Mr. Laughren: People in Metropolitan Toronto must wonder where they are going to get their next $189, because $189 from now, the average price of a resale home in Metro Toronto will be $250,000. The average price of a resale home in Metropolitan Toronto stands now at $249,811. That is an increase of 28 per cent in the last year and 121 per cent over the last three years. People now must have a family income of $86,000 to qualify with the minimum down payment and the mortgage payments that would flow from that.
What does the Premier (Mr. Peterson) say? What does the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) say? Yesterday I asked the Premier that and he looked as though he was in a London fog as he passed off the question to his Treasurer. The Treasurer said, as he has on past occasions, “There’s not much we can do, you know.” A year ago he said, “It’s just a passing phase. “ He said, “Well, it’s peaked now and it will probably subside in the months to come.”
We have not seen the price increase subsiding one whit. Prices are still increasing at an ever-increasing rate and this government still refuses to impose a land or speculation tax for nonresidential units, non-principal-residence units. The government simply refuses to do anything about it and watches the prices escalate forever upward.
Mr. Jackson: On November 1 the New Democratic Party member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) stood in the Legislature to propose that we stop using the Lord’s Prayer. I cannot agree. The recent Ontario Court of Appeal ruling on school prayer deals with the narrow question of coercion of children. The court did not say that government and public institutions must take a position of religious neutrality. Both the Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms say Canada was founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God. Each day members of this Legislature recognize that supremacy by praying for guidance and strength.
Canadian multiculturalism means acceptance of religious differences, not the complete abolition of religion as the NDP proposes. Twenty years ago, the Mackay report said this about the link between religion and culture: “Many public functions in the province of Ontario, such as convocations, opening of the Legislature, and public meetings, are begun with...the reciting of a prayer.... Such opening ceremonies are indeed intrinsic in the culture of the province of Ontario.... To eliminate [them] would suggest that religion is not an integral part of the life of the people of this province. It is the committee’s view that religion does indeed play a vital role in our life.”
Mr. Mahoney: I would like to bring to the members’ attention the upcoming Drug Awareness Week in Peel, which will be observed from November 13 to 18 this year. Last Friday, I attended the Peel Drug Awareness Week kickoff at the Credit Valley Hospital’s new community program centre. They featured a variety of literature, computerized wellness checks and posters, and they also introduced us to several excellent videos, aimed at teenagers, which will be used to highlight this week’s programs.
The Credit Valley Hospital has taken a very progressive role in helping to combat the abuse of alcohol and drugs by offering an alcohol and drug treatment program that provides a comprehensive range of treatment resources to individuals with alcohol or drug problems. It also offers services to family members and others closely related to the chemically-dependent person. As we have seen, this disease affects not only the victim but all those associated with him or her as well.
Among the excellent services that are being offered at Credit Valley’s treatment centre are orientation groups, day treatment, follow-up treatment, family treatment, self-help groups and inpatient alcohol and drug screening. As the recent report of the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black) indicated to this House, we must do everything we can to assist in the demise of these abuses. We must continue to highlight, not only for one week but for 52 weeks of the year, the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse to the residents of Ontario.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Hurricane Joan hit Nicaragua weeks ago now. Quite a number of days ago, I raised in this House, with the unanimous consent of this House, the concept that this province should be putting some money into assisting. The federal government, which started off with a meagre $200,000, has now upped the amount of money to well in excess of $1 million, finally recognizing that it should separate itself from the Bush-Reagan coattails and show a little independence of foreign policy. But I am a little distressed to say that this Liberal reform government, to this date, has still not moved in giving the disaster relief assistance that is so desperately needed by that country, which has been so hard hit.
I do not know when they are going to decide upon this -- there is some talk it may actually go to cabinet in the next day or so -- but at some point or other, one has to realize that disaster relief is needed immediately. That is the nature of a disaster. Long-term assistance to a Third World country is another matter.
I just implore members of the Liberal Party and the Liberal caucus to push their cabinet colleagues to come forward with a bit of generosity tomorrow that may help those people who are suffering so badly in that Central American country.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: As we are all aware, Friday of this week, November 11, is Remembrance Day, and most members will be joining with their local legions to once again take part in the annual parade to the cenotaph and the laying of wreaths at war memorials in remembrance of those who were killed in action during the two world wars and the Korean War.
It is the Royal Canadian Legion which has kept alive the spirit and meaning of this special day. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the many legion branches in our province in recognition of their ongoing service to the people of Ontario and the outstanding contribution they have made to the improvement of life in our province and our country.
I am very proud to be an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 134, Mount Forest, and I know first hand of the many community projects the members of this legion undertake on behalf of the citizens of their community. I am equally proud of the community activities of the other seven legion branches in my riding of Wellington and indeed of all the legions across this great country of ours.
A number of years ago, an earlier government introduced a kit for our schools to more graphically communicate the significance of Armistice Day to our children. Could we try a different approach? We still have veterans with us who were there. Could they not visit the schools and share personal insights of what happened? Many legions, like those in Bradford, sponsor essay and poster contests in the schools.
The risks of nuclear war have forced us into an era of compromise and an uneasy peace. However, we could better understand the world wars if we would but look to the expressions coming out of those events. Their literature, music, poetry and art clearly tell us how it was. Could we not again look at the writings of John McCrae and Robert Service? Did members know that three of the greatest hits of the First World War were written by a Canadian: Mademoiselle from Armentières, I Want To Go Home and Dear Old Pal of Mine?
Outstanding First World War painters included
A. Y. Jackson, Frederick Varley, Arthur Lismer and Franz Johnston. In the Second World War, Alex Colville showed us the obscenity of Belsen camp and Lawren Harris depicted the brutality and tenderness of the battles.
Mr. B. Rae: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if I might introduce to the House the newly elected member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Kormos), who is here for the first time. I am sure members would want to join with me in celebrating this great occasion.
Mr. B. Rae: The other day, the Minister of Natural Resources and I had an exchange in the House where we discussed the question of his bill on water transfers outside Ontario. Since that exchange, the minister went outside the House and told the media he was prepared to accept amendments which would guarantee that there would be no such transfers. I have since written the minister an open letter and passed him some very specific amendments to the bill, which we are going to be discussing tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Of course, the honourable member must realize that when I give my word I stand behind it. I also remind him that the federal government responded to the bill that was put on the table here and passed an amendment, because after examining the free trade agreement -- maybe having not read it before -- Mr. Crosbie found out that in fact water was jeopardized. The Tory leader in Ottawa decided that our water was at risk after he read the account --
I feel very proud in answering the leader of the official opposition. He has sent me a letter and asked me to consider amendments. I certainly do not propose to take them all, but those that are appropriate certainly will be considered.
Mr. B. Rae: Just so we understand the difference between us, the amendments I sent to the minister are essential if the bill is to stop the transfer of water outside this jurisdiction. That is what those amendments do.
The bill that the minister has presented to us today says, “The minister may approve a transfer of water out of a provincial drainage basin subject to such conditions and subject to the payment to the crown of such amount as the minister considers appropriate.” That is the nub; that is the very centre of the government’s legislation.
I want to ask the minister whether or not he accepts our amendments, which would in fact make it impossible for payments to be made because we would be stopping any such transfers out of this jurisdiction.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I am sure the honourable member would want to take into account that where there are transfers between the provinces, in some cases it might be most appropriate. The fact of the matter is that this government, from the day of its inception here, decided that there should be a real will to have interprovincial trade and there was a great deal of dialogue with other provinces on many other issues. Of course, the fact that there are areas where we could have water traded between provinces is, I think, a very good one in keeping with the national good.
Having said that, I am sure the honourable leader understands, and I have told him, that I will accept amendments that would make that more secure, and I propose to do that. The bill is going to be dealt with tomorrow. There is going to be debate. I am not suggesting that I am going to accept all of the amendments that he has put forward. Not by any stretch of the imagination do I propose to allow the opposition benches to govern. I think that is our role over here and I think I went far enough in saying that we should co-operate with the opposition when it has some concern; but ultimately, we will make the decision that is in the best interests of Ontarians and Canadians.
Mr. B. Rae: I am astonished. The minister rose in his place at the end of June and read out a statement saying that we needed to have the legislation he was presenting because of the free trade agreement and because he wanted to assert Ontario’s jurisdiction, he wanted to close the door to the possibility of exports out of the province of Ontario.
Now he is standing in his place and saying that the purpose of the bill is entirely different: it has to do with transfers out of Ontario to other provinces. Manitoba or Quebec presumably are so water starved that they are dying for Ontario’s water. It is an absurd proposition and the minister knows that.
I want to ask the minister why he is afraid to stand in his place and say that he will accept amendments that will have the effect of prohibiting exports from the province of Ontario, period; no ifs, ands or buts; no; payments, no cash, no Chargex, no MasterCard, no nothing, no transfers, no water outside the province.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: If that gentleman is suggesting that we should not trade with our sister provinces, I am astounded at his attitude. I cannot believe that a responsible member of this parliament could make such a statement. I suggested to the honourable member, and I mean to keep my word, that if he has some concern about the free trade of our water to the United States of America, I am very much prepared to accept an amendment that deals with that issue.
I cannot make it any plainer to the honourable member, but I certainly would want to keep in mind that we are making a real commitment in putting forward co-operation between the various provinces in this jurisdiction, in Canada. I think that is one of the problems we are having right now with the federal government. They want to enter into free trade with the Americans and they do not have free trade across the provinces in this country.
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. There is a bill standing in the name of the minister that we had been told originally was to be called this week. It is Bill 168, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act. We have now been told the bill is not going to be debated and is not part of the government’s strategy. I do not know why that is the case, why the government has pulled the bill; maybe it is that it is meaningless.
When there is a recommendation from a standing committee of this House, which I understand had the approval of all three parties, dealing specifically with the question of the price of energy in northern Ontario, can the minister tell us why the amendments he has introduced do not include a specific commitment to reduce energy prices in economically disadvantaged areas such as northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Wong: The first answer is that all of the fundamental amendments to the Power Corporation Act are expected to be introduced into the Legislature later this year, so the original amendments the Leader of the Opposition had been referring to, as they pertain to free trade, can now be included with all the amendments in a more efficient way.
Mr. B. Rae: Is the minister then saying about the bill the government introduced with such fanfare as part of its campaign against the free trade bill -- it was introduced with such headlines, which we saw, and all the government press releases in June 1988 -- that it is now the position of the government that this bill in fact is being withdrawn? Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Wong: No . What I am saying is that these amendments were originally introduced two months ago. In view of the fact that we are closer to introducing all of the amendments fundamental to the changes of the Power Corporation Act, we will do it all at the same time.
The government introduces this as part of its campaign against free trade and says this is the bill that is going to really establish Ontario’s jurisdiction with respect to power. The Liberal Party of Ontario says it wants to stop this free trade deal and these are the bottom lines and this is what it is going to do.
The minister is now telling us that all that has happened is that Bill 168 is now dead as a doornail, that he has no intention of calling the bill, which is what I hear the minister saying, and that we have to wait for some future time, some future date for the Liberal Party to finally get it together when it comes to power.
Can the minister tell us why he and his government have so desperately dropped the ball on free trade, on power exports and on water exports? The bills they said last June were going to establish Ontario’s jurisdiction are now out the window. Can the minister tell us why?
Hon. Mr. Wong: At the risk of repeating myself, we have been working for a lengthy period of time on fundamental changes to the Power Corporation Act. It is quite clear that this government’s position is to make sure that when we are talking about electricity exports, any electricity that is exported from Ontario to the United States should be surplus to Ontario’s needs. This is what was introduced originally.
Hon. Mr. Wong: That does not necessarily mean it would happen if the free trade agreement were executed, so we are asserting our position and have stated that position. When the amendments to the Power Corporation Act are finally introduced into the Legislature, I hope the honourable members will see the wisdom of the course of action this government has taken.
Mr. Brandt: My question to the Premier is with respect to the supercomputer that was put into the University of Toronto by his government. I would like to indicate to him that although some $20 million has been spent on this particular project, it appears that a further bailout is going to be necessary.
The Premier will recall that when this project was first announced with great fanfare by his government in April 1986, he was warned by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations that this particular computer may well not serve the needs of the University of Toronto and other users and may well be far too expensive.
We now have spent some $20 million on the project and it appears that because of the deficit in the operation, far more money is going to be spent in order to make this a viable operation. Can the Premier indicate how much more money will be needed as a result of the bad decision his government made with respect to this particular purchase?
The honourable member is referring to the first announcement of the purchase of the supercomputer and I believe he has it slightly incorrect. It was announced by Premier Frank Miller as part of Enterprise Ontario. Actually, when we took office, an announcement had been made that a supercomputer should be part of the research facility, and frankly, I believed then, as I believe now, that the decision was correct.
The University of Toronto, in conjunction with other universities, had put forward a very strong proposal for support from the resources of the community and the government of Ontario for the purchase of the supercomputer, and certainly, in association with the initiative the Premier took by way of technology and competitiveness, it was deemed by us that the decision taken by the previous administration should be supported.
Mr. Brandt: The decision by the previous administration, just to clarify it for the Treasurer, was not a final decision. It was conceptual at that point, as he well knows. It is interesting to note that six months after the purchase, which he made a decision on and which he did not study adequately in his rush to come out with some kind of a media splash, the price went down on that particular computer.
It is also interesting to note -- the Treasurer frequently speaks about the need to be careful about the expenditure of taxpayers’ money -- that the University of Waterloo, in approximately the same time frame, purchased a computer of a comparable type with its own money for a cost of $2.1 million. I might add further that they are covering the cost of the operation of that computer by the user fees that are associated with that particular computer.
How can the Treasurer justify the decision that his government, not a previous government, made, resulting in the absolute economic boondoggle that has now occurred with respect to the purchase of that computer?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I am not one to downplay the importance of conception in these important matters, but I do want to mention that the University of Toronto has a plan whereby at least part of the financing will be borne by the private sector, which has a need for utilization of supercomputer capabilities.
My own feeling, however, is that it ought to be available for the kinds of research that engineers, mathematicians, environmentalists, economists and many other people who work at that university and other post-secondary institutions are undertaking. My own feeling is very strongly in support of the concept of having this important facility in Ontario, and I believe it is a valuable adjunct to our post-secondary facilities.
Mr. Brandt: I do not take issue with the Treasurer with respect to his final remarks, but I again remind him that the location of the computer was a decision of his government and it was a decision we did not support because there were locations that would have been far less expensive to the Ontario taxpayer.
What we now find is that the computer may well have to be replaced in three years, that it requires an expensive upgrading and that it may require -- is the Treasurer ready for this? -- a new location, which we told the government in the beginning should probably be at the University of Waterloo.
Will the Treasurer own up to the mistakes that were made with respect to this decision in his rush to create the media splash he did? He has wasted Ontario taxpayers’ money. Will he now indicate how much more it is going to cost to bail him out of a very, very expensive mistake, which he, not a previous government, made?
The honourable member is now saying that the only thing we did wrong somehow was its location. I think at the time, if my memory serves me correctly, there was a proposal from McMaster in conjunction with the University of Guelph. As a graduate in science from McMaster myself, I thought that would have been a good idea, but on careful balance, it was decided it should be located at the University of Toronto so that it would be available for a somewhat broader application of the kind of research that requires supercomputer facilities if it is going to be, as we say on this side, world-class.
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Education. In July, his ministry officials denied the existence of any deal for the transfer of property between the Lakehead public and separate school boards. Last Friday, a group of concerned parents, operating under a freedom-of-information request, obtained a copy of this secret deal. This deal, involving officials of his ministry, sets out the transfer of Lakeview High School to the separate school board. The ministry denied the existence of this secret deal. We have now established that there was a secret deal. Did the minister know about it?
Hon. Mr. Ward: Let me begin by letting the member know that in fact there is no secret deal. Under the terms of the legislation that extended separate school funding, there is a provision that coterminous boards of education meet through a joint committee to plan for the utilization of facilities.
It is my understanding those meetings took place at the Lakehead between the public and the separate boards to talk about the future disposition of surplus space, which may or may not have existed within the public school system. Those boards together worked out an arrangement and any agreement that exists at the Lakehead for the utilization of existing school space is a result of those negotiations.
Mr. Jackson: I asked the minister if he had any specific knowledge of this deal, which the ministry denied existed and which the parents and students affected had no knowledge existed. This memo I referred to is signed by a member of the minister’s staff, Fred Porter, who is acting regional director of education. On page 2, it specifically states, “F. Clifford would obtain the minister’s approval and notify F. Porter by March 31, 1988.”
Hon. Mr. Ward: I do not know how I can convey it any more clearly to the member for Burlington South. There is a requirement under the Education Act that coterminous boards meet in joint session to come up with arrangements relative to the use of surplus space that may exist in the public school system. An agreement was arrived at between the public and separate boards. There is no secret relative to that fact. Second, as to whether or not the ministry or the minister would get in the way of a mandated responsibility of coterminous boards under Bill 30, I frankly do not think that would be appropriate.
Mr. Jackson: The minister is operating behind closed doors. He is forcing the public to go to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to get at the truth of what is going on. These are matters of substance. During the Bill 30 debate, the government rejected amendments that were proposed by our party which called for an open and public process so that these kinds of secret deals were not done behind the backs of parents and students. The minister rejected those amendments. Again, with the situation in Hamilton-Wentworth, we called upon him to make the process more open and more public.
Will he not now agree that Bill 30 should be amended to allow for a public process, so we do not see a repeat of these backroom, behind-the-scenes deals that are not known by the students and the boards affected?
Hon. Mr. Ward: I suspect the member has been so busy in the pursuit of the leadership of that motley crew over there that he is now out of touch with what has gone on in this province over the course of the past 12 months. In fact, from one end of Ontario to another coterminous public and separate school boards have been meeting and making arrangements to utilize the public’s investment in schools and utilize space that is surplus to the requirement of public boards throughout Ontario.
There have been no secret undertakings in this regard. The letter he refers to is a document that I directed the regional office to release and make available to the parents there, so that they could understand fully what transpired.
The last point I would like to make is that the requirement of the legislation and the regulations for any board that wishes to close a school for whatever reason whatsoever is that the public must be involved, that public meetings must be held. I expect those regulations will be followed and are being followed at the Lakehead.
Mr. Philip: I have a question for the Attorney General. Civil servants in Ontario are not allowed to canvass during an election. They are not allowed to make statements at public meetings. Does the Attorney General feel that fair, particularly in the light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that such restrictions on federal civil servants are contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Hon. Mr. Scott: If the member for Windsor-whatever would like to ask me a question, I would be glad to deal with it. At the moment, I am trying to deal with the question presented by the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. For some reason, members of his front bench do not want him to get this answer. But the reality is --
Mr. Philip: I will ask my supplementary. In 1985, the Liberal government went on record as saying it favoured extending the rights of public servants in terms of political canvassing and exercising the rights of ordinary citizens. Then this minister referred it to the Ontario Law Reform Commission, which turned out a report that also said present restrictions were inappropriate. The Attorney General, on tabling the report, associated himself with this law reform commission report.
Why is he forcing public servants in this province to take this matter to the courts instead of giving them the rights he and his government promised them in 1985? Why can they not be treated like ordinary citizens in this province?
Hon. Mr. Scott: The answer to the question is that the honourable member is quite right. We referred the matter to the law reform commission and we got a report. On a number of occasions, I indicated to the representatives of the public service unions that the government was considering the matter and would make a judgement. The public service unions were not prepared to wait, for reasons I understand perfectly, and commenced a proceeding in the court.
As a result of that, the court gave a lengthy decision in which it analysed the law and made some important comments about the independence of a public service in the province and the extent to which a law that qualifies the public servants’ rights to participate in certain parts of the political process should exist.
That was a new feature that shed another light on the question. We now have two things. We have the law reform commission report, on the one hand, and we have the decision of the Divisional Court of the Supreme Court of Ontario, which is being appealed, of course, by the union to the Court of Appeal in order to obtain the view of that court.
Mr. Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. The minister will be aware that the amendments to the Power Corporation Act which he introduced last June would authorize Ontario Hydro to participate with price-setting preferences and economic development programs in respect of specific regions of the province. Northern Ontarians, quite frankly, were delighted with this apparent change in Liberal policy, if that in fact is what it was.
Now that the minister has apparently decided not to proceed, could he tell us, was it in fact a change of policy with regard to preference-setting price policies for northern Ontario? If so, what plans do the minister and Ontario have to proceed with lower hydro rates for northern Ontarians?
Hon. Mr. Wong: To clear the record as to the complicated multiquestion that the honourable member asked, let me clarify that the amendments to the Power Corporation Act will be introduced in due course and that one of the emphases of the amendments will be to ensure that Ontario Hydro plays a more important role as an economic development vehicle for the people of Ontario and for the government in terms of its meeting its policies.
Mr. Harris: Very clearly, the bill, which the minister appears now to have withdrawn, allowed Ontario Hydro to have preference-setting rates. That was the private member’s bill brought forward by the former member for Sudbury, who cared about northern Ontario, and all members of this House supported that; it was carried unanimously.
Now his Premier (Mr. Peterson), in answer to questions, says no, he does not support that. He says, “Maybe we’ll move some jobs, but not the preference-setting policy.” That was in the bill that the minister has withdrawn.
My specific question to the minister is, when he redrafts this in a more organized way, instead of in the hasty fashion that he was ordered to do for Hershell Ezrin for the free trade stuff, when he thinks about it and brings the bill in in an organized way, will that bill authorize and permit Ontario Hydro to have preference-setting rates for economic development in northern Ontario?
Mr. Offer: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question of the Minister of Labour. This question concerns his ministry’s position around the issue of aluminum and its potential as a hazard in the workplace.
As the minister is aware, I have had a number of meetings with individuals in my riding on this issue, primarily individuals employed at McDonnell Douglas. They are concerned, first, that there are unacceptable levels of aluminum in the workplace; and second, that they are not compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: The member for Mississauga North raises an important issue, and I want to point out that some of my officials were at those meetings as well. My understanding is that, as a result of those meetings, some of the concerns of the workers at McDonnell Douglas and some of their fears have been allayed. He really raises two points, and I would want to respond to both of them.
First of all, on the question of whether or not there are unacceptably high levels of aluminum in the workplace, all of our monitoring has indicated that at that facility the levels of aluminum dust in the workplace are well below the level set by regulation 654, which is the overall regulation establishing acceptable levels for a variety of hazardous substances in the workplace.
The second part of his question dealt with the question of whether or not exposure to aluminum dust represents a situation that would give rise to compensation under the worker compensation system. The fact is that all of the evidence thus far available in the world -- in fact, review of the literature around the world -- does not establish any relationship between impairment of health and exposure to aluminum dust, except in rare situations where there is a very high level of exposure and at the same time the worker has serious kidney problems. Notwithstanding that, when I say that the literature does not point out a risk, I should say as well that studies in that area are still going on.
Mr. Offer: By way of supplementary, officials from the ministry and from the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Canadian Auto Workers made a commitment to deal with this matter at a joint steering committee meeting in September. I am informed that at that meeting, though the issue was on the agenda, there was no discussion around the matter. My question by way of supplementary is, as this is a matter of great concern to a growing number of individuals, will the minister encourage the joint committee not only to place this issue once more on the agenda but also to start to deal with the issue at its next meeting, which I understand is being held in November?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: The member is referring to the Joint Steering Committee on Hazardous Substances in the Workplace. I should tell him and the members of this House that that committee is made up of representatives of both labour and management and they are charged with the responsibility for examining these very difficult questions. In this case, for example, they would be charged with the responsibility of analysing whether the exposure limits that are currently contained in the regulations are appropriate for the workplaces of Ontario.
My understanding is that this matter was on the agenda for September and that, because of the time taken up with other matters, the committee itself was not able to get to the question of aluminum dust. My understanding is that it is once again on the agenda for the November meeting, and I certainly will encourage the parties to direct their attention to that matter. It is a serious issue.
I should say that one of the other problems that troubles us in this matter is that exposure to aluminum, the way in which an individual can have aluminum enter the bloodstream, is not only by way of the workplace but also by way or so many other factors that it is difficult to attribute any one particular set of circumstances. To respond to the specific question, I expect that it will be taken up in November.
The headline reads, “Premier Junks Turner’s Stance on Pact.” In it the Premier is quoted as saying, and I want to quote very specifically the Premier’s own words rather than any interpretation of those words; this is at the time when Mr. Turner was talking about tearing up the deal:
I wonder if the Premier can tell us, is it still his position that he disagrees with John Turner and that he believes the first thing that should happen is an attempt to make a better deal, since we have come so close to the altar that we should not walk away?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: First of all, let me say that I admire the honourable member’s pluck for trying to salvage an unsalvageable situation for his party at the federal level. I do admire him. I understand his attempt to throw little distortions along the way. I admire the way he grasps for straws. It does speak something to his character, if not to his judgement.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: If the member would allow me to answer, I would be delighted to answer my honourable friend. We also know that we have the largest trading relationship in the world with the United States. It will continue, regardless of the outcome of this particular discussion.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Yes, it will; there is no question about that. There will continue to be trade irritants. I have argued and the member has argued, I believe, that the trade irritants would not be resolved by this particular agreement, because the dispute settlement mechanism is found so wanting and we have not achieved any special protection from US trade remedy laws.
We will continue to share our continent and we will continue to be friends. That being said, I cannot see, depending on the outcome of this election, a deal of this nature being reconstructed. We will continue to go on to discuss trade disputes and softwood lumber, something that was not handled very elegantly the last time by the federal government, and a whole variety of other matters. We will try to find the areas that we have in common, but I do not see a deal coming along in the shape of this free trade agreement.
Mr. B. Rae: Since the Premier is now saying something that is completely different from what he was telling reporters from the Toronto Sun -- totally different -- perhaps I should just ask the Premier this question: He is quoted as saying that the price of walking away from the pact now would be serious trade retaliation by the Americans. He is quoted as saying: “‘I would go back and make a better deal.... We’ve taken a ride pretty close to the altar to turn around and walk away.’”
I would like to ask the Premier, did he say those words or did he not say those words when he was talking to reporters at a big business meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in February 1988? Did he or did he not?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: You just asked me if I said it to a bunch of big businessmen. But let me say to my honourable friend, who is working so hard to salvage something that is unsalvageable for his own party --
Hon. Mr. Peterson: If the member would just be quiet for a moment, I would be very happy to answer. It is very hard with all of his barking to get a word in edgewise. I want to say to my honourable friend that the view of this government is extremely clear on this matter to any reasonable and objective person. I do not include my honourable friend in that category. I see him now, as I see his leader, as a desperate man who sees his future fading in front of him. I understand that people and politicians in extremis do some very strange things.
Mr. B. Rae: Yes or no? Did you say it to Lorrie or is Lorrie telling the truth or what? You’re a joke. You and Turner are going to go down to Washington together. You’re defending it. You have no credibility.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: This question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. With escalating health care costs, especially in hospitals, and the urgent need for more nursing home care for seniors, would the minister not agree that it would be less costly for the government and more beneficial to the wellbeing of our senior citizens to assist them to remain in their own homes by providing adequate home care service?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I completely agree with the suggestion of the honourable member, and that is why I have the support of the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) to put $40 million into an integrated homemaker program.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Then I am very pleased to ask this supplementary. The Victorian Order of Nurses in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph provide this very important homemaker service to our seniors, especially in rural areas. Because of this service, many of our elderly citizens who wish to do so have been able to continue to live in their own homes. The VON is now faced with a $148,000 deficit by March 1989 because of the added costs of providing this service in rural, as opposed to urban, areas. Will the minister provide the necessary funding to assist the VON to continue to provide its excellent homemaker services for our seniors?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: As the honourable member is aware, the various municipalities are the conduit for the funds that we pass through to the citizens and to the various agencies like VON, the Red Cross and some others. In each of these situations, the decision as to how to allocate those funds is their decision. I want to advise the honourable member that we have received correspondence from a number of these municipalities clearly indicating that while there was some difficulty with the introduction of the program, now that they have a better idea of how the funds are going to flow, they are in a better position to allocate them more appropriately.
The honourable member is undoubtedly correct that all areas could use more funds. I can assure him, as the honourable Treasurer well knows, that I will be going back to get more funds in the next budget.
Mr. Adams: My question is for the Minister of Housing. The minister knows I was delighted that the city of Peterborough and the province were able to sign an affordable housing agreement. She will be pleased to hear that the agreement has already stimulated a number of housing initiatives in the riding, including co-operative housing, housing for seniors, conversions to rent and so on. However, I am concerned about the application of the provision for 25 per cent affordable housing. If this is poorly administered, we could end up with ghettos of low-income housing. Can the minister suggest ways of avoiding this?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I share the member’s pleasure at the deal that was signed by the province and the city of Peterborough. I think it offers an example to many municipalities across the province of the kind of work we can do together when we sign a framework agreement like the one for Peterborough. The one we signed in Peterborough will make sure that something like 1,600 units of housing get built in the community or converted for the purposes of housing people who need help with their housing.
As to the member’s question about the 25 per cent affordable guideline, which is part of our land use policy statement released in August, in that statement we have said that we expect municipalities to amend their official plans to take account of this guideline. Among the things we think they should consider is planning it in the sense of looking at their neighbourhoods and making sure that all new building in their neighbourhoods takes account of this guideline that at least one quarter of the units built in a new neighbourhood are built to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income people; low-income people probably through social housing, and moderate-income people through various more innovative ways of building.
I believe the city of Peterborough is committed to doing that and I think this can be done, as has been shown in various places across the province, with great success and with no difficulty at all of the sort the member suggests.
Mr. Adams: I thank the minister for that. I too think Peterborough may well interpret the 25 per cent affordable guideline in a reasonable fashion. But in the event the municipality does not so interpret the guideline, would the minister consider making it a direction rather than a guideline?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: In the land use policy statement, we have said that we expect all municipalities, the ones in the target areas in particular, to amend their official plans to take account of this guideline. We expect that municipalities will indeed co-operate with us and find their own ways of making sure this goal is met.
Of course, if this does not happen, there are already considerable powers at the discretion of the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins) to make sure those goals are indeed met. But so far, our experience in talking with municipalities has been very good. We believe they will indeed look at their official plans and make sure our goals of making housing available for low- and moderate-income people all over the province are met and are met in the spirit in which they were intended.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Since the other ministers of agriculture have now agreed that it would be possible to increase crop insurance coverage to higher than the current 80 per cent, why is the minister not moving to increase the coverage, as proposed by the report of the Canada-Ontario Crop Insurance Review Committee, so that more Ontario farmers will enrol in the program and have protection?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: It was this minister who, at the agriculture conference two years ago, made a presentation stating we believed that crop insurance coverage should go up to 90 per cent. We have supported that right from that time. It is a federal act. The federal government has to amend the Crop Insurance Act in order to allow provinces to pay coverage up to 90 per cent. I do not know what the delay is, I do not know why the federal government is not moving on this, but certainly I am putting on all the pressure I can to have that act amended. I would like to see it go to 90 per cent coverage.
Mr. Wildman: Since the minister wants to improve the coverage, will he do something recommended by the report of the committee which does not require an amendment to the federal act, and that is proceed now to pay 15 per cent of the premiums, cutting the share of the Ontario farmers’ premiums to 35 per cent from the current 50 per cent, since this does not require the agreement of the other provinces or an amendment of the federal act?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: That was another pitch I made at the ag ministers’ conference when all my colleagues were present, but I did not get support from some of my colleagues in having the province pay a proportion of the farmer’s premium.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Well, the fact of the matter is we do have a national agricultural strategy. Included in that strategy is tripartite stabilization, and one of the principles of tripartite stabilization is that all farmers across the country be treated on an equal basis; in other words, one province does not subsidize its farmers to a greater extent than another province. That is the reason we have not launched out on our own to pick up a portion of the farmer’s premium, because other provinces would feel it was in contradiction of the national agricultural strategy we all signed.
Mrs. Marland: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Yesterday the minister indicated that a private sector proposal for a massive landfill site near Acton would come under the full provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act. He knows, however, that Reclamation Systems Inc. has chosen a site without looking for alternatives. It has chosen a quarry on the Niagara Escarpment which happens to be owned by three cement companies that happen to own the majority shares of RSI.
My question to the minister is this: Will he advise RSI it would be virtually impossible to put a landfill site on the Niagara Escarpment without totally destroying the environment and without compromising the integrity of the Niagara Escarpment development plan? Will he nip this thing in the bud and take action now?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: It is interesting that one day I get a question from the Progressive Conservative Party that says, “Why don’t you find landfill sites?” and “There are no landfill sites in Ontario;” and then, individually, I get questions from other members who say, “Don’t put a landfill site” or “Stop this landfill site.”
The Environmental Assessment Board takes into consideration all factors if it proceeds to a board hearing, including what is already in existence in the regional municipality of Halton and what other proposals might be out there. It takes into consideration every aspect of it.
That is why I assured the member for Halton North (Mr. Elliot), who has communicated with me on this matter, and the mayor of the municipality and others who have expressed concerns about it, that in fact it would have the provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act applied to it. I think it is very important that this be the case.
If every proposal that comes forward is, as the member says, nipped in the bud, then we would indeed face a situation that her leader says exists in Ontario. They cannot be constantly contradicting themselves on this.
Mrs. Marland: It is really interesting to hear this minister say that I cannot be continually contradicting myself. I would suggest that by not requiring other sites be considered, he is contradicting himself. He requires the region of Peel to look at other sites and not just accept one for the EAA. How come he has a double standard?
I think it is important, when we go through the process, that proposals are brought forward and that they are analysed very carefully. If I, for instance, were to make decisions based on the fact that politically I do not want one proposal to come forward -- and listen, I can tell you there are lots of them out there, proposals that are put forward for environmental assessment that politically sometimes I would like to say, “Gee, hold up on those.” But if we are really to have an appropriate process in Ontario, it has to go through the environmental assessment process instead of the political process, and if it does not pass that test environmentally, then it should not be approved.
In answer to the second question, I say, as I have in I think all of these instances where people have made a proposal to me for the purposes of receiving intervener funding, that in fact my ministry has provided intervener funding when we have had that request made, and we would be happy to go through the appropriate procedure that we have for providing intervener funding. Even though the bill has not been processed by the House, I have, on an ad hoc basis and I think on a consistent basis in relation to environmental projects, said that there will be intervener funding provided, and I am more than pleased to do that again on request of the people who are in that area.
Mr. Ferraro: I have one question for the Minister of the Environment. There is no supplementary. The minister will know that as of today there is no place, as I understand it, in Canada where toxic analysis can be done to the extent that we require. For this reason, I think since the beginning of 1983, the previous government under Premier Davis devised a plan for a toxicology centre in Guelph that would be funded equally by the federal government, the provincial government and private enterprise.
The minister will know that when we came into power in 1985, we approved our portion of the cost of the toxicology centre. In 1984, when the Mulroney government came into power, it cancelled its commitment. Yesterday, Mr. Turner was in Guelph and reaffirmed his commitment that he made in 1984.
The people of Guelph would like to know, irrespective of who forms the government after the next election, where is the commitment of the provincial government? Has it diminished or is it still in place?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I can assure the member for Guelph that one of the high priorities this government has had over the years has been its financial participation, and active participation otherwise, in what we refer to as the Canadian Centre for Toxicology.
Because it requires a three-part component, as the member appropriately points out, first of all it was contingent initially on the fact that there would be federal participation, that there would be provincial participation, and that the private sector in the form of many of the companies which ultimately, in my view, benefit -- and the environment benefits from this -- would be involved in this project. For this reason, yes, we have a very strong provincial commitment to participate in this project and that stands.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would like to take the opportunity to inform the House that, as we debate the nonconfidence motion, there is agreement among the various parties that the time will be shared, with wrapup speeches of roughly 20 minutes per side beginning at approximately 4:45 this afternoon.
That the government lacks the confidence of this House because of its abject failure to deliver on its six-point promise during the 1987 election campaign that if certain conditions were not met on the Canada-US free trade negotiations there would be no deal, even though none of those conditions were met; and because the three so-called anti-free-trade bills now before this House -- Bills 147, 168, 175 -- add nothing to the ability of the government of Ontario to resist, oppose or differ from the provisions of the Mulroney trade deal, in the interest of the ordinary working people of the province.
I want to start it off by saying to all honourable members in this House and to all the citizens of this province who may watch our deliberations that what we are dealing with here, as far as I am concerned, is the most important issue that has hit this country in an awful lot of years. We are dealing literally, as far as I am concerned, with the sellout of Canada. We are dealing with an act and an action by the federal government that I think border on treason in this country.
We are dealing with a deal that ties us to a continental energy policy. We are dealing with a deal that does threaten social programs in Ontario, not directly in terms of their mention in the agreement but clearly in its allowance of for-profit business interests to move into things like hospitals, nursing homes and a variety of health care services in the province. It deals specifically, although it is not mentioned in the agreement itself, in terms of the threat to our social services because of subsidies and what are going to be subsidies.
Subsidies: As many people have mentioned from time to time, the argument that raged around the frozen fish issue from Newfoundland and the Canadian maritime provinces was the charge by the New England governors and the Americans that the Canadian fishermen had an unfair advantage because they did not work in the North Atlantic during the two worst months of the year and were able to collect unemployment insurance at home. That was the argument that was made.
While that was not what carried the day in terms of the tariff that was slapped against us on foreign fish, it is certainly an indication that the fact we have universal social programs in this province, social programs that are cheaper than the private kinds of medicare in the United States, makes it a very definite concern and is certainly an indication this is one of the things that will be on the table. Anybody who has done any negotiating knows very well that even if we are able to protect something as important as the medicare program in this country of ours, we are going to have to give up something else in return.
Perhaps I can stop and talk in straight trade union terms, which is my background, for just a moment. Even more important is that any trade union negotiator who negotiated a contract and then went to his members and said, “We’ve got an agreement here. It’s a good one. We want you to sign it but we cannot tell you what the pay rates or the job classifications are going to be for five to seven years, till we sort out these minor details,” would be booed right out of the hall.
It makes absolutely no sense that we are entering into an agreement that could affect our social programs, because we do not know what are going to be subsidies and we will not know for five to seven years. We also have not achieved any relief from countervail, which simply means that this great plum held out, access to the American market, is not secured because the US can still bring a countervail action if it thinks imports from Canada are either hurting a particular company or that there is an unfair subsidy, which, as I said before, we will not know for some period of time. This means we do not have relief from countervail action.
I think it is a real threat to our sovereignty. What the Tory government has done federally is despicable, but I am equally concerned with what Ontario is doing. I think this deal is a real, serious threat to the jobs of literally thousands of Canadian workers. I am reminded of a vice-president of CP Trucks who said before our committee that he knew of as many as 500 branch plants that really could see no rationale for staying open in Ontario if we had a totally open border through this trade deal.
Why then is this motion I read out in the House directed to this Liberal government in Ontario? To some extent, it is because of the argument I have heard many Liberals make, that a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal. I have a real problem here. Quite frankly, I cannot trust them. They have not to date lived up to the promises they have made to the people of Ontario. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) very clearly said before the election that if there were not a proper dispute settlement mechanism, which we have not achieved in the deal, there would be no deal. He said very clearly that if there were no provisions for regional development, there would be no deal. He said if it could hurt the farmers or marketing boards, there would be no deal.
I have the specific quotes. I do not have the time in this speech to bring them to members, but the quotes are there. Members all know them. They have been repeated in this House before. If our cultural identity were at risk, there would be no deal. If the auto pact were touched in any way, and it very definitely is, there would be no deal. All of these points, along with arguments about the grape growers and about the fact Ontario had a veto, were made by the Premier of this province; that without them in the final deal when we saw it there would be no deal. I think I will use a couple of the quotes we have had from the Premier since.
When we saw the deal, when we got the final arrangements, when the Americans signed it, all of a sudden none of these strong statements by the Premier meant anything. On October 7, 1987, the Toronto Star said: “Peterson condemned the trade deal saying, ‘The deal is not in the national interest or in Ontario’s interest. We’re giving up a great deal in terms of our capacity to make our own decisions as a nation.”‘ But then he said, in the Financial Post, on January 25, 1988, “There’s not a hell of a lot I can do to stop it.” It goes on with some other comments that are beautiful as well, but I think it tells members very clearly that all of a sudden the opposition seems to have evaporated.
Every member in this House should remember this, because we will get back to them if the wrong things happen in this coming election. I still trust in the good sense of the Canadian people that they will not. The Premier has set the stage very clearly for John Turner and the federal Liberals to back off. After all, the Premier backed off almost totally after the last provincial election and did not live up to his promise to take action.
Just for a moment before I do that: Why am I concerned about the backoff and the lack of spine in terms of this government being the one thrust in Ontario that might keep Turner on track? It is not just the fact that the Premier has given Mr. Turner all he needs as an excuse to back off. The Liberal Party president is in favour of the Mulroney deal. The Liberal senator in charge of trade is in favour of the Mulroney deal. The Liberal Premier of New Brunswick, McKenna, is in favour of the Conservative deal. The Liberal Premier of Quebec, Mr. Bourassa, is in favour of the deal. The Liberal leader in Alberta, Mr. Decore, is in favour of the deal. The Liberal leader in British Columbia is in favour of the deal. The former Liberal Minister of Finance is in favour of the deal. The former Liberal Minister of Trade is in favour of the deal. I know some of the members in this House who are in favour of the deal.
In the committee, the committee that has been meeting for the last two years in this House and has gone down to Washington a number of times and over to Europe, we asked them if they were ready to tear up the deal, as Mr. Turner had said. We got a very categorical no from the Liberal members of that committee. Were they willing to launch a court challenge? We got an equally strong no from the Liberal members of that committee. Would they lower interest rates as a way of promoting incentives for Canadian development and investment and industry? That was voted down as one of the recommendations we tried to make in that committee.
We got a number of weak recommendations, and I wish I had time to go into them. Most of the recommendations from the Liberal members in that committee asked the federal government to renegotiate the deal. We got some of those within weeks after we had Mr. Yeutter making it very clear that this one-track arrangement from the United States was not up for renegotiation, that it was passed on the basis that we bought the whole deal or there was no deal at all, yet the Liberal recommendations from our committee were saying, “The federal government should take another look at this section of the deal.” It obviously meant absolutely nothing.
“The committee has concluded that the provisions of the agreement fail to assure Canada’s sovereign control over its water resources. Unless amendments are made directly to the agreement, its provisions may override both federal and provincial water policies, laws and regulation in the event of a conflict between Canada and the United States.”
We argued a bit and said it was not anywhere near tough enough, so we got a second version that we think came out of Mr. Ezrin’s office. I will not read the first four paragraphs, but I will read the last one.
Once again, it called on the government of Canada, not Ontario. It said, “The government of Canada should continue to exercise its authority in the energy field by preserving the option to apply differential pricing for natural resources used by Ontario industry.”
One of the very few amendments we succeeded in getting through that committee -- I think we got it through, I will tell members very frankly, because the northern members of the committee, including the Liberals, realized they really had something here that was no recommendation at all -- was an NDP amendment that simply said,
“The government of Ontario implement a program to reduce energy prices in economically disadvantaged areas such as northern Ontario to encourage economic development in those regions of our province, while at the same time presenting a direct challenge to the dangerous energy provisions of the free trade agreement.”
Then what do we see? The government brings in three bills, whether on water or whether on energy, that really discuss the arrangements as to how we might price these resources. They do not even have contained in the three bills that we have before this House the rather stronger recommendation that was made in committee.
What I am saying here very, very clearly, and I wish I had time to go into all of the details, is that there is nothing in the recommendations made in our committee, and nothing in what we have seen in statements from this Premier, that would give anybody in Ontario who thought about it seriously for a moment any confidence whatsoever in this government standing up to the issue of a free trade arrangement, should the Tories be able to put it through in this country. We have not taken the initiative in saying: “There are areas that are Ontario’s jurisdiction. We are going to take specific actions in those areas.” Indeed, when we tried to make those recommendations in committee, with the exception of the one I have read to you, they were voted down by the Liberal members in this House.
I have no confidence whatsoever that this government has either done or will do what is necessary to stop the sellout of our country. That is why I have no confidence whatsoever in the government of Ontario.
Mr. McCague: I did not intend to speak now, but my colleague did not show up so I guess I must. I understand the motion that has been put by the New Democratic Party in this matter. First, they say that the six points put forward by the Premier some months ago have not been followed through. That is true. They say that the three bills the government has introduced in a feeble effort to downgrade the free trade arrangement are no good. I agree with that. They also mention that they are in favour of the working man. Who is not? That, I guess, is what we are doing right here today.
Seldom have we seen such, I would think it is fair to say, incompetence as has been exemplified by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) on this very Bill 175. It was introduced with great fanfare. The leader of the New Democratic Party, in fairness to him, raised the issue of the bill about a week ago. The minister waffled on it and even said that he was not sure where he was going to go with it. He had had some second thoughts. Maybe the federal bill was better or maybe his was better, but if the leader of the NDP had some amendments that he wanted to introduce, that was fine; he would will look at those.
I really think that what he is looking for is an excuse to dump the bill altogether, as we saw today from the Minister of Energy (Mr. Wong) who wants to dump his bill. I do not know where the Premier and his government are coming from on this issue. They are getting a lot of pressure to change their minds.
The member for Guelph (Mr. Ferraro) persuaded us, with my endorsement I must say, to travel to Europe just a couple of months ago. I know the member wanted to get his gun loaded to come back and shoot holes in the free trade agreement. We had all kinds of Liberal members there and a couple of good Progressive Conservative members, the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve) and I. We had the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), a very attentive listener at all times, and the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Morin-Strom) there trying to find some little reason we should be opposed to the free trade agreement.
We went to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, to the European Community in Brussels and to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Geneva. Do the members know what happened? They looked and they searched and they scratched and they could not find one person who would tell them something that was helpful to their cause in opposition to the free trade agreement.
I thought we were going to learn something. I sort of thought I knew before I went. I sympathized with them because they did not find one thing over there to help their cause. That may be a waste of taxpayers’ money. I really enjoyed myself.
However, what bothers me about this whole debate is that -- I think I understand what went on. I understand that there was a negotiating team from Canada and a negotiating team from the USA. While we want to be critical of the way they negotiated, you cannot really criticize unless you were sitting at that negotiating table. I believe we got a fair deal, given that it was a negotiation.
The second point I want to make is that really what we have here is a skeleton of an agreement. The meat still has to be put on the bones and that is a five- to seven-year process. While a leap of faith is mentioned many times, I still feel we owe it to Canadians to approve of this deal and let whatever government happens to be in Ottawa proceed with getting the meat on the bones and figure out the whole deal.
I understand the difficulty Mr. Mulroney has in defending the deal. I understand the ease with which Ontario’s government of the day and the opposition party can criticize the deal. That is easy. The member for Hamilton East will tell us that there is no protection whatsoever in this deal for workers. We all saw in the newspaper article last weekend what was happening with Sklar-Peppler.
If a person were perfectly honest about this, and I propose to be, on a monthly or yearly basis there are quite a few companies that are having to close down in Canada, for whatever reason. Every time a closing has come up over the past two years, it has been blamed on free trade. That is absolutely unfair. Some of it may be caused by that, but not all, because in the two years previous to that we had closings.
As far as workers are concerned, sure, we all have sympathy for workers. I have had the unfortunate circumstance in my riding of having Collingwood Shipyards close. Quite a few of the people who worked there had been there for 30 years. They were 50 to 55 years old. It was the only job they had ever done and they need retraining. They are reluctant to be retrained. I understand the kinds of problems the NDP champions. But it is unfair to blame it all on free trade.
I am personally concerned about the fact that protectionism may well follow the abolition, if you want to put it that way, of a free trade deal. I do not like the idea of protectionism. As we all know, there are some 600 bills before the US Congress right at this time that people may want to initiate. Who knows, they may not, but they may want to.
I think we owe Canadians the opportunity to try the free trade deal. As we all know, about 90 per cent of our trade in Ontario is with the US, and I do not see our hampering that. We have had, in a way -- and the NDP will be happy to have me say this --a free trade deal with the US for about 40 years now. Not many tariffs; no barriers. Yet our sovereignty and culture have not been threatened, as the opposition to the deal would have us believe was the case.
I was interested some few months ago on another subject, the auto pact, to hear an interview on the radio with Bob White. Somebody there -- I presume he was either a Liberal or a PC, but likely a PC --
Mr. McCague: It might have been a Liberal, I am not sure; but he was trying to tell him that in the initial stages his party was opposed to the auto pact. He very cleverly ducked that by saying no, that was the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. The moderator tried to say, “But that was the predecessor of your party.” “Well, maybe, but I have no responsibility for the CCF at all. It was them.” Now we have the great defender of the auto pact, Bob White.
As I understand it, the auto pact can be cancelled with one year’s notice. When I go through my riding and somebody in labour or whatever it be, most often a card-carrying Liberal, says to me, “This free trade deal is the end of the world for Canada,” I say, “Did you realize that it can be cancelled in six months?” They say: “Oh, my God, is that right? Well, we sure should try it.”
Mr. Mahoney: I tried to understand on reading this motion why it was actually here today. I could really come to only one conclusion, and that is that clearly, as I think was illustrated earlier in question period, this is simply an attempt by the New Democratic Party to prop up the faltering federal party in the upcoming federal election.
I think if they were to read the information that is available in the Toronto Star in the latest Gallup poll, it shows that 50 per cent of Canadians indeed are opposed to the FTA, and in fact in Ontario that figure is substantially higher at 60 per cent.
What we have been saying all along is that the Canadian people in fact should have the right to make the decision. Clearly, they have been given that right and they are responding, if one is to believe the latest Gallup poll, and I am sure Gallup is a very credible organization that we can take some confidence in. If we are to accept those figures, the Canadian people on November 21 are not only going to reject the free trade agreement, but they are also going to reject the present government.
In the motion, the Leader of the Opposition refers to basically two areas. He refers to the six points the Premier outlined last August and he refers to the three bills in saying that they do not do anything to assist the government in opposing the FTA.
I would like to address the six points just for a moment. The Premier has said that this government would not support a deal unless there was an acceptable dispute settlement mechanism; unless Canada can continue to reduce regional disparities and promote regional development throughout the country, and most notably throughout the province; unless it includes safeguards for the agricultural sector, and clearly it does not; if it threatens our cultural identity -- well, that is perhaps the one item in the six points that is more subjective than the others.
Our opinion, certainly my strong feeling, is that it will threaten our cultural identity. We are Canadians, and while we are proud to be friends with the United States and proud to share the longest undefended border in the history of the world and proud to do business with them and to enjoy their country and have them enjoy our country, we are Canadians and we do not wish to be American citizens.
The next point was that our ability should not he taken away to screen foreign investment in the best interests of Canadians; and the final point dealt with the auto pact. We would not support it if it placed the auto pact in jeopardy.
I am going to outline in the short time I have how each of those points has not been addressed in this FTA, but before I do that, I would like to address the bills that the Leader of the Opposition has impugned in his motion.
Bill 168 is An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act. I will just read from the explanatory notes. It says, “The Corporation is allowed to supply power to customers outside Canada only if that supply is surplus to the reasonably foreseeable power requirements of Ontario customers and other customers in Canada. The price for supplying power to customers outside Canada is required to be enough to recover the appropriate share of costs and more than the price charged to customers in Canada for equivalent service.”
I suggest that is absolutely contrary to the free trade agreement and flies in the face of that agreement, and is an act that says this government is not willing to accept the conditions laid out in the FTA.
I will again read from the explanatory notes, where it says, “Approval will be refused or revoked if the minister is of the opinion that the transfer is or may be detrimental to ensuring a secure water supply for Ontario or Canada or any part thereof.” I do not know how we can be more explicit, how we can be more direct or how we can be more straightforward than that.
The final bill, Bill 147, An Act respecting Independent Health Facilities, again, clearly says in the explanatory notes, and I will paraphrase, that it allows us to maintain in the face of the free trade agreement our ability to manage our own health care system and to not allow American corporations or private investors to take over our health care sector.
Clearly, this government has been consistent with the six points the Premier outlined last August. I suggest that the opposition, frankly, in somewhat of an irresponsible way, is trying to say that the issue here is whether we should trade or not trade. I suggest that is indeed not the issue. That we must enter into some form of a trade deal with the United States is a position that has been said many times and put forward many times by this government. We feel, however, that it should be a multinational trade deal, with the United States as well as with countries from the Pacific Rim and other parts of the world.
The key words in our position are that we must negotiate on a sector-by-sector basis. If we examine this deal on a sector-by-sector basis, we will see that the first item referred to in the Premier’s six points, and the one the Mulroney government has said is the key, is secure access to the United States market for Canadian exporters.
Let me share with the House a couple of quotes. First of all, “Our highest priority is to have an agreement that ends the threat to Canadian industry from US protectionists who harass and restrict our exports through the misuse of trade remedy laws.”
So, what do we have? We have a dispute settlement mechanism as the key element in obtaining secure access to the US market by setting up a binational tribunal empowered, if trade actions are brought against Canada, to deal with them consistent with US domestic laws and regulations. It must apply to existing US laws.
I ask one simple question. Is it fair and equitable in the game when the referee who sets down the rules makes his decisions by the rules that are laid down by the other team? These rules would not have prevented the 15 per cent surcharge on Canadian softwood lumber. The shakes and shingles tariff would not have been affected under this agreement. So, point 1: clearly, there is no secure access to the United States market.
One of the realities in this country is that, because of our size, it is necessary for us to use the old Canadian Football League adage of gate equalization to attempt to help people in other parts of our country who are not as economically lucky, actually, as we are here in Ontario, I say to the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black). I even have my own people trying to trip me up, but that is okay.
What it boils down to is that if we decide in our own wisdom that we wish to help a certain part of the province, we are actually being put in the position where a foreigner can come in and challenge our right to do that, and the decision on whether or not that challenge will be upheld will be made by a tribunal adjudicating American trade laws. To be fair, the agreement allows us the opportunity to continue negotiations over the next five to seven years, but I maintain that we have already given up the farm in this agreement and our negotiations will be very difficult.
Speaking of the farm, members should picture themselves as farmers in Canada. We have eight months of winter and four months of bad skating. It is a lot more difficult to milk a cow at six o’clock in the morning in Portage la Prairie or in Iron Bridge than it is down in Florida or South Carolina. All our dairy products are in great jeopardy. The tankers that we will see flowing across the border will be carrying milk into our markets to virtually destroy the Canadian farmer. What is really happening is that we will lose the opportunity and the ability to subsidize our farm industries and in fact to subsidize a way of life.
The United States omnibus bill that was recently passed, which I would like to talk about, does not deal specifically with Canada but rather with the very real problems of dumping by foreign countries into the United States of millions of dollars worth of relatively cheap products. Clearly, this is a practice that neither Canada nor the United States should tolerate, but the problem is that while the US is smiling and patting us on the back, assuring us that we will have improved and secure access to its market, in return, it is taking away our ability to deal with our own economic sectors.
In closing, because the whip is telling me my 10 minutes have arrived, I will just say that this is not a good deal. The Premier has been consistent in saying that. We need to negotiate a deal that would allow us to remain independent but co-operative, sovereign but friendly, and finally, the true north strong and free.
Mr. Morin-Strom: I am very pleased to be able to speak to this resolution, and I will read again the summary of the resolution itself: “That this government lacks the confidence of this House because of its abject failure to deliver on its six-point promise during the 1987 election campaign that if certain conditions were not met on the Canada-US free trade negotiations there would be no deal.”
That was the commitment the Premier made to the people of this province last summer. It was a key issue in the provincial campaign and it is one on which this government has been a total failure in terms of carrying out the mandate that it received. This government has not been willing to take on the free trade negotiations. Time and time again, it has had the opportunity to stand up for the people of this province and it has refused to do so.
We have been accomplices, as a Liberal government in Ontario, to the formation of an agreement that is an utter disaster to this country. I can go through the committee reports. I was sitting on the committee along with my colleague, our critic for the Ministry of Labour, the member for Hamilton East. We sat on the committee with members of the Liberal and Conservative parties. We issued two major reports during the last government, both of which were endorsements by the majority of the committee, the Liberals and the Conservatives together, on the whole process of working towards a free trade agreement with the United States. All the way along the line, the Liberals in this House have been accomplices in the accomplishment of a deal that the people of Canada recognize is an utter disaster for the future of our country.
This is a deal that was intended to assure us secure access to markets in the United States. In fact, it does no such thing. Our industries are still threatened and face the same types of US law affecting them in terms of antidumping and countervailing duty. We have an attack on the steel industry going on now, even after the agreement has been signed. We still have the 15 per cent lumber duty, which was in fact enshrined in the agreement. We have accomplished nothing.
It could have been solved a long time ago if this government had taken steps early on in opposing the negotiations from the outset, in not being a participant with the federal government in terms of the agenda of the negotiations, and in not standing up for the people of this province in terms of the concerns and the threat this agreement would pose to Canadian interests.
This is an issue of trust. The people of this province certainly cannot trust a government that campaigned last summer on six aspects of this agreement. The Premier assured us there would be no deal if there was not a proper dispute settlement mechanism in the agreement. He said there would be no deal if our regional development programs were not protected. He said there would be no deal if this posed a threat to Canadian agriculture, and in particular, our marketing boards. The Premier made a commitment to our cultural identity, that if this agreement threatened our cultural industries, there would he no deal. Finally, and most effectively, he talked about the auto industry, the key industry in terms of the industrial heartland of Ontario. If the auto pact was gutted, there would be no deal.
What has happened since that point? We get statements from the Premier after the election that are quite different than what we heard from the Premier before the election. I will read a statement from the Premier on October 7, 1987, in the Toronto Star, about a month after the election, “‘It’s not a question of blocking this arrangement,’ Peterson said.” He went on to say, “‘I would never work to undermine my colleagues or the Prime Minister.’” Later on the Premier is quoted as saying that in the Globe and Mail. But he also said the de facto veto, which he believed Ontario had in the deal by blocking parts under its jurisdiction, had evaporated.
So the province takes one position before the election, and when the Liberals have been given a mandate, they immediately abandon ship, leave us at the whim of the Prime Minister of this country, and we end up with a result such as the one we have facing the Canadian federal electorate today.
It is an issue that has to be of concern, because if there is ever an issue that faces the people of our province and the people of Canada, it is an issue of trust. Who can you trust in terms of representing your interests?
This government in the province of Ontario, this Liberal Premier, has not fulfilled commitments to the people of this province. We know the Prime Minister never lived up to his commitments to the people in the last campaign and the Prime Minister is going to pay dearly for it in the current election. Surely, we are not going to have a public that is going to continue to trust the Liberal Party on issues of such critical importance as this one.
We have a government that has now presented us here in the Legislature with three bills which it claims are going to protect our interests and provide a challenge to the free trade agreement, bills in the areas of health, energy and water. In fact, these three bills are an utter disaster.
The health bill does nothing in terms of protecting our interests in the province of Ontario to maintain our medicare and health system under the total control of the government and out of the hands of the corporate American health sector.
The water bill was a complete sellout. The water bill talked about giving the Minister Of Natural Resources the right to sell our water, to set prices and determine arrangements for how the payment for our water was to be specified by the minister. We now have the minister, in his embarrassment, having to say that he will accept any amendment we could possibly dream up in either of the two opposition parties in order to change the bill to, in fact, prevent the wholesale sale of our fresh water in Ontario.
Finally today, we have the government’s weak-kneed energy bill. We have the Minister of Energy standing up today and admitting that the bill does not accomplish anything and, in fact, what it is going to do is to stand down the bill. The government has decided not to proceed with a challenge on the energy arrangements of the free trade agreement. He was quite clear that Ontario Hydro has control of the Minister of Energy and does not want this government to proceed and interfere with the energy rules under which Ontario Hydro wants to manage the affairs of this province.
I think it is time for the people of this province to recognize, and for this government to recognize, that it has not lived up to the mandate it was given last summer. We now have a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by our federal government in conjunction with provincial governments. This one particularly, being the most powerful province, the largest and wealthiest province in the country, has gone along, acquiesced in the negotiation of this agreement all the way through, and we now have such an agreement negotiated.
The confidence of the people of this province certainly cannot be in this government when it comes to free trade. The full and utter lack of commitment to this issue has been apparent to those of us who have been dealing with this issue on a day-to-day basis in this House, in the committees of this House, in dealings with the principal ministries involved and in listening to the daily answers of the Premier of the province on this issue.
I and my colleagues feel that it is vitally important that we have this debate today, that we have the opportunity for the government to recognize that it did not live up to its commitment, that action has to be taken. What we are asking for is support for this vote of nonconfidence in the government so that this government can be taken back to the people of the province to reassess its position on this free trade agreement.
Mr. Sterling: During this debate on free trade in our country over the last year and a half, I have heard so many people say, “I wish I could be better informed about this particular issue.” I only want to say in response to that particular comment that the fact of the matter is that there are reams and reams of material that have been written on this particular subject by very learned people. There have been reams and reams of good material about different aspects of this deal, which have been presented, I think, in a fairly easy manner to understand. I only wish that more Canadians would sit down and read some of the articles, that they would read the editorials, both for and against this particular trade deal, and then draw their conclusions.
I want to talk about three things today. I want to talk about this not in an emotional sense, which this issue seems to have become, but to try to analyse this deal and, of course, support my position on it, which is in favour of the free trade deal, by looking at the actual document itself, the free trade agreement, and follow through some logic which has been presented to us in the rhetoric of the federal election campaign.
The first allegation I want to deal with is that the free trade agreement would lead to an incomplete or a less distinct Canada because of harmonization between Canada and the United States. The second area that I want to deal with is whether the free trade agreement affects our ability to maintain and create social programs in our country. The third and last, if I get an opportunity in terms of time, is that I would like to deal with media coverage on the free trade issue. Maybe members could draw from the fact that, from the media coverage on this, it is little wonder that the public is getting one side of the story.
The charge is made that the deal will lead to more or less complete policy harmonization between Canada and the United States. I am going to quote extensively from what I thought was a very good article in Policy Options magazine. It was written by William Watson, who teaches economics at McGill University and has a doctorate from Yale. The subjects of his writings include industrial policy, etc.
The best counterexample, of course, to that whole idea that a free trade agreement will lead to policy harmonization is the auto pact which we have now in place and which benefits to the greatest extent the province of Ontario. “The auto pact was the greatest single liberalization of two countries’ bilateral trade and was negotiated by the same government that brought us both the Canada pension plan and medicare, the twin pillars of our welfare state, and that was barely six years after it,” the pact, “was concluded.”
I might add that at the time the auto pact was being negotiated and talked about, unions and the New Democratic Party were against that particular policy initiative. They switched horses only after it had gone through. In fact, after it had gone through, I listened to Tommy Douglas in the city of Oshawa make a speech about how disastrous the auto pact was going to be to our country.
There are other examples as well. The European Community, as we know, is not just a free trade area, it is a common market. That means not only that can goods pass from country to country but that it is also relatively free in terms of the internal movement of capital and labour; yet the member nations seem quite capable of maintaining dramatic differences in taxation, in public spending and in social regulation. In Europe, not only do we have the example of dropping tariff barriers completely but they also allow employees to go across the border, yet they maintain their distinctiveness. Therefore, we would argue that the free trade agreement will not affect our social policy in the future.
The argument is made with regard to taxation that if they drop taxes in a certain area, we will have to drop taxes in a certain area. In the area of corporate taxation, that has been the case in Canada for the past 25 years. If the United States drops corporate taxation, we have no alternative in Canada but to follow suit. Fortunately, in the last few years the United States has kept its corporation taxes up and has in fact increased them.
The same thing holds from province to province. If one province taxes the people too greatly, the people will move from that province to another province. Corporations will move from one province to the other, partially on the basis of a decision as to the levels of taxation.
The second area that I wanted to talk about and that I think is probably the greatest fallacy, the greatest -- I guess there is no other word to describe it in terms of how I feel about it -- the greatest lie in this particular campaign, is the fact that our social programs are threatened under the free trade agreement, because that simply is not true and I will attempt to develop the argument with regard to that assertion by myself.
First of all, I do not think most people understand that the free trade agreement is in fact negotiated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and this is in fact acknowledged on page 9 of the free trade agreement. It reads, “The Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, consistent with Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, hereby establish a free trade area.” Therefore, this agreement is subject to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
One of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade rules that is extremely important says that generally available social programs such as medicare, education, unemployment insurance, pensions, and so on are not countervailable. That means that social programs cannot come under attack from another country as unfair subsidy or an unfair barrier to trade. When you talk about countervailing actions, that is the method by which one country can question what in fact is taking place in the other. I believe that, in the past six or seven years, Canada has taken countervailing actions against the United States in 26 cases and the United States has taken countervailing action against us in 19.
In fact, one case was mentioned by the member for Hamilton East, and I thought he used the example in reverse, quite frankly. He mentioned that in one case the United States challenged Canada’s right to pay unemployment insurance benefits to fishermen. A US judge sitting in a US court under US law found that these Canadian benefits were fair and legal.
The GATT rules take precedence over the views of any single country. If you are going to be part of GATT -- and 96 countries in the world are -- then when you are dealing with another country and you are dealing with trade, our rules in Canada, the rules of United States, the rules of all of the European Community are subjected to, or are not as important as, the GATT rules. Therefore, there has already been the test case as to our ability under present law to protect our social programs. A US judge found this. Under this agreement, we of course create a binational panel not only with US representatives but with Canadians as well.
The free trade agreement further incorporates article 20 of the GATT rules as a clause within the free trade agreement. This provides further clarification of certain import and export measures that are considered legal under both GATT and free trade, including measures to protect public morals, for instance, pornography controls; to protect human, animal or plant life or health; for environmental protection and health programs; to implement product standards; and to protect items of artistic, historic and archaeological value, and there are other provisions as well. Not only do we have the general rules of GATT to protect our social programs, which were incorporated in this agreement, but also we have specifics as to other things that are over and above that protection.
The free trade agreement also includes a clause which states that something cannot be attacked as unfair trade if it meets a legitimate domestic object. I refer to article 603 of the free trade agreement on page 71 of the agreement. It says:
“Neither party shall maintain or introduce standards-related measures or procedures for product approval that would create unnecessary obstacles to trade between the territories of the parties. Unnecessary obstacles to trade shall not be deemed to be created if:
In other words, not only do we have the protection of GATT, as we do now -- and a countervailing action can take place today, before any free trade agreement is agreed to -- but we get additional protection in the free trade agreement under article 603.
The services annex on pages 201 to 203 of the agreement gives us more specificity as to what is covered and what is not covered. There are no government-provided services on the list. This list on pages 201 to 203 includes the various kinds of trades and services that are under the agreement. It does not include unemployment insurance, pensions, child care or workers’ compensation. None of these government-provided services are on this list.
Yesterday evening I heard Ed Broadbent talking about health care management services, which are on the list. We have one hospital in Ontario that is managed by an American company at this time, but there is nothing in the agreement which says that Ontario, through public hospitals, must let management contracts go to Americans. There is nothing which says that we have to give a contract to Americans to manage any health care facility. That is not giving up our health care program in any way, shape or form, nor could it be argued to be.
Anyone who suggests that medicare is somehow compromised by the free trade agreement should be able to find and point to an article in this agreement that defines that kind of restriction on our ability to make sovereign decisions in these fields. They cannot find one in this agreement, because there is not one. Therefore, all of the claims that we have heard in this federal election with regard to the attack on our social programs are not based on fact; they are not based on what is in this agreement; they are not based on what economists are writing. In fact, if I refer back to Mr. Watson’s article, “How does the free trade agreement change the current state of affairs? Explicitly, not very much. But if it changes at all, it probably reduces the US ability to challenge our social programs in the future.”
In other words, they are losing what they have at present under the GATT rules to attack our ability to provide social programs. That is the way it really is, but that is not the way it is being portrayed. We get compulsory consultation on changes in US law, as well as exemption from them, unless we are specifically named.
There has been a lot of rhetoric about attacking our social programs. But when questioned as to where they draw those conclusions from, they are based on the fact that we are going to be swallowed up, in terms of the fact that taxation policies over in the United States may be different from here. That is the way it is now. That is the way Ed Broadbent wants it to be in the future, because Ed Broadbent says that he is for trade liberalization. He wants tariff barriers to fall between our two countries. He cannot have it both ways, nor can Mr. Turner have it both ways, when he talks to 65- and 70-year-olds and says that their medicare will be cut off after the free trade agreement is in.
The last item I would like to talk about is that I was quite amazed the other day to receive, as I think all MPPs received, an article called On Balance, which is a media treatment of public policy issues. I opened it up and was reading it. It deals with the media coverage with regard to the free trade issue. I would like to read some parts of it. It is little wonder that the public is getting one side of the issue. They analyse two media sources, the CBC and the Globe and Mail.
“In terms of the frequency of statements made on each position, the number of statements against free trade far outnumbers those in favour. The Globe and Mail was consistent in its coverage, in that those opposed to free trade were given almost twice as much space to provide their views than those supporting the deal.”
Mr. Sterling: “As indicated in figure 1, although the CBC had roughly the same number of individuals supporting and rejecting the free trade agreement, the effective access provided to each was such that the statements critical of free trade accounted for two thirds of CBC’s coverage on the issue. In other words, on this medium, which is regularly watched by nearly two million Canadians, statements critical of free trade were heard twice as often as those in support of the agreement.
“In assessing this outcome, it is important to remember that both television and newspapers are selective media, in the sense that the journalist in each case usually assembles more material than actually used in given news items. To that extent, the individuals who appear in the story, the questions which are asked, as well as the number and the nature of statements included in the article, are all under the control of the journalist constructing of the item. In this connection, it is interesting to examine who the media chose to represent the various positions held on free trade.”
I was amazed to read this. We are talking about government representatives on this issue. It is interesting to know who got the second-largest coverage on this particular issue. It was not Robert Bourassa, who represents some six million people in the country. It was not any of the other premiers who represent larger provinces. The second-largest presence on the free trade issue was Joe Ghiz of Prince Edward Island, who was also opposed. He was cited more extensively than any other premier, other than our Premier, in the Globe and Mail.
Therefore, I feel that in presenting this issue to the public -- we have polls now existing that, I am told, show there are more people against this particular agreement than for it. If that is the case, I understand why. They are being told by the media, which are not giving a balanced coverage on the issue, according to, as I understand it, a media group.
As politicians, I guess the lesson we learn out of it all as well is that if we are given government, if we are given the right to govern, do not try to do anything that is complicated in the future because you set yourself up as a target, and this agreement is a complicated agreement.
I think the New Democratic Party, the federal Liberal Party and the provincial Liberal Party have taken advantage of that and have not tried to be fair with the agreement. They have, in my view, misrepresented what the intention of the agreement was. I think it is a shameful lesson for politicians. Basically, the conclusion is, do not tell people what you are going to do. We do not know where John Turner is going to raise $32 billion of promises. What it tells me as a politician is, do not try to do something that is futuristic because you are going to get shot at from all sides by warping of the truth at the very best. Therefore, I think this election is a sorry tale on the democracy of our country.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I am getting sniped at, as you know, by the New Democratic Party in particular. I only say to them that it is unfortunate they continue to support the Liberal Party, both at the provincial level and at the federal level, and seem to get it in the neck every time.
I will finally conclude by saying that the criticism of this free trade agreement has been emotional. They have refused to go to the agreement. They have refused to set down their argument in cold, hard terms, and therefore the public is confused because it is a complicated matter. I think the media should give more attention and fairer play to both sides of the issue.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: At the outset, I might just say that I note the member for Carleton has attempted a little bit to even up the linage on the debate in that he has indicated, over a long period of time, his opposition to free trade. I also think it is rather cynical to suggest that the Gallup poll on this issue reflects newspaper linage. I think the people of Canada are more thoughtful than that on this particular issue, and certainly on others.
We have often wondered what motivates the official opposition when discussing the Canada-United States free trade agreement. They seem to agree with the government on so many aspects of our opposition to the agreement.
They agree with us that it fails to provide increased access to United States markets and that it does nothing to counteract American protectionist legislation, as was emphasized by the recent passage of the United States omnibus trade act which strengthens the ability of United States industries to launch trade actions against Canada.
They agree that it severely curtails provincial powers and could bring about an end to the spirit of co-operative federalism that has guided Canada for so long and that it fails to protect our extensive network of social programs, our environment, our health care system and our strong public education system, and they agree that tariffs should be reduced more gradually in our country than in the United States.
They agree that our sovereignty has been dangerously compromised by restrictions placed on following an independent energy policy. They agree that there is a threat to our ability to differentially price energy exports to the United States and use energy as a tool to further Canadian economic expansion. They agree that our security of supply is threatened by requiring that the United States be given proportional access to Canadian energy supplies, even in times of shortage. They agree that the auto pact has been gutted. In effect, they agree that this agreement spells disaster for Canada, economically, socially and politically.
What they do not agree with, and I really cannot understand this, is the necessity to deal with the reality of Canada’s and Ontario’s economic situation, that 90 per cent of Ontario’s trade is with the United States and that we simply have to deal with the Americans. We simply have to talk to them. The official opposition does not seem to be able to accept this fact.
The concept of freer trade is really not the issue at stake. The Mulroney government does us a disservice by claiming that the concept has been achieved in this particular deal. In other words, a good trade deal should ensure access for our businesses to American markets. This is what we wanted. The Mulroney proposal does not. Furthermore, a good deal should provide for a mechanism that effectively settles trade disagreements between our two countries. The Mulroney deal does not.
I would remind members that three weeks after the Prime Minister wrote to President Reagan in September 1985 requesting these negotiations, I tabled a report in this Legislature asking that while the primary focus should be on GATT negotiations, negotiations with the United States to create an international joint trade commission with binding power to bind both countries in a dispute settlement resolution should be proceeded with.
The finance committee reasoned that the Americans were acting the bully because of their significant trading power, and that this was one area where we would be wise to seek an understanding, with a body that could review the situation in both countries on matters such as subsidies. Being the world’s strongest trading nation for 40 years, the United States has led the world in reducing traditional tariffs, but at the same time, it has finessed its position by building complicated nontariff barriers almost twice as high as Canada’s, when you take into consideration the nontariff barriers.
Prior to the commencement of the Tokyo round of GATT in 1970, the United States passed its countervail legislation, laws that permit any producer, company, union or individual in the United States at any time to allege that it is being economically damaged by an import. The moment they do so, they trigger an automatic investigation to determine if there is economic suffering as a result of the import. If there is, an automatic investigation into the foreign country, and that is us, takes place to determine whether or not the government of that country is, by United States definitions, subsidizing the import. If the United States Department of Commerce decrees a subsidy is in place, there is a tariff levied on the product from that country sufficient to overcome the economic loss.
The United States convinced the rest of the GATT countries to accept this concept. From the conclusion of the Tokyo round in 1980 until February of this year, the United States has used countervail and antidumping on its trading partners 629 times: for Canada, 38; for the European Community, six; for Japan, once. Only once did anyone try to use it against the United States, and that was with mixed results.
Bearing all this in mind, we demanded of the American negotiators, and we demanded time and time again, that countervail be negotiated. It became obvious that they knew they did not need to do this because the trade negotiations office had not even put it on the bargaining table.
Finally, on August 12, 1986, my whole finance committee met with Alan Nymark, assistant chief negotiator of the trade negotiations office in Ottawa. He admitted that the matter had not in fact been put on the bargaining table for a binding dispute settlement resolution.
Notice that we are talking about Canadian subsidies. American subsidies, be it their industrial bond programs or mortgage deductibility on their income tax or defence contracts, are not subject to American laws. Only Canadian subsidies are so considered.
All of the predictions made by the deal’s advocates claiming that economic benefits will result from this deal ignore the fact that our access to United States markets has not been secured. We were promised relief from an unfair law that permits the Americans to set up tariffs whenever their producers receive government help, regardless of the help they get, which is often much greater than the help Canadians get. Mulroney broke that promise. This, then, is why we did not gain access to American markets.
Of course, they did not deliver. The federal government asked Canadians to go on to the American tribunals to enforce American laws. Curiously, unlike present American tribunals, provinces such as Ontario will be barred from the new one. We were promised their subsidies would be considered by an international joint body when there were disputes, and Mulroney broke that promise.
The Conservatives, on the other hand, are so desperate to bolster their federal counterpart that they decided last Christmas in this House to support this deal, in spite of Larry Grossman’s statements during the September 1987 provincial election when he insisted his party also would not accept a free trade deal that did not comply with the six points pointed out by the Premier.
The Liberal Party has taken a clear, forward-looking position on international trade and we have never strayed from it. We believe in liberalized trade. We believe trade with the United States is essential to this country’s continued economic wellbeing. Canada and Ontario must focus on expanding multilateral trade, and we now have an excellent opportunity to do so during the current round of GATT negotiations.
The basic conclusion of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, in its most recent report, is that the free trade agreement as it stands is a bad deal for Canada and should be rejected. In my own riding, I have found that as many as 24,000 jobs may be put at risk by this agreement.
The New Democratic Party seems to be unaware of the origins or implications of article 103. It is very carefully crafted. It is the result not of careful federal-provincial negotiations, and the member for Sault Ste. Marie knows this, but is the action of a federal government that was desperate to reach an agreement with the United States after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal opinions.
The agreement does not reflect federal-provincial discussions at all. The agreement reached avoids the whole notion of federal responsibility. It works around areas such as provincial procurement. It gives a foreign power, the United States, the power of retaliation against each jurisdiction within Canada if all necessary measures are not taken to ensure provincial and municipal compliance.
When it comes to the question of challenging the free trade agreement in the courts, the finance committee heard all the evidence. We studied the Constitution. We listened to Professor Daniel Drache and Dr. Scott Fairley. We listened to the Attorney General (Mr. Scott). We read his exhaustive legal analysis. We listened to Dr. John Saywell and Professor Peter Russell. Among all these experts, not one gave us any real reason to believe that we could mount a successful court challenge to the free trade agreement at this time.
Specifically, the provisions of the trade and commerce clauses, of peace, order and good government, and of section 91 of the act might make it foolish to take on the agreement in an attempt to implement it if it infringed on provincial jurisdiction.
The federal government has a constitutional right to negotiate a trade agreement, and today there is no enabling legislation to challenge. We will examine such legislation if it occurs and make certain that provincial rights are not abrogated in the face of this treaty. If they would be, the Leader of the Opposition, in presenting this sort of resolution, would be charging into the Supreme Court, playing the hero with guns blazing, and in his wake would lie a bruised and beaten Ontario, which the federal government might well leave for dead.
Mr. Laughren: I thought it appropriate to begin my remarks by reading into the record the precise nonconfidence motion, particularly because a lot of people who watch this place on television came on in the middle of it. The nonconfidence motion reads as follows:
“That the government lacks the confidence of this House because of its abject failure to deliver on its six-point promise during the 1987 election campaign that if certain conditions were not met on the Canada-US free trade negotiations, there would be ‘no deal,’ even though none of those conditions were met; and because the three so-called anti-free-trade bills now before this House -- bills 147, 168 and 175 -- add nothing to the ability of the government of Ontario to resist, oppose or differ from the provisions of the Mulroney trade deal, in the interest of the ordinary working people of the province.” That is the nonconfidence motion.
You have to understand that when an opposition party in a Legislature where there is a massive majority, in this case by the Liberals, moves a nonconfidence motion, it must feel very strongly that something is amiss in the way in which the majority is governing.
Mr. Laughren: I should tell you, Mr. Speaker, if this government had taken some actions between six months and a year ago that we had suggested to it in this chamber, there would not have been need for a nonconfidence motion.
Mr. Laughren: It is quite possible that we will end up with no free trade deal. It is quite possible that because of the results of the federal election, there will not be a deal, but it will be no thanks to the Liberal government of Ontario if there is no deal at the federal level, absolutely no thanks whatsoever, because the Premier and his troops have been all fluff and no stuff when it comes to opposing the free trade deal. There has been all talk and no action.
I will not go over them all, but of the points that are referred to in our nonconfidence motion and were laid out in more detail by other members that the Premier said during the election campaign of 1987 he would insist on before he would agree to any deal, none of those things has been dealt with. The Premier said he had veto power over the free trade deal. Well, he said that one day and he said another day he did not have veto power. He said it to different people at different times.
What is bothering us a great deal is that the Premier seems to be trying to walk a very fine line in that if, for example, the results of the federal election were to have given a Progressive Conservative majority, then the Premier would have fallen into line so fast it would have made our heads swim, because he had all the contradictory statements to point to to show that he really was not that opposed to the free trade deal if events had unfolded that way.
We do not think events are going to unfold that way, so now the Premier can make all the protestations he wants and claim he is opposed to the free trade deal, because it looks as though it is not going to happen, but I want to tell you, up until the last couple of weeks, the Premier was trying to walk both sides of the street at once and that simply is not acceptable.
This party had asked the Premier last spring to bring into this chamber a bill that would establish a special hydro rate for economically disadvantaged areas of the province, such as northern Ontario. We said to him, “Do it. Do it as a challenge to the free trade agreement,” which of course prohibits that.
The Premier did absolutely nothing about it -- absolutely nothing. He refused to do it. He stood in his place and said, “No, we may take some actions to support disadvantaged areas of the province, but that will not be one of them.” That is basically what he said.
Now we have the Minister of Energy introducing a bill called An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act which pretends to do what we had asked them to do but, of course, does not do it -- simply does not do it.
It would have been very easy for the Minister of Energy to bring in a bill which did what the standing committee on finance and economic affairs suggested be done. This is the recommendation of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, and by the way, the majority of the committee supported this recommendation. This is recommendation 7:
“The government of Ontario implement a program to reduce energy prices in economically disadvantaged areas such as northern Ontario to encourage economic development in those regions of our province, while at the same time presenting a direct challenge to the dangerous energy provisions of the free trade agreement.”
I think that is a very, very sensible recommendation. Why would the Minister of Energy bring in this insipid piece of legislation -- to use a polite word -- when he had that recommendation right in front of him? Why would he bring in this bill? It is ridiculous. Then, in obvious embarrassment at how little was in this bill, he says he is withdrawing it now. What kind of commitment is that -- a challenge to the free trade agreement? It is no commitment whatsoever.
There were Liberal members of the economic affairs committee that supported that recommendation. I wonder what those members said in caucus when the Minister of Energy said that was the way the bill was going to be. I wonder if they spoke up. I doubt it very, very much. What a cowed bunch they are.
Mr. Laughren: There is no reason that the minister would withdraw the bill other than he was embarrassed by it. I am sure his colleagues said to him: “Oh, Mr. Wong, you surely can’t proceed with that bill, given the recommendation that some of our own members made in the economic affairs committee.” What kind of backbone is his cabinet showing? They are out there pretending that they are opposed to free trade, but then hedging their bets every step of the way.
The other bill that was introduced and is to be debated tomorrow in this chamber is a bill called Bill 175, An Act respecting transfers of Water. Mr. Speaker, I know you follow this debate very closely on free trade across this country, and one of the issues has been whether or not water is part of the free trade agreement. We challenged this government to bring in a bill that would simply stop the transfer of water. I do not think that was a very challenging demand from this side. Certainly, it would not be difficult to say that for waters over which Ontario has jurisdiction there shall be no export of water. I do not think that is a difficult challenge, given the fine legal minds that sit on the government’s front bench; at least, so they would have us believe.
Let me tell members some of the provisions of that bill and why we think it is a joke. Just as the Power Corporation Amendment Act was a joke and was withdrawn, this one might as well be withdrawn too. It is a piece of junk, and that is why we have sent the minister over some amendments, which he may or may not accept.
If he really wanted to stop the export of water, would he put this in the bill? Section 2: “No person shall transfer water out of a provincial drainage basin by any means” -- it would be nice if it stopped there, but it goes on to say -- “without the written approval of the minister.” Another way of reading this would be, “Any person can transfer water out of a provincial drainage basin with the approval of the minister.” That is exactly what it said, and it is the same thing. He is saying, “Go to it. All you have got to do is convince the Minister of Natural Resources,” in this case, Vince Kerrio.
Section 3 of the bill says, “A person who requests approval to transfer water out of a provincial drainage basin shall submit to the minister plans, reports, studies and other information as are prescribed or as may be requested by the minister.”
So after you have phoned, he is going to say, “Well, make sure you send me what you intend to do.” Then, of course, he could approve it. Once again, he can approve it. All he has got to have is something in front of him that tells him what you intend to do.
Section 4 of the bill: “(1) The minister may approve a transfer of water out of a provincial drainage basin subject to such conditions and subject to the payment to the crown of such amount as the minister considers appropriate.” Now you can do it if you pay him. There is nothing sacred. It sounds to me like Brian Mulroney’s promise that social programs were a sacred trust.
Subsection 4(2) of the bill reads, “The amount to be paid to the Crown for a transfer of water under subsection 1 may be a lump sum, a fixed periodic payment, an amount calculated according to the quantity of water transferred, or any combination thereof, and may be made payable on such terms as are prescribed or as the minister determines.”
We are saying to people who might want to divert the water, “Of course, you can do it if (1) you promise to tell the minister about it; (2) show him how you intend to do it, with some plans; (3) pay him, but we will make the payments easy for you too.” I can see the ads now. They will borrow from the furniture ads, “No payments till next year or the next century.”
It is an absolutely ridiculous bill which allows the Minister of Natural Resources to do what he wants with our water. What is even worse than the present system is that it does not require any more legislation. If this bill were to pass in its present form, there would be no debate in this chamber, in the form of a bill before us, to debate whether or not a particular diversion was appropriate or not, because the minister is given final powers to do what he wants with it.
I ask the members opposite, do they really think this is standing up for Ontario’s interest, for Canada’s interest, in opposition to the free trade agreement? This is not in opposition to the free trade agreement; it is an endorsement of it, because it allows the minister to go ahead with it, to go with the flow, as it were.
There have been many examples of why we are fearful of the free trade agreement. I want to point out one no one has talked about a lot which I think is terribly important. I have here the actual free trade agreement itself and the articles contained therein. Article 408, “Export Taxes,” reads, “Neither party” -- meaning the US and Canada -- “shall maintain or introduce any tax, duty, or charge on the export of any good to the territory of the other party, unless such tax, duty, or charge is also maintained or introduced on such good when destined for domestic consumption.”
What that really is saying to us is we cannot do anything domestically to a product or a service we do not do to our trading partner, in this case, the US. That is the kind of statement we would like to see this government challenge in areas where we have some jurisdiction. To go back to the supply of energy, why would the minister not introduce a bill that said we are directly challenging that section and we are going to put into place a law that says there shall be a different price for energy in northern Ontario than there is for the energy we export? I am not saying that as a representative of northern Ontario so much as someone who wants to see a direct challenge to this free trade agreement by Ontario.
I will say it once again. If this free trade agreement dies, it will be because of events outside Ontario. It will not be anything that this government has done to interfere with the working of the free trade agreement, because once he got his majority government in 1987, the Premier backed off and said maybe he thought he could have a veto power, but now he realizes he could not and basically what he would have done was gone along with the free trade agreement if it so transpired.
Mr. Harris: I thank my colleagues for having allowed me a couple of minutes to get a couple of thoughts on the record. First of all, this motion is a motion of lack of confidence by this House in the government. It is a motion I heartily endorse and a motion I will be supporting. This motion also specifies that the House lacks confidence in the government as a result of its handling or mishandling of the free trade issue. I share that sentiment. I believe very strongly that this government has failed the people of Ontario in its handling of the whole free trade issue.
Third, this motion talks about the free trade deal in the context of the interests of ordinary working people in this province. I sincerely believe that this government deserves our lack of confidence because of its handling of the free trade deal, and specifically in the interests of and for the benefit of the ordinary working people of this province.
They have done nothing over the period since they have been in office, recognizing that tariff barriers were coming down slowly around the world and indeed with the United States, with or without the free trade deal. They have done nothing to address those areas of economic readjustment that we all acknowledge will be required in some of the sectors. They have done nothing to reach out for the tremendous opportunities that free trade will bring to Ontario.
Indeed, virtually every state of the United States and virtually every other province believes this deal will be of the most benefit to Ontario. We have done nothing to prepare to capitalize on those opportunities that will be made available to this province. I would go so far as to say that with or without this free trade deal, we know the Premier has said he is committed to free trade with the United States. John Turner has said that he is committed to free trade with the United States. Those are the types of things that a provincial government can be and should be and ought to be doing.
I support the motion. I have no confidence in this government. I think it has bungled free trade on behalf of Ontario and I think it has not kept the interests of ordinary working people in the province in mind.
Mr. Pelissero: I consider it an honour and a privilege to put some remarks on the record with respect to this government’s performance and the dialogue that has been carried on with respect to the free trade agreement and agriculture.
I think that ever since the free trade agreement was first released in its draft form, from the very beginning the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) held a seminar to which he invited officials from the United States to talk about the implications and the impact of the free trade agreement on the agricultural sector. The implications for the agricultural sector are long-term and far-reaching. They have, in fact, been estimated at anywhere from a $100-million to a $110-million negative impact on the primary producers alone. I underscore “primary production alone” because there is the processing sector which I would like to talk a little bit about, as well.
I think it is important to review what the status of the trading arrangement was in the agricultural commodities that are produced in Ontario. In the red meat sector, we virtually had free trade between Canada and the United States. There were some nontariff barrier issues that were being addressed. Indeed, there was a countervail action brought against our pork industry. There was a split decision between live hogs and the finished product.
In the cash crop sector, most of the time we are in competition with the United States as opposed to its being a customer of ours. We grow some high-quality wheat in certain parts of Ontario and Canada that they do not grow in the United States. We are, in fact, competition to the United States, as opposed to being customers.
The fruit and vegetable industry has been identified as an industry that will lose because of this agreement because they put in a small provision called the snapback provision, which means that the arrangement reverts to the agreements that were in place prior to the free trade agreement. If you talk to individuals in the fruit and vegetable industry, they will tell you that the current arrangements are not worth the paper they are written on, because by the time they establish the fact that dumping or injury has occurred, it is far too late in the season.
In terms of supply management, probably the biggest falsity that is being put forward by the federal government and Brian Mulroney is saying that we have left supply management intact. In fact, they have done that in name only, because the supply management systems have been set up to meet a domestic requirement. They are never set up to meet an export requirement; they are always set up to meet a domestic need. Because of this agreement, product will be able to enter into this country as it never has before, in a finished form. If our producers in the supply management system will not meet the price at which they have to sell to the processors, the processors will in fact move to the United States.
I would like to read annex 706 into the record, and maybe title it “When is a Chicken not a Chicken?” It is on page 119 of the actual free trade agreement. Article 706 establishes the amount of chicken that can come into the country because of the quota arrangements that we have in the province. Annex 706 says:
“(a) chicken and chicken products means chicken and chicken capons, live or eviscerated, chicken parts, whether breaded or battered, and chicken products manufactured wholly thereof, whether breaded or battered.”
“Without limiting the generality of subparagraph 1(a),” which I just read, “chicken and chicken products does not include chicken cordon bleu, breaded breast of chicken cordon bleu, chicken Kiev, breaded breast of chicken Kiev, boneless Rock Cornish with rice, stuffed Rock Cornish, boneless chicken with apples and almonds, chicken Romanoff Regell, chicken Neptune breast, boneless chicken Panache, chicken TV dinners, old roosters and ‘spent fowl’ commonly called ‘stewing hen.’”
That is what chicken will not include. For those members who are watching at home and for the members who are not familiar with agriculture, that means processed product can come in here unchecked, and because it can come in here unchecked, the need for our producers to produce the product in a raw form is diminished. The processors will be going to the individuals who produce the supply-managed commodities and saying, “Look, either you match the price that we can get the chicken out of Georgia at or we’ll buy from Georgia or simply move our plants down to the United States.”
Also, something for the record: They negotiated and say: “Well, we gave up a small percentage. We increased the level of chicken coming into the country by one per cent.” For every one per cent increase in the amount of chicken that comes into the country from the United States, there is $18 million that is lost to Ontario and to Canada.
There are immediate impacts to be felt in some commodities -- the wine industry, for instance, and the fruit and vegetable sector. I attended the same set of meetings that my friend the member for Simcoe West (Mr. McCague) attended in terms of Europe. I came away with a totally different impression as to what the Europeans were telling us. They were saying that because of the free trade agreement, when we get into international trading arrangements through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, they will be viewing Canada as part of the United States. They have as much as said that when they have dealt with the United States, they will have felt that they have dealt with Canada. We may have attended the same meetings, but we came away with two different impressions.
I think the ramifications for us when we have negotiated away the agricultural production and the agricultural processing industry, which is responsible for one in five jobs in this country, will be long-term and detrimental. We, as a government, have identified the facts and attempted to let them be known. We do that through speaking engagements and the actions that we have taken to date as a government.
I guess the first thing, having been involved with the committee since its inception and the three reports that we issued to the House on free trade, is that it is indeed a very difficult and confusing issue. I actually feel sorry for the average Canadian, to some degree, when he tries to comprehend all the different propaganda, if you will, the information, selective facts and so forth, because it is an extremely difficult topic to try to understand.
I want to touch on a few topics today that perhaps have not been the norm. The one that has to be addressed is the motive. I am not going to talk about the motive for the motion. I understand politics. I want to talk about motives that might be perceived from the standpoint of my leader, the Premier of Ontario, David Peterson.
Ontario, thankfully, is the most prosperous province in Canada; a province that had seven consecutive years of increase in gross national product without, I point out, a free trade agreement. It is a province that by everyone’s deduction is going to be either the biggest winner or the biggest loser, assuming free trade is implemented, which in its present form I hope it is not.
Why would David Peterson, the Premier of Ontario, drag his feet on this? Why would he say, “I am against this”? Lord knows there are a lot of Liberals out there who support this deal. There are a lot of Conservatives who do not. There are even some NDPers, I am told, who are in favour of this particular deal. To some degree, it is not really a partisan issue.
Why would he say no to this deal? Well, it has been said by certain sources that David Peterson wants to be the Prime Minister of Canada. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you were laying the groundwork to be Prime Minister of Canada, would you say you were against a deal that was supported by seven out of 10 provinces, including Liberal governments? That does not make any sense.
Is he trying to be politically expedient? Is he doing it to get re-elected? I remind you that he has recently been elected with a new mandate and one of the largest majorities in the history of Ontario. He is fairly secure from a political standpoint, if we want to get down to the bottom line.
Would the Premier all of a sudden get hit by a lightning bolt in the middle of the night, notwithstanding some thoughts that are coming out of the opposition benches at the moment? Did he get an apparition that said, “Premier, you had better stand up and tell all of the world, all of Canada, that this is a bad deal”? The way he and this government came to this conclusion was with concise input, with a logical train of thought and with facts.
We have the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, which I had the pleasure of being involved with for three years, with a minister who is an outspoken opponent of this deal -- we will hear him later confirm this -- which has some of the best experts, certainly in Canada if not in North America. We have legal experts in this ministry, as well as in the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, who have analysed this deal. We have a law firm, a very respectable law firm in Washington, that is employed by the province of Ontario to give its input on this deal. The conclusion is that it is a bad deal. We are no further ahead today than we were the day before Brian Mulroney, the Prime Minister, decided to undertake discussions into a free trade deal. So it is based on fact.
Another question is, they say, “The Premier said a bunch of things before the election, and now, of course, he is not being consistent.” I remind the House that before the election we had no idea what the deal was going to be. Then all of a sudden, on December 11, we get 1,200 pages of the most convoluted, obtuse documentation that this country has ever seen. It is crazy. Just to talk about timing for a second: December 11 was the first day the Canadian public saw the deal, Christmastime. We had something like 11 working days to make up our minds on this deal. Twelve hundred pages of convoluted documentation that I believe no one really understands to the nth degree. We had 11 days for one of the most important documents in the history of this country. That does not make any sense to any normal business person, I do not believe; none at all.
Having said that, the reality is that when we got these 1,200 pages, the federal government was smart enough, and I think intentionally so, to make it so that it did not affect provincial jurisdiction. This is my understanding; I believe it is the Premier’s understanding. Constitutional experts have said there is really only one area where it impinges on provincial jurisdiction, and that is the wine and grape area. We are also simultaneously being hit with a GATT ruling that says we have to deal with it, and we are, not to the satisfaction of everyone, but we are still working on it. So there really is not a heck of a lot we can do, in my view, from a constitutional standpoint.
I am grateful that at least the people of Canada are going to have a say in it. Obviously by the recent polls they are becoming more tuned to, in my view, the facts that this Premier, this government and this Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology have been trying to present to the people.
The second thing I want to talk about is probably the part in the deal that frightens me the most, and that is the energy section. I can remember going down to Washington and after the press and media had left we were about to have lunch with some senators from the United States. One representative, I think his name was Dingell, was the finance subcommittee chairman, I believe. He put his arm -- and I have said this before -- around the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke), he hugged him and he said, “Look, son, there’s nothing we Americans want more than a fair advantage over you Canadians.” Some people laughed, but truer words were never spoken, because they got it.
I talked about the timing from our perspective. Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, with a bill of this magnitude -- and there was a lot of opposition from the United States initially -- when it comes to the House in the United States, it passes in one day? When it goes to the Senate, it passes in one day. Why? Because they got a bad deal?
I remember talking to Sam Gibbons in a committee meeting -- and some of the members on the committee will remember this -- about the energy section of this deal. Sam Gibbons stood up and said: “I can’t believe that. I’m going to have to check into it, sir.” He was dumfounded that we would sell away our energy resources to the degree we did.
I believe personally what happened on that infamous day was that Simon Reisman walked away from the negotiating table and the Prime Minister sent Mike Wilson and Pat Carney down there. They sold the farm.
The member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean) talked about being left with a skeleton and we are going to renegotiate and put some meat on those bones. I am telling members, the skeleton is in dire straits if we have those guys negotiating.
I was in the banking business before I got into this life of crime. People used to say: “Rick, what are interest rates going to do? What’s the Canadian dollar going to do?” Well, I can tell the people of Ontario with the greatest degree of certainty that in my 13 years in the banking business I have an answer for them that without question they can take to the bank. We can have one guarantee as regards interest rates and the currency in this country vis-à-vis the American dollar and other currencies; that is they are going to fluctuate. That is the only guarantee.
I remind people that before we started negotiations our buck was at a 28-cent differential. Now, it is 20 cents. That is a fact of life. I think that is a fact of market forces and pre-election jitters. Quite frankly, if the Canadian dollar goes a little lower I will be happier.
I am proud to say I am a member of this government. I am proud to say that I follow David Peterson’s leadership and I am proud to say “Thank goodness for John Turner,” because he got the message out, notwithstanding what Ed Broadbent thinks.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I join the debate with a sense of déjà vu. We had a major debate on this subject over Christmas and all members will certainly remember that situation when we were here past our normal recess time.
I have been listening all afternoon and I can say that in my opinion there has been no plowing of new fields; we have gone back over and over some of the same issues. But I would certainly like to put into the record the position of the government, where we are, how we got there, and what we have done.
First, I think it is important that the members know and that people who are watching know we have an issue that is absolutely at the core of our sense of country. Unfortunately it is being debated on two levels; one is on the economic concept of free trade, on which everybody seems to have an opinion, and the other is on the deal itself, on which very few people have an opinion because very few people understand it.
We have a poll done by the business community, and I think it would be fair to say that if any single group should know about the deal, you would think it would be members of the business community because, to them, it is going to affect their bottom line, and yet a poll done by the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Toronto shows that of the businesses canvassed, 76.7 per cent of them do not understand the free trade agreement, and that was as recently as Monday when the results were reported.
So we have this two-level discussion, and I think it is important that people understand that we as a government have no problem with the economic concept of free trade. We are a trading partner; we are a trading province; it is absolutely critical to our economic wellbeing, probably more than any other country in the world. Fully close to 35 per cent of our gross domestic product is directly related to trade, which means that every 35 cents of every dollar that we have in our pockets is there because of trade. Compare that to the United States where it is 10 cents, and compare it to Japan where it is 15 cents.
Certainly anything that would enhance our ability to trade is something that we would desire, and surely when we have the largest market in the world, the United States, as our next-door neighbour, where we share the same continent and where 90 per cent of our trade is now -- and we are its largest customer -- surely anything that would enhance that is to be desired and we would support it.
So what has happened? We were assured by a Prime Minister that this was going to benefit Canada, and I can say to members that if it were to benefit anybody, it would have benefited Ontario, because we are the major trading partner with the United States.
We, as a government, and our Premier looked at the proposal the Prime Minister had made and said that we would be prepared to support it under certain conditions. Again, I do not want to rehash that whole argument, but I will tell members the single most important condition we were looking for was security of access.
Let’s take a look at the geo-economic facts that were involved in it. First of all, Canada is a country of 25 million people. We are now very, very closely integrated with the United States economy. We are a branch plant economy. We have fewer people than California. So what is the big deal for the United States? What is it that they were looking for? Surely they were not looking for a greater penetration into our manufacturing sector; they already are the most significant foreign investor. We do not have exact figures because they do not break it out for Ontario, but I would put out a figure of about 40 per cent. I cannot say that is exactly the figure, but that is my best guesstimate. So surely that was not an issue.
It was not an issue that they did not have access to our market. All you have to do is look around in the streets, in the shops, in the movie theatres, on television, and you will find that they dominate. They absolutely do dominate.
Where were we? What was our raison d’être? What was the thing we needed? Every businessman who has appeared before me and talked to me in front of the cabinet subcommittee said exactly the same thing, “We want security of access.”
What does that mean? There is a misconception out there. It is very disheartening when you hear the rhetoric and the hyperbole that are being given out, that there is an iron curtain across our border, and if we could only get this deal, that curtain will rise and we will get access to 250 million consumers. That is absolute rubbish. At the present time, fully 80 per cent of the goods and services traded between our two countries are duty free. Although there is no question that we would love to have greater access so there would be no barriers, we have a very significant trading relationship now.
What we really wanted was to make sure that we kept that relationship, that we were not subject to the capricious actions of the Department of Commerce -- that is absolutely critical -- so we would not be subjected to the softwood lumber, the cedar shakes and shingles, that kind of thing. That is what we wanted, and if we could get it, we were prepared to give up something.
What happened? I can tell members that the Premier, myself and the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) went to Ottawa where we met with our colleagues from across the country and with the Prime Minister to look at the elements of the deal.
I want to pick up on a point made by my colleague the member for Guelph. Being politicians, if this were a good deal, not only would we have supported it, but we would have taken credit for it. We would have said, “It is a good deal, and the only reason it is a good deal is because Ontario got the deal.” But what happened is that we went in, we looked at the deal and we said: “It is not a good deal. It does not meet the basic criteria of the exercise.”
There is no question that there is some dispute. It has been argued in the law firms of Canada, it has been argued in the press, and it has been argued at forums, at debates and in various legislatures across this country as to what we got and what we did not get.
In my opinion -- it is an opinion that is backed up by many other authorities; I am certainly going to quote one, anyway -- the thing we got was a dispute settlement mechanism that may or may not be better than what we had. Again, that is subject to interpretation. Before, we had access to the international court in New York. Now we have a bilateral panel made up of two Americans, two Canadians and a chairman to be selected by both parties. What we did not get is security of access.
What does that mean? The most vexatious thing that happens to Canadian exporters is the enforcement of either a 201 or a 301 action. The 201 has to do with dumping and the 301 has to do with countervail. What that means is that under dumping, you are selling a product in another jurisdiction below the cost of your product where you are in your jurisdiction. Under countervail, you are selling a product that in the opinion of the perceived offended party, has been subsidized back home.
That, of course, is the issue behind the softwood lumber case. As members know, we are paying a 15 per cent surtax to redress that seeming inequity on the part of the allegations made by the United States.
The problem we have is that this particular trade remedy is used capriciously. The Department of Commerce does it when it thinks it can make a case and dissuade Canadian exporters. That is the thing we were trying to get recourse from.
I would like to quote the Prime Minister; I think one of my colleagues already has. He said in the Globe and Mail on April 20, 1987, the US “‘trade remedy laws cannot apply to Canada, period.’” That is what we are talking about.
Let me quote another official. This one happens to be Ann Hughes, who is the deputy assistant secretary for the western hemisphere in the US Department of Commerce. She was writing in a publication called Trade Trends.
She says, “Guaranteed access to the US market that Canada got from the agreements is” -- she is talking about the guaranteed access. She says: “Canada wanted to be exempted from US anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws, or at least wanted to have them changed to provide a more predictable business environment. In the end, the issues were too complex and difficult to resolve in the time available to us.” Ann Hughes makes it clear that we did not get it.
That is basically the crux of what this document was supposed to do. It was to protect our investors. We did not get it. We did not get a lot of other things and we said, “We are not going to support it.”
A more dramatic example of that particular issue is what has just happened with Bethlehem Steel. Members, I am sure, will know that the Department of Commerce in the United States has accepted the petition of Bethlehem Steel against Sysco, which is Sydney Steel Corp., in Nova Scotia, and Algoma Steel in Ontario. What is most significant about their acceptance of that petition is the basis of their acceptance. What they have agreed to look into, and I think that when we are talking about lies -- I do not want to use rhetoric, but it puts the lie to the allegations that regional development programs are not under attack, that a lot of these other programs are not under attack.
Let me just list what programs are being questioned by the Department of Commerce: the income tax exemption for Sysco; certain investment tax credits; regional development incentives programs and industrial and regional development programs -- that is, Department of Regional Economic Expansion, Department of Regional Industrial Expansion -- loans under the enterprise development program; defence industry productivity program, which I referred to the other day in the House, called DIPP; promotional projects program; programs for export market development; the federal expansion and development of northern Ontario-Fednor, the Northern Ontario Development Advisory Board for those members who are in the north who know about it; community-based industrial adjustment program grants; export credit financing; equity infusions, grants, loans and loan guarantees provided to Sysco; iron ore freight subsidy to Algoma; mineral development agreement benefits to Algoma; general development agreements; economic and regional development agreements.
That is an issue that, with or without the free trade agreement, we are going to have to deal with. The significant point is that if you are going to accept the free trade agreement, there is a provision in there for a standstill, which means both parties would agree that until the agreement is signed there will be no implementation of anything that counters the agreement. And what do we have? We have the Department of Commerce accepting the petition of Bethlehem Steel, which effectively means that every one of our incentive programs or regional development programs is open to attack.
There has been a lot of talk over the last few days about the various amendments or bills that we have brought in and that have been categorized as anti-free trade legislation. I would like to talk to that briefly, in that under the constitutional audit that was done by the Attorney General, he and his officials determined that there are provisions in this agreement that can affect the sovereignty of our jurisdiction and of Canada. I think it is important that members understand what we are talking about when we mean “sovereignty.”
Sovereignty does not mean what a lot of people think it does, and that is that they are going to take over our country and we are going to lose it. What it means is that we are no longer going to have the ability to determine our own fate. It means that under this agreement, we now have a third party sitting at the table with us to determine what it is we should be doing and whether or not it complies with what the Americans think would be fair and equitable. It may work out, it may not, but it is important that members know that we have now opened the door, that we now have -- if this agreement goes through -- a third party sitting at the table, telling us, “You can or cannot do that because of this agreement.”
I also want to address another situation that is very current today. By coincidence or happenstance, we are involved in observing a federal election to the south of us. It is a little early to know the results, but if the polls hold, I do not think there is any question that George Bush will be the President of the United States.
At the present time, we have a situation at Sydney Steel Corp., and Algoma is a perfect example, where steel companies around the world operate under what is known as a VRA, a voluntary restraint agreement. Canada is not part of that. We have a gentleman’s agreement and that allows us to go to about 3.5 per cent of the market. The thrust by Bethlehem Steel is to force us into that voluntary restraint agreement.
This is a letter dated November 4. This is not ancient history, this is not something that someone dredged up over two or three years ago. This was written just about a week ago, and it was written by George Bush, the Vice-President of the United States, to the Honourable John Heinz. John Heinz, I am sure some members know, is of Heinz Ketchup fame, but his more recent fame is that he is the leader of the steel lobby in the United States. In the letter to Mr. Heinz, George Bush says:
“I can assure you of my intention to continue the voluntary restraint program after September 30, 1989. As Vice-President, I worked to prevent the sacrifice of our industry to those who choose not to subject themselves to the disciplines of the market and I have no intention of abandoning that commitment if I am elected President.”
So we have a situation. I can tell members that when I met with the Canadian steel association, it told me that without this free trade agreement it would not have any protection. I suggest that with or without this agreement, they will not have the protection and this agreement will not give them the protection they seek.
In the last couple of minutes I have, I want to address one last issue that was brought up earlier in the debate, and that is the auto pact. Members will know -- I have told them before -- that I have a letter from the Prime Minister of Canada, dated July 3, 1987, to the Premier in which he says:
“On the Canada-US negotiations, our position has been made clear on numerous occasions and again recently in the House of Commons. We believe that the auto pact is working well. Canada has not and will not address the pact in the negotiations.”
That was written only about six weeks before they signed the agreement. Someone earlier today
-- a member of the third party, actually -- raised: “Why worry? The auto pact can be cancelled in one year and the free trade agreement can be cancelled in six months.”
I suggest to members that the auto pact has been in effect for 22 years. It has benefited the United States during some of that time and benefited Canada and Ontario in other parts of the time. Experts are unanimous that the auto pact is not affected, but with the free trade agreement, and I think this is very significant, you cannot unscramble the egg. If you put this agreement into effect, it is not an auto pact. It touches every sector, every fibre of our country, and to suggest that once all these things go into place and after all of these things happen, you are going to put it back together again is not only silly; it is not dealing with reality.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I will finish in a moment. I would suggest to members that we have been diligent. We have kept the people of Ontario totally informed, We have been the only government, with the exception of Prince Edward Island’s, that has been in tune with its people. If you take a look at the recent polls you will find that in every region of this country there are more people opposed to the agreement than are in favour of it. I can say to you that we have dealt with this in a responsible, consistent manner and we will certainly be voting to defeat the motion.
Mr. Brandt: I welcome this opportunity to respond in part to what the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) offered to this House by way of a reason for his party’s particular and unusual position with respect to the proposed free trade agreement. It is interesting to note in the wording of the nonconfidence motion that some reflections were made back to a certain point in time, in reference to commitments made by the government, both in connection with the six-point platform, the no-deal platform that has now become rather infamous in Ontario politics, as well as the promise of a veto with respect to this deal.
Although I part company with the official opposition with respect to its position on free trade, I have to part company in a very dramatic sense from the government’s lack of follow-through with respect to its promises to the people of Ontario. It comes as no surprise to those in this House that I am going to be speaking on the other side of the issue as it relates to the reasons my party very firmly and consistently has supported a trade pact with the United States of America. We do so in what we believe to be, and I say this to you in all sincerity, the best interests of the people of Ontario and the best interests of the people of Canada.
I believe with respect to the comments made by the good Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology that some of the polls are shifting in connection with the support for this deal right across the country. I would have to suggest to him that there is still some fundamental misunderstanding as to what this deal contains. I believe that this kind of information quite intentionally has been politically motivated by some parties in an attempt to confuse the electorate as to what is really the substantive essence of what this deal is all about.
I now hear the Premier talking -- I just asked the minister to listen carefully to this because I happen to have shared the responsibilities of his portfolio not all that long ago. I understand the responsibilities of that portfolio. I also understand the challenges.
When the Premier stands up and starts talking now about making some arrangements with the United States on a sectoral basis, in other words on a category-by-category basis, in order to reduce tariffs and to ease the two-way flow of trade between the two largest trading nations in the entire world, I would say he is whistling past the graveyard, my friend. The United States has already indicated very clearly, and surely the minister should understand this, that if he defeats this deal, if he is able to be successful in his present course of action in defeating a comprehensive trade deal with the United States of America, there will be no choice. The option will be no choice, no deal whatsoever being available to him.
Certainly, the United States is not going to come back to him at that time and say that it wants to have an opportunity to discuss the chemical sector, the manufacturing sector, the agricultural sector and so forth through the entire Ontario economy. They have already rejected that as an option. The members opposite should make it very clear in their minds that if they think there is going to be some kind of fallback position that is going in some way to erase all of the problems, errors and omissions that have been created as a result of the rejection of this deal, it is simply not going to happen.
What the United States has indicated is that it wants to have a balanced, comprehensive trade deal, which in effect, based on the judgement of most of the people in this country who have read the document, the 1,300 pages, and have analysed it carefully, have come to the conclusion that this deal is in the best interests of Canadians.
We have the prestigious C. D. Howe Institute, which has come to the conclusion that there will really be two effects as a result of a trade deal with the United States, one being an increase in the number of jobs to Canadians. They estimate that number at some 250,000 net gain over the normal number of jobs that would be created over the course of the next 10 years. The leader of their federal party has said that is not really of consequence, that is really an infinitesimal number of jobs.
Mr. Brandt: There are 250,000 Canadians who might beg to differ with the member’s leader on that point were they to know and understand very clearly that there will be net jobs added to the Ontario and the Canadian economy as a result of this deal over the next --
Mr. Brandt: The 400,000 jobs will not be gone. That is a misleading statement. There are no studies other than the ones that the minister brought in in-house out of his own ministry that indicated a net loss of jobs. The only objective outside studies that were done indicate that there will be a net gain of jobs.
The C. D. Howe Institute is not a political party. They do not represent this political party or the New Democrats or the Liberals, for that matter, but are trying to bring about an analysis of public policy to indicate whether or not it is in the best interests of Canadians. What they have concluded, in addition to a net gain of jobs, is that there will be a reduction in consumer prices to Canadians.
Those two very important measures that politicians talk about at election time, “Number one, I’m going to create jobs, and number two, I’m going to reduce prices,” are the very things the opposition is shoving aside as being of no consequence in this deal. I think they should be ashamed of themselves for doing that, because they have in fact misled the Canadian people, when you take a look at the substantive articles within this particular pact, and I am going to get to them in the amount of time that is available to me.
Let me say that, in addition to the C. D. Howe Institute, you have 8 out of 10 premiers, some of them Liberal premiers like Premier Bourassa in Quebec, who have unequivocably indicated their support for this deal. He has indicated that it is of substantial importance to the people of his province, and some of the other provinces are taking a look at what they consider to be fat cat Ontario and they are saying, “Why are you not giving us the opportunity to trade freely with the United States, as you are doing in the auto pact? Why can’t we do that in the energy sector? Why can’t we do that --
Mr. Brandt: The minister says it is different. Let me tell him how different it is. It is a managed sectoral activity with respect to Canada and the United States. It is no different from reducing the tariffs, removing the impediments to trade as outlined in the trade pact.
Mr. Brandt: The minister says they are wrong. He does not happen to be a Premier at the moment. The fact of the matter is that 8 out of 10 of them have indicated quite clearly that they support the pact.
The Group of Seven industrial countries, the strongest free-market countries in the entire world, when they came here to Toronto to attend the economic summit, indicated their support for the deal and said: “It’s a good deal for Canada. It makes you part of a trading bloc, which is no different whatever than other countries in the world are entering into.”
Mr. Brandt: Let me say to the minister that I am not concerned what the polls are indicating. I am concerned, frankly, about what is best for Canadians. He can read the polls. I will say what I state and what I believe to be in the best interests of Canadians.
I want to say that in connection with the seven industrialized nations that came to the conclusion that this was a good deal, are government members really all so naive as to believe that what is happening in the rest of the world is not going to impact on Canada? Do they really think that what is going on in the European Community or the European common market is not something that is going to affect the minister’s trade figures?
Do they really not believe that Australia and New Zealand entering into a trade pact and the proposed trade pacts that are emerging now in the Pacific Rim countries are not in fact slicing up this very small world of ours into economic sectors that are going to have the net effect of keeping some of Canada’s and Ontario’s exports out of those markets?
Does the government not think that the status quo, just sitting here and allowing all of these things to emerge, as it apparently is at the moment, without entering into some kind of a bond with our strongest trading partner, as other countries have done, is not in the best economic interests of this province and this country?
Mr. Brandt: The minister says, “At what price?” My friend well knows that 90 per cent of the exports out of this province at the moment go to the United States of America. If those exports start to get shut down or start to slow down as a result of some retaliation for our not entering into this trade pact or not signing the deal, does the member for Lambton (Mr. Smith) realize, when he goes back to his constituents, that fully 30 per cent of all jobs in this province are directly dependent upon exports to the United States?
Members can play that down as being insignificant. I say it is not insignificant, because it relates back to the very piece of misinformation that the Liberal Party has been spreading with respect to a host of social programs and a whole series of other red herrings that it has been putting before the people of Ontario as reasons it is opposing this deal.
Let me cite just some of them. The government has indicated that pensions are at risk. There is no mention whatever about pensions in this trade pact that puts them at risk, and anyone who says otherwise, with respect, is lying to the people of this province.
Mr. Brandt: They should stand up and tell me if there is and they should tell me the page. I will give all members of this House the opportunity right now to tell me on what page pensions are being challenged in the trade agreement, because they do not know a page on which the pensions are being challenged. They know full well that there is no challenge to that particular social program.
Mr. Brandt: No. Let me say to the member for Lambton, with respect, I stand here as a proud Canadian concerned about the future of my country and my province, and he is making a very grave and serious mistake taking the attitude that he is.
Mr. Brandt: When a member of the government suggests that I am selling my soul and wraps himself in the Canadian flag, he does both himself and his party a disservice. Again, the member should be embarrassed at making that kind of remark. I would hope that the level of debate in this House would deal with the specifies of this agreement rather than the kind of negative emotionalism that the member has been trying to sell.
Let me talk about the water articles in the agreement for a moment. The government has been spreading the untruth that in fact Ontario water is for sale, that we want to export it to the United States. For two years, I had the honour and the opportunity to serve as the Minister of the Environment in this province. I attended meetings with the seven Great Lakes states in the USA as well as the two bordering Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec. We unanimously agreed that there would be no advantage whatever under any circumstances to the export of water out of the Great Lakes basin to any of the US states that would covet our water. Those were American states as well as Canadian provinces.
So then when we look in the free trade agreement -- I say to the people in the gallery, because I am appealing to the people of Canada and Ontario to read the articles in the agreement with respect to water -- do members know what it talks about? Have my friends read it? I should ask for a show of hands. That ought to be embarrassing. I know my colleague from Nipissing has read it. I have no doubts about him whatsoever. But I want to tell members what that particular article talks about is bottled water.
Mr. Brandt: When that particular article came up for dispute and for debate in the federal House, the minister quite appropriately, in order to remove any question whatever as to how water would be treated, brought forward an amendment which made it clear that water would not be exported in the context of the free trade agreement. What did this government do? This government said, “We’re going to license the export of water.”
Why did the government not do what the minister is now saying, now that he realizes he made a dumb mistake with respect to the legislation that he brought forward? Why did he not say very simply, without any equivocation whatever, that there will be no export of water from Ontario? Why did he not say that?
He would have had the support of the New Democrats, he would have had the support of our party, he would have had total and unanimous agreement in this House that water would not be exported from Ontario. Simple as that. The government could have removed any question of doubt, but that is not what it wanted to do. It wanted to license the export of water and still leave that doubt in people’s minds. I think that is rather silly and unnecessary.
In the few minutes that are remaining to me, I doubt very much that I will change one of those paralysed minds opposite in connection with this particular issue. If we think this great country, which we all love so dearly, can exist with our 25 million people without doing business with the rest of the world, we are in fact sadly mistaken.
Mr. Brandt: The Liberal members should listen carefully for a moment. I know comprehension is a problem for those in the back row, but they should listen carefully. What in fact the Liberal government is saying is: “No, we want to trade, but we don’t like this deal. This deal gives us some anxieties.” Is that not what they are saying? Then the next illogical leap they make in terms of coming to grips with that is, “Well, now we will move to a sectoral agreement.” But what about the guys they want to negotiate the sectoral agreement with? It takes two to tango, two to make a deal and two in this particular partnership to arrive at a negotiated settlement between Canada and the United States.
They have already said to the minister, “We don’t want any part of your sectoral, piecemeal kind of approach to free trade, to do it on a sector-by-sector basis.” They have already rejected that as an option. The government should know full well that it cannot retreat from this position it has entrenched itself in. They are not going to be able to fall back and find some nice, easy option available to them. What they are going to find, in my view, and I hope this does not come to pass, but let me for the record simply state that there are --
Mr. Brandt: Yes, I will be alarmist. If the member can be an alarmist on water, if he can be an alarmist on pensions and on social programs, on Canadian identity and on culture, I will be an alarmist on something that I think is far less extreme and far more probable than anything he has brought up in the context of the trade agreement. I will tell him what it is.
Watch in the days and weeks ahead, if this pact is rejected, what is going to happen with respect to various sectors of the Ontario economy and ports that we want to get into that country. Watch what happens to the very economic foundation of this province; namely, the auto pact. Watch and see if we do not have voices from the United States ask for a renegotiation of that particular document, which happens to be to our advantage at the moment. Watch and see what happens in connection with that prediction because that is far more likely to come to pass than any attack on pensions or social programs. So I ask members to watch in the days and weeks ahead what is going to happen to the economy of this province.
As I conclude my remarks, let me simply make it clear that my party is going to support the nonconfidence motion because of the unpredictability and because of the total lack of cohesiveness in the approach being taken by the government of the day. Although we might have some modest disagreement with our friends in the opposition in connection with the actual detailed wording of this motion, we will stand up and be counted in opposition to what the government is attempting to do.
Mr. B. Rae: My party and I have been accused of having a political motive for introducing this motion. I plead guilty to the charge for the very simple reason that I have a very profound political motive for introducing this motion, and it really has two aspects to it.
The first is obviously to continue to expose the free trade agreement for what it is, the most profound sellout of this country contemplated in this century by any government elected anywhere in Canada, and to do everything in my power and the power of our party, in Ontario and across the country, to defeat the free trade agreement and to see that it is buried, never to rise again. That is the first purpose.
The second purpose is equally important. That is to expose the nature of the Liberal Party of Ontario and indeed, the Liberal Party of Canada, and to show the Liberal Party for what it is: at least a four- or five-headed monster that does one thing when in opposition and another thing in government.
I remind the people of this country that in 1974, Pierre Elliott Trudeau said when the issue was wage and price controls, “Vote for me and we’ll never introduce wage and price controls.” Zap, you are frozen. In 1975, he froze wages right across this country. That was a hypocrisy and a betrayal of historic proportions and I say, as a New Democrat, I not only fear, I know in my heart of hearts the kind of betrayal and the kind of turnaround that the Liberal Party has on its agenda when it comes to this issue of free trade.
I want to say to the Deputy Premier, I can remember seeing him on Channel 11 on CHCH a while ago, well before this was a major issue between anybody, speaking to a small group of business students. He was quoted as saying that on balance, he was a leap-of-faith person, on balance he favoured free trade and he supported the approach of Donald Macdonald and his royal commission when it came to the question of free trade.
I remember watching that and I remember saying to myself, “I wonder what advice the member for Brant-Haldimand is giving to his colleagues in Ottawa? I wonder what kind of advice he is giving to the Premier throughout all these negotiations?”
We have seen not just one Liberal Party, but two or three, but what we have seen is a Liberal Party that has, each and every time it has had the opportunity to do something about free trade in this province, dropped the ball. It has refused to act. It has betrayed its promises and its promises to the people of this province,
They ran an election campaign in 1987 which was a fraud and a hoax, which hoodwinked the people of this province into believing that there was something they could and would do about free trade, when they said after the election: “Wait a minute. We can’t do anything about it.” We had a government which from 1985 to 1987 said it was going to do something about free trade and did nothing at all about it.
It is quite astonishing, when you look at the contrast. Super Dave went into the ballot on September 10, 1987, saying that he was going to be standing up for us in the free trade talks. He said that we are not prepared to accept any free trade deal under which Canadian policies are dictated by United States interests. He said, “I won’t sell you out.” He said, “We would refuse to implement a free trade deal.” He said, “I have a veto.” He said, “I will exercise my veto.” He said, “There is a bottom line and there will be no deal,” and he named the famous six conditions. I can remember the six conditions. I can remember his telling reporters: “Oh, there will be more.” Then he went to the breweries and said: “No, there are not six. There are seven.” That was the Premier prior to the election of September 10, 1987.
Then we had a transformation, the transformation from Superman to Clark Kent, the transformation from Super Dave to Davos Dave. Listen to what Davos Dave said in February 1988 when be was surrounded by his chums from Bay Street, his chums in the big-business community, his pals who had been supporting him and his party to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, his friends who were invited to Davos with Dave.
What did he say? He said that he would rather renegotiate than tear up the free trade deal. He said that John Turner was a bit of an extremist. Imagine, thinking that John Turner was a bit of an extremist. He said, and I quote: “‘I would go back and make a better deal,’” Peterson told the Toronto Sun. “We have taken a ride pretty close to the altar to turn around and walk away.”
The real agenda of the Liberal Party is a marriage. All they are talking about now is dickering over the dowry. There is no difference between the Liberals and the Tories over the question of free trade. All they are dickering over is the size of the dowry.
Government members should listen to what he said. He is their guy. He can do no wrong. The Premier was described by the Minister of Energy as being right about whatever he says; so maybe members had better listen to the words.
He said: “I’m not in any position to speak for John Turner (and) I wouldn’t presume to give him advice,” Peterson said, “(But) I understand how one phrase, or one picture, can characterize a situation that never takes into account all (of) the subtleties.” Oh, how we know the subtleties of Liberalism. How we know the subtleties of the Liberal Party of this province. How we know that he says: “No, we are not going to rip it up. We will just maybe rip up one page. Maybe we will just take the cover off and put another cover on.”
He said that the price of walking away from the pact would be serious trade retaliation by the Americans. That is what the Premier said in February 1988. He agreed with the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt). He said: that, before things go that far, any new federal government should first try to renegotiate the pact. That is what the Premier said when he was surrounded by his business friends.
Then we have this remarkable transformation during the election campaign. What do we have? I have what I call my June collage of all the promises that were leaked, for the members, the children over there.
There is a story by Michael Bennett headlined “Ontario Unveils New Challenge to Free Trade,” in which he reported: “The Ontario government introduced a bill yesterday to protect provincial energy supplies in defiance of the free trade deal.”
Listen to the Windsor Star: “Energy Law Issues Free Trade Challenge.” “New Law Challenges Trade Deal.” “Peterson Energy Bill Challenges Free Trade Rights.” Gordon Sanderson in the London Free Press says: “In a direct challenge to the Canada-US free trade agreement, Ontario intends to put its own and Canada’s energy needs first.” That is what they said in June.
First of all, let’s take them in turn. We asked the toothless wonder, the Minister of Energy, today about his Power Corporation Act. Last week my House leader was told by the government House leader, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), that indeed Bill 168, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act, would be at the very top of the Liberal agenda this week because they wanted to give the House a chance to debate it. What do we find this week? The bill has evaporated. It is gone. It has disappeared.
I am reminded of the little light in Peter Pan. We all remember the little light in Peter Pan that went out. Everybody was wondering what happened to Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell evaporated. It disappeared. It went away. It has gone the way of all flesh --disappeared, gone, never to be seen again, never to be heard from again.
Then we have the terrible tiger, the Minister of Natural Resources. What a tiger. This is the bill that is going to save Ontario’s water, I will remind members. “Ontario to Protect Water from Trade Deal with US.” “US Drought Threat to Our Water,” Premier says. “Ontario Unveils Tough Bill to Control Vital Resource.”
“The minister may approve a transfer of water out of a provincial drainage basin subject to such conditions and subject to the payment to the crown of such amount as the minister considers appropriate, and
“The amount to be paid to the crown for a transfer of water...may be a lump sum, a fixed periodic payment, an amount calculated according to the quantity of water transferred or any combination thereof, and may be made payable on such terms as are prescribed or as the minister determines.”
As soon as that bill was exposed, what did the minister say? “I don’t know, maybe we’ll have to change the bill. Maybe we’ll have to reword it.” Then when he introduced the bill he said, “This bill is intended to deal with the free trade issue and it is intended to deal explicitly with the export of water to the United States.” That is what the minister said when he introduced the bill in June. That is what he told us.
That is what the Premier said. The Premier said we need this bill to deal with the possibility of exports leaving this province for the United States. That is what he said. Now when he stands up in the House he says maybe Manitoba will take some or maybe Quebec will take some. I say to the minister, we do not need this bill to deal with that question. This bill is a fraud, this bill is a hoax, this bill is a joke and this bill, just like the other bills, has gone the way of all flesh.
That is the issue. What is at issue here is the integrity of the Liberal Party, the credibility of the Liberal Party and the nature of the Liberal Party. On this issue of free trade, when it comes to doing what they said they would do, this Liberal Party has no credibility, no integrity, and indeed the Liberal Party of Canada does not deserve to be believed on the issue of free trade, based on our simple experience in this province.
It is an issue of the greatest importance, whom the people of this province can trust when it comes to the question of free trade. It is an issue that obviously has seized hold of the public imagination and will continue to seize hold of the public imagination for the next two and a half weeks prior to the election.
When people say to me, “All you are trying to do, Mr. Rae, is to get involved in the federal election campaign and all you are trying to do is raise issues that relate to the federal election campaign,” I have to say that the future of Canada is at stake. Canadians on November 21 are making probably the most important decision in an election they have made since the turn of the century.
I say to members I am going to do everything in my power to see that the Liberal Party whether in its Ontario manifestation or its Canadian manifestation, does not receive the support of the people of this province or of this country on this particular issue, because it has betrayed every major commitment it has made on free trade. It is not worthy and does not deserve the support of the people of Canada or Ontario on this issue. It does not deserve it.
That is what this is about. That is what this question is about. I can remember, in 1985, the Premier of the province saying that he was going to be the one who would stop the deal, only it would take a little time. I can remember the Premier of the province saying, when the negotiations were going on: “I don’t want to stop these negotiations. I don’t want to interfere with these negotiations or impede these negotiations, because they might come up with a good deal. It might be a good deal.”
He said: “Trust me, because I have a veto. Trust me, because if it’s not a good deal, I can stop it and I can block it.” He did not say that once in this House; he said it 50 times. He did not only say it inside the House; he said it outside and on the hustings.
Then in September 1987, he got an enormous mandate, and everybody in this room knows that one of the principal reasons he got that mandate was that the people of this province believed David Peterson when he said he would stop the free trade deal.
I do not mind saying that I said to them he was wrong. I said to the people of the province that was not what would happen. I will be damned if I am going to see that same trend repeated, because it just is not right to give the Liberal Party any kind of a mandate to deal with this question of free trade.
Then he got the full text in December -- here it is -- and he said: “I can’t tell you what I am going to do. I have to wait till I get the legislation.” Then he got the legislation and he said, “I can’t tell you what I am going to do, because it depends on how the legislation is implemented.” That is what he said.
Every step of the way, this is a government which has dropped the ball. Every step of the way, this is a government which has retreated. Every step of the way, this is a government which, with a nudge and a wink, has told the business community: “Don’t worry. We’re not going to block the deal.”
This is a government which has told the Premier of Alberta: “Don’t worry. We’re not going to block the deal.” This is a government which has said: “Don’t worry. We will not stop anything.” This is a government which has told the people that Mr. Turner should renegotiate the deal, that he should go back to the altar, that he should go a second time and a third time to the altar until he comes up with the right free trade agreement, a free trade agreement that is right for the Liberal Party.
Mr. B. Rae: Now we have some Liberals saying that is right; that is what their agenda really is. I think the people of Canada have a right to know that this Liberal Party is not opposed to a free trade agreement with the United States; it is in favour of a free trade agreement with the United States. What it wants is to have a deal which will be substantially the same as the one which is here and which is going to be renegotiated.
Mr. B. Rae: This is what they say. What they want is a free trade deal with a red cover. That is what they are looking at. If we just get rid of the cover and put some red on it, we will have exactly what the Liberal Party of this province and the Liberal Party of Canada ordered.
I happen to believe that our social services are at stake. I can point to sections 1402 and 1602. I happen to believe that section 2011 of the deal, on nullification and impairment, makes it impossible or virtually very difficult, for Canada to establish new social policies without facing incredible attacks from the insurance industry. I happen to believe that those sections which forbid and prevent Canadians from establishing export prices which are fair, are an absolute attack on our sovereignty and our capacity to run our own country.
I happen to believe that we did not get the kind of secure access which any country needs to get, I also happen to believe very profoundly that this Liberal Party, which had an opportunity as the leading government of the largest province in Confederation, had an opportunity since 1985 to mould a very different set of national policies than we have seen emerge, whether it is child care, where the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) wrings his hands in this place like Uriah Heep and then goes off and signs a deal with the federal government which will end up cutting back on child care, whether it is a question of skills development, whatever it may be. This government has a dual agenda -- sign its sales tax agreement with the federal government, go along with all discussions on the sales tax.
There is no real difference between the Liberals and Tories on those critical questions. We do not have to go far afield to know what is going to happen on taxation under a Liberal Party. All we have to look to is our own experience in this province since September 1987. We know exactly what the Liberals intend to do after November 21, if, God forbid, they should get a mandate.
I went into politics because I believed integrity and straightforward thinking and talking are critical for the future of this country and for the future of this province. I say to the Deputy Premier and to the Liberal Party, they have not served this province or this country well. The New Democratic Party is the one party which has consistently fought this free trade agreement from the very beginning in this province and across the country, and we will not rest until this deal is defeated and a New Democratic Party government is elected right across the country.
That the government lacks the confidence of this House because of its abject failure to deliver on its six-point promise during the 1987 election campaign that if certain conditions were not met on the Canada-US free trade negotiations there would be “no deal,” even though none of those conditions were met; and because the three so-called anti-free-trade bills now before this House -- bills 147, 168, 175 -- add nothing to the ability of the government of Ontario to resist, oppose or differ from the provisions of the Mulroney trade deal, in the interest of the ordinary working people of the province.
Allen, Brandt, Breaugh, Bryden, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Cureatz, Eves, Farnan, Grier, Hampton, Harris, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Laughren, Mackenzie, Martel, McCague, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Rae, B., Reville, Sterling, Wildman.
Adams, Ballinger, Beer, Black, Bradley, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Cleary, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Daigeler, Dietsch, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Fontaine, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Hošek, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kozyra, Kwinter, LeBourdais;
Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mahoney, Matrundola, McClelland, McGuigan, McGuinty, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Morin, Neumann, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Patten, Pelissero, Phillips, G., Polsinelli, Poole, Ramsay, Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Ruprecht, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, South, Stoner, Sullivan, Sweeney, Tatham, Velshi, Ward, Wilson, Wong.