The House met at 1330.
Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): In the village of Colborne, where I live, we have the good fortune to have a community newspaper, the Colborne Chronicle. This weekly newspaper provides the residents of Colborne, the township of Cramahe and the surrounding area with an informative and sometimes provocative account of the latest happenings in the area.
You might say, well, so what? How is the Colborne Chronicle any different than any other community weekly newspaper? The difference is clear. The Colborne Chronicle has just been recognized again by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association in its nationwide general excellence competition. The Chronicle received first-place honours for the best overall newspaper category and for the best front page category. As well, the Chronicle placed second in the best editorial page category.
In large part the persons responsible for this national recognition are the editor, Eileen Argyris, and her assistant, Scott Sheridan. No matter what is going on in the community, Eileen is there with her trusty camera and notepad. Her insightful editorials are always articulated clearly and are very thought provoking.
Last year at this time I rose in the House to recognize the Colborne Chronicle's second-place finish in the Canadian Community Newspapers Association's national awards. But, as evidenced by the first-place honours this year, and typified by the editor, Eileen Argyris, this is obviously the little newspaper that could and did.
I would ask all members to join me in congratulating editor Eileen Argyris, her assistant and the paper's owners, Northumberland Publishers, for producing and publishing this national award-winning community weekly, the Colborne Chronicle.
REVIEW OF HOSPITALS
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): In recent weeks, several groups and individuals have contacted me and expressed their concern with the changes being proposed by the government to the Public Hospitals Act and the integrity of the consultation process into the act.
There is great concern that the proposed changes are a done deal and that Jack Layton's mandate is to drive the consultation process towards a predetermined conclusion. Some of the concerns I am hearing include:
1. The Wessenger panel has too narrow a focus and should consider the steering committee report on the Public Hospitals Act.
2. The government is trying to push through its changes and that the time frame for public consultations to amend this extremely important act is far too short.
3. Consultation meetings are not being held in enough locations across Ontario, and rural Ontario is being ignored.
4. Catholic hospitals feel their future existence is jeopardized by the proposed changes to governance of hospitals and that the desire to democratize hospital boards is simply a ploy by the government to put its philosophical stamp on hospitals.
I urge the Minister of Health to put the brakes to Jack Layton's joyride and to embark immediately upon a public consultation process that is meaningful, thorough and sensitive to the needs of Ontario's hospitals and the communities they serve.
Mr Derek Fletcher (Guelph): Yesterday was tax revolt day. I was worried that opposition and the third party members would get hurt tripping over each other to rally outside with the very taxpayers their parties have been hosing down for many years.
It reminds me that the Leader of the Opposition mailed me her Leader's Report. She says, "Bob Rae should come clean with taxpayers of this province." Before the opposition members lift the great shackles off the taxpayers, let me remind them:
Treasurer Bob Nixon in his budget speech of April 1990 announced Ontario would have a balanced budget for the second consecutive year and there would be a $30-million surplus. By June that surplus had been revised from $30 million to $23 million. Immediately following the 1990 election, Mr Nixon announced, around September 13, there was no longer a surplus. In fact Mr Nixon told us there would be a deficit of over $700 million. At the end of September, when the second quarter finances were released, we knew the deficit was $2,472 million. Guess how the Liberal Treasurer explained this: He told the media the change was because the economy was not performing as well as predicted. Oops, a little mistake in addition.
The Leader's Report says, "Lyn McLeod and the Ontario Liberal Party believe Ontario needs a budget with no new taxes." The Liberal administration brought in more than 30 new taxes. I'd love to go over them. The reply card of the opposition leader has a checkoff box. It says, "Please keep me on your mailing list." Well, please keep me on your mailing list, because when your party starts to come clean with the taxpayers, I want to be the first to know.
EVENTS IN CORNWALL
Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I am delighted to advise members that the Cornwall area is hosting a number of exciting cultural events this summer.
First, I would like to offer my best wishes to all the francophones in my riding and throughout Ontario as they celebrate French Week.
Second, members should know that for the 10th year in a row the multicultural festival showcases the food and entertainment of Canadians of diverse cultures. The Best of all Worlds will be on display on Sunday, June 28.
Finally, the seventh annual Worldfest/Festimonde '92 is shaping up to be a dynamic cultural festival with participants from France, Greece, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, Georgia and El Salvador. This spectacular summer attraction will run from July 9 to July 12.
Despite funding cutbacks to each of these three events, this year's festivities will go forward as a result of the hard work and support of the service clubs, businesses and individuals in my community. I would like to invite all members of the House to visit the Cornwall area in the weeks to come to share in the unique experience each has to offer.
Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey): Today I would like to advise the House of an initiative engineered by Gary Shaw, manager of the Grey county highways department, which makes my riding a world leader in the field of rubberized asphalt surfacing.
With the financial support of the Ministry of the Environment, Grey's highways committee engineered a very exciting project which creates a solution to the environmental problem of used tires in our landfill sites.
As members will remember from the Hagersville fire, used tires present a severe potential danger. Now, with Grey county leading the way, these tires can be put to positive use by processing them and mixing them with asphalt to create a hot mix surface for roads.
This surface has a much higher skid resistance than conventional asphalt. It needs less sand and salt in winter and helps to reduce accidents. It produces a much more flexible pavement which should cut down cracking and increase the life of the road. It also reduces the aggregate levels needed in hot mix at a time when this source is becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain.
I am proud that Grey won an award from the Recycling Council of Ontario for its work on this project, and even prouder that the county has won widespread recognition. In fact the United States now requires all federally funded highways to use a percentage of rubberized asphalt in their roads.
I would ask the Minister of the Environment to continue her support for projects like this and would urge her to encourage other counties and municipalities to follow Grey county's lead.
COMMUNITY OF WHITEVALE
Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): Today the village of Whitevale is facing yet another challenge in its effort to survive. Whitevale is a tiny hamlet located in the north part of my riding.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order. Stop the clock. The member for Durham West.
Mr Wiseman: I don't think most of the members in this House realize that this quiet rural village, however vociferous it may be, is made up of only 67 families. I also don't think the members realize just what this community has gone through in the last 20 years. I have always understood, but it became very apparent to me in the letter I received from a Whitevale resident. In this letter he spoke of how, after they moved to Whitevale when his son was only one year old, the awesome power of big government crushed their lives and impacted their family for ever.
In this letter the author takes the reader through a chronology of events that his child has seen through his lifetime, including the expropriation of 42,000 acres of land by both the federal and provincial governments. These events of 20 years ago have left a tremendous scar on the people of this community. The children of this area saw many of their friends move away, as the expropriation was so massive. They saw their schools closed down. The children of this time remember a childhood of rallies and demonstrations.
The Liberal government's proposal to dump 6.6 million tonnes of Metropolitan garbage on this heritage village without regard for the impact it would have was just another insult and injustice being put on these families. Now they are threatened once again with seven candidate landfill sites circling their village. This is a whole new generation of children. These children are learning about governments in a way few children do.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have received from many of my constituents letters on a very important subject and I hope the government is listening.
One says: "I am writing to express my concerns regarding the government's proposed Ontario Investment Fund Act. As a member of the Ontario municipal employee retirement system, I rely heavily on the performance of the plan to provide me with a secure pension that will see me through my retirement. I am appalled to learn that my provincial government is planning a scheme that could very well affect the security of my retirement savings.
"I am strongly opposed to the introduction of another program that would place our pension contributions at risk. My retirement and pension savings are sacred assets to not only myself but my family as well. I have no intention of standing back and watching any government tell us how that money is to be invested. Those currently charged with this responsibility are doing a fine job, thank you, and I for one do not have any confidence in the government's ability to provide me with the same level of security. In addition, our pension plan already invests heavily in the Ontario economy, however these investments are directed to secure and viable sources."
Another says: "OMERS already makes a significant contribution to both the Ontario and Canadian economies by investing soundly and wisely in many diverse industries.
"The OMERS pension plan has indicated that it is not interested in participating in the Ontario investment fund. I want the OMERS plan to remain free to invest where it can obtain the highest returns on my pension dollars."
I hope the government is listening.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): My statement is for the Treasurer. Treasurer, the people of Ontario are suffering because of your government's tax, spend and borrow approach to fiscal management. Our economy is battered by high taxation, high unemployment and low productivity.
TRW Vehicle Safety Systems in Penetanguishene is laying off 166 employees effective June 26. Mitsubishi Electric Corp of Midland is laying off 36 employees. These are but two examples of an economy that is reeling, job creators that are under siege, taxpaying families that are deprived of hope and opportunity and the least fortunate in our society who are exposed to untold hardship.
Back in 1982 an Ontario Treasurer reduced the provincial sales tax on automobiles and appliances in an effort to stimulate the economy, and it worked. Consumers began to spend money. Sales increased. Jobs were created or were retained. Businesses expanded. It was certainly a welcome boost and relief to taxpayers, consumers, workers and businesses in Ontario.
I would urge you, Mr Treasurer, to reduce the provincial sales tax immediately on such manufactured goods as automobiles, refrigerators, stoves and television sets, to name but a few, by 3%. This would stimulate Ontario's economy at a time that is very difficult for the people of Ontario. It worked in 1982 and I believe it will work again today, 10 years later.
Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I rise today to comment on our government's initiatives in regard to the Ontario Labour Relations Act. For my constituency, these changes are coming at a most crucial time. I've been a union person all my life and I am proud to represent the working men and women of Cochrane North who have supported the union movement for a long, long time.
I have received over 600 letters supporting the OLRA amendments. The people of Cochrane North are waiting for the passage of these amendments, which will ensure the right to organize, the speedy resolution of conflict between management and labour and therefore a fair and honest workplace for the workers.
In the next few days, when we debate this legislation, I would like every member of Parliament to remember the history of the union movement within this province. During debate, it is easy to see who in this House supports workers and the union movement and who is for profit, no matter what the cost. I truly believe that with the proposed amendments to the OLRA this province will have one of the best tools for both workers and management that can be found anywhere in Canada.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know you will find it in order that we congratulate one of the members of our caucus, Mr John Cleary, and his spouse, Elizabeth, on the occasion of their 40th anniversary, which will be held this weekend coming.
I thought it would be only fitting that on the occasion of the celebration of his anniversary the New Democrats will be celebrating the end of their annual meeting, and perhaps we could get something at their annual conference which could also be added to the long string of congratulations to both John and Elizabeth, for whom we all have great affection.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): While the point of order to which the honourable member refers is not in the standing orders, how could such a joyous occasion be out of order? Congratulations of the entire House to the member for Cornwall.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise on a point of order under standing order 95(d). The other day I requested some information on this, and it has to do with order paper question 382 in my name:
"Inquiry of the ministry: Would the Minister of Natural Resources provide the flight plans, including passenger lists, and the costs incurred for all trips taken by Ministry of Natural Resources aircraft from October 1990 to present. June 1, 1992."
In my understanding, under 95(d) it states, "The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be."
That 14 days called for under section 95(d) of our rules has passed by some time. I'm informed that while indeed it may be a valid point of order, there doesn't seem to be any remedy I can acces. I'd like some advice from you as to what process I should follow to ask the minister to deliver the information that was properly and duly submitted by my office in the proper fashion.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member for Mississauga West, he indeed, first, has a valid point of order. Second, his observation is accurate as well. Although the standing orders prescribe that there shall be a response unless there are undue costs or some other hardship incurred, there is no sanction when that particular standing order is not complied with.
I understand fully the member's concern. It leaves the Speaker in a very difficult situation in that there is no sanction the Speaker can apply. The only thing I can say to the member is that because he has brought it to the attention of the House, he has by doing so also brought it to the attention of the minister affected, and one hopes that might help prompt a more speedy reply. But I appreciate his bringing it to my attention.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): Briefly on that point, Mr Speaker, I understand there is nothing written in our standing orders with respect to replying to order paper questions, but it is my view that while there's nothing that says what happens if 14 days elapse and there is no answer, under the common law rules of this place there is in fact ample authority for other measures to be taken if there is a wilful attempt made to not deal with the standing orders; in other words, to wilfully not comply.
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): Execution?
Mr Elston: The Premier has just suggested execution. That was part of the history of our parliaments in the very oldest days, because they were actually seen to have been courts which could levy fines and punishments of imprisonment and otherwise. That has gone now to the issue of contempt, and for me, I am prepared to look more fully into the issue of whether the minister is showing contempt for this place by refusing to answer this particular question, and perhaps others. That would therefore allow me to raise the question with you only as to whether you have properly turned your mind to the fact that contempt really does exist in the most offensive cases. I am not suggesting it in this matter, but perhaps that ultimately is the remedy and is provided under the long-standing history of this institution.
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Natural Resources): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker, let me make clear to the members of the House that there was certainly no attempt on my part to avoid answering the question. As a matter of fact, I signed it just yesterday or the day before. The only reason it has taken as long as it has is the fact that I was absent from the House, as you will know, Mr Speaker, over extended periods of time during the negotiations on the Constitution with the Right Honourable Joe Clark and representatives of the other provinces and the aboriginal organizations. I recognize my obligations as a minister to respond to the questions of the members of the House and will do everything in my power to comply within the appropriate time.
The Speaker: I appreciate the response by the Minister of Natural Resources.
To the member for Bruce on the larger question, he identifies two particular aspects, one of which is the concept of contempt, which of course includes more than not replying to questions that are tabled. The ruling I just delivered is one which is quite consistent with the practice of this House.
I offer two observations. First, I am pleased to review the situation he describes. I appreciate receiving advice from any member of the assembly with respect to that. Second, the member, or other members, may wish to focus attention on this particular aspect of our standing orders. If there is a time when a committee of the assembly is studying rule changes, perhaps that's something it may wish to consider. I appreciate the concern which is raised, one which has been raised on many occasions in this chamber by various members of the opposition.
It is time for oral questions and the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under standing order 95(d). On April 9, 1992, I tabled Orders and Notices paper question 299, which reads as follows:
"Inquiry of the ministry: Would the Chair of Management Board provide the following information on a ministry-by-ministry basis for the years 1987-92: (i) employment equity plans outlining the numerical goals or targets for aboriginal persons; (ii) the number of aboriginal people employed by the Ontario public service; (iii) the number of aboriginal women employed by the Ontario public service."
On April 9, 1992, I received an interim answer, which was tabled May 27, 1992, with an approximate date information would be available, on June 5, 1992.
Mr Speaker, it is your responsibility to ensure that the standing orders of this House are complied with. The government has shown some disrespect for the standing orders by not answering this question in total; I appreciate that an interim answer was received. I ask, Mr Speaker, that you take the necessary steps to enforce the standing orders of this assembly.
The Speaker: To the member for S-D-G & East Grenville, who may not have been here a bit earlier when I ruled on this identical matter raised by another member, I trust that response will be sufficient.
Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition was kind enough to compliment the Speaker on his patience; I now return the compliment and recognize her to start her questions.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): Mr Speaker, I too rise on a point of order under standing order 95(d). On April 7, 1992, I tabled an order paper question that reads as follows: "Would the Minister of the Environment provide the names, locations and remaining capacity, for each of the landfills listed in response to question j20-10, (January 20, 1992) asked during the committee hearings" -- referring to the standing committee on social development committee hearings -- "associated with Bill 143. The information would ideally be provided in the same format as question j-20-10 was responded to."
Mr Speaker, I too feel that as a member of the assembly I have a right to have this information to exercise my job, and certainly my role as critic for the Minister of the Environment and the Ministry of the Environment. You well know of course that one of your responsibilities as Chair is to ensure that the rights of the minority are protected, and indeed the rules. The government has again shown, I think, in this case disregard for the rights of myself as a member and the rights of the minority. I ask you, sir, to review this particular matter that I raise before you today in terms of standing order 95(d) and take the necessary steps to ensure this particular question is responded to.
The Speaker: The member may not have been in the chamber at an earlier moment when I responded to his colleague from Mississauga West. I direct his attention to the ruling I made at that time. I appreciate his bringing this matter to my attention.
Again we turn to the Leader of the Opposition for her first question.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): On a very special point of order, Mr Speaker: Because of the fact that a young student was killed in northern Ontario, I would have thought the Minister of Natural Resources would have made a statement in this Legislature to bring us up to date on that very serious happening in northern Ontario.
The Speaker: While it's not a point of order, it's obviously a serious matter the member may wish to consider for question period, which we are now about to begin, I trust.
I again recognize the Leader of the Opposition.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. I would like to return to an issue which seems to have caused some confusion for the Premier in the past. It is a fact that on July 1 the provincial government will start taking more personal income taxes from Ontarians, in line with his April budget.
According to the Treasurer, if you make $10,000 a year you will pay $10 more in provincial income tax. At $20,000 the province is taking an extra $45. In fact, the government's own figures show that at every income level the province is taking away more in personal income taxes from single income earners.
Can the Premier now tell this House whether it is indeed correct, as our critic has repeatedly stated in interpreting this government's budget, that every single income earner making more than $10,000 will pay more in Ontario personal income tax starting July 1?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): First of all, the answer to that question would depend on whether the person was a senior or not. That's a factor which has to be taken into account.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Oh, yes.
Hon Mr Rae: I continue to be heckled by the member for St Catharines. If he'll simply allow me to answer the question, the answer is that it does depend on that factor. With respect to 1993, the net impact with respect to federal and provincial income taxes is that there would be no net increases for that year for the vast majority of taxpayers in the province.
You also have to consider that, for married people with dependants, the fact is that the people of this province will be paying less overall when you take into consideration the federal reduction, which we have to do in order to deal with the impact of the federal cuts in transfers, which I would remind the honourable member are worth $1,700 per taxpayer in the province of Ontario.
Mrs McLeod: The Premier continues to say simply that taxes are not going up for Ontarians if he includes the federal surtax reduction in his mathematics. For example, as the Premier has indicated, if you earn $20,000, the federal government wants to give you $45 back in 1993. But instead, this government is taking back that $45 in extra taxes. If the NDP government had not increased its taxes in the April budget every low-income Ontarian would have more money in his or her wallet. They would not be paying the same amount of taxes that the Premier insists, but would be paying less to the government.
Is it not ironic that this government continues to use Brian Mulroney's tax break to offset its own tax increases on the working poor? I wonder if the Premier can tell this House why he will not let low-income Ontarians enjoy the full benefit of the federal tax reduction instead of taking it all away through higher personal income taxes in Ontario.
Hon Mr Rae: Let's put this in some perspective for the honourable member. Let's recognize, first of all, that the single person with $10,000, if the person is not a senior -- one has to take that into account; if you are a senior, the level of tax credit that's been provided by this government provides for an increase in the amount of the tax credit, the net tax for people who are on a lower-income basis. So those people who are over 65 have in fact been given a net increase in their income and a decrease in their effective taxation as a result of the measures that were announced by the Treasurer in his budget.
The leader of the Liberal Party is behaving as Liberals always do in opposition, from my experience: She wants to have it every possible way.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order.
Hon Mr Rae: She takes no account of the impact of the reduction in the transfer payment from the federal government to this province with respect to critical programs including medicare, including social assistance, including basic programs, which is costing individual taxpayers $1,700 per taxpayer per annum in this province, just for one year alone.
The member for Bruce may decide to laugh; he may find it funny. I don't think it is funny that the federal government has cut us to that extent.
The Speaker: Would the Premier conclude his response, please.
Hon Mr Rae: Therefore we have an obligation. The honourable member asks, why has there been a tax increase? The reason is because we have to pay for programs. Everybody knows that. The federal government doesn't know that. The Tories don't know that. The Liberals, apparently, now that they're in opposition, have forgotten that basic message, which was a very clear message which we got from the former Treasurer time and time again. I can tell the honourable member that we have no intention of avoiding the reality that programs have to be paid for and --
The Speaker: Could the Premier please conclude his response.
Hon Mr Rae: -- the income tax system has to be made fair in order to allow that to happen.
Mrs McLeod: The Premier reminds me of an old childhood game where you're the last person in the middle in a game of dodgeball.
I'm not talking about seniors. I'm talking about income earners, income earners earning the mighty income of $10,000 a year. I'm talking about income earners who are below the poverty line. This government and this Premier have talked a very good line about protecting the poor, but as on so many other issues, the words and the music simply don't match.
This is the same Premier who, when he was in opposition, asked of another minister in another debate, "How much money is this government saving on the backs of these poor people?" Can the Premier simply tell this House how much money taxing Ontario's poor will raise for his government? Does it really make such a difference, and in fact is this government not simply taxing the poor to make up for its own financial mismanagement?
Hon Mr Rae: I just can't accept any of the premises or assumptions of the member's question. Let's look at the facts; let's consider the facts. Perhaps the honourable member can tell us whether she's admitting or denying the impact of the federal cuts to this province with respect to programs that are basic for poor people and for middle-income people in Ontario. If she's denying that reality, let her stand in her place and say that doesn't matter, doesn't make any difference; if she's denying that a family of four earning $25,000 will have a net change, when you take into account the provincial and federal changes, of $95.
We're entitled to take account of the federal cuts because we've certainly felt the impact of the federal cuts on the spending side. If you don't know that, you don't know anything about how the fiscal work of this province operates.
The Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition with her second question.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Again my question is for the Premier, and again I want to return to a question that seems to us now to strike at the heart of the Premier's personal integrity.
Yesterday I asked this Premier a question about his past promises. The Premier refused to answer that question. This Premier came to office promising to create a greater sense of integrity in the work of government, yet time and time again we have seen this Premier refuse to be held accountable for his own statements.
He has even denied, on the issue of waste management in the greater Toronto area, that his government has any responsibility for decisions about the landfill site choices. This Premier must accept some, if not all, of the responsibility for raising the expectations of the citizens of Whitevale and the Rouge. This Premier used to call such actions "lying." He said that when a politician promises one thing during an election and then does something different in power, it is a lie.
Our question still stands, and it is a question directly to the Premier: How do you reconcile the promises you made to the people of Whitevale and the Rouge Valley during a campaign and the clear retreat of your government from those promises?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): As this issue clearly falls within the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment, I'm going to refer the question to the Minister of the Environment.
Hon Ruth A. Grier (Minister of the Environment): I simply point out to the Leader of the Opposition again that she is quite wrong in her question and in the premise of her question, and that the screening criteria being used by the Interim Waste Authority screen out very clearly the Rouge River Valley --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order. Would the minister take her seat.
The Speaker: Minister of the Environment.
Hon Mrs Grier: I was pointing out the criteria of the Interim Waste Authority, which are that the portion of the Rouge River Valley where the provincial cabinet has declared a park is not a site.
The Speaker: Order.
Mrs McLeod: I intend to continue to direct questions that relate very specifically to statements the Premier has made to the Premier, even though he refuses to answer the questions.
I would like in my supplementary to read from an NDP news release dated August 7, 1990, entitled "Farm Land is Garbage Land to Liberals." The quote is: "Sprawling developments aren't the only threat to farm land. So are landfill sites." The release continues, "New Democrats say we've got to get tough on protecting irreplaceable farm land." Two years ago the Premier feigned dismay at our disappearing farm land. Can he tell us today why his government's Interim Waste Authority was not instructed to exempt publicly owned farm land from the possibility of becoming host to a landfill site?
Hon Mrs Grier: Mr Speaker, I would merely refer the Leader of the Opposition again to the criteria used by the Interim Waste Authority, criteria that have been consulted upon widely with the public and which in fact screen out specialty crop areas and screen out class 1 to 3 agricultural soils as potential uses for landfill sites in the GTA.
Mrs McLeod: The reality is that in the criteria given to the Interim Waste Authority, publicly owned farm land in classes 1, 2 or 3 was not exempted from being considered as a host for landfill sites.
I would take the Premier and his minister back to another day when he made his great commitment to preserving the agricultural land of this province. On this particular occasion the Premier, then Leader of the Opposition, was standing at a microphone with the wheat and the corn fields blowing in the background at Whitevale, and he told the residents, "That land is some of the best farm land around." In fact, Bob Rae defied the former Premier to stand in this place and give a speech on protecting farm land and see how much credibility he had. Now the community of Whitevale is questioning how much credibility the man who spoke those words has.
Mr Speaker, if Whitevale should not have been considered for a landfill site in 1990 because, and I quote, "It is prime food land," why two years later is it on the list not once, but seven times?
Hon Mrs Grier: The Leader of the Opposition conveniently forgets that under her government the land around Whitevale was not being considered. It was being designated --
The Speaker: Would the minister take her seat for a minute.
The Speaker: I ask members again, although these are difficult situations, if they would try to use temperate language.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): Mr Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. Last November I introduced a bill requiring unions to hold secret ballot votes for certification for strikes and for collective agreement ratification. Today I intend to reintroduce this bill because I strongly believe that if we are to have fairness and equality, as the minister himself has indicated he desires, all workers in this province should have the right to a free and democratic vote. Workers should have the right to decide for themselves, free of any interference or intimidation from any source, whether or not to have a union represent them, to accept a contract or to go on strike. Obviously, a secret ballot vote is the only fair way of allowing them to do so.
Minister, will you explain why you continue to deny the workers of this province the right to a secret ballot vote? Why will you not make the changes to ensure that the individual rights of each worker are not only preserved but protected?
Hon Bob Mackenzie (Minister of Labour): Mr Speaker, regardless of what my position might be -- and I'm not sure it's stated clearly by the member across the way -- I simply want to say that I haven't denied workers the right to a free vote. I haven't been asked for a free vote by a worker yet in the province of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order. Supplementary, the member for Waterloo North.
Mrs Witmer: Minister, it's unfortunate that the individual workers throughout this province have not seen fit to approach you on this issue. I can assure you I have received phone calls and I have received letters on this issue asking for protection. I can also tell you there were many groups that made representation to you on this issue of individual rights during the consultation process.
They included the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario which told you: "These proposals seriously undermine employees' civil liberties. The right to change one's mind and the right of an interested party to oppose and to present a case against a party applying for a statutory right are basic civil liberties which must be protected." I go on with the quote, "The perceived good of greater unionization does not justify infringing employees' civil liberties."
Minister, I agree with the comments you made to me on June 9, 1992, when I asked you a question. I believe that workers must have some input into the decisions that directly affect them and I ask you to give your commitment today to amend your bill to ensure that the democratic rights of all workers are protected through the provision of a secret ballot vote.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I want to give the member one assurance: There is nothing in the OLRA legislation that's before this House that denies the individual rights of workers; indeed, it enhances them.
Mrs Witmer: It's difficult to take your consultation process seriously when you refuse to accept any new agenda item that was not part of the union-leader-driven agenda that was originally put forward. Not only are you not allowing a secret ballot vote, you are in fact proposing in the legislation to take away an individual's right to change his or her mind by eliminating petitions and the right of an individual to cross a picket line if there is financial hardship.
Minister, "through consultation" implies listening to the views of all the parties in this province. If you really listened, why is the secret ballot provision still missing from your bill?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I keep reminding the member across the way that the legislation that she's complaining about came from a Tory government a good many years ago and no effort was ever made by it to change that. It seems to me that the legislative changes we're making are trying to update that very piece of legislation they didn't consider important enough to deal with in the 42 years they were in power.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Today is the 20th anniversary of Watergate and how fitting it is that we can recognize it here in Ontario with what is now going to be called Dumpgate. As Mr Richard Nixon never admitted any responsibility for the causes of Watergate, we now have a Minister of the Environment who accepts no responsibility for what's going on in the greater Toronto area.
Ruth Grier, the Minister of the Environment, has denied any responsibility for the Interim Waste Authority. She's denied breaking promises to protect green spaces. She's denied responsibility to keep the Premier's promise to have a full environmental assessment for Keele Valley landfill site. She has denied the shipment of waste out of the greater Toronto area. She's denied York, Durham and Peel the right to a fair evaluation under landfill site criteria. Now the Interim Waste Authority has chosen 57 sites based on evaluation of least impact in key areas.
According to the criteria, all the sites were allegedly selected where there was least displacement and disruption to residents, communities, natural features, historical areas and farm land. As Minister of Agriculture and Food you have a responsibility to protect Ontario's farm land. What have you done to protect prime agricultural land from being a dump?
Hon Elmer Buchanan (Minister of Agriculture and Food): The member's preamble mentioned this: The Ministry of the Environment is doing an excellent job of trying to save the environment and find a suitable site for landfill sites.
In terms of the final question about preserving farm land, the member should know that I currently have a group, a task force, which is travelling around the province at this very time looking at different methods of how, as a government, we can preserve farm land. We're looking at various instruments we can use and employ and strengthen.
In fact, at the moment we have the Food Land Guidelines, which are just that -- guidelines -- and we would like to bring something that will strengthen legislation and regulations so that we can preserve the best farm land for agriculture, which is very important to this government.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Supplementary to the Minister of Agriculture and Food: You talk about your Food Land Guidelines. What she's doing is replacing your guidelines with dumps. The question was, what are you doing?
In my riding of Dufferin-Peel, in the town of Caledon specifically, there are going to be 15 potential dump sites. Every one of those sites is on a working farm today, every last one of them. Some of these sites are even on century farms which have been in the same farming family for more than 100 years.
Mr Minister, I'd like to read to you a statement from your notorious Agenda for People, specifically page 8, which I'm sure all of you over there are trying to forget. It says you would "preserve farm land: The agricultural land base in Ontario is quickly shrinking at the hands of a Liberal government which refuses to rein in the land developers. We propose...to slow the conversion of valuable farm land to other uses, and would...prevent the conversion of classes 1 to 3 farm land to non-farm uses."
In your planning for this province, Mr Minister, all you have done differently than the Liberal government is to replace developments with dumps. That's all you've done. Why are you breaking your promise made in the Agenda for People? Why are you converting prime agricultural farm land into dumps?
Hon Mr Buchanan: We are not and I am not converting farm land into dump sites. I would like to point out to the honourable member a couple of things we've done at Agriculture and Food. A little over a year ago his caucus members criticized me for defending some farm land down in the Ottawa region where we spent considerable amounts of taxpayers' money to preserve agricultural lands. I remember being criticized for going to the Ontario Municipal Board to try and preserve farm land in the Ottawa --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Minister.
Hon Mr Buchanan: In another scenario, for the member down in the Niagara region, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and myself are opposing severances of tender fruit land to build houses on because we believe that fruit land is very valuable and should be preserved for agriculture.
In terms of the current issue that seems to be coming back to the House every day in terms of finding dump sites, we have an Interim Waste Authority, which is an arm's-length agency that's looking for sites, looking at all suitable sites. We obviously are going to have some input into that in terms of the agricultural lands preservation. But I have a lot of faith in that agency and that we will come up with a suitable site for the GTA waste.
Mr Tilson: The town of Caledon is just going to be thrilled to hear that you think 15 sites in farm land are prime sites for a dump. They're just going to be thrilled.
I want to refer you to the Interim Waste Authority document -- I don't know whether the Minister of the Environment has referred that to you -- and to the long list of candidate sites which shows, if you read that document, every last one of the 15 sites in the town of Caledon is on valuable, usable, protected farm land. I'd like you to read that if you haven't.
How can you possibly believe that putting a dump in Caledon will stop the shrinkage of Ontario's agricultural base, as you promised in your Agenda for People? How can you possibly believe that? I'm going to ask the question again: How could you in all good conscience replace a century farm with a dump?
Hon Mr Buchanan: There are a couple of points in the preamble again that I'd like to clarify. The member talks about 15 sites as if those 15 sites were all going to be dumps -- if in fact any of those sites are selected in the final analysis -- and we're talking about rural lands or farm land. Let's be clear that they're looking for one site in that area and let's not get everyone who might be part of the 15 sites nervous and on edge about this.
We at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, I feel very passionately, need to do as much as we can to preserve good farm land. We are undertaking a review process to come up with not new guidelines but some new regulations in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. In fact, farm land is very important to this government. We also have to use the Interim Waste Authority as an agency that is going to find some suitable site for garbage, because that also is going to be a crisis in the greater Toronto area and we have to look at certain tradeoffs. That's what we're trying to do.
INVESTIGATION INTO RELEASE OF DOCUMENTS
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Premier, who used to be a defender of the rights of the opposition and a proponent of civil liberties in this province, a reputation which in my view was well earned in years gone by.
The Premier will recall that in the fall of this year his government sent the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate members of the opposition, specifically the member for Bruce and the member for Halton North, and the public servants because information had come from the public service to members of the opposition, valuable information that is helpful to the public to make its decisions on the issues of the day.
Could the Premier tell us what the results of his investigations of members of the opposition and the public service are, and could he tell us if he has succeeded in intimidating the civil service into not providing any further information to the opposition or the news media?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): The premise of the member's question is quite wrong. I have never sent a police officer anywhere to do anything or to talk to anybody, nor have ever I received any such police reports of any kind whatsoever.
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): The Premier's government authorized two OPP investigations into documents that came into the hands of the opposition. You called the police in. You called the OPP in. The government called the OPP in. It was your office that sanctioned it. You can't wash your hands of this. It was you, Premier, and your government that called the police in. They had no option but to interview the opposition; it was the opposition who had those documents. You can't wash your hands of this. You authorized this.
I follow up with the question my colleague asked: Have you now seen those reports and can you tell the House how many other OPP investigations your government has authorized into activities by the opposition?
Hon Mr Rae: Let me say with respect very directly to the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, he's once again pointed his finger at me and used the word "you" on at least three occasions and referred specifically to me, as Premier, having personally authorized any interviews between the OPP and members of the opposition. That is an allegation the member has made. I want to say to the member that allegation is utterly and completely false and without any foundation whatsoever. You know it, and you know it because you've been told it several times.
I will say directly to the honourable member that I have seen no such reports, and as I've answered very clearly to the member for St Catharines, I have authorized no such questioning and have seen no such reports of any kind whatsoever, at any time, ever, period.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Lanark-Renfrew.
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Lanark-Renfrew has the floor.
MINISTRY OF ENERGY HIRING
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): It has recently come to my attention that a previous Energy minister's communications assistant has been offered a rather impressive opportunity for career advancement. It appears that Miss Creighton has attained a management-level position at the policy coordination section of the Ministry of Energy. This person seems to have benefited from the NDP's express route to upper-tier management, as she is now entitled to a possible $79,000 a year.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order.
Mr Jordan: Mr Speaker, my question --
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please.
Mr Hugh P. O'Neil (Quinte): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Many of the members on our side have been waiting for the Premier to answer questions for a number of days. We are halfway into the question period. I know that I and others in our party have questions to ask of him. Today, after being absent for many days, he's again leaving early. I wonder if there is any way the Premier would return to the House and be prepared to answer some of the questions we have.
The Speaker: Order. To the member for Quinte, you do not have a point of privilege but you certainly have a persuasive argument, obviously. The Premier.
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): Mr Speaker, as the member for Quinte will know, there is a washroom in the lobby there which I have to use from time to time.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Quinte.
Mr O'Neil: Having been a teacher for many years, when I had pupils who wanted to go to the washroom, they usually put their hand up.
The Speaker: Okay, the member for Lanark-Renfrew, and could you identify to whom the question is directed.
Mr Leo Jordan: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The question is directed to the acting Minister of Energy, but it could involve the Premier's office.
It seems that Miss Creighton has benefited from the NDP's express route to upper-tier management. As I stated, she is now entitled to a salary of $79,000 a year. Could the acting Minister of Energy please tell the House what Miss Creighton's specific credentials are that make her appropriate for the position, and how well did she fare among the other candidates in the competition, if in fact there was a competition?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Acting Minister of Energy): The member's question is an interesting one, because it contains an internal contradiction. The minister does not run the competitions in the civil service in the Ministry of Energy, nor do the ministers of this government run the competitions in any ministry. I would suggest the member's question would be more appropriately directed to those who conducted the interviews, because there was a competition. I would suggest that Miss Creighton's qualifications, along with a number of former staffers from the Tory caucus and the Liberal caucus who have joined the civil service over the course of the last couple of years, will be amply demonstrated.
Mr Jordan: Perhaps the minister has stated then that Miss Creighton has been advanced to this high-level management position at a salary of $79,000, and would he say then that her previous work with the Premier, when he was in the opposition, had any effect on this appointment?
Hon Mr Charlton: I have to assume that the applicant in question was judged in the interview process based on her qualifications for the position in question. The member should know that the person in question in fact was already in senior management positions, both formerly in the Ministry of Energy and more laterally in my office in Financial Institutions, where she was an executive assistant.
Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): My question is for the minister responsible for the GTA and Minister of the Environment. Earlier this week, I asked a question of the minister about the decision that was made by this government not to allow the export of waste to Kirkland Lake. It was clear from her answer that in order for the processes to be fair and in order to look at Kirkland Lake as an option, we would have to look at every square inch of Ontario. That means all municipalities could be threatened with having to take on the problem of the greatest waste generator, Metropolitan Toronto.
That being said, there is another question being thrown about by the member for Markham and also by my constituents, the question of incineration. I know Bill 143 has removed incineration as an option for the disposal of GTA garbage. There have been implications made by the media and members opposite that this would be a wonderful solution. There seems to be the belief out there that state-of-the-art incinerators are clean and environmentally friendly and that it would be much easier to site an incinerator than it would be to site a landfill. Would the minister care to comment on this? My constituents would like to know.
Hon Ruth A. Grier (Minister of the Environment and Minister Responsible for the Greater Toronto Area): I can certainly tell him that I don't think it would be any easier to find a site for an incinerator than it would be for a landfill. But there are a lot of reasons why incinerators are not the answer to the waste management crisis we face within the GTA or anywhere else within this province. Incinerators work in direct contradiction to the 3Rs. They don't reduce, reuse or recycle. In fact, once they're built they have to be fed, and they have to be fed with the materials that are most likely to be able to be recycled.
Second, as the member says, you have to find a location for them and you also have to find a location for their ash. Ironically, the more effective your technology to reduce the amount of pollutants that are spewed out into somebody else's backyard by the incinerator, the more toxic the ash and therefore the more difficult it is to find a landfill site for the ash.
Finally, incinerators are a great deal more expensive than landfills, both to build, because of their capital expense, and to operate on an ongoing basis. They are not compatible with a comprehensive waste management system.
Mr Wiseman: My supplementary question also has to do with incineration. We had a presentation by Dr Connett before the standing committee on social development with respect to what would have to go into an incinerator. He made the point very forcefully that what would go into an incinerator is the raw material for future products and future goods. My question to the minister has to do with the waste reduction office, and perhaps she could update the House. My constituents are very concerned about recycling, reducing and reusing this material. If we could --
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): They sure are, after you sold them out. If anyone ever sold out his constituents you did.
The Speaker: Order, the member for Markham.
Mr Wiseman: My constituents perhaps have a little more sophistication than the member for Markham does. I would like to finish my comments without being interrupted rudely by the member for Markham and having those kinds of comments about my integrity being made in this House.
The Speaker: Would the member place his question.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Wiseman: My question was about the waste reduction office and the kind of --
The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat please.
The Speaker: Would the member place his question please.
Mr Wiseman: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I'd be more than pleased to place my question. My question has to do with the potential use of what is in the waste stream as a natural resource that could give this country and this province a competitive advantage by reusing resources and reusing material that will give our businesses and firms a leg up, with the opportunity to invest and to have a leading edge in world technology in this area and to give us a competitive advantage. I'd like to know and have an update on what the waste reduction office is doing in order to facilitate and help the industries of this province take advantage of that kind of business and economic advantage.
Hon Mrs Grier: The member is quite right that of course the foundation of our waste management system in this province has got to be waste reduction. This member and many of his constituents have been on the leading edge of promoting the 3Rs and in working with the waste reduction office in ways in which we can not only reach the targets that had been set by the previous government, but exceed them. I'm glad to be able to tell him that we are indeed finding, as industries within this province become more creative and innovative in ways of reducing their waste, that not only are they saving money because they don't have to dispose of waste, but they are saving energy, they are saving resources and they are developing technologies that make them far more competitive in tough times and in good times.
The efforts of the waste reduction office, cooperatively with municipalities and with industries, are going to make a very real difference and will be very much the issue that is discussed, I know, before the Environmental Assessment Board when the question of waste management within the GTA is addressed and debated.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Mississauga West.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): It's interesting that the same minister opposed to incinerators is currently involved in building seven of them around the province for biomedical waste: just another example, but that's not my question.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): My question is to the Premier. Mr Premier, I'm in receipt of a letter to you, sir, from Frank Mechura, the president of Crown Cork and Seal Canada Inc, a company in the aluminum can business. He states in that letter that since you introduced your supposed environmental levy on canned beer, his company's shipments are down by almost 55%. They have laid off immediately 25 highly skilled workers and are facing further massive layoffs. He has asked for a meeting with you, sir, the Premier of this province -- not one of your ministers but with you -- to discuss the effects that this budget measure is having on his business and on the 4,000-plus people employed in this industry. To date, you have refused to meet with him and you won't even respond to his request.
May I ask the Premier, why did you not meet with the major can producers in this province, such as Crown Cork and Seal and Ball Packaging Products, or the unions involved with this matter, prior to the introduction of this tax, to deal with, analyse and explain the fallout that your tax is now having on their workers?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): First of all, the difficulty that we face in the preparation of budgets is obviously and always to do with the question of what kinds of budgetary consultations are possible in terms of detail with respect to the question of budget secrecy. That is a problem and an issue we have to deal with. The Treasurer and I have discussed this both before and after the last budget and this one, and we are always looking for ways to improve the process in such a way that we can take perhaps a more modern approach with respect to that question.
In answer to the other allegation you made again today that I have refused to meet with people, I have not refused to meet with anyone. There are two companies involved. The employees from both companies have met with the staff in my office, with the Minister of the Environment, with the Treasurer and with others. In terms of my own schedule, I was away last week, but I have indicated a willingness to do everything I can to meet with people, and I will be doing that. I have no objection at all to meeting with people, and I'm quite happy to do so, and I've indicated that.
Mr Mahoney: Premier, I ask you to check your facts, because my facts tell me the only meeting that's taken place is between some staff in the Ministry of the Environment and a member of the United Steelworkers; that there has not been a response to the request from the president of this company at all. I believe that information is current as of this morning, so if you've been busy running around having meetings since this morning, I'd stand corrected, but I highly doubt that.
Joe Daignault of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said on June 5 in a letter: "This is an unbelievably stupid move for a government whose stated policy was to ensure and protect the jobs of Ontario workers. Beer cans are not the problem and if sales drop off, as they will do, our members of the UFCW are going to lose their jobs."
Patrick Corcoran, UFCW plant chair at Ball Packaging, says in a letter to Don Abel, after citing layoffs, suspensions and lost sales up to 60%, "On behalf of the labour force I represent and all others affected by this proposed tax, I am appealing to you to reconsider your position on this tax implementation."
Kathy Dumouchel, chair of the levy action committee of Ball Packaging, in a three-page letter to you, Premier, on May 18 of this year, says among other things: "...35% of the returnable bottle supply is manufactured outside of this country. If it is the intent of this government for jobs to be lost to our American counterparts, then so be it. However, it does cause one to reflect deeply on where this government's loyalties lie."
Premier, you have not answered the letters, you refuse to meet with the companies affected, and you won't act to save thousands of jobs in the canning industry.
The Speaker: Does the member have a supplementary?
Mr Mahoney: What exact message do you have for Joe Daignault, Patrick Corcoran and Kathy Dumouchel about their future and the future of the workers in the UFCW and the United Steelworkers of America who have their lives tied up in this industry?
Hon Mr Rae: The member has repeated the falsehood again in the House, saying that I refused to meet with people. I have not refused to meet with people. His statement is not true. If the member is in error again when he repeats what he said the first time --
Hon Mr Rae: No, no, wait a minute. I'm going to get to your question. You had a long question, and I'm going to try to answer it as quickly as I can. But to be fair, I hope the member would realize that he said some things in his statement -- for example, in his preamble to the second question he said it was his understanding there had been no meetings with ministers. I want to say that that understanding is incorrect. There have been meetings with the Treasurer; there have been meetings with the Minister of the Environment.
Mr Mahoney: With an organizer of the Steelworkers, not with the people affected.
Hon Mr Rae: No, no.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Rae: There have been meetings of many different kinds, and that's a fact the record will very clearly show, and I hope the member would recognize that.
Second -- and I've got a note here from my staff -- we've already spoken to people earlier today. I indicated earlier this week, in terms of my staff asking, "When can we arrange a time?" that we'll arrange a time. I'm quite confident I'll be seeing them this weekend. I have no doubt about that at all.
I say to the honourable member that the changes going on overall in the beer industry are difficult changes. They involve the negotiations between the federal government and the US beer industry, they involve questions of environmental protection for the future of this province, they involve questions that relate to our obligations under the GATT, where we have some very clear GATT rulings with respect to the kinds of provisions we have in place. So these things all have to be balanced.
The intention of this government is to save as many jobs in this industry as is humanly possible. That is the intention of this government, in keeping with our environmental and other trade responsibilities. That's what we're trying to do, that's what we're trying to deal with, and that's what I would say to the workers who are involved: We are prepared to listen to them, we're prepared to look at what it is they propose, what their alternatives are, but we do have some obligations under GATT which our federal government is now negotiating, and we also have some obligations with respect to the environment which we have to deal with.
Mr Charles Harnick (Willowdale): My question is to the Attorney General. One of my constituents believes that justice has not been served, as a result of an administrative foulup. In 1989, Mrs F filed a complaint against five Metro officers. She alleged that the officers had mistreated her after she had complained of sexual misconduct by another officer.
As a result of an administrative foulup at the Ontario police complaints commission, chaired by Clare Lewis, who forgot to tell the officers for 10 months that a complaint had been levied against them, her case was ultimately dismissed.
My constituent has lost her right to have her day in court. Why, Mr Attorney General, have you not appealed her case, and are you prepared to do so now so that justice can be done for my constituent?
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): I am not acquainted with all the details of this case and I think it would be rather unfair of me to make any remarks about it without being aware of all the details of the case. If the member would like to provide me with the details he has, I will certainly look into it and provide him with an answer.
Mr Harnick: The case I refer to is a case that was dismissed pursuant to a decision called the Gage case. I know the Attorney General has to know what this case said, so I'm quite frankly shocked that he has no idea about a case that was widely reported in the media, referred to as the Mrs F case. I wonder if the Attorney General comes to work every day, and when he gets there, whether he reads what's going on.
Mr Attorney General, the officers facing the complaint were not given the opportunity to defend themselves and the woman who filed the complaint was never given her day in court, all as a result of administrative bungling by an administrative chairman, a chairman who is now reconvening the Race Relations and Policing Task Force, as of yesterday. He forgot for 10 months to tell somebody that a complaint had been levied against them. In Mrs F's own words, the system designed to right a wrong, wronged a right.
Now, are you prepared to take action? Are you prepared to look into this, and are you prepared to ensure that this injustice does not happen again?
Hon Mr Hampton: My answer remains as to the first question. I think it would be rather unfair of me, knowing the general details of a case, to now give an answer based upon some specifics that are alleged by the member opposite. I have indicated that I will check into the details of the case, and I will respond when I have those details. I think it would be most unfair to give an answer here, not knowing at this point all the specifics of the case.
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Mr Minister, in view of the decision to go ahead with the implementation of the Brant report, which includes annexation of extensive areas of agricultural land, what assurance can you give the rural residents of Middlesex, who will be annexed into the city of London, that agricultural land will be protected?
Hon David S. Cooke (Minister of Municipal Affairs): I appreciate the question from the member who, along with the other members from the London-Middlesex area, has shown a great deal of interest in this. I can tell the member that we will be tabling the legislation soon and that in the legislation there will be substantial protection of agricultural land. There will be a requirement that a new official plan be developed for the new city of London and community involvement will be guaranteed in the development of that official plan. Guidelines for the development of that official plan will be built right into the legislation, so I can assure the member that agricultural land in the new city of London will have more protection than any agricultural land in the entire province.
Mrs Mathyssen: Thank you, Minister, but the constituents of rural Middlesex have been, and are currently, extremely critical of the planning done by the city of London. In view of their concerns, how will your ministry ensure more effective planning that takes into account environmental and agricultural concerns?
Hon Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, I think the member will see in the legislation we table that there will be protections built right into the legislation with planning guidelines and guarantees of involvement from the community. I agree with the member that this is a vital question that people both in the city and in the county are concerned about. So is this government concerned about that. We will make sure agricultural land and environmentally sensitive areas are protected in the legislation.
Mr Hugh P. O'Neil (Quinte): Mr Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Community and Social Services, I would like to ask the question of the Premier. Mr Premier, the need for this government to provide more support to children and families has never been greater. In fact, this government's lack of attention and initiatives, combined with historically low transfer payments, has placed the children of various communities at risk.
Premier, I have received a letter from the children's aid society of the city of Belleville, which I will send over to you -- the county of Hastings and the city of Trenton -- who state their extreme concern regarding the current state of social services in the province and how their agency is severely hampered in its ability to provide protective services to the children not only of our area but to the rest of the province. The letter has been signed by Deb Stockton, president of CUPE Local 2197, and Kenneth S. Daley, president of the board of directors.
I would like to ask the Premier how this government intends to ensure the safety and protection of young children under the care of such agencies as our children's aid societies?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): The transfers that have been announced by this government in the education, health and community and social services fields have been, without question, the most difficult decision this government has had to take since it was sworn into office on October 1. I can only tell the honourable member that the economic and fiscal circumstances we are in have left us -- I'm sure members will appreciate that it was discussed intensively around the cabinet table -- with the very strong feeling that the clearest and fairest thing for us to do would be to indicate to all of our transfer partners that it was going to be very difficult for us to do any more than the 1% and 2% over the next two years with respect to our overall fiscal situation.
That is the situation we face. I can only say we are determined to work with all of our transfer partners. The minister has been doing that. We will obviously respond carefully to this letter and to others we've received. I can tell the honourable member we've received letters from and are working with the hospital sector, the education sector and the university sector. It's not an easy time, but the fact is that there really is no other choice.
Mr O'Neil: Premier, I can appreciate some of the things you're saying, but in order to survive and look after the children, not only in our children's aid society -- and it's my understanding that they have not received the 1% transfer; they've been cut back to 0.5%. They're saying, in other words, that the safety and protection of the children will have to be compromised. I'm saying, Premier, this agency that is mandated to protect children is telling the minister and you they cannot do that. Will you, Premier, reconsider spending priorities so that we can provide the needed protection for children in our area and other areas of the province?
Hon Mr Rae: Again, let me say to the honourable member that the Liberal Party today has put forward several questions, among others. But the first lot of questions has to do with the ones yesterday: How can we reduce taxation right away? The second question becomes, how do we deal with the very urgent crisis, the very real situation, you're describing -- I presume the underlying thrust of your question at the end of the day is, "Let's spend more money." When you look at the reality, we would then be faced with a much larger deficit.
I can remember the member's face when the deficit figure was announced in this House in the budget in 1991; it turned several different hues. Clearly he was furious that the deficit had gone over $9 billion in 1990-91. I would say to the honourable member he would be the first one to criticize us if we allowed ourselves to go beyond that number.
To those who say, "Change priorities," I simply want to say this in response: There is no other way than to deal with the largest ticket items in the budget, that is to say, with social services, with health care and with education. There's no easy way to do it, but it has to be done. That's why we're sticking to the 1% and 2%.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): I would invite all members to welcome to our chamber a former member of the House who I believe has sat through the entire question period today, the former long-standing member for Algoma-Manitoulin, Mr John Lane. Welcome.
INVESTIGATION INTO RELEASE OF DOCUMENTS
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I want to raise with you a point of privilege as Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the members of my caucus. As was noted in a question earlier today, at an earlier point two members of our caucus, the member for Bruce and the member for Halton Centre, carrying out their responsibilities as elected members of this assembly, were in fact visited by representatives of the Ontario Provincial Police for investigative reasons.
At the time we believed that was a violation of our rights and responsibilities as elected members of this assembly. It is an issue we did not take lightly at the time and I do not believe it is an issue which should be dismissed so lightly as the Premier has dismissed it today. I believe this is an issue of privilege. I would ask that the Speaker ensure that those members at least receive the right to have some understanding of where that investigation has gone.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the Leader of the Opposition: I'm not sure if she's referring to a new incident or if this is something dealt with at an earlier time. Perhaps the leader would be kind enough to provide a few more details for me.
Mrs McLeod: I'd be happy to. The question we raised earlier today and the question I raise in my point of privilege is that those two members were in fact visited and asked about their receipt of information. As we indicated at the time, we believed that was a violation of our privileges as members of this assembly. That was not the ruling at the time. But we do believe it is an issue of privilege that, having been visited by the Ontario Provincial Police, members have a right to know what became of the investigation, whether there is a report and whether they figure in that report in any way. We've seen nothing that has come since those visits.
The Speaker: To the Leader of the Opposition: I appreciate the clarification. I'm not sure how much assistance I can be to the member and of course to those two members of her caucus. However, I am quite pleased to review the situation and if there is any area where I can be of assistance, I would be more than delighted to lend such assistance. But I will require a little bit of time to take a look at your request and see what I can do to be of assistance to you.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm correcting my own record. When I was speaking of the OPP investigation of the opposition member for Bruce, I also said the opposition member for Halton North. It should have been Halton Centre. The member for Halton Centre was investigated by the OPP at the instigation of the government.
The Speaker: Indeed a point of order.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): On a further point of order, Mr Speaker: With regard to Orders and Notices questions, on June 1 I inquired under question 383, and I will read it to you: "Inquiry of the ministry -- Would the Solicitor General," who I notice is not with us at the moment, "provide the flight plans, including passenger lists and the costs incurred for all trips for all Ontario Provincial Police aircraft from October 1990 to present."
Once again under standing order 95(d) it states -- the minister is with us, I appreciate that:
"The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be."
I appreciate that the Minister of Natural Resources informed me after my previous point of order, having had to raise it twice in this House, that he has indeed signed at least an interim order giving a partial answer and that further answers would be forthcoming. I appreciate that; that's within the rules. The Solicitor General has not indicated that to me, and I ask, since the 14 days have expired, if you would rule on the point of order and consider what remedies I may have at my disposal.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member for Mississauga West: I have made the ruling on other occasions. I regret if he's not aware of the ruling and direct his attention to Hansard. Indeed by having raised it in the House, he now perhaps has a response from the Solicitor General.
Hon Allan Pilkey (Solicitor General): I am pleased to advise the member that this afternoon I have signed an interim letter as well that will be coming to him -- perhaps it is already on its way -- with a similar explanation that he has received from the Minister of Natural Resources. I indicate that while we are complying and will comply with the letter, I believe there will be a significant cost to the public that is not necessarily going to be fruitful, but none the less we will respond.
ORDER OF BUSINESS
Mr Cooke moved that the House do now move to orders of the day.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Call in the members; 30-minute bell.
The Speaker: Would all members resume their seats, please.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): Mr Speaker, there's a leak up there.
The Speaker: We'll attend to the repair. I would ask that all members please resume their seats.
Mr Gregory S. Sorbara (York Centre): I think there's something flying around up there, sir. There are bats in the belfry.
The Speaker: If there is some difficulty with respect to the ceiling --
Mr Sorbara: I just thought I saw something flying around up there.
The Speaker: I would be quite pleased to deal with whatever the problem is after the vote, if members would please resume their seats. Point of information?
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): The points of privilege that have been raised by the members in fact have to be heard before the question is put. Points of privilege supersede any action of the House, as the House rules call that those points be put immediately.
The Speaker: We had called for a vote, which now we are in the process of taking. We must complete --
Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, is that not a point which supersedes the vote?
The Speaker: No. We must complete the vote first, before any point of privilege can be raised.
Mrs McLeod: Is that true even on a point of privilege, Mr Speaker, even though a point of privilege is a violation of the rights of members of the House?
The Speaker: Because we had determined that there would be a vote, the bells rang and, as members know, the bells can be terminated at any moment by agreement of the three whips. Hence we have commenced the vote.
Mrs McLeod: Again, Mr Speaker, obviously I as leader have a concern on behalf of my caucus about the privileges of a member of my caucus. Standing order 21(b) indicates that points of privilege have to be placed immediately. That's why I'm seeking information.
The Speaker: The Clerk informs me, as indeed I was aware, that the standing practice in this House has been to complete a vote and then entertain any points of privilege. Once you start into a voting procedure, which we did by way of five members standing, then whether that vote is held immediately or delayed by way of bell, we must complete that process before entertaining a point of procedure.
Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I did understand that in terms of rules of procedure, which I understand to be a rule of order. I questioned whether it was a similar situation for questions of privilege.
The Speaker: Yes, indeed it is.
The House divided on Mr Cooke's motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 62; nays 43.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I rise because before the request for motions was given by you earlier in the day -- in fact I was not one of the people who had heard it; on asking if you had done it, you advised that it had been asked for -- there were several people on this side of the House who were standing in their places with respect to points of order and points of privilege, some of which have been as a result of long-standing difficulties in terms of getting information and other things from this government.
Mr Speaker, I ask you now on a point of order if you will recognize those people who have points of order and points of privilege to bring to your attention before we get to the calling of the orders of the day.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member for Bruce, he may know that following oral questions I entertained a number of points of order which were brought to my attention, including a repeated point of order that had been raised earlier in the day on the same matter. I listened to them, and then not knowing there was anything out of order, I moved to the next business of routine proceedings, which was to call motions, and indeed that's what I did.
I must say to the member that of course if any member believes there was something out of order about any of our procedures or something which is against the standing orders, then he or she should stand and bring that to the Speaker's attention. I must also say, though, as I have mentioned to all members in the House on previous occasions, if a member believes that he or she has a point of privilege, the customary way of handling it is to notify the Speaker's office in advance in writing and to bring that matter to the attention of the House.
I would direct the member's attention to the distinction between points of order and points of privilege. When there is a bona fide point of privilege, then it should be raised in the appropriate traditional way. The points of order are handled in a different way, and I believe on other occasions I have drawn to the attention of the House how the member for Dufferin-Peel has brought his concerns with respect to points of privilege in the traditional way to this chamber and have praised him on the way in which that has been handled, and of course would invite all members to do that.
Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): Mr Speaker, I was listening very closely to what you just said with respect to a point of privilege, and I'm wondering if you can help me with that. Just last week I stood on a point of privilege with respect to a statement which was made by the government House leader. If I understand you correctly, you indicated that with respect to a point of privilege you are expecting members of this Legislature to provide that point to you in writing prior to bringing it up in this Legislature.
The question I have is that our standing orders are the rules that govern us as members. I read rule 21(a), "Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom." It goes on to say in 21(b), and this is the point I make, "Whenever a matter of privilege arises" -- I'll repeat that -- "Whenever a matter of privilege arises, it" -- meaning the privilege -- "shall be taken into consideration immediately."
I am hearing you, Mr Speaker, say something as the definer of our rules. One point: The rules, in my respectful submission, are quite clear. I as a member am entitled to these rules and to abide and rely on these rules, both collectively and individually, as stated in rule 21(a). If I as a member, individually or collectively, feel that a matter of privilege has arisen --
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Natural Resources): How can you as a member collectively feel something?
Mr Offer: I see that the Minister of Natural Resources is taking exception to this, Mr Speaker. Then I do not have the right, according to your definition, to stand --
Mr Offer: I'm sorry, no. I'd like to finish this point.
The Speaker: I understand what you're saying.
Mr Offer: No, I don't --
The Speaker: If the member would take his seat, I believe I can be of some assistance to him.
Indeed, the member for Mississauga North is absolutely correct, if the point that he believes is a point of privilege arises out of a proceeding. I think he will also recognize, and members will recall, that if a member believes it to be a point of privilege or order, your Speaker will listen to what it is that you have to say.
Oftentimes, when members believe it's a point of privilege and indeed it is a point of order, the Speaker will still listen to it and try to be of assistance wherever possible. I reiterate that the member is absolutely correct. If what he believes is a loss of privilege is something which has arisen from a proceeding, then indeed it's his responsibility to rise at the earliest moment.
My earlier remarks were directed to what turns out to be a point of privilege with respect to something that has occurred either in a member's office or within the precinct, or something that has arisen out of a debate in the House or any other circumstance. He is right in that regard.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, it is precisely because of what you've just said that I rose prior to the vote being taken to ask whether a point of privilege could be heard even before the vote was taken.
The point of privilege I wished to raise on behalf of my caucus was my belief that our privileges in terms of the orders of this House be followed and to ensure that our privileges as members were then in fact maintained. A number of members of my caucus were on their feet intending and wanting to make points of order, and they were not acknowledged by the Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I made an effort, prior to moving on to the next order of business and that introduction of motion, to draw your attention to the fact that there were members of my caucus on their feet asking to make points of order who were not recognized. I believed that was not only a point of order, Mr Speaker; I believed it was a point of privilege. I think in both instances we need a further ruling from you.
The Speaker: To the Leader of the Opposition, if there are points of order or privilege which members wish to bring to the Speaker's attention, of course I am more than pleased to listen to them and try to be of assistance. If members were inadvertently overlooked, then I apologize for that, and at the appropriate, most convenient moment, if members feel, either today or on any other occasion, that they have points they need to bring to my attention, I'm here to listen to them and will try to be of assistance to the member and of course to the entire House.
On a point of privilege, the member for York Centre.
Mr Gregory S. Sorbara (York Centre): Mr Speaker --
Mrs McLeod: If members bring points of order, I appreciate the fact that you are prepared to acknowledge them. It's quite clear, Mr Speaker, that we are absolutely dependent on the impartiality of the Chair in enforcing the rules of order of this House and it's for that reason we've asked you to take our points very seriously today.
Further to that, Mr Speaker, I would ask whether you would review the determination you made earlier about whether a point of privilege should normally be raised outside of the House. It really is my understanding that points of privilege relating to the rights and responsibilities of the members have to be raised immediately, just as you later said, in order to be able to be responded to.
The Speaker: If it would be of assistance to any or all of the members, I'm pleased to provide something that would clarify. As members even of long-standing in this House will know, there is often confusion about the distinction between points of order and points of privilege, and until occupying this position I must confess that I too was often confused by the distinction. I fully appreciate the member's difficulty and I will attempt to provide some clarification for all.
The member for York Centre.
Mr Gregory S. Sorbara (York Centre): Mr Speaker, I'm rising pursuant to the standing orders on a matter of privilege and, in accordance with the standing orders, bring it to your attention immediately upon its coming to my attention. I've been given a copy of a communication from the Ontario New Democratic Party which alleges that members of my own caucus and members of the Progressive Conservative caucus are involved in what amounts to criminal activity. Therefore, sir, I'm going to have to read this document into the record and have you make a judgement on it. It reads:
"Ontario is your province, and mine.
"It belongs to people like us, people who work here, raise our families here, pay taxes here, and vote here.
"But some big business lobbies are trying to take our province away from us.
"You and I, and many other Ontarians, elected an NDP government on September 6, 1990. We gave Bob Rae and his team a mandate to bring commitment back to politics and fairness back to government."
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order.
Mr Sorbara: "We wanted a new, better Ontario.
"The old élites, those big business leaders, who keep the Liberals and the Tories in their back pocket, don't want the same things as you and me."
Mr Sorbara: Mr Speaker, I will bring back to you --
The Speaker: Order. The member for York Centre.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Speaker, I'm going to repeat that:
"The old élites, those big business leaders, who keep the Liberals and the Tories in their back pocket, don't want the same things as you and me."
If I might just interject for a moment, sir, I can bring you substantial authority, and I am prepared to do that, to make my case on sound linguistic authority that the phrase "to keep someone in your back pocket" means to bribe them and to --
The Speaker: Order. The member for York Centre.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Speaker, the letter goes on to read:
"They prefer Ontario the way it was -- when they called the shots and had things their own way, no matter who else got hurt."
The Speaker: And your point of privilege.
Mr Sorbara: I think I have to get all of the document on the record. The phrase I just --
The Speaker: Not necessarily, but I would ask the member to identify for me what he believes to be his point of privilege.
The Speaker: Order. I'm attempting to hear the member for York Centre, who's raising his point of privilege. Members of his own caucus are interrupting him. I would, first of all, ask the House to show him the courtesy of allowing him to place his point of privilege. I would ask him in turn to place it as succinctly as he can, identifying for me what privilege he believes he has lost.
Mr Sorbara: In as straightforward a manner as I can, sir, I am pleading with you for the opportunity, in conjunction with my point of privilege, to read the entirety of this three-page letter into the record. I've already pointed to one paragraph in the record which suggests in a letter sent out broadly to the province that I and the members of my caucus and the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus are in the back pockets of corporate entities. There are other further references in this fund-raising letter from the New Democratic Party which suggest the same thing.
I plead with you to allow me to proceed with that, but I'll simply say to you, sir, that my point of privilege is this: If there are allegations being made in the province of Ontario that I or my leader or the member for Bruce or the member for Oriole, the member for Mississauga West, the member for York North, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, any of the members of the Tory caucus, any of the other members, are committing a criminal offence, that is, receiving money to discharge our public responsibilities, that's against the Criminal Code.
They're alleging that we are doing that, and I can't perform my responsibilities, not only in my own riding but anywhere in the province, if --
The Speaker: I understand now the member's concern. Would the member take his seat please for a moment. No, would the member take his seat for a moment.
There are two things I want to say to the member for York Centre. While I'm not precisely sure what assistance I can be to the member -- because, as I listen to him, the reference was to parties and not to individual members, and clearly there's a disagreement -- however, if the member would be so good as to forward to me the document to which he refers, and if I heard him correctly, he had offered to provide --
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): No. We want to hear what it's got to say.
The Speaker: Would the member for York Mills come to order? I asked the member for York Mills to come to order.
If I heard the member correctly, he offered to provide for me both some background material and some reference to other material, perhaps to Erskine May or other parliamentary sources. I'd be very pleased to receive that and anything in addition to whatever document he has, and I would be happy to take a look at it.
We are at orders of the day. On the same point of order, the Attorney General.
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): The seventh order.
The Speaker: I said the same order. Sorry.
To the member for York Centre, order. Does the member for York Centre have something to add? A point of order?
Mr Sorbara: Just to point out that you recognized the Attorney General in this House on a point of order. I will simply point out to you in the clearest of terms, you should check Hansard. You said, "On a point of order." I remind you, sir, that no member is allowed to call an order of the day on a point of order, just as no member is allowed -- and I would beg your indulgence for just one moment.
I was in the middle of a point of privilege, and you suggested to me that I simply submit to you written documentation. I plead with you, sir, to understand the traditions of this House, and that on a point of privilege, a member is required to put on the record the substance of his point of privilege. Now the member may freely and openly submit documentation that he can deliver to the press, but in making a point of privilege, he ought not to be curtailed and invited to submit written documentation.
I agree with you that in a court of law a judge has the authority to require counsel for either litigant to submit their arguments in writing and even require that, but you are not allowed to terminate my point of privilege prior to it being completed and suggest that you'll take it in written form. You have a right to rule, but I have a right to complete the point.
If I might on the point of order, either you should rule that you have now heard enough on the point of privilege and that you are making a ruling or you will consider the matter, or you should rule that you have to hear more. But you are not permitted, sir, to say, "I will hear more but I'll take it in written form." That would violate the standing orders. This is a Parliament. We are here to argue and debate and make our points orally before you to this House through you as Speaker. You are not permitted to require me to submit my arguments in writing. You can invite me to do that.
If you are prepared to make a ruling on my point of privilege, I simply submit to you that you have not yet allowed me to make reference to the bible of parliamentary procedure, Erskine May, nor have you permitted me, as you suggested you were going to do, to allow me to put the substance of the material before you.
On the point of order, I simply plead with you, sir, to recognize that we have an obligation to put these matters before you and you have an obligation to rule, but you must allow me to complete my point. I ask you to do that.
The Speaker: To the member for York Centre, two things: First of all, when I asked, "Is it on the same point of order?" I thought the Attorney General was responding, because the member will know that oft-times when a point of order is raised I ask if there are other contributions. Realizing that it was not a contribution to the same point of order, I then moved back to the member for York Centre. I'm sorry if the member misunderstood what I was saying.
I did invite the member to provide other documentation if he felt it would assist. At the same time, of course, if the member has references from any of the books we use, Erskine May or Beauchesne, I would be most pleased to hear his references which apply in his mind to this particular situation. But I reiterate that if in addition to that he has other material he would like me to take a look at or consider and direct my attention to particular references, I am more than pleased to do that.
Mr Sorbara: If I can continue with the point of privilege, sir --
The Speaker: Order. Intemperate language will not assist us. I ask all members to try to deal with this matter calmly, including the member for Brampton South. With some calmness, perhaps the member for York Centre can succinctly place on the record his reference to his alleged point of privilege and then we can move on with other matters.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Speaker, just to assist you on this matter, I am reading now from page 119. This is the 1991 edition of Erskine May, so it's as up-to-date and complete as possible. Under the heading "Misconduct of Members or Officers," the second subheading is "Corruption in the Execution of a Member's Duty."
"The acceptance by any member of either House" -- of course this is the British tradition so they're referring to the House of Commons and the House of Lords -- "of a bribe to influence him in his conduct as such member or of any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to any bill, resolution, matter or thing submitted or intended to be submitted to the House or any committee thereof is a breach of privilege. Members of the Commons who have been found guilty of such an offence have been expelled or committed."
One of the cases referred to is CJ (1693-1697), page 236. I used to remember what that stood for when I practised law, but the reference to "committed" is to go to jail -- pretty simple. If you do that, if you accept a bribe, any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of or the opposition to any bill, you have breached your privileges and you are subject to being expelled from the Legislature and committed to jail.
I might add that it is also a contempt for a member to enter into an agreement --
The Speaker: Order. I ask the House to come to order. The member for York Centre will try to complete succinctly.
Mr Sorbara: Parenthetically, I want to thank the member for Markham for his encouragement. Erskine May has simply made the point that to accept a bribe in respect of any bill or any matter that a member is dealing with is a breach of the privileges we have as members and is subject to being expelled from the Legislature, and at the same time being charged with a criminal offence and being jailed. That's what the reference to "committed" is.
Now, I take you back to the document sent out by the government party, in which it says -- I'm sorry to repeat it, sir, but it's been a while -- "The old élites, those big business leaders who keep the Liberals" --
The Speaker: To the member for York Centre, he earlier read the letter. I listened very carefully to it. He has made his one reference to Erskine May and, indeed, that will guide me in reading that particular portion. What I ask him to now do is, if he has any other reference, please succinctly put it on the record so we can move along with the routine business of this chamber.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Speaker, I hope within the next minute or two, in completing my point, to be able to bring to you in this House, sir, authority for the proposition that the phrase "keeping someone in their back pocket" is tantamount to saying "accepting bribes."
If the government party is suggesting in this letter that I as a Liberal -- I want to point out to you parenthetically, sir, that "Liberals" is capitalized here. It's not small-l liberals or small-t tories. "The Liberals and the Tories are in the back pocket of big business." In the vernacular, sir, that is a clear, unequivocal statement that I and other members of my party are accepting bribes. If it's true, you ought to expel me; if it's not true, then the allegation that the government party has made publicly into thousands and thousands of households across the province prohibits me from carrying on my right and my responsibility as an elected member of this Legislature.
The Speaker: Order. The member for York Centre, you have quite energetically brought your point of privilege to my attention, along with a particular reference, and I'm pleased to take a look at it. The member perhaps would be kind enough to forward the document to me at his earliest convenience, and the reference pages he cited are in Hansard and I will be able to follow up.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 95(d). On June 3, 1992, I tabled question 385 in Orders and Notices, which reads as follows: "Mr Cousens -- Inquiry of the Ministry -- Would the Minister of the Environment provide a complete list of names, job titles, job descriptions and salaries of all people employed in the Interim Waste Authority. June 3, 1992."
Standing order 95(d) states: "The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be."
Order paper questions are supposed to be answered within 14 days. Mr Speaker, it is your responsibility to ensure that the standing orders of this House are complied with. The government has shown a blatant disrespect for standing orders by not answering this question. I ask you to take the necessary steps to enforce the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Now, if I could comment on that question --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member for Markham, if he would just resume his seat for a moment. Indeed, he has a valid point of order. I'm not sure whether the member was in the chamber earlier this afternoon when I ruled on this matter consistent with rulings of other Speakers.
Briefly, for the member, there is no sanction when that particular standing order is breached. However, I have invited all members, if they want to revisit that rule at a moment when perhaps a committee of the House is looking at rule changes, then that may indeed be a good exercise; but having raised it in the House he of course draws attention to it again, and perhaps the minister affected will be able to comply with the member's request.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): On that point, Mr Speaker -- not to spend too much time because I don't want to tie it up -- I did bring to your attention the fact that wilful neglect to perform a duty under the standing orders could form contempt. I wish to make the argument quite clear to you that the only way we can really point out in the House that there is a wilful neglect to reply to order paper questions is to stand in this place and put on the record that 14 days and more have elapsed since the question was placed.
If there is still no answer and there continues to be no answer day after day, that alone is enough, it seems to me, to begin to make the case for wilful neglect to perform a duty or an obligation under the standing orders. That, quite clearly, at least the way I'm reading Erskine May today and other days, and other authorities, would lead one to say that it is an omission which amounts to contempt of the Parliament of which we are members, because there is a clear omission to perform a duty, an obligation under the standing orders.
I shan't say more of it, but I would ask you to take a look, commencing at page 103 of Erskine May, at what it does say about contempt and other things. There are some other pages which I haven't noted, but let me point out to you that we have no alternative but to put on the record publicly that there has been an omission to commence. If there has been an omission on successive days and attempts have been made to get the answer, with no response or with no interim response, then that could be converted, my feeling is, into an allegation of contempt that must surely be dealt with by you as Speaker.
That is the only sanction we have as an opposition to require the government ministers to respond to our issues, our attempts to get information. I won't repeat it again, but I will repeat that same argument to you in writing.
The Speaker: The member for Bruce makes an interesting argument and one I would wish to spend a bit of time to reflect on. I would agree with him that when the time prescribed has elapsed, it would be proper for the member affected to rise in his or her place and draw it to the attention of the House. I agree completely with him on that point.
As to the leap from omission to wilful neglect which thus leads to contempt, it is something that, on my part, requires a bit of reflection. I appreciate the way he has gone about the point. If he will do as I think he's suggesting, following up in writing with other references, as usual I'd be very delighted to hear from the member, who always has very constructive things to say with respect to procedures.
Before entertaining any more points of order or privilege, I would ask the House to consider quite seriously the position in which it is placing its Speaker. On the one hand all members show a desire and an interest to conduct the public business; on the other hand the members have a responsibility to rise if they believe a privilege has been lost or there's something out of order. I have asked, and indeed almost all members have been very cooperative in not raising points of order or privilege during oral questions since that takes away from the time of backbenchers to ask questions. I would ask that the same kind of consideration be given to the rest of the time we normally devote to the conduct of public business.
Having said that, if indeed any member feels there is some urgent, pressing matter which must be brought to the Speaker's attention, then of course I will listen. I would ask all members to try to do the balancing act between those positions I have enunciated rather than placing your Speaker in a very awkward and difficult position.
Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to follow up on a point of order with respect to the matters raised by my House leader on a situation which indeed I have brought before the House before. I currently have, and I suppose this relates to standing order 95(d), question 394 on Orders and Notices now which reads as follows:
"Mrs Sullivan -- Inquiry of the Ministry -- Would the Minister of Health provide detailed information on the current financial status of each of Ontario's 224 hospitals, indicating the following: (1) name and location of the hospital, number of beds per hospital, and population of the community served; (2) operating budget for 1992; (3) interim financial projection for the years 1991-92, as of June 1, 1992; (4) any projected transition funding for 1992, if applicable; (5) any projected funding for pay equity for 1992, if applicable; (6) impact of the Ontario Nurses' Association settlement for the years 1992 and 1993; (7) operational decisions to meet zero-deficit requirement indicating (a) bed closures; (b) service cutbacks; (c) staff cutbacks and layoffs and (d) increased optional charges; (8) capital projections for the years 1992 and 1993; (9) staffing hours provided on the day, afternoon, evening and night shift by (a) registered nursing staff and (b) nurses/health care aides; (10) staff to resident ratios on the day, afternoon, evening and night shift for (a) registered nursing staff and (b) nursing/health care aides."
I had that question on Orders and Notices in the last session of this House and I had to rise on two occasions in the Legislature on a question of privilege under standing order 95(d) because I had received no response to that question. You will understand that as official opposition critic for activities of the Ministry of Health at a time of restructuring in the entire health care system, and particularly in the hospital community, the responses to that question were very important to me in my approach to the work I was doing.
Indeed, at the end of the session, when I had received no response to that question, I wrote a specific letter to you requesting that you intervene with the Minister of Health and suggest to her that she was dilatory in her duties in not providing that response, which was required under the standing orders.
I think what is clear here is that the very evidence and instance of wilful neglect and omission to perform her duties under the standing orders is evident in this particular situation. This is not the first occasion that this question has been there. We still require the answers. The minister has given no indication that the answers cannot be provided; the minister has simply not provided those answers.
I think the reference in Erskine May to which my House leader has referred is one that applies very distinctly in this particular instance. What has occurred is that the Minister of Health has simply refused to follow standing order 95(d) in preparing the response within an appropriate period, in the appropriate detail, so that I can in fact do my job.
The Speaker: To the member for Halton Centre, I appreciate the point she raises. As she will know from earlier similar points that have been raised today -- many of them -- there is nothing in the standing orders which is of assistance to her at this juncture. The larger matter to which she refers and to which her House leader had referred is something which will require some thought and some time. However, she has exercised the appropriate responsibility in bringing it once again to the attention of the House, and indeed to the Minister of Health, and perhaps that will accomplish the desired result.
Mr Cousens: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under standing order 95(d), very similar in fact to the point of order that's just been raised by another member. Indeed, I know of a number of members in the House who are very interested in raising this point of order, inasmuch as the government is not in the process of responding to questions.
I'm of the belief that the House shouldn't call it question period any more; it could well be called "answer period" by virtue of the fact that we don't get answers. It is becoming a not very worthwhile exercise. When one goes to the effort of placing these order paper questions and they're given sufficient time to respond to them, it is showing a callous disregard for the legislative process that the government is not prepared to respond to these questions.
The fact is that our constituents expect us to be able to come back to them with answers. The fact also is that you write a letter to this government and they're not inclined to answer. I have a belief they don't even know how to read; probably they get a sore finger after they read a whole page.
Notwithstanding that, the order paper questions are not long. This one in particular, order paper question 389, is one I have addressed to the Minister of Housing. We've had numerous questions of this minister in the House. This inquiry of the minister is: "Would the Minister of Housing please provide a detailed résumé of Mr S. Douglas Carroll of Keswick, the newly appointed member of the York Regional Housing Authority. Please list his relevant experience for this position." I dated that June 3, 1992.
Standing order 95(d) states:
"The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister --
The Speaker: To the member for Markham, I don't mean to interrupt improperly, but he rose earlier and read to me the same rule which he is now reading, only this applies to a different question. I appreciate the fact that he's drawn this particular question to my attention. By so doing he has notified the House and the minister affected, and the same ruling still applies.
In all of these I appreciate the concern which the members are addressing. By properly drawing it to the attention of the House, of course, the hope is that it will get the desired result and that the answer will be forthcoming. But the member for Markham has drawn it to my attention.
Mr Cousens: If I may, Mr Speaker, with respect to your response now and to the fact that on so many other occasions you have indicated back that the House has a valid point of order, which this is as well; and that other members have tabled it; and that you've also indicated it would be worthy of further consideration either by the minister or by an appropriate committee of the Legislature, the sense of frustration becomes very real for those in opposition who have placed a valid point of order -- have tabled it, have done it with respect to the Chair and the House -- and then nothing further comes of it from this government.
Having been here long enough to know what the New Democrats did when they were in opposition, they too were quite incensed. One would think that with their present circumstance and their ability to do what they want, they could at least do what they said they would do if ever they had the chance to do it.
My sense is that since 14 days have now passed it is very important to put this on the record. The Ministry of Housing has indeed many changes that are going on. It has to do with an appointment within my community. People will be going away for the summer holidays shortly, and I will not be able to explain to them in a public way what has gone on. There is validity to what I am trying to say.
The Speaker: To the member for Markham, there is nothing more I can add to the answer I gave him earlier and indeed have given to other members. I cannot state it any more clearly than I have. I appreciate the concerns and I trust that members will appreciate that there is nothing in the standing orders which is of assistance at this point. That doesn't mean to say there won't be in the future, but as of today there isn't.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): I rise under section 95(d) as well to raise another point of order which is very important. The member for Markham and I both have an issue at stake here, he as critic for the third party, and myself. It is my order paper question 85. I'll read it to you, and I will, at your urging to my colleague for Markham, not read section 95(d), but there is a sense of urgency in terms of this. I'll read the order paper question --
The Speaker: To assist the member, it won't be necessary to read the rule, but could the member succinctly identify the order paper question number and the minister to whom the question was directed.
Mr McClelland: Yes, I'll do that, Speaker. Thank you for your direction. It is order paper question 85 and it is to the Minister of the Environment. It is on the matter of grey water, which is very important. It is an important issue.
The Speaker: Order, the member for Markham.
Mr McClelland: I have received literally thousands of letters, and I'm sure the member has as well. It is a matter of great concern considering the fact that the boating season is now upon us and there are people who want to know what is going to happen with respect to that issue. In terms of carrying out my responsibility as the critic for the Environment, I would like to have the information.
I wrote an order paper question dated April 7, 1992. It reads as follows: "Would the Minister of the Environment provide the most recent information which is being distributed from her office regarding grey water?" That is an important question, because as I said, there are literally thousands of people who have written from across the province who are affected by this issue. There are cottagers who are concerned about it, and people who have lakefront property, and there are boaters as well who have significant investment in terms of their pleasure craft. They want to know what is going to happen.
The member for Markham and myself had the privilege of attending a seminar with the Minister of the Environment, and she indicated at that point that there would be information forthcoming. It wasn't forthcoming immediately, and so we did what was our responsibility as critics for the opposition. My colleague and I together wrote the minister. No answer was forthcoming, as the member raised again. There was no response, so we raised that order paper question.
I might indicate that there was an interim answer tabled on April 30, and it was somewhat helpful; I do want to acknowledge that. It provided a little bit of information, but basically it said that the Ministry of the Environment would go back and reconsider and consult yet once again. But it really didn't provide anything of any substance for the people who are concerned about this issue, and people are concerned about it. You can understand that, in terms of the environmental integrity of the waterways and the pleasure craft, the literally thousands of pleasure craft on the waterways of Ontario, this is an issue of very significant concern.
It would be most helpful, Speaker, if you could assist us in obtaining an answer so I can fulfil my responsibility and duty as Environment critic and pass on the information to people who can't get it from the Ministry of the Environment.
The Speaker: The member for Brampton North, would you resume your seat please. I must give you the same answer I have given all those other members who have risen with their concerns. You do have a valid point of order. You have a concern that I understand. You have also, by way of bringing it to the attention of the House, served notice on the minister affected and perhaps that will have the desired effect.
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): In accordance with standing order 21(a), I do believe there has been a breach of the personal privileges of myself and several other members in our capacity to operate within the legislative precinct.
Mr Speaker, you would be aware that there are services given to members in their capacity, not by virtue of being the government or in opposition, but simply by having been elected as MPP in this district. For that reason, when it has come to my attention, as it has today, that the services I rely upon that flow directly from your office, sir, have been arbitrarily suspended or may have been arbitrarily suspended by the government, this may not have been brought to your attention and I wish to share that information with you.
Probably the most important resource we have is our linkage with our constituents. Our constituents talk to us in a variety of ways. One of them is through the media, and most notably through the print media. It has come to my attention that of the normal allocation of newspapers to our offices a certain subscription has been suspended. To the extent that this suspension has been made public and that this was an act of the Premier of this province, and just because the Toronto Star is having its current labour difficulties and the government of the day has its right to suspend activities with that newspaper, whether I agree with that or not, I fundamentally believe that when the Premier's edict may reach into the legislative precinct and deny us these rights, this has serious implications in other areas.
I believe there is additional information I wish to share with you.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member for Burlington South, I believe I can be of some assistance to him in this regard. Indeed he is correct. I believe there was a decision by the government with respect to the subscription to the Toronto Star. That has no effect upon the Legislative Assembly. The newspapers to which members are entitled, the member will know, are ordered one by one by the members. Members have a choice with respect to which papers they receive. Those deliveries, the subscriptions, continue to be in place.
My understanding is that we have not been able to receive the newspapers, that the deliveries have been sporadic, but the subscriptions have not been cancelled and, indeed, whatever papers members normally order will continue to be delivered to their offices, provided the members still wish to receive them. I reiterate that, to my knowledge, the actual deliveries have been sporadic, but the assembly will continue to provide whatever papers the members wish to receive. I do appreciate you bringing it to my attention.
Is there something additional, the member for Burlington South?
Mr Jackson: Mr Speaker, I appreciate that you have some form of interim ruling based on some assumptions that you've been given assurances of. My question to you specifically was to investigate directly with the Toronto Star if in fact the memo or any correspondence to the Toronto Star from the government of the day could or would have been interpreted in such a way that the delivery of those newspapers to this legislative precinct have in some way been adversely affected. I'm asking you, Mr Speaker, as I believe it is my right, to undertake an investigation to determine that such action did not occur, because it would, in my view, become a precedent.
I don't wish to take up further time of this House, but there are precedents in other legislative chambers for government rulings during labour unrest as they adversely affect the rights and privileges of members. The fact that this can be interpreted by the Toronto Star or by the Premier of this province as a suspension of our services -- I'm looking to you, Speaker, in your capacity as the person responsible for our legislative precinct, to notify the Premier of that so we have a ruling for the record and not simply your assumptions of assurance that the circumstances of suspended newspapers may just be a problem with delivery. I frankly believe the matter is serious enough that it should be investigated by you.
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat. Let me be very clear and direct with the member. The newspaper deliveries to the members' offices continue as normal, provided that the newspapers can actually be delivered here. There is no change. There is a clear distinction between decisions made by the government and decisions made by the Legislative Assembly. We continue to deliver papers to the members' offices as the members have requested, and that will continue. But I appreciate the member bringing it to my attention, and indeed if any member of the House experiences a difficulty in that regard, the member should indeed bring it to my attention.
Before entertaining any more points of order -- would members take their seats for a moment -- I will note, and I know the members will appreciate knowing, that I have now entertained points of order for 45 minutes. I know the members are anxious to move on with the regular business of the House. If there is something that is so urgent that it must be raised at this point, I have an obligation to listen to it, but I would ask the members to try to be very reasonable and ask themselves whether or not their particular point of order could be raised on another occasion.
ORDER OF BUSINESS
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: This is pursuant to section 21(a) of the standing orders, which states that "Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom." I would have brought this point of privilege to your attention except for two facts: one is that I could not find anywhere in the standing orders where it was required; second, standing order 21(b) requires me to bring it to your attention immediately.
According to section 29 of the standing orders, which describes routine proceedings, as well as the business for Wednesday, June 17, 1992, "The routine proceedings before the orders of the day are as follows: members' statements, statements by the ministry and responses, oral questions, motions, petitions, reports by committees, introduction of bills." That is all prior to orders of the day.
Today one of my privileges and rights as a member has been trampled upon. I had a petition which members of the Ontario Real Estate Association had asked me to read today. I have checked with the Clerk; it is valid, and it is in order. This is a point of privilege.
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): Point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: A point of order. Just a minute.
First of all, to the member for Eglinton, I understand what you're raising, and I will hear the point of order in a moment from the Attorney General. Let me address your concern. While it is perfectly in order with respect to our procedures and there was a ruling earlier that we can move to orders of the day at any point beyond oral questions -- and that was what happened today; there was nothing out of order about that -- I understand the member's concern and indeed, where she had a petition to present, her frustration in not being able to present it today. But there is nothing I can do about that. Indeed, under the way in which we operate, she has not in fact lost a privilege.
Ms Poole: Can I ask for clarification? If indeed I have not lost a privilege, would it then be in order for the government, for the rest of its time in power, to skip every day the part of routine proceedings that includes petitions, reports and bills? Would it then be in order that at the beginning of question period they immediately move to orders of the day? Could we as members of the opposition be completely trampled upon, and could I perhaps have no right to present a petition for the remaining time as a member in this Parliament? Is that possible? Do we have no rights, Mr Speaker?
The Speaker: The member is indeed right in the sense that because there is the ability to move to orders of the day after oral questions, there is the possibility that that could be placed each and every sitting day; in that respect she is right as the current orders stand. That's not to say it couldn't be changed on some other occasion.
The Attorney General had a point of order? Is it is on the same point?
Hon Mr Hampton: Actually, Mr Speaker, it is a point of privilege: Some time ago I rose in my place to move the seventh order. You have heard several points of order, some of them quite repetitive, Mr Speaker --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Hampton: -- and I have not had any opportunity to speak to the seventh order. I would like to move at this time the seventh order.
The Speaker: Just relax, folks.
I understand the point of order the Attorney General raises. I believe the Attorney General was in the chamber when I made the comment that you're placing your Speaker in a very awkward position where, on the one hand there is the desire of all members in the House to deal with public business, and on the other hand members feel they must rise on a point of order or privilege. In addition to that, the Speaker has a responsibility to listen to points of order or privilege. The Speaker cannot determine whether the point of order is valid or the point of privilege is valid unless the Speaker is able to hear it.
What I am asking the members to do is to try to be reasonable with respect to the amount of time we're utilizing over these points of order, and I would ask the members to seriously consider whether or not they can raise these points on some other occasion. Bearing that in mind, if they feel it is absolutely crucial that they raise this point of order right now, then I will listen to it, but I ask you -- I have spent close to an hour listening to points of order, and I really believe it's about time we moved on to the regular order of whatever it is we're going to do in the public interest.
Mr Sorbara: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My point of order relates to matters contained on the Orders and Notices paper. In a sense, sir, it is notice to you of a very large and very serious issue. Just to begin -- and I am going to be very succinct -- I want to remind you, sir, of standing order 1(b).
Hon Peter North (Minister of Tourism and Recreation): This is enough. This is wrong.
Mr Sorbara: You could listen to this. I say to the Minister of Tourism --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order. Will the member for York Centre direct his comments to the Chair.
Mr Sorbara: I say to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation that you might just listen to this because it could change the dynamic of this House.
The Speaker: If the member truly has a point of order, I ask him to make it succinctly and to the Chair, not to anyone else.
Mr Sorbara: Thank you, sir. Standing order 1(b) reads as follows:
"In all contingencies not provided for in the standing orders the question shall be decided by the Speaker or Chair, and in making the ruling the Speaker or Chair shall base the decision on the usages and precedents of the Legislature and parliamentary tradition." I underscore "parliamentary tradition."
On the order paper, order of the day 6, "Resuming the adjourned debate on government notice of motion number 7 on amendments to the standing orders," I want to submit to you, sir, as follows: If you refer to the analysis of this Legislature periodically written by Mr Graham White, The Ontario Legislature: A Political Analysis -- this edition is the 1989 edition -- and to the chapter which begins on page 225, The Process of Reform, Mr Speaker, you'll find a brief history of parliamentary reform in this chamber.
The history is not a long history. It is 25 pages in all. I'm not going to read any of it into the record now. I simply want to submit to you as follows: This analysis of parliamentary reform argues strongly for the proposition that in this Legislature there has not been an occasion where the government has placed on the order paper reforms to the standing orders in the absence of consultation with the opposition parties. I want to argue to you, sir, that in the 125-year history of this Legislature there is no occasion when a government has placed on the order paper for debate by this Legislature amendments to the standing orders without prior consultation with the opposition parties, and often consensus.
I want to submit to you that that's the parliamentary tradition. I want to invite you, sir, simply to take notice of the fact that I will be bringing to your attention, under a point of order, authority for the proposition that that rule of parliamentary tradition exists not only in this Parliament but in virtually every Parliament governed by the British parliamentary tradition. I simply want to give you notice that I'm going to be making arguments that you have the authority -- not only the authority: you will have the responsibility, having heard those arguments, to rule from your chair with the advice of the Clerk, whose advice you properly take from time to time, that the placing of government notice of motion 7 on the order paper is in itself a violation of the standing orders of this Legislature because it's breached parliamentary tradition.
I just have one more sentence, if I might. I'm not making the point now and I would prefer that you not rule now, but I simply want to invite you, sir, to begin your own independent research -- and to the Clerk as well -- because I will be making further arguments along that line. I believe those arguments, once considered by you, will succeed and the government will have to withdraw, under your direction, government notice of motion 7.
The Speaker: The member for York Centre, while I appreciate his concern in these matters, there is, regrettably from his point of view, nothing out of order. The member may recall an earlier comment made by the Speaker that this place functions best when there are no surprises. While I understand his point, there is nothing out of order. None the less, anything he can bring to my attention with respect to this matter I'm pleased to consider.
The Minister of Tourism and Recreation had a point of order.
Hon Mr North: It's not a point of order, Mr Speaker. I'd like to call the seventh order.
The Speaker: I understand the member's interest. I believe all members will want to do the public business and I trust we can get to that fairly soon.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): Mr Speaker, at the outset of this point of order I want to point out to you that I'm rising on a point of order under standing order 95(d). To save you some time, sir, I'm not going to read the question, but in the absence of the member for Waterloo North, on April 14, 1992, she tabled the following order paper questions:
Question 300 to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, question 301 to the Minister of the Attorney General, question 302 to the Minister of the Attorney General, question 303 to the Minister of Citizenship, question 305 to the Minister of Colleges and Universities, question 306 again to the Minister of Colleges and Universities, question 307 to the same minister, question 308 to the Minister of Community and Social Services, question 309 to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, question 310 to the same minister.
Question 311 to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, question 312 to the same minister, question 313 to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, question 314 to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, question 315 to the Minister of Correctional Services, question 316 also to the Minister of Correctional Services, question 317 to the Minister of Culture and Communications -- are we beginning to get the point that the ministers aren't paying any attention or answering the questions?
Question 318 to the Minister of Culture and Communications, question 319 to the same minister, question 320 to the Minister of Culture and Communications, question 321 to the Minister of Culture and Communications, question 322 to the Minister of Culture and Communications, question 323 to the Minister of Education, question 324 to the Minister of Energy, question 325 also to the Minister of Energy, question 326 to the same minister, question 327 to the same minister, question 328 to the Minister of the Environment, question 329 to the Minister of the Environment, question 330 to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
Question 331 to the same minister, question 332 to the Minister of Financial Institutions, question 333 to the same minister, question 334 to the minister responsible for francophone affairs, question 335 to the Minister of Government Services, question 336 to the Minister of Government Services, question 337 to the minister responsible for the greater Toronto area, question 338 to the Minister of Health, question 339 to the Minister of Health, question 340 to the Minister of Health, question 341 to the Minister of Health -- it would seem, sir, that there are a lot of ministers over there who just don't pay any attention to these order paper questions whatsoever.
Question 342 to the Minister of Housing, question 343 to the Minister of Housing, question 344 to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, question 345 to the same minister, question 346 to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, question 347 to the same minister, question 348 to the same minister, question 349 to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, question 350 to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, question 351 to the Minister of Labour, question 352 to the Minister of Labour, question 353 to the Minister of Labour, questions 354 and 355 both to the Minister of Labour, question 356 to the Chair of Management Board, question 357 also to the Chair of Management Board, question 358 to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Question 359 to the minister responsible for native affairs, question 360 to the Minister of Natural Resources, question 361 to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, question 362 to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, question 363 to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, question 364 to the Minister of Revenue, question 365 to the Minister of Skills Development, question 366 to the Minister of Skills Development, question 367 to the Solicitor General, question 368 to the Solicitor General, question 369 to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation -- maybe if he'd spend more time answering his correspondence and less time trying to interject and move motions during points of order, we could get some answers.
Question 370 to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, question 371 to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, question 372 to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, question 373 to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, and questions 374 and 375 to the same minister, question 376 to the Minister of Transportation, question 377 to the Minister of Transportation, question 378 to the Minister of Treasury and Economics, question 379 to the Minister of Treasury and Economics and question 380 to the minister responsible for women's issues.
If this government were really serious about dealing with some of these issues, I could have read out every single one of those questions. I've tried to save you some time, Mr Speaker, but surely this demonstrates the ineptness of the ministers over there, or the indifference to be bothered to respond to these questions. This is a very important issue here.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member for Parry Sound, first of all I appreciate the fact that he didn't use up a great deal more time by reading each question and so on, and I appreciate the point that he raises. I think the contribution that not only he has made this afternoon but also a number of other members draws our attention first of all to the large volume of questions which are placed, and of course the response time may or may not be adequate. Because of the complexity of our system these days, perhaps we should be taking a look at how we handle these questions and perhaps we need a different manner. If the current one isn't working, maybe we need a different way to do things.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
EXTENDED HOURS OF MEETING
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): The seventh order, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): The seventh order.
Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): A point of privilege.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): I move under standing order 22 that the member for Mississauga North now be heard.
Hon Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I moved the seventh order twice previously and due to --
The Speaker: The table officer read it.
Mr Elston: I moved under standing order 22 that the member for Mississauga North now be heard.
The Speaker: Yes, we stopped the clock. The standing order to which the member referred is in reference to debate. We are not in a debate at this point. The standing order was --
Mr Elston: A point of privilege takes precedence.
The Speaker: Not in the middle of a sentence. You expect a lot from your Speaker.
The standing order was called, although it may not have been heard, the table officer was speaking. She was saying something. It was difficult for that to be heard because of other voices but indeed she was calling whatever it says on that paper for order number eight, if that's what was called. She was actually reading some words. I couldn't hear them, but she was. The Attorney General.
Hon Mr Hampton: Just to be sure, Mr Speaker, it was the seventh order.
The Speaker: It was called, whatever the number was.
Mr Elston: I moved. He took the floor.
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): Mr Speaker, on a point of privilege.
The Speaker: Just a minute. The noise didn't help. I mistakenly said number eight. The actual number that was called was seven. I mistakenly said eight, but the table officer, being more vigilant than I, heard the actual number and said the actual number.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): Do you want the clock to go back to 10:53?
The Speaker: Yes, the clock should be replaced to 10:53. The member for Carleton had the floor when we last --
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): Mr Speaker, so things can cool out, I want to move adjournment of the debate.
The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Interjections: Yes, yes.
The Speaker: You only have to say it once.
The House divided on Mr Sterling's motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 37; nays 59.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Carleton, you have the floor.
Hon Howard Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have an important point of order. I believe it's an important point of order --
Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, I have the floor for 10 minutes. I demand to use the 10 minutes, as provided by the standing orders.
Mr Elston: I move, under standing order 22(b), that the member for Carleton now be heard.
The Deputy Speaker: I recognized the member for Carleton. As I recognized him, the member for Rainy River stood up on a point of order, and I recognize him. You now have the floor.
Hon Mr Hampton: Mr Speaker, I have a point of order and I would ask you to listen to it briefly.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Carleton, please take your seat. The member for Rainy River.
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): Mr Speaker, my point of order is this: It concerns the way the House is being conducted and has been conducted this day. I believe we have on the order paper each day several important questions to be decided. In fact, the government has 28 separate bills awaiting second reading. We heard earlier today no less than 12 points of order, 12 points of privilege. When that happens, this chamber ceases to function. Committees cannot sit to hear estimates; estimates which are a very important part of this Legislature cannot be heard.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order.
Hon Mr Hampton: Estimates cannot be heard, and yet I hear every day from the opposition that estimates are an important part of this House and estimates must be conducted.
Mr Speaker, 28 separate bills await second reading and cannot be dealt with.
I attempted on three separate occasions today to stand and move the seventh order under orders of the day, yet we cannot have that done because we have repetitive points of order from the opposition being raised, points of order which recite chapter and verse the text of questions that have been answered in the House previously, points which have been addressed by means of written responses previously.
I submit, Mr Speaker, that what is happening here is that the normal business of the House, which is to entertain important questions of the day, to entertain the government's legislation, to debate that legislation, to have that legislation examined and to have that legislation amended if necessary, cannot be conducted because of the way these matters have been brought by members of the opposition.
The Deputy Speaker: Please take your chair. Order, please. I've listened very attentively to your remarks. I believe strongly that it is a privilege of everyone to rise on a point of order; they followed the procedures, it was done within the procedures, so therefore I do not consider your point a point of order.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Take your seat. I have recognized the member for Carleton.
Hon Mr Hampton: Mr Speaker, if I could just read --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Please take your seat. I have ruled that you have not a point of order and I have recognized the member for Carleton.
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker --
The Deputy Speaker: The member has a point of privilege.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. You have just shown the Speaker that if I don't have your cooperation I'm not capable of hearing. I do not know if the member for Carleton said that the House should be adjourned. I do not know that.
I recognized the member for Carleton. Immediately the member for Hamilton Centre stood up on a point of privilege. On a point of privilege I have to recognize the member immediately. These are the procedures.
Mr Christopherson: Mr Speaker, I feel that my rights have been infringed on by the fact that the previous speaker was not given a chance to complete his point of order. If his point of order is not allowed, Mr Speaker, my rights as a member of this House have been --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I ask you please to take your seat. This is not a point of privilege. The member for Carleton.
Mr Sterling: I move adjournment of the House.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Sterling moves the adjournment of the House. All those in favour --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Take your seat. I order you to take your seat.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The Speaker has started to ask the question. The question from the member for Carleton is, shall the House be adjourned? That is the question.
The House divided on Mr Sterling's motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 34; nays 59.
The Deputy Speaker: It being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock tomorrow morning.
The House adjourned at 1811.