The Chair: First, thank you very much to my nominator. It is a pleasure to be Chair of this committee. I hope I will be able to be very efficient with the committee. I do not see a lot of potential for controversy or long philosophical debates in this one. Hopefully we can just deal with the business that needs to be done.
Just before we go on to the actual business of the committee, I want to introduce one person who is with us today, Avrum Fenson. Avrum works in the legislative library and he is the research staff to this committee from the library. You will see Avrum from time to time and I believe Avrum will be presenting a report once in a while as well.
Moving on, we have four private bills to be considered today. They are scheduled for 10:30, so we do not have all the sponsors or applicants here yet. If you want to grab a coffee or a glass of water or take a break for a few minutes, we will reconvene at 10:30 when they are here.
Mr Sorbara: Thank you. I have been a member of this House for five years and this is the first opportunity I have had to appear before this committee and present a bill before this committee. I am not happy about it. I should explain to the gentlemen on either side of me that had the results of 6 September been somewhat different, I guess I could have expected to be considered for a further opportunity to sit in an Ontario cabinet. When you are in cabinet, you are not permitted to present private bills.
I would like to introduce to you Richard Uldall, a solicitor with Meighen Demers -- he was representing the town on Bill Pr26 -- and Les Pengelly, who is the chief bylaw officer for the town of Richmond Hill, one of the greatest communities in all of Ontario. I just moved there about a year ago and have been breaking bylaws, I will tell the chief bylaw officer, ever since.
I will let counsel speak to the bill just to point out to you that this bill, if and when passed, will give the town of Richmond Hill special powers to regulate the dumping of fill within the municipality. I would have preferred to have seen a bill from the town of Vaughan, which is the other municipality in my riding, prohibiting the further dumping of garbage in the Keele Valley landfill site, but maybe we will have one of those a little later; a bill prohibiting the Minister of the Environment from using her emergency powers -- I guess we are not going to have that today; maybe we will get to it another time.
Mr Uldall: Good morning. What I would like to do is to set out for you fairly succinctly the purpose of this legislation and provide you with some of the concerns we believe should be addressed and really form the basis for the legislation.
The purpose is to provide provincial legislation to regulate the dumping of fill and to authorize the municipality to regulate this sort of dumping, particularly in low-lying environmentally sensitive areas. The town of Richmond Hill has encountered numerous problems in recent years with property owners dumping fill on privately owned lands, and neither the town nor the province seems to be able to do anything about it.
The concerns are first and foremost, I would say, environmental. This essentially involves the destruction of environmental features. Property owners, for example, are trying to extend their backyards into abutting ravines with the effect that, in certain cases, there is interference with storm water management. There can be sedimentation problems caused. Many of these ravines are not yet mapped by conservation authorities and therefore there is no regulation or authority to stop such filling.
The type of fill we are talking about could really be anything, any sort of industrial waste. For example, what we have seen are property owners removing construction debris from residential construction projects and piling this material up, frequently to the height of 8 to 12 feet.
Also, there is dumping on wetlands in the northern part of the town of Richmond Hill. A lot of that area is wetlands, so we are seeing destruction of wetlands and associated vegetation. There are a number of interesting environmental features in the northern part of the town of Richmond Hill. In the Oak Ridges moraine we have kettle lakes and some interesting flora and fauna that are being destroyed as a result of this dumping.
Fourth, contamination is a major concern. We are seeing fill dumped on private lands which can include organic matter. This type of fill can include such things as chemical waste. Another example of the sorts of problems that are associated with this dumping is termite infestation.
The primary thrust and concern in Richmond Hill is with the environmentally sensitive wetlands in the Wilcox Lake-Oak Ridges district. Many of these wetlands have already been lost as a result of this dumping. For example, in the Snively reserve, which is in the northern part of the town, one property owner dumped truckloads of fill on his lands within this reserve and Richmond Hill could do nothing about it. The Ministry of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority have all advised they can do nothing about it. There being no rights to the swamp land is apparently the reason, and where there is no development permit issued there is nothing the municipality can do. The lands are not covered by the fill construction and alteration of waterways regulations.
One thing Richmond Hill has done as of 19 July 1988 is adopt a secondary plan for the Wilcox Lake-Oak Ridges district. That is the official plan amendment 71. This, I understand, has not yet been approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. That plan identifies a number of areas, including Snively reserve, as environmental priority areas. Also, in the Wilcox Lake-Oak Ridges areas there has been an extensive environmental plan completed.
I understand that the official plan amendment 71 is the subject of an Ontario Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee hearing to determine if an environmental assessment is required before changes are made in the Oak Ridges community. Currently, though, official plan amendment 71 is only town policy. The problem we have with the official plan amendment 71 is that even after it is approved, the municipality really has no control until you have a development application in relation to the specific property. Any zoning of the land as open space or conservation will not prevent filling activity by an owner, either.
What we see is really a legislative gap, and probably the only piece of legislation that is useful in the area is the Conservation Authorities Act, if I could just explain what that provides. If floodplain lands are mapped by conservation authorities -- for example, Richmond Hill's conservation authority is the MTRCA -- the fill lines are mapped and no filling is permitted within these fill lines without a permit from the conservation authority. The problem we have with that legislation is that the thrust of the act deals with flooding control and not really with conservation of environmental features. So even if we get all the mapping done, it is really not ultimately a solution.
There is precedent legislation in, for example, the city of North York and the city of Brampton. The problems we have seen with the legislation that is in place is that the municipality can be held liable for consequences of issuing permits, for example. Therefore, what we are putting forward on behalf of the town is a limitation of liability clause.
I understand there will be opposition to that, but what I want to do at the outset is explain why we want that there. What we have seen is that these other municipalities have been backing away from using this legislation because they do not have a limitation of liability. We say that really there was never any intention that the risk of liability accompany the powers requested under the act and, if the act is to be effectively used, the municipalities cannot be afraid that they are exposing themselves to risk of liability. I understand that this may not be acceptable ultimately, but that is the town's position.
The recent study report for this proposed legislation -- Ron Kanter's greenlands study in relation to the Oak Ridges moraine -- points to the need for legislative changes to provide authority to deal with actions such as stripping of lands, dumping of fill and widespread cutting of trees.
Some other problems have surfaced. For example, even though the town of Richmond Hill retained engineering and environmental consultants back in 1988 and undertook an environmental master servicing plan, and this will result in modification to official plan amendment 71 to include additional policies protecting wetlands, it is our view that the legislative enforcement will still be lacking.
We also have a draft provincial wetlands policy which sets out wetlands as a matter of provincial interest and provides for inclusion of protective policies in municipal official plans, but unfortunately that is still restricted by the limitations of the official plan authority.
Mr Ferguson: Essentially the Ministry of Municipal Affairs supports the bill. This is not the first time that a bill like this has been passed. There are precedents. There is some concern, and I will defer to legal counsel, on that question of ensuring that the municipality has a limitation of liability. Perhaps legal counsel can address that on behalf of the ministry.
Mr Melville: With respect to the issue of immunity for liability, the response of Municipal Affairs is that there is no similar protection for the exercise of other municipal powers under the Municipal Act. Second, why should Richmond Hill be protected in this way when other municipalities are not, especially if, for example, the municipality were to act in violation of its own standards or agreements?
Finally, the Attorney General has not had any time to fully comment or see this particular amendment. I was in contact with Steve Fram of the Ministry of the Attorney General and he told me that he would oppose the inclusion of any such clause and that indeed they have not allowed any such clause in the last 18_ years.
Mr Sorbara: If counsel from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs might just assist us and direct us to the provision in the copy of Bill Pr26 that I have limiting the liability, that would be helpful to me.
Mr Ruprecht: I have a number of questions. If I understand this correctly, we have the parliamentary assistant telling us that they would support this bill and we have legal counsel telling us that they have some problems, that they are actually waiting for an amendment or that to some degree they may not be supporting this bill. Something has to be worked out here. That was my first point.
I would like to find out how the parliamentary assistant will support this bill after the amendment has been made. Is that how you are going to work this out? I am not quite sure about that. That was my first question. I have three more.
Mr Ferguson: We support the bill as it is before the committee. We do not support the amendment. The amendment is not included in the bill at this point in time. I would assume that somebody would probably move to include that amendment.
Mr Ruprecht: All right. The second question was to counsel or to the parliamentary assistant. We have heard some evidence here that Richmond Hill may not be the only one coming forward to request such legislation. This would make me think that there may be a whole pile of other municipalities arriving here on this doorstep on a pretty frequent basis requesting similar legislation.
I certainly do not want to hold up this bill, but would it not be possible to pass an omnibus bill of some type that would make it easier for other municipalities to request this kind of legislation since this, from what I understand, may not be the first time that the request has been made? I will leave that with you while I am asking my third question.
Mr Ruprecht: As an aside, I had the pleasure of sitting with Mr Sorbara when he was chairperson of the cabinet committee on regulations, and at that point I was the minister responsible for multiculturalism. He did a very fine job so I have no reason to believe we would want to hold up this bill because he knows so much about regulations.
I have one final question. I would be interested to know why the conservation authorities which Mr Uldall has mentioned -- there were a number of conservation authorities involved -- would not have the legislative right to regulate to some degree or some powers over these kinds of people who want to dump building material and other material into the wetlands.
I find it somewhat strange that the legislation that is built in would not permit the conservation authorities to have some regulatory powers over these kinds of actions, because if they do not, then again I can foresee, as I mentioned in my first question, that there will be hundreds and perhaps thousands of applicants coming with similar requests.
Mr Ferguson: On the whole question of a bill to deal with fill permits, there are initiatives that are taking place right now within both the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to look at this whole entire question, particularly in this area of the province. As you know, the moraine is very much an environmentally sensitive area. It is being covered here. We are looking at that and hopefully we can come up with a game plan to deal with that whole entire area. That is why we would rather at this point just deal with one bill at a time as requests come in.
I just want to note there has not been essentially a truckload of requests; they have been very few and far between. So hopefully we can come out with a policy statement on how we are going to deal with that entire moraine. I think you are aware that some members of the Legislature have already expressed some concern in the House about this entire area.
Mr Sorbara: To my friend the member for Parkdale, it is a very good question because one would think that in areas such as these the conservation authority would have authority to regulate the dumping of fill. As I understand it -- I think there are a number of people in this room who will correct me if I am wrong -- the Conservation Authorities Act in respect of each conservation authority defines fairly specifically the areas over which they have jurisdiction. During my time as the Chairman of the cabinet committee on regulations, we passed a number of regulations allowing conservation authorities to regulate in the strictest of fashion the dumping of fill in those areas over which they had jurisdiction.
The private bill that is before us today, as I understand it, covers in a sense the rest of the territory: all of the town of Richmond Hill, whether it be wetlands, flat lands, highlands, lowlands, your lands or my lands, requiring that a bylaw can be passed determining the circumstances under which fill can be dumped or in fact prohibiting the dumping of fill.
But it seems to me, on reading the act, that there is a provision which deals with areas where there might be a grey area, perhaps a wet grey area, and that is in clause l(l)(b). Actually the whole section sets out that the corporation can pass bylaws, but these bylaws are not applicable where the provisions under the Conservation Authorities Act deal with the dumping of fill. They are way ahead of the game in this area.
It seems to me that municipalities are catching up, and I suspect that if this is effective, you will see a number of private bills coming before this committee over the next while dealing with the very same issue. Probably you will be able to deal with them far more expeditiously than this one, because this, as I understand it, is the first.
Mr Johnson: It concerns me that I heard Mr Uldall say that there is contaminated and toxic chemical waste being dumped. Understanding that there are regulations that control the dumping of such waste, I think it would be prudent of the town of Richmond Hill to investigate this further and ensure that in fact there is not dumping of toxic waste or chemical waste within Richmond Hill. Certainly if that is happening, I think there are regulations presently that exist that can control that specific dumping.
Mr Pengelly: If I can answer both questions that came from the legislators, first I think we have to remember or understand that the town of Richmond Hill has a very high water table. Indeed, they had to dewater one subdivision of about 50 acres before they could even lay the sewers and watermains. So we are very sensitive to contaminated fill and those types of things.
The high cost of any more dumping in dumps or regulated areas has made for indiscriminate dumping anywhere in the town where they find a hole to back in and dump a load of material. You are quite right that there are other acts that can be enforced. Unfortunately, they are not enforceable by the bylaw department of the town of Richmond Hill and by the time we find a member of the Ministry of the Environment to come out, he may be miles away. We normally have to wait days. By that time it is too late.
We are on the job. The bylaw enforcement officers, if they get a phone call that there is some dumping going on, are there within hours. Indeed the York Regional Police -- I am retired from there; I have been a police officer for 32 years, so I have a little bit of background -- also enforce our bylaws or assist us, so they are on the job as well. However, we do not all enforce the regulations that the government has in place in other acts. That is not our authority to do. We are left a little bit tied up in this matter, and that is why we have brought this forward, so that we can enforce it and help to clean up.
Again, as I said, with our high water table in all of the town of Richmond Hill, we have to be very careful about what contaminated fill is brought in. In particular, excavators anywhere in the city here will come in and dump loads of stuff and we have no control. We have no way of knowing whether some of that material has termites and, even if we found them, we could not do anything about it. That is our position.
Mr Johnson: I guess my concern is that if regulations exist to control contaminated waste dumping, that there are regulations in place presently, it suggests to me that maybe policing or looking after these regulations is the problem. So it concerns me that if we have new regulations, how well or how efficiently can these new regulations be policed, or will they be policed?
Mr Sorbara: Just to try to answer that, the bylaw enforcement officers are charged with the responsibility of enforcing these regulations. When you refer to the dumping of contaminated soils or any other kind of material that is the subject of special regulation, there are agencies of government that are charged with the responsibility of enforcing that. But this bill gives Richmond Hill the opportunity to regulate, issue permits for and prohibit the dumping of sand and topsoil and other sorts of things that would not fall under those provisions, whether it is the Environmental Protection Act, some other act of the Legislature or some other bylaw that arises under some other act.
It is not sufficient reason to argue that there are other regulations dealing with the dumping of toxic soil. This is not controversial. This just says that Mr Pengelly will have a bylaw where he can say, "You can't dump that sand there because, my God, there is a watercourse or there is a swamp." Nothing else touches it. This is just a little piece of the puzzle that fills in and gives them authority to act where under any other act of the Legislature or bylaw they are presently or currently without authority.
Mr Fletcher: Just a couple of things. One, I am not that familiar with the Conservation Authorities Act. Clause l(l)(a) of the bill says "other than those areas subject to regulations made under clause 28(1)(f) of the Conservation Authorities Act." Is there anyone here who can tell me what that clause is?
Mr Uldall: Yes, in fact I have copies. Subsection 28(1) of the Conservation Authorities Act provides as follows, and I will read you just clause (f), which is the pertinent section here, "Subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, an authority may make regulations applicable in the area under its jurisdiction...prohibiting or regulating or requiring the permission of the authority for the placing or dumping of fill of any kind in any defined part of the area over which the authority has jurisdiction in which in the opinion of the authority the control of flooding or pollution or the conservation of land may be affected by the placing or dumping of fill."
Mr Uldall: What I have tried to sort of point out initially was that the problem with the Conservation Authorities Act is that essentially the thrust of that legislation deals with flood control, and also, as I tried to emphasize when I read the section, it deals with defined parts of the area. If the floodplain lands are mapped by the conservation authorities -- these are fill lines that are mapped -- then no filling is permitted within those fill lines. But, you see, that is the limitation that concerns us.
Mr Fletcher: Once more, then, the fill lines that could be mapped out are subject to change. They are always subject to change, so there could be encroachment on wetlands or anything else if they decide to change the official plan and change the fill lines. I know that has happened in some communities, where development has encroached on the wetlands because the fill lines have been changed through the official plan.
Mr Fletcher: The other part is clause (c), "for prescribing conditions under which the placing or dumping of fill may be carried out under a permit issued," in other words, the city will issue a permit and also dictate what kind of fill can be put in an area. I am on page 1 of the bill.
Mr Fletcher: In other words, the town of Richmond Hill could at some time say, if it was approached by a developer who wished to develop in a certain area that was environmentally sensitive, "Yes, it's okay, fill and you'll be all right."
Mr Jordan: This bill seems to deal with the dumping of materials and in the write-up I understood that the storage of materials was also a problem there. I was wondering how the town planned to control that aspect.
Mr Pengelly: Just an example. Last year there was a large lot almost in the middle of town and the construction of an apartment building on the east side of the town, and they had nowhere to put this fill and they piled it in the centre of town, a huge mountain of material. It was unsightly and there was absolutely nothing we could do with it because our zoning bylaws did not even cover the piling up of dirt. We only got them on a limit of the height, and even at that it was not a structure. So zoning-wise or building-wise, we had nothing to stop them. It is just that they use a waste piece of land and will pile up until they get somewhere to dispose of it other than there, and we have no idea how long it is going to be there. It is an unsightly mess, really, in the middle of town.
Mr Jordan: Maybe I did not make myself clear. I was wondering, this bill covers the dumping of waste materials, but it does not, in my reading, cover the storage. I noticed in the write-up that there was a problem with storing pipes and so on on this property, and I was wondering how you planned to control that.
Mr Uldall: I think you are correct in that the legislation does not appear to incorporate your concern specifically. The legislation speaks of placement, but if your concern is more, for example, storage of toxic substances in specific facilities, I think that is perhaps outside the ambit of this proposed legislation.
Mr J. Wilson: I do not have any particular objections to the thrust of this bill. I may have some questions about the limitation and liability clause when we get to it a little later. I was wondering, more for curiosity than anything else, what type of fines are envisioned or will be envisioned in the bylaw when the corporation gets around to --
Mr Pengelly: We have been leaving our bylaws recently open to the amendment made by Bill 92, which amended fines and terms of imprisonment, and it provided for a maximum penalty of $2,000. We just left it at that and left it at the judicial decision. I am also the prosecutor in Newmarket court for the town of Richmond Hill's bylaws. I wear a lot of hats.
I make my presentation and the defence makes its and a justice makes his decision. It would not really matter what penalty we put in. The justice is always the deciding factor. If they have cleaned up the thing, he takes that into consideration. If it is a real mess and they have not done anything about it, he also takes that into consideration. We leave penalties open under the Provincial Offences Act as it is.
The Chair: Are there any further questions by any members of the committee? Seeing none, are there any objectors or interested parties here as well? None? Are there any further statements and questions? Seeing none, are the members ready to vote on this?
Mr Sorbara: Once again, a procedural question: I know that there are a number of less controversial amendments. Is it appropriate that all the amendments get moved at one time or what do you do? You would not know because you are just new here, but you have advisers.
The Chair: Yes. The other amendments will be dealt with when we go through and vote on the other sections of the bill. That is the traditional procedure, to deal with them as they come up during the sections. Debate on this amendment to section 1?
Mr Ferguson: I think the ministry's position is very clear on the matter. A number of other bills have been passed, a number of similar bills, and none of those bills have included this amendment. I really think we would be setting a dangerous precedent. What we would in fact be doing is encouraging other people to come through the front door asking for a similar amendment to their bills that have already been passed.
Mr J. Wilson: Perhaps the solicitor for the ministry could once again outline in layman's terms what the repercussions are of including this amendment, other than what the parliamentary secretary has stated.
Mr Melville: The entire legal effect of including this amendment is not clear because I am not sure whether it would stand up entirely if it were tested in court. I think the thrust of the amendment would be to protect the town from any liability resulting from the exercise of its discretion under this bill to give a permit for dumping of fill under any circumstances whatsoever. I think that is the intention. Our position is that this is too broad a power. Other municipalities do not have it. If the municipality should, in exercising its discretion, act negligently in some way, it should be liable just as anyone else would be.
Mr J. Wilson: To the representatives from Richmond Hill, if you do not have this particular clause inserted, is this going to worry you a great deal? Is it going to prohibit you from ever issuing permits? Will you be so overwhelmed with worrying about liability that you will never move on the bylaw?
Mr Uldall: Perhaps I could just reiterate that the thrust of it is that what we have seen in other municipalities, obviously, where no such limitation of liability exists is that the practical effect of that is that the legislation is not used. That is, I think, the most cogent and powerful argument in favour of the inclusion of such a clause. As to whether the town of Richmond Hill would be prepared to go forward without such a limitation included, it certainly would as far as I can appreciate.
Mr Ferguson: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Mr Sorbara, you make your presentation to the committee on behalf of the town. You are not a member of this committee. I do not think you can debate the clause-by-clause.
Mr Sorbara: With all due respect to the parliamentary assistant, I could, if I wanted to, ask one of my colleagues to step out and I could substitute for him. I am here as the sponsor of the bill. My name appears on the bill. If my friend Mr Ferguson thinks that somehow prohibits me from speaking to an amendment that is on the table, I am rather surprised, but I will leave it to your discretion, Mr Chairman.
Just a couple of words: I do not think we need to prolong this debate, but the members who are sitting on this committee, most of them, as I look around the room, certainly the government members, are sitting for the very first time on this committee, or perhaps on any committee. I think the question arises, there is a conflict here. The town of Richmond Hill is saying that its experience in the community is that if you do not have this really qualified limitation on liability -- legislative counsel is right that it may not stand up in cases of negligence or gross negligence. The court might say: "Yes, the liability is limited. There is no liability under normal circumstances." But as a lawyer, I can tell you that courts have gone beyond this when a town or any other body acted recklessly or negligently.
The ministry comes here and says that this should not be included. The ministry says, "We haven't got a precedent for this." The parliamentary assistant is doing exactly the job that he is required to do under the precedents for a parliamentary assistant. He comes to argue the ministry's point of view. As chairman of the regulations committee over five years, I had ministers and lawyers come to argue the point of view of the ministry. There is nothing wrong with that. But you are elected to make a decision, not to simply ask the parliamentary assistant what the ministry thinks of this, that or the other thing. That is called bureaucratic government.
I can confirm that this is in a sense a breaking out of the typical mould for this sort of bill or this sort of authority, but not revolutionary. Perhaps it is not attractive to the New Democratic Party because it is not revolutionary, but it is not revolutionary. There are hundreds and hundreds of sections in hundreds and hundreds of statutes and thousands of other bylaws and court judgements which limit liability. What the town is asking for here is a workable private bill so that it can pass a workable bylaw.
You are not going to overturn the entire direction of the common law of negligence or statutory laws or bylaw making in the area of a filling dump if you say, "Yes, we agree with the town that they in fact should be able to limit their liability under these circumstances." There is no question that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs does not want to do it because then other municipalities will come and say: "Well, look, you did that there. Can we talk about this here?"
You have an option. You can simply say, "Oh, well, the ministry does not want it so we had better not do it," or you can say, "Well, the town of Richmond Hill and other municipalities, by the way, really believe that they need it and therefore we are in favour of it and we are going to approve the amendment."
The Chair: I think it is pretty clear what the positions are on this issue. I would like to bring this issue to a vote because we have other amendments and clauses and we have other business on the agenda this morning, so if there are no objections could we put this to a vote on the amendment right now?
The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing here today. With Mr Wilson's permission, Ms Poole has other engagements and with your indulgence we would like to move Bill Pr18 ahead of Bill Pr17. Do you have any objections? Thank you.
Ms Poole: Certainly. Conyork Construction and Engineering Ltd was an Ontario corporation incorporated in 1974. It was dissolved in 1982 for failure to file its returns. The sole shareholder and director was declared incompetent and is currently residing in Alberta. The public trustee in Alberta has been appointed as his committee and is now in the process of winding up the estate. In order to accomplish that, they would like to sell the land. Since the land is held by the company, it is necessary to revive it. All returns have now been filed and all back taxes paid. My understanding is that it is fairly routine and that there are not any other outstanding matters, unless Elizabeth has any comments.
Mr Ruprecht: Yes, Mr Chairman. As Ms Poole is supporting this, I have no hesitation in moving a motion which reads that the committee recommend that the fees and the actual costs of printing at all stages and in the annual statutes be remitted on Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Oratory -- this is the wrong one?
Mr J. Wilson: Actually, Mr Chairman, Mr Cousens is the actual sponsor of the Bill. On his behalf, I am pleased to submit for the committee's consideration an act to revive the Interlock People Ltd. The witness today is Brian Schneidman from the firm of Glaholt and Tamblyn, and I would defer any questions on the bill to him. I think the bill is self-explanatory; it is very similar to Bill Pr18. The bill itself contains explanations in the preamble of why this particular corporation needs revival at this time.
Mr Sola: I would like to see whether the ministry has any comments on this. Usually we get an okay from the ministry that it has nothing against proceeding with these sorts of bills. It should have been posted to the last committee.
The Chair: We will wait and see when there is someone who comes forward as a sponsor of a bill that Mr Ruprecht is maybe not as keen on and see what happens with those bills. At any rate, if there are no other questions, are the members ready to vote on this?
Mr Mammoliti: Very briefly, and then I will hand it over to the witness. It is actually quite simple. The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri-Toronto, a corporation, has applied for special legislation authorizing it to grant certain types of degrees. The application represents that, in addition to other activities, it educates applicants for the Roman Catholic priesthood. In a nutshell, and the witness will go into detail, it allows us here in Ontario to be able to decide who receives what, basically. On that note, I will pass it over to the witness.
Mr Whiteacre: This is, as Mr Mammoliti said, a bill under the Degree Granting Act. The Degree Granting Act says that no one can grant degrees in Ontario without legislative authority. That authority is given by this committee.
The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri is an Ontario corporation. I will say that it is well known to Mr Ruprecht because it is within his constituency. Its objects are both charitable and educational. It is a monastery and a most unusual monastery in that all of the monks at the monastery have at least a PhD degree. They are a very learned group of people and that is why they are involved in training young people for the Roman Catholic priesthood. It is recognized as a seminary of learning by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, and its applicants come from all over North America so it is bringing business to Ontario. The head of the monastery is the Very Reverend Jonathon Robinson, former head of the philosophy department at McGill University, and the degrees that it grants are only in theology.
The Supreme Court of Ontario has given the seminary charitable status. There are Supreme Court of Ontario orders stating that the seminary is a charity and therefore is exempt from assessment and taxation under the Assessment Act.
I would ask that this committee grant this bill and allow the oratory to grant degrees to these young men who are training at the oratory. I would also ask that the fee that was submitted be reimbursed, in light of the fact that this is a charitable organization, and that the printing bill be waived. These are two things this committee is empowered to do, and I would ask that your discretion be exercised in favour of that course today.
Mr Ruprecht: I am absolutely convinced of the righteousness of this act because of Mr Mammoliti, who is sponsoring this bill. I have had the great pleasure to meet with Dr Robinson, Father Robinson as he is known to most people in our area, who has written a number of books, in case you are interested, in phenomenology and existentialism. They are very fascinating reading, especially at night after an important day at the Legislature.
The Chair: Mr Ruprecht moves that the committee recommend that the fees and the actual cost of printing at all stages in the annual statutes be remitted on Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Oratory of St Philip Neri-Toronto.