“On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Because the issue is so important, the precedent so threatening, the procedure so wrong and the decision so erring.” That is a misprint. What I said was “airy,” and I would ask Hansard to take note of that correction.
Mr. Swart: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I would like to direct your attention to yesterday’s Hansard and ask you to examine whether the comments made by the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) fall within acceptable parliamentary language in describing another member when he said, “Again I have to say that the member for Welland-Thorold tripped over the truth.”
On the same point of privilege but a different dimension, because of his comments I would ask you to check pages 4135 to 4141 of Hansard for October 8, 1982, where you will find his argument that it is necessary to have a “restrictive monetary policy,” “anti-inflationary monetary policy” and “high interest rates to fight inflation.” Nowhere does he say these should not apply to farmers.
The member for Huron-Middlesex said: “Thus the term ‘anti-inflationary monetary policy’ should be understood as a euphemism for restricting demand, rising interest rates and rising unemployment. The cutting edge of an anti-inflationary, restrictive monetary policy is a large pool of unemployed workers who will increase the competition for jobs and thereby restrain wage and price increases.”
He concluded his remarks by saying: “In the public sector, there are two methods available to fight inflation. One which I have already alluded to is monetary restraint. The other, which I want to deal with briefly, is fiscal restraint.”
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: My point relates to an announcement made outside the House yesterday by the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) in regard to the funding for colleges and universities in this province.
Ordinarily, for many ministers it has been the normal course of action to rise in the House and make a specific announcement. I do not recall that announcement being made in the House and I hope she will do so for the general legislative grants to elementary and secondary schools.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Following the exchange I had with the Premier (Mr. Davis) yesterday, I want to report to the House that I have had a conversation with General Andropov and I want to indicate to the House and to the Premier that General Andropov indicated his strong approval for the Premier’s statements yesterday with respect to Bill 127. I also want to indicate that in particular he expressed approval with respect to the government’s policies on closure.
I also want to note for the record that Mr. Walter McLean, the Conservative member for Waterloo; Mr. Paul McRae, the Liberal member for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, and Mr. Douglas Roche, the Conservative member for Edmonton South, have indicated their opposition to the cruise missile testing in a report to the House of Commons --
It is one of the ironies of our times that while well over half a million Ontarians are unable to find work, certain skilled labour positions go unfilled or must be filled by imported labour. As the minister well knows, this problem is going to become more acute in the immediate future. The Ontario Manpower Commission estimates that by 1986 there may be a shortage of as many as 45,000 skilled workers in Ontario.
With so much excess labour and a severe shortage of skilled labour looming in the near future, it would seem only sensible to enrol as many unemployed people in training programs as possible at this time. I could quote at length the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) remarks in this regard.
Could the minister please explain why, in what is by any definition an economic downturn, Ontario has allocated less money in real terms for apprenticeship and retraining programs this year than in 1981-82, which, in turn, was less than in 1980-81? Can she assure us we will see the large increase in funding necessary to deal with the crisis when the 1983 budget is released?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the honourable member is finally evincing an interest in this important area. In truth, there has been a marked increase in both support and activity in skills development. The member may be interested to know that because of our concern about skills development, the whole area has been placed under the very capable leadership of Mr. Kenneth Hunter, the assistant deputy minister, who was formerly responsible only for skills development. He is now also responsible for the college system, because a very vast amount of the skills training that goes on in this province occurs within the college system in short-term programs as well as in long-term programs.
There was a 13.1 per cent increase in the total budget of the colleges last year. A very significant amount of money was directed specifically towards the development of skills training in the colleges -- and I mean specifically. It was directed towards the development of high-technology programs and improvement in the facilities related to skills development. It was to facilitate the arrangement we have with the federal government, which allows for training within the college system on a short-term basis.
In addition to that, there was a considerable amount of money -- I think probably on the order of $10 million -- directed towards the TIBI programs, training in business and industry, in which I am pleased to say 23,000 people have been enrolled in skills upgrading to make them more flexible, adaptable and available for new high-technology activities.
There has been a great deal of action during the last two or three years in this whole area. Indeed, the number of registered apprentices has more than doubled in the past five years and we are doing our very best, not only through my ministry but also through the youth secretariat, to counsel young people who have dropped out of school to attain further educational and training achievements in order that they may be better able to fill those places that are available to them.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Despite the minister’s gratuitous comment, I have been concerned about apprenticeship programs for longer than she has been in this House and I am still waiting to see some specific actions. If the minister wants to go back and check Hansard, we had quite a debate on the Dymond report, which she still has not implemented.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Is the minister not aware that in the estimate books, under apprenticeship and manpower training programs, in real dollars she is spending an estimated $8 million less in 1982-83 than in 1981-82 and $13 million less than in 1980-81? So in fact in two years she is spending, in real dollars, $13 million less in these programs for grants for adult and apprenticeship training, training in business and industry, training in industry and the Ontario career action program. Those are the minister’s own figures.
Does the minister not agree with that? Can she give me figures to show that she has increased it? Can she assure us and the unemployed in Ontario that the demand for the 45,000 people whom we may need to import will be met by the skilled people supposedly now being trained under her programs?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am pleased to have the history of the member’s concern in this area and to understand that he, like me, is still completing his apprenticeship in this important activity in this House. I do not know when any one of us will have achieved full journeyman status, but none the less we are attempting to do our best.
I will be very pleased to supply specific figures to the member. I can assure him there has been a very significant increase in activity in this whole area during the past three years, and it is measured more appropriately in the numbers of students, apprentices and people involved.
I would remind the member that there may have been or will be a revision of some of the projections made by the Ontario Manpower Commission in the report he is quoting, which I believe is now three years old and will suffer in the accuracy of its projections the same kind of fate that all other crystal ball projections seem to suffer; that is, there will be significant changes in a certain number of the areas which had been considered to be appropriate for citing as necessary within that report.
There is no mechanism I know of that gives us the capability to prescribe with any precision the exact requirements in the future. We are attempting to meet those needs which appear to be most severe and most critical, and our actions are directed in that way.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us whether the government has definitely rejected the notion of an industrial levy, both as a way of paying for additional programs for apprentices and as a way of mobilizing the real support and integration of industry in the work of the apprenticeship program? If the government has rejected that technique, can the minister tell us why?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member undoubtedly knows, the member for Rainy River cited the report mentioned in the study that was carried out by the Ontario Manpower Commission. It was mentioned in that report that there had been a very critical examination of the ways in which industry could more properly be involved in the training of those necessary for the economic advancement of the province. A number of means were reviewed. The levy was one which was not recommended by the commission unless all other attempts failed.
What we have been doing since that report came out, and even before that, was to try to encourage business to become involved in training particularly those people whom it will require itself. Employee self-sufficiency is certainly one rationale we have felt was an appropriate encouragement for employers.
We have also been trying to instruct employers, or to encourage them to understand, that training is not a business expense but a business investment. I am pleased to say we have had pretty significant improvement in the receptivity of the employers in the province.
I am not sure I could say any method has been totally rejected at this point, but we did make a commitment that we would use whatever other means were available to us to try to encourage employers to be involved before we resorted to the levy, particularly in the light of both the British and West German experience, which would demonstrate to us that the levy system is not all that successful. Indeed, there is activity in Great Britain at the moment which is directed towards the total destruction of the current levy grant system as one which is unworkable and entirely too expensive.
One of the requirements of a levy grant system, as demonstrated by the study which was carried out by the Ontario Manpower Commission, is that we would require an additional 20,000 civil servants in Ontario to administer it. I am not sure anybody was looking at that with any great deal of enthusiasm.
Mr. T. P. Reid: If the minister had looked at the experience of Caland Ore in Atikokan, which unfortunately is now shut down, she would have seen that it had a program in which it trained the people to do the jobs that it required, rather than what the government thought it required.
In any case, just to touch on the last question, last September the minister indicated that if co-operation was not forthcoming from the private sector -- and I presume she included unions among others who have not always greeted these programs with enthusiasm -- she might try the levy system on the one hand, or provide a carrot on the other, in terms of taxation credits or whatever. Has she had discussion with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in this regard? Can we look forward to such incentives for apprenticeship programs being found in the 1983 budget?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I would think the member would understand the TIBI program is perhaps just such a carrot. It has provided an incentive for both labour unions and employers to become involved with government in training for specific skills. The enthusiasm with which that program has been greeted would lead me to believe there has been a major change in attitude on the part of both trade unions and employers.
We have some 400 employers, with their appropriate trade unions, involved in that program now. This is the kind of model I think could be examined by other employers and other trade unions in the hope they would find it appropriate for their own purposes. I believe we are already involved in a demonstration of that kind of program.
I am not at this point recommending to the Treasurer that we move immediately to a levy grant system, because I am not sure it would be beneficial in the current economic circumstances of the province.
Gasoline prices in some areas of Ontario now are 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the previously prevailing prices, which obviously is good news for the Ontario consumer but not necessarily for those who own oil companies or parts thereof. The public affairs manager for Suncor in Toronto -- who, strangely enough, is a fellow named Joe Clark, which seems to be a name associated with losing causes -- has said the situation is “really hurting us.” Apparently he said oil companies pay 22.7 cents per litre in royalties and taxes, which means at any lower price the company is losing money even before things such as transportation costs are taken into account.
Other oil industry people have indicated that with the oil glut they do not expect prices to go up, or to be stabilized except at much lower prices than the province anticipated when it made the Suncor purchase. So far the government of Ontario has lost $53 million on its Suncor investment in the first three quarters of 1982, for interest costs net of dividends.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, obviously it would be impossible, with the fluctuating market, to be precise in answer to a question such as that. But the honourable member, had he been here for the concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Energy, would have rejoiced along with the rest of us in the fact that Suncor’s profits for last year were substantially up over the year before. I simply invite him to make comparisons between the financial position of this company in the marketplace and other integrated oil companies.
Also, the member would appreciate there are other activities in which the company is involved besides the particular one to which he makes reference. I cannot provide any information or long-range forecasts for this, but I would be glad to communicate the member’s interest to the management of the company.
It is obvious that Mr. Hopper feels Petro-Canada cannot be sufficiently profitable, given current price trends. Since Suncor is already losing money for Ontarians and will lose more if prices stay low, are the minister and his government now going to call for and demand a transition to world price for oil for Canadians?
Suncor, which is one of only two producers of synthetic oil, has access to world price for its synthetic oil. Indeed, there is access to world price for new oil after January 1, 1981. All that is wrapped up in the blended price which is in the terms of the Canada-Alberta agreement.
The whole concept of pricing was one advocated by this government over the years, notwithstanding the position of the Liberal Party which has always advocated world price, to which the Premier (Mr. Davis) made reference. The Canada-Alberta agreement enshrines the whole attitude towards pricing advocated by this government over the years.
Will the minister give his assurance to this House and the public of this province that his government will not bring any pressure to bear to increase gasoline prices, either so Suncor will get greater revenues or so the government will get a larger ad valorem tax take?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, under the circumstances, the marketplace is looking after that and seems to be doing very well. If anyone has any time this afternoon to drive to the Sunoco station in Niagara-on-the-Lake, he can get a very good price. Bruce Sherlock, who is on the main street of that community, is selling at an even better price. I can assure the member that Niagara-on-the-Lake is doing very well at the moment as far as all this is concerned.
The government says it bought Suncor as an investment and a window on the oil business in Canada. They justified it by saying it was an investment for the people of Ontario. Obviously the only way it can make money is if the price of gasoline goes up. That means the consumer catches it in the ear.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Given the fact that it is currently costing us $200,000 a day for carrying costs on Suncor and the value of those shares is dropping rapidly as the price drops, can the minister give us any indication of how low the value of Suncor has to sink before the government will cut its losses and sell its share in Suncor?
Hon. Mr. Welch: In fairness, I know my friend would want to draw attention to the financial position of this company as announced on January 27. Indeed, if his research people have not found this, I would be happy to provide further information confirming that the 1982 earnings of Suncor were 20 per cent higher than in 1981. The member has been very careful not to ask too many questions about that.
I am sure the minister is aware of a report by his ministry in December 1982 which discusses the very real problems affecting the Windermere basin since it acts as a settling pond for pollutants and is contaminated with PCBs. There were 10 parts per million in one sample, which is higher than found in any sediment in Canada.
The minister will also know this report was particularly bleak because, having recognised the severity of the problem, it went on to say it could not recommend dredging as a solution since it would simply stir up the PCBs and possibly cause a threat to the eventual safety of the overall water supply in Hamilton.
Despite this very bleak study by the ministry, which indicated there was a very serious problem but did not indicate what action it proposed for the city or the region, can the minister tell us what specific steps his ministry is recommending to the regional council and to the city council of Hamilton to deal with the problem of the pollutants in the Windermere basin, particularly with respect to PCBs? Can the minister tell us what recommendations his ministry is making with respect to PCBs in the Windermere basin?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, my response is premised on the assumption the honourable member is familiar with the relationship of the Windermere basin to Hamilton harbour. I also assume he knows the drinking water intake from Lake Ontario is not from Hamilton harbour.
The report the member mentions is one that has been released for purposes of discussion with the regional municipality in an effort to come to some conclusion on the best way to deal with the existing situation in the Windermere basin. I am speaking from recollection about the dredging; I do not have the information in front of me at the moment. However, the point does not relate so much to the direct impact it might have upon the drinking water, the intake for which is outside the harbour and, I guess, some distance to the east. Rather it relates to the impact it would have upon the ambient water quality within the harbour and potentially at some point out into the lake.
At this time, the ministry is not making specific recommendations but rather is engaged in discussions with the regional municipality and others to try to reach some reasonable way of approaching the problem. It is generally believed the present situation does not constitute a threat in terms of health. The contaminants that exist there are locked in sediment that is not being released into the ambient water within the harbour.
That may be the safest way to leave it, in the view expressed by some of the scientists. Other options are being considered and discussed. If he has visited the site, the member will recognize one of the things that most concerns the citizens there is aesthetics. It is an ugly mess, and dredging might improve the aesthetics of the situation. However, that perhaps might have no positive effect upon the quality of the water.
Mr. Rae: Page 34 of the report states, “The action of dredging may, in fact, temporarily deteriorate water quality by directly introducing contaminants into the water column.” The drinking water supply for the city of Hamilton does not come from Hamilton harbour, but from a source outside in the lake, and we are all aware of that. The minister is also aware that water passes from the harbour to the lake and that contaminants are now passing from the basin to the harbour. There is no concern for today, but there is a real concern for the future.
With respect to PCBs, I wonder if the minister can tell us whether the Ministry of the Environment has now in place a regular program of monitoring the PCBs in use and in storage around the province. Can he tell us exactly what the nature of that monitoring is and how it compares to the monitoring that takes place in the United States. In the US, PCB users in the food industry are inspected weekly, for example, while other operations containing PCBs are inspected on a quarterly basis.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do not have the detailed information with me. I can assure the member we have copious detail on PCBs both in use and in storage, and I certainly undertake to provide him with that information. It is not something have at my fingertips. I have certainly seen and reviewed it, but I do not have it on instant recall.
Going back to the preamble of the member’s question, I would point out that another element of the difficulty with respect to the Windermere basin is not merely the temporary problem of contaminants during the period of dredging. There is also the issue of what is an appropriate alternative way to locate the dredgate. That aspect also is being discussed. I believe a commercial proposal has been made with respect to locking it up in a concrete-type block which could be stored safely or utilized in some effective way.
The long-term effect with regard to the contaminants that may continue to come in via that route, bypassing what is now a catch basin or sediment basin and going into the harbour, really has to be addressed in terms of the sources and improving the runoff situation in the creek that flows into the Windermere basin. That is being looked at carefully.
Mr. Rae: The minister’s answer to that question leads me directly to my final supplementary. As the minister will know, the attrition rate on PCBs in the province is about two per cent a year on what has been estimated by Environment Canada as six million litres that are now in use in transformers and capacitors around the province.
I am sure the minister will be aware that D and D Dredging -- I am sorry, D and D Disposal Services, the only commercial company licensed to handle PCBs -- has now been cut off from going to the United States. I understand its licence for the United States has been cut off as of the end of December.
The long-term solution to the PCB waste disposal problem by the Ontario Waste Management Corp. will not come into effect until 1987 at the earliest. Can the minister tell us what steps the ministry is taking now in the short and medium term to deal with the problem of storage with respect to the stuff which is no longer being actively used?
We have an inspection problem. We also have a real storage problem in the province -- one that is growing. What steps is the province taking in the short or medium term before the Ontario Waste Management Corp. takes this stuff on stream?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The problem the member cites with regard to D and D Disposal -- I do not think it is “Dredging” as I do not think they do any dredging -- is not a recent one or a new one. It is certainly true that the present method of handling PCBs coming out of service is through safe storage. D and D’s storage site is filled to capacity but others are available for storage, not disposal.
As far as short-range or intermediate-range disposal is concerned, we have recently provided funding to D and D in conjunction with the federal government to carry on the next phase in the engineering and design of its disposal unit. It has been tested in Britain but not yet tested in Canada. I do not know the precise time Mr. Drew will have his engine ready for testing in Ontario.
We have looked at other technology that has been tested and proved in the United States and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Private interests in Canada are interested in making a substantial investment to make it available in Ontario. Again, we are preparing to provide for testing it within the province.
We have now nearly completed the draft guidelines for mobile testing units. That has taken a fairly lengthy period of time. They will now go through a process similar to the environmental assessment process for making it available for public review and ultimately for public hearings. The aim is to assure the members of the public the technology of the mobile testing unit and the way in which it would be applied would be safe for the residents of any community in which it was being used.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Trade in the absence of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) who is also the chairman of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development. It concerns the announced closure by American Can of its pulp mill in Marathon where it gave layoff notices, as I am sure the minister is aware, to hundreds of workers some 10 days ago. This will have a devastating impact on the community of Marathon since American Can is far and away the largest employer in what could be described as a one-industry town.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, our involvement has not begun in the last 10 days; we have been into this for some time now. It goes back into the fall, indeed I think back into the summer, when we had meetings with American Can regarding the company’s intention ultimately to dispose of the Marathon facility.
The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope), the Treasurer, myself and other ministers have been directly involved in how this might properly be resolved in a way that would end up with the jobs being maintained. Of course that is uppermost in our minds. To our way of thinking, that is a viable facility and we have every reason to believe it should continue. The employment development fund was originally involved in that and commitments are still ongoing that are part of the negotiating position.
We have been dealing directly with the various individuals involved with respect to purchasers. There have been proposals from Canadian purchasers. We are most anxious to see the facility end up as a viable disposition, one that maintains the employment at the levels we would anticipate. Obviously our preference would be to see it remain -- not remain because American Can is foreign-owned -- but end up in Canadian hands, if at all possible.
The minister has announced a buy-back program, at least twice in this House that I can recall and on several other occasions publicly. Is his ministry or the government considering putting the buy-back program into effect, or is he looking at the possibility of taking over the mill in a joint venture with the employees themselves.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I and my brother ministers do not see any closure of that plant occurring. We do not anticipate that happening and that is really not part of the discussions. However I realize why American Can has put out the notices they have. Frankly, I thought they were somewhat premature in doing so; I think they would have been better advised not to have alarmed people the way they have.
We are only looking at the question of prospective purchasers and there are at least two in process. So it is only an issue of who the prospective purchaser might be and it does involve some question of the obligations the company has. It is a question of whether those obligations, those commitments and the benefits under the EDF would be extended. Those are the reasons we are directly involved in it.
No, the buy-back plan has not been a part of any of the discussions; and no, we have not at any time been considering any kind of joint relationship with the employees of the company. I suppose it could be considered. They have not approached us on it, to my knowledge, but that is not part of our current thinking at the moment. I suspect it would be premature for them to even contemplate that.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, according to my information the provincial government has committed some $4 million or $5 million to this plant. I wonder if the minister could tell us what assurances were extracted from American Can regarding maintaining employment at that plant and when the money was committed? In addition, if there were no assurances given as to maintaining the viability of that plant, why were those assurances not part of the agreement when government money was being put into that operation?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, we have tied them up so tightly they cannot do anything without having a talk with us on the matter. That certainly relates to maintaining employment through the whole process. So if they fail, if they default, there is a return of any of the funds advanced and a cancellation of the funds that might otherwise be provided. It is just like the Jarvis Clark situation. They had better look at it from the point of view of having to pay up the moneys if they are going to try anything that is untoward.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, may I assume from the minister’s response to my colleague the member for York South that whatever it takes to preserve those jobs and the entire economic base of the community of Marathon will be done?
If I can make that assumption, why is the minister not looking at the buy-back program as an option? Why is he not looking at a joint venture with current employees as an option? Is he prepared to meet whatever obligations will be required in order to attract that one Canadian company if he does not accept the buy-back or joint venture suggested by my leader?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I reiterate that we have not contemplated buy-back. To my knowledge this has not been advanced in any serious way; in fact it has not been advanced at all. This is the first we have heard of a proposal on buy-back. If there is such a proposal, of course, we will entertain it.
At the moment we have a couple of hot purchasers out there and we are not about to let them off the hook. Frankly, we think the best bet is to sell it as a viable operation, one for which people will exchange money. As the member knows we have been having discussions as we turn ourselves to the amount it would take to see that come about. At the moment we are not looking at anything that relates to buy-back. Of course we would not rule it out as a consideration. All we are looking at is the prospect of a couple of hot purchasers and we are going to do everything we can to make sure occurrences develop in the way we expect them to.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, since I asked you for the opportunity to respond I have noted that the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), who raised the question, is not in the House. Unless the leader of the third party would like me to go ahead I can wait until tomorrow.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Yesterday the minister, via press release, made what many of us consider to be a very important announcement. This was the operating grants for 1983-84 to the 15 Ontario universities and the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. In that press release, the minister indicated the government commitment in operating grants for 1983-84 to that sector would be 7.5 per cent.
The minister will know that represents roughly four per cent less than was offered in operating grants for 1982-83. The minister will know, as well, that 7.5 per cent in operating grants represents something in the order of four per cent less than what the Council of Ontario Universities has called for as an absolute minimum for 1983-84.
Is it thus the case that that announcement made yesterday by the Minister of Colleges and Universities, via press release, is to be taken as a rejection of the central recommendation made by the blue-ribbon committee called by the Premier (Mr. Davis) and chaired by no less a person than the minister’s own deputy minister, Dr. Harry Fisher? It reported in the summer of 1981 that Ontario’s universities found themselves in a critical situation. The principal recommendation of the Fisher report was:
“To meet fully the objectives outlined in chapter 1, the committee recommends funding increases during the 1980s at a level that meets the cost of inflation and the cost of faculty and staff advancement, and provides an additional $25 million per annum for equipment and furniture replacement.”
To repeat, does the minister’s statement yesterday, which falls very short of the facts I indicated earlier, represent, at last, a full and public repudiation of the Fisher report’s principal recommendation?
The committee, which he calls the Fisher committee, laid out alternatives that they examined related to Ontario’s university system. They were somewhat polarized alternatives, with a maintenance of the status quo as the first chapter upon which that recommendation is based, plus a chapter 6, which is a somewhat draconian restructuring of the university system in order to reflect reality in economics and other features.
We have stated publicly on several occasions that we do not accept either one of the alternatives wholeheartedly and would work with the universities to try to develop what might be called a middle road to solving the problems.
The member has also conveniently forgotten to add that with the additional $12-million grant for specific purposes in library and undergraduate facility support, the total of this amount of money for the universities this year is indeed an 8.6 per cent increase over last year. I would remind him the projected rate of inflation is something on the order of seven per cent, and therefore the level should be above the level of inflation, as it was last year.
This is the operating grant mechanism, which is not always introduced in the Legislature by a statement. In fact, on many occasions it has been announced through other mechanisms, of which I think he was a part the year before last. No, he was not? His predecessor was then.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, the deputy minister and his colleagues on the Premier’s blue-ribbon committee cautioned that there was no middle road, that the middle road the minister talks of is the muddle road. He said that must be avoided at all costs if this system is not to be crippled.
Has the minister indicated in any of her recent statements just what the government’s third way is? The client group has not got a clue as to what she is talking about. Would she indicate in this House precisely how she plans for her client group, the universities, to make up the gap between what they need and what the ministry is granting? I refer to the gap that is going to be left between the pressures the university community have identified as an absolute minimum -- the Council of Ontario Universities sets that at 11.8 per cent -- and her 7.5 per cent.
Has she any suggestions for this House and the community beyond as to how the universities will make up that difference, since it is clear this underfunding has continued and is well documented since the mid-1970s? I will refer her, if she needs it, to the recent announcement, The Financial Analysis of the Ontario University System 1982, published by the Ontario Council on University Affairs.
Mr. Conway: Are we to take as new government policy the part of her press release yesterday that states, “The government must therefore continue to design its current spending patterns most carefully to keep the province’s fiscal integrity intact”? Is that the new benchmark the universities are going to be governed by?
Does this not also indicate that she is repudiating yet again the substance of this very important blue-ribbon committee, which was chaired by no less a person than her own deputy minister, a report from which committee can only be construed as a want of confidence --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I do not know which of the 17 questions the honourable member would like me to answer, but there is no repudiation of the report. It was a very useful report, which has served as the basis for discussion with the universities. To say the universities have no idea what is going on is absolutely inaccurate, and I think the member needs to spend a little more time reading and a little less time speaking.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is very simple. Although she might not like to admit it, does she not agree the funding that was announced yesterday and the funding that was announced in February of last year is a total contradiction and repudiation of the Fisher report? In addition to Mr. Fisher, Ben Wilson also sat on that committee. He is the assistant deputy minister, colleges and universities division, Ministry of Colleges and Universities. So two top-level people from the two ministries did that report. Does the minister not think that is a direct repudiation of those two people? Is she not putting their position in jeopardy in terms of the field of the university sector in this province?
The minister squeezes every drop of blood out of a hospital’s budget in the so-called interest of the taxpayers but permits excessive charges by doctors over and above Ontario health insurance plan for a great variety of reasons. In the context of this strange logic is he aware the practice of doctors assessing huge costs against patients for simple letters needed to fight cases at The Workers’ Compensation Board or insurance cases is spreading and expanding? Why is he silent on this? Is he prepared to intervene to stop it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the honourable member would be kind enough to supply me with the correspondence he has which indicates that a doctor is undertaking an inappropriate practice I will forward it to those places which he could forward it to just as easily. I will be happy to forward it to the appropriate disciplinary bodies. If the practice seems to be one that warrants further attention by this ministry, I shall be happy to do that.
An example is Armando Mauro of Welland, who was off work for 10 weeks with a back problem which reoccurred at work and he was denied compensation. His doctor, G. J. Alexander of Welland, charged him $125 for a simple two-page letter which was needed to document his case. I will send over a copy of that bill to the minister. I have the letter here too, but it is confidential. His secretary could have done it.
Second, I cannot help taking some gratification from the fact that whatever the honourable member says about the cost of OHIP and extra billing this is one service that is cheaper in Ontario than in Buffalo, as I am sure he will agree.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Third, I appreciate the fact that at the end of the member’s supplementary question he asked me to take it up with the OMA. As I indicated originally the OMA, together with the college, is precisely the right place to raise these matters. These are not, as he knows, matters of charges to OHIP or extra billing over the OHIP rate. These are nonschedule matters. They are matters which affect his version of what is an acceptable charge outside of the OHIP plan.
After I have heard the details and if they indicate it is something I would find unusual enough to take up with the appropriate persons, then as I have done on previous occasions I would be happy to take it up with them. If they did not deal with it properly at the college, if it ends up there, then it could end up at the health disciplines board. We will have to look at the details.
While I am on my feet, I might invite my colleagues to join me in the Ontario Room in the Macdonald Block to donate some blood this afternoon. In view of the bloodletting that occurs here from time to time, it might be good if we let some across the way, as I did at noon.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, the minister makes light of this problem, but I think all members have had constituents come to them to complain about these surprise costs for letters. Does the minister not believe that something needs to be done? In the case my friend the member for Welland-Thorold has raised, and in a number of complaints I have had, workers go to a physician because of a medical problem only to find there is a cost if they wish to have a letter written to the Workers’ Compensation Board or somebody else. Does he not think that physicians who are going to charge for letters should be forced to point that out right at the outset so patients will have freedom of choice? Better still, does he not think he ought to suggest to the medical profession that it should scrap this kind of charge?
I also think that this whole area the OMA deals with -- it may want to correct me on this as it often likes to do -- in my view the OMA treats this as an add-on to the OMA schedule, for example, other sources of income, which it alleges offsets what it considers to be a lower OHIP schedule than it otherwise would find acceptable. That is not the way I would look at the OHIP schedule of benefits. In any event, that is the OMA’s version of it.
To give a clear answer, yes, I think there should be a notification of intent to charge in this way. It has been the subject matter of some conversations between myself and the OMA on the practice and the amount. It is something that, now that I happen to be armed with some of the information that has been sent over, we can deal with in a more direct way with the OMA.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is he prepared to subsidize the Canada Coach Lines service with $100,000 in order to maintain the present bus service between Dunnville, Simcoe, Port Dover and Tillsonburg, so that the region of Haldimand-Norfolk and the counties of Elgin and Oxford have a contact with Hamilton? Is he prepared to provide a subsidy so that the bus service may be maintained?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker. That is an intercity bus service that Canada Coach Lines has operated in the peninsula for many years. It is like a great many other services throughout the whole province that are operated by private sector bus lines. I do not think it appropriate that provincial subsidies should be provided for it. I might say that the chairman of the region of Haldimand-Norfolk has been in touch with me. I talked to him by telephone last week. I have arranged to meet with him and a delegation that I presume will be with him during the Ontario Good Roads Association convention next week.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I had the opportunity of riding on the GO Transit system on my way home to Hamilton the other night. I note that it is well subsidized by the province. In the minister’s letter to me, dated February 12, he says, “My ministry has been receptive to extending provincial subsidies to the Canada Coach Lines services in the Hamilton area that can be defined as urban transit services.” Would the minister consider doing the same for the region of Haldimand-Norfolk and that area of Ontario, because there is no other service? There is no train service. There is no other contact. Canada Coach has provided a reliable service for many years. Can he assure us that service is going to be maintained?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give the honourable member the assurance that Canada Coach will maintain that service. I understand they have given notice they intend to discontinue certain lines, and they do have that right. As I told the honourable member the other day, if they discontinue those lines, other bus lines in the region might be prepared to apply for licences or extensions of their licences to carry on a service there. I do not see any way the particular service we are talking about can be considered a local transit service which would qualify for subsidy.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Can the minister explain the mysterious wording of a press release issued in Thunder Bay at one o’clock this afternoon which indicates that Ontario Hydro is at present “reviewing its plans to operate the Atikokan generating station after it is completed and commissioned in 1984”? Does that mean Hydro is considering moth-balling the Atikokan station after they finish building it?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has had an opportunity to review the contents of the press release, so he knows that the principal focus of the press release was on their hiring practices; that they were going to freeze their staff requirements at the moment. It would be premature to comment on the member’s particular question until the Hydro board has had an opportunity to review all that. I think that is referred to in the press release. Over the next several months, they will be giving serious consideration to rationalizing that whole system in that part of the province.
Mr. Foulds: This rationalization is causing the shutdown of one unit of the Thunder Bay generating station. If the Atikokan station goes ahead and is operated, does that mean the people at the Thunder Bay plant will have first options on the potential jobs at Atikokan?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I am glad the honourable member raised that. As he knows, units two and three are more efficient, so there would be some reason to encourage the development of that particular aspect of their plan. As manpower requirements are known, it is reasonable to assume that those at the Thunder Bay plant would have that opportunity.
Mr. Stokes moved, seconded by Mr. Rae, pursuant to standing order 34(a), that the ordinary business of the House be set aside to debate a matter of urgent public importance, namely the announced closure of the American Can mill at Marathon, and the consequent loss of over 800 jobs in the mill and in woodlands that will result in severe hardship and loss of a valuable resource, and the reluctance of the government to consider all alternatives, including finding a Canadian purchaser or taking over the mill themselves or allowing the workers to participate in the buy-back program.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to advise all honourable members that the resolution, the notice of motion, does comply with the standing orders and it was received in time. I will be pleased to listen for up to five minutes as to why the honourable member wishes that the ordinary business of the House be set aside.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, as members of the House will know, on February 6, American Can Canada served notice on all 800 employees at the mill site in Marathon and on wood lands employees in places like Manitouwadge, Caramat and Hillsport that, if it did not find a purchaser for the mill in the immediate future, it would be closed as of the end of July. Termination notices have gone out to all 800 employees.
As most members will know, Marathon is a community with a population of 2,300 and the only employer there is American Can. Several millions of dollars have been invested in infrastructure services like water, sewers, recreational facilities, churches, schools, individual homes and small individual retail enterprises.
If that mill is allowed to close, it will mean not only the demise of the jobs of 800 employees, but the demise of an entire community of 2,300 people. It will also have a profound effect on nearby towns where people who are bedroomed in those communities look to the American Can mill for a livelihood.
It is bad enough in any community or city in Ontario, or anywhere else, when there is an announcement of termination of 800 jobs, but it has a much more profound effect on a community like Marathon where a company is the only means of livelihood.
Marathon is a town based on a renewable resource. One hears of towns having to close down or look for an alternative when the economy of that town is based on a finite resource like diminishing ore reserves. It is intolerable when we have a community based on an infinite, renewable resource as long as we manage that resource in a way that will provide for a sustained yield and a definite allowable cut. The capacity of that mill is 160,000 tons of wood pulp a year.
It is a cyclical industry. It has its ups and downs. I know there is one company in the United States and one well-known company in Canada that are actively negotiating with American Can Canada, which wants to get out of the pulp and paper business, not only in Canada but in the United States.
Since it is absolutely essential we do whatever is required to keep that mill open, it is not a question of whether we do it but a question of how we do it. Earlier today, we heard about an investment of $650 million in Suncor that did not really produce one new job as a result of that acquisition. We know of the community of Minaki where $50 million was spent, presumably to create 100 new jobs.
It makes very good sense for this government, whether it be under the auspices of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development and the provincial Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) with the assistance of the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) and the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) --
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution. The resolution before us brings into focus a serious problem that has been with northern Ontario most immediately for the last couple of years. It reflected itself originally when the American market for forest products began to slide.
To this day we have had in front of us a litany of difficulties throughout one-industry towns in northern Ontario, which have been faced with these very serious market problems. Yet through the time that has been spent we have really not come to grips with the issue in as comprehensive a manner as we should. I think we should go on record as agreeing that every single member of this Legislature is acutely aware of and concerned with the preservation of 800 and some-odd jobs in a community whose sole livelihood depends on the viability of that industry.
It is typical of so many other communities in northern Ontario, and it seems to me that this resolution brings into focus the need for an open debate and discussion as to the direction we must head in to ensure the revitalization of northern Ontario.
There are a number of unanswered questions. Some of them are specific to this announcement. There are a number of unanswered questions that should be debated in this atmosphere, which can apply broadly to the problems that exist generally throughout northern Ontario, and it seems to me that now is not the time to sit and wait. We know that certain discussions and certain kinds of options have been considered to this point, but we believe implicitly that we cannot wait until the last hour or the last minute.
We also understand that the provincial government has a real stake in this industry. According to our information it has two thirds of a $7-million investment that it has given to this company for plant modernization, increasing the efficiency of production and so on. It seems inconceivable to us that a government would make such a substantial investment in that community only to be witness to the impending closure of that plant. This has happened many times before with government --
Mr. J. A. Reed: Well, I say to the honourable minister, the announcement has been made, and that is the reason the member for Lake Nipigon requested this debate this afternoon. The fact is that time moves along; and yes, it is true that the plant is not expected to close tomorrow or next Monday, but the fact is that if we attack it today and if we have a thorough and open discussion and perhaps discover the options that are available to us, something comprehensive and substantial can be done.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in this discussion. The opposition critic has said there are many unanswered questions and I would like to talk about questions. The member for Lake Nipigon, in whose riding this issue is located, has had some concerns and has on at least two occasions in the last week and a half, asked questions concerning this issue in the House. But no other member -- except for the leader of the third party today -- has asked questions. The Liberal Party has not raised it in questions. If there are so many unanswered questions on this announcement of some weeks ago, and if it is such an emergency, why has it not been raised by the opposition parties more than it has?
The unanswered questions could have been answered at the Liberal caucus meeting in Thunder Bay a week ago. Surely all of those questions were discussed. Why does the member not tell his colleague? He was there. He can tell his colleague what was discussed. Surely the member discussed the Marathon mill there. If it is so urgent, surely it was discussed. But I bet it was not discussed at the Liberal policy conference at Thunder Bay.
In April 1981, this company announced its intentions to divest itself of its fibre operations. Everyone has known about it since then. They were successful in negotiating the sale of their American assets to the James River Corp., which may or may not be related, I do not know. But also, since that time --
Since then, it has also been looking for prospective purchasers for its Canadian operation. Its publicly announced intention was to divest itself. We have known about it and the member for that riding has known about it. He has known there have been negotiations going on since December with at least four different government ministries, to accommodate a sale and to protect those jobs in an ongoing operation.
He is aware of the modernization grants that were made available for this company and that is precisely the reason for those grants. He has just been given evidence of that with this decision to close the mill on an economic basis.
There have been two, perhaps three, prospective purchasers in active negotiation with that company since December. The member for Lake Nipigon is aware of some of the details of those discussions. He is also aware of the steps the government and the various ministries of this government have taken to try and accommodate that sale. He is also aware we have been very active in trying to put pressure on this company to conclude a sale in as timely a fashion as possible.
Hon. Mr. Pope: They are also aware of the track record. I will get to that in a minute. That is a very good interjection; I refer him to our track record, with the new waferboard plants we have opened up in Englehart, the new waferboard plants planned for Sudbury and northwestern Ontario, and the 15 private nurseries in small communities across the province. The member is aware of the steps we took to protect Alban. That is a good track record.
If he wants to talk about the track record and about a one industry town, let us look at Marathon as an example. Marathon is 25 miles away from the Hemlo gold find. He knows darn well there is a new mine being opened up there by Noranda and he knows there will be economic benefits to that community as well as to other communities.
We have indicated in the Legislature before today that we will use the licenses that do not flow from a sale automatically but revert to the government to protect the jobs. We have done it in other places in the past and the member knows that. We are doing it with respect to Eganville and he knows that.
There is no reason for this emergency debate at this time. The members have known about this ongoing issue for a month and they just bring it here today because of the timing of the other things that are happening in this House.
Mr. Speaker: I find the motion is in order. I think it is of public importance. It is a matter of recent occurrence and falls squarely within the standing order. Therefore, the question before the House is, “Shall the debate proceed?”
Bradley, Breithaupt, Bryden, Cassidy, Conway, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Hennessy, Laughren, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, McKessock, Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, O’Neil, Philip, Rae, Reed, J. A., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Riddell, Ruprecht, Ruston, Sargent, Stokes, Swart, Van Horne, Wildman, Worton, Wrye.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Johnson, J. M., Jones;
Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell, Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams, Wiseman, Yakabuski.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: During the discussion that ensued on this subject prior to the vote being called, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) took some delight in pointing out that the subject of the announcement of the closing of American Can Canada in Marathon was not discussed at the Liberal caucus on January 30 in northern Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to point out to the member and all honourable members that one can correct one’s own record, but one cannot really correct anybody else’s record. The member has brought it to everybody’s attention. It is not a point of privilege and I am not going to debate it.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I just want to bring this to the members’ attention. I want to welcome my good friend the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) to the Legislature under great difficulty. I am sure we all welcome him back.
Mr. Conway: I want to refresh your memory, Mr. Speaker, and highlight the substance of government notice of motion 11 standing in the name of the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson), moved by her and seconded by the member for Scarborough East (Mrs. Birch) as follows:
“That, notwithstanding any order of the House, the consideration of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, by the committee of the whole House, be concluded at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, February 17, at which time the Chairman will put all questions necessary to dispose of every section of the bill not yet passed, and to report the bill, such questions to be decided without amendment or debate; should a division be called for, the bell to be limited to 10 minutes;
“And, that, any debate on the question for the adoption of the report be concluded at 10:15 p.m. Thursday, February 17, at which time Mr. Speaker will interrupt the proceedings and put the question for the adoption of the report without amendment or further debate and if a division is called for, the bell to be limited to 10 minutes;
“And, further, that the third reading of the bill be at 2 p.m. Friday, February 18, when Mr. Speaker will interrupt the proceedings and put the question, without further debate and if a division is called for, the bell to be limited to 10 minutes;
Last night, we adjourned this debate amid some dispute and tension. I have had an opportunity to reflect on that this morning and to look at the instant Hansard for the proceedings of yesterday afternoon and evening.
I found it interesting the number of members of the House who have, in the course of the last 18 hours, come forward in the privacy of the halls of this building and expressed, most of them from a government point of view -- many of them my very good friends -- a certain sense of disbelief, if not incredulity, over the mood of the House late last night. They are surprised that some of us in the opposition seem to be so exercised about what has transpired with the issues flowing from government notice of motion 11. The number of those overtures has intrigued me.
I think it is useful in the consideration of this government motion 11 for each and every one of us, as members of this assembly, to reflect upon the impact of the time allocation procedure with respect to the way we do business in this House.
I want members opposite to make no mistake about the depth of my feeling on this particular issue of time allocation. I make a contribution to this debate almost entirely as a private member. I do not do it as a member of the Liberal caucus. I do it as one member elected to this place who feels very strongly about the state of our parliamentary institutions in Ontario.
I do not take heart at the state of our parliamentary institutions. As I have said on earlier occasions in this session, and on a number of occasions since 1981, I am not very pleased about the state of the parliamentary function in Queen’s Park.
I would not want anyone opposite to be under any false impression about the depth of my feelings. It is an extremely difficult subject to talk about, because it often takes us perilously close to the edge of the gentlemen’s and gentle ladies’ club we all know the Ontario Legislature to be.
I do not personally take any delight in destabilizing, in undermining or in editorializing upon the arrangements we have grown very familiar with over these many years of operations since my election in 1975, and certainly in the time of members such as the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve), who has over many a breakfast regaled me with stories about earlier days and times in this assembly. I am not in any way pleased with what I see to be an assault on the independence of this Legislature.
In some ways we had rather an interesting exchange after the adjournment last evening. I went home about 11:30 p.m. and gave some serious thought to a dialogue involving myself, the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) and the Premier (Mr. Davis). At that time I sensed there was a certain angst about the place, and perhaps an understanding by all members that there was a move to the edge of real difficulty at a rather late time in this session.
I do not think anyone here is under any false impression. All of us want to leave this place and get on to the very important public works and duties we have outside the chamber itself. I think it is fair to say members on all three sides see those responsibilities as important and in need of attention. That is certainly my view as a member who resides 255 miles away from this great city. I have things to do in the great county of Renfrew, and I would not find too much difficulty in spending my time in my constituency, as we normally do in January and early February during recess.
We have an obligation, however, as members of the assembly, to do our business here in a proper fashion that takes into account the requirements of a government to have its legislation passed and the requirements of an opposition -- inside or outside the government, I might add -- to have ample opportunity to discuss issues of import and controversy.
There is no question that is what we are talking about when we talk about Bill 127. The concern many of us have about the way we have done business here in this session of 1982-83 is legitimate and supported by a number of indicators at which I personally take very considerable umbrage.
In the past couple of weeks, I have noted some of the happenings we have had. For example, we had a lockup not too many days ago on an important subject. I can appreciate the reasons for the lockup of the release of the Dubin inquiry into certain matters at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.
I rose on a point of privilege about the extraordinary circumstances in which I found myself walking into this chamber, knowing that the lockup was just ending, and having one of the Metropolitan Toronto dailies in my hand that gave me all I could ever want to know about the report which I was invited to discuss in a lockup.
I do not think I have yet heard from the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) as to how that could have happened. I have great respect for the administrative capacities of the Minister of Health. I can just imagine the care with which he went about his business in protecting that very sensitive document. I really think he owes this House a full explanation of how it ended up in the newspapers at a time when members were in a lockup.
I have no quarrel at all with the diligent journalism that took it to the newspaper. That is their business, and more power to them if they can secure that kind of information. But from my point of view as a parliamentarian who respects the rights and privileges of this chamber, I consider the release of that information a very serious cloud over the head of the Minister of Health, and I hope that, as he promised -- and I do not know that he has come forward in the past 10 days with an explanation of how that happened --
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I intend to talk about the time allocation motion in a way that deals with its centrality of impact on our parliamentary rights and privileges, and I want to put government notice of motion 11 in some kind of context. I am going to try very carefully, very quietly, very unprovocatively to set out some of my concerns about the new way in which my friend the government House leader is ordering the business of this place.
I mentioned the release of the Dubin inquiry in connection with its relation to the lockup because I see it as a very significant problem for the members of this assembly. I put it in context with the announcement not very many days ago by my friend the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie), who, under cover of darkness, with very important information, went to editorial offices in the city of Toronto with a desire to clear the air on sensitive information relating to the trust company business.
I was a member of the justice committee charged with Bill 215, and I think that by any reasonable adjudication of this matter what the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations did, for whatever good and valid executive reason -- “executive” meaning for the executive council -- was a very serious violation and transgression of parliamentary conduct as we have known it in the British tradition.
I have a feeling this is one place and one jurisdiction where a Treasurer could leak a budget and it would not be considered especially untoward and it would not be considered in any way unparliamentary. About all that remains for me to see in the Ontario Legislature is that we will be invited some day to a lockup on a budget and we will get to the lockup only to find that the Orono Weekly Times is on the streets of the Durham region with a front-page account of the sum and substance of that document.
It saddens me that so few members in this place really care or, quite frankly as best I can judge it, really understand the role they have as individual members of parliament. I think it is sad but none the less true to suggest that in our Ontario and in our Canadian parliamentary democracy there is now almost no value, no premium, no encouragement to be a good member of parliament, whether it be provincially or nationally.
For a lot of good and understandable reasons, government members see their principal ambition as gravitating ever downward from the back bench of anonymous private member status to the glory and panoply of the executive council. I think that is a fair statement of the ambitions of most government members who are not of the executive council.
In the opposition, I personally believe there has become far too much interest in being a constituency social worker. There really is not as much enthusiasm for and interest in being a good member of parliament, which means doing important legislative business in this place and its attendant committees.
That is a serious and sad trend about which some of us who care ought to stop at such occasions as the debate on government motion 11 and take stock of where we are. A little later in my remarks I am going to cite the expert analysis which I think supports that thesis.
I have complained, and I will complain again, about our place of business here where we have parliamentary assistants. We have many parliamentary assistants, as we have many members of the executive council. Last Wednesday, I asked a question of the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) which he suggested could be more appropriately answered by his colleague the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry). Even with the standing orders as we have them, we cannot allow that kind of redirect to take place in this House.
As the children of a time-honoured British parliamentary tradition, we ought to be embarrassed and we ought to be ashamed to have those constraints in place in this assembly. I cannot conceive that anyone with any understanding and with any desire for parliamentary legitimacy would for a moment tolerate or want to tolerate that kind of situation.
I mention it because in other places we have been invited to, to look at and to consider their practice, by people such as the government House leader, it is automatic someone is there to answer. If an honourable member puts a question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) and she is not here, her parliamentary assistant or some designate should answer automatically without a peep from anyone.
When I see the pathetic state of our parliamentary operation here in 1983, it saddens me greatly as a taxpayer who feels this is potentially a pretty good system if we move forward with the reforms that are long overdue. It is that spirit of reform that is at the heart of the debate on government notice of motion 11.
The government House leader and the Minister of Education are, in their cheerful unilateralism, going about essential reforms of this place in a way I think is a very serious violation of parliamentary practice and of good common sense. There is a certain irony about the juxtaposition of the government House leader and the Minister of Education in this bit of business.
The fact we have come to require government notice of motion 11 at this time on this issue says it all about the parliamentary proclivities of the member for York Mills. Unlike her predecessor -- now government House leader -- this Minister of Education does not understand that in a parliament, a sense of compromise and conciliation, on timetable at least if not on substance, is a very useful and helpful procedure.
In my capacity as a critic of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, I do business with the minister. I do not feel constrained to say that I have enormous respect for the woman, her commitment to cause and her not inconsiderable intellect. I think Darcy McKeough was right when he was quoted as saying that she is the best and the brightest of the Premier’s current lot. My experience with her has been fairly regular and I am, in many ways, very impressed --
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I know members would want me to be fair and I feel I have to be fair. I have had some heated exchanges with the Minister of Education in the last 24 hours. One never knows -- there might he more before these remarks are concluded. I have found the minister to be a very serious, tough-minded, bright lady whose opinions I do not always agree with, but whose opinions I am quite disposed to respect and to listen to. In many respects, that is a comment on the substance of her politics.
The way in which she goes about her business, however, ought to give most members in this place some considerable pause. Maybe there should be no great surprise that the former Minister of Treasury and Economics -- the former éminence grise; no that is not the right phrase -- should view the current Minister of Education as favourably as he does because in some ways --
As I said earlier, there is an irony about the Minister of Education being in this parliamentary pickle with the government House leader. I cannot imagine, in terms of their activities as Ministers of Education, two more distinct approaches to that very important and sensitive government department. The way in which the government House leader discharged his obligations in Education for those five or six years was the picture of accommodation and conciliation.
Mr. Conway: in a few moments I am going to recite the excellent, and I thought telling, remarks of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) in the debate on December 9 when he talked about the way in which the government House leader, as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, stick-handled his way through the tough parliamentary issue of the Toronto Islands.
It should not surprise anyone that at the base of this parliamentary uproar is our friend the Minister of Education. I have not spent a lot of time in the committee studying Bill 127 but I have been there enough to watch the current Minister of Education. I thought it interesting last night that the Speaker was quick to point to the galleries and say, “No hissing, no snarling, no indication of upset or disgust.”
My friend the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) is here as are other members of the assembly who sat on that committee. I think they would support the contention that it was better than a good movie, to sit in on that standing committee on general government and watch the Minister of Education respond to some of the rather pointed presentations made in opposition to the principle of Bill 127.
The Deputy Speaker: Should I defend the Speaker’s chair at this point? Under our standing orders the Speaker’s chair has no alternative but to remind people in the galleries -- from time to time I have similar problems -- that they should not participate in the debate.
Mr. Conway: But the irony of the situation -- thinking back to the days of being in that committee, brief as my visits were -- was the pace, and the larynx of the Minister of Education travelled a million miles as she listened, or tried to listen to the presentations made by a variety of people. I think I heard --
Mr. Conway: I would not want to put the Minister of Education on the spot, but if I heard what I think I heard in a few cases it was a very rich but private response that was being offered. That, I am afraid, is the kind of problem that in large measure has brought us here. This minister has gone --
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has interjected in a timely way. She invites me to comment on whether I am debating the motion or the minister. The member for Ottawa Centre was absolutely right when he said they are inseparable.
Mr. Conway: Because I do not think it is in order for any of us in this debate to do so, we will not argue for or against the premise whether or not the Minister of Education is insufferable. That would be out of order. But I think the member for Ottawa Centre is quite right when he says the Minister of Education and government notice of motion 11 are inseparable. I believe they are.
We have government notice of motion 11 because we have a minister who has very serious difficulty within her own caucus, and that is perhaps understandable on this kind of an issue. I do not express great surprise at that. I wish I could describe more effectively the visage of the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) last evening as she came in, and then departed, on the vote on the point of order in this connection. It is well known that a substantial part of the Progressive Conservative Party in the city of Toronto is rather aggressively opposed to Bill 127.
I have sat in a studio in this city with my good friend the member for St. George and, quite frankly, was astonished at what she was prepared to concede was wrong with Bill 127. I do not intend to betray any private confidence that would embarrass any other member of the government. I refer to the conversation between myself and my friend the member for St. George at the CBC a couple of Thursday mornings ago, because it is on the record. It is well known the Conservative Party is deeply divided over Bill 127.
It is also well known that, true to her colour and her tradition, the Minister of Education is responding to the great pressure from within her party and from without in the community with “Ready, aye, ready. Damn the torpedoes. This will go through as I have written it and there will be no quarter given to any of our weak-kneed detractors who would have me rethink the position that I have put forward with Bill 127.”
Those are the reasons we have government notice of motion 11. I cannot imagine, if we had the current first minister or the current government House leader in their previous incarnations as Ministers of Education, that we would have anything the like of government notice of motion 11. It is because of the completely uncompromising spirit of the mover of government notice of motion 11 that we are here today faced with this exceptional time allocation request and motion.
Of course, there is something else, and it is entirely related to the desire on all sides -- dare I say it? -- for adjournment. There is clearly within this building, and in some of the precincts beyond, a desire to bring to an end this long session that began back on September 21.
So that motion was decided, I am sure, late on Monday evening, probably over in that room there. I am always suspicious of what goes on after hours in our television room. It was decided the only way to bring this House to an adjournment on Friday, February 18, was to invoke the time allocation method of closure. We got that because it was decided that the Premier had a working holiday in France that is to begin some time towards the end of next week. Air Canada’s seat sale and the sunny climes of Florida call many elsewhere. I note some have been --
Mr. Conway: I was not speaking in that connection so much to the mover of government notice of motion 11 as to the seconder, who I am pleased to welcome back into the chamber. I must say as well, although the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has departed, it is very good to see him back. I read not too long ago of his very unfortunate skating accident. He seems to be recovering quite nicely.
I think the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), whose portrait is freshly painted and about to be hung in some fairly prominent public place, must have a pang of anxiety about coming back after a nice study period elsewhere to lend her name to this government notice of motion 11. I cannot believe she is really anxious to lend her name to that kind of tactic. Speaking of the seconder of government notice of motion 11 specifically, it is not the way I recall her way of doing business here. I am quite surprised. I am almost as surprised to see the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs was very anxious not to lend his name to this time allocation procedure.
It was decided, I am sure, late on Monday night, that we wanted out of here on Friday. We had an agreement to do most of the other business, some of it a bit contentious. An agreement was made to get that cleaned away so that all that was left to pass was the famous Bill 127. I am sure it was felt the opposition could be put between a rock and a hard place between Tuesday and Friday, between the rock of wanting to get out of here -- which I think all members do share -- and the hard place of our business as legislators to review important legislation.
I am sure it was decided, in keeping that kind of timetable before the government House leader and his noteworthy assistants, that time allocation was really the only way this distasteful pill could be rammed down the collective throats of the 32nd Legislative Assembly. So it was hastily put together on Monday night and dished up to the assembly yesterday. I think that is a very bad way for us to write so important a departure as time allocation into our practice.
Last night the exchange between the Premier and myself after hours left me thinking about a number of things. I found what the Premier said to be very interesting. I do not think it is any secret; I think he said it earlier. It was basically this:
“Listen here, you fellows and ladies in the opposition have just as much to do with the way the business of this House has been ordered since the fall of 1982. Had your leader” -- meaning my leader, the distinguished member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) “been less interested in spending so much time on the trust company business, and if the New Democratic Party had not vented so much of its collective spleen on the anti-inflation bill, Bill 179, we might not find ourselves in this kind of constraint.”
Then I asked the Premier: “Notwithstanding that, and accepting the government’s right to bring the business forward and to conclude it in a certain way at a certain time, why are you so reluctant to use the instrument that has been in the rules and practices of the Ontario Legislative Assembly for a long time, namely, what is currently standing order 36?”
His answer to that was: “Oh, we know what you would do with that. You would really raise hell. You would say we bring down the iron heel, and the cries of closure would be eloquent and frequent tonight.”
I am adding a little bit to what he said, but I think I fairly represent the Premier’s position last night. I thought about what he was really telling me. He was telling me they do not have any guts over there. They are very nervous to be associated with the classic closure that is part of our rules. The Premier is sensitive to a fault about playing his hardball within the traditions of this place, within the traditions of John Robarts, Leslie Frost, George Drew, George Henry and George Howard Ferguson.
The Premier is very nervous to play his hardball within the rules of our past practice. He is skittish. He is very anxious not to be seen on the front pages of the Orono Weekly Times and the York East Trombone as being associated with a Davis closure. He wants none of that. His government will find some circumvention of that course of action. I think it is interesting that, at heart, it is gutlessness on the part of the Premier and his government to play what is admittedly a tough game by our rules.
I have listened to the Premier talk about his sensitivity to the traditions of this place. He has been around here a long time, much longer than I have been, and much longer than I can ever expect to be, or want to be. But I really find it interesting that this nervousness, this gutlessness, this spinelessness, is the reason the rules that were satisfactory for George Drew, Leslie Frost and John Robarts are not somehow satisfactory, satisfying and applicable to this government.
I think this is important. As the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk pointed out in his excellent remarks of December 9, 1982, members of this assembly must understand the nature and extent of the departure represented by the time allocation procedure that is at the heart of government notice of motion 11, and that, of course, was at the heart of government notice of motion 10. I just hope people stop and think about the impact of two such complementary time allocation motions within 10 weeks of one another. They chart a very new course for this place and the way we do our business here.
As I indicated last evening, I quite frankly do not expect members whose only experience in this place is cabinet experience to have any idea what I am talking about. The Minister of Education, for all her sterling and considerable qualities, has never known anything but the executive council. Except for maybe one year, 1959-60, the leader of this government has known nothing else, I believe he was Minister without Portfolio as a Hydro commissioner for a year in advance of being Minister of Education. Correct me if I am wrong, but the vast majority of the first minister’s experience in this place has been in the executive council.
I do not expect people whose vast experience here has been with the executive council to understand or care very much about the rights and privileges of parliament. I believe, and I think the experience of the modern period is such, that more and more the rights of the executive council are at variance with, antithetical to, the rights of parliament.
Mr. Conway: The Minister of Education says succinctly, “Wrong.” I would submit as one small bit of evidence, and I made an allusion to this today in my remarks in question period, that anybody who understands the traditions of our parliamentary practice would know that a major departmental announcement ought to be made, in fact must be made, in the House. One should know it is wholly unsatisfactory to our parliamentary tradition to make such a statement via press release or through some other means.
Mr. Conway: The minister takes her position and I take mine. I simply note that as I read the traditions of British parliamentary practice, when a minister of the crown has something important to say about issues and developments under his or her departmental responsibility, the priority place in which to make those announcements is the floor of parliament.
To come back to my earlier point, I do not expect people whose experience has been almost entirely or exclusively cabinet experience to understand what I am talking about. Do members know what I hear my friends on the executive council say -- and I can understand it: “What a waste of time parliament is. God, all it is is a congress formed of windbags.”
The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) was charming at the little seminar yesterday. The one thing about him I appreciate is his predictability. By George, the Minister of Revenue is not prepared to sit around and waste minutes and hours with a bunch of misguided, misdirected members of parliament who really do not understand and do not care because, God knows, they are probably just posturing to you know what and to you know where. I may be carrying that a bit far, but I do not think I am taking it too far.
The members of the executive council have executive responsibility and, by gosh, they are overburdened with an enormous responsibility. I can well appreciate how, in the midst of a hectic day, they find it dysfunctional to come to this parliamentary place and listen to some esoteric dissertation about the rights of parliament.
More and more, the members of cabinet are mini-versions of Clarence Decatur Howe: “There is a job to be done. We must build this pipeline. Stanley Knowles and the Speaker of the House of Commons are not relevant to the building of my pipeline.”
I think the member for York South (Mr. Rae) would want to agree with me there is no mistaking the Minister of Education is building a pipeline in this winter of her discontent and that pipeline is going to encompass the six municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto.
There is no question that “C. D.” Stephenson is building a pipeline and the pipeline will be put through. If the city of Toronto and its New Democratic Party-oriented board of education do not like it, so much the better.
My friends from the city of Toronto and the suburbs tell me there is an awful lot at stake in Bill 127. This is an Armageddon of sorts and this very tough, bright lady from the suburbs who is to the right of the right is determined to bring to some kind of conclusion the activities of the city of Toronto school board types. This is a matter of high politics and base ideology.
Mr. Conway: Base ideology; our Minister of Education has committed herself lock, stock and barrel to putting Bill 127 through, and the louder those NDP partisans in the city of Toronto squeal the happier the minister will be. In her own mind, the cause of right and justice will be served by doing so.
But the Minister of Education has become the most contentious, the most controversial, the most stubborn and, quite frankly, the most difficult Minister of Education in the modern period; and notwithstanding her very considerable capacity, I am prepared to say that this bill, as it will be rammed through by government notice of motion 11, is the beginning of the end of this minister’s role in education. I am prepared to say that she will not be around that department very many days after Bill 127 is written into the statute books of this great province.
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) says something about a deal. I do not know anything about a deal, but I know something about the way the current Premier feels towards his cabinet colleagues, and he is too much a Mackenzie King to leave such an irascible lightning rod out there in a departmental jurisdiction that is so sensitive and important to the 8.5 million Ontarians.
In forcing the bill through via government notice of motion 11, in yet another twist of irony, the Minister of Education has written “30” at the bottom of her script as the minister in charge of education for this province. I have some sensitivity for her successor, because whoever that person is -- and as I look across I think I see at least one avuncular face that does not much mask an interest in this departmental responsibility -- I have real sensitivity for the new Minister of Education, because that person is going to have to build or rebuild many bridges that the current minister has thoughtlessly and recklessly undermined, to a point of collapse in many cases.
Mr. Conway: You know, the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) makes a very good point, and perhaps a more telling point than he intended. My memory will perhaps need some support, and I am sure the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) can supply it, but was it not the case that in her previous incarnation in Labour she proved completely incapable of carrying forward the occupational health and safety legislation and that our friend the member for York East (Mr. Elgie) had to be brought in to complete that task and treat the many wounds that had been inflicted --
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): I would suggest to the honourable member that we are speaking to resolution 11 and that the remarks being made are directed more to the personality of the minister than necessarily to the motion before the House.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I do not think you were here when we discussed this matter earlier, but I suggested, and I think other members concurred -- I cited earlier the comments of the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) -- that to understand government notice of motion 11 one has to understand the way the Minister of Education does her business, and that the two -- the personality and this heinous procedure -- are inseparable. This is the case that, with respect, I am endeavouring to make. I accept your proper injunction to restrict myself to government notice of motion 11.
I think it is relevant to conclude the point that was raised by my friend the member for Bell- woods about our experience some years before your arrival in this place, Mr. Speaker. I think it was back in 1977-78, when the member for York Mills was in the middle of a very contentious fray over labour. The only way important legislation in the area of occupational health and safety could be advanced was without the minister. The healing spirit from York East was brought in, and I must say he really showed no little bit of dexterity in repairing, rather dramatically and quickly, the damage that had been wreaked by the whirlwind of his predecessor.
I simply predict that Bill 127 will be the last major legislative initiative of the current Minister of Education, the distinguished member for York Mills. I believe that not only because I know of the dislocation that her style and approach has created in the community, particularly here in Toronto, but because I am very sensitive and sympathetic towards the almost impossible position in which she has placed so many of her distinguished colleagues, ranging from the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) through to the member for St. George and the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman).
Speaking to the motion, Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on the minister’s intervention late last evening. The minister began the debate of government notice of motion by offering the following commentary. I do not intend to read it all, not only because that is not allowed in our standing orders, but because I do not think it is necessary in the interests of time. Speaking to the government notice of motion 11, the Minister of Education said, at or around 10:15 p.m., the following:
“Bill 127 is legislation designed to re-establish those important central principles that appear to have been severely eroded in recent years, the principles of co-operation and sharing upon which the metropolitan form of government of the school system in this area is established.
I want to stop there because the member for Oakwood, in the absence of my colleague the member for St. Catharines, may want to think about an intervention, because I am sure he sat through more of those hearings than most of us.
What could the minister have meant when she suggested much was spilled? From my limited participation and observation of the dealings of the standing committee on general government with that particular bill, what I thought I saw and heard being spilled was the minister’s not inconsiderable venom at anyone who dared walk into that room and suggest that this bill somehow was not advancing the public good in the city of Toronto.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, is that not unparliamentary or are you just pretending that parliamentary rules do not apply any more? I do not mean what my colleague said but what the minister said, sotto voce, “He knows it to be untrue” is unparliamentary. Will you please raise it with the minister?
The Deputy Speaker: While we are at the whole thing, as much as I respect the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), from time to time I get this funny feeling he is just baiting the minister a little bit and wandering away from the notice of motion.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, it is because I sensed a concern about your desire to constrain my remarks to government notice of motion 11, as you should properly do, that I am taking as my benchmark the intervention made by the Minister of Education last evening when she spoke to the motion at hand.
Mr. Conway: I want to say in concurrence with the member for York South that, when the Speaker allowed that to stand as a relevant intervention on this notice of motion, I think he established a broader, as opposed to a narrower framework. I do not want to bait the minister.
Mr. Conway: I have to say that hell hath no fury like the Minister of Education peering over the top of those glasses at witnesses appearing in front of her and saying something against her legislation. Oh, my, the ice man could not instil a greater chill in a committee of this building. Oh, the scorn and the fury is something I think is properly drawn to our attention by the member for Oakwood.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I fully understand the anxiety of members opposite so I will come back to the remarks that triggered this digression. It was the minister in her opening statement on this motion last night who, according to the Instant Hansard, said at about 10:15 p.m.: “As all members are aware, in the past several months, in fact since last May, many words have been spoken, some might even say much has been spilled.”
I hope I have an opportunity in this debate to respond with some amplification on the minister’s comments which began this debate. From what limited experience I had in that committee, the spilling I saw was the venom of the Minister of Education or anyone who took a contrary position to the principles of her beloved legislation, Bill 127.
The minister continued: “Since last May, we have had approximately 97 hours of House time consumed by examination of Bill 127 in the House and in the standing committee on general government. Approximately 66 hours were expended in the general government committee. About 14 of those related to examination of the bill clause by clause. All points of view in that other period of time for and against Bill 127 have been heard many times over.”
There it is, judge and jury herself. She has ruled. She has listened. She has heard. She has surveyed the landscape before and around her and she, from the high chair of her judgement, has decided that enough has been said, that there really cannot be much more added and, therefore, government notice of motion 11 is in order.
Let me stop at this point and recount some of the past experience and past practice I can recall. One can just imagine, if my friend the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry were to take the floor and share with us the enormous experience he has had since 1948, what additional information he might add in this respect.
My point is simply this: We all know and can recall issues and bills of great contention, some of them really not of great contention but of considerable interest, that went on for a very long period of time.
I can recall the famous Bill 70, the occupational health and safety legislation that must have gone over two or three sessions, at least two parliaments, if I am not mistaken. There were hours, weeks and months of testimony and of clause by clause debate. Under the guiding spirit of the member for York East, we were able to bring that to a finality and put in our statute books legislation that, while not perfect, was acceptable to this assembly. Past practice in my time here indicates that we spent an awful lot of time on occupational health and safety. I do not know what the calendar read, but I think it would make Bill 127 pale by comparison.
My friend the member for Ottawa Centre will recall that in 1975-76 the Legislature was seized with the rent review legislation. I well remember the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) playing an active part in committee hearings. If I am mistaken the member can correct me, but I think I have a memory of rent review legislation that involved an awful lot of committee and deliberation. The member for Bellwoods shakes his head. I have a memory of rent legislation that took a lot of time. We had a lot of debate, a great deal of division and contention, but we got a compromise in the good old way of our past practice.
I can certainly recall the family law reform legislation that seemed to go on for a couple of years and involved an enormous amount of time. My friends the member for Ottawa East and the former member for St. George would keenly come to our caucus and brief us on the new developments. The committee stage seemed to take a great deal of time.
For the benefit of my friend the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot), I am saying we have had major legislative initiatives in my seven and a half years here. We have had family law reform, occupational health and safety, and rent review legislation. I remember the fine former member for Humber, Mr. John MacBeth, bringing forward, as Solicitor General, a couple of versions of a police bill that were very contentious. As I remember, and my memory may not be completely accurate, we had a couple of versions of that and a lot of give and take, but the House dealt with it.
My point is simply that in my time here -- and it is seven and a half years, although it is not as long or maybe as distinguished as that of many of my honourable friends across the aisle -- we have had many a heated debate on many a government bill. I might add, much of that in my experience took place during minority government. We saw the best of the British parliamentary system at work, a bit of give, a bit of take.
During minority government we would see the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- and how sweet it is to see the member for York East ensconced over there with the member for Sudbury East -- it reminds some of us of the happy compromises of an earlier day on important legislation that made this place work in the face of strong opposition.
Mr. Conway: And without closure. My friend the government House leader knows what it is to be facing a whirlwind of parliamentary opposition on a sensitive issue that affects his own Metropolitan community, namely, the Toronto Islands legislation. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), the government House leader, can be a very sensitive and judicious man when left to his own devices.
My point is this: If Mr. Speaker looks at the recent experience of this place, he will see many a debate that went on for a long time that was resolved not by the ad hoc and senseless reference to parliamentary practices away from this place, but we saw those contentious matters resolved by reference to the ingenious dynamic of this place. I think that ought to govern us with a bill which, however important, is not so important as to force into our practice something as wrong as the way in which government notice of motion number 11 is brought to us at this particular time. It must be underlined that we have a way, tried and true, of sorting out the various competing interests that usually are at the base of a debate in this Legislature.
My question to the Minister of Education is that if her colleague the Attorney General on family law reform, if her colleague the member for York East, the current Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations on occupational health and safety and on other labour legislation, if her colleague the former Solicitor General on the police bill, could work within the greatness of our past practice, why is it that she cannot? What is so compelling about her situation that a practice which has served this assembly so long and so well must be thrown out with the dishwater during the week of February 16, 1983? I say that in all seriousness and I hope in all fairness to my friend, the Minister of Education.
What I do not like is the story that is being put about this place and the precincts beyond, which is: “Not to worry, ladies and gentlemen, my government will not muzzle the parliamentary place. Oh, no. We do not rule the Legislature with that kind of attitude. We are very interested, very anxious and very willing to discharge our responsibilities in a reasonable, fair-minded way.”
I have to say my friend the minister, was so exercised last night, as was her colleague the Premier, when I suggested and dare I repeat, they tell the whole truth. The whole truth of the situation is very much at variance with the impression that is being left by the government in this matter and that is that somehow the House has had this bill since May and we have spent countless hours dealing with it in a normal matter of course. When in fact the vast majority of that time has been taken up by the committee stage and within the committee stage, in the entertainment of public submissions, I strongly resent the suggestion that is being put about this place and the Ontario community beyond, that we have had all kinds of time to deal with Bill 127.
We have had some time. By my calculation, we have had the equivalent of three sitting days in the committee to look at it clause by clause. We spent tens of hours -- as we should on such a bill -- listening to the submissions of members of the community, parents, teachers and others who have a very keen interest in this legislation.
It does nothing for the purity of the water in this parliamentary well to have members of the government going around saying, “Our time allocation closure is justified because the House has had 90 hours to deal with this legislation and you” -- the man on the street -- “would not disagree that 90-odd hours is a reasonable time to do any public business.”
That is not a very wise course of action for any minister of the crown to take on such an issue. It is at variance with the reality as we know it and it is at variance with the reality as honourable members in this place know it. I want to stand here today and correct the record, because I have heard too much of that in the past 36 hours to allow me to sit in silence any longer.
I read the comments made by the minister last evening in this connection. She makes absolutely no effort to do anything but create the impression that the House has been seized with this almost regularly since May 1982, with so many hours that one could not conceive of any more being required.
Mr. Conway: I want to say to the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) that I have to believe he -- coming as he does from that historic community in the eastern part of the province -- will want to listen carefully to what his colleague the Minister of Education is doing to the practices of this assembly. I would hope that he, above and beyond most of the members of the executive council, would understand that what is being done here is to be resisted by any member of the assembly who has an understanding of and a sensitivity for the great past practices of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Riddell: He should not only deal with environmental pollution but also democratic pollution. That is what is happening. A real erosion of the democratic process is taking place. Maybe he should address himself to that.
Mr. Conway: The Minister of Education reminds me of a great phrase about the great Roman politician and philosopher Cicero. It was said he was the accusative case. When I see the threatening finger of the Minister of Education, I think of that line about the accusative case.
Mr. Conway: I can assure my parliamentary colleague the Minister of Education that whatever I do in this debate I will do in conformity with the past practices of the Ontario Legislature and I will abide by the rulings of our standing orders. I will use whatever rules are written into our standing orders and are part of our past practice.
If I have any regret, it is the regret that I know, having read government notice of motion 11, that the minister cannot and will not play by the same rules. Continuing in reference to my parliamentary colleague the member for York Mills’s intervention last night, she said: “I have listened very carefully to all these points of view. It may interest you to know, Mr. Speaker, that 109 presentations were made to the committee by boards of education, members of teachers’ federations, trustee groups, parent groups, community organizations and individual” --
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Timiskaming, offers a timely warning. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk says, sort of sotto voce, that the member has died. Having seen yesterday’s Globe and Mail about what happened to the poor Undersecretary for Wales in Westminster at a time when I heard the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs imploring us to every precedent that is Westminster, I really am worried about anyone dying in this place because, of course, the traditions of Westminster will not allow us to have an inquest, because of course we would be --
If I might, I will repeat the quotation so there is no confusion in what I am trying to say. The minister said last night at about 10:20 p.m.: “I have listened very carefully to all these points of view. It may interest you to know, Mr. Speaker, that 109 presentations were made to the committee by boards of education, members of teachers’ federations, trustee groups, parent groups, community organizations and individual ratepayers or simply interested citizens. In all, 143 briefs were submitted to the committee and each one was read, analysed and deeply appreciated. There was a great deal of listening and consultation through all that period. This process has brought us to this point in debate.”
I submit to you, sir, that however the Minister of Education might feel about that process -- I have to take her at her word, and she presumably believes all that she has said -- she has absolutely no right and no place to be making those judgements for anyone other than herself, and least of all on behalf of the 124 other members of this august assembly.
As they say in Parliament, Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, that is your job and that is the job of the various committee chairmen. I can appreciate the minister feeling as she does in that respect. That is quite a list of presentations.
Let me reiterate. By any comparison with major bills in other committees in other years and in other parliaments of our Ontario experience it is, in many cases, nothing much more than the ordinary. I have not done a count but I am sure I could do so and find that this is a very ordinary summary, given the kind of bill that we have.
The minister has a right to make that determination in her own mind, for her own satisfaction and for the comfort of her departmental associates, but she has no right, and less place, to make that judgement for any of the others in this assembly.
I would have thought that the minister would have, in conformity with past practice, allowed the bill to come into the House for a routine committee of the whole discussion. I said, in the debate on the point of order yesterday, that we saw that on Monday night I believe with, in some ways, a more contentious bill because it affects people beyond the city of Toronto. That was Bill 138, An Act respecting the Protection and Promotion of the Health of the Public. We saw the Minister of Health bring that bill back into committee of the whole.
I was a more active participant in the social development committee hearings on that legislation than I was with respect to Bill 127. In fact, I well remember being in hearings on Bill 138 and going from time to time to see my colleague the member for St. Catharines as he was upstairs in room 228 in the rather heady environment of those deliberations on Bill 127.
I am sure it was one of those times when I went in and I remember the member for St. Catharines inviting me to stand back and watch the cobra-and-mongoose routine between the very outstanding Mrs. Jane Dobell of the Ottawa Board of Education and the Minister of Education, if I am not mistaken. It was a sight to behold to see that chemistry.
But to return to Bill 138, we saw the Minister of Health bring it back -- late in the session, I might add. I know honourable members opposite were lobbied very intensively, as we were all on this side, about some of the controversial provisions with respect to family life education and such counselling as was a part of the principle of that legislation.
We saw that bill come back late in the session amid a lot of controversy, amid great pressure on all members, and I think it is to the credit of the Minister of Health that he was able to do that. He listened to my friends in the New Democratic Party, and my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) put a number of amendments. He accepted one.
But it was the process. We know that when the Minister of Health wants to play hardball he can be tough, he can be mean, he can hit where it hurts and he can do so without much discrimination. But the Minister of Health, probably because he was reared at his great father’s feet -- young Larry could not have been any more than five when father Allan walked into this place in 1951 -- understands the genius of this place and how it works and the kind of chemistry required to take controversial legislation through to its conclusion late in a winter session.
Mr. Conway: My friend from St. Catharines interjects, “He understands Bill 127.” I might even say, if I might in a digression, that my friend from St. Catharines has privately confided to me that the Minister of Health has had to go to one of his own clinics with the Attorney General in tow to secure treatment for their severely blackened and bruised shins. But I will not make much of that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Conway: Might I qualify that by saying that in a metaphorical sense they have been blackened and bruised somewhat publicly and somewhat routinely over these past number of months with respect to Bill 127.
But seriously, I cite the experience of this past week with Bill 138 as an example to the Minister of Education of how we do business here. The member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) is here, and he deserves a lot of credit for his patience, for his dedication to the cause with a bill that in some major ways, as he knows, I strongly object to in its organizational structure.
But he brought it forward. It took many months, I suspect almost as much time as Bill 127 -- maybe not as much, but it was getting there -- and towards the end there were issues of great controversy. Yet we brought it forward in the last days of this fall-winter session of 1982-83, and it was discharged the other night with no reference either to government notice of motion 11 or, I might even say, to standing order 36.
Throughout this piece I have tried to reiterate that we have a way of doing business here. It is not perfect. God, it has been strained. God knows how it has been stretched. My friend the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry could regale us, I am sure.
Mr. Conway: I repeat to my friend the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) that I feel strongly about this motion and propose to talk as directly and meaningfully to it as I can. He can think whatever he wishes of what I am doing. I say to him, with a bit of a smile on my face, that whatever I do in the discussion and deliberation of government notice of motion 11, I will do it in strict adherence to the standing orders of the Ontario Legislature and in strict conformity with the parliamentary practices of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
My great regret is the knowledge that my parliamentary colleague the member for York Mills and the Minister of Education cannot and will not play by that same rule. That saddens me. Quite seriously and openly, I want to repeat that.
I have great respect for many of my honourable friends sitting in that rump. I see the makings of a future front bench. I invite my friends the member for Sarnia, the member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean), the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), the member for Brantford and the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Eves) to put their minds, as private members, to the seriousness of this guillotine. In a sense, it is their heads which are being severed by the good doctor from York Mills. As members of the assembly, we have a shared concern that must be addressed. That is the intent of my approach to the matter at hand.
There is no question that a number of opportunities have been afforded the beleaguered, embattled Minister of Education. There is, as I said moments ago, the past practice of bringing it in for the committee of the whole debate stage. The practice is clear. The chairman of the standing committee on procedural affairs, the member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr), knows I am right. Our parliamentary practice at that stage has always been to bring it back for a moderate debate on the major issues and the principal amendments to the legislation. I do not think there is a question in anyone’s mind that that was the past practice unless something else was arrived at by unanimous consent. That is the practice as I know it.
Mr. Conway: I used the word “moderate,” a moderate amount of debate on the principal issues of the major amendments. At the end of that stage, if there is no agreement to proceed, there is a variety of things in our standing orders, in the face of strong opposition, that can be done.
One of the interesting things about the opposition in this case is that it is not based on party lines. The opposition is very ecumenical. The member for St. George and the member for High Park-Swansea have made no bones about what they think of Bill 127. They have done it in my presence, in a public place and in a public way.
The past practice in these cases has been for the minister to consider withdrawing the bill -- not forever, but until such time as tempers cool, calmer heads prevail and conciliatory amendments can be rethought, re-entered and reworked.
Earlier I mentioned former Solicitor General John MacBeth, the very fine former member for Humber. His police legislation was troubled a number of times and it was withdrawn once, if not twice. There was the Toronto Islands bill, where the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs knew he had put both feet into a hornet’s nest. In that marvellously smooth and orderly way the member for Scarborough North withdrew so gracefully, it was a sight to behold.
What does the Minister of Education do upon encountering a hornet’s nest? She plants it squarely on her head and lets the infectious wasps sting her and infuriate her more. Members know what that does to the mood of the session in its 11th hour. I cite for the attention of my five friends --
Mr. Conway: I draw to the attention of the five members I singled out moments ago sitting in the upper corner of the government’s back bench -- a distinguished array of talents and ministerial potential, I must admit -- that to understand why this government notice of motion is so distasteful is to understand that there are alternatives. I just mentioned a couple of the ways.
If all else fails, if we cannot get agreement, if moderate debate on the principal issues and major amendments in the committee stage before third reading comes to naught, then we know our forbears in this distinguished place had a contingency plan to deal with that: standing order 36.
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Sudbury East points out that it has been rarely used. If I am not mistaken, until it was used on the Suncor matter, it was some 40 or 50 years before that kind of motion could be found in practice in the Ontario Legislature. It is there and it is not there by accident. Its relatively infrequent use is no accident at all.
Through the chair to my honourable friends opposite, the members for Timiskaming, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Lakeshore and elsewhere, I have to say that there is a way to break the jam. There is an alternative to government notice of motion 11 which is not popular.
As the Premier left the place last night, he said, “Oh, we know -- don’t we know -- how the opposition will howl if we invoke standing order 36.” We will howl because it is an important part of our duties. Our parliamentary responsibility is to cry out in resistance if we think the government’s proposals do not score with the public good as we see it. Our howl can be as predictable as that incredible standing ovation the super hawk, the Premier, received yesterday in question period.
Mr. Conway: I think it is important because the Premier said in a way that was clear to me: “We will not use standing order 36, because you people will howl. You are going to cry out at some injustice.” So what? When an opposition howls its outrage at government action it considers impolitic and unwise, wrong-headed and misguided, that is a very important, basic part of the parliamentary dialectic we know is so central to this place.
There is a way for the beleaguered, embattled Minister of Education to rescue herself from this corner into which she has painted herself. What is so attractive to me about that is that it is the way of our standing orders. It is the way of our forbears. It is the way of our tradition. It is not the way of some extraneous place that might, in this instance, provide some convenient crutch on which the government might lean.
Mr. Conway: I hope the member for Sarnia will take this, in an ambassadorial way, to the government House leader when he talks to him about time allocation. The way of Westminster ought to be relevant here.
In September 1975 the Camp commission on the Legislature/private member’s role waxed at length on the whole question of time allocation. Perhaps this is a useful opportunity for me to review what that debate was all about, because it is central to understanding our upset and objection to government notice of motion 11.
So there will be no confusion, the government House leader says time allocation can be justified on the basis of a tradition elsewhere, notwithstanding the fact it has no place in our past practice. He says there is such a tradition in the Mother of Parliaments, and we ought to take some guidance in that connection.
I have gone on at length about the role of British parliamentary tradition here, and I certainly accept there is a clear relationship between Westminster and here. I will deal later in reciting what I thought were the excellent comments of Professor C. E. S. Franks, in his excellent article, “Procedural Reform in the Legislative Process”, and the response to that by one John Holtby. They are contained in a volume, The Legislative Process in Canada: The Need for Reform, edited by W. A. W. Neilson, and J. C. MacPherson. I think it important to understand that this Legislature has not been silent on the question of time allocation.
We have had a recommendation from a royal commission that was very straightforward and quite assertive -- in the positive, I might add -- that was responded to by a committee of this assembly. The committee was chaired by no less a person than the very distinguished former Speaker of the House, the long-time Conservative member for Ottawa West, Mr. Donald Morrow.
I think it is absolutely relevant to the government notice of motion 11 what the fourth volume of the Camp commission report had to say about time allocation or closure by agreement. More particularly I think it was relevant how that was then responded to by the so-called Morrow committee of the Ontario Legislature in its second interim report of June 1976. It is not a particularly long reference. It appears under the subchapter heading, “Time Allocation or Closure by Agreement -- on page 49, if that is necessary for Hansard:
“The commission would be remiss at this stage of the report if it did not make some comments on a subject and a parliamentary mechanism which has caused much contention in Canada, particularly in the federal Parliament. In Britain a form of closure, or ‘the guillotine,’ has been used effectively for many years.”
I would like to stop there, because I know the member for York South was engaged in the debate earlier on about whether or not this time allocation is a form of closure. They have been so anxious, they have been precious on the point across the way to say, “Oh, no, no, no” -- if I can quote the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs who was saying those things on Metro Morning a few months ago -- “Oh, no, no, no, the guillotine is not closure.” Very interesting, when you look at the literature.
When you do debate it, the answer to the question, “Is the guillotine a form of closure?” is, “Oh, yes, yes, yes,” Mr. Speaker. I think it is important to point out that in the fourth volume of the Camp commission report of 1975, it says that “in Britain a form of closure, or the guillotine, has been used effectively for many years. It is seen by members of all parties as a necessity if the legislation the government requires is to be achieved.”
In the House at Ottawa, an amended form of closure was put into the rules of the House in 1969 but it has not had any significant use. Of course, I think the experience post-1975 is somewhat different.
Commissioners Fisher, Camp and Oliver said, “We think it can be fairly said, aside from any inadequacies in the procedural mechanism as written, that the reason it has not been used is the general distaste for anything which suggests that the government is steamrolling the opposition in the House or is afraid of a protracted debate.”
It is the government member for Brantford who might, after the fashion of one of those dogs in the back of a car, wave in a funny kind of way some sort of protest. But that clearly is a very well spoken sentence. Let me repeat it: “We think that the reason it has not been used” -- up until 1975, in Ottawa -- “is the general distaste for anything which suggests that the government is steamrolling the opposition in the House or is afraid of a protracted debate.”
The commissioners continued: “It is obvious that a government in the Legislature of Ontario has the opportunity to end debate on legislation at several stages of a bill merely by moving that the motion be now put, and having it approved. This has not been the practice, and for the same reasons which have kept governments in Ottawa from invoking closure.”
Again, I believe the Camp commissioners are essentially agreeing with the thrust of my argument on the debate about the government notice of motion 11. Governments, understandably, do not want to be seen to be muzzling, in whatever way, the debate of the House and any of its committees.
“Hand in hand with Britain with the mechanism of closure or the guillotine on debate, is a thorough discussion and prescheduling of the legislative intentions of the government. That is, agreement is sought from House leaders as to the amount of time each proposed measure should be given, in total and often in the respective stages. In those cases where there is disagreement on the time planned among the participants, the government representative, after discussion, gives notice of the government’s intention with regard to time. In other words, notice of closure follows thorough and serious discussion with the opposition for scheduling the government’s business.”
I think the government House leader went to some pains in both the December debate and in this context to draw our attention to the partial -- perhaps it is more than just partial -- adoption of the Westminster technique that we have come to with the House leaders’ panel in this place. He is not altogether wrong, I might add. There is clearly a well-established practice to try to sort out those kinds of agreements, within the framework of our past practice. The commissioners then go on to say:
“The reason we commend this procedure and the imperative of preliminary discussion and arrangement of business may seem paradoxical. The Ontario Legislature has not been the ‘choke-hole’ for governmental bills that the Canadian House of Commons tends to be.” Quite frankly, in my time here since 1975, I do not think there has been any real choke-hole developed in terms of our business. Quite to the contrary --
They continue: “Ontario processes a larger legislative load. The question comes immediately: why the need for a formal closure mechanism if there is not a major problem for the government in getting its legislation? The answer is related to the often frenetic pileup of bills at the recesses or at the ends of the sessions, the evidence of inadequate or uneven scheduling of business throughout a session and the chronic complaints of opposition parties over the unbusinesslike nature of the flow and scheduling of bills.”
A lot of that has been dealt with by some of the conventions that have been developed here since 1975. With some exceptions, I feel a pretty good orderly disposition of the legislation has been arrived at. We have adopted a variety of things. Outside of the session during recess period, we now take bills into committees that would not normally have been done there before.
That part of the fourth Camp commission report goes on: “It may be well for sceptics to say: ‘The government proposes and the opposition disposes.’ The goals should surely be: (a) to give certain opportunity for partisan criticism and defence of measures; (b) to ensure that after such opportunity is provided, the government can have its bills; and (c) to be sure the opposition knows what is coming and has a reasonable amount of time to prepare to take part.”
I think the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and government House leader has gone a long way in the last couple of years. I also want to give credit to his predecessor the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch). He showed great sensitivity in his time in working towards a relief of those problems.
I personally think it is the goodwill, particularly of the government House leader working in close concert with the opposition House leaders, which has brought that about. It has not always been that way. I well remember in 1977 we were getting ready to bring the House down and we were all wondering what pretext would ignite the bomb. It ultimately came on a resolution from my colleague the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) in a rather minor amendment. But by and large we have had little --
I remember it was difficult to get a sense of the government’s intentions that April 29, 1977, when a certain feeling had overcome us all that the plug was about to be pulled and that the neurosurgeon, the member for York East, would be joining us forthwith.
“We commend the provision in the standing orders for a mechanism to schedule the length of debate. It should only be invoked, of course, after discussion about the scheduling and the times among the House leaders, and after notice is given to the Legislature, preferably on the Notice Paper, that on such and such a measure and at such and such a stage, the government intends to close debate after so much time has been given to it. We underline that such a procedural arrangement fits in with other recommendations we have made regarding hours of sittings and extensions of sittings.” That is so important a part of this whole business.
I repeat what I have said because I do not believe I can dissemble. I said 28 hours ago -- no, it was actually Monday morning in the presence of the Minister of Revenue -- that I would be the first to look at time allocation because I am restless, if it can be believed, about some of the ordering of the business of this place. I understand the frustration. I have had invigorating discussions with my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk on how we might move in that direction.
But as has been said by others including the New Democratic House leader, it is going to be a deal. It is going to be a package and there are going to be tradeoffs. Members from the far distant regions want to look at the way in which the 20-odd hours of legislative time are divided. We would like to take that out of the 19th century. We would like to end the built-in prejudice for the city of Toronto and, dare I say it, southwestern Ontario farm members, and for --
Mr. Conway: I dare not. But when members from eastern Ontario and members from the north look at this goofy way we order the 20 hours of business, it is ridiculous. I really think I would be as anxious to --
Mr. Conway: I have even more sympathy from members like the distinguished member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) and his friend the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy). To be dragged down here for a Monday afternoon but not a Monday night sitting, and Tuesday afternoon but not a Wednesday sitting is very inefficient.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to talk to the government House leader, at least as a private member, about allocation. I dare think I am prepared to go maybe further than a lot of other people, but it has to be done in the fullness of time. It has to be done in a reasonable and responsible way. It has to be done in a package deal so other things are considered in exactly the way the Camp commission intended.
Mr. Conway: I am not. As I said, I am talking about my role as a private member. We are going to have disagreements over here on some of these issues so the minister should not for a moment be under any other impression. I will have different priorities in terms of time tabling than members who live in the shadow of this great place. I do not for a moment dispute that and the ruler worked that out in a creative way.
I simply say to the government House leader that, when time allocation was raised in the fourth report of the Royal Commission on the Legislature, the Camp report, it was talked of in a positive way, but as part of an overall reform of the way we order our business and ourselves around here.
Going on from that reference, “In this and in an earlier report we have stressed the need to arrange the schedule of business more evenly throughout the legislative year.” Hear, hear. “We have suggested that the ministry and its senior advisers, who are responsible for so much of the content and drafting of measures, should give a higher priority to fitting their work into the time and procedures of the Legislature.”
Is that not interesting? The poor commissioners were making a valiant effort to rejig what had been perverted with one-party dominance since many years before. That is one of the main findings of the Camp commission. They came to look at the Ontario Legislature and found a pathetic creature, an atrophied soul that was scarcely a pale shadow of what had been intended.
They were valiantly trying to set in motion a series of reforms and procedures to restore the primacy of parliament. It would in the same way understand the importance of the executive council, but would restore the primacy of parliament. That was something the commission, as I read their five excellent reports, found to have been perverted over the years of the modern experience.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I was just going to ask a question on the Camp report. I am very interested. The member has quoted a lot of the Camp report and his comments about this Legislature. Why would the chairman of that report know more about this Legislature when the member says that a minister who has never been a private member of this Legislature, yet sits here and was elected, does not know anything about the processes here?
Mr. Conway: If the government House leader, by his performance, is giving a hint of his preference for the new rules in Ottawa where members have an opportunity to get up to question one another, I am with him on that. It is good to know that --
Mr. Conway: I am trying to deal as meaningfully as I can with the whole business of time allocation and I have obviously upset the government House leader. He is stung a little by the reference last evening or this afternoon because I suggested I did not really expect the members of this assembly, whose entire parliamentary experience has been on the executive council, to understand the dynamics of parliament.
Mr. Conway: This represents the input not only of Dalton Kingsley Camp, but also of Farquhar Oliver, a 42-year veteran of this place, and of Douglas Fisher, an eight-year veteran of the House of Commons. I presume their half-century of parliamentary and legislative experience counts for something in these words I make reference to now. It is in that way I understand the conclusions of the report.
“There will be occasions when no agreement on the length of time for debate can be found among the House leaders.” Nobody can disagree with that. “In such cases the government House leader has the option that he now has of moving the motion be put. In time, after some experience with the mechanism, we believe both the government and the opposition parties in the Legislature will appreciate the efficacy of the mechanism, and the pivotal part it can play in regulating the flow of business and the better consideration of motions and legislation.”
Mr. Speaker, that report was submitted to a distinguished committee of this House, which was all the more distinguished because it was chaired by a former Speaker, the longtime member for Ottawa West. It was a committee on which my honourable friend the chief government whip sat as well. They looked at that carefully. Their conclusion -- and it is only a sentence; I will read it from page 15 of the second interim report of the Morrow committee reviewing the Camp reports -- is this:
“The committee has reviewed the commissioners’ recommendations on closure and is not prepared to support them. Since debate in the Ontario House is very seldom prolonged, the committee recommends that there be no change in the present procedure, standing order 37.”
I end by drawing to the members’ attention that an all-party committee of this assembly, chaired by a former Speaker of this House, a man who sat here for 28 years, looked carefully at that recommendation and agreed that, however interesting, it was neither timely nor relevant, it was not supportable and it was not accepted.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, it would be my preference to sit tonight, but I gather it is not the wish of either of the opposition parties to sit and debate this tonight. I want it on the record that we would be happy to sit here and debate this tonight. But I put the proposition and it was rejected, so I will reluctantly move the adjournment of the House.