LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Tuesday 31 May 2011 Mardi 31 mai 2011
Hon. Monique M. Smith: I’ll be sharing my time this morning with the member from York South–Weston, and I’m delighted that we are debating Bill 188 this morning. I know that all three parties have taken a good, hard look at it and I know that it’s going to move through swiftly this morning, and we appreciate that co-operation.
I would like to begin by extending my appreciation to the surviving McMichael family members, the Fenwicks, along with their legal representative; Chair Upkar Arora and the board of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection; members of the opposition; and those who contributed to the committee hearings held two weeks ago to discuss this important bill, namely the presenters: Upkar Arora, chair of the McMichael board; Victoria Dickenson, executive director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection; Michael Burns, director and former chair of the McMichael; and Joyce Frustaglio, the former deputy mayor of the city of Vaughan and former board member of the McMichael. I wish to thank all of those who have actively participated in bringing Bill 188 to its third reading this morning. The positive show of support for our proposed amendments demonstrates a widely held understanding that the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is in need of change. Right now, we have an incredible opportunity before us—an opportunity to help one of our most treasured cultural institutions. Bill 188 gives us that opportunity.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection must not only survive as a cultural institution, but thrive. We all know that the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an important and invaluable institution. It is an iconic gallery that preserves our artistic heritage. It showcases our art and artists and it supports jobs and the local economy. But the McMichael needs our help if it is to continue to be sustainable. The McMichael needs flexibility to renew its collection, to grow and to rejuvenate its exhibitions, allowing it to better reflect Ontario and Canada’s diversity and ongoing developments in Canadian art, and to attract more visitors and enhance interest in its collection. However, the McMichael’s current legislation limits its ability to do just that.
That is why we are proposing amendments to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act to address the needs of the gallery today. These changes, if passed, would provide the gallery with the flexibility to develop diverse innovative exhibitions while ensuring that the McMichael’s legacy continues to be protected; make it easier for the McMichael to build its collection while ensuring a continued focus on the Group of Seven, their contemporaries and the aboriginal peoples of Canada; help the McMichael to renew, refresh and revitalize so that it can appeal to a broader, more diverse audience; and remove the requirement for an art advisory committee, making the McMichael legislation consistent with other Canadian and international art institutions.
This will allow the gallery’s board and management to develop policies for the acquisition of arts within the framework of their renewed collection mandate as they are in the best position to determine what to collect or exhibit. Additionally, the amendments in Bill 188 would bring the McMichael in line with current industry standards and practices for Canadian museums and galleries.
The proposed amendments in Bill 188 were developed very carefully from recommendations submitted by the McMichael board, in consultation with the McMichael surviving relatives and their representatives. I am pleased that we have their support.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is undoubtedly one of our most significant cultural institutions. It is home to one of the most well-known collections of Canadian art, founded by the generous gift of Robert and Signe McMichael in 1965. By giving the gallery the flexibility to adapt and remain sustainable, we will ensure that Robert and Signe McMichael’s legacy continues to be recognized and protected.
The McMichael has helped thousands of visitors discover the beauty of Canada’s landscape through the work of some of our most revered artists. Currently, the gallery attracts almost 90,000 visitors a year but there is potential for even greater growth as cultural tourism is quickly becoming an increasingly competitive market. Today, we are united in our conviction. Today, we are working together to reach a common goal. Today’s third reading of Bill 188 demonstrates our commitment to see the McMichael succeed.
The time has come to update and streamline the McMichael legislation to help the McMichael continue to grow and inspire new visitors from within our borders and beyond while ensuring that Robert and Signe McMichael’s legacy continues to be celebrated by future generations.
Mr. Ted Arnott: Thomson, Jackson, MacDonald, Harris, Lismer, Varley, Carmichael, Casson, Johnston, FitzGerald and McMichael: some of the most illustrious names in the history of Canadian art. On behalf of the official opposition, I’m very pleased to have this opportunity today to speak in favour of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Amendment Act, 2011.
First and foremost, I will say again that Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC caucus want the McMichael Canadian Art Collection gallery to succeed into the future. We also want to see the memory of Bob and Signe McMichael, as well as their generous philanthropy, remembered forever, ensuring that the collection will always be enjoyed not just by a select few but by all Canadians and those around the world.
We also believe that the Group of Seven, their contemporaries and First Nations artists should continue to be the primary focus of the collection, in keeping with the vision of the founders—and I say again, the primary focus. That is our belief. Any serious effort that would further these worthy goals should, I believe, merit the support of this House.
I want to share again a recent experience I had in Wellington–Halton Hills at an event in one of the communities in my riding, in Elora. Earlier this month, I attended Artcetera, a three-day fundraising silent and live art auction featuring our local and regional artists. The proceeds from this event benefited one of our province’s premier arts organizations, the Elora Centre for the Arts, as well as our local and regional artists.
The Elora Centre for the Arts continues to be a tremendous asset in our community, and this event went a long way to make it even stronger. I want to inform the House of the Elora Centre for the Arts’ own account of their role and mission:
“The Elora Centre for the Arts is a vibrant and community-oriented arts organization that inspires and stimulates artistic excellence, aesthetic maturity and critical insight through exhibition, performance and education. It is a national model of a regional centre for artistic endeavour and education.
“It provides opportunities for both artists and the broader community to engage in artistic pursuits of all kinds in a unique historic setting. It offers innovative and creative programs in a broad range of disciplines, including visual arts, spoken word, music, dance and crafts.
“It serves as a home for the local and regional artistic community and provides a venue for people of all ages to experience enriching artistic activities and expression. The centre is a leader in and encourages artistic freedom of expression, innovation and creativity.
To me, Artcetera only confirmed that the Elora Centre for the Arts is indeed fulfilling that important and impressive mission in our community and beyond. For that, I want to again thank and congratulate everyone involved, the staff and volunteers, for making Artcetera such a success.
Even though we may not be directly involved in the arts, we as MPPs have the opportunity and indeed, I would argue, the responsibility to contribute to the success of the arts in the province of Ontario.
In 1994 and 1995, during my first term as an elected member of this House, I was honoured to serve as the PC critic for culture, as I do today. At that time, we were the third party in the Legislature. You’ll recall those days, Madam Speaker. Bob McMichael came to visit me at my constituency office in Arthur; at that time, we were located in my home community.
At that meeting, he invited me to come to Kleinburg to tour the McMichael Canadian Collection and visit him and Signe at their new, scenic home in Belfountain. When I finally had the chance and the opportunity to visit, I was overwhelmed by the McMichaels’ warm hospitality. I spent about an hour with Bob and Signe, and they showed me their still-private collection of Canadian art which adorned their walls in their home. I’ll never forget it.
Looking at that Canadian art and listening to Bob and Signe, Ontarians who have done so much for the arts in our province, was very much a privilege for me. Their passion was palpable and their vision was clear. Even at that time, they were especially concerned about the need to preserve that vision, their vision for the McMichael Canadian Collection that they had founded. And while it became a public collection because of their very public generosity, it really was their collection, one that they had acquired on their own with their own resources before donating it to the province for all to appreciate.
To be sure, I found this special couple to be very inspiring. And so I was pleased when, in the year 2000, our government passed legislation which Bob had sought, ensuring that as long as he and Signe were alive, they would continue to have a very significant role in the decisions to acquire new works of art and the temporary exhibitions that the gallery is so proud to show off.
When I reassumed my role as critic to the Minister of Culture in 2009, I knew that one of the first places that I wanted to again visit was the McMichael Canadian Collection, as I’ve done more than once over the years since I first visited during my university days in the 1980s. I visited again in September 2009. While the gallery is never the same as on a previous visit, it remains one of my favourite art galleries, as it is for many Ontarians.
The history of this gallery is absolutely remarkable. Bob and Signe began their collection in 1955, and just 10 years later, it had expanded to over 300 works. In co-operation with the provincial government, the McMichaels donated the collection and their home in Kleinburg to the province of Ontario. The province, in turn, assumed responsibility for the protection and maintenance of the artwork and grounds. This took place in 1965 when the gallery was known as the McMichael Conservation Collection of Art. In 1972, Premier Bill Davis, one of Ontario’s greatest Premiers, introduced legislation changing the name to the McMichael Canadian Collection. The legislation also appointed Bob McMichael as director and formed a nine-member board of trustees. In 1981, Bob resigned the directorship and became founder director emeritus. Meanwhile, Michael Bell was appointed director and chief executive officer. In 1982, Ian Thom joined the staff, becoming the curator of collections.
In the years following its inception as a public gallery, the collection broadened to accommodate the McMichaels’ vision to include First Nations and Inuit prints, sculptures, paintings and masks. Also added were the works of artists such as Clarence Gagnon, Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald and J.W. Morrice. But the original Group of Seven has always been the primary focus of the gallery, along with the works of Tom Thomson. That’s a fitting focus for a gallery set in such a beautiful, natural setting. This leads me to quote from the Group of Seven catalogue from 1920, as published by the McMichael Canadian Collection in their book in 1983:
“The Group of Seven artists whose pictures are here exhibited have for several years held a like vision concerning art in Canada. We are all imbued with the idea that an art must grow and flower in the land before the country will be a real home for its people.”
While none of us here today was present in 1920, I was very fortunate to have been present at the 1991 ceremony awarding A.J. Casson the Order of Ontario. I think perhaps the only MPP who was prouder than me to be there was Premier Bob Rae, who seemed to be having the time of his life. But, for me, to be in the presence of this iconic figure of Canadian culture, A.J. Casson, just a few months before he passed away, was an amazing privilege I’ll never forget. As I’ve said many times, the McMichael showcases the very best in our province and our country. We want the McMichael to succeed; indeed, to continue to show our very best to the world.
We’ve been told that the number of visitors to the McMichael in recent years has diminished somewhat. We heard that reiterated during the committee hearings. Given that this government has not fully recognized the enormous potential represented by Ontario’s tourism industry, this fact is perhaps not overly surprising. I’m told that in 2009-10, there were more than 97,000 visitors, while in 2010-11 that number had slipped slightly to around 89,000 visitors. The question, therefore, is this: How do we reverse that trend, bringing more visitors, bringing repeat visitors, bringing new visitors to experience the McMichael? This should be part of a concerted strategy to market Ontario as the premier tourist destination that we on this side of the House know that it is: the best attractions, the best hospitality, the best festivals and the best events.
And what about the Sorbara report and its many recommendations that seem to be gathering dust? What about its aim to double tourism receipts by 2020? What about its call to bring our tourism and cultural attractions up to leading global standards? What about its call to take action to fundamentally improve tourism in Ontario? The government’s pace in making these changes is frustrating and slow. We are not making the progress we need to make to meet and exceed those global standards.
In the McMichael we have a cultural gem that can be counted as one of the best in the world, but how do we ensure that people know that, both at home and abroad? Will Bill 188 contribute to that success? We sincerely hope so. I was encouraged to read that the chair of the McMichael Canadian Collection, as well as Penny and Jack Fenwick, members of the McMichael family, are supporting this bill. Given their written endorsements and given that we have received no indications of opposition at this time to this legislation from within Ontario’s artistic community or within the province, the official opposition will support the bill at third reading.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I just want to take a couple of minutes on behalf of New Democrats and our leader, Andrea Horwath, to support this legislation. You would have heard, in the previous debate, our critic, Mr. Tabuns, who spoke more at length on this particular issue. But I think people understand why this is so necessary now.
This is not the first time we’ve been in the Legislature on this issue. I remember some years ago an attempt—I guess it was about 10 years ago—when similar legislation was sought. There was some difficulty, certainly disagreement within the community, which was unfortunate in that we weren’t able to get the consensus back then. It led to it not being able to make its way through the House here. So it’s good that people finally understand that we need to provide some of the flexibility that will be created in this legislation to allow the gallery to continue so that it’s there for the years to come. We know that it’s tough hoeing out there when it comes to trying to attract tourists into our communities and into our various facilities such as the McMichael. McMichael has done rather well, but they need to position themselves into the future.
Certainly, volumes could be said about their collection. If you haven’t seen them, you’ve heard of them. You’ve studied them in your history class. You’ve seen them on the various documentaries that exist, from the National Film Board to the CBC to TVO and others who have done countless work in regard to the work of the Group of Seven and others who are the subject of the McMichael gallery. I think it’s only fitting that this legislation be put forward.
I would go one step a little bit further, and this is just my musing, not the musing of any particular policy on behalf of New Democrats. But I think we’re going to have to get our heads at one point around the idea of museums from the perspective of how we support our museums across Ontario—McMichael and others—to do the work that they’ve got to do.
I look at the Timmins Museum, which has struggled over the years to get the support that it needs in order to do the job that it should do. We have a particular history in Timmins that’s specific to our region. We are now 100 years old as a community. There’s a lot of history vis-à-vis how Timmins was founded and developed through mining, and eventually through forestry, the TNO railway and others. There’s a lot of interest on the part of many in regard to that particular history.
But what I guess strikes me is that neither at the municipal, provincial or federal level do we provide the kind of support that museums need—and libraries, I would argue, as well—in order to provide the services that have to be provided in our communities. I know that some people would say, “Oh, if there are cost-cutting exercises, go cut the museum; go cut the library.” That’s kind of the sense of some within municipal chambers, certainly this chamber and the federal House as well. But I would argue, contrary to that, that if we don’t do a good job of preserving our history and we don’t do a good job of showcasing our history so that we all can learn more about where we come from and what that history is, I think then we have a harder time trying to figure out how to go forward.
I read a lot of history; that’s probably the only thing I read other than a little bit of science fiction every now and then—that’s kind of my trash read. When I want to disconnect, I do a little bit of sci-fi. But I primarily read history.
The interest to me is the interest, I think, of many others. I find the study of history interesting because it gives you an insight on how man, over a period of time—and I say “man” in the vernacular term. How we have shaped our decisions and why we’ve come to the institutions that we have today and why we do things the way that we do today is based on the history of not just yesterday, not just 50 years ago, not just 100 years ago, but literally thousands of years ago. If you go back and take a look—for example, I’m reading a book right now on Ghengis Khan and the empire that he and his children built. There’s a lot of interesting history to be learned about how the rest of Europe and how Persia and Asia were affected as a result of what they called the Mongol hordes back then that we are still feeling today.
In a place like Timmins, and I just come back to the museum issue, it’s important that the people in our region understand—those who come to visit and who live there—what it was like for the people that first came into the Timmins area back in the early 1900s and the struggles they had to build a community. I think you need to showcase that.
I would argue that, yes, this legislation is necessary. We will vote for it and support it. Our leader, Andrea Horwath, is glad to do that. But we need to take a look at the issue of how we’re better able to support our museums and our libraries so that, in fact, we can do the kind of work that needs to be done in order for our communities to better understand the history of our regions.
Hon. James J. Bradley: I’d like to introduce Mr. Jim Christie, interim president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, along with Hailey Griffis and James Christie. They are spending a day with my senior policy adviser to see how an individual like that works within the government framework.
Hon. Carol Mitchell: I’m very pleased to announce that the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association is in town today, encouraging all members and staff to come to the barbecue, the most popular event of the whole year. Everyone, it’s just being served outside.
Mr. Khalil Ramal: I’d like to introduce Scott Bowman, the director of government relations for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. He’s here with five other youth business persons who came to see the debate at Queen’s Park. Welcome.
Hon. Monique M. Smith: Making their way into the Legislative Assembly today are my staff, Phia Sanchez, Karen Berkeley, Adrienne Guthrie and David Palmer. As well, I’d just like to recognize my staff who are here every day: Krystina Ceccarelli, my chief of staff, and Paul Tye, my legislative assistant, who have done such a great job in the House leader’s office.
I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome, on behalf of the member from Welland, Deb Haswell, mayor of Owen Sound, and David Inglis, mayor of Brockton; and Eddie Almeida, Jayson Alward, Greg Hamara, Greg Hope, Paul Johnston, Chris Peabody, Marnie Niemi Hood, Dan Sidsworth, Mike Grimaldi, Mike Fowler and Fred LeBlanc. Welcome to Queen’s Park today.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I beg to inform the House that today I have laid upon the table the 2011 annual greenhouse gas progress report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, entitled Meeting Responsibilities: Creating Opportunities.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I certainly sense how anxious people are, as young children anticipate Christmas, and certainly the Speaker is counting that there are two more sleeps left, but I would just beg the indulgence of all members right now that as we lead up to the closing days of this session we endeavour to be as respectful as we possibly can to one another.
Our party is the only party to put a plan on the table, Changebook, to bring positive change across the province. The Ontario Liberal Party is keeping their plan hidden from the general public. And do you know why? Because they plan to increase taxes once again on hard-working Ontario families. Minister, is it a carbon tax, is it an HST increase—
Let’s talk about the PC slick book, because it’s nothing more than a public relations exercise that has a multi-billion-dollar hole that that leader and his party are not accounting for: 229 promises in the slick book, not all of them costed. Hidden cuts: Is it going to be schools this time, like it was when you were part of the Mike Harris government? Is it going to be teachers? Is it going to be municipalities? How are you going to fund the uploads that we’ve reversed from what you did when you were last in office?
Mr. Tim Hudak: Minister, you know Changebook will give families the relief they need and end the waste, fraud and secret deals that are the hallmark of the Liberal government. I don’t know why you’re afraid to put your plan on the table. Why are you keeping it hidden? I guess it’s because they plan to bring in a carbon tax. The Ontario PC Party believes energy costs on families and businesses are high enough. Your plan to bring in a carbon tax will increase the cost of energy. It will increase the cost of gasoline. Basically, the Liberal carbon tax will increase the cost of everything and the Liberal carbon tax will be a job killer.
Hon. Dwight Duncan: We laid out our numbers in this document. And do you know what? We tabled this with the auditor, and we’ve asked the auditor to comment on the veracity of the numbers, because you and your government left a hidden $5.5-billion deficit.
Let me ask the Leader of the Opposition, will you put your platform numbers to the auditor? Will you ask him to verify them? My guess is you won’t, because there are hidden, multi-billion-dollar cuts—cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to municipalities and lost jobs.
If you’re a teacher, if you’re a nurse, if you’re a student going into full-day learning, look out, because they’re coming after you. We’re going to fight them every step of the way. We’re not going to let them undo the progress that Ontarians have made in cleaning up the mess that your government left.
Mr. Tim Hudak: Ontario families look at the last eight years of job losses, of waste, of secret deals with Liberal friends and insiders, and they say, “Enough. It’s time for change in the province of Ontario.” I say to the finance minister: It’s true; the Ontario PCs have Changebook. The Green Party leader at least had the guts to put his plan out there. Dalton McGuinty continues to hide what his—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I remind the honourable member for a second time about the use of names or titles, and if he persists one more time I’m just going to skip him and we’ll go to the next question.
Mr. Tim Hudak: The McGuinty Liberals continue to keep their tax hikes hidden from the public. The Green leader is calling for a carbon tax, a carbon tax that we’re convinced the McGuinty Liberals support. You refuse to criticize the Green leader’s carbon tax. Isn’t it true, Minister, that you want to bring in a carbon tax after the next election campaign?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: I ask the Leader of the Opposition to put his numbers to the Auditor General. Let’s take one example: Let’s talk about their plan to put prisoners in parks. They haven’t costed that. In every chain gang they want to put 25 prisoners with one guard in every park across Ontario. Does that make any sense whatsoever? And it’s not—
Hon. Dwight Duncan: This government put police officers in the parks; they want to put prisoners in the parks, and they won’t cost it. Their slick book is nothing but an uncosted, dangerous plan to cut health care, to cut education, to undermine the future of our municipalities and to raise property taxes.
Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the Deputy Premier: I know the McGuinty Liberals’ approach is to have the prisoners engage in freeing-the-human-spirit Zen yoga classes. You gave them HD cable packages until you got caught. Ontario families support our plan to have prisoners give back to society through manual labour. It seems like the only people who oppose this are the McGuinty Liberals and, I guess, the prisoners.
Minister, I’ll ask you again: Your own environment minister has said that a carbon tax is something to look at. I know that members on your benches are salivating at bringing in a carbon tax that will increase the cost of everything, and the minister was fast-tracked to the cabinet. Why won’t you just say no to a carbon tax? Why—
Hon. Dwight Duncan: We’ve laid out the broadest personal tax cuts in Ontario history. We’ve submitted them to the auditor. We’ve asked for his position on them. We’ve asked him to verify the veracity of our numbers.
Their slick book is nothing more than a hidden plan that will cut jobs, cut health care and cut education. I challenge the leader of that party: Put your numbers to the auditor. Come clean with Ontarians. We’ve done that as we implement the tax cuts that we’ve laid out.
By the way, I’m proud that they finally endorse the HST. For two years, you’ve been standing against it, rattling on and on about how bad it is, and now we know they’re going to keep it. This government, this party, has a plan. We’re implementing it. The auditor will verify it. I challenge them to do the same thing, and we’ll see them at the ballot box on October 6.
Mr. Tim Hudak: Minister, we are going to take your HST off home heating and hydro bills and the debt retirement charge and give average families a break. Come on. You’re saying that the McGuinty Liberals have lowered taxes on families? I’ve not found one single person who has agreed with that; not even your members.
Talk about a gang that’s bound and determined to stay on Fantasy Island: You increased taxes on hard-working families, on senior citizens and on small businesses. The Ontario PCs and Changebook will give average families relief, the break they deserve and the change that they need. Why won’t you?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: This is the leader who said that he would fight tooth and nail to abolish the HST, and this weekend he has confirmed he’s keeping it. When we introduced the Ontario clean energy benefit and reduced electricity bills by 10%, what was his response? He’s going to cancel that and he’s going to take off 8%, so he’s actually going to raise the price. That’s part of the hidden plan, as well as the multi-billion-dollar hole in their numbers.
The people of Ontario have seen this movie before. They lived through the cuts to health care and education. They value their public services. They want better public services, a better economy and a stronger future for their children. We’ve laid out the plan and submitted it to the auditor. We’re going to stand on that, and the people of Ontario will stand with us because they want those public services delivered in an effective way, which we’ve been doing for eight years now.
Mr. Tim Hudak: I think, sadly, that the finance minister has come badly unglued. I cannot believe that you’re actually saying with a straight face that the McGuinty Liberals have lowered hydro bills. I can’t believe you’re saying with a straight face that the McGuinty Liberals have lowered taxes. Nobody believes you anymore, and that’s why they want to see change here in the province of Ontario.
Your environment minister wants to see a carbon tax. Your Minister of Research and Innovation says, “Let’s get used to these two words: carbon tax.” You gave Jeff Rubin a standing ovation at your so-called thinkers’ conference when he called for a carbon tax. Why won’t you just be honest with the people of Ontario and talk about the McGuinty Liberal carbon tax and how much it’s going to cost Ontario families?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: Our tax plan for jobs and growth has now been endorsed by their leading expert at finance committee. This is about a government that has a vision for leadership that believes in public services. We won’t close schools. We won’t lay off teachers. We will continue to make investments.
Their slick book is uncosted; it leaves a multi-billion-dollar hole in their numbers. They haven’t dealt with every ministry except education and health care, and even then, we suspect that in order to achieve the results that they want to achieve, they will have to hit them hard and hit them often.
We’re going to continue to invest in our families, our children, our communities, our health care and education. That’s what Ontarians want. That’s what they’ll vote for on October 6: a plan that looks to the future with hope and optimism for a better—
My question is to the Acting Premier. On Sunday, the Conservatives proposed an expensive tax cut that disproportionately benefits wealthy Ontarians called income splitting. The Harper Conservatives are also committed to the same scheme.
Hon. Dwight Duncan: The federal government has indicated that. The government will take that into advisement at the time. The reality is that Ontario may be compelled to follow that, depending on how it’s framed by the federal government and whether or not they frame it that way.
We’ve laid out our tax plan for jobs and growth, which we believe will create jobs, help families moving forward and lower taxes for Ontarians of more modest incomes. Depending on what is framed by the federal government, we will have to wait and see what the response would be, because it could well be the fact that we would have to move in tandem with the federal government.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Income splitting does provide some relief, but to those families that need the help the least. Two thirds of the benefit will go to the minority of families making over $100,000 a year and one million households will not benefit at all. Staff from the Ministry of Finance have told reporters here that Ontario will follow suit when Stephen Harper brings this forward. I just want to know from this Minister of Finance, is that his plan?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: Our plan has been very clearly articulated. We have cut taxes for low-income Ontarians. We cut the rate on the first $37,000 of income; it’s now the lowest in Canada. We created the Ontario child benefit, which benefits people of more modest incomes.
The challenge with income splitting is whether or not the provinces will have to move in tandem or not. At this point, it may be that we do, but we’re not certain. It’ll depend on how it is framed by the federal government. We’ll look forward to seeing what’s in the federal budget and we’ll be in a better position to respond once we’ve seen that.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Income splitting will cost the Ontario treasury roughly $600 million. That’s on top of the $1.8 billion in corporate tax giveaways. There are far better ways to provide families with the help that they desperately need.
Hon. Dwight Duncan: What we can be clear about is that we won’t cut the Ontario child benefit, which she voted against, which helps more lower-income Ontarians. We’ve taken 90,000 Ontarians of low income off the tax rolls completely. She voted against that.
We will respond appropriately once we’ve seen the federal proposal. One has to look at a variety of factors that are associated with this: who benefits, who doesn’t, how it fits in with the broader tax package.
Our plan is balanced, it’s right and it creates a climate for more and better jobs going forward. That’s what it’s about. We look forward to working with everyone in Ontario to build a better economy for the future.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: I ask these questions because we’ve seen this movie once before. It happened with the unfair HST. It happened with the corporate tax giveaway. First the McGuinty Liberals say they’re going to fight a Conservative policy, and then they turn around and make it happen.
She reminds me of the leader of her federal party, who went to British Columbia and said, “The HST is bad,” then went to Nova Scotia, where there’s an NDP government that raised the HST, and said, “This is good public policy.” Is she going to do that? Is she going to raise the HST? Let’s just hear: Are you going to eliminate it or keep it and raise it? Mr. Speaker, we need answers from them.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Let’s just take a look at history: Not only did the Harper Conservatives urge the McGuinty Liberals to adopt the HST, but they offered big bucks to do it, and the McGuinty Liberals willingly complied. The McGuinty Liberals railed against corporate tax giveaways, but then adopted Jim Flaherty’s plan.
We’re undoing the damage left by the previous government. We were elected to invest in hospitals, and we’re doing that. We were elected to reduce wait times for a whole variety of services, and we’re doing that. We were elected to make Ontario a more competitive and a better place to do business. We’re lifting the burden from municipalities. We were elected to improve those public services, and we’re doing it every single day.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Here are the people this government keeps forgetting. Patti Sookraj from Toronto writes: “I am a widow and struggling to pay my bills, especially the hydro bill. I have to limit myself to other necessities every month, just to pay my hydro bill.”
Income splitting will not help Ms. Sookraj; she’s on her own. Neither will corporate tax giveaways; they’re not helping any households. The unfair HST, of course, does affect her. It makes her life a lot harder. When will the McGuinty Liberals stop listening to Stephen Harper and start listening to people like Patti?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: When we lowered the tax rate for low-income Ontarians, that helped her constituent, and she voted against it. When we created the Ontario child benefit to help low-income Ontarians, that member and her party voted against it. That would have helped her constituent. When we created a variety of tax credits to lower the cost of living for Ontarians, that member and her party voted against it and voted against that woman who has raised these concerns. When we created the Ontario clean energy benefit, which will help her constituent, that member and her party turned their back on her constituent and voted against it.
We’ve laid out a balanced plan that invests in our public health care, invests in public education and creates a better climate for more jobs and a brighter future for all of our children. That’s what it’s all about. And just tell us what you’ll do with the HST.
Mr. Tim Hudak: My question is to the Minister of Energy. Minister, as you know, through Changebook, the Ontario PC Party will give average families $275 of relief on their home heating and hydro bills. Under the McGuinty Liberals’ tax book, hydro rates and taxes will continue to go through the roof. We know that Premier McGuinty wants families to pay more and more.
We find out today that your former chair of the Ontario Power Authority, Jan Carr, in a C.D. Howe report, has said that under your unsustainable feed-in tariff program, bills for seniors and average families will go up an additional $310 a year.
Hon. Brad Duguid: I can see why the Leader of the Opposition would be attracted to this anti-job opinion paper. You see, it kind of resembles his own reckless promises. We found out when we saw his party platform—it was shaped like a Tim Hortons doughnut, with a big $10-billion hole right in the middle. There are similarities to this opinion paper, because in this opinion paper there’s a $20-billion hole in the middle, and that’s the $20 billion of investment that’s pouring into this province through our clean energy economy. That’s the 50,000 jobs that are pouring into Ontario, that we’re creating for Ontario families.
Mr. Tim Hudak: The Ontario PCs are standing with ordinary hard-working families by saying no to your $300 increase in hydro bills. Minister, surely to goodness you’ve got to think hydro bills are high enough as it is. We find out now through C.D. Howe that your FIT program will increase hydro bills for seniors and families by an additional $310 per year.
Let me remind you, Minister, that this is your guy. This is Jan Carr, who you appointed to head up your Ontario Power Authority. This is your hand-picked leader who says that he’s had enough of the McGuinty Liberals increasing hydro rates, wasteful programs and expensive experiments.
Hon. Brad Duguid: One thing the Leader of the Opposition’s right on is that that paper and his policy do contrast with ours, because our policy is creating thousands of jobs in the province of Ontario. Our policy is building a strong clean energy economy. Unlike his slick book, our policies are costed out. We don’t have a $10-billion hole in the middle of our policy like he has in his. He hasn’t costed out how he’s going to get rid of his debt retirement charge, which is part of his energy policy. He hasn’t costed out how he’s going to take the HST off the cost of energy. It’s a $10-billion hole. Ontario families deserve to know what you are going to cut to make up for the hole in your energy policy.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. According to today’s report from the Environmental Commissioner, the McGuinty government is still failing to achieve its promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, even as the health and economic costs of floods, droughts and heat waves linked to global warming are rising. In fact, at the rate this government is going, it would take 50 years to meet its 2020 emission targets.
Hon. John Wilkinson: When will the NDP finally pick a lane on this issue? I have the member get up and say that we need more green energy, and then he has his colleague from Welland who says there should be a moratorium on green energy. You’ve got to pick a lane over there.
Here’s what we know from the Environmental Commissioner: What he tells us is that already Ontario is 85% of the way to meeting our 2014 commitment. We are leading the country in what is required to reduce our greenhouse gases. We are the very first government in this province to have a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy—all hands on deck, all ministries—led by our Premier, and we want to thank him for that leadership.
It’s important for us to understand that in this House, one must pick a lane. Here in the province of Ontario, at every step we are taking steps to protect our environment for our children, and it would be very nice if the NDP could actually—
Three years ago, the Premier called climate change the “greatest challenge since the dawn of time.” Today, it is very clear that this government has lost all sense of urgency. The Environmental Commissioner’s report shows that the Premier’s climate strategy only works when we have a recession. That’s the only condition under which it works.
Hon. John Wilkinson: I challenge the member—our record over the last eight years of protecting the environment. What we have done to address the amazingly difficult global challenge of climate change—we stand on our record. It would have been nice if the party opposite were with us when we were bringing in the Clean Water Act and the Green Energy Act, protecting the boreal forest and protecting the greenbelt. Where were they? They were handmaidens to the Tories; that’s what they were doing in this House. So when it comes to making sure that we have a better future, it seems that it’s not sufficient for the member opposite—it must be inconvenient that we are already at 85% of our goal for 2014, on track to make that happen.
We will continue to work as closely as we can with all Ontarians as we address the issue of climate change and as we have an all-hands-on-deck multi-ministry approach to make sure that we’re addressing that—
Mr. Rick Johnson: My question is to the Minister of Finance. Our government’s plan to balance the budget and make the province more competitive is working and getting results. Our plan provides a solid foundation for supporting economic recovery and ensuring long-term prosperity for the province. We are focused on deficit reduction as well as protecting education and health care.
This last weekend, we heard the claim that it’s possible to balance the budget in the same time frame that our government has laid out while also cutting taxes, which will reduce revenues. I believe it’s important to be honest and realistic and not, for example, hide a $5.5-billion deficit or present unrealistic schemes. Minister, what do you think about these numbers?
Let me give you an example. They refused to acknowledge what the auditor says. The auditor says that there was a $14.8-billion debt left over by that government on hydro. They propose, at a cost of $350 million, to leave that debt on the books, which is a mistake. And what they didn’t do was account for that $350 million in their costing. That is one of a number of examples that we will be pointing out in the next several days and weeks. Ontarians need to know those numbers because what it amounts to—
Mr. Rick Johnson: Our government has gone through an extensive process to look at government programs and spending. We continue to take action to manage expenses, increase productivity and improve service delivery. Initiatives announced in the 2011 budget and since December 2010 will help realize additional savings of nearly $1.5 billion across government over the next three fiscal years. We’re well on our way to reducing the OPS by 5%, which we announced in 2009, as well as an additional 1,500 positions announced in the 2011 budget, for savings of close to $500 million. We merged Infrastructure Ontario with the Ontario Realty Corp., which will save $15 million over three years. We also looked at some smaller things which add up to some pretty big numbers, like eliminating more than 15,000 printers and computers, saving $8 million. How do these savings compare to the promises we heard on the weekend?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: The PC slick book simply cannot square the round hole. There is a multi-billion-dollar gap, and that’s because they haven’t been candid with Ontarians in terms of what it is they choose to do. They have not laid out what they’re going to do in terms of health care and education. They have promised all kinds of things here and there, and if you look closely at the numbers, there’s a multi-billion-dollar hole which we’ll be talking more about.
The debt retirement charge is a good example of that. They failed to account for the $350-million-per-year hit that has on Ontario’s interest costs because they want to let the debt just continue to accumulate interest instead of doing the right thing and eliminating the debt which they created.
Mr. John Yakabuski: This morning, the esteemed C.D. Howe Institute endorsed what the PC Party has been saying all along: that your expensive energy experiments are the wrong way to go. The PC Party has been saying from the start that the feed-in tariff program was reckless and unsustainable. You insulted the intelligence of Ontario families by claiming that it would only increase their hydro bills by 1% per year. The C.D. Howe Institute says it will increase them by $310 per year per household.
Our Changebook shows respect for Ontario families by showing that we will offer them relief. We will stop signing those expensive subsidies and the Premier’s expensive energy experiments. Minister, why won’t you?
Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m glad that the members opposite laid out their reckless plan for energy, and it does contrast with our plan. Our plan is to build a clean, reliable and modern energy system; theirs is to tear it down. Our plan is to replace dirty coal with cleaner sources of power; they don’t want to go there. Our plan is to build a global-leading clean energy economy, putting thousands of Ontarians back to work; their plan is to put those Ontario families back out of work.
We’re going to stand up for those Ontario families. We’re going to stand up for cleaner air. We’re going to stand up for building a global-leading clean energy economy, and we will be happy in the fall to contrast our plan with their lack of a plan any day.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Minister, when you introduced your reckless Green Energy Act, you swore up and down that it would increase hydro bills by only 1% per year. The C.D. Howe Institute has now revealed the truth: Your unsustainable FIT program will raise hydro bills by $310 per household per year. That’s $1.5 billion more on the backs of Ontario families and seniors, and Minister, this does not include the cost of your sweetheart Samsung deal. Jobs created by your subsidy will be at a rate of at least $180,000 per job per year. The co-author of that report: Jan Carr.
Hon. Brad Duguid: All they’re about is irresponsible rhetoric. They want to move forward with a reckless plan that will destroy our clean energy economy, and it will have a very significant effect on everyday Ontarians.
Let me share with you what Ben Roelands has to say, because he’s a real, everyday Ontarian that your plan is completely ignoring. He said this: “I immigrated to Canada without a prospect of a secure job. Thanks to the Ontario FIT program, I not only found employment, I managed to find a dream job working side by side with some of the most creative minds in a burgeoning industry. Every day I improve the future of”—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I can quickly warn the member from Eglinton–Lawrence, because you’ve got guilty members within your own party as well. But I would just say to the honourable member from Renfrew that you did ask a question. You should be listening to the response. If you’re not satisfied with the response, utilize the standing orders and call for a late show.
Hon. Brad Duguid: They can heckle me all they want, but when they heckle when I’m telling them exactly what Ontario workers are saying about their policy to put them out of work, they should show more respect for Ontario workers than that.
We care about Ontario workers. We care about putting Ontarians back to work. We’re turning the corner with our economy. You want to tear it all down. We’re about building it back up again. Ontarians are about building, not tearing things down. We’re standing up—
Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée, but before I start I’d like to welcome the hard-working student from Attawapiskat who just walked into the east gallery. Welcome.
One in five Ontarians is a caregiver to a loved one or a family member. Those informal caregivers are largely unseen, yet they provide about 70% of the caregiving in our province. Our informal caregivers are tired and they are hurting. Community groups, advocates and caregivers themselves have done a lot of work since the release, in 2009, of the long-range scenario report. Can the minister tell this House when she will release the report on caregivers?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I’d like to thank the member for the question and to echo her assertion that we owe so much to the caregivers in this province, the people who put their own lives on hold so they can care for a spouse or for a child or for a parent or another family member, or even a neighbour or friend.
Caregivers are a vitally important part of our health care system, and I’m very pleased that our local health integration networks, in their work through our aging at home strategy, is actually moving to provide better support for caregivers. This includes respite, it includes home care—a variety of approaches to help support caregivers.
Mme France Gélinas: We all agree that informal caregivers contribute billions to our health care system annually, yet we offer them virtually no support in this work. Instead, these caregivers are forced to sacrifice their own careers, sacrifice advancement and often, their personal lives.
A number of charitable organizations have formed the Ontario Caregiver Coalition to advance the interests of caregivers in the workplace and to advance the implementation of a comprehensive caregiver strategy. Yet today, all of their good work, all of their good ideas are being held from the public. Will the minister agree to release the work that has been done, the report, so that caregivers and their loved ones can finally have a complete strategy and get the support they need?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: Let me repeat that our focus on helping people stay in their homes as long as possible, delaying or even preventing them from moving into long-term care, is a fundamental foundation of our aging at home strategy, and we are seeing wonderful success as a result of the investments we are making to support people at home.
I acknowledge that there is more to do. I know that as our population ages, caregivers will play an increasingly important role, and I can assure you that we on this side of the House are there to support caregivers.
Mr. David Zimmer: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. In January of this year, the federal government recognized 2011 as the Year of the Entrepreneur, highlighting the essential role that small and medium businesses play in securing Canada’s ongoing economic recovery. Ontario has long been known for its innovative entrepreneurs, business icons like Tim Horton; Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis at RIM; Eddie Sonshine at RioCan properties; and many others. They all got their early start here in Ontario and grew into major enterprises.
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I am delighted by this question. Hopefully the whole House will join us as we welcome the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who are here today, as well as the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, the Canadian youth future business people. They’ve joined us here in the House today and we welcome you here today.
I’m delighted to see that especially now that the opposition has elected to actually table what they call their platform—nary a mention of business in the future for business in Ontario. Contrast that slippery book that they tabled to what we have done over the course of eight years: that is, build the foundation for business in Ontario, starting with our tax policy, which now sounds eerily like what they want to table as a potential platform. They voted against our business initiatives, and now they—
Mr. David Zimmer: Minister, it’s evident that our government has established a strong infrastructure to assist and support Ontario’s young entrepreneurs and those businesses that are already on their way up. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business releases a monthly Business Barometer report. The last one, on May 4, 2011, covered the survey for the results of the month of April. Minister, what does the report suggest about small business confidence in this economy? Is our government living up to the expectations of Ontario’s small and medium-sized businesses?
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: Again, it’s important to suggest that just in the last few years, we’ve eliminated $4.5 billion in taxes attacking small business—gone—the same $4.5 billion in small tax relief opposed by the opposition party, opposed by them; and to note that they would have an opportunity to table a platform where they don’t mention business, they don’t mention building new jobs in our economy, just as we’re coming out of our fragile recovery. They choose to ignore it in their book.
Instead, we have eight years of solid evidence of creating a climate for investment. In fact, even the FDI, which ranks Ontario against all jurisdictions, tied number one for the greatest level of investment where? In Ontario. That’s where businesses can—
Mr. Peter Shurman: My question is also to the Minister of Economic Development. This morning, Jan Carr, the Premier’s hand-picked choice to start up the Ontario Power Authority, released a report that endorses the change Ontario PCs are calling for in Changebook. He found: “Ontario’s policies do not provide cost-effective approaches to meeting the government’s goals of creating jobs....” He estimates the subsidies you hand out to be $179,000 per job per year. That is $179,000 per job per year for 20 years.
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I’m delighted to finally have a question from a critic for economic development and trade, because they don’t want to talk about job creation. They don’t want to talk about what they now are going to have to go to their public with, which is nary a mention of job creation in their supposed platform.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Honourable members, the member from Halton made a comment that he can’t hear the answer. If he can’t hear and he’s sitting just to my left, I’m having difficulty. Your honourable member is asking a question, and you’re not even giving him a chance to listen the answer.
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: We just came back, the Premier and I, along with the member opposite, from the Chrysler assembly plant, where Chrysler-Fiat just returned all of their loan repayable back to our government, and they did it early—six years early. Moreover, we met with the CAW representatives of the folks on the front line, with those great jobs that we had a hand in saving, along with the CAW. I ask the member opposite—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. Minister of Agriculture, please come to order. I can help facilitate an early—she can get right to the front of the line of the wonderful beef barbecue today.
Mr. Peter Shurman: Carr’s report validates what Ontario PCs have said all along: Families are paying too much. Your policy is not creating jobs; it is killing jobs. He points out that most of the jobs you are paying $179,000 a year for 20 years to create are construction jobs that would have been created anyway, and he says that your numbers are not honest about how many jobs will be lost because your energy experiments are driving up business costs.
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I think the 9,000 jobs that were saved at Chrysler are important jobs, and we support those jobs. We’re sorry that you called it corporate welfare. We support the auto sector and all of the 400,000 families that have a job because we stepped in.
I think it’s important that we be honest with the public, that when we rank number one in investment in North America, half of those investment projects that landed in Ontario—half of them—are in high-energy industries. They’re in advanced manufacturing, and they are in IT; of the 127 new projects in 2010, half of them.
I appreciate that you want to talk about energy prices, but we’re going to go forward with the truth. We’re going to go forward with the facts. We’re going to tell people that this is the party of job creation, and you are the party that—
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. This morning, more than 75 OPSEU correctional workers and other community advocates are here from Owen Sound and Walkerton to speak out against the McGuinty government’s hurried and short-sighted decision to close jails in Walkerton, in Owen Sound and in Sarnia. The evidence that OPSEU correctional workers, local mayors and community members have presented to keep these jails open is absolutely overwhelming, but so far, the government has refused to listen.
Hon. James J. Bradley: These matters are always very difficult to deal with. As the member knows, the Ontario government is dealing with a substantial deficit that has to be addressed. Each of the ministries had to look at potential ways to save money.
Two of the jails that you’ve mentioned were built back in the 1800s. We’re trying to modernize the system. We’re trying to effect some efficiencies. I have received information from the Ministry of Correctional Services on how that might be done. It’s never easy, and it’s never going to be easy to do so. But the conclusion they have come to is that we will have to decommission some of these jails in order to save money for the province of Ontario, as difficult a decision as that always is, particularly for those who are directly affected by it.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: These closures are going to hurt more than 200 correctional workers and their families, hinder the rehabilitation of inmates and deal a devastating economic blow to the communities of Sarnia and the Grey-Bruce regions. Even more confusing, the savings that government is theorizing don’t even hold any water. More than 12,000 Ontarians see the mistake this government is making and have signed petitions. All they ask for is for the government to hold off on the jail closures until real public consultations are held. It’s not a lot to ask.
Hon. James J. Bradley: First of all, I want to recommend a book to the leader of the third party. It’s called Minding the Public Purse, by former NDP finance minister in Saskatchewan Dr. Janice MacKinnon. During that period of time the New Democratic Party, while in power, had to close 52 rural hospitals in the province of Saskatchewan, with jobs lost and with great difficulty for those communities. The government didn’t do it because they wanted to be mean. The government didn’t do it because they were callous at that time. The government had to look at ways to efficiently deliver services. That’s what this government is doing.
I have met with municipal representatives from the communities you have mentioned. I have met with provincial representatives of OPSEU. I have asked to be able to meet with representatives of this organization today so—
Mr. Jeff Leal: My question this morning is to my colleague the Minister of Education. Minister, we all know how important education is for our students and parents to help build a better province. We’ve made great progress over the past eight years, particularly in the riding of Peterborough.
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: Well, it is indeed an excellent question because those of us on this side of the House recognize that investing in education is one of the single most important things that we can do for our future, for our children’s future and for the future of our economy. That is why we have made investments so that test scores have improved. We have made investments so that we have more students graduating in our schools now. When we came to government about one in three students were not graduating from our secondary schools. Now more than 80% of our students are.
We have increased public confidence in our education system. We have peace in our schools. Families know, they are confident, that when they send their children to school the teachers will be there to teach them and that they will be getting a good education. So, yes, we have made significant increases in our investment, but we have a very good story to tell—
Minister, the opposition recently put out a collection of Timbits on how they want to govern this province. My constituents want to know what our plan is. What is the government doing to ensure that Ontario students are getting the advantages they need to compete in the economy of tomorrow and take our students to the next level?
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: The members of the opposition laugh at this, but this is really very serious. Families in Ontario do want to know what our plan for the future is, and we are absolutely committed to full-day kindergarten.
On the other side of the House, they put out a plan—I think they called it an “eduction” plan, but it was really their education plan. Their plan would claim that they will support full-day kindergarten, but I would just remind the people of Ontario that they voted against full-day kindergarten. I would also say to the people of Ontario that if you look at what they call their plan, there’s no money for capital, and we know that full-day kindergarten will not happen without a commitment to building new classroom spaces. Our government has made that commitment. We will build the spaces. There’s no capital money in their plan, so full-day kindergarten is just a broken promise on that side of the House.
Minister, you’ve been neglecting to answer my questions at every turn. You refuse to provide the families of Walkerton and Sarnia with the facts they need about their jail closure, and you’ve yet to provide the Sarnia delegates with the cost-benefit analysis behind the jail closure decision.
Minister, while you and your colleagues across the way are busy providing luxuries for convicted prisoners and building mega-prisons in the finance minister’s riding, we in the PC caucus are committed to making prisoners repay their debt to society. Minister, are you intentionally withholding information from the families—
Hon. James J. Bradley: We know that these are very difficult times for all of the people in the province of Ontario. I know that when the Conservative government was in power and they closed jails in Cobourg, Haileybury, L’Orignal, Waterloo, Wellington, Parry Sound, Barrie, Peterborough, Guelph, Cornwall, the Burtch Facility, Lindsay, Whitby, Brampton, Millbrook and Sault Ste. Marie, the government of the day looked very carefully, made an evaluation and took into consideration all factors, as this government is, and ultimately had to make some very difficult decisions.
That’s a long time ago. You are the government now. You represent the province, and you’re closing our jails. The last person who tried to do this dumb idea—can I use that, “dumb idea”?—we asked him to resign. He didn’t resign, but now he’s a senator, so maybe the minister ought to look at something like that. But he didn’t close the jail, either. He never closed the jail.
Mr. Bill Murdoch: I know the minister doesn’t want to resign, so the question would be, six weeks ago we met with you and that big small guy and he told us right at that meeting that he would have the figures for us as to why this was a good idea, to save $3 million here and spend $5 million here—Liberal economics, as you’d say. Where is that information? Six weeks ago—
Hon. James J. Bradley: I do have some quotes from now-Senator Runciman that talked about these difficult decisions that had to be made. He indicated there was a need for the modernization of the system. My friend from Waterloo–Wellington—I’m not going to use his quotes on him today, because he’s a good friend of mine. I don’t want to do that.
These are very difficult decisions. We gather the information within the ministry; they provide that information. When you’re talking about dumb ideas, the dumbest idea I’ve heard of—over on this side we want to put more police on the streets, so we have 2,300. You want to put more prisoners in parks and schoolyards and neighbourhoods and business areas. We’re putting more police on the streets, and you want to put more prisoners in neighbourhoods around the province of Ontario. I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Besides, it’s extremely—
M. Gilles Bisson: Ma question est pour la ministre de la Santé. Madame la Ministre, l’alliance de Timmins, autrement connue comme l’ACFO, pour des années, oeuvre pour être capable d’avoir un centre communautaire francophone à Timmins. Ils ont contacté, dans le passé, le ministre Smitherman, qui avait donné une chance que, possiblement, c’était pour être financé. Depuis que vous êtes devenue ministre, l’alliance demande encore, à beaucoup de reprises, le financement pour commencer ce centre. Il n’y a rien qui arrive de votre ministère ou de votre gouvernement. Justement, ils vous demandent des rencontres. Ça fait depuis le mois d’octobre de l’année passée que l’alliance et mon bureau vous demandent des réunions pour s’asseoir avec l’alliance et parler d’un centre communautaire francophone.
Hon. Deborah Matthews: Merci pour la question. What I can tell you is that we are absolutely committed to improving health services for people who speak French. I was very pleased that the French language commissioner has actually reviewed what we are doing and is supportive of what we are doing.
M. Gilles Bisson: Madame la Ministre, la question est très simple : à quel point allez-vous rencontrer l’alliance de Timmins pour discuter du dossier du centre communautaire francophone à Timmins? À quel point peut-on avoir cette rencontre? Oui ou non?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I am pleased to say that I spend a significant amount of my time meeting with people, visiting community health centres and meeting people on the ground where they are. I fill my day with conversations with people advocating for ways to improve. I’m more than pleased to continue to meet with people as they request that.
Hon. Margarett R. Best: Point of order, Mr. Speaker: On this, the last day of South Asian Heritage Month in Ontario, and in honour of my maternal grandmother, who was born in Mumbai, India, I take this opportunity to thank the South Asian community for infusing the Ontario mosaic with their rich culture and rich heritage.
Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 181, An Act to amend the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 / Projet de loi 181, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1997 sur la prévention et la protection contre l’incendie.
Mme France Gélinas: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I just wanted to be on the record that the Integrity Commissioner advised me that I was in a pecuniary conflict of interest, and I was to abstain from the vote on Bill 181.
Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 188, An Act to amend the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act / Projet de loi 188, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la Collection McMichael d’art canadien.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the members of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association barbecue happening on the front lawn following question period. In order to ensure that you get to your afternoon meetings on time, the cattlemen have graciously opened an MPPs’ line so that you may meet, greet and eat with them. And on behalf of the House collectively, if anybody complains, I will take the shot for you.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): We have with us in the Speaker’s gallery today, here for the tribute to former member Bob Mackenzie, son Andrew Mackenzie and his partner, Adrienne Pires; son Dan Mackenzie and his partner, Jill Marzetti; son David Mackenzie and his partner, Elizabeth Shilton; daughter Lori Mackenzie and her partner, Bob Huget, who was also the member for Sarnia in the 35th Parliament; daughter Kim Wark and her partner, John Wark; granddaughters Susannah Huget, Christina Mackenzie and Lily Mackenzie; and grandson Robert Mackenzie.
Also joining us in the Speaker’s gallery: David Christopherson, current federal member for Hamilton Centre and former member for Hamilton Centre, then Hamilton West, in the 35th, 36th and 37th Parliaments; Dave Cooke, member for Windsor–Riverside in the 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments; Odoardo Di Santo, MPP for Downsview in the 30th, 31st and 32nd Parliaments; Dr. Bob Frankford, member for Scarborough East in the 35th Parliament; Floyd Laughren, member for Nickel Belt in the 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments; Gary Malkowski, member for York East in the 35th Parliament; Tony Martin, member for Sault Ste. Marie in the 35th, 36th and 37th Parliaments; Ross McClellan, member for Bellwoods in the 30th, 31st, 32nd and 33rd Parliaments; Larry O’Connor, member for Durham–York in the 35th Parliament; Allan Pilkey, member for Oshawa in the 35th Parliament; David Reville, member for Riverdale in the 33rd and 34th Parliaments; Tony Silipo, member for Dovercourt in the 35th and 36th Parliaments; David Warner, former Speaker and member for Scarborough–Ellesmere in the 30th, 31st, 33rd and 35th Parliaments; and Bud Wildman, member for Algoma in the 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments.
Also today, friends of the family: Clare Booker, Don Cottrell, Kimberly Ehler, Mary Morison, Brendan Morgan, Jay Mowat, Bill Reno, Rachel Spence, Helen Breslauer, Bruce Cox, Laura Henry, Harry Hynd, Michael Lewis, Sean Power, Sid Ryan, Bonaventure Saptel, Elizabeth Smith-Van Beek and John Van Beek.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: On behalf of Tim Hudak and the PC caucus, I’m pleased to rise today to welcome the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association back to Queen’s Park and thank them for providing MPPs with a great lunch of Ontario corn-fed beef.
We have been pleased to work with the Ontario cattlemen and other non-supply-managed commodity groups and farmers across Ontario over the past few years on a business risk management program. Ontario beef farmers suffered through years of declining margins and high input costs. That is why Changebook, our PC policy released last weekend, continues our strong commitment to a risk management program.
We also announced policies to address other concerns, such as creating one window for farmers to access government to reduce duplication and wasted time. And a buy-Ontario food policy: We will lead by example at provincial institutions such as hospitals and schools.
Again, I want to thank the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association for coming to Queen’s Park and for meeting with the PC caucus this morning to share their concerns. We have been pleased to work with them on these important issues, and we look forward to working with them in the future.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Today, I want to honour an organization that is making a significant contribution to my community and to the city of Toronto. Planned Parenthood Toronto celebrates its 50th anniversary this year as a community-based agency dedicated to the vision of a future of sexual and reproductive choice, freedom and possibilities.
Located in my riding of Trinity–Spadina, Planned Parenthood Toronto operates a fully accredited community health centre, providing primary health care services to youth aged 13 to 29 from across the city of Toronto and beyond. They also provide health promotion programming, education, training and research to improve the sexual and reproductive health of youth and women. Planned Parenthood Toronto’s non-judgmental services are accessible and inclusive, and they serve marginalized youth and women, who traditionally face barriers to accessing care, and I was happy to have witnessed this when I did a tour of Planned Parenthood Toronto last Friday.
It’s a momentous occasion for any non-profit agency to commemorate their 50th anniversary. I wish Planned Parenthood Toronto all the best in celebrating their 50 years of accomplishments and in looking toward a bright future as they continue to change the lives of youth and women.
Mr. Rick Johnson: Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock is home to countless summer festivals and events that bring our communities together. Every year across Ontario, festivals and events like those in my riding contribute more than $22 billion to the provincial economy. They also directly generate more than 22,000 jobs and support another 300,000 direct and indirect jobs. So I’m very pleased that we’re helping make festivals and events even more successful by updating and modernizing Ontario’s liquor laws.
We want to make sure that everyone is drinking safely and responsibly. We’ve implemented mandatory server training for licensed establishments, escalated penalties to discourage repeat drunk drivers, and enacted a zero blood-alcohol tolerance for drivers under 21. We’ve also broadened the licensed areas to include washrooms and hallways so people don’t have to leave their drinks unattended.
As of tomorrow, festival- and event-goers will be free to walk with their drinks within a defined area, enjoying the event with their families and circulating in retail areas. Alcohol service will be extended to 2 a.m. at special events, such as weddings and charity fundraisers. And the sale of all-inclusive vacation packages in Ontario will help improve tourism and support jobs for my residents in Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock.
The modernization of Ontario’s liquor laws means we’re ensuring that alcoholic beverages are served in a responsible manner, while giving a boost to local festivals and events like Fiesta Buckhorn, the Bobcaygeon Wine and Food Festival and the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival, and that is something we can raise a glass to.
I received a letter from Barry Bell, president of Bell Transportation, which outlines all too well the predicament he and other independent bus operators are facing. He writes: “The RFP process is an unmitigated dark cloud that has followed myself and other operators for a few years now. Big fish swallow the little fish or kick them out of the pond entirely, and when there are no more little guys (read competition), rates for service will skyrocket.
“I have a hard time coming to grips with the business being more or less ripped from my grasp by the RFP process. I can not do this job for less. I can not absorb a pay cut to starve my competitors. I am a sitting duck.
“For the past three years, I forgo paying myself what I’m worth, and yet I still show up for work at 5 a.m. in the winter to determine if it’s safe to go on any given day. I sacrifice family vacation time because I feel the boss should be on hand when the business is running. I spend an outrageous amount each month for payments on our buses, to propagate our four-year bus renewal program. We have never had a work stoppage or strike. We have never been duplicitous in our billing to the board, and we’ve been doing it for almost 60 years.”
Mr. Kuldip Kular: I am proud to share with my colleagues news of the latest green energy projects in Bramalea–Gore–Malton. When completed, these 18 solar projects will produce 3,000 kilowatts of renewable energy for the homes and businesses of my riding. These projects will be installed by not just a handful of companies, but by 10 different companies indicating that the market for clean energy in Ontario is vibrant. This is more proof of our government’s success in making Ontario a North American leader in the clean energy sector through our Green Energy Act and feed-in tariff program.
The feed-in tariff program allows Ontarians to help transform our society. Through it, they can reduce the impact of their homes and workplaces on the environment, help clean Ontario’s air and gain a return on their investment by sharing the extra energy they produce in Ontario’s grid.
I can’t help but note the contrast in our vision with that of the official opposition. Instead of embracing this technology and its many benefits for Ontarians, they would throw away the great work that is under way by researchers, developers and investors, many of whom call Ontario home.
Mr. Bill Murdoch: Our national sport of hockey has become plagued with career-ending, life-threatening hits to the head. Earlier this season, we saw star NHL players like Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard sidelined for months because of vicious head shots that left them unconscious. There is no doubt that physical play is a key feature of the game, but there is no excuse for allowing dirty players to get away with vicious, illegal hits to the head.
Recently, players from the Owen Sound Attack became victims of vicious attacks at the Memorial Cup. These illegal hits went unpunished by the referees. Canada is known around the world for producing the best players the sport has to offer, but the future of our young stars is in jeopardy. Junior hockey officials in Canada, namely OHL commissioner David Branch and the Memorial Cup’s discipline chair, Brian O’Neill, are failing to protect Ontario’s most talented players.
Despite incompetent and corrupt officiating, the Attack not only clinched its first OHL championship but captured some of the game’s highest honours. Andrew Shaw was awarded the Ed Chynoweth Trophy by NHL central scouting for being the Memorial Cup’s top scorer, and Jordan Binnington was awarded the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy for outstanding goaltender.
The future of Canada’s games and its young stars is in danger from poor officiating and out-of-touch OHL management that fails to consider the future of the game and the safety of its players. If there is any honour left in the officials of the 2011 Memorial Cup and the OHL commissioner, David Branch, they should resign for failing to protect one of Canada’s most precious assets: our talented young hockey players.
Mr. Monte Kwinter: I rise today to honour the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan, who celebrated their Republic Day on May 28. Republic Day commemorates the day Azerbaijan first declared independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, becoming the first-ever Muslim democratic republic and granting suffrage to women ahead of many western countries.
The Azerbaijan independence was short-lived and succumbed to Soviet power in 1920. However, the people of this country were able to regain their freedom in 1991. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the independence of modern and secular Azerbaijan.
Despite ongoing challenges, in recent years Azerbaijan made remarkable progress, particularly in boosting the economy and reducing poverty. Though a lot of work is still ahead, Azerbaijan’s achievement was acknowledged by international institutions such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. Azerbaijan is promoting important trans-regional projects, first of all in oil and gas by delivering hydrocarbon resources from the Caspian Sea to global markets via a network of pipelines.
Azerbaijan is building, along with partners, a Europe-Caucasia-Asia transport corridor: the so-called modern Silk Road. Azerbaijan has also assumed an important role in the fight against terrorism. Today, Azerbaijani peacekeepers serve shoulder to shoulder with Canadian and other forces in Afghanistan.
I’d ask all of my colleagues to join me and the Azerbaijani community in Canada to congratulate the people of Azerbaijan on the 20th anniversary of their modern Republic Day and to renew our commitment to further develop and strengthen the bonds between our two peoples.
Mr. Dave Levac: I rise to share with the House an amazing experience I was invited to last week. To actually participate in an OYAP program event was eye-opening and absolutely tasty. The OYAP demonstration dinner held Thursday, May 26, at St. John’s College high school in Brantford was a celebration of a unique, first-time-in-Canada culinary course for high school students.
The students were magnificent. They were highly motivated, professional in look, really did a great job on the cooking and interacted great with the guests. The invitees were Mr. Kai Bein, the head chef at the Brantford Golf and Country Club; Sharon Estok from Mohawk College; Scott Brunton from the MTCU; Jill Halyk from GETAB; His Worship Mayor Chris Friel; Cheryl Gregory, MTCU training consultant; John Murnaghan from the Brant News; Dante Dalia, the co-op and OYAP coordinator for the Catholic school board; and, of course, myself.
Thirteen sample courses were served. The dishes were prepared, cooked, served and described by the students. This project was the brainchild of Dante Dalia and forged by the partnership of the school board, St. John’s College, Assumption College, Mohawk College and MTCU.
The students, when the course is completed, will end up with a level one cook certification, one college credit and three high school credits. Their teacher, Tom Mercante, the foods teacher at Assumption and a certified chef, designed and taught the course.
Mr. Michael A. Brown: I’m pleased to rise today to thank the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association for coming to Queen’s Park to host their eighth annual corn-fed-beef barbecue. It just gets better and better.
The Ontario Cattlemen are 19,000 beef producers in 49 counties and districts across the province. In 2010, the industry contributed $918 million to Ontario agriculture, up more than 5% from the year before, and we expect that number to grow.
As cattle farmers overcome the challenges of the recent recession, I want them to know that this government’s work is not done. For our cattle farmers, we are turning the corner by creating new jobs, boosting export sales and opening new sources of revenue by expanding processing plants across rural Ontario. We’re investing in buy-local initiatives that are getting more families to put local beef on their plates and we’re working to get hundreds of grocery stores to source high-quality Ontario beef. In other words, we’re building a sustainable, profitable beef industry and we’re doing it together.
In the coming months, we’re looking forward to working together on the details of a risk management program which will give our family farms the predictability, bankability and stability they need. We’ll also keep pushing the federal government to get onside with risk management so that our cattle farmers can continue to do what they do best: produce the best beef in the world.
Bill 179, An Act to amend the Child and Family Services Act respecting adoption and the provision of care and maintenance / Projet de loi 179, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les services à l’enfance et à la famille en ce qui concerne l’adoption et les soins et l’entretien.
Mr. Dave Levac: The bill amends the Taxation Act, 2007, to provide a tax credit to individuals who act as caregivers for a relative in the relative’s home or to individuals who act as caregivers for an elderly spouse.
Bill 206, An Act to improve the part of the TransCanada Highway known as Highway 17 / Projet de loi 206, Loi visant à améliorer la section de l’autoroute transcanadienne connue sous le nom de route no 17.
Mr. David Orazietti: I’m very pleased to reintroduce this bill, which would enact the TransCanada Highway Improvement Act. The act requires that the Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure work together with the federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to make improvements to the part of the TransCanada known as Highway 17.
Mr. Ted McMeekin: I’m proud to stand in my place today and to help recognize and celebrate the life and work of Robert Warren “Bob” Mackenzie. Going to the truth of it, Bob was a giant of a man and a local Hamilton legend. Who else could draw the kind of tribute crowd that we see today but somebody with the character of a Bob Mackenzie?
I was 14 years old when I first encountered Bob Mackenzie. We were neighbours. He lived just down the street from me on Hamilton Mountain, and while known to his friends simply as Bob, we kids always called him Mr. Mackenzie. It was kind of a respect thing, you know? I’m not sure why we thought he was so important, but we intuited that he was. Later in life, we discovered that was quite true—a very important man.
I’m pleased that his family is here today, including his oldest son, David, who was a very good friend of mine at university. We cut our teeth on some political things there, and it was easy to see Bob’s influence through David’s work there and subsequent work, and other family members’ as well.
To know Bob Mackenzie was to know the history of the labour movement, the CCF and the NDP. Bob worked in many, many different sectors. He worked in a paper mill for a number of years and in the auto industry, and to no one’s surprise, he was a gas appliance salesperson—always a great salesman.
He served in Windsor as a United Auto Workers organizer, and from time to time he ran in political campaigns. One of my very first Canadian political experiences was to go door to door when Bob ran against the late Father Sean O’Sullivan, before he was a father, federally. I understand Bob ran in 1955 in Windsor–Walkerville and later, when the CCF became the NDP, became one of the party’s early stalwart organizers.
He understood, like Bobby Kennedy, that if you want to change the world, you don’t get mad, you don’t get even; you get elected. And Bob did get elected, after a stint on the staff of the United Steelworkers: he got elected because he became a Hamilton mainstay while he was there.
I knew Bob’s predecessor, Reg Gisborn, when I worked here at Queen’s Park. Being from Hamilton, I had the opportunity, from time to time, to drop Reg home. He was quite a card player: He would engage here, and his wife would meet me on the steps and thank me for getting Reg home safely. Reg and Bob were good friends, and Reg handed off the torch to Bob. Bob ran for election, and he got elected in 1975.
I was proud to go door to door with Bob Mackenzie back in 1975, and on another occasion, when the first New Democrat was elected in eastern Ontario: George Samis, I believe his name was. Bob and I did some work down there. Bob was re-elected in 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1990, and he surely would have been re-elected in 1995 were it not for his failing health.
Bob worked tenaciously on behalf of the working folk in Hamilton East. He never forgot who sent him to Queen’s Park and why he was sent there. He was a consummate constituency MPP, but what would you expect from a man so grounded in the hopes and dreams and struggles of ordinary working men and women?
He was impressive to us young folk then. Someone once said, “Hope is to a young person what gasoline is to an automobile,” and Bob exemplified that. He was an inspiration; he was always encouraging and affirming people. I remember that when we were engaged in the farm workers’ struggles—Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers—Bob was always there to support us. He travelled the province seemingly endlessly, arguing for expanded labour rights, better health and safety standards and fairer compensation laws. Simply put, he pointed the way so that others could follow.
In 1990, Bob was appointed Minister of Labour, and his signature achievement was the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Bill 40, an act to improve worker access to union protection and a ban on scab labour. He also introduced improvements to pay equity and the extension of union rights to agricultural workers, something we might hear about a little later, I suspect. Bright, strong-willed, articulate and tough yet compassionate, Bob was always pleased to point a direction.
By the way, I should just mention that he probably served on every standing committee that ever existed in this place. It’s incredible: You read the list of standing committees, and it’s about eight pages long.
Growing up, my mom used to say that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who make a noise and those who make a difference. Bob was one of those folk who always made a difference. So to his family, we offer our condolences and our best wishes. We are all so much richer for the life and work of Brother Robert Warren Mackenzie.
Mr. John Yakabuski: It’s a pleasure and honour for me to join in this tribute this afternoon to Bob Mackenzie. Liz Witmer, my colleague from Kitchener–Waterloo, originally intended to do this but unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, it was left to me. I know she would have done a much better job, but I’m going to endeavour to do my best.
Bob Mackenzie clearly was an iconic figure and a hero for the working class. Whether you were part of that movement or not, of which I certainly was not—and I’m not a member of the NDP, as you know, but I certainly knew about Bob Mackenzie. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you come from, you’ve known and heard about Bob Mackenzie. He had that kind of effect on people.
In his early life, he actually lied about his age so that he could get on a Norwegian merchant navy fleet during the Second World War. It was there, while he was on that vessel, that he experienced a catharsis, possibly, or maybe he was always destined to go that way, but it was while he was serving on that ship that he became absolutely dedicated and committed as a socialist and as—how would we read it? I’m going to read his son David’s words: “I suspect there was a lot of ‘gospel’ from the shipmates,” David said. “There was a union crowd, and they were Scandinavian social democrats. He came back full of religion.”
He married his wife, Sylvia, I believe in 1949. I’m looking for my notes here—yes, in 1949, when he was working as an office clerk for the Ford Motor Company. It wasn’t long when he was working there that he tried to organize the shop, which in those days got him promptly fired.
He worked in other different jobs: paper mills, the auto industry and served in Windsor as an organizer for the United Auto Workers and also, as my friend Mr. McMeekin said, a gas appliance salesman. He’s had a varied career.
He ran in 1955 for the NDP before they were the NDP—for the CCF. He was unsuccessful. I think that was in Windsor–Walkerville. He was unsuccessful, came in second, but he was undaunted. He ran federally twice: in 1972 and in 1974. So that’s three defeats. I can tell you, folks: Nobody can say Bob Mackenzie was a quitter. I’ve got to tell you, if I had lost my first election in 2003, I don’t know if I ever would have run again. I really don’t know, because one of the toughest things for people in politics is to put their name on a ballot, and the reason it’s tough is, there’s a tremendous fear of losing. How tough do you have to be if you lose three elections and you’re still so committed to your cause and the ideals that you believe in that you’re still coming back?
Bob Mackenzie kept coming back. In 1975, when the Davis government suffered huge losses, and Stephen Lewis was the New Democratic leader and they became the official opposition, Bob Mackenzie was elected in the riding of Hamilton East, I believe—I can’t keep track of these notes, but I believe it was Hamilton East—and he served for 20 years. In 1985, when the Liberals won 48 seats and the Conservatives won 52, but the Liberals actually won the popular vote, which gave legitimacy to the possible coalition between the NDP and the Liberals, Bob Mackenzie actually was one of the few members of the NDP who wanted to prop up the Miller Tory government and work with them, because he believed they would be more successful working with the red Tories that were in the House than they would be with the rural Liberals.
Bob Mackenzie always had his commitment in mind, and his commitment was the labour movement and social justice causes. In 1990, when the Bob Rae government was elected with their majority, he became the Minister of Labour, but Bob Mackenzie never referred to himself as the Minister of Labour; he referred to himself as the minister for labour, because that’s how deep his beliefs were. Of course some of his greatest accomplishments were Bill 40, the banning of replacement workers, and other parts of that bill.
When he retired after 1994—he didn’t seek re-election in 1995—he was still active with the New Democratic Party, and I believe he played a significant role in Andrea Horwath’s by-election in Hamilton East in 2004—and obviously he was successful there as well. I was down in that by-election, too, campaigning. I didn’t do as well. Clearly Bob Mackenzie was a heck of a lot better liked down there than John Yakabuski, and probably a lot of other places, too.
A little thing about how committed he was to his cause: When he was the Minister of Labour, at an early cabinet meeting, he was looking for aid for jobless steelworkers in the hard-hit uranium mining town of Elliot Lake—you notice that I say, Speaker, “uranium mining town of Elliot Lake.” The energy minister at the time, Jenny Carter, was an ardent anti-nuclear activist, and she probably, without thinking quickly, said something to the effect—and I’m taking this from Thomas Walkom’s book Rae Days: The Rise and Follies of the NDP. Jenny Carter responded, “Why bother? They’ll all be dead of cancer soon anyway.” The story is that Mackenzie was so angry that he literally lunged across the table at Carter. As Walkom puts it, “Luckily it was a wide table.” That’s the kind of committed activist and advocate that Bob Mackenzie was.
Now, I want to tell you how committed he was. I read this in his obituary. You want to talk about being committed to the cause. Bob Mackenzie’s obituary said, “In lieu of flowers, please make contributions ... to the New Democratic Party of Ontario.” So that is what you call commitment.
For all my colleagues, on behalf of Tim Hudak and the PC caucus, to the Mackenzie family gathered here today, to all of his great friends and supporters who have congregated to honour him today, we thank Bob Mackenzie, we thank you for supporting Bob Mackenzie, we thank his family for being with him all those years, and we thank him for the great contributions he made to this Legislature and to our great province of Ontario.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: It’s my honour, really, to have the opportunity to say a few words about Bob Mackenzie on behalf of the NDP caucus, on behalf of New Democrats across the province, and on behalf of the people of Hamilton and of Hamilton East particularly.
The other speakers have talked a lot about the specifics of Bob’s travels through life, from the time he was born in Orillia, to the merchant navy, when he spent some time there, as well as some of his other expeditions.
One of the things that I think is really clear is that Bob Mackenzie was a man who was really loved by all. He was somebody that everybody had great respect for, that everyone saw as somebody who was kind of head and shoulders above everyone else, just in terms of his presence, in terms of his integrity, in terms of the way he dealt with everyone, regardless of who you were, where you were from, how much money you made, what your role in life was. That’s the kind of man that Bob Mackenzie was. He was the most decent of men. I think that anybody in this chamber who knew him would agree that that is definitely the case.
Bob, of course, as was said by Mr. Yakabuski, got a lot of his inspiration from that time when he was working on the Norwegian merchant navy vessel. He spent many years after that taking that inspiration and applying it to everyday life. I think that’s one of the other very important things about Bob Mackenzie: He wasn’t a person who only thought the big thoughts; he acted the big acts. He actually put into play everything that he believed, and he did it on every level.
I had the honour of spending some time at the memorial that we held for him in Hamilton. Story after story after story from people who worked for Bob, from his family members, from neighbours, friends, co-workers, fellow trade unionists and New Democrats—story after story after story about the mark that Bob Mackenzie left on their lives.
Others have talked already about the mark he left as a politician. Certainly, he had many, many accomplishments and many achievements from the first time he was elected up to the 20 years that he actually spent in this chamber, bringing forward in this chamber the voices, the issues, the concerns, the challenges, the inequities and the injustices that were faced by the people in his constituency, the people of Hamilton East.
He was always a very passionate man, and so although he was very gentle when you met him—a very gentle and sweet man, many would say—when he got passionate about something, there was no stopping him, and he could be as large as the room in his voice, in his presence, as long as it was in giving out to the rest of the Legislature, to the rest of the room, to the rest of wherever he was, the passion that he felt over whatever issue he was advocating for, or whatever person he was advocating for, which was most likely the case.
I think someone used the word “icon,” and that is absolutely true: He was an icon in so many ways in Hamilton. He was an icon, certainly, as an MPP, but he was an icon in so many other ways. He was an icon in the labour movement, as the person who brought forward the most progressive labour legislation that had been seen in this place in decades, and that was Bill 40, which has already been mentioned, of course. This is labour legislation that actually banned the use of replacement workers—or, as Mr. Kormos, the member from Welland, likes to say, scabs—in the province of Ontario. Bob Mackenzie was unwavering in his belief that scab labour was just the wrong thing to be allowed in this province. New Democrats still believe that to this day and still fight to get that legislation back in place in this province. Many, many people were touched by Bob, and many saw him as an icon.
There is a lot of opportunity, I think, when we think about people like Bob, to go on about very specific details. But I think one of the things that’s clear is that regardless of all of the specific initiatives that Bob undertook—again, whether it’s Bill 40, whether it’s the work around unionization of farm workers, for example, around pay equity, around pay equity particularly for child care workers and others—Bob was somebody who embodied his beliefs, and he embodied them in a way that it wasn’t about Bob. It wasn’t about making Bob more famous or giving Bob a profile or making sure that Bob got re-elected. It was about making sure that the people and the injustices that he saw were actually being addressed and that he was doing something to make a real difference.
I think that’s the level of his sincerity and his integrity. All of the specifics that we can talk about, I think, clearly paint a picture of a man of absolute sincerity and absolute integrity. In fact, in the memorial event that we held in Hamilton, one of the elected members in Hamilton, a member of Parliament, basically said that she got into politics because Bob actually was somebody who told her that it was a profession of integrity, that it was a profession where you could actually have integrity. I think that lots of times, people don’t think politics is a profession of integrity, but certainly this is something that Bob did think, and he showed that day in and day out in the work that he did.
I said that I thought Bob was a traditional politician, but a traditional politician of the good kind, the kind of politician that people could go to and know that he would not only listen to what you were having to say, but try to change things for your benefit, to make you have some justice or feel that your issue had been resolved, but then take that issue and move it to the next level and change it for everyone. That was his social justice passion.
It’s funny. When I think about Bob, one of the things I remember very clearly is that every Remembrance Day in Hamilton, he and a couple of the other members at the time would get together after Remembrance Day ceremonies at a little coffee shop, and they’d have a conversation about politics and what was happening in the world. I was very honoured to be invited to a couple of those conversations when I was still on city council at the time. I can remember that Bob’s biggest passion was always this very, very deep concern about the growing gap between those at the top and those at the bottom, the fact that people were making so much money at the top and the people at the bottom were really making peanuts, if anything at all. The poverty levels were increasing while the rich were getting very, very rich. This is one thing that really was a concern of Bob Mackenzie, I’m sure, right up until the day he died. He was just apoplectic about the injustice of the way that incomes were spreading in Ontario, in Canada and in many other places as well.
If there’s one thing that we have to remember when we talk about Bob and we talk about our roles as politicians, it’s that when we see these kinds of injustices, as New Democrats particularly, we don’t just note them and move on; we try to do something about them. When Bob brought in legislation to help workers who were being scabbed at work, when he brought in pay equity legislation, when he did that kind of work, it was to address those kinds of inequities. The reality is, it’s the policies we put in place in places like this that either feed those inequities or try to address them.
As a New Democrat, I’m very, very proud to have had a very short opportunity to walk the same streets as him as the MPP for that riding of Hamilton East, knock on the same doors, talk to the same people and hear some of the stories they had to share about their MPP Bob Mackenzie. I walked those streets from 2004 to 2007, hearing on every doorstep, in every corner of that riding, every neighbourhood, every legion hall and every union hall, stories about Bob Mackenzie and his legacy.
He was an excellent member of provincial Parliament. He was an excellent Minister of Labour, an excellent labour activist, New Democrat and obviously an excellent father and excellent husband to his wife.
In fact, it may be important to note that a Bob Mackenzie bursary was created at McMaster University in 1996, which is to be granted to labour study students in financial need. The Lupina Foundation established a graduate scholarship in Bob Mackenzie’s name at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources as well.
In closing, I just want to say that it’s difficult to try to memorialize people enough when they’ve done so many great things and when their reputation and when their presence is so huge. So I just want to say that, for New Democrats, our history would not be the same if it wasn’t for Bob Mackenzie. We value him and everything he did to the greatest extent.
On behalf of New Democrats, I want to say that we give our greatest condolences to those he left behind and his family, the family that did help him to achieve all of those things: his wife, Sylvia; his children David, Stephen, Kim, Dan, Andrew and Lori; as well as his grandchildren Susannah, Robert, Lily, Christina and Graeme.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d like to thank the honourable members for their participation in the Bob Mackenzie tribute today. I thank the family for being here at the Legislature today and thank so many of his former colleagues for coming back to the Legislature. I think it clearly demonstrates the high esteem in which Bob Mackenzie was held by so many members of this Legislature.
On behalf of the members, our condolences go out to the family. I assure the family members that copies of Hansard from today’s proceedings, as well as a DVD presentation of today, will be sent to the family as a lasting remembrance of this tribute to Bob Mackenzie. Thank you all for joining us.
Hon. Margarett R. Best: Today is World No Tobacco Day. On May 31 of each year, the World Health Organization observes this day as a day to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Ontario. In fact, 13,000 Ontarians die each year from smoking-related disease: mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters—all members of an Ontario family.
That is why today not only do we celebrate World No Tobacco Day but we also mark an important anniversary for Ontario. Five years ago today, on May 31, 2006, the McGuinty government passed its Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Since then, Ontario has become known around the world as a leader in tobacco control.
The McGuinty government has done more than any previous Ontario government to address the harm caused by tobacco use. We have established a province-wide law for smoke-free bars, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces. We have banned the display of tobacco products in convenience stores, and compliance exceeds 95%. We have protected children from second-hand smoke in motor vehicles and banned the sale of flavoured cigarillos. Yes, we have come a long way in the past five years, but until every day is World No Tobacco Day, there is still more work to do.
That is why I am pleased to reiterate this government’s commitment to a renewed smoke-free Ontario strategy. Our government is taking a whole-of-government approach to support our renewed smoke-free Ontario. We are working with other ministries and our partners because we—
We are working with other ministries and our partners because we know that government cannot do it alone. However, with our cross-governmental and other partners, we continue to work diligently to prevent young people from starting to smoke; to make it easier for smokers to get the help they need to quit, because we recognize that smoking is an addiction; and we are working to reduce demand for dangerous tobacco products.
The Minister of Health Promotion and Sport will continue working across ministries and across sectors on the important next steps toward creating a province that is truly smoke-free; a province that is a healthier place for us to live, work and play.
Today, I ask all of you and all Ontarians to join me in marking World No Tobacco Day and the anniversary of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act by not smoking and by moving forward to a World No Tobacco Day, a world no tobacco week, a world no tobacco month, a world no tobacco year and a truly smoke-free Ontario.
Mr. Gerry Martiniuk: I’m most pleased to have this opportunity to speak about World No Tobacco Day, as reducing smoking rates is an issue of great importance to me, especially relating to children. I commend the World Health Organization for its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption on this important day.
As health promotion critic for the official opposition and a former nicotine addict, I am committed to exploring ways of reducing the incidence of smoking, especially among our young people. Nicotine is recognized as a highly addictive drug—and, once hooked, it could become permanent.
As we know, the distribution of contraband cigarettes is largely in the hands of organized crime, and they are targeting our children. We all know that smoking is highly addictive, and the objective is to get our children hooked on nicotine and other drugs that can be sold for a profit.
Unfortunately, the present government has ignored the growing distribution of illegal tobacco and failed our children. With this in mind, I introduced a private member’s bill last October that would have made, for the first time, smoking illegal by persons under 19 years of age. The intent of the bill was to protect young people from the dangers of nicotine addiction. It worries me that the low cost of illegal tobacco makes it affordable for our young people to experiment with smoking cigarettes. There is currently no law to stop our youth from using or possessing cigarettes. I hoped to change that with Bill 116, but, sadly, it was not supported by this government, who chose to ignore this continuing problem.
With prices as low as $15 to $20 a carton for illegal cigarettes, compared to approximately $70 per carton for legal cigarettes, smoking has become an affordable addiction for our children. Furthermore, the growth of illegal cigarettes means that their purchase is no longer regulated by legal outlets, which are required to ascertain the age of purchasers in an effort to protect our children.
A research project conducted by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association saw 22,498 cigarette butts collected from 155 Ontario and Quebec high schools. In Ontario, 26% of the butts collected were contraband. The 2008 provincial Auditor General’s report estimated that Ontario failed to collect $500 million in tobacco taxes each year, largely due to contraband tobacco. Unfortunately, this government chooses to ignore the problem, and it will only get worse. So many young lives are being sacrificed.
This government protects young people from cigarette smoke by banning smoking in cars, yet they refuse to act to make smoking by children illegal. In Ontario, it is presently not against the law for a child to smoke. I believe that if it is illegal for children under the age of 19 to possess and consume alcohol, surely it should also be illegal for children to possess, buy and consume nicotine products.
The tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year worldwide. After high blood pressure, tobacco is the biggest contributor to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, cancer and emphysema, which account for 63% of all deaths. Smokers are also more susceptible to certain communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
No consumer product kills as many people, and as needlessly, as does tobacco. Tobacco killed 100 million people in the 20th century, and unless we act now, it could kill up to one billion people in the 21st century. All of these deaths will have been entirely preventable.
We need everyone on board for this important fight. We need to work together to ensure prevention, to reverse the truly disturbing rise in cancer across the country, and we need to ensure that the next generation of Ontarians doesn’t pick up the nicotine habit.
The NDP is proud to have worked closely with the cancer society on many different initiatives. In partnership with the Canadian society, the member for Brant and I successfully passed a private members’ bill that banned the sale of individually sold candy-flavoured cigarillos. That was a big victory. Unfortunately, although the bill was passed in this Legislature in November 2008—I actually attended when we had the ceremony with the Lieutenant Governor—the McGuinty government’s unwillingness to enact the law allowed for individually sold cigarillos to be available in our stores in Ontario until the summer of 2011. That is 18 months where the new generation of smokers was picking up the habit.
Because the tobacco industry can afford high-priced lawyers, they have found loopholes around cigarillo legislation. That is why, earlier this spring, I introduced a private member’s bill that will finally close the door on all flavoured tobacco products, whether it is smokeless tobacco, the new chews that you see all over the ball diamonds this summer, or unmarked tobacco that is sold to our youth to get them hooked on this product. But what do we get from the health promotion minister on banning flavoured tobacco? So far we’ve seen delays and inaction.
If we are going to get serious about reversing the rise in cancer rates—and we all know that 80% of cancers are preventable—we will need to see a change from the Ministry of Health Promotion. Right now, we have a patchwork of services and policies, and there’s no reason for this.
Many Ontarians would be surprised to know that the number of smokers in Ontario is not going down; it is going up. Why? Well, 50% of cigarettes smoked in certain areas of Ontario are contraband tobacco that can be bought quite cheaply. The Canadian Cancer Society knows about it, Cancer Care Ontario knows about it, the Lung Association knows about it. We all do. They all wanted a well-coordinated health promotion strategy to deal with contraband tobacco, but what did we get? We get Bill 186, a one-legged stool that will not stand up to anything.
At committee, the members of all three parties could see that the bill was flawed, but the bill was rushed through the House after being introduced in the dying days of this government, and then the government time-allocated the bill so the committee was not able to do any fixes to the flawed bill. Once again, the Minister of Health Promotion was asleep at the switch and cancer prevention could have been done, but Bill 186 won’t fix the problem of contraband tobacco.
I want to end by saying that I clearly understand the difference between traditional tobacco use by First Nations—and a world without tobacco certainly won’t change the traditional ceremonies that take place on First Nations.
“Whereas the local aboriginal offenders will be forced away from their communities and local native resources. All offenders will be moved out of their localities, rehabilitative resources and family visitation. Intermittent sentenced offenders would have jobs placed in jeopardy as the travel to Penetanguishene would be too great; and
“Whereas the local aboriginal offenders will be forced away from their communities and local native resources. All offenders will be moved out of their localities, rehabilitative resources and family visitation. Intermittent sentenced offenders would have jobs placed in jeopardy as the travel to Penetanguishene would be too great; and
“Whereas many children and their families have been and continue to be adversely affected by the actions of CAS workers who are engaged in the practice of social work but not registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the college) as required under law; and
“Whereas unregulated and unregistered CAS workers are entering schools, detaining children and violating the rights of children and parents under sections 7 and 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the right to life, liberty and security of their persons, as well as the right not to be detained; and
“Whereas the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (1998) requires that all persons who engage in the practice of social work in the province of Ontario are required to be registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers; and
“Whereas the college has a duty under sections 3.1 and 3.2 of the act to regulate the practice of social work in Ontario to protect the public interest but has failed to fulfill its legal mandate since the year 2000; and
“Whereas the unlawful practice of social work by CAS workers is causing significant harm to children and families and bringing disrepute to the profession of social work and undermining the administration of justice and the rule of law;
“That the government of Ontario take steps to ensure the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (1998) is properly enforced to ensure that all CAS workers who are engaged in the practice of social work be required to be registered with the college, as is required under existing legislation.”
« Attendu qu’en février 2007, le gouvernement a dit reconnaître la pénurie sérieuse d’écoles catholiques de langue française à Toronto et que les élèves francophones se voient privés des droits dont bénéficient les élèves ontariens anglophones et, par conséquent, a décidé d’octroyer des fonds aux conseils scolaires catholiques de langue française afin de soit construire de nouvelles écoles ou de faire l’achat d’écoles déjà existantes, jugées “excédentaires”, auprès des autres conseils scolaires; et
« Attendu que plusieurs écoles du TDSB ne fonctionnent pas à capacité ministérielle et pourtant ces écoles ne sont pas mises en vente auprès des autres conseils scolaires; ou alors lorsque ces écoles sont enfin mises en vente, elles sont souvent offertes en parcelles d’école ou de terrain, plutôt que dans leur intégralité, de sorte que les conseils scolaires catholiques francophones se voient dans l’obligation de décliner l’offre d’achat parce que le terrain est insuffisant, ce qui permet au TDSB de maximiser leurs revenus à leur seul bénéfice; et
« Attendu que cette situation perdure depuis plusieurs années et que la ministre de l’Éducation continue à autoriser la vente de parcelles de terrain ou d’écoles tout en sachant qu’il existe depuis longtemps un besoin urgent d’écoles catholiques françaises, et ce pendant que certaines écoles du TDSB fonctionnent en dessous de la capacité ministérielle; et
« Attendu que malgré ce besoin urgent et la disponibilité de fonds nécessaires, les élèves du conseil catholique de l’est de Toronto attendent depuis des années une école secondaire promise, et, vu le peu de volonté politique pour régler cette impasse, les élèves de l’est de Toronto craignent d’attendre encore longtemps;
« Nous, soussignés, membres de la communauté catholique francophone et francophile du grand Toronto et la communauté élargie de l’Ontario, adressons à l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario la pétition suivante :
« Que la ministre de l’Éducation cesse d’autoriser la location et la vente par le TDSB de parcelles de ses lieux scolaires car cette pratique va clairement à l’encontre de l’esprit de la Loi sur l’éducation (en particulier, le règlement 444/98), en empêchant que ces lieux à vocation éducationnelle—qui ont été donnés au TDSB—continuent à desservir les élèves de l’Ontario, y compris les élèves francophones. »
« Attendu qu’en février 2007 le gouvernement a dit reconnaître la pénurie sérieuse d’écoles de langue française à Toronto et que les élèves francophones se voient privés des droits dont bénéficient les élèves ontariens anglophones et, par conséquent, a décidé d’octroyer des fonds aux conseils scolaires de langue française afin de soit construire de nouvelles écoles ou de faire l’achat d’écoles déjà existantes, jugées “excédentaires”, auprès des autres conseils scolaires; et
« Attendu que plusieurs écoles du TDSB ne fonctionnent pas à capacité ministérielle et pourtant ces écoles ne sont pas mises en vente auprès des autres conseils scolaires; ou alors lorsque ces écoles sont enfin mises en vente, elles sont souvent offertes en parcelles d’école ou de terrain, plutôt que dans leur intégralité, de sorte que le conseils scolaires francophones se voient dans l’obligation de décliner l’offre d’achat parce que le terrain est insuffisant, ce qui permet au TDSB de maximiser leurs revenus à leur seule bénéfice; et
« Attendu que cette situation perdure depuis plusieurs années et que la ministre de l’Éducation continue à autoriser la vente de parcelles de terrain ou d’écoles tout en sachant qu’il existe depuis longtemps un besoin urgent d’écoles françaises, et ce pendant que certaines écoles du TDSB fonctionnent en dessous de la capacité ministérielle; et
« Attendu que malgré ce besoin urgent et la disponibilité de fonds nécessaires, les élèves du conseil catholique de l’est de Toronto attendent depuis des années les deux écoles (élémentaire et secondaire) promises, et, vu le peu de volonté politique pour régler cette impasse, les élèves de l’est de Toronto craignent d’attendre encore longtemps;
« Que la ministre de l’Éducation cesse d’autoriser la location et la vente par le TDSB de parcelles de ses lieux scolaires car cette pratique va clairement à l’encontre de l’esprit de la Loi sur l’éducation (en particulier, le règlement 444/98), en empêchant que ces lieux à vocation éducationnelle—qui ont été donnés au TDSB—continuent à desservir les élèves de l’Ontario, y compris les élèves francophones. »
“Whereas Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario disability support program (ODSP) benefits are so dangerously low they do not allow people to meet their basic human needs for safe housing and adequate nutrition, Ontarians are becoming sick and dying prematurely. In order to safeguard the health and dignity of the most vulnerable people in our society,
“Increase social assistance rates so that they are based on actual local living costs, including housing and food, through a process that includes meeting with stakeholder organizations to collaboratively determine the appropriate level of support to provide social assistance recipients in Ontario;
“Ensure that any changes to the special diet program for those with health challenges requiring therapeutic diets be evidence-based and part of a comprehensive transformation of the social assistance system.”
Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that, pursuant to standing order 47 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 196, An Act to amend the Election Act with respect to certain electoral practices, when Bill 196 is next called as a government order, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill, without further debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for third reading, which order may then be immediately called; and
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: I would have thought that the government would speak first, but apparently they’re feeling a little chagrined that this bill has been brought to the House in its current form, which is a shame because there is some need for improvements in the way in which bills like this come to the House, and this government has been sadly lacking in bringing a fulsome bill to the House at a very late date.
At first, there were some reports in the press about whether or not certain events took place during the last federal election. All of a sudden, within a few days the government brought in this bill. I suppose they wanted to create the impression perhaps that there had been some wrongdoing. There were actually some accusations that one particular party was more involved than another particular party.
Really, this bill, which is called the Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act—certainly I don’t think there was a lot of integrity when this bill was brought forward in the way in which it was brought forward, and that’s too bad, because I think this House deserves more respect than this bill perhaps, in the way it came forward, would suggest.
Also, this bill falls far short of maintaining integrity in the election process because they don’t actually speak about the one issue in which there is a significant amount of integrity lacking in the province of Ontario’s election process, and that would be the Working Families issue. The Working Families issue, of course, is one which we feel very strongly about.
There is an Election Act in Ontario, and that Election Act lays out very clearly the amounts of money that political parties can spend. There are limits to that money. You’re only allowed to spend X number of dollars. I think it’s somewhere in the order of $3 million or $4 million in television advertising during the course of an election writ period. But, of course, if you have a partner who is not the Liberal Party of Ontario, for instance, and that partner shares your values and wants to spend X number of dollars—we think those dollars will be in excess of $6 million or $7 million—they effectively double or triple the amounts of money you can spend during an election period.
You can say, “We’re not related.” However, the board of directors, I think, has three or four people—and I have the names in my notes here: Marcel Wieder, Don Guy and others who sit on both boards; Pat Dillon, who has multiple appointments by the Liberal government. He sits on the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, among other things, and he runs the Working Families. Don Guy, of course, is president of Pollara; he does research and polling for both companies and sits on the boards of directors. He’s the director of the McGuinty campaign. The relationship between these two organizations and the people who represent them is so tight, it would be a terribly naive person who didn’t believe that these two associations are working hand in hand when it comes to advertising. And of course, when the advertising hits the air, it is obvious which party the Working Families Coalition is supporting; they’re very much supporting the Liberal Party of Ontario.
Although the attack ads have been brutal in the past and have been extremely negative in the last couple of months—they ran a series of ads in, I believe it was, late April and early May, and they ran a couple of ads during the Academy Awards. Of course, when you run ads during the Academy Awards, it means that you’ve got a few bucks behind you. There was no question what those ads were about, and yet this bill, brought into the House in a terrible hurry by the Liberals, Bill 196, called the Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act, doesn’t mention that kind of lack of integrity going on in this province. It doesn’t mention it one time in this bill, and that’s a shame.
This bill also fails to address the concerns that the disabled community has expressed concerning their access to voting booths, their ability to cast their ballots in a fair and reasonable way, how they get to a polling booth and where those polling booths are located so that people with disabilities are able to cast their vote in a fair way. That’s an issue that has been around for at least the last four years, and this bill, brought in in such a hurry, completely ignores those wishes, and those are some very reasonable issues that could be solved without great expense. It’s just a matter of changing or tweaking the legislation.
This would have been a wonderful bill to have put some of those things in to allow the community of disabled people in Ontario to have a much easier time getting to the ballots. But, no, it’s not here. This bill was brought in for political purposes, and it doesn’t address many of the aspects in Ontario elections that talk about integrity or the lack thereof, and those things that lack integrity in our elections system are going to continue regardless of this bill, and that’s an opportunity missed. It’s too bad.
It’s also an extremely broad bill, and I think the government would find, if they were to take it to committee, for instance, and have some discussion on it, which at this late date in the legislative calendar is highly unlikely, but if they did that—I guess the time allocation motion doesn’t allow for that to happen. I guess this bill would be very difficult to enforce, and it’s certainly very unlikely to ensure any significant degree of integrity in the election process.
Perhaps that’s not strange, perhaps that’s not unusual, coming from this government with their record over the last few years. It was eight years ago when Dalton McGuinty stood in front of the cameras and talked about not raising your taxes. Then, last Sunday, after we brought out our Changebook, the Premier had the nerve to stand there and say, “Well, they’re just saying these things to get elected.” Well, what was that television ad all about, saying, “I’m not going to raise your taxes,” when he knew full well, without a shadow of a doubt, that taxes were going up? He was just saying something to get elected. Then, of course, you always judge others by your own standards, and he accused us of bringing out a document that we didn’t have confidence in or that wasn’t full of integrity. Well, in the future, you will see, as the people of Ontario will see, that when Conservatives make promises, they keep their promises. A promise made is a promise kept. That is our mantra, and that is something we have done in the past.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Oh, talking about keeping promises seems to have woken up the Liberals. I’m afraid your waking-up process might be just a titch late. I think a large number of the people of Ontario have already decided on where the issue of integrity lies in Ontario and what they’re going to do about it come this fall.
This bill was introduced with only six days left in the House, and here it is with two full days left and they’ve brought in a time allocation motion, hoping to get this bill through, I suppose, without a lot of discussion, without any committee time. That’s a sad state of affairs.
It was slapped together rather quickly after some media reports, which I mentioned, talking about some supposed corrupt practices that took place during the federal election. I think there’s a sincere question about what the government felt about bringing in this bill and the name of the bill. When they call it the “integrity act,” it kind of smacks of insincerity. Of course, integrity hasn’t been the Liberal strong suit, when they’ve promised not to raise taxes and then go ahead and do it, even after two elections. It’ll be interesting in this coming election whether the Liberals will promise not to raise taxes again or whether indeed they will promise not to break their promises again. One may have more integrity attached to it than the other, but I suspect we won’t see any promises of that nature coming between now and October 6.
Our member from Wellington–Halton Hills has introduced Bill 195, which is An Act to amend the Election Finances Act to ban collusion in electoral advertising. That bill is designed to bring light into the activities of organizations like the Working Families Coalition, which would attempt to usurp the election laws of this province. That bill has far more integrity involved in it than this Bill 196.
It’s interesting how Bills 196 and 195 are right next to each other. The member from Wellington–Halton Hills has been working on his bill for some time, and it shows in the way the bill was drafted. It shows that he has given some careful thought to the process. If that bill were passed and carried through, it would indeed bring some integrity to the principles around the Election Act.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Thank you, Speaker. I must say, when the government has a bill before the House that is talking about the integrity of this place, I’m shocked that the government would not keep a quorum.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Again, I’ll just say that I’m shocked that the government would not keep a quorum during such an important debate, on something that they feel is so important that with two days left in the House, they bring in a time allocation motion, and then don’t bother to keep a quorum in the House, which is their responsibility.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: You’ve been here for eight years. My goodness. Don’t you realize that it’s the government’s responsibility to keep a quorum in this House? Even though you can’t keep a quorum in the House, you won’t speak to the bill, either. I think you’re ashamed of it.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Good old Bill 196, yes, the Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act, which is an interesting name. It’s one that may go down in history as one of the more infamous bills that this government brought in in its dying days. The bill will do some interesting things. If someone is found guilty of fooling around with special ballots or improper voting procedures or wilful misconduct, it will increase fines from $5,000 to $25,000. However, the bill was slapped together so quickly that I doubt whether anyone would ever be found guilty of the terms and conditions that the bill lays out. That kind of smacks of insincerity in itself.
The sentences, which have been up to no more than six months, now are increased to two years less a day. So anyone found guilty of this and, in a serious case, sent to prison would be in for two years less a day, when they could do some wonderful work for Ontario cleaning up the roadways, perhaps cleaning up some waterways, making the parks look better. Maybe they could—
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Apparently the House leader is expecting me to be in an orange coverall suit some day. But I think that perhaps with the integrity of this place, it would smack much louder of being the other side of the House that might end up doing some work cleaning up the roads, cleaning up our parks, raking leaves, putting something back into society. We’ve got a very large correctional facility in the town of Milton, one which I have toured a couple of times. I think the prisoners in that facility who are there for two years less a day would look forward to the responsibility of getting out and cleaning up and helping to make Ontario appear to be a more beautiful place.
Other things that this bill might do is if someone inside or outside of Ontario—given the power of the Internet today, I suppose it could be worldwide. The bill would purport to make it illegal for someone inside or outside of Ontario to prevent or impede or give wrong information to someone as to which poll they should go to or which party a particular candidate belonged to, things of that nature. Well, I don’t know. I’ve been involved in elections for a good number of years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of those kinds of activities taking place.
But the government feels that this is such an important piece of legislation that they bring it in with six days left, and with two days left they bring in a time allocation motion for it—not going to give it any consideration, not going to give any time to go to committee with it. They’re just going to ram it through and say, “Yes, we passed an integrity in elections act,” improving and ensuring integrity in Ontario elections. I don’t think this bill is going to have any such effect as that, and it’s too bad that this Parliament, in the last week of this government’s mandate, has sunk to this level.
I think the people of Ontario are pleased—the reports that we’re getting on the Changebook say it’s going to make a real difference to Ontario. It’s a directional document that’s going to go in a direction that this government is not going in. This government is going to increase taxes, increase red tape and drive businesses out of Ontario. A Changebook is going to rebate taxes, cut costs, and we’re—
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for trying to control this most rowdy House. The government should be ashamed of themselves, not having even the least bit of integrity to listen to the other side. They’ve got their minds made up. They’re not going to listen to the other side; they’re going to cram through a piece of legislation with yet another time allocation bill.
These used to be an extraordinary thing, these time allocation motions. They used to be the sort of thing that was rarely used. They used to be exceptional. They’ve become the norm rather than extraordinary, and they’ve become routine rather than exceptional.
What I find interesting is that it appears that today the Liberals aren’t even going to stand up and explain why they need this time allocation motion. The Liberals move a motion and then they don’t defend it. It’s clear that neither the Conservatives nor the New Democrats agree with the proposition. I think one of the most offensive and problematic things about it is that it denies public hearings. I recall the conversation with the government House leader where I suggested to her that it might not require extensive public hearings, that it may require only an hour or two, and that I would be quite prepared, on behalf of New Democrats, to agree to do that in the evening. It would require the unanimous consent of House—not a problem. Because public hearings, in my view and in the view of a whole lot of people, are essential in the course of the process of any bill through first, second and third reading, even if it’s only a very brief public hearing. Public hearings provide many things, but one of the things it does provide is that it permits the performance of due diligence.
I’ve already told you—I told you yesterday—that I thought there were parts of the bill that made it much weaker than the government would have us want to believe, and I tried to be specific about indicating what those parts were. I recounted the veritable feud between the parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General and the quite capable member for Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, because I referred you to the Hansard record. That was in reference to the Arnott private member’s bill, where the parliamentary assistant’s marching orders from the office of the comandante, the capo di tutti capi, the Premier’s office, were that the Liberals weren’t to support the private member’s bill by Arnott, which is very much a companion piece to this. One of the things that the parliamentary assistant said was, “Collusion? I don’t know what collusion means. This is very vague. This is very indeterminable.” Well, the very clever member for Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, who’s talented in so many ways, including being literate, stood up in response to the parliamentary assistant and said, “I know what collusion means because I looked it up in the dictionary.” And then he read into the record the definition of “collusion.” I suspect the member for Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock knew that already, because as I say, he’s a clever and literate person. But he clearly wanted to impress upon the parliamentary assistant that there are tools that you can use if you’re confused about what a particular word means.
You’ll recall that the debate yesterday was very much about Bill 195 and Bill 196. It was very much about Bill 195 as an amendment to the Election Act being quashed by the government—unthinkingly, I would put to you—and Bill 196, which has been forced through the process.
The government purports to be addressing dirty tricks and cited, as the Attorney General did on the day of first reading in his ministerial statement, newspaper reports. I don’t think anybody can refer me to another time when this Parliament, this chamber, has relied upon anecdotes in the newspaper as a basis for developing policy. I find it amazing: anecdotes, unproven anecdotes, anecdotes that—I remember the parliamentary assistant used the word “fuzzy” to describe some of the language in Bill 195—anecdotes that were in themselves pretty fuzzy, because there was anecdotal reportage of some dirty trickery. We didn’t know who was performing it. We didn’t know how it was being performed. We certainly don’t know whether or not the provisions, the very modest provisions, of Bill 196 will address it. But I did have occasion to refer to the report of Greg Sorbara, the select committee in 2009, back in this chamber, and in particular, recommendation number 26, which was a recommendation that responded to the submission of Ontario electoral officer Greg Essensa to that select committee. The parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General was on that select committee; so was Mr. Sterling, the member for Carleton–Mississippi Mills; and so was the member for Kenora–Rainy River; however, I attended through the course of the committee as a substitute.
What troubled people yesterday during the course of the debate was the fact that this type of amendment to an election act usually occurs with some tripartite consideration; it certainly did when the amendments were presented with respect to the Sorbara report. They were shared with respective caucuses—in draft form, as I recall it. The respective caucuses found that a considerably mature way to produce that kind of evidence, because it’s truly non-partisan. It’s in all of our interests to have a healthy and, that word that’s used so often now, robust Election Act and election financing act.
But this came out of the blue, this Bill 196. It came from so far—I don’t want to say “in left field”; it came so far in right field, because I’m a fan of the left field. It came from so far in the right field that it was like a curve that came from up behind you on your right, and that was after the government House leader, properly, informed her opposition counterparts about a week before that there was no new legislation coming, that that was it for the legislative process.
Why wouldn’t the Attorney General, the Premier’s office, have initiated some pretty prompt discussions with opposition parties if they really felt this bill was critical and talk about how it can be processed through the House? Why wouldn’t they have done that? As I say, I felt strongly, and still do, that committee hearings are critical. I can’t think of a single bill—maybe somebody can come up with an example of one—that shouldn’t go to committee, and this bill certainly should.
I wanted to hear from Mr. Essensa. Was he the source of this particular drafting? Was it his proposal to the government that resulted in this, or was it somebody else? I have regard for Essensa. He’s got experience, and he was quite helpful to the select committee—the select Sorbara committee—when that committee discussed those matters in 2009. I would have wanted to know why the Attorney General only picked these two specific amendments rather than addressing the whole issue of third party advertising.
Essensa recommended, and that was recommendation number 26 in the Sorbara report, that amendments to the Election Act of Ontario and the election financing act contain controls over third party advertisers. One of the issues was collusion. That was the word that Essensa used, that’s the word that’s used in other legislation in other jurisdictions, and it was indeed what was referred to in recommendation number 26.
So here we are. We have—two years less a day. Holy cow. First you’ve got to catch the guys, and then you’ve got to prosecute them; Elections Ontario has no investigative force. And then the poor Conservatives get derided for their chain gang policy.
Just as an aside, are there people who don’t remember when the Mimico inmates did the yard work at Queen’s Park? I remember that for years, when I was first elected; they did it for years. And I’ll tell you, the guys would be out there doing the lawns and the flower gardens, and it would be, “Hey, Pete,” “Hey, Pete,” because I represented a whole whack of them. They were up from the Niagara region and they were doing their time at Mimico.
The remarkable thing about that is that guys in the joint love that sort of activity. I disagree with the leader of the Conservative Party. He thinks it’s some sort of punishment. No. Guys in the joint love to get out there. Have you ever been inside a joint? The smell of dirty socks and body odour in a concentrated space—60, 70, 80 guys slouched around a range, because, of course, the last two governments have gutted programming from our provincial institutions and have come to rely upon television as a babysitter. We lost institutions like Burtch reformatory, which was a farm reformatory. I was there many times. It grew a whole lot of the food for other institutions—other institutions that had workshops. People produced stuff for inside the reformatory system. As a matter of fact, Mimico itself produced park benches and park equipment for public purposes. Unfortunately, those programs have been all but eliminated. The staffing for those programs is gone.
Chain gangs aren’t going to solve that problem. Chain gangs aren’t going to solve the problem of the fact that one third of inmates in our provincial institutions are illiterate; they can’t read or write. Chain gangs aren’t going to solve the problem that a whole whack of our inmates are drug-addicted or alcohol-addicted. You’ve got all sorts of inmates who have fetal alcohol syndrome. You’ve got all sorts of inmates who have serious psychological disorders, who have no job skills, who have no life skills. One of the patterns of people being released from institutions is that many of them become homeless. They’re released into homelessness.
I’m not talking about coddling prisoners; nobody is. And nobody is suggesting that prisoners should be sitting idle for eight, nine, 10, 12, however many hours a day. I’ve always believed, and I believe now, and New Democrats insist, that when you’ve got prisoners in prison, you’ve got an opportunity to intervene in their lives. You teach them how to read and write. You get them their high school diplomas. You teach them job skills. You teach them trades. And, yes, if the occasional inmate develops academic skills that allows him or her to get a college diploma, I say all the better, because that inmate is far less likely to be a recidivist.
Mr. Peter Kormos: I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings here, Speaker. And I know we’ve got a House leaders’ meeting in exactly six minutes. When Ms. Smith, the honorable government House leader, who has been a formidable member of the chamber, of the assembly, and a delight to work with as House leader, gets up, I’ve got to follow her. Oh, here we go. So at that, I have to leave for a House leaders’ meeting. I know our member from Nickel Belt will speak to this horrid time allocation motion during the balance of time available to us.
I want to hear what the government has to say. Why won’t you allow committee hearings? Tell us. Tell us. The next rotation is you guys—you. Stand up and explain why we’re not having committee hearings. Participate in this debate. You brought the motion. Participate in the debate. I don’t understand what the problem is here. You’ve got a government caucus that’s, what, 70-plus people. Many have eight or 12 or 16 years’ experience or more here, but all of them have been here at least four years. They know that this place is about the debate. They know that this place is not a place where—it’s not a—what do you call it?—a Rosedale garden party, even though I’m told some of those get pretty rough from time to time.
Yes, just for clarification, I did withdraw my late show scheduled for tonight, out of respect for our retiring members. We have members from each side of the House, in two of the political parties, who won’t be returning.
I must say, one of my favourite times in this chamber is when we talk about the positive attributes of our colleagues past, present and sometimes even in the future. I think tonight will be a very important night. I know that the parliamentary assistant to the Premier, whom I hold in high regard, Mr. David Ramsay, will be paid tribute to this evening, and I wanted to ensure that we were able to send him properly from this place.
This is a bill that my colleague from Halton, who spoke earlier, has grave concerns about—not so much the content but I think more the motive. And when you start to question the motive and why it has appeared both at this particular time and why it has appeared—we are going through a period right now of time allocation, and we question the motive, particularly not just at the end of this legislative session but also right before an election. That’s why we have challenges.
One of the other frustrating parts about this piece of legislation, as my colleague from Halton will well tell you, is that the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus, through our colleague from Wellington–Halton Hills, put forward a similar piece of legislation that we believe could have augmented and benefited this legislation and that would have avoided or prevented or made it illegal for collusion to occur in Ontario elections.
As my colleague from the New Democratic Party, from the third party, so aptly said, this could have been done three years ago. There should have been all-party buy-in. It appeared at a time after the government House leader and the Premier both suggested that there would not be any further legislation put forward, and it came, of course, a day after my colleague from Wellington–Halton Hills put forward his ban on colluding between Working Families and the Ontario Liberal Party.
So you’re left to wonder now not just about the timing of the motive, but also the motive and: Why only ban dirty tricks that they don’t want to engage in? Because, again, we on this side of the House feel that a dirty trick during an election is allowing a third party to collude with a major political party to put forward at least $10 million in campaign ads.
Ted Arnott put forward the Banning Collusion in Electoral Advertising Act so that he could ensure that political parties were not allowed to circumvent the election spending limits by colluding with a third party, as I’ve said.
In the last two Ontario elections, the Working Families Coalition, who I’ll talk about a little bit more, spent millions of dollars attacking Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates and our leaders, to the direct benefit of Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party.
The Chief Electoral Officer himself has called for legislative changes to third party advertising laws. He suggested that that be considered, noting that the Ontario election laws do not specifically ban collusion between political parties and third parties. When the Chief Electoral Officer suggested that, that would have been an appropriate time for this type of bill to also research and study and enforce bans. That’s also why in Changebook our leader, Tim Hudak, will include a law, once we form government, to ban collusion.
We have serious concerns with the motive, both in time and why some dirty tricks are included and others aren’t. Let me tell you why. One is, we know that the former head of the Liberal campaign—and I believe he is the head of the Liberal campaign again—Don Guy, is running research for Pollara, and he’s doing polling for the provincial Liberal Party as well as for the Ontario Working Families Coalition.
Finally, there is Pat Dillon, the de facto head of the Ontario Working Families Coalition, who has been working not only with union leaders but also with the Liberals—because he receives great appointments. We know, for example, from documents obtained through a court process—as you know, Speaker, our party took the Working Families Coalition to court. We know there has been collusion on things like ads, scripts and polling, and that’s all been shared between the Ontario Liberal Party and the Working Families Coalition. That does not set a level playing field for—
The reality is, you can’t put forward a bill like this and not talk about a level playing field. This is dirty pool, in our view, and that’s why we requested at the time an inquiry by the elections officer. That’s why we launched a legal battle with Working Families, and that’s why we put forward a piece of legislation in this House.
Greg Essensa, the Chief Electoral Officer, at the Select Committee on Elections, said on May 7, 2009, “The fourth public policy area for consideration is, should Ontario adopt stricter registration and anti-collusion provisions? Under the Election Finances Act, there is no specific provision that prohibits a third party from co-operating or coordinating its advertising with either a political party or one of its candidates, provided that the party/candidate is not actually controlling the third party’s advertising.”
The Torys report, which was commissioned by Elections Ontario, said this: “The third party advertising regime is new to Ontario. The first election under that regime disclosed a number of rough edges, particularly in circumstances where there is potential for conflicts of interest/collusion between registered parties and third parties.”
That’s why the question is—and I think my colleague from Welland actually pointed it out quite well: Why do you have a respected Chief Electoral Officer and a respected law firm like Torys calling for changes to the electoral system in Ontario being ignored while, at the same time, this bill is based on innuendo and rumour and front page headlines, without any consultation with the two other major political parties nor with the public? That’s why, of course, we agree with them: There should be public hearings. But that did not occur.
I’d like to point out that this is not new, this Working Families Coalition. I think it has been raised several times, most notably by a journalist here at Queen’s Park, Christina Blizzard with the Toronto—and Ottawa, I might add—Sun. She pointed out that it was very interesting that this Working Families Coalition had the ability to run ads on the evening of the Oscars. Of course, as she says, “You don’t buy a spot during the Oscars with chopped liver. This is a well-heeled, well-organized group.....
“In 2003, Liberal backroom operative”—as I mentioned—“Marcel Wieder was behind the Working Families’ nasty negative ad that attacked then-Premier Ernie Eves, proclaiming, ‘Not this time, Ernie’”—again, a well-heeled, well-organized group.
That’s why we question the motive of this legislation. That’s why we question why the government would ignore collusion, but they would follow the innuendo of other things that are picked in the paper. That’s why we continue to question the Liberals on this piece of legislation.
She goes on to say, and I’m going to read from Ms. Blizzard, “The PC Party made a formal complaint to Elections Ontario after the 2007 election”—which I just told you about. “In 2009, the Chief Electoral Officer wound up the probe,” finding “no apparent contravention of the law.
When you know that respected people and those who advocate for more electoral strength in Ontario who have studied this matter and who are experts are suggesting there is a loophole, why would this government not want to close that loophole, unless it were to directly benefit them? That is the motive of why they will not close that loophole, and that is the motive of why that change is not contained in this piece of legislation.
I must say that is quite disturbing because, as I have said on several occasions, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party put forward, through our colleague from Wellington–Halton Hills, Ted Arnott, a strong piece of legislation that would have banned collusion between third party groups and political parties during a writ period and even beyond that. They chose to vote against it, and that’s why we have serious concerns.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the Working Families Coalition. The 2007 version of the Working Families Coalition was an initiative of the provincial building trades and a group of labour unions primarily comprised of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association; the Canadian Auto Workers; the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Local 128; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; millwrights; International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793; painters district council 46; and the Ontario Pipe Trades Council.
In 2003 Marcel Wieder, of Arrow Communications, Pollara and Now Communications, created and coordinated the coalition’s advertising and research strategy. According to a June 15, 2007, column in the Toronto Star by Ian Urquhart, Arrow Communications was rehired in 2007, and discussions took place regarding Pollara reprising its role for the campaign.
The goal of the Working Families Coalition is to run a series of negative attack ads, primarily through television, for the purpose of defeating the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party—and there are no rules.
The Liberals should be ashamed. They should be ashamed that they are using an obscure loophole to get themselves elected—so that they can do nothing but reshape the political system here in Ontario in an unfair, un-level playing field. When they take a piece of legislation like the one before us to this chamber, they do themselves no favours, because all they’re proving to the people of Ontario is that they’re willing to cheat to get to win this—
They will to go any length in order to keep power in Ontario—that they would work with the Working Families Coalition to spend $10 million on attack ads against the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and then all of these other caucus colleagues of mine, including the member from Wellington–Halton Hills, whose wife’s own union dues are being used against her husband, against her will. That’s why Changebook will do two things. It will ban collusion so that these Liberals won’t be able to use the rules against Ontario families. And it will do another thing: It will allow those who are unionized to have a choice of whether or not they put money into political parties.
I’ve got to tell you something. Last week, we were in our constituencies. It was a great week. I spent some time volunteering at my daughter’s library, which I think is on the chopping block, thanks to this Liberal government, if I look at what’s happening in Windsor. I spent some time there, selling school books and selling used books for a fundraiser—because, as we know, under Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, we don’t spend money on curriculum anymore. That’s what the parent council’s job is. I had a teacher come up to me and she said, “Ms. MacLeod, may I speak to you?” I said, “Yes, I’d be happy to talk to you.” She said, “You know, I normally don’t agree with you. I’m a Liberal. But what you said recently really resonated with me. I agree with you, and I’m going to vote for you.” I asked, “What was the issue?” She said, “Using my union dues to vote against a student of mine.” She didn’t appreciate it. Nobody appreciates what you’re doing.
I can assure you, there will be a backlash that will take place from Ottawa to Owen Sound on election day, when the people of this province decide to stand up for Ontario families, when they decide to stand up for the taxpayers in this province, when they decide to stand up for seniors, when they know what is real, when they know what they need—not what they’ve been told, not what they’ve been promised by an out-of-touch, out-of-gas McGuinty Liberal government.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: This gives me an opportunity to remind this Legislature that on the numerous occasions when I have raised the Working Families Coalition and the collusion occurring with the Ontario Liberal Party, not once in this Legislature has Premier McGuinty denied that collusion has occurred. Not once has he looked in his face, right across from me, and said to this Legislature, to the Ontario PC Party, to the Ontario public, that there is no collusion between the Working Families Coalition and the Ontario Liberal Party. We know that, between Marcel Wieder, Don Guy and Patrick Dillon, the Ontario Liberal Party will spend what they have against the Ontario PC Party, and they will also use their friends in the Working Families Coalition to do their dirty work.
All we were asking, and all my colleague from Wellington–Halton Hills was asking, was for them to do the right thing—close the loophole; bring integrity into your own piece of legislation—but they chose not to.
It’s incredible. They had an opportunity here to discuss this piece of legislation one last time. We’re here for two and a half more days. This Legislature is led by the Ontario Liberal Party right now, and they refuse to defend their own piece of legislation, as my colleague from Welland said.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My colleague from Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington—the longest riding ever—is right: They aren’t going to be here a long time, and let me tell you why: because the hard-working people of Ontario realize that this government will say and do anything, and once it’s elected, it changes its mind. They know that they will go to any lengths to cling to power; they know that they will say and do anything, too, and then change their minds. Whether they mean to or they’re just so incompetent, I don’t know, but the reality is that the people of Ontario want change, and they will find it in Changebook. Changebook actually identifies areas where it makes politics more level, more fair in Ontario. This bill does not.
In fact, when they put forward this bill, they also put forward a motion, and once they put forward their motion, they actually blamed Stephen Harper, when three days beforehand they compared Prime Minister Harper to Dalton McGuinty. And do you know what they did right after that? They called the Prime Minister of Canada corrupt. I can’t get over this, because these are the types of dirty tricks—and anything that they’ll say to try and stay in power—and they won’t, because I’m going to tell you, we’ve got members—we’ve got the member from Simcoe–Grey—who are going to travel this province and who are going to continue to talk to people. We’re going to bring our message of change. We’ve got my colleague from Wellington–Halton Hills. We’ve got my colleague from Thornhill, who, by the way, knows more about the environment and more about the economy than Bernie Farber does. I’ve got my colleague from Sarnia, who is going to stand up for the people in Sarnia, and I’ve got my colleague from Haldimand–Norfolk, who has been working hard for his constituents. We’re going to work with our colleague from Simcoe–Grey, and we’re going to go across this province. We’re going to go into these Liberal ridings. We’re going to let people know that change is here. We’re going to let them know that Tim Hudak is on their side. We’re going to let them know that the Working Families Coalition is trying to break electoral laws. We’re going to continue to fight for the people on the issues that really matter for them.
I have to say, in this last minute that I have, that I’m disappointed in the tone of this debate, because the reality is that the Liberals have chosen not to debate this piece of legislation with the opposition. They have instead decided that they’re going to give each political party—rather than the normal rotations to debate an idea and make legislation better, they’re going to ram it through this Legislature. They’re not going to speak to the legislation, and this is going to be what we see: utter disrespect and disregard not only for this chamber but for the people who have sent us here to represent them.
I have to tell you, I will continue to push with my colleagues and our leader, Tim Hudak, for stronger electoral laws in this province. We will continue to push for a better Ontario, and we will continue to push right through to October 6 to earn the vote and respect of Ontario people, and I know we’re going to do it, because right now they have been so badly let down by this out-of-touch, out-of-gas Liberal government that they want change, and I can assure you that change is ahead.
Mme France Gélinas: It looks like this bill was brought forward based on reports of potential fraud during the last federal election, so the government has introduced changes to the Ontario Election Act that would make it illegal—with a fine of up to $25,000 and two years less one day in prison for different offences. There are four of them.
The first offence is to impede or attempt to stop a citizen from voting by providing false information, directly or indirectly, such as providing them with the incorrect polling station where they should be voting in a provincial election; second, to impersonate or ask someone to impersonate an election official, an employee of Elections Ontario, a provincial candidate or a representative of a candidate, political party or constituency association—so, no impersonation; third, to direct or hire someone or a company to commit the above offences; and fourth, the penalty for existing offences under the Election Act, such as voting twice or providing false residency information, would also increase from a maximum fine of $5,000 to up to $25,000 and two years less a day in jail.
This is the bill we have in front of us. Here again, we’re discussing a bill that was brought forward because of alleged voter interference. We don’t know if there was because Elections Canada is doing its investigation, but we have this bill that came in at the eleventh hour dealing with this. What’s worse is that we have a motion—what is called in this House a time allocation motion—that will not allow the citizens of Ontario to take part in this debate. If the citizens of Ontario were given a chance to come and take part in a public debate—coming back to the title of the act, An Act to amend the Election Act with respect to certain electoral practices, the Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act. There are many things that people would like to see changed when it comes to the Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act, but none of them are in the bill, none of them are part of Bill 196, and nobody will be allowed to voice their opinions, nobody will be allowed to take part in this debate, because it has been time-allocated.
“Pursuant to standing order 47 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 196, An Act to amend the Election Act with respect to certain electoral practices, when Bill 196 is next called as a government order, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill”—and here comes the crunch—“without further debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for third reading, which order may then be immediately called; and
So what have they done? They have rushed in a piece of legislation. Let’s face it: They have been in power for eight years. We’ve had an election. The last election was three and a half years ago, almost four years ago. If they wanted to bring integrity to the Ontario Election Act, they would have had a lot of time to do this. The prime motivator is this alleged misconduct that took place during the federal election on May 2, and we have this half-cooked, half-baked piece of legislation in front of us that nobody will have an opportunity to talk about.
There are many things in the Election Act that we would like to see changed, there are many electoral practices that people would like to see changed, and here we have an opportunity. This piece of legislation is open. Let’s open it up to the public so that we can hear what they’d like to see.
If we look in my riding of Nickel Belt, we will see that, first of all, the voters’ lists are horrible, just horrible. If you go to any of the First Nations communities in Nickel Belt with a voters’ list, you might as well leave it in your car. This is how useful this thing is going to be: None of the names are correct, none of the addresses are correct and none of the street names are correct. We’re not talking about missing an odd “S” or an “E” or something. The names of the streets are not correct, the numbering makes no sense, and the names of the people: “Well, they haven’t lived in this community we don’t know for how long, but anyway, it’s pretty well useless.”
If you go in other areas of Nickel Belt, you will find similar problems. One of the major problems is that you get on the street and half of the house numbers are not on your list, and then you have all of those numbers that have never been on that street before. If you manage to get a house number on the right street with a name attached to it, you will knock on the door and somebody will come and talk to you. Then you look at your list and you see that Marie and Jim and Peter live at this address, so you thank Marie for her support and you ask about Jim. “Well, you know, Jim is deceased.” You offer your condolences and she says, “Well, he has been deceased for nine years.” But his name is still on the list. It’s the same thing with a whole bunch of people who are supposed to live at this address who have never lived there. It’s just a mess.
But none of those people will have an opportunity to come and talk. No public input will be allowed. We have this very, very narrowly focused bill, and I would say that a lot of people would like to see the bill, the Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act. I think that’s something people would like.
The name of the bill is good enough. It’s what’s in the bill that’s kind of insufficient. Let me read to you some of the press releases that came out after this bill came out. It goes as such: “The provincial government’s latest initiative makes me kind of embarrassed for society as a whole.” I’m quoting.
“Earlier this week, Attorney General ... introduced Bill 196, the so-called ‘Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act.’” He put that in brackets because I don’t think he believes in it, but this is the name of the bill, so we have to use it.
“The legislation, which the Liberals are trying to rush through before the Ontario Legislature adjourns for its very long summer break on June 2, is aimed at curbing, at the provincial level, some of the dirty tricks which marked the recent federal election.
It goes on to say, “‘We heard loud and clear about the allegations during the recent federal election and thought our law should contain the appropriate protections’”—he’s quoting the minister, who was trying to defend the act.
The minister himself said, “We heard loud and clear about the allegations.” Somehow, a sentence that says you hear loud and clear but you hear allegations—they don’t mix together in the same sentence so well with me. It’s either an allegation or it is loud and clear.
But anyway, “These allegations included automated telephone calls to voters in select centres ... wrongly informing voters their polling station had been changed to one across town, apparently aimed at frustrating voters and preventing them from casting their ballots.
He goes on to say that the minister’s bill “is not a panacea for shady campaigning, and those engaged in the business of winning elections will continue to find a way to give themselves, and their chosen candidates, an edge.”
It would have been very worthwhile to have an exercise where, after second reading this bill, would have been referred to a committee, and the committee would have had public hearings. Another concern that I think we would have heard is from people living with disabilities. People living with disabilities often have a tough time going to their polling station.
Here again, I can talk about my riding in Nickel Belt, in a little community called Coniston, where the polling station is not wheelchair accessible. It actually has a steep set of stairs to go down to the polling station. So what do people do?
I can tell you that on May 2, the weather in Nickel Belt was the pits. There’s no other way to describe it. When it was not raining, we had hurricane winds, and it was cold—cold enough to freeze your feet, your hands, your nose, your ears. You’re campaigning with a scarf and a toque on, and that’s on May 2. By the way, the weather hasn’t improved much since that time.
But coming back to the act, to Bill 196, there are some changes that people want to see. One of those changes has to do with people with disabilities. Basically, a person with a disability has to stand outside until an able body goes by, goes down the stairs and tells the clerk at the polling station that there is somebody in a wheelchair waiting outside. The clerk goes up, talks to the person, gets their name and then gets their ballot. All of this gets to be done in the pouring rain, with hurricane winds going by—not exactly very friendly to people with disabilities.
My riding is no different from any other riding. There are lots of polling stations throughout this province where people with disabilities simply cannot make it in because the building is not accessible. I must say that we have made improvements in the choice of polling stations. As well, some of the traditional polling stations have done renovations so that they are wheelchair accessible, basically because of their other functions through the years, and this has made it easier. But there are still some. Had we had an opportunity for public hearings, we could have had an opportunity to hear about all of those people.
An election is something that is important to the people of Ontario. It certainly is important to the people in this House, as we want them to have integrity, but when we see what’s contained in this bill—and by the way, this is the bill. If you take out the title, it is really one page. Do you figure we could do better when we’re talking about integrity? Do you figure that if we’re going to open up this bill, we could at least talk about some of the issues that have to do with integrity?
When a voter goes and the voters’ list—remember, not only is the voters’ list used for campaigning; it’s also used for people who actually make it to the polls. When you make it to the poll and you are not on the list, right off the bat, you know it is going to be a 20-minute process. If you had planned on voting on your way to work or, God forbid, you went to vote on the bus in Nickel Belt where I live—the bus comes every four hours. It comes once in morning, once at lunchtime, and once at suppertime. So if you’ve gone, and you want to catch the bus back to where you live, a 20-minute delay there may mean that you will be stuck there for four hours until the next bus comes—in the parts of Nickel Belt where there is a bus.
So are there issues about integrity? Absolutely. Are we going to solve them with Bill 196? Well, Bill 196 takes a stab at allegations, but it seems to be completely oblivious to the reality that we need changes, that there are problems happening right here and now that could be addressed by this Legislative Assembly, that could be improved—something that we could all agree on.
We all want our political process to have integrity, but yet there is no appetite to hear from the people. There is no justification as to why we cannot take a day to hear from the people of Ontario. We’re not asking for the moon. I’m not asking that you travel to Nickel Belt or anything like that. We’re asking for a few hours right here in downtown Toronto for people who have faced issues that deal directly with what the bill addresses, issues of integrity of the Ontario electoral process, and yet they won’t have an opportunity to be heard.
I don’t understand why things like this are being done. It is not a controversial issue. Integrity is something that—isn’t this an apple pie type of a thing? We are politicians. We want our political process to have integrity. You have opened up the act. Isn’t this a good time to do a little bit of dusting up? Not only should we go after allegations that are yet to be proven, but how about we deal with the real problems that have been found so that when the election results come out, we are all positive that what we see as an election result is what the people of Ontario wanted? The electoral process is the best process that we have, but if people start to doubt it, then it’s all for nothing. So I would like the government to change their way, to allow for one day, even one night, of public hearings. People have lots to say.
I realize that we just went through a federal election, but the processes are not that far apart, not that different. The problems they encountered with the last election on May 2 could be fixed, problems that they encountered that have everything to do with the integrity of the act, and, to me, the integrity of the political process is directly linked with the integrity of the voters’ list. When we have election lists that are as terrible as what we have in Nickel Belt—and I’m sure I’m not the only riding—then we have to do better than this. We have to give people an opportunity to be heard so that we do it right.
Il me fait plaisir de rajouter ces quelques mots au projet de loi 196, Loi modifiant la Loi électorale en ce qui concerne certaines manoeuvres électorales. Le projet de loi 196 est un projet de loi qui a été mis de l’avant par le gouvernement libéral suite à des allégations de procédures qui n’ont pas été suivies et d’actes qui pourraient être classés comme illégaux. Le projet de loi sert à modifier la Loi électorale, dans un premier temps, en augmentant les amendes pour des manoeuvres frauduleuses. Donc, en ce moment, on a une amende jusqu’à 5 000 $. Cette amende-là serait augmentée à 25 000 $ avec la possibilité d’emprisonnement d’une durée de deux ans moins un jour. Les gens qui font semblant d’être quelqu’un d’autre, soit un candidat ou un membre de son équipe ou un membre d’un parti, auraient, eux aussi, commis un acte illégal selon la Loi électorale et pourraient faire face à des pénalités soit fiscales—une amende d’au plus de 25 000 $—ou encore là d’un emprisonnement.
On parle ici de votes irréguliers, soit enregistrés par bulletin de vote spécial. On parle ici d’erreurs délibérées dans le compte des suffrages. On parle de l’ingérence dans l’exercice du vote. Ça veut dire, entre autres, dire à quelqu’un de se rendre à un poll où est-ce que vraiment on leur donne la même adresse. On parle également d’usurpation de qualité. Ça, c’est lorsque tu fais croire que tu es quelqu’un d’autre au téléphone ou d’une autre façon, et d’autres manoeuvres frauduleuses.
C’est un projet de loi qu’on met de l’avant parce qu’on a entendu des rumeurs que certaines choses ont mal été. Par contre, il y en a d’autres problèmes face à l’intégrité du processus électoral que l’on connaît, telles des listes électorales incomplètes, telles des stations de vote où les gens avec une infirmité ne peuvent pas se rendre, et j’ai donné des exemples dans mon comté.