Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I am anxious to support Bill 48, An Act respecting Massey-Ferguson Limited. I believe when this bill becomes law the final impediment to the complex financial reorganization of this troubled company will be removed. I am somewhat hesitant to see government involve itself, as a matter of principle, in extensive and rather expensive bail-out exercises. Clearly these are very difficult times. It is exceedingly difficult to explain to a small businessman or to a farmer -- and I have many in my constituency who are in difficulties -- that there is no way the government can involve itself or provide the same extent of assistance that Massey-Ferguson might be obtaining through this item of legislation.
It has been argued that Massey-Ferguson is a special case. I believe it may well be. I really doubt that it would be instructive to go through the litany of financial difficulties that Massey-Ferguson has been through in the past decade or perhaps two decades. Last year the company found itself in the most financially precarious position in its history. A slump in the world economy, drought, high interest rates, and competitive pressures were all factors in one of their worst years in history.
I was interested to note the press report at the time of the introduction of the bill, when it was first tabled, quoting a spokesman for the minister -- incidentally, it is interesting to note that more and more people are becoming spokesmen for the minister -- saying that it was simply a housekeeping bill. The spokesman was Mike Benedict, who advised it would be unlikely the province would ever exercise the purchase option, because it only would be done if the company defaulted on the loan. Simply put, the matter really boils down to the economic viability of the Massey operation. At best, it has to have a questionable future.
It is obvious that Massey-Ferguson is, in a rather prudent way, redirecting its priorities with a view to the economic realities of the world economy. The company traditionally has operated three segments. The third operation, I believe called Hanomag Construction, which involved the manufacture and sale of construction equipment, has been discontinued. The farm and industrial machinery division and the engine division operate in a number of countries, most of which have a myriad of complex licensing agreements.
Generally, the agreement that Massey will enter into with the governments of Canada and Ontario calls for the issue of eight million $25 -- and this is quite a phrase here, I am an amateur in the stock market and I do not know if I have ever bought any of these -- stated value, cumulative, redeemable, retractable preferred shares, series D. Quite frankly, I do not know what that means; I am not certain the minister does. He may well. If he does, possibly he should be a stockbroker instead of the minister, and he probably would obtain far better financial remuneration if he were in the stock market. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.
These stated value, cumulative, redeemable, retractable, preferred series D shares sound fairly safe to me. I believe the proposed rate of interest is one half Canadian prime plus 1.375 per cent. It is a public offering. The federal and provincial governments will be required to redeem the shares prior to 1991 if Massey-Ferguson does one of the following: fails to honour series D shares when due; fails to redeem any series D preferred shares pursuant to a retraction privilege by 1991, or if a windup or receiver is appointed for a period of 30 days.
If the company fails to pay one cumulative dividend in the series D group, shareholders would have the right to have the province and federal government buy out the shares and I believe a percentage amount of the outstanding dividend.
Mr. Cunningham: Possibly on January 1 we may see one. I am advised that if the company falls into difficulty in any of the aforementioned three areas a shareholder will have to exercise his right with regard to the default within 60 days. Failure to do that will cancel the option the shareholder had for the protection.
Should the guarantee be called, both governments would forward the necessary money to a trustee who will make necessary payments. The financial obligation would be divided on a percentage basis. For all of this Massey agrees to a number of covenants, which again are only as good as Massey’s ability to survive. I know all members of this Legislature who are concerned about the operation of this great historic Canadian company share my hope that the company’s future will be very good and the shareholders who are taking albeit a marginal risk on this endeavour will be compensated by good value for their venture.
Some of those principal covenants include that the company will seek to redeem outstanding shares, that is the series D shares from the following sources: proceeds of the exercise of any warrants, 50 per cent net cash proceeds from subsequent equity financing -- which in my view may hamper the possibility of the company obtaining new money if they need it, and it is quite likely they will -- and finally, 10 per cent of the amount by which the consolidated net income of the company and its subsidiaries earned in each fiscal year starting with the 1981 fiscal year exceeds $50 million.
It is my understanding as well that both the appropriate ministers must approve the Massey-Ferguson plans in general and that for the most part increased production will be a reality in Canada. We are going to see increased production. In addition the company has made a commitment to increase its research and development involvement in Canada. One of the fundamental problems with this company over the years has been its inability to involve itself in a very real way in modernizing its activities and dedicating enough of its resources to increased R and D. As their financial situation became more difficult they endeavoured to cut back in R and D areas. That is my understanding and that has put them behind a number of their competitors.
It is ironic that on the day we discuss this the headline in the Toronto Globe and Mail reads, “Canada Reaches Major Grain Deal With The Soviet Union.” Knowing the political predisposition, at least the temporary predisposition of the Toronto Globe and Mail, I don’t think the minister could have arranged that headline -- if that were something he could do. But it does set a pretty fair background for optimism in this industry and for agriculture in general if our farmers are able to survive the crunch of high interest rates.
It is my understanding that both the federal government and the provincial government may appoint a director to sit on the board of directors for this company. I am reliably advised by a gentleman who I believe is retiring in the near future that the federal government, for reasons I think I can understand, is not going to exercise its option to put a federal representative on the board of directors. I think the logic for that is very clear: if something negative happens to Massey-Ferguson the federal government wants to be as far away as it possibly can from what will unfortunately be a financial débâcle.
I would like to suggest that the province should choose to exercise its right to put a provincial representative on the board of directors. I would respectfully submit that if the federal government chooses not to appoint a representative to the Massey board, we should ask to fill its place on the board so that the Ontario government can make very sound and regular input into the operation of this company. I believe it could be very helpful and a rewarding experience both for the Ontario taxpayers, who potentially are at risk for the $78 million we are committing in this covenant, and for Ontario’s percentage in the federal commitment.
I believe it would be an excellent idea to choose someone like Dr. Fleck or somebody who has some spare time -- maybe Mr. Grossman senior, I do not know. But there is no shortage of good people in Ontario with a wealth of political expertise who could sit on this board. In fact I would be willing to take time out of my busy schedule to sit on the Massey board -- that is how totally unselfish an individual I am.
Mr. Cunningham: I was being very nice, offering my support and that of my party for this most important piece of legislation in the spirit of co-operation whether the government had a minority or a majority.
Mr. Cunningham: Maybe that might be a good idea. I am not going to involve myself in any criticism of the NDP proposals on this item of legislation. For reasons I quite frankly cannot understand they choose not to support this item of legislation. This must be an embarrassment to the former member for that riding, but that is something they are going to have to bear.
I wish this company well, not only because the province is on the hook, so to speak, but because I think potentially it has a great future. I am not in any way qualified to make a percentage assessment of whether their chances are 50-50, 60-40 or 70-30. I only hope it works out. This is a tremendous responsibility for the province to embark on.
I will say to the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, exactly what I said to his deputy minister on the occasion of our very cordial and informative briefing session: I firmly believe we are getting a better deal on this than we are on the Urban Transportation Development Corporation.
I hope that sometime in the next two or three years we will not be involved in some kind of debate examining the failure of this company. In fact I hope that 10 years from now, if the shares have been redeemed and possibly the profits and dividends from those shares rolled over and involved in the repurchase of further Massey shares, as I hope they will be, we will be able to reflect on this item of legislation which might well serve as a catalyst for the company’s financial redevelopment --
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few very clear comments on this legislation at the beginning of my remarks tonight. First of all I do not want the minister or anyone in this Legislature to misinterpret the position of our party this evening. There is no doubt at all the New Democratic Party is committed to saving the jobs at Massey-Ferguson. We raised questions in this Legislature back last spring. The member for Brantford at the time, Mr. Makarchuk, raised questions and asked for assistance. The matter was raised in estimates on several occasions where we went into detailed questions and got very few answers. But we were used to that.
There is no doubt at all we understand the importance to Brantford of the number of jobs Massey-Ferguson provides in that municipality, as well as at the facilities in Toronto. We understand the importance of this industry in Ontario and in Canada, and since it is a Canadian corporation and it is the only farm implements industry in this province, this company simply cannot be allowed to fall apart and go bankrupt because of its importance to an industrialized economy like Ontario’s.
However, we have great difficulty because this government has decided they are going to bring legislation before the Legislature and they are going to ask to give them blanket approval to go ahead and negotiate an agreement we know nothing about. Yet we are authorizing the minister here tonight to give $78 million worth of shares which, if one dividend is missed, we have to buy. In other words, the taxpayers of this province are being put in a position where, if something happens to the corporation, since we have guaranteed it we have to take the loss.
I am going to quote something the minister said last year in estimates, in the resources development committee. Questions were asked about the guarantees, the status of the company and what the government was looking for before it would come forward with a program in order to assist Massey-Ferguson. The Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) said on October 16, 1980: “I want to choose my words very carefully so there is no misunderstanding. If there is a viable proposition put on the table that we believe is a good business proposition that will work in the longer term and will save jobs, rather than save creditors, then the province will be willing to participate.”
Further on: “I can only put it this way: several expert analyses, including theirs, the bank’s, those of members of the private sector and governments’ -- all of those analyses -- taken together with projections for the future and the current financial position and options for financing the current problem, have not produced at the present time, as of 9:44 p.m. tonight, a long-term viable business plan. This is not to say there won’t be one by midnight tonight or noon tomorrow.”
Clearly what the minister was looking for at that time was a long-term business proposition. He also indicated to us very clearly he wanted to know who was in control -- who was running Massey-Ferguson. A week ago, when I rose in the Legislature to ask for that five-year business plan for the company so we could make an educated decision on this legislation, we were told we could go and get information from the deputy minister, which we did. We talked to him, but the five-year business plan was not given to us to examine in detail, to read and to analyse, so that we could understand whether the Massey-Ferguson business plan is a viable business plan that we as an opposition party were willing to endorse.
There were other areas to go into. What this bill really says to me is that the minister wants us tonight to give him the authority to possibly spend $78 million, certainly to guarantee that amount of shares. Yet he is not willing to share with us the information that convinced him this was a good piece of legislation and worthy of the support not only of his party but of the two opposition parties. That is the great hang-up I have with this legislation tonight. It has nothing to do with Massey-Ferguson and whether we want to help that company. We do. We understand the importance of that company to our country, to our province and to the many thousands of workers, whether it is the 6,100 or so who work directly in the plants or the 7,000 workers who were in the various dealerships across this country and the spinoff jobs that result.
A community, Brantford, is dependent on that company, and God knows I understand what happens to a city when one industry, one company, has financial difficulty and there are many layoffs as a result. Windsor has that high unemployment rate and Brantford had that high unemployment rate as well when Massey was completely shut down.
The government said it wanted to know who was in charge. It wanted the business proposition and wanted to be satisfied Massey-Ferguson could be saved. It has obviously been satisfied but is not willing to send us the documentation that allowed it to come to that conclusion.
The NDP and this caucus is completely committed to Massey-Ferguson, to Brantford and to the other workers in Toronto at the plant in, I believe, the great riding of the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan). There should be no question about that at all.
This province has a large agricultural base. There is no doubt about that and that is why this industry is very important. Ontario farms produced $4 billion worth of agricultural products in 1979. The farms have 100,000 families and 50,000 agricultural workers. When one adds to that the food processing industry and the workers who work in the agricultural implements industry, it is clear how important this entire sector is.
Mr Cooke: I am not going to vote for a bill when the minister will not share with this Legislature the information that made him come to the conclusion. Why should he take us for granted and allow us to see only the legislation with no backup material? The researcher in charge of that for our caucus had more information than the minister’s deputy shared with us.
In this province Massey-Ferguson produces combines, ploughs, mowers, rakes and combine tractor components. It has a steel stamping plant. It produces balers. In 1979, it had $2.9 billion worth of sales and ranked seventh of the largest industrial corporations in Canada. It has workers in Brantford, Toronto and one other subsidiary in Cambridge. We are fully supportive of any action we are able to judge fully that would save those jobs and save the corporation.
The potential for this corporation is also rather exciting. There is the potential to get into diesels and we know that Massey-Ferguson has been down in my riding talking to Chrysler, going through its plant and looking at the potential for that engine plant. I do not know the outcome of that but it certainly has the technology through Perkins to produce a diesel engine in this province that would have a future. The engines we now produce in this province have a limited future with few exceptions.
What are the job guarantees we are talking about if the government gets approval tonight? What are the job guarantees the government would be negotiating? The Minister of Industry and Tourism has indicated the negotiations with Massey-Ferguson are ongoing. They have not even come to an agreement yet. But we are being asked tonight to approve a piece of legislation before the agreement can even be tabled.
This is somewhat different than what happened at Ford Motor Company when they came in and got the estimates approved after the agreement had been signed. We never got to vote on the Chrysler deal and I want to talk about the Chrysler negotiations for a minute because I think they are quite relevant to this round of negotiations.
The minister rejected participation in the Chrysler deal because he said the guarantees were not adequate. I have looked at the agreement the federal government signed with Chrysler and I find those guarantees are very similar to the ones talked about by this government. We are talking about 13 per cent of jobs or 6,100 jobs to be guaranteed, whatever the higher figure is. The guarantees negotiated with Chrysler Corporation provided us with nine and 11 per cent, but the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) said he chose not to participate in the Chrysler deal because the job guarantees were inadequate.
If we take a look at the research and development guarantees that were provided for in the Chrysler deal, they agreed to have a research and development plant in Ontario. They agreed to put some research and development in this province, but it was not specific enough or concrete enough and the minister decided the only participation he would have was the $10-million research and development project.
Massey-Ferguson’s research and development, as I understand it from the deputy, is simply going to be something along the lines of, “We will do research and development in Canada for any new product that comes to Canada.” That is just simply not good enough for me at all, not when we are coming through with these kinds of guarantees.
We should take a look at the sourcing of parts commitments. As I have seen the information from our research and from the deputy, we are simply looking at sourcing parts fromrio if it is economically feasible, whatever that means. Those are weaker guarantees than even Chrysler was willing to give for the sourcing of parts. Yet the minister decided in the Chrysler case those types of guarantees were inadequate, and in this case they are adequate.
I may be wrong; I have not seen the guarantees. The minister has not shown them because he has not negotiated the contract with Massey-Ferguson, but when we get into committee of the whole House tonight I hope to go through some of those guarantees to see if the minister can expand on them and indicate to us exactly what they are.
I have always understood the role of the opposition party in a parliamentary system was to provide the checks and balances that exist. Then when a government has a majority, at least we can provide the people we represent with those types of checks against the government so they do not just act in a dictatorial arrogant way.
The banks really seem to be the big winners here tonight. It was not long ago the minister said he wanted to have someone in control of this company, and he wanted to know who was in control. I do not know tonight who is in control, but certainly the banks seem to be into this corporation -- they seem to be buying a lot of the shares. It is kind of ironic that the farmers who will be buying this equipment will have to borrow money at a significant rate of interest -- 20 to 25 per cent. So the banks stand to win because of the guarantees we are providing here tonight and the banks stand to win again when the farmers go to buy Massey-Ferguson equipment and they pay 20 to 25 per cent interest on the money they have to borrow to buy the equipment. The banks are the real winners here tonight.
I do not understand why the minister refused to look at some of the other options that may have been available to him. When we met with the Massey-Ferguson people, they indicated to us they would not reject the idea of government directly investing in Massey-Ferguson. If we are going to guarantee $78-million worth of shares here tonight when the minister gets his agreement, it seems to me we are taking all the risks and the investors -- the banks -- are getting all the benefits.
Why do we not just take the money and invest directly? That is the best way of ensuring we have some of the guarantees for research and development, for job guarantees and for sourcing of parts that are so necessary for this province. I do not know whether it is a hangup with this government that they are not willing to directly invest or what it is, but it seems to me we are taking all the risk and the banks are getting all the benefits.
When Massey-Ferguson met with many members of our caucus, they indicated to us they were committed to keeping the company operating. They did not really care how that happened. They did not care if the government directly invested. I think that is something that should have been looked at very seriously and I am not convinced that it was. I am concerned about the jobs that could potentially be lost if this company went down. The best way of guaranteeing those jobs is to make sure government has a direct hand in the control of this company. It can do that by investing directly.
What is the outlook of Massey-Ferguson with a 25 per cent interest rate? The minister has had some financial analyses done on this company by his own government or by the federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce and the banks have done the same. What is the financial viability of this company with 25 per cent interest rates? Perhaps the minister can answer that for us tonight or perhaps at some point he will share with us some of those analyses of the company.
What guarantees has the minister discussed with Massey-Ferguson about getting into diesel engine production? Following the federal and provincial government guarantees, are we going to give the company a free hand to do what it wants or are we going to say we want some of that diesel engine production for our own future in this province?
Diesel engine production is incredibly important. It is one engine that has a future in this province and country instead of the six- and eight-cylinder engines we now produce. The diesel engine has a future. Are we going to get any of that? Certainly nothing I have read in the press or heard from the deputy would indicate that is going to happen.
Mr. Cooke: I have great difficulty trusting this government. How could anyone trust the government after all the promises it made during the election campaign and then screwed the voters of this province in the budget introduced last week?
To conclude, I want to restate our commitment to jobs in this province, to jobs in Brantford and Bellwoods. We understand the importance of this industry to Ontario’s future and it is our feeling we should give the government a little more time to negotiate its agreement. Then it can file that agreement in the Legislature so we can take a look at it and make a sensible decision on the agreement the ministry has come to.
The motion I am going to put forward to hoist this bill does not preclude the government from going on to negotiate an agreement. All it says is it is going to give the government a few more weeks to come to an agreement and then we will be willing to deal with this bill on second reading in an intelligent fashion.
The Acting Speaker(Mr. Cousens): Mr. Cooke, seconded by Mr. Philip, moved that Bill 48, An Act respecting Massey-Ferguson Limited, not now be read for a second time but be read for a second time eight weeks hence.
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak in support of Bill 48. I can say in a personal fashion that I do not think anything in which I have been involved since my election to the Legislature has had such a direct and important bearing on the work I might do here.
It is about a year and a half or two years that we have been going around the block with the Massey-Ferguson thing. There have been endless meetings, contacts and phone calls. I am very proud and happy indeed that we finally find ourselves tonight in a position to take a tangible step to help the company and to help the working people in Brantford who have suffered through prolonged layoffs.
I wish to offer very personal thanks to some of the people responsible for this deal. First, I would say to the honourable members that I have for many months been in close and regular contact with my colleague the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman). I mention the dedication of the minister and his staff -- I think of Red Wilson, the deputy minister; Michael Landry, executive assistant to the minister; and other people -- as well as officials in the Ministry of Treasury and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Ministry of the Attorney General who have worked very hard to put together the deal we will address in Bill 48.
We also have to direct some comments towards the dedication and intelligence and good business sense of Mr. Victor Rice, Mr. Murray Davis, the retiring president of Massey-Ferguson, the Brantford management, and the other people responsible for the ongoing activities of that company.
If some day I retire from this House and write a book, as seems to be a very common practice with retiring members of the Legislature, I will put a chapter in there which perhaps cannot really be told now. I think somewhere down the road the story will have to be told of the very personal and important contribution made to this debate by the Premier of our province. It could well be said at several points that it was the Premier, in conjunction with federal officials and in conjunction with his minister, who saved Massey-Ferguson.
I also want to commend the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) on his comments. I want to commend the members of the official opposition for a very responsible and humane stand on what has been a difficult problem in our area. I think I detect the fine hand of my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) in that. I know he often puts principle ahead of --
Mr. Gillies: I will get back to that one. I would say the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk often puts common sense and the feelings of the people he represents ahead of partisan politics and is to be commended for that.
Mr. Nixon: I might ask your reconsideration of that matter, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, you would get advice from other sources, but my understanding is that in a situation like this, when we are discussing whether the bill should be read a second time now, we also have to talk about the principle of the bill.
If you restrict us only to whether it should be read eight weeks from now, it really means the whole purpose of the debate, to talk about the principle of the bill before us, will be lost since, as you pointed out, when the motion is put you will say, “Shall the bill now be read a second time?”
I hope to show that, while Massey-Ferguson is undergoing a very difficult and critical adjustment period, the company is essentially stable; so we are not, as some would have it, sending good money after bad in aiding its refinancing.
The reasons for Massey’s current problems are complex. The company in the early 1970s overexpanded its operations and did so using short-term debt rather than equity financing. As a result, its debt-equity ratio reached the totally unacceptable range of about 6:1. The recent increase in interest rates made the servicing of these debts untenable and, in addition, the interest rates depressed markets -- markets that were already depressed by droughts and the grain embargo against the Soviet Union.
I might say I was very pleased to hear on the news last night that the government of Canada shortly will be again entering into some very large-scale grain export agreements with the government of the USSR. I know this will have a very direct influence on the future of this company and other farm machinery companies in the country.
Massey is not, however, a company that is asking for aid while doing nothing to resolve its own problems. It has in the last year done much to rationalize its international operations, relying on its key products. It has increased efficiency and decreased the number of minor lines produced and, with the new financing package that the bill will help accomplish, it will have gone a long way to resolve this debt-equity problem.
There are other reasons to be optimistic about Massey’s future. It kept its market share of sales at a time when all agricultural markets were depressed. It has even increased its share of the key high-horsepower-tractor market in the United States.
A very interesting point is that its position in the marketplace was improving last year until all of the bad publicity surrounding the debt load hit in the fall, at which time it tapered off. Indeed, its net sales grew four per cent in 1980 to $3.132 billion worldwide. In addition, the leading indicators show an upturn in the market in late 1981 or early 1982 in spite of the interest problem.
The company has developed a long-term financial plan. Studies done by the company’s major creditors predict that Massey will continue to be economically viable. To paraphrase Mr. Victor Rice, the chairman of Massey-Ferguson: “We are talking about a company whose product line is highly competitive, whose manufacturing capabilities are now up to or fast approaching acceptable standards and whose dealership organization is strong. It is a company which is nearing the end of a rough period, which has a comprehensive plan to meet the challenge which the decade holds.”
Mr. Barker, the vice-president and treasurer of the company, adds: “We have come a long way, further than many people thought we could, and although we have many problems to work out, they look easier than the ones that have already been solved.”
I want to point out that we are not only saving a company; we are saving a Canadian company and, in every sense of the word, a Canadian success story. It is a company that has been manufacturing farm equipment in Canada since it was established in Newcastle in 1847. It developed an amalgamation with Harris and Sons Company of Beamsville. In 1870, they established in Brantford, and in 1891 they amalgamated with a number of other concerns, leading to the Ferguson Corporation amalgamation in 1953.
Massey-Ferguson now has direct market coverage in 190 countries, production facilities in nine countries, parts facilities in an additional seven countries and worldwide licences for the sale of farm equipment. It is a company where 54.2 per cent of the common shares are listed as owned by people having Canadian residence. In addition, most of its debt in the guaranteed preferred shares, which will carry with them warrants for conversion to common shares, are in the hands of Canadian financial institutions.
I suggest that Massey-Ferguson is also a forward-looking company. They are increasing their use of computers -- in design analysis, in processing results from mobile instrument labs, real-time testing and infinite element modelling. They are developing engines that will maintain efficiency while tolerating degraded or mixed fuels. They are looking into increasing power and fuel efficiency through turbocharging. This year, their new worldwide purchasing data base system is scheduled to become fully operational, and internal product tests have indicated a 20 per cent improvement in product quality since 1978.
I want to turn for a moment to the relationship of Massey-Ferguson and my constituency of Brantford. First of all, I wish to point out that the Massey facilities in Brantford account for 2,394,000 square feet of space, 56 per cent of all its space in Canada, and the employment in the Brantford area of 2,663 people, plus an additional 637 people on temporary layoff.
I did not intend to be overly partisan or provocative tonight, but I had to listen to the comments of the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke), whose speech could have been entitled, “You Can’t Have It Both Ways.”
The former member for Brantford, the man the member lauded and the man I defeated in the election, ran on a platform supporting this agreement. He had in his brochures and in his newsletter, “The Massey deal -- a good deal for the people, a good deal for the taxpayers.” He tried to tell the people of Brantford he was responsible for this deal.
I have never heard such hypocrisy coming from the NDP until tonight, when I heard the member’s other colleague speak. He cannot have it both ways. The working people of Brantford turned against that party in March, and its members are not going about it the right way to get them back.
Two possible scenarios can be developed regarding Massey-Ferguson. The first scenario, based on a refinancing of Massey-Ferguson, is a scenario involving -- according to Massey’s general manager in Brantford -- the rehiring of all the people on temporary layoff and the possible expansion of its work force.
We are talking about a scenario that involves the transfer of product lines into Brantford and the possible addition of manufacturing space. We are talking about a refinancing package in place that will allow the transfer of jobs from Des Moines, Iowa, into Brantford.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, Mr. Gillies. First of all, I want to point out that we are having trouble with the microphone here at the chair -- for some reason it is not working -- so we are having difficulty with some comments.
I ask the member to please try to restrain himself a little bit so that I need not call him to order. Try to speak to the motion and carry on in a parliamentary manner, because I am not going to be able to call you to order with the problem I am having at the chair with the microphone.
The scenario without the refinancing agreement involves continued layoffs and possible closing. Not only will the entire Massey work force be out of work but other local industries in Brantford, and for all I know in Bellwoods riding, could be involved as well. For example, there is another company in Brantford, Gates Rubber, which employs 610 people and which would completely fold. It would not be viable at all without Massey-Ferguson. The chamber of commerce in Brantford estimates that about 25 per cent of our work force would be in jeopardy without the continued help of Massey-Ferguson.
Closing of Massey would involve a loss of one of our community’s better corporate citizens. Massey-Ferguson has always been responsible towards its work force, saving the city from a lot of major labour unrest. They have had very good labour-management relations at that company. They have also contributed to community projects, such as our new aquatic centre. They have been involved in the chamber of commerce industrial affairs committee and development committee.
Mr. Gillies: With all respect to the member for Sudbury East, I really thought until tonight that we only differed on how best to accommodate this company; I really did. I have had to call that into question.
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the action of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism in meeting with representatives of the federal government, the company, the unions and the creditors to put together a viable deal. I am pleased the result of the negotiations is a total refinancing package as opposed to some Band-Aid solution, just another loan to a company already overloaded with a debt load.
A refinancing package unlike any other kind of assistance will not just buy time but rather, as the company’s annual report said, “will put the company into a position where short-term financial criteria will not need to rule day-to-day operational decisions. Action has been taken to secure the maximum economically feasible benefits for Canada in terms of jobs with the minimum risk to the taxpayer.”
The members of the third party, as they said in this House last year, may have wanted to sink more money into Massey-Ferguson by buying it. We hear a lot of talk from that quarter about banks. I say with all respect, what would the purchase of Massey-Ferguson have served to do except to get the private creditors, most of whom were major banks, off the hook?
We are getting ironclad, made-in-Canada guarantees with this agreement. The action that holds the best prospect for the maintenance of these jobs and this industry in Canada is to protect the economic viability of Massey-Ferguson in the private sector. That, in turn, is best done by recognizing the international character of the company, maintaining maximum flexibility in decision-making, leaving operational control in the hands of people who know the industry and leaving the investors in control of the company. They, unlike the government, have some personal stake in the continued health of the company.
As part of the agreement, we have secured assurances that, wherever economically feasible, Massey will look to Canada first. We have obtained the right to look over the company’s shoulder for some time so that the investment of the public will be protected for the benefit of the people of Canada. We cannot, however, put such ironclad guarantees into an agreement, as some members suggest, without risking the financial collapse of Massey-Ferguson and the ensuing loss of public money and funds.
The wisdom of the government’s approach in this matter is best summed up, if I may quote the minister from October 21, 1980: “If we are successful in the current endeavour, we may end up saving those jobs, getting outstanding commitments to preserve those jobs, adding to our industrial strength in that sector and not costing the taxpayers of the province a nickel. That, it seems to me, is good government.” That, it seems to me also, is good government.
I want to address a few words to the motion of the member for Windsor-Riverside to delay second reading by what is commonly called a hoist amendment. I suggest that the people in my riding, the working people of Brantford, cannot afford a one-month, two-month, six-month or any other delay in the passage of this legislation.
I certainly did not see such a motion for a hoist come forward from those quarters when the Chrysler deal was being negotiated. Such a manoeuvre runs the risk of destroying the entire agreement. At this point, all the understandings between the various parties including the creditors are dependent upon the completion of the government’s agreements with Massey.
Others may not wait for the Legislature of Ontario to make up its mind. We are not just talking about provincial money. We are talking about the involvement of $500 million of private investment and the investment of $125 million by the federal government. Are they really going to sit around while we in the Ontario Legislature decide how long we want to hold this up? That displays a rather shallow, callous disregard for the people and a very naive approach to the marketplace and the workings of business.
A long delay might indeed trigger speculation about the government’s commitment to the company, which in turn could jeopardize the private investment. In addition, if Massey-Ferguson is to survive, it must take advantage of the projected upswing in the farm implements industry, which it projects will take place before early 1982. As long as there is any doubt about the financial viability of the company, and as long as the company itself is in doubt as to the size of its financial reserves, Massey-Ferguson will not be able to capitalize on this growth possibility.
The member opposite may argue that this chamber cannot be expected to vote the money for this guarantee unless and until he has had a chance to examine the long-term plans established by the corporation. I suggest that to bring the company’s five-year plan into the public forum would serve little practical good except to give an advantage to its competitors in the farm machinery industry.
At a time when Massey-Ferguson is trying to get itself back into the running and trying to increase its market share, why should it tip its confidential internal economic records to its competitors? That, I suggest, would be very naive and in the long term would be detrimental to the company itself.
I agree, of course, that ideally we should know what is going on and should vote after the relevant information is brought forward. However, it would not make sense for Massey, nor would it make sense for the investors, to bring that five-year plan into the public forum, and in the long term would be a detrimental step.
Massey-Ferguson, in conjunction with this government and with the federal government and, I am very pleased to say, with the cooperation of the official opposition, is about to piece together an agreement that will be a major step forward for an industry and for an economically depressed area of this province that I am very proud to represent.
I am confident that the people of Brantford, the management of Massey-Ferguson and the vast majority of the members of this House will stand together behind the working people of Brantford in supporting Bill 48.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, there should be no doubt in the minds of any member of the House that if the ill-advised amendment put forward by the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) were to succeed tonight, heaven forbid, it would kill the bill --
Mr. Nixon: The honourable member who is asking “Why?” should understand that the traditions in parliament have used the hoist motion to kill a bill when the party putting it forward does not have the guts to vote against the bill. That is precisely what the NDP will have to do, because you, Mr. Speaker, will put the motion, “Shall the bill be now read a second time?” at the completion of this debate. I feel very sorry indeed that the NDP, particularly with its spokesman from Brantford no longer on the scene, is going to vote against the bill.
If the member for Windsor-Riverside, who put the amendment, does not understand the disastrous effects, the ramifications of the motion, then I feel that his House leader should have so advised him. If he could not get the advice from his House leader, he might have consulted one of the clerks at the table, which would have been sensible indeed.
I do not like the bill particularly. I wish very strongly that we had full employment. I wish the farmers were prosperous enough to buy these $75,000 and $100,000 combines every other year. I wish the economy were powerful enough to support the $12- and $14-an-hour workers to the extent to which they were employed until the economic problems that we face began about 18 months ago. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
We may blame the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman). We may blame Mr. Gray or Mr. Trudeau. We can blame somebody else. But my own view is that the very best economists, the most highly paid advisers snuggled in the back row, do not know any more about it than we do. All we know is that we are faced with a situation that could achieve disastrous proportions unless we act.
I have a problem even with that, because in the headlines in the Brantford Expositor the NDP are saying strongly that Ottawa should buy Massey-Ferguson and White. Talk about equity! They want to own the company. They want some politician to run it.
Mr. Nixon: I suppose so. I do not know who they want. Do they want the Minister of Industry and Tourism to run it? That is fine. I will tell them I like the alternative that we have here. I am not at all sure if in the long run it will work, but it is certainly better than the NDP alternative.
I want to say something specifically about the company as well. I interjected rather facetiously that the government should be aware that the Masseys were Liberals. Since the member for Brantford in his address talked about some of this background, I want to speak briefly about it as well -- but not so much about their Liberalism, which was diluted by a heavy injection of a lot of money at one stage since a lot of the farmers right across Canada and across North America used to buy their reapers. The Masseys became very wealthy.
At one stage, Vincent Massey, before he became Governor General, was actually the president of the Liberal Party of Ontario, an office that I had the honour to hold at one time. I do not expect to go on to be Governor General of Canada the way Mr. Massey did; however, who knows what the future holds for those of us who hold true to Liberalism?
The Masseys were very successful along with the Harris family, and the conjunction of those two competing firms established the industry in Brantford. The Harris family seemed to pass out of the picture. It is interesting that someone mentioned the Ferguson adjunct to the company, because Harry Ferguson was really a latter-day genius and developed a hydraulic system that is used in almost all tractors today and, as my colleague the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) mentioned, the three-point hitch. If you don’t have that on your tractor, you ain’t got a tractor these days.
Mr. Nixon: -- the injection of this development from Harry Ferguson really brought Masseys along with the world-leader tractor. They became extremely competitive with the two larger firms, John Deere and International Harvester. Then on the way to becoming an extremely successful firm something happened, and that is that the Argus Corporation acquired control.
I am not really prepared to spend too much time criticizing E. P. Taylor, and he may not read Hansard as he sits with his feet up in Nassau contemplating his navel or whatever there is to look at there. I have the impression, and I am an innocent in matters economic, that Argus Corporation for some years seriously mismanaged the corporation and milked it of its profits to a degree from which the corporation has not really yet recovered.
Mr. Nixon: My colleague the House leader of the NDP is under the impression that all of these businesses would work better if politicians were operating them; that is probably the difference between us and why he is sitting there and we are sitting here. I hate using that phrase, but it is appropriate under these circumstances.
I do not want to spend time, since so many of the newly elected Conservatives are getting restless in their back row seats and telling me to get on with this and not make a budget speech, but certainly the management of the corporation was seriously defective. I have a list of a number of things they did wrong. I just want to read them to the honourable members.
The company relied on bank loans and credit instead of issuing stock. God knows why it did that. I guess Argus did not want to dilute its control. I really do not understand it. But as has been pointed out by other members, including the member for Windsor-Riverside, it resulted in a tremendous piling up of debt. Although the average rate was 25 per cent, the Argentine debt carried an interest rate of 144 per cent.
It had a direct debt of about $960 million at an average interest rate of 25 per cent. One of the interjected questions, I believe from the NDP, was whether the company could be viable, even with our assistance, if it were paying 25 or 24 per cent on such an enormous debt. Probably it is considerably more than that, because the banks and other creditors who have extended cash for its operations amount to 250 corporate entities around the world.
How they can keep all those balls in the air at one time amazes me. No wonder it is computerized, because that is the only way it could possibly manage its debt. When some backwoods, dusty bank manager in the middle of Australia called one of their minor notes of a couple of million dollars, the whole company almost folded like a deck of cards. I would not be surprised if it did not take a night letter from the Minister of Industry and Tourism himself to the bank manager in West Melbourne or wherever it was to cool him off.
It is interesting that we in this Legislature are debating such an important bill involving the jobs of about 6,000 Canadians, because in a sense it also involves the jobs of 40,000 non-Canadians in other countries. I doubt if other parliaments and legislatures are sweating, hollering and interjecting about it to quite the same extent we are, because it seems the salvation of this company lies entirely on our shoulders.
The government of Canada has already made its commitment of $125 million. Up there even the NDP is supporting that, as far as I know. I am not sure if it has additional information that the NDP here does not have. It could be that the federal NDP, taking a responsible position for the maintenance of jobs in the Brantford area, is deciding to support a proposition that is certainly a problem. We wish the economy were such that we did not need this bill but, as I said at the outset, unfortunately we do.
Mr. Nixon: The federal member for Brant, Mr. Blackburn, was quoted in the Brantford Expositor as saying that as a last resort the company should be purchased by the government of Canada. I guess that is all right. There is precedent for this, but in this instance I would not want the government of Canada or any other government taking over Massey-Ferguson. It is not quite like Canadair. Frankly, I do not think its prospects are as good.
My colleague the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) said he hoped that at some time in the future the House would not be debating some further salvation operation. I say, humbly, “Amen,” because the prospects of that occurring are not beyond the pale of possibility.
The problems the company still has are enormous and are almost insurmountable. Still, this is the procedure that has been deemed by the federal and provincial governments to be best under these very difficult circumstances. It has been said that it would be a disaster if a company such as this were to go bankrupt, and I suppose it would.
White Motor Corporation in a sense did go bankrupt. Its American parent was put into receivership, I believe by the government of the United States or its creditors in the United States, and that affected the company here. While they did not exactly padlock the gate, almost everybody was laid off with a few exceptions which I will talk about in a moment, and other Canadian financing came about.
The company was put together again from the ashes. It is now rehiring and making a benefit of the obvious assets that the White Motor Corporation had established, namely, one of the best combine technologies anywhere in the world. I refer to that because White Motor Corporation has experimental combines that operate out of Brantford. They like to do some combining in the area to see how their machines work under different circumstances.
As a special favour to them, I let them do some combining on my farm. I can well recall, as this tremendous mastodon of an experimental combine was trundling back and forth across my bean fields, a car drove in. I thought, “Who the devil is coming to slow this thing down now?” The person introduced himself as a representative of the Canadian receiver, Clarkson Gordon. He said: “We are checking on the assets, and this machine is one of the principal assets. We wanted to see if it really existed.” I am glad to report to you, Mr. Speaker, that it was doing a very clean and efficient job of harvesting my soybeans. I sincerely hope they are going to see fit to do similar experiments in the coming crop season.
One of the other serious problems is that Massey-Ferguson has some kind of expansion disease, almost a mental disease. They moved into every country in the world and bought already established factories and companies as if they had absolutely no responsibility to themselves or to their corporate shareholders. For some reason, they felt they could do no wrong, and it turned out they could do no right. In fact, all their decisions resulted in difficulties, such as we have already referred to, when interest rates went up.
The next thing is that we had drought and very poor crops. The farmers, who perhaps are too quick to go to the bank for the kind of credit that enables them to buy these very expensive machines, were turned off that prospect. They decided to make their machines work a bit longer, and sales dropped.
The ridiculous business about a grain embargo on sales to Soviet Russia was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Prices tumbled on the Chicago futures market and the grain market. People like Morty Shulman, who work in futures all the time, were probably selling them short, because they can make money whether it goes up or down. Mr. Speaker, you and some of your colleagues know all about that. It was another blow to the farmers who found they simply could not buy the machines these companies were producing.
I believe there was also a reference by the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) to the fact that the technology fell short of building tractors the farmers needed or felt they needed. Tractors with more than 100 horsepower were not in the spectrum of the products Massey-Ferguson built. I could spend quite a bit of time -- and if I am prodded, I will -- talking about that kind of market.
There is a certain competition among farmers to have a bigger and better tractor than their neighbour. They have to have stereo and air conditioning, and I do not blame them for this. Farmers -- and I am one of them -- work harder than members ever realize or imagine. There is no doubt about that at all.
The tractor market soon left behind the family farm unit of about 60 to 80 horsepower, and any farmer who did not have a 100 or 150-horsepower tractor was really not in the macho competition. Poor old Massey did not have anything. After a while, they started buying some from other companies and pasting on MF labels, but it was a little late and somehow it did not wash.
There has also been some reference to the Perkins diesel component of the Massey International conglomerate. My colleague the member for Essex North said it was one of the best diesels, and it still is, except for one teensy little problem: it was too expensive to bring over from the United Kingdom and put into machines built here.
Because of the escalating value of the British pound and certain residual problems of productivity, which is one way of putting it nicely, the cost of the Perkins diesel soon became so high that it could not be put into machines in North America and sold to farmers on the relatively deflated -- believe it or not -- economic base we have.
There really was terrible management. One of the things the managers did do when they ran into some problems was send a letter to all of their employees saying, “Write your political representatives telling them that we need money and we need it fast.” Interestingly enough, a large proportion of the letters I got urged that money not be given to Massey-Ferguson. They were complaining about the inadequate management and the wastefulness that is more or less a byword as to what goes on in those plants.
The farmers, not being forced to buy Massey equipment, can turn to the alternative competition and say: “Well, I used to buy Massey, but I keep reading that they are in trouble; they may not be there next year for the parts we need and, therefore, we are going to buy some other brand.” It was mentioned by the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) that their sales did take a tumble as the confidence the farmers previously had in Massey-Ferguson equipment was reduced. We hope that can be re-established.
Much has been said by the speakers for the NDP that we do not have sufficient guarantees. Naturally, we would like the kind of ironclad guarantees that were demanded before the Chrysler deal was entered into with the support of the NDP, but it was put to them by the government and by objective spokesmen that it is impossible to have that kind of guarantee from a company that has to have the freedom of action to compete in the marketplace and can guarantee a specific number of employees. I do not know what they do if people simply do not buy the product. There is no way that can be guaranteed even by the honourable minister himself with his undoubted abilities as a salesman.
I do believe that Mr. Rice, the present president, has done a good job in moving around the world and restoring the confidence of the investment community, more or less playing one positive force against another, based to some extent on the commitment made by the governments of Canada and Ontario to enter into the very agreement that is contained in this bill.
I do not know Mr. Rice, I have never met him, but frankly I feel that he is a little more practical in his corporate leadership than the rather dilettante approach, from my observation, that was put forward by Mr. Conrad Black and his brother, Montagu. They, of course, undertook to write down the value of their holdings in the firm to zero.
I do not even know what that means, other than presumably they were of no value to them and, since they were of no value to them, they gave them to the employees’ pension fund. There was going to be some review as to the ramification of that writedown and gift. It seems to me that the minister made an undertaking months ago to report to the House about what the ramifications would be to Argus Corporation of this generous handout of the valueless shares from Argus.
Some of the statements that Mr. Black made at the time, from my point of view, were really appalling. If I were going to take as much time as I wished on this bill -- and I see the minister is getting very itchy and keeps looking at the clock -- I would like to quote some of the things
Mr. Black said, like how relieved he was to get out of Massey-Ferguson and that they were in a position to lose nothing but perhaps make a lot of money out of the Massey involvement. He was very critical of reporters and others who said that Argus did not seem to have the interests of the corporation at heart but simply the profits that Argus might make. In desperation, he simply walked away from the company and left it to Victor Rice.
Mr. Rice’s position is based on the original Argus voting position. It is a little interesting to me how he has maintained his position as president, and I can only put it down to the fact that nobody else in his or her right mind would have touched the job with a 10-foot pole. Anyway, Mr. Rice has been as successful as anybody might have been.
It is also true that, while the undertakings are not as rigid as we would have hoped, still they have closed some of their international components and centralized more of their jobs in Canada, including Brantford, so that we have new jobs in Brantford that were not part of the corporate enterprise before the difficulties they began to experience in 1980.
I do not think it is really reasonable, much as I wish it were possible, to have the ironclad job guarantees that we would wish. As I understand it, there is a guarantee that they will maintain employment at the present level, but goodness only knows what will happen if it falls below that, because the last thing I want to see happen is for the consolidated revenue fund to shell out $75 million or $78 million for the fancy shares that are described in section 1 of this bill.
In closing, I simply want to say that I do not like the situation; I wish it were otherwise. But I do not know of an alternative that would be better under the circumstances than the one that is before us at this time.
I certainly advise the members of the House to reject the proposal that the bill not now be read a second time, because this would effectively kill the bill and simply throw the farm machinery industry in Canada into complete chaos. I suggest to the honourable members that the NDP have entered into this amendment without the careful thought that such an important matter requires, and that their position is completely irresponsible.
I have listened to the comments made by the various members during the debate. I find that the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) has accused the New Democratic Party of wanting to delay a decision that would help the people of Brantford. Yet his whole speech basically asked us to vote blindly, to accept a deal about which we have been given no details, to have blind faith in the private sector and in this government to make a good deal with the private sector, and said we must support this because, if we do not, the workers in Brantford will be in jeopardy.
Mr. Wildman: Then the member had the gall to accuse us of naivete and to say that our request for a delay would harm the city of Brantford. I really believe that member and that government are the victims of naivete. They are saying: “Vote blindly. Do not ask for the information; just believe.”
The member is asking us to have confidence in a management with a history that I doubt any private company would want to lay out as an example of what private enterprise is really all about. He is asking us to have confidence in the decisions of a company that, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) indicated, has used debt financing for expansion; that has increased its debt load to something like US$1.5 billion; that in 1978 had a gross profit of US$512 million, expenses (with interest included) of US $453 million and a profit after expenses of US$59 million but long-term interest charges of $79 million and short-term interest charges of $76 million, for a net loss of $96 million.
That member and that government say to us: “Let’s bail those debtors out. Let’s give the company the guarantees they need to guarantee the bank loan. Let’s bail that company out. Let’s believe in that kind of management. Let’s accept the dumping of this problem on us by Conrad Black and Argus Corporation. Let’s accept that kind of approach. Let’s socialize the cost, but don’t ever give us the risk of at some time in the future being able to profit from this kind of deal. Don’t ever ask the public sector to share in any profits that might accrue from the rehabilitation and recovery of this company. Don’t ever ask for that. Just say, ‘Thanks very much for the job.’ Don’t ask for any public profit on public investment.”
That is what that government is asking for. On top of that, besides saying, “Let’s not accept any public profit. Let’s not ask for any equity. Let’s believe in the private management that has brought us to this state already, that has put the company and the city in jeopardy,” then they say: “Please accept a deal we don’t want to tell you about. Please accept a deal we have no details about, which we don’t want to give you details about, because that might jeopardize the deal. For heaven’s sake, don’t put any public light on the details of this arrangement, because that might be giving unfair advantage to competitors.”
I understand the former member for Brantford worked very hard for his constituents and very hard for the city of Brantford. He also indicated that, if Massey were to be bailed out in any way, this government -- or any government involved, for that matter, whether it be the federal government or the British government -- should have some equity and indeed should gain in the future when the company becomes profitable.
Mr. Wildman: The present member for Brantford says the former member for Brantford supported this deal. Yet he is unable to tell us what the deal is. Let him tell us what the deal is. All we are asking is that this government somehow gives itself the courage to say: “This is what we are asking you to support. This is what we want the assembly to support.”
But no, this government is too scared to do that. This government does not believe enough in democracy to be able to say, “The people deserve to know.” This government does not want to give the information to the assembly, because it might in some way make the private investors unhappy. It might, indeed, make the banks unhappy; we all know the difficulties the banks in this country face today.
The government is asking us to have faith in a management that has put its company in the situation of having its long-term debt increase three times as fast as its equity base, in a company that has put itself in a position of having debt more than two times as much as its equity.
Mr. Wildman: We want to have some say in the management of that company. We do not want to leave it simply to the private management that has led us to this precipice. Frankly, we believe that private management might lead us over the precipice. Then what happens to the jobs in Brantford? Then what happens to the workers in Brantford? Yet this government cannot bring itself to say that the public sector, if it is going to invest or even if it is going to guarantee loans, should have some say in how the company operates afterwards.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to give the impression to the assembly that I am disparaging in any way the business expertise and business acumen of Conrad Black. I think he has done a great job for Conrad Black and Argus Corporation. He has done a very good job of dumping this company, when it was in trouble, of milking it prior to dumping it, of ensuring that Argus Corporation profited as much as it could and then saying to the public, “If you want preserve the jobs in Brantford, you had better run to the public sector.”
Conrad Black is very successful. He is a tremendous businessman. I do not want to give the assembly the wrong impression. I do not in any way presume to accuse him of not knowing what he was doing. He was very successful.
The member for Brantford suggested that we should not bring the company’s five-year plan into a public forum, and yet he is suggesting that we should bring the company’s debt into the public sector. Is it not interesting that this company should not have to deal with the public on the basis of saying: “These are our plans. This is what employment is going to be in the next two, three, four or five years. This is what we intend to invest in Ontario and in our other subsidiaries around the world. This is what we intend to do. This is what we see the market to be. These are our plans.”
We cannot do that, but what we can do is ensure that the public will guarantee the debt load. The company will be assured that the banks will not have to risk a tremendous loss by carrying this company.
Mr. Wildman: We all know this government’s view of free enterprise. This government believes in the privatization of profit and the socialization of cost. Basically, what this government believes in is not free enterprise but free-ride enterprise. They blackmail the workers and say; “If you do not go along with this, you are going to be out of work.”
I tell the minister, we will not support this unless we see the deal, unless the government has the guts to present it to the Legislature. Put it before us; then we will judge it and decide whether we will support it.
I am glad to see that we are coming to the rescue of the farm machinery industry, which I think points out the importance of agriculture and the role it plays in the economies of Ontario and Canada. Massey, being an old Canadian company, has played that role over many years, but because of mismanagement, as has been pointed out by many of the speakers, it is in financial trouble. The company is in financial trouble for many other reasons, such as overexpanding in foreign markets and not providing the service that they should in the Ontario and Canadian markets.
I have heard some of the employees say they were more concerned about preparing equipment just to get it on the overseas markets and they forgot about providing parts, which are so necessary to make an agricultural or any machine work. The machinery is only as good as the service provided by a company.
Being a farmer, I have had the opportunity of using Massey-Ferguson equipment for many years, going back to the early 1940s and 1950s, when they were leaders in their field. But the depletion of the sales representatives, the centralization and competing for the overseas market have hurt them tremendously.
The workers indicated that not providing the proper backup parts, which are very important, has hurt them. If they want to be competitive in the field, they are going to have to compete for those markets. The market is out there.
As we pointed out in the election campaign only a few weeks ago, we are an importer of something like $1.5 billion worth of agricultural machinery. We are exporting with a deficit of approximately $1 billion. There is only one tractor that is completely Canadian-made, and that is made by Versatile Manufacturing. We have an opportunity here to take advantage of the situation and provide for the building of our own tractor.
If we do make a deal, Massey-Ferguson has the Perkins diesel plant in Britain, and somewhere along the way, if a decision can be made to get it back so we can make the motor here in Canada, it would give us a tractor of our own.
We are capable of doing that. We have the technology and the automotive plants which are idle because we are not getting our fair share. I want to suggest to the minister that we should be striving to be more competitive and get a larger share of the farm machinery market. It is not going to come easily, because we have to compete with the American market, but we can do that.
The NDP might indicate that we have to be unionized to protect our workers, but it came out clearly to me in talking to the workers that they really do not care about wage increases. The most important thing is to have a job; that is the bottom line. We have to provide those jobs. People want to work. They want to have a share in that.
The late John Rhodes from the good riding of Sault Ste. Marie indicated at that point that the spinoff effect from that investment was going to create $5 million to $6 million worth of work in Simcoe providing the Morse chain, but that did not happen. It may happen in the future but, as that is three or four years ago, we have to be careful and make sure our investment provides employment and promotes expertise in developing the talents of our young people. This can be done if this government is able to keep its promises to the people of Ontario.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal Party speaks about these issues, I am never sure whether it is concerned about the problem at hand, which is the preservation of jobs for Massey-Ferguson workers, or whether it is more concerned about union-bashing. Judging from the last speech, they are quite ambivalent and ambiguous which of those concerns is uppermost in their minds.
I happen to represent the residual piece of Massey-Ferguson here in Toronto, located in the riding of Bellwoods. It occupies a fairly large site in the south end of my riding. There is not much left of Massey-Ferguson in Toronto, as I am sure the members and the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) are aware.
It has been allowed to run down pretty thoroughly. There has not been much investment or reinvestment in plant or equipment over the last decade. Most of the work force has been transferred to Brantford, and slowly and inexorably what is left in the Toronto works is running down. What is left in Toronto is pretty pathetic.
About six months before the layoffs I visited the plant, and members of the union and of the work force expected at that time that they had enough orders to last about two years. They were up to about 1,200 in the work force. This was the highest level they had been at for as long as I had been the representative; that is, at least five years.
They were up to 1,200 workers. They thought they had jobs for about two years. They were told by management they still had orders for 24 months. Then all of a sudden they were on indefinite layoff and all the promises and all the optimism that had been laid on them turned out to be totally ephemeral and false, because of -- I do not know how to describe it, how would the Minister of Industry and Tourism describe it? The looting?
Mismanagement does not begin to describe what Argus Corporation and Conrad Black did to the farm implements industry in this province and in this country. Mismanagement does not begin to describe what they did. Perhaps there are other nouns. Looting comes to mind. Asset stripping comes to mind. Perhaps the minister has his own interpretation. Perhaps the minister has his own language to describe what Conrad Black did to that company and Conrad’s colleagues. When he finally got into irretrievable trouble, he simply dumped it and walked away and put the workers on indefinite layoff and said: “Well, somebody else” --
At the end of the road, after years of mismanagement, the company was dumped on to the hapless Victor Rice, that poor sap. He all of a sudden had this wonderful remnant dumped upon his shoulders. And who is going to pick up the pieces? Well, the Minister of Industry and Tourism and the Conservative gang are going to bail the company out.
What are the terms of the bill, the final payment for the years of mismanagement by Argus and Conrad Black? In a nutshell, and perhaps the minister will correct me if I am wrong, my understanding is that the essence of the agreement is that if the company misses a single dividend payment, Ontario will fork over $78 million. Is that incorrect? Is my understanding wrong? I think not.
Perhaps the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), who has expressed an interest over the course of his political career in protecting the integrity of public expenditures -- if anything has characterized his career, it has been a passionate concern for wise expenditure of public dollars -- even that cheapskate, I suspect, would wilt at the menu that is put before us in this bill. Seventy-eight million bucks if the company goes broke. Seventy-eight million bucks if they miss one single dividend payment -- to whom?
There is not much to salvage in Toronto in Massey-Ferguson. The private management has allowed that former keystone of Ontario’s industrial enterprise to run down almost irretrievably. Fortunately, there are still facilities in Brantford that could be made viable.
But I tell my friend the Minister of Industry and Tourism, there is nothing in the record of the private management that entitles him or anybody else to have a single shred of confidence in the management that they are not going to take him to the cleaners as they have taken everybody else to the cleaners.
Mr. McClellan: Not in Bellwoods, my dear friend. Did the minister happen to notice the results in Bellwoods in the last election? He would have lost his deposit if he had to make one. I notice he closed out the community centre. Did he forfeit the rent? The rent cheque must have bounced last month; they had to close the PC community centre.
It is not a question of the kind of soybean concern that the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk expects, and it is not a question of the kind of political rhetoric about job protection, because those are not the issues at all. There is no guarantee in this piece of paper that a single job will be protected, not a single guarantee. Unless the minister can produce an agreement that shows us those jobs will be protected through some kind of guarantee, he is just talking through the top of his head.
All he is telling us in this piece of paper is that, if the company enters into the final paroxysm of death, he will pick up what is left of the debt. That is really great. If he is going to make an investment in Massey-Ferguson, what we are telling him is if he is going to make a serious commitment to preserve the farm implement industry in this province, if he is going to make a serious commitment to keep those jobs going, then he has a responsibility to make sure that he has a participatory share in the management of that operation.
There is nothing in the record of the existing management that justifies a single shred of confidence. They have ripped off the minister, they have ripped off the people, they have ripped the workers off for the last 10 years and the government is just falling again, like the suckers they are, into the trap.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, many years ago I was a student, and I recall several of my economics professors, who all just by happenstance were free enterprise economists, who always justified the free enterprise system, or capitalism, and the profits that are necessary if capitalism is to survive. They always justified profits by the element of risk that was involved in the investment: the higher the risk, the higher the justifiable profit, according to the free enterprise economists.
I look around me now, I look across the floor now at all these free enterprisers who believe in profits. They believe fully that one needs to have profits if one is going to have investments, and they believe that the free enterprise system will determine what comes first out there in the marketplace. That is the basis of their belief, as I understand it.
Then I see the Minister of Industry and Tourism undermining this philosophy which those people hold very dearly, particularly the back-benchers, who all really believe in this system. There is the Minister of Industry and Tourism at every turn, whether it is Ford, Massey, Chrysler, the pulp and paper industry or anybody else.
Someday there is going to be a revolt by the chambers of commerce in this province against the socialism of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. They will not tolerate a red Tory in that portfolio any longer. One day the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) will sit there, and free enterprise will rise again in Ontario. We all know that.
My colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) touched only very briefly on the role of Argus. When I look at the role of Argus in this whole thing I can see that it happened long before Conrad Black was ever on the scene. We can go back and measure the dates precisely when Argus bought into Massey. That is when the dividend stripping, as my colleague calls it -- the sucking off of dividends -- began. Instead of putting money into acquisition and reinvestment, Argus took it as dividends to carry on its unholy diversification program. That is when it started.
What did Massey do instead of using retained earnings? They borrowed, and therein lay the seeds of the destruction of Massey-Ferguson. Their debt ratio climbed and climbed. I challenge the government to measure the debt ratio of Massey from the day Argus got controlling interest. They will see that the whole process of disintegration began when Argus bought control of Massey-Ferguson.
I cannot recall the last time Argus expressed concern for the problems of Ontario; they are concerned only for the shareholders of Argus. Yet here we are paying for the results of their actions once again.
I ask the minister when he responds next week to tell us what his view is of the role of Argus and how we got to this position. How did we get to the situation where tonight we are debating a bill to guarantee $78 million of public money? I think the Conservatives on that side will want to know that.
To what extent is the government going to continue to do this? At some point they have to make up their minds what their responsibility as a government is in the economy of Ontario. They cannot go about bashing those of us who want intervention and then selectively intervening every time the free enterprisers get into trouble.
I know how the government does it. They do it by saying, “We need to protect the jobs.” The last refuge of the scoundrel has become the protection of jobs. Everybody knows we need jobs in Ontario, but for the Tories to hide behind that on every single issue is unscrupulous.
I look at the alternatives. We are potentially pouring $78 million into Massey-Ferguson. We have put money into the pulp and paper industry and the auto industry. Yet they sit on their collective hands and do not take the obvious action of building key sectors in the economy -- and I use one example: the mining machinery sector.
Mr. Laughren: Never mind; this is the principle of the bill. The Minister of Industry and Tourism would like it very much if we did not bring into this debate the mismanagement of this economy by him and other ministers of the crown. He would be very satisfied if we talked only about the $78 million and the lack of alternatives he has given us. It is not quite that simple.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism made a very revealing comment the last time we were talking about this bill. He said, “I cannot get all the details and then pass the bill, because the international bankers would not have it that way.” That leads me to one conclusion: if the minister says to the international bankers, “Don’t you worry, we have a majority government; we will get this bill through,” which he could say, the international bankers would say, “Mr. Grossman, go back to your sandbox; we don’t believe what you are telling us.” That is what he is saying.
Let the minister stand in his place and tell us this: Does he or does he not know the details of Massey’s five-year plan? If he does know it and is not prepared to share it with us, then it is incredible that he would do that to the Legislature of Ontario. It shows an incredible arrogance in his role as minister. If he does not know it, it is even more incredible. He is in a negative-sum game.
Either way, it makes no sense for us as an opposition party -- and I suspect for the Liberals as an opposition party if the former leader were not from Brantford -- to be standing up and supporting them on this bill. I have heard of buying a pig in a poke, but they are buying a white elephant in a poke. The chances of winning in this are zilch. We can only lose.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism will always fall back on the fact that the reality of March 19 is that the government now has the majority and whatever it wants to do is just fine and, because we lost seats, we are wrong in the arguments we make. That is what the minister is saying. I know the Premier has had second thoughts about his arrogance in this chamber; and perhaps his second thoughts will rub off on the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
Mr. Laughren: -- if we on this side were the government at this time and we had decided we were going to bring forth such a bill, can you imagine what the Conservative caucus over there would be saying to us? Can you imagine what the former leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario would be saying to us if this were our bill?
Mr. Laughren: What we would do is build an agricultural machinery industry in this province that we could be proud of, not only in Ontario but also all across this country. It is strictly an academic argument, because if New Democrats were the government in Ontario we would be rebuilding the economy in such a way that we would not be bailing out those people year after year after year.
It is just a succession of people with their hands out at the door of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism. It finally got so embarrassing that they had to create a special fund called the employment development fund just to hand out the money. As my colleague the member for Sudbury East says, “When they could not give away the resources any more, they had to start giving away real money.”
Mr. Mackenzie: The desk thumping of the trained seals across the way is the least impediment to what I am going to say; let me say that very clearly. I have been moved to enter the debate by the colossal arrogance I have heard from members of both old parties over what we are doing in terms of the support we might get from the workers in Brantford by asking for an eight-week hoist in this particular bill.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have the floor. Let me tell the members opposite something. The workers in Brantford would not sign a new contract with Massey-Ferguson without knowing what was in that contract. They would tell the company to go to hell in so many terms.
What the government is asking us to do here is to buy a pig in a poke. I do not trust the Minister of Industry and Tourism as far as I can kick him, very frankly. There is absolutely no agreement before us, there is absolutely no five-year plan that the minister talked about before us.
We do not know what kind of guarantees there are for the jobs. We all hope -- and I do, as well -- that there are some guarantees in there, but we do not know. There is nothing wrong with asking for a delay in this bill until we get that agreement presented to us; the workers will understand that very well in Brantford, as well, because they are not stupid.
Let me give one little example. It was only last fall that this same minister, who does not believe in interfering in the private sector, was saying that a $150-million package would probably buy the kind of an agreement we are talking about. We have before us today, as I understand it, a total package worth $212 million. So he is only out $62 million since last fall in what he wants.
The minister is asking us to buy, without seeing the agreement, the guarantees for the workers’ jobs in Brantford. I do not buy that at all, and I do not think the Brantford workers will. Yes, this party will move as quickly as anybody even though we do not like the government’s philosophy. If we have to use some of the public funds to prop up a company where there are that many jobs involved, we are willing to do it; but we are not willing to do it blindfolded, and that is exactly what the government is asking us to do in this House.
When the minister introduces a bill, there is a rule in this Legislature, rule 32(c), and it says, “On the introduction of a government bill, a compendium of background information shall be delivered to the opposition ... ” The Minister of Industry and Tourism’s compendium was his press release.
When I complained to the government House leader that we needed a little more than that to make a determination on what we should do with respect to this bill, they sent Red Wilson over. He brought a document of 150 pages, which we were supposed to go through in 20 minutes flat to be able to make an assessment. He could not leave it with us; I guess it is confidential, but I do not know.
What my colleagues have been simply attempting to say is that we are prepared to support this bill, as we were when there were massive layoffs at Inco. We understand the effects of massive layoffs; not only the new boy from Brantford but also those of us on this side of the House who come from mining communities, or my colleague from Windsor, we understand the ramifications of a layoff.
If one listened to the minister respond last week to a question raised by my leader, he said, “We are not in the business of determining what companies do.” That being the case, what is he doing tonight? Larry told us that this government is not in that business of making determinations on what companies are going to do. He cannot have it both ways.
I want to know what companies are doing. That is why those of us who sat on the select committees from this party said there must be justification for companies’ actions. Larry says you are not supposed to interfere.
The Deputy Speaker: I know you are, but I would just like to bring a small point to your attention. Following the Speaker’s ruling, he has been referring to members by their surnames, and I think I will have to follow suit on that.
We are adamant. We want to look at the money as we did with respect to the giveaway to the pulp and paper industry when the presidents said they did not need it and the study at the university said they did not need it. What does one get? One gets stonewalled by the minister.
I find it passing strange that every time we attempt to find out what is behind it, what the terms are and why they need money, we get stonewalled. Maybe some of the fellows in the back row who are new boys are prepared to accept everything the minister says. But I am from Missouri. I have been around here a little while.
I learned a long time ago in this Legislature to question what the minister says. Those fellows will not. He will throw them another fish and they will be happy, but I am not prepared to accept what the minister proposes in such a cavalier fashion.
I find it strange that the minister is not prepared to indicate to us very clearly what the agreements are about and what they entail. Why should we accept a $78-million risk without knowing what is in it?
Mr. Martel: If the minister tried to tell him the way he tried to explain away the giveaway of employment development fund grants to the pulp and paper industry when the companies said they did not need them, then maybe the minister’s explanation was wanting.
We are not being difficult. We are simply saying to the minister that, when he responds, maybe he will tell us clearly what the responsibilities are for Ontario, what the responsibilities to the workers are -- all the things that would make it possible for us to support the bill.
As my colleague who opened the debate said, it is our intention to know what we are voting for and to know the types of guarantees, because we have not always had those guarantees. Was it not Ford for which we thought we had guarantees and we did not?
Mr. Martel: Right. And the minister told us about those too, if he will recall. He gave us great assurances. He stood in his place and maligned the opposition. But it did not turn out quite the way he had anticipated.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I said I was prepared to listen carefully to the minister, and we could get the bill done tonight if he were prepared to tell us all the details of the agreement. Now, is the minister prepared to tell us that?
Mr. Martel: As it looks, we take the risks; we would like to know what is at stake for those risks. I ask the minister to explain that clearly. I might say that I indicated to the government House leader a week ago that, if we could get the terms and know what is in the bill, we would be prepared to support it. But we want to know the terms first. I will give him his opportunity. I hope he will be clear on it.
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the remarks of most of the speakers over the last couple of hours. Unfortunately, the members sometimes tend to drift away from reality. Reality in this case is not as pleasant as many of us would like it to be. Certainly that is the case for Mac Makarchuk this evening.
What we have to keep in mind here is that this is perhaps the most complex arrangement, perhaps the most complex deal that this government -- perhaps any government in Canada -- will ever be entering into. It is not a deal that we can blithely and unilaterally dictate terms for, and I do not pretend that anything else is the case.
The fact is that this is a very complex arrangement involving not only Massey-Ferguson and its shareholders but also literally several hundred other parties. As the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has pointed out, some of those partners, some of those banks, became more nervous at certain times than others did.
To make a deal with more than 250 participants is not an easy matter. This government, in the position of guaranteeing or underwriting an issue of $75 million out of a $720-million refinancing, is hardly in a position to dictate a great number of those terms unilaterally.
Having said that, we had a great deal of success working with the federal government in getting the kind of undertakings we could get in these circumstances. Those undertakings have been made public to the media, and they have been given in even more detail to the critics for both opposition parties.
The only reason this matter is being debated in this assembly this evening is that every other government involved, almost by accident, has the capacity to enter into this kind of arrangement. In the Ford situation, this government happened to have the capacity to enter into that arrangement. In the Chrysler situation, we happened to have the capacity and the authority to enter into that arrangement.
In fact, it is only because we did not happen to have the legislative authority to complete the negotiations -- and I emphasize that -- and to work out the fine details, that this bill is before the House.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The various parties to the transaction obviously required that the government of Ontario be in a position to fulfil the undertaking we must give to complete a 250-party agreement, which in essence it will work out to be.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: This government, though it is not the major player in the transaction, was quite cautious and careful in this instance. It is entitled, I think, to take some credit for having worked with Victor Rice and the other people working on behalf of the company to keep this company in business and operating with the backing of the federal and provincial governments over a long period of time.
Members of this House will recall standing here in the last parliament last October in the belief that this company could not survive another week or two. October 31 was said to be the final date for that company to stay in business. But, because of this government’s persistence, because of the persistence of Victor Rice, and because of the concurrence and assistance of the federal government, we were all able to work internationally to keep all the players on side, to get the bank to continue to extend credit to ensure that any of the various numbers of creditors, and there were many of them, did not get so nervous that they pulled the plug and caused a domino effect that would have brought down the company.
It was very delicate at many stages, but because we stayed in the ball game, because we worked with everyone and lent credibility to the very complex undertaking that Mr. Rice was taking on, the fact is that we were able to be here today with a company still alive and viable.
It is a very complex arrangement. By its very nature, it contains a great number of details that simply cannot be made public. It is not at all a matter of my unwillingness to make them public. I am unable to make them public by virtue of the conditions under which we were given those documents. It is that simple. When the details are all sorted out, when we have the capacity to sign the final deal, when the contracts are finally signed, which will be the middle of June, then those documents will be available to everyone.
I have to say that if eight weeks were to pass, as the NDP would have it, then quite simply the agreed-upon deadline of mid-June for executing these contracts would pass, one of the key players to this arrangement would be unable to fulfil its undertakings and the company might well fail. That is the risk the NDP wants us to undertake. That is what it says it wants to have unless it can have some agreed-upon confidential information.
It is not a light burden for this government or for this minister to bear in working out these arrangements, but I must say, whether we are talking about the Chrysler situation or any other situation --
Mr. Laughren: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The minister just said that if this bill did not go through now, if it were hoisted as our motion would do, a deadline of mid-June would go past which would make something invalid -- I presume the agreement. At what point did the minister talk about this mid-June deadline to the critics of the opposition parties?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in essence, this government and this ministry have been charged with a very difficult and onerous responsibility; it is to negotiate a very complex arrangement. The part we played gives me a great deal of pride because we were able to participate as a key player in a very complex arrangement.
It is not the kind of arrangement that allows us to provide all of the details, all of the confidential information, to the public at large. It simply is not possible. It is something I wish I were able to do, but one cannot conduct negotiations that way. One of the key parties simply cannot call down confidential papers and turn them over. In essence it is our responsibility to conduct those negotiations. It is our responsibility to make the best deal we can, and ultimately we will be judged on the integrity of that deal and how well we did in that deal.
We are all bound up very much, I am afraid, in market conditions and the management of the company. After having gone through many months of intense scrutiny of the financial affairs and the management of that company, we are satisfied the arrangement entered into serves the taxpayers well and gives the company its best chance at getting through.
I find it a little extreme for the NDP to suggest that they do not have enough information to deal with this bill when last year their then member for Brantford obviously had enough information to rise in this House on several occasions and demand that we buy the company. He reported to this House that after meeting with Massey-Ferguson he had concluded that we ought to be buying this company. He obviously had enough information to decide the people of Ontario should buy this company, and during the election campaign he was certainly most vociferous in saying this was something that should be supported.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge before I sat down the key role played in reaching this point of the negotiations by the farm community in this province. The farmers stood by the equipment they had purchased; they are continuing to buy more of that equipment and continuing to show faith and I think a bit of dedication to a great Canadian company as well as a willingness to stand by Canadian equipment. That bodes well for the future.
Second, three days before he leaves this government, I want to pay special tribute to my deputy, Red Wilson, who spearheaded the government negotiations in this very difficult matter. This propitious deal we have worked out, given the circumstances, simply could not have been worked out without his day-to-day dedication to this task. I believe very few civil servants could have pulled off this kind of arrangement as successfully as he has. I am sure all members of the House will join me in applauding his efforts just before he leaves this government.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a point of privilege by quoting from the rules; the particular rule is 19(d), part 8. A few moments ago, when I was speaking, the minister indicated that my colleague was given all the details. He has now stood in his place and indicated he could not supply the details because they were part of an agreement which was confidential.
He cannot have it both ways. Either he withdraws his statement that my colleague was given the information under section 9 or he tells us that my colleague has not received the information he says he was given. Either he gave him the information or he did not.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Martel, I find your point of privilege out of order. My interpretation of section 19 is that a Speaker has judgement. There are no specific allegations about the member against whom you are claiming there were allegations. As far as my interpretation --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Mr. Cooke, I was present for the whole two and quarter hours of a fine debate this evening, and the minister did not indicate that you were a liar in any way under section 19 of the standing orders.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Birch, Boudria, Brandt, Breithaupt, Copps, Cousens, Cunningham, Cureatz, Dean, Drea, Eakins, Eaton, Edighoffer, Elston, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Haggerty, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson; Johnson, J. M., Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, Mancini, McCaffrey, McCague, McGuigan, McKessock, McLean, McMurtry, McNeil, Miller, G. I., Mitchell, Newman, Nixon, Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Reed, J. A., Riddell, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Ruston; Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Sweeney, Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven. Van Horne, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Wiseman, Worton, Wrye, Yakabuski.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, during the debate and in the Minister of Industry and Tourism’s windup the minister indicated there was a June 15 deadline by which this agreement had to come to a conclusion and therefore our motion to hoist the bill would destroy the agreement. In speaking with the minister individually while the bells were ringing, the minister indicated to me that was not a deadline at all; it was simply a goal. I think the minister should stand up and clear the record as well.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in fairness to my colleague, I do want to say that I had presumed that he and other members of his party were aware of the deadlines that had been agreed to as they were published in most newspapers, and therefore it was not part of the discussions he had with our ministry. There was no secret about those; everyone was aware of those.