Mr. Dean: I would like to draw the attention of the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) to the critically short supply of nursing home beds that has been caused by his refusal to issue additional licences.
It has been two full years since the last allocation, and many families are encountering severe difficulties in finding beds. I know the trendy thing to do is to talk about home care replacing nursing home beds, and I fully support keeping people in their own homes. However, it will take time to create the province-wide, comprehensive home care system that will be needed to relieve the demand for nursing home beds. Until it is in place, the demand for beds is increasing.
Currently in Hamilton-Wentworth, 298 people who desperately need nursing home beds are on a waiting list. The physical space exists to fill most of this demand. All that is needed is ministry approval.
Last week I had to deal with the nearly panicky family of a constituent who had been told by the medium-care facility where he was staying that it could no longer provide adequate care for him and that he had until the end of the month to find a nursing-home-care bed. Fortunately, we were able to persuade the Ministry of Health to allow Hamilton-Wentworth to over-bed temporarily by six beds, and thus the critical needs were met. This is, however, a Band-Aid solution.
I was pleased that CBC-TV concentrated on this issue. I encourage all members to look at the videotape of that presentation so they can see what it is like when it is administered and to call on this government, as I have been doing, not to try to develop standards for the use of this barbaric form of treatment but rather to outlaw it in Ontario.
Other jurisdictions do not need it. It is preposterous to think that a few people in this province, about eight to 13, are the only ones who would benefit from this kind of torture. It is time we ended it as any kind of supposed therapeutic treatment in this province.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I would like to use this occasion to draw attention to the 29th annual Simcoe Christmas Panorama. For those members who have not yet had the pleasure of being in Simcoe during the Christmas season, let me shed some light on what they are missing.
The Simcoe Christmas Panorama has been a yuletide tradition since a dedicated group of Simcoe businessmen decided to light up Wellington Park in 1958. The panorama consists of 60 different exhibits illuminated by almost 30,000 Christmas lights and set in the natural beauty of Wellington Park.
In 1985, the panorama attracted 220 tour buses from all over Ontario and the northern part of the United States. The Simcoe Chamber of Commerce has estimated that 500,000 people visited last year's panorama. The panorama is a labour of love for the 400 volunteers who unselfishly give of their time each December to make Simcoe's Christmas light show the best in Canada.
The official opening ceremony for this year's Simcoe Christmas Panorama was held last night in Wellington Park with the Simcoe citizen of the year, district court judge John Pringle, pulling the first switch.
The lights will be on every evening from 5:30 until midnight from now until January 1. I invite members and people from around Ontario to take the opportunity to visit Simcoe during the Christmas season.
Mr. O'Connor: I will be pleased to present in the House later today the largest petition ever delivered to the Legislature of Ontario, comprising some 108,892 names, all in opposition to Sunday shopping.
I compliment the People for Sunday Association of Canada and, particularly, its executive director, Les Kingdon, who is here in the House today, for the co-operation and effort they have extended in organizing so mammoth an expression of the wishes of the people of Ontario.
With the widespread and flagrant violation of the Retail Business Holidays Act by all sectors of the retail industry, it is now incumbent on the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) to enforce the laws of this province. If citizens and corporations, large or small, are allowed to thumb their noses at the law with impunity for the sake of profit, our society, which is based on the rule of law, will be seriously eroded. The government simply cannot sit back and allow this to happen.
Mr. Laughren: The members of the House will know that on Monday of this week the Smooth Rock Falls operations of Abitibi-Price changed hands in a sale to the Waferboard Corp. of Timmins. Since that sale was announced in August, 144 jobs have been lost in a community with a population of only 2,000.
The Canadian Paperworkers Union and other community leaders had petitioned the government to intervene with Abitibi-Price to open its pension plan to encourage early retirements. Abitibi-Price recently diverted $10 million from the negotiated plan, money which the union argues -- and I agree -- should have been used to encourage early retirement so that other workers could have had those jobs.
We asked the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) in this assembly not to allow that sale until job guarantees had been given, because there is a real suspicion that Waferboard wants the cutting limits rather than the mill. The minister and the Premier (Mr. Peterson) simply walked away from two very reasonable requests: one to have the pension plan opened and the other to provide job guarantees and to tie those cutting limits to the job guarantees.
Those guarantees were never given and were never delivered, and those were very reasonable requests. This government has to stop thinking that the problems in northern Ontario are simply public relations problems.
Ms. E. J. Smith: I am sure the members of the Legislature will be very interested to know that last night John Ferris, the former member for London South, was named chairman of the board of the London and Middlesex County Roman Catholic Separate School Board. This becomes quite a historic occasion because he was previously the Catholic representative on the public school board and in that capacity had risen to be chairman of that board. I think he may well be the only person who has ever risen to be chairman of both school boards in his own community and, with the new laws, probably nobody else will manage to accomplish that feat.
Mr. Cousens: I stand today to recognize the achievements of FoodShare, which is celebrating its first anniversary. It serves the people of Toronto, especially, where there has been a need for food. People just did not have it because they did not have a home or a job, and even those with jobs that paid too little have had to depend on the sharing of others who had something to give them.
Today marks the first 12 months in which this organization has been serving the people of our province and filling a hole caused by the failure of governments at all levels to understand with compassion the needs of those people who otherwise would not be helped.
We all remember the work of FoodShare in September when the potato harvest was gathered and shared with those who did not have any food. We see it continuing today as we head into the Christmas season and heavy winter weather when still others are coming together to help people.
We recognize the significant contribution of the organizers of those 150 agencies. On behalf of all of us who have so much, we say to those who are helping others who have so little, thank you very much for that dedication and concern for those people in our society.
Mr. Martel: It was revealed at the inquest of Robin Comba, just this past week, that he probably died from inhaling dust, which burned his lungs and his air passages before he was buried by 30 tons of dust while working. There is no end to murder in the work place in Ontario.
It is a known fact that this material, when inhaled and mixed with any type of moisture, causes a burning sensation. The workers were not provided with the appropriate dust masks. In this province, there is insufficient testing of dust masks and fine particles. Will the minister get on with funding some organization to do the appropriate testing?
Game and fish are important resources to the lifestyles of many Ontarians and are of great benefit to the province's economy. This is especially true in northern Ontario where tourism is a major industry. It is, therefore, vital to have forward-looking legislation to assist in the management of Ontario's wildlife and fisheries resources and in the regulation of the users of those resources.
The Game and Fish Act has not been amended since 1980. We require various changes to implement programs that have been developed since then. Such programs as the new aquaculture and black bear management programs will enable the private sector to provide better and enhanced services to its clients.
As well, the amendments will enable Ontario to protect its wildlife and fisheries interests and, at the same time, assist other jurisdictions in meeting their objectives. National and international trade in wildlife and fisheries products are now a fact of life that must be faced. These and other amendments will lead to more effective administration of the act and address enforcement problems that have become more acute in recent years.
One group of amendments concerns how black bear will be managed in Ontario. In recent years, this animal has become a prized big-game species. Changes are required to permit better control of the harvest, to prevent the destruction of dens and to control hunting methods. These changes will have a very positive effect on our northern tourist industry.
Another amendment deals with the expansion of the commercial aquaculture industry. The ministry wishes to encourage its future growth, and this requires changes to permit the culture of additional fish species.
Still other amendments address the issue of keeping game in captivity. The present act permits any game species to be kept in captivity without regulation for 10 days. As a result, it is virtually impossible to prove that a particular specimen has been held continuously for that length of time. Further, the terms "captivity" and "game bird" are ambiguous.
Such inadequacies have made it extremely difficult to effectively prevent the keeping of such species as falcons, black bear and deer, whether imported or taken from the wild in Ontario. It is, therefore, necessary to clarify the government's intent concerning the entire issue of the keeping of game in captivity.
Another issue concerns the relatively recent and highly successful reintroduction of wild turkeys to Ontario. This means such aspects as hunter licensing and control of hunting methods must be dealt with in the amendments.
Ontario has an excellent record on hunter safety. To improve on this even further, I am recommending that legislative authority be established to require hunters to wear hunter orange garments. Also, I am proposing that it be considered an offence to be hunting with a firearm while impaired.
Finally, persons who violate any part of the act for commercial gain will face much stiffer penalties than in the past. The existing maximum penalty of $5,000 will be increased to $50,000 or imprisonment for a maximum of two years less a day, or both.
I strongly believe the bill to amend the act reflects the concerns of the people and various interest groups of this province as much as those of my ministry. That is why I am looking forward to the bill's speedy passage through the House.
We have a situation now in northern Ontario where our resource industries are in trouble because of international competition and the countervail-duty case in the United States, for which the minister must bear some responsibility. Hundreds of workers are out of work in northern Ontario. We have long-term problems in our resource communities. We have real concerns in the tourist sector to which the minister referred in his statement, about its future and how it can be competitive with even the tourist advantages in southern Ontario.
Facing all of these problems in northern Ontario in the resource sector, for which he has some responsibility, the minister's announcement of an initiative is amendments to the Game and Fish Act. As a representative of the Liberal government of Ontario, the minister has failed the north. He has instituted no new initiatives to help the people of northern Ontario. He has no idea about how to help the communities and industries of northern Ontario. The only initiative he has announced in this entire session is the introduction of amendments to the Game and Fish Act.
I want to talk a bit about the minister's concept of public participation and involvement. The minister made a great deal out of having public meetings at the Ministry of Natural Resources offices with respect to the fishing licence. The fact of the matter is that the minister has ignored the petitions pouring in to him and to all members of this Legislature against the $10 licence.
He announced the $10 licence to American fishermen in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in February 1986, before the public consultation meetings started, on a sign in his ministry's booth at the sportsmen's show in Harrisburg. His public consultation is only in so far as it goes according to his plans and, if not, he will ignore it, thank you very much.
There is much more at stake in northern Ontario than the minister's amendments to the Game and Fish Act. He has yet to indicate to northern Ontario what stocking programs are going to be put in place to help the northern Ontario tourist industry. He said every single dollar that came from fishing licences would go into stocking programs in northern Ontario. We have yet to have that list. He has had eight months to hand over that list to the interested tourist groups and chambers of commerce in northern Ontario. He still refuses to do so and has now couched those in terms in other terminology, such as he is going to pay for the administration costs of his system out of the revenues.
The tourist industry and the sports clubs in northern Ontario have been abandoned by this minister. He has cut back on the community fisheries involvement program in northern Ontario, not only in the number of projects but in the money. That is a fact. He has cut back on the commitment of stocking to northern Ontario. That is a fact. He has abandoned northern Ontario. He goes to Niagara Falls to buy his silly fishing licence and leaves northern Ontario on its own. He should be ashamed and all members of the government should stand condemned. The only wild turkeys that have to be taken care of are right there in the government of Ontario.
The changes referred to in the minister's statement seem to be positive ones. Of course, we will have to wait until we see the bill itself to determine which ones we can support and which ones we simply cannot support. I was pleased with the amendment of the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) on the wearing of fluorescent orange in the bush while hunting. A lot of credit must go to my colleague the member for Algoma for raising that with the minister.
When talking about the introduction of wild turkeys to Ontario, we have here absolute proof that the freeze on Liberal nominations has now been lifted. The one thing he has left out of his statement, though, is that in order to protect Tories, he has to make amendments now to the Endangered Species Act in the province.
I am looking forward to seeing the actual bill, because I agree with the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) that the minister has not dealt with a lot of the problems in northern Ontario. In particular, he has not dealt with the fish-stocking problem, which he promised he would do when he introduced the fishing licence fee for resident anglers in the province. We look forward to seeing more action in that regard. I would like to leave the balance of the time to my colleague the member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: I want to express my happiness at the minister's statement with regard to the mandatory use of fluorescent orange. It is a good colour. We like it in this party. It should protect hunters from that minority of hunters who are not careful in ensuring they know what they are firing at when they are in the bush.
I want to make a couple of comments about the other aspects of the minister's statement. With regard to the changes in the bear hunt, I hope the minister is suggesting there will be a prohibition on the use of hunting dogs in the bear hunt, not only in the early spring but throughout the bear hunt as well. We have had some serious problems, particularly in populated areas in northern Ontario, because of the unfortunate use of dogs by some irresponsible owners during that hunt.
I am disappointed that the minister has not been more specific in his statement with regard to stocking, as my colleagues have mentioned. I am particularly concerned that all the moneys coming from the introduction of the licence be used for the enhancement of sport fishing in northern Ontario, not just in the big lakes but also in the inland lakes. I will be interested in the minister's position and the position of his ministry with regard to the stocking of salmon as well as lake trout and pickerel in northern Ontario.
I hope that in carrying out his changes the minister will be taking into account the discussions that are ongoing with regard to Indian treaty rights and their right to fish and hunt for their own use on the lands that were surrendered.
Finally, I commend the minister for his attempts to deal with the concerns and needs of the commercial fisherman and the commercial fishery and on the need to respond to those concerns and needs while balancing them with those of the tourist industry and the sport fishery.
I look forward to the specifics of the changes and hope the minister will share them with us well in advance, so that we can determine the result in northern Ontario and so that we will have a reasoned and responsible debate on this rather important initiative.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I cannot give a precise response to the Leader of the Opposition on that account. Thanks to the generosity of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), I can tell him, however, the new government has announced a capital program for 1987 that will see the expenditure of $147 million on the capital account, which will be precisely double what the previous government was prepared to expend in 1985.
Yes, it is true we have a number of students in portables, but it is also true that this government is addressing in a serious and meaningful way that decade of educational underfunding on the capital account that characterized the years 1975 to 1985. Thanks to the generosity of this Treasurer, we are making very important and positive steps to address those capital needs.
Mr. Grossman: Almost two years ago to the day, the minister introduced a no-confidence motion condemning the then government, and I will quote directly, because of the "policy of the government to refuse to provide capital funds to school boards for the building of school facilities where overcrowding and the use of portables are at a crisis stage." I find it appalling that the minister, having moved that no-confidence motion, would not know how many young people are having to get their education in portable classrooms a year and a half after he became minister.
I want to draw to his attention a publication that came out today, put out by the Ontario Public School Trustees' Association, which describes in red outline the capital-funding crisis faced by the public schools of Ontario.
Mr. Grossman: The minister has spoken earlier of the generosity of the Treasurer in trying to solve this problem. Can he inform the House how generous the Treasurer was in 1986 in increasing the capital grants to alleviate this problem?
Hon. Mr. Conway: The Leader of the Opposition provides me with a much-sought-after opportunity to indicate once again the challenge the new government faced when it took office in June 1985. Very serious pressures had been allowed to build up over the preceding years, which we have moved with expedition and effect to address. There were, of course, other issues on the educational agenda that had to be addressed that were left by the previous administration, because the previous administration had neither the guts nor the capacity to meet the challenge in those critical areas.
In his October 1985 budget, the Treasurer announced that an additional $25 million would be added to the earlier capital allocation. We have seen a substantial enrichment in that budget and in the allocations earlier this year. I repeat that for 1987 this government will spend $147 million on the capital account. That will be double what the honourable member was prepared to spend in 1985. I think that is a very positive step forward.
Mr. Grossman: We have ascertained two things so far today. One, the Minister of Education does not know how many students are currently being educated in portables and, two, he either did not know or was not prepared to tell us how much was the 1986 increase given by his so-generous Treasurer.
In my final supplementary, I want to draw something to the minister's attention. In the Peel board, 13 per cent of all students are being educated in portables; in Durham, 13 per cent; in Dufferin-Peel, 27 per cent of all young people are going to school in portables; in York region, 33 per cent, and in Carleton, 34 per cent.
Against that background, in 1986 the Treasurer gave the minister exactly a $12-million increase on the capital side to solve this problem. To put that $12-million increase into perspective, that $12 million is $5.5 million less than his leader gave his good friend to put in a computer museum at the Toronto harbourfront. That $12 million represents hardly a dent in the problem outlined in this document. Indeed, if the $17.5 million that went to the Exploracom project had been given to the Lanark, Leeds, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kirkland Lake, Muskoka and Nipissing boards, all their capital repair problems would have been resolved.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The Leader of the Opposition has arithmetic that is almost as bad as that of his Education critic, who said in the House the other day that 57 from 100 leaves 57. The official opposition will want to enrol in some of our schools to take a mathematical upgrading program.
Mr. Grossman: The minister did not know what the budget was when he got there, did not know what he had in 1985, did not know what he had in 1986 and does not know how many students are going to school in portables. That tells the whole story.
Mr. Grossman: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I would like to correct the record. I may have left an impression that was not entirely correct. I suggested 50,000 young people were being educated in portables across the province. In fact, there are 50,000 young people in portables in only six of the 173 school boards. The grand total would be more like 150,000.
Mr. Grossman: My second question is to the Attorney General. I remind the Attorney General that we have questioned him several times about his government's failure to press charges to get the Morgentaler clinic closed. Every time we have asked him he has told us, quite eloquently -- and we have the quotes here -- that he could not tolerate a government that instructed the police to lay charges.
This morning we read in the newspapers that the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) has ordered police forces across Ontario to begin to lay charges this Sunday in an aggressive way against those violating the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I know the honourable member will not want to take advantage of a difficult and contentious issue about which he is apparently not prepared to express his own opinion; so I will make no reference to it.
As the member well knows, the power of the Attorney General does not include instructing the police about charges they should or should not lay. The power of the Attorney General is to invite an investigation, if one is appropriate in his opinion, and to exercise his powers under the Criminal Code if he sees fit to do so. The Solicitor General, as the minister responsible for the police, may have other capacities.
Mr. Grossman: May I ask the Attorney General, who is the chief law officer of the crown, whether during all these months when he has been answering these questions, he has been drawing a fine distinction between the Attorney General's power to authorize or invite police to lay charges and the powers of the Solicitor General? If that is the case, he might well have been factually accurate on the record, but he will have left an impression in this House quite the reverse of perhaps what is, shall we say, accurate.
My second question, to allow the Attorney General to clarify the record, is this: is he telling the House that the Attorney General has no power to and should not instruct police as to when to lay charges, but that the Solicitor General does?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I am trying to follow precisely the fine line that the Leader of the Opposition has suggested. As his colleague, who knows more about the matter from an Attorney General's perspective would confirm for him, the chief crown law officer is neither a policeman nor responsible for the police. It is true that when the police conduct an investigation they are entitled to approach a crown attorney for legal advice about the efficacy of the evidence they have collected. However, it is a policeman's responsibility, just as it is any informant's responsibility, to satisfy himself, with or without legal advice, that he has reasonable and probable grounds to lay a charge.
If there are people such as the Leader of the Opposition who think the Attorney General of the province is something in the nature of a policeman, they are quite wrong. The Attorney General of the province is the chief law officer of the crown.
Mr. Grossman: The Attorney General has treated us to yet another one of his lectures, but he has not answered the question. With respect, let me read him the quotes that are causing the confusion I am inviting him to clear up.
On June 24, in response to a question on abortions, his leader said, "If he is suggesting to me that the Premier should instruct the Attorney General to instruct the police to lay charges, that is not the kind of government I want in this province."
Yesterday, he assured us in the House, as he did a moment ago, that the Attorney General does not tell the police when to lay charges. Another time yesterday he said, "We have been laying charges where infractions occur." That is what he said yesterday in the House. This morning, the Solicitor General said he had instructed that charges be laid on Sunday. Is it within the jurisdiction of the Solicitor General, but not that of the Attorney General, to tell police forces when to lay charges?
Hon. Mr. Scott: The honourable member says "lecturing." I am very sensitive to that remark. It would have eased the matter if in caucus this morning he had taken the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) aside and asked for some advice on the position of the Attorney General in government. The difficulties that confront him would have been cleared away. The point I want to make is that the Attorney General's responsibility is quite clear; it is to prosecute charges that have been laid by the police or, in appropriate cases, by private informants.
Mr. Rae: In view of the absence of the Premier (Mr. Peterson), I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. He should know that the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier) and I met with the workers at Goodyear on Friday. We also were at the plant gate this morning at six o'clock to talk to the workers as the shift changed, as workers came in and out of the plant.
The minister may be aware that just before the workers got word that the plant was to close, they all received a letter from Mr. Mercer thanking them for their spirited defence of the Goodyear company. He said, "All can take great pride in demonstrating that we and other Americans value the industries built up over many years with hard work and dedication and won't stand idly by when they are threatened."
The workers on the line this morning were angry. They ranged in age from the 20s to the 60s. Some of them have just bought homes on the basis of having jobs at that plant. Why is there no legislation in this province that will allow Ontarians to stand up and fight for the workers who are devastated by corporate irresponsibility of this kind?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I am aware of the letter that was sent out. It seems kind of funny that within a couple of days they all received their walkout notices. Both I and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) are looking at this. We are very concerned about it. I can also say that the Minister of Labour is looking at legislation in this regard.
Mr. Rae: The Minister of Labour has been looking at legislation since the cows came home, and he has produced absolutely zilch in defence of the working people of this province in the face of this kind of corporate ripoff.
The letter also said, "Goodyear's board of directors has unanimously approved transactions which will enhance both near-term and long-term shareholder value." Can the minister tell us what piece of legislation, what law, what leverage the workers of Goodyear can refer to that will protect not shareholder value but worker value, in the most important investment they have, their jobs? What is he going to do to make sure they get that protection, which is not there right now?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The leader of the third party is likely aware that we have also written to Mr. Mercer asking that certain things, certain considerations be given to the workers. The Minister of Labour and this government are very concerned about the workers in this province, and we are working very hard on this issue.
Mr. Rae: The minister has not answered my question. I have asked it twice. I will ask it again. What legal power, what legal leverage, what law does he have on the books that will allow him to deal with Mr. Mercer when he does not answer the minister's letter?
Mr. Rae: I would like to ask the Minister of Labour a question relating to his area of strength, industrial health and safety, where he has of course been an absolute tiger on behalf of working people. The tabbies seem to be rather quiet on that.
The minister must be aware that five workers have died at Port Arthur Shipyard since 1983. He must be aware that charges were laid after three men burned to death in February 1983 and that further charges were laid after two men were electrocuted in June 1983. It took until October 1986 for the Ontario Court of Appeal to confirm two earlier rulings that a ship was not an industrial establishment and that therefore the workers had no protection. One charge was dismissed, and the other charges with respect to the two men who were electrocuted were withdrawn by the ministry. Have the regulations changed since the court decision on October 2, 1986?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: My understanding is that the change required is a change in the act. We are well aware of the very tragic situation that occurred in the shipyard. Obviously, as the member points out, we are aware of the difficulties that had one prosecution fail and forced us to withdraw another. I can assure the honourable member that when changes come forward in the not-too-distant future, this matter will be addressed in those changes.
Mr. Rae: Can the minister confirm that a justice of the peace made a decision on May 4, 1984; that a provincial court judge made a decision on May 30, 1985, a year later, and that there was a decision of the Court of Appeal in October 1986? Can the minister confirm also that the workers at Port Arthur Shipyard are no more protected today than they were back in 1984? Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The concern the member raises is one in terms of prosecution; that is certainly one aspect. This is a very troubling case. We want to ensure that when we move forward with amendments to the act we will be closing all the loopholes. That is what we intend to do in the next short while. The member points out quite correctly that the Court of Appeal decision was in the past short while. Until about two weeks ago, we were reviewing the impact of that Court of Appeal decision.
Mr. Rae: Can the minister tell us how he feels as the Minister of Labour knowing that five people have died in situations where his ministry felt sufficiently moved to get off its butt and prosecute? Workers are still at risk. How can he stand in his place today and defend himself when he, on his own admission, is leaving the working people of this province at risk because of his failure to change the law?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I think the member will want to acknowledge that we are talking about prosecution. That is the problem. That does not speak to whether people are protected. With all due respect to the leader of the third party, it does not. I gave the member an assurance in the House that this matter would be dealt with in amendments to the act. I hope to bring these forward in the not-too-distant future. We will do that; there will be amendments to the act. I am sure that when the member sees those amendments, he will be pleased, as I think all members of the House and indeed the workers of the province will be.
Will the minister confirm that on November 13, Mr. MacKinnon indicated to the standing committee on public accounts that the main and only assets of Wyda were the intellectual assets of the company? Can he tell us how he put those assets into receivership, and what guarantees does he have to protect the $3 million he has lost to the Ontario taxpayers?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: First, we do not believe we have lost $3 million. We feel the people are important assets. Three of the vice-presidents testified before the judge yesterday morning when we were looking for a receiver. Those three vice-presidents talked about the value of the assets of the company and the product, saying it was a good product and it is hoped those employees will stay with the company.
Mr. Philip: Will the minister confirm whether Mr. Dobzinski is in Canada at the moment or whether, as we understand, he is no longer in Canada? Will the minister confirm that the main assets of the company are the software he has with him out of the country, and indeed the creativity and ideas he has in his head? How does the minister put Mr. Dobzinski's brain into receivership? Why does he not agree to a judicial inquiry to find out exactly what has happened to the assets and the $3 million of the taxpayers' money?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I understand Mr. Dobzinski is not in the country. At present, it is not known whether he has the tapes with him, although it is being looked into. We have copies of the tapes, and we had the people come to work, not on Friday, but on Monday. They will be there, and it is hoped they also form a great asset of that company and will continue to be with the company.
Mr. Gillies: My question is on the same matter and to the same minister. For months, Mr. Dobzinski refused to allow an auditor to review the $3 million that was flowed by the government to Wyda. As the minister has indicated, Mr. Dobzinski is out of the country, and one of the minister's officials was quoted this morning as saying: "We doubt if we will ever see him again. Mr. Dobzinski has taken with him copies of Wyda's newly developed software."
Has the minister determined the truth or otherwise of his official's statement? Can the minister outline to the House whether he has been successful in contacting Mr. Dobzinski and persuading him to come back here to face the music?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: As I mentioned, Mr. Dobzinski is not in the country; we are trying to locate him. As was mentioned yesterday, we have placed the company in the hands of a receiver and we hope to make the company viable.
Mr. Gillies: The minister has not answered the question. An official of his ministry told a media outlet in this city that he does not expect to see Mr. Dobzinski again. I believe this House has a right to know on what information that assumption was based. There are millions of dollars missing, and as the minister knows, hundreds of thousands of dollars were signed over personally to Mr. Dobzinski.
Will the minister indicate what steps have been taken? Has the Ontario Provincial Police been called in to find this man and this money? Will the minister concede that a judicial inquiry is necessary to recover as much of the public's investment as possible?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: As I mentioned yesterday and touched on today, the tapes were one of the first things we took possession of when we went down to the company on Friday. Those are in safe keeping, although we do not know whether copies were made of them. We will have the receiver continue to look at that, and we are looking at legal action.
Can the minister confirm that what he is saying and what he said yesterday in his response to questions from my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes) with respect to nonprofit centres is that the Ontario government has basically decided to do nothing until the federal government changes the rules of the game so they can fund for-profit centres as well? Is that what he is telling us?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: No, I did not say that. What I said was that our negotiations and discussions with the federal government were along the lines that roughly 50 per cent or approximately 50,000 licensed spaces in the province were in the commercial market, and that if we were to move immediately to income testing and direct grants, which under current federal agreements are prohibited from being applied to the commercial centres, that would create a real problem for us in the short term.
If we could get some agreement from the federal government on how to deal with the commercial sector, whether in the short or long term, it would be preferable before we make a final decision. If we cannot get such an agreement, then we will move on our own.
Mr. Rae: Can the minister tell us why he will not move now with respect to the centres for which he can move? Tens of thousands of kids are in those places and thousands of parents are facing increasing financial difficulty as a result of the government's inaction. Can the minister tell us why those families that are using nonprofit centres should be held to ransom by his determination to fund for-profit centres as well? Why should we punish those kids and parents just because of the minister's predilection for funding commercial centres?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I cannot agree with the leader of the third party that we are holding families to ransom. I remind him that we have increased the total number of subsidized spaces in this province by 10,000 in little more than a year; that is a 50 per cent increase.
There are approximately 50,000 children and their families in the commercial sector who also have to be considered. Whether he agrees philosophically or ideologically that such should exist, in fact they do exist. In some communities they are the only available source of child care. We simply cannot turn our backs on them.
We want to negotiate with the federal government. As a matter of fact, a meeting is scheduled for January 26 between the ministers of social services across this country and the federal minister to deal with this issue. We hope to resolve it at that time. If there is a clear signal from the federal government that it is not prepared to resolve it, then we will take action on our own with respect to the nonprofit and municipal centres. We have said that very clearly.
Mr. Offer: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. A report was released yesterday indicating that lead contaminant readings in excess of 500 parts per million have been found in certain areas of the city of Mississauga. With respect to that report, it appears that level and in excess of that level can cause serious harm with respect to human health in different ways. What is the minister doing to protect the people in that area?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: My understanding is that there are not many secondary lead smelters in the province. The honourable member will recall -- certainly other members of the House will -- the problems identified in south Riverdale. The member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) also raised issues related to his constituency in Toronto.
In this case, we will be placing a control order on the company to ensure that there is a significant and substantial reduction in the emissions coming from the Tonolli plant. The Exide plant is in the process of having a decommissioning plan put into effect. In the one case, where the plant will be continuing, a control order will have a substantial effect on the emissions; in the other case, a decommissioning plan will result in that property being left in an appropriate fashion.
We want to move expeditiously and comprehensively and we want the input from the people in the neighbourhood. We will have a public meeting of the people in the neighbourhood to look at the control order and make comments on it. We will be moving very quickly to have that control order in effect. Subsequent to that, we will ask the company to remove any soils which we consider must be removed under criteria which will be established.
Mr. Pope: My question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology with respect to the Wyda investment. The minister will be aware that this summer the standing committee on public accounts heard evidence, which was uncontradicted and which it accepted, showing that during an 11-day period between April 19 and April 30, 1986, $1.5 million of the public's money was disbursed through Wyda to a number of creditors.
The minister will know that of that amount, more than $462,000 went to the president, Avi Dobzinski, personally, with respect to a shareholder's loan, and that debt was never substantiated to the satisfaction of the committee or of the auditors who looked at it. He will know that $584,670 went to a related company called Budgrove Ltd. in Britain, and that debt was never substantiated to the satisfaction of the members of the committee. He is aware that the monthly budget of this company --
Mr. Pope: --went from $454,000 in May 1986 down to $175,000 in June 1986. He is aware of all these circumstances and that $3 million of the taxpayers' money has been lost. Why will he not have a judicial inquiry into this mess?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We do not consider that the investment has been lost. We are still hoping the company will continue. We have not been very happy with the information that was forthcoming or with the information for which we asked. That is one reason we had Peat Marwick go in, and we will be looking at the results of their investigation over the next couple of days.
Mr. Pope: We are talking about $3 million of the taxpayers' money. We are talking about incompetence at the highest levels of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology. We are talking about the direction of funds as a result of a meeting on April 10 in a way that the IDEA Corp. board of directors did not contemplate and that changed the essential nature of the investment. We are talking about a situation where the Ontario Development Corp. refused money for a forensic audit, when we asked for it in September 1986. We are talking about a situation where the Ontario Development Corp. refused to cooperate in helping the public accounts committee to get the proper information. We are talking about a situation --
Mr. Pope: --where the minister's office was personally involved in a discussion of this matter and where the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) was involved in a meeting when the evidence was reviewed before it was given to the committee. Will the minister have an judicial inquiry, or are we going to have to call in the Ontario Provincial Police?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The member is talking about the IDEA Corp., which he set up with a board of directors under his appointment. He is talking about loose controls. I hate to hear somebody who was a minister in the previous government make such comments about ODC, a group of highly respected people who are trying to do a job and have been very co-operative with the committee.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions about the insurance crisis in this province. The minister has frequently told the House that, in his opinion, there is no problem with the availability of insurance. On November 27, the minister said, "There is not a policyholder who cannot get insurance." Is that still the minister's position or is he prepared to admit today that there are many organizations and agencies that cannot get insurance in this province?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The situation in the province today, to my knowledge, is that insurance is available for any organization that is prepared to pay for it. We have a situation where we have an affordability problem and an availability problem. It is my understanding that insurance is available. Whether it is affordable is another question.
Mrs. Grier: I would like to clarify the minister's understanding and ask him what he can do for an agency in my riding called Access for Parents and Children. Access provides noncustodial parents referred by the courts with an opportunity for supervised visits with their children. They have been unable to get abduction insurance. The minister's insurance pool could provide basic coverage, but could not find anybody willing to bid on abduction coverage.
Will the minister agree that an agency such as this cannot continue if it does not have that kind of coverage? Is he prepared to let this agency fold, as it will at the end of this week if it cannot get insurance, or is he prepared to solve the problem?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member has raised a very important issue. When it comes to things such as abduction insurance or child molestation insurance, there is no question it is a very difficult problem. Notwithstanding that, to my knowledge, we have had similar cases and we have been able to find that kind of coverage. If the member will send me the details, I will be happy to pursue it for her.
Mr. Ward: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. One of the largest sources of pollution in the Great Lakes is the Windermere basin in Hamilton harbour. When will the minister take some action to see that this major source of contaminants is cleaned up?
The member will be happy to know it was a good-news meeting. They came to ask if the Ministry of the Environment would be prepared to assist in the Windermere basin work. They had come forward with a plan that would involve the Hamilton harbour commissioners, the region, the city, the Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada. When they made a request for the sum of $1.25 million as the province's contribution to this cleanup, I indicated we would be pleased to participate in that cleanup and we would agree to that request. However, they have one more step to take. They have communicated with the government of Canada through the Minister of the Environment of Canada in an attempt to secure a matching amount of money from the federal government. I wish them well in that quest.
Mr. Gillies: My question is for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology regarding Wyda. I would like to quote what David MacKinnon, head of the Ontario Development Corp., told the standing committee on public accounts on November 13, 1986. He said, "We have scrutinized [Wyda's] month-to-month financial statements in recent months and noted the changes therein, and we have satisfied ourselves that the investment is needed to develop the company's product...."
Yesterday the minister told this House that he wanted a receiver to review the operations of Wyda to determine the value of the technology and the ultimate viability of the enterprise. Who is right? Is the minister now telling the House that this investment was not being properly scrutinized by ODC and that Mr. MacKinnon misled the public accounts committee?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I believe Mr. MacKinnon, who is a very honourable man, has done a great job at ODC since coming there approximately one year ago to clean up the mess that was made over a number of years. I believe Mr. MacKinnon stands by the comments he made the other day. The honourable member will recall that one of the reasons we went to Mr. Dobzinski was to get additional information from him for the public accounts committee, which was considering giving him additional funding. At that time, he did not oblige us by giving us that information. That is one of the reasons we brought in the receivers.
Mr. Pope: The minister knows full well that it was not the public accounts committee that asked for additional funding. He will know it was a request from that ministry for additional funding for that company.
We have a situation where the Premier (Mr. Peterson) of this province refused to give documents to the public accounts committee. Mr. Carman of his office, his principal secretary, refused to give us documents. The Ontario Development Corp. promised it would have a full audit done of the Wyda books. It came in with a financial review and admitted it did not audit. The Ontario Development Corp. told the public accounts committee it was not prepared to put up the money for a forensic audit, not only of this company and the individuals connected with it but also with respect to other individuals who benefited from this government investment.
The appointment of a receiver has nothing to do with getting $462,000 back from Avi Dobzinski. It has nothing to do with getting $584,000 plus back from Budgrove Ltd. What steps is the minister going to take to get the taxpayers' money back from these people and these companies? Why will he not have a judicial inquiry? He knows what has gone on is improper. Do we have to call in the Ontario Provincial Police to get this mess sorted out? Why does the minister not have a judicial inquiry?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We feel that having the company Peat Marwick go in and do an audit of the books will answer some of the questions the member is asking, questions to which we also want to know the answers.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware of a company named Telkom located in his riding, where the 80 employees went to work on Friday, November 21, 1986, and went back to work on Monday, November 24, to find the company had moved out on the weekend. A letter was sent out to those 80 employees by the company on September 5, stating: "Your improved efforts have begun to make a success of our Canadian operation. The quality and production levels have improved, and I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of you."
When is the minister going to bring in legislation to force companies such as this to justify a plant closure before it can let 80 people in his riding go, without jobs, simply allow them to hang as they did, and then move out on a Saturday, completely abandoning the plant? When is he going to bring in legislation to enforce corporate responsibility?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: We have indicated for some time that we are preparing legislation along this line. Perhaps my friends in the third party have forgotten the accord. This is a matter to be brought forward within the two-year period of the accord. The last time I checked, we were in the 18th month. We are well along in our preparation for legislation improving this very important area in Ontario's protection.
Is the minister aware that, in addition to this company just running out of our country, during the time it was located here, in the last year, it received subsidies under the following programs: Futures, training in business and industry, the job development federally and the work activity program. All of these programs subsidized the wages of this company.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I regret that the member for Windsor-Riverside has asked the question of the wrong minister, but since I am on my feet and answering the question, I will remind him and my friend the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) that it was my constituency office that raised the issue originally with the employment standards branch. I also remind and inform my friend from Windsor-Riverside that today an order to pay for $69,300 was issued for the seven weeks' termination notice that was not given.
First, I want to indicate that all of us on the government side of the House and, I am sure, all members of the House share the concern expressed by my colleague that a toy promoting this kind of negative stereotyping of a particular race would be offered to children at any time, but particularly at this time of year when goodwill and brotherhood really ought to be what we are thinking about.
This morning I had a chance to speak with Mike Richards, who is the vice-president of marketing for Coleco Canada, the manufacturer of this doll. I am pleased to advise the House and the honourable member that Coleco Canada has agreed to request all distributors of the doll to withdraw the doll from their shelves immediately.
Mr. Richards assures me that Coleco will be sending letters to its distributors this afternoon with this request, and for those who are involved in those stores who happen to be seeing the provincial parliament being televised, I ask them to accede to this request immediately.
May I ask the minister as a supplementary to sit down with the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) to examine the question of the adequacy of our group defamation legislation and procedures in this province?
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Solicitor General. The Attorney General has finally clarified a position he has been trying to put forward in this House for many months -- that the government has nothing to do with the laying of charges -- and this afternoon he has finally fessed up that the Solicitor General is, in fact, in a position to tell the police when to press charges.
Communications from the Ministry of the Solicitor General go through the Ontario Police Commission, which is a very viable entity under my jurisdiction and which makes direct communication with all police forces. I do not instruct by means of the OPC exactly against whom, and in what circumstances, police forces are to lay charges, but I do make it known through the OPC that the laws of the province must be upheld. That goes out quite frequently to police forces -- more frequently now certainly than in the past -- to remind them of their responsibility to maintain the laws of the province through the interpretations they place on the laws, which are clearly written out for them.
Mr. Grossman: We know the minister, through the mechanism he has just described, does not instruct police forces to charge anyone specifically, but he may indicate that "vigorous law enforcement take place with respect to the Retail Business Holidays Act." That is a quote from his spokesman, Mr. Norton.
Can the Solicitor General simply tell us whether he will be indicating to them through that process that both subsections 2(1) and 2(2) of the Retail Business Holidays Act should be enforced and that therefore they should be laying charges against both employers and employees? Is that the general instruction he has issued?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: My instructions are more general than that. As I indicated before, I do not attempt through the OPC to try to tell police forces under what sections of any act they are to lay charges. In my request yesterday to the OPC, I asked that it send a directive to police forces reminding them that the laws of the province must be upheld, particularly, at this time of the year, the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Mr. Hayes: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will be aware from the figures I released on Friday that the levels of Lakes St. Clair, Huron and Erie in October were above the previous high levels recorded for that month. Now that the International Joint Commission has publicly stated that measures can be taken to lower the levels in the Great Lakes, will the minister take immediate action to lower the water levels in the Great Lakes?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I also have read the report from the International Joint Commission, and it has not made that kind of statement. The statement is very clear that they will be examining all the options that might be undertaken. They are not suggesting that they are going to take action on those initiatives.
Mr. Hayes: I suggest the minister read this report very carefully, especially page 4. I am asking the minister to take action; I am not asking what kind of action the IJC is taking. He should be using some of his authority.
When the minister's task force travelled around the province and toured some of the areas with the high water problem, several people and groups told the task force that the way to solve the problem of flooding was to lower the water levels. The task force responded that discussing lowering the levels was not part of its mandate. Will the minister tell us why the task force was not allowed to discuss ways and means of lowering the lake levels?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: The task force has done one of the best jobs that has ever been done in examining the whole circumstance. It is very clear that the water levels in the Great Lakes are the responsibility of the two federal governments and that the provincial government does not have the ability to enter into the level controls of the Great Lakes.
On many occasions I have talked to the Honourable Tom McMillan in Ottawa and to the IJC, to all those people. It is obvious, as the IJC has suggested, that the federal government should be the lead agency; it should take the initiative, and Ontario is most willing to cooperate with it when it takes that initiative.
Ms. Hart: My question is of the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. In my riding of York East, I have quite a large number of immigrant women who call my constituency office asking what services are available to them to deal with their problems. One question that comes up from time to time is what services are available in the area of family violence. Does the minister have any programs that deal with these very real concerns that are being raised?
Hon. Ms. Munro: Yes. As I said many times before, the ministry owes much of its success to the fact that our programs are placed within the community so that, as a first instance, immigrant women in the province have access to services from organizations that are friendly to them.
We have funded specific programs for women dealing with family violence. In fact, I have just authorized payments to three shelter organizations to do that very thing. We have also funded women's centres in general to provide them with skills money to make sure women enter into the world of work as early as possible.
The most important thing I believe we are doing is to try to provide English-language skills which also allow the woman to bring children to the community centre along with her, otherwise women would never be able to take advantage of our programs.
Ms. Hart: The minister has raised another area of interest that is raised quite frequently in my constituency office. It deals with how immigrant women get into the work force in Ontario. Can the minister please elaborate as to what services are available?
Hon. Ms. Munro: While time is short, I will mention two programs. We have the English-as-a-second-language course, which is accessed primarily by women; 70 per cent of people in the course are women. It talks about how to fill out résumés and how to look for a job. The other program is English in the work place, which also teaches women how to use computers and therefore get their first jobs.
Mr. Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 30, the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) gave notice yesterday of his dissatisfaction with the answer given by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) to his question. This matter will be debated at 6 p.m. this evening.
"As members of the board of directors of the People for Sunday Association of Canada and as members of the Ontario Committee for the Regulation of Sunday and Holiday Retailing, we urge the government to oppose any changes in the Retail Business Holidays Act that would permit additional stores to open on Sundays and holidays, and respectfully ask that all three political parties take under consideration the sentiments as expressed by 108,892 Ontario citizens who have duly signed postcards, here attached, so stating their opposition to additional Sunday and holiday retailing."
Hon. Mr. Scott: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: the member for Oakville has been good enough to provide to me these petitions against an open Sunday, which I am delighted to have. They should really all be directed to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), who has made clear that he supports an open Sunday.
"Moneys in company pension funds have been considered a trust on behalf of employees and a condition of employment. Therefore, we, the undersigned, protest the proposed legislation of the Ontario government to permit the withdrawal of moneys from company pension funds, whether they are considered surplus or by any other term that might be applied, and favour legislation to limit the ratio of funds banked in relation to payout on a one-to-one basis unless full indexing re the cost of living has been applied or adjusted for both the present and past years of the high inflationary period."
Mr. Cousens: I have petitions from constituents in Thornhill and Richmond Hill, from condominiums at 7811 Yonge Street and 140 Confederation Way in Thornhill, 40 Baif Boulevard, 50 Baif Boulevard and 70 Baif Boulevard in Richmond Hill and 21 Elizabeth Street. All these condominium owners beg leave to petition the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"The undersigned beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario strongly urging the government to review the current treatment of condominiums with regard to assessment so that condominiums will be assessed on the same basis as owner-occupied, single-family residences."
These petitions are presented in the hope that the government will begin to resolve this very serious problem for people on fixed incomes who can no longer continue to pay the high taxes they are currently being charged.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Contrary to what the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) says, this bill is going to do a great deal for the tourist industry and for northern Ontario. Nothing but good can flow from this bill.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: Since a number of members want to order their busy schedules this afternoon, I can announce to the House that it is expected the debate will be completed this afternoon.
Much has been said over the past number of days, and it is difficult not to be somewhat repetitive. I will try not to be. However, I feel the importance of this bill before the House requires repetition, because many of the things that are being said here and have been said in this Legislature have fallen on deaf ears across the House.
This last-minute amendment, which would add the words "sexual orientation" to the Ontario Human Rights Code, would prohibit discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians. The government's stated purpose for Bill 7 was to bring various laws, including the Ontario Human Rights Code, into conformity with the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 15 of the charter, however, is silent on the matter of discrimination by reason of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation refers to a sexual preference which includes homosexuality and lesbianism, and which could include paedophilia and necrophilia.
Since there is no existing conflict between the Ontario code and the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this regard, section 18 of the code need not be amended at this time. This amendment meets none of the traditional requirements for human rights protection that protect morally neutral and unchangeable status and not behaviour. Therefore, this is an inappropriate addition to the Human Rights Code.
It is generally accepted that sex as a protected classification in human rights legislation refers to gender, the inherent characteristic of being male or female, and not to sexual activities or propensities.
Courts in the US have consistently held that the prohibition of sex discrimination in civil rights statutes and ordinances is not intended to protect homosexuals, lesbians and transsexuals. Canadian courts have adopted a similar interpretation in this regard. If passed, the amendment will have the effect of granting to one group in our society a special status or privileges not enjoyed by others.
The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) stated during his remarks that it is not the purpose of the legislation to exalt the status of the gays. I beg to differ with him in this regard, as do many others. The provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee freedom from discrimination based on morally neutral or unchangeable status and not behaviour. Homosexuality is acquired behaviour; therefore, sexual orientation would create special privileges with respect to behaviour and not unchangeable status.
Once sexual orientation becomes enshrined in the code, if this amendment should pass in this House, it would become an accepted norm in society on the same basis as creed, colour, race, age, nationality, ethnic origin, etc. It would legitimize an alternative lifestyle on the same level as the traditional family. Should we expect chronic drinkers and smokers to be added to the Human Rights Code as a group because their behaviour may adversely affect their chances of employment? Where does one draw the line? Should criminal behaviour also be enshrined in the code?
In Ontario, homosexuals and lesbians currently enjoy the same legal rights and fundamental freedoms as any other citizen, rights of employment, freedom to conduct business, free speech, freedom of association, the exercising of religious preference, etc. Homosexuals cannot be dismissed from their employment except for just cause, the same as all other employees. One may disagree with a person's sexual preference without denying that person his or her rights.
In the November 25 Instant Hansard on page L-1545-1, the Attorney General stated that "we must regard moral questions as personal matters, not governmental matters." As the chief law officer of this province, does he not agree that it is difficult to divorce morality from the law?
The Attorney General makes reference to the late US president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and to the governor of the state of New York, Mario Cuomo. He states that when President Kennedy met with the Houston ministers, they said to him that he could not be president of the US. When he asked why not, they said, "You cannot be President of this country, because you have a particular moral value as a Roman Catholic that makes you unsuitable."
The Attorney General goes on to say, "Ever since Houston, I do not believe that in a pluralistic society, no matter how important our own moral values are, no matter how firmly we hold to them and no matter how they regulate every aspect of our lives, we can permit this Legislature to enact the moral values of anybody, no matter how firmly they are held."
I would like to bring to the Attorney General's attention a comment with which he is no doubt familiar. British Chief Justice Lord Denning, on the topic of divorcing morality from the law arose, warned, "Without religion, there can be no morality and without morality, there can be no law."
To use the coercive power of law to force citizens of this province to violate their consciences or religious convictions is fundamentally repugnant to the constitutional freedom of conscience and religion that we enjoy in this province.
I want to talk about the process by which we find section 18 of Bill 7 before this House. I represent 82,000 constituents in the riding of York West. I am proud to be standing up today speaking on this very contentious, sensitive and moral issue, because the citizens of my riding have been denied their democratic right to be heard on this issue.
When this government came into power, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) stood in this House and said his was going to be an open government with no doors and no barriers. His doors were always going to be open for the citizens of this province. He wanted to hear from them. The same government that talked about its openness has practised a form of closure before the fact by not allowing the people of this province an opportunity to be heard on this issue and to have input at some public forum. I cannot be critical enough of a government that does that type of thing. We all believe in the democratic process in this House. It is fundamental to the political process we have enjoyed over the years, that is, we used to enjoy before that particular date, in may 1985.
I would like to quote some parts of letters I have received that deal with this very matter. Big Brothers of Canada, with 65 agencies in Ontario, including more than 4,000 Big Brothers and Sisters and some 1,500 volunteer board members, wrote to me, as I am sure they have written to all members in this House, stating, "We respectfully urge the government to reconsider this legislation, at least until there has been an opportunity for full public discussion and citizen input."
I received a letter from the Coalition for Family Values, which states, "Surely an issue that addresses some of the most difficult moral and religious concerns of Canadians cries out for thoughtful public debate and scrutiny."
I have another one from a concerned businessman in my constituency, who says, "I was shocked and alarmed to learn recently that an amendment to Bill 7 was introduced after second reading to the standing committee on administration of justice on May 6, 1986, by the insertion of `sexual orientation' in the Human Rights Code of Ontario." He goes on to say: "Why was this amendment smuggled in after second reading, thus short-circuiting normal and proper public consultation and scrutiny? This is a devious behaviour."
The brief from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada on homosexual legislation states: "The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is deeply distressed at the hasty and secretive manner in which the Attorney General of Ontario and the provincial justice committee have rushed the amendments through committee and back into the Legislature behind closed doors, away from the circumspectful eye of the general public and without the benefit of informed public comment. Surely an issue that addresses `some of the most difficult moral and religious concerns of Canadians,' to use the words of the federal government's Towards Equality report, cries out for public debate and scrutiny. It would be wrong for the Ontario Legislature to interpret the stillness of the public on this issue as a lack of public interest."
I have another one here from a business person in my riding, who says: "It has just been brought to my attention that the Ontario government is attempting to ram through a totally disgusting piece of legislation whose effect will be to force the population to hire homosexuals and to be penalized for refusing. I understand that this is an amendment added to Bill 7 after second reading, thereby preventing proper public input and discussion."
I have a letter from the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has been referred to on a number of occasions. It says: "We deplore the attempt to pass Bill 7 without the widespread consultation and discussion which will permit the citizens of Ontario to express their will concerning it. Therefore, we urgently request the government to postpone any action on Bill 7 until such consultation has taken place. Moreover, we ask our fellow citizens to write or telephone at once to their MPP."
The member for St. George (Ms. Fish), who spoke in this House yesterday, made some statements to which I take very strong exception. As a Catholic, I take strong exception to the member for St. George who, during her presentation, accused the Roman Catholic Church, which is my church, of promoting a terrible campaign of hatred against homosexuals. She called members of this caucus and others in this House bigots.
When she talks about her personal morality, maybe she does not believe in the church or in marriage, but that is her belief and her right, to which she is entitled. On the other hand, I happen to be someone who has a religion. I am Catholic. I believe in the family and I believe in marriage in the church.
Did the member for St. George say to this House yesterday that the two million to four million Ontarians who are members of Catholic churches are all bigots promoting hatred on this particular issue? Is she saying that the churches do not have the right in this province to express a moral and religious view on this particular legislation? I believe she owes the members of this House on both sides an apology for having made those statements. I resent them very strongly.
I commend the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) and the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock), who had the courage of their convictions to stand up in this House and speak what they believe in and what their constituents have been telling them they believe in.
Although the Premier is limiting discussion on that side of the House by asking the members of the government to vote in favour of this amendment, I find it very difficult to believe that members such as the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) or the member for Quinte (Mr. O'Neil) will stand up in this House and vote for this legislation. I have my doubts.
The people in this province are going to be watching to see how the vote goes on this issue. One cannot hide behind the fact that weather conditions are bad or one is ill or is going to be away today for some other reason. The people will expect each and every member in this House to stand up and be counted on this issue, because it is a very important issue. Those members who choose to stay out of this House purposely because they do not want to stand up and be counted will, by their absence, be voting for this amendment.
"On behalf of the Queensway Cathedral, we express grave concern regarding the sexual orientation clause which has been submitted for inclusion in Bill 7. The inclusion of a sexual orientation clause is providing for a particular group of individuals special recognition which is not accorded any other group within society. Homosexuals and lesbians presently enjoy the same legal rights and fundamental freedoms, such as employment, freedom to conduct business, free speech, freedom of association, the exercising of religious preferences, as do heterosexuals."
He further says: "As the intent of the legislation is to provide special recognition to homosexuals and lesbians, the rest of society, in effect, will be experiencing reverse discrimination in face of this legislation. The implications of such legislation are profound, including:
1. "Sexual orientation is a vague, undefined and open-ended phrase. Not only would it extend legal support to homosexual behaviour, but it could open the door to other sexual behaviour, such as sexual interest in children and animals."
2. "Social agencies, such as those that provide services and companionship to children of single parents and others in need of care, could lose their right to set their own standards of conduct for volunteers and employees.
4. "The legislation could affect the traditional right of religious groups to hire only those staff members whose lifestyle is faithful to the beliefs and practices of the religious community." I know the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) will agree with that 100 per cent.
9. "Employers would lose the right to refuse employment to homosexuals, who in flaunting their particular lifestyle conduct themselves in a manner incompatible with the standards set by their employers for dealing with customers and other employees."
He said the manner in which this amendment arrived here denied the public its right to be heard. The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) got up in this House yesterday and began to espouse the fact that there had been public hearings on this amendment. He was asked by the member for High Park-Swansea to provide some dates when this took place. The fact is there have been no public hearings, none at all.
The member for High Park-Swansea then began to discuss the process, which he called a mockery of what we know to be the traditional political process, because there were no public hearings. He stated that he was going to boycott the vote because the whole process was a sham. We all have to search our consciences as members of this Legislature, and I do not believe one can hide behind that kind of statement, that because he does not agree with the process, he is going to boycott the vote when it takes place.
Since there are other speakers who want to be heard, I will close by asking all members of this House to search their consciences and to be here to be counted when the vote is taken. This is too important an issue for members to walk away from and turn their backs on. I hope that when the vote is taken we are going to see the 50 Liberal members on the government side all standing up one way or another and being counted.
When the issue first came before the House, back in 1981, I voted in favour of the amendment and I shall do so again today. I commend those colleagues whose minds have changed or whose thinking has evolved from opposition to support on this matter during the intervening five years and who have had the determination, or will show the determination later today or tomorrow, to say so. In matters of principle and conviction, sincerity is always a little more important than consistency.
To say that the debate thus far has been a passionate one is to speak in a grand understatement. Members have spoken with strong emotion and with deep feeling. To some extent -- I say this with respect and deference to my colleagues who oppose this amendment -- the strength of the emotion and the depth of the feeling are attributable to a misconception of what this amendment intends and what it achieves.
This amendment does not approve or condone homosexuality; rather, it disapproves and condemns discrimination. The amendment does not confer special status; it attempts to ensure equal treatment. This amendment will not lead to the ruination of the traditional family; it simply says that those persons who do not live in traditional family ways will not be treated as pariahs or social outcasts in our community. It is on these three aspects of the debate that I want to spend a few short minutes.
The Ontario Human Rights Code is the great statement of this Legislative Assembly and of the people it represents and serves that in 1986 discrimination in Ontario is unacceptable, intolerable and totally undeserving of any claim upon our hearts and minds. To abhor discrimination is a simple thing in our modern age. It is the right thing and the only decent thing. The code abhors discrimination because discrimination is unjust and it is right to abhor injustice. This is clearly set out in the preamble to the code. Let me read one part of it.
"Whereas it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law, and having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and able to contribute fully to the development and wellbeing of the community and the province...."
I suggest to the members of the House that the key phrases in that passage are "dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination." The code does not prefer one religious belief above another, one creed above another, one race above another or one ethnic origin above another. It does not express the superiority of one set of personal practices above another.
Similarly, the amendment before the House does not offer an opinion one way or another on the matter of homosexuality. The code says discrimination against persons on the grounds set out in the essential areas of life is forbidden. The amendment says discrimination in those essential areas against persons who are or are perceived to be homosexuals because of their real or perceived homosexuality will also be forbidden.
Certain members have made the argument that this amendment would confer special status on homosexuals. That is simply not true. The Human Rights Code does not elevate one group above another, nor must it allow, through omission, for diminishing one group below another. The code simply equalizes. It does so because we in Ontario hold fast and dear to the belief that every person is deserving of respect by virtue of the simple fact that he is a person, no less or no more than any other member of the human family.
This belief lies at the very heart of our democracy, indeed of all democracies. Equality is the foundation on which rests the concept of one person, one vote. It is the very life strength of our society. It is this belief that inspires and gives meaning to our laws in the way we govern ourselves for the benefit of everyone in our community.
Is it conceivable that in Ontario we would be able to say, "I am authorized by law to refuse you shelter, food, goods, services and common decency, the common essentials of life, because I consider you or your group inferior to me?" In Ontario in 1986, it is not conceivable. In Ontario in 1986, it should not be allowed.
The real tragedy of discrimination is that it wounds and humiliates its victims. It does more. It also poisons the discriminator with the slow, insidious poison of intolerance and then, soon and eventually, indifference. But it does even more still. It corrupts the society that gives it sanctuary. I stand opposed to that kind of corruption and intolerance, and I stand opposed to that kind of indifference.
The third and most commonly repeated argument against this amendment has been that it augurs the destruction of the traditional family. There is simply no basis in law or in fact for this. The code is very clear on the meaning of family, marriage and spouse in its definition sections. It leaves no room for doubt. There is no ambiguity in the words used in terms of the opposite sex. The amendment can in no way impair the clarity of these definitions, nor will it.
It was a week ago today that I flew to Quebec to a conference of ministers of labour. I arrived early that evening. Because it was possible that the vote would be held last week, I immediately sought to make arrangements to make a quick return to Toronto if the vote was held on Wednesday or Thursday.
On my way to dinner that evening, I was being driven to dinner by one of the assistants of my colleague from Quebec, the Honourable Pierre Paradis. He asked me why I had to come back for an important vote; what it was on. I said it was to include an amendment on sexual orientation in the Human Rights Code. His response was an interesting one. He said: "Why is this such a great debate? We have had sexual orientation in our code for seven years now. It has had absolutely no great controversy, caused no great effect," the kind of which we have heard in this Legislature.
What he sought to indicate to me, and I want to impart to all my colleagues in the Legislature, is that a lot of the concerns and fears that have been raised here during this debate simply will not happen with the passage of this amendment. It has not happened in Quebec, and it will not happen in Ontario.
As Minister of Labour, as a minister in the government and as a resident of Ontario, I do not think we ought to allow the laws of this province to permit casting aside as pariahs or outsiders any group within our community, without any lawful criminal cause. Long ago, decent and civilized culture spurned this credo of rejection, but it embraced the better belief that because all persons were created equal, all persons belonged in the community.
I urge my colleagues to consider the issues on the basis of the objectives and the statement of public policy expressed by the Human Rights Code; that is, on the basis of rejecting discrimination, of affirming equality, of rejecting distrust and suspicion and advancing respect and understanding.
I urge my colleagues to ask themselves, each and every one of us, whether we are not indeed our brother's keeper. Although our brothers may be unlike us, or perhaps misguided or in error or even astray, are they not none the less our brothers, and thus are we not none the less their keepers?
Mr. Taylor: I appreciate the opportunity to speak and oppose this section of the bill. Having listened attentively to the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), it struck me that the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) should have been the person leading off the debate, not the Attorney General, because the Human Rights Code is under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Labour. I say that as the minister departs the assembly.
The point I am making is that Bill 7, An Act to amend certain Ontario Statutes to conform to section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is not an act to amend the Human Rights Code in any fundamental way. If it were, we should have had the Minister of Labour lead off the debate.
"I sense that the difficulty some honourable members have about this amendment is dictated by one of two possibilities, both of which I respect. The first possibility is that it is opposed out of a kind of fear, and the second is that it is opposed on moral grounds. May I deal with each of those very briefly?" He goes on to deal with them, and I will quote a little more later.
I sense that the issue has two parts; one is form or process, and the other is substance. I have listened to my colleagues speak in the past days, and much has been made of the process or the form that has evolved in terms of the bill. Succinctly put, the issue is that if we as an assembly have some intention to amend the Human Rights Code in a substantive way, then we should introduce an amendment to the Human Rights Code and bring it forward as such. We should not slip it in the back door, so to speak, as a matter necessary to accommodate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because that is not so.
It has taken on an act of dishonesty, if I may be so bold as to put it that way, to introduce a substantive amendment that is not necessary. It was not originally in the bill. It was introduced while the bill was in committee and therefore lacked some of the process that one would normally engage in if it were a bill put forward to amend the Human Rights Code.
I was here, as some other members were, some years ago when we made substantial amendments to the Human Rights Code. I was concerned in the process, which covered the province in a very full and open way. I recall the Honourable Robert Elgie at that time was Minister of Labour. I am sure he was tormented for many months when dealing with the amendments that were introduced. I was concerned, and I was not reluctant in any way to state my concerns. I followed the minister, or he followed me, in refutation of some of the proposed amendments. I do not apologize for that. As a matter of fact, the code was amended substantially following that process before it was finally adopted by the assembly.
It was that invitation to the public to come forward before the committee and it was the very thorough review of the proposed amendments that resulted in the changes that took place. I point this out simply as a source of major concern by some of my colleagues in terms of the manner in which the amendment was introduced.
I ask the Attorney General, if he is listening, to withdraw this section and to introduce it in the way I have mentioned -- that is, as an amendment as such to the Human Rights Code -- so that it can be dealt with in that fashion. That is the fundamental test of democracy. It is what we have been hearing from many of the members and it would be a healthy exercise.
The government obviously is adamant in ensuring that the legislation as amended will now go through. Maybe the process that has been suggested, maybe the introduction of an amendment as I have mentioned, would not be productive because the government has made up its mind and will not be influenced in any way. If it is impervious to public opinion, then why waste the time of the assembly? Maybe that is the message we are getting from the Attorney General.
The Attorney General went on, in covering his two points of opposition -- that is, opposition because of fear or opposition because of moral reasons -- by making the following statements. Let me read the brief few lines that are here. He said:
"I do not believe that this bill, properly understood, has anything to do with those moral values. We must regard moral questions as personal matters, not governmental matters, because as soon as a moral question becomes a governmental question, then we have a tyranny over which there is no control. I do not believe we can permit this Legislature to enact the moral values of anybody, no matter how firmly they are held."
That struck me as rather strange. I have never seen the law that way. I have seen the law evolve from customs and mores. If the mores or acceptable behaviour become the morals of society, morals are often manifested in terms of legislation. I suppose a good example of such legislation is our Criminal Code, which certainly deals with the oughts and the ought-nots, what one should do and what one should not do. We have it clearly defined in terms of our whole educational process.
Here we are dealing with the duties of teachers. "It is the duty of a teacher...to inculcate by precept and example respect for religion and the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues."
There surely is no clearer manifestation of public policy in legislation. We are talking about the teaching of moral precepts through our school systems and those precepts are religious precepts as well. When we come to the moral issue, we have a great deal of soul-searching to do, as has been said here today. I usually respect the views of my colleagues, whoever they are. I think some have been strident and some have been most opinionated. I do not think any of us should be intolerant no matter what.
I do not appreciate being accused of bigotry or intolerance, any more than anyone else does. If one cannot tolerate intolerance, one becomes intolerant oneself. As politicians, we have to have skin thick enough to ward off those types of remarks and not chastise too severely those colleagues who may not agree with one another.
I see the moral issue as a very strong one, the issue of religious faith. It was interesting listening to the member for Humber (Mr. Henderson) in this debate. He did a great deal of soul-searching. He is a psychiatrist and a very thoughtful person, who gave the professional opinion, as I understood it, that homosexuality was really a matter of environmental influence subject to, or together with, the predisposition that was there as a result of the person's makeup.
As I understood the speech of my colleague the member for St. George yesterday, she was convinced it was not environmental, that it was really a matter of biology. I suppose the makeup of the person predetermines that person's orientation in sexual matters.
Here we have a difference of views from two members, which may prompt different conclusions. At the same time, a great many members, certainly in our party, suggest that if the Liberal Party opened its caucus doors to others, one would sense or experience a considerable debate on this issue as well.
I think there is a great deal of division within the Liberal Party. I know their sense of loyalty and oneness will be demonstrated in an almost unanimous vote. There are some who have the power of their convictions and who stand firm -- and for them I have nothing but respect -- from all sides of the House, even in the New Democratic Party. I always hesitate to analyse that particular party, and its members thank me on occasion for that. I suspect there might even be one or two members there who express some difference in opinion.
Here we have people with deep moral and religious convictions who have been raised to hold certain views on what is right and what is wrong, who think it is wrong. They sense that what we are doing is actually creating a privileged position for a certain segment of our society that does not need it.
One concern I have with this legislation, and had with the legislation in 1981 when the amendments and the extensive changes took place, is the process. It is not just what is written in the law but also the implementation of the law, the procedure. It is the Ontario Human Rights Commission itself. It is the opportunity for people of ill will to exploit a piece of legislation such as this to advance their own cause.
I see the potential for abuse of the system. Looking at the report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission for last year, I note that it had a backlog of 1,200 complaints and had to take on an additional 47 staff members. It is a very active industry. I can understand that we might be inviting more activity in this area, which is not bad if it discharges the true intent and spirit of the legislation.
If someone comes to you for employment, I am sure that most of the time you would not know and would not care what that person's sexual orientation is, whether it is heterosexual, homosexual or whatever type of sexual activities he or she engages in; it would not show. You do not write it across your T-shirt or hold up a placard and campaign or advertise it. You do not do that type of thing.
It is a personal matter. It is something that should be respected. However, if a person chooses to manifest that orientation in some way, whether it is by dress or other type of behaviour or makeup, that person is inviting discrimination.
All discrimination is not necessarily bad. I think of the Premier in the choice of his cabinet. I sat back and thought: "On what basis would the Premier choose his cabinet? Would matters of sex come into it? Would he want a woman in his cabinet? Would he want some ethnic, racial or cultural backgrounds represented? Would he want certain religions represented?"
As a mental exercise, I went through the cabinet to see to what extent discrimination was exercised in the makeup of the Liberal cabinet. I suggest there is probably nothing wrong with that. Whether we know it or not, we often discriminate but not in a harmful way. I do not think at present there is ill will in terms of discriminating in a harmful way because of someone's predisposition.
If a law is not needed, why pass it when it can open the opportunity for others to abuse it and victimize it? This troubles me. As legislators, we should get out into the province. We should see what we are doing. We should see how the legislation translates. I have spoken on this in connection with business, in connection with the rules, regulations and obstacles. I do not care whether it concerns housing, small businessmen or whatever. We sit here and pass laws.
We brag about the number of laws we have passed in a year. The hallmark of a government's success is the amount of legislation it puts through this House. I question whether this is beneficial to the people of Ontario who often are only crying to get the government off their backs.
I look at this and I wonder why we have to do it. In my riding, I must confess I have had one letter of support from a constituent and another letter from someone who was but is no longer a constituent. However, like other members, I have had thousands of representations, collectively or individually, in opposition to this legislation.
I sense a will of the majority there. As a legislator, I have respect for the will of the majority. In a democratic society, it is the will of the majority that governs. Again, I wonder why it is so necessary for the government to accede to an amendment to a bill drafted by the previous government that brings various statutes into line with the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an amendment that was not there, was not necessary but has been worked in in this way.
It is the process and the need for this that concern me, as they have concerned my colleagues; and as they are of fundamental concern to citizens with regard to the morality and the impingement on religious faith. I am anxious to put myself on the record and to ask why. What is prompting this?
Are we trying now to develop affirmative action programs? The Human Rights Code provides for affirmative action programs. If there is a group or a class of persons that are disadvantaged in some way, there are provisions within the Human Rights Code to discriminate in a reverse manner to assist those persons. Therefore, if we carry this provision on sexual orientation into the Human Rights Code and apply the various other sections of that code, then we see the potential for abuse.
For example, there is a provision for a claimant to be awarded up to $10,000 for mental anguish. I have experienced cases, not personally but cases that have been brought to my attention, where the investigators under the commission -- and they are legion -- have called on persons and have insisted on some type of settlement. You negotiate. A business person or someone trying to get along is not very happy about being paraded before boards of inquiry or the human rights commission. Any cause of action is worth something, and the Attorney General, who is now here, knows that. It is worth something, and so you settle those things.
It is like the lady who was fired because she was not performing her function as a Santa Claus very well. The Attorney General may remember that. He should read about it. The children were not taking to her very well as Santa Claus. They were starting to doubt the existence of Santa Claus -- her credibility was not all that great -- and so she was let go. She made a claim to the human rights commission. There was a settlement, and I think $2,000 was awarded to her as a result of that claim, because she did not make a very good Santa Claus.
We have examples such as these where a system can be mined or exploited to advance someone else's position or for personal gain. We have to look at the act as a whole. If we brought in an amendment to the Human Rights Code and if the Minister of Labour, who is responsible for that code, carried the can, I am sure that would relieve the Attorney General of a lot; then we could let the process take place and we would get a better sense of how the public of Ontario feels about this type of amendment.
I have tried to be temperate and not to express too much bias. I subscribe in a personal sense to the position and the feelings of my constituents. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to put myself and the people of Prince Edward-Lennox on record in opposition to this section of the bill.
Mr. Gillies: I am very pleased to join this debate and to join with the members of the House who will be voting -- and I might say in a personal way proudly voting -- in favour of the amendment to section 18 of Bill 7.
I have been here in my seat through the past week for most of the debate, and I have tried to listen with varying degrees of patience to the arguments being made on both sides of this very controversial bill. I appreciate, as I am sure you, Mr. Chairman, and other members of the assembly do, that people have brought a great deal of conviction and passion, as my colleague said, to this debate. While I disagree with many who have spoken on this bill, I do not believe things have been said by people in this debate out of convenience and I hope not out of politics; regardless of whether I as an individual believe them to be misguided or not, I believe these things to have been said with conviction.
We debate so many mundane things in this House. I am sure many members will agree with me that there are so many details of so many bills and so many things that, if changed or left unchanged, will not have a profound effect on our society and will not change in any way the degree of tolerance in our society.
This debate is different. I view this debate in the same way as we would have viewed the recent debate on Bill 8 and the changes brought forward to extend the rights to francophone citizens in our province. I view this debate in very much the same vein as I viewed the debate on the Constitution that was held in this House, where major issues, issues that affect the day-to-day lives of thousands of Ontario citizens are before us and where the ultimate decision on these crucial matters is left to the 125 people who are favoured by nine million electors to represent their views.
Conscious of this weighty responsibility, I look back to some very wise words indeed when the late, great President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, gave the following charge to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1961:
"For of those to whom much is given, much is required, and when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgement on each of us, recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state, our success or failure in whatever office we hold will be measured by the answers to four questions.
Under any one of those four criteria, and indeed taking those four criteria as a whole, I believe the right and just thing to do in this Legislature today is to correct a historic injustice and grant equal rights under our Human Rights Code to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. I believe this is in the best tradition and in keeping with the history of the House, and I say to my colleagues, many of whom I know disagree with me on this issue, it is very much in keeping with the finest traditions of the Progressive Conservative Party.
I draw members' attention to the introduction of the first Racial Discrimination Act by the Frost government in this great province; the introduction of the first Ontario Human Rights Code in the province by the Robarts government in 1962; and the amendment and the enrichment of the Ontario Human Rights Code by the Davis government in 1981. Now we have the opportunity to further extend and enrich the rights under that code.
Members ask themselves -- and I think it is a very legitimate question -- is this amendment necessary? Are homosexuals discriminated against in our society? I believe that to be the case. I have referred to a number of works on this subject and would like to quote from the book Equality Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which talks very specifically about the necessity for specific protection for these people. It states:
"The equal protection section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 15, follows the pattern of all Canadian human rights enactments, except those in Quebec, in specifying sex among the prohibited grounds of discrimination while omitting sexual orientation. In the absence of specific legislative protection, Canadians who have complained formally of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation have attempted to gain standing under the heading of sex.
"One of the earlier cases, Damien vs. the Ontario Racing Commission, made it clear that complainants would not be allowed to read in `sexual orientation' where it was not written. Damien, an experienced racetrack groom, claimed he was fired for no other reason than that his employers learned he was homosexual. He complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission that he had been refused employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The commission told Damien that it could not accept his complaint because the Ontario Human Rights Code does not prohibit discrimination on that ground, and therefore it lacked jurisdiction. Damien was obliged to seek his remedies in the courts in a civil action based on wrongful dismissal.
"In 1977, the human rights commission itself sought to remedy this omission, among others, with a formal recommendation to the Ontario government that sexual orientation should be included in an amended code. No action was taken for four years. Then the issue was debated in the provincial Legislature with passion for some days in the fall of 1981. An opposition amendment to include sexual orientation was defeated in committee.
"When Ontario proclaimed its new code in force on June 15, 1982, sexual orientation was not included among its 13 enumerated prohibited grounds. In Ontario, it is obvious that without specific mention, sexual orientation is not a legal ground for complaints under human rights legislation."
I guess the next question we have to ask ourselves is at the very crux of this debate. Are homosexual citizens of this province, people whose sexual orientation varies from that which is considered to be in the mainstream, being discriminated against in our society? Clearly, this is the case.
I wonder how many members of this assembly have had somebody come to them in their constituency offices, or telephone them, in their years of service in this chamber, complaining about the denial of accommodation, the denial or loss of employment or the denial of government services? We know it happens. It is happening.
Recently, I called a friend of mine in Chicago, a rather noted Bible scholar, because I wanted his advice in preparing for this debate, and he told me it was a widespread and unhappy phenomenon in the United States that people suffering from the dreaded disease of acquired immune deficiency syndrome were running into problems in obtaining proper and adequate hospital service in various parts of the US.
This clergyman told me a heart-rending story of a young gay man in Philadelphia who was diagnosed with AIDS and told by his doctor that he likely had no more than two or three weeks to live. He went to the hospital and was provided with service, but this young man's partner in life was refused the right to visit him because he was not a member of the immediate family. The family in this case completely dissociated themselves from their son, refused to visit him and refused to acknowledge him as their son. This young man died alone in his hospital room with only his clergyman to offer him comfort.
I thank the Lord, in whom I believe so strongly, that I have not heard a similar story in our province; but I do believe that under the Human Rights Code, unamended, it could happen. I also believe it is not in the spirit of tolerance and not in keeping with the spirit of good government that we would allow such discrimination to take place.
Two weeks ago, representatives of each caucus from this Legislature were invited to speak at a large rally being held by the gay community in this city. I know my colleague the leader of the third party and the member for London South (Ms. E. J. Smith) went. I was invited to attend. Obviously, the organizers knew my publicly stated position that I would be supporting this amendment.
I must say I wrestled with the decision about whether to attend that rally. To take such a public stand on such an emotional issue can lead to misinterpretation. But I had to ask myself as a legislator in this province: What do I believe in? Why am I here? Why are any of us here?
I came up with a very simple answer: I am not here working with all members day by day to hold people down. I am not here to allow for the fostering or the promulgation of misunderstanding or hatred. Like all of us, I believe we are here to provide good government and to provide a framework that allows for the lifting up and the flowering of the human spirit. That is why I am here. There are a lot of other things that I could be doing, that any one of us could be doing, if we felt that all we were here for was to amend the Line Fences Act.
I went to the rally because it was consistent with my beliefs in tolerance that I do so. I must say -- and I wonder whether my colleagues in the other parties had a similar experience -- I was, while at once apprehensive, delighted with the experience. The people at the rally, the 1,300 law-abiding citizens of this province who were there, did not seem to be very unhappy or filled with recrimination, doubt or anger. The feeling was almost one of celebration. But it was also the feeling of people who wanted to see a historic wrong righted. They welcomed the politicians. They welcomed our support. They made us feel at home. They made us know they understood the bridges we had to cross to get to the St. Lawrence Market that night. I have to say I left that hall that evening a very happy man. I left feeling that perhaps in some small way we had accomplished something that night.
Some of my colleagues have raised issues of personal morality and religion. This debate certainly can be approached from the aspect of secular humanism, but I approach this debate as a Christian. One of the reasons I am supporting this amendment is that I am a Christian. I do not often quote Scripture in this Legislature. Perhaps we would be better for doing it once in a while. I will quote from Romans 13:8 to 10:
"He who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. The commandments...are summed up in this sentence, `You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
I further quote from the Gospel according to St. John, chapter 4: "If a man saith I love God and hate his brother he is a liar." You cannot say that you love your God and that you wish ill on your brother or sister, because in Scripture it says that to do so is a lie.
There is the question of morality. It has been refuted time and again in this House, but I think it bears refutation once again. This amendment can in no way supersede or interfere with the provisions of the Criminal Code. As I recall, the Criminal Code was amended in 1969 to allow for lawful homosexual acts between consenting adults, and that is all. Yet time and again I have heard people in this House raising bestiality, paedophilia, necrophilia, child abuse and any number of things that are simply not included and were never intended to be included in this amendment. When the changes were proposed in Ottawa before the House of Commons, the same arguments were made against them.
I have another quote. I savour this one. It is from the Honourable John Crosbie, a noted leftist I am sure all members will agree. John was asked in the House of Commons about this very issue when he proposed the changes under federal legislation. They said, "What about gay teachers molesting their students?" John Crosbie said:
"I don't want the heterosexual teacher interfering, if it is a male teacher, with my daughter. I don't give a damn if he is a heterosexual. If he puts a hand on my daughter he is going to get it in the neck another way. It is not a matter of heterosexuality or homosexuality. I do not want a homosexual touching my son. I want teachers who do what they are supposed to do: teach."
I sense from some of the arguments that have been made before the House that the doubts about this amendment are extensions of doubt about the necessity or the efficacy of the Human Rights Code itself. We could have a very interesting debate on the subject of whether a province needs a Human Rights Code. I believe it does. I believe that one of the very solemn duties of government is to provide equality of opportunity.
I am a Conservative. I do not believe in a completely homogeneous society. I do not believe that if we started today and worked for aeons that we would ever see a time when all people were equal in ability, in judgement, in talent, in financial success or in professional success. We will never see that; but as a Progressive Conservative I believe passionately in equality of opportunity. That is what we are about.
As far as I am concerned, the Human Rights Code does not provide special benefits, special status or special recognition for any group within society; neither would it provide special recognition or special status for homosexuals in this society. What it does is to provide a framework for equality of opportunity, to allow people to reach their ultimate ambitions in our society without discrimination because of factors over which they have no control.
Other societies have not had human rights codes. Certainly Germany, from 1933 on, did not have a human rights code. Along with the millions of Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies and others who perished at the hands of that totalitarian society, hundreds of thousands of homosexuals perished.
I have had dozens of letters opposed to this legislation. I have had the phone calls. It is most tempting in every case to vote as the majority of the people who contact you on a particular piece of legislation would have you vote, but I say to my friends that occasionally a time comes in this House where we have an opportunity to exercise judgement and to rise above the mundane; I believe this to be one of those cases.
I have been somewhat disappointed by the tone of this debate. I do not believe any member has willingly or knowingly put matters before the House that are not in this amendment. As I said earlier, the arguments on both sides have been made with a conviction and a belief that what these people are saying is correct. However, I cannot stand by idly when we have an opportunity to end an aspect of what is implicitly state-sanctioned discrimination. I cannot stand on the sidelines and vote against it, and I cannot stand on the sidelines and absent myself from the vote.
I might conclude by quoting one of the great political leaders in the history of this country, who was a profound influence on me as a young boy, the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker, who in introducing Canada's original Bill of Rights said, as perhaps only he could:
"It is one of those steps which represents the achievement and the assurance of the degree of liberty and freedom, under law, that was envisaged by the Fathers of Confederation. I think it embodies a pledge to all Canadians. I am a Canadian, a free Canadian; free to speak without fear; free to stand for what I think right; free to oppose what I believe wrong. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind."
I believe John Diefenbaker was speaking for all Canadians when he said that. He said so in the finest traditions of this country; he said so in the finest traditions of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Mr. Jackson: I am quite concerned that we are even having this debate in the Legislature, because it would have been far more appropriate had we been able to have a more thorough examination of section 18 specifically in the standing committee on administration of justice.
We are told by this new Liberal government that this bill is going to bring various laws, including the Ontario Human Rights Code, into conformity with our federal Charter of Rights. As a legislator, I was concerned to learn that there was a last-minute amendment to add the specific amendment of sexual orientation to the code. This, I was told, would provide the same protection and status as race, religion or sex. Despite the government's stated purpose of Bill 7, sexual orientation is not in the Canadian charter.
This amendment was tabled at the end of justice committee hearings, after most of the public discussions had already concluded. Because of its potential impact, this amendment requires a much wider hearing than was permitted in that committee.
The Liberal government refuses to consult publicly or clarify certain issues that have recently emerged about this bill. For instance, what is sexual orientation? We are told the amendment will eliminate discrimination against homosexuals in providing protection for them beyond what is already guaranteed an Ontario citizen. In my view, this term is far too vague to be included in its present form.
As a former Halton school board trustee, I have concerns about the impact of Bill 7 on our school curriculum in Ontario. In our province today, the human development curriculum and the health guidelines of the Ministry of Education allow for the teaching of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. It is an optional program at the discretion of each school board. Once the concept of sexual orientation becomes enshrined in the Human Rights Code, by definition, it becomes an accepted norm in society on the same basis as creed, religion or sex. Therefore, just as those precepts are taught in our schools, the government could well require that sexual orientation be taught as an approved alternative lifestyle, and mandatory curriculum guidelines reflecting this logic would be an actual extension. I believe this would be inappropriate for our elementary schools and for their students, who are in their most sensitive development years and may be struggling with their personal identity.
I believe this bill to be wrong. I believe it to be wrong because as legislators we are taught to examine all legislation to determine whether it actually does what it purports to do. I believe there is much that will be done as a result of this bill being approved today which has not been discussed and which has not been openly admitted to by the government.
It was disturbing to me that they initially stylized this section 18 as a section that was going to comply with the charter, when we know it was rejected back in 1981 by the special joint committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada. They voted 22 to two to defeat an amendment that would have included sexual orientation in section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was the clear intention of the special joint committee not to include sexual orientation in the charter.
We are told by the Attorney General that this bill will prevent discrimination in the work place and in housing. Like all members who have spoken on this subject, I have received numerous phone calls and too much mail to mention. I had one interesting phone call and spent about a half an hour with this caller, who specifically wanted me to support Bill 7. I wish to share with members some of our conversation.
I asked him why he wanted Bill 7 approved. He told me that he felt he was discriminated against, that he would like to talk about his lover at work and feels he cannot because he is in fear of losing his job. I asked him if he had ever approached his employer to discuss it, and he said no. I asked him if he suffered from an employer with a prejudice; perhaps his employer lacked an open-minded attitude and compassion. Obviously, he was a good worker or he would not have the job in the first place.
I went on to ask him whether he had ever been asked on a job application about his sexual orientation, and he said no. I asked him whether he had ever been asked on an application for a lease, and he said no. He agreed that in Ontario today, with the exception of attitudes and tolerance, he felt he was adequately protected under the law in the areas of accommodation and of job placement.
Another reason I believe this bill is wrong, specifically that section 18 of Bill 7 is wrong, is the manner in which the Liberal government has been handling this issue. The media have certainly enjoyed the debates in this House by virtue of the very strong language and the very polarized positions which have become public as a result of this bill. I cannot help but believe the government is once again using confrontation politics and the politics of polarization as weapons. They are serving no one by the approach they have taken in introducing this bill.
There have been regrettable arguments presented on both sides of the argument and from both sides of this House. There have been attacks on the church, attacks on family values and unfair attacks on Ontario gays. What is really disturbing is that they have masked the real, thoughtful examination this bill requires. The Attorney General must bear responsibility for presenting it in this fashion and allowing this to happen. Who has been served by approaching the bill in this manner? The minister has refused to discuss in detail certain impacts of the bill. He must agree it is intellectually dishonest to be silent about the effects this bill will have when passed.
Several speakers have read letters from the Big Brothers of Canada. As a learned solicitor in this province, the Attorney General will be aware of the case of the Big Brothers of Minneapolis, who struggled with the issue of their policy which barred certain individuals from providing that volunteer service. There was a celebrated case in Minneapolis in which the applicant insisted, the mother was asked and refused and the association and the mother were threatened with court. There was an out-of-court settlement, and to this day in Minneapolis they are unable to divulge that information, even if the parents or the family members ask for it.
I am quite concerned about the Minister for Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney). I hope he will be in the House to hear part of the concerns I wish to raise with him. When this document came forward in cabinet, where was the Minister for Community and Social Services and what issues did he raise?
During the debate on section 18 of Bill 7, many members have argued that the passage of this section will not mean that homosexuals or lesbians will be allowed to adopt children. According to a directive issued in 1985 by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, adoption and foster care services fall under the provisions of the Human Rights Code. In 1984, the code was amended to provide that it shall have primacy over all inconsistent provincial legislation. The Attorney General is aware of section 46, which was amended and which enables him to do that, as well as the inclusion of services in section 1 of the same code.
All provincial legislation is subject to the provisions of the Human Rights Code. This includes the Child and Family Services Act, part VII, which refers to adoption and which would be subject to the proposed amendment to include sexual orientation as a prohibiting ground of discrimination.
"The enactment of the revised Ontario Human Rights Code in 1982 and of the Canadian Charter of Rights have prompted all levels of government and many private agencies to review their internal policies and procedures to ensure compatibility with the new legislation. Although the legal interpretation of the two statutes is largely speculative at this time, the ministry has examined its legislation to identify anticipated problem areas for all of its programs. A subject of particular concern to the ministry is the application of the new legislation to adoption and to foster care.
"All agencies that provide these services should reconsider both their written selection policies and the informal practices of staff to determine any inconsistencies with the legislation, and where necessary, ministry program supervisors, agency legal counsel and/or Ontario Human Rights Commission staff should be consulted for assistance in interpreting the provisions of the statute. It is an expectation of the government that the spirit of the human rights legislation will be upheld and not simply the technical letter of the law." I interpret that to mean that there will be a broader application of this section by the Attorney General.
"This means that the ministry will broadly interpret the application of human rights protection in all of its own policies. A provincial declaration permitted in section 33 of the charter, excepting an Ontario statute in compliance with the charter, will only be undertaken in very unusual circumstances. The Ontario government has taken the position that the field of adoption and foster care services is not appropriate for such a provincial declaration." In other words, they will not qualify for exemption.
Why has the Minister of Community and Social Services been silent on this issue when he has this directive in his possession? Why has the Attorney General indicated that this is not a bill to discuss as enabling legislation with respect to adoption and foster care services?
I have concerns about the impact this has with another ministry. What will Bill 7 mean to education? Where has the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) been in this debate on the amendment to section 18 of Bill 7?
As a 10-year public school trustee in this province, I can assure the members that this issue has surfaced quite frequently in most boards in the province. It has been handled in a most reasonable manner so far, but it has been handled as a committee-of-the-whole matter, as all personnel matters have been. Why has the Minister of Education refused to respond to the concerns that have been raised about curriculum development? Where is the minister's leadership? He is the top policymaker in education for Ontario. He is responsible for 1.4 million students and 106,000 teachers in this province.
We have received a letter that was presented to the Premier on November 27 by the Ontario Association of Education Administrative Officials and signed by its president, Don Folliott. Mr. Folliott states as follows:
"The Ontario Association of Education Administrative Officials has been on record for a number of years in opposition to the revisions to the Ontario Human Rights Code which would add sexual orientation as a prohibiting category of discrimination. The attempt by Bill 7 to protect the individual from overt discrimination and to guarantee services to that same individual may be unduly imbalanced towards the individual when one considers the needs of the community. For example, wherein every person has a right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or handicap. The right to nondiscrimination because of sexual orientation presents school boards of Ontario with some problems.
"In section 235, subsection 1(c), of the Education Act, it is the duty of a teacher `to inculcate by precept and example respect for religion and the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues.' Obviously, there is a legal conflict between Bill 7 and the Education Act on this subject. Needless to say, we are dismayed to note that when such conflict occurs between an act and a sexual orientation, this part of Bill 7 would prevail unless the act or regulations specifically provide that it is to apply notwithstanding Bill 7.
"Beyond the legal conflict, there is a more substantial objection to this example of the protection of the individual being excessive at the expense of society. Ontario is witnessing the loss of the family unit at considerable expense to the moral growth, amongst other factors, of our young people. The association feels that whenever possible, steps must be taken to reinforce the family unit rather than to downgrade it. The endorsement of sexual orientation as a prohibited category of discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code does nothing to enhance the family unit.
"The Ontario Association of Education Administrative Officials submits that in establishing any legislation to eliminate discrimination against sexual orientation in Ontario, the legislators should bear in mind the needs of the general public as attempts are made to bring protection for individuals."
If the Attorney General is not familiar with section 235, then I am sure the Minister of Education is. I happen to be familiar with the case because over the years this section was tested with the Halton Board of Education. There was a case at our board of a teacher who in his off hours was performing as a comedian at Yuk-Yuk's in Toronto. The members of the press were reporting part of his comedy routine. It was widely reported in the community of Oakville. There were many references to the students, the classroom dialogue and activity.
Under section 235, the board cared little about whether this comedian, who was a self-proclaimed homosexual, was a teacher in our system. That was not the issue. The issue was that under section 235 it was deemed inappropriate for him to use his comedy routine as a forum in which to discuss his homosexual lifestyle and the lifestyles of students.
I want to underscore the fact that nowhere have we heard of cases of teachers being fired in Ontario for being nonheterosexual. That is not the issue being raised. The Ontario Association of Education Administrative Officials is not suggesting it is losing a right not to hire nonheterosexuals as teachers. They are suggesting there is a conflict between section 235 of the Education Act and Bill 7.
The Minister of Education must be aware of what is coming under Bill 7. He must be aware of some of the activities and court challenges that have occurred throughout North America with respect to the very point I raise. In 1985 there was a Supreme Court decision dealing with a case between the Oklahoma City school board versus the National Gay Task Force. In this case, the National Gay Task Force of San Francisco challenged an Oklahoma law that allowed public school teachers to be fired for engaging in sodomy, a felony under Oklahoma law, or for advocating homosexual activity in or out of the classroom in a way that would come to the attention of schoolchildren or school employees. It is interesting that the federal court upheld the law, but the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal struck down that part of the law, declaring unconstitutional the portion that prohibited the teacher from advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting homosexual activity.
It strikes me that we have the opposite situation in Ontario. We have no cases of discrimination against the hiring of gay teachers but we have protection under section 235 of the Education Act, which prohibits teachers from advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting sexual activity in the classroom.
Where is the Minister of Education on this very important issue? This is an important day in the House. It is an important day for public education. I am sure the Attorney General will advise us that Bill 7 supersedes section 235 of the Education Act. We know that is the effect, because of section 46 of the Human Rights Code, which I referred to earlier. The government is promoting Bill 7, yet here is section 235. Does the Attorney General feel there is a contradiction? Would he please explain publicly, at least once, that contradiction?
Does the Minister of Education want school boards to perform outside of the law? Are we to believe that he interprets the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality differently from those of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops? If the minister disagrees, what is his interpretation of Judaeo-Christian morality? Does he disagree with his bishop? The minister should assure this House that there is no hypocrisy here.
Clearly these two pieces of legislation offend each other by their intents. What are the minister's new expectations for teachers in Ontario? When will he make a public statement? After Bill 7 has been passed? Are the government and the Minister of Education trying to look modern and sexy? Yet they want to look virtuous and 19th century. Is that what this government is trying to do? Are we to believe it is playing politics with this important and sensitive issue? Are we to believe the government would play politics and that it has no principles to communicate to the teaching profession, the trustees and the parents of Ontario? Is the government doing this for media attention? I ask the minister, why are we passing this legislation?
Bill 7, specifically in section 18, raises more questions than it answers. It raises serious issues of concern that this Liberal government is unable or unwilling to answer. By the manner of its presentation by the Attorney General and this Liberal government, Bill 7 has set back the cause and the case for understanding the unique and deeply personal emotional issue faced by our homosexual citizens. Section 18 should be withdrawn to enable those sections of Bill 7 that do conform with the charter to be passed.
In all conscience, I cannot support this bill, given the many questions that remain unanswered and that this government refuses to answer, questions about the contradiction of section 235, legitimate questions raised about ministry directives with respect to adoption and foster care. Before making such major changes affecting the rights of children and such wholesale changes to traditional family values, I ask that this bill receive the widest possible consultation with parents, parents' associations, community groups and the public at large.
Mr. Rae: I want to start by making a confession. I have not weighed the volume of my mail on either side of this question. I have no doubt there are very strong opinions held by the people of York South on this issue, as there are all over the province, but I want to start by emphasizing as strongly as I can my view, and it is a very strongly felt personal view, that one cannot deal with questions of human rights simply on the basis of the weight of correspondence one has received from one part or another of one's constituency. It is utterly inappropriate for members to be considering the issue in that way.
If I need authority for that proposition, and I do not feel I do, I would like to quote to members of the House the words of someone I feel is perhaps the greatest Conservative, certainly the greatest Conservative thinker, of the modern era. I am referring to the famous words Edmund Burke directed to his electors in 1774. I am going to quote them because I think it is a very gracious and effective way of saying what I would like to say on this question. He said:
"It ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him, their opinion high respect, their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions to theirs and, above all, ever and in all cases to prefer their interest to his own; but his unbiased opinion, his mature judgement, his enlightened conscience he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man or to any set of men living." I might add, parenthetically, that at this time the constituency of Bristol consisted of all men.
"These he does not derive from your pleasure, no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from providence for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you not his industry only but his judgement and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion."
We start with the affirmation that it is a question of rights. It is not a question of convenience and it is not a question of private morality. I want to return to that question because it is fundamental to understanding the nature of the debate.
It is our view and it is my view that rights are not given by the state. Rights are not delivered to individuals as a matter of utilitarian convenience. Rights are not given; they are recognized in law because they are innate to what it means to be human.
The whole notion of the liberty of the individual, the liberty of the subject, human rights and freedom and the fundamental place those values hold in our sense of public values do not stem from what is convenient for the law to recognize, but from certain fundamental beliefs we have about what it means to be a human being.
I speak as a democratic socialist and as someone for whom liberty is a fundamental value. Liberty is a value that does not extend from the Legislature. It is a value that is not given, but recognized. We recognized it in Canada on a number of occasions, but when I spoke on the charter in the House of Commons, I did not feel it was something the charter was granting. The charter was not giving us rights; rather, the charter was recognizing that individuals in a free society have certain basic rights.
Mr. Speaker, the member for High Park-Swansea continues to heckle me. As leader of my party, I would appreciate it if he would perhaps extend me the right to be able to deliver a speech without being heckled, in the light of the importance of the occasion. We will give the same courtesy to his leader, as we will to the Premier.
Much has been said about the question of rights and liberty. The only legitimate limitation to freedom of expression and to freedom to be oneself that I can justify as a legislator is whether the exercise of freedom harms other people. We all recognize there are times when freedom is limited. It is limited according to a fundamental and basic test; that is, whether it does harm.
We use a variety of laws to create that framework. The framework that I believe is most appropriate in dealing with questions of harm to others in this area is, of course, the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code is quite specific about dealing with harm to others committed by people who are expressing themselves.
We have laws with respect to paedophilia and bestiality. To be quite blunt about it, much of what we have heard in the House -- that somehow this law would give paedophilia or bestiality an open field -- is simply untrue. We have a Criminal Code, with which all of us are in agreement, that quite rightly and quite basically forbids people to do things to other people that cause them physical harm.
When we talk about rights, I suppose it is of more recent time that we speak of the right to express oneself and the right to be oneself in a sexual sense. None of us as politicians particularly enjoy avid and extensive discussions on questions of private morality and questions of sexuality. I include myself in that group. As far as I am concerned, questions of sexuality are really none of anybody's business. I am going to come back to that value in a moment.
However, it is a fact of life and something we do have to talk about honestly that, for heaven's sake, if one is not allowed to be oneself, to be what one is sexually in the world without causing harm to others, if that is not a fundamental right, then I cannot imagine what is in a civilized society.
The reality of life is that there are people who are not heterosexual. There are gay doctors. There are gay lawyers. There are gay politicians. There are gay tailors. There are gay soldiers. There are gay bureaucrats. There are people in every walk of life in Ontario who are not heterosexual. I feel and the members of my party feel very strongly it is time we had the honesty as a society to recognize that as a fact and simply to say that is a fact about Ontario. It is a fact about our life together as human beings.
I also want to say, because I think it is important, that the other value which I think we are attempting to affirm in this amendment is a value to which I ascribe a great deal of importance, and that is the value of privacy. I have literally no idea whether the vast majority of the people with whom I deal day to day are gay or not. I have no idea and frankly I do not care, because I do not think it is any of my business in the work that I do as a legislator. It is not relevant. It is not pertinent to the questions we are dealing with as legislators.
As long as it is kept as a matter of private morality, it is nobody's business whether a teacher is a homosexual or not; it is nobody's business. As long as it something which is kept and is seen essentially as a matter of private morality, I believe we have an obligation as a society to respect that sense of privacy, to preserve that sense of privacy and to give it the fundamental value that I think a civilized society would want to give it.
The Attorney General in his remarks raised a question that I believe speaks to the heart of this debate and I want to touch on it as well. I think his words have been misunderstood and I think it is important to go back to them. The Attorney General made the point of saying -- and I think it is a point that has to be made -- there is a distinction between private morality and public policy, that we cannot simply base our public laws on what our individual sense of private morality is.
When this was stated, the Attorney General used learned quotations to justify the point. I think it is important for us to think of what the consequences would be if we were to do otherwise. Much has been made of the Ten Commandments. There are commandments laid out there that are a part of our Judaeo-Christian heritage.
I would ask those who would make of the law the formal expression of a private morality, are they seriously suggesting, for example, that adultery should become a crime in Ontario? There have been examples in society where that was the case. In Boston in 1948, we are told, there were 248 arrests for adultery. Imagine the kind of society we would be creating if we were to use public policy as a vehicle for expressing our moral outrage over private acts between consenting adults. We would be living in a snooper state. We would be living in a police state. We would be living in a state in which everyone would see it as his right or obligation to inform on the sexual practices or otherwise of his neighbour. It is not a society in which any of us in this Legislature would like to live. Let us be honest, open and frank about it. None of us wants to live in that kind of world.
We have to recognize the kind of society that we are today in Ontario in 1986. We are a pluralist society. We are a society in which people live differently; they think differently and they feel differently. The task of public policy, as opposed to private morality, is somehow to create the framework in which those people can live together. They may differ morally among themselves, perhaps even morally condemn the behaviour of their neighbours, but they are not able to use the power of the state to impose their views of morality on other people. Frankly, I cannot imagine a society in which we decided to do anything else. It would be inordinately repressive. It would be a repressive society because it failed to recognize the fundamental fact about our world today in Ontario: We are a pluralist society.
There are those who say that if we recognize the right to express oneself as a homosexual in the world today, then all the horrors will be unleashed upon us. The family will collapse. Our educational system will deteriorate. Our entire welfare system will explode. It is worth recalling that the Emperor Justinian felt homosexuality caused earthquakes. We have heard a lot of arguments that parallel very directly that view from centuries ago. Homosexuality does not cause earthquakes, and the recognition of it as a fact of life will not destroy the family.
I must confess to being a little tired of being put on the defensive by those who say, "If you disagree with our point of view with respect to this question, you are somehow anti-family." I believe in and cherish the values of the family as strongly as I believe in any other value in our society. Let me remind those people who say otherwise that gay people have families too. It is an insult to those whose parents, whose brothers and sisters and whose children are gay. It is an insult to their sense of family, to which they are as entitled as anybody else, with the same sense of charity as anybody else. Surely it is an insult to say, "Our view of the family is so exclusive that it does not possibly include you."
Without casting aspersions upon those who feel differently, I simply want to say this about the expression of prejudice -- and I mean "prejudice" in the sense in which all of us have it. We all have prejudices. We all have likes and dislikes. We all have people and lifestyles of which we approve more or less than others. But for heaven's sake, we will rue the day that we make prejudice the basis of public policy in Ontario. It will be a sad day for all of us.
We have had a difficult debate, but in my view it has been a necessary debate. What has struck me as a member of this House over the past five years is the extent to which our House has changed as Ontario has changed. There is a willingness on the part of the majority of this Legislature to take a step for tolerance and to speak for tolerance, to the importance of tolerance and to the importance of recognizing there are people who have had to live very private and secretive lives. There are people who have been fired, people who have been evicted and people who have been victims of prejudice in our society for a long time, simply because they are gay or lesbian.
It is supposed to be unpopular politically to say this. I do not believe that, because I happen to believe the majority of people in their private selves, whatever their sense of what they have to say is, know perfectly well that in every small community there are people who are different, who live differently and think differently, and they do not want to take away from those people the right simply to be themselves and to live their own lives without bothering anybody. That is, in my view, what this question is all about.
I want to close by paying tribute to my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes), who has shown unusual courage. Her speech was unique in the sense that nobody could have given it as bluntly and as directly, and simply told it like it is, as the member for Ottawa Centre did. I admire her courage enormously. All of us in this House must recognize that, were it not for that courage and that directness, this issue would not be before us in the way it is today.
I also want to say that there are many issues on which we disagree; there are many occasions on which this House, in a partisan way, disagrees. I simply say to those members who disagree with me that I can understand the differences; I know the moral feelings, and I know the sense of difference that prevents some people from seeing the wisdom or the justice of this move.
I want to pay tribute to the members who have spoken. I am not quite sure what the leader of the Conservative Party is going to say this afternoon, because he has taken great care not to tell me or anybody else, but I want him to know that we look forward to his displaying the kind of leadership and the sense of balance that I know he will try to strike in the position he takes.
To all members I say this is an issue we should resolve. We should resolve it today. We should resolve it on behalf of tolerance. We should resolve it on behalf of liberty, which is something all of us in this House see as a fundamental value. We should do it knowing full well that there are those who will disagree and that we must make a distinction between our private moral feelings and the need for us to recognize, as a society, that there are those who feel differently and that the purpose of law is not the expression of private outrage but rather the expression of public tolerance. That is the purpose of law, and it is in that spirit that my colleagues and I will be voting in favour of this amendment.
Mr. Grossman: I enter this debate this afternoon quite at peace with myself and with my party in this assembly. For all members of the assembly, it has not been an easy week. As the leader of the third party has said, it has been a week that we likely had to go through, but it likely will be a week that leaves some scars behind.
I want to begin by saying one quick word to those in the gallery who have observed the proceedings off and on for the past week and are with us today. Whatever their backgrounds and whatever their beliefs, I know some of them have personally had to listen to arguments they would have found quite uncomfortable. Some of those will have been, to take it to its extreme, arguments that would have made them quite angry; arguments that would have made some of us so angry, if we were in their circumstances, that we might not have sat as calmly and as respectfully as they did.
Those who participate in this democratic process by observing, as we do in participating directly by speaking and voting, are to be commended for the exhibition of tolerance that they have shown others. I trust that will proceed through the afternoon and, notwithstanding whatever we may decide, that they will continue to observe that degree of dignity.
My first choice this afternoon would be not to have had to make this choice in this circumstance. It is unfortunate and bad government to move when a great body of the population does not believe it has had a chance to participate in the discussion. It is bad administration and bad government to proceed in such a way that people find they are surprised by what is going on, and it is bad government to proceed in such a fashion that a number of people, including a number of large and important groups in society, proceed on a basis of misinformation and misunderstanding such that they can come just short of creating a whirlwind of problems and prejudices.
Notwithstanding the protestations of some with regard to whether or not there were hearings, the reality is that there are tens of thousands of people spread throughout this province who have not felt part of the process, who have been surprised by these events, who stop me on the streets and in airports urging me to vote against a piece of legislation about which someone has whispered quite inaccurate things in their ears. With fear in their eyes, they have urged me to vote against this legislation for fear it will destroy life as they have understood it and their families, their homes, their businesses and their places of living.
Those misunderstandings flow to some degree from a process that has not been sensitive enough to the great sense out there of something happening too quickly and something that is quite foreign to life as they have known it. When that happens, mature government goes more slowly than it would like. Mature governments says, "We would like to get this done now, and we think we ought to get this done now, but we are going to have to take a bit of time."
Taking time often is the preferred choice. But in this circumstance, the option of taking more time is not available to us. However the procedures developed, those in a position to call the bill and push it ahead have left us in this assembly without the choice of proceeding more prudently. I do not, therefore, have the option of standing back and wishing it were otherwise. It simply is not.
What to do then? Let me begin by saying I heard from all the pressure groups. I felt some of the statements made were based upon misinformation and some fearmongering. Some were extreme beyond the point at which I would have believed it. Some were almost fierce.
I say to those pressure groups, whatever the outcome of this vote this afternoon, I hope they will stand back now and reflect on whether in Ontario they have moved us, advertently or inadvertently, towards the kind of serious, threatening and menacing pressure-group society that from time to time threatens to overtake the United States and its Congressional elections. We do not need that here. We need to exhibit now the tolerance and balance of judgement that has always typified the legislative process here. Bad laws have been passed, good laws have been made, and all of us have participated in one way or another, but in my 11 years here I have not often seen legislation forced upon us or off us by fierce threats, misunderstandings and misapprehensions. That cannot become the way for Ontario.
To the degree that some pressure groups will have felt they were successful, I urge them not to believe that is the wave of the future in Ontario. To the degree that some may feel unsuccessful as a result of what happens shortly, neither should they decide to redouble their efforts and prove that anything approaching Falwellism, may we call it, is appropriate in the society we have built here.
Perceptions: Some see today's choice as opening the door wide; others see it as changing very little out there. Some see it as codifying some rights and giving new rights; others see it as giving new privileges. I think it does little of that, candidly, though impressions are certainly otherwise.
The question we are asked, notwithstanding those perceptions, for which we in this assembly are not entirely responsible, is whether those involved are entitled to be free of discrimination. When this question came forward, some wanted us as legislators to answer the question of whether homosexuality is an illness or a lifestyle, a disorder or a preference. I am not competent to make that decision, nor am I asked to make that choice. None of us is asked to make that choice.
The member for Humber (Mr. Henderson) discussed this with a lot more expertise than I would bring to bear on the subject, but we are not asked to make that choice. We are not asked to make this choice, because whether it is an illness, as some would say, or a lifestyle choice, as others would say, or a disorder, as some would say, or merely a preference, as others would say, the reality is that in Ontario we have never discriminated against people who are ill or have a different lifestyle or have disorders or have their own preferences with regard to style of living. Therefore, we need not answer that question, which we are, with respect, not capable of answering. It is a discrimination question.
Does this bill approve, encourage or reward a lifestyle? I think it only protects that lifestyle against discrimination. Does it have anything to do with illegality, bestiality, sodomy or paedophilia? Of course it does not, I say with respect to the pressure groups. Those are dealt with by the Criminal Code, and they are as illegal as are all the other crimes reported in the Criminal Code. They are fully protected and are as protected today as they will be tomorrow, were last year and will be next year.
We do more than prohibit discrimination in this bill. I have heard the arguments and debates. I have studied Bill 7, and I have even taken some time to read the case law in the past week as I have listened to the debate. We are asked today to say whether we are going to tolerate discrimination based on the illness, preference, sickness or lifestyle -- call it what you want -- or whether we are going to say that all citizens in Ontario are full citizens. Nothing here makes members of the gay community special citizens -- let us be clear -- it just makes them free citizens.
I invite our colleagues today to do what the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) has asked us to do many times over the years in our caucus and what my House leader has suggested to me that we consider several times, and that is take a holistic approach to all this and begin to provide protection with a different kind of criminal code: one that protects all, one that does not require people to be enumerated and included when it comes to human rights and discrimination legislation, but one that simply outlaws discrimination holistically across the board for everyone in every circumstance. Again, we have not that option before us today.
For those who read the law differently from the way I do, if I have read the law incorrectly with regard to what this bill might allow in the longer term, then we can always come back here and alter it and change it.
My party will be having a free vote on this matter. I have decided, at the request of my caucus, to allow a free vote because I believe that partisanship should never tyrannize conscience. I believe anyone who has listened to this debate will note that it emanated not only out of fact and fiction but that it is also based for many on serious and deeply held moral convictions, religious convictions and other deeply held values which shape, dictate and define the membership of this assembly.
The feelings of members in my caucus reflect legitimate, important values and reflect the upbringing of members, as mine affects my decision. They reflect their own traditions, background and schooling. Let me be clear: they are not a unique group. In my view, they are as representative a group of Ontario citizens as ever were elected to this assembly. They reflect the mores, values and traditions of their people. I have to allow them to do what their consciences tell them.
Having sat through a difficult debate, we must remember that this bill asks for tolerance among citizens, respect for others' lifestyles and views, lifestyles and views which we do not share; but when we ask that of our citizens, we must practise the same thing here. We must practise the same degree of tolerance of other members' views and opinions as we so proudly lecture our citizens they must do with their fellow citizens. My colleagues spoke from their hearts. They did their jobs. They got thousands of letters and extraordinary pressure. More important, they bring to this debate their own personal traditions, values and mores which I cannot purport to tell them to change or alter to the tyranny of partisan politics.
My belief is that a truer test of leadership is to bring to the men and women I am honoured every day to lead my own experience and values, as they bring theirs. My colleagues are not biased or prejudiced. They reflect, as I said earlier, the broad base of Ontario society, but we are here to do some other things as well. We are here to lead. This is not rent control, this is not pay equity, this is not environmental legislation, which are matters of policies and politics. They are not moral or lifestyle decisions. My view is that no truer test of leadership ever falls on a leader than when he is asked whether he can tolerate in his party a vote on conscience and still lead a political party. In this party, that is eminently possible.
I want to say too that there are other kinds of leadership. I might have chosen to face this test of leadership by simply dictating to the people I lead how to think and how to vote. That is not a big test of leadership; that is easy leadership. Another kind of leadership is to be a scorekeeper, simply to tally the votes of a caucus meeting or, for that matter, the votes and feelings of the public and join them. That is an equally weak test of leadership.
The true test of leadership is whether one can respect the views one does not share. I lead a group of Ontarians who reflect well and accurately the different parts of Ontario and the different qualities, feelings, sentiments, backgrounds and traditions that make up Ontario. All of those are important. Leadership involves respecting those views, as I do. Leadership requires the leader of this party to show the accommodation and tolerance to those views that the Human Rights Code requires citizens to show other citizens.
I bring to this debate my responsibility as leader of a great political party, one whose leadership role across Canada -- indeed, across North America -- cannot be challenged. The first antidiscrimination code in legislation in North America was introduced in this province in the late 1940s, early 1950s. The first Human Rights Code was introduced in this province by my party in the early 1950s. If I am truly to assume the mantle of leadership shown by my predecessors, Mr. Drew and Mr. Frost in particular, who led the way in North America in human rights legislation, I must answer the tradition they have left me.
I quote from the throne speech of 1951, written by Premier Frost: "It is the belief and conviction of my government that all men of whatever race, colour or creed must be accorded equality in the fundamental rights of the human person, equality in the respect due to man's dignity, equality before the law and equality of right to employment."
I was particularly moved by the recitation of the events leading to Premier Frost's pioneering legislation when I read the report of Donna Hill, who had moved to Canada from the United States to escape discrimination because of her mixed marriage -- her mixed marriage, of course, being to Dr. Daniel Hill, our current Ombudsman. She led a deputation of the labour committee to Premier Frost in 1950. I want to report to members her exact words on the resulting Frost legislation. Donna Hill said:
"It stunned me. My American tradition ill prepared me for Canadian ways. In the United States, if anybody brought in a bill for human rights legislation, it would take years and years of debate and lobbying to get it through the Legislature. Here it was in the speech from the throne within 10 days after we saw Premier Frost and by June it was law. I was amazed and astonished that it was possible."
That is the mantle of leadership that I inherited just over a year ago. It is the example set by Mr. Frost when his legislation was seen to be quite controversial, when so many expected him to delay it and defer it, to discuss it for a long time. I cannot exercise my leadership by failing to honour the traditions of leadership in my party. Neither can I exercise leadership by forcing my members to cashier their values where theirs and mine do not agree. But neither can a leader be so devoid of values himself that he abdicates his values for a majority of others. If that were the case, leadership would involve only selecting the spokesperson, the public relations front person for a political party. I did not apply for that job and I could not fill that job. A leader's values are extremely important. I cannot trade conscience for convenience.
I have before me only this amendment to offer a current test. It is not an amendment that I think is timely, but it is here. As I said at the opening of my remarks, in my view the amendment is ill timed, has been ill explained and is certainly ill understood. I think it has been mismanaged. But I am asked and forced today to cast a vote. I have to cast a vote in the tradition of my predecessors. I have to say that in my party all people and all views are welcome, but all views and all people being welcome, all those policies and all those values being important, the leader of this political party values tolerance, freedom against discrimination, as its very highest value.
There is no higher value. When we lose that tolerance, when we lose that ability to stand back from our own prejudices and beliefs and, yes, background and upbringing and say, "Look, it is important to legislate against discrimination," even though I find it difficult to look at that circumstance myself, that is precisely when one needs to legislate. That is precisely what leadership is all about.
The leader of the third party made the point that if ever there was an issue where one does not total up the calls or letters one got, this is it. Because it is precisely a minority circumstance -- minority versus majority, if you would -- that we are legislating to protect against and that is why it is so difficult, that is exactly why it is so badly needed.
Today, as leader of this great party, as leader of the party of North America's first antidiscrimination legislation, as leader of the party that brought Canada its first Human Rights Code and its first Bill of Rights, I send the message out once again, on behalf of my party as its leader, a message of openness and fairness. It is easy to be tolerant in a vacuum. It is easy to talk of being able to accept all people. It is tough when one is asked specifically to do it vis-à-vis a group one has no ability to relate to, no possible ability to understand, but that is precisely when one has to step forward.
In closing, therefore, it is with heavy heart over the process, with regret over the timing and with regret over the management or mismanagement of the issue, but with a clear conscience and a determination to live up to the task of leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, the party of antidiscrimination legislation, the party of human rights legislation, the party of John Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights, and with a sense of duty to my conscience, a sense of purpose to my party and a sense of acknowledgement of the mantle of leadership I have inherited from the pioneers of my party who came before me, that I will support the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Let me say at the outset that I have followed the debate in this House for the last six days with great interest. This is not the first time this issue has been discussed in this House. It is not the first time we have dealt with it. There have been numerous parliamentary commissions. I recall in 1981 it was discussed in committee in this House and there were federal commissions dealing with this issue and a report was given back to the federal government.
This particular amendment has been in the House for how long? It has not been a year but at least six months at the moment. To those people who suggest this is not the right time or that there is another way of handling it or that it could be delayed, I have to say I do not agree. None of us can delay our way out of dealing with problems facing the province. Here we have been on television for six full days in full and open debate. Every member has had an opportunity to express his or her judgement on this matter and what could be more wholesome in terms of our democratic traditions. All views, in all of their extremes, have been expressed by members of this House from all parties. Ultimately, we have to deal with the issue.
I have gone through those discussions before, as have many of my colleagues who have been around here as long as I have, saying it was not the right time. However, the honourable leader of the New Democratic Party spoke eloquently when he said the atmosphere has changed, I believe in this Legislature as well as in the entire province. I have seen a new outreaching in the past year or two, not only on this bill but also on other difficult bills such as the so-called Bill 8. Bill 8 would never have gone through this House three years ago. We had the discussion and it was rejected then.
I hope members feel they have had an opportunity to express their individual points of view. I understand those, I think, and respect some of them, even though I say part of the misinformation my friend opposite talks about, or the lack of understanding, came directly from this House. In that sense, all of us have a responsibility. All of us who have the soapbox and opportunity to stand up and speak out can correct some of that misinformation that came out, albeit unwittingly, from this House.
Many thoughtful arguments have been put forward. The Attorney General talked about it in a legalistic sense, as did the leader of the New Democratic Party, following the great line of Mario Cuomo's famous speech at Notre Dame, a very thoughtful speech about the relationship of private morality and public policy. It is a speech I commend to all my colleagues who have difficulty with this issue.
In voting for this amendment, we are not condoning a particular lifestyle. We are not suggesting a course of action for any individual. What we are saying is that it is a human right. When we talk about human rights, then the question becomes, where do we draw the line? "This person should have human rights, but I do not like the colour of that person's dress, so she should not have human rights."
We have gone through discussions for decades in this province, and my colleague opposite is quite right to point out the record of the Conservative party with respect to human rights legislation and the code it introduced so many years ago.
Society changes, we all advance in our understanding of each other and, I believe, in our respect for each other as well. Each of us in this discussion has been asked to wrestle with his own conscience. It is not always easy to do in the face of the enormous pressure that has come to all of us in this discussion. I can tell members, there is never an issue in which the first minister is not pressured from all sides on every issue.
I respect the rights of all those groups to convey their views to the Legislature, to the individual members of Parliament, and to make their voices heard, but when they wrestle with their own consciences, when they make up their own minds, it is also the responsibility of the members of this House not just to respond to public opinion one way or the other; we have the responsibility to do what we believe is right for all the people of this province, and I do not believe this province or any other jurisdiction should be governed by polls or pressure groups. We get paid to lead. We get paid to make up our minds and to defend our positions to the people of this province.
Therefore, I say to those members who have been pressured -- and I can assure them that I have -- I understand that. However, we are now in the position where we all have to wrestle with our own consciences and do what we think is right for everyone.
This discussion has preoccupied all our caucuses, this Legislature and many groups outside. I have heard many arguments invoked on all sides of the debate, including the invocation of theological arguments one way or the other. Strangely to me, I always hear the Bible invoked on both sides of almost every argument any time it happens to come along or be convenient to the proponent of a particular cause.
However, it is my view that we are extending the most important part of our religious tradition in respecting and loving everyone regardless of sexual orientation, handicap, colour or creed. This is an extension of the traditions that most of us have come from, and I think that, when analysed in this most basic sense, it says we are doing the finest act we could do to uphold the loving, caring kind of world that we all believe in and that we want to legislate for. Thus, to those members who have difficulty -- and I know a number of them do -- I say that in supporting this amendment today, we are behaving in the finest and highest traditions of the system of morality we have all grown up in and come to believe in.
The pressure does not matter. I guess I understand people who have real trouble with their own conscience, but I do not understand people who react just to pressure or to polls. That is not acceptable on this issue or on any other issue in this House, in my mind.
It has been a wholesome debate and, as the leader of the New Democratic Party said, a necessary debate. We see our democratic institutions hung out, with all their frailties and all their strengths. I am one of those who believes there are far more strengths than frailties in the democratic system we have today. I am proud to share it with the people of this province, as I am proud to share my own views.
If it is helpful at all to the members opposite or on all sides of the House, I am trying to put these things in the context of my own little family, which is growing up and is subject to the pressures and the complicated world that is shared by the family members of my colleagues opposite. Of course, I do not want my little children to be used. I hope they are taught a lifestyle that my wife and I believe in, and I do not want anybody taking advantage of them in any way. I do not believe this legislation allows that in any way. I think that question has been dealt with.
But then I say to myself: "Supposing that when one of my children was 16 or 18 he came to me and said, `Dad, I am a homosexual,' what would I do then? Would I give my child some of the speeches we have heard in this House in the past six days and throw him out the door?" Obviously, I would be concerned. Obviously, there would be repercussions. Obviously, I would look at myself and ask, "What did I do wrong?"
My guess is that most of us, after we had got over the shock, would embrace that child and try to incorporate him into our own family. We would say we did not want anyone to discriminate against him in terms of his job or housing just because of a lifestyle that, for some reason unknown to any of us, he had adopted. If you could put it in the context of a loving parent for all the children of the province, that might make it a little easier for some of the people who have difficulty with this.
I am proud to support this amendment today. I do not believe we can put it off and off and off and have this kind of debate again. It is a good time to deal with it. We have heard all the arguments, and I am hopeful the majority of the members of this House will support it.
My friend opposite said this debate would leave its scars. I am not sure I agree with that. I do not think that when we do the kind thing, it has to leave scars; I do not think that when we do the just thing, it has to leave scars, or that when we do the tolerant or decent thing, it has to leave scars. I think we can all walk out of this House tonight -- I hope this resolution will pass -- saying, "We have done the right thing for Ontario and we are proud all to support it."
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer given by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) to his question concerning the investigation of the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) and his failure to answer the question adequately.
The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the minister may reply for up to five minutes. Perhaps the member would wait for a minute until things settle down. Will members please clear the floor as quickly as possible? Thank you.
The facts are, we know that on June 21 the Solicitor General entertained a number of dignitaries on an Ontario Provincial Police boat in Kingston. The Solicitor General ordered the OPP to bring on board liquor and other alcoholic beverages. He drank liquor along with his guests. As a result of that, no charges were laid.
The matter was raised in a Toronto newspaper and brought to our attention at that time. We have subsequently found that there were 800 other ordinary citizens in this province who did approximately the same thing as the Solicitor General but who were charged and fined, whereas neither the Solicitor General nor his guests were either charged or fined. We have also subsequently found that the policy of the OPP is that if there are dignitaries on board, those dignitaries will not be charged.
This group of facts, as clearly as we can determine that they are facts, has raised a number of issues. One issue is whether drinking on a boat, as put forward under the Liquor Licence Act, is a serious and grievous offence. I do not think any of us would allege it is a very serious offence; but that is what the law is, and if the law is silly, then it is incumbent upon the people who are in government to change that law.
Is the fact that the Solicitor General might have compromised the OPP for requesting that liquor be brought on board and by having himself and his guests consume it in the open, contrary to the law, a very serious mistake because of the compromising of that position? I think it is a serious matter but not a grievous one.
Is the policy of the OPP, as laid down by the Solicitor General, to treat dignitaries differently from ordinary citizens, the 800 citizens across this province, a serious problem or a serious issue? It is a most serious issue, because it is contrary to the rule of the law that all of our citizens in this province be treated equally.
Is the fact that the Solicitor General has remained Solicitor General after the Attorney General has instituted a police investigation a serious issue? I believe it is a serious issue, although I know the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and, obviously, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) do not consider it a serious issue.
What we now have is a police investigation of the chief cop in our province -- a police investigation, if you would have it, of a boss by his employees in a very remote sense. Yesterday, I asked the Attorney General about the investigation, and he said there would be no cost to the province. I fail to understand his answer, in that the Metropolitan Toronto Police receive some grants from this province, and presumably their investigation is going to cost some money.
Both the Solicitor General and the Attorney General have mismanaged this issue from the start. They have failed to show the people of Ontario that the law will be equally applied to any citizen. They have also failed to maintain the perception that the justice system, as led by the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, will act in their interests and against them or for them, like any other person in this province.
Hon. Mr. Scott: This process is of course triggered by the honourable member's concern that I have not satisfied him with my answer. Happily, this is not a test that is often called upon, or I would be here every night at six o'clock, apparently.
The important thing to observe about this is that after the Solicitor General volunteered to the press a complete personal account of the circumstances, questions were raised in this House about what took place. As soon as that happened, it was decided an investigation should take place, and though I cannot compel an investigation, I invited the Metropolitan Toronto Police to conduct an investigation. As I said yesterday, there are no direct costs associated with that investigation. The investigation is not concluded. It will be concluded in a relatively short time. When it is concluded, the determination will be made as to what is proper to do in the circumstances.
My friend, in a mildly righteous fashion, asserts that he relies on the rule of law. The first precept of the rule of law, as he knows, is not to make any prejudgement. I counsel him. Politics can wait a day or two. There will be an opportunity to discuss this in the fullness of time when an investigation has been conducted, but it does nothing for the judicial process or for our rule of law to engage in this kind of political oratory when an investigation is under way.