The main distinguishing feature of our new system is the registration of the licence plates to the owner instead of the vehicle. When owners sell or scrap their vehicles, they will keep their licence plates and put them on their next vehicle, which will put an end to those annoying parking tickets and summonses that went to previous owners for vehicles they had sold, simply because they did not insist on an immediate ownership change.
Plate-to-owner is a completely on-line system with other numerous inherent benefits. For example, the staggered renewal feature will enable owners to validate their registration on their birthday and thereby put an end to the long February lineups.
During 1983, we will ease everyone on to the staggered renewal schedule. To do this, we have divided the calendar year into two parts, the first from January to May, and the second from June to December.
Owners whose birthdays fall in the first half of the year will pay a prorated price for a sticker valid from January 1, 1983, to their birthdays in 1984. Owners whose birthdays fall in the second half of the year will pay a prorated price for a sticker valid from January 1, 1983, to their birthday in 1983. After that, owners will renew on their birthday each year and pay a flat annual fee each time.
The fee for passenger cars and personal-use light trucks and vans will be $48 per year or $4 a month. Motorcycle stickers will cost $24 a year and moped stickers $6 a year. In northern Ontario, the $48 fee will be reduced to $24. The new stickers will be colour-coded by month and they will be placed on the upper right-hand corner of the rear licence plate.
Annual stickers for commercial vehicles weighing 3,000 kilograms or less will be $72. The fee structure for commercial vehicles weighing more than 3,000 kilograms will not change. It will continue to be determined by the weight of the vehicle.
All owners will receive an invitation to renew approximately 45 days before their renewal date. That invitation will show whether there are any unpaid parking tickets or not-sufficient-funds cheques, for which the owner may be denied renewal unless these fines are paid at the time of the renewal.
Plate-to-owner also introduces a whole new range of combinations available for personalized plates. Under our new system, these plates may have as little as two or as many as six characters and they may be arranged in any combination of letters and numbers except those combinations used on regular plates. If only numbers are being used, a maximum of four may be combined. I should not have to add, but I shall for the record, that any objectionable combinations will be denied.
First, I am pleased to report that the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, BILD, has approved allocation of funds for the Ontario centre for resource machinery in Sudbury. The allocation, $20.1 million, will be employed in programs to support the development of new machinery for the forestry and mining industries.
Funds also will be earmarked on two other counts: to provide economic and market analysis relating to production and trade machinery for forestry and mining, and to put in place a well-targeted program of communications -- publications, seminars and training -- to encourage new investment and other new initiatives in the resource and machinery field.
I would like to note two other features of the Sudbury centre. As a main objective, it will support small businesses and machinery companies located in northern and eastern Ontario. In addition, the centre will work closely with northern post-secondary educational institutions in the research aspects of its work with industry.
The Sudbury centre is, as members know, one of six in our five-year technology centres program. It is also the fourth to have received BILD funding approvals based on hard five-year business plans that constitute the foundation for the program overall. The two remaining business plans, one for the automotive parts centre slated for the Niagara region and the other an agricultural centre which will be located in Chatham, are under detailed review at this very moment.
Further on this update, the members may be aware of the appointment of Mr. Lionel Hurtibise as president of the Ontario Centre for Microelectronics in Ottawa. His selection concludes a lengthy search. Mr. Hurtibise, who is currently president and chief executive officer of International Systcoms Ltd. of Montreal, the world’s largest manufacturer of radiotelephones, brings distinguished credentials to the post.
The Ontario Centre for Microelectronics was formally launched last week, and at that time I reported to the House that all six centres, except one, would be open and operational by the end of the year, the sixth coming on stream in January. I am pleased to report that things are on track.
Our plan is to formally open the remaining five centres this month and next. We will cut the ribbon according to the following timetable: December 14, the Ontario centre for automotive parts; December 15, the Ontario centre for resource machinery; January 31, the Ontario centre for farm machinery and food processing; and, early in February, the Ontario centre for robotics and the Ontario centre for computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing, CAD/CAM, in Cambridge.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, in the continuing saga of Ministry of Health calendars, I would like to point out for the edification of all members of this House something that I am sure the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) with his penchant for accuracy will be very concerned about.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I am sure you would like me to call to your attention and to the attention of the House the presence in the gallery of some distinguished representatives of your own riding and of ridings of other members across the province, namely, the blind clients of the audio library at Trent University who today are launching a human rights case against the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The question is in regard to the complex transactions between the various trust companies involved in the Cadillac Fairview-Greymac purchase.
What we have here is a recently acquired subsidiary paying moneys to its parent for another subsidiary. This is commonly known in the trade as a non-arm’s-length transaction. In effect, the end result is no overall change in control, but Greymac Credit is pocketing millions of dollars in cash and securities from Crown Trust.
Given that Greymac Credit was both purchaser and vendor of the original Cadillac Fairview building, that Greymac Trust is a mortgagee on title of all or some of these properties and that, according to the minister, Crown Trust is involved in some way in the financing of the apartment transactions, can the minister indicate what connection, if any, exists between this pocketing of millions of dollars by Greymac Credit and the apartment building transactions or any other related sales in this series of transactions?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I do not know that I have the information on which to evaluate the statement by the Leader of the Opposition that there has been a pocketing of money. If by that he means there has been some wrongful acquisition of funds, then I think certainly that is a matter that has to be examined very thoroughly.
Surely he can understand, though, that the matters he is referring to, particularly the arm’s-length relationship, not only between themselves in transactions but also vis-à-vis their individual or corporate relationship with the trust companies -- will be matters that will be addressed in the Morrison inquiry that is under way now.
Mr. Peterson: When the minister first announced the Morrison inquiry, he said it was to investigate the value of the mortgages granted by the trust company. Each time we bring up a new concern in this House, he is expanding the Morrison inquiry to take new concerns into account.
I want to know whether the Morrison inquiry is going to determine whether Crown Trust is paying a fair price for the shares of Greymac Trust. Will this determination be made, or would he not be a lot wiser to include all these matters together in a public inquiry rather than adding piece by piece, day by day, to the terms of reference of that inquiry?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am not adding day by day to the terms of reference of the inquiry. I have said from the beginning, and so has the Premier (Mr. Davis) in his remarks, it is my belief that to evaluate the matters the examiner is required to evaluate under the Loan and Trust Corporations Act, he and his assistants, and by that I mean law firms as well our investigators, will be required to look into the transactions that took place between the parties and to evaluate the relationships between the individuals or corporations and the trust companies.
I have never strayed from that position. To suggest there is a piecemeal adding-on to that is inappropriate. What I have said is that the study is proceeding. We expect certain information will become available. On the basis of that, we will decide whether any other options are necessary to clarify the issues that have been raised.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, on a number of different occasions in the past two weeks we have had two very different themes from the minister as well as from the Premier. One theme is that in some way or another the truth will out with respect to this transaction. The Premier said he would be very surprised if it did not.
The Premier said he was relatively satisfied the bulk of the information with respect to these transactions would come out. Today the minister was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying, “I don’t know if we’ll ever know the individual identities of the investors.”
Given the difference in both tone and substance in these two replies as to whether we will ever know, on the basis of the Morrison inquiry, the identities of the investors and the answer to the question of who now owns these buildings, will the minister today order a full public inquiry into this entire transaction so we can get to the bottom of it and the mystery will at last come to an end?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, if the suggestion arising from the honourable member’s question is that I am not determined to get to the bottom of the issue, then he is not on the right wicket in that area. This minister and this government are determined that there will be a full understanding of the transactions and the relationships between the parties, be they companies or individuals. What the Premier has said and what I have said are consistent. It is my belief that the very nature of those transactions will require the special examiner to look into those relationships.
As to who the real investors are, I have made it clear in estimates and at other times that the Residential Tenancy Commission will have the authority under section 93, where it has an obligation to see through the nature of transactions, to determine beneficial ownership. I have also indicated that we are involved in endeavours to ascertain and confirm that the investors were Saudis and that there was a flow of money. I am determined that we will receive that information one way or another.
Mr. Peterson: The minister is aware that we are interested in getting to the bottom of this complex issue which we have been discussing piecemeal over the past few weeks in this House. I want to point out to the minister that, under section 91 of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act, a trust company is required to keep corporate books. Furthermore, a depositor of a trust company or his agent shall, pursuant to the act, have access to those books during business hours.
For two days in a row, a member of my research staff acting as an agent for a depositor has been denied access to the books of Greymac Trust and Crown Trust by these companies. Under section 205, such a denial is an offence under the act. Will the minister, as the person ultimately responsible for administering this act, advise whether he will request the crown attorney to prosecute these companies for this violation?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If the individual who made that application wishes to bring that information to the crown attorney, and if it is as stated by the Leader of the Opposition, that is certainly an issue the crown attorney will have to make a decision on. The Leader of the Opposition may wish to ask the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) about it.
Let us be clear. If there is any implication in the question that this minister or this ministry was involved in that refusal, that is ridiculous. If there is any information it is possible for us to provide that the member feels is important and is not able to get, if it is within my capability to give it to him, I will be pleased to discuss it with him. But with respect to the rights of an individual who he claims has had his rights aggrieved, he knows the options and so does the individual.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food; it concerns the sale of Ontario resources, i.e. farm land, to foreign investors who prefer to remain anonymous. I am sure the minister is aware of the information we made public this morning.
I am also sure the minister is aware of the offer to purchase agreements that non-resident foreign purchasers are using, which as a condition of sale require that “prior to the closing of this transaction the vendor shall, at the cost of the purchaser, cause to be incorporated a new Ontario corporation owned by the vendor.”
Will the minister confirm that this loophole allows foreign buyers to slip easily through the registration legislation by incorporating an Ontario company and acquiring the farm land undetected? Now that the minister has had almost a year in which to review his findings, can he tell us how long he has known about this practice, how many of these purchases have been handled in this manner and whether any fines have been levied on any individuals or corporations in the circumstances?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in reviewing the updated figures over the past few months with my staff and in discussing with them their concerns about whether certain properties were registered which they had reason to believe from local contacts around the province had been sold, I have concluded that we should recommend to my colleague the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) that certain things should be done with respect to the Land Transfer Tax Act. That is not to say that what they are doing is illegal. Of course, there is a loophole there. The Minister of Revenue agreed that it should he closed, and be will he bringing forward amendments to do that.
I have not had a chance to look over the material the honourable member released today at his press conference. I am told he did not take a position one way or the other, but it is entirely possible that some of the transactions he discussed at his press conference were registered as being foreign-owned under our legislation. If that is his concern, it is entirely possible that they were registered. But there is a loophole there that in our view should be closed, and it is going to be.
What is the extent of the practice of people avoiding paying land transfer tax, at least the foreigners’ rate? What are his ministry’s statistics on how much of that has taken place in the past few years? How many acres have been transferred using that loophole? Where is the money coming from? Who are the true shareholders? Who is going to be controlling those vast acreages which it appears have been transferred right under the minister’s nose over the past few years?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is impossible to know exactly how much. It could be very little; it could be more significant than that. But having found that there is such a loophole, I felt it incumbent on me to recommend a change. I found my colleague quite amenable to the suggestion, and he is going to bring forward that change.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, how is the minister going to determine who is the new owner and whether it is a foreign owner, unless his government changes its legislation so that we have corporate disclosure?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I believe we can do that by beefing up our inspection staff. As members know, at present we have only one person assigned to it. We are going to engage a couple more. We can zero in on these cases and, with the co-operation of the Ministry of Revenue, I think we can rectify them.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, since we drew to the attention of the minister back in 1978 that these foreign interests were buying up our land and evading the land transfer tax, and now he has decided to act, why is it that we cannot get access to his files, which he refers to as “the bank,” containing the information he is able to get under the Land Titles Act? Why, when we phone to find out how much land has been sold to foreign interests according to his records, are we not able to get that information so we can compare it with the information we have obtained from the registry offices?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the honourable member was still here on Friday or had gone to the Grey Cup party when I gave the gross figures. The report is at the printers. As soon as it is printed, and I hope to be able to release it later this week or early next week, he will then have the data that we have.
Apparently the minister made a statement to the press yesterday, indicating that he was now of the view that a trust company by the name of Seaway Trust had a direct interest in the Cadillac Fairview apartments as of today and that it was holding mortgages worth $76 million.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the information the honourable member refers to is not new; it has been public information for a long time. Seaway Trust is required under the Securities Act to file certain documents and, to the best of my recollection, it did so on November 9. In them they indicated that as part of the transaction they had acquired a participating interest in the equity of the company; so that is nothing new. Those who have read the newspapers have known that fact for some time.
In relation to that, the minister stated in the House today that he is determined to find out the relationships that exist in these transactions. How can the minister possibly find out what relationships exist when he does not know who the parties to the relationship are? How can he possibly find out that information when he is refusing to take into hand the type of inquiry that would allow him to determine who the parties to the relationship are? How can he determine a relationship when he does not even know the identity of the parties concerned?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I can understand perhaps how the member is confused, because he does not seem to understand just what terms of reference are involved under the Loan and Trust Corporations Act with respect to the Morrison inquiry. They are to carry out an examination, an audit and a general inquiry into the conduct of the business. If the member thinks they’ are playing cards or something like that, then he should review his thinking on this matter, He should understand that these investigations are being carried on under part II of the Public Inquiries Act with the powers of that part.
This is a serious inquiry into the companies involved, to determine information that I have related to this House on several occasions. There is no mystery about it, and this government and this minister are determined that we will have a thorough understanding of those transactions.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I believe my information is correct, that section 152 of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act is a little-used section. We do not know and there is not a great body of knowledge of what is included under that inquiry except by reading the statute itself. It has not been widely used. It was only when we pointed out to the minister that he could use it that he even started to look at that avenue. That is a reality too.
I want to ask the minister this question because if one takes his suggestions and comments at face value, and I do, then the terms of reference of the Morrison inquiry have expanded somewhat from the day it was originally announced and the things he wanted to include therein have expanded somewhat. To satisfy those of us who are concerned that he is not getting at all aspects of the deal, will he table in this House the formal terms of reference so that we will know what he and Mr. Morrison will and will not be looking at? Then we can avoid this kind of daily picking away at him so his entrails are showing.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member can pursue the picking away, but I suspect it is only those stubby nails of his that are going to get more stubby. This minister’s entrails will never be on any floor because the member is in the same room, I will tell him that. It is nice that he seems to take some personal pride in having discovered section 152 and I hate to detract from the great pride he has in this secret information, but that section was known to me long before he suggested it, and the terms of reference of the Morrison inquiry are in keeping with that act.
I have said, the Premier (Mr. Davis) has said and the government has said it is our belief that in order to get to the heart of the issues raised by that inquiry it will be necessary to understand the nature of the transactions and the arm’s-length relationship of the parties involved. There is no change in that. He can pick away with his fingernails, his toenails or his teeth, and it is still there.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister can answer this question directly. Under what authority will Mr. Morrison be able to determine the ownership of Kilderkin Investments or of any of the numbered companies that are involved in these transactions? If there is no such authority, and if Mr. Morrison has no such right to ask those questions, and the minister knows this inquiry is not going to be a tea party, as he has described it, and it is not going to be a card game, as he has described it -- there are some very tough players involved in this operation -- why should either Kilderkin Investments or any of the numbered companies divulge information to Mr. Morrison when they are under no legal obligation to do so?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I can only reassert what I said before, and that is, it is my belief that to understand the transactions, the examiner will have to, of necessity, obtain information of the kind the member has asked about. Regardless of that, I have said I am keeping my options open with respect to the need for any other steps, should they be necessary, because we are determined, as all members of this House should be, to get to a full understanding of the transaction that took place here.
Given Mr. Ouellet’s specific refusal in the House of Commons last week, in answer to a specific question, to order an investigation into the differential between leaded and unleaded gas, given the statement by the Premier (Mr. Davis) in 1975 that in his view it was the responsibility of and did come within the jurisdiction of the province to order a control on prices specifically in the energy field, and given the statement by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) in 1979 when he again indicated specifically that the province did have the jurisdiction to order rollbacks in prices and to order freezes in prices where the province felt that was justified, how can the minister justify the delay in a provincial investigation into the differential between leaded and unleaded gas? Why does he not carry on an investigation right away and come up with an answer for the consumers of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, what I have said, and what I have tried to imply in conversations I have had, is not that this government is not concerned with the differential. What I have said is that the federal government -- and let us understand we are not trying to shift responsibility here or protect turf -- has initiated an inquiry into petroleum products and pricing in general.
We have now seen evidence of a report that has been carried out by the federal government with respect to this very issue. Unless all of that time, effort and money was spent to obtain a report that could be leaked out for no reason and for no purpose on their part, I would suggest to the member he should be concerned that all that time and effort was going into it when they did not intend to do anything about it. My present position is that they should. It is a national issue and I have said so to Mr. Ouellet and I am awaiting his answer.
Mr. Rae: There is no mystery. We know Mr. Ouellet’s answer. Mr. Ouellet has said specifically that he does not have power to control prices in the private sector in Canada unless it comes under the terms of the Combines Investigation Act, and he is satisfied that there is no case under the Combines Investigation Act. We know that answer. That answer is on the record, it has been on the record for nearly a week.
Given that the answer has been on the record for a week and given the fact that the delay is costing consumers -- if the figures contained in the report are correct some $200,000 a day in terms of an overcharge on unleaded gas, how can the minister justify such a delay when it is costing the consumers of this province so much money? How can he sit there when day after day consumers in this province are being ripped off and not do anything except to write a letter to André Ouellet? Surely we expect the minister to take action on his own on behalf of the consumers of this province.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If that is indeed Mr. Ouellet’s position then the member must be as astounded as I am that they would be wasting their time with a fuel pricing commission and with studies in depth into this area, which they intend to nothing with.
I am going to reserve whatever position this government will take until I receive a formal response from him saying that he is not interested and that they are carrying out all these studies for no reason and they do not intend to do anything about it once they have the information they are seeking and that they have.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, since the price of premium unleaded is now around 50 cents a litre and the minister’s colleague the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea) clearly indicated, I would say two years ago or more, that he and the ministry were aware of the unfair increase -- he may have even called it a rip-off; he is nodding, ripoff is the sort of word he would use -- how could the minister now say he is still waiting for the federal government to proceed?
Obviously it has been a matter of knowledge that this has been unfairly priced for many months and years. It has been discussed in the Legislature. Why would the minister not now forget about his complaints of the inadequacies of the Ottawa administration and proceed on his own to save our own consumers the money that is being taken from them?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I think if the member were to ask the former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations once removed, he would tell him that probably the study that was initiated by Ottawa was initiated because he asked them to do it, because he felt it was a national issue.
Mr. Rae: It is the consumers of Ontario who are paying the price for this evasion and inactivity on the part of this minister. It simply will not do for the minister to say he has written a letter to Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: That is a pretty penetrating question. By the way, who wrote that for the member? I am going to tell him, he needs a new writer. This minister understands his duties and he will continue to accept them.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the first minister. It arises out of reports in the morning press that a former associate secretary of cabinet and former secretary to the policy and priorities board of the Ontario cabinet, namely Mr. Hugh D. Segal, Esq., has accepted a new position as executive vice-president of Camp Associates and president of something called the Advance Planning Group of Companies.
Having regard to the very central part and role which Mr. Hugh D. Segal, Esq., played in the affairs of the Ontario government over the past three years, and having regard to modern standards of arm’s-length relationships between governments and groups such as Camp Associates, can the Premier give this House an undertaking that no government of Ontario contract will be offered to either Camp Associates or the Advance Planning Group of Companies for at least a period of two years so there can he a cooling-off period in this matter?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I know it is the intention of this very able and distinguished young man, who determined to leave the public service to pursue activities in the private sector -- in fact, he made a point of stating it to me -- that he expects on his own behalf no government activity.
I think it is also fair to state to the honourable member that surely he would not want to preclude activities already under way with whatever organization because an individual happened to have been associated with government. I always sensed that the member for Renfrew North had a certain sense of fair play and decency about him and that he would not want to stand in the way of somebody earning an honest living.
Mr. Conway: In view of the fact that to the public there may very well be some legitimate question about the honesty of the living that Mr. Hugh D. Segal, Esq., is about to earn with this company, which offers itself as a company to provide analysis of public sector activity, can the Premier indicate what guidelines, if any, exist to deal with the kind of serious and potential conflict of interest that might take place? And can he indicate, if such rules do not exist, whether he will be prepared to write those rules so that this powerful if somewhat peripatetic partisan, Mr. Hugh D. Segal, will not make an awful lot of money for himself and Camp Associates peddling influence and insider information?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I really regret both some of the content and the tenor of the question. I really regret that perhaps the honourable member is ascribing to Mr. Segal what he himself might see as his natural instincts. I hope that is not true either.
I can only say to the member that I have known Mr. Segal for many years and he is a man of complete integrity. He obviously has been and will remain a partisan, which I know upsets the member. At the same time I can assure the member that my experience with Mr. Segal leaves me totally confident in his capacity to do the right thing with respect to his former responsibilities. If the member does not happen to judge people that way, if he wishes to be cynical, if he wishes to demean other people, then all I can say is, it is on his own conscience.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Does the minister intend to accept the decision of the Crown Employees Grievance Settlement Board in the case of Donald MacAlpine and reinstate him as of April 1, 1982?
Mr. Stokes: Did the minister read the conclusion reached by the grievance settlement board, namely, “that the regional staff demands at the time were not consistent with the provisions of the Crown Timber Act and the management manual, that those demands were unreasonable and unfair to district staff,” and finally, “that Mr. MacAlpine was justified in believing it would be wrong to facilitate the use of misleading data and an order in council licence which would be utilized to obtain a bank loan, and that there may be differences of opinion about the method he used to frustrate that design, but in the view of the board his concerns were legitimate, his loyalty to the ministry and its policies remain firm, and he is not a public servant who can be regarded as untrustworthy or undesirable by reason of what he did”? Would the minister agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Pope: As I indicated in reply to the first question, I read the entire decision and I have read numerous transcripts with respect to this matter. I am aware that the board found that Mr. MacAlpine’s statements, as the member has read them into the record just now, were uncontradicted because the lawyer representing the ministry did not choose to call some of the regional staff. I am aware that he made that ruling.
I am also aware of the facts of the situation, as I understand them, that before I had a chance to make a decision, before the matter was referred to the head office, because I have the ultimate authority to sign timber licences and permits in this province, the matter was in the newspapers in Thunder Bay. I am also aware of the fact that this gentleman went into our files and Xeroxed copies out of the file --
Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Minister of Labour regarding the Nordair strike. As recently as November 19, I asked the minister a question with regard to interceding with the federal Minister of Labour, the Honourable Charles Caccia, and he promised at that time to discuss the situation and try to get both parties back together again and to try to get rid of this strike which is paralyzing the city of Thunder Bay.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, after the honourable member raised the subject in the House on November 19, I called the Honourable Charles Caccia and conferred with him at quite some length about the problems and the inconveniences being caused, particularly in northern Ontario.
Mr. Caccia was sympathetic but was not able to provide too much encouragement, in that the workers had turned down an offer from the company and from that point on the negotiations had basically broken down. Mr. Caccia had appointed a federal mediator who was available to help at any time and was trying to bring the parties together but had been unsuccessful.
Mr. Caccia committed himself to keeping me up to date with the progress or lack of progress and reporting to me on a regular basis. I shall be happy to report to the honourable members as such occurs.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, does the minister not think that Ontario has a particular interest in this matter, in that as a regional carrier to Sault Ste. Marie and Dryden in particular, the Nordair matter has prevented adequate service to those two communities? Is it not true that the last management offer made some time ago was a take-it-or-leave-it offer, with no room for manoeuvring and no offer of negotiation with the employees?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the nature of the offer or the status of the way in which it was presented. I do agree that it is having a serious effect on the communities of Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, and particularly on the Dryden area because it does not have any alternative such as Air Canada.
In the case of Sault Ste. Marie -- and I believe this is also the case in Thunder Bay -- Air Canada has just announced this past weekend that it will be putting on extra service during the term of the work stoppage in order to take up a good portion of the slack.
In the presentation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on November 23, notice on page 37 that in fact only $13.5 million has been paid out under the Ontario farm adjustment assistance program in total. This represents 22 per cent of the $60 million allotted one year ago.
If the minister did not intend to spend this money this year, a good businessman could have invested that $60 million a year ago at 22 per cent and would still have the $60 million left. Did the minister do that? Even if he did not, he still has $47 million left. Even taking into consideration what he will spend this year, he will have over $40 million left at the end of 1983.
Mr. McKessock: Why will the minister not take this money since the government seemingly committed it to farmers for this year and give the same emergency assistance to the beef industry as he gave last year, since the industry is still in a financial loss position?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not know who did the arithmetic for the honourable member, and I am sure he would not intend to mislead anybody, but the program with its three options involves, in two cases, forms of guarantees, the first being a deferral for six months --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I listened to the member’s question; perhaps he would like to listen to the answer. There is a deferral of interest for six months or a guarantee of new lines of credit. In both these cases, the government is potentially on the line for some significant amounts of money if any of those guarantees are called on the government.
The second of the three options, which is the most significant of the two in terms of the takeup, involves interest rate rebates on operating credit in excess of $570 million. What the member says is true to the extent he says it, that we have spent $13.5 million. We are on the hook for much more than that, however, because we will be paying these interest rate rebates on that operating credit for a whole year in each of those cases.
I am sure the member did not mean to mislead the House or the farmers of the province, but we will be spending much more than that. Now that the program has been extended into 1983-84, we will be paying out money under the farm adjustment assistance program into the fiscal year 1984-85, because any case approved up to the close of the program on December 31, 1983, will be eligible for payments by the province, depending upon which option they are approved under, up to December 31. 1984. I know the member too well to think he would purposely mislead the House, but he should have that information.
In regard to payments to the beef industry, as the member knows, we made payments in 1981, for 1981, based on the 1980 prices which were the most current and reliable data available at that time. We have indicated all along that this was one of the reasons the farm adjustment assistance program was devised. If the member would go back to the task force report of a year ago, he will see it specifically says we should get away from these across-the-board programs and get into a program that will be geared to helping the farmer, depending on his individual circumstances. We have said all along that we do not intend to reinstitute the kind of program that was available in 1981 and once or twice before.
On top of that, we offered a cow-calf stabilization program under existing provincial legislation which would have paid out. Admittedly it would not have paid out as much as some previous ad hoc programs, but it would have paid out. That was turned down.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: If the member will look again at what I have just told him, I have told him his figures are wrong. For him to suggest that we will spend only 25 per cent of the $60 million is wrong, and if he continues to repeat that he is misleading the House.
Mr. McKessock: The Ontario Cattlemen’s Association has asked him for assistance for the cow-calf operator and the feedlot operator. To quote from the November issue of the OCA Breeder and Feeder, it says: “Since the other provinces have support programs, particularly Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and now Manitoba, the Ontario producer has been forced to compete against other provincial treasuries.”
Why does the minister keep saying that Ontario is waiting on the federal government while other provinces are coming in with provincial programs of their own for the beef farmer? Are they setting the government up somehow to stay out of assistance for the Ontario farmers to give their provinces an advantage?
It is true that each of the provinces has a different type of ad hoc program. The other provinces do not have a program like the farm adjustment assistance program. Over 1,000 of the more than 3,000 farmers who have been approved for assistance to date are producers of beef and swine. So over one third of those approved to date are beef and swine producers. Let us have that on the record.
Throughout the year, in discussions with the cattlemen’s association, I have repeatedly made it clear that we were not contemplating the emergency payments of earlier years but we had put the farm adjustment assistance program in place and it could help individual farmers, depending upon their individual circumstances.
The member will recall that early in the year we broadened the criteria so that more producers would be eligible and the beef producers, who I know are a matter of concern to the member in his county, have been among the most significant participants in the program. In fact, the member’s county, if it is not the top county, is one of the top counties in terms of participation in the program.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Can he confirm that 20 per cent of the homes tested in Blind River in April and May of this year by the radiation protection service were found to have levels of radon daughters above the acceptable limits for homes of underground uranium workers? If so, could the minister explain what remedial measures his officials will be recommending to protect the health and security of the residents of those homes when they will be meeting with municipal officials?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that there were some levels that were found in excess of the prescribed limits and that remedial attention is being given to the matters at the present time by officials of my ministry. I cannot comment on the last part of the question as to whether there would be any financial assistance or support given.
Mr. Wildman: Will the minister table the findings and the advice given by his staff to the residents whose homes are above 0.02 working level? Does he intend to extend clause 2(14)(1) of the Ontario Building Code, which now applies only to Elliot Lake and Bancroft, to Blind River to ensure that residents who commute to work in uranium mines in Elliot Lake will not be exposed to additional exposures above 0.02 working level at home?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I will be in a better position to answer those questions once we have the final report from the inspectors, and once we have had an opportunity to discuss the remedial action. I anticipate that will be done in the not too distant future.
Mr. Spensieri: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier. Has he been informed of a request earlier this month by Global TV for two of his ministers, the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), to be interviewed in the course of a week-long program about women in crisis? Also, is he aware that both of these ministers obstinately refuse to participate in the program and, in fact, did not find substitutes?
If the Premier is aware of these events, does he not feel that this kind of conduct exemplifies the need for a minister of this government to be responsible for the status of women in this province, as was suggested to him by a report by the Ontario Status of Women Council called Recommendations for New Government Structures for Women, which was presented to him earlier this year?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would never comment on whether that very important television network asked the appropriate minister, nor am I prepared to comment on the descriptive terms used in the question he read prepared by one of his researchers. I can only say to the honourable member --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would only say to the former Speaker of this House that I understand what he is saying, but I learned from him as he was giving judgements here in the House on occasion---no, I did not. I did not really mean that.
I think it is really quite unfair of the honourable member to suggest that ministers of the crown for some reason or another -- I forget the words the member used -- would not join a particular television program. I do not think there is any obligation on a minister of the crown or a member of this Legislature necessarily to accept every invitation to appear on some television program. I confess to the member I have turned down one or two myself over the years; not any more than I could help, but I have turned them down.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, they are in demand. I would think that if the member really wished to ask the question, he should ask the two ministers and get their responses. I am not in a position to tell ministers whether they should appear on television or not. Surely that is not my responsibility. Why does he not raise it with them either here or outside?
Mr. Spensieri: The Premier should be aware that not only did the ministers not attend, neither did the parliamentary assistants nor did his newest appointee, Sally Barnes, the chairperson of the Ontario Status of Women Council.
If this is part of a policy which the Premier condones, does he not now see the need for an appointment of a single minister to be responsible for the status of women in this province? This would eliminate this kind of nonparticipation and this kind of problem in the future.
I would only reiterate to the member that I would suggest he have Global speak to them or ask them himself. I do not recall any rule in this House or any rule imposed by the Premier that says to a minister, “You must appear on a certain television program.”
It is surely not my responsibility to issue that sort of order. I do not think his leader has ordered him to be on local cable as often as he is, but probably he seizes the opportunity because he thinks it is good politics. I know his former leader used to seize every opportunity at ten minutes to three to rush out to the television networks. At least this leader waits until five minutes after three before he rushes out.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay). In view of the urgency and the importance this whole Legislature gave to the unfortunate cluster of pregnancy malfunctions at the Attorney General’s office at old city hall in March of this year, how can he now juxtapose that urgency and the importance we all gave to it with these two facts?
Two, his ministry has refused an appeal by the workers who are very concerned about the low frequency radiation effects for the retesting of those machines. It has suggested it would not shield the flyback transformer of those machines at this time.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that under the act an appeal can be made to the director of the branch and this was done by the union representatives. In the opinion of the director of the branch, the appeal was denied. There is no further opportunity under the act for an appeal to me. They did write and ask me to address the problems but, as I explained in a return letter, the decision of the director of the branch is final.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I wonder if the minister would comment on how he fits that attitude with the fact that as of this afternoon, his video display terminal task force, which was established in June of last year, is finally making its initial report to the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety?
This initial report is suggesting that all VDTs be tested at source for ionizing radiation: that they be labelled; that there be electrical shielding provided to all these machines because of our lack of knowledge of how low-frequency radiation affects people; and that there be a major epidemiological study of the effects on reproduction, especially with pregnant women. The committee has even recommended that either alternative work sites be found for women or that they be protected under the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Given the fact that the task force is making those recommendations, why is his ministry dragging its feet in protecting those women and in reassuring those workers at the Attorney General’s office in old city hall?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Obviously the member has had the benefit of seeing that report and I have not. I did, however, meet early yesterday morning with Dr. Fraser Mustard, who advised me that they would be considering the report today. He hopes to have it issued within a short period of time. That is the preliminary report I am speaking of, incidentally. The final report is expected in early 1983. We have been waiting with some anxiety for the report.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I did express earlier to Dr. Mustard my concern about the length of time it was taking and he explained to me in great detail the circumstances and difficulties of trying to get input from every possible source and to come up with all of the necessary information. It is a very complex problem and there are many different opinions, scientific and otherwise, on the use of VDTs.
The honourable member mentioned the city hall. I believe that our ministry co-operated with recommendations coming from him, from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and from their representative, Mr. DeMatteo, when we set up an occupational health and safety committee at the old city hall site earlier this year.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, the minister himself has admitted there has been a long delay in the issuance of this preliminary report of the task force. Will he therefore give us a commitment today that rather than waiting for a final report, he will study this preliminary report and its recommendations as quickly as possible, and that he will act on those recommendations without waiting for a final report?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to give assurance that I will do anything without looking at the report first. Obviously, I would have to do that. While I admitted there was a long delay, I must re-emphasize that I asked Dr. Mustard for the reasons for that long delay and I was completely satisfied with the detailed explanation he gave me. I am convinced that the delay will have made it only a more formidable and exacting report.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Attorney General. The Ontario Native Women’s Association is justifiably incensed about the possible importation into Ontario of a video cassette game called Custer’s Revenge. Would the minister forward his government’s objection to these federal ministers: the Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, the Minister of State for Trade and the Minister of National Revenue? I, with others, urge the minister to block the importation of this obscene and silly game.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I do not read all the papers every day. I assume this is a serious question, but the members’ colleagues do not appear to take it seriously. If the honourable member would like to give me some additional information, I would be happy to discuss it with him.
Mr. McGuigan: I have not seen the game myself, but I have read about it. In this game, Custer is depicted as chasing and raping an Indian woman; this is the prize of the game. I realize that something depicted on a screen probably does not meet the test of being obscene because, of course, they are not human characters but are a representation. Nevertheless, because it does impinge on one very small segment of womanhood, would the minister look closely and see whether in this case an importer, whether it is imported legally or illegally, could be charged with obscenity under the Criminal Code?
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I think this particular instance indicates that there is a very large market for the sale of pornographic material which exploits women. I would like to ask the Attorney General, what is he doing to curtail that particular kind of exploitation of women?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, we are all concerned about this material. There is no question it has been the subject matter of many statements which I have made. The Attorney General’s responsibility primarily is in relation to people who break the law. One may personally disapprove very strongly of the exploitive material about which the member speaks, but until the law is broken, the Ministry of the Attorney General really does not have jurisdiction.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I am not sure whether this is a point of order or a point of privilege, I will have to leave that up to you, however, I would refer you to standing order 26(a), (b) and (c). As you well know, the privileges of the members first came about, as I understand it, to preserve or defend themselves from the arbitrariness of the monarch. One of the privileges Erskine May deals with is that the function of members is related to their privileges and if they cannot function properly, then their privileges are being impinged.
What I am leading to is that in the last week we have had two major policy statements by the government; one was related to an abrupt change in policy -- a reversal of the policy set by the Premier (Mr. Davis) himself in his earlier emanation as Minister of Education -- that the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) stated outside of this chamber. Then last week, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) made a statement in Thunder Bay with regard to nonresident crown land camping, which is of great interest and importance, particularly to people in northern Ontario.
My point is that these to matters are of supreme interest to the members of this chamber and we have not had a statement in the chamber, nor have we had the background information relating to these changes. We cannot function properly or carry out our functions without having these statements made here. It is interesting that both these are policies which were put forward by the official Liberal opposition over many years. It is perhaps for that reason they were not announced in the House, but I ask you, sir, to give a directive that these statements at least be given at some point in the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: I must point out to the member for Rainy River, as I am sure he well knows, it is neither a point of order nor a point of privilege. There is nothing out of order. Your privileges have not been infringed upon in any way, shape or form. I cannot direct the ministers to make statements wherever.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, we are honoured today by a visit in the Speaker’s gallery of the Minister of Industry and Commerce from Jamaica, the Honourable Douglas Vaz, who is here and is meeting with us at various times today. With Mr. Vaz is the High Commissioner, His Excellency, Mr. Leslie Wilson and Mr. Danny Powell, the trade commissioner from Toronto. Mr. Trevor Boothe and Miss Marie Ramsey complete the group. I am sure we look forward to meeting the Jamaican delegation.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce a petition, I understand that the word is out in the precincts that the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) has reached the golden age when he begins to receive those cheques from various governments and, if it is true --
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition from 126 of the good people in the great constituency of Renfrew North who request the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and the government of which she is so large a part to withdraw Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that the honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” I concur with that petition.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I do not have a talking watch but I do have some petitions to present to the Legislature from various places in Ontario. They are addressed as follows: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” There are 107 names here.
I have another petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is signed by 52 residents from the riding of Windsor-Sandwich and it also requests the withdrawal of Bill 127.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, this is the second day in a row on which I have had the privilege of presenting a petition to this House requesting that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. As I indicated yesterday, I wholeheartedly endorse this petition.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, there are 183 teachers who send their blessings and good wishes to the minister. It is going to take years to rebuild what she is destroying. I am pleased to present this petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor requesting that Bill 127 be withdrawn. There will not be anything left pretty soon.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 92 residents of the riding of Port Arthur, I would like to present the following petition: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 70 teachers and citizens of Scarborough, mostly from Scarborough West, I beg leave to enter this petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 36 teachers in Hamilton East, I want to submit this petition which also asks for the withdrawal of Bill 127. I would indicate my support as well for the petition of these teachers and citizens in my riding.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 96 teachers in the riding of Nickel Belt, but also some from the city of Sudbury I hasten to add, I present this petition to the honourable members to seek the withdrawal of Bill 127 -- by that, of course, they mean the Minister of Education -- the bill which would amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. Like the rest of my colleagues, I heartily support this petition.
Mr. Cassidy: M. le Président, de la part de 49 résidents du comté d’Ottawa centre j’aimerais déposer cette pétition à l’honorable Lieutenant-gouverneur et à l’Assemblée législative de la province de l’Ontario: “Nous, les soussignés, sollicitons l’autorisation d’adresser la pétition suivante au Parlement de la province de l’Ontario: Nous demandons aux honorables membres de chercher à retirer le Projet de loi 127, loi modifiant la Loi sur la municipalité de l’agglomération torontoise.” M. le Président, la pétition à ce bill est passée à travers la province et j’appuie la pétition à ce bill.
Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition signed by 66 members of the riding of Riverdale, grading the Minister of Education on her performance and addressed to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition with 85 signatures to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: “We request that the honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to present a petition signed by 38 concerned citizens from the riding of Oakwood addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that the honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, an Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” It goes without saying that these petitioners have my full support.
Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) I would like to present on his behalf a petition from his riding. The petition is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor: “A l’honorable Lieutenant-gouverneur et a l’Assemblée législative de Ia province de l’Ontario: Nous, les soussignés, sollicitons l’auwrisation d’adresser Ia petition suivante au Parlement de Ia province de l’Ontario: Nous demandons aux honorables membres de chercher a retirer Ic Projet de loi 127, loi modifiant Ia Loi sur Ia municipalité de l’agglomération torontoise.”
Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo), I would like to present this petition from the riding of Downsview addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario requesting that the honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 1,539 concerned citizens in Metropolitan Toronto from the combined ridings of Metropolitan Toronto -- these are the people who signed the petition who do not fall neatly into the various ridings -- l would like to present a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in support of encouraging the Minister of Education to withdraw Bill 127.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have very great pleasure in presenting a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 127 residents of Beaches-Woodbine. These petitioners ask for the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, the teachers of Welland-Thorold as well as other residents are particularly incensed with the high-handed action of the Minister of Education in introducing and carrying through with Bill 127, and 340 of them in my riding have signed a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario asking that we seek the withdrawal of Bill 127.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition signed by 205 constituents in the riding of Oshawa to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that the honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition that reads as follows: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request the honourable members to seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” I support the petition and would go further to suggest that perhaps the minister should also resign.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce the following petition signed by 48 good citizens of the riding of Bellwoods: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition signed by several hundred teachers from Thunder Bay, South Gillies, Dorion, Red Rock, Nipigon, Beardmore, Geraldton, Nakina, Savant Lake, Pickle Lake, Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Marathon and Kashabowie, also praying for the withdrawal of Bill 127.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of 200 residents of Algoma district, Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma-Manitoulin. It is as follows: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request the honourable members to seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
The reason these out-of-Toronto people are so concerned is that they see this as the first step to regional bargaining across Ontario. I support their view completely and am most happy to be able to present this petition on behalf of not only myself but also my colleagues from Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma-Manitoulin. I would have been just as happy also to have presented a petition on behalf of the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko).
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 170 residents of Hamilton Mountain, Ancaster, Dundas and Glanbrook, I beg leave to present a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: “We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that the honourable members seek to withdraw Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” I heartily support the request in the petition.
Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a petition on behalf of 99 concerned parents stating as follows: “We, the parents and guardians of students at Kent Senior Public School, demand that the provincial government make available the $12.8 million to meet Toronto school staffing needs and that the amendment to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act be immediately withdrawn as outlined in Bill 127.”
From the riding of Dovercourt, I am pleased to introduce a petition on behalf of 16 concerned parents which states: “We request that the honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.”
On behalf of 32 concerned citizens living in the riding of Dovercourt, I am pleased to introduce a petition which states: “We, the undersigned, demand that the provincial government make available the $12.8 million to meet Toronto school staff needs and that the amendment to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act be immediately withdrawn.”
I am pleased to introduce a petition on behalf of 108 concerned citizens living in the riding of Dovercourt which states: “We, the undersigned, demand that the Honourable William Davis and the Honourable Bette Stephenson of the Ontario cabinet protect the principle of local autonomy by refusing to support concerned citizens living in the riding of Dovercourt which states: “We, the undersigned, demand that the Honourable William Davis and the Honourable Bette Stephenson of the Ontario cabinet protect the principle of local autonomy by refusing to support Bill 127 that provides boards with insufficient funds to meet local needs.”
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 278 parents and teachers in the ridings of Lakeshore, York West, Humber, Mississauga North and Etobicoke, I beg leave to present the following petition: “We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” I concur with that recommendation.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of 74 residents of Hamilton West, who likewise are requesting the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. Of course, I concur with their petition.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 102 residents of the good riding of York South, it is my pleasure to present my first petition to this Legislature: “To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We request that honourable members seek the withdrawal of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.” I want to indicate to you, Mr. Speaker, that these individuals have my full support and that of all my colleagues who are here today and those who are not here.
Mr. Spensieri: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow evening, some 2,000 residents of the former Cadillac Fairview building in Yorkview will have the dubious pleasure of meeting with Mr. Robert Strom, the head of Maysfield Property Management.
“We, the undersigned, being the present tenants in a building subject to sale by Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., hereby petition to have the whole matter of the sale by Cadillac Fairview investigated by a committee of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario so that the rights of the tenants are preserved and protected.” I wholeheartedly endorse such a petition.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of letters here regarding the plan to prosecute Henry Morgentaler who is opening an illegal clinic. I don’t support some of these petitions but I am presenting them anyway.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, in addition to the foregoing, I would like to add another series of names of people who wish to petition in particular the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson). There are 583 names of people who, as taxpayers in Ontario, would like to protest the fact that the audio library program located in Trent University, Peterborough, is forced to close because it has never been able to obtain ongoing university funding.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe you should leave petitions before the member for Eglinton (Mr. McMurtry) and the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) respectively have introduced their petitions on behalf of their constituents in opposition to Bill 127.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the provincial court, civil division, is due to expire on January 1, 1983, and the purpose of this bill is to provide for that court to be made permanent in Metropolitan Toronto.
Metropolitan Toronto’s provincial court, civil division, has assumed the civil jurisdiction previously exercised by the small claims court and has, in addition, jurisdiction over civil claims up to $3,000. The rules of the court are specifically designed so that the provincial court, civil division, will provide the necessary procedural structure without sacrificing the informality of small claims court procedures.
The court has been very favourably received by the public and by the legal profession in the Toronto area, and I am confident that its continuation on a permanent basis will be wholeheartedly welcomed.
I am also pleased to table today a document entitled Evaluation Report of the Provincial Court, Civil Division, which contains a wealth of factual information about the provincial court project in Toronto.
Mr. Rae: The champion hecklers are obviously here in an effort to put forward all the views of the Liberal Party with respect to this measure, because I understand there is certainly more than one view being expressed at different times in that caucus as to what this legislation is all about.
Mr. Rae: Carry on. I have all day. I am sure the honourable member knows that. In fact, we have got several days to discuss this. As long as the member wants to keep on interrupting, I am sure we will all be quite happy to stick around and listen to what he has to say.
Be that as it may, Mr. Chairman, I want to indicate to you that we will be moving an amendment to clause 1(a). I think I will put it before you and then simply speak to the amendment as we have put it forward.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Chairman, I want to make clear the reason that this substitution and this change are of such importance. The entire thrust and approach of the government with respect to the powers of the board and the nature of the problem has been as follows.
The government has identified public sector wages as the particular villain in the piece to be subjected not simply to a form of control but to a form of expropriation. The government has given the board, which has the power and indeed the obligation under this legislation to supervise the breaking of contracts and collective agreements in the public sector, the misnomer of an Inflation Restraint Board. In fact, this legislation has nothing whatever to do with the control of inflation. It has nothing whatever to do with the protection of consumers from the effects of ever-increasing and ever-rising prices.
This legislation is at once ruthless and very straightforward in its simplicity. Its intention is quite simply to break contracts in the public sector, to take away from employees in the public sector something they have bargained for, something their collective agreements have provided for, something the government of this province in all solemnity agreed to, in some cases just a few short months ago.
Therefore, the purpose of this amendment is to cut through the hypocrisy that has overwhelmed the government and simply say, rather, that if the government’s concern is with inflation, then it has to give itself the powers and the commission to deal directly with inflation. It has not done that in this legislation. Rather than deal with inflation, as I said, this legislation deals directly and simply with wages in the public sector. So clause 1(a) has to be amended, because unless clause 1(a) is amended, unless the Inflation Restraint Board is replaced by a fair prices commission, we will be sanctioning the hypocrisy that runs right through this legislation.
The government wants to give the Inflation Restraint Board, which is established and defined under part I, powers and a jurisdiction that are the equivalent, I would suggest, of the powers of the wartime emergency commissions that were established in both the First World War and the Second World War by the federal government.
If clause 1(a) is not amended, as we have suggested, this board is under no obligation to hold any hearings with respect to any of the matters before it. This board is under no obligation to give any reasons for any of its decisions. This board is under no obligation to follow the basic standards and requirements of natural justice which have become one of the foundations of administrative and public law in Ontario.
If we are to understand and fully appreciate the very real seriousness of what this government is doing, we have to go back a way in the history of Ontario and try to come to grips with the growth and development of public and administrative law of this province to understand the enormity of the error that the government is making in bringing in this legislation.
Mr. Chairman, you no doubt will recall the events that led up to the formation of the royal commission inquiry into civil rights in Ontario. You no doubt will recall the very real and genuine public concern that was expressed both in this Legislature and outside it by reason of the introduction of the so-called police bill, which gave extraordinary powers to the state and which ultimately had to be withdrawn by the government and indeed led to the resignation of the then Attorney General.
Subsequent to that, the government took a very wise decision and decided it should appoint one of the most distinguished judges in the history of this province, one of the most distinguished representatives of the legal profession in this province and indeed one of the great minds and characters in the history of this province. I am speaking, of course, of Mr. Justice McRuer, who is still very much alive and very much involved and concerned with the protection of civil liberties in the process of administrative law in this province.
Mr. Justice McRuer’s report, which has become something of a handbook for practitioners and certainly something of a handbook for those people who are concerned with civil liberties in the province of Ontario, is entitled quite simply Inquiry into Civil Rights. It is known in short as the McRuer report.
The McRuer report is the basis of a number of pieces of legislation in this province. I am referring to the whole process of judicial review, the whole question of statutory powers, the questions involved very much with the basic problem of how we can control the power of government and how, with the expansion and extension of the government into all fields of life, the individual citizen can be assured that his contract and his rights and his civil liberties can be protected both in terms of substance and in terms of procedure.
The protections that came from the McRuer report are quite fundamental to the whole body of administrative law that has grown up in this province, not only in terms of statute but also in terms of procedure, common law and case law.
I want to quote from page 206 of the McRuer report, where Mr. Justice McRuer quotes from the textbook of Professor Davis’s famous administrative law treatise. In that treatise on administrative law, Professor Davis quotes from three distinguished judges of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is a quotation which I think deserves to be in the record of this Legislature at this time.
Professor Davis states: “The essense of justice is largely procedural. Time and again thoughtful judges have emphasized this truth. Mr. Justice Douglas: ‘It is not without significance that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights are procedural. It is procedure that spells much of the difference between rule by law and rule by whim or caprice. Steadfast adherence to strict procedural safeguards is our main assurance that there will he equal justice under the law.’ Mr. Justice Jackson: ‘Procedural fairness and regularity are of the indispensable essence of liberty.’ Mr. Justice Frankfurter: ‘The history of liberty has largely been the history of procedural safeguards.’”
I might just read a little further. Mr. Justice McRuer goes on to say: “It must be recognized, however, that not all governmental decisions that may affect the lives of individuals can be controlled by defined procedure. In certain cases it is essential to the purpose of the statute that prompt action be taken without any antecedent procedural requirements, e.g., the seizure and destruction of food unfit for human consumption, orders to take safety measures such as the directions of an inspector under the Factory, Shop and Office Building Act, or the exercise of emergency powers, e.g., under the Energy Act.”
The reason I read that last quotation was that it seemed to me Mr. Justice McRuer was saying there may be cases and examples where the government has to act in a way that is peremptory and does not always grant a hearing and listen to views from both sides before taking action; it simply steps in and takes those measures that are necessary for the protection of human life.
The point Mr. Justice McRuer is making is that those cases must be really restricted. They must be restricted to emergency situations where we are talking about the difference between life and death, where we are talking about the difference between human health and human illness, where we are talking about genuine, real, perceptible and tangible threats to public safety. Otherwise, in other instances and wherever this is not the case, there has to be every procedural safeguard for the exercise of statutory powers in Ontario.
The Inflation Restraint Board is a misnomer. It should be called the wages expropriation board, because that is all it is. It has nothing to do with inflation and has everything to do with the expropriation of wages in the public sector.
Since it has everything to do with expropriation of wages in the public sector, what this legislation is doing, with respect to the establishment of this board and the powers that are being granted to this board, is taking administrative and labour law in the public sector back to the Stone Age. There is no other way of describing it. Basic rights and assumptions of due process, rights to a hearing, rights to a rational and arbitrated decision, all of which have become an essential part of the fabric of public law in Ontario, have all been wiped out a single stroke of the pen.
Those rights have been replaced by a regime of unilateral power, enforced wages and working conditions, and one-man rule. There is no other way to describe it. That may seem like colourful language. It may even seem far-fetched to suggest that this is what is happening. When I heard from a senior member of the government that he felt this legislation was more sensitive to the needs of the people of Ontario than the federal legislation which had been passed, the so-called six and five program, and when I read this legislation and saw the kinds of unrestricted powers that were being granted to this Inflation Restraint Board, I must confess I could not believe my eyes.
We have to read further before we can understand the importance of changing the definition from the Inflation Restraint Board to the fair prices commission. Listen to the kinds of powers that have been granted to the Inflation Restraint Board in subsection 3(4):
“The board may, in its discretion” -- in its sole discretion, whether the chairman gets up on one side of the bed or another side of the bed, depending on how he feels at that time of the morning -- “where it considers it desirable to do so, hold a hearing...” So he does not have to hold a hearing. Mr. Biddell can decide that he does not want a hearing. He can decide anything he wants. There is no limitation. There is no fettering of his discretion. There are no guidelines or criteria to decide how he should exercise it.
He may hold a hearing, “... and where the board does so, the Statutory Powers Procedure Act applies ...” Big deal! Any judge in Ontario would say that where you hold a hearing and where you are exercising a statutory power, of course the Statutory Powers Procedure Act applies. There is no choice. So the government is giving nothing away there.
Then we get the exceptions: “ ... except that, whether or not the board holds a hearing, the board is not required to give reasons for any final order, decision or determination made by it, but notwithstanding the Statutory Powers Procedure Act or any other rule of law, the board is not required to hold any hearing before making any order, decision or determination that it is authorized to make.”
That is what I call Stone Age administrative law. That is the most ruthless and brutal expression of one-man rule. What were the words of Mr. Justice Douglas? “It is procedure that spells much of the difference between rule by law and rule by whim or caprice.” There is nothing that could be described as more capricious than the legislation and the powers that are being given to the Inflation Restraint Board. It is pure caprice. It is pure whim. It is the replacement of the rule of law with respect to the protection of contracts and collective agreements by the rule of one man: rule by whim, rule by caprice, and that is what it is.
If there is some misunderstanding -- and there does continue to appear to be some misunderstanding on the part of many people in the government -- -with respect to the concern and the opposition that members on this side have to what is happening in this legislation, to the kinds of powers that are being given to one individual in this legislation, the government should understand that our party is not simply talking about an attack on wages; we are not simply talking about an attack on the living standards of people who work for the government, for a city council or for an education board, be it a separate school board or a public school board.
We are talking about an attack on rights, an attack on procedure, an attack on the civil liberties of the people of this province, an attack on due process itself. That has to be understood and appreciated, and if it needs to be said again and again, that is something we will do.
There are other aspects of the powers of the board that have to be understood before the amendment we are putting into place can be fully appreciated. I am referring to the fact that the board, in addition to the extraordinary powers that are given to it under sections 2 and 3, is simply put into place to implement the policies and the program that is contained in part II, the public sector wage restraint sections of this bill.
And in order to understand the objections of members of this party to the powers that have been given to this board and to the procedural nonsense that has been made of the world of collective agreements and labour relations by this legislation, one has to understand not simply subsection 3(2) and its impact on the Inflation Restraint Board as defined in clause 1(a); one also has to understand the kinds of powers that have been given to the board as contained in other sections of the act.
This board has powers which are far-reaching. It has powers which extend to over half a million employees. It has powers which are restricted only in the sense that the legislation is quite specific with regard to the level of compensation that is to be permitted. The level that is to be permitted is your basic five per cent. There really is not a great deal of discretion or power that the board has to do anything about that or to make any increases or awards above five per cent. In fact, the legislation is quite specific with regard to the groups it is affecting.
I do not want to go into a detailed critique or examination of which parties to an agreement are covered for one year and which are covered for two years, and so on, because I do not think that is entirely relevant; except to say that there has been some misunderstanding and, I think, a misnomer with respect to parts of this legislation. In some instances, at least in the initial stages of the publicity surrounding this bill, it was described as a nine and five piece of legislation with respect to the Inflation Restraint Board as defined in clause 1(a).
There is nothing “nine” about this legislation at all. One has to understand that the one area where the board has been given discretion which I think can only be described as arbitrary is where it is allowed to reach its hand right into the centre of the collective bargaining process, push the trade union or workers aside and impose a settlement that could even be less than that which the employer initially might have been inclined to give.
In fact, instead of being legislation that could in any way be described as balanced or evenhanded in the kind of intervention that is permissible, it is quite the opposite. The board will be imposing settlements which in some instances are less than would have been agreed to even under the nine per cent rule by an employer.
It is not a nine per cent solution. There is nothing automatic about the nine per cent at all. Indeed, given the kinds of powers which the board has with respect to the nine per cent, what possible incentive is there for an employer to reach a settlement that is at nine per cent? In the marketplace that is out there, what possible incentive is there for an employer to reach a nine per cent settlement when he knows full well that if he goes before the Inflation Restraint Board there is always the possibility that it will grant well under nine per cent?
So in terms of establishing the IRB in this legislation, what the government is doing is annulling, or getting rid of, collective bargaining itself. I would like to refer to that in just a moment because I think there has been some misunderstanding as to what the importance and meaning of collective negotiations and agreements are all about.
When Ontario adopted that basic framework of law which stems from the federal Privy Council order PC10003, which was passed during the Second World War and provided for a certain basic framework of law, of jurisprudence for the conduct of labour relations in Ontario, that basic framework was to set up certain basic rules.
What were those basic rules? Those basic rules were that where a trade union could successfully organize a plant and convince a duly established board, a labour relations board, that it represented the interests of at least half the members of that plant, that trade union would become the exclusive bargaining agent for that group of employees. It would be exclusive in the sense that the employer had an obligation, under law, to negotiate in good faith with that trade union as the exclusive bargaining agent.
To paraphrase the words of another one of our most distinguished legal minds in the history of this province and of Canada -- and I am speaking of the Chief Justice of Canada Mr. Justice Laskin, who prior to being a member of the Court of Appeal of Ontario was a professor of law at the University of Toronto and a very distinguished arbitrator for the first 20 years in the history of the Labour Relations Act in Ontario.
Mr. Justice Laskin made it very clear in many of the arbitration decisions he gave during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that the old world of private contract, of a private employer-employee relationship, had ended. In place of that world there was a new collective world which gave certain collective rights to employees and certain collective rights to employers, which would themselves be regulated and controlled by a labour relations board and by arbitrators whose function would be to determine grievances and any difference of opinion arising out of the interpretation of a collective agreement.
Quite simply, what has happened since 1948 in Ontario is that a world of collective rights and collective responsibilities has been created in which it is the obligation of the trade union to represent its employees to the best of its ability, to negotiate in good faith with an employer, and those rights were reciprocal, and that on the signing of a collective agreement in Ontario that collective agreement was binding for at least one year, and in any event for as long as the agreement provided.
This was a breakthrough which provided for certain protections and also for certain obligations. One could refer to the British industrial relations system, where collective agreements have not traditionally been regarded as binding contracts over a lengthy period of time, and that is one of the reasons why they have had such difficulty over the last few years in coming to grips with the need for greater certainty and for greater longevity and for greater security in terms of their industrial relationships than they have been able to find.
We have found in Ontario that certain obligations are imposed on employers and certain obligations are imposed on employees and on trade unions and that those obligations are contained and expressed not only in the Labour Relations Act but also in their collective agreements.
Since 1948, there have been a number of changes which have, in effect, extended the regime of law which I have just described beyond workers in the private sector to a great many workers in the public sector as well. That change in the regime of law has been met by some important deviations and some important changes, most notably the basic principle that for a great many employees in the public sector in Ontario there is no right to strike. There are also some very severe limitations on the right to bargain and on the ability to bargain which are contained in that legislation.
I am speaking, of course, of the Fire Fighters Exemption Act, the Police Act, the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, just to name three; the act that governs the bargaining rights and abilities of workers in our public hospitals, employees who are covered by a number of pieces of legislation which define their rights in ways that are significantly different from the rights that are contained in the Labour Relations Act but which nevertheless have this one common, basic, fundamental theme.
That common, basic, fundamental theme is that when a collective agreement is signed, either as a result of bargaining or as a result of arbitration, that collective agreement is binding on both parties to the agreement. It is not something which, according to any notion of law which I understand or have ever interpreted, can be torn up or reduced to a nullity by one party.
Mr. Chairman: I would like to interrupt the member for a moment. I have been listening very closely and I do not want to put words in your mouth, but we are attempting to stick closely to your amendment. It would appear to me, and you can correct me if I am incorrect, you are developing your thought as to the problems you have with the present clause 1(a). Is that correct?
Mr. Rae: No, I am sorry. The member for Rainy River says, “Waste time.” I do not think that is a fair statement because we are attempting to put a serious argument before you, sir, which if I may say so has never been answered by the government. They have never dealt with any of these points with respect to the powers that are being given to the Inflation Restraint Board and with respect to the impact of this legislation on the rule of law. I have yet to hear a single argument from the government with respect to that point.
The point I am attempting to make, and make in entire good faith I can assure you, is that the powers that are given to the board can be understood only if we understand something of the fabric of law against which the Inflation Restraint Board is working.
Mr. Rae: I say to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, I appreciate his concern. I appreciate very much his impatience, but it seems to me the fact remains that an opposition party has an obligation to raise certain questions with respect to the rule of law and civil liberties. I am a little surprised at his impatience in wanting to cut off that kind of discussion. I would have thought that as a member of the opposition concerned with protecting due process in Ontario he would be a little bit more concerned to see these views get a chance of being resolved.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, on the point of order that you raised by interrupting the member in the first instance, there is a section in the bill that deals with the board and the powers the government intends to give to the board. It seems to me that is the time where we might discuss this and offer an amendment that does not nullify the bill, but in fact improves the control that the Legislature might have over the board, rather than simply stopping the bill at this stage, so we can proceed with significant amendments to many things, including the board and its powers.
Mr. Rae: I always thought it was the job of an opposition, rather than to facilitate the passage of legislation which takes away civil liberties, to raise certain questions about that legislation and to present a principled opposition to that bill when in fact there is no alternative but to do that. That is what we are doing here and we are also offering a very clear alternative, if I may say so to the member who has just spoken, a very clear alternative in terms of our amendment on the fair prices commission.
I would simply suggest that it is not possible for us to present our case with respect to the fair prices commission unless we are able to present our case with respect to the extraordinary nature of the powers that are being given in this legislation to the Inflation Restraint Board. I cannot do that and I am not able to put forward that argument unless I can also explain something as to why we are so opposed to the kinds of powers that are being given to the Inflation Restraint Board. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that my remarks are on point and that they are going to be coming back to the point again and again.
If I sometimes take a side route, always heading in a forward direction but nevertheless moving sometimes a little bit to the side, it is because I think it is important for members to understand -- and I really mean this -- the enormity of what is being done to labour relations, collective agreements and to the rule of law in this province. We take this very seriously.
Mr. Chairman: I would like to point out to the honourable member that from time to time it is those deviations from the main point that I might have some trouble with. To date, I have been following very closely and I have been following the point. Let us continue. lf, from time to time, in my estimation I feel that you are not on the point, I will call you to order.
Mr. Rae: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am new here. I am not as experienced a member as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I hope you will appreciate that I thought and many other members of my caucus have expressed a similar view -- it was important, in the first lengthy intervention that I have been able to make in this chamber, to get on the record in as clear terms as possible the nature of our opposition to the powers that are being granted to the Inflation Restraint Board and the need for it to be replaced by a fair prices commission.
I will do my very best to keep entirely on point and to even convince members of she Liberal Party, who I know want to see this legislation get through just as quickly as possible because it does not bother their sense of propriety at all, that there are aspects of this legislation which they should be concerned about.
I would like, if I could, to stumble on, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk says so cruelly about a member with my kind of inexperience. Nevertheless, I will stumble on in the face of adversity and attempt to put a point before the chamber which I think is worth putting. If I may suggest to the member he may learn something -- he may. I doubt it because he appears to know a great deal. Just give me a chance to get my point across.
Before I was interrupted, I was referring to the fact that in addition to a world of free collective bargaining, which was established in 1948, we also had the world of arbitration which has been established by a number of pieces of legislation but is being devastated by the legislation which is currently being put before the House and by the powers that have been granted to the Inflation Restraint Board under clause 1(a) of the legislation.
We have seen that the government’s arrogance with respect to this legislation has now reached the point where the Minister of Labour is refusing to exercise his power under, for example, the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act. He is refusing to appoint arbitrators under this legislation. anticipating the passage of this bill and anticipating that there will be no amendments to it and that there will be no changes in it and that there will be no need for the government to appoint any arbitrators because all the work of arbitrators is now being performed by one man. I am referring of course to the one-man board, the one-man band, Mr. Biddell, who will be the Inflation Restraint Board for the purposes of this legislation.
What I was suggesting is that the fundamental aspect of labour law, both in the field of those employees who are covered by compulsory arbitration and by those who are covered by free collective bargaining, is quite simply this: both parties are bound by an agreement which they have signed.
Neither party is allowed to unilaterally break that contract, and whenever employees have attempted to break those contracts in the middle of a collective agreement they have been punished, and severely, by the government of Ontario, by their employer. They have paid the price in terms of being fired. They have paid the price in terms of losing days off. They have paid the price in some communities by even being blacklisted and prevented from being employed by certain employers.
Mr. Rae: They have been jailed, as the member for Oshawa points out, and they have been fined. They have been punished by virtually the whole range of the law, either through private contractual remedies in arbitration, or by public remedies such as jailing and fining.
That is why we regard with such seriousness the basic powers that have been given to the inflation Restraint Board, established under clause 1(a), those basic powers being that the government now arrogates to itself the unique authority to break collective agreements and to break contracts and to break understandings which have been duly arrived at by a process of either collective negotiation or arbitration.
The government is arrogating to itself, by creating the board known as the Inflation Restraint Board, a power which it would never ever and has never ever given to any employer or to any group of employees.
By creating the Inflation Restraint Board, I want to suggest that a fundamental feature of the relationship between employers and employees in the public sector, in the private sector, the fundamental legal foundation of that relationship, has been shattered. It has been broken and has been replaced. not by a complex piece of legislation that this assembly is discussing at great length, not by a process by which the government takes into account all the things that have been said and indicates that it is prepared to take a long time in discussing the ramifications and the impact that this kind of legislation could have on collective bargaining and on trade unions and on employees and employers, but by a measly 16 pages of simply peremptory, arbitrary, mandatory legislation, capricious and whimsical, to go back to the words of Mr. Justice Douglas --
Mr. Rae: -- legislation that I would describe as dictatorial, legislation that I would describe as peremptory and arbitrary; legislation that gives to one board an extraordinary set of powers, powers for which there can in our view be no justification except under circumstances that have been described -- and I am describing this for you. Mr. Chairman, since you were not here -- by Mr. Justice McRuer: the seizure and destruction of food unfit for human consumption, orders to take safety measures such as the directions of an inspector under the Factory, Shop and Office Building Act or the exercise of emergency powers under the Energy Act. Only in those instances where the government is able to show convincingly that there is a genuine emergency and a threat to human life, safety or health, can this Legislature pass this kind of legislation with respect to the breaking of contracts in the public or the private sector.
The submission we are making to you, Mr. Chairman, the submission we are making to the public and the submission we are making to the people of the province is that the circumstances before us simply do not warrant the kinds of extraordinary powers that have been taken on by the Inflation Restraint Board as established and defined in clause 1(a) of the legislation.
The Inflation Restraint Board has powers that are extraordinary and sweeping. Their powers are capricious. And I might add that the rule of law in the work place, for which a great many people have sacrificed and worked very hard.
I see the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) is here. He knows the meaning and the sensitivity of the quality of labour relations and the importance of the rule of law in labour relations. We all on this side believe very strongly in due process at work and in the protection it gives to employers and to employees, the protection and meaning it has because it gives workers a sense of their rights: that they have a collective agreement; that this collective agreement has been arrived at either by arbitration or by collective bargaining; that the rights contained in the collective agreement mean something and that the bargaining that has gone on in being able to create and make a collective agreement has some meaning because there are no arbitrary or artificial restrictions on the ability of parties to bargain or on the ability of an arbitrator to arbitrate.
And where you take away arguments -- yes, arguments -- and discussions and negotiations and the give and take over wages, which has been done in this legislation with the power that has been given to the Inflation Restraint Board, established by clause 1(a), what the government is doing is nothing less than taking away bargaining power, bargaining rights and the ability to bargain on behalf of their members from literally hundreds of collective bargaining agents, hundreds of trade unions across the province.
That is the meaning of this legislation. It reduces the ability of working people to bargain for their members. It reduces the ability of working people to provide for their members. It reduces democratic rights. It reduces the ability of trade unions to do the job they have been established to do.
The other part of my argument with respect to the powers of the Inflation Restraint Board and the reason that board has to be replaced by another and very different type of commission and another and very different type of board, is that -- and I know that members will say this argument has been made before, but it is an argument that simply has to be made and has to he answered -- a board has been created in Ontario under clause 1(a) of this act that poses a direct challenge to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Mr. Chairman, you and other members will know that the charter which was proclaimed at the beginning of this year establishes something called “freedom of association” as a basic right. That freedom has never been precisely defined; the meaning of that phrase has never been precisely defined by a Canadian court. But we do have some definitions and jurisprudence on this question. I want to put that before the House because I believe it speaks very much to the real inappropriateness of the kinds of powers that are being given to the board established under clause 1(a) of this act.
A member of our party, who was a member of the committee of the House of Commons on the Canadian Constitution, put forward an amendment to the committee that would have made it clear by a specific reference to the words, “freedom to organize and bargain collectively” and by adding those words to the phrase, “freedom of association”.
When a member of our party moved that amendment, Mr. Chairman, this is what Mr. Robert Kaplan, the Liberal Solicitor General, stated in the proceedings of the House of Commons committee on the Canadian Constitution: “Our position on the suggestion that there be a specific reference to freedom to organize and bargain collectively is that this is already covered in the freedom of association that is provided already in the declaration or in the charter.”
Those are the words of one of the law officers of the crown who was testifying before the committee on the charter at that time. It was the opinion of Mr. Kaplan, speaking on behalf of the government of Canada, that there was no need for the phrase “freedom to organize and bargain collectively” to be placed next to “freedom of association” because freedom of association already meant that; that is the meaning of the phrase, “freedom of association”.
Mr. Rae: Fine. But on this occasion he was speaking on behalf of the government of Canada. He was indicating why it was not prepared to contemplate an amendment of the kind that we suggested. I think, in that context, that opinion has some weight.
In addition to that, there is a substantial body of international law on this subject that stems from the convention of the international Labour Organization, which Canada has signed with Ontario’s approval. The basic premise that has been established is that freedom of association means the right to organize and to bargain collectively and -- these words are important; I am going to be quoting verbatim in a moment from the opinion of the ILO -- if a right to strike is taken away, legislation must ensure:
“Adequate guarantees to safeguard to the full the interests of the workers thus deprived of an essential means of defending their occupational interests. The restriction on strikes should be accompanied by adequate, impartial and speedy conciliation and arbitration procedures in which the parties can take part at every stage and in which the awards are binding in all cases on both parties. These awards, once they have been made, should he fully and promptly implemented.”
This opinion of the so-called freedom of association committee of the ILO has been invoked on numerous occasions by the ILO. It is generally accepted in international human rights law as being the definitive decision with regard to the meaning of the phrase, “freedom of association.”
It has to be clearly understood, and I do not think it has been understood by this government and I do not think it has been understood by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), that when the government of Ontario and the government of Canada participated in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution with a Charter of Rights, that charter bound the province and bound the Legislature of the province. That charter has priority over the actions of the government of Ontario. It has priority over the actions of the Inflation Restraint Board as defined in clause 1(a) of Bill 179.
In that context, I would have thought that when we make these arguments -- and I have made them before, outside of the Legislature at some length in a speech I gave at the University of Toronto law school, and our justice critic, my good friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), has made these arguments in this House on second reading. I have made these arguments and he has made these arguments in committee in dealing with the clause-by-clause discussion of this bill, and we have yet to have an answer from the government of Ontario with respect to its interpretation of the meaning of the phrase freedom of association” as contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I asked the Attorney General yesterday whether there was such an opinion of the law officers of the crown and if there was any opinion with respect to the meaning of the phrase freedom of association. His answer was as follows --
Mr. Rae: I am not, sir. I am referring directly to the powers that are being given and to the definition of the “board,” that is, the Inflation Restraint Board, and the impact of that phrase on freedom of association in the province. It is only when we are able to put that argument forward that I think the chairman will appreciate why we are unable to accept that clause, why we are calling for its deletion, and why we are calling for its replacement by another commission, to be known as the fair prices commission.
I do believe this argument is quite fundamental to the position of our party, quite fundamental to the views we have with respect to this legislation and quite fundamental to our arguments with the government. I do believe it is extremely and directly relevant to the definition of “board” contained in clause 1(a).
When the Attorney General of this province says to this Legislature that he does not recollect ever having seen a written opinion, he does not know whether there is a written opinion or not, but that in his judgement, based on some conversations he appears to have had or might have had with unnamed advisers of his, this does not appear to cause any problems in respect to freedom of association, I think we are entitled to a better answer than that with respect to this legislation.
We are entering into a new field. We make no bones about that. I do not pretend I have all the answers with respect to the meaning of freedom of association. I have put forward certain arguments and the member for Riverdale has put forward certain arguments. All we are asking for is a reply. All we are asking for is constitutional opinion on something that is quite fundamental.
It would appear that the rule of law means accepting the Canadian Constitution, and the rule of law means accepting that the Canadian Constitution has priority over any legislation that is passed in this Legislature. This is a new ball game for all of us in the common law tradition. The idea that there should be a charter that has priority is a new phenomenon. It is because it is a new phenomenon that it cannot be treated with such cavalier casualness as it has been by the Attorney General. For him not even to have bothered to have an opinion, for him not even to have bothered to come before the committee and indicate how and why, in what ways, and what arguments he was putting forward -- but our arguments were incorrect -- I think is astonishing. It is directly relevant to clause 1(a), because it affects the Inflation Restraint Board.
I can understand why the Liberals are so unhappy about the type of opposition and the views that we have been expressing on this bill. When the Leader of the Opposition got up to speak on second reading, did he raise any questions about due process? Did he raise any questions about freedom of association? Did he raise any questions about the impact this legislation would have on the whole world of collective bargaining, or on the world of industrial law?
No. What was his single concern? That it did not go far enough. It did not last long enough. It was not pre-emptory and arbitrary enough. We have been taking the time in the past few weeks to explain and expose to the people of Ontario the very real impact that this legislation, as defined in clause 1(a), is having on all these things. And it makes the Liberal party uncomfortable. They want us to speed up the process.
Mr. Rae: I am doing my very best. I am attempting to put forward an argument which I believe is fundamental. With the greatest of respect, we have had no answer from the government with respect to these substantive arguments, none whatsoever. We have not had one consistent, persuasive argument with respect to the impact that the Inflation Restraint Board is having on contracts, on the rule of law, on the world of collective bargaining, or on freedom of association. Not a single one. We have not had a word from the Minister of Labour, from the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) or from the Attorney General. We have not had a single peep, not a bite, not an indication, not a word. This is the source of our opposition to this measure.
The source of our opposition to this measure is that the only person who has been allowed to speak for the government is the Treasurer, who has been speaking in terms of the macroeconomic impact of this legislation, which is zilch. The Treasurer was unable to answer any of the questions and he did not participate in the windup of the debate on second reading of this bill. I think these arguments have to be put with respect to the extraordinary powers that have been given to the Inflation Restraint Board.
If I could conclude on the argument about freedom of association, I will only be a few minutes. The point that is being made by the International Labour Organization and by the Solicitor General of Canada is clear. The words “freedom of association” have a meaning. They have a meaning. The meaning has been defined as the freedom to organize and to bargain collectively.
Where the right to strike has been taken away, that right to strike has to be replaced by an arbitration process that is binding on both parties. The substitution for the right to strike has to be a continued limitation on the right of the government to impose a unilateral settlement on a group of workers because that unilateral settlement is a direct threat and a direct affront to the meaning of the words “freedom of association.”
It is quite possible the Attorney General did not know, when he advised the government of Ontario to go along with the Constitution, what the words “freedom of association” meant. It would be quite possible that he really does not care. Based upon the extraordinary performance of the Attorney General yesterday and today, it is possible that both of those things are the case.
Be that as it may, and although the government would prefer to pretend that there was not a Constitution at this time that affected this bill and that there was no such thing as freedom of association contained in the bill, the fact remains that the words are there in the Canadian Constitution. Surely we are entitled to hear from the government its opinion with respect to the meaning of that phrase.
The reason it is important with respect to clause 1(a) is because the Inflation Restraint Board is a direct attack on freedom of association as that term has been defined by the ILO and by the Solicitor General. It is a direct attack because in place of the world of arbitration, in which the parties can take part in every stage and in which the awards are binding in all cases on both parties. We have a process and a board with powers which are very different from that.
That is why the argument is important and fundamental. That is why we are still waiting, will continue to wait and will fight and fight again until we get an answer from the Attorney General with respect to this basic and fundamental question.
There has been some question as to what the nature of our opposition to this bill is. I was questioned on that very question as soon as the bill was presented to the Legislature prior to my becoming a member of this Legislature.
I hope I have shown to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the other members of the House that the questions which are raised by this clause and by the creation of the Inflation Restraint Board are so fundamental that no opposition party concerned about due process and the rule of law could let this clause pass without challenge.
This clause is had for the rule of law in labour relations and it is had for due process in administrative justice. It is for that reason, and for an additional reason I will come to in a moment, that we in our party support the replacement of the words, “‘Board’ means Inflation Restraint Board,” by the words “‘Commission’ means the fair prices commission.”
It is the view of our party that, if the government wants to do something about inflation, it should do so in a way that does not attack the fundamental rights and fundamental collective agreements which have been passed, approved and ratified by the government as well as by trade unions.
If the government wants to do something about inflation, it should give itself powers and it should delegate powers to a commission called the fair prices commission, arguments for the establishment of which have been made for many years by my good friend the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) and others. That commission would have sufficient powers, we believe, to deal directly with the challenge and the problem of inflation.
At the beginning of my remarks, I said the government was engaged in an act of extraordinary hypocrisy in pretending that the Inflation Restraint Board had anything to do with the restraint of inflation. The Inflation Restraint Board as contained in this legislation is not an inflation restraint board; it is a public sector wages expropriation board.
That is what it is. It is a public sector wages expropriation board. I would like to submit that if this was an expropriation of anything other than wages in the public sector, every single member on that side of the House would be complaining about the kinds of arbitrary powers which were being given to the Inflation Restraint Board.
If this was an expropriation of any kind of property or contract other than a collective agreement for the workers of this province, every single member of the I-louse, on that side and on this side, would be raising his or her concerns about the kinds of arbitrary powers which had been given to that board.
Mr. Rae: Can the members imagine the response of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett)? Can the members imagine the response of all those people? I see the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor). Can the members imagine his response if we were talking about the expropriation of any form of private property or of any kind of contract of somebody who was living in his constituency? I suspect he would be angry, and I think he would be justifiably angry, because in his defence of the rights of property and of civil liberties of his constituency he is second to none.
The fact remains that for a great many working people one of the most important pieces of property they will ever own is their collective agreement. It is a contract they have signed with the government or the school board or the municipalities. It is one of the most precious rights they have in an economic sense. It is something they have bargained for, have sacrificed for, and have given up some other benefit for, in that give and take which is so much a part of the collective bargaining process.
It is a very important right and benefit. It is more than simply a benefit, because it is something that has been bargained for and negotiated for and that has the status of law under a collective agreement or a piece of public legislation that has been passed by this Legislature. It is a public right, and it is something that is being expropriated unilaterally by one group of individuals who happen at any one given time to have a majority in this Legislature.
I know the arguments I am making here are not tremendously popular in some sectors. It is convenient sometimes for people to turn a blind eye to the fact that collective agreements do grant rights that are real: a bundle of rights that people want to keep hold of because the agreement is something they have signed, and that they think have some meaning. Nevertheless, that is the meaning of a collective agreement and that is the meaning of what this government is doing. It is expropriating without a hearing, without due process of law, without any of the protections of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, without any and all of the protections that are given in all the expropriation proceedings in Ontario. It has been taken away on the basis of a very arbitrary, peremptory, dictatorial, simplistic piece of legislation that gives to the Inflation Restraint Board under clause 1(a) these extraordinary powers.
That is why it is not an Inflation Restraint Board, because it is not controlling inflation. It is not doing anything about inflation. The government is not reducing interest rates by a single point by making sure that garbage collectors lose $1,000 per year. It is not bringing down any Hydro or Consumers’ Gas rates. It is not reducing the price of insurance. It is not affecting the tax rates, it is not affecting anything. It is nothing other than a statement of wishful thinking on the part of the Premier and the Treasurer that something wonderful is going to happen once this legislation has been passed.
There is the very real problem in calling it the Inflation Restraint Board when it has nothing to do with the control of inflation. That is the problem we are addressing by putting in our fair prices commission. That is why we have so many substantive amendments to make in part III of the legislation. That is why part III and clause 1(a) are connected. If the government wants to do something about administered prices let us see it do it. Let us give the fair prices commission the power to do what needs to be done to make sure that extraordinary price increases are not being imposed unfairly on consumers.
Is there a problem with administered prices in Ontario? Of course, there is. For example, today we asked questions of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, for the second day in a row that he has been here, as to why his government is not prepared to deal with the fact that consumers appear to be paying too much for unleaded gasoline as opposed to leaded gasoline. We got a long song and dance from the minister, who said he has written a letter to André Ouellet. It takes a lot of skill, courage, guts and determination, to write a letter to André Ouellet when we already know what his answer is. We had the answer last week in the House of Commons, and it was very clear and specific. The Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Ottawa said, “I do not have the power.”
The Premier says the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has the power. Even the Attorney General says the minister has the power. I do not know whether the Attorney General actually studied this question, or whether there was a written opinion that allowed him to reach this devastating judgement. Or perhaps it was simply done on the basis of some locker-room conversation about this piece of legislation before a hockey game; I have no idea. What we do know is that the Attorney General offered himself of the opinion, in 1979, that yes, indeed, the government had the power.
Mr. Rae: As my friend the member for Algoma points out, the government itself did it in 1975. They did it by passing legislation that would give them the power to do what the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is so obviously unprepared and reluctant to do on behalf of consumers. Yet this is a government that says it is interested in controlling inflation. This is a government that says inflation is public enemy number one. This is a government that says the control of inflation is something it considers its very highest priority.
This government is not interested in controlling inflation. It is interested in passing clause 1(a) which is, cosmetically and confusingly, called the Inflation Restraint Board, but which in reality has absolutely boo-all to do with the control or the restraint of inflation in any way, shape or form.
This board does not give the power to the government to control inflation. It does not give the government the power to control prices. It does not give the government the power to control any of the negative impacts which the Liberal interest rate policy has had on individual Ontarians. It simply provides for the expropriation of wages in the public sector,
We need a fair prices commission with the power to roll back price increases that cannot be justified and the power to deal directly with those big actors, those powerful interests in the provincial economy that are imposing their administered, fixed prices on consumers who are powerless to negotiate them or to resist them in any way. We need a fair prices commission that would have those kinds of power.
Think of what a fair prices commission could do. On a reference from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, a fair prices commission could examine the very simple question, how much does it cost to produce unleaded gas? Does it cost 0.3 cents per litre, as has been alleged by Environment Canada, or does it cost more or less than that? Once that answer was found, the fair prices commission would be in a position to say, on the basis of the evidence before it, that the 2.4-cent differentia, which now is being charged to the consumers of Ontario and which is costing them $200,000 a day, would be abolished. That differential would be withdrawn; prices for unleaded gas would be frozen; prices for unleaded gas could be rolled back.
A decision could be taken in all fairness, with due process and the ability of the parties to appear and make their case, with the further protection of the rights of all the people who are involved. The commission would have the ability to say, “In a world where the marketplace really is not working terribly well for a great many people, some prices are simply too high and have to be reduced.”
I find the government’s vision is completely skewed when it comes to clause 1(a). We have this confusing misnomer, this cosmetic deception, this determination on the part of the government to pretend that something is what it is not. There is an Orwellian quality on the part of the government in calling something a name when it is an exact opposite to what is being done. There is something Orwellian about calling it the Inflation Restraint Board when there is no inflation being restrained and when all it does is damage workers’ rights and their purchasing power.
When we think of the kinds of powers that a fair prices commission could have, it is really frightening when we consider the extraordinary reluctance on the part of this government to investigate, to deal with those big, powerful actors, some of them malefactors -- the great malefactors of wealth, as Roosevelt called them -- who have such extraordinary power in our provincial economy.
I do not know what the explanation is for the government’s reluctance to act in the field of prices, Mr. Chairman; perhaps you do, because you are somewhat closer to the source than I am. But we recognize this is the government that decided to take on itself the task of bringing to heel Ontario Hydro, of bringing to heel the extraordinary power that has accrued now to that corporation, which has quite extraordinary powers and which is not subject to the kinds of scrutiny and control by this Legislature that we in our party firmly believe it should be and must be subject to.
For this government to act in the field of prices would mean it would have to deal with the large oil companies, with the large insurance companies, with the banks and with the trust companies -- the government’s very good friends, we have it on reliable authority. It would mean dealing with all those agencies and corporations and all those actors in our economic system that have accrued to themselves such extraordinary power in the setting and establishment of prices.
No, the government prefers to pretend that there is some sort of oriental bazaar going on out there in the marketplace; that what we are seeing is an extremely competitive marketplace activity somewhat similar to the sorts of bargains one would get in a bargain basement, a discount store, an open market or an open forum.
The deals in the real estate field over the past six weeks; the increases that have been exposed in the insurance field, which have been exposed with such effectiveness by my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart); the unexplained increases in certain food products, whose prices are controlled by the large wholesalers and distributors of much of our food; the extraordinary and increased concentration of corporate power which poses a threat to democracy and to economic democracy in our province, these are features of the real economy. This is what is really happening out there.
It is not the image in the government’s head of some sort of tremendously free and vibrant marketplace that is affecting what would take place under the fair prices commission or lowering prices without need for a fair prices commission. That image in the government’s head is totally inappropriate and totally out of keeping with the reality of what is happening in our provincial economy.
If this government were serious about controlling prices in Ontario, it would be establishing a fair prices commission and would not be bothering with the kind of Inflation Restraint Board that is being established pursuant to clause 1(a).
If I might sum up, I have argued two fundamental points. The first one is that the powers given to the Inflation Restraint Board are extraordinary, unusual, emergency, peremptory and dictatorial powers. They are powers that not only are unusual in peacetime but also simply cannot he justified according to the tests laid down by Mr. Justice McRuer when he referred to where there might not be any antecedent procedural requirements referring to the seizure and destruction of food unfit for human consumption, safety and so on, or the exercise of emergency powers under the Energy Act.
I have suggested that there has developed a world of law and due process in industrial relations that is precious; it contains very important rights for working people; it contains a kind of right that should be but has not been protected by due process in this legislation.
I have suggested that this concern of ours, which is in a sense procedural, is fundamental because it is very much in keeping with the history of public, labour and administrative law in the province that procedure is important. Whether or not a person has a right to appear is important. Whether or not a person has a right to a hearing is important. Whether or not a person has a right to make a case is important. Whether or not a person has a right to a reasoned answer based on some foundation, law, process or answer, that is important. This legislation does none of those things.
I have suggested that in addition to posing a danger to collective bargaining, procedure, due process and rule of law, the Inflation Restraint Board presents a danger to the Constitution itself to the notion of freedom of association and to free collective bargaining rights.
I want to close the first part of my argument by quoting in summary form a statement issued by His Eminence Cardinal Carter on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Papal encyclical On Human Work. It is dated October 15, 1982, and it is subtitled “The Rights of Workers.” I am quoting now from what Cardinal Carter said:
“Many of us have watched with grave concern the attacks in Poland on the trade union Solidarity and have sought to support workers there; no less should we seek to assure the rights of workers here in our own country.
“The economic crisis in which we find ourselves is growing more acute. The hardships and suffering which it is causing are increasing. The burden of economic depression tends to fall hardest on the most unprotected. Various elements in our society are searching for solutions. There are no easy or simple answers. What is clear, however, is that no solution can be accepted which abrogates the basic rights of workers to bargain collectively and, in some circumstances, to turn to the strike as a final resort.
“The church’s mission does involve the defence and protection of human rights. But this is a moral issue, and the church is morally obligated to speak out when rights are threatened. Any economic plan that involves the denial of the rights of one segment of society affects the quality of life for us all and can only make us all poorer as a result.”
I also want to refer to a letter that appeared in the November 9 edition of the London Free Press from Most Rev. John M. Sherlock, the Bishop of London. Bishop Sherlock was commenting much more specifically on the relation between Bill 179 and the Papal encyclical On Human Work. He goes through many sections of the bill. He says in words similar to those of Cardinal Carter:
“Admittedly our legislators face a difficult task in trying to come to terms with our economic troubles. There are no obvious or easy answers. However, no solution, no matter how justified its goals, is acceptable if it violates the norms of justice. Bill 179 appears to risk doing precisely that.”
Bishop Sherlock then goes on to deal with the impact it has in terms of the recourse to strikes, the impact it has on arbitration, the impact it has on the rule of law, the impact it has on the rights of workers, and the fact that the legislation unilaterally cancels many legal agreements already binding. He says, “One wonders what happened to the old understanding that a bargain was a bargain.” Those are the words of Bishop Sherlock, the Bishop of London, and I could not have expressed it any better myself.
Finally, the second half of our argument is simply this: The words “Inflation Restraint Board” have to be changed and amended. The concept of the Inflation Restraint Board as it is defined and as it has been presented in this act has to be replaced by that of a fair prices commission which would give the power and ability to the government to deal with prices, to deal with those people who are causing inflation, to deal with those actors in the system who have been able unilaterally to impose price increases on the public for far too long and, finally, to deal with the hypocrisy of calling something an Inflation Restraint Board that has absolutely nothing to do with the reduction of inflation and everything to do with the expropriation of wages.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Chairman, I will be brief in speaking to this clause. I listened with interest to the comments of the member for York South. It seemed to me a number of them had to do more with comments he may also wish to make on section 3 of the bill, particularly subsection 3(4), on which we will be placing an amendment.
It seems to us we have made the argument in committee that in clause 1(a) we are simply dealing with definitions and not with powers which may be subject to debate later on. The honourable member has not made a telling argument to us as to why we ought to change the definition from board to fair prices commission.
Since we would like to get on with many of the important amendments we will be placing, I am pleased to hear the comments from the member for York South in regard to subsection 3(4), as I am sure he will support our amendment at the appropriate time. We will be unable to support the amendment the member has suggested in clause 1(a).
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Chairman, I want to make a few brief comments about our amendment to clause 1(a). Obviously I will be supporting this amendment. I am disappointed the official opposition is not going to be supporting the amendment, but it does not surprise me. That coalition has existed now since September 21. I expect it will continue.
Mr. Cooke: The member has them on his side and he looks very relaxed and very comfortable. I am also surprised the official opposition wants to participate in the fraud that is being perpetrated on the people of Ontario by calling this board the Inflation Restraint Board.
It is a fraud. There is no way we can participate in so calling a board that is simply a wage control board, that is all it is. We are not going to participate in supporting that section. We want to turn this bill around. We want to make this a real Inflation Restraint Board and committee. We want to change this bill so that we have --
Mr. Cooke: It is because we do not believe that wages should be constrained. We believe the fact of the matter is that one controls inflation by controlling prices. When prices are controlled, wages follow. That is how one controls wages.
Bring inflation and expectation down and the wages come down as well. All people want to do is maintain their standard of living. For those members to do what they are doing in supporting the government here, and then going back to home ridings and trying to give the indication there is a good chance they may oppose this bill on third reading, is hypocritical.
The powers of this board have been very well explained and very well exposed since September 21. They are unfair. I am not a lawyer but I do understand something about the principle of natural justice. I understand something about the principle that had been accepted by the Attorney General and the Premier called freedom of association.
I want to give a few examples of why this section of the bill has to be changed and why our amendment should be accepted. They call this board, under the government’s bill, the Inflation Restraint Board.
I would ask the Treasurer when I am finished my comments to get up and indicate to this Legislature exactly what his predictions are of how much inflation will go down in Ontario as a result of this piece of legislation. Perhaps I should place that question and ask the Treasurer to respond now, as that is the usual process in committee of the whole.
Mr. Cooke: The reality of the situation is that when we put the question to his officials in the lockup on September 21 they told us there was no prediction of how much inflation would go down. They had no idea what the impact of this legislation would be on inflation in the province. The reason they have no idea what the impact will he is because this is not an Inflation Restraint Board, this is a wage control board as proposed in Bill 179.
This wage control bill does some of the following things. For an Ontario Public Service Employees Union clerical worker, the contract they have signed -- the deal they have made with the government of Ontario, the contract this government intends to rip up, not honour, destroy -- calls for an 11 per cent increase on January 1, 1983.
This so-called inflation Restraint Board in this particular piece of legislation means the average salary on December 31 is $18,058 or $347 per week. This board, this piece of legislation and the five per cent solution will mean this individual will lose $1,084 per year. That is not inflation control, that is wage control.
For an OPSEU office worker whose average salary on December 31, 1982, is $17,184, the contract calls for an 11.12 per cent increase on January 1, 1983. This is a contract signed by this government that is not going to be honoured by this government. It is going to be ripped up by this government with the help of the Liberal Party.
The five per cent solution means that 7,000 workers will lose $1,052 per week. That is not inflation restraint; that is wage control imposed on these workers by the Liberal and Conservative parties in Ontario.
The average OPSEU worker on December 31, 1982, earned $21,080. Assuming that an 11 per cent settlement would have been arrived at through bargaining or arbitration, then 52,300 workers are being robbed of an average of $24.32 per week, or $1,265 a year. That is not inflation control, that is not inflation restraint; that is wage control, wage restraint being imposed on these people by the Liberal and Conservative parties of this province.
Take a nursing home worker in this province. The average Service Employees’ International Union worker in a nursing home would have had a salary of $15,951 per year by March 31, 1983. The five per cent solution means that these workers will lose $957 per year, and those are the nursing home workers at the upper end of the scale.
We had examples brought into the Legislature of the Ark Eden Nursing Home, where they are barely paid minimum wage. This bill means that those workers will be restricted to five per cent. The owners of Ark Eden Nursing Home, on the other hand, will get exactly the same per diem as the other nursing homes that pay their workers considerably more. All we are doing with this legislation is building in extra profits for the owners of Ark Eden Nursing Home. That is not inflation control at all; that is wage control again being imposed by the Liberal and Conservative parties of this province.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Chairman, later in an amendment to this bill we will be setting out the criteria as to what a fair price actually means. There will be several criteria by which this board, the fair prices commission, can measure whether a price that is going to be increased in the province will be a fair price increase. It is through those kinds of measures, not through wage controls, that inflation will be brought under control in this province.
I think this first amendment, which signals what we will be doing with the rest of this bill, is worthy of the support of all members of the Legislature; and I think the Treasurer should simply indicate here today that they have made a mistake, that they tried to ride on the six and five program of the federal government, which their polls indicated was popular.
This is not an economic solution to our problems at all. This is simply a political solution to the problems that the polls showed the Treasurer and the Premier they had created by their inactivity and their lack of leadership on the economic crisis in this province. So they bring in the five per cent solution and try to ride on the coat-tails of the six and five program. At this point I am sure the Treasurer would indicate that it has even been something of a political mistake and disaster as well as an economic mistake and disaster.
I hope, since the committee of the whole House has a little bit more flexibility, that at some point the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) will also participate in the debate. I know the Treasurer has put tape over the mouth of the Minister of Labour on this issue, but perhaps that tape can be removed and we can have the participation of the Minister of Labour, and he can give us some of his comments on how he feels this bill will affect labour relations over the next number of months or years or perhaps decades into the future.
In conclusion, I would ask if perhaps the Treasurer can tell us exactly the effects of this bill on inflation in this province. If he cannot answer that question, then clause 1(a) of the bill has to be defeated because he is admitting that there will be no effect on inflation whatsoever, that they have done no projections at all and that he is participating in perpetrating a fraud on all the people of this province as well as all 125 members of the Legislature.
The Deputy Chairman: I think I should remind all honourable members that we are really discussing an amendment that clause 1(a) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor: “(a) ‘Commission’ means the Fair Prices Commission.” I did not want to ruin the poetic licence that the honourable member took, though. The member for Sudbury East.
If I might, I want to get the Treasurer’s attention, to take him back a couple of years to when, on one occasion, one of his colleagues rose in his place and said he was cutting the salary of the cabinet by five per cent. Does he recall that? Yes, he does recall that.
The uproar that went on among the cabinet ministers was unbelievable, as was the great delight that some of the cabinet had when that particular minister was defeated. There was nary a tear shed, and most of them made reference to the fact that Eric the Winkler in fact had the boots put to him.
Certainly, the cabinet could have afforded the cut a lot more than the salaries we are dealing with today, and they did not like it. They did not like it and it was done by one of their colleagues. They resented it bitterly. I remind the Treasurer of that little event simply because what he is doing to a lot of people with a lot less salary is what he and his colleagues resented when it was done to 26 of them. One can imagine the distress among the 500,000-odd people affected. The cabinet did not like it and they could afford it; these people cannot afford it and they do not like it and he is prepared to do it.
The Inflation Restraint Board, as I said in committee, is as if General Jaruzelski had visited it upon Ontario. I cannot help but think how members on all sides of the House got up and supported the efforts of Solidarity in Poland. What he is doing is giving powers to a board that are equal to anything that went on there in terms of collective bargaining and having the right to have a matter arbitrated.
The powers given are so wide and so sweeping. He determines certain aspects. If he decides not to tell you why, he does not have to. Can one imagine? Can one imagine giving someone that much power, for example, the president or vice-president of Honeywell --
Mr. Martel: He has the Inflation Restraint Board under clause 1(a). Those are some of the powers he has, Mr. Chairman. They are so all-embracing that he does not even have to account for his decision. He does not even have to indicate why; he just dictates. Why are we giving this type of power --
Mr. Martel: Yes, you look happy -- grinning, smiling. But that is the type of power you are giving him. As I was about to say about Honeywell, can you imagine the president of Honeywell having that kind of power? He could look down the aisle and say, “Well, Mr. Chairman, you are gone today,” and not even tell you why. That is the power we are giving to one individual over the lives of some 500,000 people for a year or two or three. I find it difficult to accept.
There is certainly a misnomer there. It might be called the Jaruzelski board, or something like that, rather than the Inflation Restraint Board. Aside from controlling wages, what does it control? My leader asked earlier if it controlled gas but the government has an answer for that. It says those things are offshore. When they are passed through to us, we have to go by the contract signed in Ottawa with the Alberta government. We have to honour it. We have no control over it.
I ask this assembly, what about the workers whose mortgages are coming due tomorrow or the day after? Do they have any control over the mortgage rates they are going to be charged? The government on one hand can say it has no control over those; they are there and it has to pass through these costs. How do the workers pass through those costs over which they have no control?
The government ignores that as though it did not exist. It says to hell with the workers, they have to live with it; but not the government. Look at Ontario Hydro: one of the problems with Hydro was the cost of producing power. It was not five per cent, it was 8.2 per cent, I believe. Those people who are limited to five per cent have to meet the 8.2 per cent. They also have to meet the new mortgage rate. If wages are to be controlled at five per cent, the same thing should be done with those things the government is responsible for; but no, because it cannot control those things.
Then how do the workers control it? The government does not want to answer. Barney Miller left when I started to speak. He has been in and out like a flea. The only answer he has given so far is that this -- what was it he said to you?
Mr. Martel: Yes; he said it is an inappropriate time to ask what this board is going to do. The name is the Inflation Restraint Board, so it is inappropriate to ask what rate of inflation is anticipated over the next 12 months as if it was an Inflation Restraint Board, which it is not.
That is why the Treasurer will not answer. It has nothing to do with inflation restraint at all. Let me give you another example. What about rent? It is not limited to five per cent even in the big deals that recently have been going on like mad. The massive profits are immoral but legal.
Mr. Martel: They are immoral profits, because the people involved have gone out and made deals over and above everything else. Do members think people, some of them civil servants, have any control over their destiny when the government is prepared to allow that to occur? I remember some cabinet ministers getting wound up when they lost only five per cent six or seven years ago. They did not like it one bit. I think they threw a party the night Winkler got defeated, some of the Conservative members were so irritated because he had cut their wages.
Where is inflation restraint when it comes to rent? How, on one hand, can the government say workers will get five per cent -- and that is limited and contracts are broken that call for more than five per cent -- but on the other hand they are going to have to meet more than five per cent. They have to meet costs for gas, and they have to meet an 8.2 per cent increase, at least, for hydro. Many of them have to meet increases in mortgages and in rental.
I could not help but be interested in an article I read three or four weeks ago about those people who contributed identically to the Liberal Party and to the Progressive Conservative Party federally. Five of the major banks gave $25,000 to $30,000 each. Heaven forbid we would touch them. Can those workers whose interest rates on mortgages are going to go up -- even though mortgage rates are coming down slightly -- if somebody has a 10.25 per cent mortgage rate and it goes to 16 per cent can he pass that through somehow and get more than five per cent? No way. They have to learn to live with it. In Ontario, the things the government is responsible for get passed through but the workers do not have a pass-through for costs. Isn’t that funny? The hypocrisy in the bill really is beyond the pale. The people cannot pass anything through, but the government, in its wisdom, says it can.
Let me give members another example of what the government is contributing to -- Ontario hospital insurance premiums at an increase of 17 per cent. How can the workers pass through an additional 17 per cent? They cannot. But the government says: “We need this. We made commitments.” The workers made commitments, too, and their wages are frozen. They cannot do the same as the government of Ontario and say, “Ah, we need a pass-through.” What is fair about it? Absolutely nothing. To call it an Inflation Restraint Board is the height of hypocrisy, because all it does is control wages, nothing else. The government is determined to fight inflation but the things for which it is responsible are allowed to go higher than five per cent; what hypocrisy.
If we wanted to be serious, one of the biggest costs is interest rates. We do not have it in our power in Ontario -- at least I have listened to the government say this over and over again -- to control them. They are set somewhere else. They belong to the jurisdiction of the federal government. Even we know the interest rates we will pay in Canada are virtually set in the United States. If interest rates go up in the United States they will go up in Ontario and Canada. We have no control. We can only hope and pray Mr. Reagan does not get his way in the United States. But what is the government going to do about it with this Inflation Restraint Board?
But workers: they are vulnerable, are they not? It can pass a law that says: “You have five per cent. You do not have any rights of collective bargaining. You do not have the right of arbitration.” What is it if it is not, as I said, a General Jaruzelski clause that deprives everyone of all those rights. How in God’s name can it sit there and do it? We know the answer over here. There is unrest in the public. For the first time in Ontario, people, including middle-income people, are losing homes and jobs; plants are shutting down and there is tremendous unrest. We all know that.
This government, rather than deal with the issue, had to do something. At least it had to try to convince the public it was doing something. Anything is better than nothing and it was not doing anything until it brought in this bill because the polls of the federal government with its massive expenditure had convinced some people in Canada, including 4 percent of people in trade union homes, that six and five was good. For this government, not having done a thing, anything is better than nothing. What has it done? It has constraint and restraint. What did it restrain?
In the Minister of the Environment’s (Mr. Norton) former ministry, when he was responsible he cut back services there. When the rate of inflation was going up at 10 and 12 per cent, he managed to give people on welfare and family benefits about eight or nine per cent. In the Workmen’s Compensation Board, workers have not been given a raise in two years. The only thing restrained was their right to live with some dignity. It did not give anything there. The injured workers are out picketing today asking for an increase in their pensions because they have not had one since July 1981. What has been the rate of inflation since then? It has not given them anything.
Mr. Martel: I am speaking on the amendment on fair prices. I am outlining what the misnomer is so far on the Inflation Restraint Board -- I call it the Jaruzelski board -- because it does not do anything to restrain --
Mr. Martel: Their interjections add a great deal. I can understand their embarrassment, because they know and I know it is not going to do a thing to restrain the rate of inflation in this province and they try to be flippant about it. That way they do not really have to deal with the problem seriously. They can just pass it through.
If we were going to expropriate in the private sector in the fashion we are doing with wages, for example, a chunk of Honeywell -- I would not mention Inco -- and we said, “That is a good thing to take,” my God, they would go wild. If I said we were going to expropriate some insurance companies, holus-bolus, my goodness, gracious me, those guys over there would go bananas. They would go absolutely honkers. They take their pick if they are going to expropriate anything.
One of my friends from the Liberal Party has introduced a private member’s resolution that property rights be written into the Constitution because they do not want property expropriated. They do not want any land expropriated. That is what that resolution is about. Yet it is okay to expropriate workers’ wages. You will put property rights in the Constitution to guarantee nobody can touch land, but worker’s wages are okay to expropriate.
Hypocrisy abounds in this place. Property rights are okay, but for people on fixed incomes or small incomes, it is okay to cut them back to five per cent, even though they have a contract. Just cut it. Take a slice. It does not matter. They do not have it, so you are not really expropriating. Is that not what someone over on that side of the House said? “We are not really taking it away from them. They have not got it yet.” But let us do what my friends over here say and build property rights into the Constitution. We will do it all. I find the whole thing distasteful.
I find the title, Inflation Restraint Board, because it does not deal with inflation, distasteful. We have proposed an alternative and my friends say, “We don’t want that.” We are saying that is just the definition which sets the stage for fair prices. How would we do it? We will move amendments when we get to that portion of the bill that will for the first time, we hope, take a serious look at what I have heard my friend the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) say. He has said frequently that the farmers get ripped off. We agree with him.
I have listened to and read some of the material that came out last week at their convention, and one of the major complaints was that the chain stores were gouging. I think that is what they said. We are saying let us have a board that will look at it, because the report that came down a couple of years ago on the supermarkets was, to some of us, a whitewash. I am sure the member for Huron-Middlesex would say the same thing.
What we are saying is we are setting the stage now with this definition so that when we get to the portion of the bill that deals exclusively with that aspect of price controls, we will be in a position to deal with them and we hope to have the Liberals with us. They have said: “No, we are not interested in that. We are not interested in getting serious about prices.”
Perhaps that is because they have some financial friends in the same position as those across the way. I mentioned the article I had read recently in the newspaper about the banks giving roughly the same amount to both parties. One can understand why they do not want to look at it, because those of us over here have felt for a long time that interest rates were exorbitant and gouging.
It will not deal with gas, or with hydro, or with rent, or with interest rates; it will not deal with the Ontario health insurance plan; and it wants us to believe that it is sincere. All it is doing is adding a little more money to the Treasurer’s budget by holding back some wages. Perhaps he will keep his triple-A rating, I do not know.
The whole bill is redundant as far as I am concerned. It is oppressive and dictatorial. This particular section with an Inflation Restraint Board that deals merely with wages is a misnomer that should be struck from the bill.
If the Treasurer were sincere, he would give it an appropriate title. It is not the Inflation Restraint Board because it does not even attempt to deal with inflation. When my colleague said to him, “Tell us what the rate of inflation for this year is going to be,” he said, “That is not the proper question to ask here.”
If it is not, what is the board for then? I ask the Treasurer directly, is it to curb inflation? If it is not, would he tell us; if it is, would he then tell us what the anticipated rate of inflation is for next year?
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, as I was waiting to speak here I was just thinking about the prices I had to pay in the local fruit and vegetable market on the weekend when I went to shop with my family. I was thinking about those prices, because I was wondering how the inflation restraint the government says it is bringing in with this particular amendment to this particular part of the bill will affect the prices I have to pay now and the prices I will have to pay over the life of this particular bill,
One of the reasons we want the amendment we proposed here is that this party is prepared to support an effective scheme of price restraint in Ontario, of fair prices. We have talked about that for a long time.
Somehow, it seems, inflation restraint as proposed by the government may hit wages of workers who are having great difficult in getting by, but does not appear to be intended to help people when they simply go to pay the prices being charged.
Right now, in my local market, it costs $1.89 for two litres of two per cent milk. A litre is about 90 per cent of a quart of milk and that means if one puts it into terms of a quart of milk, my family is now paying more than $1 for a quart of milk.
The bread we buy is over $1 a loaf; one can get cotton bread, on special, for 59 cents if one is very lucky. Apple juice which used to be 39 cents is now $1.09, $1.19 or $1.29. Cornflakes, which are a staple for families with young children, are $1.44 or more.
My local market recently changed to metric. Perhaps this change to metric should have been restrained because of what it is doing to the prices. The Edam cheese that used to cost about $1.50 a pound is now 77 cents for 100 grams, or one-tenth of a kilogram and that translates to $3.30 a pound.
The Swiss cheese is $1.04 for 100 grams or $4.75 Canadian for a pound. Canadian cheese is 84 cents for 100 grams and that translates to about $3.70 a pound. That is a very substantial increase just over the course of the last few months.
Hamburger is still available for the equivalent of $1.95 a pound, but I would not be so overjoyed by that because during the 1970s I was accustomed to paying 49 cents a pound in the market in Ottawa for the hamburger I bought for my family.
One of the questions I have about this whole misnomer, the abuse of the language involved in calling the board created by this act the Inflation Restraint Board, is that they are not going to do anything about the price of milk.
They are not going to do anything about the price of bread. They are not going to do anything about the price of apple juice, or about the price of cornflakes or about the price of Edam cheese or the price of Swiss cheese, Cheddar or colby, or other kinds of Canadian cheeses. They will not do anything about the price of hamburger. Those things somehow do not enter into inflation.
As far as this government is concerned, it is having a board that has a dissembling title. It is a misnomer. In fact, I would have thought this board might be subjected to federal legislation about misleading advertising since inflation and the price of food are not going to be covered at all.