Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: If you have had an opportunity to review the point of order I raised in the House the other day after an exchange I had with the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), you would know that I am concerned, as I am sure you are, about the types of statements that are made in this House and about the integrity of the House and the credibility of its members.
I thought we had the matter sorted out until I learned that the member for Welland-Thorold had made this statement, as reported in the press: “Swart said Riddell and the Liberals advocate high interest rates generally, and he has never said specifically that he doesn’t advocate them for farmers.”
The member has continually and persistently provided wrong information about anything I have said, but now he is also falsifying statements that my colleagues have made in this House. My colleagues have at no time said that they advocate high interest rates, and I know they would want me to correct the record.
Mr. Speaker: With all respect, he is not. I think, having regard for the first point you raised, you were asking me to make a judgement on the veracity of statements made by another member, and it is obviously beyond my responsibility and jurisdiction to do so.
I would just point out to all honourable members that because we regard each other as honourable members we, in fact, assume that the statements made in this House are truthful. If they are not, then you have recourse outside this House to correct that.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I would submit to you, with respect, that there should be recourse in the House as well as outside the House. If you are referring to a challenge on a personal basis, that they settle it with fisticuffs or something, then of course that is absurd. If you are referring to the honourable member going outside the House and getting a reporter by the lapels and saying, “You must print that what the member for Welland-Thorold is saying is incorrect,” we really do not have the right to do that. But we do have rights in this House, which you are sworn to protect.
If you will just permit me one moment, in this instance the member for Welland-Thorold has persisted in misrepresenting the position of the Liberal Party. My colleague, the honourable member who raised the point in the first instance, was forced to withdraw his own comments. But surely if, on the basis of your original ruling, you are going to permit misrepresentation to continue, then we must object.
Mr. Speaker: If I may reply to that, first of all I have no way of knowing the facts of the case as they are presented, and I would point out quite clearly that it is against all the standing orders to accuse another member of lying.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order and then a point of privilege: My point of order is that, fortunately, we have Hansard, and a perusal of the statements that were made will show that I did not falsify anything. The statement I made about the Liberals wanting high interest rates and not excluding the farmers is accurate.
Mr. Speaker: As I said, I do not have any responsibility for that. I do not know the facts of the case, and in spite of what the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) may feel about it, there is nothing in the standing orders to give me that authority. The only recourse you have is to answer it during the course of debate.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, the creation of jobs in this province is the single most important thing on the minds of members of this Legislature, and so it should be. I would like to take this opportunity to share with the House a program undertaken by my ministry that will create 340 additional winter works jobs throughout the province.
Under the auspices of the recent job creation program announced by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), the Ministry of Government Services will spend $2.5 million in new and accelerated projects from mid-December to the end of March. Economic stimulation through this program will assist many of our fellow Canadians suffering through this most difficult time of high unemployment. These short-term jobs will be seen in our farming communities and they will assist the mining and natural resources areas of the north. The industrial centres of Ontario will not be forgotten either.
The alterations we will be making are much needed. The new projects being undertaken are a must if government is to function and to serve the people of Ontario in a responsive manner. The repairs to government facilities will save further costs to the taxpayers. There is no charity here, just need; the need of the government and the need of the people it serves.
This program is in addition to the $7.9-million initiative I had the pleasure of announcing earlier this fall. More than 1,000 short-term job opportunities were created through this program and, most important, they were created in the private sector. I sincerely hope this added effort by my ministry will contribute a little further to that goal.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to correct the record: On November 29, when I presented a petition containing over 6,000 names to the Premier (Mr. Davis) and also to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), I stated, and I quote from Hansard: “I have 735 handwritten letters marked personal and confidential. I was asked in Goderich on Saturday if I would personally see that the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Premier received these letters, so I am going to send them over to them.”
I sent letters to the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Premier, the leader of the third party and the leader of the official opposition. The Minister of Community and Social Services has gone province-wide in the press stating that I said I was sending 735 letters to him. He knows that is not right. Unfortunately, he has made that statement, and it has been picked up by the press. I think he should withdraw.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, to correct the record, the member sent me letters. He sent me 237 letters, of which 171 were written by one person. Only 66 were written by other than that one person, and one of the 66 wrote all the rest.
In this regard, I would like to announce that I have begun to work with interested communities across this province to prepare for a Community Justice Week during the week of April 17, 1983. That will be a time to focus on local crime prevention concerns, citizen involvement and pride in our democratic heritage. Local initiatives in the fight against crime are especially welcome at a time when we are all faced with mounting fiscal pressures.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I have asked the co-operation of all honourable members in not carrying on private conversations. Now I am directing them not to. The member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) will please resume his seat. Would the chief government whip resume his seat please?
Local initiatives in the fight against crime are especially welcome at this time. The traditional partners in our justice system -- our police, our courts and our correctional services -- must address these concerns while at the same time maintaining the high level of service they provide.
I believe, therefore, that now more than ever before we must encourage Ontarians to become involved in crime prevention programs. I am pleased to report we have made significant strides towards this goal.
Recently, the Justice secretariat, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Community Crime Prevention Network (Canada) cosponsored a unique and highly successful workshop on crime prevention at Niagara-on-the-Lake. This event underscored the enthusiasm, energy and expertise that communities across this province have devoted in addressing local crime. It was clear that these communities are willing and eager to share their experiences, their programs and resources with others. I have been most impressed with their sense of responsibility.
As a follow-up to the Niagara workshop, I met with the representatives from the various sectors to explore the possibility of involving more communities interested in the Community Justice Week concept this coming April.
I believe that Community Justice Week will provide an excellent opportunity for local justice officials to work together with business leaders, schools, social agencies and the media to focus public attention on how our justice system works. This week will examine the citizens’ rights, roles and responsibilities under the law. It will provide a forum for communities to share common concerns about particular problems and preventive measures.
A working group comprising a cross-section of individuals involved in justice education has been formed to provide program support to communities interested in sponsoring these activities this spring. They will also provide advice and assistance in planning for a province-wide Ontario Justice Week in 1984.
I believe this will add a special dimension to our bicentennial celebrations. It will provide all citizens with a chance to rekindle a sense of pride in our tradition of law and democracy. It will also be an opportunity for our communities to strengthen their commitment to build safe, harmonious neighbourhoods and to protect the quality of life in our province.
The group will begin immediately to identify a range of activities that can be included in Community Justice Week. Activities which heighten public awareness of our justice system will be stressed and communities will be encouraged to develop and design their own justice week programs. They will also be encouraged to take advantage of the natural tie-in with related events such as the 1983 Law Day sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association.
The central theme for Community Justice Week is the idea that justice is a community responsibility. I present this challenge to all community leaders, a challenge to get involved in developing the justice week concept to meet local needs, to stimulate public awareness of civic responsibilities and to encourage citizen co-operation in contributing to a strong and effective justice system in our province.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I specifically chose today to make this announcement on the one day of the week the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) is here so that he could listen. I do hope he will give appropriate attention.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I can now make some progress in giving my report to the honourable members of the Legislature on my ministry’s continuing efforts to control pollution and to reduce public concern and discomfort in Toronto’s Junction triangle area.
We identified six industries in the area with a potential for noxious air emissions or spills to sewers. The operations of these five companies have been reviewed in detail, and we have established the extent and nature of pollution controls required for each of these plants.
Two companies, Canadian General Electric and Viceroy, have completed the major required pollution control measures and will complete the installation of further control work by the end of this year. A third, Anchor Cap and Closure Corp., has complied with a decision of the Environmental Appeal Board requiring the construction of two tall stacks. Emission testing of these stacks is now under way.
Inmont Canada and Nacan Products Ltd. have met several of my ministry’s requirements and have submitted voluntary programs for the completion of our remaining requirements by the end of 1983. Their readiness to undertake comprehensive pollution control measures has made it unnecessary for these companies to be placed under formal control orders. However, my central region director is preparing program approvals to formalize the cleanup programs.
My staff’s in-depth study of the Glidden Co. operation indicates that a ministry control order is appropriate for this plant. A provincial officer’s report has been completed, and staff is preparing a draft control order.
Details of this control order will be available for public review today in the form of a notice of intent to issue a control order along with the draft program approvals for Inmont Canada and Nacan Products. A public information meeting will be held in the community in the near future to review these three documents.
While the possibility of spills to the Toronto sewer system in the area has been a matter of much public concern, our experience and investigations have shown that airborne odour emissions are the main problem in the area. Since April 1982 no complaints in the area have been traced to odours from sewer discharges. The number of complaints in the area has declined steadily since July, when 53 complaints were recorded, to totals in September and October of nine and five respectively. We are continuing to provide 24-hour-a-day response to pollution complaints in that area.
The pattern of development in the Junction triangle over the decades has created very real problems in compatible land uses. Adjacent industry and residential development require stringent pollution controls and continuing vigilance to ensure a satisfactory environment for the residents.
I believe the measures we are taking in the Junction triangle will achieve the best results for the very difficult environmental problems in that area. On the basis of our experience here and in similar communities across the province we are drafting amendments to legislation to permit quicker and better abatement response and closer surveillance of industries with potential problems.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It concerns a property at 49 Yonge Street in Toronto. If I may, I will run briefly through the chronology with the honourable minister.
In 1978, the property was acquired by a numbered company owned by one Brian Ferrier for $600,000 in cash. A mortgage loan was advanced in the face amount of $650,000 by Greymac Credit. There followed a series of mortgage loans from Greymac Mortgage Corp. to Mr. Ferrier’s company, supposedly for renovations.
One of those loans, in January 1980, was a mortgage loan for a face amount of $1.3 million from Greymac Credit. Connected with this disbursement was a finder’s fee of some $500,000 payable to one of the Greymac companies. We cannot determine at this time what portion of the other mortgages advanced included a finder’s fee component.
In April 1981, Mr. Ferrier sold the property to Greymac Properties Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Greymac Mortgage, for $4.15 million. That same day, $3.9 million circulated from Greymac Properties to Greymac’s lawyer to Ferrier’s lawyer and back to Greymac Mortgage. The $3.9 million was the amount that Greymac Mortgage said was owing to it by Ferrier’s company on the basis of the various mortgages advanced.
In short, what we have here is a property that sold in 1978 for some $600,000; which had a succession of mortgages advanced, one of which, at least, has a substantial finder’s fee component; a property that sold some three years later for $4.15 million, almost all of the money going from a subsidiary to its parent, Greymac Mortgage.
My question to the minister is this: Has he or any of his agencies investigated the deal? Has he satisfied himself as to the purchase price, particularly in the light of the mortgages advanced, which show, at least in one case, a very high finder’s fee?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, this question raises the kind of point that I think we are going to have to get at as we proceed with the examination of a variety of companies that the Leader of the Opposition well knows.
Let us acknowledge one thing, the Liberal caucus has retained a very capable investigator in Mr. John Whitelaw -- I do not think there is anyone around who will not acknowledge that -- and he will from time to time, because of his expertise in this area, come across transactions that will allow the member to stand up in this House and ask me specifics about deals scattered throughout the province or within the city that he knows full well I will not have information on here at my fingertips.
I thank him for advising me of this one, but he knows full well I have no further comment to make upon the nature of the particular matters referred to. Now that he has been good enough to advise us of yet another deal, perhaps he would be prepared to do it on a regular basis, in some other way or whatever way he wishes. I have no intention of carrying into this room a vast array of documents that may or may not be provided to me from time to time.
Mr. Peterson: I should remind the honourable minister that this is not an obscure deal. This is the head office of Greymac Trust Co. we are talking about. The other point I should make is that we have a team of very competent researchers working on this matter and he may want to take a lead from them because they are a way ahead of his own research on this matter. We are only trying to help.
His response has been that now Mr. Morrison will look into this matter under the section 152 inquiry. Will the minister please tell us what the terms of reference and the scope of that inquiry are? It appears, from this morning’s press at least, that Mr. Morrison is no more forthcoming than the minister is about what he is looking into.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I have outlined the terms of reference of Mr. Morrison and the Touche Ross firm in detail before this House and I have answered questions on it. I do not propose to comment more than I already have to indicate that the final portion of their term of reference is in line with section 152, which is to inquire generally into the conduct of business.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I think we have had two different kinds of answers in a sense. Do we take it from the minister’s answer today that Mr. Morrison’s investigation is limited to the particular transaction surrounding the Cadillac Fairview acquisition, or is it an extensive investigation of the activities of all the trust companies involved? Can he tell us which of those two things it is, because I am still not clear as to what the answer is?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I regret the member is not clear. If he looks back through Hansard, I suspect he will see that my answers have been clear. I have clearly stated that Mr. Morrison’s initial endeavours will, quite naturally, be focused on the Cadillac Fairview transaction, but the terms of reference under which he is operating under section 152 allow him to inquire generally into the conduct of the business. That is the same answer the member has been given for many days now and it is time he did some reading.
Mr. Peterson: I would respectfully submit that under questioning the honourable minister has widened the terms of that inquiry almost every day to encompass the various new transactions that come along as he becomes aware of them.
Would substantial pressure not be taken off the minister and would he not feel obliged to come to this House with the formal terms of reference of that inquiry so that we will all know what he is looking into? There are many more aspects to this deal that he has yet to determine on his own. We are prepared to help. As he knows, Mr. Whitelaw and my very competent research team is assisting the minister every day but his problem is it is making him look foolish. Why does he not table those terms of reference now? Then we will all know what we are looking at and we can help and give him any information we can.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth. We value the daily calls from his researchers to our offices and I extend my thanks for those calls. It certainly is illuminating having them call to ask about details of certain transactions. I mean it quite sincerely: his party does have very capable staff and I wish them well in their endeavours. I assume they are aiming at the same thing we are, which is getting at the root of the events we are all concerned about and in the general conduct of the business of those companies. That is what the terms of reference are; that is what they are all about.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Would the minister care to confirm Financial Post reports of a letter from Ontario Hydro vice-president Arvo Niitenberg, which he is reported to have written to some two dozen US utilities? In it he offered to sell up to two million megawatt hours, or 2,000 gigawatt hours, of nuclear power from the mid- to late 1980s, which is, as the minister knows, before the Darlington plant is scheduled to come on stream.
Would the minister confirm that letter and attempted sale by Ontario Hydro? Would he not agree with me, if that is the case, that this raises a number of very disturbing questions about the planning and operation of Ontario Hydro?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, there is no mystery about the fact that Ontario Hydro, through its organization, has been seeking export markets for our electricity. I have responded affirmatively every time that question is raised here or in committee. Ontario Hydro has announced the confirmation of sales in the last little while through press releases.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that their contract track record for nuclear plants now being built is they are now costing four times the original estimate. If Darlington was to have cost $12 billion at the outset, what will be the cost of the project when it is finished? Would it be $48 billion or what?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether this is particularly supplementary to the main question, but it would be difficult for me to speculate as to what the final figures may be with respect to a matter like that.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Energy tell us how much of Ontario Hydro’s production is going to be committed to exports in a definitive sense? How much is that going to cost the ratepayers of Ontario and what kind of a response has Mr. Niitenberg had to his letters?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, working from the last question up, I am not aware of the final number of responses. Perhaps I should not even use the words “final number.” I do not know where those responses are at the moment.
When the honourable member asks me questions with respect to what it would cost the electrical customers of Ontario, I am sure he would appreciate that such sales generate revenue and would be a benefit to the electric customers of Ontario. Therefore, they would be a factor to reduce the bill because of the increase in revenues since we have this power for sale.
Mr. Peterson: Would the minister not agree this raises a number of very disturbing questions about the management of Ontario Hydro? What the minister has here is a tremendous overcapacity about which he is embarrassed. He is still proceeding with Darlington, which he does not need. Now he is in the process of trying to peddle that surplus power. Then he will use those contracts to justify the building of virtually a designated nuclear plant in order to sell that power to the United States.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I am sure the honourable member and all members of the House appreciate that after the fact is an excellent point of view from which to be analysing all these things. Hindsight is always the perfect point of view, knowing the lead time --
Hon. Mr. Welch: Knowing the lead time that is required in capital projects of this magnitude, people can only do the best they can with the facts and figures and the projections they have. The honourable member would be fair to point out that in so far as forecasting the future is concerned there are many factors over which we have no control. We have to do the best we can on the basis of the disciplines that are available.
One would look in terms of what is happening in other jurisdictions as well. One of our strengths happens to be that we are in a situation where we can deal with other jurisdictions. That has some benefit to this country with respect to balance of payments and employment.
As far as the long-term projections are concerned, I think I did take some time with the Leader of the Opposition the last time he raised some questions with respect to future planning. The fact is that Hydro will soon be faced with making some very important decisions with respect to the future use of some of its thermal capacity. Coming up for very serious review are plants that are 35 or 40 years old. Hydro must decide whether or not to take this opportunity, with the environmental considerations and other factors, to review the future use of these facilities.
I was at a meeting not too long ago with my colleagues in the resources development policy field, meeting with representatives of the Electrical and the Electronic Manufacturers Association of Canada. They felt we should be very proud of the position we are in with this capacity and that we should build on this particular strength. That is one of the reasons the implications of electricity have such a high profile in the BILD documents.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: In view of the colossal importance of this question, in view of the fact the minister did not answer what I asked him, would you allow me to get this point across?
Mr. Nixon: The honourable member has withdrawn his comments. While an apology may appear to be in order to you and someone else, I do not know what rule there is that requires an apology when a statement has been withdrawn and is so recorded.
Mr. Speaker: I just point out to the honour- able member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, without getting into a debate, that he himself has been one of the very strong advocates of me imposing an apology as part --
Mr. Speaker: Now just a minute -- and I want to point out to all honourable members that we hear a lot of discussion about the irrelevance of parliament and the abuses that are taking place. Any derogatory reference to the Speaker is a reference to parliament itself, and as the guardian of parliament I will not accept that. I must insist on the apology.
I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It concerns a property at 91 Cosburn Avenue, which I am sure the minister knows is not a million and one miles away from the riding of York East. This building was acquired in 1978 by a company with the illustrious name of 364579. The president and treasurer of that company is an individual known as Phil Wynn.
I would ask the minister how he can account for the following facts: This building, since the time it was acquired by the company owned by Mr. Wynn in 1978, has never been to rent review, but a survey of the apartments in that building reveals that 39 of its 80 apartments were paying rents well in excess of the legal rent. The illegal amounts range up to $274.08.
How can the minister account for the fact that in this building half the tenants are paying rents which are as much as $274.08 above the legally permissible rent? What does he intend to do about it for these tenants?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I hope the member for York South is not deliberately trying to jeopardize what may well be a hearing before the commission by having the minister who is responsible for that commission make some comments. But it is my understanding that a mediator is now in place to endeavour to resolve those matters between the tenants and the landlords. Failing that, one would assume there will be a commission hearing.
The honourable member knows very well I cannot comment about the matter. However, I can say in general -- not about this particular building but about other buildings -- that the issue of illegal rents is seen by me as a pressing issue that will have to be dealt with.
Mr. Rae: The law has been broken here with flagrancy -- I am sure the minister would agree with that. The pattern shows when tenants remained in the building the rent went up six per cent. As soon as a tenant leaves the building and new tenants come in, the rates go up 45 per cent, 30.2 per cent, 23.8 per cent, 47 per cent, in one year.
When the law is broken as flagrantly as it has been in this instance, why does the landlord not face any punishment whatsoever, apart from mediation and possibly having to return the money to those tenants who make an application before the Residential Tenancy Commission? Why is there not a fine for the landlord that would provide a real disincentive for this kind of conduct?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Again I think it is ironic, because there are members here who have criticized the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) for having made some comments during the course of events. I would not want to accuse the leader of the third party, the member for York South, of endeavouring to get me to say something he knows I should not be saying.
If the honourable member has made the decision they are illegal rents, then that is his decision, but the final decision on that would have to rest in other hands. I am not prepared to comment on whether or not that is a decision one should reach on the basis of the facts we have. But speaking in a general way, with no reference to this case, I have no hesitation in saying that in situations where there are illegal rents being charged, those are issues that will have to be addressed with thoroughness.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, the minister is aware that when the general government committee was studying the Residential Tenancies Act, Bill 163, we discussed the problem of registries. He is aware that the committee, which had a number of government members on it, strongly recommended that a registry system be set up.
He has given this new problem of investigating the possibility of a registry to Mr. Thom. Why does he have to wait for his report to bring in a registry when all he has to do is consult with his colleagues and bring it in as quickly as January 1, rather than prolong this thing for another year? Why does he not get his story together and do something for the residents of this province who are tenants?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, it is nice to have the member join in once again. The last time he joined in was March 1981 when he thought the guidelines should go above six per cent for tenants out there.
The fact is he has not been listening to what has been going on in the Legislature. I have been asked that question several times. I have made it clear the Supreme Court cast down the portion of the bill that allowed enforcement under that section and we are exploring other alternatives. I would never argue with anybody that it was an issue we had to address.
Mr. Rae: I want to come back to the minister with respect to this question. I am not asking the minister to comment with regard to this case other than to ask him, does he not think the penalties provided for in the act at present are totally insufficient? That is a separate question from the one he is asking me to comment on and which he is saying he cannot comment on either.
I am asking him to come up with a judgement call. When tenants are being charged 275 more than they should have been under rent review, does the minister really think it is any kind of penalty at all to require a landlord merely to pay back those tenants who are successful in finding out they are being overcharged? It is difficult for them to find out under the current rules and regulations of the commission, as the minister well knows. Why is he delaying what is really a simple matter, a basic question of political will on the part of this government and not a technical question at all?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am certainly relieved to know the particular building and the particular tenants’ problems that were raised were not so the minister would be asked to speak to that particular building and those particular tenants’ issues. I am delighted to clarify that. The member did not mean to mention that building and the fact it might be coming before a commission. That was not intended. That was accidental.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Has he got a calendar here today or not? “On the one hand I have a calendar and on the other hand I brought the building up but did not intend the minister to comment on that building, knowing that he would put himself in an awkward position if he did.” I understand that; but if I did not understand it I might have something else to say. With the respect I have for the member, I know he would not intend that. Anyway, I think he would not.
It will come as no surprise to him -- as I said this about three weeks ago, if I recall correctly -- that I felt that paying back the rent was not enough. I thought we would have to look at the question of fines.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. It concerns a potential discrepancy between a commitment made by the minister and a commitment made on Tuesday by the Premier (Mr. Davis).
I am referring to the commitment the Minister of the Environment made on a number of occasions, but made specifically to Mr. Timms, who is the executive director of the Conservation Council of Ontario, that, “The Premier has decided to establish the environmental assessment advisory committee to deal with the question of exemptions to the Environmental Assessment Act.”
The minister specifically stated, “The advisory committee’s function will be to review proposed exemptions and designations at the request of any person.” I am quoting specifically from the letter the minister wrote to Mr. Timms.
On Tuesday, the Premier made a speech to the conservation council in which he stated that yes, indeed, the committee would be established but, and I am quoting from the Premier’s speech, “The mandate of this committee, which will consist of at least three members, will be to review, as requested by government, the overall implementation of the act as well as exemption and designation applications.”
The minister will appreciate that someone reading those two lines would see a distinction between “at the request of any person” and “as requested by government.” I would like to ask the minister which it is. Is the environmental assessment advisory committee going to consider any request from any person or is it simply going to respond to requests that come to it from the government?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, offhand I do not recall the specific details of the letter to which the honourable member is referring. I will review that. At the time the letter was written, if it did not point out there were two or more options being considered in terms of the structure of the advisory committee to which the commitment had been made, then it was incomplete in that respect.
There were at least two options being considered. The decision has been made and it is a decision I support. The statement by the Premier this week is the correct representation of the decision. I will review that letter. It may be that inadvertently it was not complete in its presentation of the options but I do not recall the specific letter.
Mr. Rae: That is quite an admission on the part of the minister. I am sure he will agree there is a substantial difference between giving a right to any citizen of Ontario to refer an exemption to this committee, and this committee simply being seen as, and in fact being, the handmaiden of government.
This committee is going to have a very important role with respect to exemptions to environmental assessments. Why can the minister not give an ironclad guarantee to this Legislature that when it is set up it will consider each and every exemption and designation under the act and not simply those referred to it by the government? The implications are tremendously different, as the minister understands.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is important the member understand a couple of things about that matter. First, there are many exemptions which are often looked at in bulk by members of the opposition who suggest that the numbers of exemptions are being inflated.
For example, by virtue of the way the legislation is structured, if one has a requirement for either a full environmental assessment or an exemption in the case of certain internal renovations in a building, surely even the member would not suggest it would be necessary to refer something as obvious as that to a special body for review and advice to the government.
In terms of subsidized housing, for example, Cityhome recently pointed out a problem with respect to the legislation. If houses were being built by the city of Toronto, they would be subject to a full environmental assessment, whereas housing being built next door by a private developer would not be.
Surely it was never contemplated that full environmental assessment should be necessary for something as forthright as the construction of residential accommodation. Neither, in my opinion, should it be necessary to seek the review of that issue by an independent review body and seek its advice to the government. It seems to me that is a wasteful use of its time. Therefore, I do not agree with the member that every possible exemption should be referred to such a body.
Second, he has raised the question as to whether or not it would be on request or referral from the government or referral from anyone. The point one has to hear in mind is that this is an advisory body. The commitment was to establish an advisory body to government. It is important in those kinds of situations that they give advice on those matters on which government requires advice. If individuals are not satisfied with that, ultimately it is the government that is to be held accountable. There are a variety of ways in which that can be done. One of them is in this chamber, and another is at the polling booth every four years or so, and sometimes more frequently than that.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, it has been some time now since the minister advised us as critics that he would be setting up this advisory body. I wonder whether he can tell us exactly when this body will be in place and whether he will at least allow that body to receive notice of all applications for exemptions whether or not they are officially referred to that body.
Will he undertake that they will receive advance notice of all the applications for exemption, so that at least they may be aware of the types of exemption applications that are going in front of the government and can provide some input before decisions are made with respect to those decisions?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, surely the honourable member recognizes that he is in error in attributing to me some commitment for setting up the advisory body, because it has been only within the past week or so that the decision was made to charge me with that responsibility. If the member recalls, it was originally to be established as an advisory body to the Premier, and I now have assumed the responsibility for it.
I will be proceeding forthwith to implement it. Obviously there are certain points at which I must consult about matters relating to membership and composition of the body, and I will be proceeding as quickly as possible to do that.
Since the advisory committee is going to review exemptions to the Environmental Assessment Act and since the Ministry of Natural Resources has a blanket exemption for forest management activities which expires at the end of 1982, will the minister assure us of one of two things: first, that the blanket exemption will not be continued at the end of this year and the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) will have to table his document on the effect of environmental assessment on forest management activities; or second, that forest management activity exemptions will be referred as a priority to this new advisory committee?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I cannot be certain as to the timing of its establishment. It is unlikely the committee will be established by the end of this calendar year. I do not think it is humanly possible to carry out the necessary consultation in that period of time. It certainly would not be my intention to make the requirements of it in any way retroactive. I am sure it will be challenged by the responsibility to carry out those matters that are referred to it from time to time without trying to look at matters retroactively.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) asked me to comment on the possible recourse available to an employee of the Canadian Trotting Association, who allegedly was terminated for refusing to operate a video display terminal during pregnancy. As the member knows, procedures for pursuing complaints of this nature are set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I am referring in particular to section 23 of the act, dealing with work refusals, and to section 24, relating to reprisals taken against an employee for exercising rights under the act.
In either case, the aggrieved employee’s first step should be to bring the matter to the attention of the ministry’s industrial health and safety branch for investigation. It is my information, upon checking, that no complaint has yet been received by the branch from the employee in question.
I can assure the member that the ministry appreciates the level of public anxiety about possible hazards associated with the operation of video display terminals. It is a complex subject which is currently under study by a number of groups, including the task force referred to by the member. The facts in each case will be investigated thoroughly to determine whether a health hazard exists and whether an accommodation can be reached to relieve the particular employee’s anxiety.
Since the minister now has had an opportunity to review the material I sent to her yesterday with respect to the attempts by an organization known as est to gain access to the secondary schools of Ontario by using the deceptive front activity known as the Hunger Project, does the minister share my concern and the concern of the principals in Caledonia and Dunnville, who have been contacted by est and have a concern that their pupils could be vulnerable to the deceptive recruiting practices of the organization known as est?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the honourable member for providing me with some additional background material related to the est group and the activities that attend upon the Hunger Project recruitment program.
As the member knows now, I think, the two principals involved withdrew approval for the intrusion of these representatives into their schools, and we have made inquiries through the regional offices to determine whether the activity is widespread and the mechanisms that are being used. We have also made contact with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, and through them with the headmasters’ association, at least to alert them in the beginning that some of this activity might be expected.
Once we have determined whether there is a widespread attempt to invade the secondary school system for the sole purpose, apparently, of recruiting young members to est rather than attempting really to do anything about hunger -- because there are some very interesting quotations from knowledgeable people regarding the involvement of est in the Hunger Project -- then we shall determine whether we should send out a memorandum to all schools to notify them that there is something not quite kosher going on in this whole activity.
Mr. Sweeney: I thank the minister for having taken that action. I draw to her attention that Mr. Derek Bishop, the vice-principal at Caledonia, also has been in contact with his fellow principals and vice-principals in the whole Niagara area.
Given the fact that the minister is taking the action she described, I wonder whether she will consult with her colleague the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and point out to him that the lack of activity on the Hill report on the part of his ministry is one of the incentives for organizations like est to take these kinds of forward actions and to go into these kinds of recruiting programs. I hope it is the Minister of Education’s belief that we need to do something to stall the activities of these kinds of organizations, which use such deceptive and fraudulent practices.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is probably extremely difficult to legislate against the potential activities of groups whose ends may not be those that society generally appears to support. But it does connote the absolute necessity of constant vigilance, particularly on the part of all those involved with either the rearing or the educating of young people, to be as fully aware as possible of all the groups with such aims in mind. And there are several; we know that.
The activities of the Council on Mind Abuse, as a group that collates material and provides information about such groups, are invaluable to the school system. We appreciate receiving whatever annotations it develops of new groups or new activities on the part of several groups.
I shall certainly speak to the Attorney General. I am not sure at this point, given this kind of democratic society, that we can still the voices of those who tend to move in directions that are not universally supportable or in support of the kinds of value systems that we believe are important within this society.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. He is aware, as we all are, of both the frustration and the need of the injured workers who have spent so long demonstrating out in front of this building and who have waited so long for some adjustment in their incomes. Can he give us a firm commitment that his bill will be before this House before we adjourn for Christmas?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am really surprised by the question. I have given a firm commitment on at least two other occasions in this House. Earlier this week the question was raised, not by the third party but by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty), who was concerned. I answered him at that time by telling him the bill was prepared and ready for introduction. It is impossible to introduce a bill in this House right now because of the tactics of the third party.
As I was saying, I have been appalled by the manner in which this House has been conducted over this session since September 21 and by the fact that the proper procedures have been held up, dragged out and filibustered.
A moment ago, some honourable member over there said I was using this bill as blackmail. That is not the case at all. I made a commitment in the House, I made a commitment to the media and I made a commitment to representatives of the injured workers that this bill would be introduced before the House rises this fall. I intend to honour that commitment. I have never reneged on a commitment in my life, and I do not intend to start now. But when can I introduce it, the way things are going?
Mr. Rae: I do not know which honourable member said it has not been a good day, but I think the kind of statement that has been made here today with respect to injured workers indicates it is a very sad day --
Mr. Rae: The minister knows there would be unanimous agreement, certainly from this party and from the Liberal Party, judging from the questions that were asked of the minister by the Liberal member, to have third reading done extremely quickly. Will the minister make a commitment to bring it in tomorrow? We can give him a commitment that it will be passed through very quickly under standing order 41. There is nothing holding up this bill other than the political will of the government.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am really surprised at the suggestion that this government is playing politics at the expense of the injured workers. It is the third party that is taking advantage of the injured workers by making an issue of this.
I have made a commitment that this will be introduced and passed before the House rises. There is a retroactivity clause involved; so it does not matter whether it is introduced today or on the last day of the session. Furthermore, from my limited experience in this House, this type of bill has always been introduced on the last day of the sitting.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I want to put this question to the minister as sincerely as I can. We are now some 15 days away from Christmas, and surely the minister understands and is aware of the distrust, not with him as a person but with the process that injured workers have had to go through. Now that the hijackers have promised to return power to this Legislature and let this bill go through quickly, will the minister stand in his place tomorrow morning and give this bill first reading? Let us get it done tomorrow.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. The minister no doubt is aware of the program known as Project Canada, which provides teachers with an excellent opportunity to have their students learn in detail about another community in this great country of ours by twinning classes in different parts of the country. Application forms for the program were received December 2, but the program expired November 30.
If this program is worth while, and I believe it is, why does the minister not send out the application forms in time to allow the schools to participate, rather than having them receive those application forms two or three days after the expiry date?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it was my understanding that application forms were sent out in sufficient time for schools to respond within the time frame. I cannot account for the vagaries of Canada Post, which seems to have interesting kinds of distribution mechanisms. If there are examples of schools receiving the application forms following the terminal date, I would like to hear about them, because I have not to this point.
Mr. Epp: I knew the minister would try to blame Canada Post, because the first thing the government always does is to try to blame the feds. I want to point out that the actual communication was sent out on November 25; that was a Thursday. They had to receive it, fill out the application and there are two weekend days in there and send it back to the ministry by November 30 to qualify, and the minister has not even extended the date. Will she extend it?
The minister will be aware of a health problem that existed at Colchester North Central Public School in Essex county. Just in case the minister is not aware of it, 92 students and staff members called in sick on Thursday, November 25. Despite the high number, the school was still not closed. The following day, 62 more students and staff members booked off. In total, between 154 and 218 people of the school suffered nausea and diarrhoea, the effects usually lasting for 24 hours. The director of education called in the health unit on November 25, yet the school remained open.
Is the minister aware of this problem? Has any investigation been conducted, and can she explain why the parents of the students, as well as the teachers who were affected, learned through the Windsor Star, rather than through the medical officer of health or the school board, about the problem that caused the illness, which was contamination of the drinking water?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member is aware that the decision to keep open a school or to close it is taken by the local school board, which is responsible for the delivery of the educational program. If there was contamination of the drinking water in that specific instance, I should have thought the people involved would have heard about it from both the board and the medical officer of health. I do not know why that did not occur, but I will investigate and report to the House.
Mr. Cooke: Will the minister also discuss this matter with the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) and have an investigation conducted into why this matter had to be published in the Windsor Star rather than directly communicated to the parents, and why the school was not closed as a matter of prevention, which is one of the responsibilities of the medical officer of health? I ask her to look into this entire matter and to make a report back to the Legislature as soon as possible.
In view of the statements made last week by the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) about elderly women, saying that this government has done everything possible for elderly women and those between the ages of 50 and 65 and that she felt sorrier for unemployed young executives than she did for those elderly women, does the Deputy Premier really feel the Provincial Secretary for Social Development is representing the viewpoints and interests of the constituency she is supposed to represent and, more specifically, the seniors secretariat, among others?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge of whether the honourable member who just addressed that question to me was in the House on the second day, but I suggest to her that it is very unfair to continue to attribute an interpretation, suggestions and quotations on that particular subject to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. I know of no more sensitive public servant than the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, and I thought she made those points quite clear when she was asked questions about the matter within the past two or three days.
Ms. Copps: At the same time as the Provincial Secretary for Social Development has no concern for the women who fall into that category, she also cannot convince the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) to have a meeting with the Ontario Status of Women Council. In view of the fact that Sally Barnes, the previous assistant to the Premier (Mr. Davis), now is heading up that organization, why can the Provincial Secretary for Social Development not convince the Treasurer at least to meet with the Ontario Status of Women Council if this cabinet is concerned about the rights and problems facing women in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Perhaps I would be wise if I simply said the member for Hamilton Centre obviously did not hear the answer I gave to her main question. She could learn a lot from the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
Mr. Samis: Since there has been no increase in the minimum wage in 14 months and since the benefits for welfare recipients and old age pensioners have gone up, when is the minister going to do something to help the working poor of this province, especially in view of the fact that the cost of living since the last increase has gone up at least 10 per cent?
Before proceeding, I ask the indulgence of the House. When I asked the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) to withdraw, I made a rather intemperate statement which I withdraw unequivocally. I offer my apologies to the House.
Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Having listened to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) a few moments ago, I want to suggest that we are prepared to stand down our no-confidence motion on Monday next so we can consider the legislation for the injured workers of Ontario. I hope the government will accept that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker: I might indicate that we have before us the way out of this dilemma today. There is a time allotment motion on the Order Paper. If we can dispose of that fairly expeditiously --
Hon. Mr. Wells: If we can dispose of the motion fairly expeditiously, Bill 179 will come to a conclusion and be voted on by this House next week and we will then be ready to deal with other legislation.
Mr. Martel: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: It should be abundantly clear that at least three weeks ago, I suggested to the government House leader that we might sit on Wednesdays to consider other legislation than Bill 179. But the government has kept Bill 179 --
I think that what is going on now speaks to a major deterioration in the conduct of the business of this House. Here we have a party that is third according to the will of the electorate -- a mere rump, in many people’s minds -- and after hijacking the business of this House for two and a half months, it now has the temerity to stand up and say, “We’ll make deals in the House.”
It appears to me that there is no co-operation among the House leaders. What are we going to descend into? Are we going to have individual members standing up and saying, “If you do it my way, then I will allow the business of the House to proceed”?
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: When the House leader was speaking, several members opposite -- I believe the members for York South (Mr. Rae), Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) and others -- used the term “blackmail” to the House leader.
I join with my colleagues who have tabled petitions, and I have a petition from people in my riding who request the honourable members to seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, to which I am sure the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) will give serious consideration. The petition is presented in both official languages and I am sure you would want me to make sure that my constituents are aware of this petition in both languages.
“Nous, les soussignés, sollicitons l'autorisation d’adresser la pétition suivante au parlement de la province de l’Ontario: Nous demandons aux honorables membres de chercher à retirer le Projet de loi 127, loi modifiant la Loi sur la municipalité de l’agglomération torontoise.”
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
“Nous, les soussignés, sollicitons l’autorisation d’adresser la pétition suivante au parlement de la province de l’Ontario: Nous demandons aux honorables membres de chercher à retirer le Projet de loi 127, loi modifiant la Loi sur la municipalité de l’agglomération torontoise.”
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Ministry administration program, $6,502,000; commercial standards program, $14,530,100; technical standards program, $8,263,700; public entertainment standards program, $21,964,400: property rights program, $25,364,500; registrar general program, $4,519,900; liquor licence program, $4,963,700, and residential tenancy program, $5,561,000.
Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this report to the House. It is an important first step in terms of the reform of the rules and practices of this assembly. In this report, the committee has identified issues that it feels can be the subject of quick action by the House. The recommendations are supported by all members of the committee in the hope of gaining the approval of all parties in the House so that the recommendations may be implemented in the near future.
It is crucial that the parliament of Ontario take positive steps to review the laws of parliament and the procedures that govern the machinery in response to the problems confronting modern legislators. Clearly the work of the committee has just begun.
Over the winter the committee will grapple with the issues that go to the heart of the reform of this House -- the supply process in the committee system, time limits on debates, a parliamentary calendar and the role of the private member -- and we will be looking for the support of all members of the assembly as we approach this task.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, this bill will provide a procedure of voting by mail for the convenience of persons physically incapable of attending a polling place. This system is an alternative to the present procedure of voting by proxy and is now established in Manitoba.
I would like to acknowledge the excellent contribution and assistance in the preparation of this bill from Mr. Andrew Seale, a second-year economics and political science student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University.
Mr. Newman: Mr. Speaker, this is the sixth time I am reintroducing this bill. This bill requires that every product offered for sale by a retailer and marked with a universal product code also be clearly marked with its individual purchase price.
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for time allocation of Bill 179, An Act respecting the Restraint of Compensation in the Public Sector of Ontario and the Monitoring of Inflationary Conditions in the Economy of the Province.
Feelings were obviously running very high this afternoon with respect to the positions that have been taken by the different parties on this bill and on this motion, and I want to do what I can to try to put our position in such a way that people will, perhaps in a moment of a little greater coolness, reflect that what we are doing is based on certain principles that have to do with the very fundamental rules and procedures of this House and of any assembly.
Our basic argument throughout, from the point of order we raised yesterday to the arguments we made in response to the motion that was moved by the government House leader, has been that this motion in and of itself is a dramatically new departure for this Legislature. We believed it to be such a great departure that we considered it to be out of order; however, it has been ruled to be in order. But whether it is in order or out of order, we believe it to be a dramatically new departure for this Legislature.
I do not think it is any secret that on every occasion in democratic assemblies where we have fundamental philosophical, profound differences of opinion on a certain bill, we have debates that cause a great deal of antagonism on either side. If we look at the history of the House of Commons in Canada before the introduction of closure, members will know that the debate over the naval appropriations bill before the First World War caused a tremendous furore in the House of Commons. It divided the country tremendously.
It was a debate that saw Sir Wilfrid Laurier pitted against Sir Robert Borden in one of the great joinings of political consciences and political wills on the floor of the House of Commons. It was not a pleasant battle; it was not a tea party. It was a very fundamental opposition between the opposition of that day and the government of that day.
Members will, of course, remember the introduction of closure over the pipeline debate in 1956, and that was only the second time closure had been introduced between the years 1913 and 1956. Again it represented a major political confrontation between the opposition and the government.
All we are suggesting with regard to this motion today is that it represents a fundamental departure, and that before members rush into it because of the positions they may or may not have taken with regard to Bill 179, quite apart from the merits and quite apart from the position any party in this Legislature has taken with respect to Bill 179, the House has to address another, more fundamental question: Is this the way in which this House wants the question of time allocation to be discussed and to proceed?
We have suggested that the question of time allocation in and of itself is too important to be discussed and dismissed in the space of a couple of hours or in the space of four or five hours, and that is why I must confess to being genuinely surprised when the government House leader indicated that he saw this matter as being one of only minor procedural importance and thought this discussion should be very quickly wrapped up so that the House could get on with the business of passing Bill 179.
I do not want to get into a discussion of Bill 179. We could have another argument about it, and I do not think that would be terribly productive or very fruitful at this particular moment. I do want to put very clearly to you, Mr. Speaker, the concerns we have as an opposition party with regard to this method of adopting a time allocation procedure.
In our view, time allocation procedures are not things which should be thrown in, mixed up and adopted when the House is considering what has clearly become one of the most contentious issues in this Legislature in recent memory. In our view, the question of time allocation has to be taken right out of the context of Bill 179, or any other bill, and this House has to consider the methods, means and procedures which a government will have to follow with respect to time allocation.
The House of Commons, as the government House leader knows, has 75(a), (b) and (c). I happen to feel as a member of the opposition that that is too draconian. It gives too much power to the executive; it gives too great a power to the government, and it is something we should not adopt exactly in that form in this Legislature.
The point is, time allocation is not something which we can discuss in a rational way and reach a rational conclusion about because of the tempers that have been frayed and raised as a result of the discussion of Bill 179. It is wrong for the government to be confusing those two issues.
I also believe it is wrong for the government, since it controls the Order Paper, to confuse three very separate issues: the issue of time allocation, the issue of Bill 179 and the question of compensation for injured workers; but I will leave that alone since that is clearly an issue that raises a great many emotions on both sides.
I simply want to make this plea to members of the official opposition. I hope they too will take the occasion to separate their views about Bill 179 from their views about time allocation and the implications of time allocation.
Mr. Rae: The member for Ottawa East says they already have. I recognize that. I was a bit concerned when I heard the leader of the official opposition saying on the radio this morning that the government had no alternative but to do what it did.
I will summarize what our view is. There is no common law right in the government to introduce a closure motion of this kind. The government has to have authority within the statutes either of this House or of basic common law precedents in other jurisdictions. There are no such common law precedents. The only precedents are those which flow from particular rules and procedures which have been adopted in those assemblies, be it the House of Commons in Ottawa or the House of Commons at Westminster.
For that reason, and because we are concerned with preserving the rights of the opposition and with preserving the rights of each and every individual member to have his or her say with respect to this piece of legislation, and because we are concerned to see that each and every member of the Legislature has a right to put his or her view with respect to this legislation, we are firmly and strongly opposed to this motion being put at this time and in this way.
I think it is something the House is going to have to consider with some genuine concern and consideration. It is not something which should be confused with the substance of Bill 179. Once we enter into the world of time allocation, we are giving an extraordinary degree of power to the executive. It is something which no opposition could agree to under the circumstances in which we are being asked to agree to it. A gun is being put to our heads by the government and we have absolutely no intention of putting up with that kind of pressure or knuckling under simply because there is that kind of pressure coming from the government.
This is an issue which has to be discussed and debated on its own merits. Every private member has a stake in seeing it is done the right way, because if it is done the wrong way it is not simply the rights of this party or even the rights of the Liberal Party that are going to be threatened, it is the rights of each and every member of this Legislature whether a member of the government or of the opposition.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to join in the debate on this resolution by the House leader. I was disappointed to hear the member for York South (Mr. Rae) conclude his remarks with the suggestion that somehow or other there has not been opportunity for people from whatever party to express their feelings about this bill.
I sat in on the debate that took place in the chamber on second reading and sat through the debate that took place in the committee. I say that rather loosely because we had a period of some 35 hours when we had public hearings. We did have an opportunity to hear what the people of the province, drawn from the many cross-sections of society, had to say about this legislation. They had a lot of suggestions for us as legislators.
I have to suggest that the third party really has prohibited us as legislators from having a proper opportunity to consider and discuss some of the amendments that were tabled by the opposition party, for example, and amendments that were offered by the government. We had an opportunity to discuss those and time was wasted away even though the third party will pretend that somehow or other it was not abusing the time.
Yesterday, we heard a comment by the member for York South as to how we were all of a sudden having an abrupt end to the discussion of this bill. We heard over and over again their favourite new catch phrase of “closure.” As the House leader reminded us as he put his resolution and took us step by step through the resolution, we all know this is not closure. It is an allocation of time.
Heaven knows, we needed some kind of organization of the remaining time in the consideration of this bill because we certainly saw, and I know the New Democratic Party does not like to hear it, an abuse of the time of this Legislature and its committee as we considered this bill.
I think it was our Premier (Mr. Davis) who said rather clearly that he did not, in all his years in this House, ever recall a bill that had more consideration, more time and more discussion than Bill 179. This resolution proposes to bring in some order and finality.
We listen to the NDP members with their rhetoric about closure. We have their open admission that they were going to do everything in their power to delay the workings of this House and its committees to focus attention on their debate, all the time pretending they were not in any way delaying any of the proceedings, that they were following right along with the procedures.
We sat in the standing committee on administration of justice, as the chairman could attest, and watched the little games. One person slipped out through the door so that somehow or other it gave some kind of legitimacy to the fact we had to sit through another 20 minutes of bells while we wasted time getting through the bill.
We just heard the member for York South pretend that somehow or other there has been a stifling of opportunity for the members to have discussion. What a lot of nonsense. They had members come, and I kept track of most of them; almost every member of the NDP caucus visited that committee, depending on the group. They wanted to do a little grandstanding in front and here in the House. They put on quite a little show and gave us all their philosophical reasons as to why they oppose a restraint bill, and particularly Bill 179. They then stand in this House and have the audacity to pretend that somehow or other they have been deprived of an opportunity to express themselves.
Further, we have had the House leader of the NDP visit many a time. He would come in and give us his old Sudbury basin speeches, retreaded but almost like new, one might say. He would tell us about that economy and somehow or other wander away from Bill 179. But with the tolerance that the chairman of the standing committee on administration of justice is well known for, he did permit that in the hopes that somehow or other the members of the NDP would have a chance to express their feelings about the bill.
They had all of those opportunities and then, as we know, they launched into their famous little game on clause 1(a) in the committee, which they repeated in turn here in the House as we came back to get on with the job, as we were directed to do, to consider the bill clause by clause.
We heard them calling for the different ministers that the NDP insisted were particularly affected by this legislation, those who had a particular responsibility. We heard them calling for the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay), the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) and, incidentally, the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), who was carrying and introducing the bill. He said clearly, from the outset, that the minister would be available.
We heard in motion after motion an argument for each of the different ministers, and sometimes not ministers but people from the Ontario Status of Women Council and other people. They felt that somehow or other we were stifling the opportunity for the third party to have an opportunity to express and impact some of its thinking on to the ministers who would have some responsibility for the different parts of this omnibus program and Bill 179.
On this motion, we heard the House leader recount to the members how there had been no fewer than 12 occasions in the House of Commons this year when this particular procedure had taken place. I know the leader of the third party has a different interpretation of some of the precedents that were explained to us for our assistance by the House leader, and I know that on some of the Erskine May precedents there is a quarrel and disagreement.
I think it is important for all of us as we look at this resolution to be reminded of the House leader’s comments when he reminded the leader of the third party, the member for York South, that it was he -- and I paraphrase him somewhat, I suppose -- who has been recorded as saying that he is against the hijacking and against the straitjacketing of the workings of this House and of its committees.
There he is, as the leader of a party who visited in the committee and saw his members clearly abusing the time of this House on Bill 179, as they had on Bill 127 and the other workings of this House. Then, of course, he had his righteous indignation with the Minister of Labour today because we were not able to find time on the Order Paper for a bill affecting the injured workers.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Several times I have heard members of the government party claim it was impossible to introduce the bill to bring up the pensions of injured workers because of delays on Bill 179. I think the government members have forgotten there was a period of six or seven weeks during which Bill 179 was not in this chamber at all, and the failure to bring the other bill in during that period was certainly the fault of the government party.
Mr. Jones: I will stick with this resolution that deals with Bill 179, but I would remind the member that we were having much the same silly games taking place in the procedures of this House with other bills in here, such as Bill 127.
This motion is not, as the NDP pretends, somehow or other changing forever and a day the rules of order of this House. It deals with Bill 179. It is true the third party has strong feelings about the philosophy of the bill; that is fine. Many of us on the government side have listened patiently. We have taken to heart many of the thoughts expressed in their debate and that is fine. They contended that somehow or other we wanted to steam-roller this through but that is not true; by 130 hours it is not true.
We attempted to hold out the olive branch, if you will, for proper, ordered consideration of the bill and said yes to the time we could have for public hearing. We have tried to accommodate in many quarters. We did, indeed, as we moved back into the House. That again brings up the matter of the so-called closure in the committee.
The Minister of Labour, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) -- many of those the New Democratic Party had been anxious to have attend -- came to listen and to debate the effects of this bill. They were in attendance in hopes the NDP would settle down, become serious and proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of this bill as the debate on the bill continued in the House.
We who sat through the debate that took place in the standing committee on administration of justice, I think it is safe to say, did come to an appreciation of some of the serious thoughts the NDP put forward. We listened very intently as the official opposition put forward its amendments. Several of us have them at hand and have analysed them thoroughly. The government has given much thought to those amendments and the effect they might have on the legislation as proposed.
Yet, sadly, we saw ourselves back in the House debating even the name of this bill -- which is why this resolution has been put. We could not proceed beyond clause 1(a). As responsible legislators we must wonder, as we consider this resolution, at how the debate has degenerated into silly games. As the members of the third party made their arguments against this bill they contended that no thought had been given to the very name of the bill. That is how we got bogged down on clause 1(a). That is how we came to have this resolution for the allocation of time -- not closure -- to take the thoughtful steps towards the conclusion of debate on this bill.
In the amendments that were put forward on clause 1(a) the argument was made that this bill had not been properly thought out by this government, that it was not targeted to fighting inflation. The third party would have us believe that some silver bullet was the only thing that would solve our economic problems in this province and this country, problems which come to us from outside our borders.
This bill is but one part of an overall program. As this bill was working its way -- to use the term loosely -- in the committee and in the House, our Treasurer was at the same time meeting with his federal counterparts to deal with many of the issues that came up in the committee.
Where there were calls for job creation in the carriage of this bill, we saw the Treasurer working with the federal government in a matching co-op program with a commitment of $100 million for job creation in the province, and that was followed by a further program for $50 million. In a debate last Thursday there was a litany of the programs stemming from his budget and the many other ongoing programs which this government believes will help the economy. We are making up a package of which Bill 179 is but a part.
People in the opposition questioned whether the government has given thought to the effect of this bill. It has. We know this government, prior to introducing this inflation restraint program, considered a wide range of restraints. I think it is safe to say as far back as last summer we heard our Premier and our Treasurer commenting about the impact of a national program.
We heard debate, particularly from the third party, that somehow or other this bill did not address itself to inflation in any way. In fact we spent all the time of this session, since coming back to the House -- and a great part of it in committee -- on points of order debates, wandering all over the bill. Some pretended to be somehow or other on clause 1(a), debating the name and why the word “inflation” was a part of that.
People have said in the debate that this legislation -- Bill 179 --somehow or other was going to destroy employment opportunities. That is not the case at all. In fact, one of its main purposes was to address itself to the reality that government spending contributes to inflation. It is important that we, as a government, demonstrate to the private sector and other levels of government that we do appreciate that restraint is important.
We saw a growth of some 15,000 in numbers in our public service in Ontario in the last three years. We know we are faced with but a few alternatives if we do not address ourselves to a restraint program. We know we can go into increased borrowing in our capital markets. We know we squeeze out the private sector and others and we have to consider that kind of an eventuality. We know we have passed through the cost of those borrowings and they are horrendous to the taxpayers of Ontario if we do not have restraint.
The other option, of course, is to increase taxes if we do not have a bill such as Bill 179 and as we are considering in this motion by the House leader today. Also important to the debate and something that tends to be lost -- certainly by the New Democratic Party -- is that if there is to be restraint in the private sector, as there must be, we have to set an example.
We know other forces are at work in the private sector. We read every day in our newspapers that the private sector -- small business in particular but big business as well -- is suffering, bleeding in this economy. We have unemployment as never before and we have a responsibility as a government to exercise our fair share of restraint.
We also knew, as a responsible government, that unless we were to have an increase in borrowing and taxes we would be faced with cutting back services and/or laying off people within the public service. Bill 179, which this resolution proposes to bring to some finality, was as much as anything protecting against the possibility of layoffs in the public sector that otherwise would be faced. We are proud of the public sector work force in this province, and this legislation was as much for their protection as for any other purpose.
Many of us have been involved in the debate -- the Treasurer, the Premier and others the opposition have pretended have not taken part. They have been involved from the very start -- from their first comments, from the opening statements by the Premier and the Treasurer. Now as we see this resolution guiding us in an orderly way to the conclusion of this debate, we have said over and over again that Bill 179 was critical to the overall program of this government in bringing about a recovery in the economy of this province.
As I listen to members opposite pretending that somehow or other they have not been delaying the process of this House, I say that just is not so. It makes for good rhetoric, but those of us who have sat through the debate can attest to the fact that we became somewhat embarrassed, as individual members of this Legislature. Clearly we were being seen -- and not just by the press but by the people who come and go at this assembly and the people who visited the committee -- as being involved in a very juvenile game, despite the pretence by the New Democratic Party that it was standing for very stalwart principles.
We believed that in one sense. I can say without hesitation I have no problem with the idea that the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) was being very sincere on occasion. Then he would lapse into abuse of the time of the committee, and repetition of the same old debate over and over again, pretending all the time there was no abuse of that time when we could have got on with the debate.
Mr. Jones: That was not so at all. We had the Treasurer sitting in the committee, prepared to answer questions, indeed answering many questions. We had staff standing by. Talk about government waste and restraint these days. Staff would come patiently to sit and wait to address themselves to the amendments proposed by the official opposition, amendments that never came, except for a lot of silly amendments to the first section of the bill offered by the NDP. They waited there to answer questions, hoping to help improve this Bill 179 that our resolution is addressing today.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member is not going to debate the bill. We are debating another kind of motion. I want to make it very clear the honourable member will not be debating Bill 179. You can talk about the bill, but there will be no debating Bill 179.
Mr. Jones: I will not, but, as I address myself to this resolution the House leader has presented to the House, we did a careful analysis of those amendments. I was merely sharing with members the fact that we were standing ready as a government for serious consideration of the debate that was being put by the opposition. I say “serious”, but we unfortunately degenerated into points of order and all kinds of silliness. I think it will make many of us reflect on just what we could have done, not only with this bill but with the valuable time that is given to us as legislators in a time of pressing economic conditions.
We do have an opportunity from this vantage point not to be a silver bullet but, as the government has proposed in Bill 179, to see it go forward in constructive debate as an example. We have the opportunity to learn from the process, to help the economy towards some of the solutions that should be happening.
Mr. Jones: The member for Bellwoods uses the word “closure” again, but that has never been the case. As we looked back to Westminster for examples and drew on those, as we looked into Erskine May, that was merely the orderly process of advancing a bill back to the House in one more step to get on with the job of being responsible legislators, to do our job of debating and carrying out the proper process.
I remind the members this is not closure. I think this is extremely important, because we can become very exercised and all of a sudden start to talk about the damage done to the democratic process. This is allocation of time, an ordering of our time in consideration of the balance of this bill.
Mr. Jones: I know the word “guillotine” is used in Erskine May and some of the other explanations, and that sounds very dramatic and we can become very emotional about it. The fact is it permits all the processes that have been open to us for almost the last three months to deal with the bill.
The New Democratic Party -- and this is the necessity of this resolution -- declared from the outset it was against the bill and was going to do everything humanly within its powers to prevent the bill from going forward and having any consideration --
Mr. Jones: Of course, Mr. Speaker. I am speaking to the resolution. As I urge my colleagues to appreciate the reason this resolution has come about, I also urge all of us to be reminded that it is not closure. It is so we can get on and, in our democratic way, deal with the particulars of this bill and the proper allocation of time. We wish to bring in some finality so this government can, with the aid of Bill 179, get on with being responsible. We wish to address ourselves to restraint within this government and proceed from there, through the many other programs the government has been active in which flow from our last budget, to breathe rekindled life into the economy of this province.
Mr. Jones: This resolution comes to us of necessity, if we are to be responsible legislators with the precious time that is rationed to us. This is a time when government has a special need to be responsible and a need to deal with something as important as we know Bill 179 addresses itself to -- restraint and all that. I just touched on one section of it. This is an instrument to help ensure we do not have layoffs of people within the public sector and that we have proper, responsible restraint.
As to this resolution, I hope all of us will be reminded of the lessons learned from this. We have had gamesmanship to be sure. As I watched the debate, I saw a lot of sincerity but sadly there also was a lot of abuse. That made this resolution absolutely necessary so we could get on in an ordered way to consider this important legislative program.
The House has been in operation for 115 years with a variety of issues and leaders on all sides. We have dealt with important matters, many of them divisive, many of them at least as important as the principle of the bill this motion deals with. I do not suppose there are many people who would say they have listened to better parliamentarians than the former member for York South or the former member for Scarborough West, who had the honour to lead, and most effectively led, the New Democratic Party in years gone by.
The argument put to us by the NDP that this bill transcends all others in its importance and its effects on the foundations of democracy is difficult to accept. It is particularly so when one realizes that, in over a century of dealing with the business of Ontario, many matters pertaining to the individuals in our community -- our relationships with our municipalities, our relationships with the government of Canada, the provision of education, the provision of separate education, the control of our police forces -- all of these issues have come before this House.
Until now parliamentarians have always realized it was their duty to put forward their views -- on this side often in opposition to the position taken by the government -- as strongly and as effectively as possible, and sometimes at great length when it was considered reasonable and a part of a significant position so to do, and eventually to cast their votes as their principles directed.
This is the first time in 115 years that the legislative time of the House has really been pre-empted -- one might say confiscated -- by one political party to the extent that strong action, really unacceptable action, had been taken in the judgement of the government of the day.
The New Democratic Party and at least one of my colleagues have brought attention to the fact that rule 36, the so-called closure motion, is among the weapons in the armoury of the government -- or I suppose even the opposition on certain occasions. They have said this would have been a better alternative.
In the traditions of this House, even closure has been used only rarely. The last time, the one all of us remember, was when the government forced interim supply through the House with a closure motion. Before that there is some difference of opinion about what the records hold, but the last clear closure motion was back in the 1890s on some other issue that is irrelevant at this stage.
The only other time in my experience when I heard a closure motion put in the House was during the time of the interim government after 1975, and it was proposed by the NDP member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds). I think he thought better of it and withdrew it, and we did not proceed along those lines but certainly it was his intention at the time.
Closure is really not a part of the traditions in this House, because with two viable opposition parties of varying sizes, depending on the slice of history one examines at the time, we have had an opportunity to express our views strongly and at length, we have had an opportunity to summon our supporters in the gallery and we have had an opportunity to remove the material from the House and send it to a committee for further review. But eventually, without closure and without a time allocation bill, the House has drawn to some sort of conclusion that would decide the matter.
To be fair, the governments of the day over a number of years, in the face of concerted opposition in the House and quite often paralleled by opposition coming from the community, often through the government party itself, have wisely withdrawn a bill or simply allowed it to die on the Order Paper. This was one of the alternatives -- let us say one of the goals -- the NDP indicated they would accept: if the government indicated they would not proceed with the bill or would withdraw it we could proceed with other matters.
I think we should examine that for a moment. All of us in our own experience here have seen the government bring forward bills they would vehemently defend at first and second reading, only to find the community would not stand for the legislation. The honourable House leader of the government party is aware in his own experience of certain bills like that.
One of his many solutions to the Toronto Islands problem falls in that category. A bill was presented as government policy, having been approved by the cabinet -- and maybe it was run past the caucus, although they are a docile bunch and never give the government much difficulty. It was presented in this House as the final solution, if I may use that phrase. Although it was opposed on this side and we would like to take credit for the withdrawal of that bill, we know it was because, through another sort of grapevine to which the government is particularly sensitive, it became apparent the bill could not proceed. Even the government House leader himself, with all of his influence and ability, soon jumped back from it -- and very wisely he did so.
In this instance it is not going to happen. For one thing, no objective observer has seen the kind of strong response from the community that would indicate the bill is unacceptable to the community. I do not want to argue with people who hold different views, but we have heard the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour advise his many thousands of dues-paying supporters they should be in these galleries ready -- under the rules of the House, and no one has advised them to break those rules -- to support those who are opposing the bill.
I have heard Mr. Pilkey give this advice on the radio. I have heard him questioned by reporters about it. We know the response has been weak and timid indeed. We have seen the New Democratic Party in Windsor try to bring a busload along. The story is that the busload picked up some teachers in London along the way and the unemployed auto workers from Windsor. They were talking to the teachers and found out their average pay was between $30,000 and $40,000 a year and they were down protesting a limit of five per cent on those salaries. It is probably apocryphal, but I understand they were kicked out along the 401 somewhere about the racetrack.
There have been a number of occasions when there was some sort of a paltry effort. I saw the member for Hamilton East visiting all the galleries the other night. There were about 15 people here whom he had persuaded to come over from Hamilton. They were, no doubt, members of the union he has been a member of and has defended so strenuously here. As a matter of fact, I do not know whether it was that night or the night before that the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union himself was in the gallery, the public servant who appeared before the committee and advised his members that if the bill were to pass, they should disobey it. This was strange counsel indeed coming from a citizen of this province who is leader of a well-respected union.
But he and his supporters were in the gallery. That was the evening the chairman of the committee had to find what our Votes and Proceedings refers to as “grave disorder,” and the business of the House was suspended until those people were put out. Frankly I did not think it was grave disorder. I thought it was rather pathetic, particularly since the whole concept from the NDP has been that the community cannot stand for this sort of legislation, which they feel is destructive to the democratic principles all of us support. Obviously their reading of this matter is incorrect. Still they have proceeded with the confiscation of the legislative time in this House for a number of weeks, and many hours in the justice committee.
I listened with a great deal of attention to the leader of the New Democratic Party, the member for York South, expressing his concern about this resolution. He did it in very strong terms indeed. There is no doubt in my mind that his presence in the House will improve the quality of the debate. But it does concern me that his perception of this situation is somewhat flawed, in that he is not aware he himself, and no one else, precipitated this motion before the House.
As a matter of fact, I do not believe we can even give the general blame for this to the NDP caucus. It is not proper, and I am not permitted to impute motives. I, along with others, am prepared to accept particularly --
Mr. Nixon: I am not. I am certainly prepared to respond, as others have, to the comments made by the member for Hamilton East, for example, who is thoroughly opposed and committed to his opposition. There is no doubt in my mind that this is so.
But the NDP has had political problems. There was a time -- and I suppose I am the only Liberal who can say this -- when it was the third party and there were independent observers who said, “The leader of the NDP is the true Leader of the Opposition.” I can say that -- none of my colleagues can -- because I am the person who probably would be hurt by such a comment.
If there is any effective way in which NDP members think they might resume that position in the future it is not by saying they have done so themselves, because I tell them that they have not. There may come a time, God forbid, when some objective observers of their conduct in the House will make that judgement.
After the last election, the NDP was almost destroyed. Its leader left because he took the responsibility, as was proper, for the decimation of the party. The members went outside their ranks for someone to lead them and came in with an extremely capable young man who had already established himself elsewhere, a person who commanded the attention and interest of the press gallery and who is now here.
I would be the last to say that the honourable gentleman is ineffective in this House; quite the contrary. But when he decries the introduction of a motion that is going to allocate time when he and his party have made the express commitment, to recoup a situation they find politically unacceptable, that the bill may not pass as long as there is a rule or procedure they can use to stop it; and when they have said that it is so anathema that no amendments can be permitted; and for him then to say that the foundations of democracy have been interfered with by the introduction of this motion, I will allow you to make your own judgement, Mr. Speaker, because I am not allowed to use the word “hypocrite” in this House.
I am opposed to the motion, and I have said so, and I intend to vote against it. But the responsibility for the motion is not that of the government House leader, the Treasurer or the Premier; it is the responsibility of the member for York South. The fact that the government majority is eventually going to ram this motion through means that for the next 115 years in this House we are going to have our time allocated whether we like it or not, and I say to the member for York South, that is his first mark in the Legislature of Ontario.
My colleague the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) in his response to the points of order dealt with in the House yesterday -- and he responded extremely effectively -- put down the alternatives that the government House leader might have accepted. I want to deal with them briefly. The first alternative is simply to allow the debate to continue until finally no one has anything more to say and the votes are taken.
We have what I still consider to be new rules in this House. Actually they are not very new any more, but they were accepted on all sides back in the middle 1970s. They mean that on Tuesdays we deal with legislation. It is possible, although sometimes it is difficult to get approval, to carry on with legislation on Wednesdays; but that is a cabinet day, and normally the Tories do not want the House to sit that day. We could even sit Wednesday evening, I suppose, without agreement; but with the kind of procedures that the House leaders’ panel has established, it is very rare indeed that the House proceeds without agreement on all sides.
I am going to say something more about that because, frankly, it is working very well, and I say modestly that credit is due to all three parties in this connection. I am one of the members of that group -- the others are the House leader of the New Democratic Party and the House leader of the Conservative Party -- which has been able to work out, on rather good terms, procedures that have served us well for a long time, and I believe they will continue to do so in the future.
But the government can legitimately call the legislative work of the House on Tuesdays only, and it does not take a good deal of skill, particularly when we are in committee and members can speak more than once, for any party simply to allow the debate to go on indefinitely. It has been particularly offensive in this connection, since the New Democratic Party has stated this as its commitment, and we might as well accept it as straight goods, because that party is not drawing back from it in any way: The bill shall not pass, and it is unamendable. This means that after 142 hours of consideration, we are still in the House dealing with section 1 of the bill, the definition section.
We might as well assume that the bill can be bottled up forever, and it does not even take a lot of parliamentary skill or energy to do that. So to allow the House to continue indefinitely would be a possibility. We have gone for a long time. There is nothing -- I almost used the wrong turn of phrase there; there is something sacred about Christmas, but that is just another holiday, and presumably we could do what my good friend the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve) suggested to me over breakfast. He said, “We can sit right up to December 24, take Boxing Day off and be back to do the work of the House.”
Frankly, I hope that does not happen, because I have a few plans myself, but there is no reason why it should not. We are paid month by month, every month, and sometimes, although we cry about how overworked we are, there is no reason the business of the province cannot continue into January and February. I feel it is unnecessary but if it has to happen, certainly it will. My own feeling is that the stated position of the New Democratic Party is such that there is not much sense extending it into January and February, because we will hear the same material we have been listening to now for two and a half months.
The second proposal was that the House leaders’ panel could deal with it. I say again that I feel the House leaders’ panel is an extremely effective innovation compared with the time when I was first elected. The Premier of the day was his own House leader then and if he felt like it he would rise on adjournment and say, “Tomorrow we will do thus and so.” When he felt like it he would say; “Tomorrow we will do anything on the Order Paper”, and that was it.
The Order Paper we have before us daily is like a book, with all sorts of bills, resolutions and other material on it. In those days, while it was not as thick, there was just as wide a variety of material. It is much better to order the business with the kind of co-operation that has been the hallmark of the House leaders’ panel over the past number of months and, in fact, since its inception.
But when the policy of the New Democratic Party is that the bill shall not pass and shall not be amended, there is not much the House leaders can do other than try to work certain other pieces of business around that. In fact, the New Democratic Party has been as co-operative as it could be to have that happen. There is no problem about that. I am simply saying that to think the House leaders are going to persuade the New Democratic Party to back down or the government to withdraw the bill is naïve and absurd and that alternative is not available.
The third reference was that the matter could be sent by this House to the standing committee on procedural affairs, our rules committee, to be dealt with in some way. I do not think that is practical. Obviously the procedural affairs committee has the same composition as this House as far as parties are concerned. Since the commitment of the New Democratic Party is that the bill shall not pass and shall not be amended and the government’s position is that it shall carry, then obviously the debate would simply extend into the procedural affairs committee and nothing would come out of it.
I know the procedural affairs committee has already given us a report that was tabled today giving certain recommendations for time limits on speeches. As I have droned on now for 20 minutes, Mr. Speaker, you may want that applied either retroactively or its opposite.
But sending the matter to the procedural affairs committee is one of the alternatives that is not practicable. If we are going to change our rules using the procedural affairs committee, it has to be done in peacetime; it has to be done with as much co-operation and good feeling as possible.
I would be very surprised if a time allocation rule came out of the procedural affairs committee that would be acceptable to the opposition. After all, we have done the work here for 115 years without it, with only rare utilization of the closure procedure. It is disappointing to me that we cannot continue with the same sort of respect for the democratic process and the understanding of what is necessary for people on all sides.
I am disappointed that we now are forced by the intransigence we have observed in this matter to have a time allocation rule facing us. The closure rule itself could be used. If I were to make a choice, I would never recommend its use. I say again -- I suppose for the fourth time -- it is very rarely used here. Still, it would be better than a procedure that is not a part of the rules.
In fact, the argument put by the government and upheld by you, Mr. Speaker, is that it is in order because it is a procedure and not a new rule, which is something worth thinking about. But if opposition is going to be of the type we have experienced, then closure will simply cut it off completely.
Frankly, I think people on all sides are deeply concerned that the chances are this bill will never be reviewed clause by clause with an eye to placing amendments. There has not been much room for us on the issue of Bill 179. We are supporting the principle of it and we shall continue to support the principle of it. We believe wage restraint is essential and we have said so. We have indicated, however, that there should be a broader application involving prices. We have said to anybody who will listen, including those who support our contention, that the five per cent limit should apply to hydro rates, rents and doctors’ fees. Who would oppose that in the New Democratic Party? No one.
The fact the government may not accept those amendments does not mean they should not be put forward for argument or that the official opposition, elected like other members of the House, should be denied, by the intransigence of the New Democratic Party, its opportunity to put forward its view of the issues, have it debated and have it voted on by the elected members of the citizens of this province.
There are other matters that should come before the House for amendment. The Treasurer knows they need amending. The lack of due process in the Inflation Restraint Board is obvious. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) made one of his better speeches, in my view, when he brought this to the attention of the House on second reading and indicated that he advised the Ontario Federation of Labour to enter into a legal proceeding on the basis of the charter in the Constitution since due process was not a part of the bill. This is a matter that must come to the attention of the Legislature for review and, in my view, for amendment.
There are at least two areas involving teachers themselves which have nothing to do with the removal of the five per cent restraint on their pay for one year. They have to do with the unfair effects of the bill on teachers approaching retirement and on teachers who have upgraded their classifications and will receive no money for that, even though they have committed many dollars and much time to the upgrading. Those are the matters we feel the House can come to grips with and repair by way of amendment. This has been denied by the New Democratic Party.
As far as I am concerned, one advantage over ordinary closure in the motion before us put forward by the government House leader is that it does assign some specific time for amendment and clause-by-clause review. At least it has that advantage over closure. But even that opportunity is to be denied us by the intransigent position taken by the New Democratic Party that the bill must not pass and is unamendable.
I regret very much that the House, after more than a century, has been brought to this position. I recall to the minds of the members that great leaders of the New Democratic Party, and those of other parties as well, have coped for many years with their responsibilities in the face of issues that have changed. They have always been able to accept the concept that we can do our business in this House and that we can support our principles without forcing the House into a situation involving closure and the allocation of time.
Unfortunately this situation, which now has gone on for two and a half months, has meant that the government cannot continue. I regret that very much. I shall certainly vote against the motion that is before the House.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in opposition to the closure motion. I oppose this motion just as hard as I oppose the insinuation of blackmail that seems to be creeping into the rhetoric of some members of the government party and the other part of the 103 Tory members who sit to my right.
I was pleased to have the admission on the record a couple of nights ago by the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) that my arithmetic was wrong when I said there were 100 Tories, and he said, “No, there are 103.” It certainly tells us where the opposition is.
I am a little disappointed in the former leader of the Liberal Party. Referring to the latter remarks he made, laying into us for the tactics we are using on Bill 179, I remind him that Bill 127 is almost in the same kind of procedural, tactical battle. There the Liberals are participating. I do not know whether they can be that selective in exactly what they want to do.
I am also rather surprised that the frustration and anger of the former leader of the Liberal Party against the trade union movement and its leadership are still so great. The other evening in the House, we heard similar remarks from a number of his colleagues. I understand his feelings. He led his party in three elections against the Tories, looking for the premiership of this province, and he failed in three elections. I know he puts a large part of the blame on the fact they were never able to get labour and worker support in Ontario. He seems to feel that they shot him down. He would not get the premiership with the position of his party on this current bill either.
I want to make it very clear that he did not get the support of labour and workers in this province because they did not think they could trust him and they did not think he understood their problems. That is why he never earned their support officially. He did not need very much to put it over the top a couple of times. But he sure as hell never earned it.
From the time the government brought this bill in, on September 21, it was obvious to me that what they had was a bill that was going to cause one hell of a lot of problems for workers in the province for a long time to come. It was a bill that was stripping the fundamental rights of workers; that is what was at stake with this bill.
The old adage that a bargain is a bargain did not mean anything any more. The bill said to me that every citizen in Ontario could start questioning what the word of this government is worth. Should we trust them on any given commitment or bill or contract?
I found it offensive that we were zeroing in on 14 per cent or 15 per cent of the people, on one specific group of workers, and that we were willing to rip up those contracts and negate their rights. I could be a lot stronger than that. But to me, it was a fundamental issue. It was an issue that I went to my caucus with, and I am proud there was no opposition from my leader and caucus colleagues. They said, “This is one bill we have to fight, and we have to fight it every step of the way.”
I want to make a couple of comments about that. The government argues -- and I dismiss it, because the Liberals obviously are entirely a part of the government on this issue -- that we have stalled the legislation in this House long enough, that we have carried it for two and a half months. Well, they do have a majority and they have been able to order the business of the House; so there is no reason at all that they could not have done anything else that was vital.
For example, take the issue of injured workers. I find it amazing that even though we have known for more than a year that there were problems in this area and that submissions were being made to this government months ago -- we have had demonstrators on the lawn for weeks -- this government could not find time to move a bill to give them the assistance that even the government admits they are entitled to and desperately need. We could not find that time, but we can criticize the New Democratic Party for deciding that we do have a basic issue that we have to tackle.
This closure motion says we have gone far enough. I ask this House, what is far enough? Is there not a flip side to that coin? Is there not also the question of exactly what is at stake in this bill? What does it do to people? When do you quit fighting something you feel very strongly about?
We have made too many little gentlemen’s deals and we have been too quick to back off from some fundamental issues. I ask members to name an issue that has hit this Legislature with more scope for causing us trouble for months and years to come, other than maybe the police state bill of a number of years ago, and that is going to have the effect this legislation is going to have in Ontario.
If the question of whether we have stalled the House too long does have a flip side, what we have to take a look at is how important is the legislation. We have the government’s word that it is vital; they need it, because it is part of their anti-inflation program. I ask all the members of the House -- the Tories on this side, as well as the Tories across the way -- what hard justification have we been given in any of the debates to do something as fundamental as destroying a legal, binding and freely negotiated contract.
What does this bill do? What case has been made? Does it deal effectively with inflation? I am not enough of an expert in economic matters to know whether it will have some marginal effect in terms of what kinds of municipal taxes may have to be raised, or in terms of workers if you are cutting back on their wages. But I do say that nobody -- not in the hearings we have had in this House, and not in the Treasurer’s opening statement -- has made a hard case that really tells me it is going to do a thing in dealing with the problem of inflation.
I suppose one could argue two ways. But the several hundred million dollars that will be pulled out of the pockets of mostly low-wage earners in Ontario -- because the bulk of public and civil servants are in the under-$20,000 category -- might be considered a brake on inflation. I am not sure. I cannot see it, simply because these people would spend every cent they get. They are not the ones who cause inflation. They are the ones who purchase goods and services. Those goods and services are what might put a few people back to work. I argue that one could make a strong or stronger case that this is going to cause problems, not cure inflation.
If we are looking at the closure motion and arguing as to whether we have taken too long, we also have to ask, “Is part of the fight that we are making in this House one of whether this bill does anything to create jobs?” These are things they have to take a look at if they are going to challenge us for having stalled this House too long. This bill does not create any jobs, or very few. I do not know how many people are going to be on the board. Certainly Mr. Biddell is going to have a pretty nice salary, but where are the jobs it creates?
It is also argued that this bill may preserve jobs. The indications are that in the public sector we are seeing layoffs increase, not decrease. That was one of the rationales for the bill as well, that at least they had some kind of security. Where is the evidence that with this kind of cutback we are going to create more jobs in Ontario?
Is it proper or just in its selective imposition? That, I think, is a fundamental question when we are told: “Okay, you have carried out the battle too long. We have to move closure to stop you.” The government has decided that the scapegoats, the group in society it is going to hold responsible and use the hard boot on -- because that is what it is doing to this group -- are the public sector people.
A serious question of whether it is proper or just is raised. It is a very selective imposition of blame and a very selective imposition of a guilt trip on one group of the workers in Ontario. One of the arguments also made was that this bill might help the Treasurer in dealing with inflation and the economy. But is it just to raise money to cut his deficit by the imposition of this legislation on one group of 14 per cent or 15 per cent of the population through the rather serious cutbacks that will be made in the salaries they would get in the second year of their contracts, or in the one year if they have not yet signed, and go automatically to five per cent?
Mr. Mackenzie: When the Treasurer made his appearance before us -- and he was not there that long during the hassles, and I understand some of it too, when we were into some procedural hassles -- one of his very few comments when we asked him what he was going to do with this money was that he had a number of options. He did not say that he was going after jobs. The only option he mentioned in committee, and I am sure the member will remember this, was that he could use it to reduce his deficit. Is that a just imposition of what is in effect a tax on one group of people?
If a case has not been made for this bill by any of the speakers so far or in anything we heard in committee or during the clause-by-clause period, we certainly heard a case made against it by an awful lot of people, the overwhelming majority of the more than 60 or 70 groups that came before our committee. If a case has not been made, when is it wrong to continue to fight to delay legislation? The other side of that is, when do we stop fighting it?
Surely this motion of closure leads to the other side of the coin. This legislation has far-reaching and devastating effects on the workers in this province. Let me outline one or two of the ways it will. If it has this kind of effect on workers, and I will go so far as to say the future of social and economic order in Ontario is to some extent at least at stake as well, then is it not equally wrong that a party should stop opposing legislation with such a basic effect?
This bill negates rights. Are they starting to become less important in Ontario? Is a contract not a contract or a deal not a deal, legal and binding, negotiated as much as a year ago in some of the cases where the government is ripping them up? Admittedly a lot of people do not like the right to strike, especially when it is held by public sector workers, but it is something we have accepted and it is a right that something better than half of them in the province have. Is it right totally to remove that from those workers? It took a lot of years to gain it. That is one of the effects of this bill, and that is why we have to look seriously at the effects of this closure motion and what this government is doing.
The alternative for those under the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act in this province who never had the right to strike is arbitration. They lose that, and not only they but those who have the right to strike. Sometimes one went to arbitration rather than the strike right. It was not used that often, but it is removed. That is a removal --
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I hope you recognize the speeches that have gone on here today. I think mine is more directly on it, because I am pointing out when it is time to move closure and when it is the obligation of an opposition party to continue the fight on a bill. I think that is fundamental to this argument.
This bill also makes second-class citizens of one class of workers. Is that not something all of us in Ontario should abhor? It really does. It says: “You do not have the same rights if you happen to be one of that 14 or 15 per cent of the population who are public sector workers. You do not have the same rights at all.” It gives powers we probably have never given before to one man, in terms of any kind of appeal on the limited grounds there are for appeal in the powers it gives to the Inflation Restraint Board and to Mr. Biddell. He does not have to give a reason. He gives no written judgment.
My golly, when have we seen that kind of authority in the hands of one person? It is a destruction of legally binding contracts, freely negotiated. It affects 106,000 teachers in Ontario. Do we stop fighting this bill because the government thinks we have stalled it too long at this point?
There are some fundamental problems. One of them was mentioned by the past leader of the Liberal Party in terms of teachers and their pensions. I might remind him it affects a number of other workers whose pensions also will be affected because their wages are restricted in the last two or three years of their employment period prior to taking pensions. It has an effect not only for the period of this control but also for years down the way. It could be as much as 15 or 20 years if they live that long after retirement. We are doing that to them as well. Is that not a fundamental right we are destroying in terms of workers?
Is there not a danger in legislation that says hospital workers, who in this province earn an average of less than $18,000, are going to have the kind of cutback they will have in the second year of their contract as well as having, in effect, no right to arbitration, no right to strike and no right of appeal? That is a very basic and fundamental attack on the rights and freedoms and benefits gained to date by workers in Ontario.
What incentive is there for workers to exercise their right to try for free collective bargaining through organizing a union of their choice when they know that for at least the next year or two their rights have been stripped away from them by this bill? Should we be trying to stop that from happening, whatever the odds? There is obviously only one group of us trying to do it. So we should take the blame. I welcome that, if that is the argument.
But my argument is that there is an obligation that is every bit as strong on opposition members in this House to continue to oppose this bill with its dangerous ramifications, with its threat to future law, order and security in this country; not to let it go through but to continue to oppose it. I would be ashamed if we stopped. As far as I am concerned, it is a matter of every measure and every minute that we can put in to try to stop it and I hope that the public will rally.
I can understand if people are afraid. That is another thing that bothers me about the imposition of government notice of motion 10, or whatever this closure motion is called. It bothers me that it is done, just as this legislation was brought in: because there was a feeling that the climate of fear was already strong enough in this province and in this land that they could get away with this kind of -- nobody can really argue the point -- this kind of destruction of the rights of individual workers.
In a letter from the Most Rev. John M. Sherlock, Bishop of London, which appeared in the London Free Press on November 9, there are a number of important paragraphs, but I will quote only one, because it deals with what we are doing here in terms of legality and it should be read into the record. He talks about the difficulty of coming to terms with our economic problems.
Mr. Mackenzie: We are moving a motion of closure to start a two-day process that ends the debate on a bill that does all of the things I have said. I have heard no challenge to that. I have heard no justification for what it is supposed to accomplish. That is the flip side of the coin.
If the bill has not been justified, if no answers have been given to the questions we are asking and if it does these things to people, I ask all members in this House how the argument can be made that somehow the opposition, who have disturbed things for two and a half months, which is longer than normally happens, and who have used some of the rules of the House to prevent it from proceeding, should roll over and play dead?
It is just too fundamental. That is the point -- obviously I cannot articulate it well enough -- but it is the point that is being missed by members of this House. I also think it deals with the legality of it.
I will quote from the last paragraph of Bishop Sherlock’s letter: “‘...the fruit of free decisions of those concerned, taken with full independence in regard to political power. . .’ We have no difficulty in agreeing with the application of this principle in Poland where Solidarity has been suppressed by a totalitarian regime. The principle also applies in Ontario and the provisions of Bill 179 and their subsequent application must not violate it.”
Are we, or are we not, violating the rights of 15 per cent of the workers in Ontario? That is why I am still on my feet and why my party is -- and I hope it remains -- opposing this bill. To oppose it we have to oppose certain steps, and the step that we are facing right now is government notice of motion number 10. It would be an abrogation of our responsibilities to quit.
We have been pretty busy the last few days and I did not take the trouble to go to the library to dig up some examples, but all of us could very quickly find examples throughout history and in more modern times where people have stopped fighting for their rights. Quite often, and usually in those countries where we have ended up either with a communist or totalitarian dictatorship, it has been the workers, and too often people have been too quick to sit down and stop fighting when there has been something that is fundamentally affecting their rights.
That has happened all too often, and all too often we have thought: “Hey, we want to get home for Christmas. We have tied this place up for a couple of months. Isn’t it time to quit?” The government comes along and says: “You people are repeating yourselves. You do not make any sense. You have not made the arguments on the other side of the coin effectively at all, but we need this particular legislation and we are willing to do this kind of damage to people and to the fabric in terms of labour relations in Ontario.”
Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe people in Ontario are so scared, are so afraid, that they will not remember this. Unfortunately, I do not think that is going to happen. I think we are going to have bothers and problems next May or June as people have their contracts reduced and as people begin to realize that already the psychological effect of this legislation, which is what was intended, is affecting the private sector bargaining -- and that was part of the package -- and they begin to realize that one group of people was used to club the 85 per cent who are not directly affected.
One of the reasons we have not as yet had mass demonstrations of people in this House is that most of the people do not understand what is being done to them, or the implications of it, and they are those who are not directly affected. It is starting to reach public service workers across this province.
Those are the things that bother me. What also bothers me is how this kind of a motion to close debate on an issue as important as this seems to psyche up people in terms of, “Hey, now is the time to get back at them.” If we can destroy mass contracts and deal with 500,000 people as we are doing with this particular bill, how easy is it to ignore an arbitration award in the case of the forester, Mr. MacAlpine, which said: “Hey, you may have made a bad judgement and it may have cost him a week’s pay, but what he did was not fundamentally wrong. He was concerned about Ontario and what we were doing to our lumber resources or our timber rights.” The minister gets up and he is going to prosecute, he is going to try to overturn that award of an arbitration board. What is the next step?
I am simply saying I get worried. If the government gets away with a mass move like Bill 179, I get worried about how it is going to use it and who else is going to suffer as a result. I am deadly serious when I tell you, Mr. Speaker, and when I tell this House, that what they are doing is wrong. The bill is wrong. The bill is selective. It is mean, it is vindictive, and the closure motion brings us to within two days of the end of a fight for these kinds of people. That fight should not end, and any opposition worth its salt should be saying that what the government is doing is wrong, we are not going to let them get away with it and we will fight it down to the wire.
I do not see that as obstructive at all. I see it as an obligation that I have, as one who feels strongly about something, and anybody with an ounce of reason and common sense should feel strongly about what the government is selectively doing to one group to make it the scapegoat in this economic situation in Ontario.
This closure motion should not have been put. It should not go ahead. This bill should not go ahead, but at least there is nothing wrong at all in continuing the fight against such despicable legislation. A shame on all members who would be party to such an abrogation of the rights of workers in Ontario.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I did not want to rise until the member completed his speech, but reference was made to Bishop Sherlock, a person with whom I have corresponded many times. I want to tell the member that I represent a riding consisting of many Catholics, and many of them have made a point of telling me that they do not want to be associated with the remarks that were made by Bishop Sherlock in connection with the restraint program.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, since you allowed the member for Huron-Middlesex to put that on the record, I have to respond by saying I am a Catholic. I have talked to a number of Catholics who feel very strongly that both Bishop Sherlock and Cardinal Carter were eminently correct and gave a very wise opinion on this matter and one to which all Catholics will subscribe.
Let us take a look at the speaking record on Bill 179. From the introduction of this bill on September 21 to the end of November, members on this side of the Legislature have spoken for a total of three hours and 55 minutes on the merits of Bill 179. Let us keep these figures in perspective. The party with the majority, the party with 70 members sitting in this assembly, has spoken for a little less than four hours.
What of our friends opposite? The Liberal Party, with 34 members, has managed to speak for 13 hours on this legislation. In those 13 hours, all they have managed to do is to waffle on their own policy of complete wage and price controls and to say they agree with the government in principle. The Liberal position must be pretty complex if it requires 13 hours to say only that.
Then there is the New Democratic Party, the party that calls itself “new” and “democratic.” The NDP is represented by 21 members of this assembly. They came in third in the last provincial election, but in the number of hours taken up in this assembly debating Bill 179 they came in first. They have debated this resolution for nearly 30 hours. What has occurred during those 30 hours? Have we seen the development of policy? No. Have we seen any shift or move to compromise? No. Have we seen the discussion of new, positive approaches to meeting the challenge of restraint and keeping the costs of government down? Again, the answer is no.
What is the NDP stand on Bill 179? Is this a filibuster? It seems like a filibuster. Looking at the record of debate in this Legislature, it certainly reads like a filibuster. But when members of the Queen’s Park press gallery call the office of the member for York South they do not get a straight answer when they ask if, indeed, this NDP tactic is a filibuster. What answer has the press received? All they want is a straight yes or no answer. What they get is an emphatic, “No comment.” What an answer. What a courageous stand for the leader of Ontario’s socialist party to take.
Does he have principles, does he have a policy or does he merely have a party game plan? The answer “No comment” says it all. Now the New Democrats are going to say they have not had enough time to have their say. They have not had enough time, even though their deputy leader, the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds), is reported in the Toronto Star as having paused in the midst of oratorical flight to ask the Speaker to remind him what he was supposed to be talking about. Maybe 30 hours is a lot shorter time than we think.
Earlier this fall, we saw the government bow to the wishes of the opposition parties and allow Bill 179 to be fully discussed. With the agreement of all parties of this assembly, the bill was sent to the justice committee for 35 hours of public hearings, as well as clause-by-clause examination. What was the result? The public hearings were dominated by representations from local unions and teachers’ federations, all encouraged by the NDP. Nevertheless, the Progressive Conservative government of this province was, and is, determined to see democracy served. Therefore, more than 75 per cent of the briefs presented to the committee, although they were repetitious and offered nothing new, were heard in those 35 hours.
On the final day of the public hearings, Progressive Conservative members on the committee were willing to stay past the allotted time to hear additional submissions from the public. What was the response of the opposition members? Those guardians of democracy called the chairman’s attention to the clock, effectively closing off public submissions by forcing the committee to adjourn. That evening, New Democratic Party members must have been more concerned about their dinners than about democracy.
According to the agreement among the House leaders of the three parties, clause-by-clause examination of the restraint package was to proceed after the end of public hearings. This did not occur. The NDP members of the committee -- aided, I should point out, with knee-jerk precision by the Liberals -- brought the process to a standstill through an avalanche of repetitive, irrelevant procedural motions and deliberate time-consuming processes.
After three weeks and almost 42 hours of procedural interruptions -- I will not say filibustering, because that will only provoke the member for York South to rise on a point of privilege and shout, “No comment” -- the government members on the committee decided enough was enough. The committee was already past the hour of recess, although the NDP members had yet to notice the time. Perhaps they were not as hungry for their dinners as they had been several days earlier.
The government members decided to send Bill 179 back to the assembly with not one article of the bill examined. What a shameful record and what a waste of public resources. One of the most precious assets we have in government is time. Responsible politicians on both sides of this assembly say that they could always use more time to study and offer positive discussion on legislation. But to see the time of a committee of this Legislature and of the Legislature itself frittered away is disgraceful.
Is democracy being served by this obstruction? The NDP would no doubt be the first to say yes. I would be interested in hearing what the Liberals have to say in matching their words with their actions over the past weeks. What has the NDP accomplished through this obstructionism? Have they won the support of small business? Have they won the support of farmers? Have they won the support of workers in the private sector? No, they have not won support since they have taken on their goal of depriving this province of responsible public sector restraint.
For whom does the NDP speak? No, not the people. They speak for the union organizers and the Ontario Federation of Labour bosses. Watching NDP tactics over the past weeks and months reminds me of a cartoon character my children used to watch on TV. The NDP have been sliding all over the rule book like the clay puppet Gumby, and clip-clopping behind them has been their procedural sidekick Pokey, once known as the Liberal Party of Ontario. What a spectacle: the Gumby party and the Pokey party, both doing the bidding of an offstage Mr. Hands, who has been unable to muster enough support in the private sector to make a good rally against restraint.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I am having difficulty hearing the member for Lakeshore with these comments and interruptions. Order. I can stand here for a moment or two, but would you please just gather your thoughts and keep them to yourselves while the member for Lakeshore has the floor.
Mr. Kolyn: The member for York South will say that there are important principles at stake in the discussion of Bill 179. He talks about the inviolability of contract between workers and an employer. He says Bill 179 makes a mockery of contracts in the public service.
Earlier, he suggested to this House that the contracts between borrowers and financial institutions be thrown out and renegotiated every time the interest rate goes down. in this case the member for York South has few scruples about overturning a contract. He claims a deal is a deal is a deal; his words show, however, that a deal is no deal unless there is a party advantage to be gained.
Let me deal with this point for a little longer. The member for York South says a deal is a deal is a deal. Let me remind all members that this House proceeds under regulations and agreements as it does its own business. The NDP flouted the direction given them in committee, where a resolution had been agreed and passed.
If he turns to Votes and Proceedings number 96 on page 609 there is a motion by Mr. Wells: “That the standing committee on administration of justice hold two weeks (approximately 33 hours) of public hearings regarding Bill 179.” It also says: “. . . with public participation ending on November 1; and that normal clause-by-clause consideration of the bill start on November 2, 1982...” We went into a procedural wrangle from November 2 to November 24.
Mr. Kolyn: I would like to deal with the honourable leader of the third party objecting to when the Liberal Party rang the bells in the Legislature in the spring. I have here a direct quote. We have heard some indirect quotes but I would like to have the direct quote of the leader of the third party. He said: “I am always concerned when any group of individuals unilaterally hijacks or imposes a pattern of conduct on the Legislature. I do not like it when government does it, I do not like ii when anybody does it.” Those words must taste funny in the honourable member’s mouth now.
In March 1981, the people of Ontario made a deal with the provincial politicians of all three parties. Through their votes, the people indicated how they wanted the affairs of Ontario to be run. After having the opportunity for a fair hearing from the leaders of all the three major parties the people chose the Progressive Conservatives to be their government and awarded the government a majority. A deal was struck. The people said, “Let the PCs govern and in four or five years we will pass judgement on their performance.”
The deal that was struck among all members in this chamber was to do their duty to see the province is well governed. I say the deal is being violated by any party that takes the rules that this assembly provides to ensure fair debate and twists them for party advantage. When this occurs, democracy in our province is put on trial; when this occurs, the deal that is struck between the people of Ontario and their politicians is violated.
The honourable member opposite said a deal is a deal. I ask him now to live with the deal that was struck on March 19. I ask him to live by that commitment to work for the benefit of all Ontarians that each member of this Legislature knows is fitting conduct for an MPP. I ask him to end this juvenile policy of abusing the rules and show mature leadership in debate on Bill 179. Let us have an honest debate on this question. Let the voice of the people be truly heard, not stifled by procedural wrangling. Let all members from all sides of this assembly show the responsibility and leadership the voters of our province expect and deserve.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry such a debate as this has to take place. I listened to my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk this afternoon and I have read the contributions to the debate that my colleagues made yesterday, and I think it is unfortunate a precedent as important as this one has to be discussed in this assembly.
As my colleague has said, in all the history of this House we have never had a time allocation motion and the process has worked quite effectively. I recall times when, with the leadership given by the government House leader on different occasions -- now that we have as House leader the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells) and in the time of his predecessor -- that basically the House has worked quite effectively on the basis of agreements made for the division of time and with that sort of an approach.
I can recall it was not always that simple. I can recall the former government House leader Eric Winkler at times made life very difficult. I do not want to denigrate any member who is no longer in this assembly, but I can recall that, because of him, the Christmas period, or the end of the session, was always made very difficult. We got ourselves involved in a situation where he wanted to pass everything that was on the Order Paper within the next 24 hours. We used to sit very difficult hours. There was a lot of acrimony. In fact I have not seen as much acrimony and shouting as went on in those days until I witnessed what went on here this afternoon. My tenure in this assembly has been relatively short -- only a matter of 11 years -- but I find this one of the most distasteful debates.
Though many of us understand the motivation of the government in bringing forward such a motion, there are other ways we could have dealt with the process so that we would not have had to establish a precedent. Over the long run, unfortunately, as these things become easier to accept, it may become the rule rather than the exception to put time allocations on such debates.
I listened to the concern expressed by the leader of the third party, the member for York South (Mr. Rae), about discussing such an important motion in the atmosphere of what has taken place since September 21. He did make the point that such important rule changes should be discussed when there is more time, more effort at having a reasonable and rational debate, and weighing all the consequences of proceeding in such a fashion. He said such a debate should not take place at a time when there is such acrimony and frustration on the part of all members in this assembly caused by the actions of the third party.
He is quite right in the sense that it is unfortunate the government is taking advantage of this acrimony and frustration to bring forward a motion that is as distasteful as this motion is. My colleagues and I, even though we fully understand the frustration, will be obliged to oppose such a motion. I do not think any opposition could accept such a motion.
The suggestion was made this afternoon by our House leader to the government House leader that he might make another type of motion that would follow the accepted precedents. I know the government House leader will tell us this motion was an attempt on the part of the government to allocate some time in order to consider the Liberal amendments to this legislation. We know full well, unfortunately, that what has taken place since September 21 will not permit us to put forward our amendments.
Given those circumstances, if debate is to be cut off or stopped, if discussions on this bill are to be curtailed, they should be curtailed according to the rules that exist at present in the House, and a precedent such as this should not be created. We say this sincerely to the government House leader. We hope some reconsideration will be given to the actions of the government at this time.
The record should show the member is pointing to his chest and saying he wrote it himself. The member should have created some distance between the author and the speaker on this occasion. On this legislation I would not take any pride in uttering such nonsense.
I have some trepidation in attacking the NDP. I used to do it with a lot more enthusiasm and greater joy. In my foolishness I used to think the enemy was on the side to my left instead of that side over there -- until after a few elections, the 1975 and 1977 elections, when we were taken advantage of by the government. It took some time for those of us who are somewhat thick-headed to realize the enemy is on that side over there. So I have tried to constrain my attack on the NDP, saying that even though some of us --
Mr. Roy: I am speaking to the motion. It is with some measure of trepidation that I attack the NDP for their actions in being the cause of this motion. I know it makes you feel better every time I mention the motion, Mr. Speaker -- I will keep coming back to it. If during my discourse here this afternoon I do not mention the motion occasionally, I would appreciate it if you would return my attention to it.
Having listened to the member for York South, I feel the tears he was shedding this afternoon might be considered crocodile tears. He said he felt terrible the government was bringing in this motion that would create such a terrible precedent, but he was not accepting any of the blame for having caused the action of the government.
After the government House leader brought in this motion yesterday, I am told, the NDP had its Christmas party last night and they were all congratulating each other and saying to themselves, “Finally, we are off the hook on this one.” I think the government House leader has put smiles on the faces of the members of the third party. They are off the hook now. They can go back to the union bosses and say, “We fought a good fight, did we not? We went right down. But, you know the government, with its huge majority, brought in this dictatorial motion and it has cut off all further debate.”
Mr. Roy: I had not realized there was any distraction from the galleries. Do you realize that if through my discourse there is spontaneous applause, it is not out of any organized type of celebration, but out of spur-of-the-moment reactions from these people to what is going on in this assembly?
My colleagues have talked about, and I have mentioned as well, that although the NDP leader has made comments on it and their critic, the member for Hamilton East, spoke about it this afternoon, they really are off the hook. They were hoping months ago the government House leader would have to do something about their irresponsible conduct.
They were hoping he would cut off debate much sooner than that. I can imagine they were saying to themselves. “My God, they are tolerant; the people of Ontario, the other members of the assembly, the government are extremely tolerant.” But finally he has acted. Even though they will feign righteous indignation, I think that in their hearts they are all saying, “We are going back to tell the union bosses we have fought the good fight, but these guys cut off debate.”
Members have referred to the time that has been taken up by this bill, something like 140 hours of debate on Bill 179, and the need for this particular motion. My colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk also mentioned that if the issue was such that there was strong public support there might be some merit to what was going on here. We have talked about the fact that the union bosses have made strong speeches about this legislation. We have talked about their attempt to rally public support -- “Come on in here and listen to the debate; make rallies outside.”
I can remember and so, I suppose, does the House leader -- who goes back a few years -- the rallies we had out there when we were discussing teacher legislation. That was the type of demonstration that made the government think. That was an example of marshalling public support to show, in that instance, the public cared that the rank-and-file union worker was passionately involved in that particular legislation.
Mr. Roy: That member has the effrontery to ask me why I hate workers. I sat on the committee and tried at different times to participate in the dialogue that was going on, and observed the charades and childish approach of that party.
Mr. Roy: Do you know what I would call their actions? I would call them a leather-jacket approach to democracy. Whenever anybody else wanted to say something about the bill, they were intimidated by shouts or with stuff like, “Why do you hate the workers?”
Mr. Roy: Yes, Mr. Speaker. You will understand that now you are in the chair it is more interesting for me to be speaking in that direction. In no way do I want to say anything about the previous occupant of the chair, but I was being harassed by the members on my left.
What is interesting about the approach taken by the NDP members is that they say, and I have listened to them say it repeatedly, this legislation is so insidious it undermines the fundamental liberties and rights of our community and the democratic process.
In the time I have been in this assembly -- as I said before, it is relatively short: 11 years- -- never have I seen a party claim that legislation undermines the democratic process while in its whole approach, 22 members, or 21 as it was then --
Mr. Roy: They did not say to the government this legislation was bad and that they were going to try to amend it or speak against it at length. They were not going to talk about every section of the bill. Basically what they said to the government was, “Look, this legislation is bad. We are going to try to amend it,” or “We are going to speak against it at length.” They are not going to talk about every section of the bill. Basically they said to the government in an arrogant fashion, “It shall not proceed, and we will not even get past the first section of this bill.”
So 140 hours later we still have made no progress. I ask very simply what assembly in all the world, what assembly on this planet would tolerate such abuse of the democratic process for more than 140 hours? What assembly, I ask my colleagues to the left, would tolerate such irresponsible conduct on the part of 22 members who were witnessing no public support whatsoever, as we discussed?
Then they said, “Look, this legislation of restraint is fundamentally unacceptable.” Yet within that party there is no unanimity. My colleague the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) brought to my attention the other day, for instance, some comments made by the successor to the present leader of the New Democratic Party as critic, Nelson Riis, who said, and I quote from a statement just in October, “Comprehensive income and price controls are needed to combat the current economic crisis” --
Mr. Bradley: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I have never tried to impute motives to members of this House or suggested that they are misrepresenting the truth, but I simply cannot believe that the successor to the leader of the New Democratic Party as critic made this statement. I wish the member for Ottawa East would cite the precise article it appears in, because I cannot believe he is telling the truth.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the motion, as you well understand, is an attempt by the government to put a time allocation on Bill 179. The bill itself talks about wage restraints, and I just wanted to talk about the fundamental principle of the motion vis-à-vis the bill.
Mr. Roy: Yes. Mr. Speaker. My friend the member for St. Catharines makes a good point. I read the statement in the Toronto Star, but I thought it had to be wrong; it could not be that this man says --
Mr. Roy: I have an application form for the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). I have had the application form for some time, Mr. Speaker, because I just feel bad to see a member walking around with feathers in his mouth.
“Comprehensive income and price controls are needed to combat the current economic crisis, New Democratic Party financial critic Nelson Riis says.” I could not believe it. but I kept on reading. ‘“These are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary measures,’ he says, urging Parliament to adopt a fair and equitable policy before Christmas.” He said “before Christmas.”
“Canada should declare a war-like state of economic emergency, NDP MP Nelson Riis said yesterday. ‘We are at a point now where something quite extraordinary is needed.’” Then he said: “We need a comprehensive recovery program. If controls are part of that program and are equitable across the system, that is something I think people will accept.”
I wish some of the union bosses were here this evening. I have not seen the member for Hamilton East go up and shake hands with anyone; so I take it that none of them is around. Because of their actions, because of this motion, amendments will not be brought forward by this party which would have limited rents. I ask the NDP members, are you against rent controls? Are you against that?
Mr. Roy: It is important. Do they not feel, for instance, that the doctors should be included in this program? Do they not feel that Ontario health insurance plan rates should be controlled? Do they not feel Hydro rates should be controlled? That is what would happen if the amendments presented by this party were accepted. It would make the program far more equitable and by their actions --
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not understand the honourable member’s argument, because when we did present an amendment and voted on it, the Liberal Party voted against creation of a fair prices commission.
With that approach to legislation and that type of irresponsible conduct, it is no wonder that we read this about the leader of the federal New Democratic Party, and my friend gives me the quotation from today’s paper: “NDP’s Slide in Latest Poll Leaves Broadbent Baffled.” Maybe the public is reacting to the irresponsible action of that party.
The other point I found extremely frustrating about the actions of the New Democratic Party is that basically it has said that this legislation undermines fundamental important rights and liberties. If that is the case and their conduct on this is not hypocritical, they should let the bill go through.
Mr. Roy: I say to my friends, if the legislation undermines fundamental liberties, let the legislation go through and challenge it in the courts. There is a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is a charter that has been accepted here as part of our laws since April 1982. The new leader of the New Democratic Party will recall that. They discussed it when he was in the federal House. He will understand that. He will understand that no longer is the Parliament of Canada or the Legislative Assembly supreme.
If they feel that a piece of legislation is undemocratic, if they feel that it undermines fundamental liberties and rights, they should take it to the courts, and the courts will defend the process. Why do they not do that?
If that is the case, is it not a hypocritical approach on the one hand to deny the passage of the bill and on the other hand to say it undermines fundamental liberties and rights? They are afraid. I take it they are afraid to take it to court.
I am not the only one, of course, who says the actions of the New Democratic Party are irresponsible. Even papers that my friend the member for Ottawa Centre reads are saying as much. Just this week in the Ottawa Citizen, Wendy Warburton said that basically as a result of the actions of the NDP, “the big losers in the debate, however, are the Liberals and the public.” “The Liberals and the public”; that is what she said.
I also have here an editorial from the Citizen, one of the papers that were favourable to the New Democratic Party some time back. The member for York South used to read the Citizen when he was in the other place. The Citizen editorial of November 29, 1982, is headlined “No Filibuster.” It says: “There is something distasteful about one-sided limitation on free debate. In an ideal world, in which everyone was reasonable, there would be no need for such blunt parliamentary instruments as closure.”
Mr. Rae: The member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) knows what kind of paper the Ottawa Citizen is. It is the only Liberal paper in Canada these days. The Ottawa Citizen thinks Trudeau should run again, for God’s sake.
Mr. Roy: “But the world is not ideal and reason is often in short supply. So, when the provincial government moved to cut off committee debate on its public sector restraint bill, it did so with considerable justification.”
Then it goes on to lambaste -- I do not have the heart to go through all the details of this editorial. In any event, it is clear that the position taken by the New Democratic Party and its irresponsible conduct are the authors of this very unfortunate motion and precedent we have here.
When we let the bells ring over a weekend, for four hours of actual debating time, in the spring, the leader of the third party at that time said we were hijacking the Legislature. Mr. Speaker, what would you say about such a hypocritical approach when the NDP members turn around and waste more than 140 hours of debate? What would you say about such action? What kind of strong language would you use in such circumstances?
Mr. Roy: We in the Liberal Party are left in a situation where we have to condemn, with all our available strength, the irresponsible conduct of the New Democratic Party in these circumstances. It is unfortunate that the government, in these circumstances, should bring forward a motion that will cut off any chance we have of putting our amendments and will create, as my colleagues have said before me, a precedent that probably will be used on other occasions.
It is very unfortunate that free debate and the democratic process, which had remained intact in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for so many years -- 115 years, as my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk said -- have been so abused as a result of the New Democratic Party giving itself a new leader, new tactics, trying to give the man profile, etc.
As a result of that irresponsible action, we are left in a situation where we have acted as a responsible opposition in wanting to make a bill better but we are being punished, just like our irresponsible friends to the left. That is an unfortunate result of such a motion. We will oppose it. There is no doubt we will oppose the motion. But these people, with their irresponsible conduct, will take -- I see the members to the left are smiling and taking a certain amount of satisfaction in this.
Mr. Roy: Yes. The record should show that while we are debating such an important motion, the people to our left are making fun. They are smiling, looking at each other, having a great time. They may think it is funny, but we think they are undermining the process. It is very unfortunate that because of the actions of so few members, so many other members and the public of Ontario will be the poorer.