coming through. There are other things in that Agenda for People that I have some concerns about and I am wondering if they are going to be fulfilled, as the member has indicated he felt there would be a lapse.
I want to say that the budgetary supplementary estimates that were tabled here yesterday certainly give us some concern with regard to the increase in spending that has taken place in this province and with the large increase, some $9 million, of supplementary estimates. So when we look at the list of ministries that are looking for extra funds, there has got to be a handle somewhere with regard to government spending, and I hope this government will take heed. But I compliment the member for his statement and some of the content of his speech.
Mr Scott: I would just like to compliment the honourable member. I have never heard him make a speech on a subject in the Legislature as fluid as this one that he made today, but it was wonderful.
I would just like to say to the few ministers who are here that I think they got some very good advice from the honourable member that I frankly wish I had got in 1985. I want to indicate that I share one point that he made to the new ministers, and that is that we have to be very careful in government, and this government will have to be careful, about the impact of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The charter is a wonderful instrument and there can be nobody who says he is opposed to the individual rights or the odd group right that is established by the charter. But what the government will find -- I think it was the experience of our government that the honourable member was trying to show -- is that increasingly. with limited budgets, the charter constrains government choices and it does not always constrain those in a way that we would find satisfactory or appropriate in the public interest. That is not necessarily the judge's fault. It is sometimes a little easy to blame it on the lawyers. It is a function of the charter itself.
The second thing they will find -- I found -- is that the charter and the judges who interpret it are predisposed to individual rights as opposed to collective rights. What is the difference? An individual right is the right to be heard in a court if you are charged with impaired driving -- very important. The collective right is to take steps as a government to prevent carnage on the highway. The two issues they will face, as we faced -- and we are pro-government, because we were sitting where they are, confronting the same kinds of problems under the same kinds of pressures only a few years ago, or it seems a few years now; it is actually only three months. I think they will find that the impact of a charter is something to be watched very, very carefully and that they will have to take steps to make certain they accommodate to the charter or it will inhibit the legitimate and important plans they have as a new government.
Mr Bradley: In response and in alignment with what the former Attorney General had to say, I have always wondered what the rights of individual members are to be critical of the courts or a court decision. I always had to be careful that I was not in contempt of court and would not have to spend time behind bars for that reason.
I must say that I was extremely disappointed with the decision of the Supreme Court -- the member had made reference to various decisions of the Supreme Court -- to say that the rights of people were narrowed or limited to such an extent that it was interpreted by others that court cases should be thrown out. I recognize that there is a need for that justice and that there is a recognition that there is a need for court reform that the previous Attorney General was attempting and the present Attorney General is attempting to proceed with, and has announced some new initiatives.
I must say that I hate watching people who have been charged not going to court to have their cases dealt with. We cannot make a judgement in our society. Indeed, people are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty under our system. But it does concern me very much that we are having all of these charges thrown out, some of them of a very serious nature, because the Supreme Court has said that the rights of people have been limited or have been adversely impacted by the fact that they have been unable to have court cases dealt with as expeditiously as the Supreme Court deemed appropriate.
Again, the collective rights here of society are stacked up against the individual rights. In this particular case, I would have hoped that we would have been able to make a genuine effort at this time to deal with all of those cases, as opposed to having them thrown out, because justice will not have been done as a result of that action.
Mr Stockwell: I have learned one thing clearly. When you read the orders of the day and you deal with the government's notices of motion, what that has to do with the speaking is purely coincidental. So in that vein, I think I will continue on in this fine tradition and talk about some of the issues that I find somewhat interesting.
In the last few weeks we have been discussing some of the ideas and concerns that we have found the government lacking in. What I want to deal with today are maybe some of the things that I see taking place over the next year or two years. Since I began as an elected official in the city of Etobicoke, I have sat on many different councils over the eight years -- Etobicoke and different members. In fact, one of the members on the government side, the Minister of the Environment, was a member of council in Etobicoke when I sat there.
I often remember that member of the NDP and the NDP in general having a very strong commitment to the word "process." They always fell back on process. Whether it dealt with development applications, whether it dealt with hiring, whether it dealt with anything, process seemed to be an approach that they used and used very well. There is no question about it. The difficulty I guess I am faced with -- I think they had respect. They had respect from the community. They had respect from the other members of council and they had respect for putting together processes that often they used to further advance their line of thinking. I can list a number of development applications over the years where the process bogged down even more so than the voting records of those councils broke down.
As I get up to the provincial government and find myself sitting across the floor from the first elected socialist government, process has seemed to take a back seat. It does not seem to be as important and it does not seem to be as much at the forefront as it once was. Particularly since they are making the decisions, obviously process can be sometimes something that gets in their way.
I think back on a few of the issues that we have dealt with. I think particularly of the landfill site debate. In the landfill site debate, although the process was put in place by the then Minister of the Environment, the gentleman who just spoke, the process was not deemed to be good enough. Regardless of whether or not they agreed with it or did not agree with it, the process was always in place and it should in fact have been followed. What we see today with this particular government is, if the process did not come to its particular ends, damn the process. "I don't care about the process. We don't care what the process says. It's now ideology, it's our thoughts that are important, and the process is no longer important." I find this to be a complete move away from where the NDP was basically founded, from the positions the members opposite fought for. I guess it is because they have in fact got power.
If anyone would have suggested that the process could be usurped to such a degree that they would in fact invoke emergency powers, I do not think anyone in this province would have believed him, yet a few short weeks ago, to an astonished province, to astonished neighbourhoods in Vaughan, Pickering and Whitevale, that in fact is just the thing that happened. The process became something that bothered them, it was a hindrance. No longer were they building this important foundation that they had structured, I think, a great deal of their party thoughts on, simply because it did not serve their purpose.
It was not just that; it was when the Minister of Transportation got up -- he was referred to as Mr Flip or Mr Flop -- and he suggested that the process did not in fact enter into his decision-making. The process had spent hundreds of millions of dollars. The process had taken great lengths of time. People who had believed in the process, had invested in the process and had worked within the process suddenly became disenchanted because a minister decided he was going to make a gut decision, the same minister, I am certain, who has argued about process in the past. If this is not a change from NDP philosophy, a very dramatic change, I do not know what is.
I talk about rent controls. This is something that is probably the most damaging of all movements with respect to the process. This is the decision that in fact will financially ruin, I am certain, hundreds if not thousands of people in this province. There are people out there -- and I know they are suggesting that there are some landlords out there who are in fact gouging the tenants. I do not think for a minute anyone would argue with that; there are some landlords out there gouging tenants. But in the government's zeal for getting at these people, in its haste to write a piece of legislation to clamp down on these kinds of unfair rent hikes, it has damaged everyone, not just big landlords. It has damaged everyone who owns anything, any building.
There are honest people out there who went through the process, who honestly thought the government had criteria set down and who got approvals for improvements. They honestly felt, through the process which was approved by the government of the day, they would recover those costs. These poor people today are out of pocket thousands and thousands of dollars. Yes, the government may have captured some of the big people, it may have captured some of those gougers -- I will use the term as well, "gougers" -- but it ignored the very process that it has stood for as long as I can remember and it made a piece of legislation retroactive, and it crushed all kinds of people who would be considered middle class, with no great wealth, just a group of people who may own triplexes or 40-unit buildings and they had their lives invested in those buildings. The government has crushed them.
Do members know what I cannot understand? It does not even seem to bother them. They show no remorse. There is no concern. In the past, there would have been a wailing wall outside Queen's Park if this was done by any other government. The NDP would have organized thousands of people to come before the government and complain and wail about how unfair they are. Yet when the process is in place and people follow the law, they crush them and sit here without any process for these people to recapture their losses and probably the gains that they have accrued over their whole life.
There is another point -- and that is why I always respected the NDP for one thing. I always respected them for the fact that they believed in the process. I guess what happens here today and what the people across this province are discovering is that the process was only there because it helped them accomplish their goals. They never had any stake in the process. They never had any stake in ensuring these things would take place. They never had any stake in the environmental assessment. They never had any stake, because today, if they had that stake, they would be following the process. But it hinders their decision-making. They are just a bunch of politicians and that is what it comes down to. I think that is what the people of Ontario are discovering. That was the first point.
I think what will be interesting is exactly how in tune they are to process in the future, because in my opinion they have sold out. They used to be able to stand certainly on a soapbox and offer speeches that could never be threatened or questioned, because they never had to make those decisions in government. One of the speeches -- I think I could hear it 10 times if I have heard it 5,000 from every NDP member ever to sit on council, in any council in Metropolitan Toronto -- was process. As far as I am concerned, the process does not exist any more because they do not want it to exist. It is a shame.
We will also have long and hard discussions on the Agenda for People. I know we have talked about an endless list of promises, and an endless list of promises that I do not think the government can fund, and that I do not think the Treasurer thinks he can fund. I think in fact yesterday or the day before he was quoted in the newspaper as suggesting yes, some of these promises are too expensive and yes, we will not be able to afford them.
I guess the message they are delivering to the people of the province is -- and this is another message and it goes along with the process message -- "You don't really believe that what we said in the election we are honestly going to do." Because that is the message they are receiving. The government members can talk and tell us all about the tax process and the new budget, but they know full well, they know very well that these promises that they made in the Agenda for People will not be included in the 1991 fiscal budget. There is just no way they have got that kind of money.
The other fact of the matter is they talk about how they are going to pay for this and the process they are going to use to generate the revenue to pay for these new programs. There was an immediacy attached to the Agenda for People. The members opposite should not kid themselves; those people attached the immediacy to it. It was not the people out there. They said they would do it, and the fact of the matter is, when you read the Agenda for People, their budgets, their revenues are based on five years. They never said anything about two or three years to implement. So unless they are planning to sit for eight years without having an election, they cannot fulfil that promise.
I am very certain, according to their new rules on process -- I am quite certain they would like to change that process as well. That does not shock me at all. In fact, I just think that they would like to sit there for ever, never going back to the people. But the fact of the matter is they are going to have to go back to the people. They wrote the Agenda for People, and as I said to the Treasurer one day in here, nobody put a gun to any one of their heads, nobody forced them to sign that. They all signed it and they are all breaking their promises. Their promises were being broken the day they took office. Their budgets are based on revenue projections for five years. If they are going to make those changes to the revenue, then they had better do it now, and if they do not, they cannot fulfil their promises. So there is the second area.
The third area is the Fair Tax Commission. There seems to be some theory that this new Fair Tax Commission will in fact resolve the tax issues in the province of Ontario. There is also some thought, I think, that this government believes, basically, the people in this province are undertaxed. I think they believe that. I think they believe certain segments in this province are very under-taxed. I think you will see out of this Fair Tax Commission a report that will outline ways and means to generate more taxes. There may be some -- and again, I am dealing in futures. I am not certain that this will happen, but I have this very distinct feeling, I get the very distinct impression there will be very minor adjustments to reduce taxes for certain areas.
On the whole -- it will be in Hansard, so mark my words -- I think this government believes the people in this province are undertaxed. I think they believe they can extract more money from corporations, from wealthier sorts, the middle class. I believe that they can extract more money that way, and there may be some give-back to the working poor, to the less fortunate, and I am not suggesting that is not in fact correct. What I am suggesting is, I do not honestly believe that this province is undertaxed. If anything, I think this province is overtaxed. I think the people in the province of Ontario, if asked, would probably agree with me they are overtaxed.
I think the Fair Tax Commission is going to go out there and discover something very, very frightening. I believe that they are going with the conclusion that this province is under-taxed and they are going find some way to increase the taxes and they are going to run into a very hostile crowd.
I do not believe the vast majority of the people in this province believe that. If they did believe it, I think the New Democratic Party would have got more than 37% of the vote. In my opinion, they will see that take place or evolve over the next one or two years.
I also think there is a potential for a 66% tax rate in the highest earnings areas. I believe that could be one of the recommendations out of this committee. I think there is going to be significantly more money, more taxes spent for those as well, and I think we are going to see somewhere in the 60% to 66% range.
I do not think it is healthy. I do not think it is something that will inspire job creation or anything along those lines, but I just think it is something that is going to come forward from this Fair Tax Commission. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that is the attitude. I am not suggesting that is right or wrong, I am just sounding a warning gun that I think that is what this fair tax commission is going to be.
I also believe that the appointments to this Fair Tax Commission are going to be very partisan. They are not going to be a cross-section of the community. If they are a cross-section of the community, I also believe that we will see a significant number believing in more taxes than those believing in less taxes. I think we will see a stacked deck. I think the fact of the matter is the recommendations that are going to come down to the Treasurer -- I am just saying this is what I believe will take place; maybe I am wrong.
They are telling me they are going to fulfil all their promises in the budget; I do not believe them. Now, they can believe, as I do, this will be a stacked deck, or not, but the fact of the matter is, that is what I believe. Everyone has a right to believe whatever he wants, and I think that they are going to stack the deck.
I also think that they are going to bring in a report that is going to call for greater taxes and I think it is going to be regressive. I think the last thing we need in this province are more taxes. That is casting no aspersions on other levels of government, or previous governments; they made the decisions they made.
Right now, where they sit, the last thing they should be doing is looking at increasing taxes. I do not think the people want it, and from an economic point of view, I do not think they need it.
The committee appointments: This is sort of a process that I think this government is using to cleanse itself. They believe that by setting up this process they will in fact cleanse themselves of the responsibilities of those being appointed. I do not believe for a moment that this committee will in fact be what I consider one that will look at appointments and make serious recommendations that will be adopted by this government. I think this government will recommend one individual. That individual will go to the committee -- and I hear they get half an hour to interview him. They can correct me if I am wrong, but I hear they get around half an hour to interview this person, and after half an hour this committee is supposed to make a recommendation that is going to change the Premier's mind, after his staff in fact reviewed and analysed this appointment.
I do not think anybody here believes that is going to be a process that will allow serious input from the opposition. I do not think that anyone can believe for a moment that it will get them off the hook. These were their appointments. This thing, I do not think, is fooling anybody. They are going to make one recommendation, that recommendation will be sent to the committee and that committee will rubber-stamp it. The committee is stacked in favour of their members. It is pretty clear, in my opinion, that this is not going to be what I would consider to be an open and fair hunt for the best person available for the job.
I think there will be token representatives from the other parties to certain appointments. I do not think they will be important appointments and I do not think they will be the kind of people I would like to see appointed. I do not think there is anything wrong with that. I think the government is elected. They have a certain philosophical bent on how they do things. I think they should be allowed to appoint whom they want. I think that is the way governments work and I think they want people who are like-minded to sit on commissions and sit on boards, who will input and put forward policies they agree with. What is wrong with that? That is democracy, I think. I do not think there is anything wrong with that. What I take exception to is the government of the day suggesting, by striking a committee slanted in favour of government members, that it has somehow absolved itself of the fact that it is now making government appointments. That is a crock. They are government appointments. They are going to be the government's people and the important people are going to be hand-picked by the Premier, and the only difference between the way it was done before and the way it will be done in future will be, seven or eight of the government members will sit around a table and put their hands up when the Premier pulls the string.
Mr Scott: When did you figure this out?
Mr Stockwell: Yesterday.
Mr Scott: Where have you been all week?
Mr Stockwell: I was talking to my friend, remember? He explained it to me.
Let's be up front here. This is not kidding me. I do not think it is kidding anybody. The government should forget the committee; it should just do it. We all know what the government is doing. It should not pretend. The member for Renfrew North suggested it is the window-dressing that bothers him and I agree, as I stated in one of my earlier speeches. It is the window dressing. The government is blowing smoke. It is trying to convince us that this is an open and fair process. The Premier hand-picks them, the government stacks the committee and approves it. What a process. Holy smoke, they think everyone in the world just fell off the turnip truck.
I think the other thing that bothers this particular government is the thought that it has partisan appointments. Yes, it does. They are going to have them, they are going to have to face the battle. That is what happens when you get elected. They are going to have to appoint people I do not think they should be appointing and I am going to say that and that person is going to do something or act in a certain way that they are not going to be in fact in favour of and they are going to have to defend him. But that is what happens when you get elected, and by washing this process through -- how many? three Liberals and two Conservatives, five other members of this Parliament -- and suggesting it is fair and it is above board, the government should stop it. That is ridiculous. I do not know how the backbenchers can buy it. I cannot understand how they can buy it, how those people who have been elected to represent the people -- they have fought tooth and nail any major decision that did not follow the process to the letter -- can stand here and defend this charade. They have to be embarrassed at themselves.
Mr Scott: Well, we are embarrassed for them.
Mr Stockwell: That is it, maybe we are. In the end, everyone says how this government is going to be measured and I do not know, frankly, how it will be measured in five years. It had better pray it is not measured on the Agenda for People, because its members are going to be colossal failures. In fact, the shredder machine should be working overtime while we are off and the government should shred every copy it can get its hands on, or else, I think better, the Premier should have printed this in invisible ink, because this thing and reality are not even close. Reality is a concept in this thing and there is not a prayer the government is going to do it.
We are in the middle of a recession, which the government wrote in its Agenda for People. It said: "We're in the middle of a recession. Elect the NDP. We're going to do all these wonderful things and Shangri-La will pop out of Lake Ontario." There they are out there saying, "Gee, when is this going to happen?"
We are in the middle of a recession. The government promised farmers preferred interest rates, it promised small business people preferred interest rates and it promised the home builders preferred interest rates. It also told them it cannot give them to them until probably part way into next year. Is the government telling us it thinks the recession is going to be over late next year? The recession started around the summer; the government declared it. It is going to end around into 1991 and the government is going to have its policies in place around mid-1991. What a colossal waste of time. By the time the government ends up getting the first buck out, we are going to be out of the recession. We are going to be on our way back up and the government is going to be sitting here saying: "Gee, see how well we solved this problem? See how well we did? We're not in a recession any more." It is absolutely absurd to suggest for a moment that this in fact is going to be the case when we talk about preferred interest rates to farmers.
Another point that really ticks me off in that Agenda for People -- I guess people bought it, but somebody has to be the most naïve person in the world to believe this one -- is that in the middle of this thing, when they are talking about preferred interest rates, preferred interest rates for farmers, preferred interest rates for home owners, preferred interest rates for small business people, they wrote right in there, "at no cost to the taxpayer."
Have any of them thought about that? Have any of them thought, "Gee, what does that mean, 'at no cost to the taxpayer'?" That free: at no cost to the taxpayer. How are they going to apply a program at 10.5 per cent for free? How? How do they do it? First, that means they have nobody managing the program. Second, they have no secretaries working. They do not buy a single desk or a typewriter. They do not write a single letter. They never approve a single loan and not one loan goes sour.
Free? How is that program free? They are dreaming. Either that or they have never had to run a business or been involved in anything where somebody said, "Free," because as soon as somebody says, "Free," you are supposed to turn around and walk away. I am not really certain why they did not, because nothing is free, and no program that they are going to open and operate is going to be free.
I think we are going to see some very interesting times in the next two years. We are going to see capitulation. We are going to see them acquiesce. We are going to see them change. We are going to see them revolve. And we are going to see the 3Rs become 4Rs in certain ministries -- reuse, reduce, recycle and resign -- because there is no hope that the programs can in fact be fulfilled. There is no hope that the agenda will in fact be fulfilled for the people. There is no hope that this budget that they are handing down will have any impact on the Fair Tax Commission.
In my opinion, the people of the province of Ontario, on the promises made by this government, have no hope. The NDP members sold their souls. They sold their souls in August and early September. They sold them when they promised things they could not deliver.
The fact of the matter is that the members of the other parties, and particularly the Conservative Party, promised the people of this province nothing, and they were slammed and hit for not promising more. Members can laugh, but we did not promise them anything. We said, "We can't make you promises; we've got to look at the books and dig up our promises."
The fact of the matter is that we can in fact get up in the morning and shave. These people cannot look at themselves in the mirror because as socialist democrats, as the NDP, as believers in the process, they sold their souls.
Mr Scott: I would like to congratulate the honourable member on a very interesting speech. It shows one thing, that the right is fully occupied by the Conservative Party and that no efforts will be made in this Parliament to advance even slightly to the centre from its historic position. That is a great consolation, I imagine, to the other two parties in the Legislature, both of which have coalesced in almost a single, centre-of-the-road party.
I would like to say to him that I share entirely his views about the proposed appointment process which allows the government to nominate and a government-dominated committee to approve and thereby create the image that the government is absolved from responsibility for the person selected for the appointment.
I would like to ask the honourable member if he draws anything from the fact that the model for the appointment review process adopted in Ontario is almost precisely the model that Prime Minister Mulroney instituted which permitted him to introduce literally dozens of patronage appointments of the worst type under federal scrutiny. Is that what he is saying, that the federal process is as bad as this process? I believe it is. I would like to hear his view.
Mr Stockwell: To be perfectly honest, I do not know what the process is that the federal government uses in making its appointments.
Mr Scott: It's pretty well the same.
Mr Stockwell: If it is the same, I do not agree with it. I do not think there is any secret with respect to partisan politics. As a Conservative, I voted many times on Metropolitan Toronto council and on Etobicoke council against what the conventional thinking of Conservatives was. If Ottawa is doing that, then it is wrong, and if it is wrong, then it is wrong. I am not defending it.
The other thing that needs to be stated is, I do not necessarily think it is wrong for governments to make appointments. I do not believe that is wrong. I think those people got elected, and they got elected by the people of this province, and part of that process meant they could make appointments. Now if they do not think those appointments should be made, then they should abolish the commissions and boards. If they do not think they should be appointing partisan people, then they should not appoint them.
The fact of the matter is, it is a democracy, and if they believe that they were elected and they can make appointments, then they should do it. I say to the member for St George-St David, I am not opposed to this government making appointments, as he is. I am opposed to the process they have instituted; and if Ottawa is doing it, I am opposed to it there. What I am also opposed to is the window dressing and the camouflage they use to lend it credibility. There is no credibility, there is no integrity and there is no honesty in it.
The fact of the matter is they are making their partisan appointments, they are sending them to a committee and they are saying to that committee, "You people approve these." They have a stacked committee, a committee that is stacked full of their members. When they vote, I know how they will vote; they will vote the way the Premier tells them to vote. They should abolish it, forget it. They are not kidding anybody. When they get a chance to meet with the Premier next, which probably will be before 1992, those members should get in there and say to him: "Gee, that's just not cutting it. Do away with it, because nobody's buying it."
Mr Drainville: I am happy to have this opportunity to speak in the debate on the resolution and to talk a little bit about the philosophy of governing that is certainly in play as we look at the legislation and the actions that have been taken by the government up to this point in time. I am going to keep my remarks rather brief, but they are remarks that nevertheless need to be entered into the record.
First of all, I would like to speak basically about the change that every party necessarily goes through as it moves from the opposition benches to the Treasury benches. There is no question that there has been a change in how we have approached things as a government, because every government changes in terms of how it approaches things. For instance, I would like to just mention a quotation from the great German philosopher and writer, Goethe, who said: "We know accurately only when we know little. With knowledge, doubt increases." That is true.
When we were in the opposition and we were looking at the government and attacking government policies, the realm of knowledge from which we were attacking at times was limited, because the knowledge of the reality of the figures in terms of budgeting and in terms of how the government was operating was over on this side. We did not have that information and often did not have good access to it. That is the way our system works.
Now we are in the situation where we are the governing party because of the decision on 6 September and, as such, our knowledge has increased. But so have our doubts, and they are not doubts to be afraid of. The reality is that we face a period of time when there are exigencies that are beyond our capacity to deal with; for instance, the recession. We did not bring this recession upon us. It is a recession that has been forced upon us by monetary policies of the federal government and by global problems in terms of trade and other factors. But we have to respond to it, and we are responding to that in a way that I can only say is perhaps cautious.
Let's speak about caution. The opposition has made great comments about our lack of ability to keep all our promises. If that is a valid criticism, I am willing to say they are right; we have not kept all our promises in the first three months we have been in office. We have not done that. Who knows? I might even say that in the full length of the period of time when we are government here in Ontario, we may not be able to keep every promise we made in the election campaign.
Let me say again, if we are to look at caution, why is it that we are cautious? Because governments, by their nature, have to be cautious. The decisions they make have to reflect sober second thought. They have to reflect the reality they are facing in terms of the economic, social and political reality they find themselves in.
What of the economic reality? It has been said many times in the last number of weeks that we are in a recession. How should we respond to that recession? Daily we get very confusing messages from the opposition benches. Practically the first day when we were entering upon the throne speech debate, the honourable Leader of the Opposition, if you read his text, spoke on the one hand about how we are in the pocket of big business and said that our Premier went down to New York, and in going to Wall Street he was in the pocket of big business. A page later you read that we are in the pocket of the labour movement in Ontario.
One cannot have it both ways. The reality is that we are working with business, yes, and we are working with labour, yes. We are working in fact with all sectors of this province, and we are doing that work in consultation with them because of the necessity of being cautious in how we deal with these affairs as we face such difficult economic times. I am reminded of Victor Hugo who wrote, "Caution is the eldest child of wisdom."
In my view the decisions of our government and the philosophy we have put forward to the people of Ontario are sound. You see it in the legislation we have proposed. Just to mention a few: Bill 1, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Act; Bill 4, An Act to amend the Residential Rent Regulation Act; Bill 14, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act with respect to Pregnancy and Parental Leave; Bill 17, An Act to amend the Law related to the Enforcement of Support and Custody Orders.
All those pieces of legislation, and I give due acknowledgement to the former Liberal government because many of those pieces of legislation began under that government, are pieces of legislation which we have moved through as quickly as possible because of our belief that they give an indication of our care and our concern about the fabric of society in Ontario. That is why we are committed to going cautiously, and yet boldly, in areas where we know that statements need to be made.
Further to that, I would like to speak briefly on the issue of national unity. Many comments have been made today about the program that has been set forth by the Premier in the statement he made in the House. There is no question, I would say, that there is a unanimity of spirit that we need to act on the issue of this question of unity, that indeed the future of Canada is going to ride on how we are able to speak about the future of our country and how well the process we initiate is going to be able to draw people into those discussions.
If there was anything we learned from the Meech Lake debate, it was that we can never again allow for a lack of process on such an important issue. Indeed, what we are proposing is a means by which we can draw the people in Ontario into a relationship where they can speak not only about what they see in terms of the government they want but so they can dream about the Ontario they want to see in the future.
The leadership we have given as a party in this province and in Canada is clear. We support a federal system. We support a system that is going to be co-operative in Canada so that the regions and the provinces work together. We support a system where the rights of individuals are taken care of by the institutions that are set up to oversee the lives of those individuals.
We can see also that the fundamental reality we subscribe to as a government in terms of the national unity, the fundamental understanding, is that we must ensure at all cost that this unity is safeguarded by constant dialogue and communication between all the members and the parts of the society to which we belong.
The beginning point for that in terms of this House and the disposition we will make in this House will be in the next period of time as we look specifically at what people in this province are saying to us about national unity.
In terms of the decisions we make as a government and the spending we do as a government, the honourable member for Etobicoke West indicated that we will take credit for the good news of bringing Ontario out of the recession in the middle of next year. He is right. We will take credit for that; there is no question. He is absolutely right. That is the reality of being in office. When the days are bad, as they are right now, and the opposition attacks, we take the criticism because we have to take the criticism. But conversely, when the days are good and when boom times come again to this province, as they will under the fine leadership of this government, we will see that we will take the credit that is justly due this government.
I want to respond very directly to the comments of the member for Renfrew North and the member for St Catharines in the debate this afternoon. I must say in an aside, they are two members who took over two hours of the time of this august body today. Many of their comments were good and helpful comments in terms of trying to understand the direction we need to go in as a province. Perhaps there were many points I really did not want to hear today, but I did appreciate many of the points that were made by those honourable members.
My last point is that we in this government are committed to a future that will bring Ontario into a society which will be co-operative. Where there are problems, we will tend to ameliorate those problems by dealing directly with the needs and the aspirations as they are shown to us by the people themselves.
If there was anything that was clear in the statement of the honourable Premier of this province today, it was that he indicated the process we would pursue was a process that was founded upon consultation. That consultation is needed, and after that consultation we must act. We must act for the people of this province. We must act as a government that shows we are willing to take the initiative to lead this province and we must act to ensure this country that we believe in and that we have given our hearts and our minds to is a country that will continue in existence, this country we call Canada.
Mrs Sullivan: I am pleased to speak in the debate on supply, which is in fact the way we pay the bills. I am concerned and wanted to participate in the debate for a very short period of time because there has been no mention of agriculture during the course of the discussion to this point and I wanted to put some of the agricultural issues on the table. They are important in Ontario, and I want to be certain they continue to be brought to the attention of this government, which I understand does not have a heavy agricultural background in terms of membership and people who have been involved either in the industry or as part of some of the associated industries relating to agriculture.
There is an old story about the Englishman and the Irishman who were speaking during a low point in the last war. The Englishman said, "The situation is desperate but it is not hopeless," and the Irishman said, "No, it is hopeless but it is not desperate."
When you go to agricultural meetings across the province, you will find that farmers are seeing, one way or the other, no matter whether they are from the north or from the south, from southwestern Ontario or from central Ontario, the same kind of things, no matter how they put it, depending on the nuance of the situation. I will give an example of some of the things that people in my community who are farmers see as being an example of a kind of distorted priority. It costs Halton, for example, $135 a ton to ship our garbage to the United States for disposal. However, my farmers are being paid $85 a ton for the produce of their operations.
Ontario -- and I want to illustrate what the significance of that industry is -- is in fact Canada's largest agricultural province. We forget that. We seem to generally think that the western provinces make more of a contribution in terms of agricultural output than we do. That is not the case. Our agricultural output is about $5.8 billion each year. We have 14 million acres of farm land and 130,000 to 150,000 people on something well over 72,000 or 73,000 farms. One in five jobs in Ontario depends on the agricultural industry.
I think the Treasurer will certainly have been briefed on these matters, but the industry is in a crisis situation. I cannot describe it any other way. Changing commodity prices have affected output significantly. The international protocols, including negotiations relating to GATT and the supply management questions that are involved in those negotiations are creating severe pressures and severe concern in our agricultural communities. It is something that must be solved. There is a postponement in those discussions now and there is no question that our farmers and people who are associated with the agricultural industry are very concerned about what the outcome will be of those discussions after Christmas.
We also see changing consumer demands. The emphasis on fewer drugs used in agricultural production, in livestock production, in crops, increased use of land stewardship methods that will decrease the use of pesticides and chemicals in farming have meant that there has to be new capital spent to change methods of production. We see heavy interest rates that are brought to us courtesy of the federal government and the impact they have on the enormous capital costs that occur every year for farmers. The question of international subsidies on agricultural production is certainly a matter of concern. Our competitive position is threatened as long as those subsidies are not reduced. The cost of new pesticide regulations, of the implementation of those regulations, under the new pesticide discussions is also adding to the farmers' costs.
Land use planning issues: Once again, the intrusion of urban areas into our agricultural class A farm land is certainly a matter of concern as we are looking over the long term at the impact of how we are going to be maintaining our food production system. And the newest pressure is the pressure of compliance with the goods and services tax, for farmers an extremely complicated tax, given that some areas are zero-rated, in some areas there is an exemption and in some areas there is a payment required for GST by farmers.
Over the past five years, there has been some acknowledgement by this province of the changing aspect of agriculture, and we have seen significant funding changes through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food from 1985, when the funding was at $328 million, to the 1990 budget, under which we are working now, where the funding is $558 million. That is an increase of $254 million, or 84%, over that very short period of time. I suggest that before this year-end is out, the Treasurer is going to have to be looking at additional programs and additional expenditures of money in that area.
As we look at the necessity for financial stability programs, stabilization programs which will be of use to the agricultural community, I know that the minister has been introduced through his meetings with the agricultural bodies, including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and pressed regarding the need for increased and well-thought-out stabilization programs.
As members recall, OFFIRR, the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, which was introduced in 1985 as a result of low commodity prices, brought to the agricultural community some relief on interest rates. That was extended in 1988, and included in the 1990 budget was further OFFIRR interest rate reduction assistance. The question as to the continuance of that is something that our farm communities must become apprised of very early so that they can plan for their next year's capital expansion.
We have seen changes in agricultural stabilization programs in terms of federal-provincial agreements relating to grains and oil-seed producers, red meat stabilization, programs for hogs, sheep and beef and stabilization programs for corn, soybeans and white beans.
Clearly, additional changes and initiatives are going to have to be carried forward. Through some of those programs already we have seen initiatives that will assist in the funding of research for preventive herd and flock health programs and nutrition. Clearly, more can be done in that area.
Once again falling into the agricultural sector, we are going through increasing restructuring in the wine and grape industries. The province has been of enormous assistance to this point in time. There will probably be more that will have to be done over the next period of time.
Once again, the free trade agreement has impacted on our agricultural producers. The Food Industry Advisory Committee has been working diligently to discuss some of those problems relating to restructuring. I think I have to underline again, though, that appropriate stabilization programs must be put in place to assist in that restructuring and adaptation process.
One of the issues that has been a matter of some debate over a period of time relates to the property tax rebate for Ontario farms. That property tax rebate was introduced in 1970 to relieve the tax burden for farmers, through several manifestations since that period of time. In 1990, a universal approach to payments was introduced to ensure that it was the legitimate farmer, the producing farmer who was receiving benefits under the property tax rebate. In that case, in a two-year program, the farmers would receive a rebate of 75% for farm lands and outbuildings, to a value of about $151 million in the provincial Treasury for this fiscal year.
The farmer had to have a gross production value of $7,000 to qualify for that rebate, but one of the things we are seeing in areas such as mine is that where property values are higher, the value of the rebate to the producing farmer, when all other costs are the same, is in fact reduced. This is a matter that must be dealt with in that we are seeing significant differences in available income for productive use for farmers depending on where they operate in the province.
I asked the Treasurer the other day at the meeting of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs if this and others matters relating to the property tax would be included in the Fair Tax Commission. He said that was yet to be determined. I think it is a matter that ought to be included in that commission work.
We have noted that the Premier has indicated that his view is that Canada should not be at the table in any discussion of a Mexican-United States trade negotiation process. I find that view alarming in that if we are not at the table, we cannot object to any of the decisions that will be unfair to our current situation, nor can we have any indication of whether there would be some positive advantages to a furtherance of that accord. As members know, Mexico and the USA have agreed in principle to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement, and consideration is being given to Canada's participation in those negotiations.
I think back -- and I want to keep my remarks specifically to the agricultural issues -- as a child and as a young woman, I was very involved in exporting cattle to Mexico, and there was a clear market for Ontario-produced dairy cattle in particular. If we take a very brief, introductory look at Mexican production now, we know that Mexico is not able to produce enough foodstuff for its population, whether it is wheat, dairy products, livestock feed, vegetable oils or milk. In Mexico there is limited arable land. There is a growing population and extremely limited water supplies. It is very clear that after and if an agreement comes together, the US producer will have increasing access to the Mexican market as the restrictions that existed in the past are removed.
The question is, what would the benefits be for Ontario if Canada were involved in that? I would suggest that it would be important for us to look at areas such as the export of raw agricultural commodities such as canola, wheat, barley and beans, all of them growing in Ontario, all of them grown in quantity that can supply new and developing export markets. Similarly, primary process products such as skim milk powder may also find a new outlet in Mexico; processed meat products a similar thing.
Once again, at the standing committee on finance and economic affairs the other day, the Treasurer indicated that there are no studies in Ontario looking at the economic impact or any other kind of impact on any of the sectors in Ontario relating to any proposed Mexico-Canada-US trade arrangement. It seems to me that is shortsighted. We should know what the positive aspects would be. We should know what the negative aspects would be. And we should also know where and when we can benefit or where we will lose if we are not included.
I am concluding my remarks now. As I said earlier, I wanted to be brief, but I did want to ensure that agriculture was on the table. It is a significant part of our economy. It had not been raised before and I wanted to be certain that some of these issues were put on the record in this debate so that they can be dealt with as the Treasurer and other ministers are looking at the kinds of priorities that will be set for spending over the next period of time.
Mr Turnbull: I promise I will try to not make this an hour-long proceeding. I think that the government members are aware that we are certainly going to vote with them on this bill, but this is a good opportunity to point out a few important considerations that we feel they should take into account. First of all, there is a need for fiscal restraint. We hear this always, but what is fiscal restraint? It is a sense of balancing what we are spending our money on. Are we spending the government's money well? Ultimately, how well we spend our money is going to translate into either how much taxes we have to raise or how much debt we are going to accrue. Let's reduce any unnecessary expenditures, look at everything very carefully and let's be very shy about saying, "Let the government do it," because governments do not do things very well.
An interesting statistic that I only became aware of just a matter of a few weeks ago, since the election, is that the average Canadian actually receives more benefits than he pays for in taxes. This is taking federal, provincial and municipal taxes. I think the average person, certainly people watching this television show, will say to himself: "Well, wait a minute. I don't think that I get that." However, that is the reality, that government simply does not deliver services very efficiently. It has been estimated, conservatively I believe, that for every dollar's worth of services that are delivered by any level of government, there is at least an extra dollar in administration.
I know that socialist dogma has it that you must be all things to all people, but I would caution the government that if it wants to stay in power, it is going to have to show at the end of its four- or four-and-a-half-year term what it has done for this. The past government has just been through the unpleasant experience of having to be brought to account for what it has done. They were in power for five years. The first two years they were in power as a result of an accord with the NDP and then for three years they were swimming on their own. At the end of that time -- it was probably the best five-year period that Ontario had ever been through in the last 50 years -- what had they done? They had added to the debt.
I do not want to take anything away from the gentlemen to my right here. They had governed in a way that they thought was appropriate. Unfortunately, I think we all see that once you get into government -- this government is learning this at the moment -- there is a lot of pressure that you did not anticipate to spend money. At the moment, this government also has pressures not to spend money, certainly from our side of the floor.
If there is this one-to-one relationship between the costs of government services, the question is, why not let the private sector deliver those services? The government can put a framework into play that says we must ensure these services are delivered to the public, but let us find the most economic way of doing it.
Of course, looking at the most economic way of doing things may imply that the government is going to give business to companies which are not unionized. That is something it is going to have to get used to. Only a very small part of Ontario's labour is in fact unionized. By the same token, I would say that this government was elected by only a small number of people. In fact, around 23% of the eligible voters cast a ballot for the NDP. That is not a sweeping mandate to spend money. Nevertheless, the way our political system works. this government has the right to govern and we do not begrudge it. Believe me, we do not.
We are here in opposition to point out when the government does things wrong and also to chivvy it and say, "Why don't you do things in a little bit of a different way?" We get bad value for government-delivered services. That is just the nature of the animal. We can go throughout the world and look at government-delivered services, and in fact we know how badly they work. The ultimate extreme of course is Russia, where the whole socialist system is falling apart at the seams, so let's not let dogma get in the way.
We have heard some rather interesting flip-flops from the NDP in the last few weeks as to where the fault for the recession lies. First of all, it is a made-in-Canada recession, but when a question from across the floor is asked which that does not quite fit in with, we get, "Oh well, it's a worldwide recession." The truth is yes, it is a worldwide recession, and yes, in Canada we have a more severe recession, but the other truth is we have a yet more severe recession in Ontario. It is estimated by many economists that Ontario is probably going to be the worst off out of Canada in this recession and will come out of the recession later than any other province.
What are the reasons for that? There are many reasons and they do not all flow to the fault of the NDP or my Liberal colleagues. Nevertheless, we have been living in Ontario and piling up debt, and we are now a very high-cost administration to be in. We have high taxes. We now see retroactive legislation which, as I spoke to about two nights ago, sends out a very negative message as to what this government will do. And we have a high degree of regulation.
All of this is going to erode our jobs and the ability to recover from this recession. So much of our economy is now tied to the automotive sector and we have become a very expensive place to manufacture.
How will the government do? Time will tell, but we are putting them on notice that many of their policies will not work. It has been proven not to work in many other countries of the world. Believe me, coming from Britain 21 years ago, I saw what many years of socialism did. It destroyed Britain. It was almost inconceivable. I lived for a little while in continental Europe after I lived in Britain, and people took a great deal of joy making jokes about Britain, about "Oh, you are finished," and little snide remarks.
They were telling us that Britain could never assume a major economic role in the world again. Now it did, and it did under Conservative rule. I have to say, yes, there are many things that I look at in Britain that Maggie Thatcher did which I do not approve of, and maybe it was not quite humane enough, but nevertheless in Britain they did realize the folly of too much government intervention.
Looking at intervention, it naturally leads to the question of taxes. Under the last administration we had 33 tax increases. I am not going to list them all. Members know them. The most sinister of them were things like the commercial concentration tax where they said: "Oh, you are very fat cats in the greater Toronto area. Let's put an extra tax on large buildings in the greater Toronto area." That erodes our competitive position in the world, and that erodes their ability to be able to offer jobs to their electorate and to our electorate. Ultimately it is going to have very negative effects throughout the province and we are beginning to see those.
We have seen increased land transfer taxes. So far I have not heard any mention from the NDP that it is going to reduce land transfer taxes. We have had the Minister of Housing talking about the need for affordable housing and we agree we must have affordable housing, but adding heavy land transfer taxes to housing is not the way to get affordability.
We have seen a payroll tax that ranges between 0.98% and 1.95% added to businesses, which really attacks the competitive position of businesses. That was the so-called health tax, but miraculously it disappeared into general revenue.
We have seen the vehicle registration tax increase by 66% in the greater Toronto area and only 22% in other areas of the province. The Ontario provincial income tax rate increased from 48% of the base federal tax to 50%, with a 3% surtax over a certain point.
If we want to plan a healthy economy, it requires that we have competitive taxes. We are part of North America. Whether we like it or not, we are part of North America, and a little later I will speak a little bit about free trade. Nevertheless, if we are going to ensure jobs for Ontarians, we need to have competitive taxes. Money is very portable; it will vote with its feet.
We need to have at some point a balanced budget. I have not heard of any party in the last few years, and that includes the Conservatives when they were in power, doing much about a balanced budget. One of the things I said when I ran in this last election was that I wanted to leave, for my kids and their kids, a clean environment and a clean set of books. By piling up debt we do not address that, because deficits and debt simply are deferred taxes. We are deferring taxes for our children to pay, the same children who are going to find that the Canada pension plan is underfunded and will be bankrupt in a few years' time. So the same children who are going to have to pay for our extravagant living are also going to have to pay massively when the Canada pension plan is defunct, and it certainly will be.
We do not suggest that the government should have a balanced budget this year because clearly we are in bad economic times -- everybody recognizes that -- but all parties have to start thinking about that day and planning a specific date in advance. We might be a little bit variable as to when it happens, but we must plan to have a balanced budget. More than having a balanced budget, we have to start paying down the debt so that our children do not have to pay for it.
Another concern that we hear bandied around so often in here is interest rates. The question is asked: Why does the federal government not reduce interest rates? I do not know. I am not part of the federal government. But I will say this: We have basically lost our ability to have a made-in-Canada interest rate policy. The proof of that was in February of this year when the Bank of Canada reduced the interest rate by half a per cent and we had a huge run on the Canadian dollar. That has very negative effects on jobs -- jobs of workers who, gentlemen, also vote for the NDP. The dollar dropped.
We might ideally wish that the dollar were somewhat lower, but it has to be a managed reduction in the value of the dollar. It cannot be something that just happens because, miraculously, the interest rate is reduced. The bottom line is that we lost our ability to have a made-in-Canada interest rate when per capita savings were reduced substantially.
We no longer have the luxury of having a high savings rate. That means we have to borrow from other countries. I wish it were not so, but it is. I have not checked in the last two or three weeks, but a few weeks ago you could get 9% investing in Germany. People, investors, who had no allegiance to either Germany or Canada, concluded that, yes, they would indeed like to invest in Canada if there was a big enough gap in the interest rates.
We have to encourage savings. The way to encourage savings is by reducing inflation, by reducing high taxes and by taking away the bogeyman of estate taxes because Ontarians with wealth will move away from Ontario as long as that is hanging over their heads. I had a lady who was almost in tears phone me last Friday in my constituency office and say, "Are they going to take that away, because we have to move and we do not want to move away from our family if that happens?"
The NDP, with some of its policies it has enunciated so far, erodes confidence. I would ask them to seriously lobby the Premier and say, "Please, let's at least start fine-tuning what we are doing." We know they were elected on a different platform to ours and they legitimately have the right to govern and they have the right to govern according to their agenda, but it needs fine-tuning.
I must say that I applauded the NDP for having the guts to come out with the Agenda for People, inasmuch as it came forward with one document which said where the party stood. That is not something that has been common in Canada. I certainly applaud them for that. I do not agree with much of the content, but say to them to please listen to other people and believe that they may have a legitimate position where they can help them to govern well.
I hope that we form the government next time around, but nevertheless in the meantime I do not want their party to run the province into deeper debt. My friend from across the floor is indicating that we will be the official opposition. I do not think so, but be that as it may. We need to have confidence in this province and in Canada.
On free trade, we know that the GATT talks collapsed. Canada is a huge exporter and Ontario leads that exporting; about 60% of everything that is exported from Canada comes from Ontario and comes from practically 100 miles from Toronto. This is the engine of Canada. With the collapse of GATT, it points up the fact that we certainly need a window into the US market. We are in a rather unfortunate position in that we have just one huge customer for our goods. Most countries have the luxury of having many trading partners, but Canada has got itself, rightly or wrongly, in the position that 80% of the things that we export go to the United States. We have to ensure that is open. Do not tinker around with it.
The alternative is to close the doors and say, "Okay, we're only going to have a situation where we manufacture things in Canada." Argentina tried that and it was a miserable failure. Many of the Latin American countries have made that same mistake. They have found that free trade is necessary. That is why Mexico is now coming to the free trade table with the United States.
The peculiar thing is, I went on holiday to Mexico to visit some friends of mine in the last March break. They are representatives of a Canadian bank and they have many Mexican friends. Their Mexican friends have concerns about free trade, because they are worried about the big United States monster coming over the border. Yet they are the cheaper country than the United States. So often we have heard the NDP saying, "Oh yes, but the United States is cheaper than Canada." The reality is, we have to get to the position that we are competitive. We have got to hone in on those technologies and those parts of industry where we can be competitive.
We must ensure that the most needy in our society are helped. The shotgun approach to helping people does not work, saying, "Okay, everybody is going to get so much money." We have to make sure that we hone in on those people and give them more help than we are giving now, because we have people in our society who are falling through the cracks and unless we address that urgently we will all be the worse off for it. The answer to it is shelter allowances so that we make sure that people are properly housed.
In conclusion, we need restraint in spending. Maybe not restraint in spending this year, but we certainly need to look at every expenditure we make in government to make sure that we are getting a bang for the buck. If we are not, take that money that we can save and address the most needy.
We need to be competitive. We need to encourage savings, because if we can get back to a high per capita savings rate, we will finally get to the position that we will not have to worry about foreign money and we can once again have a made-in-Canada interest rate policy.
We need to pay down debt and we know that must be done in the future. We know they cannot do it in a year of recession like this. But do not make the mistake the Liberals made during the last five years, the best five years we have known in the last 50, that debt is irrelevant. We must stop retroactive legislation because it sends out the worst message.
As a caucus they should get together and say, "Mr Premier, we have got to stop that." They have already sent the message out to landlords that indeed they cannot do any more renovations. Do not worry, they have heard that loud and clear. But let those applications that were in the system go through, so that little people whose life savings are in those buildings are not bankrupt.
Finally, we have to make sure that there is an expansion of trade. I wish this government every good wish in the coming years so that it can govern the people of Ontario well. But I do hope sincerely that they have taken to heart some of the things I have said, because, believe it or not, there is a grain of truth in it.
Mr Callahan: I just dashed in. I particularly want to take part in this debate because I think this province is facing its most difficult challenges perhaps in the history of this country and the history of this province, and many of those have been spoken about already. They include such things as free trade, the recession, high interest rates and the extension of the free trade agreement by the feds to Mexico with Canada being excluded in terms of entering into those discussions, but I think those are things that we have difficulty in doing anything about because they are outside of our jurisdiction.
However, I think we can attempt to continue the strengthening of this province by doing a number of things. First of all, transportation is the key to a stronger Ontario. If we are to compete in a significant way with our neighbours to the south, it is going to require us to have an economy that is vibrant, an economy that can compete. At the moment, the cost of our housing is so outrageous when you compare it to the United States that that is going to be one of the real stumbling blocks to attracting business here and of allowing our citizens to be able to compete economically with the United States. When you look at what you can buy in the United States for $80,000, you would be lucky if you could get the hen house here for $80,000. That is tragic and that is something that is going to certainly interfere with our economy.
The other thing we looked at is the fact that -- this is probably a very delicate subject to approach, but I think it is something that is going to have to be looked at realistically -- we have allowed ourselves to price ourselves out of the market in terms of wages. I know we are going the other route now. We are trying to bring some fairness to those groups who have been left behind, but if we continue the upward spiral of wages we are going to find that we are not going to have any jobs that those people can take part in.
We are seeing this already through the free trade agreement and a whole host of other things: high interest rates; jobs are leaving this province left, right and centre; high cost of land. I used to think Buffalo was simply liquor stores and fires. When my son went over to Buffalo for his first visit, he expected the entire place to be brand-new because when he watched the Buffalo news it was either a liquor store holdup or a fire. There is no question about it: With the significant border that we have with the United States, the tax benefits they are offering, the cheap land they are offering and with the free trade agreement and the oncoming of the full impact of the free trade agreement, Ontario's economy, which is to a large degree manufacturing, is going to be lost.
We worry, and I think we should worry, about the question of keeping this country together. but I think we have to think more significantly on the fate of Ontarians because once we lose our financial freedom, our economic freedom, it is not far beyond that that our political freedom is gone. I do not know about other members of the Legislature, but I for one do not want to be part of the United States, thank you. In fact, I left there to become part of Canada.
The cost of housing has a significant impact on our society, on our ability for families to conduct themselves and carry on in such a way that our young people are having the advantage of, hopefully, one parent around most of the time and perhaps two. I think we have to get back to basics. Perhaps I sound like I should be a member of the third party saying these things, but I firmly believe them. We throw money at drug problems, we throw money at the correctional system, we throw money at various other things, and in essence we are failing to recognize that all of those things that are taking place are really just symptoms of a greater disease, and that greater disease is the fact that our entire social values have been changed.
You turn on the television and you see a beer ad, and unless you are one of the beautiful people and you are prepared to swing with the swingers and drink with the drinkers, you are not anyone. What kind of an impact does that have on our young people? What kind of an impact does it have on our young people when everything that is being sold on television shows you the good life and tells them you have to have that; you have to immediately have a microwave oven because that is the wave of the future; you have to immediately have a television that is stereophonic. I think we have to realize that we have to try to teach our young people, particularly at a very early level in the school system, that good things come but you have to wait for them. You do not get them immediately.
Our society is a throwaway society and a society where you want instant gratification, and the net result is that we are going to spend millions of dollars, finally, in correctional services, we are going to spend millions of dollars in perhaps dealing with mental illness, and we are going to spend millions of dollars looking after people who are going to become the flotsam and jetsam of this whole thing if we do not turn it around.
It is clear that our society has gone down the road a fair ways and we are not likely to turn it around tomorrow, but I think we can start with our children. For that reason, I think education has to be primary, it has to be at the forefront of our direction, and I am glad to see the Minister of Education here because I think it is very important that this is where we start.
I think the co-op programs have to be enlarged. They have to start perhaps at grade 8 and go right through to university and community college. Even with young people coming out of university today, because their curriculum vitae has nothing on it other than "I mowed people's lawns" or "I worked in a factory" or whatever, that does not give them an opportunity to get a job when they get out. That being the case, what are we doing? Are we really serving the needs of these people in a realistic world? I do not think we are.
I think the Minister of Education and the Minister of Colleges and Universities should look at the question of giving the opportunity to young people to combine a university degree with a community college degree. I am talking about the people who go on to university. This certainly does not apply to everybody, but they should have the opportunity to be able to combine the practical with the theoretical so that when they get out they are not just a product of a university with a good deal of understanding of the history of philosophy but no way to earn their livelihood.
I remember during the community college strike I met a number of the teachers out here on Bay Street. I happened to know a couple of them. We got talking and the difficulty they were having was that they had declining enrolment in the community colleges, while they had 500 or 600 kids in a lecture hall at the university taking a course.
My feeling was that if we looked at this scenario of being able to, say, take a year at university and then a year at community college and so on, we could spread these kids throughout the entire system and we could maximize the use of the plant that we as a province have a lot of money invested in, and ensure that when those young people graduated they would in fact have a reality of the real world. It would not simply be academia.
That is dealing with the people who go on to university, and perhaps there are too many people who go on to university. I think in the past perhaps it was looked upon as some form of higher echelon to go on to university. We have lots of young people who should have the opportunity to go to advanced trade schools, advanced technological schools, to provide the workers we are going to need for this century and the next century. If we do not do that we are going to fall far behind other countries in terms of being able to compete.
I look at the free trade agreement, and I guess central to that and one of the cornerstones, certainly in Ontario and I guess in Canada, was the automobile pact. We all looked at that as being the saving grace of this province and the saving grace of this country, and yet the free trade agreement is kicking in the ability to be able to buy a secondhand car in the United States and bring it over here. Each year that gets more current; I think we are now up to six-year-old cars or maybe five-year-old cars. We are starting to see businesses start up, particularly in border towns such as Windsor and other places, where the used car dealers are actually selling cars they have bought in the United States and brought over here duty free.
It is my understanding, and I may be wrong, there is a one-year termination clause in the auto pact. If we get to the stage where we get to year one or year two of selling these cars and Canadians, because of the economy, decide to buy a car that is two or three years old, what impact is that going to have on the auto industry? And how long are the big auto people going to stay here? Are they going to see that it is cheaper to go to Mexico or to the United States, to San Antonio, close to the border, where they can use Mexican labour?
I am painting a picture that I envisage as being very dark and gloomy for this province because we are in fact caught in a very significant war. I think in order to be able to compete in that particular war and to be able to keep Ontario vibrant, we have to start looking at spending the dollars that are now being asked for here in a sensible way.
I think we have lacked foresight in terms of how we can approach the question of affordable housing. The question of affordable housing is not approached by saying the government is going to do it all and we are going to take the profit out of it because all these people out there who build them are bogeymen who are just trying to make a profit, which is a dirty word. Some of them are. Some of them are scavengers, some of them are scabs, which I do not feel comfortable with, but if you want to change the cost or lower the cost of housing, you have to build an infrastructure of transportation. Transportation is the key.
I remember one of our members -- and I cannot remember what riding he was from -- had a four-bedroom house in an area in southwestern Ontario that cost $80,000. If the government set up a transportation link that would provide transportation from St Thomas to the closest area where you could industrialize it and create an entire environment of business, it could in fact create housing for people rather than having to do some of the things that are being perhaps espoused or thought of by the cabinet.
We have the 400 series of highways. We own the rights of way to them. I will never understand why we do not take a page out of the California scenario, BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. They run high-speed rail along the freeways. They do not have to buy up anybody's land, they do not have to stop the Spadina politically or, in the government's case, stop Highway 403 through Hamilton.
I think we have to stop making decisions based on what is sexy politically. We are running out of time, and if we continue to carry on the process of politics in this province as it has been -- and that is not an indictment of the NDP, that is an indictment of all parties -- rather than coming up with sensible solutions and ways to apply money but simply doing it because it is a quick fix from a political standpoint, we are going to run out of money and we are going to run out of popularity. I think we have already done that. We experienced it in the last election and I can assure the government members that they will experience it unless they change the scenario. I can tell them for sure that the municipal people who go out in the next election are going to find themselves in very great hot water, and when the Prime Minister and his gang go out, unless they have thrown enough money around from the GST, they are going to be in deep trouble too.
I think we have to look at that. We have to have vision. We cannot just plan for tomorrow. We have to stop the Band-Aid approach, because we cannot afford it any more. If the NDP wants to have Band-Aid approaches and it wants to check its popularity polls and how it is doing in the polling system, that is fine, but I can assure them that Ontario will become a suburb of north Tonawanda, and I am sure nobody in Ontario wants that. We have a beautiful province. I think we have a more sensitive approach to things than many other people in the world and I would like to see us maintain that.
I find it interesting that during the period of the accord we tried to reform the Mental Health Act. The Tories, before that, let people out of institutions. They considered it to be far more humane. Well, that is right, it is, but when you let them out and you let them roam the streets of Toronto and the streets of the major cities and let them sleep out in the cold, that to me is not humane. You may feel like you have done a good thing, but you have not. Speaking of schizophrenics, I would say that probably 90% of the people you see roaming the streets are schizophrenics. Many of them who come before the court system are schizophrenics. What have we done about them?
During the accord, in an effort to try and eliminate the forcing of treatment on people who are mentally ill, we came in with amendments to the Mental Health Act. Some of them were very good. I do not think people should have to get shock treatment if they do not want it. But we did not give one thought, I do not think, to the question of a mental illness such as schizophrenia, which can be controlled by the proper application of medication.
There is a challenge for the government. It can use the moneys it has got to do that. On the other side of the coin, I think it has got to stop giving money away. I was incensed to see $500 million dropped because there was a political promise made during the election that they would parallel the provincial sales tax with the GST. That is not helping anybody. As I said in the debate in the House, they are helping the high-ticket earners because the people who need those programs who could have been helped by that $500 million are not going to be buying the big-ticket items. So they are really giving it to the privileged. If that is what they want to do and if that is the new approach, then so be it, but I think they have made a mistake.
Last night in the House, the Attorney General did not say it but I am sure -- he acknowledged it to me privately -- that he has told groups in the law association that he intends to take over the collection of child support and pay it to these people and then go collect it from the fathers. I hope he is doing that for the right reason and it is not being done just for a comfortable political reason.
As I said last night, I am as concerned as anyone in this House is about seeing the children live not in poverty but in a reasonable arrangement where they can grow up and be good citizens. But the government, by taking on that responsibility, is really relieving the father of his responsibility. It is throwing something in the face of those fathers who are in fact making their payments. What have we done? Again, Big Brother, government, has eliminated responsibility. And what do our kids see? Our kids look at it and they think, "Well, if government is going to do that for me, it's going to look after me from the cradle to the grave, why should I have any incentive? Why should I not go out and get the quick fix in terms of instant gratification, buy all the big cars and all the rest of it and never have to worry about paying for them?"
I think if we as adults, and particularly as legislators, want to have that opportunity to be in the public eye, we have a responsibility to these young people to give them an example of how to do it, and not just the façade. I think politics is that way, and maybe I am very naive to stand here and say that, but I hope for a brave new world of people who are prepared to work hard, to perhaps take a little bit less and to perhaps create that Ontario where we can continue to be vibrant and economically sound.
We have gone a long way towards trying to deal with our seniors, but there has to be money plugged into that area to continue to provide the services to keep these people in their homes, to give them a degree of respect and honour and allow them to retire graciously and with honour instead of making them grovel and grope to get the money. That is going to take some very significant planning and not just Band-Aid approaches. We are going to have to look at it from the standpoint of an ever-increasing aging population.
Money is not always the solution to all these problems. That has been our mistake in the past: We have decided that money is the way to deal with it so we throw money at the problem and then when we run out of money we go back out and we tax the people we have thrown the money at, and they need more money because we have taken it away from them by taxes. So it becomes a revolving-door syndrome. That certainly is not helping the entire situation.
I want to speak specifically of a group that I met with this morning in my riding, the Peel Children's Centre. I am sorry the Minister of Community and Social Services is not here. The people the centre hires as professionals to deal with these young people are paid a salary that is less than what we pay; when I say "we," I mean institutions that are run by the government. The net result is that they cannot keep their good staff. They may have them for four or five months and after they train them they disappear and go with government operations. That has to be changed.
On the other side of the coin, our bureaucracy is so hung up that it says, "Well, we can't allow you to reduce the number of people you're going to use for services and perhaps increase the salaries of these people, because if we do that we're opening the floodgates and we're going to have everybody else doing it." I think we have to get out of this square box mentality we have and I think we have to bring the civil service with us. We have to tell them that when a member approaches them for consideration of an idea, they do not just clam up and say: "Well, we've never done it that way before so we're not going to do now and that's it. You're stuck with what you've got."
Surely to heaven the 130 members in this Legislature, who are being paid for by the taxpayers of this province, even though those guys are in the government and we are over here, should all be listened to in terms of our ideas when we approach certain members of the bureaucracy and try to give them ideas or talk about things, not just be shut up with the comment: "Well, we never did that in the past. We're not going to do it now. You're stuck. If you want to get some satisfaction, you've got to go to the minister who's responsible." That is an awfully indirect route to have to pursue.
Finally, I want to talk about an inequity in my riding. The Liberal government pushed through and started off on the transportation enlargement in this province by pushing GO on the Georgetown line through to Guelph, and it was going to go through to Brantford -- I do not know what will happen now -- and eventually, I would imagine, to Windsor. The difficulty is -- and I want to tell members this because it is very important -- that if that line is to be used effectively, it requires $100 million to double-track the system between Brampton and Bramalea. It could have been done for $10 million back in 1971, but it was not.
The effect is that we have a community of almost 200,000 people, with a planned population of about 300,000 people, and they have GO bus service and cars. So they get to Toronto on Highway 401 and on Highway 27 and the Queen Elizabeth Way, and all we are doing is stacking our highways. So I am putting in a pitch for us continuing the transportation upgrading. Let us get that Georgetown line going. We have a lot of money in it. We could solve it if we could get CP or CN to run the freight trains on a regular basis. For some reason -- they own the track, I guess; that is why they do it -- they seem to think they should be able to pull out of the freight yards any time they want, and we cannot come to a common ground with them to be able to have more service on that line. If we could give those people a little more service into Toronto and so on, we could eliminate an awful lot of cars on the highways and we would not have some of the problems we are experiencing in terms of the cost of upkeep and widening of highways.
Finally, I have appreciated the opportunity to speak in this debate. I will be in the main foyer to accept all the members' Christmas gifts immediately after this speech.
Mr Carr: I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this issue. Of course, as we have mentioned before, we will be approving this resolution to continue to pay the civil service, but I would just like to make a few points, if I could.
I would like to talk a little bit about the need for restraint. Since I have come to this fine House, I guess there has not been a day that has gone by where we have not had some type of group coming and talking about a need for spending. There is always a very worthy cause that comes up, and there are a tremendous amount of problems that we have in this province at this time. But I want to tell members a little bit about the fact that tax increases also affect people and do create a burden.
When I was running in the election, I went up to a household and there was a lady there -- it is hard to believe now that we are in the winter, but in the summertime she was pruning her hedges. As I came up, she laughed at me and she said, "If you're a Liberal, I'm going to use these on you," and it was a pair of hedge clippers. We laughed and thought it was very funny at the time. But as I went down the driveway later on, she broke down and she was actually in tears. She had come from the Ukraine and her husband was from Ireland, I guess it was, and she was afraid of losing her home as a result of the high taxes.
So I think we need to remember that we must all be accountable when it comes to taxes as well, because when I think back to this poor lady and her problems, we sometimes like to see how the spending needs to take place but we do not realize that people are affected in their ability to pay. In particular, people like the seniors are sincerely affected when we do increase their taxes.
In the end, when I look at the past government, even with a 130% increase in taxes, it still was not able to solve a lot of the problems. We still had the waiting lists at hospitals. We still had problems with our education system. In fact, we even had an environment that, overall, got worse. As we go on, I think what we need to do is spend more wisely, because we can rest assured the electorate will hold us responsible next time for the way we spend its money, because it will be their money that we spend.
It is my view that the time has finally come when we need to draw the line on the short-term, quick-fix solutions where a lot of times we throw money at the problem in order to serve politicians rather than the actual people of this province. What we need to do is look at long-term solutions that are going to be in the interest of the public and, more important, our children. Having three children, I do not want to have them saddled with the tremendous debts that we will pass on to them.
I think there is a perception out there by the public that there is a lot of waste in government. I think to some extent that is well deserved. The spending in many ministries increased dramatically last time. The Ministry of Health went from about $8 billion to about $15 billion, but in the end we still did not get the results we wanted and there were still waiting lists for surgery.
I think what we need to do in this House and in this Legislature is really worry about the results. We need to be more results-oriented rather than activity-driven, because we always talk about how much more money we spend. In fact in the last election my worthy opponent from the Liberal side did that. He talked about the increases, the amount that was spent and the amount of increases. But they really were not able to show any of the results. I think that is how the members opposite are going to be judged -- really, in the results.
I know, as somebody who has come from a management background, we always said you have to be really results-oriented rather than activity-driven. Having come to this House and seeing how the activities sometimes can take over, I will say to the members opposite, and particularly the cabinet ministers, they really have to look at the results they want to achieve rather than sometimes worrying so much about the activities.
I certainly do not pretend to know the rest of the province, but I did spend 37 days going around in Oakville. The number one issue really was taxes. The NDP had a very fine candidate in my riding, Danny Dunleavy. He got about 20% of the vote. The big reason that I did so well was that we said there were going to be no new taxes. In fact, the people are saying that the Premier is a very bright individual and he will not go ahead and spend recklessly. I say that with all respect to the Premier because that is what people are saying about him. I hope they are right, because the people in my riding really do not want any more increases in taxes.
The temptation is great because there are a lot of worthy causes out there, but I tell the members opposite to really think about the people they will be hurting with any tax increases, because they are affecting a lot of the people in my riding, as well as in this province.
I also would like to comment a little bit on the creation of wealth. The throne speech talked a little bit about the creation of wealth, and I was very pleased to see that. I think the words were to the effect that wealth must be created, not only shared. I think that is very important, because as we sit here it is very easy to say that the wealth is going to be divided up and shared more evenly, but what we need to do ultimately, in the end, is make sure that wealth is created. If wealth is not created, the ones who will really be hurt will be the poor, who will fall further and further behind. Because I can tell you very clearly, inflation really hurts the poor. When inflation happens, all that means is the rich get a higher interest rate on their guaranteed investment certificates. But it is really the poor who are affected when inflation comes, and that inflation will come if we do not spend wisely and if we run up the deficits.
So I say very clearly and very simply we need to spend very much more wisely than we have in the past, and we do not need to increase the deficit. I think we need to review where the spending is going. I think the public perception needs to be changed, that we are doing our best to spend wisely. I notice there is a tremendous outcry, since I have come to this Legislature, about the GST from both my friends in the Liberal Party and my friends opposite. I hope we will remember, when it comes budget time with our Treasurer, that the people of this country and this province are taxed to death and the last thing we need is more taxes.
So I say to the Treasurer, as he contemplates the process coming up regarding the budget: no new taxes, please. In the past you could get away with it, or at least the last government thought it could get away with it. But in the end, as always happens, the voter gets even with you.
Again I say, in my riding of Oakville South it was the biggest issue. I had people calling me who said that they had voted NDP all their lives, but they knew that the Conservatives had the best chance of knocking off the Liberals so they did actually vote for me, and the only reason was that they did not want any increase in taxes. I say that because I know I did get a few calls from some of those people, and I was actually surprised when I did get those comments.
I was surprised also as I went around and found the number of people who say they are leaving this province and/or this country because of the high-tax situation. They are simply giving up because we have become the highest-taxed jurisdiction in all of North America. I think that is very sad that we send out that message. So I say to the members opposite, let's show some leadership and spend wisely. When new programs need to come in, as they often will, let's really analyse and really take a hard look at where the spending is going and whether it is justified.
I have the pleasure of sitting on the standing committee on estimates, and I look forward to being able to take a look at where the money is spent. I invite all members to take a look at the -- I guess it was the quarterly update that was sent out last June, which really indicates where our money is spent and where it comes in. Even though we come here sometimes with our own special interests and prejudices on certain issues, I think it would be well worth the members' time, if they have not already done so, to really take a look at where the money is being spent and where it comes in. It is very detailed. It breaks it down, what comes in from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario profits, what comes in from personal income tax, retail sales.
It is very interesting, because I think as we reflect on where the money needs to go, we also have to see very clearly where it is coming from. I am sure most of the members, like myself, are spending a great deal of time reading a lot of things, but if they can over the Christmas holidays, and if they have not done so, I would encourage them to take a look at it because I think it is very important that we know where the money is being spent and where it is coming in as we reflect on new spending programs that will be coming up.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that as we sit here tonight and we talk about spending and where the money is going, it is very easy to get caught up in the spending pattern. When there is a problem, and the recession hits as it has, it is very easy to say, "Well, what we need is more spending." I know the Treasurer has talked about the $700 million, or probably close to $1 billion, that he is going to pump in. But let's really take a look. Is it going to be effective and is it going to get the results that we really want? Because I sincerely believe that is what the people want.
When you do get a chance to look through the Ontario finances, one of the big concerns is when you see how much we are already putting in to pay for the public debt, the $4.3 billion that I guess goes to debt interest charges. That is what makes it so difficult now to have spending. Deficits definitely reduce our ability to spend in the future. So let's not mortgage our future with these high debts. It is not fair to the next generation. I say to the members opposite, I guess it was our leader, the member for Nipissing, who said, let's not replace one high-spending, high-taxing government with another high-spending, high-taxing government. Let's make a lot of changes and let's be effective in the way we spend. Let's be results-oriented rather than just worrying about how much we spend. Let's act responsibly to guard against the spending, which I know is so difficult to do because there are so many worthwhile causes out there.
It may be tempting to just throw money at it, but in the end I think the people who are going to be hurt the most are the ones we genuinely want to help. Because as inflation comes along, the ones who sometimes suffer the most are the ones who are the poorest and the disadvantaged. So let's make sure we redirect the money to the people most in need, because there is a tremendous amount of people out there and I think all members who have come to this House have done so because they truly and honestly want to help people, and in particular, those at the lower end of the scale, the poor, the disadvantaged. And let's make sure we do have enough money in the end to spend for them by spending wisely and channelling in the right direction.
So as I say to the Treasurer and the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet, with respect, respect the value of the taxpayers' dollars, because it is their money and they cannot afford any more increases. I would also encourage the Chair of Management Board, who has a reputation of being a very tough negotiator -- well deserved I understand -- that we do look at the spending, because as we go through the ministries' spending we see what a large portion does go to the Ontario public service. She should remember that they are the taxpayers who ultimately, in the end, will have to pay for it. So she is going to have to take off the one hat and go across the table and it is going to be very, very difficult.
But I say the people of this province, the taxpayers, they should really encourage the minister to try to hold the line as best he can. I think all they are asking is that people be rewarded fairly, but we must remember, in the end it will be all of us who pay for it.
Again, just in conclusion, I say to the Treasurer on behalf of the constituents of Oakville South: No new taxes, and please, do not run up the deficit.
On a personal note, as we get close to Christmas, I want to wish all the members on all sides all the best of the season. I hope they will have a very safe holiday. I know everybody is looking forward to a bit of a rest in the session, particularly the cabinet ministers, who have been working very hard. I hope they will take some time to relax a little bit and get their lives in order, and I wish everyone the best and look forward to seeing everyone in the new year.
Hon Ms Lankin: Just a brief comment in response to the member for Oakville South: Let me say there are a number of points that he made on which I personally and, I am sure, members of the government would join with him in agreement, particularly when he talked about unfair burden of taxes and how they affect real people's lives, ordinary people, working people, the way in which it affects whether they can keep their home or whether they can survive from week to week without going to a food bank. We know, we have met those people. As he campaigned, he met them; all of us have, on all sides of the House.
I say to him, however, in drawing the conclusion therefore that the answer is just no new taxes, there perhaps is the difference between the approaches that we will take at this point in time. We will be reviewing a lot of options, but I think it has been very clear, from what the Treasurer has said and from what we have said in the Agenda for People, that we are very committed to having a fair taxation system.
The system that we have now certainly places undue burden on those who can least afford to pay. I think it is incumbent upon us and is our responsibility to look at that system to make it fairer. That may mean a redistribution in taxes. That may mean some lower taxes, some taxes being done away with and it may mean some new taxes, so we may depart on that point. But in terms of the effect that the member describes, I think that we certainly join with him in agreement.
May I also say just in response to the comments about the need to cross the table and to learn to negotiate tough on the other side of the table, we all collectively in this Legislature need to be conscious of how we spend the taxpayers' moneys. The calls we have heard during this discussion and debate so far for no new taxes, for greater spending, for looking at the increase in salaries for all public servants whether they be elected or hired, those are important issues for us to consider, and I ask that we do it jointly. There are a number of challenges facing us.
For the member's good wishes and his comments for us to rest up for the new year, I thank him. We will, and the best to all members as well.
Mr Carr: It must be getting close to the Christmas season. We are all so nice to each other. It has changed over the last few days.
Just on the point of the taxes, when I say "no new taxes," what I am talking about -- and as you go through the revenue and actually see where the taxes do come from, I think most people will say, "Our big concern is things like the retail sales tax," which I know affects everybody, because everybody has to spend. It is things like that. We will be helping as best we can in terms of how to make the tax system fairer. I think everybody would encourage that. I guess the real challenge is, how do we do that? I think again, like the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet said, that is the difference between the two sides. There seems to be this feeling that some money can be taken out of a certain group of people who can afford to pay for it. I do not believe that, but if there is some group out there that is not paying fairly, I think everybody would like to see that happen, and it is going to be a big challenge.
When I say "no new taxes," what I am talking about is the average person, that man or woman who is going out there, working every day. who is barely making ends meet, who is finding it very tough to make ends meet. Those people -- as I call them, the middle class, the average people out there in the province of Ontario -- are the people who cannot afford any more tax burden.
Again, it was a pleasure to get a chance to speak on this important issue and we look forward to some further debates on this as we head into the new year.
The Deputy Speaker: Any further debate? The member for Mississauga West.
Mr Duignan: No, no.
Mr Mahoney: Groans and moans. We are here to earn our pay, I believe, and to speak to issues of concern on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of the people of this province. I think we all have a responsibility, I say to the members opposite, to do that whenever the opportunity arises, to put forward our particular philosophical point of view or perhaps a point of view that the minister would care to listen to. She might find some things of interest.
Before I do that, I would like to share particularly with the viewers at home a program that we are all doing jointly, I believe, and that my counterpart, the whip from the government, brought to my attention. It is something that this government is supporting and I would commend it for supporting it and recommending this to our caucus. I see the former Attorney General looking at his watch and coming into --
Mr Mahoney: Not former anything.
This is a "tie one on for safety." It is a red ribbon that we have seen people tying on to their antennas to promote --
Mr Mahoney: It is "tie one on for safety" and it is to promote the concept that indeed we in this province should not drink and drive. I think it is a very commendable program and I will be recommending it to all of my colleagues. It is particularly important when we talk about what this government is doing in different areas. It is a positive thing that they are doing from a promotional point of view.
But then you read the newspaper today -- and I might not get the total support of my caucus colleagues in bringing up the issue -- and 2.400 drunk driving cases have been dropped by the courts. The government, of course, would throw that back at the former government and say that we created the problem. The reality is that this government has known for some time that there is a serious problem in the court system. It is not something that was created in the last three years or even the last five years, but it is something that has been building for a number of years, dozens of years. In my area, in the region of Peel, which the former Attorney General would know a great deal about, we have very severe problems of overcrowding in the courts and not getting to the issues on time.
If you think about the difficulties, they are not simply difficulties that can be solved by throwing money at the issue. Because what can in fact happen is that a case may come up for a particular day and everybody is ready and prepared to go on that specific case, only to find out that there is a plea perhaps entered or a request for an adjournment due to legal counsel not being available or whatever. Therefore if that is granted, the courtroom would then sit empty for perhaps the balance of the day or even two days. Because you are not able to simply call somebody up and say: "Okay, get down here on your trial and get all your witnesses ready, the court is empty and it is time. We are going to hear this."
Mr Speaker, I trust everyone is watching the numbers for quorum.
It is not a simple problem to solve and I respect that, but I do not think it has been addressed by the new Attorney General in any way whatsoever, and he is simply allowing all these cases to be thrown out because of time delays. I do not think that that is acceptable.
So when this government talks about this particular supply motion and what it is doing to pay its bills, it should be looking at issues like the justice system in this province as to what it is prepared to do -- some remuneration for the judges, perhaps some more judges to deal with it. I believe there were some innovative suggestions out of the Attorney General's office in the past about portable courtrooms being attached to the permanent structures, night sittings, perhaps even some weekend sittings, things of that nature, working with the judiciary to attempt to resolve this problem.
That is only one example, and I do not wish to dwell at any great length, but I could not help but bring it to mind when I saw the promotion that the NDP government is encouraging. I should in fairness say that this is a red ribbon project sponsored by some very good corporate citizens in our province: Shoppers Drug Mart, Allstate Insurance -- far be it from the NDP government to be involved with Allstate Insurance -- and the other one, my glasses -- the Ontario Association -- I cannot read it, but maybe the former minister can read it, I am not sure.
There is some co-operation between the private sector and the government in the red ribbon project. I would encourage all members, if they do not already have their red ribbons, to get them and to put them on and, at the same time, think of the impact that is going on in the courtrooms when they do not have the attention being paid to that serious problem that we face.
In looking at the motion, I want to talk a little bit about the very early record of this government and what in fact has happened. I do not want to be unfair, because I believe that the people of Ontario -- I ask the members to bear with me, it will be okay -- gave a mandate to the NDP government, to the Premier and to all of them to come here. Well, it might have been an accidental mandate, but it was a mandate and we have to accept that. I, for one, have come to the conclusion that I am willing to accept it and allow them to get on with the very important job of governing this province. But I am curious when they are going to get started with some of their issues, because up to now what they have been doing really is simply introducing, for the most part, Liberal legislation that we brought on stream.
Mr Scott: They've broken 8 or 10 promises already.
Mr Mahoney: Oh, it is more than that, I am sure. Eight or 10? I think we have a meter that is counting them. The meter is running and it is not only a matter of broken promises, it is ignoring promises that were put forward in the Agenda for People.
So I wanted to examine it. Of course, we had a long debate on Bill 1 and I have no intention of regurgitating all of the debate that took place, but just to remind the public and members that indeed there were promises of a tax revolt that were being talked about by all of the members, particularly the new members who came in, because they would have got all their dogma from central campaign headquarters, which I think was upstairs, even though it was not supposed to be. They would have got all that information from campaign central.
It would have told them: "Get out there and tell them you are going to lead a tax revolt. Tell them you are a champion of the people and you are just not going to take it any more." That is what they would have done. We talked about "the Reverend," who is not here. I know he is probably watching if he is not here. Maybe he will come in. We talked about how he was arrested at Temagami and how he was going to -- I think the term was "chain himself to the Peace Tower" to lead this revolt. But none of that indeed happened.
We had the debate on Bill 1. There was no revolt. They simply bought into Mulroney's philosophy of how this country should be run, and did so somewhat unabashedly, I might say to the member for Oxford, who surprised me with his youthful exuberance. I would have thought there would have at least been one member in that group of trained seals who would have stood up and said to the Premier: "I'm not going to go for this. I told my people that I was going to lead a revolt. I told Charlie Tatham down in Oxford that I was going to lead a revolt. And I have to go back and see them at Christmastime," if we ever get out of this place, which is possible; but it is also possible that we will not. "I told my people that I was going to lead a revolt."
Why do we not tell them the reason why? About what their Premier is doing and how their Premier is not following the normal traditions. I have no difficulty with that. I think their Premier is being extremely unfair to them and to every member of this Legislature.
Mr Sutherland: Tell us how.
Mr Mahoney: I will. I am going to get to that. The member can trust me. I told them before I am no longer with the government.
Mr Mahoney: Mr Speaker, to the minister, I do not order the way in which she structures her somewhat unacceptable responses. I sat here today and listened to the minister tell this House how wonderful she is and what a great job she is doing. I was quite impressed. I asked the Premier if I could have a copy of her curriculum vitae, because I could not quite believe that anyone was really doing a job that well, particularly a new member. But if she is comfortable that she is doing the job that well, I am willing to accept that. I have no difficulty with that. So I will come to that point in the speech, she can rest assured. I seem to recall other members on this side of the House, from her party, making very similar comments in speeches in past years and I recall our government and previous governments living up to the tradition in this Legislature.
I wanted to go back if I could to some of the success --
Hon Ms Lankin: Why didn't your leader raise the problem when your leader talked to him two weeks ago?
Mr Mahoney: I know the member wants to go Christmas shopping. I understand that. Well, I am prepared to tell the public that the reason I am here is to do my job. I do not know why the member is here, but I am here to do my job.
Mr Hayes: You weren't here last night; where were you last night?
Mr Mahoney: Oh, I was here. I was working. The member does not have to worry.
Mr Hayes: You had your party last night.
Mr Mahoney: Yes, we had a Christmas party. I do not think there is anything -- I was Santa Claus as a matter of fact. I thought I did a terrific job as Santa Claus. We had some fun, you know, but that is fine.
Hon Ms Lankin: So you weren't here working then. Interesting.
Mr Mahoney: I do not know why the members are upset about being here doing what the taxpayers of this province pay them for.
Hon Ms Lankin: It's the reason you want to rip the taxpayers off. Tell them the truth.
Mr Mahoney: Oh, rip them off. Is that what the minister thinks? I think she is a little confused.
I want to go back to some of the issues on the record of the government, because what we have done is we have come in here, as I have said, willing to give it an opportunity to sort of learn its way, to deal with issues that are of concern. What have we had? We have had members placing newspaper ads improperly in newspapers. We have had improper use of vehicles and chauffeurs. We know all about that. We have had improper signage being put up. We have had a lot of mistakes that the Speaker has had to send letters out and get corrected. We have had some very, very unfortunate situations.
When their members were sitting here in opposition they were very anxious to jump all over anybody who even moved in the slightest inappropriate way. In fact I personally was subjected to some of the most outrageous accusations, for which the now Premier had to stand up in the Legislature and apologize and withdraw the remarks. Let me tell members, they were comments at the time that no member of this Legislature should ever be put through.
I find it fascinating to sit here now and listen to the desire for a kinder, gentler place by that gentleman and others, others who had no intention of making this a kinder, gentler place until they were all of sudden on the hook and all of a sudden in the position of being in the government. So I find it a very, very two-faced, shall we say, approach to the principle of being in this somewhat insane business of politics from time to time. And I find it interesting to hear the howls when accusations are put forward from the government benches. They do not come from the new members, because those guys do not know what is going on yet. They think they do. They get their orders at caucus on Tuesday morning and they think they know what is going on, but they really do not know what is going on, and one of these days they are going to wake up and find that out.
The howls and the indignation come right from the front benches. Fascinating. The same people who were willing to crawl into the gutter at any length to put forward a concern. Whether it was true or not, it did not matter. Truth was not something that seemed to concern anyone when the NDP was in opposition. There were countless examples of that; I will not go on about that.
But what they have really done is, they have brought forward bills and issues that were really part of the Liberal agenda, and I have not seen any of the New Democratic Party's philosophy. Those guys are going to go back, as we have talked about before, to explain to their people. We should understand what is going on, what the situation is.
There might be a high-powered meeting about to take place. They are going to try to make a deal, are they? That is good, that is interesting.
The situation that is going on is, we have Mississauga News Christmas bureau fund every year in Mississauga. They have a telethon and they raise money for needy families. Even though I represent a riding that is considered fairly affluent, the reality is that everywhere in this province today we have poverty and we have kids who are going to wake up on Christmas morning and have nothing in the stocking and nothing under the tree. That is the reality of life in Ontario.
Mr Jackson: What do you know about life?
Mr Mahoney: What do I know about life? Well, the member might be surprised to find out what I know about life. The Mississauga News Christmas bureau fund came up short this year. Originally its goal was $200,000, and I believe the fund wound up with about $140,000. It is our sincere hope, and I would make a public plea to anyone in Mississauga, that by the time Christmas rolls around the fund will again top the $200,000 mark. It is the first time in many, many years, maybe the first time ever, that the fund did not reach its stated goal.
What does that tell us? I cannot stand here and blame the NDP government for something like that, obviously. It is a sign of the times though, and when looking at the sign of the times we should understand the economic impact that is going on out there. We should understand when we read headlines like, "Ontario Bankruptcy Soars." We should have understood when we heard the member for Wilson Heights this afternoon in question period quoting the lack of confidence that the investment community is seeing and showing in Ontario. We should understand that people are frightened, they are uncertain, they do not know what those guys are going to do.
Mr Hayes: Yes, but they knew what you were going to do.
Mr Mahoney: They were investing in this economy in the last five years, and we had unprecedented economic growth in this province. The member is darned right they knew what we were going to do, because we communicated with them.
Mr Hayes: I have a plan.
Mr Mahoney: Those guys are so hung up on this nonsense. What happened to the tax revolt? They should not talk to me about plans. Why are they still fighting? David Peterson lost. I mean, it is really quite interesting. I do not understand why they are upset, except I know that they want to go Christmas shopping. I think that is it. I have admitted they won the election, but I won too and so did a lot of my colleagues.
Mr Hope: Yes, we see they are all here.
Mr Mahoney: They are around -- the member should not worry about it -- and it is his job to keep going. He is in the government. He should learn his responsibilities, learn his job. He has got an Iron Lady for a whip.
Mr Mahoney: Why does he not undo a couple of those buttons? He looks like he is going to burst in that thing. Did he put all that weight on since he came here?
Mr Bisson: There is a bit of help in that water.
Mr Mahoney: What? He gives me warm water. What a guy. Is that not a typical NDP trick, eh? Anyway, that is fine. I do not need the water. I can go for a long time. I could go for days. We saw the now Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations over there go for 17 hours and set a record. If we get cooking over here, I will tell the members opposite they had better phone home -- I told them before -- and tell the kids, "Give mum a kiss under the mistletoe, because that is about all that is coming home this Christmas."
The Chairman of Management Board, who left, has got herself all bent out of shape because we are sitting here and she does not like the reason. Well, that is just too bad. She should learn the realities of life in this place. The realities are that we have responsibilities to debate all the motions that the government puts forward. I am glad it is upsetting them that we are taking advantage of that democratic responsibility -- nice to see the member for York East -- to put forward our concerns so that the people of Ontario back in all of their ridings -- I am talking to the people in Mississauga West, but I am also talking to the people from Scarborough East and St Catharines-Brock, formerly held by a very, very close friend, Mike Deitsch, and now held by Christel Haeck. We are talking to the people in St Catharines-Brock and Sault Ste Marie, my home town, and Sudbury and Parry Sound.
Mr Klopp: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Two points maybe, I guess. Number one, I understand we are not supposed to use names of members. We are supposed to use their seat name where their constituency is, correct? I believe he has mentioned a few names. Christel Haeck was one of them. I do not know where she is from or anything, but I have heard that name. I do not believe that is a riding.
Number two, what bill are we talking about that he is speaking to?
Mr Klopp: I am new, but he told me to learn.
The Speaker: That is how we learn, by asking questions.
We are dealing with what is commonly known as a supply motion and there is a fair bit of latitude permitted in making remarks on a supply motion. The member, however, does raise a valid point about referring to people by the ridings which they represent or the positions which they hold in the Legislature.
Mr Ramsay: I think an apology is in order.
Mr Mahoney: It is. At least 10 minutes to apologize for that error.
Mr Speaker, if I can address your point of order, I do not know how else one would refer to the individual. What I said was that I am speaking to the people in other ridings such as St Catharines-Brock, which was formerly held by Michael Dietsch and is now held by Christel Haeck. How else could you say that? I said it was the member for St Catharines-Brock. She does have a name. What could I say, "Formerly held by Mike Dietsch but now held by that lady over there"? I do not think that would be very complimentary. So I think it would be important, probably important to her family, that they know who I am talking about. They might not know the name of her riding; I am not sure.
Ms Haeck: They recognize me.
Mr Mahoney: So with respect, Mr Speaker, I do not think it was out of order. I am willing to accept your learned ruling.
The Speaker: I did not say it was out of order.
Mr Mahoney: I just did not want the member getting all excited thinking he had won a point of order. He would probably put it in his householder mailing or something and tell everyone that he actually got up and won a point of order.
Mr Ramsay: The member for Huron.
Mr Mahoney: The member for Huron. Who was the former member for Huron? Jack Riddell. Good old Jack. It is nice to see this member here. I do not think it was a point of order, but it was a nice try.
Anyway, the motion we are speaking to is the supply motion. If the member understands the procedures in this place and how things work around here, it is quite normal. It is probably not normal that we continually go past 6 o'clock, but the member asks about why we are here past 6 o'clock.
Let me just go back, because I think it was pointed out earlier that if this government had got its act together and come back into the Legislature perhaps a month earlier than it did, we would not have needed to go to midnight sittings at all. We would not have needed to go to midnight sittings if these people had co-operated with the opposition parties. We were quite willing to come back earlier. We are very agreeable people. We would have been delighted to come back earlier and get down to the business of governing this province. The government did not want to, so all this legislation piles up, all this good Liberal legislation that those guys decided they wanted to pass. So here we are in the midnight sessions.
Just so that members understand, the tradition is that when a supply motion comes in, that dictates what we really talk about. I think the figure was $14 billion that the Treasurer is going to pay out. Would that be close to correct; he is going to pay out $14 billion of taxpayers' money? We recognize that the $14 billion goes out through all the different ministries and departments in the province. Therefore, this allows the members to talk about virtually the entire aspect of government; every department. There are no strings holding us back.
The whip is holding the NDP back. I can appreciate that. It is nice to see the Iron Lady this evening. She is holding them back. I can understand that. I understand, as the chief opposition whip, what it is like to try to hold rowdies back. I do not have any rowdies, though. That is the difference.
Hon Ms Lankin: You don't have anybody on that side right now.
Mr Mahoney: We have some folks here. There are some members. The member for London North has decided to cross the floor laterally.
We have the entire latitude of the province. We have freedom -- it is wonderful -- to speak about just about anything we want to speak about. I want to speak for just a short moment about standards.
Hon Mr Kormos: You are no expert on standards.
Mr Mahoney: Let me tell the minister something. I understand standards, because as I mentioned earlier I have gone through the slings and arrows of false accusations. I have suffered, and my family has suffered, with the nonsense that the former Leader of the Opposition tried to hurl around this place. I understand that. I was only vindicated after hiring a lawyer and paying $7,500 and getting this guy to make an apology, which we wrote. That is the only way I was vindicated.
Hon Mr Kormos: Name the lawyer.
Mr Mahoney: Name names? That is not important. What does that matter? Does he need one? He may. I would suggest he keep his head up.
I asked the Premier: "Are you prepared to tell us about your standards? What they are?" He said he was going to bring something in, and now he has brought in some guidelines. It is not even legislation. These poor guys have to sell their businesses; they have to sell the wheelbarrows and the shovels. I do not understand this. The Minister of Tourism and Recreation has to sell his business. That is utter nonsense. What the Premier is really saying is that somebody who is in a small business cannot be a member of his cabinet. That is nonsense, frankly.
I understand that there is a certain amount of paranoia, which I can certainly understand. Uncle Bobby does not even know three quarters of those guys, so he has to bring in some really strict regulations.
Mr Sutherland: Who?
Mr Mahoney: Come on now, I say to the member for Oxford, be nice.
I just find that the whole issue of standards, the whole issue of conflicts, is something that these people are obviously having a great deal of trouble dealing with, and they are fumbling with it.
Hon Mr Kormos: Talk about Patti Starr.
Mr Mahoney: I did not even know her. I did not even know her, as a matter of fact, I say to the guy with the -- are those cowboy boots leather?
Mr Malkowski: Is this your idea of process?
Mr Mahoney: I am sorry, I did not hear that. I would like to hear the heckling from the member for York East. I did not hear it. Did you hear it. Mr Speaker? I missed a good heckle. I will have to get Hansard tomorrow and see if I can find it.
One of the issues that is of great concern as we talk about paying the bills around this place is the level of confidence that the signals have created. We have a funny situation in this House, Mr Speaker, and you have already noticed that sometimes --
Mr Mahoney: Boy, they are a lively bunch tonight, are they not? I am attempting to address my remarks to you, Mr Speaker. I do not know why they are getting so exercised.
Mr Mahoney: What was that? You will have to speak up if you want to be good hecklers, like Mr Ballinger, who used to sit over there. He just let everybody have it. You have to project a little bit in this business. Please speak up a little when you are throwing these things out.
My concern is the signals that have been sent by bringing in bills and then making them retroactive. Bill 4 is going out to committee and we are going to discuss the retroactivity of Bill 4, but what kind of message does that send and why did the member for Wilson Heights have to stand up and ask the Premier today about why people are losing confidence in investing in this province? Believe me, those guys might not believe it, but people are losing confidence in investing in this province. I fear very gravely for the economic future of this province because I do not see anything being done by this government to attempt to reverse this.
Here comes the honourable Leader of the Opposition. It is nice to see him. I am just wondering if he is coming to give me the hook. It is possible. He should have a seat. Would he like some water? Is there anything else that we can get for him?
Mr Nixon: I guess that is enough of that.
Mr Mahoney: Members can tell why we only made him interim leader. I am shattered, believe me. Members can tell that I am easily upset about stuff like that. I have totally lost my concentration and I guess, as I said the other day, I had better start over. I had better go back to the beginning and start over. What time is it?
The signal that is being sent by this government is not one of confidence. It is not one of competence, frankly. It is one of consultation, a little bit. It is freezes. It is: "We're going to look at things. We're not going to do what we said we were going to do. In fact, we don't think we can do what we said we were going to do." That is basically the message that is coming across to the people out there. As I told the members before, those guys way up there in the clouds, all over there, way up there, those guys are going to have to explain all of this.
Even the Chairman of Management Board -- the Chair, the Chairperson, pardon me -- even the Chair of Management Board is going to have to explain to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and to Leo and Bob and all the boys and girls in the labour movement, why they are not doing what they said they were going to do. Those people are already saying that the members are ignoring them; they admitted that today in question period. It must be frustrating to be told by these people who put them where they are today that they are disappointed that they are not doing what they said they were going to do.
That is a job that will get tougher and tougher as time goes on. As they get closer to the next election, do they remember what I told them the first time I talked to them? I say to the member for Oxford and others, look to your right and look to your left, because those guys will not be here next time. Remember that and remember to look in the mirror, because that person might not be here next time either.
The fact is that they are going to have to go and explain why they have not done what they said they were going to do. I know that is difficult because -- sure, I will admit it -- we did not do everything we said we were going to do. But we sure did most of what we said we were going to do.
Mr Klopp: And look at what happened.
Mr Mahoney: So now their approach is not to do it because of what happened. I see. So what they want is to simply get re-elected again. They do not care about the Agenda for People. They do not care about the province of Ontario. They do not care about the fact that there are actually people losing confidence in investing in this province. That does not worry them, probably because they do not understand the impact of it. But it is very severe.
The retroactivity in bills has sent a message to the investors in this province that says they are simply not going to invest any more. Look, I do not like the ad that group put in the New York paper any more than the government does. I thought it was irresponsible. But the fact is, they did it. What drove them, normally sensible people, to do such a ridiculous thing?
Mr Owens: It depends on your frame of reference for "sensible."
Mr Mahoney: Oh, sure. I do not agree with some of the people the member would think are sensible, I can assure him of that.
What drove them to that was the fear that those guys can come along and say: "We don't care what the rules were on 1 October; this is now December 19. We're going to change them retroactively. What you've been doing for the last couple of months doesn't matter to us." That is close to being dishonest. It really is. No one gave them a mandate to do that, yet they simply came along and did it.
What was the answer from the Minister of Housing? I watched with great interest when the Minister of Housing simply said: "Well, somebody's going to get hurt, and those are the breaks. That's the way it is." There was no concern about the jobs lost or about the fact that there are now thousands of people who will be sitting at home waiting for Christmas to come knowing they cannot buy anything for their children or their spouse because they are out of work. It is not fair, and those guys caused it.
What do they do? They come back and say flippantly, "It doesn't matter; somebody has to get hurt and those are the breaks." We were always being accused of being arrogant, but that is outrageous.
The bill has to go to committee, and when it goes to committee we are going to see changes. Believe me, unless they decide to hammer us, which with their large, arrogant, socialist hordes they can do, if that is what they want to do --
Mr Mahoney: What is the matter? The member wants to go shopping. What is he going to buy me? I will make a deal. He can buy me the same as he got me last year, but this year I want him to wrap it. We will see. Maybe we will make that arrangement.
I am not finished, though. The member would not want me to leave the speech unfinished. What would my mother-in-law say? I cannot leave it unfinished. I have to sort of get up to the climax and then sort of go down and finish it off.
Mr Mahoney: Oh, come on, the members are enjoying themselves. They have to face facts. What were they doing just three or four months ago? Give me a break. What were they doing three or four months ago, I say to the member for St Catharines-Brock? Was she maybe living in the United States back then? There was some confusion about that. What were the members doing? I think some of them were maybe even still in school. I do not know. Some of them were in school, I say to the member for Oxford, King Kimble.
Mr Mahoney: I was careful.
Here he is in the Legislature, one of 130 people having the privilege and the honour of representing the nine million or so Ontarians. It is truly a remarkable world. We almost had a Mississauga businessman elected president of Poland, for goodness' sake. We have had some really rather remarkable things take place, and here they are, I think doing fairly well -- the back bench anyway. I am quite impressed with the back bench.
Mr White: You should be.
Mr Mahoney: I am. I say to the member for Durham Centre, when I first saw the name of the member I thought it was his riding; I was not sure: "The member for Drummond White." I did not know if we had such a riding.
I am quite impressed with how the backbenchers are being obedient and how the whip has them under control. As I said before, they are clapping on cue and they are spouting the party line, but they do not know what is going on. They told them that before, which is proof, because I have talked to a number of them. The Chair of Management Board is all upset about the fact that we are here late and I guess they have gone running to her saying, "Can't we do something about this very unfortunate situation?" Obviously, the Chair of Management Board does not have the authority that the Chair of Management Board had when we were the government. In any event, the problem cannot be solved. C'est la vie. Life goes on.
I am quite impressed at the esprit de corps. I guess the real reason for it is that they have not had the pain of getting beaten up in their ridings yet. People still think they are really neat. "Holy cow, gosh, golly, wow. How did you ever become a member of provincial Parliament, Christel? How did that ever happen?"
Mr Fletcher: You gave it to us.
Mr Mahoney: We probably did, actually. You are probably right. We handed it to you on a silver platter, because the public were fed up with a certain fellow in Ottawa. They were fed up and they wanted to bash him. We were the first ones they could sort of get their hands on, so they bashed us. That is sort of the breaks, I guess. That is political reality. But here we are.
One of the things that has really upset me too is the abuse of the process. Let me use the example of Bill 18, which is not even a bill any more. It was a bill. It was going to be introduced as a private member's resolution, then it was going to be introduced on Thursday morning, then it was going to be introduced as a private member's resolution in government business time, then that changed and they said, "Now we'll introduce it as government legislation in government time and we'll turf out the private member's resolution." Then that changed and now it has come back to tomorrow morning. It is back to being a private member's resolution dealing with the demolition of what I believe is a substantial city block in London of what some people consider to be historical buildings and other people consider to be in need of being torn down, I guess.
I am not concerned at this stage, nor am I fully aware of the implications on the issue of whether or not they are indeed historical buildings, although I think that is something that is vitally important. In most municipalities they have either local architectural conservation advisory committees, LACAC for short, or things of that nature, which indeed would advise city council on whether or not the buildings had some significance to require designation as historical structures.
An hon member: Speak to the resolution.
Mr Mahoney: I am. If I could remind the member who said "Speak to the resolution," I think I am speaking fully to the resolution, because we are talking about all the government of all the people. So it involves the issue that we are going to deal with tomorrow.
What bothers me, though, is that it seems like if we have to break the rules, we will break the rules. We will just sort of twist things around. We will pass the resolution here, we will put it over here, we will do this, we will do that, which is just playing games. What it really amounts to is lack of respect for Parliament, for this place. That is what it amounts to. It amounts to not even caring about traditions, which is one of the reasons why we are here late, because the Premier does not care about traditions and does not live up to normal obligations of this Legislature. That is why we are here.
Mr Sutherland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The honourable member has said that we do not have any respect for the traditions of this House, and I take that as an impugning of my rights as a member. I feel that I do have a great deal of respect for the traditions of this House. I feel my fellow members in my government caucus do, and I would ask you to have the member retract that statement.
The Speaker: I am sure there is not a member of the assembly who wishes in any way to disturb 700 years of parliamentary tradition, at least not this evening. Perhaps the member for Mississauga West can continue.
Mr Cousens: Sit down. We've had enough of your filibustering.
Mr Mahoney: I have sat here for the last three-plus years and listened to the honourable gentleman from Markham speak at length on nothing. At least I am addressing some issues here. With respect, I would invite him, if he does not wish to listen, to leave this place. There is no problem. Why does he not do so and I will continue, with his blessing.
I believe that I was talking about parliamentary traditions and about the significance of respecting those traditions. The member for Oxford rudely, or not so rudely, interrupted me on a point of order. I do not believe it was a point of order, but my point is very simple, that there are ways we do things around here in a non-partisan fashion that has no impact on partisan issues.
Frankly, I do not know why we have to come down to these last minute, panic-type changes to whatever legislation is involved. It is a little disturbing. I recognize that the honourable House leader is new in her job, and in my opinion is doing an excellent job as the House leader for her government, but there are lots of professional staff who have been doing this for years and who understand the process. Where are they? Why are they not giving the proper advice so that the members can make the proper decisions? Instead, we come scrambling in here, on again, off again, with Bill 18. Now it is a bill, now it is not. Now it is a resolution, now it is a bill. We have to waive the rights. We have to change the rules. It is absolute nonsense and it is not necessary.
I want to just take a couple of minutes to talk to the issue of what happens now, if and when we ever adjourn this place, which is yet to be determined.
It is nice to see the member for Brampton North.
Mr McClelland: There's still hope.
Mr Mahoney: He can go over there and help, or he can sit up there and heckle if he wants. I do not mind. I am used to getting it in the back.
What happens now? Now they get a break for Christmas and they go home and they sort of try to defend what has happened down here. They try to explain why the Premier is doing certain things, or why the Minister of Health is doing certain things or not doing certain things or shouting that people should find their own creative ways to pay for very important programs and getting upset in the House, after having a very lovely first couple of weeks, I thought.
They are going to have to explain why these things have happened and why there has been some perhaps pending tragedy that I will not go into. I sincerely say that I hope that is not the result of what happened today, because the honourable gentleman in question is indeed an honourable gentleman and one of the finest members. But they are going to have to explain all of this to their people. Do they know what they are going to say? They are going to say: "We thought you guys were different. How come you don't look any different?"
Mr Owens: Because we are human beings.
Mr Mahoney: Oh, I see. They are human beings. That is not what they said to us when they were over here. I heard words like "sleazy." I would not use that type of language. I say to the Minister of Education that I would not use that kind of language -- even out there I would not use that kind of language -- in talking about someone I respected as a colleague. Members have to understand one thing, that no matter what we think of each other, we all have a common bond. We were all elected to serve the people of this province in varying roles and various capacities and in my opinion we have no right to use terms like that about each other or about people coming before our committees. Yet I heard it time and time again from this side of the House when those guys -- not the minister, but many of her colleagues -- sat over here.
I referred to the false accusations and to the charges that were put forward. It was really quite an unpleasant time in what they now want to be a kinder, gentler place. I do not know that the member needs to quote the rules to me, but if he would like to stand up on a point of order I am sure the Speaker would entertain it.
What happens now is that the members go home to their spouses and their families and their children or whatever, and they have a bit of a rest and then they are right back at it in committee on 14 January. They are going to travel around the province and they are going to get to know us and we them more as we travel on some of these committees to go out and find out what the people really think about what the government is doing, how the people feel about its somewhat arrogant approach to certain bills that it is putting forward.
I will retract that. It is not somewhat arrogant; it is totally arrogant.
Mr Owens: Thank you for the clarification.
Mr Mahoney: Well, it is. The members are coming in here smug, "We won the election, la-de-da," when in reality they have a job to do. I do not see them doing the job and the people of this province do not see them doing it. They are going to start asking them about it. The government is going to have education bills going out to committee.
Mr Mahoney: Is that a hook in his hand too?
The school boards are going to say, "How much money did you guys promise you would give us for capital if you formed the government?" What was it? A couple of billion, plus or minus? Something like that. A couple of billion in addition to the $1.5 billion that the Liberal government gave them over the five-year period at $300 million a year. In addition to that, this government was going to come up with some cash cow and it was going to put all of this money into building new schools in the new high-growth communities.
Now we cannot even get an answer on the transfer payment. I am curious. Did they walk into the ministry and fire everybody? I do not think so. The same people are there. The school boards have done their jobs. They have submitted their October documents. They have asked the government to follow the process that has been followed traditionally in this province. What has the government done? It has said: "We can't tell you what we're going to do. It will be January, maybe February, we're not sure. We don't know how much."
The Treasurer is sitting there squirming, knowing what a serious -- he is not the Treasurer, but when he is sitting there he is squirming. When the Treasurer is sitting there --
Mrs Sullivan: He's from Hamilton. He should be squirming.
Mr Mahoney: Yes, he is from Hamilton. He is in big trouble. I think he is out trying to find some money for an expressway, or maybe he is having a meeting somewhere. Does the member think that is possible? What day is this? Is it Friday? No, it is not. He would not be in a meeting.
Those people are going to say: "Where are the transfer payments that we would normally get? How about at least giving us the $300 million now? How about at least doing that, or are you going to pull that back?" They would say to the government, with respect, "We won't even worry about the stuff you promised us because we know it's very unlikely that you are going to be able to deliver on those promises, so how about just giving us what we have planned on?"
They have planned on this. We gave it to them so they could issue debentures. They have commitments. There are some school boards that are running deficits. They have commitments. And what do they get? "We're going to consult." It is a form of freeze. They are being ignored.
Mrs Sullivan: It's a pause.
Mr Mahoney: It is a pause, but it does not refresh.
I hope the minister is aggressive in cabinet and I wish her well. Representing a riding of very many new communities, young families, many kids, as I do, we desperately need money for new schools, as I am sure she knows. The separate school board desperately needs more money and so does the public board.
I hope that the minister is strong in cabinet and that the Minister of Financial Institutions does not bully her or that the Minister of Transportation does not come along and say, "I need more money" to do this or that, and therefore schools suffer, because she has priorities and decisions she has to make. On behalf of the five major districts that require about 90% or 95% of the capital dollars every year --
Mr Scott: Could you expand just a little bit? Just go by it again.
Mr Mahoney: The five major regions, of course. in the greater Toronto area that require 95% of the capital dollars, spent in the region of Peel, in the region of York, in Durham. I have lost one. Which one have I lost? I know Durham Centre is over there. In any event, there are five of them. Halton. Why did the members not tell me it was Halton? The region of Halton needs money for schools. I hope the minister will fight hard at the cabinet table to ensure that those people are not neglected.
Members will be delighted to know that I am close to wrapping up.
An hon member: I thought you were just getting started on that speech.
Mr Mahoney: I could just be getting started.
Mr Scott: You're making headway. Carry on.
Mr Mahoney: I did not say how long it would take me to wrap up. I said I was about to start sort of in that direction.
An hon member: Oh no, say it ain't so.
Mr Mahoney: All right, I will go longer, by popular request.
Mr Scott: Don't overdo it, but a couple of us requested.
Mr Mahoney: I know there are others who would like to join the debate, but I guess the bottom line of this motion by the Treasurer, the resolution that he "be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants" even though the Tories want them all fired, I think they said today --
Mr Cousens: That is not true.
Mr Mahoney: There was some remark by one of their members that he was after somebody's head. He had facts and figures but he did not have the documentation to back it up. He just stood up and said: "Somebody told me they shredded all of this information and I hear this guy has been spending money. I do not know if he was spending money." Pretty outrageous stuff to say in a place as hallowed as this.
Anyway, that he "be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants," not the salaries of the members, I say to the Chairman of Management Board, but that he "be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing 1 January 1991 and ending 30 April 1991, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply," which we will likely get to voting on some time between Christmas and New Year's as things look at the moment.
I am pleased actually to speak in support of the Treasurer. I think it is important to understand that we recognize the fact that the government must go on, even if we are not exactly delighted with whose hands --
Mrs Sullivan: Are at the till.
Mr Mahoney: Are in control, or at the till, of the government. We at least recognize that those guys are in charge for the time being and therefore it is appropriate that we support our staff and our programs.
I was delighted, by the way. I must thank, if I can for just a moment, the Minister of Energy. I would like, Mr Speaker, to share with you. Of course, if we did not support supply then this probably could not take place. This is a letter to Ross Lawford, the president of ORTECH International in my riding. It says:
"On behalf of the Ministry of Energy, I am pleased to forward two cheques in the amount of $50,000 and $75,000. These two cheques represent the first and last payments on your projects entitled gaseous fuel injection system field evaluation and gaseous fuel injection computer system development, which are being funded under the EnerSearch program development.
"Congratulations on your efforts to improve energy efficiency."
That is from the minister. It is our program, of course, but the present minister is following through with that. I respect that and appreciate it, because it is a very important conversion program that will allow vehicles to have two different types of fuel in them and you can simply switch over with the flick of a switch, on the fly even. It will be very important for the conservation of energy. When you consider this in the overall picture of the world, with people like Saddam Hussein and others controlling much of our destiny, it is important that we look at these types of alternatives.
I suspect that these cheques might not clear the bank if we do not pass this supply motion. Dr Lawford would be upset and the Minister of Energy would be somewhat embarrassed. I would not want that to happen. I would find that to be very negative. So I am delighted actually to speak in support of this motion and to move the adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr Mahoney, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 2046.