The Chair (Mrs Margaret Marland): Good morning. We have one intended appointment to review. Although this is a selection by the official opposition, they have asked us to proceed and they will have someone here by the time the rotation comes around to them to ask questions.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): Welcome, Mr Arnold. My question is going to focus on employment equity. As you know, police services are now required to have implemented and put in place goals and timetables to achieve employment equity, and I'd like your views on employment equity.
Mr Arnold: That is a very good idea. Every -- perhaps I should say "minority," but not even minority; everyone should be represented on the police force. However, I don't feel someone should be hired solely on that basis. I believe they need to have the qualifications for that job.
Mrs Witmer: What do you think the board can do to encourage people from the designated groups -- women, visible minorities, aboriginals and the disabled -- to apply to become members of the police force?
Mr Arnold: I guess it's a matter of advertising in those particular types of places to try and attract those candidates. You try to offer as good working conditions as you can. Other than that, I really --
Mrs Witmer: You've made a good point. Your suggestion is that advertising take place in the type of communication vehicles those individuals would be reading or would be seeing. In a town such as Shelburne, I'm not sure what mix of population you might have.
There has been some concern recently about the handling of wife assault and there are some new guidelines that have been put in place. Do you have any comments about how the police should deal with that particular issue?
Mr Arnold: That's one of the main problems of Shelburne and I think of most communities at this time, that the incidence of assault in general is increasing. I'm not sure what your guidelines say -- I have no idea what they say, actually -- but no one should be subjected to assault. However, putting down violence with violence is somewhat defeating also, but if it comes to that, it comes to that. I certainly think the police should be trained somewhat in that aspect of dealing with the community.
Mr Arnold: I guess the bottom line is that my wife thinks we should be getting more involved in the community and that's one of the main pushes behind it. Also, it's my community and I wish to serve there.
Mrs Witmer: So you have an understanding of the rural community as well as the urban setting of Shelburne that would enable you to do your job and reflect the viewpoint of the people in that particular community?
This committee picks out people to appear before us to give us a little overview of what they want to get involved in and how they want to serve their community. I understand you want to serve it through the police services board, and I congratulate you for offering your services and I wish you the best.
Mr Daniel Waters (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I had a couple of questions. You have six uniformed officers in your town. I was there not too long ago when we were doing the funding of renovations to the town hall. The police had to move out of there, right?
Mr Arnold: Yes. There's another building that's being used by the police and by the municipal offices. Police housing is something Shelburne needs. It's lacking, and it's one of the issues we'll have to address.
Mr Waters: I come from a small town, as Mr McLean does; well, Al's is like a city compared to you and I. Probably one of the largest events in central Ontario happens in Shelburne, and I look at the police force of six. I'm curious, how does it go? These people obviously would be working overtime and then some.
Mr Waters: I don't whether I should get into this or not, but I'm going to ask the question anyway. I spent some time in the community when I was there and we talked about a number of things. I know there has been some, shall we say, controversy within the community over the last number of years about whether indeed you will keep your own police force or contract full-time with the OPP, I believe it is. I was wondering if you have an opinion on which way it should be.
Mr Arnold: Personally, I'd like to see us keep our own police force. It has that certain flair and familiarity you can achieve with people you know. However, the dollars talk loud, and we have to take that into consideration also. Even the fellow who ran for mayor in Shelburne campaigned on the concept of having our own police force, but I think he's since changed his mind since he's become mayor. It's something I'd have to have all the facts on before I really have a concrete answer, but personally I'd just as soon try and keep our own little force. It's doing an excellent job. They're moving into the schools trying to establish a contact there and they're a fairly high-profile bunch.
Mr Waters: During my visit I had an opportunity to talk to them, and they're very community-oriented and seemed very proactive. As a person whose town went from its own town police to the contract situation, make sure you write in very carefully, if you ever do it, that they will be patrolling your streets in street patrols and all those things, because it took us 20 years to get that back. The OPP would drive through town, but we didn't have street patrols for 20 years. I remember growing up, where, if I misbehaved in town, nothing was done, necessarily, but the phone call went home and I knew about it when I got home. They knew me and I knew them. So, yes, I would worry about losing that. It's part of what makes Shelburne a beautiful little community.
Mr Arnold: I have no idea, really. I haven't been involved enough in that particular aspect to really know. I can't think of the word. You call it in and they're sent out; it's done through an Orangeville answering service, like an after-hours type of thing.
Mr Waters: They gave us a lot of research, the police report for 1993 and this year. I find it interesting that you live so close to Toronto and -- you would think you would be very much urbanized by now, the influence of the big city, but what I'm seeing is not that at all. I'm seeing a community that still lives, as we all wish we could, in a nice, rural community where they seem to care about each other. Vandalism is probably the biggest thing on the whole list -- mischief is what they call it. We have that in our small towns too.
I wish you well. By looking at your CV, I see you've been a farmer in the area and a mechanic and you work with a children's camp and all those things. Obviously, you are a very active member of your community, and a lifelong member. By the looks of this, your family has been there for some generations. I wish you well. Here's hoping you keep your force.
Mr Arnold: Thank you. We've done quite well so far because we've managed to cash in on Kincardine. They contracted their police force out to the OPP, so we managed to pick up their cruiser fairly reasonably and a few other pieces of equipment. Hopefully, we're going to stay a while.
The Chair: Now we're into a little bit of housekeeping before we adjourn. We did have a report on the Ontario Food Terminal Board that came to the committee two weeks ago that was approved by the committee. However, I suggest that perhaps we hold that approval, because it contains conflicting recommendations. Perhaps we didn't do all our homework on it. I would like to suggest that the researcher, Mr Richmond, come back and receive the input and comments from the committee members about which recommendations they would like the report to contain, because it doesn't make any sense to proceed the way it is. It would be the morning of May 11 that we would like to schedule that.
The other issue is that Mr Curling has a conflict in being able to be here from May 3 to May 19; he will be away. To deal with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which was the official opposition's choice of agency to review, we need to have him here to complete that report, so that report will now be dealt with on Wednesday, June 1.
Mr Waters: On the food terminal, I agree. It was pointed out after we passed it, unfortunately, in some discussion I had with legislative research, that in the body of the report we had missed a number of things as a committee that we should be picking up and giving some direction on. I have no problem at all with rescheduling that and tidying up that report. I think all committee members would like to see a nice, tidy report that sets a direction. The way it is is really, "What if you do this or this?" There were options that weren't indicated, so I think we all need to look at that.
On the other one, I take it there is no one else in the Liberal caucus who can cover for Mr Curling? It's dragging out. These things have a tendency to drag out. We've had this situation before where, for one reason or another, there was always somebody who couldn't show up, and in one case it ended up in excess of a year to write a report which was done at one or two meetings.
The Chair: But let's just deal with this report. The point is that Mr Curling is the critic for his party. His party did select this agency. This has not been a review that's been going on for a year; it hasn't been dragged out at this point. And we do have a precedent, I think, for courtesy to members of all committees of all parties. There are certain things in our lives that are scheduled and then the legislative agenda changes for a number of reasons and there often are conflicts. I don't think to grant this courtesy of finalizing the report on OHRC, in my opinion, is asking too much of the committee. It's not going to make any real difference to the outcome of the report, and they should all be tabled together anyway.
The Chair: Excuse me, just to complete what the clerk is advising me. The document would be the 20th report of this committee, and that report would include all three agencies. So to do it professionally coming from this committee, I think we should plan to do it that way.
Mr Waters: What I would like to do is put a motion on the floor that indeed it be June 1, that that is a firm commitment to do it on that date, and if Mr Curling or someone can't be here, I would hope they indeed have someone up to speed to do it.
The Chair: Bear in mind that that's obviously a very important report to all of us from all caucuses for all the work we do in our ridings. If all caucuses consider what they want that report to represent in terms of their opinions and their direction for that agency, then we would be prepared on June 1 to go through it in a very constructive way. Sometimes what happens is that we don't always get that work done in the committee. I think it would be worthwhile for all us to come prepared for that discussion on June 1.
Mr Waters: Madam Chair, also on the 11th, if there is time, it's my understanding -- because we're now on the record -- that we're hoping the Ombudsman is today tabling a report or something like that. If that could be made available to the committee members as soon as possible, all committee members then would be able to come June 1 with their recommendations or their positions based not only on our report but on the report of the Ombudsman, which some people might want to reflect on. Rather than coming in that day and saying, "Oh, I've just got the report; I need time," and then another delay, we could come in to do some constructive work on the June 1.
The Chair: That's an excellent suggestion, and in fact our clerk is ahead of us. She has already been to that committee's clerk and found that the report being tabled by the Ombudsman is a public document, and our clerk is going to obtain copies for each of the members of this committee as quickly as possible. You will have it for probably a month, three weeks, anyway, ahead of June 1, so when we come in on that day you will have that extra tool, as part of the review material, to deal with the draft on June 1.
The Chair: The only change would be anything in the House that would cause precedence for a change in that -- you know, like calling an election. Anyway, is there any discussion of that motion? All in favour of that motion? Thank you.
Also, the subcommittee wants to have an in-depth discussion about the work of this committee. We're wondering if that subcommittee meeting could take place following our next appointment reviews. We have three appointments on May 4, and that would give us half an hour at least to discuss the work of the committee.
Mr Waters: We do this once or twice a year, and I think it's a good time to do it. There has also been some discussion informally about the fact that we're finishing off the agencies, boards and commissions we've reviewed, and what are the next ones we're going to look at? Maybe, as we have that subcommittee, we can have some discussion about where we're going on that as well.
The Chair: Also, the members have been talking in the last couple of months about the possibility of going back to the old format of this committee, which is doing in-depth, worthwhile reviews of agencies and spending the committee time on that, instead of just the review of appointments when the House is sitting.
Mr Waters: I concur. I think we have done a bit of that in this sitting of the House, but I've always argued that to pick appointments just for the sake of picking someone -- and today is an example. There was a lot of thought that went into it before Mr McLean picked his appointment today. Historically, we haven't all always done that. We've just: "Oh, we each have to pick one." I really am a strong believer in the fact that what we should be doing is picking when we feel we need to pick someone, and if there is an hour or an hour and a half, maybe we can work on one of our reviews at that point.
The Chair: The thing is, and I'd like to hear what Mr McLean feels about this, that we can't do it in a haphazard way. We can't say, "This month we've got an hour and a half left; we could do a review." It has to be formally decided about which agencies we are going to review because those agencies have to prepare for that review and prepare material for the committee and presentations for the committee. It does have to be structured ahead of time.
Mr McLean: Well, the review process is the phoniest process that's ever gone on in this Parliament, and there doesn't really seem to be much point in picking them just to have them in, from what I've observed over the past few years. I mean, there's never been one turned down yet. All we do is review what the government's done. The public may believe it's a process whereby you can call people in if you want to, but that doesn't say they're ever going to be turned down because they're not a fit appointment. The fact is, we're dealing with them after they've already been appointed.
So probably the emphasis should be on doing more reviews of agencies, boards and commissions, because that's what this committee was intended to do. For a long time we fought for and wanted to have a separate committee that would look into the appointments, in which it would have some say. You'd pick three and they would deal with picking one of those, like the process they've just gone through with the Environmental Commissioner. That was picked by the committees and I understand it was unanimous. Those are the types of processes I'd like to see done in reviewing people.
The process is flawed now, and I think we should be putting more emphasis on dealing with the agencies that really should be looked at. You remember when we had Mr Kruger in here, who talked about all the different agencies, boards and commissions, that at least if they know there's a chance they could be called, that was a plus.
Mr Waters: That's probably a valuable thing to do. Mr McLean and I in some ways agree and in other ways disagree on this process that has been set up. But I also think there are things we've talked about doing before, looking at how things can be done better, and that's a job for the subcommittee. I would move that we leave this discussion for now and bring it up again in sub when we have that in-depth discussion about where the committee's going to go and what its priorities are going to be.